Category Archives: the longest fucking blog ever

Book Tour Part II – FAQ and Other Ways to Get a Signed Book.

So in my last blog I announced where I was stopping for my book tour. Now let’s talk details.

Specifically, let’s answer some questions that people have asked.

More specifically, how about *I* answer the questions. That seems like the reasonable thing to do, as I’m the one typing right now.

*     *     *

1. You aren’t doing a signing near me! Why? Why don’t you come to Cleveland? Why don’t you come to Tampa? Why don’t you come to Minnesota? Why do you hate me?

I’m paraphrasing here, but whenever I post up information about a signing, this is the great cry that seems to go up from the comments section.

What’s extra disheartening is when people ask me why why WHY I never come to, say, Boston, when I was just in Boston earlier this year. I attended a convention that was open for anyone to attend. And I did a reading and two booksignings that were completely free and open to the public.

Anyway, there are really two answers to this question, the snarky one and the honest one. Let’s do the snarky first.

Or rather, I’ll let the lovely folks at Penny Arcade do it for me. I love the comic they wrote a couple years ago when they went on book tour….

784826530_YCn46-L

The honest answer shouldn’t surprise any of you. There simply isn’t time. These tours take a ton of time and energy. And I have writing to do. I have a fundraiser to plan. And I have two kids who miss me when I’m gone.

Cutie pudge

Cutie has just reached the age where we can play games with each other. He honks my nose. He like to be tickled. When he sees me come in the door he gets excited and crawls toward me. Sometimes he says “da” and it seems like he actually means something by it.

So I’m only doing a week’s worth of tour. I’m sorry. I wish it were otherwise. I wish I could be many places at once. And fly. And stop time. And magically produce an endless supply of cake.

But I can’t. So.

1b. Is there any book-tour outside the US around the corner? Say, Europe? ^^

Nope. See above. I’ll probably hit a few countries next year. But nothing’s scheduled yet.

1c. Any plans to do anything local? Point or Wausau?

Not really. Sorry.

2. What are your book signings like?

Well, they’re not just signings, actually.

At the start of the event, I spend about an hour reading some stuff, telling stories, and doing Q&A with the audience. That will last for about an hour. Then I sign books. Many many books.

(Also note that at some of the events, I’ll be having musical guests kicking off the show for me.)

2b. Will you sing?

I have been known to sing.

3. How long do you think these events will be? I’m asking because I may or may not have somewhere to go to afterwords, and if I do, I’d like to be there around 9:00ish (which means leaving the bookstore at like 8:45). Do you think that’s possible?

Well. Anything is possible. But I don’t think it’s terribly likely.

Let’s say the event starts at 7:00. I read and answer questions and make jokes until 8:00. Then the signing starts.

Let’s say there are only 300 people there, (as opposed to the 500-800 that I’m expecting to some of these events.) Also assume it takes me 30 seconds to sign each person’s book(s).

Now assume that you’re on a train traveling west at 40 miles an hour. You have a load of turnips that weighs eighteen tons and Syracuse is 180 miles away. Given the coefficient of friction and the cost of diesel fuel, I think its safe to assume that if you want your book personalized, you’re going to be standing in line for a couple of hours. Because nobody likes turnips. Seriously.

4. Will I have the chance to just grab a signed book and go home after your reading? I’m mostly there for your signature. I don’t need you to write, “For Tabitha” in my book. I know my own name….

At all my events, you’ll have the chance to buy pre-signed books. That way you can come for the show, then grab a book and head out without having to stand in line.

5. Do you know when your book will come out in other countries? 

I was going to try and gather all this information together and post it. Then I remembered that there’s this cool new invention called the internet. You might have heard about it because you’re on it right now.

Using the internet, you could probably find this information out yourself.

Alternately, you could call your local bookstore and ask them. It’s their job to know these things.

It’s not that I don’t want to help. It’s just that you can honestly get this information faster for yourself than I can get it for you. My work is being translated into more than thirty languages in many, many countries. It would take me hours to put that list together.

Or you could google around a bit on your own. Or pick up the phone. Then I could spend my time writing instead.

Sound like a good idea?

6. I can’t go to any of your tour dates, but I’m really close to San Diego, how can I get at least a signed copy? I’m so sad!

Yes. There are many places where you can get signed copies of the book.

Details are down at the bottom of the blog, in question #18

7. Will you sign copies of The Name of the Wind or The Wise Man’s Fear?

Hell yes. Just because I have a new baby doesn’t mean I don’t love my first baby.

8. Will there be hardcover copies of The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear available to purchase at your signings?

Almost certainly. But if you want to make sure you get one, the smart thing to do would be to call the bookstore and reserve a copy.

9. Will there be copies of The Princess and Mr. Whiffle available at your signings?

Maybe. Very maybe. Most bookstores only know about me because of The Name of the Wind. If you want to buy a Princess book, I’d suggest you call the store and try to reserve one. If they don’t have one in stock, I’m sure they’d be happy to order one in for you, which they can do by emailing us at princess [at] patrothfuss.com. Bookstores love selling books, you know.

9b. Will I get a special promotional sticker if I buy a copy of the Princess book at the store?

MR_Whiffle_Sticker_Scale_Final_1024x1024

Good idea. I’ll throw some of those in my luggage. So yes. You can have a sticker.

10. I know in the past folks have brought tokens of esteem, such as cookies or mead. Would you like a bottle of tasty, homebrewed peach wine, as a small “Thank you” for all the happiness your books have wrought? Or perhaps you’d prefer smaller/more easily consumed things?

You really don’t have to bring me presents. I mean it.

That said, if you’d like to bring something. Please feel free. Bring whatever makes you happiest.

But do remember that I’m probably going to have to ship it home. So really big/fragile things can be problematic.

11. Do you hug?

I have been known to hug.

That said, you might want to refer to the logistical issues I mention up in question #3. It might have to be a short hug.

And watch those hands.

12. Do you only hug young girls?

No. I’m all about equal opportunity affection.

Beardy redheaded kiss

I’d just like to say that not only is that the beardiest three-way kiss ever. Not only is dude’s hair the brightest red I’ve ever seen. But he was also a priest.

So I can cross that off my bucket list.

Seriously though, I’m not going to get frisky with everyone there. Not only would I catch some sort of terrible disease. But again, time is going to be an issue.

13. I want to buy a Kingkiller t-shirt to wear to your signing, but I can’t find the link to your store, the Tinker’s Sack. What’s the URL?

Here’s the link for you.

And by the way, it’s called The Tinker’s Pack. Pack. With a “P”.

The Tinker’s Sack would be a whole different sort of website. I don’t know what they’d sell there, but I don’t think I’d want to buy any….

14. I’m looking forward to hearing you read, but I hate spoilers. Do I need to be afraid?

I hate spoilers, too. So you don’t need to worry about me giving away big secrets like the fact that Auri is really Kaiser Soze.

14.You’re coming to my town, but I’m going to have to miss your signing by just a couple hours because of attend class/go to work/catch a plane/etc.  Can I meet up with you a little earlier and have you sign my book?

I’m sorry. But my schedule is way too tight to do anything like that. A lot of times, I won’t even be flying into town until a couple hours before the signing.

But if it’s your hometown, you can just call the bookstore and reserve a copy. Whenever I do a signing, the bookstore has me sign a bunch of books for people that couldn’t make it to the event.

16. Will you Sign my Nook/Kindle/E-reader?

Yes. This is something that I’ve done before.

signed nook

17. Is it better for you if I buy your book at any particular store? Or in any particular way? (Nook? Hardcover?) I love your books, and so I want to support you as much as I can.

Over the last month, I’ve had more than a dozen messages like this. It just goes to prove something I already knew, that my readers are delightfully considerate human beings.

For the most part, it doesn’t matter where you buy the book, though I do usually encourage people to shop locally. Because supporting your local economy is a good thing.

If you *really* want to help, you could make a point of buying the book close to the release date. The more people that buy the book in that first week (or pre-order it) the better chance I have for showing up on bestseller lists. And showing up on those lists helps sell more books, keeps my publisher happy, and generally gives my career a little bump.

18. I can’t make it to any of your signings, is there anywhere else I can get a signed book?

Yes. I went to great pains to sign a bunch of tip-in sheets for my books.

20140917_065142

(I mean that literally. By the end of signing these, pain was shooting up my arm.)

We’ve distributed these pre-signed books to many different bookstores all over the country so that they can be easily accessible to as many of you as possible.

Below is a list of all the bookstores that will have signed books, organized by state:

  • Alaska

Fireside Books
720 S Alaska St
Palmer, AK 99645

http://www.goodbooksbadcoffee.com/

Phone: 907-745-2665

Homer Bookstore Inc
332 E Pioneer Ave   Ste 1
Homer, AK 99603

http://www.homerbookstore.com/

Phone: 907-235-7496

  • Arizona

Poisoned Pen
4014 N Goldwater Blvd Ste 101
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

http://poisonedpen.com/

Phone: 480-947-2974

University Of Arizona Bookstore
1209 E University Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85721

http://uabookstore.arizona.edu/

Phone: 520-621-2426

  • California

Book Seller
107 Mill St
Grass Valley, CA 95945

http://thebookseller.biz/

Phone: 530-272-2131

Borderlands Books
866 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110-1739

http://www.borderlands-books.com/

Phone: 415-824-8203

Book Passage Inc
51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

http://www.bookpassage.com/

Phone: 415-927-0960

Bookshop Santa Cruz
1520 Pacific Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

http://www.bookshopsantacruz.com/

Phone: 831-423-0900

Almost Perfect Bookstore
1901 Douglas Blvd
Roseville, CA 95661
Phone: 916-781-7935

