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Archive for February, 2012

this is not a FAQ part the second

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Okay, this took longer to put together than I’d intended but here is Part II of the not really a proper Frequently Asked Questions extravaganza. This is more about me and miscellaneous things than about writing, thus the title.

Part II: Not On Writing 

I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!

– Alice In Wonderland

  

About Erin

 

How old are you?

I get this a lot, I think because no one has stuck my birthdate on Wikipedia yet and I assume it’s difficult to guess from my appearance given that I still get carded frequently. I am currently 33 years old. My birthday is the 8th day of July.

 

Where did you go to school?

I went to Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. I lived in the same house that Julia Child lived in when she went there, which I still think is pretty darned cool. I majored in Theatre and I probably could have minored in Studio Art had I actually bothered to declare it an official minor. I could have done the same thing with English or Religion, most likely, but I didn’t sleep that much during college so I’m sure there were a lot of things I should have done and didn’t.

 

Are you married?

I don’t like that I even need to cover this but since there are still inaccurate author bios going around I probably should: I was married, I have been separated since early 2010 and I’m currently in the process of getting divorced. It is a long story that the internet does not need to know but I figure the clarification is fair.

 

Where do you live?

Currently Boston, previously Salem. I’ve lived in Massachusetts most of my life. I am thinking of moving later this year but I haven’t decided where just yet.

 

Where did you get that necklace/those boots/that dress?

A great deal of my jewelry comes from Etsy. I am almost always wearing at least one piece of bloodmilk. There are savage salvage pieces in heavy rotation and the necklace with all the keys is from star of the east. I also have a couple of pyrrha wax seal necklaces.

My boots or shoes, with rare exceptions, are Fluevogs. I am not a shoe person, truly, but I am a Fluevog person.

Most of my tour wardrobe has included pieces from AllSaints Spitalfields. There are also bits from Ann Taylor and J.Crew and Trashy Diva.

 

Why do you smell so good?

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab.

 

What’s your favorite book/movie/band/etc?

I am bad at favorites because I like variety and layers, but here is a small sampling:

Books, some all-time favorites:

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Griffin & Sabine by Nick Bantock

Movies, same:

The Fall

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Gosford Park

Amélie

Spirited Away

Bands/musicians/etc:

Tori Amos

Florence + the Machine

Radiohead

Arcade Fire

and I’m all into classic jazz lately.

 

About Art Stuff

 

When is your Etsy store going to be back?

I don’t know. Likely not until I have someone else to run it for me which… yeah, I don’t know. I would like it to be active again eventually but I really can’t say when that will be.

 

When will the tarot deck be available?

Good question. Lots of details still need to be worked out and I’ve been putting it off because I want to have the time to give it the attention it deserves but hopefully that will be sometime in the not-too-far future. When there are deck publication details I will post them all over the place, I promise.

 

About Contacting me & Social Media & Such

 

Can I send you art/cookies/books to be signed/etc?

I’m still working on the best way to handle this sort of thing. Right now I can’t receive & return books to be signed, I’m sorry. I’m hoping I’ll eventually have a good setup for sending out signed bookplates or something like that but I don’t have one in place yet. I shall update this accordingly when I do.

If you would like to send me actual (non-perishable) things you can send them care of Doubleday, 1745 Broadway New York NY 10019. Putting “Attention Alison Callahan” will likely help, she’s my beloved editor. Eventually I will get a PO Box, but that will likely require knowing where I’m going to live for a reasonable amount of time.

 

Where else can I find you on the internet?

I’m @erinmorgenstern on Twitter, which is my social media of choice. I like it because it lives in the now. I try to respond to @ replies as much as I can.

I have a facebook fan page that I don’t keep up with personally as much as I’d like to, it is co-run by Doubleday and they speak facebook better than I do.

If you want to ask me a direct question, tweeting at me or blog commenting will likely be most effective.

 

Can I email you?

You can email me at erin@erinmorgenstern.com. I try to respond as much as I can but it’s usually not in anything resembling a timely manner.

If you write me (or have written me) at any other email address I cannot guarantee that I’ve even seen it, with the exception of the address you likely have if you are someone I actually know. I have recently (mostly) caught up on my email so if you have sent me anything important or anything that required a reply, please resend to the address above.

If you want me to do a reading/signing/interview/etc or have a question that involves rights or things of a business sort please contact Doubleday or InkWell Management.

 

Will you come visit my city/country/teahouse?

I would love to, especially if there is tea, but I don’t do much deciding of where I go myself so again, please contact Doubleday or InkWell if you want me to come read things or sign things or drink tea. (I am afraid I cannot do all three at once, alas.)

