Friday, October 24, 2003

Two days of postings squidged together... (And thank you Lisa for the Titles secrets)

Hello Neil. :) How are you now? How's your throat? (Those two questions are my excuses for writing you a little note, since "submit a question" is written above this text box. I've always been a fan of your works, but I was too shy 'til now to send you something.) But really. I hope that you're doing alright. I can relate to your pain; I have tonsillitis myself, and my throat feels like it's been rubbed raw by a pinecone.

I really do hope you get better. It's horrid to undergo that sort of thing.

Best wishes,

I'm getting better, thanks. Still spending most of the time asleep. Had solid food yesterday, which made a happy change from chicken soup. Taking it very very easy on myself currently, which is a good thing, and was necessary. Sometimes your body tells you it's time to rest. If you ignore it, then sometimes your body whacks you over the back of the head with a hefty iron crowbar, kicks your feet from under you and then, while you're lying on the floor in agony, gets in really close and shouts "Now will you listen?" at you through a megaphone.

So I'm listening.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,

I was wondering whether you read and comment on manuscripts, provided you have the time, which I suspect you really don't. I am aware that popular/famous writers don't read mss because of the risk involved, e.g. owners of manuscripts accusing them (ludicrously) of stealing ideas.

So, do you read mss and if you do would you willing to take a look at something if I were to send it to you? I'm currently finishing off my first attempt at a novel and have a number of short stories lying around.

Thank you for your time. Always a fan. I just finished reading American Gods (strangely I only got around to it, now) and it was great. I am in awe.

Pierre Liebenberg

No, I don't, I'm afraid. And you're spot on as to why. 1) I don't have time. And 2) I don't like being accused of ripping things off from things I've been sent, which has happened a couple of times this year and more or less soured me on the idea of reading people's stories or letters.


There's a review of Endless Nights (and Little Lit #3) at Locus Online by Claude Lalumiere:

It's starting to seem like Endless Nights reviews fall into two camps. The ones that love the first three stories but go blank when Despair comes on, and the ones that put up with the first three stories but feel that the book is stolen by Despair and Delirium. Claude's is one of the former camp.

Over at there's an auction of Borges's library, which seems more like a Borgesian metafiction than it has any right to be in real life. I keep wondering whether there are any non-existent books listed.

Hello Mr. Gaiman!
I was a bit dismayed with the Hill House book descriptions of your definitive editions. They are going to be gorgeous--But extremely expensive and limited. The impression I thought and am sure your great hordes of fans were thinking--ah, nice leather editions, maybe like Easton Press. But these are to be $200 books, limited to 750 copies, with all the extras, and for everybody else--too darn bad. I hope this is not going to be true--the extra 40 pages of American Gods, the extra chapters in Neverwhere--never to be read by your fans? Somehow this doesn't seem right. Will there be other editions of these books so that we *all* can have a shot at reading the definitive editions? Thanks, Dave G

I doubt it. All of the work on the Hill House American Gods edition is being done by Pete and Pete at Hill House -- I gave them the various manuscripts, and I'll get something back to go through, approve, or fix, at the end; but I don't have time to compare the various mss versions with the various printed versions, and figure out what all the alternatives were, and what got lost due to space and what got lost because it was better lost, and so on. They're doing that, and doing everything else.

I like and trust the Petes, and I respect their commitment to making top-quality books. The stuff they've showed me is gorgeous -- amazing quality paper, binding, astonishing book-holding slipcase design, the whole thing.

(And I just did an Abebooks check for the Hill House edition of Al Sarrantonio's 999 collection: prices start at $250, and go up, so it looks like their books hold their value.)

Anyway I'm much better value-for-money than Neal Stephenson (small grin). You'll pay $600 for the three books in the Baroque cycle from Hill House, whereas you get American Gods and Neverwhere for $400, along with a free book.

On the other hand, it's possible that the Petes of Hill House may have other plans of some kind, or be willing to be negotiated with or something. Their contact details are at: Let me know what they say.

Hullo Mr. Gaiman, I've a question. The Faery Reel, which you read at the Charlotte Evening. I've looked around and it's coming out in an anthology in 2004? Do you know when in 2004 or who I might contact to find out when? I loved that little piece. Thanks, Miriam.

I don't know any more than that, I'm afraid. I checked on I know it has a beautiful Charles Vess cover, because he sent me a copy, but as to when in 2004 it'll come out, I cannot say.

(Incidentally, someone else wanted to know where the "Inventing Aladdin" story-poem appeared. It's in the Datlow-Windling "Swan Sister" collection.)

Fascinating article in the Guardian on America and the environment.

Meanwhile, an amusing apology from the Star Tribune for muddling up profligate and prolific.

Quick question before class. :-)
I was talking to a literary agent today, and he was asking me what I was planning on doing after I got my MFA in creative writing, because no one is a professional writer he said, even his clients who are aren't really, as they do something else in the world away from their desks that pay the bills. I stumbled and came up with something, I said I'd teach, which while it's a great thing to do isn't for me. I would be an awful teacher, and honestly, I'd be an awful anything else other than a writer, that's one of the big reasons I decided I'd be a writer, and I definitely wouldn't be spending so much money on school if it was just a hobby or whim. So my question is how impossible is it to be a writer that doesn't teach or edit, or write boring freelance articles about how to choose a computer? Is it more possible than this agent wanted me to believe? Or are you and people like you one in a couple of hundred million?

Well, when I set out to be a writer, that was what I set out to be. To make the money to live, I was a freelance journalist, and I didn't write any boring articles on choosing computers, but instead reviewed books I wanted to read and interviewed people I wanted to talk to. Having said that, I cheerfully wrote whatever people would pay me for through my first five years as a writer, and learned a lot about writing, even from things I wouldn't have wanted to read. (What I learned from that: don't write things you wouldn't want to read.) (And there were a couple of times when I cheerfully sub-edited or even ghost-edited magazines as diverse as Penthouse and Fitness to pay the rent.)

So the agent was being quite sensible. But if you want to be a writer, then write. If you want to write novels, start writing novels, finish them, then get on with the next book. If you want to write short stories, then write them, and sell them, and keep writing. (Selling them is very useful. All the mistakes and infelicities you missed on the page as you wrote them will be magically revealed to you as soon as you read them in published form.)

(And I was just about to go into a burble about how you should write if you want to be a writer, when I realised I'd already said it, a year ago, in answer to a few questions about the first National Novel Writing Month. So you might want to go and look at me burbling at

Has 1602 #3 come out yet? I know you've been travelling a lot and been sick besides, so it may not have made it into an update. Seems like it's been more than a month since the last one, but I pretty much count on your blog to tell me when it's worth a trek to the comic shop. Thanks!

Yup, it came out while I was in Europe, I'm afraid.

... has just made the contents of the books they sell searchable. Not all of them yet, although I'm sure that will come, and the optical recognition software means that it may be a while before you can find what you need reliably. I think it's probably a good thing -- mostly because after ten minutes of playing with it I found I'd ordered three or four books.

But I suspect it changes everything.