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Thursday, January 23, 2003

I am typing this on the train to Angouleme.

There was a long Neil-in-Paris blog that I would have written if I hadn�t settled down on the train and fallen asleep for two hours, convincing my editor, Anne Michelle, in the next seat reading a manuscript as I type this, that I am perfectly capable of falling asleep anywhere: she�s now watched me fall asleep in taxis, and even just sitting on a settee in a hotel lobby, and has decided that this is a charming and eccentric trait rather than a worrying symptom of encroaching narcolepsy. Really it�s just that I started my trip to France one night down on sleep, and have I think been trying to catch up ever since.

Let�s see... in no particular order...

It has stopped raining since I�ve been here, often for several hours at a time, but never at a point where I had a moment to go for a walk, so the only times I�ve actually gone for a walk I�ve had to towel my hair on my return.

There is a cliche of Parisians, in which all the men are intense unshaven intellectuals who gesture with their cigarettes while talking, and all the women are fragrant and belipsticked creatures who wear unfeasibly tight skirts, and I would like to put the lie to this right now. (Having said that, Paris could certain fill the European Community Gesticulatory Cigarettes And Unfeasibly Tight Skirt quota of several countries all on its own.)

I did a radio interview � we wandered through the labyrinthine bowels of Radio France, hunting for the studio. �You must put this into your journal,� said one of the three interviewers, intense and unshaven to a man, so I have. (Just before the interview, Jeremy from Ska films in London turned up with the 35 mm print of �John Bolton�, which we�ll screen at Angouleme.) Discovered that my French was good enough to understand the questions I was being asked, so the translator only had to translate my answers.

And then a day of interviews and signings � Virgin Megastore at lunchtime (Dylan, who does the Bite Me webcomic turned up and gave me a lovely Death drawing), � and I signed for even more people at Mille Pages in the evening (and ate several amazing French cheeses and drank wine when I was done). No catacombs in the end, which was fine by me, for I had not yet caught up on sleep, and had several phone calls to try and make. Thrilled and bemused to learn to that there are catacomb-dwellers who have taken Neverwhere as a prime text, and they have promised me a catacombian journey when I come back in May.

Back to the hotel, did phone calls, and was relieved to find that Robert Zemeckis liked the latest draft of The Fermata, and had suggestions for the next one. It�s a very odd process, writing and rewriting this script, and one I�m not bored of yet, as Bob�s suggestions slowly turn the erotic souffle I wrote at first into something rather darker and more substantial.

Today I met my editor at J�ai Lu, the paperback house, had my photos taken, met my french sub-agent for lunch, and then came to Angouleme.

And the train�s slowing down.

I keep thinking that it�s really cool that Angouleme and Poitiers gave their names to James Branch Cabell�s region of Poictesme, and then have to remind myself that all the places around here in Cabell�s world were created by a Virginia writer, frustrated by trying to be accurate in his depiction of historical Tunbridge Wells and determined to be perfectly imaginary from there on out, and that they don�t exist, outside of fiction space, so I can�t go and see them. No Mispec Moor, no Forest of Broceliande...
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