Author Patrick Rothfuss started writing “The Name of the Wind” in 1994. The book was published in 2007. The fantasy novel went on to become a New York Times bestseller and is the subject of talks about being made into a TV show, movie and a video game. Librarian Justin Wasterlain caught up with Rothfuss at a May 11 Library Talk held at Central Park Library.
“The Library Talks are virtual author talks; the idea of this is to stream the talk out to any library in California instead of having the talk at just one library,” Wasterlain says. “‘The Kingkiller Chronicle’ books [of which ‘The Name of the Wind’ is part of] is a series that looks at first blush like a ‘Game of Thrones’ like series. It’s a very detailed and extremely well written coming-of-age story filled with wizards and quasi-dragons. Currently, Pat’s working on the third part of the trilogy and people are eager to read it.”
Wasterlain read a fan question asking whether Rothfuss uses storyboards to map out details of his stories while he writes.
“The real underlying question is how do I keep track of my characters and where you’re going in your story,” Rothfuss says. “It’s not like I have a big story wall or the murder board they have on the detective show. Mostly I do it in my head. Occasionally I will write notes on note cards.”
Refuting the idea that revision is only about spellchecking a manuscript, Rothfuss shares an analogy about revising.
“Revision is like if you have an old car, and it isn’t running right,” Rothfuss says. “You go out and the engine makes this noise. You come home and you can’t just reach into the engine and pull out the noise. You got to figure out why it’s making that noise. You take the engine apart, you look at all the bits, and you see how they fit together. And then you put it all together again and you hope it’s right. Imagine doing that [with a house you must drive].”
Rothfuss strongly disagrees with writers who consider themselves failures if they don’t become professional authors.
“If you know a guy who makes model trains, you’d never go to them and [ask,] when are you going to sell your model train and get rich?” Rothfuss says. “If you love gardening, you don’t go out every day and think, I’m going to garden this garden and when I’m the best gardener, then Better Homes and Gardens is going to take my picture for the cover. And then I’ll make a million dollars and I’ll be famous for my garden. That’s not what gardening is about. I’ve known a lot of aspiring writers that because they aspire so much, they end up miserable. Whereas I took the entire other route. I knew I would probably never be published. So I wrote and I enjoyed writing. I had fun writing…I focused on it being good. I didn’t worry anything else, like it being marketable, it being trendy, it being right.”