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Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel Hardcover – October 20, 2015
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From the Publisher
Patrick Rothfuss talks with Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
Patrick Rothfuss: What the hell? Seriously. How the hell do you pull this off as your first novel? What sort of dark forces have you aligned yourselves with, and would you mind terribly giving me their phone number?
Joseph Fink: Hey, thanks, it's very kind of you to say we're aligned with dark forces. In some ways we were developing this novel long before we even thought of writing it. While it's in the style of a community radio show, the Welcome to Night Vale podcast shares a lot more similarities with a short story or solo spoken word piece than a radio drama or play script. Told mostly from a single point of view, and with twenty or more episodes a year, we had written two novels' worth of serial podcast scripts before we started tackling the novel.
Jeffrey Cranor: Obviously there are a number of differences in style between the novel and the podcast, but we had a couple of years' head start to fully develop a universe of characters, places, laws, and the unique vibe of the town itself.
Rothfuss: Welcome to Night Vale is already one of the best radio shows/podcasts out there. What made you want to try to bring some of the story into novel form?
Fink: We both grew up loving reading. I have wanted to write a book since the first time I understood what that concept meant. When the podcast became popular (beyond all expectations), we knew immediately that a novel was the next place we wanted to take it. A novel gives us the chance to explore Night Vale as a town, to create new characters and develop old ones, and to see this universe from new perspectives that we can't do in the radio format of the podcast.
Rothfuss: While writing duos aren't unheard of, they do tend to be the exception to the rule. How does your collaboration work?
Cranor: We've been writing together for a bit more than five years, and we've developed a pretty effective system of writing solo and then exchanging and editing. Our collaboration relies on our trust in each other's abilities as writers and as friends. It's been a nice balance of meeting all expectations with a few pleasant surprises along the way.
Rothfuss: If you got to pick one superpower, what would it be?
Cranor: I'm stealing this answer from Cecil (Baldwin, the narrator of the podcast and of the novel's audiobook): I would love to be able to speak and understand all languages.
Fink: I would own a dog.
Rothfuss: Do you have any writers whom you particularly admire or try to emulate in your work?
Cranor: Two of the biggest influences when we began writing Night Vale were the playwright Will Eno and the novelist Deb Olin Unferth. They both write with clear, assertive voices. They use clean, matter-of-fact sentences that subvert whatever our expectations of normal behavior are. Both develop such rich poetry with their economic use of language.
Fink: I think the main thing we learned from them is that it is possible to take surprising turns not just in the overall plot or within a chapter but also within a single sentence, landing the language in a completely different place than the reader expected. It's that magic trick of language that I have been chasing ever since.
“This is a splendid, weird, moving novel…It manages beautifully that trick of embracing the surreal in order to underscore and emphasize the real - not as allegory, but as affirmation of emotional truths that don’t conform to the neat and tidy boxes in which we’re encouraged to house them.” (NPR.org)
““The book is charming and absurd - think “This American Life” meets “Alice in Wonderland.” (Washington Post)
“Longtime listeners and newcomers alike are likely to appreciate the ways in which Night Vale, as Fink puts it, “treats the absurd as normal and treats the normal as absurd.” What they might not foresee is the emotional wallop the novel delivers in its climactic chapters.” (Austin Chronicle)
“The hit podcast is absurd and hilarious, and as a book it’s similarly entertaining…” (The Guardian)
“Fink and Cranor’s prose hints there’s an empathetic humanity underscoring their well of darkly fantastic situations. . . . the book builds toward a satisfyingly strange exploration of the strange town’s intersection with an unsuspecting real world.” (Los Angeles Times)
“Welcome to Night Vale lives up to the podcast hype in every way. It is a singularly inventive visit to an otherworldly town that’s the stuff of nightmares and daydreams.” (BookPage)
“As a companion piece, “Welcome to Night Vale” will be hard to resist. Though the book builds toward a satisfyingly strange exploration of the strange town’s intersection with an unsuspecting real world, its mysteries - like the richest conspiracy theories - don’t exist to be explained. They just provide a welcome escape.” (Detroit Free Press)
“The charms of ‘Welcome to Night Vale’ are nearly impossible to quantify. That applies to the podcast, structured as community radio dispatches from a particularly surreal desert town, as well as this novel, written by the podcast’s co-creators, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
“This is the novel of your dreams. . . . A story of misfit family life that unfolds along the side streets, back alleys and spring-loaded trap doors of the small town home you’ll realize you’ve always missed living in. When it says ‘welcome,’ it’s mandatory. You belong here.” (Glen David Gold, author of Carter Beats the Devil and Sunnyside)
“Welcome To Night Vale brings its eponymous desert town to to vivid life. . . . It is as weird and surreal as I hoped it would be, and a surprisingly existential meditation on the nature of time, reality, and the glow cloud that watches over us.” (Wil Wheaton)
“Take Conan’s Hyborea, teleport it to the American Southwest, dress all the warriors in business casual and hide their swords under the floorboards -- that’s Night Vale: absurd, magical, wholly engrossing, and always harboring some hidden menace.” (John Darnielle, author of Wolf in White Van)
“Brilliant, hilarious, and wondrously strange. I’m packing up and moving to Night Vale!” (Ransom Riggs, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children)
“This small town full of hooded figures, glowing clouds, cryptically terrifying public policies, and flickering realities quickly feels more like home than home. . . . There is nothing like Night Vale, in the best possible way.” (Maureen Johnson, author of 13 Little Blue Envelopes and The Name of the Star)
“They’ve done the unthinkable: merged the high weirdness and intense drama of Night Vale to the pages of a novel that is even weirder, even more intense than the podcast.” (Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother and co-editor of Boing Boing)
