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Friday, August 30, 2002

Philip Pullman reviewed Coraline in the Guardian:Guardian Unlimited Books | By genre | The other mother. I don't think I've ever had the urge to send a thank-you letter to a reviewer before.

It's funny. Usually I avoid reviews. With Coraline, I'm fascinated by them, I suppose because of the strange length of time the book took to write. It feels very much apart from me.

Forgot to mention -- Locus #500 arrived today.

Great picture of Gene Wolfe and me on the inside, particularly unusual in that it is the only photo of me grinning I've ever seen that does not make me look goofy. Mostly grin=goofy. Not this time. (I think perhaps I should have Gene Wolfe in all my photos. He adds both gravity and levity.)

There are lots of nice messages from people in the UK, along the lines of

Dear Neil
This is not a question, but a very big thank you on behalf of all of your UK fans. You are a hero! Not because you are a great guy who writes great stuff, and who we all admire, but because how you treat your fans goes beyond the call of duty. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Foyles event in London. The turn-out was great, some 550 people you said, and you waited and signed for all of them, even though you were clearly very tired. You even made time with each of us for a chat and to include a sketch as well as signing. The sight of the massive queue must have been daunting, but you dealt with the situation magnificently. Thank you Neil.


and

Hi, just writing to give you a bit of a 'fans' perspective on the Foyles event, I'm the guy who bumbled about with his girlfriend at the end of the event whilst you signed a Delirium doll for her. I've got to say it was a fantastic night and worth all the trauma. Trauma unfortunately caused by queueing on the wrong side of the room for 5 minutes before realising that we weren't in a queue at all, we were actually at the head of an unfortunate gathering of people who had mistakenly thought that we knew what we were doing. This was a very undesirable turn of events for us as we had to catch a train at 11:30, and as the time went on despairing thoughts began to swim around our heads, thoughts of sleeping in a puddle outside of the tube station entrance for instance. These thoughts, coupled with an intense desire not to go home empty handed, led to my affected demeanor of suave intellectualism turning into a very real demeanor of whiny panic. Until we finally arrived at the desk.
Despite all of this it was one of the best nights we've ever had. When I said your talk was inspirational I really meant it. I didn't think it was possible to create anything if you worked like you do, sketching out the boundaries and then pouring the rest of the story inside. Thank God you can though, otherwise I'd be screwed. Couple that with the King quote about writing a little each day and y'dun me proud I swear.
Well thanks for what could possibly mean the start of my career, or at the very least the start of the 'do you remember that night when my career could have started' anecdote.

p.s. My girlfriend really wanted to give you another hug! If you weren't famous we'd take you down the pub so we could all complain about not being famous!


which are really nice and make me feel a bit guilty for not really carrying on with the account of the UK trip.

So, let's see. Flew back from Dublin to London and from there by train to Canterbury. The train toilets were vandalised, and it arrived very late, so we plunged into a taxi to the University where I was ushered into something that looked a lot like a Very Small Cupboard and did an interview with Brian Morton from BBC Radio Scotland, up in Glasgow. From there to Waterstones for a terrific signing. After the signing Dave Mckean took us (us being me, Roz from Bloomsbury, and James the Rep) to a wonderful restaurant called Lloyds and we chatted until too late, and then Dave drove me at incredibly high speeds down tiny windy roads to his house.

Met by Clare, Dave's other half, who told me she'd just seen me on TV from Edinburgh. She also told me how much better I looked in real life than I did on TV. This worried me, a little. Dave showed me the art for THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS, which made me happy. Slept.

Wednesday was the Harrods signing, which was the one that people who wanted to say hi or had lots of stuff to sign came to, on the whole. There were interviews, and lunch with Sarah Odedina, my editor, who had just got back from Brazil. In the evening I met most of Bloomsbury -- the kind of small, good publisher where everyone knows everyone and they publish books and authors they're proud of that were almost extinct when I stumbled into the world of UK publishing twenty years ago. Normally they get taken over by bigger publishers, and then they get taken over by conglomerates. Bloomsbury has Harry Potter, though, and does not need to worry about being taken over by anyone, which is very heartening. Dinner in the deepest underground recess of the Bleeding Heart restaurant in Bleeding Heart Yard, with lots of booksellers and a few journalists.

Lucy Chapman from Bloomsbury was slightly surprised, when in conversation with the former manager of the Walsall Ottakers, to discover that an unlikely signing anecdote of mine was quite true. (It was one about the nice man who told me to let him know if I ever needed anybody killed, it was the least he could do). It wasn't a very unlikely signing anecdote as these things go. The one about the signing at the old Outer Limits shop in LA that stopped because of the shootout between the police and a carload of transvestites is much more unlikely. (I missed all the excitement that time. I was signing.)

Thursday kicked off, once the interviews were done, with the Forbidden Planet signing at lunchtime, which went on until around 4:45. Then a couple more interviews, rapid sushi (hah!) and into the Foyles event, at Congress House in Museum Street. Around 600 people were there in all, including Foyles staff and Lizo Mzimba, who was to interview me. I read first -- then Q & A with Lizo followed by a few questions from the audience, then signing until nearly midnight.

It's odd. I used to be scared of audiences -- I'd say no to live TV because it was in front of audiences, things like that. I remember once getting stage fright when David Gilmour took me out on stage in front of an empty auditorium -- just the potential for 50,000 people was intimidating. These days I really don't have any kind of problem with standing up in front of a thousand or so people and just talking -- I get a tiny buzz of nerves and adrenaline, which I welcome because it keeps me awake and alert, and that's all. You get used to anything. (Or almost. I asked David Gilmour afterwards if he ever got stagefright, and he said he didn't. His now-wife, my friend Polly Sampson, reminded him that he'd been terrified, taking his guitar in to the nursery school to sing their son a Happy Birthday To You....)

More anon.

Here's an article on crossover fiction from The Times Online. You may have to register to read it, I'm afraid.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

This link should work until next Wednesday, the 4th of September.Meridian Writing | BBC World Service It's the BBC World Service Meridian, and it's a special on Stephen King, with a sequence on Coraline at the end. It was fun having to change gears half-way through the interview, swerving from Coraline to talking about Steve and storytelling, with no preparation or plannning. Click on "Listen to the programme" to hear it. (Lovely tribute to King from Muriel Grey, as well.)

E-mail from the UK tells me that Coraline is the number one children's bestseller in Ireland. Hurrah!

Feeling better and worse than I did yesterday -- would really like a day in bed to cough and sleep. Unfortunately that's not an option, so I shall swallow my antibiotics and refrain from operating heavy machinery.

Maddy had a wonderful birthday, if the balloon debris is anything to go by.

Lots of messages along the lines of Will you be at ConJos� for any more on Sunday than just the Hugo Awards ceremony? and to all of them I'm afraid the answer's no. I've just got back from the (fairly gruelling) UK-and-Ireland tour and really don't want to have to sign, do panels, all the Worldcon stuff, which is why I'm not going to the con (despite having signed up as a presupporting member in New Zealand some time in the last century). I was proud of myself for arranging the world in such a way that I do get to be there on Sunday night, which is more than I managed when Dream Hunters was nominated for a Hugo.

It'll be my first Hugo ceremony. The last time I went to a Worldcon (Brighton, England, in 1987), I didn't want to miss anything, so didn't bother with things like sleeping for the first four days of the con. By early Sunday evening I was very asleep, and I missed the Hugos and even missed the fireworks that marked the closing ceremonies, although I have some very vivid dreams about being in the trenches in World War One, and woke up to the sound of last of the firework explosions on the beach....

....


From the Scottish Sunday Herald, we learn that Other celeb authors floating around the capital included Tutti-Frutti writer John Byrne; the brilliant kids author Anne Fine; cult fiction king Neil Gaiman; Pete McCarthy, who writes a lot about being Pete McCarthy; the acclaimed, brooding and inspired playwright Harold Pinter; the female eunuch herself Germaine Greer; history-fella David Starkey; Scotland's psycho-writer-in-chief Iain Banks; Terry Pratchett who writes about pretend places and Liverpudlian wide-o Willy Russell. And I read that several times in my do-not-operate-heavy-machinery state before realising that he wasn't saying that Terry had written books about Willy Russell. A good place to put a comma...

