Robert Jordan’s exemplary fan community writes about blog-reading fans of the terminally-ill author Robert Jordan. Jordan has been writing about his illness on his blog, and his fans have apparently gone above and beyond in supporting him:

Robert Jordan, author of the best-selling Wheel of Time series, has fans. And if you want to understand them, take a look at his blog. Since last spring, when he announced he had a rare blood disease called amyloidosis, Jordan, 58, has been chronicling his life-and-death struggle online. Whenever he’s well enough to write, he thanks the fans who sent care packages, and those who donated to the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn., where he is being treated. Then there’s this: “For Jaime Platt and her sister, your offer touches me deeply. They were able to harvest enough of my own bone marrow stem cells that I don’t need marrow donation from elsewhere, but thank you very much. That was a kind and generous offer.”

His fans aren’t just offering body parts to him, they’re also connecting with each other:

In the Internet age, fans can engage with a book long after they’ve finished it. They go online, meet other fans and participate in role-playing games. There’s even a Web site profiling couples who have met and married because of the series. (One happy couple, Amber and Markku of Espoo, Finland, met in a “clan” devoted to the Wheel of Time board game.) Rabid Jordan fans know all about Harriet, his wife and editor, and they even sent her care packages when they learned he was ill.

I am sure much of this comes from the connection fans feel with his books and with him. But looking at his blog, it’s also clear that he’s set it up to foster a sense of community. The front page is a blog, but the header reads “Dragonmount, A Wheel of Time Community” and in addition to the blog is a prominent link to a forum where there’s loads of discussion going on. There is a gallery for fan art. This is an author who has given fans an officially-sanctioned space to connect with one another around his work, to be creative with his work, and added on maintaining regular and meaningful direct connection with them as well. It’s a good model.

Comments (4) to “Robert Jordan’s exemplary fan community”

  1. nice.

    nancy, this reminds me of a recent post by doug rushkoff asking folks for financial contribution for the writer/visionary robert anton wilson who was, at the time of rushkoff’s post, in desperate health and in desperate finances. with help from a post on boingboing, money was raised.

  2. Just as a point of clarification, Dragonmount isn’t Mr. Jordan’s website. It was begun as a fan community some years ago, and still remains so, though it does host RJ’s blog. I was a member there back when it was a smallish roleplay and discussion forum plagued by downtime and slow servers. :) Those were the days! RJ has long had a friendly relationship with the site, but it’s not his creation nor is it officially sanctioned in any way.

    It’s still a very good model for creator/fan relationships, though, in my book.

  3. BlueCanary — thanks for that important clarification. Do you know how he came to park his blog there? It seems like an even more unusual thing to have the fan community hosting creator of the works around which their fandom revolves (what a powerful way to validate your fan community) than to have an author hosting his own fan community.

  4. Nancy: I’m afraid I don’t know much about how the website has grown and RJ’s relationship with the site has developed over the past several years, since it’s been a good 3+ years since I spent much time there. So many fandoms, so little time! RJ’s always been pretty willing to communicate via email with fans and humor our incessant questions about the mysteries of his books at signings, though, and I seem to recall that the moderators at would semi-regularly have their email conversations with him on reprinted on the main site, but the blog is definitely new.

    RJ has always been particularly interactive with his fans, though, encouraging roleplaying and fanart in ways that few other creators do. He’s also been very aware of the various popular fansites and discussion lists for his work. I’m not particularly surprised that he would choose to go directly to where the fans already are rather than create his own site.