male speaker: goodmorning everyone. welcome to another excitingtalk at google event. today, we're extremelythrilled to have with us patrick rothfuss, a writer ofthings, welcome him to google. [applause and cheering] male speaker: now, pathas written several books you may have heard of,there's this whole kingkiller chronicles bit, there's "thetale of the princess and mr. whiffle", and we're goingto talk about that today.
for those of you that are herein the audience and on youtube, i do have one quick forewarning. we will be coveringspoilers from books one and two, mild spoilers. but if you haven't readthe books, pause right now, go to the google playstore, buy the books, restart and then joinus in another day or two and you'll be all set. now, we also will have somespoilers from the third book,
but that's only if youtake the youtube video, reverse it, run it throughthe google translate mode into [inaudible], and thenwatch the hand-gestures, so that's about it. and we also havego/askrothfuss for those of you in the audience and wantto ask some questions. so pat, i thought we'd startby talking a little bit about your writingprocess and how you come up withthese great ideas.
so, going all the wayback, when you hang out with your children, do youhave ongoing narratives that you tell them,stories that you weave? do you find seedsin that that could be appropriate fora broader audience? pat rothfuss: well, letme do the first one first. i do, actually, with mylittle boy, my oldest, i started telling himstories years ago. we would sit down, and i wouldtell him a little adventure
story. and at first, it was justsort of a story about a boy, and then it suddenlyit was kind of him, but sometimes it was not him. and it would becentered around whatever he was fixated on in the moment. for a while, skunks were thecoolest possible thing ever, and so it wasn't just thestory about this little boy, he was a skunk boy,so the story had
better center around hisability to spray animals with this stank, or it wouldnot be a satisfactory story. then he was into lizards,and of course, the story better center aroundhim changing color so that he could defendhimself or scare people away. now, do these directlytranslate into stuff that's good for a fantasy novel? no, no, not really. but it actuallygoes the other way.
it's because storytellingis pretty old hat for me, and that goes all theway back to any table top d&d or any role-playing games. it's really justimprovisational storytelling. i have larped, which isreal improv storytelling. it's all similar aspectsof the storytelling craft. i've been thinkingabout it a lot lately, because it'sa ton of fun with him, and they used to belittle standalone stories,
and then they started gettingconnected where he would say, well he would usethe magic rope. and i'm like, whatmagic rope is that? he's like, the magic rope hefound before, and i'm like, right, ok, yeah, that'sright, there was a magic rope. and so now, he's having a littled&d adventure with a continuing character that is him kind of. and i have a lot offun with it, and i've been thinking of tryingto come up with some way
that i could bring thatto other people who aren't storytellers by their nature,that's not their craft. like a series of cards thatyou could use as storytelling framework where it's like asetting card, it's a forest, it's a castle, it's acave, what's in there? well, there's webs, it'snight time, it's raining. and these things thatcould give somebody who doesn't do thisfor a living a way to have a storytellingexperience with their kid.
but you know, ineed another project right now like i needa whole in the head, so i've been pushing off that. male speaker: i likewhat you said, there. i think there's really a lotto be said about improvising, and them wholeidea of, yes, and, and continuing with the story. now, with that theorigin for mr. whiffle as well from storiestold to your children
pat rothfuss: no, that wasa story that i originally told to my girlfriendback in grad school. grad school was adark time for me, and so we were both livingout in washington state, and she was goingto bed earlier, and i was going to bed later. and one night shesaid, tell me a story. we had separate bedrooms, andso i went into her bedroom, and she's like, tell me astory before i go to sleep.
so i said, onceupon a time, there was a princess who livedin a marzipan castle, starting with the grossest,most saccharin sort of children's story icould possibly imagine. and it infuriated me somuch when it came out of my own mouth thattwisted it into something dark and terrible. and then i finished it, and ithought, that was a good story, i feel good about that.
and she was laying therein bed, and she was like, now i can't sleep. and so i'm like, ok, and theni put a different ending on it that was even moresaccharine and awful than the first one thathad started to piss me off. and so then i puta third one on it that was much worsethan the other. and it was a fun story,and i told it to somebody the next day, and one ofthem was an illustrator.
we did a cartoon in thecampus paper, and he said, i'd love to draw that. so i took a couple hoursand i scripted it out, and nothing came of it for fiveyears until "name of the wind" was already published, andthen somebody approached me, the lovely folks at subterraneanpress, "name of the wind" had been out like a week anda half, and bill emails me, and he's like, so,what do you want to do that you've neverhad a chance to do?
come do it with us. and i'm like, i gota weird kids story, and he's like, let's do that. and if it wasn'tfor him it never would have seenthe light of day. male speaker: somarzipan castle, are there any other fancytropes that you particularly hate apart from stew and-- pat rothfuss: i love stew.
