“People talk about the trunk novel, writing 10 novels before the 11th or 12th gets published. For me it was just the one book. I worked on this one book for the same amount of time that other writers worked on 11. (In my head I always think of it as ‘‘The Book,’’ like it’s the Platonic form of the book.) So really, I sort of wrote 11 books too – it was just 11 serious different drafts of this same story, constantly refining it.

‘‘I’m at the far end of the spectrum in terms of obsessive revision. My one big book eventually became the three-volume Kingkiller Chronicle that begins with The Name of the Wind.

‘‘In 2002, I pretended a piece of the second volume was a short story and snuck it into the Writers of the Future Contest. (At that point, I’d been getting rejections for about two years from all different agents.) I’d submitted a few other times before that, but this one won. So I went to the awards ceremony. They put you up for a week let you do a workshop with Tim Powers. Tim was brilliant – he explained how the publishing world works. It was just a lifesaver. A lot of the advice I give these days is what Tim Powers taught us then: how to move smoothly through the publishing world.”

“‘A couple of hundred years ago, literary fiction realized, ‘To write tragedy, we don’t need a king!’ Fantasy is just now starting to make that same realization, because we’re a newer genre. We don’t need a goblin army. We don’t need The End of the World. Not that those things are bad. I’ve seen them done well, but unless they’re handled with skill, they become cheap props (even worse, cheap, overused props). Just the story of a man’s life – a person’s life – is fascinating if you tell it the right way.”

“‘Fantasy readers are smart. I hate reading a novel that treats me like I’m an idiot. But what irritates me even more is these YA novels that are just squeaky-clean. It’s the mental equivalent of junk food. Kids don’t get smart if you don’t stretch them and challenge them. Kids understand violence, they understand sex. You want to give a child a book that is literally enriching to their mind, that challenges them with concepts, that stretches them with unfamiliar beliefs. And the earlier you get that, the broader your mind becomes. Dickens said when he read The Arabian Nights, ‘Through reading these stories, my mind became habituated to the vast.’ Fucking A! That’s it. That’s why we are in the business of fantasy.”

“‘I have an idea for an urban fantasy series that makes fun of urban fantasy. Whenever any genre takes itself too seriously, it becomes ripe for mocking. (The old superheroes used to take themselves way too seriously, so now we have superhero parody all over the place.) It would be set in a college town with a section of this college where all the paranormal people send their kids to get an education, knowing they’ll be among people who understand. Like the vampire and the girl that fell in love with the vampire eventually have a kid that is screwed up, but this socially maladaptive freak of nature has to go to college somewhere.”