Friday, January 10, 2003
Over at the LA Times there's a marvellous short essay on writing by Ursula K. LeGuin,0,4754375.story?coll=cl%2Dbookreview.

As for "write what you know," I was regularly told this as a beginner. I think it's a very good rule and have always obeyed it. I write about imaginary countries, alien societies on other planets, dragons, wizards, the Napa Valley in 22002. I know these things. I know them better than anybody else possibly could, so it's my duty to testify about them. I got my knowledge of them, as I got whatever knowledge I have of the hearts and minds of human beings, through imagination working on observation. Like any other novelist. All this rule needs is a good definition of "know."

Exactly so.

And a fascinating FAQ:

Considering your answer to the "other mother" question yesterday, I'm assuming that you've never read the folktale "The Drum"? I was so certain you had, from Coraline! That folktale might have disturbed me the most as a child, out of all the stories in the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books, which I took delight in memorizing and taunting other children with. That story has, as punishment for the misbehaving of the two girls, the threat of getting stuck with a "new mother" with a club for a tail and glass eyes that glint in the firelight. Some things, I guess, are deliciously universal.

Coraline gave me the same sort of thrill, which I really have to thank you for.

I love this one. I love it because it means that Lucy Clifford's story "The New Mother" which was retold and found in the Neil Phillips Penguin Collection of English Folktales as "The Pear Drum" is continuing to live in the oral tradition.

Anyway, I've talked about Lucy Clifford and "The New Mother" a few times on this site, and in interviews (such as the Booklist one -- where I notice that pear drum is transcribed as pear drop). But I hadn't thought that story was still out there in popular currency, being told. Which is very cool.

could you please give me the URL you mentioned a couple of months ago for an author's journal/blog who writes about what it's like to be a writer? I have wracked my brain trying to recall her name, and trying to think of interesting and creative ways to search the archives of your journal all to no avail.

Probably the very wonderful Cait Keirnan's blog, the low red moon journal:

Hi Neil, On Jan 9th you answered a question about the faery market painting in Stardust. I always study that scene quite carefully when reading Stardust because there is so much wonderful detail to take in. Yet I couldn't remember spotting you in there and I was sure I'd have noticed you. So I've just pulled out my paperback (not DC) copy and it seems I was right - there is a very small amount of the left side of your body, little wider than your arm and that's all. It seems Titan Books cut you out! I wonder if they realised who the guy in the trenchcoat was when they lopped him off the page?

All the best,


It was an unfortunate error on DC's part for the hardback and first printing (the large size printing) of the book. They resized and recropped the four double-page spreads, and Charles's painting of me got cropped off. You can see more of me than an elbow in the original comic, and in the current normal-sized edition.


Spent today typing the second draft of the story. Also saw pencils of the first 18 pages of 1602 part 3, and was thrilled by them. I phoned Andy Kubert to tell him. "You know, either people will like this a lot," I told him, "Or they'll say things like 'Well, there was the Howard the Duck movie, and there was 1602'."


For those who care about such things, the final judgement in the case where I sued Todd McFarlane (and he, rather more unsuccessfully, sued me) came down. They rejected all of Todd's attorneys requests for a new trial. The judge enforced all of the jury's decisions, clarified a few things, and awarded me some attorneys fees. You can read about it, and read a PDF of the decision here.