 

 

Okay, I think that’s it but again if you have other questions not answered here (or in Part I) please feel free to add them in the comments and I will update this accordingly!

flax-golden tales: necessary supplies

Friday, February 24th, 2012

necessary supplies

My sister takes this bag with her everywhere, like a Mary Poppins bag only hers actually gets bigger from putting so much stuff in it so it’s practically as big as she is but she still carries it all the time, no matter where she goes.

Someday she’ll be an excellent nomad.

Right now it just slows her down when we walk, especially in the snow. I make a point to leave twenty minutes early whenever I have to take her anywhere. Even beyond the bag she gets easily distracted by all sorts of things, but if I complain to Mom about it she says I need to allow her to fully explore her curiosity and doesn’t seem to care that between her curiosity and her giant bag we’re always late for things, but Mom also says things like time is an illusion.

“What are you doing?” I ask my sister as she stops mid-walk to pull a scarf from her bag and tie it around a tree.

“Trees get cold,” she says, as though this is an obvious fact.

“Someone’s just going to take it,” I tell her, but she only shrugs.

“That’s okay. Maybe they’re cold, too.”

She gives the tree a friendly pat and then hefts her bag back on her shoulder so we can continue our slow journey through the snow.

 

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

FAQ addendum & a kitten

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

I had wanted to have Part II of the Not-A-FAQ done by now but I had a document saving hiccup and got busier than I’d expected so it’s still in progress. It will hopefully be posted sometime next week.

However! I have made an addendum with some additional questions and hopefully appropriate answers over on Part I for your information and enjoyment.

Also, here is a picture of Tessa, staring at me through the door of the office. She was yelling incessantly but looks all sweet and quiet in this deceptive photograph.

flax-golden tales: princesses

Friday, February 17th, 2012

princesses

My mother is thrilled when I get the position at the castle, though a mother’s pride is likely the only thrill that accompanies a position as a castle maid. Of course, she will tell her friends that I work at the castle and leave the maid part out entirely.

On my first day the head maid takes me on a tour and it is somewhat thrilling. The castle itself is grand and sprawling and I can see why they need such a large staff. The head maid tells me as we walk that I will be assigned to certain rooms and I will likely never see much of the rest of the castle again. I will rarely, if ever, see the king.

The courtyards are lush and green, dotted with fountains and sculptures, and around the edges there are strange large urns, each painted a bright, cheerful color.

What are those? I ask my guide, moving to point but she grabs my hand and shakes her head, looking over her shoulder before leaning to whisper in my ear.

That’s where he puts the princesses when he’s finished with them.

I start to smile, thinking it a joke, but her expression stays serious and somber as we walk by urn after urn, yellow and purple and pink.


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

<3

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day!

canada love

Monday, February 13th, 2012

I have just returned from a few splendid days in Toronto.

I <3 Toronto. It was my third trip since September so it is starting to feel familiar and friendly.

The main point of the trip was the Toronto Public Library’s Book Lover’s Ball which was all fancy-dress and sparkly. I mostly flounced around sparkling with the delightful Lesley Livingston so I hope she will not mind if I snag her photo to share and if she does mind I can make it up to her when I buy her that drink I owe her.

I still don’t think something should really be called a Ball when there is no dancing but there was mingling and lovely people and then a seated dinner with a designated author per table. I really did get the best table, full of delightful, interesting people that were also somehow six degrees of my Canadian publicist. I would tell you the giraffe story but I think you had to be there. Also, during the cocktail hour I basically accosted Ami McKay to gush over her gorgeous vintage gown. There was a fashion show with splendid book-inspired collections and bonus swordfighting and the more I talk about this evening the more I think it probably sounds even more surreal if you weren’t there but I had a splendid time.

The other highlight of the trip was the Random House Blogger Love Fest, which was a fantastic afternoon with local book bloggers invited over to Random House to be appreciated and I got to serve as a surprise special guest along with the aforementioned Ami McKay and also Paula McLain, they are both absolutely delightful and I kind of want us all to go on tour together. In my imagination we would do this looking something like The Andrews Sisters. I was doubtful beforehand that we would actually be a complete surprise but apparently we were and it made the entire thing even more fun. Thank you to all the wonderful bloggers and to everyone who put the event together!

In between official obligations I actually had some time to get to see more of the city and have fantastic food (I am a teensy bit obsessed with Origin) with good company. Friday night there was that perfect snowglobe snow and it was all warm-feeling in winter cold wonderful. I took this photo of the CN Tower, though it doesn’t quite capture the snow:

Hopefully I will be back soon.

flax-golden tales: ingredients for love

Friday, February 10th, 2012

ingredients for love

I assembled all the proper pieces, divided them into cups and jars so I could stay organized. I took my time and waited for the glue to dry even when I got impatient.

