Patrick Rothfuss discusses his 2013 Fantasy Pin-Up Calendar

Patrick RothfussToday 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.

Heifer InternationalCool! 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.

That sounds awesome. Who’s going?

We’ve got Photographer Extraordinaire Trey Radcliff onboard as well as Podcaster and Videtrix Veronica Belmont. It should be a good time….

From the 2012 Literary Pin-Up CalendarLast 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.2013 Fantasy Pin Up Calendar

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?

Of the nine people I personally invited, there was one who said, effectively. “No, thanks. But don’t hesitate to hit me up for other Worldbuilders stuff in the future.”

I knew it was because he didn’t want to be associated with a pin-up calendar. And honestly? I respected him for being very up front about it. I can totally see where he was coming from….

Well, yeah, me too because after I looked through the calendar (thanks for sending me one!) I thought I’d be a little embarrassed to hang this in my living room. Don’t you think it’s a little risqué?

Some of the pin-ups are rather risqué. But that’s the nature of a pin-up.

Truth be told, they’re no worse than your average billboard or cell phone commercial:

But I’ve got a husband, two teenage boys, and two little girls living in my house. If I hang a pin-up calendar on my wall, what message will I be sending to my kids?

Well… you are aware of the internet, right? Odds are your husband and your teenage boys have occasionally, purely by accident no doubt, seen naked women on the computer-webs.

Yeah, but they know that isn’t socially acceptable, which is why they haven’t told me and I don’t know about it. If I hang up this calendar, the message is that I condone what many people view as sexual objectification of women.

Yeah. There’s no way around that one. A pin-up is going to have some sexual objectification in there. We tried hard to mitigate the sexist elements of it. But still, it’s there.

I’m also concerned about my girls. Does this calendar reinforce the idea that they need to be skinny, scantily-clad and sexily-posed to be attractive? That kind of goes against what I’ve been teaching them, too.

I hear you. As a dad, I think about this stuff a lot too. I’m trying to keep my little boy from soaking up too much cultural poison.

I will say this though, we worked hard to fight against a lot of the negative stereotypes. All the models aren’t twiggy thin. And they aren’t vapid bimbos either.

I really don’t know a thing about pin-ups, so when I first saw Mercy’s, I didn’t understand what was going on with those red outlines. It wasn’t until I read Lee’s blog where he talked about the different artists he was emulating that I understood what he was doing.

Briggs Petty
Side by side, you can see that Lee’s turned things on their ear. Back in the day, a pin-up was a vapid sex kitten. Lee’s version is going so far against the classic conventions of the pin-up that it’s almost satire. Not high heels and a bow, but a tire-iron and a creeper. (Which, if you’re curious, is the name of that wheelie thing mechanics use to slide under cars.)

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying everyone should run out and buy the calendar. If I’d put out a puppies-and-kittens calendar, I wouldn’t be trying to convince you that puppies and kittens are somehow the morally correct calendar choice.

I’m just saying it’s out there, and it’s not just women in bikinis.

I agree that Lee’s artwork helps. Only one of the women looks like a bimbo — the Pratchett character. Is that supposed to be Tiffany Aching?

Oh god no. It’s not Tiffany. That would be horrible if that was supposed to be her.

Honestly, that’s the most misunderstood page in the calendar. When I first saw it, I thought it was supposed to be a female version of Rincewind.

It’s actually supposed to be a wizard that’s accidentally changed himself into a woman. Hence the look of surprise. It was Lee’s take on the classic ingénue type of pin-up.

Pratchett PinUp
OK, I get it. And I admit that the other women in the calendar look like they’d easily dispatch you if you tried anything untoward. I’m sensitive about this issue though because, unfortunately, SFF has had a bad reputation for being male-oriented and for portraying women as passive sex objects. For example, see this Conan cover. ConanYour calendar seems male-oriented, which doesn’t help SFF’s reputation. I like Lee Moyer’s art, and I love the idea of supporting Worldbuilders, but I really don’t want to experience any cognitive dissonance over a calendar. Help me here.

Sorry. I’ve got no help to give. I’ve got more than enough cognitive dissonance over being involved in producing it.

First and foremost, I decided to do this calendar because I thought it would be fun and people would enjoy it.

But… I’m involved with producing something inherently sexist. I feel bad about that.

On the other hand, we’re trying to turn a lot of the old sexist tropes on their ear. I feel good about that.

On the *other* other hand, the calendar perpetuates the objectification of women. I feel bad about that.

On the other *other* *OTHER* hand the money we raise is going to Heifer International, a profoundly feminist charity. Women will be able to feed their families because of this, their lives will be better. Their children will be healthier.

I spin round and round on the issue.

Almost all of science fiction and fantasy was written by men until fairly recently, but these days women make up a significant proportion of SFF authors. In fact, five of the twelve authors represented in your calendar are women. Did you purposely approach female writers?

