I'm home. Hurrah... 22 Hours on planes and in airports, and it's just nice to be in my own house, with kids all around, and I got to say things I haven't had a chance to say in two weeks, things like "What do you mean --you're going out? You've still got two English essays to finish, and a hundred-question physics test, and all that homework's due tomorrow. Of course you aren't going out."
I walked in the garden:the asparagus is high as an elephant's eye, and for that matter, so is the rhubarb. (Which is rather unnerving, actually.)
So waiting for me, when I got home, was a finished copy of American Gods.
This made me very happy.
The first thing I thought when I saw it was how much thicker it was than I'd expected. (465 pages plus about 15 pages of front matter. Or to put it another way, it's over an inch thick.) Also, how very much it looks like a real book.
The cover is lovely.
I opened it up very carefully. Black endpapers. Yum...
The first rule of new books is this: when your new book arrives, and you open it to a random page, and look at it, you will see a typo, and your heart will sink. It may be the only typo (er, typographical error) in the whole book, but you will see it immediately.
So I very carefully didn't open it to a random page. I opened it to the first page (CAVEAT, AND WARNING FOR TRAVELERS) and read that instead. Half way down the page I noticed a comma that I could have sworn used to be a full stop...
But other than that, it looks lovely. Wonderful. Really cool. I checked the Icelandic, and that was now right, and all the weird copyediting things seem to be fine. The permissions are all there on the copyright page. Along with the weirdest little library of congress filing thing I've ever seen.
This is what it says:
American gods: a novel /by Neil Gaiman -- 1st ed
1.National characteristics, American -- Fiction. 2. Spiritual warfare - Fiction. 3 Ex-prisoners - Fiction. 4. Bodyguards - Fiction 5. Widowers - Fiction I. Title
And I wonder, who picks these categories? What do they base them on? I mean, while it is undoubtedly true that Shadow, our more-or-less hero, is an ex-prisoner, and that his wife is killed in a car crash early in the book; but I feel deeply sorry for anyone who goes into it looking for fiction about widowers, ex-prisoners or bodyguards; while all the people looking for the things it has in abundance, like history and geography and mythology, like dreams and confidence tricks and sacrifice, Roadside Attractions and lakes and coin magic and funeral homes go by the wayside.
Still, I like "Spiritual warfare -- Fiction." And 'National characteristics, American". I like that, too, in a weird way.
Also waiting for me were the finished covers for the Harper Perennial (large format paperback) editions of SMOKE AND MIRRORS (my short story collection) and STARDUST. Which are wonderful... Stardust in particular, as it looks... well, grown-up, like a fairy tale for adults and not like a generic fantasy. (I wonder how many people bought the mass market paperback edition of Stardust, and were disappointed because it really wasn't what the cover promised -- and how many were pleasantly surprised by what they read.)
Both published, interestingly, as "Fiction".
I think that both books are going to be out and in the stores for the signing tour. Fingers crossed...
If (like me) you've been waiting for the promised "first chapter" and the newsletter, I'm pretty sure that Harper are just gearing to send them out, because they just had me write something telling you how busy they've been getting neilgaiman.com into shape to go and meet the public, which will be going out to those of you who are signed up for the news option.
And, while I think of it, May 31st is when scifi.com's Seeing Ear Theatre launches "SNOW, GLASS, APPLES" -- the play for voices I wrote based on my short story (in Smoke and Mirrors), starring Bebe Neuwirth as the Queen. She is astonishing, and was a joy to work with, and I'm looking forward to the thing going live. Brian Smith, who produced and directed this (and my story "Murder Mysteries", which, starring Brian Dennehey, went up on the scifi.com site last year, and is still up in the archives section).