Le Cirque des Rêves opened 135 years ago, not quite on this date because that was yesterday and with the proper anniversary came impeccably timed website issues, but technically the anniversary of opening night does extend overnight into today. It is Poppet’s birthday, after all.
To commemorate this occasion and bring a month of 10th Anniversary Night Circus shenanigans to a close, I am beyond delighted to present an additional illustration by Ethan M. Aldridge of Widget and Poppet and The Wishing Tree.
A month’s worth of Night Circus anniversary posts can be found on twitter & Instagram under hashtag #NightCircus10
Thank you, truly, from the bottom of my heart, for embracing and reading and sharing The Night Circus for the past ten years and for visiting le Cirque des Rêves. May all of your candle-lit wishes come true.
The Night Circus was published ten years ago today. To say this book changed my life would be a massive understatement. It shifted my entire world. I have been to so many places because of this singular imaginary ambulatory location that used to live only in my head and now lives in so many more.
I’ve gotten to meet so many people I wouldn’t have otherwise, including the wonderful Ethan M. Aldridge who has lent his extraordinary talent to commemorate this occasion with the above illustration of Bailey in his tree.
I don’t tend to post a ton of Night Circus-related stuff on social media but from now until October 13th (which is, of course, the 135th anniversary of opening night of le Cirque des Rêves) I’ll be posting circusy things on twitter & instagram to celebrate 10 years of Night Circus: old photos and different editions, cocktails and red yarn and whatever other dream dust I can dig up. Do please share your own Night Circus memories or shenanigans or tattoos or cosplay or cupcakes as well with hashtag #NightCircus10
Thank you seems too small a phrase to encompass ten years worth of gratitude but thank you. Thank you to everyone who put so much work into publishing and promoting. Thank you to librarians and booksellers for championing a strange debut by an unknown author. Thank you to everyone who has turned these pages and found themselves walking through circling paths amongst black-and-white striped tents, where the night air smells of caramel and bonfire smoke.
Thank you for visiting le Cirque des Rêves.
It has been my honor to share this place with you.
I began this year on airplanes. In bookstores and in theatres, meeting hundreds and hundreds of lovely people and signing so very many copies of The Starless Sea. Drinking post-event Cabernet and trying to remember what day it was or what city I was in, pausing too briefly in hotel room after hotel room and the whole time I had a head cold and I joked that I didn’t want to leave my house for the spring and then I didn’t.
I didn’t leave my house in the spring or the summer or the fall and now the snow is falling again.
Things that were happy-making in a long dark year:
I didn’t read much this year at all. I’m always a slow reader and I never get through as many books as I would like but this year was particularly bad for my attention span. I did procure a lot of books so I am well-stocked for 2021 and beyond.
Of the handful of things I did manage to read this year, these were my favorites:
We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry, the witchy 80’s Massachusetts field hockey novel I never knew I always wanted. Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh, who is a genius. I laughed, I cried, I laughed until I cried, all while our power was out, reading by flashlight. The Unidentified: Mythical Monsters, Alien Encounters, and Our Obsession with the Unexplained by Colin Dickey. I adored Ghostland and this is just as fascinating. One of the things I love about Colin’s work is how much of it is about the stories that we tell. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke. In many ways this book is to The Starless Sea what Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is to The Night Circus, which baffles and delights me. It is a treasure. Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings, like Shirley Jackson and Angela Carter had an Australian baby. It is moody and dark and has sharp teeth like the best of fairy tales. Beowulf translated by Maria Dahvana Headley is a luscious, lyrical gift of language that feels old and new at the same time.
This year I started writing a book that will very likely end up being the new book. It has been a file filled with notes for awhile but now there are pages of prose and characters who haven’t found their names yet and bits of impermanent imaginary architecture. It is a long way from being a book but it is more than it was at this time last year, a million years ago.
In the meantime The Starless Sea came out in paperback in August of this year which already seems like ages ago. You could purchase it or any number of other wonderful books (everything in the pile above is highly recommended!) from an independent bookstore near or far, might I suggest Print: A Bookstore or Gibson’s Concord or Odyssey Bookshop or Oblong Books & Music
I played a lot of games this year. No, more than that.
