Losing My Anonymity…

This past weekend I drove down to Madison to catch a reading/signing by Tad Williams. While we’ve e-mailed back and forth a little, I’ve never actually met him. And despite the fact that he’s a seasoned pro and I’m a wet-behind the ears newbie, we’re the literary equivalent of cousins: we both have the same editor and agent.

Because of this, I’ve heard a lot of stories about Tad over the last year or so, many of which have ended with comments like, “You’d really like Tad. The two of you are a lot alike.”

So part of the reason I was coming down was to see the guy I’d heard so much about. Another large chunk was pure fannishness. I read Memory Sorrow and Thorn years ago. The size of his books and the scope of his story gave me hope that my own huge fantasy novels might actually be publishable some day.

Lastly, I was there to do reconnaissance. I’ve got readings and signings of my own coming up when my book hits the shelves in a couple weeks. I wanted to see how a pro handles it.

Because I was driving down from Stevens Point, I ended up getting in a little late. So I just sat on the floor off in the back corner of the room beside a cart full of folding chairs. Believe it or not, this is actually my happy place. I like being in the back corner of classrooms and restaurants because sitting with people behind me makes me profoundly uneasy. I’m a lurker by nature.

I watch Tad do his thing. He’s got a great stage presence. He finishes his reading and starts into his Q & A. This is even better. He’s quick on his feet, funny and clever. The group loves him.

Then somebody says, “Assume we’ve already read all of your books and we’re looking for something new to read. What do you recommend?”

Tad says, “Well, it seems a little odd to mention it because he’s here right now, and I might be accused of log-rolling, but I recently read a great debut fantasy by Patrick Rothfuss. That’s spelled R-O-T-H-F-U-S-S. It’s called….” he paused and cupped his hand to his ear dramatically.

I was caught flat-footed, but can know enough to take a cue when it’s handed to me. “The Name of the Wind,” I said from where I sat tucked away in the corner of the room. A few people turned to look, but most of them couldn’t see me as I was sitting on the floor, partially tucked behind the cart of folding chairs. I wondered what they thought of the voice coming from nowhere to supply the title of the book. Was it an unseen employee? A high tech customer service device? Some helpful totemistic bookstore spirit?

Tad went back to answering questions, and I sat feeling odd and unsettled. Part of this was that I was flattered he thought enough of the book to mention it. But what really threw me off my stride was the fact that he recognized me. I’m not used to being recognized. I’m pretty comfortable in my anonymity.

After the Q&A, a youngish guy walked up to me and said, “You’re Patrick Rothfuss, aren’t you?” I admitted I was, and we had a pleasant round of what I fondly think of as ‘geek talk.’ We chatted about what books we like, what games we play, what comics are worth reading. It was nice. I like geek talk.

Still, it’s odd having someone come up to me and know me just because they heard about my book.

It’s not a bad thing, just a new thing. It’s going to take some getting used to.

This entry was posted in being awesome, geeking out, meeting famous peopleBy Pat16 Responses


  1. Rolfe Jaremus
    Posted March 15, 2007 at 12:51 PM | Permalink

    Patrick,Saw you book listing. Congratuations on the publishing. I’ll have to check out your book.I’ve got a different question for you. My wife’s grandmother is a Rothfuss. She is from a Rothfuss family from Ostfriesland, Germany that immigrated to America and settled in Iroquois County, Illinois in the late 1860’s. Do you know much about your lineage?Rolfe JaremusWoodridge, IL

  2. Shawn C. Speakman
    Posted March 15, 2007 at 5:58 PM | Permalink

    Hey Pat,Just another comment about Tad here. When he was in Seattle, the bookstore he attended was speaking on the different writers who are coming through our area soon. This is before Tad took stage but he was looming in the back waiting his turn.The bookstore employee mentioned your name as part of an upcoming signing and said, “I know this guy has a debut book coming out but I have not read it so I can’t share anything with you.”Tad, who had been leafing through <>Shadowplay<> in the back trying to decide which section to read from, piped up and said, “Oh, <>The Name of the Wind<> is great. You all should read it.” The bookseller asked, “You’ve read it already?” Tad quickly came back with, “Yeah, and so should you.”So I have a feeling Tad is pumping your book. Based on what he said to me privately about it, he loved it and thinks you have a shining future ahead of you. Better get used to it, my friend. It only gets more confusing and fun from here on out! hahaS.

