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Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Having a happy day, thank you very much for asking. American Gods will be on the New York Times paperback List this week at #15 (up from 20, up from 31, up from 45), and I'm about half way through listening to some astonishing songs (which, due to a lack of a working CD player in the house we wound up listening to in a parked car, in the dark, which was amazingly appropriate).

Let's see... My old friend Mark Askwith is one of the secret masters of everything, and since that first day that we met in Gotham City (oh all right, Pinewood Studios) he has done his utmost, first through the much-missed PRISONERS OF GRAVITY TV show, and since then through his work on SPACE: THE IMAGINATION STATION, to ensure that I was kept abreast of cultural trends and plugged into the zeitgeist. So I'm still trying to figure out why he just sent me a link to http://www.elfpanties.com/flash/main.html. If any of you happen to run into Mark over the next year (it's more likely if you're Canadian, but given his ubiquity it might happen to any of you) please feel free to ask him.

And from Elfpanties to Sockmonkeys...

Neil, I did a search on Booksense under other items by Neil Gaiman, and it lists a book by the name of Monkey See! Monkey Who! I then went to Amazon.com to find more info about it, and saw that it was about sock monkeys. I remember reading something in your journal about it. If I remember correctly, you said you were going to do a short description about one of the photos. It lists you as one of the AUTHORS. How much writing did you can contribute to this? I don't want to purchase this book to find out that you had written two sentences for the book (My husband has been yelling at me for having too many books). - Cynister

It's more like around 300 words. The book is photos of sock monkeys. Various guest writers have done a description, essay, short story or poem for each monkey. Mine is a sort of rather odd narrative poem about a sock monkey who's led a Weekly World News sort of a life.

Dear Neil,
I am a huge Italian fan of you.
I got Neverwhere as it went out in the English edition, and was planning to buy American Gods.
But since I bought 'Nessundove' (i.e. Neverwhere) in the Italian version as a present to many friends of me, and verified myself it was very well translated, I would like to know if have notice of an upcoming Italian version of 'American Gods'.
If that's going to happen any soon, I imagine I'm going to spare me the economical and mental effort to buy the English version (we could discuss for hours discussing the value of a translation and how much it is an author's work). Could you help me with that?


Easily. It will be coming out in Italy within the next 6 months -- and in France also.


Could you please provide a brief etymology of the word "Shatnerian?" Is this a past-tense usage of an oblique British word, or just a universal adverb for over-emoting and/or bad acting? Just curious. Thanks.


Shatnerian (adj)... rising to the heights of, or at least, approaching the level of thespian artistry of one Wm. Shatner, a Canadian actor with a unique interpretive approach to line reading, dramatic emphasis, pauses and suchlike. (Etym. Coined in his journal by N. Gaiman, author, last night, although I can't have beeen the first one).

When I was at Book Expo in New York a few weeks ago I went looking for Gavin Grant and Kelly Link, and I found Gavin hiding out in a back room at the Booksense.com area, deep in the bowels of the Javitz Centre. "I'm glad you're here," he said, and produced a tape recorder. "Do you mind if I interview you? What would you like to talk about?"

I thought for a moment, and said, "Coraline, please," because no-one's really interviewed me much about Coraline, and it's fun to talk about. The interview is now up at BookSense.com

I suppose I could have talked about American Gods, but after last year I feel sort of interviewed out about it. I no longer know if the answers I give about American Gods are how I really feel or they're just the answers I give when asked the same set of questions.

Talking about American Gods, we seem to be hanging in there on all the paperback bestseller lists right now, up near the top of many of them.

Got some early copies of the Coraline CD today. If they give awards out for packaging, this will sweep them - it's so beautifully designed and put together, using lots of the Dave McKean artwork in the book. I listened to it tonight on the way to the airport, and loved the use of the Stephin Merritt/Gothic Archies song, which they've spread about, so one verse of it starts each CD, and the incidental music, which is haunting.

As for the reading.... well, it's okay, I guess. I kept listening to it and getting deeply grumpy with myself for sticking the stress on a weird word, or hesitating in the middle of a sentence for emphasis (or possibly just because I felt like it at the moment I read it) in a way that struck me as, a couple of times, practically Shatnerian. (And the trouble with having an English accent that's been in America too long is that I occasionally make some very strange vowel sounds indeed.) I listened to it and, all too often, just wanted to be allowed to record it again and make it better this time. But that's me.

It's $22.00 US and most of the online stores (and Booksense, who do it through your local bookstores) seem to be putting it out for $15-$18 ish.

Am off to Florida for a couple of days to see a friend and listen to some new music.

Monday, May 27, 2002

There is a website where comics artists (and even the occasional writer) have done "artistic interpetations of literary figures" -authors and literary characters...

Neil- I know you have probably gotten hundreds of these, and I am sorry, but I am really wondering about all of the new Tori Amos album rumours. For example, one source on ToriAmos.com claims she has been recording in Ireland on an album called "You Are In"; that is TOTALLY not Tori sounding. Please squelch these horrid rumours
Love, Adeline


What, again? Didn't I do this last week? Okay. She certainly didn't record it in Ireland (I suspect that one could have been disproved with a couple of minutes browsing the Dent news site) and it's not called "You Are In". Someone who doesn't know anything is pulling your leg.

Neil, You recently mentioned a book called 'My Friend Mr Leakey' that you were reading to Maddy. Does this book contain a Dragon named Pompey? If so I have been searching for it for years unable to remember the title.

That's the one.

Dear Mr. Gaiman, My friends and I were wondering if we could keep a likeness of you, or you yourself, on a pedestal sort of thing, kind of like an altar? ...your book, American Gods, scared us quite a bit and it's been a while since someone has done that and we enjoyed immensely, so we were just wondering if that would be okay? Yours Tessa

Not really, for it would be much too silly, but thank you for thinking of me. Would you like me to check around in the community of authors to see if there's anyone who'd like to be kept on a pedestal?

And slightly late...

Today (May 25) is Carry Your Towel Day. This is, of course, in memory of the late Douglas Adams. Please remember to carry your towels.

He didn't say you should carry it. He said you should know where it is. I'd be all in favour of Know Where Your Towel Is Day. Of course, you wouldn't get as many people coming up and asking you why you are carrying a towel, or just looking at you funny.

So half-way through Saturday I decided, on the spur of the moment, to take Maddy to a giant indoor swimming park called the Kalahari, in the Wisconsin Dells. The Dells is a natural beauty spot, in which the strangest assemblage of tourist tat imaginable has been assembled. Maddy strongly believes that the Kalahari is the most wonderful place on Earth. I'd never been there with her, and decided it was time. So I packed a bunch of audio tapes and off we went. On the way there and back we listened to Round the Horne tape 13, and Lemony Snicket Book 1 read by Tim Curry, and Every Tongue Wants to Confess by Zora Neale Hurston (which I'd read but wanted very much to hear, suspecting, as it turned out correctly, that a lot of the impact of the stories and folk tales and jokes would be in the telling).

Maddy loves waterparks, has been taken to the Kalahari several times before and is, as I said, of the opinion that it is the best place in the world. I'd never been there before. On due reflection, I think you need to be seven to feel that the Kalahari is the most wonderful place on Earth. But she was happy.

I also read her the first of the My Friend Mr Leakey short stories, "A Meal With a Magician", and she enjoyed it and so did I.

And then, once the tubing and zooming down slides in the darkness etc were over and done with, as it was really only just down the road, we drove down to Madison and popped into Wiscon to say hullo to people. I got hugged by Nalo Hopkinson. "I didn't know you were going to be here!" I said. "Well," she said, "I am Guest of Honour." I blushed.

