Maddy and Holly and I are in the UK safe and sound. It seems like the house I'm in has a digital phone line which I can't use, so I'm hastily putting this up from the Hensons offices, just down the canal towpath from the place we're staying. It's in Primrose Hill, which I'd previously only known as the punchline to a rude schoolboy joke.
Thanks for your great journal. I try to check it every day and love the friendliness of it and general just chatting feeling. Question about the Goodies DVD. Did you get that here or is it from England and you have the fancy player that plays both regions? I went to school in England in the 70's and remember the Goodies. Mary Whitehouse and the film festival episode are 2 that I remember still. Just wondered. Thanks for your time if you get to this, Gail
I've got a fancy player -- http://www.dvdshippers.com/itemjaton7611k.html is the one I wound up with after a year's worth of DVDs almost playing on a Sampo 611 with a software hack. (Things stuttered. Region 1 protected things wouldn't play. It was a headache. The Jaton so far has played everything just fine, and allowed me to tape from UK DVDs as well. Dead useful.)
The Mary Whitehouse episode is on the "Goodies at Last" DVD. Maddy thought it was as funny as I did, for a completely different set of reasons.
I've noticed while reading through your various interview bits that you seem to hold some sort of grudge against Pittsburgh. Or, to be exact, you said you found it to be "weird and disturbing" the last time you were there, in 1989 (and also "dull", I believe). Now if I'm right, you were just in Pittsburgh again recently, for a comic convention at the Expo Mart in Monroeville. Has your opinion of the city changed any over the years? As a resident of Pittsburgh, I must admit I was pained to read your curt and somewhat dismissive assesment, especially as you are the creator of the greatest comic book of all time and thus, I hold you in high esteem. I am a little surprised by how defensive I'm feeling on this subject. After all, no one is more critical of a city than its residents, but perhaps that is a right reserved for residents alone. Either way, I've been to New York, I've been to LA, and I must say that Pittsburgh has a realness to it that is dreadfully lacking in the larger cities. Pittsburgh has 87 different sections, many of them retaining the same ethnic make up for almost 200 years. You can go to Polish Hill and get REAL perogies, made by little crooked Polish women. You can go to Bloomfield and eat the best veal parmigiana anywhere outside of Italy. We also have 1800 bridges and were voted the third best art city in the US. And it's all accessible. To paraphrase a conversation I had recently at the "Tiki Lounge" in East Liberty with a guy from LA:
Me: Nice bar, huh?
Guy: Bah! In LA we have twenty places like this.
Me: Yes, but can you find a parking spot right in front of them? Can you buy a beer for under $2? Can you watch three bands perform for no cover charge? Do they have a DJ who specializes in weird surf, monster, and novelty music from the past 100 years?
Me: Then who cares?
As Neal Pollack said, Pittsburgh is the most rock and roll city in the world, if you can find its rock and roll places. And with that, I'll leave you to reconsider your position.
I don't think I've said anything rude about Pittsburgh in the last four years have I? I've mostly only spoken about it as somewhere that seems to have changed a lot, for the better, in the last fourteen years. When I was there for the first time (in 1989) I found it weird and depressing: walking into the dingy airport bathroom to find a large man beating the crap out of a much smaller man at 6:00am seemed like an appropriate sort of thing to see as you leave.
I'd forgotten I was there in 1993 for the Pittsburgh Convention... well, I didn't really enjoy the convention (in memory at least it was two days of sitting at a table and signing for a line of people which never seemed to get any shorter -- which isn't really my idea of a fun convention. They've probably improved it a lot since then,) or see anything of Pittsburgh except the convention and adjoining hotel.
Then I did the Onion interview reproduced on this site, in January 1999, in which I mentioned that I'd found Pittsburgh weird and disturbing in 1989, but when I went back to it a few weeks after the interview to sign for STARDUST, I found it cheerful, chipper, pleasant with a very impressive airport (and no beatings-up going on in the -- now clean and new and sparkly -- men's toilets), and completely useless for my fictional purposes. And I passed through there touring for American Gods and it remained a very nice place. (You know, I should go and make sure that Interviews on this site at least have dates on them. And having looked at the Onion interview, I'm not even sure that we had John or the Onion's permission to put it up on this site -- we should probably take it down and link it in to the version of the interview on the Onion site. Ah well. I'll stick it on the list of things to do...)
(John Krewson said that it would have been a much better interview if his tape recorder hadn't died half way through, and he hadn't been forced to sort of reconstruct it from memory and scribbled notes.)
Watching more MirrorMask dailies. It's really chilling and beautiful, and funny too. It's going to be gorgeous and accessible, and still look and feel like Dave McKean. It'll change how people do children's movies. (Well, maybe not. But it'll certainly expand people's horizons as to what you can do and how you can do it.) I'm used to giving scripts to Dave McKean and getting wonderful things back. It's just up until now they've been on paper.... (bounces happily.)
So, I said to Holly this morning, did I ever tell you about the circumstances of your birth?
Only every year, Dad, she sighed. On my birthday.
Ah well, I said, I'll tell you again, then.
And I did, but I improved it greatly this time. It included all the usual stuff about us driving to the hospital at great speed through narrow windy roads in a tiny battered MG Midget (with Mary, my wife driving, and me timing the contractions, on the sensible grounds that she felt safer driving, even when having contractions, than she would with an incredibly nervous me driving), but this time I added in mysterious flashing lights, and several small grey people who came and said "It is given to you to have a child who shall be the dawn of the master-race. And you shall call her Enid. Or Stephanie. I mean, both are nice names," and then got back into the glowing lights and vanished again.
Peculiarly, she didn't believe a word of it. Ah well. I've got another year to come up with something more convincing.
With regards to the secrecy surrounding 1602, I have to say that I rather like it! I really enjoy using my imagination to wonder just what you're going to have different characters in the Marvel Universe do, who those characters might be, what the title has to do with it, etc. Nowadays I think too much is revealed too soon about everything. Everyone with the slightest bit of fame or noteriety has their entire personal life on display for the world to see (important or not), movie trailers revealing so much (sometimes up to and including the ending) more than a year in advance of their release date...I don't know...I know I'm going off, but it just seems that no one respects or desires anticipation anymore...I guess I'm just trying to say that, speaking as a deep down devoted reader, fan, wordsmith and, well, let's face it, comic book geek...I'm wholeheartedly content to wait until the day I have my copy of 1602 in my hot little hands before I find out more than the new Neil Gaiman comic published for the first time ever by Marvel.
Well, the 1602 cat is now out of the bag.... if you do want to learn a little more, http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=2406 has some images and a capsule description. And if you don't want to learn any more, I'll try and only put 1602 links to interviews and images up, and not actually talk about it here, until the first issue is out.
Hi Neil - Not a question for you, but for Dave McKean when he will be at San Diego (which I am SO excited for!! I can't wait to meet you both...well, I met you at the American Gods signing in NYC at the World Trade Center...anyway, I'm rambling.) My question(s) is/are as follows: Will Dave be doing sketches/paintings/etc for fans? How much will he be charging for such, if anything? Will there be a limited number of paintings/sketches he'll be doing due to (I'm sure) large demand for his work?
I just want to be prepared ahead of time, and make sure there's enough money in my wallet and/or checking account!!!
See you in San Diego
Hi Beth -- see you at the San Diego Comic Con. I think it's very, very unlikely that Dave will be doing sketches. He stopped doing sketches some years ago, mostly because they tended not to come up to his standards, I think. (I may be misinterpreting his motives.) If you're interested in having Dave draw something, or buying something he's already drawn, you could start by contacting his art agent Allen Spiegel at http://www.allenspiegelfinearts.com/ -- Allen also has some wonderful books and CDs by Dave and many other excellent artists for sale through his website. (Recently a cache of Mister Punch posters signed by Dave and me was discovered, and I think Allen has some of those.)
Dave and I will be on the MirrorMask panel on Friday afternoon at Comic-con, and having a Neil And Dave talk about Stuff panel on Sunday Morning.
(I've arranged it so that I'll be doing a signing each day, and at least a panel each day. I'll put a full, finalised schedule up over the next couple of days...)
LiveJournal is being very mysterious: it's once again not syndicated anything from here for days, and now it's suddenly splurted out several days of posts at once...
My apologies to any of the people who are subscribed to officialgaiman. We're trying to sort it out, honest.
There was something else important in the post-that-vanished, which I should repeat here. Happy 18th birthday to the very wonderful Holly Gaiman....
Not a question at all, it's just that you are on the front cover of this week's italian music magazine Il Mucchio Selvaggio (www.ilmucchio.it)! Er... not one of your best pictures, but the interview is OK.
Oh, it's not the worst picture of me I've ever seen (I mean, they can get pretty bad) -- I think it was taken at the Torino book festival, after I'd done the talk and the impromptu mad signing. Hair looks fairly unlikely, though.
