Does it mean anything different for you now that this is your own stuff, rather than the Wheel of Time?
Here's the weird thing. The Wheel of Time feels as much my own, even though probably, it shouldn't. The Wheel of Time is Robert Jordan's, let's be very frank on that. But the characters feel as much my own as Dalinar does. And the truth is, I knew Rand and Mat before I knew Dalinar, because I picked up the Wheel of Time in 1990, and I started writing Dragonsteel in '91. And so, I've known those characters longer than I've known any of my own characters. Even Hoid, who was there in that first one. He came after the Wheel of Time. And so, when I said yes to Harriet on the Wheel of Time, I did it... I mean, it was a fantastic opportunity. But I did it because this is something I would legitimately want to be part of. And I've talked before about some of the exciting things. Like, for years I'd been playing with a teleportation-based magic system, like gateways, because I had been reading Wheel of Time books and I'm like, "This is where that magic could go!" And I had it all sketched out in my notes. And then I had written, "I can't ever do this. It is too similar to the Wheel of Time."
And then the Wheel of Time... I was writing it. And I'd be like, "Well, here are my notes on how to manipulate this magic system," because I'd spent years wanting to do this. And Perrin is, like, my high school friend. I was one of these nerdy, bookish people, who my friends were my characters in the books. (And, yes, I wasn't that lonely. I did have real friends.)
So, does it feel different to me? No, it really doesn't. I mean, I'm really proud of this. I've been planning forever for this. So, this is my baby. But... When I was offered the Wheel of Time, one thing about it was, when Harriet gave it to me... Finding somebody to finish the Wheel of Time had been a dying request from Robert Jordan for her. She didn't grieve until she found someone to do it, and then she went and grieved for a year, and left me basically on my own. Now, when it came to editing, she then came in as an editor and had a very strong hand and was very important that she do that. But in the process of outlining the three books, writing the first one, and deciding on the plot archetypes and all these things, I did that basically just me and Robert Jordan's notes. And there was a large amount of ownership that Harriet allowed me to take, even though it's made very clear, "The Wheel of Time is not mine." But the characters kind of are mine, in the same way they're all of yours, if that makes any sense.
So, no. It's a long answer, isn't it? One question I get a lot, people ask me, "Does it hurt to kill off characters? Does it hurt to have characters that you don't get to write about anymore?" And usually, my answer is "No." Because I have built a plot arc for years when I'm writing a book, where I know what risks that character's going to take, and I build into it then the consequences of those actions. And it's like, they demand to be allowed to do this, and then there is a ramification. And when I actually write it, yes, there's a sorrow to it, but at the same time, it's fulfilling what that character wanted to do for years and who they are, if that makes any sense. So, they are then done, and I don't feel a need to write any more about them. I'm not gonna mention any names, not give spoilers, but for a lot of these characters, I'm like, "No, I don't feel a need to write any more stories, because I told the story that they needed to have told, and that feels awesome."
The exception is the Wheel of Time. Because, in some ways, the Wheel of Time is the only one... Now, I made the decision that no more Wheel of Time books should be written. It really belongs to Harriet, but when Harriet... She actually asked me what I thought we should do, and I was very up front with "No more Wheel of Time should be done." Because Robert Jordan didn't want it to be done. But the only ones that hurt are not being able to write more stories about some of those characters, because I don't feel their stories are completely told, and I don't feel that I can. So, that is painful. I feel it's good. It's the pain of having lost Robert Jordan. So, it's not a good pain, but it's a necessary pain. And it's a pain that I shouldn't relinquish by simply going and writing all these books, but that is a pain. Not being able to tell the stories of these characters that I really feel didn't quite get told. So you'll have to tell them all in your own head.