Saw lots of old friends -- Charles and Karen Vess (I promised Charles I'd mention that you can still get the FALL OF STARDUST portfolio from him at Greenman Press) (and did you know there were Stardust fridge magnets?), artist-writer-editor Terri Windling (who really is an elf, and to whom I promised a short story in a year for an anthology), Kelly Link and Gavin Grant, Maureen Speller Kincaid and Paul Kincaid ("This is Paul Kincaid," I said to Maddy. "He's a very, very old friend of mine. This is Maureen. I once mistook her for some luggage,"), and oh, too many fine people to list here. Also met Karen Joy Fowler for the first time, and managed more or less not to come across as a dribbling fanboy, and I met editorial demiurge Sharyn November from Viking Penguin who showed me a copy of the (Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow edited, Charles Vess illustrated) GREEN MAN anthology, which looks amazing. (I wrote a poem for it called "Going Wodwo".) I promised Sharyn I'd send her a list of great out-of-print children's books, and I shall, in the hopes that she may be able to bring at least a few of them back, or at least that she might enjoy them...

Over dinner Charles showed me his lovely cover design for Diana Wynne Jones's DEEP SECRET. He'd noticed that I'm in the book (twice -- once as myself, on a panel at an SF convention, and once, at least in part, as one of the characters in the book: there's a breakfast in the book that happened to me) he had drawn someone sort of me-ish as part of a group of people on the cover. He's done some amazing work for a book with Charles deLint. Decided that I need to do something with Charles Vess in the next few years -- it feels odd not to have something we're doing together either happening or going to happen.

Then drove home, despite many pleas that I stay, figuring that way I'll get Monday as a quiet writing day, which I need.

Saturday, May 25, 2002

Finished reading Grimble to Maddy last night. It was a huge success. I enjoyed it reading it and revisiting an old childhood favourite enough that I went back down to the basement library and found a copy of My Friend Mr Leakey by J.B.S. Haldane (the eminent scientist, the one who, when asked by a priest what one could learn about the Creator by studying nature, replied that one could tell that God had "an inordinate fondness for beetles"). I also pulled out the first three Margaret Storey 'Melinda' books "Timothy and Two Witches" "The Stone Sorcerer" (which, bizarrely, was retitled "The Stone Wizard" in the edition I own) and "The Dragon's Sister/Timothy Travels". I remember the first three or four of those books as being the real thing -- strange and magical and, above all, dangerous -- but that the series got more forced and cute and less vital as it went on.

Margaret Storey is more or less out of print these days, alas. I loved her when I was about seven or eight, and am looking forward to finding out how much of her stuff has wound up in mine. I know it's her fault that I plant rowan trees wherever I live.

Friday, May 24, 2002

A Walking Tour of The Shambles by Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe now has its own page up at American Fantasy. And a few people are apparently having trouble with the FAQ page coming up black on black -- although I can't reproduce this with Explorer or Opera or Netscape, so I shall just pass the information on to the powers that be.

And on the subject of Freedom of Speech, a little quote from John Milton.
Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.

Kelly Link arrived last night at around 11.00pm, on her way from a reading at the Ruminator. She did her laundry, then got back in the van and drove to Madison around 1.00am, leaving nothing behind except Shelley Jackson asleep in the basement library.

I answered some FAQs, which you may want to go and check out, including a particularly incoherent answer to a question about writing which contains a small chunk of an imaginary phrase book for tourists.

One thing the arrival of American Gods on the mass-market bestseller lists has shown me is how many newspapers no longer list mass-market paperback bestsellers, listing only the larger-sized, more expensive trade paperbacks. I like trade paperbacks, and I love hardbacks (only because I'm old enough that too many of my paperbacks cannot be read without the pages falling apart; hardbacks last longer), but I'm starting to feel nostalgic for mass-market paperbacks -- it seems like we're entering a world in the US where there's less and less intelligent stuff to read in mass-market form, and that has to be a bad thing. Good books should be cheap and accessible.

I fixed the archives so that May is now in there.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Neil,
Re: authors trying to figure out how to get the rights back to books they wrote. I'd recommend that American authors get in touch with The Authors Guild at http://www.authorsguild.org/.
Best, Damin


...

http://www.usatoday.com/life/enter/books/2002/2002-05-23-summer-books.htm#mo is an article in USA Today about the most anticipated books of the summer, and I think, after reading it, that I owe Scott Werbin at the Tudor Bookshop and Cafe in Kingston, Pa. a drink, or at least a grateful postcard of thanks.

And we're up again on the USA Today bestseller list -- from #35 to #21.

We're up to #3 at Salon.com http://www.salon.com/books/bestsellers/2002/05/22/may22/index.html...

And we're in at #3 at Booksense.com http://www.booksense.com/bestsellers/index.jsp (Which also says there will be an interview with me up next Tuesday.)

I often grumble about the Internet. Still, anything that allows me to lie in bed in the middle of America, in the morning, listening to China Mieville and Paul Kinkaid chatting about the state of SF on BBC Radio 4 gives me a very warm fuzzy feeling.

Dear Neil,
I have a question concerning how an author would get the rights to her books back after they've been out of print for years. My grandmother was a writer years ago, and would like to get the rights to her books, but the publishing company doesn't seem intent on releasing them, even though the books were never huge sellers, and can't be found anywhere. I was wondering if there's any procedure to these things, because while my grandmother is pretty mild mannered, and will let it go if it seems impossible, I can tell she would really like to have this happen. Thank you very much for looking this over!
Amy


Well, the first thing to do would be to look over her contracts. Normally contracts with publishers have clauses which explain how long the publisher has bought the book for [e.g. 10 years, 15 years, "term of copyright"] and other clauses explaining the circumstances under which the book will revert to the author.

Normally, books revert to the author if they're out of print and the publisher won't bring them back into print, within a certain time, when asked. The author has to write to the publisher and ask for the rights back.

Some publishers will simply write back and release the rights. Some will shuffle and delay. I've one publisher in the UK who is simply refusing to return the rights to a book that's been out of print for years, and I've gone to the next step, which is to send the contracts and correspondence to the Society of Authors, who have agreed to help sort it out. I've often wished that there was an organisation for writers in the US that had the same sort of clout as the Society of Authors. (The Writers Guild, of which I'm a member, is a terrific union for screenwriters or TV writers, but does nothing for book people, while the various associations of writers of SF, Romance, Horror etc., while laudable and doing a number of excellent things, simply aren't taken as seriously by publishers.)

The only problem I can see your grandmother might have would be if the books were a licensed property or were done "work for hire". Get a copy of the contracts. If your grandmother doesn't have them, write to the publisher and have them send you a copy. Read it. Take it from there.

This one made me smile. I think it was mention of the bibles and the tarot decks that did it....

Congrats on reaching #2 on the Barnes and Noble bestsellers. We booksellers are humbly doing our best to suggest the novel onto people who seem odd enough to appreciate it. Here's to knocking Clancy out of #1.

As far as I can tell, you're at the top of another list at B+Ns in my area, albeit an unofficial one: your books are the most consistently shoplifted from the store--even more so than Bibles or tarot decks. No matter how I try (multiple security tags, periodic employee checks, icy glares at customers), I can't keep Sandman volumes on the shelf. Last week I finally caved in and made a tasteful little display behind the registers. I hope they're at least getting read.

Not much other point to this, but thanks for writing what you want, and not caving to the immediate sequel syndrome.

Drew


Thanks, Drew. It's good to see things from a booksellers' eye view.

