Thursday, January 16, 2003
Every few years strange messages come in from advertising agencies, enquiring about the possibility of asking for my services. Then it doesn't happen, normally because I explain that I don't actually wear Banana Republic clothes so wouldn't want to be photographed wearing them and pretending that I did, and things peter out, and I get quietly back to work. And the things I'd happily advertise because I use (1920s flexible-nibbed fountain pens) or aspire to (small Pacific islands with hidden temples and real volcanoes) just don't seem to be out there and advertising these days.

Tentative feelers have just started undulating on something that actually sounds fun and doesn't involve me getting a haircut. Bet it never comes to anything, though.

Right. Just thought you'd like to know.


Yes, I know there's a Monarch of the Glen TV series and don't mind at all. A TV series isn't an American Gods novella in Robert Silverberg's LEGENDS book.

Titles are pegs to hang things on, so you can tell them apart. The problems with CAPE WRATH as a title was that it was used by a recent novella, set in that area of Scotland, telling a horror story about viking hauntings and deaths. If I called my novella Cape Wrath it would simply add to the confusion in the world, and would make the other author rightfully grumpy.

Wheras "Monarch of the Glen" is, most famously, a rather unimpressive painting of a stag, done by Landseer in the 1850s, that became an incredibly popular print: books set in sad and shabby seaside hotels in the 1920s would always have a reproduction of "The Monarch of the Glen" on the wall.
No-one's going to confuse my story with the BBC series, and they're very different. So unless I come up with a better title before Monday it'll stay The Monarch of the Glen.

I hope I come up with a better title before Monday.

I hate titling things. I like it when things turn up in my head with titles attached. I never had to brood over a name for Stardust, because when it turned up, it was called Stardust. Coraline was called Coraline, and Anansi Boys, like it or not, is and always has been called Anansi Boys.

American Gods was a sort of placeholder name, as was Neverwhere, and in neither case did I come up with a better one.

The best title of anything of mine was probably Violent Cases, and that was Garry Kilworth at a Milford, pointing out that my original title for the story was crap, and that Violent Cases was there in the text ("Gangsters had tommy-guns, which they kept in violent cases...").

Currently reading, when I get a second, M. John Harrison's short story collection, THINGS THAT NEVER HAPPEN. Not only can he write like a demon, but he can title stories. Excellent China Mieville introduction, too. Now we can only hope that someone brings Mike's remarkable novel CLIMBERS back into print.

First of all, thank you for keeping up with this journal; I'm sure it is not a high priority for you, but those of us that share your wide variety of interests (I call myself a 'renaissance savant') like to know what tidbits you find and we really like to know more about the processes of writing you have to go through. So, again, thank you.

Second, although I may be getting myself into trouble asking this, I take it from the e-mail from Pamela Kipnes that 'Neverwhere' has not been released on DVD by the BBC. Um, well, I have bought a copy of it on DVD from a relatively nearby comic store, supposedly put out on BBC DVD; granted, I should have suspected from the quality that it was a bad copy, but I just thought these things happen and I still wanted to support anything you put out. How do I make sure you and your contemporaries at BBC and any others involved get the money they deserve and aren't? I would be happy to send a check.

Well, buy a copy of the real one when it comes out, and we'll say no more about it. It should have the documentary/interview "NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND" on it as well, courtesy of the CBLDF (who should make some money out of it, hurrah), and other fun stuff. I'm hoping that what's left of Crucial Films can find the original footage -- there are some lost scenes it would be very nice to put back in. Given my druthers I'd re-edit episode 1, for that matter, but that won't happen. I bet a commentary would be fun though.

Oh, and tell your local comic shop that they're selling bootleg merchandise, and tell them I asked them politely not to.

Basically, unless you've bought a PAL format UK two-tapes video, you've bought a pirate copy, as it's never been legitimately released in the US. I sometimes tend to think that having a copy of Neverwhere that's been through a dozen or so copies softens up the picture very nicely, and compensates for the BBC video look of the thing, but that's just me.


Not enough time to start reading Maddy "The Wee Free Men" before I leave for France, so this evening she read to me -- Daniel Pinkwater's wonderful "Author's Day". And she did all the voices. Also we watched an East German fairy tale film, THE DEVIL'S THREE GOLDEN HAIRS, which is the sort of film best watched with an 8 year old who laughs at slapstick and squinches her eyes shut if there's likely to be any kissing. I was amused by the East German idea of the ideological soundness of the fairy tale as film, from the point of view of where and when (late 70s) it was made. There are bad kings in the original Grimms' story, but they do not normally leave you questioning the fundamental existence of a monarchy.

"What's happening?" asked Maddy, toward the end. "Well," I said, "right now the proletariat are rising up and are about to triumph in their struggle against the bourgoisie," which she thought was pretty funny because they all fell over a lot while they did it.