Hostile Questions: Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus. If you’re a publisher, you’ve probably spent long weekends clutching your head, weeping, wondering how it wasn’t you who published this internationally beloved debut. If you’re a reviewer, you’ve likely lingered over your typewriter, swishing your tumbler, wondering if transcendent mellifluousness was really the phrase you wanted to use. If you’re a reader, you probably held slumber parties with your similarly smitten friends, making Night Circus-themed cupcakes and friendship bracelets. And if you aren’t a reader, well, it’s nice to meet you. Perhaps you were searching for that gif of Charlton Heston laughing?

Chances are that success has turned author Erin Morgenstern into a cackling egomaniac working on that “totally different” second novel The Smight Nircus. Let’s interrupt her mid-cackle and find out.

That key around her neck unlocks the world of imagination! Or maybe a trunk full of dead squirrels.

Just who do you think you are?

Last I checked I was Erin Morgenstern, though that means something different than it did a year or so ago which is vaguely disconcerting as far as that whole sense-of-self thing goes. I’m still just some chick who makes things up, but now more people seem to know who I am. I have a lot more followers on Twitter, at least. I worry that I bore them.

Also, who do you think YOU are? Last I saw you we were all happy time Newbery Caldecott banquet crashing and puppies and now it’s hostile questions? Have you not been getting enough puppy time? Do you need a hug? I enjoyed Rotters, by the way.

Where do you get off?

“Where” is a sensitive subject with me at the moment because I have been traveling much more often than I am accustomed to and I never really settled properly into my new apartment which is soon going to be my old apartment but I don’t have a new new apartment yet and I’m not entirely sure where on earth it will be when I do. I am trying not to think about it too much because it makes me feel adrift and vaguely melancholy like a shipless pirate on open sea with only a buoy and a soggy, surly parrot for company. The parrot sings off-key shanties that he can’t remember the lyrics to. The salt water has ruined my boots.

Um… the answer to the question is “not on airplanes.”

What’s the big idea?

I’m not a big idea person. I’m more of a lots of little ideas put together kind of person. Maybe they eventually come together to form a big idea like one of those photo mosaic pictures that were so trendy years ago. I hope they don’t form one of those 3D magic-eye pictures, I could never see them because I have lousy vision. I still think they might have been an elaborate conspiracy.

Most of my little ideas involve stories about story and choices and dreams and unusual things because those tend to be more interesting than the usual ones. A great many ideas (including somersaulting kittens, starcrossed magicians and a foyer occupied by a giant statue of Ganesha) recently cohered into a novel called The Night Circus which I thought was going to be a strange sort of book that appealed to a few strange people but large amounts of people seem to dig it. Perhaps I underestimated the number of strange people in the world who appreciate a fairy tale-esque romp around a nocturnal, Victorian, black-and-white, clownless, magic traveling circus.

What is your problem, man?

Oh, there are so many. Most of them stem from the fact that I’m an extroverted introvert, a fact I blame on my astrological chart which has five planets in dramatic attention-craving Leo while my sun sign is shy and sensitive Cancer. This means I constantly need to hide away in corners but then I get upset when no one is looking at me. I’m really rather shy even though I’ve pretty much mastered pretending not to be, but sometimes even my email inbox gives me social anxiety.

I also have problems with time management, unruly hair, Fluevog addiction, an uneven books-to-read to time-to-read-them ratio, and kittens that chew electrical cords.

Haven’t you done enough?

Alas, no. I don’t think I’ll ever get to the “enough” point, I will probably just continue to do things. I feel like I’m being lazy if I’m not working on something and I get bored easily. I like bright new shiny things and occupations. I’ve recently developed an interest in classic cocktails including a particular fascination with coupe glasses.

Besides, everyone seems to think writing just one book is insufficient, as far as I can tell, so I should probably write another one. I’m working on something that is nowhere near novel-shaped yet, so much so that I want to put “novel” in quotes whenever I talk about it. I usually describe it as a film noir flavored Alice in Wonderland and people seem to think that sounds cool so I hope it actually looks like that when it’s properly book-shaped.



About the Author:

Dan Kraus is Booklist's Editor of Books for Youth. He is also the producer and director of numerous feature films, most notably the documentary Work Series, and the author of several YA novels, including Rotters and Scowler, both of which won the Odyssey Award. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielDKraus.

2 Comments on "Hostile Questions: Erin Morgenstern"

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  1.' Kell Andrews says:

    Classic cocktails. Yes, I can get behind that.

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