So I’m having dinner out with my three grown nieces. I’m about to go to sales conference. I don’t follow a ton of social media and my podcasting is pretty much limited to NPR. I’m trying to suss out this new book based on a podcast called Welcome to Night Vale and I ask if they’ve ever heard of it? Next: the sound of three young women putting down their silverware and staring at me like I’d just driven a horse and buggy into the room.
There was my first clue…
For those of you who, like me, are mainly hunkered away reading books, Welcome to Night Vale has been one of the top rated podcasts since 2013, with tens of thousands of people downloading the biweekly episodes. As their popularity grew exponentially, the team started touring and doing sold out live shows that look like this:
Night Vale has been described as “Prairie Home Companion written by Stephen King.” And “NPR meets The Mothman Prophecies.” The Guardian calls it “Hypnotic and darkly funny. . . . Belongs to a particular strain of American gothic that encompasses The Twilight Zone, Stephen King and Twin Peaks, with a bit of Tremors thrown in.”
Does it all work as a book? Looks like it, if initial bookseller reaction and advance reviews are any indication. One of my favorite bits of commentary so far is from a bookseller in Cincinnati who wrote me a very complete review that not only explains how the authors successfully manage to translate the world of Night Vale to a new medium but also makes a moving personal statement about Night Vale and how it fits into the cultural zeitgeist. Here’s a snippet. If you’re on GoodReads, you can check out Tori’s complete review here. It’s worth a look.
As an avid listener of Welcome to Night Vale, this was exactly what I wanted from its literary debut. As an avid consumer of books, this was exactly what I didn’t realize I’ve been looking for. At once devastating and funny and sweet, the story perfectly captures Night Vale’s ability to draw you right to the brink of terror, hold you there with bated breath, and then suddenly and completely release that tension with a flippant comment. It’s a technique, characteristic of the podcast, that I wasn’t sure the creators would be able to translate into written text. But they do, and they do it so well—complete with goosebumps, and hairs prickling on the back of your neck, and oh-god-what-if-there’s-a-tarantula-on-me-right-now, and then the sudden realization that you’ve actually come to care for the tarantula and maybe it’s not so bad if it’s there….
“But this is all completely irrelevant to what the book does in three sentences about a quarter of the way through it:
“‘Diane’s parents are also two different races. It matters which races, but it matters only to Diane and her parents and their family and friends, not to those who do not know them. Not everyone gets to know everything about everybody.’
“I am myself a person with parents of different races; and to read such an accurate, succinct, and honest appraisal of a feeling that I’ve experienced my entire life but never myself had the words to express in a work of popular fiction is entirely unprecedented for me. Nothing else in the entire text meant anything to me in comparison to what those three lines did. Nothing else made me close the book and sit quietly on the verge of tears in a breakroom full of my coworkers. It didn’t have to be there—but it was. It affected nothing in the overall story—but it changed everything for me.
“This is why we love Night Vale. This is why we are devoted to Night Vale. This is why we would kill our doubles for Night Vale.”
— Tori Thompson, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH
Publicity starts with The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on October 15th and a NYT feature/interview the week of October 12th.
[Consumer tip: Your local Indie bookstore has signed copies!]
“All hail the glow cloud as the weird and wonderful town of Night Vale brings itself to fine literature. Creators Fink and Cranor offer fans of their (oc) cult podcast Welcome to Night Vale 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. . . . The novel is definitely as addictive as its source material.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Fink and Cranor, co-creators of the popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast, successfully expand the mythology of their strange desert town….[T]he end is satisfying, with a surprising origin story for one of the characters. Fans will find it refreshing to see Night Vale from different perspectives and to meet characters who have only been mentioned before in passing, but knowledge of the podcast isn’t required to follow the story. This unusual experiment in format-shifting works surprisingly well.”
— Publishers Weekly
“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. ALL HAIL THE GLOW CLOUD.”
— Wil Wheaton
“Like everyone who adores the #1 international hit podcast Welcome to Night Vale, I was highly anticipating this book, and I was delighted that it lived up to my high expectations….Fans will love this detailed, fleshed-out vision of Night Vale, and newcomers will be won over by the quirky, spooky humor for which Night Vale is known. Sure to be a hit!”
— Whitney Spotts, Schuler Books & Music, Lansing, MI
“Equal parts hilarious and scary and weird and ‘Oh my goodness!’ all rolled into one. . . .Like Good Omens for the podcast generation!”
—Amanda Beverly, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Lexington, KY
“This book is exactly as wonderful and bizarre as the podcast that gained the fictitious town of Night Vale fame. While the podcast builds the world of the town, the novel brings the characters to life and lets you immerse yourself in the town where mysterious lights pass overhead while everyone pretends to sleep. Having listened to the podcasts definitely takes the novel to another level, but this book would be enjoyable to anyone who enjoys weird, fantastic stories.”
— Morgan Eads, Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington, KY
“I’ve been a longtime fan of the podcast and I waited on pins and needles for this book to come out. The origins of The Man in the Tan Jacket with Deer Skin Suitcase has been a mystery for the fans for years. It was wonderful to delve into his story and the story of lesser featured characters from the podcast. This book not only will satisfy the fans of the podcast, but it is also a wonderful standalone not-so-science fiction novel. I’m thoroughly excited to sell it at our store!
— Al Morse, Square Books, Oxford, MS
Welcome to Night Vale (9780062351425) by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. $19.99 hardcover. 10/20/15 one day laydown.