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Thursday, January 31, 2002

Dear Mr. Gaiman,
So I'm driving out to College Station, TX, in March to see you at Aggie Con (oh, well, to see _Aggie Con_, too, I suppose). Could you give us a secret wave that we readers of your blog could make, say when you're climbing into the elevator or passing in the hall, by way of saying, "Hi, I read your blog. I think you're keen!"? And then you could wave back in some way that says, "Hello, Reader of my Blog. Glad you like it." Then we fans could feel like we'd had a little person-to-person communication with a writer we admire, without having to interrupt you as you're going from place to place. ^_^
Anywho, I think you're keen. Thanks for all you give to us readers.
-Sharon


Wouldn't it just be easier if you came over and said "Hi, I read your blog. I think you're keen"? And then I'd say "That's very kind of you, I'm glad you enjoy it," and you could say "Lovely weather we're having" or "It's raining" or "Are you having fun?" and I could say "Yes, isn't it?" or "I suppose I must be," and before you knew it we'd've had a conversation, and the world would be a better place.

I'm not very scary, and will happily talk, unless you catch me at the wrong time (eg. on my way to a panel/signing/the toilets/bed). And it probably would work better than secret signals, which are always liable to misinterpretation. (You, thinks: I have flicked my earlobe at him several times, yet he has failed to respond by tapping his cheek. Perhaps he hates me. Me, thinks: I wonder what's wrong with that person in the third row's earlobe? Probably an ill-fitting earring or something.)

Forgot to say... I've been reading Diana Wynne Jones's WITCH WEEK to Maddy recently. Several nights ago, Holly, over twice Maddy's age, came in and listened to a chapter (it was a book she'd read many times). Then the next night Holly came back. And the night after that. And now Holly sits on the floor and does her homework while I read WITCH WEEK to them both.

And it makes me incredibly happy.

(As a side note; I've been listening to an awful lot of Alan Bennett over the last month, because the BBC are bringing out his backlist on CD, and I listen whenever I'm driving. I didn't think it had had any effect on me until I sat down to start reading WITCH WEEK and noticed it seemed to be coming out of my mouth in a faintly querulous Leeds accent. Maddy, who had heard odder, didn't seem to mind, and the reading-WITCH-WEEK voice has now dissolved back into the primordial slime that my accent has turned into over the last decade.)

I just read on Netscape that Stephen King was going to quit writing books after his latest contract expires ( 5 books, I think ). Do you have any comments ?

Sure. I'm proud of him. It takes a lot of guts to decide to stop doing something that you can do and that works, when you're finished. (For me it was finishing Sandman.)

Not writing, when you don't feel you have anything to say, is an art that very few writers have mastered.

It's something King's been talking about in life (the New Yorker interview several years ago) and in his fiction (the end of Bag of Bones) for a while.

Having said that, I'm not at all sure that I believe that Steve is really going permanently to hang up his pen. Writing seems so tied up with who he is. (If Peter Straub announced he was retiring from writing novels to become a jazz critic, or if I announced that I was going to retire and grow pumpkins, it might be a little more credible... If a Terry Pratchett or a Stephen King announce their retiring from writing, I nod sagely and think "That'll last until the next time you have a good idea and want to get it down on paper...")

I have no doubt that if Stephen King gets an idea for a book, he'll write it. If he likes the book he wrote, he'll publish it.

Either way, not-writing or writing once more, I wish him the very best of luck.

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.)

Sunday, January 27, 2002

Lots and lots of helpful people writing in to make suggestions about universities and libraries that might be good places for the Sandman papers-- scripts, minicomics, what-have-you. And others have pointed out that they had better be the kind of well-budgeted place where the papers would be safer than they are in my attic.

Someone suggested that I auction them off for the CBLDF. I'd hate to see all that stuff split up -- there are too many academics out there who would curse me forever if I did. And any academics who are trying to do stuff about comics are fighting enough of an uphill battle anyway -- I'd rather not make things any harder for them.

