Tag Archives: zombies

Fanmail Z&A: (Zombie Apocalypse)

So just a couple minutes ago, I was reading through my fanmail and I got to the following letter.

Mr. Rothfuss,

I don’t know how to go about this, so I will just explain: I write a fictional blog set in the zombie apocalypse, and today in my post I referenced you… Since this is a work of fiction I have tried to get permission from any person I mention by name, and I wanted to make sure that this is alright with you. If you would like to read the entry, here’s the link.

If you would like me to edit you out, please let me know, and I will do so immediately.

I am a HUGE fan, by the way. I have purchased no fewer than four hardback copies of The Name of the Wind, and two paperbacks. People love them as gifts.

Looking forward to Wise Man’s Fear.

Joshua

My first thought was that Joshua was terribly polite. So I hopped over and checked out the link to make sure he didn’t have me dancing around in a leopard-print unitard or anything like that. Then, when I saw that I wasn’t, I dropped him an e-mail telling him it’s all cool.

My second thought was that while he didn’t ask me a question, there’s definitely one implied in his post.

Specifically: If there was a zombie apocalypse, and society collapsed, would I still keep working on my books?

It’s a good question. And after thinking about it, I’m a little surprised to say yes. I would.

The reason this is surprising to me is that I’m at the end of a long, LONG, jag of revisions.

How can I put this in perspective for you…?

How about this: I’m assuming most of you have written papers for school. And, because I assume most of you are kinda like me, I’m guessing you put off writing those papers until the night before they were due. (Or, in the case of more involved college research papers, you put them off until the weekend before they were due.)

So let’s go back and remember those long, desperate nights of paper-writing together: It’s late at night. You’re exhausted. You are absolutely fucking sick of the paper because you’ve been banging away on it for hours and hours.

Then you finally finish it. Relief. You are free. You can rest.

But then you think to yourself, “I should really read through it one more time to catch any last minute mistakes.” Because while you might be a procrastinator, that doesn’t mean you’re an idiot.

So you start to read even though you’re weary. Even though you hate your paper so much that re-reading it is like chewing sand. You read it one last time even though the topic you’re writing about fills you with such loathing that you could just shit yourself with rage.

And, as you read it one last time, you find a handful of mistakes that would have made you look like an absolute fuckwit. So you’re glad you put in the effort. But still, it was pretty excruciating.

Are we unified in our shared experience? Do you remember what that last read-through is like?

I did that read-through of the book six months ago.

And I am still working on the book.

Now in the interest of complete honesty, I should mention that I took a bit of a break after that sick-to-fucking-death read-through.

And I don’t mean to imply that every minute is excruciating. Sometimes I read a bit I’d forgotten about, and I think, “Wow, that’s really good.” Sometimes when I finally fix a long-standing problem (like how to plausibly arrange events so Bast, Ambrose, and Elodin can have a threeway) it feels great.

But the fact is that working on revisions is just that: work. What’s more, it’s work I’ve been doing it every day for months and months. I haven’t seen a movie since I caught Sherlock Holmes in the theater.

No. Wait. That’s not true. In a fit of madness I rented Transformers II about five months ago. While I was watching it, I remember thinking, “Huh? This makes no sense. Has it been so long since I watched a movie that I can’t understand them anymore?”

But no. It was just a horrendous pile of shit. Someone deserves to be punched in the neck for that movie.

Wait. What was I talking about again? Oh yeah. Revisions.

My point is that I’ve been doing revisions when I’ve really wanted to be doing other things. Like play with my baby, or re-watch Firefly, or go outside on the rare, jewel-like days when the weather here in Wisconsin isn’t like living in the crack of Satan’s ass.

Simply said, as I’ve mentioned before, everybody hates their job sometimes.

That’s why I was surprised when I asked myself that question. It only took me a few seconds to realize the answer: Yes.

Yes. If society collapsed, I would keep working on the books. I’d do it even if I knew they’d never be published.

And you know what? I’d still be every bit as obsessive about my revision as I am now. The only difference would be that my timetable would be more relaxed, and I’d probably have to work a little harder to find beta readers….

