6 takeaways from our exclusive interview with Patrick Rothfuss

Patrick Rothfuss, photo credit Jamie Rothfuss. Image courtesy of DAW Books.
Patrick Rothfuss, photo credit Jamie Rothfuss. Image courtesy of DAW Books. /
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The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. Image: DAW Books.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. Image: DAW Books. /

The Slow Regard of Silent Things began as a failed anthology story

Speaking of The Slow Regard of Silent Things, Rothfuss revealed the fascinating origin story of that novella during our discussion. When Rothfuss was initially invited to contribute a story to the Rogues anthology, he decided against writing about thieves or con men and instead focusing on Kvothe’s ethereal friend Auri, imagining her as a “trickster rogue.”

However, the more Rothfuss worked on this story, the more he realized it wasn’t the right fit for the anthology. “I wasted a lot of time on that,” he explained. “And again, it wasn’t wasted overall because I love Slow Regard, and a lot of people have told me it’s their favorite thing that I’ve done or it’s the first thing of mine that they read. It has a very special place in my heart…but I was supposed to be writing a short story, not an unpublishable novel length vignette-experimental-what-the-fuck.”

He ultimately ended up setting this story about Auri aside. But after he finished The Lightning Tree and submitted it to Martin and Dozois for editing, he eventually returned to the original story about Auri and continued working on it. The end result was The Slow Regard of Silent Things, which was published as a standalone novella the same year that Rogues released.

The DAW Books acquisition was a factor in the decision to release The Narrow Road Between Desires

Another fascinating tidbit that came up during the interview was about the decision to release The Narrow Road Between Desires as Rothfuss’ next book, rather than continuing to wait on The Doors of Stone. Rothfuss explained there were multiple factors at play. “A bunch of things have prevented me from getting some stuff published that everybody, including me—me more than anyone in a lot of ways—[wants] published.”

One factor in the equation was the acquisition of The Kingkiller Chronicle publisher DAW Books by Chinese company Astra Publishing House. DAW had been an independent publisher for decades that used a distribution agreement with publishing giant Penguin Random House to get its books onto shelves. That changed in July 2022, when DAW was acquired by Astra and some of its decades-old business practices shifted to accommodate the change. Rothfuss confirmed this was relevant to the decision to release The Narrow Road Between Desires:

"One of the things was DAW lost its home. Like DAW is no longer with Penguin now, DAW is with Astra. And if you think that didn’t influence when we could put books out then boy, that’s a whole different story."

Rothfuss didn’t go into details about how exactly the acquisition has affected his books, saying that he “hasn’t talked about that publicly yet.” But we have our theories.

Around the time of the DAW acquisition, Rothfuss decided that he wanted to “get back in the game” publishing books again, since he hadn’t released any new Kingkiller books since 2014. However, he decided that “the best way to get back in the game is probably not the immense iceberg of a conclusion to my opus or whatever fantasy monstrosity.”

Instead, he and his editor came up with the idea to publish a new edition of The Lightning Tree, since that story never got a broad release outside of Rogues. The result was The Narrow Road Between Desires.