Today I’m thrilled to have a guest post by storyteller, poet, and essayist Jane Yolen with a giveaway of her latest book, The Scarlet Circus! She’s the author of over 400 books, including Briar Rose, the Pit Dragon Chronicles, the Great Alta series, the Young Merlin Trilogy, Sister Emily’s Lightship and Other Stories, and The Emerald Circus. Her work has won Nebula, World Fantasy, and Mythopoeic Awards, among others, and she is a recipient of the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award, the SFWA Grand Master Award, and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association Grand Master Award.

The Scarlet Circus, a collection of romantic fantasy short stories, will be released in trade paperback and ebook next week—on Valentine’s Day! I also have two copies to give away courtesy of Tachyon Publications: a print copy for a reader from the US and an ebook for someone outside the US. See below for more information on the book and author, Jane Yolen’s guest post, and the giveaway rules!


Cover of The Scarlet Circus by Jane Yolen
More Information & Book Excerpt


The Scarlet Circus, the fourth volume in Yolen’s award-winning short fiction series brings you passionate treasures and unexpected transformations. This bewitching assemblage, with an original introduction from Brandon Sanderson, is an ideal read for anyone who appreciates witty, compelling, and classic romantic fantasy.

A rakish fairy meets the real Juliet behind Shakespeare’s famous tragedy. A jewelry artist travels to the past to meet a successful silver-smith. The addled crew of a ship at sea discovers a mysterious merman. More than one ignored princess finds her match in the most unlikely men.

From ecstasy to tragedy, with love blossoming shyly, love at first sight, and even love borne of practical necessity—beloved fantasist Jane Yolen’s newest collection celebrates romance in all its glory.

I think there are two basic kinds of fantasy love stories: straight-ahead romance (all sex withheld ’till marriage) and truly sexy stories, all faucets and facets and laced pieces open wide.

But within those two rather large spaces, there is room for a bunch of other kinds of romantic tales: western romances, mystery romances, historical romances, LGBTQIA+ romances, magical romances, fairy-tale romances, romances with animals of all sorts, hip or hippy romances, upper-class romances, cross-continents romances, cross-religions romances, cross-sexualities romances, polymorphous romances, and on and on and on.

How mermaids do it fascinates me in a slippery sort of way. How do vampires—in a bloody kind of way? How do aliens do the deed? Depends on whether you are from Venus or Mars, I suppose. We are endlessly fascinated.

I have written a bunch of romance short stories published in magazines, anthologies, and collections, with mostly fantastical, supernatural, or cross-species romances, almost by accident. And it is the love elements, only secondarily the sexual elements that I find interesting to explore. (By day and in a book.) My editor and I have fashioned The Scarlet Circus out of our favorites, adding back notes for those interested in how each story came to be written and an additional romantic poem that “speaks” to each story.

Also, many of my fantasy novels are romantic as well. I’d like to point especially to Briar Rose and Except the Queen.

At night, I am amazingly single-minded. Not alone. But single-minded. One me. One man at a time. Twice married with a death between us, both widowed for years, and meeting again in our 80s.

As to both those love stories—they were both super romantic. My first husband climbed in through the window of my first-floor apartment that I shared with two New York City librarians. We were having a housewarming, and too many people (including the folk band the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem) were crowding into the front door.

This handsome and brilliant young man climbed in; spotted me, standing in the middle of the apartment, hands on my hips, my long dark braid hanging past my bottom (it was the 1960s); kissed me on the nape of the neck; and said, “My name is David Stemple, and I am a friend of one of the girls in the apartment.” And I—a born Manhattanite and no stranger to snark—replied, “I am one of the girls in the apartment and you are no friend of mine.”

Dear Reader, two years later I married him!

The second round, after I had been many years a widow, ten years of which I was also a very bad date (evidently), I got an email from a man I had dated for two months in college—both of us the “school poet.” Peter Tacy had been at Williams, I was at Smith. Mostly we talked about Dickinson and Yeats, our two favorite poets. Not a romance. And then we broke up. And two weeks later he spotted a young woman at Bennington, whom he married. And two years later, I met my first husband. Peter and I bumped into one another at two conferences over the years, both educational conferences. Shook hands. And then, after I was widowed and after he was widowed as well, The New Yorker published a five-and-a-half-page review of YA Holocaust novels by someone I didn’t know, but three of the books she kept talking about were mine.

Since I don’t subscribe to The New Yorker and they have never taken single poem of mine nor reviewed me before, I was surprised when this voice from the past, Peter, sent me a copy of the review and said that he was going to visit the Emily Dickinson Museum/House, and wasn’t it somewhere near my house? “Twenty minutes!” I said. We had lunch. I fell in love with his dog. And then with him.

And now, Dear Reader, we have been together since Covid broke out and we had to live for three months seeing no one else but one another while living in his house. And we write poems together that are published in small magazines. And we are living as happily ever after as an 83- and an 85-year-old can.


Here’s a poem written just for you. It is about Peter and me and the Now.

Some Men

Some men are from Jupiter,
some from Mars,
and some with wider spider wisdom
trap their wives
with recipes from the best
French cooks,
or their Italian teachers.
I supply the chocolate
on my own.
And love soaks through
the pores of his enchantment,
the lines of our poems.

Photo of Jane Yolen JANE YOLEN is the author of more than four hundred 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 and multiple Nebula, World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, Golden Kite, and Jewish Book awards. Yolen is also a teacher of writing and a book reviewer. She lives in Western Massachusetts and St Andrews, Scotland.

Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out Fantasy Cafe’s Scarlet Circus Giveaway Google form, linked below. One entry per household and the winner will be randomly selected. Those from the US are eligible to win a print copy. Everyone else is eligible to win the ebook. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Friday, February 17. Each winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I don’t hear from them after 24 hours has passed, a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the book).

Please note email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winners. Once the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.

Note: This giveaway has come to a close, and links to enter have been removed.