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Friday, November 30, 2001

Well, on the downside, after three straight months at the number one spot on the Locus bestseller list, American Gods has dropped to number two.

And on the upside Barnes and Noble just published their Best Of 2001 list for SF, Fantasy and Horror, at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/specials/bestof2001/scifi1.asp? and it made me very happy...

(In all honesty, I was made much happier by the company I was keeping kept than by the position on the list. Not that I'm complaining.)

So this morning's mail brought with it the script for David Goyer's adaptation of my story Murder Mysteries, which he's writing and will be directing for Dimension Films. I started it nervously, having read some astoundingly bad adaptations of my stuff, and some very mediocre adaptations, and some Okay Ones With Good Bits. And some very good ones -- Like Terry Gilliam and Tony Grisoni's Good Omens script - that worked because they took something that wasn't a film completely apart and then put it back together again as a film.

This was different. It was very obviously the thing I'd written. It was just the thing I'd written transformed, quite brilliantly, into a film script. I got half-way through it, and then the day started, and I had to put it down, reluctantly, and deal with stuff. And then, once the day wound down, I picked the script up again, nervous once more to see how he'd wrap it all together, and read on, very happily, all the way to the end.

It's both of the stories in Murder Mysteries. He's taken the set of literary Detective Story conventions I plugged into in the angel half of the story and reshaped them to the conventions of a Detective Film, logically and effectively. He's used words I wrote wherever he needed it and wrote good stuff to go along with it whenever he went off on his own.

If I were Dimension I'd greenlight it. I suspect that, applying the Terry Pratchett rule of films, this means It Will Never Get Made.

But I think I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Did you know that if you go to http://www.lemonysnicket.com/count.html you can listen to Stephin Merritt singing the Count Olaf song, "Scream and Run Away"? You didn't? Well, now you know, what are you waiting for?

...

Saw the Chris Bachalo art for my story for the 9-11 Benefit Book. It's very wonderful. Destruction's in it, and it contains one of the most lovely drawings of Death Chris has ever done. (I can see it puzzling people who will read it and go "But hasn't Destruction quit?" and of course, he has, he's just working on the Ferris Wheel, but we only had 5 pages and it'll be a squeeze to get all the words in anyway, so that didn't get explained.)

...

Still reading The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents to Maddy, at a chapter a night. It's a wonderful novel -- really dark, as well crafted as any novel Terry's written, which is not surprising, but it also deploys all the things the different Terrys can do. The kind of book that could win, legitimately, awards for best fantasy, horror, SF or children's book.

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

And there, I've done the last draft of the Ramayana-ish project for Dreamworks, and sent it off. Slightly to my surprise, I'm very pleased with it. It's not the Ramayana, but it's a story that would be enjoyable to watch as an 80-minute animated film, and, I think, just as interesting and enjoyable to write.

There's something very strange about writing something sub-tropical on a day like today.

I've been playing with a digital camera for a couple of weeks: lots of shots of surprised-looking cats with glowing eyes, a number of magnificently cute photos of the girls, one accidentally interesting self-portrait (which we may even use as the new front page of the website) which was just an experiment to see how little light the camera needed, and, every week, shots of the lake view from my writing-cabin window.

I showed them to my wife, this evening, on the screen. When she saw today's photos of the lake, snow on the edges of things and frosting the bones of the trees, she said, "Oh. Do you have a setting to make them come out in black and white like that?"

"No," I said. "These are colour photos. Honest."

But she was right, sort of. Everything had turned into blacks and whites and misty greys. No colour anywhere.

That's how you know Winter's started. The colours are the first things to go.

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Forgot to mention that According to Diana Schutz at Dark Horse, Harlequin Valentine should be in the US before the end of the year. It was being printed in Singapore, and there were delays there, but the books are on their way to America, probably via tramp steamer, and will arrive long, long before Valentine's Day.

For the record, last night's post was, here or in FAQs, the last time I plan to discuss apostrophes at Neilgaiman.com.

And today's question (from someone too nervous to stick in a return e-mail address) is:

Why do you pass up legitimate questions from interested individuals, in favor of people who just want to see themselves typing something "important?"
=(


and the answer is, I don't. About three hundred questions come in a week on the FAQ line, every week. Answering them would be a full-time occupation. I'll answer ones that catch my eye, or that have a simple answer; sometimes I'll wait for a while, and pick a whole wodge of them at once, (the "when are you going to come and sign in [Singapore] [South Africa] [Norway] etc" thread). Many of them are ones that deserve short essays back, and there are a few (such as The Films, or What's happening With Miracleman,) where every time I think I'm ready to do the FAQ entry, everything changes, so I put it off again.