An interesting side-question:

Neil --I guess this is more of a suggestion that a question. Recently, you posted that you had "huge quantities" of Sandman papers, scripts and computer files that you thought should be preserved. Well, I have no idea how one goes about donating comic book scripts to a university, but it got me thinking about that you and DC should consider putting out these scripts in book form. There definitely seems to be a market for comic script books recently (i.e. the Bendis Powers book, the Making of AiT book, and the upcoming Panel One book) and I really enjoyed reading the Sandman script in the Dream Country TPB. With collections broken down by story arc and featuring unseen art by the various artists who worked on Sandman, I can't imagine these books wouldn't sell. They may even be more attractive to the audience who discovered you through your prose work and can't quite bring themselves to buy comics.-- Matt


Let's see... well, it's been suggested a few times by such disparate publishers as DC Comics and Fantagraphics's Gary Groth. I even toyed with the idea of self-publishing them. In the end, it hasn't happened for three reasons. In order of importance they are

(1) I'm not entirely comfortable with publishing the scripts; they were letters to artists, not written to be published. It took a lot of arm-twisting for me to be persuaded to publish the script in Dream Country, which I agreed to mostly because I'd wanted so much as a young writer to see what a comics script looked like. Reading a comics script and turning it into a comic is even harder than reading a movie script and imagining a movie from it. If I wanted to see it happen, it would probably have happened. I have no doubt that it would sell -- just as I have no doubt that "novelizations" of the Sandman books would sell. But I want people to read the comics.

(2) I had a nightmarish computer crash while working on Sandman 5 (a hard disk fried by a lightning strike) which meant that it took years of hunting to find scripts for those early Sandmans, and as far as I know the script to Sandmans 2 and 5 are more or less lost for good. (nobody kept things like scripts back then.) So publishing the complete Sandman scripts is more or less impossible unless someone turns up the missing scripts. (But the script for Sandman 1 was believed lost as well, until a friend of Mike Dringenberg's found the copy Mike had done for him back in 1987.)

(3) The copyright and Trademark issues are complex. (DC purchased the right to publish the script for Sandman 17 from me for Dream Country.) While the comic is certainly copyright DC, the scripts (except, in some countries, that of Sandman 17) are copyright me -- which is why Fantagraphics was interested in publishing them. I suspect that the copyright issues are foggy enough that had DC wanted to stop me publishing them through an outside publisher they certainly could have tried. Not, I hasten to add, that it ever became an issue, and if I'd actually felt comfortable with the idea of a published script book I would probably have simply phoned Paul Levitz (DC's Publisher) and we'd have figured out how to do it, or at least come up with a few potential solutions.

But I wasn't comfortable with it, it wasn't complete, and I said no.


Dear Neil, Whats it like having people call you a genius, and refer to stuff you've done all the time as brilliant? does it get to you? do you believe in it, or try shrug it off with a grin, or a demeaning comment (like lennon used to)? or does it make you want to become a recluse like kubrick did? also, what do your wife and kids think about it? do they think its sweet, or do they have to hide the laughter and roll their eyes? Anyway, you are both a genius and your work is brilliant. Ben Lipman.


I'm not a genius, Ben. Honest. I know from geniuses, and believe me, I'm not. I'm a writer with a certain amount of talent and a commitment to the craft of writing who has written some good stuff and some stuff that's not so good. I've written enough words that I sound more or less like me when I write, and, mostly, I trust the story. I'm pleased when people enjoyed stories I wrote, but don't mistake it for praise of me, or for any kind of objective standard of excellence. (A writer is not the work. An artist is not the art.) Somebody with good taste's favourite story is certain to be the one story someone else with taste just as good but different is certain I should never have allowed to see print. (I'm no judge, either: my least favourite Sandman story was 3 Septembers and a January -- and now cannot remember why I disliked it so much. I just remember trying to talk Tom Peyer and Karen Berger into dumping it and skipping a month as it was so awful. In the end I changed the shape of a couple of word balloons.)

Somewhere in there I learned that awards and praise don't make it easier the next time it's just you and a blank screen -- sometimes they make it harder.

