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a few thoughts about the wsj

August 21st, 2011 by erin

So, this happened.

I have written and re-written this post.

I have a lot of thoughts but I’m not sure exactly what to say.

The most important part is likely this: I don’t believe there will be a “next” Harry Potter. Harry Potter was a phenomenon. Harry Potter was unique.

I think comparing my adult market, standalone novel to Harry Potter, or any other YA series, is a little bit absurd.

I think The Night Circus may share some qualities, especially in a magical, imaginary environment sense, with Harry Potter, but it’s in the same way that crème brûlée and chocolate soufflés both have sugar. And accent marks. They are still very different flavors and now I’ve wandered off into dessert analogies and made myself hungry.

I don’t want anyone tasting my book and expecting it to be something that it’s not.

Also, I have been called a pixie before, and been told by a psychic that I have fairy energy, but this is the first time I’ve ever been referred to as elfin. That I know of.

And the end of the article seems to imply that I’m not sure what to do next, when I’m well into my next novel which has nothing to do with the circus. It is also a standalone, adult market novel.

So, at the end of the day, I think it is mostly extremely odd to see a very large photo of your kitten in the Wall Street Journal. And for the record, it may look like I am calmly petting her but in actuality I’m holding her down because she was trying to escape.

12 Responses to “a few thoughts about the wsj”

  1. Ron says:

    I discovered your book by looking at this post, so hey, guess it got you one more future-buyer. I too think its impossible to repeat the phenomenal Harry Potter, (it is a standalone adult book afterall). However, I do predict success of Da Vinci Code, Water for Elephant level, from what I’ve seen. Good luck!

  2. Tim Guthat says:

    The picture the article painted (or the cake it baked?), was of an author besieged on all sides by demands for prequels, and being forced to wear the “Next Potter” mantle. I found it was rather depressing. My wife noted that the publishing industry is running scared right now. They feel they must have another Potter. So, I guess, in a way, it’s a complement many think you’re it (even if it is an annoying complement).

    Regardless, I’m glad to hear that you are working on your next project, one that has nothing to do with The Night Circus.

  3. Cheryl Wurtele says:

    I think the only thing that compares you to Harry Potter is that a lot of people of all ages and types are going to love this book. I personnally am excited it is a stand alone there are too many series as it is. I am hoping that one of your future books will be the one with the sub-terranian library that is mentioned on your web side. I will be reading whatever you publish because it is the magic way you make us want to go into the book and be part of it that makes it so special. Just enjoy writing and I’ll do what I can to sell them so you can keep writing

  4. Jennifer says:

    I love Harry Potter. I love The Night Circus. And I agree that other than a vague resemblance (both are books, both have magic), they have nothing to do with one another. Nada. Zilch. I don’t even think that they would logically appeal to the same interests (though one person having both interests is, obviously, not at all odd). Just don’t let me see you get together with Oprah and J.K. and talk about how hard it is to go from being a poor woman to a rich woman. I’m sure this is stressful and overwhelming, but come on now. :]

  5. sian says:

    hello! i just finished your book (just now in the bath) and it kind of reminded me/made me think of lemony snicket,’s a series of unfortunate events, scarlett thomas’ books and Jonathan strange and mr norrell by susanna clarke although it was actually not really like any of them and i completely loved it.x
    (i was reading a proof copy but i’ll be buying the book when it comes out in the UK)
    i also like looking at the pictures of your cat.x

  6. sbk says:

    I work in a bookstore and can’t wait to sell your book as a wonderfully imaginative, delightful, well written novel. People who like the Harry Potter series most likely will like your book too but I’m not using that as a selling point. You are a talented writer and I am looking forward to your next stand alone adult novel, Have fun with the success you’re receiving. You rock.

  7. Anna says:

    Just discovered the article and a friend pointed me to your blog. Congrats, the story seems so fresh and original I am so willing to dive into it. And yeah, no need to be Harry Potter, just the Night Circus will do well on its own. Keep writing, loved the excerpt!

  8. carey says:

    you are awesome, erin. <3

  9. Julie says:

    I love your reply to this Ms Erin! The book is fantabulous!!!

  10. Alexandrea says:

    I work in a small book store, and was thrilled to read your book. It’s a wonderful book (that stands on it’s own ink and paper) that I could not put down. To say it is the next Harry Potter did not even occur to me while reading this book. It is a flattering compliment (albeit also frustrating) in it’s own right, but I believe in this instance it’s simply not true. Your book is a wonderful stand alone book of it’s own kind. I will read this book several times of the years and suggest it to everyone I know. I strongly believe this will appeal to all types of readers.

  11. I agree that “The Night Circus” can’t be the next Harry Potter, since that award is obviously going to my next book. (All I have to do is come up with an actual idea, and bam! I’m there.)

    But—wow—there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? Imagine the millions of NaNo’ers out there who dream of not only completing a book but having it mentioned in something like the WSJ?

    That’s certainly my own private Cirque de Rêve!

  12. Keith Gibbs says:

    First off, congratulations with the release and the massive media blitz swarming around this debut. I have friend [Katharine Beutner] who also published her debut a year or so back (and I thought it was rather exciting from her accounts) but I can only fathom scaling that up a few orders of magnitude, as it seems in your case.

    Secondly, I am not the sort to buy a novel at/after midnight (the two notable exceptions being the last two Harry Potter novels, funny enough), or even the first week or so, after reading the NPR review and checking out the interactive fiction piece online, which helped give me a clue to the particular flavor of this novel, I can’t doubt I didn’t think about pre-ordering it. An finally last night at around 1:30 am, with a pile of “to read” [physically and metaphorically, since I have been glued to my Nook since I got it] nearby, went online and bought the ePub version. Just finishing up the last couple chapters of _The Neverending Story_ and onward.

    So bravo for not only you, but your literary agent, your publisher and whoever else is gunning for you.

    Now not to make this comment too obscenely long, I do have to take some slight contention to the sugar in crème brûlée and chocolate soufflés metaphor, since I think it may be disingenuous. I think the rampant Harry Potter allusions come from the element of magic (since shlock sword-and-sorcery from time immemorial has incorporated this), but in providing an rich fantasy experience *autonomous* of simple genre confines, one that, in particular, can cut across broad demographics. From the looks of it, people are hungry for dessert in general.

    Harry Potter is not what it is because of the children, but because of the adults. It grew to become a fantasy series for kids, adults, men, women, people who don’t really like fantasy, etc. From the reviews and from the initial chapter, I think what is so appealing about your debut is that it contextualizes the fantastic in a non-”stock” fantasy way: it’s not about a quest or a hero (per se). It’s not about monsters or plays out like some sort of action epic. It is about transporting the reader to somewhere he or she hasn’t been before, but seems eerily familiar. /Alice in Wonderland/ (although children’s literature) does this very well. /His Dark Materials/ does it less [it looses it's steam once it becomes more epic and action-y].

    I think it indeed an asset to be pitched as “Harry Potter for adults,” so long as it isn’t the sole characterization. Many people (like us) only started reading Harry Potter in college or later, but others grew up with it and are trying to find their next fantastic escape, regardless if it is more crème brûlée and chocolate soufflé. For that crowd, a different flavor may be welcome.

    It’s a convenient crib sheet in this post-Potter world. I admittedly have called Eco’s /Foucault’s Pendulum/ “/Da Vinci Code/ for smart people,” which doesn’t do justice to it subtlety and character-driven plot [as opposed to the action/thriller plotting of Brown's], but is convenient.