Possibly helpful information before we get to questions:

  • If you want me to appear somewhere or do something or write something, please contact InkWell Management or Todd Doughty at Doubleday or the Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau. (I will probably not have time.)
  • Film rights to THE NIGHT CIRCUS have already been optioned by Lionsgate. No, I do not know when (or if) the movie is coming out or if you can be in it. When (if) there is ever news I can share I will share it.
  • My second novel, THE STARLESS SEA, was published in the US, UK & Canada on November 5th, 2019. More info here. For foreign rights information please contact InkWell.
  • My third novel is currently word soup. Someday it will be book-shaped. Someday.

You can find me on Instagram and, more importantly, Vesper on Instagram.

I am also on Twitter though I take frequent hiatuses.

  • 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. After college I thought about writing for good long while before I started actually putting pen to paper in my mid-twenties. (THE NIGHT CIRCUS was sold when I was 32.) I do not write every day, I tend to be a binge writer.

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

I mostly write in Scrivener, or in fountain pen on unlined paper.

  • Did THE NIGHT CIRCUS really start as a National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) project?

Yes it did indeed. The longer version of this answer has been chronicled several times (including this blog post about how I got an agent) but the short version is that NaNoWriMo is an online based challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I tried for the first time in 2003 & failed but succeeded in 2004 and in 2005 I started a project that I got bored with and sent the characters to the circus and that circus was immediately much more interesting than anything else so I spent the next two years of NaNo writing exploring that imaginary circus. It went through a great many changes between that double NaNo draft and the finished version. (An example: that entire 100k worth of original circus stuff? Celia isn’t in it. Seriously.)

I think NaNoWriMo is a brilliant idea and gives you two magical things: company and a deadline. Before NaNo I was the sort of person who would write a page and hate it so I’d stop, when really you need to keep going and write more pages and NaNo is a wonderful way to learn that.

I am eternally grateful to Chris Baty for coming up with such an outlandish idea, he has forever changed the way I feel about the month of November and also he has very good taste in wine.

  • Is there going to be a Night Circus movie?

Possibly maybe someday. That is all I know. Truly. The film rights have been optioned which means Lionsgate has the option to turn it into a film. People probably have meetings where they talk about things but no one tells me about them.

  • Is there somewhere I can buy chocolate mice?

Yes. Yes there is.

  • What’s THE STARLESS SEA about?

THE STARLESS SEA is about stories and storytelling and fate and time and video games. There is a lot of snow in it. And also bees. It is many books within a book and my editor once said trying to describe it was like trying to pour a bottle of wine into a shot glass.

  • When was THE STARLESS SEA published?

THE STARLESS SEA was first published in the US, UK & Canada on November 5th, 2019 and came out in paperback in those places the following year. It is now available in many more languages with even more on the way.

  • How do you make a Bee’s Knees cocktail?

Most recipes call for 2oz gin, 3/4oz honey syrup & 3/4oz freshly squeezed lemon juice, shaken with ice & strained, served in a chilled coupe glass but I tend to mix them a little heavier on the honey lemon, closer to a 2/1/1 ratio. I like a lot of different gins but Bar Hill is one of my favorites.

  • When is your next book coming out? What’s it about?

I have no idea, I need to finish writing it first. But since the circus is autumnal and Starless is very much a winter creature I figure I have to write a spring book next. Cherry blossoms and mud and growing things.

  • What happened to flax-golden tales?

I wrote flax-golden tales (ten sentence stories inspired by photographs taken by my friend Carey Farrell) from July 2009 to July 2014, they are all archived and can be read here. I started them for my birthday to make my blog look more like I was an actual writer. Five years and 261 stories later I decided it was time to stop.

  • When is your tarot deck going to be published?

Someday, maybe, though today is not that day. The paintings for The Phantomwise Tarot can be seen over here. A very limited edition of the Major Arcana was published several years ago, once in awhile a copy turns up for resale somewhere on the internet.

Some of my current favorite tarot decks by other people (I have a lot of them) include the Spacious Tarot, the Hush Tarot, the Oak, Ash & Thorn Tarot & the borderless edition of the Smith-Waite.

  • Do you have writing advice to share?

I borrow my favorite writing advice from Neil Gaiman, which is “keep writing and finish things.” The finishing things is important. I also like to amend that statement with a Da Vinci quote, which is “art is never finished, only abandoned.”

If you want in-depth, practical, smart writing & publishing advice complete with creative use of profanity, I highly recommend listening to my friend Chuck Wendig. Also do please check out his book Damn Fine Story.

  • Can I send you books to be signed?

No, but you can order books for me to sign including personalizing from The Odyssey Bookshop. They will ship internationally. (Do please order far in advance for anything time sensitive, like, really far.)

  • Can I send you other things?

Non-perishable things can be sent care of InkWell Management. Please do not send perishable things, like cookies or ducklings.

  • Can you do a Skype chat with my class/book club/etc?

I would like to because I am fond of Skype but I just don’t have time or a truly reliable internet connection, so I have to decline these sorts of invitations across the board.

  • Is your internet really that bad?

In 2016 we moved to the beautiful woods of Western Massachusetts and we did not have cable or internet of any sort for two years. It’s a minor miracle that we have it at all now. It’s fine but I don’t really trust it for virtual event type things. (There was discussion of doing a virtual event for the paperback release of THE STARLESS SEA and we didn’t do it because I was worried about the internet and our power went out for two days on that exact date.)

  • Can you come to {insert city or town here}?

I last toured in autumn/winter of 2019/2020 when THE STARLESS SEA and then the rest of 2020 happened so now I rarely leave my house.

Someday far in the future, once I finish the book I am working on, any events will be posted here.

  • What’s your cat’s name?

Lady Vesper Victoria Sparkles Motorboat Morgenstern-Scott. She is named Vesper after the cocktail, because her mother’s name is Mint Julep and we decided she also needed a cocktail name.