Saturday, January 9, 2010
Mark Tremonti Signature Guitar - Signed by Creed





This is a Worldbuilders blog.

If you want details, click here.




Back in September, I got a piece of fanmail.

By itself, this isn't that strange. A lot of folks contact me using the form on my website. A lot. While there are too many for me to reply to personally these days, I do read them all.

One thing I've learned by reading these messages is that a lot of different people read my book. Subconsciously, I always expect my readers to be like me. That's to say I expect them to be youngish college students who are... well... kinda geeky.

(I know that I'm not *really* a college student anymore, but that's still how I think of myself in my head. After spending 11 years in college, then teaching for a couple years, I don't know if I'll ever be able to think of myself as anything other than a college student. In my head I'm also still in my twenties. And I'm thinner, too.)

But in the last couple years I've learned that not everyone who reads fantasy is a geek. Or at least not the sort of geek that I am. I've been contacted by soldiers in Iraq, lawyers, carpenters, politicians, a cage fighter, police, and aerospace engineers.

Well, the last one isn't so surprising, actually. One of my my best friends in high school grew up to be an aerospace engineer, and we played D&D like nobody's business.

The point is, by this point I should know better than to judge people by their profession. Geeks come in all shapes and sizes, and people aren't defined by their jobs.

So back to the story: It's September of last year, and I get an e-mail from Michael Tremonti. He tells me he's Mark Tremonti's brother and publicist. Apparently, Creed was going to be playing a show in Milwaukee, and they knew I lived in Wisconsin. So Michael was just dropping me a line to see if I'd like to come down, catch the show, and maybe hang out a little.

To be honest, at first I was pretty sure one of my friends had made a fake e-mail account and was screwing around with me. That seemed a lot more likely to me than a rockstar out there reading fantasy books. Aren't
Geeks and Rockstars diametrical opposites? Aren't we supposed to be natural enemies in the wild?

It turns out we're not. While e-mailing back and forth with Michael, he told me he and his brother used to play D&D in the basement just like the rest of us.

Again, I didn't believe him. So they sent me this picture.


I am cowed by the might of your geekery, Mark. And I hereby promise never to question anyone's geek heritage ever again. Not just D&D. But AD&D. That's the real stuff. Back when the game was badass and you had to roll for things like parasitic infection when you traveled through a swamp.

Unfortunately, I couldn't make it down to the show. This was back in September, and Sarah was big with baby. I knew if I drove down to Milwaukee, she'd go into labor. I was absolutely sure of it.

Still, we stayed in touch, and when I was starting to gather prizes for Worldbuilders, I dropped Michael a line and asked if they might be interested in donating a couple of signed CDs or something.

He replied, "How about we just give you a guitar instead?"

"What?" I said.



Thanks so much, Michael and Mark. This is really going above and beyond...

I have to say, all rockstar coolness aside, this is a really gorgeous guitar. Holding it, I was filled with a great desire to rock out.

Here's the link to the auction.

This sort of thing is kinda unexplored territory for the fundraiser, as until now we've focused mostly on books and book-related stuff. So I'd appreciate it if y'all could help me spread the word a little bit. And sooner would be better than later, as the auction ends on January 15th.


Money raised by Worldbuilders goes to Heifer International, which helps people all over the world raise themselves up out of poverty and starvation. If you'd like to donate directly you can head over to my page at Team Heifer and I'll match your donation by 50%. Trust me. You'll feel great afterward.

Or, if you want more information about the Worldbuilders fundraiser itself, you can head to the main page HERE.



With thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.

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Monday, February 16, 2009
My Trip to LA: Part Two

Just a reminder folks. This is part two of a longer blog. Part one is over here.

[...]

I've had the chance to hang out with some pretty cool people over the last year: Peter S. Beagle, Tad Williams, Neil Gaiman. Folks I've idolized for a long time. But I never had this strange vertigo with any of them.

I've thought about it a lot since then, and right now my best guess is this.

I think talking to someone you've seen on TV is like meeting someone you already know. Your brain has become familiar with the image of this person, you know the texture of their voice, their body posture. For all intents and purposes, you know them.

