Tales from the Con: Reading in Indianapolis

So when I was attending GenCon out in Indianapolis last month, I had several adventures.

For one, I got to eat at a Stake and Shake, which was pretty cool. This may not seem like a big deal for most of you, but… well… I don’t get out much.

I also did a reading at the local library.

I love doing readings. But this one was especially fun, as I got to hang out with the folks from “…and Sewing is Half the Battle.” They’re the ones that won the photo contest from a couple months ago.

They all came dressed in their costumes and did an intro to my reading, talking about what cosplay is, why folks do it, and how to dabble if you’re interested.

I have to say that it was pretty cool showing up for my own reading and having a bunch of the characters from the book in attendance.

As a whole, I was too bemused to take a lot of pictures. But I got a huge kick out of this:

I don’t remember writing a hippie into the book. But then again, I don’t remember NOT writing a hippie into the book. Trapis, nice guy that he is, seems to be reserving judgement.

Haliax, as you might have guessed, is a big hit with the ladies. Why do they always go for the dark types?

Here’s one I snapped of Haliax when he didn’t think anyone was paying attention. Apparently when there aren’t any chicks around he summons some sort of glowing orb, practicing to destroy his enemies. I can’t say I’m surprised.

Ladies, let this be a lesson to you. Sure, cowls are sexy. Everyone loves a bad boy. But when you’re dating evil, it’s only a matter of time before you get the glowing orb.

Here’s everyone. From top left to bottom right you have: Elodin, young girl (see below) Haliax, Bast and Urchin, Ambrose, glowing death orb, Hippie, Trapis, Denna, Kvothe and Fela.

I won’t bore you with the whole story of the reading, but here are the high points.

  • A 10 year old girl made fun of my handwriting.

She looked down at the book I was writing in. “Authors are supposed to use cursive,” she informed me.

“Not me,” I said cheerfully, scribbing away.

“Is that your name?” she asked.


She kept watching in disapproval, then said. “Authors are also supposed to have better handwriting than a third grader.”

“You’re fat,” I said.

I didn’t really. She was adorable. Plus, I was on an adulation buzz by that point and nothing could bring me down. I long ago came to grips with the fact that my handwriting looks like a psychotic grade schooler’s ransom note. She wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know.

  • At some point during the Q & A period, I used a terrible phrase.

I used to do improv comedy. This is a good thing. I know how to work a crowd and think on my feet. Public speaking doesn’t freak me out. I’m relaxed. I make jokes. It’s a good time.

The down side is that I’m not exactly working off a script. And that means sometimes I’ll say awful things.

I’m not talking about cussing. I cuss all the time. It’s not a big deal.

All humor is rooted in transgression. That means that most things that are genuinely funny also have the potential for being really offensive, or weird, or creepy.

I can’t remember the exact context for this phrase, but I was answering a question. I think I was making fun of the fact that since I hit the NYT bestseller list, everyone seems to think I’m all rockstar famous.

As I said, I can’t remember the exact context. But I do remember the phrase I used.

It was: “Come Ride the Rothfuss Train!”

Yeah. I even pronounced it with the exclamation point, which is something I very rarely do. It was one of those things that seems brilliant before you say it, but goes horrible as soon as it leaves your mouth.

There was a half-second of quiet, then I said. “I’m never going to say that ever again.”

THAT got a laugh. A big laugh.

So later, when I was signing books, everyone wanted me to write something about the Rothfuss train. So the story has a happy ending.

  • I got to hang out with the “Sewing is Half the Battle” crew.

After the reading, we all hung out, and I treated them to dinner as part of their prize for their epic win in the photo contest.

Eventually the restaurant closed, so we went to… you guessed it. Steak and Shake. My second trip in as many days. It was there that a talented artist who will remain nameless drew this on a placemat for me.

Yeah. It’s the Rothfuss Train. Hop on. Ride it. You know you want to….

Later all,


This entry was posted in contests, conventions, small adventuresBy Pat30 Responses


  1. Mary J.
    Posted September 18, 2008 at 2:50 PM | Permalink

    I <>loved<> the Rothfuss train! You didn’t post the boi love pic-also, you forgot to mention that you wrote Emilie’s 3rd grad school recommendation in the front of her book. ;-)

  2. black Sunshine
    Posted September 18, 2008 at 2:52 PM | Permalink

    AWESOME. next time you come to Atlanta, Steak ‘n Shake for sure! also, your unnamed artist left their signature in the bottom corner ;-) nice work, Alena!!!ALL ABOARD!!!