that's scalzi that has a problemwith stew and fantasy novels. i hate the feeling ofpicking up any book and reading it, being excitedabout reading a new book, and feeling like i'veread the book before. and if you reada lot of fantasy, you know what i'm talking about. and i'm not saying-- i'vedone a couple of interviews, and i end up quotedkind of out of context. i think there's oneup on-- it might
have been io9 or something--where the big pull quote is, rothfuss says fantasy has tomove past dragons and goblins. and i'm like, whoa, whoa,whoa, that's a little extreme, it's that we need more than. it's like if you'regoing to do that, you should do it in a waythat hasn't been done before. oh yeah, i think itook a crack at dwarfs an elves with longbows and stuff, so it really lookedlike i was either
taking a pot shot at martin, ortolkien, and that's not true. because martin and tolkien havewritten some really amazing stories, but there's a lotof people who have maybe recycled some of those troopspast their sell by date. male speaker: well even havinga story told in the first-person was a pretty good-- pat rothfuss: yeah, althoughi wasn't the first there by any means. joan vinge was writingbrilliant first-person,
robin hobb wrote brilliantfirst-person fantasy, too. and honestly, first-person isthe most natural storytelling form. if you are talking toanybody during lunch today, you don't say, yesterday, shewas, you say, yesterday, i was, that's the most naturalstorytelling form there is. but you're right, it doesn'tshow up in novels as much. male speaker: now,terry pratchett, one of your favoriteauthors, well-loved
among this crowd aswell, he ceremoniously deletes every draft copy ofhis books and manuscripts before they come out. do you do the same? is there a university vyingfor the rothfuss papers, the early drafts? pat rothfuss: itkind of horrified me, and it broke my hearta little hearing that. but i read the same articlewhere he said, yeah,
he goes, i delete every otherthing after it's published. he goes, let theliterary analysis get real jobs orsomething like that. and that's his right,it's the equivalent of burning your papers. no, i keep a lotof my old drafts, the computer file with "nameof the wind" in it has, like, 600 embeddedcomments where i make note of whatparticular words mean,
or sometimes it's just,leave this sentence alone because the meter is goodso that if i'm revising it, i don't screw up that nicelittle piece in there. sometimes it's, this is actuallya reference to something that's happening in bookthree, so if you forgot this, rothfuss,don't change this either. sometimes one of my betareaders has given me a really funny commentthat i don't want to lose, and i'll tuck it in there.
i get a lot of greatpeanut gallery comments from my beta readers. male speaker: so, isthere any hope of those comments seeing the light ofday or an extended edition, things that may havegotten in editing? pat rothfuss: there willnever be a director's cut. this is the director's cut. what you have is thebest possible book. if we cut something,it's because it really
shouldn't be in there. but that said, anannotated version for the people who perhapsenjoy the book beyond all reason or sense? i have a delightfulnumber of those people, i am one of thosepeople, and you really want to know whatthis phrase actually means, what theetymology of the words is, and a few ofthe little jokes.
and it's not givinganything away, in the very first pagesof "name of the wind" when you meet thetroop and they're talking about themsetting up, and there's marion and his wife who aredoing a string-puppet show. and what would marion wife,what would his wife's name be? what is it? audience: marionette. pat rothfuss: marionette, right?
see? and that's just there for meand maybe you, if you catch it, but the books are full of that. i wanted to put like100 things on every page so that if you caughttwo, you'd be like, oh, there's somecool stuff in here. and then when youread it again, there's some stuff that youreally can't appreciate until you're readingit the second time
or until you've readthe second book, or until you'veread the third book. so those things arewaiting for people. male speaker: yeaheven allusions to dune i found on a repeatedreading, which was cool pat rothfuss: somethingabout dun, really? male speaker: sandworms i don't know. pat rothfuss: oh,yeah, there is, yeah. male speaker: so,another well-known author
was recently in thepress a few months ago about things that she wouldhave changed in her books. so now that you havetwo of the books out, anything that you wouldhave changed in book one or two or maybe done alittle differently? pat rothfuss: who's the author? oh, right, i know that,let's not go there. i made a trigonometrymistake in the first book, and it's really embarrassing,because like anybody
who knows some basictrigonometry looks at that and they're like, no. it's in kvothe's firstadmission interview, and he answers with suchauthority that a lot of people are like, i guess you'reright, and they move on. and i did the mathonce, but then i think i changed the formattingand i moved the question, and so he's supposed tocalculate the length of a side based on the angles in the othertwo sides, and it's just wrong
and nobody calls him on it. and that's my mistake,some people are like, oh, maybe in the book,i'm like, no, don't. you can cut me a breakwith other things, but this was me notdoing the math right. male speaker: and i guess yourworks have been translated quite extensively aswell, so what sort of hand do you have in that? any hidden secrets found fromreading a foreign language
edition or a favorite cover? pat rothfuss: i'm afreak, and because there's like 1,000 hiddenthings in the book, it would be really irrationalfor me to expect a translator to catch those things becausei specifically put them in such a way sothat they're hidden. and so you havea piece of poetry and it seems like it'sabout something else, but there's actuallyother things seeded in,
like little secrets there forthe people who want to delve. i don't want to turn thisinto a fricking sudoku, right? that's not thepoint of this book. i want you to be ableto read it and have fun, and if that'sall you get, great. but if you're the personwho likes to delve, i want there to bestuff there for you. and so that means it's sort ofresting underneath the surface. and my poor translators,because i play word games,
and i have puns. who's multilingual? have you ever triedto translate a pun? it's a nightmare. and the books are full of it. everyone's name means something,the name mean something, and it's a referenceto something in one of my created languages. but in their language,coat means kitten,
and they're like, howdo i deal with this? so i quickly realizedthat this was going to be a problembecause one of my very first translators,my dutch translator, actually contactedme and started asking me these questions. and i just started tosweat cold realizing that there was no wayfor the translators to do their job without aton of information from me.