Mysterious Galaxy
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92111

http://www.mystgalaxy.com/

Phone: 858-268-4747

The Booksmith
1644 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117

http://www.booksmith.com/

Phone: 415-863-8688

Vromans Bookstore
695 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101

http://www.vromansbookstore.com/

Phone: 626-449-5320

  • Colorado

Boulder Bookstore
1107 Pearl St
Boulder, CO 80302

http://boulderbookstore.indiebound.com/

Phone: 303-447-2074

Old Firehouse Books
232 Walnut
Fort Collins, CO 80524

http://www.oldfirehousebooks.com/

Phone: 970-484-7898

Who Else Books
200 S Broadway – Broadway Book Mall
Denver, CO 80209

http://www.whoelsebooks.com/

Phone: 303-744-2665

Bookworm Of Edwards
295 Main St C101
Edwards, CO 81632

http://www.bookwormofedwards.com/

Phone: 970-926-7323

Old Firehouse Books
232 Walnut Street
Fort Collins, CO 80524

http://www.oldfirehousebooks.com/

Phone: 970-484-7898

Off The Beaten Path
68 9Th St
Steamboat Springs, CO 80487

http://www.steamboatbooks.com/

Phone: 970-879-6830

Marias Bookshop
960 Main Ave
Durango, CO 81301

http://www.mariasbookshop.com/

Phone: 970-247-1438

  • Florida

Classic Bookshop
310 S County Rd
Palm Beach, FL 33480

http://www.classicbookshop.com/

Phone: 561-655-2485

  • Idaho

Rediscovered Books
180 N 8Th St
Boise, ID 83702

http://www.rdbooks.org/

Phone: 208-376-4229

  • Illinois

The Book Table, Inc.
1045 Lake St
Oak Park, IL 60301-1101

http://www.booktable.net/

Phone: 708-386-9800

Unabridged Books
3251 N Broadway St Ste 1
Chicago, IL 60657-3555

http://www.unabridgedbookstore.com/

Phone: 773-883-9119

57th Street Books
1301 E 57Th St
Chicago, IL 60637

http://www.semcoop.com/

Phone: 773-684-1300

City Lit Books
2523 N Kedzie Blvd
Chicago, IL 60647

http://www.citylitbooks.com/

Phone: 773-235-2523

  • Indiana

Vons Book Shop
315 W State St
West Lafayette, IN 47906-3594

http://www.vonsshops.com/

Phone: 765-743-1915

  • Kansas

Mysteryscape Llc
7309 W 80Th St
Overland Park, KS 66204

http://www.mysteryscape.com/

Phone: 913-649-0000

  • Massachusetts

Pandemonium Books And Games
4 Pleasant St
Cambridge, MA 2139

http://www.pandemoniumbooks.com/

Phone: 617-547-3721

Concord Bookshop
65 Main St
Concord, MA 1742

http://www.concordbookshop.com/

Phone: 978-369-2405

Bookloft
332 Stockbridge Rd
Great Barrington, MA 01230-1235

http://www.thebookloft.com/

Phone: 413-528-1521

Brookline Booksmith
279 Harvard St
Brookline, MA 02446
http://www.brooklinebooksmith.com/Brookline, MA
Phone: 617-566-6660

Odyssey Bookshop
9 College St
South Hadley, MA 01075

http://www.odysseybks.com/

Phone: 413-534-7307

Jabberwocky Bookshop
50 Water St Mill Bldg # 1
Newburyport, MA 01950-2899

http://www.jabberwockybookshop.com/

Phone: 978-465-9359

Porter Square Books
25 White St
Cambridge, MA 02140

http://www.portersquarebooks.com/

Phone: 617-491-2220

Harvard Bookstore Inc
1256 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138

http://www.harvard.com/

Phone: 617-661-1515

  • Maine

Devaney Doak & Garrett Bksler
193 Broadway
Farmington, ME 04938-5909

http://www.ddgbooks.com/

Phone: 207-778-3454

Maine Coast Book Shop
158 Main St
Damariscotta, ME 4543

http://www.mainecoastbookshop.com/

Phone: 888-563-3207

  • Michigan

Between The Covers
106 E Main St
Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Phone: 231-526-6658

Snow Bound Books
118 N 3Rd
Marquette, MI 49855-4304

http://www.snowboundbooks.com/

Phone: 906-228-4448

Taylors Books & More
60 W Chicago St
Coldwater, MI 49036-1617

http://www.taylorsstationers.com/

Phone: 517-279-8046

  • Minnesota

Common Good Books
38 S Snelling
Saint Paul, MN 55105

http://www.commongoodbooks.com/

Phone: 651-225-8989

Uncle Hugos Sci Fic B/S
2864 Chicago Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55407

http://www.unclehugo.com/prod/index.shtml

Phone: 612-824-6347

University Of Minnesota Bookstore
300 Washington Ave Se
Minneapolis, MN 55455

https://www.bookstores.umn.edu/

Phone: 612-625-6000

Moon Palace Books
2820 E 33Rd St
Minneapolis, MN 55406

http://www.moonpalacebooks.com/

Phone: 612-454-0455

  • Missouri

Rascal Books
11617 Mcgee
Kansas City, MO 64114
Phone: 816-591-0389

  • Montana

Shakespeare & Co
103 S 3Rd St W
Missoula, MT 59801

http://www.shakespeareandco.com/

Phone: 406-549-9010

  • North Carolina

Quail Ridge Books
3522 Wade Ave
Raleigh, NC 27607

http://www.quailridgebooks.com/

Phone: 919-828-1588

Bulls Head Bookstore
207 South Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27599

http://www.store.unc.edu/

Phone: (919) 962-5066

Park Road Books
4139 Park Rd -Park Rd S/C
Charlotte, NC 28209-2229

http://www.parkroadbooks.com/

Phone: 704-525-9239

Malaprops Book Store
55 Haywood St
Asheville, NC 28801-2834

http://www.malaprops.com/

Phone: 828-254-6734

Missing Volume
P O BOX 97274
Raleigh, NC 27624

http://www.themissingvolume.com/

Phone: 321-297-6635

City Lights Bookstore
3 E Jackson St
Sylva, NC 28779

http://www.citylightsnc.com/

Phone: 828-586-9499

  • New Hampshire

Innisfree Bookshop
312 Daniel Webster Hwy
Meredith, NH 3253
Phone: 603-279-3905

Water Street Bookstore
125 Water St
Exeter, NH 3833

http://www.waterstreetbooks.com/

Phone: 603-778-9731

Country Bookseller
23A N Main St – Durgin Stables
Wolfeboro, NH 3894

http://www.thecountrybookseller.com/

Phone: 603-569-6030

  • New York

Lift Bridge Bookshop
45 Main St
Brockport, NY 14420

http://www.liftbridgebooks.com/

Phone: 585-637-2260

Flights Of Fantasy
381 Sand Creek Rd
Albany, NY 12205

http://www.fof.net/

Phone: 518-435-9337

Book House Of Stuyvesant Plaza
1475 Western Ave – Stuyvesant Plaza
Albany, NY 12203

http://bookhouse.indiebound.com/

Phone: 518-489-4761

  • Ohio

Larry Smith-Bookseller
3824 Patricia Dr
Upper Arlington, OH 43220

http://www.fantasyliterature.com/

Phone: 614-442-1010

  • Oregon

V J Books
12250 Sw Myslony St
Tualatin, OR 97062-8041

http://www.vjbooks.com/

Phone: 503-750-5310

Powell’s Books
1005 W Burnside St. between 10th and 11th Ave.
Portland, OR 97209

http://www.powells.com/

Phone: 800-878-7323

  • Rhode Island

Barrington Books
184 County Rd
Barrington, RI 02806

http://www.barringtonbooks.com/

Phone: 401-245-7925

  • South Carolina

Fiction Addiction
1175 Woods Crossing Rd #5
Greenville, SC 29607

http://www.fiction-addiction.com/

Phone: 864-675-0540

  • South Dakota

Mitzis Main Street Books
510 Main St
Rapid City, SD 57701-2734

http://www.mitzisbooks.com/

Phone: 605-721-2665

  • Texas

Blue Willow Book Shop
14532 Memorial Dr At Dairy Ashford
Houston, TX 77079-5431

http://www.bluewillowbookshop.com/

Phone: 281-497-8675

Book People Inc
603 N Lamar
Austin, TX 78703

http://www.bookpeople.com/

Phone: 512-472-5050

The Book Spot
1205 Round Rock Ave #119
Round Rock, TX 78681

http://www.juliesbookspot.com/

Phone: 512-351-3284

  • Utah

Kings English
1511 S 1500 E
Salt Lake City, UT 84105

http://www.kingsenglish.com/

Phone: 801-484-9100

Weller Book Works
607 Trolley Sq
Salt Lake City, UT 84102

http://www.wellerbookworks.com/

Phone: 801-328-2586

University Of Utah Bookstore
270 S 1500 E Rear
Salt Lake City, UT 84112

http://www.campusstore.utah.edu/utah/Home.aspx

Phone: 801-581-6326

  • Virginia

Chop Suey Books
2913 W Cary St
Richmond, VA 23221

http://www.chopsueybooks.com/

Phone: 804-422-8066

  • Washington

Village Books
1200 11Th St
Bellingham, WA 98225

http://villagebooks.com/

Phone: 360-671-2626

Snow Goose Book Store
8616 271St St Nw
Stanwood, WA 98292

http://www.snowgoosebookstore.com/

Phone: 360-629-3631

  • Wisconsin

Janke Bookstore
505 3Rd St
Wausau, WI 54403

http://www.jankebookstore.com/

Phone: 715-845-9648

Boswell Book Co
2559 N Downer Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53211

http://boswell.indiebound.com/

Phone: 414-332-1181

Tribeca Gallery, Cafe & Books
401 E Main St
Watertown, WI 53094

http://www.tribecagallerycafe.com/

Phone: 920-206-2885

Books & Company
1039 Summit Ave
Oconomowoc, WI 53066

http://www.booksco.com/

Phone: 262-567-0106

  • Online stores:

Thinkgeek, Inc

http://www.thinkgeek.com/

Books-A-Million

http://www.booksamillion.com/

Barnes and Noble

http://www.BN.com/

Hastings Books & Music

http://www.gohastings.com/index.jsp

Half Price Books

http://www.hpb.com/

Note that there aren’t an unlimited supply of these, so you might want to call your local bookstore ahead of time and pre-order or reserve your copy. Bookstores love it when you do that.

If none of these stores are close to you, note that many of them will happily ship to you. Or you can call some of the online stores right there at the end of the list.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll probably be doing one more blog talking about the tour next week, so if you have additional questions, you can ask them in the comments below.

Later Space Cowboys,

pat

Also posted in appearances, Cutie Snoo, The Adventures of The Princess and Mr. Whiffle | By Pat56 Responses

Love Redux

So last year I made a post on Valentines day that happened to be about love.

I wasn’t happy about that, as I’ve got a strong iconoclastic element in my personality. And writing about love on Valentines day is just… it just feels so fucking Hallmark.

But something happened a couple days ago, and it’s been spinning in my head ever since. When that happens, I have to tell a story about it, because that’s just how I’m wired.

So. I’m writing about love again, not because it’s Valentines day, but despite that.

I just want to make it clear this isn’t going to be a yearly thing. Okay? Okay.

*     *     *

A couple days ago, my baby boy smiled at me. A little crooked smile, a smirk.

Cutie - 8 weeks

(The onesie was a gift from a fan. Honest.)

A few days before that, I got my first smile. Today I got several. He also said, “goo” a couple times. I’m not even kidding. It’s amazingly cute.

Here’s the thing. He also smiled at the ceiling fan. He *really* likes the ceiling fan. Given the choice between the ceiling fan and me, the fan will win 3 times out of 4.

But you know what’s strange? I don’t mind. I really don’t.