Now, coming in on the FAQ line there are lots and lots and lots of variants on "When are you signing in Canada/Florida/California/Scotland?", as if I secretly know all the signing details but am keeping them a secret to prolong the suspense. I don't, and I'm not, honest. As soon as I have dates and information I'll post it here on the journal.

The new incarnation of neilgaiman.com will have an upcoming appearances page that we can keep current and accurate. The new, pretty, much more legible version of the site should be up very soon.

In addition, over at mousecircus.com, there will be an appearances list as well.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

In addition to Shelley Jackson's travel diary of the Link-Jackson Tour, Kelly Link has now started her own competing travel diary over at Booksense.com.

I finished reading Edward Eager's The Time Garden to Maddy a couple of days ago. She was interested in learning more about Queen Elizabeth, so I showed her the "Bob" episode of Blackadder (she became hooked on Blackadder, and I'm now doling the episodes out very slowly). She was very ready for more Edward Eager, but somehow I wasn't, and I'm not sure I could explain why -- I liked him well enough as a kid, and enjoyed reading the books to Maddy, but they seemed a bit, well, structurally so similar, and so much of what he does feels somehow quoted -- the kids are always quoting, in exactly the same way that real kids don't, and so many of the adventures feel like Nesbit Lite. He's probably more accessible to a modern reader than E. Nesbit, but either way, I didn't feel like spending another two weeks right now reading Half Magic and Knight's Castle (I will, in a month or so. Just not right now.)

So I went and prowled the bookshelves in the basement, looking for my old books from when I was a boy, feeling like something odd and funny and stylish.

I found my battered-but-beloved copy of Grimble and Grimble at Christmas, Clement Freud's marvellous story of a boy who is about ten (his parents are a bit vague) notes and telegrams and cookery, a book I've probably not read since I was thirteen, and read Maddy the first two chapters. She laughed a lot. I was surprised how much of the gentle deadpan of Grimble had crept into Coraline.

And it was one of those books just as good as you remember, from the first page on, in which we learn that Grimble did not have his birthday on a fixed day like other children: every now and then his father and mother would buy a cake, put some candles on top of it and say, 'Congratulations Grimble. Today you are about seven', or, "Yesterday you were about eight and a half but the cake shop was closed'. Of course there were disadvantages to having parents like that -- like being called Grimble which made everyone say 'What is your real name?' and he had to say 'My real name is Grimble.'

It's sadly out of print (although there are a few copies out there). I did a Google search to see if it was mentioned anywhere and discovered it was one of J.K. Rowling's favourite books, which left me very puzzled that someone hadn't recently brought it back into print with "GRIMBLE is one of funniest books I've ever read" J. K. Rowling author of HARRY POTTER on it and thus sell, I hope, many truckloads.

(When I first met Emma Freud, many years ago, in the Comic Relief offices, I said "Your Dad wrote Grimble!" and she glowed. She later married my friend Richard Curtis, who wrote Blackadder, and thus provides the illusion that this was somehow a thematically consistent journal entry.)

....

American Gods in mass market paperback is, to everyone's joy and astonishment, selling more copies with each week right now, and it continues to climb the various paperback charts, and to stay at the top of the ones it's already climbed to the top of. This is really fun. In the past I've only ever had books slowly drift down lists.

I think if I had any commercial sense at all I'd be following it up with More American Gods, rather than a strange little book for kids of all ages about a little girl and her terrifying other mother. Ah well. I'd rather have written Coraline than pretty much anything else, anyway.

Let's see....

an e-mail from author John M. Ford, making a couple of sensible points:

Looked belatedly at your latest log entry. You were very nice to the
copyright fellow, which is good. I don't think I would have been. His
case, while I'm sure it's very sincere, seems utterly witless -- the idea
that a book vanishes into the aether when it goes out of print is not
something that any actual book person (or, indeed, anyone who knows what
o.p. actually means) could say seriously, and while I have generally good
feelings about the Gutenberg Project, I suddenly wonder just what the hell
they are thinking.

If the idea of the Project is to broadly and inexpensively disseminate
works in the public domain -- I don't care if they're "important," because
I don't want to judge that -- then that seems a cool and even important
thing. If their notion is that they are saving work from disappearing, on
the Alexandrine model (as if there were no changes in technology between
Hypatia and Now) then they are hunting the wrong snark, especially given
the instabililty of electronic storage. Tear a page from a book and you
may be able to interpolate. Damage a disk and it makes a nice
beermat. Not that you don't know this perfectly well, but it's late and I
haven't spun down the motor yet. And way too recently I've had to
determinedly keep quiet through the Same Old Argument that it's okay to
steal intellectual property because, well, it's easy, and writers should be
happy they don't have to work (I am, as I'm sure you know, not making that
bit up).


and this also came in, on a sadder note...

Mr. Gaiman,

I read your blogger entry regarding copyrights and the statement that all books published in the U.S. are subject to deposit with the Library of Congress. All the information you have provided is true, but however, far from complete.

Although the Library of Congress receives copies of all works published in the U.S., the only items that it is required to maintain by law are those works submitted for copyright which have not yet seen publication. All other items are subject to removal (ie: destruction -- the L.O.C. cannot sell or donate these works in any way) at their discretion. This happens to numerous books and works which the Library feels it does not have room to contain.

I highly suggest reading (if you have not yet already) Nicholson Baker's "Double Fold", an account of the L.O.C.'s systematic destruction of many irreplaceable works in its posession over the past 50 years that will chill, frighten and leave you sleepless in ways that no fictional horror story can equal.




Copyrights: I know that the copyright issue has been discussed before, but I was wondering about your take on "disappearing books."

Copyrights are being extended all over the world to very long periods of time (currently U.S. copyrights last for 50 years after the author's demise for most works). The longer the wait (after publishing) for the copyright to expire, the higher the chance that the book is "lost" due to unavailability of copies from which to record the text and/or illustrations. As someone who does a small bit of work for Project Gutenberg (an organization dedicated to recording books), I worry about all of the books that will never be read by future generations because no one thought them important enough to keep around. For that matter, there are also many kinds of books that are being "lost," such as photography books, graphic novels, and such.

Perhaps it doesn't matter. Perhaps 100 years from now, if no one had considered your works important enough to preserve, no one will even miss them, but can you imagine not having "Neverwhere" available because no one could record it due to copyright restrictions and before it went out of print forever? What if Orwell's "1984" hadn't been so highly regarded? What if it had been thought so ludicrous when it first came out that it didn't sell? Sure, it would have been forgotten, so no one would miss it; but wouldn't that rob future generations of the chance to decide?

Do you think there should be a compromise to copyright law whereby printed materials can be stored in a main (electronic?) archive concurrent with publication so that these materials will be available when their copyright expires and not be eternally adrift in the "out of print" sea? Like you said regarding "Angels & Visitations," you couldn't imagine anyone paying $200 a copy, but 100 years from now, it may not be available at any price.


Obviously the matter of all these "disappearing books" is a deeply disturbing one, and one that I'd find a bit more convincing if it came with any evidence that this happens with any frequency.

In the UK the copyright act of 1911 ensures that....

Publishers and distributors in the United Kingdom and in Ireland have a legal obligation to deposit published material in the six legal deposit libraries which collectively maintain the national published archive of the British Isles. These are:

The British Library
The Bodleian Library, Oxford
Cambridge University Library
The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh
The Library of Trinity College, Dublin
The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

Publishers are obliged to send one copy of each of their publications to the British Library. The other five libraries have the right to claim those publications from the publishers and distributors. In practice many publishers deposit their publications with all six libraries without waiting for a claim to be made.

