Rothfuss in 2014
|Born||Patrick James Rothfuss
June 6, 1973
Madison, Wisconsin, USA
|Notable awards||Quill Award (2007), David Gemmell Award (2012)|
A lot of new writers assume you have to know the where the story is going and that it flows out as molten gold. But really, sometimes you think you are going to one place, but then you decide that is dumb idea. Then you go somewhere else and it is a worse idea. But then you switch again and you might have a beautiful accident.
I'm obsessive. That's the word for me. I obsess – perhaps to the point where it's moderately dysfunctional. I tend to put a book through about 100 revisions. If anything, that's an understatement. If there's another author out there who does this sort of revision, I would really like to meet him. Maybe we could form some sort of support group.
You don't want the world destroyed, because, you know, that's where your shoes are.
Humans are kind of story-propagating creatures. If you think of how we spend our days, think of all the time you spend on entertainment. How much of your entertainment centers around stories? Most pieces of music tell stories. Even hanging out with your friends, you talk, you tell stories to each other. They're all stories. We live in stories.
You can have an interesting story about a person living an interesting life. And if it's done well, that is just as engaging as the end of the world. A million people dying – we can't process. One person, we can process.
When you're 14, anything with a sword and a dragon is pretty cool. But when you're 21 and you've read 2,000 fantasy novels, you start to realize that some of those books, well, they weren't really good. OK, let's be honest. A lot of them were crap.
I'm struggling with what is epic. People decided I was epic – if by epic, do you mean a big, heavy book? 'David Copperfield' is a big book – is it epic? Amount of time covered, length, drama, or story – that's the real appeal – if the story is long you have a better chance of becoming more connected.
Don't get me wrong, magic is cool. But a nervous mother singing to her child at night while something moves quietly through the dark outside her house? That's a story. Handled properly, it's more dramatic than any apocalypse or goblin army could ever be.
The myth of writer as, like, Asperger-style misanthrope, or, like, the Jack Nicholson, 'As Good As It Gets' – it just doesn't work, because writers, in order to write good characters, need to understand people. You need to understand your audience. You need to have so much empathy you could almost encourage empathy in others.
One thing I've learned now is that I should not say when a book is coming out until I'm sure I know.
I've got an idea for a modern day faerie tale that I think would made a great short novel. But I just don't have the time to work on it right now. I'm way too busy with the 'Kingkiller Chronicles' and being a new dad.
I started a novel back in high school. It wasn't very good. It was the opposite of good. The writing itself wasn't too bad, and the characters were interesting. But the story was a mess, and it was full of fantasy cliches. Dwarf with an axe. Barbarian warrior. I don't ever think I'd bother finishing that. It's just not worth my time.
As authors, most – most authors, our art is portraying the human condition. Trying to show you what it's like to be somebody else, trying to make you feel for somebody else. That means you have to have a high degree of empathy.
My mom once lost track of me at the zoo and when she found me I was lecturing a man about the difference between dromedary and Bactrian camels. I was about 3 1/2.
The problem with dragons is that everyone uses them. All the time. When that happens, they become commonplace. A lot of people think you can just throw them into a story and suddenly whatever you're writing is 28% cooler. But that doesn't work. All that does is make dragons into some boring cliche.
Fantasy is my favorite genre for reading and writing. We have more options than anyone else, and the best props and special effects. That means if you want to write a fantasy story with Norse gods, sentient robots, and telepathic dinosaurs, you can do just that. Want to throw in a vampire and a lesbian unicorn while you're at it? Go ahead.
You've got a great chance in college to do all sorts of terrible irresponsible things, and you should totally do them. I mean, make huge mistakes. This is the time in your life if you screw up, it's okay because you can bounce back from it.
I almost got a psychology degree, I almost got a philosophy degree. I kept changing it so they couldn't make me graduate. I studied anthropology and eastern religion, epistomology, and astronomy… I took every interesting course I could find for nine years.
One reason we love fiction is because stories have a comforting shape. They provide a resolution that's lacking in our regular lives.
I never set out to become 'famous.' I mean, when you're 14 you think 'I'm gonna become a writer and people will want my autograph and that'll be cool,' but you grow up and you learn that's just not how the world works. I resigned myself to the fact that I would probably never be published and if I did it probably wouldn't be a big deal.
I've done a lot of interviews of the last few years, and I've actually started a list of questions that it would be fun to ask an author, but no respectable interviewer would ever ask. Since I'm not respectable, I'm going to start doing interviews with some authors I know, just for fun.
I'm a fan of books that are almost languorous in their storytelling. That is a little bit lost sometimes in the modern media that we have.
I know better than to read reviews but I do it anyway. Somebody described my pacing as 'glacial.' I wasn't thrilled, but I think they meant it in a not entirely unflattering way.
After I'd been in college for a couple years I'd read Shakespeare and Frost and Chaucer and the poets of the Harlem Renaissance. I'd come to appreciate how gorgeous the English language could be. But most fantasy novels didn't seem to make the effort.