I don’t mind that he smiles and coos at his mom more than me. It doesn’t make me sad that the ceiling fan takes second place, and that almost any window with a sunlight behind it is a close third.

I’m fine being fourth in line for smiles. I’m just happy to be on the list.

Standing there, holding my new baby, I had a strange sort of revelation. I was feeling a type of love that was in no way jealous.

I think this might be the purest type of love.

*     *     *

Here’s the thing, I’m not a fan of LOVE as a singular concept. It’s a ridiculously broad term that can be applied to pets, sex partners, or Oreos. When a word accretes that many definitions, it becomes virtually nonsensical.

If you’re hunting for more specific words for love, Greek is a good language to start with. They have Eros, Philos, and Agape. Those three do a pretty good job of breaking the great multifarious monolith of LOVE into slightly more manageable pieces.

I’m assuming you know about them, but just for reference:

  • Philos is friend love. Family love.
  • Eros is “I want to bone you” love.
  • Agape is… tricky. Some people call it “unconditional love.” I’ve heard it referred to as “True love” “God Love” or “That love which instils worth.”

There’s also lesser-known storge: “Kindness love.” Which is the sort of love you feel for something that’s dependent on you. Like an infant or a dog.

So. I’m standing there, looking at my sweet baby, and he’s smiling at the ceiling fan. And I realize I don’t mind. I’m just happy that he’s happy. I’m just happy that sometimes he smiles at me. I’m just happy he’s around.

This is a strange and wonderful sensation. This is, I feel, a different type of love.

Now it might seem like I’m talking about agape-style love here. Or storge. But I’m not. This is something different.

What I’m talking about here is love-without-expectation.

*     *     *

We need to stop for a moment and make a word.

If I’m going to spend some time trying to describe a largely unfamiliar concept, I need a name for it. Love-without-expectation-or-desire isn’t going to work. It’s not elegant. A newish concept needs a newish name. It needs its own space to grow. You grok?

Plus I just like making words. It’s kind of a thing that I do.

From what I gather the Hebrew concept of “חסד” is pretty close to what I’m looking for here. And it’s one of the Sephira, which gives it extra gravitas. Unfortunately, it’s not going to work because when you transliterate it, it’s spelled “chesed” and that looks too much like “cheesed” to me.

Fuck it. I know it’s not linguistically sound, but I’m going to call it Eleutheria.

*     *     *

Remember where we were? Me. My baby. Ceiling fan.

20140214_122916

(In his defense, it’s a really nice fan.)

I simply love him, and I expect nothing in return. This is strangely, delightfully freeing. I don’t feel bad that if he pays more attention to his mom. I don’t mind that he smiles at the fan or his big brother.

I don’t mind if he falls asleep. I don’t mind if he throws up on me.

Elutheria – Love which demands nothing. The love that expects nothing.

This is an odd concept for me. Because I am a creature composed almost entirely of expectations.

This isn’t entirely a bad thing. The ability to anticipate, desire, and plan is important. It gives us control of our lives. It gives us the ability to see forward in time a little. It gives us the ability to steer our destiny a little so we can avoid wrecking our lives against the rocks.

Not always, of course, sometimes your ship is going to wreck no matter your best efforts. Shit happens. But if you’re able to anticipate the future, you can at least brace for impact. That’s better than nothing.

Without the ability to predict and therefore exert control on the future, we are helpless. Subject to the constant random battering of a largely entropic universe.

The ability to predict and anticipate isn’t bad. The desire for control isn’t bad. If you put those things together with a love for language and a vague compulsion for storytelling, you get The Name of the Wind.

If you combine these characteristics with a love of charity and a desire to make the world a better place, you get Worldbuilders.

If you combine them with a relationship… it’s not so good.

Because trying to control the people you love isn’t good.

For one thing, people don’t like it. (For the most part.) But also because controlling someone means hanging expectations on them. And if people don’t live up to your expectations, you’re disappointed. And disappointment leads to frustration and anger. This spiral continues down to the dark side of the force.

How much nicer would it be to simply love someone? If you expected nothing from your beloved, you could never be disappointed. Nothing could jeopardize that love. It would be unassailable.

This would be Elutheria, the love that expects nothing.

*     *     *

What I’m talking about here, is the diametrical opposite of selfish love.

Selfish love demands things. It demands attention. Most of all, selfish love demands love in return. Typically it usually demands ALL the love in return. It demands primacy. Exclusivity. Ownership. Control.

What I’m talking about here is what’s commonly called “Romantic Love.”

Romantic love is championed as being awesome in our culture. It’s the sort of love you’ve seen a thousand times in movies and literature. You’ve seen it the lives of your friends and family members. You’ve probably experienced some version of it yourselves.

It’s the sort of love where you where you fall for someone, and they don’t love you back, and then you kill yourself. (Actual results may vary.)

It’s the sort of love where you see you girl talking to another guy and you feel jealous.

It’s the sort of love where you see your guy looking at another girl and you feel angry.

It’s the sort of love that makes you think it’s okay to consider someone “your girl” or “your guy.” As if you owned them. As if they were under your control. As if your affection made them somehow beholden to you.

And as I stand there, smiling at my baby, (who is smiling at our ceiling fan) I am perfectly happy. And I wonder to my self, “At what point did loving someone become an excuse to be a greedy asshole?”

*     *     *

I bounced my idea off a couple people over the last week or so. Love without expectation. I explained about my baby and the ceiling fan. I talked about the chains of desire….

“Well,” someone said. “It sounds nice, but I don’t think that’s something that could exist in an adult relationship.”

Several people said this, or something very close to it. These comments came up almost compulsively, in a knee-jerk way.

I think people have this automatic response for two reasons.

First, I think they feel attacked. As if I’m telling them they’re loving wrong.

I’m not. That’s not what this is about. When I talk about how much I’d like a Tesla, it doesn’t mean I think you’re a dick for driving a Prius. I’m not trying to start a fight here. I’m looking to discuss an idea.

Second, I think people react badly because Elutheria a profoundly unfamiliar concept. We all grew up reading stories about Lancelot and Guenevere (or permutations thereof.)

The Arthurian legend is one of our mythic cornerstones. It echoes through the last 1000 years of our art and literature. Well… 800 years, if we’re talking about Lancelot. You see, he wasn’t in the original story. The French added him in the 1200′s.

dicksee-belle-dame

(Yeah. I know that’s not Lance and Gwen. I just really love Waterhouse.)

And you know what? It’s a better story with Lancelot in it. More drama. More tension. More universal appeal.

The downside? Lancelot and Guenevere are generally held up to be the villains of the whole Arthurian schtick. They ruined Camelot. Their dirty, dirty lust wrecked the golden age.

But the truth is, if Arthur hadn’t been such a douche about the whole thing, there wouldn’t have been any problem. If Arthur had just gotten over himself and admitted that Lance was pretty hunky, it could have been cool. If he’d just wanted Gwen to be happy, he should have just stepped aside. Or at least turned a blind eye.

Either that or jumped into the sack with both of them. Because… y’know… hunky.

Imagine the glorious world we’d be living in if *that* was one of our mythic cornerstones, folks. Imagine a world where slash fiction didn’t exist because we were, all of us, constantly living the dream.

Okay, back on track here.

Generally speaking, everyone agrees that Arthur overreacted. But Lance and Gwen? They’re traitors. It’s their *fault*. Traitors deserve the lowest, darkest circle of hell.

Arthur was a little hot headed, sure. But it was justified, right? Lance and Gwen, their actions were a betrayal.

What were they betraying?

Expectations.

*     *     *

Those of you who have studied any Buddhism are probably nodding along by this point. Believe me, I’m very aware that the more I roll the concept of Elutheria around, the more similar it seems to the four noble truths that lead to the eightfold path.

For those of you who haven’t studied Buddhism, here it is in a nutshell:

  1. There is suffering.
  2. Suffering comes from thwarted desire.
  3. Therefore, if you eliminate desire, you eliminate suffering.
  4. Profit. Moksha.

There is an unassailable simplicity here. There’s a reason I’m fond of Buddhism.

*     *     *

I wish I had a strong closer for you, but I’m not really making an argument here. I’m not heading for a conclusion. I’m merely working out my thoughts in text. Writing things down helps me understand them better. It helps me knock the rough corners off my new ideas. (It’s my attempt at “Right Understanding,” the first step of the eightfold path.)

But is Elutheria something a person can realistically achieve?

With my baby, the answer seems to be yes.

But then things become more complicated. You see, I have responsibilities.

My older son is four. And while it would be pleasant to simply love him and let the chips fall where they may, if I were to do that, I would be failing him as a parent. I need to provide guidance and discipline. I need to control his base monkey instincts with the hope that he may eventually rise above them and become a fully-formed human being.

There’s that word again: Control. It’s my job to control him. It’s my job to have expectations.

Still, I think discarding Elutheria entirely would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There are certain expectations that are essential. I expect him to be polite. I expect him to be honest. I expect him to be mindful and kind.

Those are the requirements for being a good human being. It’s my job to guide and coach him until he gets there.

Any expectations beyond that, I should be wary of. I shouldn’t expect him to be all those things *all* the time. I shouldn’t expect him to be tidy. Or quiet when I’m trying to work.

I shouldn’t expect him to be straight, or a democrat, or a painter. I shouldn’t expect him to love books.

Oot and book

Expectation is a trap, you see. There’s nothing to be gained from it. I don’t feel *more* joy seeing him read because I hoped for it. I only leave myself open to disappointment if he doesn’t.

Similarly, my relationship with Sarah consists of more than simple love. We are engaged in the partnership. We maintain a household and the purpose of that household is to raise children that are physically and emotionally healthy.

Her cooperation in these things is essential. I expect it.

But other things? Should I expect her never ogle the pretty college boys on the track team who jog around town every spring? No. Foolishness. Should I expect her to want to organize the kitchen the way I would? To want the same color paint in the dining room? To have dinner cooked and ready for me when I come home from work?

Should I expect her to always love me best, and most, and only?

No. I think not. I think that would be selfish and self-centered.

The more of these expectations I can let go of, the happier I will be.

But it’s hard. Oh it’s hard. It goes against a lifetime full of training. It goes against my obsessive desire to control. It goes against my meticulous nature. It goes against what so many stories told me was true.

Inconclusively yours,

pat

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Cutie Snoo, love, musings, naming | By Pat95 Responses

Signed Books from Awesome Authors

 

This is a Worldbuilders Blog.

Okay. Before we look at today’s books, I’m going to tell a little story. Because that’s what I do.

The truth is, yesterday I was right on the edge of burning out on the fundraiser. I was running on about two hours of sleep, worried about the holidays, and stressed because I’m behind on about fifty different things.

I don’t talk about it a lot, but it takes a lot of frantic behind-the-scenes juggling to make Worldbuilders happen, and even with the great team that helps run things, it can get a little overwhelming at times.

