I inadvertently left the jellyfish out of the last post so now they get one of their own.
This is a much belated post. Remember when I mentioned I was going on proper vacation at the beginning of the month? We were in Vancouver. We’d been planning it for awhile, Adam hadn’t been out to British Columbia in a few years and I’d never been anywhere Canadian beyond Toronto, so we spent a few days in Vancouver city and then the rest of the week out in Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
I want to go back to the city again to spend more time and eat more food. We had such good food there. (My must-go-back favorites were Hawksworth & Salt Tasting Room.) Also apparently Vancouver is a magical land of gluten-free cookies because we kept finding fantastic ones everywhere, including in ice cream sandwich form. We went to the Vancouver Aquarium and saw otters and lots of jellyfish and we went to the Granville Island Market where we ate lots of delicious things and also watched a seagull murder a pigeon. I didn’t plan any book things because vacation but I did offer to sign stock at a Chapters because they had the circus everywhere and the booksellers were adorable and wonderful. Most things in Vancouver were wonderful, other than the murderous seagull.
Vancouver Island is easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. All the trees are so gorgeous and moss-green, fairy-tale foresty. In Tofino we took long walks on the beach (we had remarkably good weather) and saw fat starfish. We ate more delicious food and drank tea and read books and I taught Adam how to play Clue. It was beautiful and calm and relaxing which is just what I needed & I’m sure we’ll go back someday.
Here are a few photos, all taken by Adam. There were so many lovely ones but I tried to pick my favorites.
Last week I was in Odessa, Texas as part of their One Book Odessa festivities for The Night Circus.
It was a wonderful, magical, fantastic couple of days and I met so many lovely people. I am amazed and awed at all the work and attention to detail that went into everything, Chandresh himself would be proud.
Above are some of the decorations from the Ector County Library, silhouettes of mini Widget & Poppet in the children’s section. The whole library looked amazing, the stairs were the Cloud Maze! And I loved the Wishing Tree.
Thursday was the Night Circus Gala held at the grounds of The Globe Theatre. Did you know that there are replicas of Shakespeare’s Globe & Anne Hathaway’s cottage in Texas? I didn’t, so it was a delightful surprise and a gorgeous setting for all the circusy festivities, including magic and tarot reading (I got a very spot-on reading myself) and the most adorable contortionist and fabulous music by White Ghost Shivers.
And then there was this cake which I was completely blown away by, photos can’t do it any justice because there was so much gorgeous detail from every angle. It was made by Brenda Ornelas and there are more photos on her facebook page.
The next day we were on the front page of the newspaper.
On Friday during the day I got to meet a bunch of wonderful high school students who had created their own circus tents that were all incredibly imaginative and fun. And that evening we had an onstage interview and q&a and book signing that was full of interesting questions and I apologize again for saying the name of the Scottish play (several times) in a theatre.
Then there was a beautiful (early) midnight dinner with exquisite little courses by Chef Alejandro Barrientos, which was extraordinary. (Also there was Night Circus wine!)
Dinner was followed by a special presentation of the dramatic reading of Part One of the book by Mark 10 Theatricals which was absolutely wondrous and so creative. This is me with the gorgeous cast & director:
Now I’m home in NYC and it all seems like a lovely dream. I’m truly astounded by the thought and care and creativity on so many levels, and I feel honored to have had my book embraced by the community so enthusiastically.
And huge thanks and gratitude to Randy Ham, who was not only a gracious escort for our time in Odessa and a splendid interviewer but the ringmaster behind all the circusy festivities.
We picked apples and got an early pumpkin and also the farm had bunnies and chickens. We also took a lot of photos, including Adam levitating and me in the first denim jacket I’ve owned since I was approximately thirteen years old.
Afterwards we came back to the city and ate All The Sushi at Sushi Yasuda. (We sat at the bar and said we liked salmon when asked our preferences and our sushi chef said “I have nine kinds of salmon!” so it was splendid before we even started eating and then the eating part was divine.) By the end of the day we were sunshine-tired and sushi-full and very happy birthdayed.
The leaves are in that stage where they are thinking about changing but not properly flame-colored yet, only a little bit around the edges, but the crispness in the air and the quality of the light are showing their autumnal cards, just before the equinox.
Autumn is my favorite.
One of the things I love about living in NYC is that there are entire other worlds here, where you can forget that you’re in the middle of Manhattan and feel like you’re somewhere else entirely.
We went to the American Museum of Natural History today. I haven’t visited in a very long time and I’d forgotten how wonderful and maze-like and fascinating it is.
We saw a lot of whales in a fabulous exhibit that we were not allowed to take photographs in. (The whales kept reminding me of The Rathbones which I can finally tell you to read in about a week and a half.)
I learned that sea otters have the densest fur of any mammal. I became enamored of a tiger and a fluffy-footed owl. I found things that inspired writing ideas in shadowy corners when I wasn’t even looking for them, but maybe they were looking for me.
And of course, we only managed a fraction of the galleries, so we shall have to go back.
(All photos are Adam’s, he brought his camera and I just had my phone, though I did get a good Instagram of the lynx.)
