This week marked the publication of Mystic, the first novel from Dragonmount founder Jason Denzel! (You can read an excerpt here.) Dragonmount is the largest and best-known news and community site for Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, making Denzel one of the experts on the series. No surprise, then, that his Reddit AMA thread on r/fantasy included discussions on his and other readers’ favorite moments in the series, how Jordan influenced his writing, and Denzel’s thoughts on The Wheel of Time Companion.
Denzel also shared three truths and a lie, and how his practice of Choy Li Fut kung-fu influences his writing. Check out the highlights!
The Mystic Elevator Pitch
ughalready: If you had to compare Mystic to one other book or series, which would it be and why?
JD: I like to describe Mystic as a cross between A Wizard of Earthsea and The Hunger Games.
Kung-Fu, Meditation, and Writing
MosesSiregarIII: How have kung-fu and/or meditation influenced your writing?
JD: For me, Kung-fu and meditation are opposite sides of the same coin. Done right, I see both of them as methods of tapping into something deeper within ourselves. Both deal with the movement and cycles of energy in the body. These are very real things, and a lot of readers and other people will tell you about their experiences with it. I think we carry a lot of potential within us. You could say its what makes us truly human.
These ideas fascinate me, and I’m always trying to explore them in my writing.
delilahsdawson: What’s your favorite line from Mystic?
JD: I have two favorite lines. The first:
“I called to the Myst and it summoned you.”
I asked the publisher to put this on the back of the book, and they did, along with putting it in all the marketing material. I don’t want to spoil the context of that sentence, but it really summarizes the heart of my magic system in this series. The Myst isn’t about flashy explosions and amazing phenomenon. At its most powerful, it’s subtle in nature. It’s about connection and being able to uplift yourself and others. If done right, the Myst doesn’t get manipulated; it shows you how to act for the betterment of everyone.
My other favorite line is:
“Do I taste like dog?” she blurted.
Lessons From Robert Jordan
bluebird213: What kind of impact did [The Wheel of Time] have on your own writing, both your desire to write professionally and the kinds of characters you have written?
JD: There’s no denying that THE WHEEL OF TIME had massive influence in my life, and so clearly that’s going to affect my style. I’ve always had an interest in writing and storytelling, though. If anything, my involvement in the franchise only encouraged me more to give it a go myself.
In terms of style, I’m very different from Robert Jordan. But I’ve learned a lot from him in terms of creating characters that feel real and engaging. Even though some of his characters could get a little dry at times, at his best, (Mat Cauthon!), he’s unmatched IMO when it comes to creating characters the reader remembers a long time.
Best Wheel of Time Moments
MikeOfThePalace: What’s your favorite moment in WoT?
Regarding Brandon’s books: what do you think he did best?
What scene do you most wish that [Robert Jordan] had been able to write himself?
JD: I have so many favorite moments in series. Of course I love the BIG moments: the end of book 12 when Rand is on dragonmount. Perrin forging Mah’alleinir. The epilogue to the series. But a smaller scene I’ve always loved is in PATH OF DAGGERS, book 8, in the chapter called “A Cup of Sleep.” Rand gives a poisoned goblet to a teenage Asha’man who had succumbed to madness. As he holds the boy and lets him die, Min says to him, “Cry Rand al’Thor.” Rand didn’t. But I did.
“Burn you,” she breathed. Tangling both hands in his hair, she stared in his eyes. Now blue, now gray, a morning sky just at sunrise. And dry. “You can cry, Rand al’Thor. You won’t melt if you cry!”
I think THE GATHERING STORM is the strongest of the 3 Brandon novels. Mostly because you can tell it was originally designed to be the END… until they decided it needed to be 3 books. In terms of what he did with the writing though, I think the best thing was he brought the spotlight back to Rand and Egwene. I remember we had conversations by phone right after he got the job, and he told me that was what needed to happen. I knew then he was the right man for the job. Rand and Egwene, like yin and yang, are truly the hearts of the series.
I wish Robert Jordan had given us the actual, final confrontation between Rand and the Dark One. And I wish he’d written the reunion scene between Rand and Tam. Hell, wth all respect to Brandon (and I’m sure he’d agree in some ways), I wish RJ had finished the series himself.
The Legacy of Dragonmount
wishforagiraffe: How much time does it take to run Dragonmount on a day to day basis? Did you ever expect it to become as big as it did?
JD: Dragonmount pretty much runs itself these days. I have an amazing volunteer staff that sees to the day to day operations. I keep the servers running, keep the bills paid, and manage emails some and the social media with Jenn Liang. In terms of whether I thought it would get big…. No, I had no idea just how huge it would get. I suspected it could do well. But I had no idea it would draw so much attention. There were other communities, other forums, other places to go. What I brought to the table was timely news and (eventually) linking the fans to Robert Jordan more directly.
Denzel is currently on tour for Mystic and The Wheel of Time Companion with Harriet McDougal, Maria Simons, and Alan Romanczuk. Here’s where you can find them! Or you can follow along online, on Denzel’s Twitter as well as on Dragonmount.