Last tuesday I attended the HQMix, which is the equivalent of the Eisner Awards in Brazil. And Sandman won this year as "foreigner monthly comic book" since it has been republished monthly again for a great number of new readers who had never heard of it the first time around, or were just too young to pick it up.
Anyway, during the award presentation, there were no one there to accept your award in your behalf, and I wondered why that was. I found no answer in my mind but a growing desire to get the awaed myself and simply say to the audience "Well, Neil is very grateful for this award and, since I will be attending the San Diego Convention this year, he sent me to get the award and deliver to him. Thank you".
But I didn't.
If I see you in San Diego, I shall greet you empty handed, then.
Not really a question, but many questions crossed my mind during that event.
Thank you for your wonderful work,
I wonder where the Brazilian awards go. When I was there in 1996 Sandman won some awards, which I didn't want to pack in my luggage and take home, mostly because they looked like bombs (the black kind in cartoons with fuses coming out of them) and even then airport security people were lacking a sense of humour about such things. Never seen them again...
I hope I get to return to Brazil in the next few years -- perhaps I'll have a cache of awards to bring home.
"I was once found and got by a feral white cat I barely knew who somehow persuaded me to follow her, mostly by taking a few steps at a time and looking exasperated and worried, and eventually led to the place where one of her kittens was strangling on netting."
So did you save the damn kitten or just stare at it or what man?! Honestly...
Anyway, sounds like the new Blogger sucks. Why not just go back to the version you had before you upgraded?
Also, the last post on your journal concerning Bill Sienkiewicz it kinda sounds like he was dragging his bum on the project. Is that how you feel? I remember reading The Sandman Companion where you stated that after one of your initial meetings with Karen Berger and Dick Giordiano that you and Dave McKean went home, you banged out a rough draft proposal for Black Orchid and McKean slammed out three or four paintings for it and I wonder if Dave's ability to deliver art faster has spoiled you. I've always WANTED to see artists and writers take their time with their work rather than bang out a 22 page script or art as fast as possible to avoid the deadline crunch. It just makes for better work overall. To hear you tell of agonizing for weeks over a Sandman script validates this. It is the best comic book ever written. And really, why WOULDN't DC Comics and Warner Bros. relinquish the rights to all Sandman related propoerty to you? Yes, I understand that they still make a significant amount of money from the Trade paperback sales(which I think should continue because they gambled on you as an unknown at the time) but what a hell of a practice. It's just as bad as American comic strips. It's yours. It came out of your head. That's America to me. Cash in as fast as possible, for as long as possible, don't worry about getting an original idea, rather worry about learning the best way of exploiting the creative people responsible who are are too busy thinking about their creative work to bother with such pettiness as accululating mass quantities of money. It makes me want to wave my flag, bigtime.
Got a question about how you were paid for your Sandman scripts. How were you paid? Did they give you more cash as the comic sold more? Was it enough to live on? C'mon, man, I want details!
Gotta jet, I'm at work, blah, blah, blah.
I went back inside, and got some scissors, and cut out some of the net, then cut the kitten loose, and expected to bury her. She's now nine years old, weighs about 30 lb, and is fairly affectionate, although not very bright. She's called Furball.
The upgrade is at Blogger's end, not mine, if you see what I mean. They've changed their software and systems, and now the bugs are coming out...
The post about Bill is more relief that the art is in than sighing about how long it took him. And the art was good enough that no-one's grumbling about how late it was, even though it really came in just under the wire, and I'm madly rewriting to make it work.
ENDLESS NIGHTS has already moved over a year from its original planned publication date to take into account getting the artists we wanted, and to give them (and me) enough time to do their best work. Bill just had us biting our nails there, towards the end: there wasn't any more room for the book to be late.
As for ownership of Sandman, it's DC's. They own it like they own Superman. If I'd started doing it about 18 months later, it probably would have been creator-owned, like The Invisibles or Preacher -- or like Stardust was. It was 1987, and it was the only game in town.
Payment for Sandman scripts started about $1500 and I think it crept up to about $2400 a script by the end of the run. But then, they made royalties -- not much to begin with (we were barely at the bottom of the top 100 comics when we started, and slowly crept up the list as the sales of everything else dwindled), but they've sold astonishingly well in hardback and trade paperback ever since. I worked out a few years ago that to have earned the royalties I've made for Sandman in trade paperback over the years, every one of those 75 issues would have had to have sold well over a million copies.
Let's see... Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle website is getting going -- I'll link to the front page, but read the message from Neal (a nice man and a terrific writer, even if he spells his first name wrong), and then follow the link to the story of how Todd Garrison cracked the code on the front page (which is, of course, not a code).
Is there an ISBN for "Endless Nights" yet?
Yup. It's ISBN: 1401200893
Sorry to hear about the recent lost of a post. I know it's been suggested before, but perhaps you should seriously consider writing your posts in notepad first then copy-pasting it into Blogger? That way, even if Blogger decides to throw its tantrum, you'll still have a copy of the post safely tucked away on your hdd. Not the most elegant of solutions, but it'll save some frustrations. :)
I know. And sometimes I do. And when things were dodgy, about a year ago, I got into the habit of always copying everything I did before I posted it, just to be on the safe side. Then nothing went wrong for so long that I was lulled into a false sense of security...
Ah well. (This post survives because I blocked and copied it before I posted it, and nothing happened at all.)
I probably ought to write it -- or something like it -- again, if only because otherwise for the rest of my life people will ask my why my hair looks so peculiar on the Endless Nights book cover and PR shot.
I wrote a post last night. It was one of the good ones. It was funny. It was filled with choice images and wry moments. It was all about my photo session yesterday. It would have made you smile. I finished it, feeling that, despite the sad indignities my hair had gone through that afternoon, at least I had a journal entry out of it. I posted it...
And the New Improved Blogger decided that I didn't exist. It needed a password. It needed me to re-enter my ID. It said that yes, I might possibly be Neil Gaiman, but I did not actually have any blogs, and did I want to create one?
I battered my head against it for an hour, and then I went to bed, the post long-since having vanished into the ether....
This morning Blogger seems to be working, more or less. (There still aren't any LiveJournal posts up after Sunday.)
If Blogger improves any more, I'm investigating Movable Type.
I hate to be a bother, but none of your journal entries past Sunday's have shown up in my LiveJournal friends list. In the month that I've been reading your journal it has become an addiction, so the loss of your feed has given me a mild case of the shakes.
I've already let Harper Collins and Authors on the Web know. If there are any LiveJournal people out there with any ideas about what's wrong, let us know... (According to Blogmatrix, the RSS feed seems to be working....)
Several people wrote to say that MirrorMask won't be another Labyrinth because it doesn't have David Bowie in tights. This is true. On the other hand, it has Gina McKee in a black feather mask and Dave McKean designed costume as the Black Queen, something I suspect will have about as much impact on the world as David Bowie in tights did.
We're now at the point in the film where actors are having to interact with creatures that aren't there. If there was ever a test of an actor, it's that.
Hello Neil,I was wondering if you knew that unicorns really exsisted at one time? ( I only recently discovered this). I always thought they were a product of mythology,like the phoenix or pegasus... But it turns out that there are several bible references to unicorns:
Nu.23:22,& 24:8-Job 39:9&10-Deut.33:17-Ps.22:21-Is.34:7-Ps.92:10 & Ps.29:6
I was amazed by this & wondered "What happened?! Why didn't they get on the ark!?!" to which someone replied that they most likely did but have since become extinct.
I think it depends how you want to translate the word "Reem". Bibles without unicorns in will translate it as things like "wild oxes", just as they'll translate "behemoth" as "hippopotamus", which is singularly unimaginative of them if you ask me.
Give me the imaginative translations any day. Here's a link to someone who has rounded up all the biblical references to Dragons, and a lot of historical dragon stuff, mostly, I think, in order to prove that dragons were dinosaurs, thus finally and terminally disproving evolution. (Although I personally feel that a dragon-proving statement like In the last days" they would be "punished" and God would "slay the dragon that is in the sea!" ALthough that is also symbolic of the coming One World Government and the last Antichrist Worldruler! is a classic case of trying to have your cake and eat it.) Anyway, lots of fun with dragons -- and proof that Protoceratops and Psittacosaurus were gryphons -- at http://www.anzwers.org/free/livedragons/dragon.htm
You just mentioned the work Todd Klein will be doing for Endless Nights, and, as a lettering geek, I must wonder aloud: who will be lettering 1602? I know Marvel has been moving toward in-house computer lettering, but I wonder if Todd's a stipulation for you (I seem to remember some consternation about the lettering on the Alice Cooper book for Marvel, lo those many years ago).
Downers Grove, IL
Don't remember much consternation -- I'm pretty sure that I got Todd to letter The Last Temptation, and that he did it very well.
Todd's going to be doing 1602. (Hurrah!) It's in the new Marvel upper-and-lower-case lettering style, but we're trying to do some interesting things with it.
