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Monday, August 04, 2003

The one that includes the repost of the Helpful Signing Rules

The BBC radio piece on the belief in Iraq that Saddam is being protected by Genies is in Real Audio at http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/realmedia/sunday/s20030803d.ram and lasts about 3 minutes.

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More Monolgue ideas: A pair of my Drama students used excerpts from Mr. Punch (a very creepy coupling of monlogues about how puppets come to life when you put them on...) and The Queen of Knives (it nearly brought tears to my eyes at the end.) They each recited their monlogues as a part of cabaret-esque talent show (not competetive) we put on each year. Q.O.K. earned the actor a standing ovation. I reccomend simply picking up any piece by Mr. Gaiman and finding a lengthy passage of dialogue that holds your interest. He has such a gift for engaging the reader with intense and realistic speech about the most bizarre, arcane, and hauntingly in-depth topics. Monologues are a true storytelling artform, as in actual storytelling around the campfire, and Neil seems to be more of a teller than a describer. Its like he's there, nudging you in the ribs, winking about the events of the story as you witness them, and pointing out the good bits. Although, his descriptions of individuals and exotic locales would seem effective as monologues as well. Stardust is ripe with imaginative and whimsical speeches, as are most of Death's dialogues when she appears anywhere. I would actually have loved to see a large-scale staging of Mr. Gaiman's short stories as a night of theatrical storytelling.

Which is being done in Edinburgh currently (well, 11th - 23rd August ) -- and it occurs to me that one of the Edinburgh Festival "Smoke and Mirrors" is a solo monologue version of "When We Went to See the End of the World by Dawnie Morningside...".

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Hello Mr. Gaiman!
In light of the discussion about the "author's preferred version" of American Gods in leather, I happened to re-read an old interview with you about American Gods. In it you said that there were two large cuts--Shadow on the train meets Jesus/Spielberg, and the other scene being Isis, who explains a theory--that you hold yourself--how things begin as sacred mysteries, then become myths, and finally end as fairy stories. In both instances, you said they were cut because they did not "fit" into the story line. So, these two orphan stories are--1)filed away for posterity to unearth 2)going to be published someday as short stories in their own rights 3)you are just totally undecided 4)inserted back into American Gods in leather edition? (although if they did not fit before, they still will not fit contextually) 5)you totally forgot them and have moved on to other things. Just curious about it all. Dave


Well, the Isis plot bit dead-ended and never made it out of handwriting, although it was pretty long, and the Jesus bit simply didn't work where it was (as a vision of Shadow's on the Tree -- and there wasn't anywhere else it could go), so they won't be back in the book, and neither will the story about the Emperor of China and his model city. The latter was my Christmas Card a few years ago, and will probably show up at some point, maybe in a short story collection, or a book, or a magazine, or something (actually I'd forgotten all about it until now).

Hey Neil,

Perhaps a stupid question, but I was talking with my friend about August 8th and she was wondering about what she should bring or buy to have you sign. Now, I always figured I'd just buy The Wolves In the Walls and have you sign that and it would be a nice thing, being able to point to it and say i bought it and heard you read it and then you signed my copy; but now I'm wondering if I would like your signature on a work of yours that I appreciate more, on the low chance I don't completely connect with Wolves.

I don't know if there's really a question in there, but I guess I'm asking which you'd prefer. I realize this whole business is for promotion of your new book so I was wondering if I should feel jerky(or the UKish equivalent...shirty?..no..oh well) just bringing along an old thing and not buy the new thing since I don't know how poor I'll be on the day(also you would have just read it to me nicely), or if its fine and the signing portion itself is just a completely different entity.

Forgive me for the headache.


Not a headache at all -- perfectly legitimate question. Depending on the number of people there we'll limit the number of things I'll sign, in order that everyone gets something signed. But if you have a best-beloved something you want signed, feel very free to bring it along. Some authors will only sign The New Thing. I'm not one of them. (I normally try and do something whereby it's 1,2 or 3 things that get signed PLUS as many copies of The New Thing as you want.)

Some stores are especially nice to people who buy the New Thing, or buy the New Thing from them -- they have special lines or put you to the front or something. I don't believe Borders does.

Back in April 2001 in the original American Gods blog I scribbled out a bunch of suggestions for people going to signings -- I'll repost them here, partly so that they're in a journal entry with a permalink.

I have been asked to give some dos and don'ts for people coming to signings. And although I've written do's and don't's and suggestions for stores before (and may possibly reprint them here, for contrast), I don't think I've ever written any suggestions for the people who actually make the signings possible.

If you've never been to any kind of signing with me, the first thing you should know is, wherever possible it'll start with a reading and a question and answer session. Then you'll be herded into lines (or, the first 50 people will be called, just like at a deli counter) and I'll start signing stuff for people. And that will go on until everyone's done, and happy, and out the door.


So here you go... Some dos and don'ts in no particular order...


1) It can be a good idea to call the store first and find out if they have any specific ground rules. Some do, some don't. Will they be handing out numbers? Will you have to buy a copy of American Gods from them in hardback to get prime place in the line or will it be first come first served? What about books you bought somewhere else? Can you bring your ferret?