So there I was, exhausted, trudging through an interview I’m doing with Fantasy Lit about the fundraiser, the calendar, and what Heifer International is all about, when I draw a blank, and can’t remember if a flock of chicks costs 20 bucks, or 30.

So I wander over to Heifer’s website, into the “Gift Catalog” section, and I see that they’ve added stuff since I’ve been there last time. You can still give money for goats and baby ducks, but now I see “The Gift of Clean Water – $300.”

I click on it, and I see this picture.

And I just start to cry.

Now I’d like to claim it’s because I was worn down and low on sleep. But that wouldn’t be the truth. Ever since Oot was born, I’ve become incredibly soppy, and I cry the drop of a hat whenever I’m confronted with stories about kids.

My mom used to be like that. We’d see a telephone commercial where a kid calls home for Christmas, and she’d get all weepy. I’d roll my eyes at her and say, “It’s a *phone* commercial, mom.” And she’d laugh, saying, “You don’t know what it’s like.”

Now I know what it’s like.

I mean, look at that kid. He’s like, “Yeah! Clean water! This is AWESOME!”

And you know what? It is awesome. It’s the best thing I’ve seen all day.

There’s something else I haven’t seen on Heifer’s page: “Family Farm Care Package – $72.”

So I click on it.

The description reads:

“This gift will help a struggling family boost the productivity of their farm and increase their income. Training in soil conservation, irrigation and marketing will be combined with seeds, saplings or livestock so smallholder farmers around the world can transform their failing farms into dependable livelihoods”

I probably spent half an hour wandering around the Heifer site, looking at pictures. Afterwards, I didn’t feel burned out at all. I felt excited about getting back into the fundraiser.

So I figured I’d share some of the pictures with you. Just to remind you what we’re *really* doing here. When you donate on the Worldbuilder’s Team Page, you’re not just signing up to win some cool books. You’re making the world a better place.

And if you’re wondering, a flock of baby chicks is only $20.

Ah fuck. I’m crying again.

Let’s look at today’s books so I can get control of myself, okay?

*     *     *

Today we’ve got another batch of books donated directly from the authors themselves.

I love it when authors send us books, because they always show up signed. And sometimes, as we can see below, they show up signed PLUS…

  • A first edition copy of The Night Circus. Signed and doodled by Erin Morgenstern.

I’ve never met Erin personally, but she was cool enough to send along some first-edition hardcovers of her bestselling debut novel: The Night Circus. What’s more, she clearly cares about the cause because she took the time to doodle a little kitten sitting on the text of the copyright page, stars doodled all over the place, plus her beautiful signature and a rubber stamp of the circus tent.  It’s awesome.

“Erin Morgenstern has created the circus I have always longed for and she has populated it with dueling love-struck magicians, precocious kittens, hyper-elegant displays of beauty and complicated clocks. This is a marvelous book.” – Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife

  • Auction: A first edition copy of The Night Circus. Signed by Erin Morgenstern. Includes pen drawings and a rubber stamp from the author.

Because Erin was nice enough to send us a couple of these, we figured we’d put one up in an auction, too.

“Brilliantly detailed worldbuilding and complicated characters makes this an engrossing read.” –Laura Anne Gilman

“You know you’ve always wanted to read about an angry vampire slicing other vampires in half with a katana. Don’t deny it. –  Heather Watson

  • A hardcover copy of Wheel of the Infinite. Signed by Martha Wells.

“The vividly imagined Celestial Empire’s peril is made all the more dramatic by the characters’ sarcastic, reasonable conversations, and by their very human responses to inhuman dangers; there is real reading pleasure here.” – Publishers Weekly

  • A set of The Cloud Roads and The Serpent Sea. Signed by Martha Wells.

“Wells merrily ignores genre conventions as she spins an exciting adventure around an alien hero who anyone can identify with.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • The Wizard HuntersThe Ships of Air, and The Gate of Gods.  Signed by Martha Wells.

“A vastly entertaining and refreshingly different fantasy adventure with a surprisingly satisfying conclusion.” – Locus

“James Calbraith’s writing is reminiscent of a classic, epic fantasy – immersive, and detailed to the letter. The real-world cultures he draws from are incredibly well-researched and truthful, and yet well-balanced with the fantasy elements he sprinkles in between. An intriguing and impressive series.” – Ben Galley

“Durham has created a richly detailed alternate reality leavened with a dollop of magic and populated by complicated personalities grappling with issues of freedom and oppression.” – Publishers Weekly

  • A set of Never Never StoriesMillion Writers Award: The Best Online Science Fiction and Fantasy, and Million Writers Award: The Best New Online Voices.  Signed by Jason Sanford.

“If you’re new to [Sanford’s stories] then this is a very highly recommended collection indeed.” Jim Steel

  • 2 copies of Henry Franks.  Signed by Peter Adam Salomon. Each with a signed promo postcard (leaning against the book).

“Salomon’s Frankenstein homage churns through its often confounding but highly unnerving plot like a slow nightmare–readers won’t be entirely sure they even want to know how it ends. The scenes are clipped, the dialogue spare, and the prose rewards meticulous reading, making this debut the thinking teen’s horror choice of the year.” – Booklist (starred review)

  • A giant set of Black Jewels Books: Tangled Webs, Shalador’s Lady, The Shadow Queen, The Invisible Ring, and Twilight’s Dawn.  Signed by Anne Bishop.

“Bishop will draw you into her world like a spider and never spit you back out — it is like an addiction. I am not a re-reader, but I re-read this book simply because I love her characters and the depth she gives them — along with the mystery she is able to weave around each — leaving you guessing until she’s ready to tell you what she wants you to know.” — SFRevu

  • 3 copies of Bridge of Dreams.  Signed by Anne Bishop.

“With a well-paced mystery, likable characters, and fascinating world building, this is a fun read.” —Booklist

This is a collection of three short stories by Anne Bishop, James Alan Gardner, and Anthony Francis.  So much bang for your buck!

Pat’s Note: This is an ARC for Written in Red, so not only is it a bit of a rarity. But this is a pre-release ARC, which means that if you win this book, you’ll get a chance to read Anne’s newest book before it hits the shelves. Then, if you’re in the mood, you can go taunt people on goodreads about your insider status. 

“[Bishop's] worlds are so fully realized and three-dimensional, they jump right off the pages.” – Fresh Fiction

  • A set of The Winds of Khalakovo and The Straits of Galahesh.  Signed by Bradley P. Beaulieu.

“Well worth exploring… Beaulieu [depicts] a strange culture [with] a remarkable fantasy/magical reality feel.” – Glen Cook, author of The Black Company

  • A copy of Shadow Ops: Control Point. Signed by Myke Cole.

Despite the fact that Myke is a relative newcomer to the publishing world, he’s made a bit of a splash, with Fantasy Faction listing his next book as one of the 10 most anticipated books of 2013.

I read his this book, his debut novel, about a month ago and really, really enjoyed it. It’s well worth your time. (You can see my full review on Goodreads if you’re interested.)

“Blackhawk Down meets the X-Men, Military Fantasy like you’ve never seen it before!” – Peter V. Brett

  • Auction: A copy of Shadow Ops: Control Point. Signed by Myke Cole.  Comes with a challenge coin.

Those of you who watched the Author D&D video may also recognize Myke’s name. He was the GM, and he did an awesome job wrangling all the other authors.

As a cool promotional item, Myke as donated a Challenge Coin with this book. He describes them thusly: “They’re somewhere between a medal and a shinier, cooler version of business cards.”

To make sure this ends up in the hands of someone that will love it, we’re going to auction it off.

To bid, head over here.

“At over 600 pages, Epic: Legends of Fantasy will definitely get you your money’s worth and the seventeen stories inside will help satisfy your epic fantasy cravings, or possibly leave you wanting more.” - SFF Chat

This anthology includes works from Sanderson, Martin, LeGuin, and tons of other prolific authors.  I snuck my way in there, too.

If you want this multiple-signed copy all to yourself, head over to the auction and bid.

*     *     *

Every 10 dollars you donate on our Team Page gives you the chance to win one of our fabulous prizes, many of which still haven’t been revealed.

All the auctions Worldbuilders is currently running are over here.

Or, if you want to see the other items that have been donated to Worldbuilders, or learn more about the fundraiser itself, you can head over to the main page here.

Also posted in mom, Oot, Worldbuilders 2012 | By Pat25 Responses

San Diego 2011: Thursday Part II – Wootstock

This is part of my San Diego ComicCon diary from 2011. It’s sort of the middle of the story.

If you want the whole story, you might want to start reading at the beginning. Other parts include: Wednesday, Thursday Part I, and Friday Ad Infinitum.

*     *     *

Before I tell the story of Wootstock, I should give you a little background so things will make sense.

A stab at definition.

For those of you that don’t know about it, Wootstock is….

Wootstock is….

Well, it’s just Wootstock.

It’s sort of like a modern variety show. (Except nobody knows what a variety show is these days.)

Imagine A Prairie Home Companion if it was run by a bunch of sci-fi nerds. (Man, that’s no good either, does anyone else other than me listen to A Prairie Home Companion?)

Okay. How about this. There’s music. There’s comedy. There’s music-comedy. There’s skits. There’s cussing and nerd humor and poetry and, well…

It’s pretty much a big geek performance orgy.

Honestly, I’ve wanted a piece of Wootstock for ages. Ever since I first heard about it, I wanted in.

Now did I get a piece of the action?

I got an invitation from Ernest Cline.

I mentioned his book on the blog a while back. It’s called Ready Player One. And not only did I like it enough to give it a blurb. I liked it enough to dig up his e-mail address and gush to him directly about how much I loved it.

I think the entire content of my first e-mail was, “Your book is fucking awesome.”

I tried to get them to use that for the blurb on the back, (“This book is fucking awesome.” — Patrick Rothfuss) But their marketing people wouldn’t go for it.

Anyway, Ernest got an invite to Wootstock from Wil Wheaton, who is narrating the audiobook of Ready Player One. Ernest, being a generous human being, asked if I’d like to share some of his stage time.

I said yes. I said it in a firm, manly, baritone. Then I hung up the phone and laughed my most maniacal laugh.

Right. So. We all on the same page here?

7:00 – Backstage.

I walk up to the side door of the Balboa Theater in San Diego. Someone was waiting for me at the door, where they gave me this:

My very first All Access pass. It makes me feel like a rockstar.

I go backstage and down into the secret parts of the theater. It’s a magical sort of place. It’s a secret place that only the performers get to see, and it’s electric in a way that’s hard to describe. Everyone there is getting ready for the show. They’re excited, and a little nervous, and happy to see each other. Plus it’s comic-con, so we’re all a little exhausted. And a few of us are slightly tipsy, too… (Though not me, as I’m not much of a drinker.)

