An Interview with Patrick Rothfuss (March, 2011)

An Interview with Patrick Rothfuss

Patrick Rothfuss

Patrick Rothfuss is the bestselling author of The Name of the Wind, the first book in the great Kingkiller Chronicles trilogy. Now, in the great follow-up, Wise Man’s Fear, he continues to incredible adventures of Kvothe the arcanist.

Alex C. Telander: How did you get started writing?

Patrick Rothfuss: Same as everyone. I was a big reader as a kid. When you read a novel a day for most of your young adult life, it’s natural to think, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if I *wrote* one of these?”

Alex: Who were you influenced by?

Patrick: Everyone? I probably read about 2000 novels before I even graduated high-school. They were all an influence. Everything I studied in college. All my teachers. Friends. Family. My life. My experiences. They’re all influences. They’re all fuel an author burns to make a book.

Alex: Do you remember the first story and/or book you wrote?

Patrick: Heh. Funny you should mention that. A couple months ago, I was going through childhood room and found an old, stapled-together story about dinosaurs. It was mostly crayon pictures, with about five sentences of text.
The plot was pretty weak, in all honesty. And it needed better proofreading.

Alex: Where did Kvothe come from?

Patrick: You don’t know yet? Boy, this is kinda awkward….
Well… it’s like this. Sometimes, when two people love each other very much, they have a special hug. Then, nine months later, the stork brings them a baby….

Alex: Did it take long to get The Name of the Wind published and what was your process?

Patrick: It took about 14 years to get it published.
My process was just three simple steps.

1. Write the whole story. This took seven years.

2. Revise the story every time it was rejected in one form or another. This took another seven years.

3. Sell the book and become an overnight success.

See? Simple. Anyone could do it.

Alex: Do you play any musical instruments?

Patrick: Nope. I fiddle around a bit, but nothing that I make could be considered music.

Alex: Is it really going to be a trilogy or do you plan on doing more books? (The reason I ask is because I’ve got a couple hundred pages to go of Wise Man’s Fear and with some incredibly interesting and complex character in Kvothe, it seems like you have a lot more story to tell, like it could be a week long of storytelling!)

Patrick: It’s really going to be a trilogy. Really. Stories need an ending.

Alex: Do you plan on writing anything more set in this complex world?

Patrick: Oh sure. I always hated it when an author abandoned a world I’d come to love. So when I created this world, I made sure that it was big enough to hold more than just this one story. The Kingkiller Chronicle is just the story of Kvothe’s life. There are a lot of other people in the world. They have interesting stories too….

Alex: What do you hope people get out of reading your books?

Patrick: Enjoyment. That’s first and foremost. I want people to have fun reading the story.
I hope the books expose them to new ideas, too. One of the true wonders of a well-written story is that it can give you experiences far outside your ordinary life and world.
Each of us only gets one life. But if we read the right kind of stories, we can experience many other lives too. I think this can’t help but make us more well-rounded people. It makes us better human beings.

Alex: What are you currently reading and what do you like to read?

Patrick: I read mostly fantasy. It’s still my favorite genre.
As for what I’m reading right now, it’s not a published book. It’s a manuscript by an unpublished author. I’m giving him some critical feedback on it.
You see, every year I run a charity fundraiser called Worldbuilders. One part of the fundraiser is that we auction off read-and-critiques from various industry professionals.
All the money we raise goes to Heifer International, helping people become self-reliant all over the world. Over the last three years, we’ve raised more than half a million dollars for Heifer.

The last real book I read was The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. It was really good. I can’t wait to read the next one…

Hundred Thousand Kingdoms  Broken Kingdoms

Alex: What do you like to do in your spare time?

Patrick: Read mostly. Play videogames. Hang out with my baby.

Alex: Do you have a regular writing schedule you keep to; what does your average day look like?

Patrick: I don’t really have any sort of regular schedule. When I have a deadline approaching, I spend almost all my time writing. These days, I spend most of my time doing promotion and getting ready for my upcoming tour.

If people are curious about what *exactly* I do when I spend a day revising, I wrote a blog where I talk about the specifics in some detail.

Alex: What do you use to write on?

Patrick: A computer. I use an old version of Microsoft Word: Word 97.

Alex: Do you have any advice for writers looking to get published?

Patrick: Revise more. Make your book perfect before you submit it. Editors aren’t looking for books with potential. They’re not looking for fixer-uppers. They want to pick up a book and think, “Wow. This is incredible. This is already good enough to publish….”

Alex: Do you have any other projects you’re working on?

Patrick: Worldbuilders is my main hobby these days. But I do have a few writing-related side projects I’m working on. I’m working on a sequel to my dark faerie tale picturebook: The Adventures of The Princess and Mr. Whiffle.

I’m working on a few short pieces too. Maybe short stories. Maybe novellas.

Alex: If you could live in your world: where would you live, who would you be, and what would you do?

Patrick: I’d live at the University. I’d one of the arcanists that stays at the University, a giller. I’d teach a few small classes, enjoy the cosmopolitant atmosphere, and spend a lot of time reading books in the Archives.