Saturday, November 15, 2014
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Posted by Neil Gaiman at 11:18 PM
I came back to America and went to New York, where I talked at the New York Public Library about life, the universe and Hansel and Gretel, while dressed as dead Charles Dickens.
(You can watch or listen to the whole of that evening's interview with NYPL's own Paul Holdengraber at http://www.nypl.org/events/programs/2014/10/31/neil-gaiman-paul-holdengr%C3%A4ber).
They gave me a magical backstage library tour of creepy things, first. (It is chronicled here.)
Hansel and Gretel came out in the USA and is getting wonderful reviews. Here's the New York Times:
Written with a devastating spareness by Neil Gaiman and fearsomely illustrated in shades of black by Lorenzo Mattotti, the newest version of “Hansel and Gretel” astonishes from start to finish. It doesn’t hurt that the book itself is a gorgeous and carefully made object, with a black floral motif on its pages’ decorated borders, along with abundant red drop caps and tall, round gray page numbers. ...All the well-chosen detail provides an ideal backdrop for what Gaiman and Mattotti have done with the Grimm Brothers’ familiar story of the two siblings who, after being abandoned by desperate parents, outwit their witchy captor. Their rendition brings a freshness and even a feeling of majesty to the little tale. Some great, roiling essence of the human condition — our fate of shuttling between the darkness and the light — seems to inhabit its pages.
Neil Gaiman’s striking novella, The Sleeper and the Spindle, out this month, conflates and subverts Snow White and Sleeping Beauty into a tale of female courage and choice.and I'd take that.
So two beautifully illustrated fairy tales came out on each side of the Atlantic.
I was honoured by the National Coalition Against Censorship at its 40th anniversary Gala dinner. (This is a video we made for them explaining why I love the First Amendment.)
But that wasn't the big book excitement in the household.
Nope. The big excitement was yesterday, when my wife, Amanda, became a published author with her first book.
First books are strange beasts. They are rougher than the books that follow (usually), but they are also full of literally everything that the author ever, over the course of her entire life, thought worthy of inclusion in a book. All subsequent books will be full of the things the writer came up with after she started publishing. The first one, that's got everything from the other side of the divide.
Palmer is a good writer, and in places she's great. She has a loose and at times meandering structure that usually works, except when it doesn't. As a literary work The Art of Asking is pretty good. But as a manifesto and a confessional of an artist uniquely suited to her time and place, it is without parallel.
What Palmer's story tells us is that asking, trusting, and giving are hard and terrifying, and you face real risk every time you do them.
Palmer receives death threats, is stalked and sexually assaulted by fans, is terrorised by fans who threaten suicide to command her attention.
Palmer doesn't make it look easy, this business of being public and naked. She makes it look hard. The Art of Asking is an inspiration because Palmer never tries to hide the scuffed duct-tape holding her life together. Instead, she takes us by the hand and insists that we look at this 21st century artistic business model with open eyes and realistic expectations.Which is the truth. It's also a very funny book. As Cory says, she's put everything in here.
She's also having to deal with the very real problem of Amazon in the US not stocking the book, due to their ongoing contract-battle with her publisher, Hachette. You can buy it from Barnes and Noble, with free shipping from Powells, or you could use Indiebound to find it or buy it from a local independent bookshop. But if you think you may want it, or if you know anyone who will want it for as a holiday gift... BUY IT THIS WEEK. Get it now. The bestseller rankings matter, and without the Amazon sales (they tend to be about half of a book's sales in the US) it's going to be much harder for her.
I was on WITS last week. I believe it will go out in podcast form on Friday Afternoon.
This is not to be confused with ASK ME ANOTHER, recorded many weeks ago, which also goes out in podcast form on Friday Afternoon.
For one week only, I will be semi-ubiquitous on public radio...
And finally... It was my birthday on Monday. I flew from Minneapolis to Boston, and gathered with Amanda in Harvard Square, to walk up to Porter Square Bookshop, with a crowd of late night bookbuyers, where she was going to do a midnight signing... And this happened:
Friday, October 17, 2014
Posted by Neil Gaiman at 9:34 PM
It's autumn in this part of the world, and the trees are amazingly beautiful. A few weeks ago they were red and green, now they're mostly shades of brown, orange and gold, and every now and again a tree decides to simply shed itself of leaves, like someone taking off their overcoat and dropping it on the floor where they stand, and the leaves drop or spin and it's all so gloriously autumnal and pre-Hallowe'eny it feels like there's a set designer arranging it all.
And I'm leaving it all.