(Geniuses I've known would include Douglas Adams and Alan Moore. One is a monstrously prolific and hard-working writer, the other was notoriously 'blocked'. But both geniuses none the less. Dave McKean's a genius. They sail different seas.)

As for family... I've told on several occasions the story of how I got my first really powerful review in Locus, from Tom Whitmore, in 1989, and I read the sentence that made me happiest to my wife. "The voice of Gaiman," I read aloud, proudly, "is the voice of Marlowe and Poe." "That's very nice," she said. "Now will you take out the garbage?" which brought me down to earth with a sensible bump. And I did.

The kids know there are people out there who think I do cool stuff, but then, they've watched me wandering the house trying to remember where I put down my tea, and know that I have no sense of time and an exasperating habit of drifting off into my head in the middle of a sentence without noticing that I've stopped talking, not to mention a tendency to make things up that needs to be watched ("Is that true?" they'll say. "Er, no," I'll admit). They are occasionally impressed when they realise that someone I know is famous.

No desire to be a recluse, although I like having a certain amount of peace and quiet to write in, and I don't ever get used to being recognised when I'm not expecting it, especially not in shops.

Overall, I try not to take the praise too seriously. I like making up stories, I'm lucky that people want to read the stories I make up. If they didn't want to read them, I wouldn't be able to do anything about it, after all.

The stories wouldn't change...

Friday, January 25, 2002

Handed in the "Narrative draft" of the Ramayana to Dreamworks -- a forty page retelling of the saga, describing the movie in more detail than a film outline would usually go into. It's (believe it or not) the fifth draft I've done -- each fairly radically different from the one before. This one, at least, although it takes awful liberties, made me feel when it was done that it was, in its own small way, a proper Ramayana. Anyway, it's off to Dreamworks. Now the ball's in their court.

Last night's e-mail brought Henry ("Nightmare Before Christmas") Selick's second draft script for CORALINE. Henry's first draft of the script was utterly faithful to the text of the book -- if anything, too faithful. This version was both looser and truer to the spirit of the book -- he'd added a character, made the beats in the first act slightly different, but the changes were the all kind of changes that need to exist when translating a book into a film, and the core characters -- Coraline, her parents, the Cat, the Other Mother -- and the story are still just the same. Very creepy and a great deal of fun. Apparently it was very well received by the studio.

It's weird -- there are so many movie projects out there based on stories or books of mine that I (a) lose track and (b) assume as a general rule for piece of mind that none of them will happen. But i think we're getting to the point where the probabilities are starting to suggest that something has to happen.

Really we need a tote board, with Coraline, Good Omens, Murder Mysteries, Stardust, Books of Magic, Neverwhere, Death, and (trailing way behind) Sandman on it, along with anything I?ve forgotten or intentionally not mentioned (like the Robert Zemeckis project, or the Dave McKean film), not to mention various of the odd projects I've collaborated on over the years, like Beowulf, or Interworld, which, just as I'm certain they're utterly dead, stir in their graves and yawn and blink and sit up and ask for coffee. I think Good Omens will probably come in first, but an outsider like Books of Magic or Murder Mysteries might come in and pip it at the post....

Mass quantities of Harlequin Valentine ship today from Dark Horse, just in time for Valentine's Day. (Those of you who found copies in the last month, those were the copies airlifted in by Dark Horse, which went to retailers so they could show customers what they weren't buying, or at least have one copy to sell before Xmas.)

...

Pondering the huge quantities of Sandman papers, scripts (and computer files), I started wondering whether I should find a university or somewhere that would like them, sort them, and keep them safe. These days they're in the attic, at the mercy of nibblesome mice and territorial cats, which I suspect is not the best place for them to be. How does one go about choosing a university -- or do they choose you? I have no idea how this works.

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Playing in the background, at least when I started typing this, Richard Goldman�s Girls N� Cows, a present from Terry Pratchett a few years back, which comes as a relief (well, a break) from The Gourds hillbilly version of �Gin �n Juice� which I kept playing because it made me smile.