2) Get there reasonably early if you can. I'll always try and make sure that anyone in line during the posted signing times gets stuff signed. At evening signings I'll always stay and make sure everyone goes away happy, but on this tour there will be several places where I'll need to go from a signing to another signing, so don't cut it fine.


3) You may own everything I've ever written. I'm very grateful. I'm probably not going to sign it all, so you had better simply pick out your favourite thing and bring that along.


4) As a rule, I tend to tell stores I'll sign 3 things people bring with them � plus any copies of the new book you buy (if you have six brothers or sisters and buy one each, I'll sign them all). But stores may have their own policies � and we may wind up changing the rules as we go in order to make sure that everyone gets stuff signed.


5) Eat first. I'm not kidding. If it's a night-time signing of the kind that can go on for a long time, bring sandwiches or something to nibble (some signings with numbers handed out may make it possible for you to go out and eat and come back. Or you may be first in line. But plan for a worst case scenario of several hours of standing and shuffling your way slowly around a store). (If it's a daytime signing somewhere that a line may snake out of a store into the hot sun, bring something to drink. I always feel guilty when people pass out.)


6) You may be in that line for a while, so talk to the people around you. You never know, you could make a new friend. I've signed books for kids whose parents met in signing lines (although to the best of my knowledge none of them were actually conceived there). And while we're on the subject, bring something to read while waiting. Or buy something to read � you'll be in a book shop, after all.


7) Don't worry. You won't say anything stupid. It'll be fine. My heart tends to go out to people who've stood in line for hours trying to think of the single brilliant witty erudite thing that they can say when they get to the front of the line, and when it finally happens they put their books in front of me and go blank, or make a complete mess of whatever they were trying to say. If you have anything you want to ask or say, just ask, or say it, and if you get a blank look from me it's probably because I'm slightly brain dead after signing several thousand things that day.


8) The only people who ever get short shrift from me are the people who turn up with tape recorders who try and tape interviews during signings. I won't do them � it's unfair on the other people in the line, and unfair on me (and I was as curt with the guy from the LA Times who tried it as I am to people who decide on the spur of the moment to try and tape something for their college paper). If you want to do an interview, ask the bookstore who you should talk to in order to set it up.


9) Take things out of plastic bags before you reach me. Firstly, it speeds things up. Secondly, I once ripped the back off a $200 comic taking it out of a plastic bag, when the back of the comic caught on the tape. The person who owned it was very sweet about it, but tears glistened in his eyes as I signed, and I could hear him wailing softly as he walked away.


10) Yes, I'll happily personalize the stuff I sign, to you, or to friends. If it's a birthday or wedding present, tell me.


11) Remember your name. Know how to spell it, even under pressure, such as being asked.


[If you have a nice simple name, like Bob or Dave or Jennifer, don't be surprised if I ask you how to spell it. I've encountered too many Bhob's, Daev's and even, once, a Jeniffer to take any spelling for granted.]


12) No, I probably won't do a drawing for you, because there are 300 people behind you, and if I had to draw for everyone we'd be finishing at 4.00am � on the other hand, if you're prepared to wait patiently until the end, I may do it then, if my hand still works.


13) If it means a lot to you, yes, I'll sign your lunchbox/skin/guitar/leather jacket/wings � but if it's something strange you may want to make sure you have a pen that writes on strange surfaces legibly. I'll have lots of pens, but they may not write on feathers.


14) At the start of the tour the answer to "Doesn't your hand hurt?" Is "No."


By the end of the tour, it's probably going to be "Yes."


15) Yes, you can take my picture, and yes, of course you can be in the photo, that's the point isn't it? There's always someone near the front of the line who will take your photo.


16) I do my best to read all the letters I'm given and not lose all the presents I'm given. Sometimes I'll read letters on the plane to the next place. But given the sheer volume of letters and gifts, you probably won't get a reply, unless you do. (On one previous tour I tried to write postcards to everyone who gave me something at the last stop on postcards at the next hotel. Never again.) If you're after a reply or to have me read something, you're much better off not giving it to me on a tour. Post it to me care of DreamHaven books in Minneapolis.


(And although things people give me get posted back, on the last tour FedEx lost one box of notes and gifts, and on the tour before that hotel staff lost or stole another box. So smaller things I can put into a suitcase are going to be more popular than four-foot high paintings done on slabs of beechwood.)


17) No, I probably won't have dinner/a beer/sushi with you after the signing. If it's a daytime signing I'll be on my way to the next signing; and if it's an evening signing I'll be heading back to my hotel room because I'll be getting up at six a.m. to fly to the next city. If there actually is any spare time on the tour it'll've been given to journalists, and if there's any time on top of that old friends will have started e-mailing me two or three months before the tour started to say "You'll be in the Paphlagonian Barnes and Noble on the 23rd. That's just a short yak-hop from my yurt. We must get together," and would have got themselves put on the schedule. (Still, it never hurts to ask.)


18) If you can't read what I wrote, just ask me. After a couple of hours of signing my handwriting can get pretty weird.


19) If I sign it in silver or gold, give it a minute or so to dry before putting it back in its bag or closing the cover, otherwise you'll soon have a gold or silver smudge and nothing more.


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