My game of the year is a fairly even tie between Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Hades. I bought pink rain boots because I liked my Animal Crossing ones so much. Hades made me realize I’m actually pretty good at the kind of game I sometimes find intimidating. (Current record clear time is 19:39.55)
Ghost of Tsushima was epic and stunning and the end of Act II made me cry more than any single moment in a video game ever.
I love a good visual puzzle game and Superliminal was just what I wanted, quirky and smart and beautiful.
I finished A Short Hike in one day and I still think about it, it is a perfect little story game. It is, as the name implies, very short. “a little exploration game about hiking up a mountain.”
I replayed a lot of things this year for purposes of comfort and familiarity including BioShock 2 (I had never done the Minerva’s Den DLC and it’s marvelous) and Horizon Zero Dawn and I am currently in the middle of my fourth replay of Dragon Age: Inquisition which is of course my most favorite game. I am taking my time with it but afterwards I am probably going to replay Origins & Dragon Age II as well, because it’s been that kind of year.
Also recently acquired the Annapurna Interactive Deluxe Limited Edition collection, I’ve played and loved some of these games already (particularly What Remains of Edith Finch and Gorogoa) and I am very much looking forward to the rest of them.
In related gaming news I still don’t have a PS5 despite trying several times to get one (I blame our comparatively slow internet speed) and right now my main goal is to get one before Horizon Forbidden West comes out.
I barely watched any tv this year but I did rewatch all of Adventure Time including the final seasons which I’d never seen and I sobbed my way through the final episode which was bananapants and perfect. I might need “Will Happen Happening Happens” embroidered on something.
We’ve been getting into Critical Role this year, we’re 30-something episodes into the second campaign and I love it, my attention span for watching anything has been terrible but with Critical Role I can sit and knit or whatnot and still follow fascinating complex narratives and it has been soothing in a chaotic sort of way. And there is so very much of it! We are like two years and a bazillion hours behind! It’s kind of nice to have so much catching up to do especially since we don’t leave the house and it is helping me sort of understand Dungeons & Dragons finally. I’ve never played! Everyone always thinks I have! I haven’t! But I’m learning! (Once in awhile someone tags me on twitter about doing campaigns based on my books and whether or not I mind and of course I don’t mind I am flattered beyond belief please please have all the role-playing fun with them!)
I keep neglecting the poor blog. It sits here gathering digital dust and I feel bad about it but there is actual dust to be dealt with in my house (most of it is Vesper fuzz) and “update blog” keeps slipping down the to-do list and now here it is September again so I’ve collected a bunch of little things and links and wonders to put here.
The Starless Sea is now available in beautiful new paperback editions in both the US and the UK. Translated editions are beginning to appear in German and Slovak and Spanish and French (I don’t have a copy of the beautiful Italian edition yet) and there are more on the way.
You can get The Starless Sea in hardcover or paperback from bookshop.org & help support indie bookstores, or even better: order directly from your local indie or a far-flung indie, many independent bookstores will ship & stores that I went to on tour back when I still wore shoes and left my house may still have signed copies.
You can still order signed and personalized books from The Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Massachusetts. (Personalized ones will take awhile but they usually have signed copies in stock.)
The official playlist for The Starless Sea can be found with explanations for each song choice over here via Largehearted Boy. I went through a lot of different versions through the years it took to write but this is the definitive one.
Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi comes out on September 15th and it is a treasure.
Some circusy things as we roll into autumn, which is, of course, circus season:
If you are looking for official Night Circus merchandise there are fantastic collections at both Storiarts and Out of Print
The Night Circus will be 10 years old when autumn rolls around in 2021.
I have no concept of time anymore. There are crows in the yard, too scattered to count, and the air is starting to get that crispness around the edges. The leaves are thinking about falling.
I’m working on something and I’ll need to lock myself away with it soon so I can listen to it whisper. It is currently bits and pieces and cherry blossoms and secret histories and closed doors and lost time. Eventually it will be a book, someday far, far in the future.
I will likely be away from the internet for most of the autumn/winter with occasional photos on Instagram or Vesper’s Instagram or both. Probably both. I will be mostly away from Twitter but if there is anything worth mentioning I will mention it there.
At some point in the foreseeable future this entire website will need a proper dusting and update so it might disappear for a bit and reappear again a short time later, like magic.
It feels like it’s been forever and a day but The Starless Sea came out less than a year ago. Thank you for supporting this book in this long, strange year. Thank you for sharing this story about stories. Thank you for sailing the Starless Sea.