and so i actuallycreated a forum, there's apassword-protected forum out there that only thetranslators-- even editors don't get to go in there. because i love my editors,but that's not for you, it's for the translators and thepeople who just need that info. there's a lot of things there. male speaker: so shiftinga little bit more towards the booksthemselves, i see
that there's a heavy use ofthree's throughout your two books, and so this is a questionfrom josh in the audience, so i must ask youthree times, why do you use groupings ofthrees in your writing? pat rothfuss: ok, how--isn't there a schoolhouse rock, (singing) three,it's a magic number. (speaking) the truth is, threeis just mythically significant, it's mathematically significant. if i go on a bigscreed about it i'm
going to look either flakyor tin foil hat, but it is. here's what it is,three of something establishes a pattern. one, you can't graph fromone point, you all know that. you can graph fromtwo points, but you shouldn't, that makes a line. male speaker: threemakes a plane. pat rothfuss: three makesplane, more specifically, three makes acircle, and a circle
allows you to begin tocenter in on a concept. is that the reason we findit mythically significant? no, maybe, i don't know. that's my answer, i don't know. male speaker: andof course there's seven as well so that's nice. pat rothfuss: sevenseasier, i think, actually, that goes back to thephases of the moon. if you-- these days,who sees the moon?
but-- there's somebodyback there, good, you and me, the people whoactually look at the moon-- but if you think of it,think of the people living pre-electric light,the moon is a big deal. and it's got a cycle of 28 days,you have waxing, waning, full, each quarter is seven days. you can take outall the way back like the earth-motherof lascaux and whatever, i'm not going to do ananthropology lecture, here.
male speaker: so,and also, how do you approach the balance oftechnology in your world? do you introduce somethinglike the bloodless? how do you keep that frombecoming a deus ex machina that just starts an arms race. pat rothfuss: you haveto be really careful. and this is a criticism i willlevel against some fantasy, sometimes-- ok, rowling'sbooks are well-loved. but some of the things thatwere put in those books
to serve a very usefulpurpose in the book were not well consideredin terms of their-- like, if this exists, then. and the biggest, classic versionis the time turner, right? if something like this exists,well then, and any rational person says, but if this, then. and there's a bunch ofthen from the time turner. it's so big that everyonebutts up against that. but there's a bunch ofother little things,
too, that once it'sintroduced, this should have huge, far-reachingimplications in the world, and if it doesn't,what this does is it screws up the elaboratemodeling system that we have that makes us human. we've got an incrediblemodeling processor, here, that allows us to setand solve problems without even being aware of it. it's the thing thatcreates the uncanny valley.
if you see a face, andit's not a right face, it freaks out our brains. but if it's a totallyoff face, that's fine, but if it's aslightly wrong face, it gives us a severe wiggins. it's the same thing istrue with our fiction. if everything is just likewilliam burroughs "naked lunch", crazy, nothing,nobody ever points at something in williamburroughs and says,
this is a plot hole,that's ridiculous. but with a story that's supposedto cohere, and be rational, and follow rules, and thenit doesn't, it bugs us. it really bugs us, andsometimes in the rush to tell a good story,technology is introduced, or a piece of magicis introduced, and its ramificationsare carefully permeated through the society. and then sometimes authorsgo back in later books
and really have to startto backfill, which is fair, and i respect the ones that go,whoa, i did not anticipate that and then they fix it. but sometimes it's justlike, and i'm moving on, i've got a new book to write. i think the difference ishard fantasy in soft fantasy, people talk about hardsci-fi and soft sci-fi, i think there's hard andsoft fantasy as well. hard fantasy tries its bestto be coherent, and realistic,
and it all fits together,and it all makes sense. soft fantasy is like,eh, there's dragons, there's a million dragons inthe world, what do they eat? a million dragons,magic, there's a lot of hand-waving involved. i don't write soft fantasy. male speaker: well, and ithink that you did a good job with that, as well, in termsof the economy of the four corners, likekvothe's tuition bill,
and just the monetary exchange. pat rothfuss: i'm a bitof an economy geek, yeah. male speaker: so,let's see here, so, george r.r. martinwrote the scenes following the red wedding before hewrote the wedding itself. when you were writingthe books one, books two, what was the lastthing that you wrote? did you skip around? or did you move forwardthrough the narrative?
pat rothfuss: the last thingthat i wrote, i do skip around. i do skip around, when iwas writing the whole thing, i skipped ahead and wrotea huge chunk of book three before i went back and filledin the gaps, so to speak. and then when i'mrevising, of course, i'm hopping all over theplace and sometimes i need to yank out a chapterfor pacing reasons, and i need to put somethingin here for clarity, so no, i'm all over the place.
male speaker: i guessthe latest rumor from the internets concernsa series of short stories, some origin stories,some novellas, something like [inaudible] or somethinglike that, why them? why now? does it help you writewhat's yet to come? or is it something that'salways been in your mind? pat rothfuss: well, georgemartin and gardner dozois, i think-- i don't know howto pronounce his last name,
i just see it in print-- wereediting an anthology called, rogues, and they invited me in. and they invitedme in previously, and i wasn't able to takethem up on their offer. they do thesebeautiful anthologies, they did dangerous womenand star-crossed lovers, with big names, and it's reallyflattering to be invited. and i had to pass ontwo of them because i was working on book two andtrying to really get that done.
then i realized that focusingexclusively on book two really makes mecrazy, and unhappy, and does not makeme write faster, it makes me right slower. and so when they invitedme into rogues, i accepted. and when i was struggling towrite a good story for it, after failing remarkablyabout three times, i wrote a bast story. i wouldn't say it'san origin story,
but it centers around bast. and so that'll be comingout in that anthology. and i just found outthat's happening in june. and i'm a little tingly, there,because gaiman's in it as well, and he's got, i think,in this anthology, is how the marquis decarabas got his coat back, which is, if you'veread neverwhere, i've been waiting to hearthat story for five years. yeah.