But even that's not as good as the misquote from me in the Book Festival newspaper where I apparently say that "if you don't read Harry Potter books you'll wind up in the attic sacrificing kittens to Satan at midnight". Which is odd, as I thought I'd said, in response to a question about fantasy and reality, "It's not as if kids read Harry Potter books then wind up in an attic sacrificing kittens to Satan at midnight" which is not the same thing at all, really.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Here's the Coraline page from Minnesota Public Radio. Over on the left of the page is the interview by Euan Kerr, and the mini-reading I did for him.

Home. A bit sick from too much travel and too little sleep -- bit of a chest infection and a horrid cough. I think I mostly need a little rest and recovery time. Which I won't really get, not for a bit.

The big excitement here is that Maddy turns 8 today. Any moment now the house will be filled with small girls having too much fun.

Reading a really delightful book called The Poison Principle, by Gail Bell, an Australian journalist and pharmacist. To quote from the jacket, "... She explores what the crime of poisoning reveals about humanity, through the perspectives of myth, history, fiction, and the great poison trials. As a chemist by profession and the granddaughter of a suspected poisoner by circumstance, she is perfectly placed." Reminds me of F.C. Gonzalez Crussi, only with a more personal edge than much of his stuff. (According to http://www.gail-bell.com/book.htm it'll be published in the US in October under the title Poison.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Over at Locus Online: Neil Gaiman & Gene Wolfe interview excerpts you'll find bits of the conversation with Gene Wolfe I had at World Horror Con, with Charles Brown, the Man from Locus and Jenny Hall who is now the lady from Locus (and wasn't Gary Wolfe in the room as well? Who knows...). If you can, you should get hold of the latest Locus -- it's the 500th issue and this is what the cover looks like..

When I was younger, Locus was semi-legendary: I'd read about it, but it wasn't until I became a regular visitor to the London Forbidden Planet (then in Denmark Street) that I actually found a real, true copy.

I still haven't subscribed. I know I ought to, but magazines I subscribe to stack up, and get put in piles of magazines-that-are-subscribed-to and sometimes feel vaguely like a duty to read. So I buy my Locus from DreamHaven, or wherever I happen to be that sells it as I career around the world, and sneak time to read it.

....

Many, many, many unread messages on the FAQ page. One that amused me simply sent me this link to International Neil Gaiman Meet Up Day. And here's a link to a sad true story.

Monday, August 26, 2002

My friend John M. Ford sometimes gives me poems when I see him, folded over sheets of paper with a "Here, read this when you get a chance." Some months ago he gave me an early draft of a poem which has now been posted here. (Location changed to a mirror to avoid slashdotting Elise's site.) It's nearly a year since the towers fell....

Opening my copy of THE WEEK when I got home, I discovered not only that Coraline was one of their Five Books of the Summer, but that Jon Scieszka has his own favourite books list in, and listed Good Omens.

I'm home, to a huge pile of mail, faxes, 350 copies of Coraline to sign for a library conference, piles of books and comics to read, several DVDs to watch, and family. Also enormous quantities of tomatoes in the garden, sad pumpkins (I think they missed me) and en enormous quantity of aubergines.

I've five days to try and get ten days of work done, then to California to work with Robert Zemeckis on what I hope will be the final final final draft of the Fermata script. Will stop in at the Hugo awards en route, on Sunday night, and either get a Hugo award for Best Novel or not get one, and I don't mind if I don't, so that's all right.

It looks like there will be a signing in a couple of weeks in LA at Book Soup. The plan is, I've been told, not to advertise it widely -- when I get the details I'll put them up on the journal, and Book Soup will put them up on their website, and there will be a very limited number of tickets to the reading, Q & A and signing.

According to the Guardian Unlimited Books | News | Edinburgh festival diary "I've just missed Neil Gaiman, author of Sandman, in town to promote his new children's novel, Coraline. One aspect of his appearance outlives his performance: the priceless vision of Charlotte Square Gardens, this year pitched as "an oasis of calm", overrun by black-clad Gaiman fans tramping the lawns in German army boots. These goths are armed only with books, ready for signing."

Which is a lovely story. Of course, as with all the signings, there were a handful of goths, just as there were a handful of people with beards and a handful of people in expensive suits. Most of the people in the audience who I met in the signing line (which was the longest one at the Edinburgh Book Festival) were utterly indistinguishable from the people in the signing line that followed (it was Iain Banks's).

But as the reporter says, he wasn't there, and the tale obviously grew in the telling. And "guy you've never heard of gets more people in his book-signing line than anyone else" is much less anecdotally interesting than "Charlotte Square Covered by Menacing People in Black".

Saturday, August 24, 2002

There's nothing like a week of dead computer on tour to confuse a journal like this. I mean, at lunchtime today, Saturday, I went to Dundee and signed books, and this evening I did an Edinburgh Book Festival event with authors Anne Fine and Paul Magrs about writing for teens, which got fun towards the end when we were able to disagree on things. And in the journal I've not yet gone to Canterbury, let along done the Wednesday Harrods signing (where there was a man who embarrassed his 12 year old daughter in the signing line, announcing loudly "She thought you were really good-looking when she saw you signing books, and so she spent her own money on buying your book and wants you to sign it" as his poor daughter turned several shades of scarlet and looked as if she wanted to collapse in on herself, to just implode so there was nothing left but a small embarrassed grunt, and a certain amount of deep hatred for her dad that might carry through to her thirties) or the Forbidden Planet afternoon and Foyles evening on Thursday....

Anyway. Here in Edinburgh. Another long day. Aren't they all, on tour? Going to bed now.

There's a review of SHAMBLES over at Locus Online: Reviews by Nick Gevers. (If he thinks that anyone can command Gene Wolfe to write anything... shakes head wonderingly, and grins...)

As of this morning, the computer works. I supose the last of the tea dried out from the hard drive (or something equally technical).

So here's a few days from a week ago:

Edinburgh, which is a beautiful city, has a festival � theatre, comedy, film and books, among other things. The book festival is in a square, filled with huge tents, pods and even a yurt. My first event on the Saturday � the 17th � was in the Consignia Theatre, a huge enclosure a bit like a circus tent. I sat, did a reading, was interviewed, answered questions. It was filmed by the BBC, and flies entertained themselves by dying under the spotlights � first they fell into my waterglass, then all over the table, and finally one flew into my eye. Once the event was over I did a signing (I had the most people in my signing line of anyone at the festival, I was told afterward). Then in the evening I did another event, reading from and talking about favourite children�s books, with writer-artist Harry Horse and writer Celia Rees. That the three of us and the moderator all seemed to have been given a different briefing for the event meant that it was a bit of a jumble, but a very nice jumble. Harry Horse brought along J. P. Martin�s UNCLE, a book that I love. I read from GRIMBLE and from THE LAND OF GREEN GINGER.. Heading out to dinner I found Oliver Morton, who had come up to interview James Lovelock, and talked him into coming out for Thai food with us (authors and Bloomsbury people).

Sunday it rained in an Edinburgh sort of way, grey and persistent, and the tents were almost afloat. I saw a yellow rubber duck floating in a puddle. The authors� yurt was damp and squashy underfoot, and the Press Pod was now, they said, the Press Pond. Interviewed by BBC2 in a nearby caf� rather than out in the blazing sunshine which was mysteriously absent due to the rain. Then I was interviewed in front of a crowd in the �children�s tent� by journalist Anne Johnstone, who had done a lovely smart piece about me in the Daily Herald the day before. It was a long, foodless day, and I was overjoyed to get back to the hotel for dinner with Lucy and Colette from Bloomsbury that evening. Then the fire alarm sounded and they threw us all out into the street, and it was a good hour until they let us back in again. Ate. Did e-mail. Slept.

Then flew to Dublin, early Monday morning, and opened my computer. Typed the first paragraph of this, before being handed a cup of tea by the flight attendant. One tiny air-pocket jolt later, and I had no computer for the week, which may not have been a bad thing really, as it probably brought me a little extra sleep at a time when there was not a lot of sleeping time around, despite adding to everyone�s stress, including mine.

Dublin was wonderful � swirled from pillar to post, until it all turned in to one huge interview done by a many-faced interviewer, whose name was Donald or Gerry or Anna or Mark and who had read Coraline and wanted to know things. Fun signing for about 150 people � a lot more than they expect to see in Dublin on a Monday night.

