Yesterday, I met Patrick Rothfuss. As some of you may know, he’s one of my favorite authors of all time. For those of you who don’t, my list goes:
1. Brandon Sanderson
2. Patrick Rothfuss
3. J. R. R. Tolkien
4. George R. R. Martin
5. Robert Jordan
While Sanderson occupies the top slot, and likely always will for me, the others switch around, depending on my mood. My meeting with Rothfuss yesterday may have something to do with his current position on the list, but my point remains. I’ve now actually met 2 of my 3 favorite living authors, and at the moment, the two whose work I love the most. I consider this a pretty good track record for a 22 year old kid who can’t afford to attend a convention and mostly gets around on a bus or a bike. GRRM is going to be a little harder to track down, but hey… What’s a goal for, if you don’t have to work for it?
I’m going to take a moment here to say that, if you have an author that you really love, and they come to your town, or even come to somewhere near you, take the opportunity to visit, to watch them speak, to have your books signed, to meet one of your heroes. I promise you, you will not regret the experience.
Anyway, back to yesterday. This event was put together on less than a week’s notice by BookPeople, an awesome local independent bookstore, and I’ve not been thinking of much else this past week, even though my accelerated summer classes have started at full force. I went in right after my first class and reserved my spot by pre-ordering Rothfuss’ next novella (That I didn’t already have pre-ordered), The Slow Regard of Silent Things. While I was there, I took a picture of the front of the store, where they had a sign about the event.
I then tweeted this picture, expressing my enthusiasm for the event. 20 minutes later, Rothfuss tweeted that he would be in Austin, using the same picture. Here’s links to the tweets: Mine, Rothfuss’. Needless to say, I was already over the moon because of this, and could hardly sit still for the entire rest of the afternoon.
I skipped out of my afternoon class early (Don’t tell my mom.), and managed to arrive by 6:30 or so. All of the chairs, plus floor seating in the front of the room, were already taken, and I had to stand back, peering over several people and an alternative healing bookcase to see Rothfuss. He arrived right on time, and did an hour long Q&A and reading, which I’ll get back to in a moment.
After the Q&A, the bookstore staff began having people form a line for the signing, based on wrist-band color. Since I was not in any of the first groups, I took this time to wander around, and managed to meet another Redditor from /r/fantasy. It’s always cool to meet someone you first met online, and find out that they are indeed a real person. (Any parallels between meeting authors after reading their work and stalking them online are entirely intentional.)
Eventually, she went home and I stood in line for the signing. I spent most of my hour in line talking to the two people closest to me. The girl two places in front of me and I exchanged book recommendations as the line passed through the bookstore, and I have a few new ones to go look up, and others that I already have which need to be bumped up in priority on my reading list. The rest of the time was spent in conversation with the man directly in front of me, about various interesting topics. Finally, we made our way to the room for the signing. Several people in front of me, one person had a copy of Jim Butcher’s latest book, and Rothfuss gleefully signed it, saying, “We’ve signed books to each other before.”
And then it was my turn. I had a basket to carry all of my things, since I had three books, two decks of cards, a book-plate, and a piece of paper for Rothfuss to sign. I unloaded them, and he signed everything, polite and smiling the entire time. Pictures of the signatures below.
The book with only his name is Rothfuss’ contribution to the Unfettered anthology. Oh, and I didn’t put the picture of the paper in…. About that… I took screenshots of my tweet and his, with the picture that I had tweeted, and printed them out. Sadly, I was only able to get black and white, but hey! It’s still awesome. Here’s a picture.
When I handed him this paper, and told him what it was, he said, “Thank you for spreading the word.”
I may have been a little excited about this, and during the rest of the signing, as you may be able to tell from the picture below.
After the signing, it was after 10 PM, and I was worried that the busses might have stopped running. But the man in front of me in line offered me a ride, and after chatting through most of the line, I figured that I could trust him. (Plus, he likes Rothfuss. That’s a good character recommendation right there.) And then he decided to take me out to dinner before dropping me off right outside my dorm. That was a nice treat, and a very nice way to end the day, and I’m still not sure if I was able to thank him enough.
Except I haven’t told you everything yet, have I? No, no I haven’t. The Q&A and reading. Rothfuss offered us two choices: We could have what he called a “first date” Q&A, where people asked questions such as who his influences were and where he finds inspiration, things that he’s answered hundreds of times in the past at these events. Or we could turn off our recording devices, and have what he termed a “fourth date” conversation, where we got more personal, more intimate. He could allow himself to be more free in his responses, since they would not be posted–and possibly taken out of context–on Youtube before the signing line was even done.
The crowd, all 400+ of us (Who came with less than a week’s advance notice for the signing…) voted, unanimously, to go with the second option. And so Patrick Rothfuss, author of the Kingkiller Chronicle, and one of the most brilliant writers of our generation, gave us a little peek into his soul. I have no video or audio recording of this event, and I believe that none exists, nor should it. Here is my only picture from the Q&A session itself, taken before we decided what type of event it would be.
After the questions, he read excerpts from the novellas that both he and Neil Gaiman have in the upcoming Anthology, Rogues. I’m not going to write down much of what happened during the Q&A itself, but I will say that he answered questions in an open manner, and allowed himself to get sidetracked and excited. He let down his public persona, and gave us a glimpse of the man behind the curtain. The questions started with a little girl asking what Rothfuss’ favorite cake is, a question he was delighted to answer and said that he had never been asked before, and his rambling answers to later questions ranged across topics from writing to sex, from determination to child psychology, and many places in between. It was beautiful, it was fun, and it was an experience I will always remember, even if no complete records exist. I have it in my head, and for me, and the others who were lucky enough to attend, it truly was, as Rothfuss said, “A Moment in Time”.