The principle of legal deposit has been well established for almost four centuries and has great advantages for authors and publishers. Publications deposited with the libraries are made available to users in their reading rooms, are preserved for the benefit of future generations, and become part of the national heritage.
http://www.llgc.org.uk/cla/legaldeposit.htm

and in the US...

Mandatory Deposit Requirements

On January 1, 1978, all works published with a notice of copyright in the United States became subject to the mandatory deposit requirements of the United States Copyright Act (title 17, United States Code). These requirements are similar to the "legal deposit" or "depot legal" laws in effect in other countries.

On March 1, 1989, the qualification "with notice of copyright" was eliminated from the mandatory deposit provision. This change was made in Public Law 100-568, the Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988. As a result of this change, all works under copyright protection and published in the United States on or after March 1, 1989, are subject to mandatory deposit whether published with or without a notice.

The mandatory deposit provision ensures that the Copyright Office is entitled to receive copies of every copyrightable work published in the United States. Section 704 of the Copyright Act states that these deposits "are available to the Library of Congress for its collections, or for exchange or transfer to any other library."
http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ07d.html

This is a case of copyright giving and taking away. On the one hand, it stops people reprinting the books at will without paying anyone; on the other it makes these "disappearing books" of yours a pretty much imaginary (technically: made-up) phenomenon. The books are there, on deposit, and available to be read.

Is the system foolproof? Not entirely, as anyone who's put in a request for a book at the British Library and got a slip of paper back informing them that that book was lost when the book depository it was stored in was bombed during the blitz, learns very rapidly. But I don't think that making copyright expire on the day of death (is that what you want?) would have helped that.

Authors who die have estates, some of us, anyway. If a book is out of print, the author's estate will normally be quite keen on bringing it back into print. Have you thought about starting a small press publishing house, and bringing back into print, physically or as e-books, books that you feel have unjustly disappeared? You may find the author's family quite grateful for the royalties, or just to have their mother's or aunt's or father's book back in print after all these years.

If authors die without estates, or you can't trace the estate, if there's no-one to get royalties and and there's no-one to authorise or forbid a book from being published, then the book is effectively in the public domain, 75 years after death or no, and no-one is going to stop you from inputting it to Project Gutenberg, publishing it, or creating an operatic song cycle about it.

Having said all that, yes, I think an electronic archive is a very good idea. I don't think it should replace a physical archive, though. (These days most publishers expect a copy of the book on disk. Most publishers send a digital book to the printer. There's no reason not to have that digital book stored in the various copyright office locations.)

....

As a side note here, I don't just see this stuff as hypothetical. For years, Penn Jillette and I have been trying to get hold of the rights to an obscure book written in 1926. We want to turn it into a movie. It's been out of print for fifty years. (And bookfinder.com and abebooks.com found us all copies in moments. It hadn't disappeared that much.) The author died in 1946, and the book would have gone into the public domain in 1996. However, in the early 90s under the current EEC copyright laws, copyright was extended to 75 years after death, which means that the book is still in copyright. It took us years to trace the person controlling the rights to the book -- the author's granddaughter -- and there's no guarantee that we'll be able to get the film rights from her.

I think it would be great if the book in question could be brought back into print. (The author's granddaughter thinks so too.) It would also be great if Penn and I could get the film rights. It would have been much easier and cheaper for us if the 50 year law applied in the UK. But it doesn't. The family gets to decide what they do with the film rights. The family gets to make some money out of it. As an author, I like that.

If the copyright office wants to give heirs and assigns an extra 25 years of control over the disposition of a book, I think that's a good thing. I see no evidence that it's causing books to disappear.

So that's my take on "disappearing books".

...

There. I spent much too long burbling about copyright, when I wanted to talk about putting in a grape arbour (which is what all the people who have been to the house over the last few days have found themselves dragooned into doing -- assembling it, staining it, installing it).

A few weeks back Kelly Link and Shelley Jackson (Two Women! One Birthday!) stopped here overnight after doing a reading in Minneapolis (at DreamHaven during a thunderstorm). Shelley's diary entry includes photographs of her and all the body parts she found on a short walk through the woods. (Looking at the photo of the mysterious probably-a-rabbit organ, rather than just blinking down at something glistening and distant and rainbow-purple that a cat had left helpfully on the back-door mat, it doesn't look like a liver at all. More like an alien.)

(This was back when the arbour was still bits of wood in a box in the barn, as it had been since 1999, which is why they don't talk about it.)

Shelley's book, The Melancholy of Anatomy is out and strange and wonderful. http://www.ineradicablestain.com/

Kelly Link is the author of Stranger Things Happen and is one of my favourite writers in the whole world. I wish she would write more.

If you want to catch Shelley and Kelly, as their tour finishes (I should have put this up at the start of the tour) -- they are driving across the US in Shelley's van, currently heading back this way for the last lap....

23 May, 8.00 PM, Ruminator Books, 1648 Grand Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55105 (651) 699-0587

NEW! 24 May, 7.00 PM, Canterbury Books, 315 West Gorham (at State Street), Madison, WI 53703 (608) 258-9911 or 800-838-3855
(with Tina Jens)

(24-26 May, Wiscon, Madison, WI)

28 May, 7.00 PM, Shaman Drum Bookshop, 311-315 S. State St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104 (734) 662- 7407

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Neil, will the marbles pouch for Coroline be sold mass market or is it a promo only? Thanks

As far as I know the marbles are only a promotional item that are being given away to booksellers and librarians. I don't think they're for sale at all.

I was thrilled -- partly I think because I was really surprised -- to learn that American Gods has been nominated for a Mythopoeic Award by the Mythopoeic Society.

(The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature is given to the fantasy novel, multi-volume, or single-author story collection for adults published during the previous year that best exemplifies "the spirit of the Inklings.")

Several years ago Charles Vess and I won the Best Novel award for the illustrated version of Stardust.. The award is a statue of a Lion -- Aslan, I assume.

The candidates this year are:

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, Adult Literature
Lois McMaster Bujold, The Curse of Chalion (Morrow/Avon)
Neil Gaiman, American Gods (William Morrow)
Sarah A. Hoyt, Ill Met by Moonlight (Ace)
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Other Wind (Harcourt Brace)
Tim Powers, Declare (William Morrow)


(My favourite for the award -- of the books I've read so far -- would be The Other Wind. At least, I think it's the one that C.S. Lewis and Tolkien would have liked best.)

(Although, on reflection, I like to think that Charles Williams might have preferred Declare or American Gods.)

Saturday, May 18, 2002

There are only going to be two Coraline launch events, in July. One on the West Coast, and one on the East.

The East Coast event (which comes second) is going to be in New York.

It's at the Barnes and Noble, Union Square, on Thursday the 11th of July 2002, beginning at 6.00 pm.

This event will be a reading and a signing.

(The first event will be in the San Francisco area on publication day, probably July 2nd. No more details yet... It may be much more of a launch event than a signing. More info as soon as we have it.)

Those two events will be the only things in July.

Then there's the UK tour in late August, two Canadian events, then a short US tour in early September.

Friday, May 17, 2002

Neil-- What's with the sudden use of "we" for all things best-seller-list related? Is this the royal "we", the American-Gods-publicity-machine "we", or just the plain old megalomanial bwa-ha-ha-ha "we"? Just wondering. And, y'know, being sarcastic --Curious

It's a sort of all-inclusive We.

Writing a book is something that you do on your own. I wrote American Gods. Me me me.