This was actually a rather nice revelation for me. It’s easy to focus on the fact that I *have* to work on the book. That line of thinking can get overwhelming for me sometimes. There’s a lot of pressure. A lot of stress.

It’s nice to remember that I also *want* to work on the book. It’s nice to remember that I love telling this story and that I’m lucky to have the freedom to revise obsessively, as is my nature.

But for all that, I have to say, I’m going to be really glad when it’s finished and I can move on….

pat

Posted in Fanmail Q + A, musings, Revision | By Pat86 Responses

On the Perils of Translation

For those of you who may not know, over this last year we’ve sold the foreign rights to The Name of the Wind in, at my last count, 20 countries. So many countries that when I just tried to make a list of them all on a piece of paper, I was unable to remember them all.

When we first sold the Dutch rights, my giddy thought was that I would learn Dutch well enough to read my own book. Later, when a few more sales started to pile up, I realized a more realistic goal might be to learn enough so that I could read, perhaps, the first page of the book. Or the first few lines.

But now, with 20 countries, I’m thinking that if I work at it I can learn how to say the title of my book using the appropriate accent. I’d still just be saying, “The Name of the Wind,” but it would sound French, or German, or whatever they speak in Holland…. Hollandaise.

But on to the heart of the matter. When I first heard we’d sold the Dutch rights, my main thought was, “Wow, a quarter million word translation… that poor bastard.”

And that was about it.

A few weeks later, my translator contacted me and started asking questions about my book. It was only then that I started to get an idea of how complicated the process is. How many ways there are to go wrong in a translation….

For example, how can you translate the nicknames for all the buildings in the University? They’re slang. Artificery becomes Fishery…. But you can’t just translate that, because it really doesn’t have anything to do with fish…

Even worse are the names in Auri has given the places in the Underthing, they’re not even slang, they’re puns. Imagine trying to translate the belows/bellows/blows/billows conversation into another language? It just can’t be done….

Then there’s the plot points. Some subtle things are mentioned in the first book that will prove to be very important later. If they’re accidentally left out or changed, the series as a whole will suffer.

Luckily, my first translator, Lia Belt, was wonderful. She walked me through it carefully, asked a lot of questions, and helped me understand some of the potential pitfalls.

So over the last couple of weeks I’ve been putting together a comprehensive FAQ for the translators. It clarifies things that are potentially murky, and brings up some of the potential difficulties that I’ve become aware of.

In a way it’s fun, it forces me to examine my language and word use from a different angle than I’m used to. But at the same time putting together this FAQ has been like some sort of fractal magician’s trick. Where every time I answer a question it unfolds into four other important issues I need to address.

Anyway, that’s what’s going on in my life lately. Just thought I’d share…

And lastly, an interesting piece of fanmail someone sent me….

Pat!

Dude. I was looking around on E-bay, and I found THIS. Is it really yours? I thought Name of the Wind was your first book….

Let me know because if it is yours, I’m totally buying it…

J-

As always, I will protect the privacy of my fan by using a fake name: Susan.

Well Susan, The Name of The Wind was my first book in a lot of ways. It was my first novel. It was also my first professionally edited and published book.

But I did have a few other things printed before that, and Your Illustrated, Annotated College Survival Guide was one of them.

It is a collection of humor columns that I wrote over the space of four years for the local college paper, illustrated by a friend of mine, and with interesting annotations from yours truly. If you’re wondering what the columns were like…. well, odds are you’ve already read one of them here in my blog. Namely: The Great Zombie Debate.

Other helpful columns were written along the lines of, “How Not to be a Goddamn Mooch.” “On the Impotence of Proofreading.” and “How to Deal with the Unbearable Shittyness of Your Life…”

So yeah, in a nutshell, it’s me.

Later all,

pat

Posted in College Survival Guide, fanmail, foreign happenings, translation | By Pat42 Responses

The Great Zombie Debate

About a decade ago, I started writing a humor column for the local paper. It started as a fake advice column, and over the years it became…. I don’t know what. Somewhere for me to make crude jokes about monkeys and pontificate on whatever subject was currently holding my attention.

