How Asmodean made me better at my job

By Justin Golenbock, aka Tor’s “Wheel of Time guy”

Can you be so into your job that it actually embarrasses your boss?

Very easily, it turns out.

I came into my job interview at Tor (after several years at a “serious” book publisher) worried that I wouldn’t so much reveal as unabashedly revel in my inner fanboy-ness. Not very professional, right? Did I have to get all the references in Robert Berry’s WoT soundtrack? Do I need to carry my Asha’man money clip out to professional mixers? My concern was warranted.

But it would really embarrass my boss, I mean like genuinely elicit some creeped-out looks in the office, if she knew that the only reason I’m working here in the first place is because of the WoT FAQ thread 1.1.6.

Yeah, you know which one I’m talking about.

(And yes, I have that number memorized…)

I picked up The Eye of the World (and quickly burned through Lord of Chaos) in the wild, pre-modem frontier days of ’95. Way back when, the WoT community didn’t really exist, or at least not with such ubiquitous awesomeness as it does today. I didn’t know anyone who read these books or had any interest in talking about them. It was one of those things, in the self-involved way of teenagers, you assume is a passion totally unique to you, and how could anyone else feel and care the same way about them as you do?  So it became a closet interest.

But I was very, very wrong. And like a lot of fans, as time passed waaaay too slowly, I became frustrated with the waits between books, oblivious of the deadly serious reasons behind them, so that by the time I moved to New York and started working in publishing I’d fallen off the WoT fanwagon.

And then I read that Mr. Rigney had passed away.

That was a terrible day. Not just because I was only beginning to realize that I’d never get a chance to finish this series I’d grown up with, but that here passed this great man who had created this world and these characters that had practically been constant companions, whose story I practically felt a part of after reading it so many times. It was too cruel that he wouldn’t get to see through his life’s work.

It was the lowest point of my fandom. But it drove me to do two things: 1) re-read the series (again…), and 2) read about the series online.  For there were links. Lots and lots of links.  And OH MY GOD this entire community of people out there in forums and on blogs who were OBSESSED with the Wheel of Time…JUST LIKE ME.

Anyway, it’s probably like XKCD’s 3rd law that anyone who trolls the internet eventually stumbles upon an Asmodean’s killer theory  (though for the record, count me as one of those fans who hardly noticed his absence when he went). And it turns out that lurking on all the WoT forums can be a great way to waste time at work (umm…at my last job, I swear…).

These days I can’t really comment online anymore, though that doesn’t stop the Theorylanders from trying to gut me with absurdly tricksy questions. But it hasn’t changed my love for this series, and especially for the uberpassionate fans who reminded me just why I cared about it so much in the first place.

So maybe just this one time, my boss will let me revel in my inner fanboy without squirming with too much embarrassment. 🙂

Justin Golenbock is a Senior Publicist at Tor Books. He once dressed as Mat Cauthon for Halloween (no one he was with knew) and has never asked Brandon to share the final chapter of A Memory of Light, because he’s really devoted to his job.

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