'Kingkiller Chronicle' Editor Believes Author Hasn't Written Anything for Years

The editor of The Kingkiller Chronicle says she thinks author Patrick Rothfuss hasn't "written anything for six years."

Betsy Wollheim, Rothfuss' editor and president of publisher DAW Books, posted multiple messages on Facebook indicating her dissatisfaction with the fantasy author's progress on the highly anticipated Book 3 in The Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy—currently titled The Doors of Stone—saying, in one reply to a Facebook friend, "I've had enough."

Wollheim was initially responding to an article on the publishing news and book recommendation site Book Riot, which pushed back against the widespread discontent from fans at the long wait for The Doors of Stone after the 2011 publication of the second book in the trilogy, The Wise Man's Fear. While that article didn't mention Wollheim by name, the editor objected to several points raised in it, including a portion that speculated Kingkiller Chronicle delays may be due to a lengthy editorial process.

"I've never seen a word of book three," Wollheim wrote in the initial post, which was first highlighted by the science-fiction and fantasy blog The Wertzone on Sunday.

While Wollheim partially agreed with the central argument of the article—that readers shouldn't feel entitled to dictate how Rothfuss spends his time—she also asked, "but what about the publishers who paid them?"

"When authors don't produce, it basically f**ks their publishers," Wollheim wrote, arguing that publishers rely on "their strongest sellers" to keep financially afloat.

While her Saturday evening post to Facebook already directed strong words at one of her authors—a rare public airing of what would typically be a private dialogue between author and editor—she expanded significantly on her criticism in responses to comments beneath her initial post.

The first two books in The Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy, "The Name of the Wind" and "The Wise Man's Fear." DAW / Penguin Group

It was in response to a commenter who speculated that Rothfuss is "not working on the book at all" that Wollheim raised the specific possibility that Rothfuss hasn't made any writing progress on The Doors of Stone for years.

"I think you are right," Wollheim responded. "I don't think he's written anything for six years."

Newsweek has reached out to Wollheim and DAW Books via email, with questions about conversations she has had with Rothfuss and the publisher's preferred timeline for Book 3, but did not hear back in time for publication.

Newsweek also attempted to reach Rothfuss via a business partner and the author's publicist at Penguin Random House, but did not get a response back in time for publication.

However, past interviews and blog posts from Rothfuss reported on by Newsweek suggest the unlikelihood of the author having written nothing for six years. After admitting in a 2017 blog post that "the writing isn't going well," Rothfuss has offered multiple hints and updates regarding his progress in the years since.

In December 2018, Rothfuss described his writing routine in an interview with Newsweek. "I typically write late at night, because it's quiet and there are fewer distractions," Rothfuss said at the time, describing his 30-year-old keyboard and desk made from plywood laid over two filing cabinets. "I'm pretty no frills."

And in an April 2019 podcast interview, he said, "Things are moving forward, if not fast—again I've never promised fast, ever since I knew what I was good at professionally. I made promises very early on in interviews where I'm like 'Yeah, I'm going to do these books one a year.' But I was an idiot. I had just been published for like two months, I had no idea what I was talking about."

Rothfuss has also discussed how he intends to tell further stories in the world of Temerant after the completion of The Kingkiller Chronicle, calling the trilogy "a million-word prologue." While the first two books—The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear—follow the magically powerful bard Kvothe, there's much to suggest already that Kvothe's decisions will unleash even greater horrors on his world.

But while Wollheim may not have been literal in her descriptions of Rothfuss' progress, she characterized Rothfuss' lack of deliverables as "not promising."

"That's how I feel, frankly," Wollheim wrote in one response, agreeing with a comment that characterized Rothfuss's delays and multiple side projects as leaving readers feeling "jilted."

"Kingkiller Chronicle" author Patrick Rothfuss. Kyle Cassidy / CC BY-SA 3.0

Wollheim also reiterated criticisms from her initial post that seemed to partially pin the financial health of her company on Rothfuss, an author whose series has so far sold more than 10 million copies, according to The Hollywood Reporter (a figure that likely includes foreign publication and other sales that may not directly benefit DAW Books).

In response to a commenter describing "disregard for the commitment has made not just to readers but to publishers, editors, agents, and staff" as "ultimately a question of integrity, of honor, and of decency," Wollheim expressed agreement.

"Definitely," Wollheim said. "The 'big names' support the writers who may be just as interesting but not as commercial. People who may not sell well but deserve to be published."

In a 2012 blog post, Rothfuss praised Wollheim, calling for his readers to nominate her for a Hugo Award.

"If not for her The Wise Man's Fear simply wouldn't exist," Rothfuss wrote at the time. "Not only did Betsy take a risk on publishing big fat novel by an unknown author back in 2007. But when I was struggling with The Wise Man's Fear, she gave me the time I needed to finish it."

But despite the editor's surprisingly public rebuke of Rothfuss, Wollheim also expressed her respect for Rothfuss' writing and her hope that she may one day see The Doors of Stone.

"Everything said: If I get a draft of book three by surprise some time, I will be extraordinarily happy...joyous, actually, and will read it immediately with gusto," Wollheim wrote. "I love Pat's writing. I will instantly feel forgiving and lucky. Lucky to be his editor and publisher."