Last week I got to wear a blue (blue! not black!) dress and interview Neil Gaiman and talk about The Ocean at the End of the Lane and admit in front of hundreds of people that I’ve never seen Doctor Who.
(I know. I’m sorry.)
I had planned on doing some sort of post-event blog post but then afterwards I really wasn’t sure what to say.
I had a lot of fun and though I was supremely nervous it went really well and everyone including Neil seemed very pleased with everything. He’s remarkably easy to interview considering he kept answering questions before I even asked them. Perhaps he’s clairvoyant. I met him for the very first time about an hour before we were on stage so the whole thing felt remarkably surreal.
There is an excellent writeup of the evening over on Tor.com (though I think a few of the quotes about whether or not we die may be misattributed).
I had many more questions than we had time for, though my main goal was to talk about things that maybe weren’t being talked about at every single stop on his tour, and we got tiny frogs in teacups and BPAL and Mythic Boy Jesus so I’d call that a win.
One of the last audience questions posed to Neil was “Who is your favourite living writer?” and of course it was a longer list than just one, and included a few recently no longer living writers as well, like Iain Banks and Diana Wynne Jones.
And I thought in that moment how incredibly lucky I was to be sitting there, when I will never get the opportunity to meet the other gigantic influence on my writer-brain I mentioned in my babbling introduction, the incomparable Douglas Adams.
There is a sentiment I am concerned got a bit lost in that babbling during that introduction (I was nervous), which is this:
I would not be the writer I am today without Neil Gaiman.
I’m not sure I would even be a writer at all without him.
I discovered his work at the perfect time for my developing story-brain and I am eternally grateful for that.
I’m not sure the gratitude got properly expressed then, so here’s an extra Thank You, Neil for good measure:
Thank you, Neil.
For your work and for asking me to do this event and for being a real live lovely person.
(Also I am sorry that I inadvertently stole the title of that Batman thing, but The Night Circus is indeed a really good title.)
Flowers on the High Line.
My latest piece of gorgeous bloodmilk jewelry. Rose gold, and it’s a locket, too.
Also I seem to be quite fond of rose gold lately.
Spotted this gorgeous cover from across the bookshop and then realized it was my much-loved The Vanishing Act.
I adore this cover. More evocative than the hardcover, I think.
And last but not least, in celebration of International Fluevog Day, these are my Mini Sugar boots.
(It is not the easiest thing in the world to take a picture of your own boots.)
I am attempting to not do many events this year because I have a book to write, but when I was asked to go to Lexington, Kentucky because they had chosen The Night Circus as their One Book, One Bluegrass community read the invitation said something about a “gala” and who am I to resist a gala?
First, though, there was proper library talking and book signing in Frankfurt on Friday night and then on Saturday during the day there was pony racing! (I admit, beyond the word gala the whole “ponies” and also “bourbon” thing made the entire weekend appealing, and it more than lived up to my expectations.)
Kentucky is just gorgeous, with stretches of green field and blue sky and wooden fences stretching as far as the eye can see. And I had never seen proper in-person pony racing before. I am really, really bad at guessing which pony is going to win. I didn’t loose that much money, though.
And then on Saturday night there was the gala. I’m not sure it can be properly explained, but it was amazing.
My original event info that said “gala in tents & barn.” Now, I’m from New England. When I hear “barn” I picture something boxy and red or possibly white.
Barns in Kentucky do not look like that. Barns in Kentucky have chandeliers.
I’m not sure I can even explain it properly. It was big and buoyant and there was so much to look at, from performers and musicians to countless guests in amazing costumes. (I had considered that I might be overdressed when I was packing my corset, I really had nothing to worry about.) There was an aerialist and a marching band and the whip guy! And cocktails in commemorative glasses and food and a silent auction of of beautiful art and jewelry and things and really the only minor negative is that it was chilly, which I realize upon re-reading the prologue of the book was probably my fault. Sorry.
And seriously, the most beautiful barn. It looked like a cake! All round layers and twinkly lights. I am told there were over a thousand people there, yet it always felt busy and bustling and not crowded, and everyone appeared to be having a fantastic time.
I’m already not entirely sure it actually happened, or if I dreamed it, but there appear to be a great deal of photos. (There are a few more over on my tumblr.) Even the next day when I spoke at the beautiful Lexington Library it seemed far away in a dreamlike haze. And now I’m home in NYC. No circus, no ponies. At least I have bourbon.
I am eternally grateful to everyone who spent so much time and effort in planning and coordinating a truly astounding feat, and to the performers and vendors and all the deliciously lovely people who attended. I was honored to have been there.
For future circus events, the bar has been set. It’s been set really, really high.
I’ve been a little bit obsessed with cocktails lately. I’d always been more of a red wine person with the occasional gin & tonic and I knew I preferred Manhattans to Martinis but I hadn’t ventured very far into the often intimidating world of the cocktail.
I’ve been venturing for over a year now and I’m still pretty sure I haven’t gotten that far, but it’s been very fun and educational. I’ve found gorgeous speakeasy-esque bars and developed a thing for coupe glasses (if anyone knows where to find good ones let me know, I have a few I got from Pottery Barn that I love but they no longer have them, hrmph.) My favorite cocktail that I can actually manage at home with some decent flair is a Bee’s Knees, a prohibition era concoction of gin, lemon & honey. (I have made something of a sub-hobby out of trying them with different gins and different honeys.)
