I went to the Welcome to Night Vale book signing and live broadcast tour, which happened to be in the same city on the same weekend.
The co-writers, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, did a interview, answered a few audience questions, and then went through a remarkably quick and efficient signing line. This meant no chatting and no posed photos, but also a short wait. Trade off, I guess.
They were understandably cagey about future details, though they did promise they had another book in the works, and that there would be more podcasts not in the Night Vale world as well.
Fink wanted to make something different from anything else out there, and seized on the idea of this conspiracy-consumed small town in the desert. The podcast grows a bit organically, they said, because they don’t direct their actors, so the choices in inflection change how future podcasts go. Which is pretty cool, I thought.
Guest writers also bring changes–the focus on Russians was from one, they think. And when something is added in, they build on it. Always embracing the weird, because strange is what this desert town is about.
As for the book, it feels like a longer podcast, which isn’t surprising because it has the same writers. Fink and Cranor have a great relationship, and a well-developed sense of humor, the kind of friends who know how to spin a joke off each other. They each developed the character, choosing two minor characters from the podcast, leaving Cecil and the rest at the edges of the book, and exploring the town in a way Cecil can’t. There’s a great wealth of details, and little snippets of a radio broadcast woven in. The result is a little episodic, but also nicely cohesive, as the two character’s stories come together.
Because the book and podcast tour were in the same city, Cranor and Fink had brief parts in the podcast. I would guess someone else is playing those parts in other cities, though I’m not sure who. I can’t share details, because the tour is still going on, but there was a great deal of lively acting, audience participation was encouraged, and a whole lot of laughter and clapping.
If you can see them on a tour, you should. It’s quite a different experience.
The show opened with music by the talented Eliza Rickman, who was also the weather. She played an auto-harp, xylophone, ukelele, bells, and clapped and stomped–an impressive array of instruments, a different one for each song. She had CDs to sell, along with the podcast’s posters and shirts.
Perhaps the best thing was the fans, with glow cloud (ALL HAIL!) costumes, and third eyes painted on foreheads, to name a few. People were glad to be there, experiencing the podcast they loved, and from the roar of approval, I’d say everyone had a great time.