MORE TO COME --


Thursday, August 22, 2002

What I did today: interview, then signed at Forbidden Planet from 1.00 to around 5.00pm for about 400 people. Then interviews. Then ate rapidly. Then at 7.00pm, Foyles event. Reading, interview. (Terrific.) Then signed for about 550 people. Finished around 11:45. back in hotel. Brain dead. Hand hurts. Lovely people, though.

Glasgow tomorrow night.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Still in the basement of the hotel, where they have internet access.

DreamHaven books have started a commercial Neil Gaiman Etc. site where you can go and securely order stuff with shopping baskets and what have you. They will slowly make it much more tasty, and I'll find some stuff to put up help things for them -- maybe some of those Suggested Reading Lists people are always asking me for. And lots of the hard to find stuff by me, and Dave McKean and Charles Vess et al., along with posters, wall-hangings, toys and so on.

It's at the hard-to-remember www.neilgaiman.net

In basement library of London hotel -- all's going well.

The FOYLES event tomorrow has already sold over 400 tickets, so if you're coming DON'T expect to have a huge stack of stuff signed. The Forbidden planet signing at 1.00 pm may be a better bet for lots of things. (On the good side, the Congress Centre in Great Russell St will stay open as late as it needs to.)

Coraline is the Guardian's Childrens and teen's book of the month -- really interesting review. Neil Gaiman's novel is deliciously shivery in a way I would previously have thought unsuitable for children. It goes into the subconscious feelings that children harbour for their parents, taking the reader beyond fear to show that it is possible to survive the worst things imaginable. It will give a few children nightmares, but the majority will see that it taps into the darker recesses of their minds to let in a light that is truly liberating.

Monday, August 19, 2002

From Internet cafe in Dublin after fun signing at Eason, Hanna's bookshop: will be on breakfast TV tomorrow in Ireland -- TV 3 on Ireland AM at about 8:15.... No idea if it's web accessible. But there you go.

Canterbury tomorrow night.

Did interviews today with HOT PRESS, IN DUBLIN, the SUNDAY TRIBUNE and the IRISH TIMES, and also did 35 minutes of the Gerry Ryan show on 2FM, which was strange but good, seguing from the death of the 2 girls in Soham to why we need fairy tales with monsters in, and what kids can learn...

Am typing this in the hotel office in Dublin as I spilled tea on my computer on the flight over this morning. Don't laugh. It wasn't much tea -- an airbump sent a splash flying onto the keyboard. And it may work fine once it's completely dried out. But currently I'm computerless... (I was halfway through an account of the Edinburgh festival when the tea went splish). Not being able to reply to e-mail is the hardest bit right now.

Sunday, August 18, 2002

I'll try and do the last two days at the Edinburgh Festival on the plane to Dublin tomorrow (Monday) but in the meantime, I should probably mention that there will be some stuff on me and Coraline -- an interview done today and footage of the talk on Saturday -- on BBC2s Newsnight on Tuesday the 20th of august. And the Newsnight people told me it would be watchable on the web, possibly at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/review/default.stm

(They also featured the card that Serafina and co. gave me in Sheffield in their interview... )

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Didn�t mean to fall off the earth. Let�s see... the signing tour is underway. It started in Sheffield, at lunch time � a nice lunchtime sort of a signing. I read Chapter 3 of Coraline, answered a few questions, and signed for a solid lunchtime crowd � maybe 60 or 70 people. An hour or so and we were done. Lucy Chapman is my publicity person at Bloomsbury � unflappable and competent and funny � and it was a nice sort of place for her to start. Nothing strange happened at all, and I was given a thank-you card with buttons for eyes by some cool young people.

Leandra, the Bloomsbury rep. for the North of England, drove us from Sheffield to Manchester, the scenic route, on winding roads across high heather-sided hills. At a beauty spot she stopped the car, made an improvised table and chairs out of boxes of Coraline, and produced a wonderful picnic lunch. We sat beside the car in the sunshine, and munched salads and salmon and such, staring at the lake below us, and the sheep on the hills. Cars drove past.

�Just think,� said Lucy. �We�ve become those sad people you drive past, eating their lunch by their car on the side of the road.�

And we agreed that we had, and helped ourselves to more aubergine brown rice salad.

Checked into the hotel Malmaison, which is where authors stay in Manchester, and then went down to the signing at Waterstones Deansgate. They sold tickets to it � 3 pounds each, although you got a 3 pound discount off the book with it, and had a completely full room � a hair under 200 people it looked like. I read the first couple of chapters, accompanied by a saxophone being played by a busker in the street outside. He had a limited repertoire but made up for it in volume and a sort of cockroach-like tenacity. Then I did a short Q & A and, at 8.00, started to sign, with the saxophone in the background.

By 8:30 the shop staff were panicking: Somehow, despite selling all the tickets, and despite the fact that this was my fourth signing at Manchester Deansgate Waterstones, they suddenly realised that it would take a little time to sign for 200 people, and hadn�t actually planned for it. They started panicking loudly. We put in a 3 item limit, and then went over to post-it notes with people�s names on.

At the point that the staff came back, about 15 minutes later, to suggest that I not actually talk to the people I was signing for, I slightly lost patience with them. And carried on signing, and talking to the people I was signing for. And at some point I was even given a button-eyed sock monkey.

Still, the people were lovely, and I signed for over 150 of them in about 90 minutes, which made the staff at Waterstones breathe a little more easily, or a lot more easily, and I even had time to sign the shop stock before they closed up the shop.

The saxophone player, across the road, had just started his cycle of music-from-great-commercials-Careless Whisper-theme-from-the-Simpsons all over again...

Back to the Malmaison, the hotel I always seem to stay at in Manchester. Ate dinner, did emergency e-mail, had a bath (noted that their bath-products consisted of : all-in-one-bath-gel-soap-and-shampoo, one hair-conditioner-skin-cream, proving my theory that these really were commonly the same thing, just in different bottles) and got several hours sleep before getting up and heading off to Manchester airport to fly to Edinburgh.

Am currently a few days behind on sleep, I think. The night before, in London, had been an odd one � someone had hunted me down to my hotel, come over asking for the rights to a short film I�d written a few years ago, I said yes, and then, at 1.00 am, a taxi driver turned up at my hotel room door, holding a bottle of vintage red wine very nervously (�I was told I got to hold it on its side, like this,� he said), a thank-you present from the person I�d said yes to, and then up at the crack of dawn to go to Sheffield. Look forward to sleeping tonight.

Do the first Coraline event in a couple of hours. Tonight it�s reading from favourite books....

Friday, August 16, 2002

If you go to the Coraline ecards you can find a rather disturbing screensaver. Just so you know. (This is the Bloomsbury one. Not the rats...)

Thursday, August 15, 2002

This question is coming from a person who has very limited contact with the fantasy "world". You mentioned in an earlier journal entry that the World Fantasy Convention will be held in Minneapolis this fall. Although, I haven't been into the fantasy "thing" except for your work, I am very interested in learning more. I do not want to become a member for $100+ though just to check out a convention once. Am I understanding The World Fantasy COnvention's website correctly that I would have to do so in order to attend?

Thank you,

Jo



Actually, if I read things right over at Registration: WFC 2002 it's $150 for membership. And I don't know if they do "day memberships" for people to wander around, but I suspect they don't. It's deliberately set that high to keep World Fantasy small (membership is also limited -- either to 750 or to 1000), and, for the most part, professional -- there are more publishers, authors, editors, artists, reviewers and such at a World Fantasy Con than there are "fans" (although many of the authors are also fans), and the people who run the convention try and keep it that way. No costumes, either.

There are many other cons smaller, cheaper, larger, cheaper, in the Minneapolis area and around the world. But World Fantasy is indeed expensive, and very much what it is.

Message from Julia Bannon, the webmistress of this site...

Have fun signing Coraline in the UK! And please do let people know that they can email me with photos from the signings...no one has sent me any thus far and I'm tres sad!

So if anyone has signing photos, Julia's e-mail address is at the bottom of every page, and you could make her, um, tres happy.

Interviews today, mostly. And Dim sum. And being given the SFX "Novel of the Year" award for AMERICAN GODS. But mostly interviews. And Lucy Chapman, the Bloomsbury publicity person, and I have resolved to try and go and see the Jerry Springer Opera at the Edinburgh Festival.