Except you don't. You're just familiarized to the sensation of them. What's more disorienting is that if they're an actor, the personality you've attached to their image isn't really their own. Or at least it's not *entirely* their own.

I don't think it's the same with writers. When you're experiencing our work, you don't see our faces. You might get a peek inside our heads (or think you get a peek) but that doesn't lead to the same visual imprinting that you get from watching someone on screen.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I've probably watched Dr. Horrible over a hundred times since it came out. I haven't watched The Guild *quite* as much as that, but if you count the times I've re-watched each of the individual episodes, I've probably moved into the triple digits by now.

This means that in the last year, I've seen Felicia Day's face more than I've seen the face of my own sister. More than I've seen the faces of any of my friends who all live out of town. More than any real-world face except Sarah's, and honestly, during the week when Dr. Horrible was first released, that particular race might have been too close to call.

I think that's what where this strange vertigo came from. It was some rational part of me hitting my the degauss button in my brain again and again. Helping me realize that the person in front of me was fundamentally different from the person I had been watching on the screen of my computer.

And eventually it worked. I was able to settle down and talk with her and the moments of odd vertigo grew farther and farther apart. Unfortunately one of those moments happened when I was signing a book for her. A signing that I screwed up to a degree that still embarrasses me.

I also have to say that I was really impressed with everyone else at the signing. I know a lot of people must have recognized her, but from what I saw, nobody freaked out on her or hassled her.

Part of this I'm guessing has to do with the fact that we were in LA, but I'm willing to lay a lot of it on the fact that my readership seems to be composed of very cool, intelligent people.

For example, when I was signing books after the reading, a couple folks came up to the front of the line, and thanked me for introducing them to Dr. Horrible on my blog.

I motioned them a little closer and they leaned in. "Be cool about it," I said quietly, excited to get the chance to tell someone who could appreciate the news. "But Felicia Day is here. She's behind you, standing in line!" I grinned, vibrating with geeky joy. Probably looking like a garden gnome who has recently stumbled onto the a particularly interesting patch of mushrooms.

"We know!" They grinned too, just as excited as me.

After the signing, the lot of us went out to dinner: me, my gracious hosts, a few of their friends, and Felicia day.

We ended up at a small restaurant, where I had the best Thai food of my life. And I must say, sitting there, surrounded by rocket scientists, librarians, and other persons of eclectic occupation. Chatting and trading stories with Felicia day. It was my own personal Valhalla.





Lastly, since we're talking about public appearances, I'm going to be having a little reading up here in Hayward in a week or so.

So if you live up here in the north woods of Wisconsin and are not an elk, feel free to swing by. It should be a nice cozy event with just a few of us, so I'll have plenty of time to chat with everyone who comes. Plus, I hear there will be cookies.


February 26th, Thursday, 6:00-8:00

Hayward Public Library
10788 HWY 27/77
Hayward, WI 54843

For more info call 715-634-2161


And back to work for me,

pat

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Saturday, February 14, 2009
My Trip to LA: Part One

So, it's been about a month since my trip to LA.

Now some folk will quibble and say that I was in *Pasadena,* not LA. But that is a distinction that matters primarily to folks who live in the LA area. To the rest of us, that entire gob of city there in Southern California is all LA.

It's best not to split hairs about these sorts of things. If we're going to get technical, I would have to explain to people that I'm not originally from Madison proper. I'm actually from the Town of Burke, right next to Madison. And right now I'm not in Hayward, hiding from the world and writing, I'm in the nearby township of Lenroot, or something like that.

These are pointless little truths that don't do anyone any good.

This is the art of storytelling, you see. Telling small lies in pursuit of a larger truth. The art of being a reader is being willing to work a little to get at the meat of the story, while at the same time accepting the occasional bent technicality and comma splice.

Anyway. LA was awesome. I was flown out by the lovely folks responsible for one of the winning pictures in the photo contest. Not only are these ladies lovely and willing to get naked for my book, but they are also rocket scientists. Seriously. So while I was out there, I got to take a tour of JPL and look at cool spaceship stuff.