Doing a �narrative version� of the outline for the Ramayana currently � it�s basically the movie script without the dialogue.

A few FAQ questions about what I was doing on the film AVALON and what I thought of it. I was brought in to, essentially, write some voice-over dialogue and narrative for it, to buttress the story. Which I did � two or three entirely different drafts, with different characters doing their own monologues and dialogue, obliquely clarifying, amplifying and setting up some of the themes in the film. Not sure how much, if any, plans there are at this point to use what I did. (The original plan was that my voice-overs, like all the dialogue, would have been in Polish. The last thing I heard was that they have decided to go a different way on it, and they may be dubbing the film into English, which I think would be a pity.) What do I think of Avalon? I think it�s a very beautiful film with some profound moments, some bits that work better if you�ve seen it a few hundred times, and some bits that don�t. I hope that it gets released and people get to see it and that it does well � there�s some great vision in there.

Lots of e-mails like this one: I don't know if you know about it yet, but Sluggy Freelance is in many minds the best online comic available today. Great characters, great stories, and thirty seconds of joy everyday makes this site worth mentioning. I say it now because they mention you and your death character in the lastest story. I suggest you check it out. Cheers. ~Sam Ruffner although most of the other ones list the URL � and Chris Hull helpfully says that �If you try after January 23, I believe the url will be http://www.sluggy.com/daily.php?date=020123.�

(Nobody mentions that the current story is named after a song by Tori Amos, but it is.)

Meanwhile

Neil --
I'm doing my college senior thesis on comic books and censorship in America I have made use of the CBLDF web site and have information on the Senate hearings/Fredric Wertham business as well. I'm aware of the Swamp Thing/Veitch and Hellblazer/Ellis incidents at DC, but haven't found any concrete sources to use in discussing these or other, less 'official,' forms of censorship in the medium. I was wondering if you, as a creator and 'insider' in the industry, might have any insight to share with someone seeking to educate herself and others about the censorship of comic books. Thanks for your time, Anita


If I were you I�d put up a post on the Comicon.com site (where Rick Veitch can be found), and on Warren Ellis�s board (ditto for Warren), and at the Comics Journal site (where there are people with long memories). Both of the examples you point to were covered extensively in the comics press, while the Rick Veitch Swamp Thing fiasco also made the front page of the Wall Street Journal, if I remember correctly. (Apart from declining to write Swamp Thing after Rick left, I didn�t have much part in it.)

Having said that, I�m not convinced that something like that is necessarily censorship, anymore than it was censorship when The Joker was forbidden to dress like Madonna in Arkham Asylum. DC owns the characters and publishes the comics: rightly or wrongly, it�s their call what goes in them. Kyle Baker�s Superman�s Babysitter strip was pulped, Moebius�s �Batman meets Depressedman� strip rejected. I�d certainly not have made either call if I was Paul Levitz, but then, I�m not him.

I also don�t think it�s censorship when a bookstore owner or comicbook store owner elects not to stock something because they don�t like it or don�t want to sell it. It's their right to sell what they want.

(On the other hand I do think it�s censorship when a police captain goes into a comics store and tells them not to sell such and such a comic any longer, or when a local group campaigns to get a book or author banned from libraries, school or otherwise. Or when a publisher is informed he�ll be going to prison for having printed a story, or an artist does go to prison for drawing a story -- or is forbidden by a court to write or draw any more [the last two things happened to Mike Diana; the first two I mention to works of mine, and I'm a relatively uncontroversial author]...)

...

Spending a lot of time right now looking after a small girl with a high temperature. And occasionally reading her Diana Wynne Jones�s WITCH WEEK.

And this morning I read my contributors copy of the DC Comics 9-11 Comic this morning. Proud to be part of it, and that Chris Bachalo, and the colourists, and Todd Klein did such a great job. I think the Mike Moorcock/Walt Simonson story was my favourite, but it had a lot of very stiff competition. Looking forward to buying a copy of the Dark Horse & co volume.

...