Saw the FOYLES Window display of Coraline -- button-eyed doll-things that are straight out of your nightmares.

Signings start tomorrow (Friday) -- Sheffield and Manchester. Fuller reports tomorrow night...


Hi Neil, Here is another of those info-rather-than-questions things in case it is of any use to anybody. Just got off the phone with Forbidden Planet and they confirmed the signing guidelines for next Thursday.

1. No *strict* limit on how many things are signed, they say they will see how many people turn up, but their recomendation is no more than 3 items per person.

2. One of those items will need to be a copy of Coraline purchased from them on the day. If you are bringing another copy of Coraline for a friend, or a copy of the US version that you got from Amazon.com or whatever, then please try and bring the receipt if you have one. It's not essential but it obviously may help preventing any awkward 'did you pay for that?' situations upon exit. This goes for both UK and US versions that you may have got from elsewhere, as they have both in stock.

Hope that may be of help to some people.

Cheers
Jason


Very useful, yes.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

In UK. Very tired. (Major plane problems.) Tomorrow's all interviews, I think.

let's see -- couple of FAQ things and then I close my eyes.

Hello Neil! This is probably a weird request, but here it goes: We met at the Champaign signing last summer, and you signed "American Gods" for me. It was an anniversary gift for my boyfriend, and we planned on reading the entire book aloud to each other. I told you this, and you made me promise "to do all the voices." Well, my boyfriend and I broke up a month or so later, having never read the book. (I don't think that our break-up was linked to not reading the book, but you never know.) I got custody of the book, though he kept my hand-made ocarina. I keep trying to read "American Gods," but I can't get past the first chapter or two without feeling guilty. So, I was hoping you could say something to the effect of "I, Neil Gaiman, release you, Jenna, from your promise." And then I'll be able to read the book.

Oh, okay. You're absolved, utterly and completely.


How come Neil Gaiman books in development as movies never actually get made?

Sunspot activity.

Dear Neil;
Your new book, American Gods (in portuguese Deuses Americanos) has been receiving very good reviews. The weekly magazines elect it the book of the week, the monthly ones, the book of the month. I have lended it to five different people, until now... and many many others have been buying or landing it from other people or from the college library for instance. You are plenty of fans here, however maybe we don't buy so many books as the american readers because the brazilian publishing houses charge very expensive prices. Any way I'd like to appeal you to ask Via Letera, Conrad, etc (the ones that publishe your books in Brazil) for a better price, if they low the price they will sell more books. And I�d like to ask you to come here again to sign Deuses Americanos, last time you came here many people wasn�t informed about your presence in Brazil (including me) and anyway Fnac had a little crowd that day. Is there any perspective of a new visit?
Best wishes
Yardena Sheery
PS: Do you know how is David Beckham called in Brazil after our team defeated the english team? David Backhome! (That's the worst joke anybody can tell to his favorite writer)


I very much want to come out and sign Deuses Americanos and I know Conrad want me to. It's really just a matter of figuring out when. And I'll mention it here...


Tuesday, August 13, 2002

I think it's really fabulous that you answer your readers' questions personally, but spoiler warnings would be nice. I'm all of 30 pages into American Gods and the question that starts "When Shadow realizes that his former cellmate is..." had me cursing loudly enough to disturb my co-workers. Granted, I also feel dumb for not figuring it out the instant I saw the name, but that's not the point. Really. Honest.

Good point. You're quite right, of course. There's a sort of general spoiler warning in the overall FAQ blog-journal, but I'll ask for one to be put in to the extracted questions section...

Right. Off to the UK now. See you all in England or Ireland or Scotland in the next few weeks, if you're there. (Check WHERE'S NEIL for signing info.)

There's a review of Coraline at Creature Corner along with a contest -- they have five copies to give away...

and

Hi Neil...I know it's a bit late, but I just read your Friday blog entry about courgettes (aka zucchini), and the fact that there's no good original english word for it. In deepest South Africa we call it `baby-marrows'.
...Hm, in hindsight its probably also not so original.
Just thought I'd let you know.
Bye
HannesB


and lots of helpful FAQ messages along the lines of

Not really a question at all, but I just rang Blackwells in Sheffield about your signing there on Friday afternoon (16th Aug) so I thought I'd save everone else the effort. The lovely man there assured me that it's just a bring-your-stuff-and-turn-up sort of an event, no tickets or entry fee required.

and

Neil,
For the benefit of anyone going to the Canterbury signing on August 20th, can you mention the reading?
I'm assuming you ARE giving a reading because I've bought tickets!

SarahC.

There. Five hours of interviewing over and done.

The strangest and the most surreal was the very first at 6.00 am -- Phil Paleologos, broadcasting from a Diner in Bedford Ma -- partly because he decided to make it an American Gods interview, and partly because he kept cutting out and I'd lose syllables. Which was fine when he'd say "So, what kind of a book is Ame....an Gods?" but a lot harder when he'd say "So how do you regard ... ?"

The rest of the interviews were all about Coraline. They varied from a few people who'd read the book and loved it, to people who'd read the press release and loved it, to a couple of people who had my name and the word Coraline written on their prompt pads and winged it from there. ("So, Neil, what is Coraline? Some kind of Fancy Dessert Mix?" "No Jack, it's a book." "A book. My word. So for any of our readers who are unfamiliar, can you tell them what a book might happen to be?")

Seventeen interviews. Gosh. And yes, I repeated myself.

Monday, August 12, 2002

I'm very aware of how lucky I am to have Harper Collins paying for this website. And how grateful I am that I'm not having to fund it myself (especially given the traffic it generates). Some authors have to pay for their own websites and marketing....

So I thought I'd spread this wider. (If it was me, I'd probably have started the bidding rather lower: this way they have to hope that someone's prepared to make that first serious bid... but then, everyone's an armchair ebay critic...)

To help generate marketing funds for White Apples, we are offering a very special auction for collectors of Jonathan Carroll books. Two handwritten notebooks, containing the entire Heidelberg Cylinder novella, The Great Walt of China (published in Playboy) and Fish In A Barrel (published in F &SF Magazine) are available for auction at the address below. The manuscripts will be sent directly from Jonathan, and can be personalized by request. Feel free to email me with any questions.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1555125366

Thanks,

Joe del Tufo
www.jonathancarroll.com
www.whiteapples.com

So today brought a package from Amazon.co.uk, containing copies of Masefield's The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights , a copy of The Best of Alice Joanou (which Amazon.co.uk had while it was long out of print in the US, but I think I must have had their last copy) and the Faber Reissue of the Land of Green Ginger. And I was wrong. It's not the 1966 edition, with the cool bits, and twelve and a half chapters, and Nosi Parka the Egghead who can See the Future, and all the Magnificently Capitalised Words. Nope. It's the 1977 edition, which has only 12 chapters, and is a lot more normal. And, well, really dull.

I mean, it's 70 pages shorter than the 1966 edition (which is only 190 pages long). I was going to type out some sample passages to compare them but it got too depressing.

Why would anyone turn a wonderful book into something inspid and dull? And why would anyone republish the dull version?

I should go to bed. I have to be up at 5.30ish to start being interviewed. Argh. Then a couple of hours to shave and shower and it's into a plane to the UK.

So I did Minneapolis Public Radio's All Things Considered this afternoon, interviewed by Euan Kerr... it's been broadcast, I'm afraid. Not sure if you can listen to it on their website. And yes, I should have warned people (would have, too, if the journal had been working before I left the house).

I was asked if I could give some details on the "radio tour" tomorrow -- so here, cut and pasted and retyped from a Word Doc with tables (so any goofs in this are probably mine) are the details:

All Times are Eastern US. Anything that says "tape" will be broadcast at another time -- could be ten minutes later, could be next week...