I used glitter and beads and added feathers to give it hope, then I bound it in a rainbow of ribbons to keep it safe and warm.

When it was finished, my love was a bright, sparkling love to outshine any construction-paper Valentine.

It was fantastic.

But I did it wrong.

I forgot to weigh it down with hard, heavy things to make it stronger. To add a pinch of salt to bring out the sweetness. I made it fanciful instead of real.

I shall have to try again.


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

this is not a FAQ, part the first

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Okay, this is how we’re going to do this. This is not a real Frequently Asked Questions. Maybe it will be eventually, but for now it will be a work in progress.

This shall be Part I: On Writing. (There will be a Part II: Not On Writing soon.)

I will eventually put together a real non-blog page for this, but for now it can start here and do feel free to ask additional questions in comments and maybe they can be incorporated.

And, here we go:

Part I: On Writing

To begin… To begin… How to start? I’m hungry. I should get coffee. Coffee would help me think. But I should write something first, then reward myself with coffee. Coffee and a muffin. Okay, so I need to establish the themes. Maybe banana-nut. That’s a good muffin.

-Charlie Kaufman, Adaptation

About Writing in General

 

How long have you been writing?

I wrote little random things when I was in junior high and high school but never really thought of myself as a writer. I studied playwriting in college but never finished any plays. Wrote a few pretty good scenes, though. After college I thought about writing for good long while before I started actually putting pen to paper in my mid-twenties.

I do not have an MFA or any other formal writing training. I love adverbs. I still do naughty things with commas.

 

How did you write a bestseller/how does one write a bestseller/etc?

For any question that boils down to “how did you write a successful novel?” the answer in my case is pretty simple: I wasn’t trying to. I didn’t sit down and aim for the bestseller lists, I didn’t even know much about publishing or the book industry when I started writing, I just had a lot of stuff in my head to get down on paper. I told a story without much thought toward publication, I only wanted to tell it as best I could.

Truthfully, had I been trying to do something I thought would be successful I might not have written the book I wrote. I had a sprawling draft of The Night Circus when I started educating myself about the industry and found things that said “don’t write in present tense” and “never use second person ever” and I thought: oops. But I had written so much already that I figured it couldn’t hurt to just see what happened, and figured at most it would be publishable even if it wasn’t done “properly” and I think it goes to show that rules are more like guidelines.

 

How did you get an agent?

I sent query letters and sample pages and followed guidelines. I listened to feedback and I revised a lot. The long version of the “how I got a literary agent” saga is chronicled here.

I learned a lot about the querying/publishing process by spending time on the Absolute Write Forums. They’re big and busy but there’s a lot of really useful information and wonderful, smart people over there.

 

Will you read my manuscript/refer me to your agent/publisher, etc?

No. I’m sorry. Firstly, I don’t have time. Secondly, I am proof positive that cold querying works and you don’t need connections to get published.

 

Are you working on another novel? When will it be available?

I am working on something new. When I have time, which is proving more difficult to find than I’d like but I am indeed working on it. It is not circusy. It is something completely different, still fantastical but heavily rooted in reality. Probably best described at this point as a film noir-flavored Alice in Wonderland. It is still in messy, non-novel-shape and I don’t know how long it will take to get it novel-shaped.

To give you a very basic time frame: the circus took around five years from when I started working on it to when it was finished and then another year between “finished” and “published.” I don’t think this one will take quite that long to write but it will very likely take the rest of this year at least, and then it will be at least another year after that before it would be published. Also, I want to take the time and get it right, so it might be a bit longer than that.

 

What advice do you have for writers?

I recycle the best advice I ever heard from an author from Neil Gaiman: Keep Writing and Finish Things. The finishing part is sometimes kind of tricksy, but it’s really important.

And of course, my other best advice for writers: Read. I am also fond of books about writing, particularly Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.

On a nuts and bolts level, I recommend a software program called Scrivener. I’ve seen people complain about “writing” software but it’s really more like organizational software. A novel is long and having a program that can organize it and let me look at it in bits and pieces and move things around is something I find invaluable.

 

About The Night Circus

 

Was The Night Circus written during National Novel Writing Month?

A very sprawling, very rough draft of The Night Circus was first written in a few different Novembers of NaNoWriMo. Almost the entire book was rewritten and revised before it got from there to the finished version. To give you an idea of how much: Celia isn’t in that first sprawling draft. It is a lot of stuff about the circus but not a lot of plot, but it gave me something to work from.

