|A Conversation With Patrick Rothfuss|
|An interview with Dustin Kenall|
| April 2008 |
When you were a university student writing The Name of the Wind, who was your audience?
I do remember that fairly early on someone pointed out that I used the word "alloy" and "counterpoint" in the same sentence. That person pointed out that some people wouldn't actually know what an alloy was. I made a conscious decision right then that my book was written for people who either knew what that word meant, or were willing to look it up.
I've always assumed my audience is clever. That means I don't dumb down my language or over-explain things as if they're idiots. I get tired of that as a reader, so I don't do it in my own writing.
When I heard him say that, it was like someone struck a bell in my chest. I thought, "Yes! That's it exactly! That's what I've been doing!"
In my opinion, writing a book is like a relationship. Some people are one-night stand writers: they only do free verse poems with no revisions. Some people aren't good with commitment, and after that first big argument or disappointment, they quit -- those are the people who start novel after novel but never get more than 20 pages in.
Finishing a novel is a lot like making a long-term relationship work, you can't give up just because you get into a snit, or because some prettier story idea comes and shakes its ass in your face. You have to stick with it, work out your problems, have long talks, and, occasionally, get the hell away from each other so you don't go crazy.
But if I was going to pick one in particular that I'm irrationally fond of, I'd pick Auri. She's a relatively new addition to the book. And from the feedback I've received so far, it's nice to see that my readers like her character as much as I do....
The problem is this. If I point at Joe Wetherson's book, Unicorns and Rainbows, and I say that it sucks, sucks, sucks. I haven't just insulted him. In a way, I've also insulted anyone who liked his book. And I've insulted his editor, his publisher, his agent.... I might want to work with those people in the future.
But you can ask me in person sometime. I'm not bashful at all when it's off the record.
But I do have a few other ideas rolling around in my head. One of them is a modern day faerie tale. The other is a satirical urban fantasy set in a college town. Sex, violence and sarcasm. I'd have a lot of fun writing that one....
I'd also like to write for video games. I find the potential for non-linear stories really interesting, and videogames are the best venue for those. Plus I'm good with dialogue, and that's key in a lot of games.
Since the book has been really successful, so suddenly I've got some name recognition. That means people keep asking me to contribute stories to their anthologies. When that happens I have to admit that I don't have any stories laying around. If they get pushy, I have to admit that I haven't tried to write a short story in... what? 20 years?
Sure I could go look it up and pretend to be all smart. Then I could go look up Brin's theory on the incredible, edible interweb. That way I would look all savvy and clued-in.
But honestly, I don't want to. I've read Brin's stuff, and he strikes me as a smart guy, but the fact remains that when a sci-fi author makes a "critique" of epic fantasy, odds are he's not handing out warm fuzzies.
So if I did look it up, odds are it would just piss me off. If he was right, it would probably only piss me off more. Why? Because nobody beats up my little brother but me.
Then, all frothy with indignation, I'd feel obliged to make some sort of case demonstrating how Sci-fi is just as guilty of wankery in another direction. Or I'd try to debunk his theory, or I'd showing that while it might be true in some cases, there are a lot of good authors who blah blah blah....
Too much work. I'm tired just thinking about it. I'd rather put that energy into working on my next book. I'll save my frothy rage and indignation for problems in the real world, like unjust government actions, corporate fuckery, and dogs and cats living together.
Weaknesses: Some people might think that I like language a little too much. If you don't love words to some degree, I'm probably not the author for you. Also, I don't tend to write standard connect-the-dots plot. That turns some people off.
Well... that's not entirely true. I did read the first two Elric books a long while ago. I remember that I liked the first one pretty well, but all I remember now is that Elric had a ring with a stone that had something moving around inside it. I thought that was cool. Then I read the second book and was totally thrown off. Suddenly it was like a D&D adventure. They're fighting a living house? What?
I know, I know. They get better. They're awesome. I'll go back and get them under my belt eventually. I just haven't gotten around to it yet.
Gemmell is the other exception. After my book came out, I had a bunch of people e-mail me and say things like, "You're my favorite author after Gemmell," or "I'm so glad I found you because Gemmell is gone now." So I picked up his first couple books and really liked them. Good stuff, but I only read it after my book was already out.
In music, I like lyrics and good vocals, in that order. Paul Simon. The Decemberists. Barenaked Ladies. John Coulton. Tenacious D. Imogen Heap. They Might Be Giants.
Movies: I'm all over the place.
TV: Anything by Joss Whedon, of course. I've also stumbled onto Monk lately; I'm enjoying that. The Office. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Battlestar Galactica. Red Dwarf....
Dustin Kenall is a lawyer working and blogging in DC. Accordingly, if at any given moment he's not reading or writing, it's probably because he's unconscious. His blog, readslikealawyer.blogspot.com, is always wide awake, though.
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