Jane Yolen is joining us today to talk about her short story collection, The Midnight Circus. Here’s the publisher’s description:
In the newest volume of her World Fantasy Award-winning short story collections, beloved author Jane Yolen’s dark side has fully emerged. Her vivid, startling, and thrilling tales and poems of the supernatural―from icy-hearted witches to sometimes-innocent shapeshifters―reveal a classic storyteller at the height of her powers.
Welcome to the Midnight Circus―and watch your step. The dark imaginings of fantasy icon Jane Yolen are not for the faint of heart. In these sixteen brilliantly unnerving tales and poems, Central Park becomes a carnival where you can―but probably shouldn’t―transform into a wild beast. The Red Sea will be deadly to cross due to a plague of voracious angels. Meanwhile, the South Pole is no place for even a good man, regardless of whether he is living or dead.
Wicked, solemn, and chilling, the circus is ready for your visit―just don’t arrive late.
What’s Jane Yolen’s favorite bit?
I have done three collections of my short stories for Tachyon–EMERALD CIRCUS (winner of World Fantasy Award,), HOW TO FRACTURE A FAIRY TALE (winner of the Ann Izard Storytelling Award) and now THE MIDNIGHT CIRCUS. And there is not just one but three parts that are my favorite bits.
1. Realizing how many short stories I have already published. It’s that Holy Shit! moment, followed quickly by, “Well, you ARE 81!” Followed even more quickly by the knowledge of how few of the stories I actually remember writing (81, rinse and repeat). And finally a reminder that THE MIDNIGHT CIRCUS is my (I think) 394th book. Maybe.
2: Actually re-reading the stories in order to choose the ones for the book. For the first book, the theme was fantasy authors and stories about them or their creations. Book two’s theme was looking at the many fractured fairy tales I had written over the years. Both as short strides and as picture books and as easy readers for children.
But this time the theme was dark stories. As I never consider myself a “horror” writer (even though I have written three Holocaust novels), I was shocked to find so many of these stories on my backlist. I am more interested in the frisson of terror than the bloody stumps. I will kill people quietly on the page, more bloodily out of sight. But there they were: Dark story after dark story. I had to read them myself in order to choose the ones for the collection. Some of them made me shudder. (None of them made me throw up.) And then I found myself remembering– that this one or that one had been in the Year’s Best Horror anthologies. That was a surprise! And a favorite bit of a memory jog. And tipped for (but didn’t get) an award.
3. But really my favorite bit is when I researched and wrote the back matter in all three of the collections. Especially THE MIDNIGHT CIRCUS because it reminded me of my past, it made me reconsider my ouvre, but also gave me permission to write new poems because every story in these three books comes with information about the creation of the story, as well as its publication history as well as writing a new poem (or choosing an old poem) of mine that dovetailed with the story itself.
Jane Yolen has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the twentieth century. She is the author of over three hundred and sixty five books, including children’s fiction, poetry, short stories, graphic novels, nonfiction, fantasy, and science fiction. Her publications include Owl Moon, The Devil’s Arithmetic, Briar Rose, Sister Emily’s Starship and Sister Light, Sister Dark. Among her many honors are the Caldecott and Christopher Medals, multiple Nebula, World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, Golden Kite, and Jewish Book awards; as well as the World Fantasy Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Science Fiction Poetry Grand Master Award. Yolen is also a teacher of writing and a book reviewer. She lives in Western Massachusetts and St. Andrews, Scotland.