In your words, "Is it okay, in an epic fantasy, to hang a gun on the mantle, then not fire it until book ten of the series written fifteen years later. Will people wait that long? Will it even be meaningful? My general instincts as a writer so far have been to make sure those guns are there, but to obscure them, or at least downplay them." Your novels are followed very closely by groups like TWG, and now 17th Shard and Stormblessed, and you're familiar with the obsessiveness of Wheel of Time fans. There are more and more people out there who spend time between book releases poking at the metaphorical walls of your work, on a hunt for those guns you've obscured. Does this kind of scrutiny change anything for you?
Yes. I don't generally change the guns that I'm hanging, but I have begun to hang more subtle guns for those who like to dig. I like to have a variety of secrets in my books, with a variety of difficulty levels in figuring them out. If you read one of the books I've written, like The Way of Kings, I would hope that it will meet everyone's needs when it comes to discovering things. For those who really want to dig, there will be some really deep secrets that you can unearth, talk about, and theorize about and eventually be proven right. There will be things that the casual reader will figure out three pages before the answer is revealed, that you will have figured out ten chapters ahead of time. I like that variety because of the old adage—it's hard to fool everybody all the time, but hopefully I can have enough different secrets that they will each fool a few people.