Here are a few items I thought I'd let you guys know about. First off, remember that there's a signing this Saturday at 2:00. It's the release party for ALCATRAZ VERSUS THE KNIGHTS OF CRYSTALLIA. The book is pretty much sold out across Utah, so if you want one, this is the best place to get it. I'll be numbering the copies there (though I won't be starting at #1, as a few people have already gotten to me for signatures—I think we're on #4.). The bookstore will have plenty of copies, which are pretty much (as far as I've seen) the last available copies in the state. So, come get some books! As always, I'll be signing all my other books too.
I think this is my last Utah signing before the tour for THE GATHERING STORM. So it's your last chance to chat with me and get books signed in a more relaxed atmosphere.
Secondly, James Dashner—a good friend of mine and an excellent writer—just released what is hands-down the finest book of his career so far. It's called THE MAZE RUNNER, and I absolutely loved it. I've read a number of James's books, but this one is on a different level entirely.
It's in the YA postapocalyptic genre—so, like THE HUNGER GAMES. It's about a group of boys who wake up without memories trapped inside an enormous maze filled with deadly traps. It's getting a big push from the publisher, so if you follow YA, you'll probably hear a lot about it in the near future. Really, it's an excellent novel. If you're a fan of fast-paced thriller-style writing, I think you'll enjoy it.
Finally, progress on TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT is continuing at a fair pace. As always, there are sections that turn out beautifully and sections that don't. (The latter get thrown away and rewritten, the former get kept and rewritten. That's just how this goes.) I'm feeling very good about my deadlines on this one. It's going to be tight, but I think you'll get it next year as planned.
One of the things I felt could be improved on from THE GATHERING STORM is my use of names. Robert Jordan had a distinctive way of using names, and I think that some of my names for the book didn't quite hit the right mark. We're talking about very minor things—people who are named and don't appear, or maybe who speak one line or another. Anyone more major than that generally had a name already (or if they didn't, I pulled a name from one of Mr. Jordan's unused names files).
The thing is, a good epic fantasy like this uses dozens and dozens of new names in a book. I wanted to take a stab at approaching the naming in the way Mr. Jordan did. During my very first ride with Harriet, coming back from the airport two years ago to her home in Charleston, I remember her talking about some of Mr. Jordan's names. One came from a street we passed, another from a person he knew, and another from a word he saw on a sign. His goal was to hint at our world far in the future—or perhaps far in the past—by giving occasional hints to our world through legend, story, song, and name. Hence we get names like Thom or Artur, which are direct adaptations of names from our world.
Therefore, for TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT I've been using a list of names from our world as inspiration. I chose the list of donors for the charity event that Tar Valon.net did last spring, and I've been posting the names on Twitter and Facebook as I choose them. So if you're curious about this, you can watch and see who gets chosen. I'm certain someone out there is keeping a list of them all as well. (I've got one here, and may post it eventually.)
I don't want to make it seem like I'm playing favorites or soliciting praise in order to get people into the Wheel of Time, and so for now I'm using this list ONLY. If we decide to do another charity event, I'll let you know. If you don't want to find out about the names, I won't post them here on the blog, but those who do wish to know can follow along. Remember, these are very small characters, often just mentioned by name but not seen. I'm adapting all the names, so the name I post is not what will appear in the book—it's just the inspiration for what will appear.
Still, I think it will make some people very happy and will allow me to try a method that Robert Jordan used in making these books. Perhaps it wasn't so conscious for him as it is for me, but one of my duties in writing these novels is to try—to the best of my abilites—to maintain the proper feel of the Wheel of Time. I think this will help. We'll see; I've got Harriet and Team Jordan backing me up, and so if any of the names stand out to them, they'll vanish and get replaced with something more appropriate.
(And, as I've said before, remember that the Wheel of Time turns, and people are constantly spun in and out of the Pattern. Those who are alive today could very well live again during the Third Age, and so it's not so odd at all for people who loved these books during our time to get pulled into Rand's ta'veren web and spun out again during the events of the Last Battle. . . .)
Also, note that the Mistborn Posters are almost ready. We'll be doing a big announcement about them next week.