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Patrick Rothfuss Interview

Well, The Wise Man’s Fear has been voted the year’s third biggest fantasy novel on, with over 4,962 votes and being beaten only by the behemoth that is A Dance With Dragons and the hugely popular The Night Circus. That is a remarkable achievement for a man who has sat within the genre for less than half a decade.

Personally, I, Overlord, loved the book. I thought it was one of the finest things I have ever read. In fact, you can read my review of it here. There were some however, that thought perhaps the book didn’t live up to its predecessor, and others who thought it was far, far too long.

Now, when we at Fantasy-Faction got the opportunity to interview Patrick Rothfuss, my first response was…WOW! My second response was how on Earth are we going to do this in a way that will give a fair interview and not just be me praising Rothfuss and not just another member of staff questioning him about how, in their opinion, the book didn’t live up to expectations?

Well, Max Edwards solved it. Max, arrange the interview and said he would ask Rothfuss the “critics” questions, whilst I would take the “fans” questions. Now, Patrick Rothfuss is a very, very, very busy man and I would like to thank him for taking the time to sit with us and do this interview. As one of my favourite authors of all time, it was a true pleasure to speak with him and I think he handled Max’s tough questions and my soft questions rather well.

– – –

Max: The Wise Man’s Fear leaves a lot open, and ending all the plotlines seems difficult for a lot of people to work out. Do you regret pinning yourself down to a trilogy?

The Wise Man's Fear (cover 1)Nope. A good story needs an ending.

I don’t want to write a series that stretches on forever. I’d be like a houseguest that overstays his welcome. The guy who keeps telling story after story after everyone else has gone home and the hosts are yawning and looking at their watches.

I’d rather be the person who leaves a little early, while everyone is still having a good time.

Max: How happy are you with the way The Wise Man’s Fear turned out?

Very happy. It took a lot of work to turn that rough draft that I had in 2007 into a book I was proud of in 2011. I needed to expand the story in some places, trim it down others. I needed to strengthen the plot, clarify the action, and polish the language until it was as close to perfect as I could make it. With a book this big, that takes a lot of time.

Max: Do editors have a large say in your end product?

It’s hard to quantify the impact of an editor. Sometimes they can make a small comment that will lead to huge changes in the finished book.

Without a doubt, the biggest impact my editor had on this book was the fact that she gave me enough time to make this book as good as I possibly could. She didn’t have to do that. She could have made me turn in the book back in 2008 when I was contracted to. But she didn’t, she gave me the space to write something really good. I owe her a lot for that.

Max: Who is your biggest literary inspiration? Do other characters (the owner of FF mentioned Robin Hobb’s Fitz) in other books inspire elements of your books?

I hate the influence question. It implies that there were, like, three or four books that I read that made me want to write a certain way. And THAT implies that all the other thousands of novels I’ve read really weren’t that important.

That’s just not how it works. At least not with me. Sure there are some books that I read and really liked. But it isn’t like I read The Last Unicorn and said, “Yeah! I want to write a book just like this!”

I didn’t. I read that book and thought, “Man, I’ll never be able to write something like that… I guess I better try to write something else….”

If anything, I’ve been more inspired by all the shit books that I’ve read. Nothing pisses me off more than watching a terrible fantasy movie, or reading a terrible fantasy book, cringing at all the cliché and bad dialogue. After one of those experiences, I think to myself, “I’m never going to do, X, Y, and Z. That shit is awful….”

Max: Throwing a curveball – who is the best author to go drinking with? Real and imagined buddies!

Hunter S. Tompson, I’m guessing. I’m not much of a drinker, but he could do enough for both of us…

Max: You’re a bit of a rock star author now. Do people like yourself get groupies? Do you get women throwing themselves at you at signings and readings?

I’ve always kind of wanted groupies. But no, I haven’t managed to get any yet. I’ve met some enthusiastic fans, but groupie implies a whole different type of enthusiasm. If anyone has been throwing themselves at me, they weren’t being obvious enough. I’m a little thick when it comes to these things, so I probably just thought they were being friendly.

