Saturday evening, I found myself in the basement under Left Bank Books in downtown St. Louis with several hundred other ‘friends of friends’ waiting for Patrick Rothfuss to speak about Kvothe, Denna, musicianship, spoilers (and appropriate punishments for people who deliver them), poetry, guinea pig abuse and writing advice (using Oot to demonstrate his point).
Earlier in the afternoon, after Terry and I had drooled over several gorgeous classic muscle cars at Fast Lane in St. Charles, Missouri, we ventured downtown to seek out the best parking options around Left Bank Books. We found a sea of green celebrants overflowing the streets, and most of the street parking discouraged by order of the police for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade (five days early). What with the construction, blocked off streets and pseudo-Irish crowds, we aborted our reconnaissance and returned to our motel.
Concerned we might need to take the MetroLink rail, I called Left Bank and asked if the parade and parking situation would clear up before the event. They assured me it shouldn’t be a problem. Terry didn’t think he would do well walking the half mile from the closest rail stop nor standing around the book store for a few hours, so he opted to stay in our room but wouldn’t let me take the rail. So I left extra early in order to find the best parking spot. I lucked out and got a nearly front door spot before 5:30 pm. I fed a dollar’s worth of quarters into the meter (which amounted to one hour’s worth of parking grace) with the intention of getting change for a five when I retrieved my pre-ordered hardcover inside the store.
I picked up my pre-ordered (but completely undiscounted full retail price) copy of Wise Man’s Fear at the counter and asked for change to feed the meter. I learned I didn’t need to pay for parking downtown on Saturdays or Sundays. My signing ticket placed me in the first group, thankfully. I found a quiet corner and read another chapter in Magician: Master while I waited for the basement room to officially open at 6:00 pm
Left Bank Books borrowed the basement room, obviously setup for a house band including mics, speakers and a soundboard, for Pat’s reading. I snagged a third row end seat so I could move freely down the left aisle for photographic angle freedom. After only a few minutes, Pat arrived and began pre-signing a few books, mostly from the front rows (he almost got to me before the official start time) and families with small children.
Pat started his talk with a few ground rules, after noting the basement venue (complete with band equipment and beer dispensing) might prove to be his most ‘rock-n-roll’ event setting to date. While he encouraged photographs, he emphatically requested a ban on all video, providing some hilarious examples and excuses. I had hoped to record his talk, but my video camera had lost it’s charge overnight when I left it in the cold trunk overnight, and his request made it moot anyway. He moved on to spoilers, and his loathing of those who spoil, especially those who ask questions and proclaim them not spoilerish (a sure indication the question will be a spoiler).
For the next hour, Pat answered questions with humorous anecdotes. He finally took a break from Q&A and polled us for something to read, placing a short non-spoiler section of Wise Man’s Fear, some of his own poetry or one of his humorous weekly advice columns from his college days. We more or less agreed on the latter and thus did I learn of Pat’s penchant for guinea pig abuse (you really had to be there).
After a few more questions, Pat retired upstairs to begin the signing gauntlet. At even just one minute per person, he probably had six or eight hours (starting at 8:30 pm) of arm numbing signatures to write. I actually made it back to the motel about an hour later.
I had a fantastic evening listening to and laughing with Pat. If you haven’t yet read his first novel, I highly recommend The Name of the Wind. I hope to finish the sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear within the next week or so. And even though, according to Pat’s research, fantastic fiction is in the literary basement (pun intended I’m sure), just slightly below science fiction and barely above westerns and romances on said totem pole, his novel dominated the NYT Best Seller’s List (for Fiction) it’s first week after release!