Oh yes. That was very deliberate.

And nowadays women and girls can easily find role models in fantasy literature and these strong women are being written by both female and male authors. In your calendar I see Mercedes Thompson, Phédre no Delaunay, Malta Vestrit, Sookie Stackhouse, Cersei Lannister, and other women who are intelligent, powerful, and independent. I kind of like that. Did you specifically try to portray strong female characters, or did this just naturally happen because those are the kinds of characters that modern authors are writing?

I left the choice of characters up to the authors themselves. But your point is a good one, we’ve got a lot more strong women in fantasy than we did even ten years ago.

Do you think this change in the literature is caused by more women writing fantasy, more women reading fantasy, or the changes in sex roles in our culture?

Yes. Yes. And yes. All three.

Though honestly, women have always been reading fantasy. It’s a misconception that they only started turning out these last couple decades. My mom read fantasy: LORD OF THE RINGS and DUNE and PERN and Stranger in a Strange Land.

The readership isn’t a new thing. Our perception is a new thing.

Well, your mom sounds really cool, and we could argue about the perception vs. the reality of the history of women’s involvement in speculative fiction, but there’s no doubt that women’s roles have changed drastically in the world in general, and also in SFF, in the last few decades. I think this is reflected in the cover art, too. How do you feel about the way male characters are portrayed on the covers of many fantasy novels these days?

I’m pretty indifferent to it, honestly. The cover of a book is a marketing choice. It’s supposed to catch the eye and sell the book. This book is full of sexy. Should they put someone that looks like me on the cover?

Um….

No. That wouldn’t sell. The title of the book is not The Hobo King.

So when you see these at your bookstore, does it bother you that men are being “objectified?”

Not really. I mean, when you come right down to it, we *are* physical objects.

A better question might be, “Do I mind my gender being sexualized?”

Still, my answer would have to be, “Not much.” It bothers me a little that a cover like this (and the Conan one above) is perpetuating unrealistic body expectations for men. Even if I did nothing but work out for a year I couldn’t look like that…

That said, it’s not really a fair comparison. As a man, my situation is in no way equal to yours as a woman. They’re not even vaguely similar.

As a man, I am not viewed primarily as a sex object in our culture. I don’t have to deal with that every day of my life. I don’t have to worry about being harassed. Being raped. Being fired for dressing too sexy. Being fired for not being sexy enough. Not being hired in the first place because of my gender….

If I’d had to deal with that every day of my life, I’d probably feel a lot different when confronted about Chesty McStudlyAbs up there.

I think you’re right that women feel like we have to make up for the way our gender has been treated in the past (or currently in many parts of the world). We feel like we have to prove that we have other body parts of interest. At the same time I agree with you that Lee Moyer’s art suggests we can be both sexy and smart. In fact, my husband took a look at the calendar and loved the picture of Cersei Lannister. He said she looks “hot and formidable.”

She certainly does.

How did the female authors feel about participating in a pin-up calendar? Did they have a different response than the male authors did?

Their responses were about the same as the men. Some were in with no hesitation. Some were a little leery about the project. I should probably mention that the one author that said “Thanks but no thanks” was a man.

As for how they felt about it? I wouldn’t want to guess at that. I really liked what Nora Jemisin wrote on her blog a while back though. As for the others, we could ask them about it if you like….

OK. Let’s do that… Ladies?

Patty Briggs: Truthfully, I was intrigued from the start. I’ve always liked pin-ups — the best of them have a playfulness that lends itself quite well to a 2013 mentality. I talked with Patrick, briefly, and with Lee Moyer in a lot more detail about what would and wouldn’t work for Mercy. Even though I don’t think I used the word “objectification” once, we were all on the same page. In Lee’s capable hands, Mercy’s page is a celebration of strength and feminine grace with a nod to those old-time pin-up advertising calendars that every corner mechanic’s garage had pinned up on their wall and the “Rosie Riveter” posters of WWII. I am delighted with the results.

Charlaine Harris: I was troubled by the idea of a conventional pin-up calendar, but I also am a huge fan of Heifer. I agreed to do it if there were a male figure in my month, as well. Frankly, I think many more people would buy the calendar if there were more male figures in it. I think the sexuality of the female drawings is tasteful and fun, not salacious. That’s several disconnected thoughts, but those add up to what I pondered when I considered Pat’s proposal.

Jacqueline Carey: Given that one of the major themes in my Kushiel’s Legacy series is the sacred nature of sexuality, it’s no surprise that I thought the idea of a fantasy pin-up art calendar was a delightful one. To me, there’s something joyful and celebratory about the art form at its finest, rooted in the spirit of burlesque. I appreciate the underlying message implicit in the calendar project that books are sexy. That’s a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree!

