Member Spotlight: Jeffan Caliarthan

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Author: Taelinn Dolivras, December 2013

This month's Member Spotlight features someone who has often worked behind the scenes on the Tar Valon Times. In fact, despite writing the Spotlight article seven times since its inception - more than any other reporter - he has never been featured. Now, that is about to change (and it was about time!)

Yes, our featured TarValon.Net member this month is none other than Jeffan Caliarthan!

When I asked him to tell me a little about himself, he gave me such a perfect description that paraphrasing it or altering it in any way would be a crime! Here's what he told me:

Jeffan has been a member of TarValon.Net for nearly nine years, and is a Gaidin of San d'ma Shadar. He's a shameless flirt, loves to be the center of attention, and is all about making people laugh and enjoy themselves. He has few boundaries, and is generally a guy you'd probably like to hang out with for a good time.

James is a 23-year-old from Seattle, Washington who enjoys reading fantasy novels, watching television, and pretty much relaxing in whatever way that he can. He loves table games, Pokemon, pop music, Disney villains, and spending time with his friends. He loves spreadsheets, and likes to keep everything organized. At first perceived to be quiet, once he gets going, he doesn't ever really stop (this effect is multiplied when alcohol is added). Engaging and intriguing - and I think you'll find as you read on that these words are the perfect descriptors for Jeffan.

I continued by asking Jeffan about his first experience with the Wheel of Time series. It was one of his teachers who introduced him to the books when he was 11. "My 6th grade teacher mentioned an epic fantasy series that had to do with dragons, and at the time I was completely obsessed with dragons - it was actually kind of ridiculous and embarrassing," he admitted. "So I picked up The Eye of the World and read about half of it, but got a little lost so I put it down. About six months later I picked it up again and read it all. I was a little sad realizing that there weren't any 'real' dragons in it, but I quickly overcame my initial sadness once I realized how utterly awesome the series was." I definitely got a chuckle out of reading that, and I'm sure many of us would have made the same mistake about dragons at that age too!

We then covered some of the burning questions about the series: favorite character, favorite book, and favorite scene. As with many of us, Jeffan's favorite character is not the same throughout the whole series. "In the first few books, it's Moiraine all the way," he revealed. "I absolutely love her. She's this mythical figure that we all hope will enter our lives some day to take us away from our humdrum lives, and she's absolutely fantastic. However, when she started playing a more minor role in the series, I eventually came to love Rand. I know, he's a bit of an idiot sometimes, and he's always down on himself moaning about the women he's killed, but he becomes a really badass character! He's like this God among men with all the insane power that he has, and it's kind of ridiculous what he's able to do and how much he's able to influence the world with that power." Jeffan is also a fan of Nynaeve for being so opinionated and her ability to not let anything get in her way, and enjoys Cadsuane's fearlessness. But these are just his favorite good guys. His favorite villain is Padan Fain, who he feels to be the most detestable character in the entire series. "He's been so twisted and corrupted by The Dark One that he's become almost a victim, but then he also brings Mordeth into himself, and it just creates this absolutely wicked character with a lot of unknown powers," Jeffan affirmed. "He's been my favorite guy to hate for a long time." Jeffan also likes Lanfear for her fearlessness and Moghedien for being "so damned sneaky!"

Next, we talked about his favorite book and scene. For Jeffan, The Great Hunt is the most epic book, and he loves the character development within it's pages. "[All of the main characters are] realizing their paths in life and that they aren't farm folk anymore, and it's really interesting to see them transform as individuals. And the end scene at Falme? Well, that just kind of speaks for itself." Indeed it does! As for his favorite scene, for Jeffan, it isn't limited to one book. "My favorite scene is kind of an ongoing thing," he told me. "I love every interaction between Nynaeve and Moghedien. I simply love how much they loathe each other, and all of their scenes leave me holding my breath. The first time when they had their battle in the Hall of Artifacts in Tanchico was totally jaw-dropping, and that was the first time that I actually cheered out loud at a book. Ever. My other favorite scene is when Nynaeve finally captures her with forkroot. It was fantastic seeing Moghedien totally owned."

We also discussed what Jeffan would do if he were living in the Wheel of Time universe. "I'd probably want to be a sage innkeeper or something," he declared. "You know, the type that has a lot of information and knows all the gossip around the the city (and the world, most likely), and keeps people informed for a price. I'd want to be that invaluable character that knows absolutely everything. I'd be a bit of a hussy as well, using my reputation to lure men into bed, simply because it totally fits my personality. I'm definitely not someone who's suited for fighting, so I'd stay the heck away from being a Soldier or Warder. Being an Aes Sedai (assuming men could become Aes Sedai) would be cool, but I just don't really see it fitting my personality too well. I mean, don't get me wrong, it'd be friggin' awesome to be able to do that kind of stuff with the Power, but it's just not me, unfortunately!"