male speaker: andthat's yet to come. do you think that there'sroom for a silmarillion or an atlas, things likethat in the four corners? pat rothfuss: icould do an atlas. and people, a lot ofpeople who ask me, when are you going todo role-playing game set in your world? what they kind ofmostly want is an atlas. and i know a lot ofpeople who would never
role-play in theworld would still probably buy it anduse it as an atlas. and i'd love to do that ifi did not have anything else going on right now,which i kind of do. it would take a lot of workfor me to assemble that, and i can't outsource that, i'mthe only one that knows so many of these things. male speaker: all right,so kvothe shortens momentous events into a couplesentences, things like his boat
ride to the sea, histrial, how much of that is the way he tells stories? and how much of that correspondsto things that you actually wrote then but thendecided not to use? pat rothfuss: you know,this comes up a lot, and there's a few places inthe book where people are like, oh, rothfuss cut this becausethe book was too long. or rothfuss cut thisbecause he wanted to cut it. but if i wrote a story and itleft a visible scar like that,
that would not begood storytelling. in the same way, itwould not be good surgery if you have a big frankensteinscar running down, and the two pieces of my headdon't fit together right. that would be clumsy. so, you can assume,and honestly, people assume that i wrote thatand then took it out, and it's simply not true. i didn't write it.
so then, why did i putsomething like that in implying thatthere was a story, and then not giving you thestory, therefore, making you want something thatyou're not going to get. why would i do that? and that's a good question. male speaker: it leaves roomfor imagination, i like that. so here's a question frommichael here at google. he says, at google,we sort of implicitly
stand for the proposition thatmaking knowledge available is good. in that way, the [? k'thah ?]scares the crap out of me. pat rothfuss: oh,the [? k'theh ?]. male speaker: [? k'theh ?],that was the follow-up question. pat rothfuss: yeah, it'sa weirdly spelled name. [? k'theh ?]. male speaker: [? k'theh ?]. we'll pause on that,can you offer any solace
to that dichotomy? is too much knowledgea bad thing. pat rothfuss: is? i won't say is, i won't say toomuch knowledge is a bad thing. i will say that too muchknowledge can be a bad thing. yeah, i will absolutely--and of course, that's of extraordinarilysimplified stance, i'm painting with abroad brush, there, but yeah, i would make anargument for some instances
where too much knowledgeis a bad thing. male speaker: all right, cool. he also wants to knowif the lackless box is keeping something orkeeping something out. pat rothfuss: that isalso a great question. male speaker: i'm sure it is. so, why didn't kvothe evermake a concerted effort to show that ambrose sent himinto the stacks with a candle? question from andrewin the audience.
pat rothfuss: that'sa fair question. you can almost view that froma simple legal standpoint, it's like, he says, she says. you have two peoplewho are saying different things,who do you trust? male speaker: one's a scriv. pat rothfuss: one isan established student, he's been around for a longtime who works at the archives, and the other issome punk kid who's
already started makingtrouble in his first days at the university. it sucks, yeah,but you should not mistake your over-archingnarrative perspective as something that everyonepossesses both in the book and in the realworld, by the way. male speaker: so, can youshed some light on what things some other folks may have takenfrom the latantha, the sword tree, what wouldyou, personally,
have taken during your trials? pat rothfuss: that's aninteresting question. pass. i don't have agood answer for it. that's the mark ofa good question, that i hesitate tobe glib with it. but no, i can't get myhead around that quick. male speaker: well, here'sa follow-up along the lines that hopefully you cananswer, do you know kung fu?
you're describing the martialarts scenes in great detail, is there any interest there? pat rothfuss: actually,if you go back and look, you'll realize that i did notdescribe them in great detail. and this is a thing that idelight in fooling people with. i met somebody onceat a con ages ago, and that was back when thingswere a little more relaxed, book had only beenout 18 months. so i got together with somehigh school students who
had contacted me,and they were like, you're coming to dragon con,we should have burritos. and i'm like, weshould have burritos. and so we went out,and we had burritos, and we're hangingout, and he was like, my favorite partis when kvothe goes and he kicks ass on this scrael. and he's just all over theplace, and he's just awesome, and he's so badass.
and i'm like, i'm reallyglad you like that scene, but i didn't write it. you kind of wrotethat, because you see everything thatleads up to it, and then there's ascene break, and then you come in at the end of it. and i'm like, you did that. which is great, becausethat's how i like to write. i'd like to imply, more thani exply, that doesn't work.
i like to be implicitmore than explicit. it takes a lot more work andit's dangerous in your writing, because what i want you to inferis not always what you infer, which is why i have thiselaborate beta reader process, to checkif my implication is having the desired effect. for the kung fu--you want a secret? do you want secret? male speaker: i thinkso, we're here at google.
pat rothfuss: if you've everread the princess bride, who's read-- not themovie-- who's read it? right? you know when they'refighting, inigo montoya is fighting his swordmaster, whatever. and they're goingback and forth, and they're saying,oh, you're using this, oh, you're using that. the sword play isnever described.
and i remember readingthat and thinking, this is so exciting,and so cool. and i'm not reading eightbrick thick passages of like, then i parried in quarteand the forte of my sword touched his whatever dongle. because for the peoplewho get fencing and know all the terminology,that can be really sexy, but the slice ofthe pie chart is very narrow forthose fencing geeks.
