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Q&A with Patrick Rothfuss

Q&A with Patrick Rothfuss

Fans of Patrick Rothfuss’ critically acclaimed best-selling series The Kingkiller Chronicle can finally rejoice, The Slow Regard of Silent Things, a companion novella, will be released this November! We interviewed him this week to get the inside scoop on what to we’ll learn about so many fans’ favorite character: Auri!


Geek & Sundry: I know you don’t want to spoil The Slow Regard of Silent Things, but what can you tease about Auri’s adventures in the Underthing?

Patrick Rothfuss: The reader will get to see a side of Auri that they haven’t glimpsed before. So far in the books, you only get to see Auri through Kvothe’s eyes.

In this story, you get to see her in her natural element. You get to see her when she’s not around other people. We’re different when we’re alone, and Auri is no exception.

You get to see much more of the Underthing as well…

GS: What was the hardest part of writing this story?

PR: Honestly, the hardest part was deciding how much to tell….

Auri is a different sort of character. Odd and sweet and strange. There are a lot of people who say she’s their favorite character in the entire series. I’ve had people e-mail me and tell me that if anything bad happens to Auri in the third book they’ll never read anything I write again. One person threatened me with physical violence. There have been three babies named after her that I know of.

But here’s the thing. Part of what makes Auri so delightful is that she is full of secrets and mysteries. If she gave up those secrets she wouldn’t be Auri anymore.

That said, if I don’t share some secrets with you, you’re going to walk away from the story feeling disappointed….

So yea. Writing this was kinda like walking a tightrope.

GS: How involved are you in coming up with covers for your books?

PR: Normally authors aren’t very involved in their covers at all. And honestly speaking? That’s mostly for the best. Just because we know our stories inside and out doesn’t mean that we’re good at graphic design or marketing.

That said, I’m lucky. My editor Betsy asks my opinion. She doesn’t always do what I want, but she always asks, and she always listens.

After that, I leave the graphic designers and PR people to do their jobs. They’re better at that stuff than I am.

GS: Why did you decide to give Auri her own book?

You’re assuming that I am some sort of grown-up who makes decisions and has some sort of plan for his life.

That’s kind of you, but I’m afraid it simply isn’t the case. I didn’t plan on writing a book about Auri. It just kinda happened.

It’s kind of a long story. If you’re curious, I go into all the details over on my blog.

GS: If you could go out and grab a coffee with Auri, what would you want to say to her?

Honestly, I’d probably listen more than I talked. That’s a rarity with me. But I’d be curious to hear what she had to say.

She’s one of my favorite characters too. I don’t think I mentioned it before, but I’m terribly fond of her.

GS: The internet is abuzz with fan speculation and theories around The Kingkiller Chronicle, are you ever tempted to steer the conversation?

Tempted?

Yeah. But probably not in the way you think.

I’m tempted to do things like… say… create an anonymous logon, then go and seed the forums with a bunch of misinformation. Saying things like, “Oh, Pat mentioned in an interview once that XXX was actually XXXX XXXX XX XXXX” Then I’d put up a URL to an interview that isn’t online anymore.

So yeah. I mostly stay away from those internet discussions. Mostly because I have an overwhelming desire to fuck with people.

I’m not an entirely nice person.

GS: Ever encountered a story, character, or plot point so good you wish you’d written it?

PR: Oh sure. All the time. What’s the point in reading if you aren’t constantly being bombarded with awesome stuff?

GS: Can you give us an example? Are you reading something now you’d recommend?

PR: I just finished reading Skin Game. That’s the newest of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. I abused my power to get an early reading copy of it, because I’m a huge

geek for his stuff.

I love what Jim does in his books. He’s got amazing character development that arcs across 4-5 volumes, and he writes a better action scene than I can.

I’ve also been reading a lot of comic books lately. It’s easier for me to marvel at their craft, because I’ve only done a very little writing of graphic novels….

GS: Do you have any influences that might surprise your readers?

PR: Oh yeah. I’m guessing not a lot of people would read my stuff and say, “Oh, he’s obviously influenced by Gwendolyn Brooks, Garrison Keillor, Chaucer, Robert Frost….

GS: Gwendolyn Brooks?

Heh. Yeah. Not a lot of people would look at me and guess that the first public reading I ever went to was with Brooks. Changed my life a bit.

When I caught her, she was in her 60’s. I’d been studying her in college, mostly her book of collected work: “Blacks.”

The first thing that had an impact on me was that she didn’t just stand up there and read for an hour. She read one of her poems, then she would chat a little bit, telling stories or making observations. Then she’d read another poem, then talk a little more.

I was cool hearing her read her poetry, but the stories were amazing. They were little pieces of her life that we never would have had a chance to hear anywhere else. Decades later, when I was published, I decided to do the same thing when I did my readings, and it’s served me well ever since.

The other thing that made an impact on me was one of the little comments she made while she was paging through her book, looking for the next poem she wanted to read.

“People are always complimenting me on my hat,” She said. She was wearing a colorful, knitted sack-like hat. “I don’t ever have the heart to tell them that I just wear it so I don’t have to mess with my hair.” She smiled to herself, not looking up from her book. “I’ve got better things to do with my time than mess with my hair.”

And I thought, “Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I have better things to do than mess with my hair too.”

That’s why I look like a cross between John the Baptist and a Muppet most of the time.

GS: What book(s) are you working on now?

PR: I’m still polishing up Auri’s story, and I’ll probably continue to do so until they physically tear it out of my hands. I’m kinda OCD about my revisions. I’m endlessly tweaking things.

GS: What can you tell us about the plot of The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Dark of Deep Below ?

PR: I don’t go in for spoilers. But I will say that in the second book, the Princess gets a little brother.

Anyone who has read the first book should be appropriately horrified by that….

GS: Which faerie tales inspired part deux?

With rare exception, I don’t really pull directly from other stories for my own work.

For example, I don’t read Sleeping Beauty, then think to myself, “Okay, how can I skin this into something that looks new? What parts can I steal?”

No. That’s not good writing.

Instead, I’ll go out and read, say, 300 faerie stores. I get a feel for what a faerie story really is. Then I write a story that comes from that strange dark place, while hopefully avoiding all the bullshit cliches and glitter that have come to irritate me about the genre.

Pat’s charity project, Worldbuilders benefits Heifer International. Pat’s fans and other geek clans show their support by buying, bidding for, or entering a lottery to win special goodies from their favorite fantasy series.

Any chance we’ll get a pin up calendar featuring some of the men of literature in the Worldbuilders store in the future?

Nah. We decided to leave the whole pin-up thing behind. It wasn’t a good fit with our charity. Too sexist.

We will be doing more geek-themed calendars though. We’ve got a new one ready for this upcoming year, but it’s not quite ready to show off.

GS: What’s a question you wish someone would ask you?

“Excuse me Master Wayne, after saving Gotham from Darkseid and having sex with those Swedish gymnasts, I fear you must be rather thirsty; would you care for a refreshing Jamba Juice?”

GS: Master Wayne, what flavor of smoothie do you prefer?

Orange Dream Machine, Alfred.

To win a poster of The Slow Regard of Silent Things, signed by Pat, click here!

Interview by: Supriya Limaye. Follow her on Twitter.

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