Robin Hobb: Maybe I should begin by saying that when I was first approached, the hope was that I would allow The Fool to pose for the calendar. But you know, he just doesn’t do that sort of thing. Whereas Malta was delighted at the opportunity…

 

Ever since I was old enough to spin a paperback rack in a drugstore, I’ve loved fantasy cover art. Campy bug-eyed monsters abducting screeching scantily clad females. Iron thewed barbarian warriors brandishing unlikely weapons. Dragons, unicorns, rocket ships and astronauts. Fuzzy little aliens. Things with tentacles. Gotta love them all. And frankly, I see little difference between cover art and our pin-up calendar.

 

I’ll tell you one thing, and that is that Lee Moyer allowed me a lot of input on Malta. Ultimately, of course, I signed off on his artistic license and told him to paint his Malta. Because of course, every reader sees each of my characters through his or her own personal lens.

 

So, what is the morality involved with this? That we are looking at characters who are painted as very attractive in light of our current sexual and cultural mores? Well, when I as a teen was holding the paperback of a Tarzan novel, it wasn’t the ape that I was eyeing. Ditto for Conan the Barbarian. Look at the current representations of Sherlock Holmes, on television and in the movies. Dr. Who? Captain Kirk? All handsome men, but more because of what they do than how they look in a still shot. Handsome is as handsome does, is the old adage.

 

We all enjoy beefcake and/or cheesecake. I will freely admit that at sixty, I still enjoy looking at handsome young men. And handsome old men. When I’m out with either of my daughters, and men turn their heads to watch them pass, I don’t feel scandalized or insulted. Beauty captures the eye.

 

Lovely, scantily clad humans are sex objects only to people who objectify other human beings. And those people do that no matter how draped that person might be. In 1967, a Jesuit priest observed to our class that he really did not see the sense of a dress code, as an immodest girl cannot be made modest no matter how you drape her, and that a modest woman can be stripped of her garments but not her modesty. So there it is, for me. If you are looking at our calendar and seeing sex objects instead of fascinating characters, well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And so are sex objects.

Good Lord, I love Robin Hobb with a powerful love. She’s always been one of my favorite authors, but the more I get to know her, the more she becomes one of my favorite people as well….

She just said what I’ve been trying to articulate for months. I agree with her wholeheartedly. We all like looking at pretty things, and I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with that.

I like what Charlaine Harris said — there should be more men in the calendar. If this year’s calendar is a big success, I think you should think about doing a male pin-up calendar.

I have thought about it. In fact, I originally wanted this calendar to be half female and half male pin-ups.

That would have been a great way to make things fair. Objectify everybody equally, right? That’s a joke, sort of… but seriously, why didn’t you include male pin-ups?

Lee objected. Really strenuously objected.

I was thinking of the calendar as a cooler version of that cliché fantasy calendar we’ve all seen: generic wizards and dragons. I thought a fantasy pin-up calendar would be fun, and I wanted male and female models so we could have gender equity and give the calendar a broader appeal.

And as Robin mentioned, I was hoping to get the Fool in this year’s calendar too. That would have given us a gender queer element as well.

Lee on the other hand, viewed the calendar primarily as an exploration and homage of the pin-up as an art form. (He’s a huge aficionado, if you couldn’t tell.)

Oh, yes, fine examples of American culture.  :-/

*Shrugs* It would be a boring world if we all liked the same flavor ice cream.

When I pushed for men in the calendar, Lee pointed out that there wasn’t any tradition of male pin-ups to draw from.

So I pushed for more pin-ups with two figures, male *and* female. Lee again pointed out it wasn’t part of the pin-up tradition. That’s more of a pulp theme.

Lee also argued that pin-up enthusiasts would likely be turned off by the inclusion of men. He said we didn’t want to try and make everyone happy, and end up with a product that didn’t please anyone.

And he had a good point there. Would you honestly feel better about hanging up a pin-up calendar in your house if half of it was full of pictures that looked like nymph king up there?

At least then instead of just teaching the boys to see women as sex objects and the girls to be insecure about their body image, I’d also be teaching the girls to view men as sex objects and the boys to be insecure. That makes it even… I’m being sarcastic here, but okay, I understand that Lee, as an artist, was going for a particular concept and I can respect that.

What it came down to was this: Lee thought of the project as a pin-up calendar with a fantasy theme. I viewed it as a fantasy calendar with a pin-up theme. That led to some real friction in the planning stages.

In the end, I let Lee have his way because he was the one producing all the art. What’s more, I know from experience that artists do their best work when they’re enthusiastic about the project.

Do I regret not pushing harder for the inclusion of men? A bit. But the art *is* beautiful and the calendar has been selling well. We’ve been bringing in good money for Heifer International with it. I don’t know if it would have sold nearly as well if we’d done things my way….

