Today we welcome Patrick Rothfuss, author of THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLE. You probably know about Pat’s Worldbuilders charity that raises money for Heifer International, but did you know that he and artist Lee Moyer created a 2013 Fantasy Pin-Up calendar to raise money for Worldbuilders? Pat sent me a copy of the calendar (and a copy for one of you!), and then we talked about it. We’d love to hear your thoughts. One commenter will get a calendar.
Kat Hooper: Many of your readers know about Worldbuilders, the organization you formed a few years ago to get speculative fiction readers, authors, and publishers involved in your favorite charity, Heifer International.
Patrick Rothfuss: Ah yes. My baby. Worldbuilders keeps getting bigger and better every year.
Can you update us on how effective we’ve been? This year has been going really well. We’ve already raised $300,000 and we still have a week to go. We’ve got a couple big donation incentives on the horizon, too. If we hit $400,000 before the end of the fundraiser, I’m going to donate an extra $100,000 to Heifer out of my own pocket. When we hit $450,000 Amber Benson has agreed to do something cool with me as a surprise for the donors. We’ll be announcing that on the blog soon.
Cool! How much money has been raised so far though Worldbuilders? Over the last four years we’ve raised over a million dollars for Heifer International. That’s not counting this year. If you count this year, we’re closer to 1.5 million.
Wow — that’s a lot of money! Have we changed the world? Yeah. I think it’s safe to say we have. Heifer can do a whole lot of good with just a little money. $120 can buy a goat for a family that doesn’t own very much at all. That goat can provide extra food for any children in the household: milk, full of calcium and protein. Just what kids need. Plus the family can sell the extra milk for money. In most parts of the world, having a goat is like running a small business. The same is true for chickens and eggs. Or sheep and wool. Or access to clean water. Something like that will change the life of a family forever. Given that Worldbuilders has raised enough money to buy 500 cows, 5000 goats, 10,000 hives of bees, and 20,000 flocks of baby chickens. Yeah, I think we’ve started to change the world. We’ve still got a lot of work to do though… I know you have a young family at home, and we all want you to be sitting at your desk writing 24 hours per day, but have you had the time to visit a village that’s been helped by Heifer International? The folks at Heifer have wanted me to visit one of their working sites for a long time. I’d love to go, too. There’s no substitute for seeing these thing first hand…. But you’re right, I’m really busy. I haven’t found time to do it yet. If we reach our 500K step goal, I’m going to be heading out to Nepal with a couple other high profile geeks. We’ll see how things work firsthand, then report back to the geek community about what we’ve learned.
Last year you and artist Lee Moyer teamed up to publish a 2012 Literary Pin-Up Calendar for part of your annual Worldbuilders fund drive. How’d that happen? Heh. Team-up kinda overstates things. We just stumbled into each other at a convention. We had a mutual friend and over dinner, he mentioned he was an artist. He showed around some pictures of a literary pin-up calendar he’d been trying to sell for a couple years. I thought the pictures were charming and clever. So I said, “I run a book-centered charity. We could print it and make some money for a good cause at the same time.” Then we did. That’s the short version of the story, of course. I wrote the longer version over on my blog if anyone’s interested.
Well, it must have been successful because this year you decided to do another one. To be completely honest, that year’s calendar ended up being a bit of a flop.
Oh. And why was that? Part of it was that we didn’t know what we were doing, selling a calendar. And I got overexcited about the project, so I had too many printed and we had to pulp a bunch of them. Calendars don’t have a great shelf life. So yeah. Worldbuilders made some money, which is good. And Lee made some money, which is good. And some people got a cool calendar, which is good. But I kinda took it in the shorts on that one. I paid for the printing and didn’t manage to recoup any of my money.
Ouch. So you decided that if at first you don’t succeed…. Lee and I had talked about doing a second calendar when we were working on the first one. It was just pipe dream talk, really…. But Neil Gaiman got hold of a copy of the calendar and liked it. And Lee asked him if he’d like to be in it next year. When Neil said “yes,” it suddenly meant the project wasn’t just doable, it had the potential to be something big. I was nervous about doing it again. For multiple reasons. But it had the potential to bring in some good money for the charity. I didn’t want to say no to that.
This year you’ve created a 2013 Fantasy Pin-Up Calendar and you’ve got these authors involved: Peter S. Beagle, Ray Bradbury, Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Jacqueline Carey, Neil Gaiman, Charlaine Harris, Robin Hobb, N.K. Jemisin, George R.R. Martin, Terry Pratchett and, of course, yourself. Were there any authors you approached who didn’t want to be involved in a Fantasy Pin-Up calendar?