I got to see oranges growing on trees. Which might not seem like a big deal for most of you, but for me it was pretty cool. I also saw lizards running around wild, and can now identify a eucalyptus tree. I got to play some new board games and walk around outside without wearing a coat or hat or anything.

The book signing itself turned out to be a marvelous success. We had a surprising number of people show up, I'm guessing 100 or 120. They had to bring out a bunch of extra chairs, and even then people were standing in the isles and sitting on the floor.

It was a good crowd. I read a few Survival Guides, a poem, and a snippet of book two. I told some stories, answered questions, and got a few laughs. Afterwards, I signed a buttload of books and got to chat one-on-one with folks. Someone brought me wine, someone else brought me an entire care package including memory sticks and tickets to Disneyland.

Though I love the swag, I feel obliged to remind folks that the "Something Cool" rule only applies to books you're mailing in for me to sign.

That said, if you have something you'd *really* like to give me, far be it from me to stop you….

Of particular interest was something that happened halfway through the reading. I was answering some question or another, and I looked out and saw Felicia Day sitting at the back of the crowd.

Now this is the point in the story where I don't exactly know what I should say. Normally when I'm telling a story out of my real life, I go with the truth, even when it's embarrassing or unflattering. I don't know exactly why I feel obliged to do this, but I do.

But for some reason, as I tell this story, I want to lie. I want to pretend I was laid-back about it. Pleased, of course, but also nonchalant. I'd like to portray myself as relaxed… cool. Like the Fonz from Happy Days. Or like the modern-day fantasy author version of the Fonz: Neil Gaiman.

I've seen Neil Gaiman a couple times. He's a great public speaker, funny, insightful. He knows how to work a crowd, and he's irritatingly good at reading his own work out loud.

Even better, he's terribly gracious in person. I once watched him get ambushed by a fan who was desperate to have Gaiman read his manuscript. The guy clung to Gaiman and wouldn't take no for an answer. I found it irritating from a distance of fifteen feet, but Gaiman was unfailingly polite through the whole exchange.

I'm not graceful in that way. I honestly don't know how I come across in public, but sometimes I expect that it's something like the way my old dog, Pup, used to behave.

He was a big liony mutt that I grew up with as a kid. An outside dog who never knew a fence, as we lived out in the country and let him run wild. He a smart dog, and a vicious hunter. He patrolled our house, protecting us from pretty much anything.

Despite the fact that he was a great hunter and defender, he was also very friendly. Unfortunately, it was like he never figured out that he wasn't a puppy anymore. When someone came over for a visit, Pup would jump up on them, putting his paws up on your chest (or your shoulders, if you were shorter) and lick your face.

This is fine behavior if you're a fluffy puppy with milk-breath, or if you're an adult dog hanging out with your family. But Pup treated everyone that way, even when he was full grown, shaggy, and smelling of whatever interesting he had found to roll in.

I suspect that's what I must be like when I'm in public most of the time. I'm this great shaggy beast who gets excited about meeting new people, and does the conversational equivalent of jumping up on people and licking them in the face.

This means that when I want to be socially graceful, I need some sort of internal touchstone about how I should act. So when I see Felicia Day sitting in the back of the room, I think to myself: WWNGD?

I'm guessing he would not, for example, stand up at his own reading and say: "Holy shit everybody! Felicia Day is here!"

So I didn't either. But I tell you, it was a near thing. I'm pretty sure I kept my game face on, and kept answering whatever question I was in the middle of. But the truth is, inside I was standing up and pointing, shouting: "Holy shit! Everybody! Felicia Day!" with all the enthusiasm of a four-year-old who has just seen his first real firetruck drive by on the street.

(Re-reading this, I think I need to add another item to my ever-growing list of Things You Should Never Compare a Woman to Under Any Circumstances. Number Seven: Firetruck. Perhaps any type of truck.

For the record, please note that this particular use of firetruck is being used to describe my reaction to Felicia, not Felicia herself.)