In this morning's e-mail, Kim Newman sent me the Metamorpho theme song. Did you know there was a Metamorpho The Element Man theme song? I bet you didn't. Can you guess how pulse-poundingly bad it is? Go on, guess. No, it was worse than that. He included a link to http://www.geocities.com/powerrecordsguy/main1.html which was where he found it. You'll need to go poking around there.
Which reminds me: Hi, Neil. In case you start getting bombarded with "When's the History Channel special going to repeat?" messages, it's currently scheduled to air again on:
Saturday 6/28 @10pm/2am
Sunday 6/29 @6pm
Monday 7/7 @10pm/2am
Thursday 7/10 @10pm/2am
the A&E mole
Thank you mole... and on a different, troubling topic:
Knowing you are a proponent of free speech, how do you feel about the US Supreme Court Ruling yesterday that libraries must install filtering on computers? http://www.msnbc.com/news/930166.asp#BODY
The filters are intended to block pornographic sites. The court decided these filters don't impose on free speech because the filters can be lifted if requested. However, from the library standpoint (and other opponents of free speech) the problem is multiple. The filters are by no means perfect and block information that is not remotely sexual. Also, this allows companies who make this software to decide for us where to draw the line. Libraries must install these filters or they will fail to receive federal money. Looking at pornography is not what I'd consider an appropriate library activity, especially not for children, but this seems like censorship. It sounds silly, but if we're not careful it could be that someday searches on the Sistine Chapel might come up without any pictures (naked people afterall!). Granted, people can ask to have the filter lifted, but I'm not sure people should have to ask to not be censored. Perhaps as things stand now there isn't much harm done, but Supreme Court decisions have a huge impact and are used by other courts to make further decisions. I certainly wouldn't want this line of thinking to extend to other parts of the library. Do you think this ruling is cause for worry?
Thanks, Blythe (devoted reader of all things Neil)
Yes, I think it's a cause to worry, possibly a big one. (I might feel differently if there was effective software which simply blocked commercial pornsites without ever intentionally or unintentionally blocking anything else, medical, educational, recreational or political.) Here's a link to the Shifted Librarian, who has many wise links and some sensible things to say: http://www.theshiftedlibrarian.com/2003/06/23.html#a4179
I'm glad I'll never be Poet Laureate, otherwise I too would wind up writing things as embarrassing as Andrew Motion's peculiarly dire Rap for Prince William's birthday... strangely reminiscent of the Patrick Marber lawyer rap from the original Knowing Me Knowing You With Alan Partridge Radio 4 programme. Why didn't they pick Wendy Cope when they had a chance? Read it and smile wanly: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3008210.stm
Watched, and enjoyed, the History Channel documentary on comics. (Hadn't realised how much weight I'd lost earlier this year until I saw what I looked like last year.) Maddy put up with it patiently, asking me whether or not I knew everyone who came on and talked (apart from two people, the answer was yes) and asking whether Wonder Woman would be on soon because she was all bored of Superman and Batman.
The only thing I missed really was someone talking, or more than one someone, who wasn't male. (It was introduced for a few seconds by actress Peta Wilson, although Maddy found her a very unconvincing woman.
"Is she a girl?"
"She sounds like a boy. Are you sure she's not a boy?"
"She's a girl."
"Why's she called Peter then?")
But she bore it fairly well, especially bearing in mind that she was hoping I'd show her another episode of The Goodies from the recently released Goodies DVD. She thinks they're hilarious, and watching them for the first time in about a quarter of a century I found them much closer to Monty Python than I had expected -- more cheekily subversive than I remembered.
As your website is the only place I've really ever been to where people question copyright, discuss it to better understand the digital media at our disposal, I wanted to let you know the latest, if you haven't already heard. It's already completely changed the way I look at downloading.
As a writer, I've always felt immune to the worries; my books, when published, will be out on paper. It's a book. It's not a video, or a bit of music. It's not something that requires another device to be seen. It's paper, plain and simple, and that will never change. Sure, eBooks and such will complement what's already there, but I just started working as an assistant editor on a medical journal that's recently put all its articles online, too, and its subscription rate has held steady (it had been declining. I wish I could say, hey, went digital, subscriptions jumped), and I asked my boss whether she thought electronic text would ever supplant books.
So no worries, right?
But, no, there is.
I just logged on to MSNBC. Just read about pirated copies of the newest Harry Potter book.
And I've just downloaded not one, but several different copies. Two rich-text format, readable via basically any word-processor program, two .pdf's, and two in Microsoft Word (MSNBC mentioned only Microsoft eBook format. I guess more have 'gone to press' since the article). It sounds silly, perhaps cliched, to say I only did it as an experiment, to see if I really could, but that was really the reason; I would've picked up the fifth book Saturday had I not been on limited finances. I will be picking it up next weekend. I'm a completist, and a geek, and I've got the other four, you know.
My point is, this is the first time I've realized a writer can be affected. The first time I realized that it's a legitimate concern. I admit I've downloaded my share of music, and I have probably a gigabyte of songs (about a hundred) on my hard drive for which I didn't pay. Some I've listened to and then been compelled to buy the CD. Some are just single songs I've been looking to do. It's never been much; I have a small hard-drive, and a dial-up modem.
Would I have downloaded CDs, had I the means? Well, honestly, probably not. I've got almost a thousand of them, and I'm the kind of guy that likes the actual, tangible thing.
I'm not going to read *Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix* on my computer, I've decided.
No, I'll admit, I probably won't stop downloading songs, but you know, when the PC equivalent of iTunes comes out, well, I'll be one of the first subscribers. I'll buy the songs I download. Gladly. A buck a song, so that I don't have to spend fourteen bucks on a crappy CD? Where do I sign up? (Part of me wonders if one of the big problems is that record companies haven't given consumers a legitimate way of downloading songs that's as reliable, and intuitive, as one of the more popular shareware programs, but I think it's just a simple, perhaps naive part of me).
Anyway, I didn't mean to rant, really. I just wanted you to know. Because, well, you know from copyright, and you obviously know from being a popular, Best-Selling Author. Any thoughts?
Well, as long as it's more pleasant to read a book than a screen we who sell words have a tiny advantage. I was sort of sad to see the Gemstar e-book shut up shop and die this week but am also very aware that the day that e-books truly catch on will probably also be the day that you can download anything I've ever written from somewhere on the web, and that this probably won't prove a good thing...
Scott McCloud seems convinced that a viable and easy micropayments system will prove the saviour of creators in all this, and I sometimes hope he's right.
And Sunil from Authors on the Web went in and fixed many of the settings that Blogger had inexplicably changed when they upgraded the Blogger software, so this thing now has a working RSS feed, we hope. (Someone wrote to say that some of the archive links are now pointing to places they shouldn't.)
I've been holding my breath somewhat over the last month as we waited -- and waited -- and waited -- for the last Bill Sienkiewicz pages to come in for the Delirium story in Endless Nights. The whole book was done, except for that.
It would be true to say that Bill took us all to the brink of terror and despair. It would also be completely true to say that the pages that were in my e-mail this evening were worth the wait, and contain some of Bill's finest and most imaginative work since Stray Toasters or Elektra:Assassin. I found myself regretting that it was only 17 pages, and wishing it had been a whole graphic novel or something, and then I reminded myself that it took him about 16 months to do those 17 pages...
So now the whole book is done, and I just have to tweak the Delirium story script to reflect what Bill actually did, and then Todd Klein will have to use every trick in his book, and make up some new ones, in order to letter it (should the Henry Dargerish bits be typed, or handwritten on bits of brown wrapping paper?).
Spent most of today being interviewed for Publishers Weekly, which was really fun, because almost none of the questions were things I'd been asked before. Jeff Zaleski from PW explained that the previous authors he'd done in this series of 7,000 word profiles were "Tom Clancy, Elmore Leonard, Dean Koontz, Clive Barker, John Grisham and Michael Crichton," which left me feeling faintly like an imposter at the feast. But it was really interesting discussing everything from why I'm returning to Sandman this autumn to how I found my literary agent and why I like writing with fountain pens.
Again, apologies to the 3000 plus LiveJournal people who've come by in the last 24 hours to see why I'd suddenly started spamming their friends list, and then, apparently, shut up. I'm hopeful that everything can be made to work properly again, as soon as people who can fix things start talking to each other.
Hey Neil, I was just checking your "Where's Neil?" section on the website and noticed it's not been updated since ... well ... May.
*friendly prod* Oi. :)
I'll consider myself prodded -- I've roughed out a schedule to the end of October, and will stick it up over the next day or so. Several New York appearances, an autumnal Scandinavian/German Tour and the San Diego Comiccon are on there. The most frustrating thing is that it doesn't look like I can do the Washington Post Book World event with Terry Pratchett on Sept 27th, as I will have to be in Finland that weekend. It would have been really good to see Terry, and also to see the Washington Posts's Michael Dirda (whose book An Open Book I'm currently reading. It's autobiographical, charming, funny and honest, about how books shape us. Or at least, how books shaped Michael, but reading it I keep experiencing flashes of happy recognition, understanding how much readers have in common as a breed.)
