Thursday, March 3, 2011

A packed fantasy house at Powell's + a challenge to non-fantasy readers

One of my favorite authors was in Portland tonight: Patrick Rothfuss, whose first book was The Name of the Wind, the sequel to which, Wise Man's Fear, came out a couple of days ago -- and is #2 on Amazon, yay fantasy readers!!!

I have not yet read Wise Man's Fear; I procured it tonight (a pre-signed one, since the assembled fan mob would have meant hours in line for signing, and that is NOT a toddler activity). I'll have to reread The Name of the Wind first and refresh, but I clearly remember the delight with which I devoured it a few years ago. Not totally dissimilar to the delight with which I today devoured a Voodoo mango tango donut!*

Here is the new book:

Amazon Best Books of the Month, March 2011: The Wise Man's Fear continues the mesmerizing slow reveal of the story of Kvothe the Bloodless, an orphaned actor who became a fearsome hero before banishing himself to a tiny town in the middle of Newarre. The readers of Patrick Rothfuss's outstanding first book, The Name of the Wind, which has gathered both a cult following and a wide readership in the four years since it came out, will remember that Kvothe promised to tell his tale of wonder and woe to Chronicler, the king's scribe, in three days. The Wise Man's Fear makes up day two, and uncovers enough to satisfy readers and make them desperate for the full tale, from Kvothe's rapidly escalating feud with Ambrose to the shockingly brutal events that mark his transformation into a true warrior, and to his encounters with Felurian and the Adem. Rothfuss remains a remarkably adept and inventive storyteller, and Kvothe's is a riveting tale about a boy who becomes a man who becomes a hero and a killer, spinning his own mythology out of the ether until he traps himself within it. Drop everything and read these books. --Daphne Durham

It's the kind of rich lose-yourself epic fantasy that does not come along every day. At least, that does not come along well every day. It's got everything: love, magic, magic college (I love school books), music, war, wandering minstrels, dragons, storytellers, genius (I love genius characters), and so much more. I can't wait to start at the beginning, catch up, and keep going. I will have to wait, though, because I have packed all my books for the impending move (impending precisely when remains unclear), and The Name of the Wind went with them.

So, check out the crowd at Powell's. 
And you can't even see the overspill into the aisles and the back of the store.

The book sold out well before Pat arrived. They sold out because they only had 350 copies.


Can you imagine? Happy Powell's tonight. That's over $10,000! Again I say: yay, fantasy readers, spending the dollars at the indie bookstore :-)

And yay, Patrick Rothfuss:

Attending readings with a toddler, you can't exactly grab a seat in the thick of things. You need to be able to maneuver, ready for anything. Which, in a packed house like this, means you won't be able to see at all, but I could *mostly* hear. One piece of advice Pat gave writers was this:

Live somewhere cheap. 

I love this advice, because it is totally mundane and so right on. It's why Jim and I moved to Portland ten years ago -- to escape San Francisco cost of living. Cost-wise, Portland is certainly no Steven's Point, WI (where Pat lives). But we moved here at a good time and bought a little cottage that needed heaps of work love, and then we spent as little time as possible at jobs we wouldn't spare a thought to while we weren't at them (and maybe not even then :-). The rest of the time we painted and drew and wrote and pursued the careers we really wanted. Also, we waited to have kids.

Not everyone can choose where to live, but it is sound advice, and if you can, consider it.