Anyway, after the reading, I managed to grab Felicia and chat for a bit before I started signing books. By this point I'd settled down a bit and was able to behave like a regular human being.

But still, every once in a while, my head would spin around a bit and I would think, "Wha? Who is this? Holy shit. I'm talking with Felicia Day!"

*****

Well folks, due to my tangential nature, this particular blog has ended up being WAY longer than I'd intended. I'll post the rest of it in a day or two, how's that?

In the mean time, if you don't know what the big deal is, you can go check out Dr. Horrible, where Felicia plays Penny. Or The Guild, which Felicia writes and produces in addition to playing the part of Codex.

Later,

pat

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Peter S. Beagle's donations.

Peter S. Beagle is one of my favorite authors. I read The Last Unicorn about once a year, and every time it just breaks my heart. It's the sort of story that I know I'll never be able to write.

Peter and his friends at Conlan Press have donated some cool stuff to the fundraiser.

Check it out:





This 72 page chapbook contains three new stories by Peter S. Beagle, inspired by the singular artwork of Lisa Snellings. According to Neil Gaiman, "Lisa's sculptures are frozen stories."

The Green Man Review gives us a bit of background and praises Peter's work: "All three stories were begun by Mr. Beagle in the space of a single hour, while sitting on the steps of his late parents' house, as his business manager held a stopwatch to his head. It's a genesis as unique as the stories themselves, with the sly humor, humanity, and awe of beauty that are characteristic of Mr. Beagle's writing. "

  • A 6X8 photo of Pat and Peter. Signed by Peter and soon to be signed by Pat.




Here's a picture of Peter and me both wearing our Serious Writer Expressions.

Undoubtedly, one of the major perks of being a published writer is getting to meet people I've admired for a long time. Earlier this year, I got to meet Peter and talk with him a bit. Terri at Conlan Press managed to perform a miracle and take a picture of me that actually looks halfway decent. Believe me, this is a true a rarity.

  • A full set of Last Unicorn prints by Rebekah M. Cox. Signed by the artist.




We'll be giving each of these out as separate prizes. So you have twelve chances to win.

I really can't say enough about these prints. Words fail me. When I saw them for the first time down at DragonCon, I was stunned. Absolutely stunned. They're gorgeous.

About Moon Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle says, "This is, for me, the most stunningly lovely vision in Rebekah's portfolio. It is at once the picture I always held to, laboring endlessly over the book; and yet it is something more, as well - something that I don't think I could have articulated in words then, and never may. All I know to say now is, yes, that's what I had in mind, yes, though I never expected I would ever see it outside the boundaries of my own imagination."

If you want to browse them more closely, and hear what Peter has to say about them, you should really take a look OVER HERE. If you'd like to buy your own copies, or any of Peter's other works, you can do that HERE.


Want to know how to win these and other fabulous prizes while making the world a better place? Check OVER HERE for the blog that describes it all.





Later all,

pat

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Saturday, September 20, 2008
New Podcast - Writing Excuses.

When I was out at worldcon this year, I got to meet up with Brandon Sanderson.

This was pretty cool for me, because I've really enjoyed his books so far. Most notably the Mistborn series. Though Elantris was really good as well.

I've recommended his books on the blog before, so I won't go all gushy again. But I have to say, his stuff is really good. Irritatingly good. Plus he writes really fast, which is nice as a reader because he has more books out. But irritating as a writer, because it makes people like me look bad.

Anyway, he does a writing podcast with a few co-conspirators, and they asked me if I wanted to be their guest for an episode and talk about exposition and stuff.

So I did.

Here's the link, if you're interested.

pat


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Monday, September 8, 2008
What happens at DragonCon....


Okay, a lot of you asked about the picture I posted up about a week ago:





True, the vast majority of the questions were variations on the theme of "what the hell?" But I still figure it could do with a little explanation.

While cruising around DragonCon, I tried to find a good present for Sarah, my girlfriend. I picked up the catgirl hat for her because I figured she would get a kick out of it.