Everyone else is going to tell you this, too, because we all adore Blogger and adore you, but anyway: There's a new version of BlogThis!, which can be downloaded from the sixth question down on the new interface FAQ.
And while software does not have feelings, software developers certainly do. Carving out pounds of your flesh, bathing it with your sweat and infusing it with your life's blood, and then packaging it up in your self-esteem and placing it before the world's critics--it's not unlike writing.
But I understand your sentiment; the new version of Blogger has ticked me off a few times, too.
I found the new Blog This! just fine, but can't get it to work. The old version worked just fine. I'm sure that there are people hard at work getting the bugs out of these things, he said wearily...
The only immutable law of this journal seems to be, if something is going to go wrong, it will go wrong on Friday Night, for the maximum amount of irritation for everyone until people at Harper and at Authors on the Web turn up on Monday and start to fix it. Sigh...
I'm trying to get the new version of Blog This! to work properly, so here's an article on Rock City from the Tuscaloosa News, posted because American Gods seems to have crept into the fabric of the story of the place. (Nope. The new version of Blog This! didn't work at all.)
And huge apologies to those 1200-odd Livejournal people who found their friends lists clogged by everything I've written in the last week appearing in a 90 second period from last night (which seems to be the point of changeover from the old style blogger pro to whatever we're on now).
Please don't write and tell me I should be keeping this journal in Livejournal or Moveable Type or something. (It's like the people who write to say "Ah, if you had a Mac this would never happen" whenever I mention a Windows machine crashed. It doesn't help.)
I see Blogger has completely redone its code. Some weird little frustrations -- no idea why the title for the last entry vanished, and I had to go behind the scenes and try and make sure that everything was set as it should be (it had reset itself for LA time, for some reason, and turned off the RSS feed). And for some reason all of the livejournal postings for the last week seem to have been republished as of 9.01 pm tonight.
On the downside, the title for the last entry vanished, as I said, and seems to be impossible to replace, and the new "Blog this!" thing for web pages barely seems to work. (Not sure why I'm saying "barely seems to work" when I mean "has completely failed to do anything useful". Politeness, I suppose, although I know software doesn't really have feelings.)
So here's a link sent in by Emil Aalto, carefully polished and inserted by hand: It's deeply strange and wonderful.... You should read it, to find out all about how Jesus went to Japan, and lived to be 106...
The MirrorMask dailies today contained all the scenes in Mrs Bagwell's house. Mrs Bagwell is old and mad, and her house is filled with vicious little sphinxes, about the size of housecats, who are slowly taking over, like in this article from Teresa Nielsen Hayden's archives. It's very odd, watching the dailies, of a scene in a small room in the middle of a blue studio, with blue cushion-shapes showing where the sphinxes will be sleeping and reclining and rending things. As Mrs Bagwell says,
"...the kittens do the funniest things. My husband, the late Mr. Bagwell, thought they were a nuisance. He called them moggies. They loved him, though. They were so upset after he disappeared that they wouldn't touch their food for a week."
I'm not sure she's ever quite made the connection.
I've just been talking to my friend, Jean. Ostensibly, it was me gloating about having spent far too much money on buying the new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen hardback. This led to a slight discretion about hating extras in collections (for example - the paperback version of Jimmy Corrigan, which has a 'previously unpublished' epilogue). This led, naturally, to wondering whether or not to buy the (eagerly awaited...) hardcover version of Endless Nights or to wait for the paperback and the (almost inevitable) scripts and sketchbooks and what-have-you. So, this leads to the question... Are there any plans to add anything to the paperback version of Endless Nights as yet? And do you support this really, fairly annoying practice?
P.S. Love all your stuff, love the journal and my girlfriend loves her stuffed toy Delirium.
Well, I'd never want to make anyone buy a book twice. On the other hand, I do like the fact that sometimes you get to go in and give people something that's better than the original serial publication of something. DEATH: THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE has an extra four pages in the book version, which it really really needed as a comic, but there simply wasn't room for them.
There won't be any difference between the paperback and the hardback of Endless Nights. That would be silly. (I can't think of any edition of mine where there's been much difference between a hardback and paperback, other than occasionally getting the chance to fix a few mistakes that slipped by.)
There will be a 24 page comic edition of the Miguelanxo Prado DREAM story taken from Endless Nights coming out when the book is published, which mainly exists so that retailers can sell it to people who have never read any Sandman and who aren't sure about buying a 160 page hardback as their first thing. (The theory being that once they've read that story as a taster, they'll be ever-so-much more willing to pick up the book.) It's not something that retailers are meant to be selling to people who buy Endless Nights as a "collectible" although probably some of them will -- it's just meant to be a tool for someone who's heard about Sandman but can't find anything Sandman related for under $15 out there, and doesn't want to just jump in sight unseen. (Also, it has a few strange little links with the Green Lantern and the Superman mythoi (that's the plural of mythos. Damn, this thing is educational.) Because the 24 page comic is 2 pages longer than the 22 page story, one of those pages will have some of Prado's pencils or character designs or something on them. I'll know next week.
A) On the subject of instrument jokes:
"What's the definition of a minor second?"
"Two oboes playing in unison."
. . . which is only funny if you know enough music theory to know what a minor second is. If you do know enough music theory to know what a minor second is, then it's very funny indeed. Promise.
B) On the subject of photographers:
You never did tell us what the two types of photographers are, did you? Will you, pleasepleaseplease?
C) On the subject of "Neverwhere," the dvd:
Do you remember Cat Pedini? She of the tatoo, designed by you, that looks like a flower and a fish, in a Delerium kind of way? Cat and I work together at the NY Ren Faire (where I also got to work with Jen The Puppet Queen, when she built the puppets for the production of "Comedy of Errors," in which I was Egeon). Cat and I have also partnered a few times for Stage Combat Certification testing (yep, she and I are officially, CERTIFIABLY, crazy enough to play with big, sharp, metal pokey things).
Cat and I are ha-yuge fans of yours. I, being your BBC Mole (don't tell anyone), happened to have been loaned the check disc for Disc 1 of the new "Neverwhere" set. So, Cat and I got together last night, far too late, after work and rehearsals, and watched Episode 1. Or, more accurately, we listened to you, watching Episode 1.
You were great, and we both had a blast. The only sad part of it was realizing how much better both you, and your book, were than the show.
Any chance of you ever issuing the script for sale? Maybe through "Busted!"?
Mark James Schryver
I will take your word for (A). On (B) -- I'll tell you all the next time I talk about photographers -- like the Wednesday May 16th 2001 entry at http://www.neilgaiman.com/archive/2001_05_01_archive.asp (No permalinks on the first 9 months of this journal I'm afraid). It won't be long -- I'm due for a "head shot", with a hair and make-up person, no less, in attendence, in the middle of next week.
(And while I was finding that old archive entry on my day being photographed at the House on the Rock, my eye strayed to an entry a few days later where I talk proudly about how the most people to turn up here in a day was 1200. We can't seem to do "new people" on the current statistics counter (or if we can I don't know how), but there were 274,996 people here in May. Crumbs.)
and on C) of course I remember Cat and her tattoo -- it's the only tattoo I've ever designed, after having nervously explained that, no, I was the writer, was she sure I shouldn't put her in touch with Dave McKean or someone. Last time I was in New York she showed me her wedding photos, and how the tattoo had turned out, and I was impressed by both of them.
Well, Episode 1 is kind of the lowest ebb of the BBC Neverwhere. Much of the fault for that was mine: I wrote an episode 1 for an hour-long episode, and then we had to cut it to half an hour.
Having said that, I liked the original edit of episode 1, and really didn't like what the BBC and various other people edited it into -- it felt like selected highlights. On the other hand, I'm very fond of bits of episodes 2 and 3, really like episodes 4 and 5, and was disappointed by the way the very end of episode 6 was cut and edited. Which was the main reason I wrote Neverwhere the novel. It was the "this is what I meant".
Releasing the scripts? (Blinks.) I hadn't thought there'd be much demand for them. And the novel's there, after all.
DreamHaven did the script book of the Babylon 5 episode I wrote, "THE DAY OF THE DEAD", as a CBLDF benefit, and I think wound up with a fair number of unsold copies at the end of the day.
I occasionally send and receive e-mails from him and they always make me feel like someone sending messages to a rotund Zen Master. The following exchange is quoted by permission (as you'll see). This came in from him (F&Gs -- "fold and gathers" -- are the insides of a book without the covers:
F&Gs of WOLVES IN THE WALLS came today, and was waiting on the kitchen
table when Jill and I came in with six orders of well-done fried onion
rings. We turned pages and crunched onion rings and made moronic
full-mouthed sounds of pleasure and amusement. We could not finish the
onion rings, but we finished the book. Excellent! Bravo! We had a
To which I replied,
That put an enormous smile on my face.