  3. John Rennemeyer
    Posted September 18, 2008 at 3:20 PM | Permalink

    Just a quick question. I posted a mini-review of your book on my visual bookshelf on facebook and now I have a friend request from “Pat Rothfuss (Wisc Stevens Point)” saying “Saw that you liked my book…”. So I searched for Pat Rothfuss and found your “Patrick Rothfuss” account in addition to the aforementioned account. Is the “Pat Rothfuss” account you or is it a fake? I’m very excited for 2009. Thanks for getting me into the fantasy genre, or at least into “The Name of the Wind”.

  4. pws
    Posted September 18, 2008 at 3:26 PM | Permalink

    I have to travel to Madison once a month and have found that Wisconsin is, indeed, a Steak -n- Shake free zone. I used to work there moons and moons ago (when a shake was less than a buck) and still love the food.I happen to know the regional guy for the company. He told me that they had a restaurant in Madison but it closed due to bad location, and they’re looking for another franchisee to put one in. So there is yet hope.I’d be framing the “Rothfuss Train”, if I were you.

  5. Amanda
    Posted September 18, 2008 at 4:23 PM | Permalink

    The people walking by on my floor looked at me funny by the third time I suddenly busted out laughing.Who DOESN’T wanna ride the Rothfuss Train? Come on, now!

  6. Pamala Knight
    Posted September 18, 2008 at 5:40 PM | Permalink

    LOL! I thought I was the only one who gets into tiffs with 8 year olds. Glad to see that I’m in exalted company. I hope you come to Chicago for a reading, soon.

  7. bluharlequin
    Posted September 18, 2008 at 6:50 PM | Permalink

    “You’re fat.”Damn, that was funny.But on to other topics. Like Steak and Shake. Steak and Shake will always be linked to the yearly trip that I take with my crew to Origins. It is both a wonderful and horror-filled experience…Of course, there was also that year that I went to GenCon (the first year it was in Indy) when the poor Steak and Shake obviously had no idea what they were in for that weekend. The line was out the door and down the street, and they were sold out of all of their fried food.

  8. Adam The Future Novelist
    Posted September 18, 2008 at 6:57 PM | Permalink

    I seem to recall that part of the contest was that the people would get a sneak peak at Book 2. Is that where Urchin comes in? I’ve read NotW twice in the last year and I don’t recall her. Unless it’s one of the kids in Tarbean who are there listening to Skarpi.Who wouldn’t want a ride of the Rothfuss Train? It’d be the most rocking train ever!Lastly, I’m from down south and I’ve never heard of Steak & Shake until reading this. Hmm.

  9. Sir Gallager
    Posted September 18, 2008 at 7:40 PM | Permalink

    Man, that cracked me up. But i must say you now have that song from the mid-90’s “come on ride that train” stuck in my head.

  10. Eliza Wyatt
    Posted September 18, 2008 at 9:50 PM | Permalink

    Legalize denner!That made me laugh aloud. People at work turned and gave me odd looks until I read some of the passages aloud to them. :)

  11. Jana
    Posted September 18, 2008 at 10:13 PM | Permalink

    i’ve gotten into a really bad habit…i’m a freshman in college, and i have internet access in some of my classes, so i’ll get on my laptop and pretend to be typing notes, when really, i’m doing stuff like checking my facebook or reading your blog…and when i read the thing about you [not really] calling the girl fat, and the train, i started laughing and had to pretend to cough. nobody bought it.

  12. Fe2O3
    Posted September 18, 2008 at 10:46 PM | Permalink

    Ah, Steak and Shake. Unfortunately absent from the Utah landscape. I spent many lunches and dinners there while working in Ohio.You only said the train phrase once right? It wasn’t like your head was spinning around while you were screaming “Ride the train! Ride it! Ride it!”Love the blog. Blogs are denner for potential stalkers. We could get riled up to the point where we would, zombie-like, converge upon your school and harass all facial-hair-sprouting campus-walkers, but then you feed us another gem from your experiences and we drop into a euphoric state filled with visions of ewoks with fuzzy pink ears.[email protected] rennemeyer – If the pic was of a cartoon bearded pirate/pimp you got the real deal.

  13. Jennifer
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 12:50 AM | Permalink

    Well, I thought the Rothfuss train comment was funny. I was one of the girls who came down from the Lafayette Barnes and Noble. The one wearing the Beatles shirt who promised you socks. I’m so sure you remember me. :) Except now I’m thinking a Jayne hat instead of socks…it seems more appropriate. It really was a great talk, though, Pat. My friend and I had a great time and she even forgave me for making an hour trip from Lafayette to Indy in 45 minutes just because she got to see you. When we got home, one of our managers, who also loves Name of the Wind, threatened to fire us because we didn’t get him a signed book while we were there. Anytime you’re back in Indiana, feel free to stop by Lafayette. We’ll do you one better on Steak and Shake and take you to Triple X.