About half an hour later I wander by a bookseller, and who do I see sitting at the autographing table but John Scalzi and Tobias Bucknell. Both authors, bloggers, and acquaintances of mine, it's safe to say that the sheer awesome manliness radiating out from the two of them combined was overwhelming.

Perhaps I exaggerate slightly. I can't honestly say it was overwhelming. Truth be told, it was just whelming. I was whelmed.

Anyway, I started to wander over to chat with them, then realized a golden opportunity lay in front of me....

Needless to say, they were horrified and amused. Scalzi actually borrowed my camera and took this picture of me, while Toby snapped his own.

That picture Toby posted up on his own website, offering a prize to the person who posted the funniest caption. There were over 80 of them there last time I looked, and I have to say, it's been a long time since I laughed that hard.

You should go check it out.


Later all,

pat


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Wednesday, August 27, 2008
How David Anthony Durham Saved My Life

A year or so ago, I made the online acquaintance of fellow fantasy author David Anthony Durham.

Normally, I don't associate with people who have three names. It's just intimidating. Plus, on a practical level, it's hard to deal with. Does he go by the full "David Anthony?" Is he a "David" a "Dave" or an "Anthony." Hell, he could even be a "Tony." I have a real problem remembering names. Even the simple first names of my friends. That means someone with three to seven different potential names is going to give me a lot of trouble.

I can't remember how we first got in touch. But I do know that our first contact was over e-mail. And, to tell the truth, I was more than slightly intimidated by him.

Part of this was due to the fact that before his most recent novel (an epic fantasy called Acacia) he wrote literary fiction. While I'm not one to engage in genre snobbery. The fact remains that to Lit Fic has a certain amount of cultural cache. A certain gravitas.

Another intimidating thing was the fact that he had a tenure-track job teaching creative writing, which means he's got some hefty edumication under his belt.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, this picture was the the first I ever saw of him:






Not only was he thinner and more attractive than myself. But to me this picture says: "I'm going kick a man's ass, then go read some Coleridge. You have a problem with that? No. I didn't think so. Move along."

I know, I know. It's wrong to judge a book by its cover. It's doubly wrong to judge an author by his jacket photo. If you were to do that with me, you would be forced to assume that I was some sort of rogue Muppet, eremite priest, or Russian dictator.

When I finally met him at a convention. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that most of what I'd assumed about him was off-base. He wasn't pompous, or stiff, or academic. He was relaxed and friendly, with an easy laugh.

At the last convention we hit together, Wiscon, we sat at the bar for an hour or two and had a lovely argument about Heinlein, and a different argument about C.S. Lewis, and a discussion about purpose of literature and the ethical responsibility of the author. We disagreed a lot.

It was lovely. I love few things more than a conversation with an intelligent person who is passionate in their beliefs and willing to disagree with me.

In short. He turned out to be my favorite sort of person. The sort of person that I wished lived closer to me so that he could come over to my house, watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and get his ass solidly handed to him at Settlers of Catan.

Because, as I've said before, I cannot be beaten at Catan.

Lastly, though not leastly, David may prove instrumental in insuring that y'all get to see books two and three.

Let me explain. At World Fantasy convention last year his hotel was hell and gone from the convention center, and I had rented a car. So one night when things were winding down, I offered to give him a ride.

We wandered out of the hotel to the parking lot. After we had climbed into the car, he looked at me and said, "You're not wearing your seatbelt?"

It wasn't the sentence itself, it was the way he said it. He wasn't chiding, or disapproving. He was honestly shocked. More than that. He was aghast. It was the same tone I use when I say, "You smoke?"

When I say this, usually the unspoken part of my comment is clear, "What are you, a fucking idiot?"

When he looked at me and said, "You're not wearing your seat belt?" I thought to myself, "Of course. I should wear my seat belt. I'd be an idiot not to."

And ever since then, I've worn my seat belt. This means that I'm much more likely to live long enough to get you day two and three of the trilogy, and many more after that.

Despite all of his coolness, it took me a long time to get around to reading David's book. I did mention his book, right?





