The Time I Met Patrick Rothfuss

by johnathanknight

The convention was small.  Small enough that I was surprised to see Pat there, him being this big name, you know.  He was a breakout star, the kind of guy I figured probably rubbed elbows with muckety-mucks.  Still, he’d come to the small convention, and I was happy to see him, and anxious to hear him talk, but again, mostly surprised.  I figured that if every single person in attendance bought a copy of his book, well, maybe he’d make enough money to pay for his plane ticket.

I liked his book.  I was impressed with a lot of his writing.  But what did I think of his character, Kvothe?  I didn’t know.  I couldn’t decide.  I mean, truth is, I found Kvothe, as a character, exciting and interesting.  I wanted to read more.  But still.  A part of me frowned at the idea of a character as naturally gifted as he was.  Someone once wrote in a review that Kvothe was his own deus ex machina, and I get where the reviewer was coming from.

A part of me longed to see a character succeed because of sweat.  With Kvothe, it was like he was born for greatness.  And that bothered me.  It bothered me because I felt like, on some silly little level, it was an insult to folks who succeeded by trying harder than everyone else.  Where was the everyman hero, the one born with an average body and an average brain, but still compelled to push himself harder and longer?  Consider: when the rest of the world is eating ice-cream and watching porn, what’s the hero of the future doing?  In my opinion, working.

Anyway.  These were the thoughts I had when I went to that small convention.  Pat talked a lot that weekend.  He sang.  He read a few excerpts.  He gave a great Cyrano de Bergerac pitch.  And best of all, he really made himself available.  After panel discussions, he took the time to sit in the lobby and entertain a group of us who huddled about him.

For the most part, I didn’t talk.  I listened.  It’s the way I am.  At least, it’s the way I am when I’m in the room with a NY Times bestselling author.  I figure he probably had more to say than I did, especially given the fact that everyone there was decidedly there to hear him, not me.  So, with all the lobby chairs occupied, I sat on the floor, and stayed mostly quiet.

It was getting late, and a lull hit the conversation.  Folks were tired, and I realized I hadn’t taken the opportunity to ask any questions.

“Pat,” I said, finally.  “I’m curious.  Why Kvothe?  Why write about someone who’s so gifted and great?  Everything comes so easy to him.  I mean, why not write about someone more common, like a turnip farmer?”

Now, I couldn’t help but notice a flash of what I’ll call anger crossing Pat’s face.  At the time, I didn’t know he’d been accused of writing a Mary Sue character, and it didn’t occur to me that he might be overly sensitive to a fan suggesting as much.

I frowned and shrugged my shoulders.  “I’m just curious,” I said.  “It’s a fair question.”

Pat nodded.  “It is, and I’ll tell you why I didn’t write about a turnip farmer.  Because that’d be fucking boring.”