and in the princess bridewhat he did is he's like, can you imagine whatbenetti's defense might be? you do that. is it awesome? yeah, that's so awesome. now we're going tomove on, and i'm going to give you anothercool-sounding name, can you imagine whatthat sounds like? yeah, that's awesome,too, isn't it?
let's keep going. and so you don't need to knowanything about sword play or anything, and you cannotbe disappointed in the action because it's all here. and this is something the bookscan do that movies can't, and so if you're writing and youdon't take advantage of that, you're really missing out on oneof the huge potential benefits of text over visual imagery. and so what i do a lot oftimes, now, i do occasionally,
i talk about some elementsof the body or whatever. but usually i tryto give something a very evocativename, and then i'll describe a little bit of thephysicality, but just enough to ground it in reality. and then i give you alittle bit of scaffolding and you create the rest, soit's a total team effort. male speaker: sofela's explanation of the rival factions ofmaster archivists and scrivs
throughout the years, eachorganizing their own library is great, but alison,who wrote this in, said that it reminds her ofthe bad side of wikipedia or refactoring otheropen source products. did you have a real life analogin mind when that came through? pat rothfuss: a lot of times iwrite something and then people email me and theygo, it's so nice that somebody whoreally understands post traumatic stress disorderhas finally written about it.
and i'm like, ah yeah, i supposethat is post traumatic stress disorder, isn't it? i'm glad i nailed that. but really what iwas doing is like, if this person wasin this situation, what would the realistichuman response be? and then i postulate,and extrapolate, and attempt to convey that. there's some things inwriting that i'm not good
and i have to struggle with, buti think that piece is something that i am very goodat, that extrapolating from known factorsinto the unknown. and so that's howi did the music. i love it when peoplesay, oh finally, a musician writing about music. i've been waitingfor so long, and i'm like, ha, ha, ha, i got you. nothing makes me prouderthan fooling a musician
into thinking thati am a musician. i think i might have had athird point, but it's gone now. i only got two hours ofsleep last night, sorry. male speaker: it's alwaysimportant, the sleep. i wanted to talk a littlebit about the fans, and the fan communitythat's arisen around you. you're always reallygenerous, like you said, from going forburritos, to signing books that people will mail you.
was that something thatcame immediately to you, or where you alwaysthis extroverted? did you grow into it? pat rothfuss: i don't knowif i'm actually extroverted. you can be-- thisis something i've been trying to geta bead on for years, now, because i love this. i love gettingtogether with people that are interestedin books, i love
talking about things, whether itbe writing, or the earth-mother of lascaux or anthropology,or whatever your a geek about. and so i always assumed thati was kind of an extrovert, but it turns outyou can actually really enjoy talkingabout things like that, or being in frontof an audience, or signing 1,000 books, andbe an introvert as well. so first off i'll say,introverts i am one of you. then give me the question again.
male speaker: was itsomething you grew into, like managing the fan community. pat rothfuss: actually,here i can trace this back to its origin. for one, i am fromthe midwest, and so we tend to be considerate people,polite, considerate, people who will make you a casseroleat the drop of a hat. we try to take care of people. also, when you startout as a writer,
it's not like your bookgets published and then here's an 800 person signing,how do you deal with this? no, i got pictures of mesitting at a table in front of a waldenbooks andpeople walking past, desperately trying toavoid eye contact with me. that's where you start. and then you getto the point where you're like, 10people showed up, woo! i'm famous!
and then there's this level,which is just, frankly, weird, and i only cope by notthinking about it too much. i'm getting to thepoint now where i'm having to reevaluate thelevel at which i interact with people just from thecruel mathematics of it. when i went to barcelona, and idid a signing-- i was in spain, and i did something at madrid,and 800 people showed up. and so they couldn't letthem in, they were lined up in the street, and then theycouldn't-- there was no dealing
with them all. and i would happilystay all night, but i did have stuff todo in the next morning, and so when we went tobarcelona, there like, we're worried. barcelona's a bigger city,we're going to get a lot more, we're going to get 1,000 people. i'm like, we won'tget 1,000 people. they're like, we should onlylet people bring one book,
and i'm like, no, no, idon't want to do that. if these people are going tostand in line for five hours, i'm going to-- i let her win that argument,and 2,000 people showed up. and then i have todo this math where it's like, now i can't takepictures with everyone. we left the burritodays behind long ago. i can't hang out and haveburritos with everyone, now. but now it's weird, because youstart looking at 2,000 people,
and you're like, if i can savethree seconds in each of these, then the people atthe end of the line get to go home andhour and a half early. and it leads to somereally weird stuff. like if i don't say, to maria,if i just say, maria, comma, this actually has animpact on how long the signing is going to take. and that kind of sucks. because i wouldlove to hang out,
i want to hear your storyabout how you found the book, or it helped you througha difficult time, or we'll talk about whatever. and it's gettingto the point where i can't do that withevery one, and so i don't know how todo with some people without having itbe really unfair. and i'm stillstruggling with that. but i can say i got started,partly with my own personality,
being midwestern, butjust a couple months in, i saw neil gaiman in action. he did a reading in assigningit a little time near where i was so i watched himread and answer questions. and who's seen neilgaiman do his thing? he's marvelous. he's so graceful, andgentle, and articulate, and considerate, and isaw him-- so he was there, he gave this littlecon a piece of his time
as a favor to his friend,took the red eye back from the beowulfpremiere in london to get there on saturday,to do this little con. and then after doinghis thing, stuck around to talk with the new authorsfor like an hour and a half, just goodness of hisheart, man is exhausted. and then after that, he startsto go home so he can sleep, and he gets hijacked, somebodyambushes him, and says, oh, mr. gaiman, mybrother is a huge fan,
and he's really tryingto get published, and it would reallymean the world to him if you could readhis manuscript. and he says, i wish i could. if you could email me eighthours in which to read it, i would love toread it, but they're just aren't enough hours inthe day, i don't have the time. and he goes, how about maybejust a couple of chapter, he's such huge fan, he's havingsuch trouble getting started.