I'm thrilled you both enjoyed it... or more than thrilled. Writing good
stuff for kids, that people who have stopped being kids like too, is
something that not enough people do: that you keep doing it is important,
and I feel anointed by onion rings...
And I added...
... for we have talked about the perfect timing of Laurel and Hardy in the past. (It's a wonderful little image someone e-mailed me a while ago, and I have no idea who or where they got it.) And he replied,
I have no evidence that people who have stopped being kids are able to
like my stuff--but many people who are old in years do. Thanks for the
Would you mind if I extracted from our correspondence in my journal? I think
your last comment is extremely wise.
to which he said,
Extract away. But I have not yet made my last comment.
Something for which we are all extremely grateful.
But I love his comment about the difference between people who have stopped being kids, and people who are old in years. I'm struggling with a short story, currently called "Susan" but it may change before it's done, about that very thing.
And people keep writing to ask me to gather up all the books I've recommended in this journal over the years, and sooner or later I shall. But if you buy Daniel Pinkwater's FIVE NOVELS and Daniel Pinkwater's FOUR FANTASTIC NOVELS you will, by buying only two books, be the owner of nine novels by Daniel Pinkwater, including THE SNARKOUT BOYS AND THE AVOCADO OF DEATH, which may well be the world's coolest book (it definitely has the world's coolest book title).
This Sunday the second annual MoCCA Arts Festival will celebrate the
robust state of American comics art. A benefit for New York's
Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, the MoCCA Arts Festival is welcoming
a vast cross-section of the artists who have made comics the most
powerful medium in today's popular culture.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund will help the festival celebrate by
hosting signings by Frank Miller, Jeff Smith, Santiago Cohen and Rich
The CBLDF signing schedule is:
1:00 pm -- Jeff Smith
3:00 pm -- Frank Miller
5:00 pm -- Santiago Cohen & Rich Tomasso.
CBLDF Members will also be able to get "Man With Pen in Head"
an ALL NEW mini-comic by Frank Miller that will ONLY
be available at the MoCCA Arts Festival! This mini-comic edition
will be strictly limited to a run of 100 numbered copies and will
only be available to CBLDF members. Be sure to bring your 2003 Jim
Lee membership card or sign up at the show to get your copy.
Also at MoCCA, the CBLDF will be releasing original art by revered
underground cartoonist Peter Bagge. To support the Fund's
casework, Bagge donated a small number of his original pencil & ink
roughs. From art scripts for Hate & Sweatshop to quirky character
designs for commercial works, these original pages are fantastic
artifacts from the mind of a bona fide underground comix master.
In addition to Fund guests you'll also be able to meet comix
luminaries including Art Spiegelman, Eddie Campbell, Howard Cruse,
Kim Deitch, Evan Dorkin, Phoebe Gloeckner, Justin Green, Megan Kelso,
Denis Kitchen, James Kochalka, Patrick McDonnell, Mike Mignola, Bill
Plympton, Ron Rege, Jr., Craig Thompson, Kurt Wolfgang, Brian Wood,
The MoCCA Arts Festival happens on Sunday June 22 from at The Puck
Building at 293 Lafayette Street in New York City from 11a.m. until
7p.m. For more information visit http://www.moccany.com
I like the idea of doing a mini-thing for CBLDF members only.
(Also, you should know that in Peter Bagge's Sweatshop er, I think it's #4 or #5, he has me in it. I do a scarily pretentious reading for CBLDF, sign a young lady's breasts, and my trousers are set on fire. It's very funny and you should all buy it when it comes out.)
Yup. I'd been following it over at http://amish.blogmosis.com/archives/012511.html#012511 and was waiting for something like the Wired article. Which is why I was content to leave it at "Twit", really. A world in which it's legal in the US for software that's improperly licensed or in violation of copyright to destroy the computer it's on is a world in which there would simply be too many lawsuits from inside the US and outside the US from, for example, the families of people who died because a bored night-porter in a hospital downloaded an unlicenced song which then destroyed the hospital computer...
A walking tour of Chicago, IL. I know I've seen something about this in a past journal entry...or somewhere on your page, pertaining to the validity of this, but can't remember the details and I can't seem to find the entry.
Did you really write it?
I ask because I recently aquired a copy of Snow glass apples, on e-bay, from a publisher in IL. who asked if I had it. I asked for details, they replied that it is a small booklet, by you, that they published exclusively.
Garcia Publishing Services.
So...as always, I am interested in all of your work...is this really yours?
The book is called "A Walking Tour of the Shambles" and I am proud to say that not only did I write it, but I wrote it with Gene Wolfe.
erin abbamondi again. the girl from jersey doing the letter writing project on you and gene wolfe.
the project grades came back the other day
and i thought you'd be pleased to know i got an A+
and my english teacher has developed quite a liking for you.
hope all is well.
thanks for the inspiration.
Oh good. Congratulations on the A+.
1. You mentioned that the MirrorMask screening and panel will be on Friday, July 18th in the afternoon. Is this set in stone? Or is this flexible and subject to change, as the somewhat vague "...in the afternoon" would suggest? You've got Henson people there though, so probably not. Still, could you maybe, er, keep Saturday in mind..? ;-)
2. Years ago (it seems), Dave was compiling a DVD of his short film work. Do you know if he managed to get that out of the way before filming for MirrorMask began? If not, I'm afraid it might get pushed to the side and that I may have to go another whole year telling students and fellow faculty about his unbelievable results with film, while only being able to show them stills (not to mention the fact that I can't WAIT to see what a Dave McKean-designed DVD interface looks like).
Thank you for your time and words,
You're very welcome.
It's set in stone, I'm afraid -- a 90 minute panel starting at about 4:30 on Friday Afternoon, with me, Dave, Lisa Henson and Mike Polis (from Hensons) on it. Film clips will be shown. Anecdotes will be anecdoted. Things will be learned.
I don't think Dave had finished his DVD thingie before he started MirrorMask. But it may actually make it easier for him to release it commercially, and thus more likely that he'll get it finished. I know that I want a copy for a start.
Incidentally, the cost of Labyrinth was more like $45 million than the $20 million I suggested the other day.
Do you think JK Rowling is getting a bit carried away with all the security, etc, over the details of the next Harry Potter novel? As a writer yourself, would you go as far as she has in trying to keep all the details under wraps? Online reviews are being taken down due to threat of legal action, etc.
Thank you very much for your time
Steve in Manitoba
I've not seen anything about online reviews being taken down -- but I found the judge's agreement in the Toronto hearing to stop Canadian newspapers printing reviews, based on the copy sold to the woman in Montreal slightly puzzling: as the defence pointed out, they hadn't signed confidentiality agreements. The end-user of a book, having legitimately bought it, is free to do whatever she wants with it, I would have thought, including review it, or talk about it.
I'm not sure that a $100 million suit against the Daily News is going to have any legs either: I imagine that you'd have to prove actual harm caused, and it's going to be hard to prove that the bestselling book of the year sold fewer copies because of the Daily News printing something about it. But it may persuade other newspapers not to say anything until pub date next time.
The secrecy thing... well, put it this way. It certainly works. I'd suggested to Joe Quesada last week that it was probably time to lift the 1602 embargo, because retailers were complaining that they didn't know enough to order it. He pointed out that, while that might be true, the orders for 1602 #1 were already coming in about 70% higher than the bestselling Marvel title for the month.
(Over the next week I think it's a fair bet that the 1602 veil will be lifted somewhat, mind you.)
(I'm writing the last three episodes right now, which is maddening. Several huge climactic sequences, and lots of information to reveal on the way. And I have to fit it all into the final 66 pages, so I'm being very good and figuring out exactly what goes where. Which isn't how I'd write it as one 66 page sequence either -- the fact that these are 3 monthly comics changes the shape of things.)
Cal again. As an employee of Waldenbooks, I would request further evenhandedness in your listings. Personally, I usually find both Borders and B&N a miserable experience but at least we own Borders. So here is the Borders link:
I know it seems silly since Amazon runs it for us, but I get tired of B&N being mentioned and Borders not. And of course, you may feel you've posted enough links. If I lived closer, and didn't work for Waldenbooks, I would go to Tattered Cover when the comic book store couldn't take care of me.
Well, okay. I put it up. It looks just like an Amazon.com link to me, though. Back when Borders had its own website I was always scrupulous about including them in the list of online booksellers. And if I do a New York signing for WOLVES IN THE WALLS it's going to be at the new Borders which replaced the World Trade Centre one -- I signed a the World Trade Centre Borders on the American Gods tour, and it's not there any more, obviously, so I want to go back to the new one. (And they'll happily stay open till everyone's got a signature: there won't be a repeat of the New York Barnes and Noble Coraline signing, where they threw the last 400 people out.)
I pre-ordered endless nights from amazon.com and today they sent me the following e-mail::::::
"We are sorry to report that the release of the following
item has been cancelled:
Neil Gaiman "Sandman: Endless Nights"
Though we had expected to be able to send this item to you, we've
since found that it will not be released after all. Please accept
our sincerest apologies for the inconvenience we have caused you.