 

Will there be a sequel to The Night Circus?

No. Maybe someday I’ll write a circus-set something but it would more likely be a collection of short pieces as there are so many stories floating around the edges. I don’t think it needs a “this is what happened next” sort of sequel. I like that it is one book with a beginning and an end. Not every book needs to be a series.

 

Will the circus be published in French/Chinese/Russian etc?

There are quite a few foreign editions both already published and forthcoming. I don’t have a full list or publication dates but chances are the answer is yes, and if it’s not available now it will be at some point.

 

Is there going to be a movie?

Maybe. This will continue to be the answer for a good long time because anything can happen in the strange and mysterious world of film production. The film rights have been optioned by Summit Entertainment, which means they have the option to make The Night Circus into a film. They are indeed working on it but I do not personally know all that much about what’s going on with it at any given point. When there are official updates, I’m sure the internet will know.

PSA: I have very little to do with the movie. Strange but true. I wrote the book, other people will adapt it into a screenplay and handle casting and designing and do all the movie-making things. I cannot tell you how to audition or anything like that, not that it’s even reached that stage yet. Summit is in charge. I’m just along for the ride.

 

Okay, I think that’s it for Writing/Circus questions but do please let me know if you think I missed anything. Part II will cover all sorts of miscellany, including “Where did you get those shoes?”

 

Addendum to Part I, Feb 23rd:

What is your writing process like?

Messy. I’m a very visual person so a lot of writing for me is translating spaces and people and scenes in my mind into words, sometimes it’s easier than others. I often have to write a lot to find the description that works best, sometimes I hit on a single word that fits the image and I build from there.

I don’t write in order. The Night Circus was written vignette by vignette and many of them were re-ordered in the revision process. I have an entire section in my Scrivener document for the new novel called “pieces without places” that includes everything from word-sketches of architecture to snippets of dialogue.

I like both books and art with lots of layers, and the best way to accomplish both for myself has been putting down a lot of paint and then refining and bringing out detail. Though with writing I don’t end up with paint in my hair. Usually. 

 

What did you do before you were a writer?

I sat in fluorescent-lit cubicles and made photocopies. Really. I had a string of office jobs and none of them were particularly inspiring. I had a degree in Theatre and didn’t really want to do theatre anymore so I spent most of my 20s filing things and arguing with fax machines and wondering who took my stapler while trying to figure out what to do with my life. I quit a couple of years ago to focus on writing and painting to see if either would take off and now here we are.

 

Are there particular books that influenced The Night Circus?

The circus had a lot of influences, some of the stronger particular ones were Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke and The Prestige by Christopher Priest (as well as the film version of the same).

The vignette format of the book was inspired by Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman, one of my favorite books of all time.

In a general flavor sense there’s a heavy dose of Shakespeare and Dickens with a sprinkling of Roald Dahl around the edges and an Edward Gorey aperitif.

 

May I listen to songs that inspired/remind you of The Night Circus?

Why yes, yes you may. I made a playlist for the circus, it is both on Spotify and 8tracks for countries that are not Spotify-friendly. You can also read explanations of all these songs over here via largehearted boy’s Book Notes.

 

Do you have discussion questions about The Night Circus for book clubs, etc?

My fabulous publisher does! There’s a great list here. I’m not even sure how I’d answer some of them.

 

flax-golden tales: the sheep know all your secrets

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

the sheep know all your secrets

“They seem expensive,” I said to the pink-haired girl running the booth who looked like she should be somewhere other than a craft show, or at least selling something more punk than small fuzzy sheep.

“They’re actually on sale today,” she told me. “Normally they’re thirteen but I knocked them down to nine since it’s the last day and there are so many left.”

“Still seems high for a sheep that doesn’t do anything.”

“Oh, they do something,” she said, half-giggling and tucking her hair behind her ear while she leaned closer to explain. “Each sheep knows a secret, that’s why I have to paint each mouth with a little x, so they won’t tell until after they’re paid for.”

“What kind of secrets?” I asked, even though I was pretty sure she was either joking or flirting with me or both.

“Some of them know those deep dark past secrets you think no one else knows and others know future stuff like the name of your one true love or the day of the month your life will change, things like that but each one is different.”

I bought six sheep including the one that was staring at me because I only had enough cash for six and I still thought she was just flirting with me since she tucked her pink hair behind her ear three different times while she was wrapping them, but she turned me down when I asked if she wanted to get a cup of coffee or something.

Once I got home and figured out how to get the sheep to tell me their secrets, I wished I’d bought more of them.

 

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