It's epic fantasy. A nice mix of big empire-level stuff and character centered story. He's a great worldbuilder, which is where my heart lies, and his cultures are varied and well-developed. He leans more toward description, where I tend to do more dialogue. But we're playing a similar game in many ways. Odds are if you dig on Tolkien, Acacia will be right up your alley. Check it out.

That's all for now,

pat

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Thursday, March 13, 2008
What Should I do #6: The Guild.
In recent news, I got my first piece of hatemail the other day. The author, enraged by the fact that the second book wasn't going to be published on time, told me he wished a dog would bite me on the balls.

There was more to the letter, of course, but that was pretty much the gist of it.


For those of you looking to occupy yourselves in a more productive way while waiting for book two to come out, allow me to make a friendly suggestion: The Guild.

I stumbled onto the Guild about half a year ago and laughed my ass off. If you play computer games, or know anyone who does, odds say you'll laugh your ass off too...

Then, months later, one of my friends forwarded THIS LINK to me.

For those of you too lazy to click, it was a blog post someone made about my book. They liked the book, but they had some pointed comments about the sort of covers they put on fantasy novels these days....

Then I looked more closely, and I realized that the person writing the blog was actress Felicia Day. You've probably seen her in a bunch of things, but my personal geekery stems from the fact that she played Vi on season seven of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I know I should be cooler than this, but the truth is, I was overwhelmed with geeky joy at the thought of her reading my book and liking it.

It was only after looking over Felicia's blog, that I realized she was in The Guild too. Not only does she play Codex, but she actually writes the script for it too....

Anyway, here's the first episode of the guild to get you started.





Share and Enjoy.


pat

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Friday, December 7, 2007
On meeting Gaiman

I realized today that while I did tell the story of when I met Neil Gaiman, I didn't actually post up any proof. No photographic evidence that I'm not just living an elaborate fantasy world contained entirely in my mind.

Wait, I guess I am. Living in my own fantasy world is kinda what they pay me for. But my point is that my rich personal fantasy life did not include meeting Neil Gaiman, that was a real bit that actually happened in my not-fantasy world.

And here's the picture to prove it:




(I am the one with the Muppet-like beard.)


First, I would like to state, for the record, that I am not about to bite Neil Gaiman with the intention of devouring a piece of him, thereby gaining some of his power. I am actually laughing. Or I might be doing my Prince Vultan impression. Or both.

For those of you who have not squandered your lives watching bad movies, this is Prince Vultan from Flash Gordon.





Also this:




Uncanny, isn't it? It's like we're twins.

You'll also notice in the picture that I'm keeping a careful distance between myself and Gaiman. I read somewhere that if you touch him, God strikes you dead for your impiety. That's why he's carried everywhere on a platform supported by six burly Mameluke slaves.

Lastly, just to prove that I can look civilized when I have to, here's a picture of me looking like an something other than a fictional character or a hobo:





Awww.... Look at me. I'm cute as a fluffy puppy.

This is back in 2002 at the Writers of the Future award ceremony with my fellow winner Neddi Okorafor. She's one of the handful of cool writers that I got to know before my book came out and I got all popular and shit. Nnedi gave me advice on early drafts of my book, and has just generally been all-around cool over the years. Her second book, The Shadow Speaker, just came out. It's good stuff and you should definitely check it out. She was also on the cover of this month's Locus, so you know she's a heavy hitter.

That's all for now. I've got to get back to work...

Fondly,

pat

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Monday, December 3, 2007
.... and I'm back.

Hello there everyone. Sorry I've been away for so long.

One of the problems with doing a blog like this....

You know, only after typing that sentence did I realize something. I don't really consider this a blog. Rather, I know this is a blog. This entity that you show up and read is a blog. But I don't think of myself as *writing* blogs. I think of myself as writing something else. Something nameless. Something somewhere between a news post, an editorial column, and an open letter to the world.