I think all the FAQ things that come in are important, at least to the people who sent them. They all deserve answers, except the ones I've already answered. They won't get them, which is unfair, but then, there's also the message boards here for people who don't get their question answered by me.

And beyond that? Lord, this isn't a democracy. It's a journal I do because it's fun. Ditto the FAQs and much of the stuff I stick up on the website. If it ever stops being fun, I'll probably stop doing it, and this will turn into one of those author websites that are probably much more useful, and effective and commercial, and on which everything is in the right place, and you won't stumble over strange and unlikely things. For now, it's imperfect, but interesting.

Does that help?

And the Scifi channel people say, regarding the Murder Mysteries Audio, that it's all a surprise to them. So we'll see what happens. I'll keep you posted.

In 1996 or 1997, Kelli Bickman had an exhibition at the Four Colour Images Gallery in New York, mostly photos taken on the set of Neverwhere. She called me today to tell me that there were a few large-sized photos she'd held onto back then that she was now going to put up on e-bay, and could I mention this to the world, since they were photos of me.

Sure, I said.

They are at

http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1490405893

and at

http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1490402934

The Murder Mysteries mystery deepens...

I pointed out to Harper Collins Audio that there was a cover to the Murder Mysteries Audio that I hadn't seen, didn't like and wasn't true. They said, Well, it's not ours. We're still in negotiation with the Sci Fi Channel for the rights. They've been really slow in getting us contracts. And besides, we wouldn't DO that stuff, and you'd see what was going on every step of the way.

Which made a lot of sense. So I went back to the Amazon page and discovered that the audio version they list as coming out in January is being done by Fantastic Audio.

And, from their catalogue entry up at Publisher's Group West, it looks like Fantastic Audio are planning on bringing out the original Dove audio version of Murder Mysteries (on which I'd let them put the ANGELS & VISITATIONS readings of 'Chivalry' and 'Troll Bridge' ).

My suspicion right now is that there's a left hand at the Sci Fi Channel that does not know what the right hand is doing. And that there are people who are going to have headaches and paperwork in order to sort this all out. I sincerely hope I'm not one of them.

Currently battering my head against the 4th draft of the-thing-that-doesn't-seem-to-have-a-lot-to-do-with-the-Ramayana-any-longer, while trying to assemble the Manara Desire story in my head. I think it takes place in Scotland (the Manara story, not the not-the-Ramayana. That still takes place in a long-ago India).

So over in the FAQ submissions a debate continues to rage concerning apostrophes. One particular apostrophe at any rate. For example:

Does FAQs really need an apostrophe as seen on the navigation list? FAQ's? *Really*?Does that mean there's something the FAQ owns about which we should be told? Or is there something missing between Q and s?

and, in the opposite camp,

With the "FAQ's" vs. "FAQs" thing, I believe that apostrophes are quite properly used to separate the pluralizing s from the noun being pluralized when that noun is an abbreviation or a number, or something like that. So it's proper to write "The 60's" or "I have fifty CD's in my collection", or "Neil Gaiman's FAQ's are numerous". Whether this is still a current usage or not, I don't know, and personally I often write "CDs" or "'60s" myself. But it's probably in someone's style manual.

and to find out which style manual....

Hi Neil-

Because I'm nitpicky, and because I used to work in a chain bookstore that constantly made grammatical errors on their signs(they have since gone bankrupt, that should tell you something), I can tell you the answer to why FAQ's is possessive: for an acronym, one has the option of using an apostrophe. (See http://www.grammarbook.com/ for the scoop!)We used to mock their "Bargain CD's" sign until we looked it up and found out it was correct. Luckily, they made plenty of other mistakes, so we were never at a loss for entertainment!


And the quote from the grammarbook site says:

Rule 9. Using an apostrophe to show plurals of numbers, letters, and figures is optional.

Examples She consulted with three M.D.�s. OR She consulted with three M.D.s.
She went to three M.D.s� offices. (plural possessive)


although someone else came in and pointed out that

In your journal entry for November 16th, you quote a question about the FAQ link being possessive.
I have always been under the impression that an abbreviation or an acronym made plural requires the use of an apostrophe followed by an 's'.
Unfortunately this is only a part answer because FAQ is already plural. It stands for Frequently Asked Questions. To write FAQ's (or FAQs) would be like writing Frequently Asked Questionses, thus being a good approximation of how Gollum would say it.


(Which last has got to be pushing it a bit, hasn't it? Usage certainly gives us FAQs and an FAQ to indicate the difference between a single frequently asked question and a whole bunch of them.)

So there's certainly a case to be made for FAQ's as a formation of equal validity to FAQs. (I don't like it, and wouldn't use it. But it's certainly valid.)