I can’t say why I started doing it. Boredom and ego, I guess. Plus I liked writing and making people laugh. What makes even less sense to me is that after almost a decade, I’m still writing it. I don’t get paid for it, and over the years the column has landed me in more trouble than anything else I’ve ever done. That’s the problem with satire, if it’s done properly, it pisses people off.

Here’s how it works. I make fun of clowns, and you laugh. I make fun of frat boys, and you laugh. Then I make fun of Buddhists. But you’re a Buddhist. Suddenly you’re not laughing.

Have I suddenly become unfunny? No. It’s just that now I’m poking fun at your personal sacred cow. But that’s my job as a satirist, I expose that which is ridiculous in the world. I’m a sacred cow tipper.

Anyway, I when I was out at the Fantasy Matters conference a couple months ago, I had do do a reading directly following Neil Gaimain. I knew that I couldn’t hope to match him in sheer mythic storytelling awesomeness, so I decided to go for some cheap laughs instead. To this end, I read a column I wrote a couple years ago called The Great Zombie Debate.

Surprisingly, people liked it. So I thought I’d post it up here for those of you looking for a cheap laugh or two.

Dear Pat,

My social group is fiercely locked in the fast zombie vs. slow zombie debate. While I’ll admit that 28 Days rocked, I still think slow zombies are much scarier than their faster counterparts. Can you shower us with your wisdom? I fear this debate will cause a schism in our group that may never mend.

John S.

Thanks for the letter, John. It’s always nice to hear from a guy who’s not afraid to use the word “schism.”

Though not many folk know it, the fast vs. slow zombie debate goes all the way back to the early days of the church. It was part of a disagreement between James the greater, and Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus. You see, James believed in salvation according to works, slow zombies, and that watching two women kiss was, in his words, “wicked cool.”

On the other hand, Paul believed in salvation according to faith, fast zombies, and the fact that women were “kinda icky” therefore two kissing would be, “double icky.”

Now normally when there was a disagreement, they turned to Thomas. But Thomas thought it should be faith AND works. And he’d never actually seen two women kiss and didn’t believe that sort of thing really happened. As for zombies, well… the thought of people getting up and moving around after they were dead was just too much for him, and he told the other disciples that he had better things to do than sit around and listen to them tell silly stories.

And so the issue remains unresolved to this day, stirred up by recent fast zombie movies like Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days.

So let’s lay this to rest once and for all, shall we?

Now to a certain extent whether you like fast or slow zombies is simply a matter of personal taste.

It’s like sex. Fast sex is different from slow sex. But they both have their good points. A quickie is fun. It’s a romp. It’s exciting. Slow sex is different. It’s an experience. It’s an adventure. It’s an African safari which necessitates the use of a special type of hat.

But while they both have their selling points, the fact remains that slow sex has a lot more style. More room for finesse. More opportunities to wear exciting hats.

The same thing is true with zombie movies. Everybody who isn’t all a total tightass enjoys a good zombie movie now and then, fast or slow. But ultimately, a slow zombie movie has a lot more style. More finesse. The purpose of a zombie movie is to scare you, and ultimately, slow zombies are more frightening.

Now before all you fast zombie advocates get your knickers in a twist, listen to me. Slow zombies are frightening. Fast zombies are startling. There’s a huge difference, let me explain.

You know the part in the horror movie when the young co-ed is looking through the attic with a flashlight? It’s dark, the music gets real dramatic, then BAM! A cat jumps out from behind a stack of boxes.

Pretty scary, huh?

No. No, that was not scary. It was just startling. It’s cheap. If you don’t believe me, just think of a whole movie full of nothing but cats jumping out at people. Would that be a scary move? No. It would just suck. The same goes for a movie full of nothing but fast zombies jumping out at people, or, come to think of it, relationships full of nothing but fast sex.

That is, unless you’re having a relationship with a slow zombie that wore an exciting hat when you had sex with it. That might work, I think.

And with that bit of wisdom I will leave you for now. I’ll be back soon, and posting more consistently now that the holidays are past. I’ll tell y’all how the Boston Signing went, and I’ll be making those announcements I promised you a couple weeks ago.

Plus, I have some delicious fanart that I’ve been dying to show you….

Later all,

pat

Posted in College Survival Guide, Fanmail Q + A, Neil Gaiman | By Pat20 Responses
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