E-mail today brought some wonderful astonishingly Dave McKeany illustrations being done by the company that's creating the animated TV series based on the characters from THE DAY I SWAPPED MY DAD FOR TWO GOLDFISH. I've already seen some excellent, funny sample scripts.

(I called the kid who has all the wonderful ideas, our unnamed narrator in Goldfish, Kirby, a reference that'll be lost on the non-comics-reading people, but it pleased me.)

And the Good Omens movie news sounds good as well. They're gathering together the last of the money and hope to be shooting by summer. I shall keep my fingers crossed. ("It'll never happen" points out a phantom Terry Pratchett, very sensibly, in my ear.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Went to Florida and spoke in a library in Stuart to an audience composed of more or less equal numbers of people who had come to hear me talk and people who had no idea who I was but who went to library events in Stuart. Read a couple of chapters of Coraline, which was very enjoyable -- I'm trying to get a sense of the sound of the text and the characters as next month I record the audio book (incidental music and theme song by Stephin Merritt).

Then got on a plane and flew back to the frozen north.

I noticed over the New Year that I'd got very out of shape since the American Gods tour (that's the trouble with writing, you sit too much, if you're not careful, and I've not been careful), so I'm starting to exercise again every morning, getting air into my lungs, all that.

Reading about the Thuggee sect recently, I was surprised to learn that these Kali-worshipping killers of travellers on the roads as often considered themselves Muslim as they were Hindu, and that they believed their persecution and elimination by the English to have been the result, not of strangling people, but of killing forbidden castes of people, and killing women, which were defined in their creed as murders, not sacred deaths.

Dave McKean has e-mailed me the black and white illustrations for Coraline -- wonderful, beautiful, funny and creepy. It's a pity that they won't be seen in the UK (Bloomsbury feels that illustrations in a book mean that people over the age of 12 won't buy it), although we'll put some of them up on the Coraline Website. Whatever that turns out to be.

Tidying up, I keep running into non-fiction pieces that I should have put into Adventures in the Dream Trade, too late. I don't think I realised I'd written quite so much non-fiction over the years. The book's going to have a printing of essentially 1700 copies, and I see from the web site that they are limiting how many copies people can order in advance, which is probably a very good thing. (There's almost nothing in there that's wholly original, but you'd have to be a dedicated collector of an awful lot of stuff to have it all.) I hope that most of the copies of the book go to readers, not to investors.

A number of questions on the FAQ line about how to get Angels and Visitations cheaply. It can't be that much, I thought, and looked at a few booksearch services where the cheapest copy was water damaged at $55 and the most expensive was a signed first edition at over $400, and most of them were $100.

Anyway, how to get it cheap right now is to wait until October when DreamHaven are doing the 10th anniversary edition to tie in with the 2002 World Fantasy Convention (mostly because I got tired of people who just wanted to read it paying $100 a book, and that seemed like a good way to get some out at cover price). (Remember, most of it is in Smoke and Mirrors). (Or check EBay, where they currently seem to be going for around $40.) The DreamHaven reprint will be limited to 5,000 copies, and after that people will have to wait for the 20th Anniversary, I expect.

Right. Off to exercise while staring out at the ice and snow...

Thursday, January 17, 2002

Yesterday I got a juicer. I dropped apples and celery and carrots and such into the top and watched everything that went in at the top turn into juice and pulp. Vegetables you could drink. �This is fun,� I thought.

I woke up from dreams this morning, in which my interest in juicing had led me to experiment with other things you could juice, and in which I had begun to juice books and photographs. I was mildly surprised to find that you could extract the essential essence from any book or picture in the form of a juice, removing the pulp. �Why has no-one else thought of this?� I wondered, as I turned several thick novels I�ve not had time to read into half a cup of pleasant-tasting liquid I could drink in moments. �I�ll probably get a medal for discovering this.�

And I woke up, half-disappointed, half-amused.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Go and check out the rather wonderful artbomb.net site -- Warren Ellis and several other talented people have started a website dedicated to graphic novels. It was looking at the genres area of the site that I realised how very far we'd come in the last couple of decades. I mean, there's good stuff out there. Still a hell of a lot of noise, but there's more and more signal every year.

