Patrick Rothfuss visits Portland
Patrick Rothfuss recently visited Portland, Oregon, on his book tour, and I didn’t let the fact that I’ve never read a single one of his books stop me from attending! I have every intention of reading his highly regarded fantasy novels, which have been on my TBR list for a while, and I thought that hearing him speak might motivate me to move them up the list. (It did!) I also wondered what this enigmatic author is like.
Rothfuss writes the enormously popular Kingkiller Chronicles: The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man's Fear, and the not-yet-published Doors of Stone. My friend Lorna is a big fan of these books and has been
Rothfuss appeared in the swanky Newmark Theater, where we saw Diana Gabaldon in July. About 700 exuberant fans turned out to greet him.
He invited a local duo called The Doubleclicks to open with a few songs that Wikipedia describes as “nerd-friendly comedy music,” including Love You Like a Burrito and Cats and Netflix. This last one is an ode to the annual rainy season that Pacific Northwesterners can relate to a little too well — but anyone who’s preparing to migrate back indoors for winter can probably appreciate the sentiment! Rothfuss accompanied The Doubleclicks on a Cheshire Cat keyboard for their last song. Let’s just say I doubt he’ll be giving up writing for a musical career anytime soon.
Rothfuss didn’t have any apparent itinerary. He was friendly, enthusiastic, and very laid back. While he waited for us to pass note cards with questions up to the front of the theater, he offered to read for us from a variety of entertaining items: letters from his now-defunct college advice/humor column, his poetry (which he said had the advantage of being shorter), and a particularly nasty book review he did on Goodreads.
We were in the mood for some snark, so we chose his review of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot. Rothfuss said his reviews usually “average 4.85 stars,” since he doesn’t want to offend anyone or burn any bridges. Sometimes, however, a book really rubs him the wrong way and he decides to be brutal. He wrote this particular review because he 1) usually loved Roald Dahl’s books, 2) really hated this book and storyline, 3) knew that the author was already dead and, therefore, neither of them would be hurt by his criticism, and 4) really enjoyed writing about it. You can find his review here, but be warned, it’s brilliant!
Then we asked him to read his hilarious advice to a college student who complained that dorm rules didn’t allow the right kind of pets! I decided I really, really love this guy!!
Included in the price of our ticket, we received an autographed copy of his new novella, The Slow Regard of Silent Things, which focuses on Auri, a secondary character from his Kingkiller Chronicles. So I can’t read it until after I read the existing books in the series — more motivation! He read an excerpt for us and told us a little about his experiences narrating the audio version of the novella, which he discovered was a lot different than reading to children at bedtime. As it turns out, it is entirely possible for him to read a sentence aloud in 10 different ways and get them all wrong!
Fans of the Kingkiller Chronicles will be happy to know that his publisher wants him to finish the third book before publishing more novellas. He (or his publisher) got a big round of applause for that announcement! Rothfuss thinks he needs at least a year to finish revisions on book 3, which made the audience groan, so he led everyone in a group groan before reminding us about The Matrix 3! That convinced us the revision process is necessary, and he hopes it will be well worth the wait. Once he’s done, he plans to write novellas for most of the characters in “his World,” as he calls it.
He got a big stack of questions from the audience, but blew many of them off with “that’s a good question...next!” He generally gets a lot of questions that he can’t answer because the answer would be a spoiler. He said that at least one person always asks where he gets his inspiration. He has a boring, realistic answer and a fictional answer that is much more entertaining, but on this night he just chuckled and declined to answer the question at all.
Someone asked how old the character Kvothe is, and he responded that he would have told us that in his books if he had wanted us to know exactly. :-) He omits some details from his books intentionally, so that readers will ponder them...and to leave readers wanting more. Another person asked if he chose not to write about the sailing trip that Kvothe took because he didn’t “know anything about sailing, man.” Rothfuss laughed and said that he is well known for writing about all kinds of things he doesn’t know anything about!
He talked about how his book signings have changed over the years. In the early days, he sat in front of a chain bookstore looking needy and pathetic. He’d be lucky to see 5 or 10 people. Then his audiences grew: 40, 100, 500. Last year, he ended his tour in Barcelona, Spain, where 2000 people showed up. He’s the kind of guy who likes to talk to fans and connect one-on-one; however, the crowds don’t allow for much of that. Therefore, he signs his name in each book before an event, then allows people to wait in line to get theirs personalized (which we didn’t). Fans who want a picture must wait until after he finishes personalizing books.
One of his favorite topics was his Worldbuilders project, which works with Heifer International to end world hunger and “makes the world a better place while winning fabulous prizes!” It raised almost 3/4 of a million dollars last year, and he expects it to raise a million dollars this year. After November 10, his blog will direct visitors to a fundraising site that will award various prizes in a lottery. This year’s fundraiser will last about four weeks (only half as long as last year’s), and new things will be added to auction every day or so. His blog will post regular updates about the event, along with his usual updates on book releases and other projects.
We really enjoyed this opportunity to meet Patrick Rothfuss and hear him talk with a few of his fervent fans. Now that I’ve gotten a little glimpse of his wickedly delicious humor and imagination, I am quite eager to read his books! He comes across as a cheerful, entertaining guy — one we’d love to hang out with. In his talk, he did exactly what he said he does in his books: he left us wanting more!
Are you a fan of Patrick Rothfuss’s books? Are they on your TBR list? We hope you’ll share your comments with us below!