The Secrets of Erin Morgenstern’s Success: Say No to the Internet. Say Yes to Video Games.


GAME ON Erin Morgenstern made two important moves in preparing to work on her second novel, “The Starless Sea,” which lands at No. 3 on this week’s hardcover fiction list. First, she relocated from Manhattan to western Massachusetts, moving into a house that wasn’t wired for cable or the internet. Morgenstern says, “It was a strange time not to have internet — from the summer of 2016 to mid-2018 — but it took the outside noise away, and also some of the pressure of the sophomore novel after the big debut.”

Morgenstern’s 2011 debut is a tough act to follow: “The Night Circus” was a No. 1 best seller, and has been translated into 37 languages; a movie version is in the works from Lionsgate. In the wake of the hoopla, which she says was a surprise — “I thought it was going to be a weird book that maybe a few weird people would like, and there were far more weird people than I expected” — Morgenstern started another project, then abandoned it. She wondered why she was writing another book at all.

And then Morgenstern made her next important move: She started playing video games. She says, “I’d always played a little bit, but in that era after ‘The Night Circus,’ it was hard for me to write and sometimes hard for me to read. I got into Dragon Age: Inquisition, where you create your character and make decisions that affect where the game goes. I found this malleability really compelling from a narrative point of view, and it ended up impacting the way I write.” She estimates that she played for more than 100 hours in the next six to eight months.

At first, Morgenstern thought “The Starless Sea” was going to be a book about books. But her experience with Dragon Age: Inquisition helped her figure out what she really wanted to write: a book about stories. She says, “The difference to me is a story can have different versions and iterations and it feels like a living, growing thing.”

In “The Starless Sea,” Morgenstern conjures an underground world where stories are “written in books and sealed in jars and painted on walls.” Along the way, she put her manuscript in a drawer for monthlong stretches, threw away hundreds of pages and tackled three major revisions. But Morgenstern knew she’d arrived at her favorite kind of place, one “where it feels like another reality is lingering around the corner if you just pick up the right book or open the right door.” She says, “This is my favorite flavor of fantasy. I like the stuff that feels like it’s brushing up against the real world.”



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *