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Sunday, February 11, 2001

American Gods Blog, Post 5

A little over a year ago, I was asked to do a thing over at The Well's inkwell.vue area. I had a topic and people could ask questions, and it just quietly became a sort of combination of occasional diary and place I could mention things. It was only meant to go for a few months, but these things sometimes have a life of their own, and it's become the topic that hasn't died. Or rather it has just died, as, with over 1900 postings in it, they've frozen the topic and started a new one, Countdown to American Gods. It's at http://engaged.well.com/engaged/engaged.cgi?c=inkwell.vue&f=0&t=104

And I just went in and posted a little blurb about the book, and the covers and such. Once I'd finished typing it, it struck me that it would probably serve as a pretty good journal entry for here, as well. So here you are. Me introducing American Gods.

It's a big fat book about America, and about a man called Shadow, and
the job he is offered when he gets out of prison. It's kind of a
thriller, I suppose, if you can have mythic thrillers. I suppose it could be
considered SF or fantasy or horror, depending on where you stand, and
I'd not argue with anyone who considered it such. My former publisher,
Lou Aronica, read it and said it was a slipstream novel, using Bruce
Sterling's term for (as I understood it) books that give you the same
buzz you got as a kid from genre stuff but that aren't published as
genre.

The US cover shows a road and a lightning bolt. The UK cover shows a
motel sign, a telegraph pole, and a lightning bolt.

This is not actually an example of parallel evolution. Scarily, the US
cover for American Gods was designed before I started writing the book, over two years ago, and the cover was simply based on a two or three page letter to the publisher about the kind of book I thought I'd write next. I'd called the book American
Gods in the letter as a kind of placeholder name, until I came up with something better, and then they sent me a cover mock-up, and it looked so definite I never had the heart to even try to come up with another title. And the image they'd sent me really did look like the cover of the book I was writing.

When they'd read the first half of the book, the UK publishers,
Headline, called and said they hadn't a clue what to put on the cover.
So I sent them a photocopy of the US cover, and they took the lightning
bolt idea and added a wonderful motel sign (for the 'Stardust Motel'
which must have amused somebody).

We're four months away from publication here, at a point in the
process that's usually a lot further down the road (we're compressing
the usual 8 months-plus between handing in a manuscript and publication
into about half the time.)

Then again, my scary children's novel CORALINE was handed in in June 2000, and won't reach bookshops until May 2002. (Although Harper Audio may release an audio version of it in December 2001/January 2002.)

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