and neil says, well, he'dprobably get better response from somebody he couldsit down with and have a good conversationwith, somebody he could sit downover coffee with. and the kid wasn't mean,there was no malice, he just didn't get it. and he was comingfrom a place of love, trying to help his brother. and he ran up againstneil like five times,
and i was watching it, tryingto figure out how i could, no! like, take the bulletfor him or say, i'd read your brother'smanuscript, i'm not that busy, so neil could run away. but i watched neil do it againand again, always polite, always considerate,never got tetchy, never got a little snarky, neverdid [sigh], none of that. and i thought, if neilgaiman can do this, and he gets this five timesa day, and he's exhausted,
there's no reason forme to ever be anything other than graciousto one of my readers. and so i made thatdecision right there. male speaker: so goingoff the midwest threads that you started weave, isyour writing midwestern? is this a midwest tale? pat rothfuss: i'm notsure, i don't know. it could be that some ofit is influenced-- probably my landscapes.
there's a lot of small town,and the landscape itself is usually forested. somebody said once, they wrotein my margins, they said, i know you try to make yourworld not look like our world. then they said, but irecognize your trees, and i'm like, yeah, that's true. this is a wisconsin forestthat he's walking through. male speaker: and roads as well. so, i wanted to shift thefocus over to worldbuilders.
so, alison wrote again,congratulations on the $670,000 raised for worldbuilders thisyear so that's really great. that's actually thecharity that pat founded. she wants to know what thesecond best part of running it is. pat rothfuss: the secondbest, that's a great question. male speaker:there's warm fuzzies, but what's the second best? pat rothfuss: honestly,the second best part of it
is the confirmation ofmy longstanding theory that people are inherently good. i mean, there'sa lot of evidence to the contrary out there,and it's really easy to get down on humanity. and then you say,hey, everybody, would you like to give money tomake the world a better place? and they do, and theydo they do in scads. and it's not justrich folk, this
is like broke college kids,broke high school kids, somebody kicking in $10 becausethat's all they can afford. and you're like,people are really good. male speaker: so does thatmap onto personal philosophy that you have? is there a [? lithani ?]of [inaudible]? pat rothfuss: i dogenuinely believe sometimes we canhave low blood sugar, sometimes we canbe a horribly hurt
by our environmentor our upbringing and damaged, perhaps, beyondour ability to cope with it or realize that goodness. but truthfully, those aresituations that have nothing to do with what theperson actually is. i almost launched into theweirdest analogy ever, there, and i've spared you. there was another weird one,i'm having a weird analogy day. you can shave a dog, butthat doesn't mean-- see,
that's a bad analogy. it's still a dog even ifyou shave it, no, that makes sense rothfuss,what are you-- this is why i have anextensive revision process. no, the fact is, and i believethis more now has a parent, my little boy is so good. and i view it asone of my main jobs, not to teach himto be good, it's just to not fuckup his being good.
he already is good,and i just got to try to not getin the way of that and accidentallyset a bad example or hurt him in such away that he will be hurt and then takes itout on other people. male speaker: playinggames and everything. pat rothfuss: playing games, andtrying to set a good example, but yeah. are there any questions fromthe audience that were here?
say it and i'll repeat it. audience: sure, i was going toask without too many spoilers, what you were planningfor [inaudible]? given what you saidso far, i'll ask more. why did you decideyou could actually afford the time for [inaudible]? [interposing voices] pat rothfuss: do you wantto repeat it, so that on-- male speaker: or if youwant to rephrase it.
pat rothfuss: thequestion was, first off, what's going with torment? or can you tell ussomething about torment? or why did i pick it up? and the follow up,given what i've said that i had to not doprojects because i'm too busy, what made that onea project that i felt like i could pursue? did i get it right?
audience: yes. pat rothfuss: the first-- i'llanswer the second one first-- i love video games, right? and the video games that igrew up playing, some of you might have played, who playedinfocom games back in the day? hey! this is proof for mytheory that people that played infocomgames turned out to be the smartest goddamnpeople in the world,
and it is just true. you know who played video games? neil gaiman, it was one ofthe first things that came up in that firstconversation at that con, he talked about how heplayed the douglas adams one. and he complainedabout the babel fish, and i'm like, this--ok, no, i'm not going to go off onto ascreed about video games. bring it back rothfuss,what's your point?
i love playingvideo games, and i love some of thenarrative opportunities that are present in video gamesthat are not present in text. specifically, there's alevel of interactivity and the ability to brancha narrative that does not exist in text tothe same extent. yes, you can do a chooseyour own adventure, but it's not the samebecause you're always keeping one finger inthere, you always want to,
oh, maybe i'll flip back,oh, it doesn't count, it doesn't count. there's also the ability forproblem solving in a video game that you don't have inthe same way in a book. and the team was amazing. also i do hope to eventuallyhave a video game in my world, and so i need to build up someskills now so that when it's time to launch into doingmine, i know a little bit, so i can be a bettermember of that team.