Making a bestseller is not something you do on your own. It's something that happens because of a lot of work by an awful lot of people: at the publishers, the marketing and publicity people, the sales reps, the person who decided to have little flashing lights on the lightning bolt on the dumpbin; then, equally as important, there are the booksellers; there are the reviewers, the truck drivers and warehouse people -- and most importantly, at the end of the day, the people who look at the book and decide that it looks like something that might while away a plane trip or a couple of days at the beach, and pick it up and take it down to the counter. (And then there's the people who read the journal, and mention to their friends that there's a writer named Neil Gaiman out there that they might like...)

It's my book. It's not my bestseller.

Spent most of this evening rolling up my sleeves and hunting, identifying, and, eventually, killing a trojan program on the house server, which took a skill set I'd not really needed to use in ages. Fascinated by the weaknesses of the major Virus programs (although at least Nortons tipped me off that there was something out there). Relieved and very happy once it was finally removed from the registry and deleted.

Several people pointed out that the Boston bestseller list has a link from American Gods to an article on Christian Publishing, and a few people assumed, as I did, that they meant to link to their review of American Gods but accidentally didn't.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Someone asked for a capsule summary of Coraline. Here's a review from THE BOOKSELLER in the UK...

Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, Bloomsbury Children's Books, August 2002, [pound]9.99, 0747558531

Bestselling, award-winning author Neil Gaiman has written a spooky debut for teenagers. Coraline has just moved house and is intrigued by a bricked-up door which appears to lead nowhere. One day, she opens the door to find that the bricks have vanished. Inquisitive, she goes through the door and enters a world where things are not quite what they seem. The place beyond looks like her home, but it isn't, and the mum and dad there look like her parents, but they aren't. Her room in this parallel world is a gothic playroom, populated by wind-up angels which flutter around the room, and dinosaur skulls whose teeth chatter as she passes them. With absurd humour, reminiscent of Lewis Carroll, and a sense of comic spookiness to rival Edward Gorey, this is a delicious literary treat with strong appeal for both boys and girls across a broad age range.


Which I think nails it pretty well, in terms of mood if not in terms of plot.

Bestseller lists are very odd this week. We're still at #1 at Kepler's, still at number 5 at Salon.com, still at number 3 at the Independent Booksellers. (I thought for a moment that they hadn't updated the lists, then realised that all the other entries were different, it was just American Gods that was in the same place.)

(We're also at #7 in Boston)

And -- stop press -- in the USA Today overall List we're up ten places to #35, and in the New York Times mass market paperback list we're up 4 places to #31. Which means we sold more copies in the second week of release than we did in the first. Hurray for us.


It's been a hectic few days -- my assistant Lorraine went down with some hellish flu at the same time that my wife's away (I don't think they planned it like that), and so I have been coping as best I could, cooking, looking after the kids, answering or (more often) failing to answer the phone, doing the mail, battling the fax machine, tending the sick, and so forth. Finally today I realised I hadn't actually written anything properly in days, and I fled to my cabin for the afternoon, where there isn't any phone, and started writing -- mostly some overdue movie stuff, and some of the Endless Nights Despair story for Barron Storey. And it was good.

Somewhere over the last few days I also bought a few more plum trees (one of mine had died), a cherry tree, a green grape vine and a concord grape vine, which I'll plant this weekend. (As a kid in England I could never understand why things that came from America had a "grape" flavour which tasted nothing like any grape I had ever encountered. And then I moved here, and found some wild concord-style grapes growing in the woods and tasted them. "These taste like grape flavour," I said. "Well, they're grapes, aren't they?" said whoever was standing next to me, as if I'd lost my marbles.)

Let's see... lots of interesting website stuff going on. The redesign (with a lot more content and organisation, not to mention a certain amount of beauty) of neilgaiman.com is almost complete -- a couple of essays need to be put up, and for the Books section I'm going to write something about each book, to add to the rather dry back jacket copy which is all there is there now; meanwhile the Coraline (mousecircus.com) website, which is absolutely spooky and fun and strange and beautiful, continues to expand, and today I got to try out the Coraline screensavers. It'll go live by the end of the month.

I want to have some strange and interesting links on the Coraline site. (I found a good beetle one. I'm still looking for a pictures-of-buttons one I like, not to mention a really good rat site).

Talking about the new neilgaiman.com site, I recently found the travel diary that Dave McKean and I kept during our Mr Punch signing tour in, er, 1995 I think, filled with strange Dave Mckean sketches of the things and people we saw on our travels, and my somewhat bemused commentary. If Dave says yes, I'll put some of it up, and you can learn all about how we failed to meet Jimmy Carter, or to eat in San Francisco.

It looks like there are a fair number of copies of Coraline starting to hit ebay, which should bring the prices down to sensible levels. No, I don't mind people buying proof copies, but I'd advise against buying them to collect. If you buy one, please read it. Lend it to people. Tell them what you thought. (Word of mouth is still far and away the best method of promoting books, after all. And the Coraline Advanced Reading Copies exist to be read, so people, booksellers, librarians, teachers, know what kind of a book this is.)

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

For those who were wondering about the Edinburgh Festival appearances, I just found the information on the BloomsburyMagazine.com - Children's Author Events site...

It says:

Date: 17 August 2002 Time: 13:30
Neil Gaiman will be appearing at the Consignia Theatre, Edinburgh. For more details about the Edinburgh Book Festival visit the website.

Neil Gaiman
Date: 18 August 2002 Time: 18:00
Neil Gaiman will be appearing in the Lloyds Children�s Theatre, Edinburgh. For more details about the Edinburgh Book Festival visit the website.

Neil Gaiman
Date: 24 August 2002 Time: 18:00
Neil Gaiman, Anne Fine and Paul Magrs will be appearing at the British Council Showcase at The Lloyds Children�s Theatre, Edinburgh. For more details about the Edinburgh Book Festival visit the website.


I think there are going to be signings elsewhere in the British Isles between the 18th and the 24th. I won't just be hanging around the Edinburgh Festival.

A couple of people want to know why the audio version of Coraline is coming out first.

Originally Coraline was scheduled for September, even though it's been finished for quite some time, and I'd suggested to Harper that it might be fun to release it on Audio in May/June. Audio books tend to be seen as strange little unimportant parts of publishing, and I thought it would be interesting if the audio was very much and very obviously the first edition. It seemed like a good way of getting people to stop and listen to it who otherwise wouldn't -- and I love reading it out loud. I thought it might be good for a few interviews or articles or reviews, and I could talk about why audio books were important, and what the difference was between reading a book yourself and having it read to you and so on.

Then, at the last minute, a major retailer in the book trade whose identity I shall not reveal here, masking them instead behind the impenetrable nom-de-blogger of "Farnes and Groble" pointed out to Harper that they had a lot of things happening in September, but nothing at all in July, and they'd get even more behind Coraline if it came out in July.

And, in moments, Coraline had a July 1st release. The audio release is still earlier, but now it's about 20 days earlier rather than 5 months, which is not really enough time for anyone to notice.

Sunday, May 12, 2002

No lightning at the drive-in, but the rain was pleasant. Spider-Man was enormously fun (although my irrational conviction that Tobey Maguire was somehow channelling former CBLDF head honcho Chris Oarr kept giving it a slightly surreal quality: I kept expecting him to hit Mary Jane up for a CBLDF membership). Once Spidey was done, everyone else gave up then and drove home, and Holly and I stayed and saw The Panic Room, a film of astonishing not-good-ness, particularly considering the director. It was, for want of a better word, plotty in silly ways -- nothing felt like it happened because that was how it happened, it felt like it happened like that because that was what it said in the script. And it was predictable in stupid ways [Panic Room SPOILERS ahead] ("Ah," I say to myself, as soon as the criminals come on, "A whiny snotty one, a good guy doing this for his kids, and an evil psycho. Well, the snotty one has to be killed early on by the psycho, and then the good guy has to save them from the psycho at the end," because I've seen lousy movies and movies-of-the-week with that sort of plot before and that's always how it goes.)