7.05 to 7.30 -- Talk News Radio Network, American Breakfast With Phil Paleologos

8.00 - 8.15 WAMC-FM NPR Northeast Public Radio with Joe Donahue (taped)

8.30 - 8.40 Cleveland WBKC-AM Top News/Talk with Clarence Bucaro

8.40 - 8.56 Syracuse WACK-AM #1 News/ Talk

9.05 - 9.14 KBEM-FM NPR Minneapolis with Ed Jones (tape)

9:15-9:24 USA Radio Network with Al & Richard

9:30-9:39 Greenville/ Spartanburg WMYI-FM with Roxanne, Bill & Howard

9:40-9:49 Portland KXL-AM #1 News/Talk with Doug Carter(tape)

9:50-9:59 DetroitWJLB-FM with Lee Anthony (tape)

10-10:09 Colorado Springs KCMN-AM Tron Simpson

10:10-10:19 Monmouth/ Ocean Counties, NJ WOBM-FM Lisa and Sean (tape)

10:20-10:29 Sacramento KAHI-AM with David Rosenthal

10:30-10:39 St. Louis KJCF-AM Amanda Doerner

10:45-10:59 National XM Satellite Radio Jennifer Taheri

11-11:14 Regional Powernomics Radio Network with Tom Pope

11:16-11:30 Indianapolis WBAA-FM NPR with Deborah Godwin (tape)


11:40-11:49 Nashville WZYX- AM Top Talk with Jeff Pennington



I've been amused and delighted by radio interviewers ever since one interviewed Terry Pratchett and me in New York in 1990. He pretended (like they almost all do) to have read the book, in this case GOOD OMENS, but he had not realised that the book was fiction, so was quizzing me and Terry intently about Agnes Nutter and her predictions "And you feel she was actually warning people against Betamax then?" while behind him, in the control room, his engineers lay on their backs, crying with laughter, and kicked their legs in the air (we could see them; he, facing us, couldn't).

Of course, radio interviewers don't have time to read every book, and many of them don't want to hurt the author's feelings. So they take three slips of paper and put them into the book, one near the beginning, one in the middle, and one towards the end, to indicate that they have marked their favourite bits.

(Euan Kerr is an exception, I should add. He not only reads my stuff, he's also a Flash Girls fan, and I was trying to persuade him to get NPR to send him to the World Fantasy Convention in Minneapolis in October.)

The author equivalent of the three pieces of paper trick, by the way, is the point where the person interviewing you hands you the book and asks you to sign it to him, or to her. And he or she has just interviewed you for 15 minutes, and you don't remember his or her name. But you don't want to admit that (especially because the radio interviewer, let's call him Dave, has been saying "You're listening to Neil Gaiman on Dave's Breakfast Show" every forty seconds, and you really ought to have been listening) so you frantically try to find something with the host's name written on it, or cast desperate glances at the publicist hoping she'll say "So, Dave, how long have you been doing Dave's Breakfast Show?", or if all else fails, just start to write your name in it and then feign a heart attack...

Sunday, August 11, 2002

Bookshelf: Children's Books in Brief is the New York Times review of Coraline. "A modern ghost story with all the creepy trimmings..." it begins. (Well ... up to a point, Lord Copper.)

Maddy is off to see Kung Fu Hamlet at the Minneapolis fringe this afternoon, so I put on a video of Pedicab Driver for her, to give her context. I'm astonished at quite how much an almost-8-year old girl can enjoy an undubbed Sammo Hung movie.

She and Lorraine will be playing at the Minnesota Rennaisance Festival this year, playing their violins. They've been working up an act (which they're calling Maddy and Me).

(Took her and her friend to see Spy Kids 2 last night. Which I thought was a proper movie -- it felt like Robert Rodriguez had made a list of things he wanted to put into a second Spy Kids movie and then did them, as opposed to Men In Black 2, which we saw at the drive-in last week and which felt like the producers had made a list of things they had liked in the first Men in Blackand made sure they did all of them again.)

Another day, another dead journal. Very frustrating.

In the meantime, I'm answering a lot of questions about Coraline over at The Well's inkwell.vue.

And it's the high point of the Perseid meteor shower tonight....

Saturday, August 10, 2002

And as of this morning, the archives link to this month is dead as well. So nobody can read this at all. How mysterious.

Slept until I woke today -- it's the first day in ages that there hasn't been an early morning interview (normally from the UK, although yesterday's was followed by the Boston Globe and then a short interview with Publishing News about the Coraline audiobook, and the upcoming Two Plays For Voices). My assistant, the fabulous Lorraine, told me yesterday, very proudly, that she'd managed to rearrange everything to give me a completely clear today with no interviews or anything, that I could work in. It was ages before I blinked and thought "but it's saturday". Not that I'm not pleased to have a straight day to write in, but I'll be even more pleased when promotion season is over and I can get back to making stuff up without interruption.

Over at the mousecircus , Victoria-the-Coraline-webmistress posted a bunch more FAQ replies.

Another Coraline review over at ZENtertainment. And there are a number of others collected over at over at The Dreaming.

Currently, the journal page is down. For some reason, whenever it's happened so far, things still work fine in Journal archives. http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal_archives/archive.asp might be worth bookmarking, just in case.

Friday, August 09, 2002

Anyone interested in following the conversation over at the The WELL should probably best go in here, at Inkwell.vue home, which tells you how to ask questions and so on. And if you get bored, look through the topics until you find the Goldfish Swapmeet, where they have turned the habit of carrying on without me into an art form.

E-mail came in from Mark Kelly at Locus online saying that, yes, American Gods is the only novel to be nominated for the Bram Stoker, the Hugo, and the World Fantasy Award.

I leave for the UK on Tuesday (following the 6.00 am radio interview madness described in an earlier post).

And since no-one asked.... currently the tomatoes are amazingly happy, as are the peppers and the eggplants (aka aubergines). The potatoes and the corn are kind of sad (although I found enough purple, red and gold potatoes to make a great potato salad tonight) . The carrots and beets are doing well. The pumpkins are fifty fifty -- none of the giants survived, but the others are doing brilliantly. Peas are done as is Asparagus and rhubarb, garlic is harvested (er well, dug up and hanging in the cellar to dry out), and the courgettes (aka zucchini) -- why isn't there an English word for them? The English borrow the French word, the Americans borrow the Italian's -- are doing much too well and will turn into giant prize-winning vegetable marrows the moment I turn my back on them, I expect.

The grapes are starting to enjoy the grape arbour.

...

At Achuka, we learn that:

Lemony Snicket's UK tour has been called off at short notice. Egmont have issued the following press release: "Due to ill health Daniel Handler has been advised by his doctor not to travel. Sadly this means that the Lemony Snicket UK tour has been cancelled. David is hugely disappointed and very much looking forward to rescheduling the tour. On behalf of David, Egmont books would like to apologise to all booksellers and Lemony Snicket fans."


Which leads us to the immediate and disturbing question, Who is David? Daniel Handler is ill. Lemony Snicket will not go to England. David is disappointed and apologises. The whole Lemony Snicket mystery deepens. Hmmm. I think the reading public should demand to know the unvarnished truth, that the mysterious "David" should be identified and, if necessary, exposed, and I hope Daniel's feeling a lot better soon.

...

Holly was deeply offended that I called her "almost scarily normal" on the Well interview. I'm not sure what I can do to make up for it. I offered to remove the "almost", but that didn't placate her. I suppose I could make a point of letting people know, one-on-one that she's secretly kind of weird, but no-one would believe me.

Not a question per se, but after reading your positive comments regarding DreamHaven Books, I thought you might be interested in a shameless plu.. I mean review, that a friend of mine posted in her online journal. The link to the review is: http://www.livejournal.com/talkread.bml?journal=utsuri&itemid=85089
FYI: Depending on your tolerance for drooling fan-girlishness (or boyishness, I suppose, although this particular instance is gender-specific), you may find some of the comments left in reply somewhat... embarrassing.
Enjoy!-- Betsey Langan

Big News! Click here to see what it is! Locus Online: News Log, August 2002, Page 2

Oh, all right. It's that American Gods has been nominated for a World Fantasy Award.

I don't know if it's the only book ever to be nominated for a Bram Stoker Award, a Hugo award and a World Fantasy Award. But I'm kind of happy about that. I wish there weren't four other books I'm up against that I loved (two of which I even blurbed). (And two I just haven't read yet).

Still, I feel sorry for all the people down in Special Award Professional -- all good friends and nice talented people who all deserve it. Maybe they could hand over five little lovecraft heads on that one.