in terms of whatam i doing, i'll share just a brief story there. we had a team meetingwhere we went in and i talked to allthe other writers, and it's like anall-star cast of people who have beendoing games forever from all these differentstudios, people who've won awards, just marvelousfolk who've come together for this torment game.
there's chris avellone,several of the people that worked on the originalplanescape torment game. who played planescape torment? see, 15, 20 yearsafter the fact, people still rememberthat game fondly because it was an amazingstorytelling experience. so it's this greatteam, and then there's rothfuss who likehas never done-- i have not programmedsince basic.
or actually, that's nottrue, i did pascal, too. and so, they're alltalking about this stuff, and they're like, well,what about your character? what are you thinking? and i'm like, i'm thinkingof something weird, can i pitch it to you? so i sit there, and for 15minutes, i pitch my concept. i go, this is not anythingthat i've ever seen in any game that i played for this companioncharacter, and i pitch it,
and i pitch it, and i'm kindof watching them, trying to read the audience. and eventually i see--and it's a weird concept, i can't tell you what it isright now, because it's still coming-- and i'm going,do you have them rothfuss? are they just being polite? are they listening? and then eventually, isee chris avellone go, and i'm like, oh, good,if i've got chris,
then i can't betotally off target. and they're like,ok, let's do that. and i'm like,awesome, awesome, this is going to besomething that it's going to be double or nothing. if i can pull it off, peopleare going to talk about it, and it will bevery new and cool. and if i fail, then iwill fail spectacularly. male speaker: and also with thecard games out of your world
that have come. two kickstarter projects so far. we had a person ask on theblog by the name of true eyes, is corners just avariant of spades? is there going to be akickstarter for that as well? pat rothfuss: it'snot fair to say it's a variation ofany game, and if i was going to say if itwas close to something, i'd probably picksomething like euchre,
which i'm guessing like-- male speaker: midwest. pat rothfuss: yeah, ifyou're from the midwest, you play euchre. see, i go to a gamingconvention and i look for somebodywho can play euchre, because i was trying toplay test some of my rules for corners. and i could not findthe game designer
who knew what euchre was. because they're notfrom the midwest. it is a trick takinggame, there is bidding, but it's not reallya variant of anything so much as it is a differentsort of trick taking game. male speaker: wellhopefully we'll see that in themarketplace someday. pat rothfuss: hopefully. male speaker: hopefully.
other questions, yes. audience: i've read your blogpiece about wealth accumulation and having a chocolatecake and one slice, and two slices, andthe whole thing, and i wonder how you thinkabout having a family, having a child, having afuture where your writing career suddenlygoes south, and now what's your incomeearning ability? how does all ofthat fit together
in your attitude towards wealth? male speaker: what is yourattitude towards wealth as it has highs and lows andwith the wheel of fortune? pat rothfuss: yeah, i did writea blog post where somebody asked me the question, itwas effectively, why charity? why do you do this? and i responded with my nowfamous chocolate cake analogy. you have a slice of cake and youeat the cake, then that's ok. and if you have two slicesof cake and you eat the cake,
well, that's kind of ok, too. but if you have a whole cake,and you eat the whole cake, then you're kind of an asshole,because some people have no cake, and some people don'thave dinner before the not-cake that they don't have. and so i'm glad thatyou liked that, i'm sorry if that gave youa stroke right there. the absence of not-cakewould actually be cake. can you take the no tea?
i dropped the notea, now i have tea. that's for just afew of you out there. and some people, alot of people have said that rothfuss, you'redoing you're riding high now, you're making money off thesebooks, but what happens if? what if thingsstop going so well? aren't you going toreally feel stupid if you've got to go backto doing some other job or you don't have themoney to do whatever?
what they'reeffectively-- i've had a lot of people espouse thecarnegie solution, which is you are like ahuge, rapacious bastard for your whole life, and youget all the cake you can, and then, beforeyou die, you set up a foundation togive it away again. and carnegie's foundation hasdone some really awesome stuff, that's undeniable, but theunderlying philosophy there is that peoplearen't smart enough
to take care of themselves. that's fear that if i give youa piece of cake, you'll eat it and you'll get a tummy achebecause you're an idiot and only i am smart enoughto actually allocate cake. and i don't reallythink that's the truth. i think that people candeal with their own cake, and because you are good, ifi give you two pieces of cake or you accidentally endup with some extra cake, you will share itwith your neighbors.
and that is-- i seesomebody going, no. and i'll fightyou on that point. that is the hillthat i will die on, and the only reason thatsometimes it doesn't work is because people havegrown up in situations that have hurt them terriblyor taught them skills that have forced them to hoard asthe only survival mechanism that they have. or they don'tunderstand that you
need to shop at thelocal comic book store if you want the local comicbook store to stay in business. and this is somethingthat you're like, well, duh, of course. but there was atime in your life when you did notunderstand that. and so you can either justrage and gnash your teeth at the world, oryou can hopefully be one of the peoplethat says, boy, you know,
it's really nice, you guysgot pandemonium bookstore here in cambridge, it's a great localbookstore, great local game store. and that means that if yougo online and buy your games there, you are saying, the $2.50i save is more important than having this resourcein the community. what was the question again? male speaker: the cake isa lie, i think you got it. audience: how does being afather change your attitude?