Pat also fan-boyed about meeting Neil Gaiman (who, by the way, I saw on his blog, is in China working on some mysterious project he can't talk about. Doesn't that strum at your imagination? What secret thing is Neil Gaiman doing in rural China? It's been going on for a while too -- this is his third trip. Hmmm. What???), and he (Pat) as much as said that if he were to bump into Joss Whedon on the ComicCon floor (which Jim has), he would pee (which Jim did not. He was pretty excited though, and called to tell me. The detail that makes it real is that Joss was wearing a tiny see-through plastic kid's backpack. Cute :-) 

Okay. It's almost 2 am, heh heh, so I shall take myself off to dreams, but first: 

And second, a challenge:

Are you "not a fantasy reader"? Is fantasy "not your thing"? Try some anyway. It doesn't have to be this, but be selective, because there's a lot of dross (as there is with all genres, including "literary fiction"). Just do. Something I hear all the time from readers is: "I'm not a fantasy reader, but I loved your book!" And I always wonder what makes people identify themselves as "not a fantasy reader." I can't understand why one would choose to cut fantasy and magic out of their minds. There's ALL KINDS of fantasy -- it's not all epic high-fantasy with wizards and dwarves (not that there's anything wrong with that). There's magical realism, contemporary urban fantasy, vampires, fairy tale retellings, etc etc and more. Try it. You might like it. 

(Should we compile a list of you-won't-be-sorry fantasy reads for the unbelievers? Suggestions?)

*For donut company today: Victoria Stapleton from Little, Brown, publisher of my forthcoming book and the one after and the one after (and hopefully many more after that :-) Victoria is the first person I've met in person from L,B, and she was totally awesome to hang out with. I was amazed by how much she finds the time to read -- and not just L,B books, but all the competitors too. She seems to have read everything. I stand in awe. Okay, sit. I sit in awe. 

I sleep in awe. Good night!


persnickety_jen said...

Jealous! I'm going to try to see Mr. Rothfuss on the 9th - I'm sure the turnout will be just as huge, too. Wish me luck.

I also don't get when people say they don't read fantasy. Isn't every work of fiction, strictly speaking, a fantasy? My guess is that many people simply don't understand what constitutes fantasy, outside Tolkeinesque high fantasy, or how many genres are considered subsets of fantasy...

megwrites said...

I agree that people define fantasy too narrowly. They're missing out!
I just finished Star Crossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce, which she terms "historical fantasy." I loved it!

Msb said...

I admit that I categorize myself this way, which is hilarious because I hate labels. You're absolutely right. Henceforth, from this moment on, I will not narrow my reading field. Lay in my eager hands a good story and I will blink with appreciation. I still maintain that it's hard not to judge a book by its cover, but that's a whole other can of worms.

Maureen E said...

I've been hearing about this series but haven't read it yet. This blog post may have convinced me!

As far as reluctant fantasy readers go, Megan Whalen Turner is great. There aren't elves and dragons (which personally I like, but hey!). Instead there's a wonderfully depicted semi-Byzantine world complete with politics and sort-of Greek gods. And the main character is nothing short of amazing.

Andrea said...

I hate to say it, but I am almost exactly the opposite. I read almost exclusively fantasy, sci fi, magical realism, etc. It's just that I deal with real life problems every day, so when I read, it's much more fun to think about people with problems like dragons, curses, evil stepmothers (I guess that could be real, too), or being caught in the middle of a gods war. Also, I like stories of heroes, and fantasy is one of the only places that people feel they can tell stories of heroes who just happen to be female. I love the feeling of wonder that comes with good fantasy so much, that it leaves me steering clear of contemporary "normal" fiction. I guess I should be more open-minded, too.

Hilary said...

I love fantasy books but I am very careful in what I read. Some fantasy books are a little too sexual/dark. Patrick's books are so wonderful and as soon as my husband finishes our copy of Wise Mans Fear I will be diving in. Here are some fantasy authors I have enjoyed.

Cassandra Clare (Youth books, "City of Bone")
Diana Wynne Jones (Howls moving Castle)
Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn series)
Steven Lawhead (Hood)
Frank Herbert (Dune, although he may be Sci-Fy)
Sarah Allen Addison (Garden Spell)
Christopher Paolini (Eargon cycle)

I could list many, many more, but those are some authors that have a range of fantasy that I love.

KJ said...