Well, Pat, thanks for talking about it with me and thanks for sending me a calendar. I have enjoyed looking at it — for the art and the other cool stuff like authors’ birthdays and other significant fantasy events. But for those readers who don’t want to order a calendar, what else can they do to support Worldbuilders?

Sustainable Community Development Project for Chitwan, Nawalparasi and PalpaThe calendar is actually only a tiny part of Worldbuilders. It’s just one of the things we have for sale on our online store, the Tinker’s Packs.

But the best way you can support the cause is by donating directly to Heifer International on the Worldbuilders Team Page.

For every $10 you contribute to our team, you get a chance to win one of thousands of books donated by authors and publishers. A lot of them are signed, first editions, or otherwise cool….

We’re giving away a lot of books. If you donate $120, you’ve got about a 1 in 30 chance of winning something. Those are good odds.

Plus there’s that whole making the world a better place thing. That $120 is enough to buy a family a goat which feeds the children and provides income.

We’re also running some auctions right now, including signed books from Gaiman and Pratchett, and a bunch of signed, first-edition books that Charlaine Harris gave us from her personal library. If you’d like to see all the books that have been donated, or want more details about the fundraiser itself, you can head over to our main page.

Thanks for the lovely chat, Kat. Sorry to be so long-winded.

It was fun, Pat!

Readers, if you’d like a chance to win your own copy of the 2013 Fantasy Pin-Up Calendar, leave a comment below.


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KAT HOOPER is a professor at the University of North Florida where she teaches neuroscience, psychology, and research methods courses. She occasionally gets paid to review scientific textbooks, but reviewing speculative fiction is much more fun. Kat lives with her husband and their children in Jacksonville Florida.

View all posts by Kat Hooper

71 comments

  1. Great interview Kat–I really appreciated the actual adult, lengthy, complex conversation you guys had about the potentially discomfiting aspects of the calendar (and props to Patrick for not simply shutting it down in a word or two). Wouldn’t it be nice if all such conversations worked that way?. Pasting in the female authors was a fantastic idea (doesn’t hurt that Hobb is brilliant)

    Heifer is a great organization (we donate slightly less than 100, 000 each year . . . )

    • Thanks, Bill! And thanks to Robin Hobb, Jacqueline Carey, Charlaine Harris, and Patricia Briggs for being willing, on very short notice, to chime in.

  2. Sabrina /

    I’m going to have to get one!

  3. Brandi M /

    Thanks for getting the word out about this great project. I love the idea for the calendar. Thanks for the discourse, as well. This is something that we have to deal with every day, and does cause a fierce dichotomy in a woman’s existence. Talk is good. So thanks!

  4. Suzette Mocarski /

    I absolutely love the Heifer International fundraiser and while I was a huge fan of Pat’s before I knew of it I’m even more of a fan now. The calendar doesn’t offend me. I have never understood why it’s okay for women to work at being beautiful and fine if they try hard to be noticed but the moment they are noticed and praised for beauty they are being objectified. It’s a little off kilter in my mind. I also loved the way Robin Hobb explained her perspective. She has certainly got a way with words.

  5. I like the images of the calendar I’ve seen so far. However, as a fantasy send-up it pretty much fails because without knowing the story behind the image, the viewers cannot identify the character being shown (from what I have seen although the Mercy image I’d know right off I think). Without that, the fantasy element is watered down and it is mostly just a pinup calendar with some fantasy trappings.

    • William /

      April, I would say instead of failing it encourages the viewer to go and get those books and learn about the character. Anything that encourages someone to pick up a book is, in my opinion, a good thing.

  6. Mandy B /

    I enjoyed reading this in depth discussion of the pin up calendar. I have been considering purchasing it for some time, but with Christmas and all I didn’t have the money to do that, buy christmas gifts for my family, and make my donation to heifer. So I made the monetary donation instead. What I read here makes me feel better about the pin up calendar on the whole. Although I didn’t really have a problem with it in the first place.
    I have degrees in both English literature and studio art so I’ve seen a lot of art work and read a lot as well. I do disagree with the idea that there is no precedent for men being objectified in art. I mean seriously had anyone ever seen ancient greek art or even neoclassical. There are many other examples I could name, but I’ll leave it at that. As an artist I don’t see this work as objectification. It is tastefully done and certainly doesn’t bring to mind the half naked women posing on the hood of a car. Anyway this response has gotten a little long and I’m not sure I’m making sense anymore so I’ll stop there.

  7. Thank you for the great interview! I read Lee’s post and it made me really curious about the rest of the art.

    And having read all the Kushiel books, just seeing those sticks in Phedre’s hair brings back memories of badassery. ;)

  8. What a great read :) And what a great project! I’m still a little unsure as to how I feel about it being a pin up calender, but part of me definitely enjoys the well done versions of the form, and it’s clear that this is a well done project. And what a nerdgasm this collection of characters is!