There’s a blur of people all over the place. Some of them I recognize, like Adam Savage from Mythbusters. And the guys from Rifftrax (who used to do MST3K.)

I’m introduced to a few people in a whirlwind fashion. I shake hands and nod at names. But they all run out of me like water. If I say, “someone said” or “someone did” I’m not trying to protect anyone’s identity, or snub them. It’s because a lot of the evening is a blur to me. I suck at meeting people, and I only have space in my head for about 5 new names.

Then I turn around and Wil Wheaton is there.

It’s weird meeting someone you kinda already know. And I kinda know Wil from a bunch of different directions. From his blog, from Star Trek, from his books, and from the Guild.

Plus we e-mailed just a little a day or two before Wootstock. I won’t bullshit you, that made me kinda tingly.

Anyway, we’re introduced, and we shake hands. He thanks me for the nice things I said about his book on my blog. And I’m a little surprised that he’s read it, though I shouldn’t be, I suppose. I tell him that I loved it.

That’s all we have time for. The stage manager is gathering everyone up to make some announcements before the show.

We all jam into a room and Liz is introduced. She is the boss. She tells us how it’s all going to work. She tells us we can watch from backstage, and that we should, so that we don’t miss our cues. She tells us to stick to our allotted time. She tells us where the beer and pizza are.

Everyone else nods attentively. There are a few jokes. But all of this is old hat for most of them.

Me? I’m grinning like an idiot. The show hasn’t even started yet and I’m having the best time….

*     *     *

I should explain something. I used to do lots of group-performance type things. I used to sing in choirs. I used to do radio comedy. I used to act a little, and did a few plays, a musical or two.

I even used to do a little improv comedy. Which is like a trial by fire. Once you do improv comedy, no other type of performance will ever truly frighten you.

Now I didn’t do a lot of these things seriously. But I did them. I enjoyed them.

And I miss them.

You see, one of the downsides of being a writer is that it’s a very solitary occupation. If everything is going well with my writing, I’ll spend 10-12 hours a day alone, and the rest of my time sleeping. (Also alone, usually.)

When I do get out to do a reading or a convention, I have a lot of fun. I enjoy meeting fans and signing books. I enjoy doing Q&A and reading stuff to an audience. It’s a nice opportunity for me to go out and be social.

But while it’s social, it’s a very solitary type of performance. I’m up in front of 200-600 people talking. There’s just me and the audience.

I’d forgotten what it was like to be part of a group of performers. To be a piece of a WE.

It feels great.

*     *     *

Liz makes one last announcement. They’ve gone to the worst seat in the house and borrowed the person’s camera. They’re going to pass it around backstage and we’ll all take pictures with it. That way the poor schlub with the worst seat will have a cool memento of the show and, as a bonus, the pictures will go online so everyone can use them.

It’s only because of the photoset that I have a shot of Ernest and me backstage, wherein I am getting my Kawaii on.

The show kicks off, and after cadging a piece of free pizza, I head upstairs we head up onto stage and watch the show from the wings. The theatre is gorgeous. A place with some real style to it.

It’s certainly the biggest house I’ve ever played to, and I’m a little nervous. But despite the fact that I’m anxiously fretting over what exactly I’m going to read, I can’t help but get pulled in by Molly Lewis playing the ukulele.

Her songs crack me up as I watch from backstage, and it helps me relax a bit.

Then, as I’m watching her play, a little motion catches my attention from the corner of my eye. So I look over and see Wil Wheaton dancing.

Before that point, I liked Wil Wheaton. I knew he was cool. I respected him as a writer, enjoyed him as a performer, and admired him as a strong, smart, outspoken member of the geek community.

But backstage in the Balboa theatre, I watched Wil Wheaton do a happy, goofy little dance, and that was when I started to love him.

Soon afterwards, Ernest gets his cue and heads out onto stage. He reads some hardcore geek poetry. Good stuff. He’s a good performer, too. Gets a good reaction from the crowd.

Then he introduces me. I’m a surprise guest of sorts, as I’m not on the program. People cheer when they hear my name, which is kind of a shock. It’s then that I decide what I’m going to read. I’m not going to try to follow Ernest’s poetry with more poetry. I think he’s got me beat in that regard.

I’m not going to read a piece out of my book, either. Too clunky. I even decide against reading a piece of a short story I’m working on.

No. A whole theatre of people cheering and my new man-crush Wil Wheaton watching from the wings means I go straight to my best material. The piece I keep in my back pocket whenever I do a reading. My sure-fire winner. My big gun.

I pull out The Guinea Pig Story.

Those of you who have seen me at a live reading might have heard it. Most of you have not.

It’s one of of the humor pieces I wrote back in college. Theoretically I was writing an advice column, but realistically I was making fun of people and telling incriminating stories about my life.

Here’s the only video I was able to find of the performance. The first little bit of my performance is cut off there, but it’s only about a sentence of the letter someone wrote in, asking for advice about keeping pets in their dormroom.

[Edit: After searching around a bit, I found another video from farther back in the audience that shows my performance AND Ernest's with Wil Wheaton's introduction.]

I got a great reaction from the audience, and left the stage feeling roughly ten thousand feet tall.

8:00 – Random House Party

After hanging around for a while and watching a few more acts, Ernest said he was going over to the Random House party and asked if I’d like to come along.

Though I was loathe to leave, I figured I should go and rub some elbows with some more bookish types. That’s kinda my job in some ways.

So I went to the party, hung out with some folks, and ended up riding a mechanical bull.

Why? No. Why is not the right question. I was at San Diego ComicCon. The proper question is “why the fuck not?”

That party was fun, but after about 45 minutes, I made my excuses and headed back to Wootstock. Because, y’know, Wootstock.

9:00 ish – More Wootstock.

I got back just in time for intermission, where I amused myself by handing out copies of the Chick Tract Dark Dungeons to members of the audience. I hope nobody thought I was serious….

After all my tracts were gone, I used my fancy pass to get backstage, feeling rockstar all over again. I wandered down to the dressing rooms and bumped into Felicia Day, who was also a surprise guest. I got a free hug and we chatted for about forty-five seconds before someone tells her she’s about to miss her entrance cue.

Somehow, someone managed to catch us on film during that brief moment. Proving that I’m not a big fibber.

I hang around and chat with folk, occasionally watching some of the show from backstage. I catch Jeff Lewis (Vork, for you Guildies out there) doing a piece of honest-to-god standup comedy. The man has amazing comic timing and delivery. As you’d already know if you were watching The Jeff Lewis 5-minute Comedy Hour.

11:30 ish – Autographing.

Eventually the show wraps up with a great closing number that I watch from the wings. Then I head downstairs to get my backpack and maybe another slice of pizza before I head out. When I’m gathering up my stuff, someone asks if I want to stick around and sign autographs. I shrug and agree, because I have nowhere else in particular to be.

Now over the last couple of years I’ve done a lot of signings. It’s old hat in a lot of ways. Usually I’m all alone. I’m a one-man-show.

But this one was different. A bunch of the performers were sticking around to sign posters and programs.

What’s more, at Wootstock, most of the people could give a damn about me. They’re there to see Wheaton, or Savage, or bask in the radiant glory of Paul and Storm.

And you know what? It was nice  doing a signing where most folks didn’t care who I was. It gave me a chance to goof off and get to know the people sitting on either side of me. To my left was the aforementioned Molly Lewis. And to my right was someone I didn’t know at all, but I quickly learned that she was Amy Berg, writer/producer for Eureka (among many other things.)

So we hang out and chat as the line of people slowly trickles past. I’m feeling pretty relaxed. I’ve had a good day. I was on a panel with George Martin, had dinner with Jim Butcher, and got to chat with Wil Wheaton. I went to a party with an actual velvet rope, and the bouncer nodded me through even though I wasn’t on the list. I rode the mechanical bull and didn’t hurt myself. I got a hug from Felicia day and made a thousand people laugh….

It’s  been a busy 14 hours, and I’m in that warm, happy place that comes when you know you don’t have to work any more. And, because I’m in a good mood, I start to joke around with the people coming through the line….

And that’s when I *really* start to get to know the people sitting on either side of me.  I draw a picture of a duck on someone’s poster, and they mock me for its utter terribleness. They mocked me with a sharp-tongued viciousness I haven’t experienced since most of my best friends moved away from Stevens Point.

So I abandoned drawing and started signing clever things on the posters. Then my neighbors started writing things on their posters that were clever-er. And I feel really put out by this, because normally *I* get to be the witty one, and they were out wittying me without hardly trying. I felt the sudden need to step up my game, to say nothing of wanting to buy some of Molly’s music and catch up on the current season of Eureka….

The signing went on for at least a couple hours, and it was the perfect end to the perfect day. As I left the theater I felt that strange, glowy feeling that comes when you level up. It wasn’t until I got home that I found out where the XP boost had come from:

Best of all, I’d made it through two entire days at the convention without making an ass of myself in front of anyone.

But then again, it was only Thursday….

*     *     *

Sorry this one was so long delayed. More soon…

pat

Also posted in a billion links, College Survival Guide, Consistent Verb Tense Is For Bitches, conventions, Felicia Day, meeting famous people, my rockstar life, videos, Wil Wheaton | By Pat36 Responses

FAQ: The Wise Man’s Fear Signing Tour

Ever since I posted up the schedule for my upcoming signing tour, people have been asking a lot of questions.


View Patrick Rothfuss, Wise Man’s Fear, Book Tour in a larger map

This has been a good thing. Your questions made me think about the tour in ways I wouldn’t have considered otherwise. I’ve spent weeks figuring things out, and now I have all sorts of answers for you. Plus a few other cool things that will probably be of interest even if you’re not planning on coming to one of the signings.

Also, for those of you who RSVP’d to the San Francisco event and couldn’t get a seat, we’ve managed to arrange a second event in San Francisco. Details are below in Question #2.

Ready? Here we go.

1. This is going to be my first booksigning and I don’t know the etiquette. Do I need to buy my book at the bookstore, or can I bring a book from home?

Honestly? The polite thing to do is to buy your book at the bookstore hosting the event.

You see, the bookstores hosting me put a lot of time, energy, and money into events like these. They order a BUNCH of books. They bring in extra staff to manage the crowds, set up chairs, and sometimes reorganize parts of the store. If the signing goes late, they have to keep the store open after hours.

Also, you have to remember that while the bookstore loves you, they are also, you know, a store. A store that sells books. They need to sell books to stay in business.

But there are other reasons too. Let’s say I do a signing and the bookstore sells 500 books. That bookstore is happy. That bookstore likes me. That bookstore wants to have me back for future events. Also, my publisher is happy, and they feel like spending the money to fly me out to events like this are a worthwhile investment.

But if I do a signing and sell, say, 20 books, odds are the bookstore won’t be inviting me back in the future.