You'll be happy to hear the good folk of the Apostrophe Protection Society, over at http://www.apostrophe.fsnet.co.uk/ have something of a problem with this. For that matter, a hasty google search shows that there are a lot of people who feel very strongly about the whole CDs versus CD's thing.

And I shrug, and look at the Apostrophe Protection Society site and remember, as an interested young man, attending a meeting of the Queen's English Society, which sounds very important, but which consisted of several people sitting in a chilly church hall somewhere in Sussex saying things to each other in a shocked voice like:

"I mean, he used anticipate to mean expect!"

"Well, that's not as bad as using hopefully to mean one hopes"

and so on, for several hours. Then there was tea and cakes.

I get to believe several contradictory things here. On the one hand, I believe that, ultimately, grammar is descriptive, not prescriptive. Words change meanings with time. So may apostrophes. On the other hand, I get very grumpy when people use momentarily to mean in a moment, or enormity to mean enormousness. They are good words and mean something. Why waste them?

The best book I ever read about Grammar and the English language (better than Bill Bryson's Mother Tongue; better than Fowler) is Hugh Sykes Davies' wonderful Grammar Without Tears. (I found my copy somewhere in the stacks at Powell's in Portland. Only bought it because Hugh Sykes Davies wrote two or three of my favourite Apocalyptic poems -- here's one, and here's another.) (The Apocalyptics were a tiny British art movement, spearheaded by poet (later a novelist) Henry Treece, who took the bits they liked from Surrealism and the bits they liked from bardic and traditional poetry and declared themselves, pompously but honestly, a movement. Some really good writing in there -- particularly from Treece, Hugh Sykes Davies and Nicholas Moore, and I've never quite been able to understand the utter loathing with which the UK poetry establishment viewed them -- there's an astonishingly rude description of them in the Oxford Book of 20th Century Poetry, for example.) (Dylan Thomas was an Apocalyptic for about half an hour.)

Sorry. About to go off into a wandering digression onto 1930s British poets that probably wouldn't be of much interest to anyone much except for me.

Grammar Without Tears is long out of print these days. There are copies for sale at the various online places that point you at used books (like bookfinder and abebooks, and they are pretty cheap (unless you fail to notice that the same book you can order for $14.95 can be bought through Alibris for $25.95). It's a really readable history of English, the language and the grammar, that is entertaining, sensible, and will teach you things.

Henry Treece's Collected Poems is also a fine out-of-print book, if you can find it. And if you want a book with some of this stuff in that won't involve talking to used-book dealers (me, I like talking to used-book dealers) Surrealist Poetry In English, edited by Edward B Germain, is a wonderful place to start.

(Oops. That's out of print too. Bugger.)

& so to bed.



Sunday, November 25, 2001

Go and look at Cait Kiernan's journal. Sensible musings on the art of writing by a very sensible writer... (You won't find Cait wittering on about non-existent books on Amazon.co.uk).

Saturday, November 24, 2001

And talking about strange Amazon.com things...

I sometimes have a fantasy that, if I leave a small bowl of milk, or a tiny puddle of the 1955 Strathisla, out for the elves, they'll write books for me while I sleep. The trouble with this daydream is that I lose the fun bits of writing something, that moment where it all comes together and something is hitting the paper that simply wasn't there a minute before. The good side to the elves writing the books for me is that I get a little more sleep and some extra books written.

I'm starting to wonder if that fantasy hasn't come true. Checking in on Amazon.co.uk I see that one of my most popular books is CORDELIA. People are obviously preordering lots of copies of CORDELIA, mostly, I suspect, because you can't get it anywhere else but through Amazon.co.uk. Now, I do like Amazon.co.uk -- yesterday brought me a copy of M. John Harrison's new short story collection and a Jonathan Creek video, both from Amazon.co.uk. But I can't help suspecting they've done some kind of deal with the elves, seeing that I never wrote a book called CORDELIA.

It's a perfectly good title. Gene Wolfe once wrote a book called THE CASTLE OF THE OTTER based on a typo for a book of his in Locus Magazine (his real book was called The Citadel of the Autarch), and CORDELIA is every bit as good a non-existent title as THE CASTLE OF THE OTTER. Maybe one day I shall write a book called CORDELIA. (Not yet, though. The next children's book to be written will probably be THE GRAVEYARD BOOK -- and seeing that Coraline took about 10 years to get written, I'd not start preordering it yet, if I were you.)

But just as I was getting my hopes up on the elves front, I checked, and found that the ISBN -- 0380977788 -- which Amazon.co.uk has given to Cordelia is the same one that Barnes and Noble dot com has for the US edition of CORALINE (although they say it's out of print). (Powells doesn't have it at all. Booksense doesn't have it. Alphabetstreet.co.uk not only have it up as Cordelia but say that it will be shipping out in two-three days. Fatbrain.com have it up as Coraline and shipping next year... Clever fatbrain.)

And I wonder if this means that all the people who have preordered Cordelia will wind up getting a very expensive copy of the US version of Coraline...

The local weather forecast: it'll rain for the next few days until it finally starts snowing.

And I'm reading Terry's THE AMAZING MAURICE AND HIS EDUCATED RODENTS to Maddy at night. Tried doing Maurice as Bilko to start out with, but he seems to have settled down as David Jason as Del Boy.


Thursday, November 22, 2001

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0380817705.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg is the cover of the new edition of the Sandman: Book of Dreams, which comes out in January...

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/1574534742.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg is a bit odd... It's the audio version of Murder Mysteries, but the cover makes it look like I'm reading it, rather than that it's a fully dramatized wossname starring Brian Dennehy. It'll apparently be out in January too... (although I hope we can modify that cover a little).

I went away from the computer, leaving the blogger open, and found this waiting on the screen when I got back.

I post it without comment, but with a wry grin


Hello everybody around the world, this is Holly. Some people think that my father is smart, a good writer perhaps. But the truth of the matter is that he would be nobody without his amazing daughter to give him ideas and to tell him what jobs he should and should not take. I mean, what would he do without me? So really, it all comes back to me, and how wonderful I am. My father once said that I will make myself famous. But in my opinion, I already am, seeing as it is because of me that he has been such a wonderful success. So what we are to conclude from this, is that what my father has to be thankful for is me! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and a happy day.


A very Happy Thanksgiving to our American readers. And a sort of bemused, turkey-fed wave to the rest of the world, who are wondering what all the fuss is about.

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

There. Got home. Fell off the world and hid in my writing cabin -- even stayed the night, although I came home to eat and finish reading Pinkwater's THE HOUND OF THE BASKETBALLS to Maddy -- and finished the Moebius story completely and utterly by 6.00pm today; I think it's an okay story... with luck, the rest of the short stories will get themes in this one bouncing, and make the whole thing work better.

Endless action figures arrived in the post: they've made the Delirium one better than the photos they'd sent me, and made the Desire one (which I had thought a bit dodgy to begin with) rather worse: it has this strange sort of acromegalic jaw. (The whole point of Desire is that Desire is gorgeous. And not just to those who find lantern-jaws sexy. And why are Desire's eyes closed?) The Daniel is okay -- a reworking of Teddy Kristiansen's version of a Michael Zulli image, although the Hair is off -- it should be white, and is dark grey -- and the eyes are blind.

Oh well, they've now started talking to me and to each each other at DC, and the next round of the toys (Death, Destruction, Destiny) are really cool. And then we have to see if they dare make a naked Despair to complete the set...

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Back from New Orleans and Exoticon. Had a wonderful time, saw many old friends, made a number of new friends, and ate too much. If I went to live in New Orleans I would, I have no doubt, immediately become a little fat man. By the end of the first month I would look like Stubby Kaye...

Had a dinner with Poppy Z. Brite that was, because she knows chefs, not only quite simply one of the best meals I've ever had but, toward the end, when the chef decided to feed us Cobra Wine (grumpy looking drowned cobra in bottle full of alcohol with ginseng root behind it like a clutching dead hand) one of the most surreal.

I really enjoyed the panels at Exoticon. There was one for would-be-writers I did with my evil twin Steve Brust, which had about 40 people there, in a small hall, and everyone there wanted answers to specific problems with writing, and either Steve or I was able to say "OK, well, when that hapens to me...." a lot. It was just the right size, and I felt like everyone in the room learned stuff (including me and Steve). And it had that comfortable quality that conventions have when they aren't too large.

Small conventions seem to be getting harder and harder to make happen; there was concern that this might be the last Exoticon (they were in the black, but still paying off from last year) and I got an e-mail to say that Knoxville's ConCat has just been cancelled.

One could perhaps hypothesize that if more people pregistered for such conventions they would cope more easily with the slings and arrows of outrageous wossname. I wonder if the reluctance to preregister is in any way related to September 11th, or to people wanting to travel less, or having less money, or if they just assume that these little conventions will always happen, like Spring.

Friday, November 16, 2001

In from the mailbag.... not exactly FAQs, so we'll do them over here: Not a question, but I had to send it somewhere. Under the link "Sandman and Other Comics" it refers one to the Vertigo site. There isn't anything at the Vertigo site except info about the month's forthcoming books (and even that is a month behind). You know, that was exactly what I said when I saw it. (Although I'd originally suggested we link to Vertigo, as plans are afoot for a Real Vertigo Website. But it hasn't happened yet.)

Sometime in the next week it should start linking to some fan sites with info on Sandman. I couldn't find an exhaustive one on all the comics, including Mr Punch and Signal to Noise et al. If any of you feel like creating the definitive guide to the comics of Neil Gaiman, I will happily ensure that that page links to your site.

Sorry to be pedantic, but why is the FAQ link on your site a possessive rather than a plural? Again, exactly what I said. As for why, I'm afraid they don't explain these things to me. I can only guess. My theory is that HarperCollins, being a publisher, always has lots of leftover apostrophes and needs to use them somewhere. In England, we give them to people selling fruit and veg, and then whenever we see signs advertising Apple's and Artichoke's and Lettuce's we feel faintly superior and amused and thus buy more artichokes, apples and lettuces, which is probably the plan all along.

Why has Harlequin Valentine been pushed back to February? I'm pretty sure the book is done from all the reviews...was it a situation of Dark Horse not promoting the title enough?
thanks
Sascha


Again, no idea -- in fact, that's the first I'd heard that it was pushed back. Harlequin Valentine is an adaptation I did with John Bolton of my short story of the same name into a graphic, well, short story, form. I wrote some stuff at the end, too, and Dark Horse, with an eye for posterity and the book trade, are doing it as a slim hardcover. I think we hit all our deadlines, and the orders were Incredibly Healthy, so my guess would be that, if it is delayed, it's something on the production end. John's paintings are gorgeous.

I suppose they might have decided that they would get even more orders from the book trade if they held it off until Valentine's Day (as it really is a Valentine's Day book).

I should phone Diana Schutz at Dark Horse and ask her, really, shouldn't I? Rather than just wittering. Or at least I should pick a couple of these that I can answer.

[Did you know P. Craig Russell is currently doing an adaptation of my story MURDER MYSTERIES as a graphic novel for Dark Horse (soon to be a major motion picture, or at the very least a minor motion picture, from Dimension. Murder Mysteries, that is, not Dark Horse.)]

Here's one I can answer. Are Coraline and The Wolves in the Walls the same book?

Nope. Coraline's a short, scary novel for disturbed young women of all ages and genders; The Wolves in The Walls is a rollicking picture book, rather like The Day I Swapped My Dad For 2 Goldfish.

Coraline will have about 14 black and white Dave McKean illustrations (in the US edition) in front of each chapter; Wolves is all huge picture-book size colour illustrations, about 60 of them...

And finally Hey Neil --- just a quick verification -- are you really going to be in New Orleans this weekend? Yup. Typing this from the convention hotel room in Metarie (which is New Orleans-ish). A panel with Steve Brust tonight; reading and signing and writers workshop tomorrow (saturday); signing and reading on Sunday.

(What am I going to be reading? Dunno. Maybe the new Xmas card, but that won't take very long.)

http://ws.exoticon.org/exoticon/frame.htm is the convention website.

Mentioned the Chicago Sun Times squib to Mr Gilliam -- his amused reply, "The Lambert /Fiennes version must be the one that Chris Columbus is directing."

Thursday, November 15, 2001

Please, good people, no more offers of copies of the 13 Clocks. If you have a copy going spare, go and find a nice person who really needs to read it, and give it to them. Or read it to a child.

Yes, I know about Abebooks, and about bookfinder.com and I even know that alibris is an utter rip-off.

Yes, I've heard the Chicago Sun Times says Ralph Fiennes and Christophe Lambert will be starring as Crowley and Aziraphale in Good Omens. No, it's not true.

http://www.scifi.com/sfw/current/interview.html is an interview with a bunch of answers to various Frequently Asked Questions in it. And a couple of paragraphs of Coraline.

And the lost notebook turned up and wasn't lost after all. And I wrote my 2001 Xmas card (which turned out to my surprise to be a 26 line poem about pirates and death and ghosts and suchlike Xmassy things.)

So it was a pretty good day.

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

So I'm reading James Thurber's The 13 Clocks to my daughter right now.

I mentioned the fun I was having reading the book to American friends, expecting a chorus of "yes, it was our favourite book as children" and got nothing but blank looks and people shifting uncomfortably in their chairs.

My copy, an old Puffin books Ronald Searle-illustrated paperback copy of The 13 Clocks & The Wonderful O (two books in one, although the Wonderful O is a lesser work) is falling apart. It's the copy I had as a kid.

Ah, I thought, I'll order a new copy.