(The World Fantasy Award is a bust of H. P. Lovecraft. My favourite awards speech was Robert Holdstock's, after winning for Mythago Wood. Editor Jo Fletcher had brought his award back to the UK for him, and presented it to him at a British Fantasy Society Open Night. "This is a day I shall put in my diary," said Rob. "Came in for British Fantasy Open Night. Was given head by Jo Fletcher." )

Fellow World Fantasy Award for Best Novel nominee -- and this year's World Fantasy Guest of Honour -- Jonathan Carroll, has a beautiful website for his new book up. The journal (beautifully written moments of inspiration and delight, unlike this ragtag wossname) is up at http://www.whiteapples.com/journal.html . Go click on it, read the journal and then take a look around the site. It's a wonderful place.

A follow-up from GMZoe: re: Monkey See Monkey Who
I emailed the publisher about Amazon cancelling orders, and here is the reply:
"The book has been canceled in the format first announced. However a paperback book of the same material will be published in January 2003. It will be relisted with Amazon and all other booksellers next year as � Sock Monkeys: 200 out of 1,863�
Avery Lozada
"


And next Tuesday, between 6.05am and 12:49 am I get to do 17 Radio Interviews -- 11 live and 6 on tape. A lot of tea will be drunk. I will probably start repeating myself around 6:30 am...

There's a really good interview up at BWI NEWS, the book wholesalers to libraries, conducted at ALA in Atlanta. (They sent it to me to proofread first, and I'm wondering how I missed Squiggles for Scruples and Dark Land for Dark Knight, but it's a very good interview nonetheless.) You can always tell when I've not done an interview for ages -- I rabbit on and on and am impossible to shut up. When I've been out promoting something for a while I tend to just Answer the Question, especially if it's the same question over and over again.

Does the british edition of Coraline contain artwork by Dave McKean? Looking at Amazon.co.uk it's doesn't look that way...

I'm pretty sure this was answered somewhere here already. (A tip: there is a SEARCH function for the website now -- the book and magnifying glass over on the top left of the page. You can always type a keyword or two in and see what you get.)

But no, it doesn't. Bloomsbury wanted the books unillustrated, and with the photo cover, I think concerned that teenagers wouldn't pick up a book with pictures in it. They're probably losing a fair number of sales to the US right now, and I'm hoping to persuade them to do the iullustrated edition as well, we'll see.

What's the scoop on the long-anticipated Sock Monkey book Monkey See Monkey Who? I had it on my Amazon wishlist until such time as I could purchase it (i.e. until it was finally published). I don't recall seeing publication dates change (but Amazon really isn't that good at keeping up with changing publications dates, even when you tell them that the date of publication has changed). In any case - I recently discovered that it was no longer ON my wishlist. For that matter, it was no longer on Amazon. Or Barnes and Nobles. Is this a case of the mysterious disappearing book? Was it all just a hoax? I want my sock monkeys!

Thanks - Gloria Astrid


I don't know. I got an invitation to the launch event at the Jan Kesner Gallery in LA -- exhibition from July 4th to Aug 31st. (http://www.jankesnergallery.com/exhibition/EX_01.html) They might know. This was one of those things where you get asked to do something so cool you can't refuse (ie. write something to accompany a sock monkey portrait), but that's where my involvement ends. When I get my author's copy, I'll mention it here, though.

Kidsreads.com asked some authors for five books we were going to read this summer. Mine are at Kidsreads.com - Neil Gaiman's Summer Reading List.

Lots and lots and lots of messages coming in on the FAQ line asking me to do some recommended book lists. So I shall.

And over at the well (thewell.com) Martha Soukup will be interviewing me about Coraline. All welcome to send in questions and participate the moment it goes live...

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Over at Barnes�&�Noble.com eBooks they're offering a discount on the Coraline e-book.

I downloaded it last night (along with the Adobe book reader) and thought it was very well done -- the extra material is the stuff that was in the Diamond edition (alhough not the colour picture). I'm still not an e-book reader -- a lot of the time I like books because they aren't on a screen, although I can certainly see a future in which... well, when I went away to start writing American Gods, I took a trunk-load of reference books with me, along with several cardboard boxes of CDs.The day that I could stick all of that stuff onto an Ipod-like thing would certainly make me happy and give me less to carry. (But then, there's stuff one would be giving up... so much of which, in reference books paricularly, is the magic of happy accidents.)

Slushfactory.com reports that the Coraline graphic novel will be changing its name. "Our highly anticipated project with Terry Dodson, Coraline, has just started production," says Sattler. "This makes our decision to change the name of the project an easy one considering we haven't gone to print yet. We were unaware of Mr. Gaiman's book of the same title, and want to avoid creating any confusion for fans and retailers. We will be announcing a new title shortly, and sincerely hope that everybody comes out to see Terry's awesome work when the book is done. We also wish Neil the best of luck with his Coraline, and are pleased that somebody so talented got such a great name for a book. At least this way we know it's being put to good use." Which is astonishingly nice of them.

Charles Fort once pointed out that in steam engine time people build steam engines. He was trying to explain the phenomena whereby people invented the same things at the same times in far-apart places, with no contact with each other, when the time was right. It's as good an explanation as any. (And if you don't know who Charles Fort is, or only know his name from the masthead of the Fortean Times, you can read the books that started it all here.) I suppose in Coraline time, people make Coralines. I'm just glad (and fortunate) I was first.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Bill Stiteler's adaptation of Signal to Noise is reviewed here. It's the Minneapolis Fringe, not the Edinburgh one. I'm looking forward to seeing it...

Monday, August 05, 2002

There's a special offer at peanutpress.com -- if you get the ebook of Coraline, you get the ebook of American Gods at half price. Palm Digital Media: Coraline

Meanwhile, the perils of buying things through the internet are highlighted in this Guardian article. Remember: there are two Sydneys.

Lovely Coraline review up at a Writers and Reviews website at purplepens.com.

And I heard today that there's a US CORALINE retailer poster being rush-produced for bookstores, due to overwhelming demand (ie. lots of bookshop people asking for one). If you have a bookshop, comic shop or similar then you may want to get in touch with Harper Collins and see if you can get one.

The UK booksellers poster of course already exists. And now the first chapter's up online at http://www.bloomsburymagazine.com/neilgaiman/ along with a competition, e-cards, and, coming any minute, a screensaver...

...

So last week we had a Variety article about all the things of mine that have been optioned but never gone into production.

This week, good news from Jim Henson Films: the film that I wrote for Dave McKean to direct back in February has been greenlighted by Sony, if Dave can demonstrate that he can bring it in for the money they're giving us. The money is not much in Hollywood terms (although people commit bank robberies and vanish off to South America for much less).

The film's called Mirror-Mask. It's for children. It features a certain amount of live action, and some Dave Mckean-style CGI animation -- the kind of look and feel he established in his short film The Week Before. You can see some stills from that, and from some of his other films, here. It's about a vengeful dark queen, a sleeping white queen, an unreliable juggler and a circus-girl, and it features hungry sphinxes, strange riddles and helpful books. The story is by Dave and me, the dialogue's mostly mine although every now and again Dave would write a scene to show me what he meant and we'd just put it straight into the script, and when I'd write a scene he didn't like he would look at me, and I would change it.

It'll be done for Sony Video, who may elect to release it theatrically, or may just put it out on video and DVD when it's done. We'll see.

And just to give Dave a headache, it looks like his film of our graphic novelSignal to Noise is also happening. He will be shooting a sort of trailer reel for it this week, starring (of all people, considering the post of a few days back) Heathcote Williams as the director.

And he's nearly done with The Wolves in the Walls, next year's picture-book for people who thought The Day I Swapped My Dad For 2 Goldfishdidn't have enough wolves or jam in it.

From the Times Educational Supplement. (I should say that I agree with both the idea that parents should read it, and with the point that kids are more resilient than adults..)

The Times Educational Supplement
August 2, 2002
SECTION: CHILDREN'S FICTION; BOOKS; REVIEWS; No.4492; Pg.22
LENGTH: 252 words
HEADLINE: Plainly Scary Stuff
BYLINE: Adele Geras
BODY: CORALINE. By Neil Gaiman. Bloomsbury Children's Books Pounds 9.99

I read this short novel a few months ago, in a proof copy, knowing nothing about the author. As we used to say, it blew my mind. Then I found out about Gaiman via his impressive website, and discovered that he was very well-known in the worlds of fantasy, comic strips and other universes unknown to me. I've since re-read the novel and it's even better than I remembered.