(It is worth noting that in a strange sort of way this is all book research. If the circus with all its chocolate mice and Midnight Dinners was a food book, the new one is most definitely a cocktail book.)
(This post has too many parentheticals already.)
This is the first of what will likely be a series of cocktail-related posts as I continue to research and explore. I may include favorite recipes as we go on, but I have something fun for today.
A few weeks ago I discovered (via Twitter, of course) Julibox, which is something like a cocktail of the month club where you get ingredients and instructions for different cocktails sent to your door in a box full of boozy wonderment.
So of course I pondered for all of a few hours before I signed up. I got my first box (collection #7) in mid March.
Everything arrived gorgeously wrapped in pretty paper with matching stickers and I am such a sucker for an aesthetically pleasingly wrapped package that I almost didn’t want to unwrap anything.
But I did, because cocktails.
This month’s collection was elderflower liqueur themed which meant lots of St Germain which was happy making because I love St Germain. I suspect I love it even more because it comes in the most beautiful bottles.
There are fancy, incredibly easy to follow recipe cards:
It includes 2 different cocktails and there’s enough to make 2 of each. (4 drinks total.) They email you beforehand to let you know what you’ll need that’s not in the box, which was lime, lemon & grapefruit for this box. (I always have limes & lemons on hand but I did have to go out and get the grapefruit.)
Both of the cocktails in this box were lovely, one was a spin on a Hemingway daiquiri and the other was a lovely fizzy pear vodka concoction, and of course both had St Germain. I’d give the very slight edge to the fizzy pear one just because it was more in line with my tastes but it was wonderful to try something with light rum that was different than the rum drinks I’ve had in the past. (I tend to be a gin girl, I’m thinking this will be a good exercise in trying things I might not order off cocktail menus or create from my own bar.)
I’m already looking forward to next month and I can’t wait to see what cocktail surprises are in store.
So last week the power of Twitter manifested Neil Gaiman’s upcoming The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
I said this:
Also wondering who I have to make out with to get an advance copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane and if I capitalized that properly.
— erin morgenstern (@erinmorgenstern) March 4, 2013
Truthfully I thought maybe someone at his publisher would have a spare ARC, and if I were lucky I’d get one in a few weeks.
Before the end of the day I’d played Twitter tag with publishing types in both the US and the UK and then one lovely person led to another and then the name “Neil Gaiman” turned up in my email inbox, so a couple of days later I had these:
Top one is the US version (I love that cover) and the hardcover beneath it is a special edition proof from the UK. They are both beautiful and they are being treasured and petted and read.
I am a very, very lucky girl and I didn’t have to make out with anyone, but if any of the lovely people who led to this want to take me up on that, that’s totally cool.
I curled up with it over the weekend and I wasn’t sure what to expect because I knew nothing about it. Read it in one sitting and loved it. As I said on Twitter afterward, it is soaked in myth and memory and salt water and it is so, so lovely.
It feels as though it was always there, somewhere in the story-stuff of the universe, and I’m glad Neil captured it on paper so well.
And it made me want to write again.
I’ve been working, sorting through notes and drafts and the last of the cardboard boxes, but I haven’t really been doing much raw storytelling writing in that itchy to put things on paper way and this lit that spark again, which is impressive since it lit it with water.
And I got to email Neil Gaiman and thank him personally for that, which is delightful and yet more proof that Twitter is magic.
(I promise to only use the power of Twitter for good and books and not abuse it.)
So I have had oceans on the brain and then yesterday my teal chairs finally, finally arrived (they’d been held hostage in a warehouse and no one thought to call to arrange delivery until they were inquired about, several times) and they are even more gloriously teal and deco than I’d expected and I love them.
And they made me realize that my decorating concept is basically Bioshock.
I can think of worse decorating concepts than “underwater art deco city.” And I like it, it’s cozy. It’s a flavor I can work in.
I’d been thinking about the new novel as an air and glass sort of thing, where the circus was very much paper and fire and earth. And it has been curled up near the sea but I hadn’t thought of it as a water creature until now, and in its way it really is.
It’s very much like figuring out the soup you are cooking needs more salt. It seems too simple but it’s true.
It took oceans on the brain and teal chairs to realize it, even though I think it was there all the time.
Now that I’ve finally had the time to write I’ve been gathering up all my ideas and bits and pieces of scrawled drafts and I’ve been dipping my toes back in to get myself re-acclimated. I think I hadn’t been sure what this story was or wanted to be and over the last week I’ve had a couple of those salt water epiphany sparks and while I don’t know what it wants to be, exactly, I have a better idea.
I figured out over the last two years that while I can write little bits of things I can’t develop a whole novel-world unless I can shut everything else out and live in that world. I need that full-on imagination submersion. And for various reasons I’m only now getting to the point where I can do that.
I’m remembering how to breathe underwater so I can properly submerge myself.
I know I have something here, and I want to get it right.