To my surprise, and to my dismay, I discovered that it's more or less out of print (there's a hardback that may be in print, but Amazon have it listed as unavailable and won't let you order it), and even the rare bookfinder services don't have any Ronald Searle illustrated copies. Which leaves me perfectly gobsmacked. I mean, it's one of the great kids' books of the last century. It may be the best thing Thurber ever wrote. It's certainly the most fun that anybody can have reading anything aloud (I'm doing the Duke as Peter Sellers doing Olivier doing Richard III, and the Golux as Marty Feldman). If I ever wrote something half as good I'd be over the moon. And it's out of print.

And the Searle illustrations are magnificent. (The Golux! The Golux's Indescribable Hat! The Duke!)

How can something that good be out of print? (And the audio version is abridged. Abridged! For heaven's sake, there's hardly enough of it as it is.)

If any enterprising small press publishers are reading this, I'll happily write an introduction to the book if you can bring it back into print -- especially with the Ronald Searle illustrations. (And the same goes for big publishers.)

For reasons known only to the little gods of Amazon.com, you can't find the new edition of Good Omens by typing "Good Omens", or my name, or Terry Pratchett's. But if you stick in the ISBN (ISBN: 0441008615) the book comes up.

This is the new trade paperback cover -- or rather, the art is the same, but on the actual book they've dropped the New York Times quote at the top, and instead the cover now has a thing saying I wrote NYT bestselling American Gods, and Terry is the author of the Discworld series.

Monday, November 12, 2001

Short book post: I got an advance copy of the trade paperback (not small paperback size) edition of Good Omens, and the cover is wonderful -- really funny and classy and cool. I'd post a link to a picture of the cover here, but I couldn't find one large enough to see anywhere. According to Booksense.com it was written by Terry Pratchett and someone called Neil Gaimna, B&N.com have it by me, and Terry, and the elusive Mr Gaimna, and Amazon doesn't have it listed at all. The official publication date is December the 4th, I think.

And I just heard that Smoke and Mirrors has gone back for its 4th paperback printing, which makes me extremely happy -- in a world in which the received wisdom is that short-story collections by single authors do not sell unless you're Steve King, it's good to know that people are reading your short fiction as well as the longer stuff.

Hullo.

So I got up at 6:20 am to go to the airport, interrupting a very peculiar dream in which I was one of an order of monks living in a rambling farmhouse, which was trying, in the way of farmhouses in dreams, to kill us all, and I needed to warn the little old lady who lived in a cottage out the back that the house was the sort that ate people, and we were just having an odd conversation about whether or not my eyes were baby blue or dirty green ("dirty green!" I assured her, but she was deaf as well as half blind and paid little attention) when the bedside phone rang with my wake-up call.

I packed everything, realised that I'd left my notebook with half of the Moebius story in it at the Will Eisner presentation on Saturday, did NOT panic, but went down and got in the car waiting to take Will Eisner, Scott McCloud and me to the airport, for a 10.00 am flight (for you don't know what sort of delays you will get these days, not to mention navigating Chicago in early rush hour).

Got to the airport. Got into a check in line behind a nice man from CBS news who was taking a mobile studio with him and needed to check and sign for a couple of dozen strange boxes. Time passed. Eventually I got to the front of the line, only to be told my plane did not exist. It had been taken off the schedule a few weeks ago, due to the whole nobody-much-flying-any-more thing. Thus I have a while here in the airport and am doing a blogger entry I've not had time to do so far.

So, the whole Chicago Humanities Festival thing (the theme of the Festival was Words and Pictures) was marvelous. For several reasons. Firstly, the guest list from the world of comics included Art Speigelman and Francoise Mouly, Jules Feiffer (who I didn't meet, dammit), Will Eisner, Ben Katchor, Chris Ware, and Scott McCloud, and, as an honorary comix guy, Michael Chabon. Secondly, it was astonishingly well-organised, and, third and most importantly, it was very obvious that, culturally, we were there on the same terms and in the same league as the various nobel-prize winning novelists, poets, musicians and suchlike that took up other streams of the festival. There was no feeling of being second-class citizens or lesser beings. And the Festival people were happy, because (a) they are fans, and (b) we filled our various halls and auditoriums.

On Friday night I did a reading/Q&A session for a packed house, on Saturday I got to interview Will Eisner (ditto) and on Sunday I was on a panel with Will, Ben, Scott and Chris Ware, which was a delight (except for the acoustics on the panel, which meant no-one on the left of the table could hear what anyone on the right was saying and vice versa), and was moderated by Michael Chabon, who began by saying that nobody ever says "what a well-moderated panel" and then proceded to deliver an astonishingly well-moderated panel (especially considering he couldn't make out a word that Ben Katchor or I were saying). (And I only knew what Chris Ware was saying by lipreading, which meant that whenever he covered his face in mortified embarrassment for merely existing and having done such astonishing work all of his wise words turned into vague and amorphous sounds.)