  14. Captain Joe
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 1:10 AM | Permalink

    Is Steak’n’Shake exactly as its name suggests? If so, then life is complete.All aboard the Rothfuss Train!Next stop: Pain…Also, has everyone seen this yet?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muLIPWjks_MNinja Cat makes me frightened to turn around.

  15. **A*V*A**
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 3:34 AM | Permalink

    ~siiiiiigh~ Way to keep the nameless artist anonymous, Pat…We loved hanging out with you at Steak ‘n’ Shake! But next time, I’m signing the placemat with a pseudonym. ;-)

  16. bret
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 4:22 AM | Permalink

    Steak and Shake…what a great place. unfortunately out in Dubai we only have “Lamb and Labneh”.Come out here for a visit and maybe the Rothfuss train could help improve our traffic situation.Stand up comedy…that’s just a bit of delicious ambiguity.

  17. Anonymous
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 4:43 AM | Permalink

    “…my handwriting looks like a psychotic grade schooler’s ransom note.” Coolest thing I’ve read all week.

  18. Laura
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 5:34 AM | Permalink

    Woo-woooooo! All aboard!@ Adam The Future Novelist — the urchin is one of < HREF="http://andsewingishalfthebattle.com/images/stories/notw-paperback/pg24.jpg" REL="nofollow">Trapis’ wards<> but is really the < HREF="http://andsewingishalfthebattle.com/images/stories/notw/bast-baby.jpg" REL="nofollow">daughter of Bast<> (and Denna, if you want some good fanfic — but truth is stranger than fanfiction).The critical young girl was playing Nina, of Trebon.

  19. Lee Battersby...
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 6:29 AM | Permalink

    Ha! Oh, I can sympathise with the unfortunate comment malaise: I spent 3 of my early adult years working as a stand-up, and every now and again that comedy mouth kicks into gear before my brain thinks to stop it…

  20. marky
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 8:57 AM | Permalink

    What’s a steak and shake? I understand what a steak is, but what are you shaking?The Pat train (cring) sounds like it could make a good story. Every carriage made up of different facets of your personality. In the Mouth of Madness meets Secret Window.Scary stuff.I’m up for throwing my weight behind the Legalize denner campaign. Legalize it. Don’t criticise it. Go denner hippy!

  21. Kip, Tomato Paste
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 11:59 AM | Permalink

    @Anonymous: Good thing the typed it or you would stillbe trying to figure out what it says.Actually Marky, I was thinking the Rothfuss Train, is more like the Hogwarts train, except pulled by 18daemon stallions, A full bar with free drinks in every car, with 10 simultanious P&P RPGs going on. On the roof of the Caboose there is a throne where Pat sits looking out over his multitude of minions.

  22. marky
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 12:57 PM | Permalink

    A full bar with free drinks in every car. Now yer talking dude.And the cring in brackets was meant to be cringe. I didn’t know cring meant skid marks on the toilet bowl. Nasty. Anyway, all that talk of denner made me drop an E. ;-) oops.

  23. Melissa Heigl
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 2:51 PM | Permalink

    @ Jennifer:You can’t make him a Jayne hat. I made him one last year, and if he has two and chooses yours, I’ll explode and make a mess on this planet.Steak and Shake for the win.Alena’s picture of “The Rothfuss Train” shows me riding in the caboose!

  24. Nan
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 3:45 PM | Permalink

    Okay, I was the “Legalize Denner” hippie-type. (The horrid facial expression came from trying to look like a serious protester… and let me tell you, it’s hard to look ANY kind of serious when hanging out with this crowd!) :DPat’s right: He didn’t write a hippie into the book. But I’m sure that was just an oversight on his part and that he’d actually MEANT to. ;-)Nancy

  25. cranesinmybrain
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 3:51 PM | Permalink

    Stake & Shake? Is that the new vampire-hunter strip club I’ve been hearing about? ;)

  26. limbosplaything
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 4:13 PM | Permalink

    ha… steak and shake… i think i went there every day of gencon. i even ran into you on the way out. craziness. ride the rothfuss train, yay!

  27. Fe2O3
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 5:10 PM | Permalink

    @Marky – < HREF="http://www.steaknshake.com" REL="nofollow">Steakburgers and milkshakes.<>My original mental image of the Rothfuss Train was more of a conga line or bunny-hop line with everyone wearing fuzzy pink ears and tassles.

  28. Jennifer
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 8:41 PM | Permalink

    There is no such thing as too many Jayne hats. :)

  29. marky
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 10:03 PM | Permalink

    Rusty. My word. There open all day. This must be were all the cows go when they graduate from bovine university. Do they offer you a defibrillator with the check?It just gave me an idea for a Scottish version with haggis and whisky. I’m calling it the Hag an Dram. ;->

  30. Brandon
    Posted April 17, 2010 at 6:50 PM | Permalink

    Aaaaaaallllll aboard!

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