We have cancelled this item from your order."
Well, they've sensibly replaced the Endless Nights paperback they had erroneously listed as coming out in May 2003 with the Endless Nights hardback that will be coming out in October 2003 (which is the correct information). Seeing that the two books are the same price, and the error was theirs, I would have assumed they could do it without cancelling everyone's orders, but sometimes it's not that simple. Anyway, for those of you who had orderd it from Amazon and need to reorder it, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1401200893/ is the corrected page. And if I'm posting an Amazon link I should be even-handed, so here's a booksense link (so you can order the book from your favourite independent book shop) http://www.booksense.com/product/info.jsp?isbn=1401200893, and I'd put up a Barnes and Noble link, except it seems to have vanished entirely from the B&N database. I expect it will come back soon.
You can also check with your local comic shop (online or solid) and the odds are very good that DreamHaven Books's site at http://www.neilgaiman.net will have signed copies of Endless Nights, especially if you get your order in early. (On the other hand, you may well get your copy a week or so after everyone else, because they will have to wait in DreamHaven for me to come in and sign them.)
This is from Patrick Nielsen Hayden, whose Electrolite journal is one of the few places I try and check every day. Patrick is an editor at Tor Books ("One of the most literate and historically aware editors in science fiction" - The Washington Post) and a very fine guitar player (I have no quotes about his guitar playing). He noticed that the subject of writing workshops had come up here, and wanted to let everyone know that:
Viable Paradise is a small, intense, one-week workshop for aspiring SF and
fantasy writers that Teresa and I have been helping teach for several
years. Other instructors this year include Steven Gould, Laura Mixon, Jim
Macdonald, and Debra Doyle. It's held at the end of September/beginning
of October on Martha's Vineyard, a spectacularly beautiful island off
the shore of Massachusetts.
We have a few slots still open this year, so we've extended the
application deadline to July 1. More information can be found at the
worshop web page, at http://www.sff.net/paradise/.
(Always read the comments on Patrick and Teresa's journals -- they're often the best bits. Even Patrick posting my paragraph about Ken Macleod and politics the other day generated several entries on pie-throwing, followed by Ken Macleod himself coming in and saying some fascinating things about politics. And pubs.)
And having already got two queries this morning from friends and family about whether the e-mail they'd got apparently from Best Buy about a credit card fraud was actually a little spammy attempt at fraud itself -- it was -- I thought I'd post the snopes link http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/scams/bestbuy.asp so that you can find it quickly when someone asks you.
Spoke to Lisa Henson on the phone last night. "Is it Mirror Mask? or Mirror-Mask? or Mirrormask?" she wanted to know. It's been written every different way, in every place, including the film script and the pages of this journal. We chewed it over for a bit, checked Dave McKean's design for the logo (all one word, but with the third R reversed, which I'm not going to attempt here) and then decided that if people can capitalise all over the place these days, we'd both vote for MirrorMask.
I read that thingy about authors being crazy/stupid for wanting to write, and it said that writing is no fun, like building a house, and I thought, well, I built a house and I thought it was very fun. Lots of hard work! Many times I hated it! But all the time, even when I hated it completely, I was having the time of my life. And I thought, maybe, for creative people, it's the same way. It's the hardest most aggravating boring exhausting thing, and it's so fun you never want to stop. Is it thus for you? I rather hope so.
Absolutely spot on. Writing American Gods was like that: even when I hated it completely I was having the time of my life.
The good thing and the bad thing about this journal is the sheer volume of feedback, and sensible intelligent comments and questions and so on. Which is good because I never don't know what to write in here -- I just grab at random a few things from the mailbag and everything takes care of itself.
For example: one offhand comment about authors being a few piccolo players short of an orchestra generated the following:
"they've been convinced their father was several piccolo players short of a full orchestra for many years"
Orchestras generally have at most one piccolo player, if that. If the piece doesn't call for a piccolo, the piccolo player can sometimes be found playing the flute.
So you're okay, since you don't need the piccolos for a full orchestra. (And everyone hates the piccolo player, anyway. Prima donna, just flits in and out, with an instrument that get shoved easily in a school bag. Tuba-players really hate the piccolo player)
Former clarinet player
PS - I'm finally visiting Manhattan! Any recommendations on weird travel advisory websites?
An orchestra short of piccolo players would be unusually pleasant and harmonious, and you can tell your kids I said so, and I play the damn instrument.
And I was ready to tell them, when this came in, from my son Mike.
"which will undoubtedly make my kids feel vindicated: they've been convinced their father was several piccolo players short of a full orchestra for many years"
I think I should point out that we think you're "several piccolo players short" not because you are a writer but because we know you and you are several piccolo players short...
Which I thought was hilarious.
Someone else wants to know what I think about the article I linked to that inspired the comment in question.
Hi Neil, I just thought I drop a line, after reading Michael Blowhard's "Read this first" (which, as much as it should have put me off, hasn't...). The question which bubbled to the front of my brain as I read this was: "What would Neil(or Jeff, or Chuck, or Janice, whoever) say?"
I noticed your quiet (very english) semi-evasion of the topic, and it aroused my curiousity - what's your point of view, as a published, "Professional" writer? Is it an impossible dream? Should we all snap our pens, pour black coffee onto our Imacs and go to hollywood to chase a less elusive career?
I'm sure you've recieved many such FAQ questions, but I thought another voice in a crowd couldn't hurt.
I don't know that I can be objective. On the one hand, in a country of, what, nearly 300 million people, there are a few hundred novel writers, if that, who support themselves only though writing fiction, maybe another few hundred, at most a thousand, who completely support themselves scriptwriting for films and TV, and at a guess somewhere around 50 people who support themselves writing comics. And as someone who is earning more than a decent living wage from all three fields, I know I'm in a tiny, very very lucky minority.
On the other hand, it really is 90% just showing up and doing the work, and doing it as well as you can. (I remember one comics writer, now long gone from the field, telling me I was an idiot for spending 3-4 weeks on a Sandman script. She'd figured out how much her time was worth, and never took more than 24 hours to write a single issue of a comic. On the other hand, all the Sandmans have stayed in print, in trade paperback, for year after year, and have more than repaid the effort I put into them.) A certain, single-minded, idiot persistence in the face of all odds is certainly very useful.
So it's obviously not an impossible dream, as far as I'm concerned. And it probably is for a lot of other people. And some of them may find, as with any dream, that once you've got it, it's not what you want any longer.
And furthermore, when you take away the condition of "making a living" and add in those writers who teach, or doctor, or police, or do another kind of writing, or whatever, to make the money to supplement or to support their writing habits, you get a lot more "working writers" out there -- and a lot more varied author biographies.
And while I was typing that, another message came in about Piccolo players...
several piccolo players short of a full orchestra
As I try to imagine the effect of having more than one person playing piccolo at a time, I pray whatever powers that be that you may indeed be several piccolo players short of a full orchestra. Have you ever heard multiple piccolos? There's a reason for the joke:
How do you get two piccolo players to play in tune? Shoot one.
(I didn't know there were piccolo jokes. I'd heard viola jokes, and banjo jokes, and too many accordion jokes, but no piccolo player jokes.)
Okay. Time to be helpful before bed -- I'm looking for a link you mentioned a while back - somebody that makes very strange, well, teddy bears and plush toys, with big teeth, horns, eyes and so on. I hope that this makes sense.
Thanks. Love the blog and the books, BTW.
Ah, you're probably thinking of Windy Lewis's Morbid Tendencies site: http://www.drizzle.com/~morbid/art-buy.html is a good place to start, but make sure you click on the info about the Bunny of the Month Club. (The last one to arrive, about ten days ago, was a Bunny-skin Rug. The one the month before that had two heads. "Oh," said my wife. "Finally one that isn't disturbing. Two heads. Well, compared to most of the bunnies she sends, that's kind of sweet." "Yes," said Maddy, happily, who had seen what I had seen immediately. "And look, one of the heads is dead!")
For Jason who is worrying over writer's workshop woes - he didn't mention if he writes speculative fiction or not, but if he does, a really great online workshop can be found here: http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/ A workshop for science fiction, fantasy and horror writers. I've been a member since 1999 (back when it was sponsored by Del Rey), and before that I was taking writing classes at the college I attended. All of those classes made me feel icky about my writing, but then I joined the OWW and met other authors who were writing and publishing speculative fiction and now I'm published and heading off to Clarion West (in a few hours, actually). The OWW community is very supportive and also very tough. They will tell you exactly what you need to do to become the writer you want to be, but they will also give you a lot of encouragement.
Good to know...
And this is being posted because of the tottering, twanging burglar on the bicycle, really...