I'm headed off to Hamburg on Monday Night http://www.literaturhaus-hamburg.de/), Cologne on Tuesday, (http://www.literaturhaus-koeln.de/showtermine.php?id=931). These are sold out. Vienna on Wednesday, at 7:30 pm at Buchhandlung Morawa in Vienna Wollzeile 11, 1010 Wien (and it seems to be sold out too).
From there I go to Paris. On Thursday night (its the 23rd), around 7 pm, Dave McKean and I will be at the gallery opening for Dave's beautiful red and black and white SMOKE AND MIRRORS drawings at Galerie Martel, 17 Rue Martel, Paris. http://www.galeriemartel.com, https://www.facebook.com/events/282927571907816/
On Friday the 24th, at 6pm I'll be doing a SIGNING in Paris. Well, technically in Vincennes, at the Millepages. Librairie 91, rue de Fontenay Vincennes. The page is here. No tickets or anything needed, just turn up and I will sign your books or comics or arm.
(There was a 3:00 on Saturday signing mistakenly announced for me and Dave McKean at Galerie Martel, but that's ONLY DAVE as I'm off being interviewed then. So if you are in France and you want something signed, come to the Vincennes signing.)
Last year, Sherman Alexie came up with an idea so audacious and imaginative it could only have been conceived by an author who wanted to be allowed behind the counter in a bookshop. The idea, “Indies First,” is this: authors get to spend a day hand-selling books and helping out in their local independent bookshop.
Good, right? You, an author, will experience the joys and frustrations of being a bookseller. Mostly the joys — it’s one of the busiest days of the year for small businesses, especially in bookshops. The day in question is the Saturday after Thanksgiving, “Small Business Saturday.” People are beginning to buy gifts for the holidays (now is your chance to persuade people that they need your books — especially if you’ve signed them — and your friends’ books, and books you’ve always loved that, if widely read would make the world a better place). It will be, we promise you, a much more sociable day than the ones you spend staring at a blank screen or a white sheet of paper, communing with imaginary people and suchlike.
Monday, October 13, 2014
Posted by Neil Gaiman at 2:06 AM
I have a small gold owl on the lapel of my jacket, with the letters B and e underneath it, and people often ask me what it represents. I tell them it's from the Bookend Trust, and then explain that, despite the name, it's not a reading organization. It's an environmental charity, and I'm one of its patrons. (The owl is a Tasmanian Masked Owl, an endangered species.)
I love Tasmania. Really love it, and I first visited it, along with George R R Martin, as guests of honour when the Australian National Science Fiction Convention was held in Hobart, long before Tasmania had become a cool place to go.
During that first visit I met some of the people who would go on to found the Bookend Trust. When they asked me to become part of it, I was more than happy to agree.
Since being a part of Bookend, I have, with Amanda, hand-fed Tasmanian Devils and echidnas. (The echidnas were both called Eric. Baby echidnas are called Puggles. THIS IS TRUE.)
Because of the Bookend Trust, I've sailed under some of the tallest and sheerest sea cliffs in the southern hemisphere. And I've had close encounters with rescued Kangaroos.
Bookend grew from a small education support program funded by the people involved in it, to, as they explain, "a major initiative assisting students and teachers at all ages within the education system. From high achievers to disadvantaged students, Bookend has developed clever interactive and online projects that engage students with scientists and explorers on the ground. It's also provided students with opportunities to directly visit and learn from these experts in the deep wildernesses of south-west Tasmania, Antarctica, Lord Howe Island, Thailand and other fascinating locations." You can see a great snapshot of their projects here: http://www.bookendtrust.com/about-bookend-trust
When I visited Tasmania in January 2013, we had plans to run a Bookend fundraiser to help support this work, but the nightmarish wildfires broke out just before I got there. (Bookend helped me and my publishers at Hachette Australia and Bloomsbury to deliver materials to rebuild the libraries for the wonderful Dunalley School and community.) You can read about it and see photos here.
Bookend has continued to grow. The people who are growing it need help to expand their work to more schools across the world.
And they are making a film...
It's a creepily fantastic natural history story called SIXTEEN LEGS (www.sixteenlegs.com). It's yer normal run-of-the-mill never-before-filmed story of still-living, giant prehistoric spiders the size of dinner-plates trying to find love in the dark.
This project is gloriously mad: they've just launched a touring public exhibition, complete with Izzy von Lichtan's giant replica spiders 18 feet across. Although the main documentary won't be finished until next year, a shorter 'making-of' piece on the filming to date (called 16 LEGS: SPIDER LOVE) will have its world premiere on November 9 at both the Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) Film Festival in Australia and the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in Canada.
