INTRO by RJ Curtis
You know the feeling, that “wait-stop-WHAT?” sensation?
It’s a state you enter when you read something that hits you right where it’s supposed to, a line or a paragraph that breaks in a wave against your chest, leaving you transported. It has little to do with surprise or suspense, though that can be a part of it. If you’re reading alone when it hits, you find yourself wishing, needing to share it with someone like-minded who’s already read the thing and can tell you ‘yes, yes, I felt it the same way too.’
Patrick Rothfuss’ writing lives in this place.
His stories are epic, broad and as explorative as anything we’ve come to expect from our modern fantasy masters. They pull from a familiar color palate, welcoming and warm, with magic and intrigue and songs and quests. That said, it’s evident from the first line of the prologue of The Name of the Wind that these books are something completely different. They don’t waste words, though they are extravagant. They don’t condescend from their complexity and massiveness, though the world around the stories is huge. They are welcoming, inviting exercises in capital-L Literary enjoyment told in a voice that may as well be in the room with you, and they are beautiful. And funny. And gut-wrenchingly sad.
It’s an exciting time to be a Rothfuss reader, with the third book in the Kingkiller trilogy forthcoming and the film industry abuzz with potential for an adaptation. I was fortunate enough to interview Mr. Rothfuss via email, and in his responses below, one can sense the humor and specificity that make his writing such a treat.
RJ – This is tradition for us, but the fans demand: Pizza or tacos, and why?
Patrick Rothfuss – Tacos. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pizza. But you can have Pizza any time. People bring pizza to your house. You almost have to make an effort.
Tacos are rarer. They’re more elusive. We always want what we can’t have.
Plus, y’know. Cumin.
RJ – What was the first story you ever wrote? How was it received?
Rothfuss – The first story I ever wrote was actually a video game. It was modeled after those old text-adventure infocom games. I wrote it in basic and it was over 30 pages long.
Unfortunately, it was never received because I never finished it. Writing a text parser at the age of 10 was beyond my skill.
No. Wait. I lie. That wasn’t my first. Before that I wrote an illustrated story about dinosaurs. My mom liked it pretty well.
RJ – This year’s Comic Con saw The Kingkiller Chronicle getting a lot of attention from film studios, with some reports throwing around the term ‘bidding war’. Are you able to give us any updates on that process?
Rothfuss – Right now? No. I can’t. Really can’t.
But rest assured that when I can, I’ll write a big, information-rich blog post about it. Several blogs, probably.
RJ – Do you have any dream casting scenarios?
Rothfuss – I have actors I love. But I don’t know how they’d fit into the movie.
If you left it up to me, the University would probably just look like a bad piece of mashup fanfic. You’d have Nathan Fillion and Morena Baccarin and James Marsters and Alyson Hannigan and Neil Patrick Harris and Natalie Portman….
Yeah. It’s probably a good thing I’m not in charge of that. I love Nathan Fillion, but he’s probably not the right person to play Kvothe.
RJ – Are you in favor of books on the craft of writing, or not a fan? Any in particular you’d recommend?
Rothfuss – I don’t think I’ve ever read one. I’ve occasionally read pieces of various books, but they’ve never been able to hold my attention enough for me to read a whole one.
I’m not against them or anything, I just don’t think they’re for me. (He said, deliberately leaving a comma splice in that sentence, like the iconoclastic rebel that he is.)
I’ve heard a lot of good things about Steven King’s On Writing though…
RJ – Do you have any advice specifically for aspiring fantasy writers? Any directed reading?
Rothfuss – Yeah. Live somewhere cheap. I actually wrote a blog on the subject.
Also, buy one of those uninterruptable power supplies for your computer, and back up your files regularly.
RJ – A lot of people know you for the Kingkiller Chronicle, but aren’t familiar with the Princess and Mr. Whiffle. What prompted you to write a not-for-children children’s book?
Rothfuss – That’s actually kind of a long story.
But the short version is that I actually wrote The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle five years before The Name of the Wind was published.
But after my first book came out, Subterranean Press approached me and asked if I had any other stories I’d like to publish. So I teamed up with Nate Taylor (an illustrator friend I’d made in grad school) and we worked on it together.
RJ – Did it pose any challenges you weren’t anticipating?
Rothfuss – The first Princess book didn’t. But the second one was much harder than I was expecting. There’s a big difference between writing a whimsical story off the top of your head, and trying to re-create something similar but different for a sequel…
RJ – You’ve stated that Kingkiller Chronicle is definitely going to be a trilogy, with other books written in the world. After Doors of Stone, do you intend to write another series in this world, or do you have something else in the pipeline?
Rothfuss – Both. I have plans for more stories set in this world. And other books, too.
RJ – Halloween’s coming up next month – what’s your costume, and why?
Rothfuss – I’m kinda limited by the beard, but I’m torn between doing Ice King from Adventure time. Or Uncle Iroh from Avatar.
Patrick Rothfuss will be at The Last Bookstore on Saturday 9/19 from 7-10pm to read, answer questions and sign books. He is the author of The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, the first two installments in the Kingkiller trilogy, as well as The Slow Regard of Silent Things set in the same world.