  9. worldbshiny /

    great discussion! i loved last year’s calendar, and while i understand lee’s reluctance to deviate so strongly from a form he is trying to emulate, i hope the “male pin-up” conversation will continue.

    ^_ _^
    .>T<

  10. Kevin B /

    Great conversation on a complex subject. And I agree with Pat: I already loved Robin Hobb’s books, but the more I read about her, the more I love her as a person. She’s very wise.

    I ordered the calendar back when it was just released and there are some really good pieces in there. I like how every month depicts a different style of pin-up and the variety of authors, genres and characters that are used. My favorite is the painting of Jemisin’s character Oree Shoth. Not only is it a beautiful piece of art (really it is! just look at those colors! The lighting!), it’s also completely in line with the character’s personality. Oree would totally be captured like that.

  11. I enjoyed this immensely, especially reading about all the thought that went into the calendar. And Robin Hobb’s comments filled me with delight. I hope I am that wise someday! ^^

  12. Justin Blazier /

    I’m horribly jealous of you. Not only for the interview with Pat, but for the awesome calendar you got.(which I just ordered). If yours is signed I will have to…well be even more jealous of you.
    Also as a male I have to say that I will appreciate my calendar purely for artistic reasons, reasons that have nothing to do with Fantasy themed boobs. Anyone who would dare think I might have anything more than mild interest in the sexy sexy poses should get their mind out from the gutter. The nerve…

  13. Kelley /

    I enjoyed this article a lot. I appreciated that Kat didn’t shy away from asking some of those harder questions. I also liked getting the authors’ input into why they decided to do the project, especially Robin Hobb’s perspective.

  14. Fair is fair, for next year, we should be offered a calender with literary pin-up boys.

  15. Great article! I’d love to win one of those calendars! (or buy one) Rothfuss’ work is great and I’m waiting (im)patiently for the next in the series…. ;)

  16. So, looks like my dearest Pat is doing EVERYTHING – he is even saving the world – BUT writing the last book? Come on, Pat! You’ll have plenty o’ time to save the world AFTER we know what happens to Kvothe.

  17. Michelle D /

    I’d love to win one, as I think the conversation between the two of you has been fascinating!

  18. Galena /

    I really like how the calendar has such strong female characters being used as many of the subjects. I bought last year’s calendar at ConFusion (January convention in MI) because as Pat said, they printed too many and were trying to sell as many as they could to recoup their costs. I enjoyed it, but I really love that this year has current(ish) subjects.

  19. Okay, if “it’s not traditional” is the main argument against a male pin-up calendar, how about a Calendar of Males that pays homage to the posters and calendars of male pop stars that cover teenage girls’ bedrooms? There is a tradition and a specific style there, just not one Lee may be aware of:

    http://eu.movieposter.com/posters/archive/main/72/MPW-36422
    http://image0-rubylane.s3.amazonaws.com/shops/curioshop/col-9139.1L.jpg
    http://www.8notes.com/wiki/images/Monkees1967.jpg
    http://s117942963.websitehome.co.uk/mostmusic/222boyzonegroup.jpg
    http://userserve-ak.last.fm/serve/_/101527/Take+That.jpg

    (I had so much fun looking for these sample pictures. There is a real Bedroom Wall Teen Poster Style. I was getting so many flash backs to my Youth)

  20. Very interesting article. I appreciated that both of you were willing to hold a discourse about the nature of pin-ups and their socio-psychological impacts.
    My immediate personal thoughts in regard to the calendar concerned mostly the male/female calendar and Lee Moyer’s “turning things on their ear”. In my opinion, both of these points were not taken as far as they should have been.
    In the case of the male/female calendar – I think the decision to opt out of the male side was hasty. I agree that a combined calendar might have turned off more people than attracted – but why was the consideration to make two calendars (one male and one female) never even brought to the table? If the artist felt that men just can not do the pinup poses than he obviously has never seen this: http://www.forcesofgeek.com/2011/10/male-pin-up-calendar-will-make-up.html
    As for the quotes about Lee Moyer trying to “turn things on their ear” again I have to comment that I feel it stopped short of the potential. If it was truly in earnest and trying to be tongue in cheek I think it could have been a truly enjoyable calendar for both men and women.
    For instance – the picture the author of the article pointed out as being the most “bimbo” for Terry Pratchett. I think had the artist opted to put distinctly male pants which were oversized on the subject this would have been more tongue in cheek. You even could have had them half falling off to keep your pinup “lines” and style. But doing this would have 1) made the story trying to be told in the picture more obvious (I didn’t get it without the explanation provided in the interview) and 2) would have been a distinct breaking from the pinup mold while still embracing it.
    It’s a shame because I feel a truly tongue in cheek calendar which broke the molds but still embraced the pinup culture would have been fabulous. For instance – instead of Malta why not Tintaglia in a perfect pinup pose? I guess I felt if you were going to go there and call it “turning things on their ear” that you should have completely gone and then some. Embrace the geek and we would have bought more!

