finished copies of books illustrated’s the starless sea

My copies of the Books Illustrated editions of The Starless Sea have arrived and they are stunning. The presentation of each volume is gorgeous and thoughtful with so many details. I keep petting the black leather honeycomb cover because it just feels so lovely and soft. These, along with the Books Illustrated editions of The Night Circus, are the most beautiful books that I own and it is an honor to have my stories contained in such packaging.

There are four different editions and as far as I know they are all still available here. (I believe there might be a few copies of their deluxe edition of The Night Circus as well.)

The illustrations by Anne Yvonne Gilbert are so beautifully detailed and layered, I am always so impressed by her ability to combine so many elements and moments into single illustrations and it is a joy to have her interpretations of so many moments from this book. (I am particularly delighted by her version of a certain Persian cat.) Limited edition prints of her illustrations from both The Starless Sea and The Night Circus are available here and here

I could go on and on about all the perfect details, from the repeating honeycomb motifs to the glorious hand-marbled endpapers in the prestige edition. I am endlessly grateful to Hilary and Mike from Books Illustrated and all of the artisans they work with to put these editions together, they are truly works of art. And, of course, Vesper likes them, too. 

beautiful things for spring

Vintage UK has a beautiful new edition of The Night Circus as part of their Vintage Quarterbound Classics collection. It will be available starting today wherever books are sold in the UK. There are links here for retailers. (Some bookstores should have signed bookplates.) It is both immensely flattering and a bit surreal to have this book included in such company.

I had the honor of writing the introduction for the Folio Society centennial edition of Lord Dunsany’s The King of Elfland’s Daughter. My copies have just arrived and they are so incredibly stunning. This centennial edition is illustrated by Julie Dillon and also has a foreward by Neil Gaiman and the whole presentation is just gorgeous, from the slipcover to the endpapers. It is such a delight to see this story wrapped in such an incredible package. I now have five different editions of this book spanning a century and they are all enchanting in their own ways. (If you’ve never read The King of Elfland’s Daughter I highly recommend it, it is wonder-filled and wonderful.)

Spring is disguising itself as winter around here, with hail yesterday and a fresh coating of snow today. It is doing nothing to improve my sense of time but it is very pretty. Spending these unseasonably cold days writing and playing Dragon’s Dogma 2 and waiting for things to bloom.

goodbye 2023

2023 was mostly quiet when it wasn’t loud. For the latter half of the year our house was under construction and being painted so it was busy and hectic and now that it’s cold everything has calmed and quieted again.

This year brought Night Circus tea from Old Growth Alchemy and announcements of new editions of books and it still amazes me that these stories get to be contained in such beautiful packages and interpreted in such magical ways.

I wrote a lot this year. I wrote backstories and sidestories. I wrote an introduction to something that has not yet been announced and I dug deeper into this book that is not a book yet. I don’t know how much of what I’ve written this year will end up in whatever this book turns out to be but I’ve excavated more of it, I’m more familiar with this place and these people now and next year will be about getting to know it all better and hopefully figuring out more of its secrets. 

I realized earlier this year that each book I’ve written ends up having both a thematic piece of music (that I tend to listen to over and over and over while writing) and a motto that I keep, each on a silver ring.

The Night Circus theme is Delirium’s Aria and its motto is Esse Quam Videri.

The Starless Sea theme is borrowed from Dragon Age Inquisition and its silver-engraved motto is Know Thyself.

This year I found the piece of music that is the new book theme, and I am currently wearing a silver ring engraved with the phrase that has become its motto on my right hand. The book itself is still a mess of unfinished threads in need of weaving but it is beginning to find itself, out there in the dark.

I got back into writing with fountain pens this year which was entirely the fault of my friends Mallory O’Meara and Lauren Panepinto and their InkWitches stream on twitch. I’d had a few long-neglected pens and now I have… more and a rather obscene amount of ink in a rainbow of colors. I’ve been slowly filling notebooks with multicolored bits and pieces of the new book.

Current pens in heavy rotation are my Opus 88 Jazz, Nahvalur Horizon and Benu Talisman (all broad nibs) and I always have a couple of TWSBI Ecos kicking around. Some current favorite inks include Taccia Utamaro-Umemurasaki, Wearingeul Persephone and oh so many inks from The Birmingham Pen Company, particularly Eroded Bronze and Chrysanthemum. And for the holidays Adam gave me this gorgeous Edison Dragoness pen. 

The Books Illustrated edition of The Starless Sea will be arriving next year (you can keep up with its progress by signing up for their newsletter). It has been an absolute joy watching Anne Yvonne Gilbert‘s illustrations as they’ve evolved over the past few months. They are all gorgeous and surprising but here, for New Year’s Eve have this one, because somewhere in this liminal space between years it is snowing, and somewhere within that snow there is an inn and its lanterns are lit. 

I am no longer on twitter, I hadn’t been there much at all of late but earlier this year I deleted all my posts and closed up shop there after 15 years. I am of course still on instagram, I am slowly getting used to bluesky and I’m forever using tumblr as a mood board. 

Favorite Books 2023

The Sundial – Shirley Jackson
The King of Elfand’s Daughter – Lord Dunsany
The Keep – Jennifer Egan
Sleeping Giants – Rene Denfeld (March 2024)
No One Will Come Back For Us – Premee Mohamed
White Cat, Black Dog – Kelly Link
The Naming Song – Jedidiah Berry (October 2024)
The Saint of Bright Doors – Vajra Chandrasekera
Starling House – Alix E. Harrow
Black River Orchard – Chuck Wendig

Favorite Video Games 2023

Baldur’s Gate 3

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

The Last Campfire

(I haven’t finished Baldur’s Gate 3 yet, I’m in the middle of Act 3 and my PS5 chose this week to die so please send tiny prayers to the Sony cloud save gods for me.)

This year sounded like Sigur Rós and Danse Macabre and Fleetwood Mac and lots and lots of Vitamin String Quartet. This one is not the aforementioned new book theme, but it is the opening track on the constantly evolving new book playlist that I put on every time I sit down to write, so now these opening notes feel like opening a door.

Whatever you accomplished or didn’t this year please know that it was enough just to get here to this night when one year tumbles into the next. And I hope that whatever 2024 brings there is some softness in it, and some brightness, and some wonder.

books illustrated’s the starless sea

Absolutely over the moon to be collaborating with Books Illustrated and Anne Yvonne Gilbert again as they work their magic on The Starless Sea.

This very limited special edition will be published in 2024 for The Starless Sea’s fifth anniversary. To keep up with the process as it unfolds including all future news regarding ordering information please sign up for the Books Illustrated Starless Sea mailing list here