Max: Further, it seems clear that naming has a larger impact than just “true names”. Things like Kote/despair and Denna/Denner links have been speculated upon in the community. Do all people names and place names have a reason behind them?

A lot of them do. But I just view that as good worldbuilding. Most of the names of things in our world have reasons for them too.

Chicago means, “Stinky Onion.” Pasadena means, “Of the valley.”

Real names mean things, even if people don’t know it.

Max: Your books rival Martin’s in the amount of prophecy, foreshadowing and legend behind them. Things like the King Kvothe Killed, the thrice-locked box, who the Chandrian really are etc., are hinted at, but not revealed. This is a clear mark of excellent worldbuilding, but how do you keep track of all these subtle hints and tricks?

I’m careful. I take a lot of notes. And I have an army of helpful elves to assist me.

Max: What’s next for Rothfuss?

I’m going to get some dinner. Mexican. I think.

Max: I mean will we see more trilogies/stand-alones in the same world, or will you be approaching an entirely different world?

Oh, I see.

In the short term, I plan on telling some short stories in this world. Maybe doing a graphic novel as well.

In the long term, I’ll probably write more books set in The Four Corners world. I also might take a crack at some urban fantasy.

– – –

Overlord: I currently own three copies of The Name Of The Wind, each with a different cover! If you were forced to choose (English, American, International), which is your favourite?

The Name of the Wind (cover China)Right now I’m kinda fond of the Chinese covers. But that might just be because they’re really new to me…

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure if the Chinese books are out yet. But I think they’re close…

Overlord: Which mediums would you eventually like to see the Kingkiller Chronicles made into? Do you think it could work as a graphic novel, a video game, a movie, a television show?

Yes. Yes. Maybe. And Yes.

Of course a lot depends on who would be in charge of those projects. I’d trust Valve to do a video game because they do good work. Similarly, if it was going to be a TV show, we’d need a really good team to pull it off: Writers and actors and editors. In some ways, a TV show is only as strong as its weakest link.

It would be really hard to do these as a movie though. My books aren’t movie-shaped. I don’t think Hollywood is ready to tell a character-driven fantasy story yet. There’s a reason Game of Thrones is on HBO…

Overlord: So…We are dying for book three. We know you are busy working away at it, but could you perhaps give us some clues as to what we can expect?

No. Not really. I don’t go in for that sort of thing.


It will have Kvothe in it. And probably some other characters, too. I plan on using the word “the” an awful lot.

The Wise Man's Fear (cover 2)Overlord: Let us move forward to 50 years into the future. Patrick Rothfuss is probably pretty tired now… He has been to almost every convention under the sun and travelled around the world a few times. He’s written everything he is going to write for now and he puts his pen down, sits back and reflects upon everything that he has done within the genre (and perhaps beyond it). What kind of things do you think/would you like to think people will be saying about you and your work at this point?

In a perfect world…in my real fantasy…I’d still be getting messages from young people who tell me that they just read the book and loved it. That it made them happy when their life was hard, that it made them want to write.

Also, I hope my charity is still going strong at that point, helping to make the world a better place.

Well, Fantasy-Factioner, thank you ever so much for reading our interview with the delightful, interesting and very, very busy Patrick Rothfuss. If you haven’t read any of his novels, what are you waiting for?!



  1. Avatar Nightshine says:

    Really great interview, thank you! Awesome Pat is always awesome!!

  2. Avatar Angeline says:

    Awesome interview, but it just makes me even more desperate for book 3!

  3. Avatar khaldun says:

    Pat rothfuss is always an awesome, if tight lipped, interviewee.

  4. Avatar Jezrien says:

    Great interview.

  5. […] zu perfekt wie möglich war. Ein so großes Buch braucht seine Zeit”, erklärt er in einem Interview mit Fantasy Aber wo nimmt sich Patrick Rothfuss seine Inspirationen her? Am meisten, so verrät er weiter, […]

  6. Avatar Typo says:

    “Your books”, not “You’re books”, and “an awful lot:, not “and awful lot.”

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