pat rothfuss: ah,now here's the key, and for those of you thatmight be pratchett fans, this is not anunfamiliar philosophy. it's the fact that personalisn't the same as important. my kids are really importantto me because they're my kids, but the point at which isay, it's better for my kid to have food and to havethese two kids go hungry, that is the thin endof the wedge that leads to the only thingthat i would label as evil.
because as soon as youdo that, it selfishness. and it's a natural impulse,it is a reasonable impulse, it's a biological impulse. it's an impulsewhich has made us able to survivethrough the years, its a mechanism which madeus extraordinarily successful monkeys. and now, at this stage, becausewe are no longer monkeys, at this stage, thatbehavior, that impulse,
if we give into it, that makesus extraordinarily ineffective human beings. we need to recognize ourmonkey impulses, and then say, is my kid really moreimportant than four other kids? and it's hard, andyou have to say, no. male speaker: well-spoken. i think we have time forone more audience question, then i'll wrap it up withsome zingers of my own. all right, [inaudible].
audience: jumpingwell back in the talk, i was struck whenyou were talking about hard fantasyversus soft fantasy. my impression both as achild reader of fantasy and a parent of childreaders of fantasy is that somehowchildren's fantasy tends, as far asi can tell, to be soft fantasy moreoften than not. what's your sense,more important,
less important for kids'fantasy to be hard or soft? easier or harder to makehard fantasy for children? male speaker: how hard is it tomake hard fantasy for children, or keep it soft? pat rothfuss: there'san unfortunate tendency among people, ingeneral, to say, oh, i'll write a fantasynovel because you can all just make stuff up. and that's wrong, becausethat's not-- you can just
do a bunch of stuff and magicwill make it make sense. you can, but that'snot good writing, it's not good storytelling,it's not good craft. in my opinion, similarly,people, sometimes, in the genre are like, well, boy, iwish i could write ya, because then kids don'tknow what a plot hole is, they don't care aboutconsistent characterization, they're not going to call meon the million dragons ecology problem that i'vecreated, this is not
a sustainable ecostructure. but that, in my opinion, isa really egregious cop out. because in the sameway that the food we feed our childrenshould be actually held to a higher standard than thefood that you give to an adult, because an adult can say,blech, this is awful, or they can readthe label and go, oh, this hasterrible things in it and it's going to make mesick and give me cancer.
a kid can't. and so you owe it to kidsto actually put more work into this, because it'sactually harder to write short. it's harder to write simple. it's harder to do alot of these things, and it's harder to writecohesive, coherent, internally consistent fantasy. and you shouldn't go toya thinking, oh, my, this will be way easier, i canjust bang out 30,000 words
and then go playworld of warcraft. no. i do not approve. but then again, i have notreally taken a legitimate crack at ya, i know thatit's hard, but that doesn't mean thatwe shouldn't try for it, that's my philosophy. male speaker: quick questionhere, any update on kingkiller on tv or mr. whifflethe cartoon version.
pat rothfuss: i would love tosee a princess and mr. whiffle cartoon, that would be awesome. i'm trying to imaginethat right now. there is a tv dealin development. i have no more news than that. male speaker: it exists. so the final question i wantedto wrap up with, first of all, thank you very much for joiningus today, it was really great. talk to me about the care,growth, and maintenance
of such a magnificent beard. pat rothfuss: a beardis the only thing in the world youget by being lazy. and people are like,wow, how do you grow? see, i've got a couplebeard people, here, and do people ask, how doyou grow a beard like that? do people ask you? audience: sometimes. pat rothfuss: and thething, i started saying,
for two hours a day i sit in adark room and i just grow it. because it's theonly way i can not be snarky about thatconversation anymore. this is what a person lookslike when they do not care. don't ask me forgrooming suggestions, what the hell's wrong with you? this is man inhis natural state. i literally, i was goingto get a haircut for this, we scheduled a haircut, andthen the one person i trust
to cut my hair, her kid got sickthe day before i was flying, i couldn't findanother haircut person, so you get to seeme in my full glory. i think it's been a year sincei've been trimmed in any way. this is not a maintenanceissue, i do not, beard. male speaker: no favoritecomb or anything like that. pat rothfuss: no. and actually, it'sgoing to probably be getting severelycropped back,
because my littlest isstarting to develop fine motor coordination, and littlesweaty kid fingers, ladies you have no-- whoa--you have no idea how much it hurts to have your beard pulled. it's right on one of the mostsensitive parts of your body, you get a little kid withhis sweaty fingers in there, and then he just pulls on it,and you cannot cuss him out. you have to say,ah, daddy loves you, he's crying so muchthat he loves you.
this is not a fashion statement. male speaker: andno beard shaving challenges forworldbuilders 2015? pat rothfuss: people said,how much money would it take for your toshave your beard? i'm like, make me an offer. i did not cultivate thisto be a marketing ploy. again, i have abeard because i don't want to waste my timescraping my face every day.
male speaker:cool, on that note, thank you very much for joiningus at google, you can check out his books online, and in stores,and at your local book seller, thank you very much. pat rothfuss: thanks so much. this is very inside the actor'sstudio, a very tall chair. how do i sit in thetall chair without kind of exposing mycrotch to you guys. i'm don't know how to bedignified in this position,
here. oh, see, that's somethingthat i shouldn't say in front of an audience, i'mbad at this, i'm bad at this. how's my hair? oh, you can see my bald spot. do you have some sortof special technology that can get rid of that for me? male speaker: should we switch? pat rothfuss: ithought he was going
to come just put hiscoat over my head.