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Interview with Patrick Rothfuss, Author of The Kingkiller Chronicle

In celebration of the publication of the Hebrew edition of The Wise Man’s Fear, we interviewed Patrick Rothfuss

When we received the opportunity to interview fantasy writer, Patrick Rothfuss, author of the bestselling Kingkiller Chronicle, the question arose: do we interview Rothfuss as we see fit, or do we give his fans the stage and allow them to ask about whatever they want to know. One way or the other, Rothfuss, a famous author and a very busy man, couldn’t answer all that many questions.

Rothfuss has very eager and loyal fans in Israel, who had to go through a perilous journey before The Wise Man’s Fear finally made its way to the stores and stands during the last Book Week. That is why we finally decided to give them the honour of choosing the questions.

It is important to point out that the number of questions we thought appropriate to pass on to the author was limited, and not all of your questions Rothfuss wanted to or even could answer. Nonetheless, the opportunity to communicate with the creator of The Name of the Wind was very special and we hope you enjoy it. So, here we go!

The Struggle for The Wise Man’s Fear

The story behind Rothfuss’s books in Israel is rather special and complex. On the one hand, The Name of the Wind got excellent reviews and was greatly loved by readers. On the other hand, it did not sell well enough for the publishers to feel it justified to translate the rest of the series. The plan to publish The Kingkiller Chronicle was abandoned. As time passed, the rights to the book expired and despite a steady demand, even the remaining copies of The Name of the Wind had to be taken off the shelves. Rothfuss’s beloved book was about to be gone with the wind in a flurry of shredded paper.

In a twist, worthy of the best fantasy stories, it was the expiration of the rights itself which saved The Name of the Wind. It allowed Opus Press to take on the double challenge of producing the second book, as well as bringing the first book back to the book shelves. Happily for the fans, it was a challenge that the publishing house met admirably. Therefore, we wanted to know if Rothfuss had heard anything about the 5 year long struggle waged by his fans.

Rothfuss: I’ve known for a while that fans wanted The Wise Man’s Fear over there, and even that some people who wanted to get The Name of the Wind couldn’t find it. But there was very little I could do on my end. I can’t *make* publishers print my books.

I’m glad that it’s finally taken care of. That’s all that authors want: For books to get printed, and for people to read them.

Being a writer Rothfuss apparently saves his words for his books. When asked about the effect his first book had on the genre and how he felt about it, his answer was surprisingly economical.

Rothfuss: Well… everyone always thinks their baby is the prettiest. But it’s nice when other people think your baby is pretty, too.

Is The Kingkiller Chronicle on its Way to the Screen?

To say that Rothfuss’s books are popular is a gross understatement. If talk on the web is to be believed, both a movie and a TV series are planned based on the books. This is why we decided to either confirm or refute the rumours. Well, sadly, it seems like The Kingkiller Chronicle is not about to become the next Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones anytime soon. Then again, Rothfuss’s answer is not exactly a denial.

Rothfuss: I haven’t said there WILL be a movie. I’ve said we’re working on developing some things. Let’s keep our expectations manageable.

Unfortunately, as far as movies and television go, there’s nothing I can talk about right now. Sorry.

And Yet it Moves

On different occasions Rothfuss has testified about himself that he leans more towards the exact sciences, which is a little surprising considering we are talking about one of the most successful fantasy writers today. The fantasy genre has not enjoyed a reputation for its scientific accuracy, to say the least. So how does a scientific person become a fantasy writer?

Rothfuss: I’ve heard some people refer to what I write as “Science Fantasy” because my books are a little more grounded in science and realistic than many fantasy novels.

But honestly, there’s isn’t much difference in Fantasy and Science Fiction in my opinion. It’s just different flavours of the same thing: Speculative fiction. Stories that ask, “What if?”

Through the Doors of Stone

The Doors of Stone, the third instalment in The Kingkiller Chronicle is also supposed to be the last. Could this be one of the reasons the book’s writing is taking so long? So what awaits Rothfuss beyond “The Doors”? Is he working on other projects? And the question some of you asked  – is there a chance of a collaboration between Rothfuss and other writers, like Brandon Sanderson, for example? Well, it seems the answer to all of the above questions is:

Rothfuss: Nah. Not right now.

About Writing

Some of you wanted to get a glimpse into Rothfuss’s writing process. We tried to get some details. First, we asked him to tell us a little about the process which led to the publication of The Name of the Wind – how did it not only get published, but touch so many the way it did?

Rothfuss: I took a few college classes on creative writing, but that was about it. I never did workshops or anything like that. I dabbled with a few writer groups, but they were just with groups of friends, and not much came of them.

Also, keep in mind that I started writing the book in 1994, before the internet as we know it existed. There wasn’t a vast pool of information out there for me to draw from. I couldn’t read author interviews like this, for example. Or look for agents online. Or ask for critiques. Or even just complain. I lived in a small town, and I was one of the only people I knew who was *really* trying to work on a novel. I felt pretty alone.

Because of that, I think of myself as growing up a little feral as a writer. I learned a lot on my own, and because of that I don’t think of writing the way a lot of people do. Some of that is good. I have my own style. But it also took me 14 years to get published. I made a lot of mistakes along the way…

What kind of music do you listen to during writing, if any? If so, what music is especially associated in your mind with your series?

Rothfuss: Nope. No music. It’s too distracting. I need silence to write. Silence and solitude.

Are you one of the writers who plans everything in advance, or do you just go where the story leads you?

Rothfuss: I plan, but I’m also very willing to leave the plan behind if interesting opportunities arise while I’m writing. And I revise a *lot.* So the first draft of a book looks very different from my plan. And my final draft looks very different from my first.

Any advice for aspiring fantasy authors in Israel?

Rothfuss: Read a lot. Read outside your favourite genre, and outside your comfort zone. And keep writing. Make mistakes. Regret them. Learn from them. Move on. Write more.

And, of course, the question everybody wanted us to ask – any news or estimate regarding the publication of The Doors of Stone?

Rothfuss: There isn’t any set publication date.

Sorry. If there was news about that, you already would have heard about it on the internet.

For more information about Patrick Rothfuss, visit his official website.

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