...

Finished the Endless Nights Desire story for Milo Manara late last night. A 20 page story with rather less nudity and sex than I had expected when I came up with the idea (but then I reminded myself that Manara did Indian Summer (with Hugo Pratt) and Trip to Tulum (with Fellini) as well as the more erotic work like Butterscotch and Click!).

Sent off the introduction to the forthcoming reissue of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Feeling rather like a juggler right now: too many things to get done, too many deadlines being pushed as far as they will go and a hair beyond, and I just wind up concentrating on finishing things, one project at a time.

Monday, January 14, 2002

And this...

This may come to you as an odd question. For the last year or so I've believed you to be a dead literary genius for the mere fact that when I finally discovered your incredible world of The Sandman I was told, in fact: "Well, you can't get any of the original issues because Mr. Gaiman is dead and they sell for high amounts of money because of it." I couldn't believe that but my best friend also thought the same, apparently someone had told her something similar. Have you heard anything as asinine as that before? Any ideas on how it began? By the way, I finally discovered otherwise when I came across some of you books in the bookstore and knew that you couldn't be publishing books if you were dead, not when they were written after your supposed death. I'd like to see what you think of it.
A confused admirer of your work,
~Rio~


Hang on. Let me check....

Nope. Still breathing.

It's not one that crops up a lot, actually, "I thought you were dead." I mostly get the occasional astonished "I didn't know you were English."

Dear Mr Gaiman,
Are you *sure* that you haven't written a book called Cordelia? It's now been reviewed on Amazon.co.uk. Is this all some strange hoax? At whose expense?
Fond regards,
Peta the Puzzled


The Amazon Cordelia page seems to have vanished now. I saw the review, which I thought was quite funny (I think it was a joke, not a hoax.) No, I never wrote a book called Cordelia. (Maybe that was the me who died.)

Sunday, January 13, 2002

This in on the FAQ line...

Hi, Neil. I just found this site, and had a question that has been burning my brain for months. Here goes: I live in a small, rural town in southern New Hampshire. I'm a junior in high school, and with college looming brightly on the horizon, I came to realize that good grades aren't gonna do me a thing. I need something that sticks out and distinguishes me from the rest of the applicants. So that's my quest: do something amazing before November of this year. I like to write (as you and David Eddings will make fun of me for saying :) ) How do I go about getting published? Especially with the short time line? Is it possible?
Thanks,
Jaimie


I�d never make fun of anyone who likes to write, any more than I�d make fun of anyone who likes to read.

I suppose it�s possible that you could write a story of such brilliance that if you get it out to magazines now you could find an editor who will fall in love with it and can get it into print by November, but I suspect the odds are against you.

You might be better off doing what I did, with three friends, when I was 16. We started a zine. It was called Metro (a name I think I came up with, mostly because it sounded like a magazine people might vaguely have heard of) got a few local stores to pay for enough advertising to print the thing (very cheaply) and did interviews with anyone we could get (Michael Moorcock and artist Roger Dean are the only ones I remember) (and they were rather surprised when their interviewers turned out to be sixteen year old boys in school uniforms). It was sold in local record and bookstores (this was Croydon in about 1976). You could review books you�ve read, movies you�ve seen, print your stories and distinguish yourself at least from the people out there who haven�t done a zine. (Oddly enough, the other two writers went off and became music journalists, and the magazine's 16 year old designer became a real designer.)

Does that help?

Saturday, January 12, 2002

There. Home again, jetlagged and goofy, with deadlines buzzing about my head like wild hornets. I don't think I do holidays terribly well -- I'd rather be writing. (although I got to experience a sandstorm, which was interesting). Woke up this morning for a structure for a drama in my head, which is probably a play for five people who never interact, and a sixth person who isn't there, which made me very happy. Then I tried to figure out when I'd be able to write it, and with luck it'll be somewhere in 2005. Which seems, well, silly.

Lots of interesting questions and comments in on the FAQ line, and I'll try and grab an hour later in the week to answer some of them here and some of them over in FAQs.