Ultimately, buying a book at the hosting store is just good manners. They’re putting a lot of work into the event, and buying a book is the best way to show that you appreciate that.

*** There is one exception to this rule. There will be no books for sale at the Library of Congress reading. I’m happy to sign your book. But you’ll have to bring them with you.

Now does that mean you MUST buy a book to attend? Well, not exactly, read on…

1b. Pat, I called the bookstore and they said if I didn’t buy a book there, I couldn’t get anything signed. But I’m planning on buying your book March 1st, then driving three hours to get to your signing on the 10th. I’m a poor college student. I really can’t afford to buy a second book…

When I got the first message like this, I was surprised.

Needless to say, this isn’t the sort of policy I feel good about. The main reason I do these readings is so I can meet up with fans. I don’t want anyone getting turned away because they can’t afford to buy a book. (Or a second book, as with the example above.)

So I called my lovely PR team. They, in turn, called all the stores.

As a result, I’ve been reassured that nobody will be turned away from any of the events simply because they aren’t buying a book at the store.

That said, you can probably expect the hosting bookstores to give some preferential treatment to the people who buy at least one copy of the book in store. For example, they’ll probably get to go through the signing lines first. If we get huge turnouts, people who buy books in store will probably get first dibs on seating. Stuff like that.

1c. Can I get more than one book signed?

Yes.

The number of books you can get signed varies from store to store. Some stores will let you take three items through the line, some stores will let you bring five. If you want more books than that signed, you’ll have to get back in line.

For specifics, I’d suggest calling the store and asking them.

What if you’re picking up books for eight of your best friends? Well, odds are you’ll still be able to get them signed. The main reason I’m doing this tour is to sign books. My intention at each event is to sign books until there are no more books to sign.

I will only stop if I need to catch a plane, if the store needs to close, or if I collapse from exhaustion. That’s my plan.

2. I just found out that your reading in San Fransisco has limited seating! I e-mailed them 6 hours after you announced it, but all the seats were already taken! I was going to drive there with my girlfriend as her birthday present! Is there anything I can do to get us in? Anything?

I got a lot of messages like this. A lot.

The truth is, we were caught off-guard at how many people responded to the event. We weren’t expecting such a big turnout.

As soon as we realized the problem, we started trying to figure out some way to get more people in. The fabulous folks who run SF in SF tried to find a bigger venue, but there wasn’t anything available. We couldn’t do an afternoon event because I’m not even going to be in San Francisco until 3:30 that day.

Still, I felt really bad that so many people were going to be disappointed. So I worked with my PR team and the folks at Borderlands Books to create an overflow event. Something to give the rest of the people chance to come see me and get their books signed.

So. We are holding a second event in San Fransisco. It will be DIRECTLY AFTER the evening event on March 3rd.

It will, in fact, be my first-ever midnight signing.

The second event will be held at:

Borderlands Cafe
870  Valencia St. (between 19th and 20th),
San Francisco 94110.
  • Books will be on sale at Borderlands Books, right next door.
  • First come, first seated.  There will also be standing room and, once the cafe is at capacity, there will be overflow space at the bookstore. We can’t guarantee that there will be enough space to accommodate everyone.

Edit: * The Cafe will be closed between 9:00 and 10:00. But at 10:00 they’ll be back up and running, so you can show up, grab your seat, and grab some coffee in preparation for the event.

  • If you don’t have a seat at the event at SF in SF, YOU SHOULD COME TO THE MIDNIGHT EVENT INSTEAD. Only people with tickets to the SF in SF event are guaranteed to get their books signed there.
  • Each person will be able to get two books signed. People wishing additional signatures will have to go to the end of the line and may or may not be able to get additional books signed, depending on how late the event continues. (I do have to catch a plane in the morning, you realize.)
  • There is no need to RSVP for this event and no seats will be reserved.

It’s entirely possible that I will be wearing my footie pajamas for this event, as I’ll be giving up a couple hours sleep to make it happen. It’s also fair to say that I’ll probably look a little wild around the eyes. But that’s half the fun of a midnight signing, isn’t it?

My sincerest thanks go out to the folks at Borderlands for helping us pull this together at the last moment.

Thanks so much, guys.

3. Can I get my picture taken with you at the signing?

Normally, my answer would be an unqualified yes. Anyone who’s glanced at my facebook page, has seen ample proof of the fact that I’m not camera shy.

(Yes. I’m wearing a kilt.)

However, there are certain logistical problems with me taking pictures with everyone at these bigger signings. Simply said, photos make a long signing even longer. But what usually happens is that you hand your phone over to someone else to take the shot, then we pose, then the person can’t figure out how to use your camera. Then you explain to them that it’s the button on the side….

You know what I’m talking about, right? We’ve all been there.

But let’s do some simple math. Assume that 200 people show up to my signing, and I take *just one minute* with each of them to shake hands, exchange a few words, then sign a book. 200 people at a minute each means that the signing is already more than three hours long.

That’s not even counting if people have more than one book. Or if people ask me for personalizations. If we add another 50 people taking pictures on top of that, the signing will suddenly be five hours long.

So my answer to this is… Maybe. We can probably snap a quick picture. But don’t be offended if we have to skip it if the line is really long.

4. Will you sign copies of The Name of the Wind?

Hell yes. Just because I have a new baby doesn’t mean I don’t love my first baby.

5. Will there be hardcover copies of The Name of the Wind available to purchase at your signings?

Almost certainly. But if you want to make sure you get one, the smart thing to do would be to call the bookstore and reserve a copy.

6. Will there be copies of The Princess and Mr. Whiffle available at your signings?

Maybe. Very maybe. Most bookstores only know about me because of The Name of the Wind. If you want to buy a Princess book, I’d suggest you call the store and try to reserve one. If they don’t have one in stock, I’m sure they’d be happy to order one in for you. Bookstores love selling books, you know.

6b. Will I get a special promotional sticker if I buy a copy of the Princess book at the store?

Good idea. I’ll throw some of those in my luggage. So yes. You can have a sticker.

7. Can I bring you cookies or some other sort of treat?

Let’s be clear here. I’m not posting this question as a desperate attempt to cage cookies off of everyone. I’m posting this question because at least five or six different people e-mailed me on the subject. So I figure it’s a legitimate FAQ.

The short answer is that yes. You can bring me cookies. That’s very sweet of you.

The long answer is that if you do bring me cookies. Please don’t be offended if I give some of them away. This tour is going to be kinda rough on my system, so I’m going to try and eat healthy. If I eat a dozen cookies at each signing, it’s going to ruin me.

7b. Do you have a cookie preference?

Chocolate-chip cookies are the favored kind of cookie. Raisin cookies are for people who secretly hate themselves. A real cookie shouldn’t have fruit in it. A real cookie is bad for you. It is like a delicious nail driven directly into your heart.

8. Do you hug?

I have been known to hug.

That said, you might want to refer to the logistical issues I mention up in question #3. It might have to be a short hug.

And watch those hands.

9. I want to buy a Kingkiller t-shirt to wear to your signing, but I can’t find the link to your store, the Tinker’s Sack. What’s the URL?

Here’s the link for you.

And by the way, it’s called The Tinker’s Pack. Pack. With a “P”.

The Tinker’s Sack would be a whole different sort of website. I don’t know what they’d sell there, but I don’t think you’d want to buy any….

10. What are your signings like?

First say howdy to everyone and explain some of the ground rules of the event.

Then comes the reading. I read a little something, answer some questions from the audience, then read another little something, then more questions. I do this for about an hour.

Last comes the signing. I pretty much sign books until they make me leave the store.

11. When are you coming to Canada/Spain/Ireland/Estonia?

Rest assured than when I make plans to travel to another country, I’ll post those signings up on the blog as well.

12. I live in Mexico/Germany/Korea/Bulgaria. How can I get a copy of the English version of your book? I want to read the original language.

If none of your local bookstores carry English books, I know that some of the stores that are carrying signed versions of my book are also willing to do international shipping. You could order from them….

13. I won’t have had time to read the whole book before I attend the your event in Portland. I’m looking forward to hearing you read, but I hate spoilers. Do I need to be afraid?

I hate spoilers, too. So you don’t need to worry about me giving away big secrets like the fact that Kvothe is really Kaiser Soze.

14.You’re coming to my town, but I’m going to have to miss your signing by just a couple hours because of attend class/go to work/catch a plane/etc.  Can I meet up with you a little earlier and have you sign my book?

I’m sorry. But my schedule is way too tight to do anything like that. A lot of times, I won’t even be flying into town until a couple hours before the signing.

But if it’s your hometown, you can just call the bookstore and reserve a copy. Whenever I do a signing, the bookstore has me sign a bunch of books for people that couldn’t make it to the event.

15. Will you personalize my book to me? To my dad? To my girlfriend?

Yes. Yes. And yes.

However, I probably won’t have time to write anything really lengthy in the books. (See the Answer to #3 for the reason why.)

That means personalizations will probably have to be limited to a name and just a few words. No really long quotes.

16. Will you Sign my Nook/Kindle/E-reader?

Yes. This is something that I’ve done before.

That said, you might want to check out the answer to question #1 up there. Showing up with your kindle is just the same as bringing a book from home.

17. I have an important question. About how tall are you?

I am one thousand feet tall.

18. Is it really surreal that people are taking days off of work to come see you?

Yes.  It is weird as hell.

19.Will your baby be with you at any of your signings?

My accountant has informed me that if I’m going to keep writing him off as a promotional expense, I need to take him to at least one signing.

That means it’s a fairly safe bet that you’ll see Oot in Madison. You might also get to see him in DC, New York, or Boston.

(He’s the one on the right.)

Who’s daddy’s cute little deduction?

20. Mr. Rothfuss, is it better for you if I buy your book at any particular store? Or in any particular way? (Nook? Hardcover?) I love your books, and so I want to support you as much as I can.

Over the last month, I’ve had more than a dozen messages like this. It just goes to prove something I already knew, that my readers are delightfully considerate human beings.

The truth is. I make more money off the hardcover of the book. Also, the more hardcover books I sell, the better chance I have of making it onto the New York Times Bestseller list. That’s kind of a big deal.

For the most part, it doesn’t matter where you buy the book, though I do usually encourage people to shop locally. Because supporting your local economy is a good thing.

If you *really* want to help, you could make a point of buying the book close to the release date. If enough people buy the book in that first week, I might get onto the New York Times Bestseller list. That would be really good for my career.

There you are folks. All of the big questions answered.

And for those of you who actually took the time to read all the way to the end. Here’s a little something extra. Over on the Gollancz facebook page, they have a video of me reading a scene from the Wise Man’s fear. I taped it with them more than a year ago when I was in England, so it’s a little different from the finished version. But if you’re looking for a little taste of what’s coming. You can head over there.