Which is the other good thing about being at the drive-in. I can sit there in my car predicting the rest of the movie, and saying things like, "She's talking to the cops. The bad guys can't hear her, they just know she's talking. Why doesn't she just say to the cops, 'My daughter's locked in upstairs with the two surviving criminals and we're in big trouble. Please now walk back to your cars and try to give the impression you've gone away because this is going to get nasty for us if you don't'?" And my daughter can say, "But if she did that it wouldn't be a movie, would it, Dad. Now please be quiet". You can't do that in a cinema, not if you have any consideration for your fellows.

Saturday, May 11, 2002

It's a grey, chilly day. Holly and I filled the birdfeeders, which are being emptied on an almost daily basis by the quantity of birds out there -- grossbeaks by the dozens, goldfinches by the hundreds, woodpeckers by the gross, a bunch of orange orioles, many scarlet cardinals, not to mention several birds I'd never seen before, including a family of what I finally identified as cowbirds, and one bird I spent a good ten minutes trying to find in a bird book before realising that it was the male grossbeak who had flown into the window ten minutes before and had lost all the feathers from his head. No idea why the birds are here in such numbers, but I'll happily keep feeding them.

(I have black paper "shadows of plummetting sparrowhawks" stuck to several of the windows, but still, the muffled thump of a bird sure it was heading for a nice patch of sky, who has just bonked into the kitchen window is heard a bit too often in my house. Like every ten minutes or so.)

Mike, my son, comes back from college tonight, so we're going to the drive-in to watch Spider-man as a family. I hope it thunderstorms: I have very fond memories of a double bill of "Men in Black" and "The Fifth Element" illuminated by lightning. (For anyone out there who doesn't do drive ins, or, for many of you, have them in your country, they are increasingly broadcasting the sound over the car radio: set your radio to the drive-in channel, crank up the volume and feel the car vibrate as spaceships go across the screen.)

Steve Weiner, who wrote the terrific 101 Graphic novels for Libraries writes to say:

Neil, I just wanted to clarify the "library
binding" issue recently raised in
your online journal. "Library binding"
is the pinched rectangular binding you
see on some books. My impression,
as a librarian, is that this kind of
binding doesn't really last longer,
looks odd, and can, in some instances,
cut one's fingers. Best, Steve Weiner

Any of you who've read advanced reading copiesof Coraline and want to say a few words about it or do a mini review or anything, feel free to send it in on the FAQ line. We'll set up a page early next week at CORALINE where people can get a sense of what kind of thing this is, from feedback...

Saw some early glimpses today of what the Coraline Website will look like when it's live. (Answer: really fun.) Take nothing for granted, I learned, and run your mouse over everything...

Friday, May 10, 2002

John Clute, science fiction's finest critic, writes an obituary of Richard Cowper here . At the bottom of the page are links straight to John's obituary for George Alec Effinger, and also for an obituary for Kevin Aucoin, who was a really sweet man I only ever met and chatted to once, at Tori and Mark's wedding, on a cold day on the hill where the Medmenham Monks did their Hellfire Club stuff (only not, in reality, with Diana Rigg in bondage gear).

The sun is out, the day is warm and there are bees in the plum blossom. (which is good as last year the blossom happened before the bees did, and I was plumless).

Thursday, May 09, 2002

And a couple of plugs for things -- I promised the people at Sketch Magazine I'd mention the interview they did with me in their latest issue (#14) -- available from comics shops or from http://www.bluelinepro.com/.

And the good folk at Biting Dog Press, who did the limited edition of the Murder Mysteries play, and are doing Snow Glass Apples, want people to come and see their website, look at George Walker's lovely woodcuts and leave messages on their guestbook.

A nervous "please do not post this but..." FAQ message in from one of the "Ears With Feet" asking me to tell her whether any of the track listings and album descriptions of the forthcoming-in-September Tori Amos album that have been posted over at @forums - Main Tori Forum were true. So I went and looked.

No, they are all from people who seem to be having too much fun pulling your legs. (Enough so that, given all the work that had obviously gone into them, I was hesitant to post this and spoil the fun. But the EWF lady seemed quite upset...)

I've not heard the album yet, but I've had bits of it sung down the phone to me, and had lots of it described to me. I know what it's called, and what it's about, and yes, I know a lot of the song titles (although the final song selection and running order hasn't yet been made). None of the things posted even came close.

But they were very creative.
.....

American Gods debuted at #45 in USA Today's bestseller list today (which is more impressive when you remember that it's a grab-bag listing of everything, hardback and paperback, fiction and non-fiction).

And I'm really grateful for all the messages coming in from people who've read the advanced reading copies of Coraline and wanted to say how much they liked it. I've suggested to Harpers that we might even put up a page for them. (Failing that, I'll just collect together a big journal entry of reactions to Coraline.)

Hiya Neil, long-time-reader first-time-caller. I check your journal everyday and I keep seeing questions like "...when will you be signing in Dirtcreek, Tennessee?' or "...doing a reading in Bigtown, Upstate?". what I would like to know is, is there any chance of you doing a signing - or reading - in Ireland? I know you spend some time here, relaxing and/or writing. Please, please do an apperance in Ireland, you have a huge number of fans here!

I love Ireland. Haven't done a signing there since, ooh, Hodges Figgis in Dublin in 1997, so it's definitely time. Honestly, it'll be up to Bloomsbury for Coraline -- if a bookshop asks for me hard enough and seriously enough (and soon enough), they'll may have a shot at getting me for a reading or a signing. But the request has to go to the publisher from the bookshop.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

And the word is in from Barnes and Noble -- Not really a FAQ but just letting you know if you don't already that American Gods in mass market has jumped onto Barnes & Noble's Besteller list as of today (5/8/02)at #9. I work at the one in Pineville, North Carolina and personally put it there. Hope you get a chance to visit this area at some point (Pineville is a suburb of Charlotte) -Troy.

Thanks, Troy...

Let's see... a few Coraline things that probably don't belong over in FAQs:

Just read your post regarding the Coraline website. Call me crazy, but did you consider different domain extensions such as .info, .org, or .us instead of just .com?

You aren't crazy at all. We wanted to keep it simple, and Harpers felt that the dotcom extension was the most straighforward way to go.

Good morning from Fort Lauderdale, FL. Uhm, I went to Barnes & Noble's website, www.bn.com, to see about ordering Coraline there. They've got it listed twice in hardcover for two different prices and two different release dates, one at $17.89/July and the other at $12.79/June. Also, the former gives the publisher as HarperCollins and the latter names Morrow, William & Co. Is one a special limited edition? Or is Barnes & Noble as whacked as Amazon? Pray, elucidate.

Barnes and Noble have got it a bit wrong. All the US editions of Coraline are from Harper Childrens, not Morrow. There's what's called a "library binding" on the more expensive edition. I think the book is just bound in a way that makes it last longer, and survive the rigours of being read by many hands. It's for sale to libraries. Also B&N lists the "audio edition" which I think is the cassette and not the CD version of me reading it...

I just read that Dawn French will be reading the UK version of Coraline! So I'm writing a quick message to say congratulations. That is *seriously* cool. But it does leave me with something of a dilemma - which version do I buy?!

That's certainly a dilemma, isn't it? I wish I could help. Why don't you buy one of them (either one. Toss a coin) and then drop serious hints to everyone you know that you'd like the other as a present. (Just pick an event: Birthday. Christmas. Last Thursday before the Great Rains come....)