At 3.30 am this morning My Partner Viviane and I awoke to the sound and bright flash of a burglar, testing out Viv's digital camera in the corridor just downstairs from our bedroom. Of course we didn't know that that was what it was at the time, but Viv smelled cigarette smoke and we don't smoke. To cut a fairly short story even shorter I am this morning a couple of hand made banjos, a beautiful Italian button Accordion, (the most precious object I have ever owned) and several other things lighter than I was last night.
Thankfully the guy was not interested in computers and I still have my mac complete with a years worth of illustrations for my next book on the hard disks. Suicide, or at the very least the tearful returning of my advance would have probably have been on the cards if they'd been gone too.
Why am I telling you this?
Well A. it's a good sob story and since I read this journal often it felt about as natural as e-mailing the other people who I correspond with over the web.
B. It's keeping my mind off insurance claim forms.
C. I thought it might be nice to let as many people as I can around the world know that Somewhere in Darkest Cornwall at 3.35 this morning there was a man hurtling down a hill on a bicycle, (Yes a bicycle, I Saw the bleeder! This is Cornwall we're talking about). Teetering under the weight of a large accordion and two banjo's making comedy twanging sounds in panic. It's almost worth the sacrifice... Almost.
I have a theory that the neighbours arranged it all.
It would make the day a bit brighter for me if you could post this. And also maybe check out my Jabberwocky book, (which is out in the US now) over at www.moonsheep.co.uk I think it might be up your street anyway.
Joel Stewart, ( in an unpleasantly quiet tumbledown house in Cornwall)
Great looking website, and the Jabberwocky sounds wonderful. I hope you get your stuff back.
Someone was asking about the Edinburgh Fringe production of stories from Smoke and Mirrors. Here's the press release from the theatre company:
Rascal Vanngang are a fresh company from the South East of England made up of committed, professional actors. They work in an amateur capacity within the company to produce stage adaptations of short stories. They are starting this new idea on a firm footing with the world premiere of (Stories from) Smoke and Mirrors. Written by the award � winning author Neil Gaiman (Good Omens, The Sandman, and for the BBC Neverwhere, among others.) These three short stories are wonderfully disparate, and running at an hour they are perfect Fringe viewing.
#1: The White Road �Set in a tavern in an undetermined medieval age, it is the story of a couple about to be married, exchanging stories and dreams with the other guests. However When Mr. Fox�s fianc� recalls a dream she had the mood starts to sour. But was it a dream? And who is the stranger in white?
A tragic tale with many wonderfully unanswered questions.
#2: When We Went To See The End Of The World, By Dawnie Morningside, Aged 11 ��Dawnie has written a school report on what she has done in the holidays. Her teacher invites her to read her story in front of her classmates, however this is like no work Dawnie has written before. It is a tale of Unicorns and broken homes. Of potato salad and roads filled with cats. Slowly we see the truth behind Dawnie. A scared girl, in a far from perfect home, just trying to make light (and sense) of it all.
#3: We Can Get Them For You Wholesale�Peter Pinter is a very moderate man. He never goes to extremes and has no vices, except for the inability to pass up a bargain. (And who among us is entirely free from that?) So when he discovers his fianc� is cheating on him, it is far from in character when he decides to assassinate her. But murder isn�t as simple as that. Especially when you�re Peter Pinter. Anyone could get hurt.
The scenery in the show is kept to a minimum, with all realism (and surrealism) being attained through the acting talents of the cast.
The different stories are comical and tragic, with a vein of subtle, dark humour building as the stories progress.
Though there are no happy endings in these modern day Fairy Tales, it is beyond all reasonable doubt that the audience will leave without smiles on their faces. After all, it�s three plays for the price of one, and you can�t turn down a bargain like that, can you?
Rascal Vanngang: Director, Duncan L. J. Bailey. 72B, Watling Street,
Radlett, Hertfordshire, WD7 7NP, England.
I wish I could be there...
"And in my library, in cases that look like coffins, I have a Sandman muppet and a Destiny muppet, made by the same talented lady who made the Neil Gaiman muppet who used to do storytelling at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta. This is Kathleen David, now married to Peter David, Writer of Stuff."
I am quite confused... Did Kathleen do storytelling at the Center for Puppetry Arts, or did the Neil Gaiman puppet? Because if it is the latter, I would very much like to hear about this.
Er, Kathleen used to work at the Atlanta Centre for Puppetry Arts, before she came to New York, married Peter David, became a book editor and had a baby. She made a muppet of me which she told me they used to use as a storyteller or narrator at the Centre. (She may well have been the puppeteer.) They probably still have it. When I'd do signings in Atlanta she'd bring it, and glowing-eyed Sandman muppet #1 (she gave me #2) to amuse or horrify the crowd...
I really like copyright. I think copyright is a good thing. Copyright is what feeds me, for a start. Still, if there was ever a pro-copyright approach that made me instinctively want to put on a Support Piracy tee shirt, it's this article from the Washngton Post: Hatch Takes Aim at Illegal Downloading. It begins...
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday he favors developing new technology to remotely destroy the computers of people who illegally download music from the Internet.
Someone asked recently if the Neverwhere DVD was going to be sold in the chain stores. It is now listed in Borders' inventory system but as of yet, no copies have been allocated to individual stores. (This is not uncommon. Most of the time stores won't get stock info. on upcoming titles until 4-8 weeks before the release date.)
Thank you, mole.
Were you ever in a writer's workshop class where your "peers" critiqued your work? If so, how did keep from slitting your wrists after you heard people tear apart your work as if it were nothing? I find that this class is shattering my dreams of wanting to be a writer. I guess what I'm really asking you is why must I fail at everything I attempt? But then again you can't answer that because you don't know me.huh.
I was, yes, in the UK Milford SF Writer's Workshop a couple of times in the mid 80s. I learned a lot from the two I went to (I learned more listening to people like John Clute and Rachel Pollack and Lisa Tuttle and Gwyneth Jones talk about what they'd read that I'd also read -- and missed most of what they'd picked up -- than I did from people reading or criticising my stories).
It sounds like you're in either the wrong writer's workshop class, or the wrong kind of workshop for you. While some people respond to criticism with a "hah! you bastards! I'll show you all!", most people respond with a rather sad "oh dear," and often put the story away in a dark place so no-one can ever see it again. You may be better off seeing if you can find a group of likeminded people, in the flesh or on-line, who can simply be supportive of each other's writing.
Or you could console yourself by reading this article, which strongly suggests that writing books is something only crazy people do (which will undoubtedly make my kids feel vindicated: they've been convinced their father was several piccolo players short of a full orchestra for many years).
Supernaculum The very best wine. The word is Low Latin for �upon the nail,� meaning that the wine is so good the drinker leaves only enough in his glass to make a bead on his nail. The French say of first-class wine, �It is fit to make a ruby on the nail� (faire rubis sur l'ongle), referring to the residue left which is only sufficient to make a single drop on the nail. Tom Nash says, �After a man has drunk his glass, it is usual, in the North, to turn the bottom of the cup upside down, and let a drop fall upon the thumb-nail. If the drop rolls off, the drinker is obliged to fill and drink again.� Bishop Hall alludes to the same custom: �The Duke Tenterbelly exclaims `Let never this goodly-formed goblet of wine go jovially through me; ' and then he set it to his mouth, stole it off every drop, save a little remainder, which he was by custom to set upon his thumb-nail and lick off.�
from which we get "supernacular" meaning the very best, or first rate...
There are many things I love about this journal, and quite a few of them have to do with how rapidly my idle curiosity gets satisfied. For example:
From your comment on the shooting of Mirror Mask: On the bus, in the back, there were a couple snogging, much to the disgust of our heroine... How were the couple found? Did they know each other before they started shooting? Will they see each other afterward? How much were they paid?
and I clicked on it, and discovered it to be an account of the day's shooting by, I presume, one of the two extremely beautiful ladies at the front of the bus at the beginning of the shot. Thank you, Katy.
(If it sets anyone's mind at rest, the live-action stuff at the beginning and end of the film won't be turned into Dave McKean art. So although you may wind up as a face on the cutting room floor, you probably won't have an Ibis head. Anyway, we've already had one person with an ibis head, pushing a tiny perambulator, in the film by that point.)
Well, you're probably awfully tired of hearing Mirror Mask questions, but I'm going to have to apologize before hand and ask another tedious question.
Of all the numrous pieces of info that I can find on your site and other sites, I can't find anything that says how the final incatation of Mirror Mask will be related to Labyrinth. I know the original idea was born from throwing ideas back and forth about a sequel but then, according to most references, it seemed to spawn its own life and not really be a true sequel. But then when you said how you and Dave McKean were writing and conceptualizing your new child, you were playing with many of the Labyrinth puppets and such. So again I wonder, is this a direct sequel? Is it a kind-of-sequel-if-you-can-figure-out-the-references-to- the-first-movie-but-obviously-without- David-Bowie-wearing-skin-tight-pants? Or is it something new created forth from the ideas of old? I apologize for going on as lengthy like I did. I tend to not shut up. As I'm doing now. Hope to see a response when you can. Thank you for your time.