    Heather

    • I agree on the Terry Pratchett one. She doesn’t look like someone who accidentally turned himself into a woman — why would he have been prepared with a bra on? ;) I’m thinking just draping the wizard robe differently so it covered what the bra covers might have been more illustrative.

  21. Love, love, love the in-depth interview. Thank you, both Pats!

  22. L. Lawson /

    I’m glad he’s talking about this issue. I’m unconvinced that it’s not objectification, but I’m glad he’s answering those questions.

  23. Jamie W /

    Great interview. I’m all for a male pin up calendar…can we see some Black Dagger Brotherhood characters in there? Please? Maybe some Carpathians. Would sell like hotcakes.

  24. Catalina Garofil /

    Maybe I have a limited view of things, living in Romania (possibly it’s worse in the US), but I think that this whole discussion about the calendar being proper or not and objectifying women is a little bit too much. Yes, the problem with the kids is more complicated and deserves a lenghty debate but otherwise, it’s just a calendar and you either like the artwork or you don’t. Personally, I love it and would hang it on my wall anytime. That’s why I hope I’ll win one! :)

  25. This was a great read and I’m happy the word is getting out about Worldbringers.

  26. What a fantastic interview! I love with Robin Hobb said, but I would love to see more male in the pin-ups in future, honestly. Everything has to evolve, including art. Though saying that I would not be at all ashamed to hang this gorgeous calendar in my living room.

  27. Meghan /

    I love the calendar and have always been a fan of pin-up art. As a not stick thin woman, pin-ups actually inspired me more than they harmed me because the woman are generally very curvy. That said, I appreciate the conversation and ability to consider other aspects. And Robin Hobb put it all very well! Thanks for the great interview. Here’s hoping I win a calendar.

  28. Stellar interview with well thought out questions and responses over an important subject, all wrapped in fantasy in beauty. Thank you both!

  29. Kat Powell /

    Great interview! I’m dying to see this calendar now :-)

  30. William /

    Fabulous interview! I’m glad that Pat didn’t shy away from answering the hard questions, but not overly surprised (As he is both an intelligent and creative author). I wish all of our social dialogues could be argued like this, with a bit of give and take (and a lot of common courtesy).

    As for the “More Males/Less Males” arguments put forth in many of the comments above let me simply state this: ya gotta go with what sells. Are women in our society objectified? As Pat states above, ‘Yes.’ Is it a problem that is easily solved? No. Men and women both need to change they way they think and present themselves. I don’t see this issue going away until the 24th century when Star Trek happens. By then all our social problems will be fixed and we can go meddle in other planets cultural problems. So in the mean time my solution would be to do two calendars. One for the ladies and one for the men. Although, Boris Vallejo does pretty well with both.

    All in all, I think this interview was very well done and presented a good look into the minds of the best authors in SFF today. So thank you very much.

    Now let the firestorm of comments continue!

  31. Hillary /

    As an attractive (or at least I think I am) 23 year old woman, I sometimes feel objectified at bars, work, etc. and it is very often uncomfortable. BUT I agree with Robin Hobb – people like to look at nice things. I will freely admit to staring at the hot guys at my gym. As someone who loves science fiction and fantasy, I think the idea of this calendar is pretty cool and love that it contributes to a great cause. However, if next year’s calendar had a pin-up Kvothe or Jaime Lannister, I wouldn’t complain.

  32. To be completely honest, I think the grilling about objectification went a bit too far. It was half of the interview. Pat isn’t responsible for this social issue, so putting him under bright lights and forcing him to explain himself seems unfair, but he handled it with grace. It might not have been so uncomfortable to read if you hadn’t so vehemently stated your opinion on the topic, as if you were challenging him to a debate.

    My two cents. Feel free to chuck them, but it bothered me, just as scantily clad women bothers you.

  33. stephen /

    Kat and Pat, thanks for the most interesting interview I’ve read in years. Can’t wait for the next kingkillers book.

  34. My name is Trace. I live in space. And I am a Death Star.

    And if you got that far, I dare you to award me the calendar (cheeky grin).

  35. Laura Mollett /

    While it might be nice to have a calendar with male models, or a more half-and-half one (I like Death and Dream together just fine), I do think the artist gets to decide what he wants to draw. For whatever reasons, he didn’t feel comfortable/happy with the idea of adding more males. Pushing this artist to do something else is like asking an author to write the story you want to read, rather than the story he/she wants to write. The appropriate response is ‘if you want some other story, write it yourself.’ Maybe there are other artists who would be happy to do a male-oriented option, but I like Lee’s work and happy to purchase it where I can. (I used last year’s calendar at work – it went over quite well, actually, even though it’s a pretty conservative place.)