Hi Neil,
you're probably going to get a ton of support for this, but I just wanted to add mine to the idea of the Coraline reading in SF. I attended last year's signing at the Booksmith on Haight, and was sad when it ended up being just a signing, instead of the advertised reading. So I would swoon with joy at the chance to go see this. I would even pay money! (not to give you any ideas, just so that you can convince the suits that it's a Good Idea)


We'll see -- it's what I'm hoping for.

Hey Neil, A couple of related questions:
1. Is there an exact date of release for Coraline (the book)? I've seen an exact date for the audio book, but nothing solid for the paper version. Which leads to question 2...
2. Will Dreamhaven (the store itself) have copies of either the limited editions or signed copies on that day? I'm a student in Minneapolis and normally shop there, but I live in Milwaukee and will be there for the summer. I'm thinking it might be worth the drive if I know the date I'll be able to get my hands on something other than a bookstore at home will offer. Thanks for the time!


The books will go on sale about a month after the Audio version: 1st of July 2002 is the official publication date, although I'm sure copies will creep out before then.

As for DreamHaven -- they'll certainly get in copies of the limited edition. Whether I'll be able to sign any books for them for release date depends on where I am when they get their Coralines in. Phone them at the end of June and ask them.

There....

The other thing that's really cool is the volume of messages coming in about Coraline from people (mostly booksellers) who've read the advanced reading copies, telling me in no uncertain terms how much they enjoyed it. All of which make me, well, beyond happy. Tell your customers. Tell your friends. Spread the word.

Lots of queries coming in from librarians about The ALA 2002 conference in Atlanta.

The Event I'll be speaking at, along with art speigelman, Jeff Smith and Colleen Doran is here, at the bottom of the page.

Getting Graphic @ your library
June 14, 8:30 AM-5:30 PM

Comic books and graphic novels have been a part of American culture for over 60 years, and now they are successfully finding their place in libraries. Join us as we take a practical and fun look at this exciting new trend. Guest speakers include Pulitzer Prize-winning author Art Spiegelman (Maus), NY Times best selling author Neil Gaiman (Sandman, American Gods), Eisner-award-winning creator Jeff Smith (Bone), and Eisner nominee Colleen Doran (A Distant Soil).
Fees: DM: $185 AM: $225* NM: $275 S: $185 *includes $40 division membership



Beyond that, I'm waiting on information from Harper Childrens as to when I'm signing CORALINE stuff at their booth, (number 2129) and there are also some breakfasts they want me to attend.

http://www.salon.com/books/bestsellers/2002/05/08/may8/index.html is the Salon.com bestseller list from Powells of Portland, my favourite enormous book place. La la la. And here's the list from Kepler's (go all the way to the bottom to find mass market paperback) Kepler's is a wonderful bookstore that gets really good sushi in for its authors when they do signings. Well, one of them, anyway. And if you've done a signing for them they won't let you leave without giving you a book for the road, which is astonishingly civilised.

I promised myself I wouldn't steal any of Lucy Anne's links from the Dreaming, but then I discovered that the paperback of American Gods has gone straight in at #3 over at The Independent Bestseller List. (It'll be out of date very soon, so this was the May 7 list.)

So this is by way of a hasty thank-you to all the independent book-sellers who are handselling American Gods to their customers. And to all the customers of independent bookstores who hand-bought them.

I'll keep reporting back on American Gods on the bestseller lists and so on. (This may be dull, but what you're reading started off, fourteen months ago, as an American Gods journal, with me handing in a book, and wanting to see whether or not it worked aesthetically and commercially. So if I list too many bestseller lists and awards nominations, that's why. Grit your teeth and bear with it.)

So Lucy Anne has posted links to a lot of fascinating stuff over at The Dreaming , including a terrific Heidi MacDonald article on the bookfair, and some ridiculously cheap sale items form the Bud Plant catalogue, including signed and numbered Charles Vess prints from STARDUST at half price, and I'm not going to steal her links. Go and take a look at them over at the Dreaming.

Incidentally, Joe Fulgham has already created a great little Coming Soon banner there for Coraline, with little red rat eyes that blink. Ask him nicely and he'll probably let you put it on your site too, if you want to.

The Dreaming is a terrific website -- in a lot of ways it's what people tend to be looking for when they come here. Neilgaiman.com has some interesting stuff on it, but mostly it's this journal, the FAQ journal (for which I am trying to put at least a couple of entries up a week), and the forums. The Dreaming has more clippings, articles, theses, and just informative things than you'd believe -- Joe's been doing it for years and years, with various people helping him (currently Randi AKA Lucy Anne is doing most of the news-trawling).

....

I'm home from New York, which is a very good thing, and apart from a few tiny trips to places like the American LIbrarians Association meeting in Atlanta, and a micro road trip I'm planning with an old friend to catch up on some very new music, I'm staying put. Catching up on my sleep and writing and pottering about in the garden.
...

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Re: Palmpilot versions of books. Someone sensibly pointed out that http://www.peanutpress.com/ has all four Harper titles by me up for Palm, including Neverwhere and Smoke and Mirrors. And I ought to have known that -- I seem to remember posting a link from here a while ago when the books were bestsellers in their various categories. Do a search and you'll find them.

(By the way, "Apple", in the e-book expanded Smoke and Mirrors, is a very short story actually called "In the End".)

It's not for those with slow dial-up connections, but P. Craig Russell has posted several pages from his adaptation of Murder Mysteries at his website over at lurid.com... http://pub43.ezboard.com/fluridfrm3.showMessage?topicID=34.topic. Click on it and wait, while the pages load. (I'd not seen any of them coloured before.... I was already excited. Now I'm impatient to see the whole thing.)

A quick question about your ebooks: How come you (not you personlally, your site) only have those two formats available? My main ebook reader is my pda. Neither Adobe nor MS makes their ebook reader for the Palm OS. This just stinks. Any possibility of adding a Palm OS friendly version to the list? -Aaron

Good question, and one to which I had no answer. Turned over immediately to the wonderful Julia Bannon from Harper Collins, who emailed straight back to say: We just recently got all of our
e-books converted to Palm format. So this is yet another
one of the things I was kind of waiting on adding to the site with the site
revamp. However, as I'm going to be putting the TWO PLAYS content up on
your site shortly, I can put this info up on the site then as well.


She went on to suggest that if you type Gaiman in under author at http://www.perfectbound.com
you can find all the books in all the formats.

Meanwhile... (and because I'm feeling helpful):

Here's the palmpilot of Stardust

and here's the palmpilot format of American Gods

Not sure why they don't have the "Neil Gaiman Reader" sampler in palmpilot format yet, let alone Neverwhere or Smoke & Mirrors, but I'm sure that they'll be out soon.

Sunday, May 05, 2002

My friend Kelly Link started it. "Since you're at B.E.A.," she said, "Why don't you come with me and Gavin and Claudia and Chelsey to see the Rock Bottom Remainders?"

So I said okay.

And after the Harper Collins cocktail party thing, at which I discovered the best thing about wearing a name tag is that when the waitresses (whose names were Kat and Jessica) figured out who I was, being Sandman and Death fans, I got the coolest most personal service and extra plates of fist-sized strawberries dipped in chocolate just in case I needed them. And I did them a drawing each on their waitress pads, and Jessica, who had wanted a Death, got lucky and got a really cool Death drawing (my Sandman sketches are mostly good, but it's a 50/50 sort of thing with Death and me. Sometimes the sketches are good, and sometimes they, er, suck badly).