  3. Sean T. M. Stiennon
    Posted March 15, 2007 at 6:18 PM | Permalink

    I just remember faces well, man ;). Sometimes I’ll be walking around campus and recognize three people I never talked to from last semester’s discussions. That, and I knew you lived in Wisconsin, so your presence was semi-plausible.Anyhoo, it was great to meet ya, and I’ll be wanting your John Hancock on my copy come the 27th!

  4. Neth
    Posted March 15, 2007 at 8:51 PM | Permalink

    funny – hopefully you’ll make it down to Phoenix sometime and we can linger over a few drinks.

  5. Pat
    Posted March 15, 2007 at 11:21 PM | Permalink

    Rolfe, I think my particular brand of Rothfuss’ came from out New York way (though originally from Germany, of course.) To the best of my knowlege there’s only about four Rothfuss’ out here in Wisconsin, it always surprises me when I learn about somebody with the same name….pat

  6. Anonymous
    Posted March 16, 2007 at 5:16 AM | Permalink

    Hey Patrick–I’m a 16-year-old aspiring fantasy writer from New York. I can’t wait to read your book as I’ve heard so much about it already! I was wondering if you could give me any tips on writing, especially fantasy, that have helped you in your work? I’m always looking to learn from published authors in order to to better my own writing.Thanks, and congratulatios on the upcoming release of your debut novel! Miriam ([email protected])

  7. Anonymous
    Posted March 17, 2007 at 3:04 AM | Permalink

    Hi Patrick, Robin Hobb mentioned your book on her newsgroup and recommened it to the lot of us. I read the excerpt and it has me hooked, I look forward to reading the full thing!Congratulations on the publishing, it must be exciting.Tina

  8. Amy Jane
    Posted March 17, 2007 at 2:10 PM | Permalink

    Caught this post on Amazon and thought it was great–I’m another one of those “aspiring” writers, and this bit about losing anonymity is my biggest… discomfort about actually getting published.I don’t mind performing, but I like it to be done when I leave the stage.Do keep us updated as this progresses, if you’re comfortable with that. I’ve never watched this transition before.Congrats on being published, and is this your truly <>first<> book?

  9. Pat
    Posted March 17, 2007 at 8:39 PM | Permalink

    In response to Tina’s comment: Woo Hoo! Robin was gracious enough to accept an advance readers copy from me a while back, despite the fact that she was terribly busy. I didn’t know if she’d have the opportunity to look at it. I love her stuff, it’s so cool that she liked the book enough to reccomend it. I should go and see if I can track down her newsgroup….pat

  10. Tina
    Posted March 19, 2007 at 1:20 AM | Permalink

    Yeah, she’s brilliant! ^^You can find the newsgroup here: < HREF="http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=xover&group=sff.people.robin-hobb&from=-10" REL="nofollow">link<>Tina

  11. Kat Lemmer
    Posted March 20, 2007 at 5:23 PM | Permalink

    Pat,Congrats on your book! Do you feel that Kvothe’s voice has changed in the years you have worked on the book? Does that sort of thing occur in the writing and editing process or does he remain consistent?Best,Kat

  12. Anonymous
    Posted May 23, 2007 at 9:16 PM | Permalink

    Hello Patrick,I am a long time fantasy reader, I have just finished your book. I gave it 4.5 out of 5 since there is no such thing as a 5. I am sorry to hear that I have to wait another year, please keep writing! Thanks, Gary

  13. angledge
    Posted May 17, 2010 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

    Still, it’s odd having someone come up to me and know me just because they heard about my book.

    It’s not a bad thing, just a new thing. It’s going to take some getting used to.

    Have you gotten used to it yet?

  14. Posted September 23, 2016 at 1:33 PM | Permalink

    I thought I’d head back to your first posts so that I could read your Origin Story, of sorts. I was not disappointed. This is adorable, and I mean that in the kindest way possible. Your candor is lovely.

2 Trackbacks

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  • By The End of Anonymity - David Carani on August 16, 2016 at 11:49 AM

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