First of all, I just want to say how much I've enjoyed keeping up with your blog these past few months.
Secondly, I saw Joss Whedon speak at Comicon (I don't remember the exact year but it was sometime after Firefly but before Serenity) and he was using that plastic see-through backpack. Which he said was actually a backpack of Dawn's on Buffy.
And finally, one of my favorite fantasy books is The Magicians by Lev Grossman (it takes place at a magic school!).

Jennifer Morian Frye said...

I'm trying to learn to be more openminded and NOT label what I read. Just good, hopefully great stories. Besides your books, which I LOVE, I would say the Books of Bayern by Shannon Hale (Goose Girl, etc), and the Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray (Great and Terrible Beauty, etc) are good places to start. Magical, but not all "wizards and dwarves". : ) Plus, good romances (while still appropriate for any age). See, this is hard for me because I consider myself a fantasy person, but there are a lot that I will pick up and go "no." I found myself agreeing with much of what the previous commenters said, esp. about all fiction involving fantasy. Every time I pick up a book outside my "norm", I end up loving it. (eg. Maureen Johnson's 13 Little Blue Envelopes) A great story is what I now look for, not just great fairy or dragon stories. : ) (though I will still read those)

Glad C is better, it is always a weekend, btw.

Laini Taylor said...

Persnickety Jen, be prepared. I knew it would be crazy, but I didn't quite visualize what that would mean. Just get there really early and get a seat and a signing ticket (though other stores may do things differently).

Meg, I read her first book, A Curse As Dark as Gold, but not that one.

MacDougal, anyone who says they don't judge a book by its cover is deluding themselves. Something has to get you to pick up the book in the first place! Recommendations can overcome a weak cover.

Maureen, I love "MWT" and was just talking about her yesterday!

Andrea, I'm with you. I tend to lean heavily toward fantasy (of all sorts), but I do mix it up.

Hilary, good suggestions, thanks! And yeah, there is this huge burgeoning of "sexy paranormal" fantasy for adults. Not my cup of tea either, though I have to confess I lost several days of my life a few years ago to The Black Jewels trilogy. It's different than Laurel K. Hamilton stuff though, I think (haven't read Hamilton actually).

KJ, thank you! And that's awesome about the backpack. I wonder if that was the same Con that Jim saw him at :-) A different year, I *did* get to see the whole cast of Firefly speak. It was awesome!

Holly said...

It was really nice to see you at the event last night. :)

And, i totally second the "read this even if fantasy isn't your thing". He's such a great writer that it's worth it for the language and beautiful descriptions. I actually took a week to read it because i was enjoying myself too much to rush. (And i usually devour books in a day or two.) "Name of the Wind" was a best-seller at Annie Bloom's last year because, well, a couple of us loved it and it totally deserved the attention. I sold it to absolutely everyone who would listen to me beyond the word "fantasy". I got thanked many, many times for the recommend.

(I also second the recommendation for "Star-Crossed"; that was one of my favorite reads this year.)

Alysa Stewart said...

He has crazy (awesome) hair!

Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede was good. It had a historical fiction feel, and the conflict was largely internal, which is something that you don't often see in fantasy. Appropriate for all ages.

Laini Taylor said...

Hi Holly! It was great to see you guys too! I was sorry we couldn't stick it out :-( And yay for indie booksellers like you putting the good stuff in people's hands. That's how good books stand a chance!

Alysa, yeah that's some good hair :-) And I haven't read Wrede, though I hear about her and think I should. Thanks for the reminder!

The Art of Kim Kincaid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Art of Kim Kincaid said...

"Name of the Wind" took me by surprise. It's the storytelling that sets his book apart from others in the fantasy genre. My sister, who never reads fantasy, liked NOTW so much she pre-ordered her copy of WMF. Even my Austen-loving daughter liked NOTW and is patiently waiting for me to read my copy of "Wise Man's Fear". I'm in no hurry. Going to savor every page.

I agree with the comment about Megan Turner's Thief Series, especially the 2nd and 3rd in the series. Wonderful, clever writing.

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