||Thus Spake The Creator
Q: Are the men and women ever going to understand each
other? I don't see the characters growing much that way...
A: They're going to try. We'll see how far they get. I've
spent forty-odd years trying myself, and I'm not certain
how far I've gotten.
Q: How did you develop the female characters in your
series? They are a strength to the series, and are
interesting because they seem to contain genuinely "feminine"
A: I spent forty-odd years listening to women, and
besides that, they're all based on my wife.
Q: Are any of your charachters based on anyone you
A: All of the women are based on my wife.
Q: how did the ajais originate?
A: Simply because I needed an organization for the power
structure, and it seemed to me that a collective
organization was something women were more likely to come
up with, rather than something strictly hierarchal.
Q: Your societies seem to all place women in a very
influential role. Any particular reason why you created
so many matriarchies? Also, do you already have a
solution for Rand's love triangle?
A: 1. 3000 years ago, the world was destroyed by men:
specifically men, and for all of that time, every society
has been afraid of any man who can channel. The result
has to be greater power and influence for women. 2. Yes.
QI find your characterization of the relationships
between the male and female characters to be interesting,
and amusing. Did you model Nynaeve after an older sister
or other female that tortured you in your youth? :)
A: All of the women are modelled in one way or another
after the conglomerate of women I've met in my life but
every single one of them, EVERY one of them, has some
element of my wife in her. I won't say what elements are
in what characters, we'd get too far afrield. I will say
it has nothing to do with torture in that particular case.
Q: I like your use of strong female characters. Was
there any inspiration for this?
A: Yes, I grew up in a family of strong women. Most of
the women i knew growing up were quite strong. I very
early on realized that ---well, it seemed natural, this
is how I saw the world. There were strong women and
strong men and when weak men came along they were ridden
over. But the fact that there were strong women didn't
mean no strong men. Again, it's a given, there had to be
Q: What made you decide to make male Aes Sedai go
insane verses female Aes Sedai using magic somewhat
A: I'm not sure about the last of that question, but this
was part of the basis, the foundation of the story: if
women had gone insane using the power and not men, it
would be a much different world, a much different story
and not the story I was interested in writing!
Q: Your female chacters have so much feeling and
emotion. How do you acomplish this as a male author?
A: With difficulty. I'll tell you, when I was about four
years old, I was picked up by a friend of my mother
and she hugged me, she was wearing a soft, silky summer
dress, and her perfume smelled life and as she put me
down, my face slipped between her breasts and throughout
the experience, I was thinking, "this is wonderful,
this feels wonderful" and though I was four I found
I wanted to spend my life observing these fascinating
people and I've learned that they look different , they
feel different, they are different, and I've put all this
into the books.
A recurring motif in the Wheel of Time series is the
differences between men and women. Why did you decide to
make this such an important feature in your writings, and
why do you take such a bipolar view on gender?
became fascinated with women at the age of three. It's a
long story -- too long to go into here. But I quickly
realized that for everything that was the same about men
and women, there seemed to be at least two or three
things that were different. Once I had decided that I
wanted to use the One Power in the way that I was using
it -- that is, divided into a male half and a female half
-- it became obvious to me that the differences between
men and women themselves should also play a part.
Q: The women characters in your books are really
interesting, not at all the cardboard cutouts that appear
so often in fantasy. Did you do that consciously?
A: In part. In this world, given the history that divides
this world, women had to have real political power. But
on the other hand, I simply consider women to be more
interesting if there's more about them to be interesting.
A real live Barbie might be a lot of fun for a weekend if
you're 22, but after that there's not much to it. Empty
They are complex women, strong women, the sort of women
I've always found interesting. As my grandfather said,
"Boy, would you rather hunt rabbits or leopards?"
No choice there.
Q: So will the male-female duality be resolved? Or is
this a "read and find-out" question?
A: Read and find out. What I consider the major story
lines will be resolved. There will be a number of minor
story lines that will not be resolved, for the simple
reason that there is no point to any real world where
everything is resolved. That's always something that has
irritated me about some novels--that you reach a point at
the end of the book, and everyone's problems have now
been solved, and all of the world's problems have been
solved. I get the feeling I could put these characters
and this world on a shelf and put a bell jar over them
and go away. There's nothing left there alive.
That's the way it's going to be. I even intend to set a
small hook in the last scene.
Q: What do fans tell you they like so much about your
A: It's a different thing for every person.