We signed books. We did interviews. We went out for meals and talked to each other. We waved our hands around a lot when we talked. (I think it's a comics thing.) It was tremendously civilised, and sensible and cool. Michael Chabon was unbelievably nice, for someone so talented (which went some way toward proving my theory that the first-class people really are nice; in my experience, it's the second-class people who say things like 'don't you know who I am?' and behave, in the main, like jerks).

I took a few photos, which I'll try and organise to post up here somewhere. Scott McCloud showed me some of the online comics that people are doing. I'm a sceptic when it comes to the web replacing the page, but am delighted to see such a body of inventive and cool work coming into existence. Go and look at Scott's page of links if you have any doubts. (& I fell in love with Vicky Wong's page-designing skills.)

Simply spending time with Will Eisner makes me happy; not because he's been the single most sensible person in comics since 1938, but because he has his eyes fixed firmly on the future, and on the project after next, when maybe he'll finally get it right. He knows how good he is, and he knows how far what he's done was from what he had in his head -- "the sound" as he called it, during the interview, borrowing an analogy from jazz, which he was still in search of...

God, I hope that when I'm 85 I'll still be in search of the sound.

Saturday, November 10, 2001

I spent my birthday away from home, in Chicago, at the Humanities Festival. Did a radio interview with Will Eisner and Francoise Mouly, interviewed Will in front of an audience, and had dinner with Will and Scott McCloud. I've had a lot worse birthdays, although it felt odd not having the family there.

And, for all the birthday greetings, and the support and good wishes over the years and the books bought and all, to all of you, my thanks.

Thursday, November 08, 2001

And a few more infrequently asked questions...

Dear Neil
this will be a strange question. I am taking a class on the tarot and I
am making my own deck using collage(sp?) I found a great picture of
Tori pregnant in vanity faire for my emperess but now I need a great
picture of neil gaiman for my Magician card. I can't find a picture in a
magizine that is big enough and I really don't want to ruin any of my
books soooooo... I was wondering if maybe you could help me out?
Thanks
Beth
P.S. I know your married and all but I just wanted to let you know how
sexy you look in glasses!


Hmmm...well there's a magnificently exhausted and jetlagged photo of me in SFX magazine for a couple of months ago. (Also a really interesting interview I have almost no memory at all of giving, and in which I say a lot of things I don't remember saying about America. Really sensible things too. File under ways Jet Lag can make your life more interesting.)

Hmm. Have you thought of just printing out a good online picture? http://www.januarymagazine.com/profiles/gaiman.html was one I remembered as being bespectacled, but I checked and it's not -- it's just a crazy hair picture... You could go and find something in one of the galleries...

And one FAQ in just asking me to recommend a book -- any book -- that will tell them things they did not know before.

So I shall recommend the Dictionary of Disgusting Facts by Alan Williams and Maggie Noach. It's been out of print for about fifteen years, and no, you can't borrow my copy. (Oddly enough, it's the only book that people are punctilious about returning to me.)

No, the Libretto isn't fixed yet. Thank you for asking.

Chicago Humanities Festival tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday.

And in about ten minutes I get to decide whether the beard that just seems to have grown over the last week is doomed, or whether I'll turn up with a beard to the Humanities Festival (it might not be a very humane thing to inflict upon the world).

Wednesday, November 07, 2001

Let's see.... a lot of the FAQ questions aren't really FAQ questions. For example:

I just wanted to draw your
attention to the fact that the cover of the Hebrew edition of Stardust is
upside down


And yes, it is. We really need to fix that, put up more books, maybe even make it so you can click on the book (the right way up) and go to a bigger version.

And
Not so much a question as a request I was reading over the essay
section on the site, and specifically the essay on novels/stories and gender.
And it struck me that I would really like to read a more extended
version of your opinion on the subject. From reading, it almost looks like
the way you categorise these is by the sex of who you view the main
protagonist, but I'm pretty sure that isn't the case. So, er, it would be
nice to hear more of your thoughts on the matter.


Well, if I can find some time to expand some of those AMERICAN GODS essays I did for Diverse websites back early in the year into something coherent, I shall. The essay on stories and genders was actually a musing sort of blogger entry that got out of control. But in brief, no, it's not about the gender of the main character, at least, not in my head. It's more like the difference between writing a song in a major or a minor key. Er, that was too brief wasn't it?

