Journal

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Ursula at 85

I was thrilled to be interviewed for a documentary on Ursula K. Le Guin on BBC Radio -- who are also going to be broadcasting their adaptations of The Left Hand of Darkness and the Earthsea Trilogy. I was even more thrilled to hear the finished programme -- not because it has me in it, and David Mitchell, and Karen Joy Fowler, and lovely Naomi Alderman asking the questions and doing the talking, but because it has so much Ursula K Le Guin in it. She reads from an essay. She answers questions. She explains how you balance a writing life with having a family. She talks about gender and about writing and about humanity.

For the next few weeks you can listen to it here, wherever you are in the world:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05pkmyg

(If you are on a phone or tablet you'll need an app like TuneIn Radio to listen.)

Allegra, the producer, told me that the success on BBC Radio of Neverwhere and Good Omens were what gave the people who wanted to make Earthsea and The Left Hand of Darkness the clout they needed to get Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra to agree to make them. I've never been happier for an unintended consequence.

Here's a great recent interview with Ursula: http://www.denofgeek.us/books-comics/ursula-le-guin/245224/ursula-le-guin-talks-sci-fi-snobbery-adaptations-troublemaking
And here's a clip:

...

To honour Terry Pratchett, the BBC is rebroadcasting their adaptation of GOOD OMENS, too:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04knt4h is the BBC's Good Omens site, with lots of goodies, and links to the programs. If you are in the UK, it's going out at about 11:30pm each night, and the final episode will be on Saturday at 2:30 pm.

There's a new book by me out, with pictures by the amazing Mr Adam Rex: Chu's Day at the Beach


It's intended for readers a little older than the first Chu books (who are mostly 1-3). This one is for 4 and 5 year olds. It has a plot. It even has merpandas.





I'm really proud of it. It's my favourite of the Chu books, and once you look at it, you'll know why.




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Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Facts of Death



It is not a wise or a sensible thing to do, to fly from the US to the UK, getting in late on the Tuesday night, and flying back early on the Thursday morning, in order to go to a funeral on the Wednesday, but sometimes you do the wrong thing because it's the only right thing you can do, and because you have to say goodbye to a friend properly, and that was true this week.

We didn't always look like this. 24 years ago, on tour for Good Omens, we looked more like this:

It's a bookshop signing photo, which is a nice change. Back then, every newspaper interview we did they'd drive us to a graveyard. I'm not 100% certain why. But in ancient crumbling newspaper picture archives, there should be a host of photos of Terry and me holding Good Omens and looking not very scary at all.

It accompanies this:  http://www.locusmag.com/2006/Issues/1991_Gaiman_Pratchett.html --  an interview with us both from 1991, in Locus Magazine, from back when we were very young and prone to finishing each other's sentences.

BBC Radio 4 is going to repeat GOOD OMENS as a tribute to Terry: it starts Monday the 6th, at 22:30 UK time. Details at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04knt4h If you missed it, you can listen to it from anywhere in the world, using the internet, or an app (if you have only a phone/tablet).



And Terry's death makes me think of Douglas Adams' death (I missed the memorial: it was the first day that planes were flying again after 9/11, and I gave my seat on the plane up so that someone could get home). 

On March 3rd I was in the UK to deliver the Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture, to help Save the Rhinos. You can watch the talk I gave here:





(The blog title is borrowed from a poem Terry wrote for an anthology called NOW WE ARE SICK, which I edited with Steve Jones in 1985. His poem began...


They don’t teach you the facts of death,

Your Mum and Dad. They give you pets.

We had a dog which went astray.

Got laminated to the motorway.

I cried. We had to post him to the vet’s.



You have to work it out yourself,

This dying thing. Death’s always due.

A goldfish swimming on a stall,

Two weeks later: cotton wool,

And sent to meet its Maker down the loo.)

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Terry Pratchett

I woke up and my email was all condolences from friends, and requests for statements from journalists, and I knew it had happened. I'd been warned.

Thirty years and a month ago, a beginning author met a young journalist in a Chinese Restaurant, and the two men became friends, and they wrote a book, and they managed to stay friends despite everything. Last night, the author died.

There was nobody like him. I was fortunate to have written a book with him, when we were younger, which taught me so much.

This was the last thing I wrote about Terry. I knew his death was coming and it made it no easier:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/sep/24/terry-pratchett-angry-not-jolly-neil-gaiman

I'll miss you, Terry.

I'm not up to writing anything yet. Maybe one day.


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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Edging back to blogging

I really am out of the habit of blogging, aren't I? Some of it's from travelling too much, and most of it is probably from using Twitter and Facebook in places and ways that I would have blogged in the past.

Last year's social media sabbatical was really pleasant and rewarding, though, and I'm thinking about doing another, longer one, at the end of this year. Which will probably mean I'll return to blogging again then.