Anyway, as I was saying, one of the problems with writing something like this. (Something that I update according to my whimsy, but that a fair number of people show up and read.) Is that if I don't post anything for a while, it actually starts getting harder to post. After two weeks of silence, I start to feel like like I should have something *Really Cool* so say when I come back.

But I don't. I don't even really have any especially exciting reason for not posting for a while. Truth is, Me Being Busy Playing Catch-Up After A Convention + End of The Semester Grading + Thanksgiving + Two Signings = Radio Silence on My End.

I've been so busy lately that I haven't even checked my Amazon Ranking for, like, two or three days.... an unprecedented event.

(470, by the way.)

Let's see, what news do I have? The Name of the Wind has been nominated for Borders' Original Voices award for 2007. Point of interest, I'm the only person in my category whose title does not have a colon in it. For some reason that fills me with pride.

It just snowed here in Wisconsin. About 10 inches. My first snowfall as a homeowner. I shoveled for a solid hour tonight, great exercise that has reminded me how truly out of shape I've become. Take it from me, kids, being a writer has certain perks, but physique isn't one of them.

Other news.... Hmmmm... it seems like after almost three weeks of being gone, I should have more to report....

Oh, right, my meeting with Gaiman.

In brief, it was pretty cool. About four hours before Gaiman was scheduled to do his reading, I went from being nervous about meeting him, to a different sort of nervous. Suddenly I was worried that Gaiman wasn't going to be cool enough to live up to my expectations.

I know it's silly to idolize authors. I know this because I *am* an author, and it's silly for people to idolize me. Over these last couple months I've had people get nervous about meeting me and/or have various degrees of anxiety-related endearing geekiness when we talk. When people e-mail me and tell me that they're nervous about meeting me a signing or a reading, I laugh and say, "Believe me, I'm really not that impressive."

Anyone who has actually met me will back me up on this...

So I know firsthand that it's silly. Authors are just people. But the fact remains that when we love a book, we want to love the person who wrote the book. We want them to be as cool as the stories they write, and Gaiman writes one hell of a story...

So as Gaiman's reading approached, I grew increasingly nervous. What if he wasn't cool enough?

I needn't have worried. He was very relaxed and laid back. Very witty and articulate. He's a marvelous public speaker. He gave us a early taste of his upcoming "The Graveyard Book." He's a great reader, too. Though I wasn't surprised by that, as I really enjoyed the audio book story collection, "Fragile Things" which he read himself.

My reading was a half-hour after his, a hard act to follow. But I muddled through as best I could, reading a bit of my novel, a bit of poetry, and an essay I once wrote on the slow vs. fast zombies debate. It was a pretty good time.

I had about five minutes left in my time slot, and was trying to decide how to fill it, when one of the people organizing the conference came in and said, "Mr Gaiman wants to make sure he has a chance to talk to Pat before he leaves. I'm afraid I'm going to have to steal him..."

I gave the audience a look that said, "Are y'all cool with me heading out a little early?" They looked back, "Are you kidding? It's Neil Gaiman! Run you fool, run!"

So I went over to meet him. I tried my best to not be a total spaz when we met. I didn't want to be all gushy and fanboy. Personally, I enjoy it when people get a little geeky over my writing, but I figure he has to get that sort of thing all the time, and it has to be wearying after the first ten years or so.

So we hung out and chatted for a bit. Me and Neil. I have a picture somewhere, but I can't find it right now...

He was, as they say, "a hell of a regular guy." He told me that he'd had the chance to read the first few chapters of my book, because his publisher in England had given him a copy. He said something very flattering about my writing, but unfortunately, the book was too big to fit it into his carry-on luggage for his flight home. (The UK book is even bigger than the US version.) After that his life got a little busy, what with two movies coming out, books, signings, and generally being Neil Gaiman. So he kinda lost track of it. I can understand that. I'm overwhelmed right now and I can't be a fraction of as busy as he is...

So yeah. The whole experience was lovely. We chatted and I asked him some comic-book questions, as I have some people sniffing around about doing the graphic novel adaptations of the book. It was lovely, and he gave some good advice.