“Emotionally compelling and superbly realized. This seductive, hilarious book unfolds at the moment when certain quiet responsible people find they must risk everything on behalf of love, hope, and understanding. Not a single person who reads this book will be disappointed.” (Deb Olin Unferth, author of Revolution and Vacation)
“As a fan of Welcome to Night Vale, Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink have delighted me with stories that are clever, twisted, beautiful, strange, wonderful, and sweet. This book does all of that and more. I think this might be the best book I’ve read in years.” (Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind)
“Co-creators of the popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast, successfully expand the mythology of their strange desert town. Fans will find it refreshing to see Night Vale from different perspectives . . . but knowledge of the podcast isn’t required to follow the story.” (Publishers Weekly)
“All hail the glow cloud as the weird and wonderful town of Night Vale brings itself to fine literature. . . . A fantastic addition with a stand-alone tale of the mysterious desert town that also offers loyal listeners some interesting clues about the nature of the place.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“In their novelistic adaptation of the eerie yet comic landscape of Night Vale, Fink and Cranor have managed to create an excellent stand-alone book perfect for newcomers while also including plenty of winks to longtime fans…” (Shelf Awareness)
“As enjoyable and eerie as the podcast” (Paste Magazine)
“A marvelous book.... Like the podcast, the novel is full of people we love and root for, full of frightening things, and full of dramatic tension that pays off beautifully with resolutions worthy of any great tale of traditional conflict.” (boingboing.com)
“A wonderfully creepy tale filled with revelations about the nature of the town and its residents.” (AV Club)
“Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel masterfully brings the darkly hilarious, touching and creepy world of the podcast into the realm of ink and paper.” (Asbury Park Press)
“Fast moving and sturdily written…an excellent introduction to a town everyone should get the chance to explore.” (Daily Californian)
“This is the kind of book that’ll make you say ALL HAIL THE GLOW CLOUD. Whether you’re a fan of the strange and upsetting Welcome to Night Vale podcast or you’re new to Night Vale and its quaint desert conspiracies, it’s never a bad time to visit Night Vale. ” (Bustle)
“Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel is easily enjoyed on its own terms - even for those who are new to the town of Night Vale - largely because the storytelling shines so brightly on the level of its individual parts.” (Vox)
From the Back Cover
Praise for Welcome to Night Vale
“This is the novel of your dreams. . . . A friendly (but terrifying) and comic (but dark) and glittering (but bleak) story of misfit family life that unfolds along the side streets, back alleys, and spring-loaded trapdoors of the small town home you’ll realize you’ve always missed living in.”—Glen David Gold, author of Carter Beats the Devil and Sunnyside
“Those of us who have gotten to know Night Vale through Cecil Palmer’s biweekly radio broadcasts can finally see what it’s like to actually live there. It is as weird and surreal as I hoped it would be, and a surprisingly existential meditation on the nature of time, reality, and the Glow Cloud that watches over us.”—Wil Wheaton
“Take Conan’s Hyboria, teleport it to the American Southwest, dress all the warriors in business casual and hide their swords under the floorboards — that’s Night Vale: absurd, magical, wholly engrossing, and always harboring some hidden menace.”—John Darnielle, author of Wolf in White Van
“I’ve been a fan of Welcome to Night Vale for years, and in that time writers Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink have delighted me with stories that are clever, twisted, beautiful, strange, wonderful, and sweet. This book does all of that and so much more. It’s even better than I’d hoped. I think this might be the best book I’ve read in years.”—Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind
“This small town full of hooded figures, glowing clouds, cryptically terrifying public policies, and flickering realities quickly feels more like home than home. . . . There is nothing like Night Vale, in the best possible way.”—Maureen Johnson, author of 13 Little Blue Envelopes and The Name of the Star
“They’ve done the unthinkable: merged the high weirdness and intense drama of Night Vale to the pages of a novel that is even weirder, even more intense than the podcast.”—Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother and coeditor of Boing Boing
Top customer reviews
Someone keeps leaving pages from it under my pillow while I sleep. Every morning a new one.
They are not in order.
The book is written in the style listeners would expect, with digressions of weirdness and descriptions of the indescribable. But in a more narrative style, so the story happens linearly and in the third person rather than through Cecil's interpretation of events.
While the story includes many characters already established by the show, the authors wisely choose to introduce us to new protagonists. So that we don't come into the story already knowing so much about them that their growth through the story feels forced or false.
I really enjoyed this book, and recommend it to any fan of the podcast, if you are a regular listener, but not an avid reader, I would recommend the audio book, since it's read by Cecil it will be easier to accept the weirdness. Similarly, if you are not already a fan, but enjoy weird writings, especially those written in the fashion of HP Lovecraft, I urge you to give this book a read.
The podcast often speaks to larger topics outside of the primary story - Love and Companionship, Depression and Isolation, Discovery and Loss. I'm glad the book has continued this tradition, and I'll be waiting here, happily, for the next installment.
Yep, right here.
I had one little disappointment that I feel I should mention, but it didn't necessarily take away from my personal enjoyment which is why I still gave it 5 stars. There are many references to things in the podcast that someone who doesn't listen to it wouldn't get. The references didn't add to the plot so it's okay if you don't listen, but I can imagine them coming off as annoying/confusing. However, I do think it might be a cool experience to listen to the podcast afterwards for the first time after reading this book.
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Most recent customer reviews
It's full of humour and strangeness, with a weird sense of familiarity in it's madness.