I'm writing this from a hotel in Dublin, where I was today receiving the James Joyce Award. Now off to the UK, where I'll be delivering the Douglas Adams memorial lecture, as a benefit for Save the Rhinos. (Almost all tickets are gone. A few VIP tickets are up on ebay.) The Lecture is called Immortality and Douglas Adams. I know that. Now I just have to write it.

A new book is out: it's called Trigger Warning: Short Stories and Disturbances.

I learned when Smoke and Mirrors came out what people say in reviews of short story collections, and learned it again when Fragile Things came out, a decade later. The reviews say "A good collection of stories, let down by (the weak stories) and redeemed by (the strong stories)" But nobody ever seems to agree on what the weak and the strong stories are, so I never feel I have learned very much from the reviews, but am always happy that people found stories that they did like in there.

So that's what most of the reviews say.

Then there's Frank Cottrell Boyce writing in the New Statesman, about Trigger Warning, short stories, what they are and how we read them, and it's an essay I'd love even if I weren't in there:

It is interesting that Saint Columba makes an appearance. Columba began his exile on Iona in penance for his part in the 6th-century Battle of the Book, a conflict that had its origin in his secret copying of Saint Finnian’s psalter: a kind of medieval illegal download. The subsequent ruling – “To every cow its calf, to every book its copy” – marks an important moment in the history of books. Were they beautiful, magical objects, to be carried into battle as charms (as the psalter was)? Or were they a means to disseminate information? Should their magic stay locked inside or should it be shared? Trigger Warning seems to grow out of a similar rift – the alternating currents of struggle and synergy that flow between the page and the electronic media.

I'm pleased that most readers seem to enjoy most of Trigger Warning, especially pleased and relieved that "Black Dog", the second of the American Gods stories of Shadow in the UK, seems to be well-received. I'm nervously caracoling towards the next novel, and suspect I'll start it in a few months, when the current giant jobs are done...

Amanda and I went to Sarasota to see my 97 year old cousin Helen, and seeing we were there and it was Valentine's Day, we did an event at the beautiful historic Tampa Theatre. This, at the end of a VERY long evening, is me singing "I Google You".



And the beautiful P. Craig Russell limited edition print we did for it is up for sale at Neverwear:

Ah. That was my return to blogging and it wasn't funny at all, was it? Bugger.



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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Wishes and gifts

An old year ends, and takes with it people and sorrows and joys and memories, and a new one is on it way.

A New Year's Gift, for anyone who missed it:

The BBC Radio 4 GOOD OMENS Website, with all six episodes of the Radio Series available to listened to over the next 2-3 weeks.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04knt4h

And a reminder, over at http://acalendaroftales.com/ you can read and listen to all the stories I wrote for the  A Calendar of Tales. January's Tale takes place in the moments between the first and the last chime of twelve midnight, when the Old Year is over and the New Year not yet begun.


May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.


...I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.


And for this year, my wish for each of us is small and very simple.

And it's this.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.


And here, from 2012 the last wish I posted, terrified but trying to be brave, from backstage at a concert:

It's a New Year and with it comes a fresh opportunity to shape our world. 

So this is my wish, a wish for me as much as it is a wish for you: in the world to come, let us be brave – let us walk into the dark without fear, and step into the unknown with smiles on our faces, even if we're faking them. 

And whatever happens to us, whatever we make, whatever we learn, let us take joy in it. We can find joy in the world if it's joy we're looking for, we can take joy in the act of creation. 

So that is my wish for you, and for me. Bravery and joy.

...

I meant, and mean them all. I wasn't going to write a new one this year. But...

Be kind to yourself in the year ahead. 

Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It's too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand.

Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.

Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them. 

Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.



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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Radio shows are like Buses...

Radio shows in which I answer quiz questions, sing, and tell the story of how I wrote OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE for Amanda are like buses.  You wait for such a long time, and then two come along at once.

I love that two shows, recorded many weeks apart, went out at the same time. Quite literally. And many Public Radio stations put them out back to back. So it must have seemed to listeners that this writer they had never heard of had just taken over their radios. Probably they were disappointed when I wasn't then to be heard singing something on the News from Washington.

The first one I recorded was ASK ME ANOTHER, at the 92nd st Y. Ophira Eisenberg and Jonathan Coulton tormented me with their evil questions and singing tests. It was amazing.



You can listen to selected bits and to the whole of it at http://www.npr.org/programs/ask-me-another/

And you can watch this bit. I had told their interviewer that I won tickets to see Patience from the local paper's Gilbert & Sullivan competition when I was 9. So they did a Gilbert & Sullivan competition for me, with the assistance of Jonathan Coulton playing things on guitar that were never meant to be played on guitar.




Then last week I flew to Minneapolis to be on WITS, with musical guest Shara Worden AKA My Brightest Diamond (whoa, can that lady sing). 

I found myself in comedic sketches, including one where I show people around an extremely unusual house. And I read out people's Bad Gaiman submissions. And I sang a verse of FEVER.