Well, Mirror-Mask started out when Sony noticed that Labyrinth has become a very popular, and very steady seller on Video and now on DVD. They spoke to Hensons about making a sequel. Hensons don't independently control the rights to Labyrinth, though, and it cost about $20 million almost 20 years ago, and the conversation rapidly became "could you do something like that?" Given the tiny amount of money they had to make the film with, Lisa Henson had a bright idea and phoned me to ask if I thought Dave McKean would direct it (she loved Dave's short films, and knew he'd made them for pocket change). She asked if I'd maybe come up with a story, which, as they were doing this on a budget, they'd get someone else to write. I told her flatly that if Dave was directing it, I was writing it.
Then Dave and I got together. He had an idea for a story and I had an idea for a story and they sort of blended in odd ways, and we wound up co-creating the story, and then I wrote the script, and sometimes Dave would do a rough draft of a sequence he'd figured out, when it was easier for him to write it down than to explain it to me. And then we were done in first draft. We had a character with the place-holder name of Puck, and we'd been trying to come up with a better name for him, and then it was February 14th so I called him Valentine, and we were done.
It's a story about a teenage girl on a strange quest through a magical world. It's not a sequel to Labyrinth, or even an indirect sequel. It's more something that came out of talking about how you'd do something like that today. But Labyrinth was all around while we created it -- not only in the ancient puppets, and original Brian Froud Labyrinth concept paintings hanging on the walls. Poking around in a closet of videos, I found a working print of Labyrinth, when it was three hours long, had puppeteer voices instead of actor voices, and lots of genuinely funny Sir Didimus stuff that never made it into the final film (voiced by Dave Goelz -- voice of the Great Gonzo), and Dave and I played it over several evenings, curious and fascinated.
"...when I get to chat to proper lefties like Ken McCloud or China Mieville..."
I guess you mean Ken Macleod? That's how he seems generally to be spelt :). How cool to know you're a fan / acquaintance - I picked up The Star Fraction in Oxfam a few months back and enjoyed it immensely. A wry take on left-wing politicking Set In Space doesn't feel like it should work, but somehow does.
Oh, and as a happy footnote to the Radiohead Lyrics Saga I wrote to you about a few weeks ago, it's all been sorted out with no recourse to tears and histrionics - Warner Chappell are going to grant the fan sites free licenses to reproduce the lyrics. So apparently sometimes people can just be nice to each other...how heartening.
-Adam, once more. In case you ever want to place me, I'm the one who's been last in line for the last couple of Manchester signings, with improbably large amounts of stuff. I'm half-hoping you get shunted back into that church next time you're in Manchester, because the reading from American Gods worked brilliantly in there...of course, it'd be nice if they had a more flexible burglar alarm :).
it's Scott McCloud's fault. Scott McCloud is only his pen name. Really, he's Scott MacLeod. Or Mcleod. Or some combination of Mcs or Macs and leods or Leods. And I know this, and make allowances for it, by writing McCloud... But I didn't know it had crept into writing Ken Macleod's name until you pointed it out. All Scott's fault, along with five card nancy.
And Ken is a terrific writer, and a terribly nice man. We met in Finland, of course.
Neil o Neil,
When o when can we see some pictures from Mirror Mask? You're killing me with all the talk about it! Please o please!
I don't know. The moment that Hensons put up a teaser page or an info page, I'll link to it, I promise. Today I saw lots of dailies from the end of the film, and a scene on a bus. Oddly, considering it's been a running topic of conversation on this blog for a year, there were lots of shots of what the Brighton West Pier has now turned into, which is some kind of Dave McKeanesque abstract sculpture, which seemed very appropriate.
On the bus, in the back, there were a couple snogging, much to the disgust of our heroine. I had expected to see them there of course, having written them in the script. But I suddenly felt very out of the process. How were the couple found? Did they know each other before they started shooting? Will they see each other afterward? How much were they paid? Is there an extras agency you call to say "Hullo, I need two teenagers to french kiss each other in the back of a bus. Can you send someone along?"
Spoke to Tori, who is in Cornwall remixing and soon-to-be recording for the Atlantic greatest hits CD, and she wanted me to mention that her wonderchef, Duncan Pickford, will soon have his own website up, with recipes and food magic and suchlike on it. I'll put the link up here when it happens. Duncan's amazing ginger throat-soothing drink got me through the Coraline reading in San Francisco... (I also put in my vote for a song I'd like to hear on the CD, and am now keeping my fingers crossed.)
Dear Neil or those responsible for him;
While I've been an avid fan for many years now, and am tickled pink that your blog is so excellently updated, that photo of yourself in the upper left corner appears to have you depicted with a feathered mullet. Furthermore, you seem to be spacing out and unaware that a candle is about to set your bangs on fire.
I have attended a few of your book signings, and I know you to be devastatingly handsome. And, I do think the rest of this website is simply luscious. But that photo! Really!
You're much too kind. Except about that photo, of course.
I think part of the problem with that photo is that it's reversed, and it's also extracted from an image which is easy to misread. The hair's just my normal, shaggy barnet really -- the black line of the TV screen in the background (which you can't really see on the top left of screen) reads as extra hair. With a quick search, I found a website which has the Kelli Bickman photo it was lifted from on it -- the back cover of the US edition of Smoke and Mirrorshttp://www.gangofpour.com/diary/gaiman/dreaming3.htm -- and you can actually get a much better idea of the actual hair by looking at the image in the TV monitors.
There are some pretty evil mullet photos of me, mind you, but none, I hope, taken later than about 1988. (There's one on the wall of my study, with a bemulleted me with enormous glasses on, with tiny Mike and even tinier Holly, and Dave McKean when he had a full head of hair and had just started growing the pony tail he kept until the mid 90s. No, you can't see it. No, I'm not going to post it here. No, not even for a donation to the CBLDF.)
In regards to the fellow asking about the ISO: the ISO most commonly refers to the International Socialists Organization, at least here on college campuses (or at least here at Barnard/ Columbia). *whisper* I think he's asking if you're a communist. :)
Oh. Cool. Er, no. Of course, when stood next to the choice of American political parties ('So, would you like Right Wing, or Supersized Right Wing with Extra Fries?") my English fuzzy middle-of-the-roadness probably translates easily as bomb-throwing Trotskyist, but when I get to chat to proper lefties like Ken McCloud or China Mieville I feel myself retreating rapidly back into the woffly Guardian-reading why-can't-people-just-be-nice-to-each-otherhood of the politically out of his depth.
You say that being an author is anonymous...(that they are mostly shy & more comfortable with pen & paper than people). I always felt differntly. That by writing a book & one that actually gets published & read, it would seem like a baring of the soul in a way,of secret looks into how someone sees or feels about some things & such. It would feel so naked,I would think, so self revealing,no matter what the topic or story...seems quite scary & demand great confidence...
I was fooling around earlier with pen & paper & came up with this HAIKU for you:
you painter with words
the canvas of my mind is
yours to decorate
-a new fan,Lauralynn
And yes. A lot of good writing is just the willingness to walk naked down the street while you're doing it [this is a metaphor. Please do not try it in your local streets, or if you do, do not blame me for what happens], and that can be very odd and (especially at first) very hard. Ted Hughes once said that most good writing occurs when a writer outwits his inner police force, and he was right. (He also inspired Wendy Cope to one of her funniest poems, which I quoted a line of in American Gods.)
I'm an editor myself (tho not of books, I read for magazines) and even though it seems silly and outdated, most editors and slush readers will be happy with you if you format your manuscript that way. I also have a couple of friends who are copyeditors, and if the book gets published and the manuscript sent to a copyeditor, they will lovelovelove you if it's in SMF because it makes their job a whole lot easier.
Well, that's what my manuscripts normally look like, when they exist on paper. (Although these days, in this strange electronic world, they are as likely to be in whatever font they were typed in, and e-mailed off.)
Film scripts are always in Courier 12 point.
Neil- I thought I would let you know that the darling "Hoggle" from Labyrinth is well and being preserved in Scottsboro, Alabama of all places. He is in a peculiar store called Unclaimed Baggage. Here is the link that references him : http://www.unclaimedbaggage.com/letsshop/museum.asp They used to have a picture of him on their site but I could not find it. Anyway, it's good to know at least one of the puppets is being looked after (and no, he isn't for sale).
Many puppets get looked after. I know someone who has an original Yoda, safely preserved...
Not a question, but rather an answer of sorts. To trick out one's car is to add accessories which would be outside of the scope of traditional add-ons to one's car. Things such as GPS, satellite radio, dubs, dvd/playstation consoles inside the headrests, and so on. Also, for the lovely person considering the move to Boston, she may not have to visit that show room just yet - Boston has a comprehensive public transportation system that reaches far into the jungles of suburbia. http://www.mbta.com/ may be a place to start. Hope this helps.
Damn. I thought tricking your car could be so much more fun than that, probably involving false mustaches and maps to places that don't exist. But I thank you...