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Saturday, November 15, 2003

My Day. By Neil Gaiman (age 43 and 5 days)

So I got up and blearily stumbled into the taxi, along with my daughter Holly, and we went to Broadcasting House. Then I drank two cups of BBC tea, worried that I was too sleepy to make any sense, and, still slightly concerned I wasn't awake, I went on the radio. The adrenaline rush of pure terror woke me up, and then I forgot to be scared. Jonathan Ross is a true professional -- he made it really easy and pleasant for me to sound intelligent on the radio, chatting to about three and a half million people about The Wolves in the Walls, and everything else. You can listen to the show at BBC - Radio 2 - Jonathan Ross -- press "Listen to Last Week's Show". It'll work for a week.

Then a walk back to the hotel, and Holly napped while I wrote 1602 #8. I e-mailed three pages off to Andy Kubert, and got into another taxi, which took me to the IBBY Children's Literature/NCRCL conference (details at http://www.ncrcl.ac.uk/IBBY/ibby_flyer2003.htm). I was a last-minute final addition to the programme, and just got up and burbled for twenty minutes, at the end of the day, but everyone seemed very happy. I had an utter fanboy moment when a faintly familiar-looking person came over at the end and introduced himself as Philip Pullman, and I just started gushing foolishly, and he was kind enough not to notice. Then I signed many books for people at the conference.

Into a taxi, said goodbye to Bloomsbury publicist Lucy Chapman (who is Ace) and back to the West End, where I took Holly to see Lenny's show at the Wyndham's. It was really good -- I've seen Len performing live many times (including a gig which he cheerfully acknowledges as one of his worst performing experiences ever), and this is the smartest show he's ever done. Beautifully scripted and constructed too. You can read about it in the Guardian at http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/reviews/story/0,11712,1083177,00.html or the Telegraph. He's only on for another couple of weeks: if you're in London, it's well worth checking out.

Hi Neil,

I'm just another voice amongst the deluge writing into thank you for
your presence at the Foyles reading yesterday (which reminds me that I
need to write to Foyles to ask that future events in that hall they put
the speaker on some sort of dais - there were several people, myself
included, straining their necks to get a good look at you. I suppose
this means I also number amongst those who want to put you on a
pedastal...).

Anyway, I'm also writing to ask you about your reading voice. This may
seem an odd comparison, but during your reading, your reminded me very
much of the voice on a readalong story book tape I had when in my
childhood (we're going back a good quarter century here). Although the
voice on the tape was that of a woman, your intonations and inflections
seemed awfully familiar. I'm curious to know how your reading voice
developed, whether it was simply happened naturally as you found yourself
perfoming more, or if you made a concerted effort to practice (or was is
just by reading to your own children?).

Needless to say, you have a captivating voice. Am I right in thinking
that you've recorded some audio books? I may need to have a look for
those...

Thanks again,
Mark

P.S I would have have stayed to get something not signed by you (in
addition to several other items I haven't had signed by you in the past,
but alas I found myself at the end of a very long queue with no end in
sight. Whilst the end result of this was that I did indeed fail to get
something signed by you it was a little more impersonal than I'd hoped.
I may need to try again next year...

--
"A miracle, even if it is a lousy miracle, is still a miracle"
Teller


I don't think we'll use that venue again -- it was great, but too small to fit all the people who wanted to come. (And I realised as I sat down, and all the faces in the audience vanished, that our seats were indeed much too low.)

I'm not really sure how my reading voice developed. I didn't really do any reading or public speaking from the age of about 15 to about 30, when I read my story "Chivalry" at a Dragoncon and discovered that I really enjoyed reading in public, and that I wasn't actually bad at it. I've done three CDs so far -- WARNING:CONTAINS LANGUAGE and TELLING TALES from DreamHaven, and CORALINE from HarperChildrens. Also there's a video, LIVE AT THE ALADDIN, done for the CBLDF.

As a boy I was taught elocution for several years by a magnificent elderly drama teacher, Miss Webster, who had me do the LAMDA "speaking of verse and prose" courses, in order to cure me of a slight lisp (which she got rid of in the first few weeks). I suspect that most of what's any good in my reading I owe to Miss Webster, and any faults are undoubtedly my own.

And I've always loved that Teller quote.

Dear Neil
I briefly heard your interview on the Jonathan Ross show and immediately thought my 9 year old daughter would love to read Coraline. After that I was a little confused ( because I was driving and concentrating at the time) which of your other books were written for children. Please could you advise.
Kaye Newman


Easily. Coraline is a novel for children. The Wolves in the Walls and The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish are also for children -- both are illustrated by Dave McKean. The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish is harder to get in the UK, although it will be coming out next year from Bloomsbury (and will be reissued in a larger-sized edition, with a new cover, at the same time, from HarperChildrens in the US). Pretty much everything else is intended for adults, although may or may not be suitable for kids, depending rather on the kid in question.

...

And this is a reminder that I'll be signing, for the last time on the tour, on the 17th of November, at the Dublin Bookshop, 36 Grafton St, Dublin, at 7:00pm.
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