We continued the interview by talking about the release of the final Wheel of Time book. "Like most people, I find it to be a bittersweet thing," he revealed. "I love that the series is finally complete and we know what happens, although I don't think that Brandon Sanderson did the story justice. This isn't to say that he's a bad writer, just that this was Robert Jordan's series, and Brandon Sanderson was simply the person chosen to write down the last bit of plot that had to be tied up. On the other hand, it's sad that there's going to be no more stories in the Wheel of Time universe for me to look forward to. For most of my life as a reader, I've always been waiting for the next Wheel of Time book to come out, and that's not something that I have anymore. I'm sad that I'm never going to know the story of how Moiraine and Lan finally ended up in Emond's Field, or about Tam's time as a soldier and meeting Kari and finding Rand. I think that would be such an amazing story, and it's sad to know that it'll never be written." Jeffan's answer touched me, as what he said is also on my mind. It's one of the things that many of us have had to accept with the end of the series, but personally I hold out hope that the encyclopedia will give us some of this, even if it won't be in story form!

But enough about me - let's get back to Jeffan! Our next topic of discussion was Jeffan's time here at TarValon.Net. He first found the site by searching for "Wheel of Time" on a popular search engine. "I was looking up the answer to a question I had in the first book and this site just popped up," he said. "I saw it had a chat room and I joined the same day. As for what convinced me to stay, well... that has to be the community. The members at the Tower are some of the most supportive and genuinely amazing people that I have ever met, and I couldn't imagine not being apart of that." And in that vein, when I asked him about his favorite thing about TarValon.Net, he was unequivocal: "The people. I have some lifelong friends that I've met through TarValon.Net, and I love them dearly. Some of the relationships that I have that started out at The Tower have come to transcend the Internet, and I'm really grateful for that. It's also given me some amazing experiences, and allowed me to do things that I just normally wouldn't have done. I've traveled the country to hang out with people I've met at The Tower, and not just for official events; I've gone to birthday parties and to raise people live."

Of those amazing experiences, Jeffan couldn't pick just one as his favorite. "Being raised live to both Soldier and Gaidin are the first things that come to mind, but then there's also that time that I gave Valorian a lap dance while singing Britney Spears' Oops I Did It Again... and that time that I slapped Guiyall and made him my First Brother," he told me. "Being on Panels at JCon V was great, and I can't imagine not being on them anymore. Touring Robert Jordan's home at 10th Anni is an experience that I will never forget. Receiving an Amyrlin's Award for Unsung Servant at 11th Anni was incredibly humbling. Every single time that I've created waves at the Tower and made an impression on people, no matter what that impression may be, is fun. It helps define who I am as a person. Bonding Rhed, one of the most admirable women at the Tower, is definitely near the top of the list. One thing that's near the bottom is getting glitter bombed by Aavyn and Anika." I don't know what glitter bombing is, but it sounds unpleasant enough that I'd probably put it at the bottom of my list too! I also asked Jeffan about his favorite RL event, and for him, it's a toss-up between JordanCon and the 10th Anniversary Party. "At 10th Anni I solidified a lot of the friendships that I'd made over the past handful of years, and at JordanCon I just had a non-stop amazing time for four days straight. If you ask which event is my favorite, Anniversary Party or JordanCon, I'd definitely go with JordanCon, though," he informed me. "It's a lot more laid back, and more of a weekend-long nerd party where there's a whole bunch of stuff to do at any given time, and if you need to, you can just go off the reservation to get away with some friends for a bit."

I continued by asking him about the positions he has held on the site. Of all the things he has done, he has enjoyed being in The Hall the most. "It's laid back (for the most part), and I feel like I really get some input on the goings-on of the Tower," he explained. I also asked him about winning the 'Most Likely to be Eaten by a Trolloc' for the 2013 Members' Choice Awards, since I was curious about how he felt. "Well, there are two ways to view this, and neither is terribly flattering," he admitted. "The first would be that people would think that I'm too slow to outrun a trolloc if I were ever attacked by one, and the other is that people want me to be eaten by a trolloc because they don't like me. Regardless of how it was intended, I was honored to receive the merit badge that accompanied the award, so I guess I do win in the end, despite whichever train of thought led me to winning this award." I wonder how he'll feel, then, knowing I didn't vote for him...

Well, that's all there is, folks. I hope you all enjoyed learning a bit more about one of the Tar Valon Times' former editors (and if you see him around, tell him the current editor wants him to come back and write more articles!)