It has echoes of Alice in Wonderland, with elements linking it to various fairy tales -psychologists will have a field day with the dangerous "pretend" mother and father our heroine finds in a looking-glass kind of world that exists alongside the real one.

It's written in a deadpan and unsensational way; the effect is supremely unsettling. There's a real fear aroused by plain descriptions of unspeakable things, many of them to do with eyes.

There are friendly but sinister rodents, and peculiar neighbours. But the real problem turns out to be Coraline's "other" parents, who are truly the stuff of nightmares.

It's a book for all ages, but adults should read it before offering it to anyone younger than about 10. Then again, children are, in many ways, tougher than adults, and it may haunt them less than it has haunted me. It's a good example of the "less is more" principle, and shows how unscary blood and guts are next to chilly, finely-wrought prose, a truly weird setting and a fable that taps into our most uncomfortable fears.

Sunday, August 04, 2002

Dear Neil,

On Warning:Contains Language, you have a bit called "Being an Experiment...", in which you mention Omar Khayyam and Heathcliff Williams. Are these actual writers or are they nods to _The Land of the Green Ginger_ or some other works that I don't know about?
Thanks,
Susan



Heathcote Williams is a real poet and writer and occasional actor, who really did write a poem about the mighty elephant with the anthill information in it. It's a famous, well-respected poem about a wonderful animal, and I am a very wicked person to find that bit of it so funny.

And Omar Khayyam was a poet a thousand years ago who wrote a Rubaiyat, famously translated by Edward Fitzgerald (about 5 times, each time differently).
Here's a page devoted to the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (In real life Khayyam was also a mathematician. In the Land of Green Ginger he's a poetic tentmaker who can't pwonounce his Rs.)

PS according to one website "Rubaiyat are independent quatrains, most often written with the first, second and fourth lines rhyming."

Robert Sheckley was writing genuinely funny SF before Douglas Adams was born. (For that matter, the closest thing to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is Sheckley's novel Dimension of Miracles. And Douglas thought so too.) It is a crime that most of his great short story collections from the 50s, 60s and 70s are out of print. But scifi.com has a Sheckley story online at http://www.scifi.com/scifiction/
classics/classics_archive/sheckley3/sheckley31.html
. It's called "Cordle to Onion to Carrot", and I'll bet you anything it's not a 1955 story as is claimed at the bottom but a 1965 or later story. (I read it in one of the early 70s collections.)

I thought I'd helpfully repost the UK dates from WHERE'S NEIL, for those people who don't know that I'm doing a UK tour. (Also, they're meant to be up at Mousecircus.com, but aren't yet.)

Here's the current list of UK events, as of the beginning of August 2002, taken from Bloomsbury's own site http://www.bloomsburymagazine.com/WritersArea/grapevine.asp?edition=ch&id=81:

The Edinburgh literary Festival website is at http://www.edbookfest.co.uk/programme/ You need tickets for Edinburgh Festival events (they're three pounds 50).


Date: 16 August 2002 Time: 13:00
Book signing at Blackwells Sheffield. Mappin Street Sheffield S1 4DT. Contact Joz Rhodes on 0114 278 7211 for further details.


Date: 16 August 2002 Time: 19:00
Reading and book signing at Waterstone's Deansgate Manchester.
91 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 2BW Contact Jon Atkin on 0161 837 3000 for further details.


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.
In theory this is the CORALINE reading and talk for kids -- it's lunchtime on Saturday.

Date: 17 August 2002 Time: 18:00
Edinburgh Festival: Author's Heroes event with Celia Rees and Harry Horse (children's event).
(A reading from favorite children's books. I'm looking forward to this one.)

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.
(And in theory, this is the Coraline reading and talk for not-kids to come to, which is why it's 6.00pm on a Sunday.)

Date: 19 August 2002 Time: 19:00
Reading and signing at Hanna's Bookshop.
Eason, Hanna's Bookshop, 1 Dawson St, Dublin 2, Ireland. Tel: 01 677 1255


Date: 20 August 2002 Time: 19:00
Book signing at Waterstones, 20-21 St Margaret's Street, Canterbury. Contact James Henry tel 01227 456343.


Date: 21 August 2002 Time: 14:30
Book signing at Harrods, London Children's Book Dept, 4th Floor, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL.
Contact Jane Robertson in the Children's Book Dept on 0207 730 1234 for further details.


Date: 22 August 2002 Time: 13:00
Book signing at Forbidden Planet, 71 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1DG. Contact the shop on 020 7420 3666 for further details.


Date: 22 August 2002 Time: 19:00
Bloomsbury/Foyles event at the Congress Centre, Great Russell Street, London.
Contact Jane Gregory at Foyles on 020 7440 1553 or email jane@foyles.co.uk for further information.


Date: 23 August 2002 Time: 18:30
Book signing at Ottakars, Glasgow, 6 Buchanan Galleries, Buchanan Street, Glasgow, G1 2GF.
Contact Shirley Roger on 0141 353 1500 for further details.


Date: 24 August 2002 Time: 14:00
Waterstone's Dundee
35 Commercial Street, Dundee, DD1 3DG
Contact Justine Crudis on 01382 200322

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.

It's almost magical. Yesterday I point people at a Land of Green Ginger review over at ACHUKA - Children's Books UK and today I learn that they've made Coraline their featured book. And more excitingly, they've made us -- here, this place -- their website of the week. (Which is rather wonderful, as I don't think we've ever been anyone's website of the week before. And we've been doing this for weeks and weeks and weeks. I mean, about 80 weeks by now, I wouldn't be surprised. So this is our week. Right now.)

Just got e-mail telling me that AMERICAN GODS is shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award. Seeing the first ever convention I went to was the 1983 British Fantasy Convention, at which the awards were given out, and I was faintly awed, I still feel that there's something frighteningly, well, grown-up about being nominated for a British Fantasy Award.

Which then reminded me that I hadn't posted anything really here about Mark Chadbourn's terrific novella The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke, for which I did a long introduction that talks more about Richard Dadd and his famous painting than it does about Mark's novella (mostly because the novella speaks for itself). I expect that DreamHaven may be ordering copies, but if anyone is set on getting one they should probably go over to the publisher's web site and see about ordering directly. (Publisher Pete Crowther has done a print run of 300 hardbacks and 500 paperbacks.)

Pete's line of books looks amazing. A new Moorcock Jerry Cornelius novella introduced by Alan Moore. A new Geoff Ryman novella introduced by Gwyneth Jones. A (probably) cursed Ramsey Campbell title.... Yum.

...

Peter Straub liked his short story. Which I need to do a second draft of over the next day or so, and will then go to be typeset (no messing around here). It is currently called "October in the Chair". It'll be appearing inConjunctions #39, "The New Wave Fabulists". I didn't know I was a new wave fabulist, but given the line-up, I shall wear my new wave fabulist label with pride.

...

I'm down to the last -- and the shortest -- of the Endless Nights stories: Destiny, for Moebius. Which I'll start the moment I finish the script I'm on. Type. Type. Type.

If you check out the webpage at A Walking Tour of The Shambles by Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe you'll learn that the second printing will be easily distinguished from the first printing: the covers will be respectively scarlet and purple, rather than blue and green.

http://www.preserveusfromthehouseofclocks.com/ continues to grow in mysterious ways.

And in my real life I'm writing a scene with Mad Hettie at an airport, except I'm done and am going to bed now. Good night.

Saturday, August 03, 2002

The journal over at scottmccloud.com contains the accurate version of the Sky-Maddy canoe chant. Just so you know.

And for those of you who are actually using this blog as a source of Interesting Childrens Books, I'm delighted to be able to tell you that Faber and Faber have reprinted Noel Langley's THE LAND OF GREEN GINGER. And they've reprinted it in the best edition. (Langley wrote it three times; once in the 1930s (which reads like a sketch for the book, and ends very suddenly and oddly), once in about 1965, and then in abridged version without Impressive Capitalisation and with half a chapter missing -- so it had 12 chapters, not twelve and a half -- in the early 70s. The Faber one is a reprint of the excellent 1965ish edition.) Langley's best known for the film script of The Wizard of Oz. The Land of Green Ginger is genuinely funny -- the saga of Prince Abu Ali, the son of Aladdin, and his quest to win the hand of the lovely Silver Bud and defeat the machinations of the wicked princes Tintac Ping Foo and Rubdub Ben Thud, aided only by a mouse, Omar Khayyam, and a young genie who can't do magic named BoomalackaWee.

