A Memory of Light, the final volume in Robert Jordan’s epic Wheel of Time saga is sure to be one of the biggest selling novels when it finally hits shelves. Thanks to Sanderson’s generosity, one fan will find themselves in the novel, and all the proceeds go to Heifer International, the same folks who Patrick Rothfuss recently supported through his own fundraising.
From his web site:
It has become a tradition for me to auction off naming rights to one of the characters in each of my novels. In the past, I’ve done this locally, with a church group. People would ‘bid’ cans of food that they would donate to the local food bank, and the winner got to name a character in one of my books. The first appearance was Lord Penrod, named for a woman who’s last name was–not surprisingly–Penrod. Lord Yomen in THE HERO OF AGES changed the tradition slightly in that I started describing the character to look like the person who won the auction. Warbreaker’s Llarimar is another of these winners.
When I started working on the Wheel of Time novel, it was my assumption that I would forego the tradition for this particular book. I wasn’t planning on doing anything. But then the awesome Pat Rothfuss (by the way, Pat, I’m going to answer your email soon. Sorry–I got distracted. Bad Brandon!) started up a charity drive this Christmas. This was a particularly bad year for charities, as a lot of people were tightening their belts and cutting their spending. I read several articles talking about how difficult a year it was going to be for a lot of people in underdeveloped areas of the world, where the economy doesn’t just mean fewer trips to the movies–it means children starve because there isn’t enough food to be had.
At that moment, I realized that we had something very special in the Wheel of Time book–an opportunity that shouldn’t be passed up. I wrote an email to Harriet, telling her about the charity that Pat had been using for his drive. It’s called Heifer International. Instead of just giving food to the poor, they go into developing countries, give them animals to care for, and teach them how to use the livestock to create a sustainable source of income and food. It’s a fantastic idea, and a worthy charity. I asked Harriet if she’d mind me auctioning off a character in A Memory of Light. She was behind that 100%. As some of you may know, Robert Jordan did something like this once, giving a walk-on part to a fan in one of the books. There are a LOT of people who need to be named in this story, and so why not let a few of those names and descriptions go to real people?
During the Last Battle, there will be a lot of groups fighting the Shadow. Well, we’re going to develop and include a special group to represent the Wheel of Time fans who donate in our charity drive.
This isn’t the first time that Brandon Sanderson’s given his fans a chance to appear as a character in one of his novels, but it’s almost certainly the most important.