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Thursday, January 31, 2002

Just got off the phone with P. Craig Russell, who phoned to get a street name for Murder Mysteries. Back in 1993 Craig did an illustration for the short story of Murder Mysteries in Angels and Visitations, and fell in love with the story. "One day," he said, "When I have time, I'd like to adapt it." "Okay," I said.

And Craig went off and did all the things he had to do in the meantime, including his wonderful adaptation of The Ring of the Nibelung which has been pretty much his magnum opus, and then, a few months ago, he let me know he was ready and he had the time. So I gave him the short story, and I gave him my script for the audio adaptation of the story I did at scifi.com (which has some extra dialogue) and told him to go and have fun. This is because I trust Craig implicitly: of the 75 issues of Sandman only one wasn't written "full script" and that was Sandman 50. I wrote the Arabian Nights stuff, phoned Craig to talk about how I was going to break it down into panels, read him some of the story over the phone and he said "Please, just give me the short story and the dialogue and let me do it." And having seen and loved his adaptations of everyone from Oscar Wilde to Rudyard Kipling I said "Okay". And was very glad that I did.

A few weeks ago Craig sent me most of the pencils for the story, which Dark Horse will be publishing later this year as a 64 page original hardback, and they were luscious. Gorgeous. Intense. And they still have to be inked and coloured...

Somehow, I didn't mind at all that it had taken almost a decade. I was just pleased it had happened.

Spent the last two mornings on the phone to Sarah Odedina at Bloomsbury, doing the UK copy edits on Coraline. Most of them were fun. The oddest thing was losing the feet and inches and changing to metres and centimetres.

Not sure if I've mentioned it here before but Coraline is now going to be a hardback in the UK. Bloomsbury originally planned to do it as a paperback, then got more enthusiastic and decided to publish in paperback with a small hardback printrun for libraries and the like, and then, as more people at the company read it and they got even more enthusiastic, it was decided that it was going to be a hardback original. I'm thrilled, mostly because nobody at Bloomsbury is doing any of this because I'm a bestselling author or any of that stuff (which they don't think cuts much ice at all in the world of UK children's publishing if they're even aware of it), but because they really like it, and they want people to read it.

(Not sure what this means for anyone who ordered a copy of Coraline in paperback from amazon.co.uk. Well, they'll probably be sent a copy of Cordelia.)

Let's see -- I feel bad I haven't been answering much e-mail recently. [Limited amount of time. Something has to give and right now it's e-mail, although answered a long e-mail from my Hungarian American Gods translator and found myself trying to explain such subjects as who was Charles Atlas ("A famous American bodybuilder, now dead, who billed himself as "the World's Most Perfectly Developed Man" - http://www.charlesatlas.com should tell you everything you need to know. Atlas, of course, was the legendary Titan who held up the world in Greek Mythology") and what is the Midnight Special? A cigarette? ("The Midnight Special was a train, which went past an American Prison (I forget which one) at midnight. The legend went that if the light of the train went through the bars of your cell, and touched you, you would be freed.") and so on.]

Let's pluck a few from the FAQ box. dear mr gaiman
did you have someone in mind when writing Shadow? and have the film rights to "american gods" been sold? i'm kinda interested. thanks! -kat
No-one at all. He was just him all the way. When my son Mike read the manuscript he told me he thought Shadow reminded him of Vin Deisel, and I said Who's he?, and he said Oh Dad and shook his head sadly at my age and ignorance. So I checked, and thought, yup, Shadow's him but with more hair. We've had a few offers for the film rights but nothing that made me want to say yes yet. Sometimes, especially where novels are concerned, I'll wait until the perfect person comes along (like Terry Gilliam for Good Omens). It's easier that way.

If you're interested and serious, call Jon Levin at the CAA agency in LA.

Who should I talk to if I was interested in adapting a short story of yours... into a non-profit student film?

Sooner or later she'll convince me to start saying no, or else all the short stories will be optioned or bought outright by other people ("Chivalry" and "Murder Mysteries" have both been bought, for example.) But for now it's my longsuffering literary agent, Merrilee Heifetz.

Both of their details can be found on the FAQ page.

I am doing a project for my undergraduate Romantic Writers Class at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN. I have decided to write about the Romantic elements in your series, The Sandman. I am currently reading "The Byronic Hero" by Thorslev and "Byron's Heroines" by Caroline Franklin. I was wondering if there are any other sources which will help me to complete my project. Thank you very much for your time. I am a huge fan of your work. Brian Curtis

Er, I've never even read those. How embarrassing. Well, if you don't have it, you could pick up Hy Bender's Sandman Companion which delineates themes, explains jokes and is very readable, and there are extensive annotations for Sandman online (a google search for Sandman Annotations should take you to some) although I just noticed they only go up to Sandman 71. (There's a fun job for someone, annotating the last four Sandmans...)

Hello Neil,
I'm disappointed to hear that the Dave McKean illustrations won't be in the UK edition of Coraline. Would you, as opposed to Bloomsbury, disapprove if I went about getting a US edtion? To be honest I intend to do this whatever you say but thought it polite to ask, and that more scrupulous UK readers might appreciate you reply, Best Wishes Ken Donald


That's honesty for you. Well, if you want the Dave McKean illustrations in your edition, obviously you should get the US edition.

The UK edition will be published first, though, by two or three weeks, and the UK will get a small signing tour on publication, so if you're around then and want a signed copy you'll need to pick up the Bloomsbury edition. (I'll probably be talking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in late August, then going on the road.)

(This isn't an evil plot to make you buy the UK edition, any more than publishing the US edition of American Gods 3 weeks before the UK one was an attempt to take sales from Headline UK. One publisher has to go first, as I can't be in both countries at the same time.)
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