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DM Fantasy Interview: Patrick Rothfuss


Posted by Luckers on May 17 2011 10:10 AM under in Fantasy Reviews
The Dragonmount Fantasy Review Interview
Patrick Rothfuss



Hey everyone! I’ve got a bit of a special surprise for you. Our next review isn't due until June, but this was burning a hole in my pocket and I couldn't wait to share it. Following my review of Patrick Rothfuss’ bestselling novel, Wise Man’s Fear, the author himself was kind enough to take time out and do an interview with us. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed making it.




James:

Last time you hung out with Dragonmount (before Name of the Wind was published) you said “maybe after I sell a million or so books, I'll be too fabulous to accept personal messages", and yet here you are. How’d you avoid the megalomaniacal urges of being a Fantasy God? Or are you just hiding them—in which case how does it feel to be a megalomaniacal fantasy god?

Pat:

You're obviously overestimating my success. I haven't sold anywhere close to a million books.

James:

I don't suppose I can cling to the 'or so' element of that question?

No?

Alright.

As I understand it, you had already written out the entirety of Kvothe’s story in an early draft form before The Name of the Wind was published, and now are in the process of revising and fine tuning it. I was wondering if you could explain to us what’s involved in that revision process?

Pat:

You know what it's like when your car doesn't run. So you take it apart, then replace a bunch of the parts and put back together again and then it works?

Yeah. Me neither.

But that's pretty much what I did with the book. Except instead of a car, it was my novel. It's a metaphor, you see. I can't explain to you what I do to a book in 50 words or less any more than I could teach you how to fix a car. It's just too big.

James:

Ok, love the car analogy, it expresses the complexity of writing--my follow-up is: what about fine-tuning. For me, I can point to each book that I've written and see the things I've learned from writing them--is it the same for you? Is there anything specific you learned writing/revising Wise Man's Fear?

Pat:

A lot of things. Hundreds of things, really.

The problem is that while all cars work in pretty much the same way, all stories are different.

James:

Could you give us an example of something you changed in the Wise Man’s Fear (from the original rough draft), and why you changed it? (forwardslash how it evolved, etc).

Pat:

Well, just to pick one thing out of the dozens…. I expanded and improved the Adem section from about three chapters to the current length it is now.

Why? Because the way I wrote it back in 1999 sucked. It was like a lame 80's training montage. The Adem had no real unique culture of their own. None of the language or the philosophy they have now. They were cheap cardboard cutouts.

James:

Are you expecting Day Three to take the same amount of time to fine tune as Day Two?

Pat:

Maybe.

James:

How much work remains to be put into it?

Pat:

A lot.

James:

There is a lot of information out there on things new authors should not do in the first work—no novels of over a 120,000 words for a fantasy manuscript, for instance, and I recall reading an agent’s blog that listed a ‘story within a story’ format as an ‘argh rejection’, yet your books have done many of these supposedly bad things, and done very well with them. So my questions are...

Did you encounter problems in trying to get published due to these elements?

Pat:

Yeah. Probably. It probably didn't thrill agents when they read my query letters and it said, "200,000 word epic meta-fantasy."

But then again, I sucked at writing query letters. So trying to pick one particular thing that turned them off is probably a fool's errand.

James:

Did you ever consider changing your story because of them?

Pat:

Not really. I didn't know I wasn't supposed to be doing any of that stuff. I was just writing the story the way I thought was best.

James:

What are your thoughts/advice to aspiring writers in regards to these elements? Is there merit in the resistance to their use?

Pat:

Okay. First and foremost, you have to realize I'm not a role model. I'm an aberation. A statistical anomoly. Following in my footsteps is about the dumbest thing you could ever do.

Secondly, you need to realize that most writing rules aren't laws, they're rules of thumb.

That means you can break them, but you probably don't want to. And if you *do* break them, you better have some good reasons why.

I didn't have good reasons, that's probably why it took me so long to write and revise these books. I had to figure a lot of that stuff out for myself. I reinvented the wheel a few times.

James:

Reading the story, one can feel that the world we’ve not yet seen is vast and complex, perhaps even beyond what we have seen—is this correct?

Pat:

Yup.

James:

How much time do you spend on worldbuilding?

Pat:

I don't know. A thousand hours? Two thousand? A billion?

James:

I’m going to indulge in some fan hero worship for a moment and rave about the Adem. They are one of the most interesting elements I’ve seen introduced to a fantasy world in a long time—so is your depiction of the faen world, or the concepts of sympathy, but I’m geek-locked on the Adem for the moment.

Pat:

That's nice to hear. I'm rather proud of them.

James:

Where did you get the idea for them?

Pat:

I didn't really "get the idea" for them anywhere. That implies that I sort of…. I dunno…. bought them out of a catalouge or something. Or that I dug through a history textbook and found them there.

Truth is, I made them. It wasn't paint-by-numbers worldbuilding where I just took mongols and gave them a different haircut. I built Ademre from the ground up. Culture, mythology, language, philosophy, economy, I put it all together very carefully.

James:

And when did you learn the truth that man-mothers aren’t real?

Pat:

What makes you think they are real?

James:

That’s an interesting question to ask of a gay man. Your point is taken, though.

Pat:

It's amazing to me that people end up getting hung up on that aspect of that book. People believe crazy shit. That's what a culture is: the crazy shit people believe.

Of course, the key is that sometimes they aren't the crazy ones. Sometimes their ideas are the right ones and they only seem strange to us because of what we were taught when we were young....

James:

That is… apt. I’ve no other word for it.

That’s it for this interview. Pat, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions!
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Posted by Luckers on May 17 2011 10:10 AM under in Fantasy Reviews

12 Comments

Ah, Patrick Rothfuss another author who takes his sweet time releasing books. I think I'm gonna avoid this series until at least the release date of the final book is revealed.
I picked up the name of the wind while in the great void between TOM and AMOL, I'll just say i read it in 2 days and then Wise mans fear in about the same time.

Should of known you guys would be all over it too :D thanks for the interview!
Great interview. I liked the little glimpses into the effort that it takes to create complex, believeable cultures and pull them off amazingly.
His shirt is funny :smile:
Is it just me or does Rothfuss resemble Zack Galifianakis? If he writes half as well as Zack is funny then the books would be a great read.
June is nearly over... when is the next review going to pop up?!
Luckers has computer issues. We'll get one up for next month.
Awww! so were not going get one for the month of June? Q_____Q
Unfortunately, yes.
Darn it! I look forward to those every month lol. Alrighty thanks Jen! for the update! on whats going on, do you know if were getting another WoT News video this week?
Yeah, it's coming tomorrow. We got excited and asked for extra special effects this week, so Jonathon needed extra time. It's coming!
WooT!


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