Last night’s event at the Nashville Public Library was magical! After a reception of circus-themed treats, Erin Morgenstern talked about writing, read a piece from her novel The Night Circus, answered audience questions, then signed books.
I learned a lot of fun things about Ms. Morgenstern. She is a visual artist as well as a writer, which explains why her book surrounds readers with so many beautiful images. She said that often when she writes, she’s translating pictures in her head into words, and that her theater background also makes her think about directing and staging of the events. She began the book as part of NaNoWriMo, and worked on it for about 3 NaNoWriMos in a row, revising so much that the book was probably written at least two or three times over. She credited NaNoWriMo and its huge word count goal for silencing her inner critic. When asked the inevitable question about advice for new writers, she repeated Neil Gaiman: Keep writing and finish things. Some of the things she said were actually very reassuring for beginning writers, like when she said that she used to just think about writing but never actually did it, that she had no plan or outline for the book when she started, and that she didn’t write every day, but in “binges.”
She read the scene from the book where Bailey explores the tent with the scented bottles, a fun and imaginative scene. I had listened to the recorded version of the book, and so comparisons of her voice with the narrator I remembered, Jim Dale, were inevitable. Morgenstern’s voice was more high, sweet, and girlish. When questioned about the audiobook, she said she got to meet Jim Dale, probably one of the best recorded book narrators working today, and she said he records everything in just one take. Amazing. Other audience questions focused on the book design, her influences (Shakespeare, The Prestige), her favorite circus tent, the book’s unconventional timeline, the upcoming movie, and her next novel (already started, a noir Alice). The audience was smart, engaged, and very female, a real gathering of community. Isn’t this what libraries are for?
The Night Circus, one of my favorite books from last year, joins my collection of signed books. These really are fun things to collect, especially since they each signify an author I’ve met in real life!