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Thursday, September 19, 2002

I finished reading �The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death� to Maddy last night, and tonight Maddy volunteered to read to me instead. We lay on the bed and she read me �Second Grade Ape� by Daniel Pinkwater. Which was rather wonderful, until sleep caught up with me, and she stopped reading and tiptoed away.

I slept for about ten minutes, then woke up from a strange and haunting dream, in which darkness had come to the world, a strange blackness from Outside. I was riding in a train through a desolate landscape. No people anywhere. Buildings stood, and leafless trees, but the colours were wrong and the sky was dark grey. There was a man in the train with me, someone I couldn�t see, telling me that this would happen when the darkness came, that I was being shown the future and I should be on my guard. Then the train stopped, and the doors hissed open onto the world, which darkened slowly and terrifyingly to complete blackness...

I�m now up and blinking, and Maddy�s finished reading E. Nesbit�s �The Phoenix and the Carpet� to herself and has started �The Story of the Amulet�. I�m pleased she�s enjoying them � I loved Nesbit as a kid, but found her hard to read aloud (Edward Eager, who �did� Nesbit forty years on, read much better aloud). Still not sure why this is � whether it�s that her narrative strategies are so very Edwardian or what.

...

So about 18 months ago I finished the first draft of the Death movie, and wasn�t really happy with it. I�d planned to get back to it on about September the 15th 2001, but then the events of September 11th happened, and I couldn�t muster the enthusiasm for a story about Death spending a day in New York.

I tried several narrative strategies to try and get myself writing it, including setting it San Francisco and changing the gender of several characters around, but each time it petered out, and I put it aside.

Finally, in early August of this year, I was ready: I spent a week in a hotel and did nothing but Death. It started working. I printed out the script and went to the UK to tour. I scribbled on it from time to time, fixing things. And two weeks ago I grabbed an afternoon and typed all my scribbles in, and sent the script off to the people who needed to see it.

So far the response has been incredibly positive from everyone who's read it. People, including me, are very happy with it.

In theory I�m meant to be directing it. Fingers crossed. Which is a long preamble to a phone conversation I enjoyed today:

�Can I speak to (Movie Person) please? This is Neil Gaiman.�

�I�m sorry, he�s in a meeting, but I can have him call you when he gets out. What was your name again?�

�Neil. Neil Gaiman.�

�And what is it the call about?�

�Death.�

�I�m sorry? Could you repeat that?�

�Death. It�s about Death.�

�Death?�

�Yes.�

(Long pause. Then, a little bit worried) �Is he expecting your call?�

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