On top of all of that, I am pleased to announce publicly that Australian singing star Kate Miller-Heidke (I once compared her voice to having sex with butterflies) (and two weeks ago I sang a chorus on her cover of Pogues song for Christmas) will be singing on the soundtrack, in collaboration with the superb spidery music of composer Dean Stevenson.
And SIXTEEN LEGS really needs your help.
Public support for this project will allow Bookend to complete filming, editing and distribution of the documentary and allow them to expand and tour the SIXTEEN LEGS exhibition to other locations around Australia and off around the globe. (It will also help support scholarships and research throughout all of Bookend's educational and environmental work.)
Rewards for donors include postcards, posters, and books of production art and photos. There's a book with the dark fantasy storyline that weaves through the documentary, with Production Art by Jodee Taylah. There's also a photographic collection on the science behind the project. The books are available as standard, or signed Limited Deluxe Editions with your name in them. For donors with more money or time, there are expert-guided tours of Tasmania and visits from the film-makers, as well as the option to simply donate.
Whatever size contribution you make, you not only get the items you purchase, but (provided the total fundraising exceeds AUD$100,000) then with every dollar you contribute (excluding postage) you get a a chance to win a trip to Tasmania with me, from anywhere around the globe, when I return there to film for the project next year. You'll get to see the Tasmanian Devils, wilderness landscapes and tourist attractions of Tasmania (which is about the coolest place there is).
You can order fundraising items and find out more about the project at http://www.sixteenlegs.com, and there are photos and video links to some of the Tasmanian places http://www.bookendtrust.com/caves/win
Fundraising will be running until late November. And you should do it. Because there is nothing like handfeeding echidna. Or being the catering department for a bunch of hungry young Tasmanian Devils...
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Posted by Neil Gaiman at 3:41 PM
While I was talking to people, my wife Amanda (rock star, just wrote a book out in November) was working at Bard College with a director and some young actors.
Amanda's step brother Karl, a few years older than her, whom she idolised, died when he was in his mid-twenties, of ALS, so when Chris Anderson of TED challenged Amanda to do the ice-bucket challenge, she did. In a wonderful video.
And then she challenged me.
I thought about it. I was in LA (where the Californian water shortage is a very real thing. It's a drought). I wanted to be informative (because people sent me icebucket challenge videos to watch, and I had to go and google to figure out what was going on). I wanted to make it clear you could donate AND challenge. And I wanted it to me memorable.
Amanda gave me the key. She pointed out that she had done her challenge fully dressed. And not, as people might have imagined, naked or semi-naked.
I called Allan Amato and Olga Nunes, fresh off the Temple of Art Kickstarter, and they agreed to come and film me on the beach that afternoon.
And to bring Death. Because ALS is a fatal condition. So I packed my novelty bowtie, and headed out...
Saturday, May 24, 2014
Posted by Neil Gaiman at 2:36 AM
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Posted by Neil Gaiman at 10:10 AM
Enter for your chance to win one of five pairs of tickets to see Neil Gaiman live at Carnegie Hall with FourPlay String Quartet on June 27th! Prize package includes a meet & greet and photo opp with Neil himself.
He would give me all the answers I wanted plus loads of things that were entirely irrelevant because it was just me and him talking in a room and we do that all the time. It was a weird interview to do. I only noticed this was happening when I had to transcribe 17 hours of it back in London, and sat there listening to us trying to save a bumblebee who’d got caught in the fireplace. For half an hour. ‘Ooh he’s got soot on him. Look at his giant cardigan. Shall we put him outside on a flower?‘
Honestly I think I have to burn the tapes.
Posted by Neil Gaiman at 5:30 AM
Monday, May 12, 2014
Posted by Neil Gaiman at 4:10 PM
Since the start of the Syrian warfare, over two and a half million people have fled the fighting and gone somewhere else. Half a million of them have come to Jordan. The population of Jordan is a little over 6 million. By percentage of the population, that's what would happen if twenty five million people arrived as refugees in the US over a couple of years, or five million people sought refuge in the UK. It means lots and lots of people here have Syrian families living with them. It means that there are refugee camps -- small cities built in the desert, all temporary structures.
I was invited to come out here by UNHCR - the United Nations Refugee Agency - with the purpose of making one or more short films, telling stories and writing articles that draw attention to what's going on in refugee camps.
They've created a web page at http://donate.unhcr.org/neilgaiman so that people can follow on and see what's happening.
I packed for myself on this trip and, for various reasons, did a terrible job of packing and remembering what to bring. And every time I start getting grumpy for not having something, it occurs to me that the people I'm seeing tomorrow brought with only what they could carry for often hundreds of miles - and that included carrying children...
Thursday, May 01, 2014
Posted by Neil Gaiman at 1:57 PM