  36. On the one hand, I love the art and I love that an effort has been made to stay away from the vapid bimbo tradition; on the other hand, the fact that it’s a pin-up calendar does make me a little uneasy. I wish male characters had been included. Nevertheless, I would love to own one.

  37. I need this, like 16 days ago.

  38. Willow /

    Thanks for this great interview. I appreciate Rothfuss’s openness in discussing his personal cognitive dissonance with being involved in producing a pin-up. In the end, I agree with what has already been stated numerous times; I love the genre, the art is fantastic, and it’s for a great cause!

  39. Kat Hedges /

    Great interview! I loved the inclusion of the featured authors’ comments. I think I love all even more now. And , of course, the art is gorgeous whether pin-ups are your fancy or not. And such a good cause.

  40. Amanda T /

    Awesome interview. I love how the different perspectives about the calender was discussed. I think it’s great how Pat and Lee had differing views but managed to work things out. Even though Pat didn’t get his half-female-half-male calendar promoting gender equality and empowerment, I feel that the real win here (aside from all the donations to Heifer) is the amount of discussion it sparked on the issue. People are really thinking and considering sexual objectification, female stereotypes, gender equality — all from a fun calendar. With funds raised for to boot. We might disagree on whether or not the pinups objectify women. We might disagree on whether men should be included in the pinups. But the win is that people are actively thinking and discussing about it. And who knows? Maybe next year we’ll get Pat’s male-female pinup calendar. I, for one, wouldn’t mind a Hobo King pinup. :-p

  41. Loved the interview; Robin Hobb is my new idol! Looking forward to seeing what Patrick and Lee come up with next…maybe an homage to the old pulp covers?

  42. Bill G /

    Loved the interviews, love the artwork.

  43. Zealith /

    I must admit, I’d love to get my hands on this calander. :D

    Great interview.

  44. lisa wardwell /

    I love Mercy Thompson! Can’t wait for the next book. Keep on churning them out, Patty!

  45. Jessie /

    Love the interview! As a female myself I never felt that this was a calendar objectifying women. Rather I thought of it as a collection celebrating the beauty and sexuality of the female form. I will say that I excitedly ordered this calendar without even a second thought! I thought it was beautiful and had an awesome theme!

  46. Petrochka /

    Hello Kat&Pat!
    Thanks for interview. It was very intresting to me. I live in Russia and how could I bye this calendar? I want to look at Sersei Lanister too! :)

  47. Frances Silversmith /

    You should get Jim C. Hines in on the project. Then you could have a pin-up one month and the corresponding cover pose the next. Now that’s a calender I would spend money on!

  48. Really cool calendar!! Really great article!

  49. leanne /

    Add another to the list of women not even remotely close to being offended, and also to the large list of women that purchased one!

    I feel kind of frustrated with reactions to the calendar, not because I think it should be for everyone, but because the feeling whenever disputed ideas of sexism arise is that the people who aren’t bothered don’t count, like we have flawed perceptions and are just not … enlightened enough to know we’re being insulted. There are real, legitimate issues that women have, and when I see something like arguments about whether or not characters are too beautiful in novels (or a charity pin-up calendar consisting of imaginary characters) become central to “today’s issues,” I kind of feel defeated already.

    It’s not for everyone. I totally get that, and don’t think the interviewer should feel pressured or anything to get one! And as a parent, I think you do start asking yourself a lot of questions about what you want your daughter’s world to look like. That’s not terrible, that’s love and understanding the struggles growing up surrounded by a thousand people you’d rather be.

    But after seeing this subject come up in other places, I don’t understand how so many people could look at, say… an artist’s release of his most beautiful, sexually amazing women, and see only something a lot sexist and maybe at least a little morally reprehensible. Wouldn’t it make more sense to celebrate how a woman could come along (if he was not actually a she to begin with) and come out with one of her favorite men.? Or women. Or that her list could be of any sort of man, not just the most ripped. She could paint male models with thinning hair and uncertain smiles perched on bookcases with groaning shelves, if that was more her thing.

    I don’t feel threatened about my imperfect body because a lady creature with some kind of rooster crown is wearing a glam dress, and growing up I did not need to be protected from pin-up girls. I still don’t. I don’t need to expect people to include women in personal projects to call it being equal, either. I want everyone to feel free to make what they like – including women.

    I’m sorry this is so long and more than a touch rambly, but it’s early yet here and if I don’t hit submit without proofing it then I will never say it at all, and I’ve seen it popping up enough that I feel like “I should have said something.” I don’t have anything against the interviewer or the interview, and I’m glad to see it get covered in any light.

