I was thinking of doing a post for Banned Books Week, even though a billion other people have said smarter, wiser things about book banning than I could ever manage. I was only going to babble something about how I’m one of those weird people who actually really likes The Catcher in the Rye, partially because I cannot bring myself to dislike a book that is the primary reason I got a 5 on the AP English exam in high school. (I decided no matter what the free essay topic was, I would write about Catcher. I knew that book backwards & forwards.)

And then I read this list of banned and challenged classics, and sitting right up the top with The Catcher in the Rye is another of my very favorite books to be forced upon me in high school, The Great Gatsby.

I suppose this would be a good time to say Thank You to my junior year English teacher, who taught both these books way back in the mid-90s in Catholic school. I needed parental permission to write a paper on Tennessee Williams the same year, but I was still allowed to write it.

That was a good year.

But mostly, seeing The Great Gatsby mentioned reminded me of Kate Beaton’s Great Gatsby comics from Hark, a Vagrant:

So, dear readers. Go read. Go think. Go giggle at comics. Happy Banned Books Week.

There’s been far too much book excitement around here, and not enough of what is truly the heart of this blog: the kittens.

So, here are the fluffmonsters in their natural habitat, cardboard boxes.

Tessa is actually sitting on even more of the crumply paper. She’s been in there for hours, though, so it must be more comfortable than it looks.

Bucket is managing to sit in the sunshine and in a cardboard box at the same time. Talented, talented kitty that she is.

so what’s the book about?

I’ve had a lot of people ask me what the book is about.

I rather like the very long sentence that Publisher’s Marketplace used in the deal announcement:

Erin Morgenstern’s THE NIGHT CIRCUS, set at the turn of the 19th century, which tells the story of two young magicians, pawns in an age-old rivalry between their mercurial, illusionist fathers, and the enchanted circus where their competition (and romance) plays out, leaving the fates of everyone involved – from creators and performers to patrons – hanging in the balance.

I also applaud the use of the word mercurial, which is one of my favorite words.

not that kind of letter

I wrote you a letter, on paper. It seemed more significant than an e-mail.

And this way you can’t forward it to all of your friends.

I needed to say goodbye.

You might have been content to fade away, but I needed… I don’t know, closure or something.

Even if you never read it.

I had to send it anyway.

I went to post it this afternoon, to let you go, finally.

There were hearts painted on the mailbox.

I sometimes think the universe is mocking me.

About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.



I have been completely useless. I keep squealing at people on the phone when I’m not rendered utterly speechless. At this point I think my agent would be shocked if we had a conversation that didn’t partially involve stunned silence on my part. I think I EEPed at him. That’s probably not very professional.

I’ve been trying to write. I’ve been trying to read. I have been failing on both counts. I have a half-finished painting on the workbench that Tessa keeps napping on.

So I’ve been drinking tea and wandering around the internet. I bought a pencil skirt.

And I’ve been reading through Allie Brosh’s brilliant blog, Hyperbole and a Half. Her post on being a failure at success is so me right now it’s absurd.

I am not coping well with this bit of success I seem to have come across.  It appears that my nervous system is having trouble distinguishing celebratory excitement from extreme danger.

So yeah, me in a nutshell right now, only not as blonde:

I go back and forth from hysterical giggles to near panic attack. I think the boy is concerned.

I almost don’t want to post this. I want to appear all calm and cool and collected but I’m totally not. And I figure the best thing I can do is just be honest. So yeah, I’m squealing at people on the phone. A lot. I’m giddy with excitement but I’m also kind of nauseous and I feel like my life suddenly completely changed even though I haven’t left my apartment.

Amusement park ride metaphors would likely be appropriate. Maybe not quite roller coaster, but that centrifuge thing that spins you back against the side of a wheel while the world tilts out from under you? Yeah, that.

If I try to get off, I’ll probably just fall down. So I’m going to hold on and see what happens next.

A little over a week ago, when I found out my novel was going to be sent out to publishers, I bought this bottle of sparkling syrah to open if and when the book sold:

Notice how it’s open.


I have spent most of the weekend giggling hysterically and consuming bubbly alcohol, thinking to myself: This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife.

How did I get here?

Well, I got here by starting this novel in 2006 and not abandoning it. I got here because I have an amazing, amazing agent who spent the last year helping me make my manuscript better than I ever thought it could be when I started querying. I got here because I have a team of endlessly talented writer friends who live in my computer, who never let me give up even when the Revisionland Hotel started feeling like the Hotel California.

I spent most of last week on the phone with editors who loved my strange nocturnal black & white circus novel.

On Friday afternoon, THE NIGHT CIRCUS sold to Doubleday.

To say I am elated would be the understatement of the century. I am delighted beyond belief, and I am absolutely thrilled to be working with my editor. (My editor! It’s like the my agent game all over again!)

So I lift a glass of sparkling syrah to each and every person who got me here.

Thank you does not even begin to cover it. I would knit you all red scarves were I not such a slow knitter.

Apparently, this is my beautiful house. Same as it ever was.

Kittens, as always, remain unimpressed.

advice for the sixth task

There are only seven Tasks.

Not that many, really.

And they do not necessarily need to be accomplished in numerical order.

Truly, it would be easier to obtain the Copper Chalice (Task three) if you already possess the Cloak of Sorrow (procured in Task five, if you do it properly).

If you succeed, wonders beyond your wildest dreams shall be yours.

That is, if you manage to get past the flamingos in order to complete the sixth Task.

The flamingos defeated so many who have gone before you.

I’ll give you a hint.

They’re not really asleep.

And they’re not really flamingos.

About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

tousled & autumnal

It’s autumn! For reals! I have socks on! My coffee was pumpkin flavored this morning! It was iced coffee, but still. Autumn! Oh, how I adore you, season of mists & mellow fruitfulness.

The circus is officially out of my hands. It’s strange, but it’s been a long time coming. So while occasionally glancing wistfully in the direction of the Revisionland Hotel, I’m working on a new novel. Right now it’s grown-up Alice in a 40s noir-inspired Wonderland. I have a couple of languishing works in progress that I probably could have gotten back to, but my brain was craving something new. I’ve written 25k in just over a week. I need to read some more detective novels to get the flavor right, but so far it’s interesting.

And I decided I needed some updated photos of myself, so the boy indulged me in a photo session yesterday. Still getting used to the new camera lens, but after some trial & error, I’m pretty pleased with the results. The best ones are now on the about page, and here’s how the rest of that hair tousle went:

risk & reward

A game is not really a game unless it has proper stakes, she says.

If I lose, she gets my heart.

I ask her what I get if I win, because I don’t particularly want her heart.

She laughs.

What do you want? she asks. More than anything in the world?

I tell her.

She considers my request for quite awhile, but then she says it can be done, should I win.

So I agree to her terms.

I don’t tell her that I never lose, but she figures that out within the first few moves.

About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.