I was one of the Lucky few who got to see Tori Amos at the wonderful
Union Chapel concert. A truly memorable night which is fortunate as
there was no Tour Book to remind us of it. Is there any way to get hold of
one of these or did we have


Some of these messages are coming through mysteriously truncated. But I can intuit where it was going... The Tori Tour book this year is a calendar, with the sequence of short-short-short stories I wrote at Tori's request in the front. Probably the best thing to do would be to go to the Dent forums at http://www.thedent.com/torimain.html (and follow the link to the forums) and see if any nice person going to a gig will pick you up an extra tour book.

OK, I've read through your bibliography for AG and not found exactly
what I want. What I'm really looking for is a good source of old versions
of common fairy tales... the unsanitized truly grim tales that we got
glimpses of in Sandman.


I'm not sure that I've ever encountered an all-in-one-place collection of the very earliest versions of stories. Iona and Peter Opie's The Classic Fairy Tales may be the closest thing to what you're looking for, but even then, stories have variants and they cannot cover them all.

The version of Red Riding Hood in THE DOLLS HOUSE was something I first encountered in The Great Cat Massacre by Robert Darnton. Jack Zipes edited a complete Brothers Grimm which is fascinating (and bear in mind that the Grimms bowdlerised more and added more in each subsequent edition). And Neil Phillip's Penguin Book of English Folktales is a delight. (As a rule, it is hard to go wrong with the Opies, Jack Zipes or Neil Phillip.)

On the old Neverwhere site you mention a radio drama you are working on
with David Lynch- what became of that? Should I keep holding my breath?


Nope -- it never happened, mainly due to scheduling conflicts as I recall. I put bits of the town I'd created for it into the town of Lakeside, in American Gods, although the one in the Lynch series was weirder.

And back to work...

Tuesday, November 06, 2001

Hmm.... I was going to tell you which days in June the photos were taken -- and where the photo of me and the libretto was taken -- so I looked at the blogger and discovered that all the entries between June the 18th and 30th aren't up. The whole of the US tour, vanished. I'll see if I can get that fixed.

Look! Go to the front page, to www.neilgaiman.com and go down a bit and you'll see a whole long what's new list. Stuff you can click on. Embarrassing tour photos (I need to caption them, I suppose. Or I should get Jennifer Hershey, who took many of them, to caption them. This is Neil signing in Chicago. This is Neil looking dazed in Cleveland.This is Neil writing a blogger entry on the Libretto in a sushi place in... where was it? Argh. I don't remember. That is why Jennifer needs to caption them.)

So all of that stuff is up on the front page. The whole megillah. For some reason, this makes me feel like this is, really and truly, a PROPER website. Evolving. Improving. Still here.

Today I worked on the fourth draft of the outline for the animated Ramayana -- which, because of all the reshaping and eliding and restructuring needed to make an 8000 page epic into an 80 minute cartoon has moved, a draft at a time, far enough away from the Ramayana proper that I need to come up with a new name for it in order in order not to mislead people -- and the Mobius "Death in Venice" story.

Monday, November 05, 2001

Finished my first comics work in an age today: a five page story for a Benefit book for New York that DC will be publishing, featuring Death and Destruction and a Ferris Wheel. It took me ages and several drafts to get to the point where I felt like I wasn't embarrassing myself (always a liability of attempting Deep Philosophical Questions in a five page comics story). E-mailed it off to Chris Bachalo, and suddenly realised how long it has really been since I sat down and wrote a comic, as when I was last doing it, I was still faxing scripts to editors and artists. E-mail was a new-fangled thing for most of them.

And you'd think I'd be blase about writing by now, but no, I was still holding my breath until I got an e-mail back from the editor saying he liked it. I don't think things like that ever change.

The Libretto L1 is having a Windows 2000 Blue Screen of Death on Bootup problem currently, giving an error message for which the Microsoft help page says, more or less,We're not sure what causes this one and have not been able to reproduce it here. (Personally, I don't think they can have been trying very hard.)

The Dynamism.com tech support people are incredibly (and actually) helpful and taught me that a Windows 98 startup disk can be used to jumpstart a Windows 2000 computer in DOS mode. I've got about half of what I need off it so far...
...

Friday, November 02, 2001

We're in black on white! And the links are magically visible! Look!

(You are not as impressed as I am? Ah well, I take my pleasures where I can.)

Talking about which, I saw Dave McKean's sketches for the illustrations for the US edition of CORALINE yesterday -- wonderful things. And when he finishes them, he does the illustrations for our picture book The Wolves In The Walls. Which is exciting. Not sure when that'll come out, mind you -- I hope that Harper will release it in 2002, although they might want to avoid distracting attention from Coraline.
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