Recent reading (mostly on planes): finished a Harry Stephen Keeler sequence of books which I barely realised was a sequence -- I thought initially it was an accident or something -- and then began to delight in the way he'd taken a chunk of something and reworked it and finally made it four novels which contradict each other, but which, at the end, one learns are all part of the same story, all about a red box and the skull of a kidnap victim named Wah Lee. The final volume, THE CASE OF THE LAVENDER GRIPSACK, a courtroom drama, ingeniously manages to demonstrate that everything one has learned in previous volumes was wrong. Even so, I was disappointed to see that, having set it up, he wasn't able to get in the chewing gum that was going to be slipped to the prisoner before he gave his evidence (his attorney, a plucky redhead who needed to win this case in order not to have her evil uncle steal her inheritance, convinced of his innocence in THE MAN WITH THE WOODEN SPECTACLES, was going to slip him a chewing gum doctored with a drug that forces you to tell the truth, while the wily DA, for reasons never adequately explained, decided to replace it with chewing gum that forces you to lie inventively after you've chewed it). Unfortunately the chewing gum is forgotten about in the middle of the concluding book. (The first two books are THE MAN WITH THE MAGIC EARDRUMS and THE MAN WITH THE CRIMSON BOX.)

(If you feel like giving Keeler a try, via the Ramble House reprints, over at http://www.ramblehouse.bigstep.com/, I recommend THE RIDDLE OF THE TRAVELLING SKULL -- although when they bring THE SKULL OF THE WALTZING CLOWN back into print I'll probably recommend that instead.)

Then read Alan Bennett's complete Talking Heads dramas (as fascinating written down as they are performed, in different ways) and the new Dad's Army book (strangely disappointing and empty, as most books on British comedy tend to be).

Finished reading Norman Hunter's Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm (the first book, with the best stories and the Heath Robinson illustrations) as a bedtime book to Maddy, and am now reading her a few of Richmal Crompton's William stories while trying to decide what the next novel is going to be. (Either The Ogre Downstairs by Diana Wynne Jones or The Hobbit, at a guess -- I've not read The Hobbit aloud since I read it to Mike, when he was about her age, ten years ago.)

It ought to be somewhere in the minus 10s around now. Instead it's in the 40s, and yesterday the ice on the lake by the cabin I write at was making deep bass thrum thrum noises, like jazz whale calls, to indicate that it's melting. Not that I'm grumbling. (My assistant, who has been waiting for ten months for the start of the cross-country skiing season, is the one doing that.)

Thursday, January 03, 2002

Q: If I am on Holiday, why am I writing so hard?

A: Because deadlines don`t go away just because I'm on holiday.

Q: For that matter why am I typing this?

A: Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. But in order to type it I have to sit at an unfamiliar keyboard, and every couple of minutes I have to bung a Euro coin into the side of a pac-man like box to keep typing. So I probablz won`t do it much for the rest of the week.

Q: Probablz?

A: I said it was an odd keyboard, didn`t I? The Y and the Z are swapped over. I bet they think that`s funnz. Funny.

Q: Other than that, any news?

A: Well, the blurbs have started coming in on CORALINE. And they are very, very good. Which is nice. And I�m a hair away from finishing Milo Manara`s DESIRE story, from Endless Nights. And I read the Avram Davidson book on the plane and the stories were wonderful, although one of the co-editor�s afterword comments tended to be careful explanations of the story you had just read, in case you missed it. Trouble is, if you don`t know what Davidson's to, explaining the man from Porlock isn't going to make it any more understandable, and if you do it feels a bit like someone, at the end of the joke saying "Now, that joke was funny because when she said "hunting for rabbits again, vicar?" it showed her husband that she had allowed the vicar to use her in order to catch rabbits, which means that, by the logic of the joke..." which is a poor treatment for a joke, and a worse for an Avram Davidson short story.

(please not that between Davidson's an to above the word referring has vanished. And I have one minute 54 secs to post this before the thing closes. Will it work? probablz.
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