Q: What do the women like?
A: The women like the women. I was told by a number of
women who came to a signing several years ago that they
were surprised to find out that I was a man. They thought
no man could write women like that. And I like this
because my editor used to say that I couldn't write women
at all. I find this a very sweet revenge.
Q: Mr. Jordan, it is a such a pleasure
to converse with you like this. (Unfortunately, I am at
work, so I must submit this without knowing if it will
actually get answered, being 10 AM PST!) My question: It
is apparent that the majority of the "World" is
and has been greatly influenced, if not outright
controlled by females. As we all know, females and males
must work together (as in a circle) so as to defeat the
Dark One. Will we be seeing more of a "work together
attitude" between men and women in your future
novels, or more of the "women should control all
while looking down their nose at men" theme?
A: Both. I'm not certain that I have a women-looking-down-their-nose
at men theme; I simply have women that consider
themselves competent in and of themselves.
Q: First, thanks for such a wonderful series. Your
unsurpassed character development, such an important part
of fiction writing, makes this series stand head and
shoulders above similar-themed works. My question is
about balance. Obviously your world is driven by pattern
and balance (male and female, light and dark, etc). Why
is it that as many of your major and minor characters
find their complement (i.e. significant other), Rand has
3, ehh, girlfriends. Is this simply because he's the
"big cheese", or does this obvious imbalance
represent the Wheel weaving what is necessary for the
final resolution of the story?
A: Read and find out. Sorry about that!
Q: You've thought out your characters so clearly and
their personalities are so complex. How hard was it to do
this? Did it take a lot of planning ahead or did it just
come naturally as you progressed into the writing?
A: There was a lot of planning ahead involved with the
characters, and a lot of work -- with the women
characters in particular, to try to make them seem like
women instead of women written by a man.
Q: Let's talk about the Wheel of Time series. Does it
appeal both to men and women the same?
A: It does. My English publisher commissioned a survey,
and the managing director took us to dinner and said to
me at the table, "We've discovered that your
readership is perfectly spherical." I said, "What
are you telling me? They're fat? What are you saying?"
He said that apparently in England, my readership is
evenly distributed according to age level. Evenly
distributed according to income level. Evenly distributed
according to educational level, according to political
party, according to area of the country they live in.
Every single category it was even distribution. He said
we could not find a significant statistical bump anywhere.
Now, there's no such survey for the United States. All I
have is the fan mail and the people who show up at the
signings. But I have 12 year old kids and I have people
in their 80s. I have gangbangers and cops. I get letters
from convicts. I have college students and doctors and
housewives. I had teenage girls telling me things like,
"You are sooo cool." I mean, good Lord, I felt
like a rock star. I found that Sir Edmond Hillary is a
fan of my books. I found that a high official in the
Russian government hands my books out, telling people
that they are not a manual of politics but a manual of
the poetry of politics. There is no typical Robert Jordan
Q: Can you explain that? I don't think I've ever talked
to another author who's told me that.
A: No. No, I can't. I try to write about people who seem
like real people. When I need to make somebody do
something in the stories, they do it for reasons that
that person would do it, not simply because it's part of
the story. I work very hard, when I am writing from a
woman's point of view, to make that character seem like a
woman, not like a woman written by a man.
I was very pleased, years ago, when I was on tour for
"The Dragon Reborn," and Robert Jordan was not
Robert Jordan, so to speak. He was just another fantasy
writer out there, not somebody who made the New York
Times (best seller lists) or anything like that. I had
women come up to me then and say, "Until they saw
me, they had thought Robert Jordan was the pen name of a
woman, because said they didn't believe any man could
write women that well." So I thought, "All
right! Damn. I did it, I did it right."
I try to make the people distinct in who they are, and as
I said, "I work very hard on the women in
particular, and I think that makes all of the characters
real, or seem real." Now, that may turn out to be
not at all the reason that people like the books, but
it's the only reason I can think of. Except I think do
think I tell a pretty good story.
Me: You talked before about the same
Age in different Turnings, you can compare them to
tapestries, they look alike at first sight. I was
wondering, when at first sight, what would make a
difference... Two points I'm really interested in. [*grumble*
A stupid mobile phone was apparently not switched off
here; yet again... I think Leiden was the only question
session not interrupted by this.] Level of technology and
gender related... if for example the roles of men and
women were switched between Ages, would the tapestries
still look alike at first sight?