    • Well said, Leanne; brava!!! I can’t add a thing to your response because it was so eloquently stated. Thank you for putting down the words in my own head. :)

    • Thanks for the comments Leanne! I’m the interviewer and I really hope I didn’t give the impression that I think “people who aren’t bothered don’t count, like we have flawed perceptions and are just not … enlightened enough to know we’re being insulted.”

      That’s certainly not what I think and I also don’t think the calendar is morally reprehensible. I think I was fair by looking at it from multiple angles and from multiple perspectives. In fact, Pat encouraged me to grill him on this issue precisely because it was being talked about so much. He appreciated the questions and enjoyed answering them. We were both very happy with the way the interview turned out.

      I’m not offended by the calendar. The only reason I won’t hang it up is because of my kids. While I’m old enough and mature enough to see beyond these issues and appreciate the calendar for what it is, I don’t think my kids are.

      I really appreciate everyone’s feedback!

      • It is wonderful to see you all to agree to disagree! I purchased both calendars because of the link it provided to such great reading and the boyhood rememberance of an artform gone past. Such wonderful books linked to such a great artform.

        Frank

        • Leanne /

          Hi Kat, thank you for your reply.

          I would like to apologize and clarify two things – the first being that I hadn’t intended the enlightened/insulted comment to be directed at you, and I’m sorry that was left open enough to seem so.

          This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen the calendar come up in an article or blog post (although the first interview I’ve seen, so at least there is actually opportunity to discuss!), and in two other commented pieces as well as a few casual conversation forum posts, I’d seen it referred to as sexist blah blah, and it just seemed strange that it seemed to come from such different-seeming circles. I commented today not to attack you – I’m sorry if in my lack of proofing there were feelings hurt and I don’t mean that to be patronizing at all – but because maybe it’s something to think about.

          I certainly don’t think your decision to hang or not to hang a calendar is any more anyone’s business than whether or not your kids drink soda, stay up past 8pm, or play with Barbies. Child-appropriate is the same kind of thing as work-appropriate – something may be cool outside of it, but you can’t bring everything into the same sphere.

          The second (third?) clarification was that I spoke poorly with the artist’s beautiful women example, as it was too close to the actual subject matter and looked like I was putting words in your mouth (morally reprehensible!). It wasn’t meant to be a thinly veiled reference, or anything – just a trail of thought that wonders if someone put out this thing, and we didn’t like it, how many people would really leave it at that rather than condemning it in more general, sweeping terms? These are the kinds of things that I have been seeing, and while it is nice to have someone actually asking questions and seeking discussion on the subject (thanks!), I feel somehow that in so many of things like this – even ones that are maybe actually offensive, sometimes – that censoring them for “my” sake makes it feel like ultimately, I still need protecting.

          Naturally, I may protect my children, or I may find that looking at some amazingly painted woman all month makes me feel inadequate and so I might protect myself ( ;) ), but on the larger scale of whether or not it’s wrong to *do* or wrong to *promote*, it seems on a different level. I don’t actually know where the line is, so I’m not down on talking about it. It just seems like it’s probably a long way from calendars.

          I think it comes off poorly because I was afflicted at birth with the “why one word when twenty will do” syndrome, so I’m sorry if I gave you or any of your readers a day of stomping at Someone Wrong On The Internet. I guess it was sort of like, “Everyone is talking about it here already, might as well jump in!”

          • Leanne /

            Woo, should have replied to the above one to avoid that crazy columning. Awesome. Sorry!

  50. Leanne, no worries — it would take a lot more than that to offend me and I think we’re totally on the same page. I don’t want to censor or protect anyone but my own kids until they’re mature enough to do it for themselves.

    I responded originally because I just wanted to take the opportunity to point out that Pat wanted to discuss these issues precisely because people were talking about it so much. It was meant to be a civil discourse in which we both examined the other person’s perspective and I really hope it came across that way.

    Unfortunately, some people who commented elsewhere really pounced on me. I didn’t comment in those places because that’s not where I wanted to engage it. I hope those people will read my comments here and know that I’m not a raging feminist who thinks the calendar is inherently sexist. I’m just asking the questions that I have, as a fan who would consider putting this on my wall, and the questions Pat wanted the opportunity to address publicly.

    Thanks so much for your response!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Thoughtful Thursday: Planning a male fantasy pin-up calendar | Fantasy Literature: Fantasy and Science Fiction Book and Audiobook Reviews - [...] couple of days ago Kat talked to Patrick Rothfuss about his 2013 Fantasy Pin-Up Calendar which raises money for …
  2. 2013 FANTASY PIN-UP CALENDAR FOR CHARITY | Zola - [...] FOR THE COMPLETE INTERVIEW CLICK HERE [...]
  3. World Wide Websday: January 23, 2013 | Fantasy Literature: Fantasy and Science Fiction Book and Audiobook Reviews - [...] give Patrick Rothfuss props for putting his money where his mouth is with this gender-swapped book cover. Jim C. Hines, one of the other …

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