And don’t worry, it’s only a small piece in from the second chapter. No big spoilers. It isn’t until the third chapter that we learn that Kvothe’s dad isn’t really dead, he was merely horribly wounded and now serves as the strong right hand of the empire, Darth Vader.

Share and enjoy,

pat

Also posted in appearances, Fanmail Q + A, FAQ, signing books | By Pat137 Responses

House on the Rock Part 1: Deadlines and Ducks

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays.

When I was young, I dressed up and went trick-or-treating in my Grampa’s neighborhood because we lived out in the country.

Me, my sister Jamie (the witch), and two of our cousins.

When I was in highschool, I toilet papered people’s houses. (Mostly friends’ houses, honestly. It was a sign of affection.)

When I was in college, I started throwing parties. In fact, I think the first party ever threw was a Halloween party back in 1993. The theme was “Come as your favorite god.” I dressed as Pan, and later that night, downtown with my friends, I got into the only fight of my life dressed in nothing but a leather vest, horns, and a pair of furry tights.

Later in my life, after I had sold my book but before I was published, I went to the Penguin Halloween party dressed as a garden gnome. (Penguin the publisher. It was not a party for actual penguins.)

Note: this was before Anton Strout put on his costume.

I had a smashingly good time. It was the first time I met most of the folks I still work with to this day. Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to start our professional relationships off on the right foot.

I mention these things to give you a frame of reference.  Halloween is one of my favorite Holidays.

Earlier this year, my lovely assistant Valerie brought some cool news to my attention. Neil Gaiman was having an event at House on the Rock over Halloween weekend. I was thrilled. I bought tickets for me, Sarah and Oot, my sister, as well as Valerie and several friends.

True, it meant I would have to miss the World Fantasy Convention again. And that’s a convention that, as as professional, I should really make an effort to attend. But this was all the coolness of Halloween, plus Neil Gaiman, PLUS House on the Rock. It was like some sort of mythic trifecta. On top of it all, the event was close enough for me to drive to.

How could I not go?

*     *     *

By the time Friday the 29th rolls around I am a complete mess. I’ve been revising The Wise Man’s Fear for months. Endless revision. Sometimes for fourteen hours at a stretch. My deadline looms over me, and the thought of having to finally let go of the book forever is absolutely terrifying.

At this point I know that planning on going to the House on the Rock was a huge mistake. I have to turn in the book on Nov 1st, and they’re going to use that version to print the Advance Reading Copies of the book. It’s not the final draft of the book, but it’s the version major reviewers and bookbuyers will read. This is a big deal.

Everyone says it will be good for me to get away for the weekend. I need a vacation. I’ve earned it. Etc. But the truth is, if I stayed home, I know I could get another 30 hours of work done on the book.

But I have to go. Sarah will be disappointed if I don’t. I’m meeting friends there, one of them I haven’t seen in more than a year. I’m part of a group costume. I’m moderating a panel on Saturday. I have to go.

We’re late leaving for House on the Rock. It’s my fault, I spent all night revising and didn’t pack. Since I only got four hours of sleep, Sarah offers to drive, and I ride in the back next to Oot. It’s nice, because I don’t get to spend as much time with him as I like. The two and a half hours in the car is more time than I’ve spent with him in the last three days combined.

Oot and I hang out on the ride down to Spring Green. I make up little songs for him. We both play with his feet. He can say “duck” now, so that gives us something to talk about.

Eventually he falls asleep, and I’m thinking of doing the same when the Magellan starts giving us bullshit directions. I don’t handle it well, and I’m bitchy at Sarah and her co-pilot Joyce. They deal with my bullshit with remarkable aplomb.

We make it to House on the Rock with time to spare. There’s some confusion with the tickets, but the House on the Rock people are cool and it all gets worked out.

I meet a couple of friends. I meet my sister. She’s one of my favorite people, and I don’t get to see her nearly as often as I’d like. Hanging out with her helps me settle my shit down a little. We share Oot back and forth, taking turns holding him. The three of us talk about ducks.

7:00 rolls around. The beginning of the festivities. Neil Gaiman is doing a reading and Q&A in a big tent next to the visitor’s center. We take places in the back, partly because I’m a lurker, and partly so that if Oot gets scrawbly we can take him out the back exit before he bothers folks.

Gaiman is charming as always. Gentle and funny and well-spoken. I’ve never heard him otherwise. Oot does get a little noisy. Not fussy, he just likes to talk and doesn’t understand that sometimes he just has to shush. He gets that from me. Sarah takes him out of the tent for a bit. Then she comes back and I grab Oot so she can listen to Gaiman for a while.

Oot and I go into the visitor center so he can take off his coat and walk around. He’s a pretty good walker now, and doesn’t fall very much at all.

Sarah comes in and checks on us ten minutes later. I appreciate that. Sometimes Oot gets unhappy, and nothing can make it better but mom. But right now he’s pretty content, and I’m having a good time too. As I’ve said, I haven’t spent much time with him lately. So I send Sarah back to listen to Gaiman. I’ve heard him speak a couple times before, but she hasn’t.

Oot and I explore a the visitor center. There’s a little wooden bridge that goes over a stream, and it’s really exciting to him. Unfortunately, he’s not too steady on the going up or the coming down. But that’s what makes it exciting for him, I think. I hold his hand and he goes up and down. Up and down.

I’ve brought along a wooden spoon and we play with it. There’s a lot you can do with a wooden spoon. Not only does it go in your mouth, which is fun, but you can bang it on things. You can also poke things with the spoon.

Sarah comes back to check on us. I give her the thumbs up and make a shooing motion. She goes back to listen to Gaiman.

Oot makes it clear that he is determined to explore the trashcan. It is on the floor, and therefore part of his domain. He will not be thwarted in his desire so long as he remains on the floor.

So I pick him up and we walk around for a bit. He can say words other than than “duck.” He can also say, “that.” To the untrained ear, these might sound the same, but I can tell the difference between “duck” “dog” “that” and “dad” though I doubt any linguist in the world could do the same.

So I carry him around and he points at things. When he points, he says, “that.” I’m not entirely sure what he means when he says this, though I have theories. Sometimes I think he’s curious about something he sees, so I tell him what it’s called. Sometimes I think he wants to touch it, so we go touch it.

But most of the time, I think he’s just enjoying being able to communicate. It has to be hard for babies. For so many months all they have is one way to express themselves. They can cry. They have one note, and they have to use it for everything: hunger, discomfort, frustration, boredom, loneliness.

Later on they learn more notes. They can laugh to express joy. They can grunt or suck or grab to express desire. But that’s it. Still very limited.

But now Oot can point and say, “that.” This is a big deal. This is levels beyond what he could do a few months ago. This is abstract.  He’s not just feeling something, he’s actively focusing his attention. He’s apprehending. This isn’t just expression, it’s communication.

What he’s really doing, I think, is saying, “Look. I can see a thing. I’m aware of it, and I want you to know that I’m aware of it.”

At this point in his life, this is the closest he can come to telling me a story.

This is a big deal. So we walk around looking at things. There’s a plant with a bright flower all yellow and red. There’s a wooden bench. There’s a wall. He points at them. He says, “that.”

I nod and point, too. “That,” I agree.

I put him back in his coat,  and together we go back to the tent. We listen to the very end of Neil’s Q&A. People laugh. People applaud. Oot claps too. He smiles. He doesn’t really understand what the applause is for. He’s not clapping for anything. When he claps, he’s saying, “I know something good has happened, and I’m a part of it. We’re all happy.”

And he’s right.

Part two [soon]

Also posted in babies, musings, My checkered past, Neil Gaiman, Oot | By Pat54 Responses

Abercrombie Books, and an Interview



This is a worldbuilders blog.





Over the last couple years, I’ve done a lot of interviews. I’m guessing somewhere between two and three hundred.

While I always enjoy them to some degree or other, I have noticed that a lot of questions tend to be the same. And things tend to be rather formal. Rarely does anyone ask me stupid, fun questions like, “Who would you rather kiss, Samuel Delany or George Martin?”

So when I started collecting books for the fundraiser, I thought I’d try doing some interviews of my own. Just to see what it’s like on the other side of the desk, so to speak.

Joe Abercrombie is the first of these. He’s donated some books (see below) I thought he might be willing to have some fun because he wasn’t upset when I encouraged a roomful of people in Manchester to “mess up his pretty face.”

I’ve talked about his books before on the blog. So I won’t repeat myself here. Instead, let’s get right to it…

Okay. Thanks for agreeing to the interview, Joe. Can I call you Joe?

We’re all friends here. You can call me Mr. Abercrombie.

First let’s get the introductions out of the way. Assume you met someone at a dinner party who had never heard of you. Assume you wanted to impress this person. Also, assume that you are really drunk. Let’s say… five drinks. Drunk enough to brag but not drunk enough to slur. What would you say?

Don’t you know who I am? You’re joking. You do know. You do. You don’t? I’m REALLY awesome. You’ll just have to take my word for it, because I haven’t won any awards. I’ve been passed over for being too edgy/safe/literary/commercial. I personally believe it’s all politically motivated. I was nominated for the John W. Campbell award for best new writer, though, and the David Gemmel Legend Award. The Blade Itself is published or forthcoming in . . . let me see . . . 14 languages, I think? I do particularly well in Germany, like the Hoff. Come back. Come back here! Where are you going?

Let’s start with an easy question, Mr. Abercrombie. If you were a tree, what sort of tree would you be?

An immense, thrusting, unconquerable English oak, starving the pitiful lesser saplings of other fantasy authors that crowd about its mighty trunk of all light and water, spreading its suffocating canopy across the fantasy landscape and making of it a blasted desert.

So which of these other pitiful other authors are you reading right now?

I am reading a book called Wolfsangel by MD Lachlan, a gory savage medieval Norse magical werewolf book. It’s good. Out next year, I believe.

I am also reading a vast selection of bathroom, kitchen, radiator, insulation, wallpaper, furniture, and architectural catalogues.

Are you researching for some sort of bizarre fantasy DIY crossover novel?

Renovating and extending a house, but now that you’ve made that suggestion I may start. I think DIY/fantasy is an underexploited sector of the market.

If you had to pick your favorite book of all time, what would it be?

Wow, man, that’s a tough question. I’m totally split between Best Served Cold and Last Argument of Kings. I tell you what, you can have the deciding vote. Which of those two is your favourite book of all time?

Of those, I’d have to say that Best Served Cold is my favorite. I have four of them on my coffee table and they work really well as coasters. Not only is it all title-ironic, but the thickness of the book makes it a great insulator.

I knew you didn’t really want those books for some kind of charity giveaway…

Nah. I’m fixing up my house, too. I just throw all the books into a shredder and stuff the paper in the attic. Speaking as a conneseur of fantasy literature, your book has some serious R value.