Jordan: Ah, but you're not gonna have that sort of switch.
In this Age, how can you have a switch? Easy. Men can channel safely and
women can't! Is Jordan missing a point here? - Raina One of the things for instance in the Age that I
wrote. One of the things...For instance, I've been
accused by somer people of ignoring the feminist struggle.
Well, there is no feminist struggle in this world,
because there is no need for one. No one says a woman
can't do this because she is a woman. A woman wants to be
a blacksmith, she can learn to be a blacksmith, and she
becomes a blacksmith, or a merchant or a wagondriver, or
a worker on the docks, or wherever else. All of that took
place, took place a long time ago. And they're very good
at it. That sets the whole reasons why this should come
about. Three thousand years ago the world was destroyed,
by men. There is one group that has survived for that
three thousand years, one organization that has managed
to stick together for three thousand years, and have a
great influence on history, and that is a group of women.
[Anyone remember the debates about how good or bad the
Aes Sedai were at their job? Of course you do... Well,
here is clear proof that Jordan at least considers them
worthy of admiration.]
Okay, so you just don't have, you just don't have it. To
have a reversal of roles means... absolutely nothing.
Me: Okay, so the sociological results would always be the
same, every Turning ...?
Jordan: Ah, that is one of the things, one of the things
that would be a large, a very large change. Uhm, it's
gonna be the smaller details, smaller things than that
Reports from signings
RJ wrote the Mat/Tylin scenario as a humorous role-reversal
thing. His editor, and wife, thought it was a good
discussion of sexual harassment and rape with comic
undertones. She liked it because it dealt with very
serious issues in a humorous way. She seemed to think it
would be a good way to explain to men/boys what this can
be like for women/girls, showing the fear, etc.
All the women are based in part on his wife. Many
women have been amazed that he was not a woman using a
male pen name because he writes women so well. He just
wrote them as he thought women would be if men had
destroyed the world 3000 years ago. Obviously, their
roles would be much different than they are in our
society. The women are not based on Southern women in
general, just his wife.
The main impetus from the beginning was the notion of
"_men_ breaking the world" (my emphasis), and
that men able to channel must be killed, controlled or
stopped at all costs for 3,000 years. This led naturally
to a society where women had great power and respect. As
an example of this, he puts forth Davram Bashere's
reaction to Faile being a Hunter of the Horn. His initial
negative response does not come from that Faile is a
girl, but that she only is 17 years old. Her gender is
irrelevant to the issue.
First, the question of Hake's inn in TEotW is answered:
it is _not_ a whorehouse, at least not more than any
other inn. :-) Due to the increase in women's power, the
very concept of prostitution is unknown; but women have
much greater freedom in choosing their partners, both
casual and permanent. He specifically mentioned Mat's
little escapades with various maids and serving-girls.
He also said he
tried to create a world without sexism or organized
"I grew up around strong women; weak men were
pickled and salted. The women wouldn't waste time raising
a weak boy."
Q: Will there be more talk about necklines?
Jordan answered something about it only being natural
that men will notice such things. If a man sees a woman,
the odds are that he'll notice things like her legs, and
her mouth and her bosom. And women will notice necklines
as well, usually thinking other things like 'could I wear
Q: Do you have someone to advice you on writing sex
scenes from a women's point of view?
A: No. And if I had she would lie to me. A woman is as
likely to tell the truth about that as men are to tell
them, and if you think about how many of that you would
tell anyone on god's green earth about that. And if you
come upon that teaspoon of liquified truth you would
tell, know that that is five times the truth that she
would tell you.
No, what I do is, I eavesdrop. [laughter]
One time when he was younger and eavesdropping on women,
he received Veritas. He knew everything there was to know
about women. And it turned his hair completely white, and
beyond, so that most of it is dark again, except for that
piece in his beard there, plus it also erased all
knowledge he had gained straight from his head. [In
other words, more and more he was really getting in a
funny-story-telling mood. Maybe Jordan should have become
a stand-up comedian. I don't know how much of the humor I
manage to bring across, I can imagine it's very little,
but if you were there you would have laughed at every
other remark, just like the rest of us.]
Once in all his books, he went to Harriet saying 'Okay,
in this particular situation, this is how I think this
woman would react, this is how I think she would feel. Do
you believe it? And she said 'yes, I do.'
Raina's Hold / Thus Spake The Creator - Index