They recorded enough material to make two shows, and you can listen to the first of them here:


I cannot find a photo from that night, so here is a video clip from the last time I was in WITS, in 2011. It features Adam Savage's performance of "I Will Survive" in the character of Gollum...


...

And Hachette and Amazon have finally buried the, um, small axe-like thing, and are friends again. So in a gesture of celebration I will put up an Amazon link here for the first time in a long time. Heck, I will put up two:




and (out on Feb 3rd 2015)




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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Most Important Publishing Event In Our House

I went to Germany and Austria, and did book events and signings for Der Ozean am Ende der Straße.
I went to Paris and did book events and signings for L'océan au Bout du Chemin.
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.
Which is really rather wonderful.

The Sleeper and the Spindle came out in the UK, and is also getting great reviews. This Chris Riddell illustration raised some eyebrows:


When the picture was first seen we were criticised for writing a lesbian version of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, and now people have read the story I've seen us criticised for not writing a lesbian version of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. 

What it is, I hope is a story about strong, smart women making their own stories. The Guardian's Amanda Craig said,

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.


This is the cover. She spent the year writing it, following on from her TED talk of the same name, and it's just been published, on 11/11, by Grand Central. It's a remarkable book -- it's partly a memoir, partly a manifesto on crowdfunding and music and art, partly the story of our marriage and her friend Anthony's struggle with cancer and what that meant to Amanda's life and career. It's the story of how she did the most popular musical Kickstarter ever, and the weird and improbable shapes and twists her world has taken. It's about how we ask for things. It's about being vulnerable.

I think it's a fantastic book, but then, I'm biased, being in love with the author. (I'm also all through the book, not always flatteringly. It's a very honest book.)

Cory Doctorow writes a fantastic essay about Amanda, the book, asking and the shape of music and information in this decade over at the New Statesman

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:


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Friday, October 17, 2014

In Which I am About to go to Germany, Austria and France. Also, notPorn.



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.comhttps://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.)

***



The Sleeper and the Spindle, illustrated by Chris Riddell, is coming out this week in the UK. I've been fascinated by the articles that have come out centering around this illustration, of the queen waking the sleeper. It's been applauded for things it is and things it isn't, decried as pornographic, and pretty much everything in between.  I think it's beautiful, but then, I think everything about this book is beautiful, from the transparent cover and the gold ink details on.  (Here's a restrained piece from The Guardian, from whose website I stole the above picture.)

(It's only for sale soon in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. If you are anywhere else and want it before the end of the year, you should probably order it. Here's the Book Depository Link (with Free worldwide delivery), the  Amazon.co.uk link and here is the UK Local Bookshop link. I should warn you also that the paperback edition you can preorder on Amazon won't be out for a year. But you will want to get the hardback, because it is an object of pure beauty.)

...


Are you an author? Are you someone who owns an independent bookshop who knows authors? Amanda and I wrote a letter to authors and bookshops, about the Saturday after US Thanksgiving. 

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.

(You can read the whole letter at the link. We plan to work at three different local bookshops that day.We have a plan.)


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Monday, October 13, 2014

In which you and I go to Tasmania together.

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.

Here's me and Polly Adams presenting a copy of Chu's Day to Dunalley.

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...

Here's the trailer.


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

Seminudity of the daughter-embarrassing kind.

It's been ages, and I kept promising myself I'd do a blog update, and then other stuff would happen, and somehow in there the blog never got updated.

So. Right. Lots of stuff has happened since the last time I posted. (OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE came out in paperback in the UK and US. It's still on the US bestseller lists. Please read it. I'm very proud of it. I did a tour for THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS, with Eddie Campbell and the FourPlay string quartet, and we sold out The Warfield and Carnegie Hall and the Barbican and we very nearly sold out Usher Hall in Edinburgh. CHU'S FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL came out for little kids. I helped Amanda edit in the last three days before she handed in her book, which was wonderful, and I handed in the manuscript for my next short story collection, TRIGGER WARNING... although I'm still finishing the last story in the book.)

(Backstage at Carnegie Hall, with Maddy.)

On Wednesday I went to LA for a few days of meetings and such. I learned what's happening with the AMERICAN GODS TV series (all good and on-track), with the John Cameron Mitchell movie of my story "How To Talk to Girls At Parties" (it's all looking wonderful. Elle Fanning will play Zan, the second of the girls that Enn meets at the party. The story continues after the short story is done, and is still set in 1977, in Croydon). Other things, just as good. I saw a preview of my old friend Cindy Shapiro's rock opera Psyche (http://www.psycherockopera.com/), and was really impressed by how powerful the music and staging of the myth were.

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...



Please watch it. If you like it, share it...

(All of us post-bucketing, except for Best Boy Cat Mihos, who took the photo.)

I embarassed my daughters. So far, Karen accepted the challenge but hasn't posted a video (https://twitter.com/KarenGillan2/status/503101560814321664) and George has done it -- and called me a bastard, into the bargain. (http://youtu.be/mJYx2UtPTWc)



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