When I was a boy it was read on a British Children's TV show called JACKANORY by Kenneth Williams, he of the nostrils and the voices, and sometimes I wonder if there isn't a tape (audio or video) somewhere in the bowels of the BBC. But I don't expect there is. They were never very big on keeping things. But Kenneth Williams was the perfect voice for it. (Did I ever talk about my lunch with Kenneth Williams here?)

There's a review of the Land of Green Ginger here. If you're in the UK, go and order one. If you're not in the UK, amazon.co.uk or any of the online UK book services will ship overseas. And if you need something to bulk out the purchase, here's a review by Dave Langford of the Uncle books, by J.P. Martin. "Neil Gaiman was so boggled to find his enthusiasm shared that he momentarily forgot to look cool," says Langford. Indeed.

...

And from Children's literature to Not Children's Literature...

I'm not really sure any more who reads this thing, other than, it's an awful lot of people. It was easier when I started and I knew most of the couple of hundred people reading it. Now it's in the multiples of tens of thousands... Anyway, Kelly Sue DeConnick is a very nice lady from New York (now en route to marriage somewhere in the midwest, I believe) who writes great reviews of comics and things, and who also writes very rude stuff to make a living. And because she's good at it. This is one of hers, and it's funny and don't click on it if you're under sixteen or are related to Kelly Sue DeConnick.

Coraline is sort-of-out in the UK now, a few days before publication -- it's active on Amazon.co.uk and people are reporting seeing it in bookshops and receiving copies. Here's a slightly nervous review from ACHUKA-Children's Books UK/Teenage Fiction.

Meanwhile, over at http://www.bookcrossing.com/ they are releasing books back into the wild. Honest.

And I've finished a story for Peter Straub's Conjunctions anthology, and now realise I need a title for it. The working title was Song For Ray Bradbury (after the Bowie "Song for Bob Dylan") because it was all Octobery and about being ten and playing with ghosts. But I suspect that'll just leave people puzzled, if I leave it as the title.

I hate titles when they're work. Either things turn up with titles, in which case I am happy, or I give them working titles which become the actual titles by default (Neverwhere, American Gods), or I get to the end without a real title and I walk around grumpily hoping and failing to find the title in the text. Sometimes I come up with the proper title years after the thing's been published. Heigh ho.

And for those of you who might have been wondering, there are several CBLDF: Web Page Banner Ads in different shapes and sizes.

The only good thing about Deadline season is that I start finishing things. Which is extremely good for the soul.

I'm doing some FAQ answers, and now can't remember if I linked to this Coraline review at Banshee Studios or not. I don't think I did.

By the way, there is a LOT more in the FAQs than it may seem at first prowl -- the FAQ blogger link at http://www.neilgaiman.com/faq/blog.asp has a lot more information than you'll find on the FAQ page. I mention this as I'm getting asked a lot of things that are answered somewhere in the bowels of the FAQ blog.

(Although I notice something odd has happened to a few of the links in the blog -- some of them are truncated or absent. Odd.)

Friday, August 02, 2002

Review of Coraline over at The SF Site.

And a phone call from Robert Zemeckis means I may be able to turn up at the Hugo ceremonies at the end of next month, which would be a good thing even if American Gods doesn't get one. (I mean, it's the Hugo Award dammit. It's on the cover of books I treasure.) Now I just have to find the envelope filled with helpful stuff that the Con Jose Hugo people sent me that I put somewhere absent-mindedly in the certainty I'd not be able to go. And I shall get to hob-nob with the likes of China Mieville and Andy Duncan and go to the Hugo losers party with pride.

Here you go: a terrific article on the CBLDF from Wired When Comics and Law Collide

Just spent the last five-and-a-bit hours on the phone, listening (and occasionally contributing, I hope) to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Annual Board Meeting. Now feeling absolutely brain dead. Feeling like I ought to be making an impassioned plea to all of you to take out (or renew) memberships in the CBLDF, but I'll save that for a full essay here on another day. Right now I need bed...

O sod it.

Well, I'm not going to write the essay, not at this time of night after five hours of conference call. But I'll quote from the District Attorney in Texas, in his summing up to the jury who recently sentenced a comic store clerk to prison for six months for selling an undercover cop a rude manga title. (The DA's explaining why the jury should ignore the expert witnesses who came in to explain that the comic in question was adult comics, and art, and deserving of first amendment protection):

"And, again, why are we here? This medium, the medium that this obscenity is placed in is done so in an appealing manner to children. Comic books, and I don't care what type of evidence or what type of testimony is out there, use your rationality, use your common sense. Comic books, traditionally what we think of, are for kids. This is in a store directly across from an elementary school and it is put in a medium, in a forum, to directly appeal to kids.�


Remember that one. Comics are only for kids. Doesn't matter if the manga title in question was sealed, marked for over 18s, and in the off-limits to kids section of the store in question. Comics are for kids. The DA says so, and the jury believed him.

And yes, we're appealing it. And we've spent at least $40,000 on the case so far (and managed to win the other case they brought at the same time).

So tell your friends who read comics, and who don't. Tell your friends who only read manga. Repost this where people will see it. Link to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund site at http://www.cbldf.org/index.shtml or straight to their commercial site at http://www.cbldf.com (which is the place you can buy cool stuff).

And if you're at Comic Con in San Diego over the next few days, go and find the CBLDF table. They have all sorts of cool stuff there (including, I believe, a load of Frank Miller signed comics). And you can sign up there, and tell them they're doing a good, hard and necessary job. 'Cos they are.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Some months ago I was pointed to Google Sets, a strange beta google thing. It's quirky and odd. Type in a couple of members of the Endless and it'll give you the rest. Type in "Neil Gaiman" and "Terry Pratchett" and it'll give you lots of funny writers, many of them in fantasy and SF. (Type in "Gaiman" and "Pratchett" and we learn someone behind the scenes has a sense of humour)

Dear Neil,

My recollection is that you recommended Jemiah Johnson's WOUNDS fairly recently in the blog, but a word search going back eight months turns up nothing. Weirder still...Google returns one---that's right ONE---reference to her Both Amazon and B&N don't even list her books. And yet I have a copy of the book. The reason I was looking around was I didn't like it after the first quarter or so (I found the characters cliche and boring when they weren't annoying which really hurt since there's no plot either)but stuck with it on your recommend. I thought I'd check out reviews to see if it was just me (or just you!).


It's just you, I'm afraid, and someone else must have recommended it. I've never mentioned it or read it, or anything else by the author; although I suspect that one reason you're having trouble with finding her on Amazon is that her name (a hasty google reveals) is Jemiah Jefferson, not Johnson.

(And a late-breaking FAQ message explains the mystery: Jemiah Jefferson was mentioned in one of the reviews that you linked for us on the blog--sort of an "if-you-like-Neil-you'll-like..." jobbie.)

Gothic.Net is having real problems making ends meet. They are looking for many more subscribers willing to pay $15 a pop for the original fiction and to support the reviews of books and music and articles and poetry and ultracool-but-creepy ambience, or they'll have to close their metaphoric doors.

Go and register (for free) and take a poke around. Sign up if you like what you see. The web will be a duller place without Darren's strange world.

Here's the review of the Biting Dog Press edition of Snow Glass Apples . The edition they did of the "Murder Mysteries" radio play sold out so comprehensively that Biting Dog didn't have any copies to send to the World Fantasy Award judges. I hope they'll keep a few copies of Snow Glass Apples aside. The woodcuts are wonderful, and the bookmaking craft involved is astonishing.

(They "pay" me for the rights to do it in copies of the book, which I then give to friends, and everyone is very happy.)

The phone call today; CORALINE is still at #6 on the New York Times children's book list, and is in the Publisher's Weekly article on the Big New Books of the Summer. Harper are already talking about the Hallowe'en promotion and the Christmas promotion for Coraline. It's fascinating -- the world of adult publishing is a mayfly world compared to children's publishing. (Well, possibly not that mayfly -- American Gods is still on the USA Today top 150 after four months. I'm starting to feel like Pink Floyd, only not as loud and without the giant inflatable pigs.)
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