And then, with my agent Merrilee in tow, on to Webster Hall to see the Rock Bottom Remainders. Merrilee had seen them before, on many occasions, at Book Fairs across America, and while she didn't really see any reason why she needed to see their Tenth Anniversary gig, was willing to accompany me.

The Rock Bottom Remainders were great. I mean, they weren't great great. They were people having much too much fun great, which is a completely different kind of great, ranging as it does from bar-band to Langley Schools Music Project. But there were about 700 people in there having fun watching them.

"By the way. They want to know if you'll go up on stage with them for the final number," said Merrilee, who had Spoken To Someone.

"No," I said. "Absolutely not. Nope. Uh-uh. Won't happen."

"They said they'd call you up from the audience for Gloria. I said you'd be delighted."

"No! Never! No! Argh!"

Merrilee will tell you that this conversation is not true and that I did say yes when she asked me, eventually. Who are you going to believe? An agent you've never even met? Or me?

Exactly. So I kind of said yes, eventually, and Merrilee didn't say to the people "Well, he kind of said yes, eventually, but I think he'd rather have his toenails gnawed off by weasels" which would have been what I pay her the big bucks for, no, she said "Oh he'd love to. He'd be delighted. Nothing could give him greater pleasure."

I think I thought they'd forget about me, but at the end of the gig, after Amy Tan had done "These Boots Are Made For Walking" and flogged people, and after they'd put on the Tinsel Halos for Steve King to sing "Teen Angel" someone shouted "And will Neil Gaiman get on up here," and so I walked up on the stage.

("I'm wearing shades," I thought, possibly insanely. "No-one will ever know it's me.")

We sang "Gloria". It's spelled G-L-O-R-I-A, in case you were wondering. That being the final song we got off stage. The crowd stomped and yelled for more.

"Louie Louie!" shouted Dave Barry or Steve King or somebody, "Go!" and we hurried back onto the stage.

This time I grabbed a kazoo. As the Rock Bottom Remainders thundered into "Louie Louie", it was pretty obvious to me that the whole of the audience was thinking the exact same thing. This being: "Gee, for a guy who was having difficulty spelling Gloria correctly only a couple of minutes ago, that new guy in the leather jacket has pretty much figured out which end of the kazoo you hum the bass part of "Louie Louie" into."

The end, tumultuous applause. As I had thought, it was the much "too much fun" kind of great.

I suspect that this may have been my last hurrah as a rock and roll idol, but just in case I pocketed the kazoo. Well, you never know.



Saturday, May 04, 2002

You wouldn't believe the website names that were taken.

It seemed a pretty simple thing to begin with: figure out a name for a website for Coraline and the childrens' fiction. Coraline.com, the obvious one, was taken by some French people selling aquarium supplies. After a while I started getting desperate -- eyesandteeth.com was taken, so was buttoneyes.com and othermother.com and ratsongs.com and on and on. Even fairly generic things like quiteinteresting.com were gone. Twogoldfish.com, my first favourite, was rejected on the grounds that The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish was not a Harper Book.

Eventually I came up with a name we could remember that had some connection to Coraline and wasn't taken....

You can find out the website name at the CORALINE coming soon page

Friday, May 03, 2002

Signed many many proof copies of Coraline for people at the Book Fair today. Decided to draw a sinister rat in every copy, and came close, although not all of them were sinister. Some were pretty sinister, some were rather sweet, and a few of them looked simply pathetic.

Harper Childrens had the Coraline bags of marbles as well, and I snaffled a few.

At the DC Comics table they had advanced copies of the Chronicle Books Sandman stuff that'll out this summer -- a boxed 40 postcard set, a calendar, a Sandman journal and a Death journal. Really, really nice objects.

Then there were publisher meetings, editor meetings, agent meetings, foreign agent meetings and all sort of things like that. In the evening I went to a DC Comics event with lots of journalists and bookstore people, and me and Frank Miller. Frank and I were meant to talk to the journalists and book people, and kept talking to each other. He's nearly finished Dark Knight 2, and told me about bits of it, and in return I told him some stuff about 1602, and about the Endless Nights book I'm doing for DC. (It's a hardback book of comics stories, each the length of a normal comic, seven in all, and will be beautiful.)

Tomorrow morning begins with me taping a commercial for Coraline and goes on from there. Will report back on the details.

Thursday, May 02, 2002

Lots of stuff to report, but I'm away to the airport in a few minutes en route to Book Expo America, where, tomorrow (Friday) morning, I will be signing advance copies of Coraline, and spending several days having meetings and coffees and lunches, beakfasts and dinners with an enormous number of foreign and domestic publishers.

I finished Miguelanxo Prado's story for Endless Nights yesterday -- a very strange story, in which we get to see one of Dream's first relationships, and learn weird things about the DC universe at the dawn of time (so there will be some people who will find it really cool that Killalla of the Glow is from Oa, and some people will simply go "What a short name for a world"). The strangest thing was writing a two page scene for Delight - who is, obviously, in a hundred million years or so, going to be Delirium, but isn't her yet. The dialogue was, well, a delight to write. And meeting the first Despair was cool, and the version of Death who will make more sense to anyone who read the Jeff Jones story in Winter's Edge...

I hope Miguelanxo enjoys it. Still to go at this point, the stories for Barron Storey, Liberatore, and Moebius. Being drawn are the stories by Manara, Bill SIenkiewicz and P. Craig Russell. Which means I'm over half done.

Jill Thompson asked me if I can mention http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1099285532 and http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1099283912.

Over the years since Brief Lives she held a final two pages back because she inked them, or part of them, herself, and she didn't want to part with them -- the end of Suffragette City, and the "I have to kill my son" pages. Now, she's decided the time has come for them to go and find a good and loving home. I signed them for her at World Horror, a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Hi, Neil. I just wanted to let you know something odd-- I was wandering around my school library the other day at lunchtime, and saw that they'd finally gotten a few of your books. I picked up the brand-new hardback copy of "Stardust," and much to my surprise found your autograph on the title page, along with a nifty little picture of a moon. Now, my library is pretty bland and oppressive as high school libraries go, and the shelves are all half-filled and neglected-looking, and all the cool books thay have are the ones I asked them for. So finding that they had a book that someone had apparently gone to the trouble of having signed was a big surprise.

The thing is, I asked the librarian where they'd gotten the book, and she said it wasn't donated. It had been bought from a supplier like their other books. So do you ever sign books that are destined for public school libraries, or did some student with a pen just get bored? Just wondering.--Holli


Neither. What happened was, in 1998, Borders Books asked me to sign a lot of copies of Stardust for their "authorless signings" which they did when the books came out in January 1999. I signed several thousand sheets of blank paper, often drawing things on them, which were bound into books, which were only for sale through Borders.

At the Authorless signings they'd show the video of Neverwhere, give people cookies, and sell the signed books. Afterwards, I got a tee shirt from every Borders Books that participated, most of which were immediately stolen by my son, and only the other day his girlfriend was grumbling about the number of Borders tee shirts that he wears, so it was a very successful book promotion at least as measured by keeping my son in tee shirts.

Actually, lots of the books were sold, but there was nothing on the cover to indicate that the books were signed, so after the "authorless signings" were done, the unsold books went onto the shelves, and nobody knew they were signed.

And then two things happened. Sometimes the books sat on the shelves at Borders, and sometimes they went back into the system. Either way, ever since then people have been buying hardback copies of Stardust and finding them signed and doodled on. Sometimes they hand them to me at signings. "I signed this already,"I say, and their jaws drop. "But I just bought it!" they say, astonished.

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