Now here's the crux of the story. Gaiman got ready to leave, but before he could head out, one of the con-goers caught him. The guy asked if he could send Gaiman a copy of his brother's novel to read, so that Gaiman could give him some feedback. Gaiman politely refused, explaining that he wished he could, but he really didn't have the time.

But they guy wouldn't take the gracious refusal. He asked if Gaiman would maybe just look at a few chapters instead. Gaiman explained, again, that there just weren't enough hours in the day, and besides, his brother would probably get better, more in-depth advice from a local writer's group....

But the guy really wouldn't take no for an answer. He tried a few more times from different angles. And here's the thing: Gaiman stayed cool through the whole thing. He didn't get bitchy or snippy or exasperated. Considering that he must get hit like that all the time, I was truly impressed.

The end. Moral: Gaiman is awesome.

I think that's all I've got for now....

Oh... one other thing. I've been invited by writer/author John Scalzi to offer up one of my already written blogs for promotional re-post on his site: Whatever.

Any advice? Of the blogs you've read on here, which one do you think would be best for amusing/entertaining/hooking in new readers?

I'd appreciate it if you let me know what you think in the comments below.

Later all,

pat

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posted by Pat at 31 Comments



Thursday, March 15, 2007
Losing My Anonymity...
This past weekend I drove down to Madison to catch a reading/signing by Tad Williams. While we've e-mailed back and forth a little, I've never actually met him. And despite the fact that he's a seasoned pro and I'm a wet-behind the ears newbie, we're the literary equivalent of cousins: we both have the same editor and agent.

Because of this, I've heard a lot of stories about Tad over the last year or so, many of which have ended with comments like, "You'd really like Tad. The two of you are a lot alike."

So part of the reason I was coming down was to see the guy I'd heard so much about. Another large chunk was pure fannishness. I read Memory Sorrow and Thorn years ago. The size of his books and the scope of his story gave me hope that my own huge fantasy novels might actually be publishable some day.

Lastly, I was there to do reconnaissance. I've got readings and signings of my own coming up when my book hits the shelves in a couple weeks. I wanted to see how a pro handles it.

Because I was driving down from Stevens Point, I ended up getting in a little late. So I just sat on the floor off in the back corner of the room beside a cart full of folding chairs. Believe it or not, this is actually my happy place. I like being in the back corner of classrooms and restaurants because sitting with people behind me makes me profoundly uneasy. I'm a lurker by nature.

I watch Tad do his thing. He's got a great stage presence. He finishes his reading and starts into his Q & A. This is even better. He's quick on his feet, funny and clever. The group loves him.

Then somebody says, "Assume we've already read all of your books and we're looking for something new to read. What do you recommend?"

Tad says, "Well, it seems a little odd to mention it because he's here right now, and I might be accused of log-rolling, but I recently read a great debut fantasy by Patrick Rothfuss. That's spelled R-O-T-H-F-U-S-S. It's called...." he paused and cupped his hand to his ear dramatically.

I was caught flat-footed, but can know enough to take a cue when it's handed to me. "The Name of the Wind," I said from where I sat tucked away in the corner of the room. A few people turned to look, but most of them couldn't see me as I was sitting on the floor, partially tucked behind the cart of folding chairs. I wondered what they thought of the voice coming from nowhere to supply the title of the book. Was it an unseen employee? A high tech customer service device? Some helpful totemistic bookstore spirit?

Tad went back to answering questions, and I sat feeling odd and unsettled. Part of this was that I was flattered he thought enough of the book to mention it. But what really threw me off my stride was the fact that he recognized me. I'm not used to being recognized. I'm pretty comfortable in my anonymity.

After the Q&A, a youngish guy walked up to me and said, "You're Patrick Rothfuss, aren't you?" I admitted I was, and we had a pleasant round of what I fondly think of as 'geek talk.' We chatted about what books we like, what games we play, what comics are worth reading. It was nice. I like geek talk.

Still, it's odd having someone come up to me and know me just because they heard about my book.

It's not a bad thing, just a new thing. It's going to take some getting used to.

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posted by Pat at 13 Comments



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