You’re relatively new to the publishing world. How has getting your book published changed your life?

To begin with, not very much. Publishing is, as you probably know yourself (and probably like most businesses when you get closely involved with them) a slow, unwieldy, mostly unglamorous, and largely unprofitable business. I’m still waiting to sweep down some marble steps in a white suit with a dirty martini in my hand while crowds of beautiful people applaud me.

For me it was a relatively slow burn – there was a year’s wait between signing a contract and the first book being published, in which I continued pretty much as normal, just a bit more smug. There was a steady ramping up of excitement prior to the first book appearing, then a strange and eerie silence when it actually went out there.

All this time I was still doing my day job as a tv editor and writing in my spare time pretty much as I had been before I got a deal. But each book that came out in the trilogy did better, and dragged along the ones that came before, plus further rights were sold in foreign markets, which meant that I’ve gradually been able to commit more time to the writing without leaving my family to starve.

These days I’ve more or less given up on the editing and I’m lucky enough to be able to write full time, so I guess you could say that my life is totally changed since I was first published, but it’s been a slow metamorphosis rather than an overnight transformation.

I wanted to ask about the film editing. You’ve done work for people like Barry White and Coldplay. Was it a cool gig? or were you the film equivalent of a code monkey – all of the work, none of the glory?

As you’re probably well aware, editors in the book world often do a lot of the work for a fraction of the glory, and tend to serve as scapegoats for the wrath of readers. If people like a book – well written. If they hate it – badly edited. And the odd thing is that it’s virtually impossible to tell from the finished product how good the editing is, as you’ve no idea what state it started in.

Editing in the TV world is not entirely dissimilar, and usually the aim of editing is to be entirely invisible so the audience is caught up in what they’re watching. So the general public will rarely notice good editing, only bad.

Plus in TV you’re part of a big team – directors, producers, executives, cameramen, and many more, all with important roles to play, and where directors and cameramen are always going to spend time on location, editors will typically work after the event, locked away with flickering screens in a darkened room, for hours on their own, struggling to shape the metaphorical silk purse from the sow’s ear. So the glory is minimal. Having said that, it’s a cool gig in that the work is pretty varied and creative, the pay is pretty good, and the freelance lifestyle gives you plenty of time off. If it hadn’t been for that free time between jobs I might never have started writing.

How often do you check your amazon sales rank?

At one point it was getting a bit silly, so now I have to strictly limit myself to five times an hour. This has become a great deal easier since I discovered Sales Rank Express, a web application that allows you to check all your sales ranks simultaneously. Or those of everyone at your imprint, for that matter.

How many copies of your own books do you currently own?

Hard to say, since most of my books are packed up in boxes, but since I get sent several dozen of any new UK release and half a dozen of each foreign language edition, plus extra books whenever anything’s reprinted, a lot more than is decent or functional. I’m currently looking at about fifteen UK and US Best Served Colds, a box full of new Blade Itself Mass Market Paperbacks, A box of Swedish Blade Itselves (Itselfs?) where they split the book in two therefore doubling the number I got sent, a stack of Russian ones, a Czech Before They are Hanged, and my Mum’s old copy of Beowulf. I didn’t write that last one, of course.

It’s a strong possibility that there are more of my books inside my house than outside it.

What’s the most shameful self-promotional thing you’ve ever done?

I am a venomously ambitious sociopath incapable of the feelings of shame or guilt.

Assume for a moment that you’re me. (I’m from the American Midwest, so I have an abundance of shame and guilt.) Can you remember anything you’ve done that would make me blush with shame?

I can’t remember anything particularly egregious, but in general as a writer you’ve got to do anything and everything you can to persuade people to read your books, especially when you’re starting out. There are no points given for lights under bushels, and if you don’t seem to be excited about your own work, how can you expect anyone else to be excited about reading it? But I can tell there’s some story you’re itching to tell. Come on now. Don’t be shy. That beard isn’t real, is it? I knew it.

It’s real. But it’s not really promotional. I use it to strike fear into the hearts of my enemies. And it makes it easier to dress up as Animal from the Muppets.

Speaking of, how do you feel about Muppets?

I feel some feelings of fuzzy nostalgia, but it’s not a subject particularly close to my heart. I was more into Thundercats.

I’m curious because soon after reading your trilogy, I watched Labyrinth. In the special features, Jim Henson said, “When I go see a film, when I leave the theater, I like a few things: I like to be happier than I was when I went in, I like a film to leave me with a up feeling and I like picture to have a sense of substance.” What is your personal philosophy about your books? How do you want people to feel when they leave the theatre, so to speak?

Nice question, and a tough one to answer. First off I’d like them to feel they’ve been entertained – thrilled, amused, tantalized, titillated, surprised, or some combination of the above.

Entertainment is the number one priority as far as I’m concerned. I’d like them to feel they’ve met some vivid, interesting, unusual characters, and that those people will stick with them for some time to come. And I suppose ideally I’d want them to be left with some questions about fantasy in general, about the role that simple stories of good and evil with happy endings play for us. But deeper points are optional – you have to accept that most people aren’t going to take away everything you try to put into a book, and may even take away messages you never intended.

Above all, of course, I’d like people to shut my book with a burning need to pick up the next one…

I ask because… well… Your books are *dark*. I mean, I pride myself on writing some fairly gritty fantasy. Uncaring universe. People abuse their power. Bad things happen to good people. All that. But your stuff… it’s a whole different level. I don’t know if there are good people in your world. Everyone’s just a different flavor of bastard. Many of them are endearing bastards, but still… I guess that’s what I’m curious about. Are you purposely trying to portray a world that is unremittingly grim? Are you attempting to do the opposite of leaving the reader with that “up feeling” Henson mentioned?

Yeah, interesting question. It wasn’t ever my intention to present something darker-than-thou, if you like, to do something punishingly cynical and depressing. I guess what I was mostly trying to do was present something that ran counter to the classic epic fantasy I’d read as a kid, and since a lot of that was quite sanitized, morally simple and optimistic, I have ended up with something quite grim. But then epic fantasy often flirts with very dark issues – with war, corruption, treachery, torture, buckets of violence – and the protagonists somehow come through the metaphorical filth with their armour all shiny.

I wanted to present a greyer, more complicated world with greyer, more complicated characters. As well as looking at the damage both physical and emotional that combat with edged weapons might really cause. As with anything, responses vary. Some readers find it unpalatably, or perhaps unconvincingly, dark and cynical, others find it relatively mild. I’ve even been taken to task for my cowardly happy endings, so, you know, one man’s meat and all that…

What’s the most hurtful thing someone has ever said in a review of your book?

Reactions of extreme distaste and hatred I actually quite enjoy, because they’re at least strong reactions, and there’s a good chance one person will love a book for the exact reason another despises it. Accusations of tedium or mediocrity I find most wounding.

Do you have a particular piece of grammar that you screw up regularly?

My spelling sucks when typing at speed. When reading sections back I find I have typed ‘of’ instead of ‘off’, ‘there’ instead of ‘their’ (or the other way round), and ‘to’ instead of ‘too’ with alarming frequency. I am also involved in an ongoing battle with my editor over my use of the word ‘behind’. She insists on frequently adding ‘him’, ‘her’ or, ‘them’ afterward. I refuse, arguing the qualification is implicit in the context. But in general I don’t think grammar should be taken too seriously. It’s like manners. They are guidelines, not laws, and can be easily circumvented if you do it with charm.

If you could pick one person from all of history to punch, who would it be?

I once broke my hand punching a pile of paper in a rage. True story. I would therefore elect to punch a small person with a nice, soft face. Napoleon, maybe?

Judging by that answer, can I assume that your delightfully gritty fight scenes are not based on any personal experience?

I held a sword for the first time not very long ago, and it was quite a scary experience. You could feel how easy it would be to kill someone with it. I was slightly worried I would accidentally kill someone by moving my arm around quite gently. Makes you feel like a big man, though.

Alexandre Dumas wrote his nonfiction on rose-colored paper, his fiction on blue, and his poetry on yellow. Do you have any little rituals that help you write?

Of late I have attempted to impose discipline onto my process, by working in two two hour blocks each day, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, in which I only write, do not use the internet, and ignore all distractions. The rest of the day I am free to do whatever I like, replacing the old system of working at an incredibly low and inefficient level all the time, and feeling guilty whenever I wasn’t writing while only actually really writing for about five minutes each day. The first day I tried it I wrote about four thousand words, responded to about a hundred emails, cleaned half the house and went to the gym, and I thought my life was changed. But it seems I am finding it harder and harder to commit to those magic two hour periods. Something always gets in the way.

I recently made a joke about Transition Putty on my blog. That being, of course, what we writers buy at Home Depot to smooth out our rough transitions. If you could have some sort of handyman tool like that, something like Plot Spackle or a Character Level, what would it be?

Once you’ve applied the transition putty and given it good time to set, can I also suggest an orbital segue sander. I find one of those with a really fine paper can make your transitions so smooth you won’t even realize there their. I mean they’re there.

I would have a description jackhammer. Dialogue and action come relatively naturally to me but I am sick and tired of the back-breaking effort of digging up all my descriptive passages by hand. I could also use the descripto-hammer to noisily smash up the descriptions of other authors and mix the bits into a kind of low-grade descriptive aggregate. I could then wedge it between sections of dialogue I am otherwise too lazy to link together properly, and I doubt anyone would notice the poor construction quality of my books until they all collapsed in an earthquake, by which time I would have sunk the profits in a hedge fund and be living it up in Bora Bora. Also, enormous power-tools make you feel almost as big a man as swords do.

An ending measure would be useful too, since I could then get a categorical reading on whether the endings of my books are shit or good. Readers don’t seem to be able to give me a consistent measurement on that…

Thanks again, Mr. Abercrombie. I really appreciate you taking the time to chat. Not to mention chipping in some lovely books for the fundraiser. ‘

Least I could do. Pleasure talking to you and best of luck with the fundraising.

* * *

In order to help out with Worldbuilders, Mr. Abercrombie has been nice enough to donate the following lovely books.

  • Three copies of the first edition UK printing of Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold. Signed by the author.

  • Three copies of the first edition USA printing of Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold. Signed by the author.



Remember folks, for every 10 dollars you donate to Heifer International, you get a chance to win these books and many, many more. So head over to my page at Team Heifer and chip in.

If you want details about what books are being given away, and how the whole fundraiser works, you can go to the main page for the Worldbuilders fundraiser HERE.

Auctions coming soon. Stay tuned.

With special thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.

(Oh Subterranean Press, how I love you…)

Also posted in Me Interviewing Other Folks, Subterranean Press, Worldbuilders 2009 | By Pat37 Responses
  • Our Store

  • Previous Posts

  • Archives

  • My Twitter

  • Bookmark this Blog

    (IE and Firefox users only - Safari users, click Command-D)