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Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy Author

I wrote the words "The End" today, out in my little writing cabin (actually I wrote my name and the date) on page 306 of the leather-covered book in which I've been writing Anansi Boys. (Although I did 102 pages in another notebook when I was in Ireland.) Which doesn't mean the book is done -- more that, if this were a patchwork quilt, I've now cut out all the squares. Now I have to sew it all together -- there's around 42,000 words still untyped which now need to be typed and moved around and changed and polished and thrown away. But I know the shape of it, and I know it all ends on a beach, and with a song, and I know what happens in Basil Finnegan's meat cellar, and where Fat Charlie got the lime from. So that's all right.

And then I drove home, to discover my missing luggage had been unexpectedly found and delivered, so I now have my leather jacket, not to mention many pairs of socks. Then I cooked a duck for New Year's Eve dinner, and while cooking it I suddenly decided to make a tamarind-sour-cherry-cider sauce to go with it, which, slightly to my surprise, worked perfectly. So really, the old year has ended remarkably well.

(I hope yours did too. )

It'll be a full January -- I've got the rewrite on Death to finish for New Line, then typing and fixing Anansi Boys, and then the Sundance Film Festival [the Mirrormask info is now up -- go to http://festival.sundance.org/2005/filmguide/ , search for Mirrormask, then click on more]. [Here's the little still they've got up at Sundance:]




I know it's bad form to repeat yourself, but I was about to list all the things I hope for the readers of this blog in 2005, and I realised I'd already written it back in 2001, when I said...

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't to forget make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

And I really still do.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Where I am

I'm trying to finish the book. That's what I'm doing, and basically all I'm doing: trying to finish the book. I'm barely answering e-mail, and all hopes of sensible blogging have fallen by the wayside and are currently lying abandoned in the long grass. I haven't finished opening all the Xmas cards I've received, and haven't even begun sending out presents. But I'm in what feels like the last chapter. I may finish it (handwritten, anyway) by the end of the year, which is my hope and dream. If I owe you a letter, an e-mail, an apology or a thank you, just assume that I'll get to it when I'm done, and I'm sorry I'm ignoring you, whoever or whatever you are.

...


Hi Mr. Gaiman,
I hope you had a good Christmas and Boxing day.
I was wondering if you could please say something about the Asian tsunami, as organizations like the Red Cross will be needing massive help in dealing with the situation. I've blogged a list of donation avenues for people choose from, or you could just post the red cross link:
https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation-form.asp
Thank you!
Cheers,
Saheli

http://ssrdatta.blogspot.com/2004/12/walls-of-water-ii-recap-how-to-help.html#tsunamihowtohelp

There's also more information and more links about ways to help at Teresa Nielsen Hayden's blog: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/005972.html#005972

Saturday, December 25, 2004

From the Vaults

Back in http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2003/03/this-is-great-snapshot-at-scotts-site.asp I posted the link to a photo of art speigelman, Will Eisner, Scott McCloud and me in 2001, and pointed out that we all looked like we've been photoshopped in from four different photos. Which is, of course, true. I might as well have said four different genres, and I'd be just as right. I have good friends.

And it seemed like a fine day to repost the link to the picture: http://www.scottmccloud.com/home/news/2001-chicago/index.html

So I have.

reasons to be cheerful

Woken up by Maddy and Holly and taken downstairs, installed on a sofa, and it was time for presents. I think my favourite moment was watching Mike open his Godfather-Horse's-Head Pillow. (The Godfather's his favourite movie.) The whole family got me a dowager mermaid from Weeki Wachee Springs, which I'll have to find a place for, and is rather wonderful. Maddy got high-heeled shoes with skull-and-crossbones on them, and totters around several inches taller than she was this morning. (Actually, the scary thing is that she doesn't totter. She strides, struts and glides.)

My best Christmas news was learning yesterday that Will Eisner, having had open heart surgery -- a quadruple bypass operation no less -- is recovering at a rate that would surprise anyone who didn't know Will. (If you don't know who Will is, or just wish to learn more about him, click on http://www.willeisner.com/ and learn.) Will's been inspiring me since I was 16. When, in my early 20s, I decided that I was now going to write comics, I went out and bought a copy of Will Eisner's Comics and Sequential Art, and used it as my textbook. He's the man the Eisner awards are named after, and is a genial genius who never stops working. He's forgotten more about comics than I'll ever know. I'm utterly proud to call him, and his wife Ann, my friends.

I'll be sending Will a Get Well thing (and for any of his friends who need to know [and Will has an astonishing number of friends around the world] or just any of you who want to send him well-wishes, cards, or things, Dennis Kitchen tells me that the address to send anything to is Will Eisner Studios, Inc., 8333 West McNab Road, Suite 131, Tamarac FL 33321).

Anyway.

No sign of my luggage yet, in case you were wondering. And I have just been told that I am needed downstairs to make cranberry sauce. I'm still writing the book -- did about 1200 words yesterday and wishing that I was a bit closer to the end. I've promised myself that I'll finsh the first draft by the end of the year, and it's going to be tight.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Home, not Alone. (Also Planes and Automobiles but no trains.)

I'm home. I'm back with my family, a mere 32 hours after I left England.

This is a good thing.

I got out of Atlanta at some point yesterday evening.

I spent the night in a Detroit airport hotel. ("The night" in this case is extremely loosely defined as that period between 2:00am, when the hotel was able to get their computer system up and running and find out where the empty rooms were, and give me a room, and 5:20am when the alarm call came in so I could get up and get the 5:40 am shuttle bus to the airport. There was, it turned out, no 5:40 am shuttle bus to the airport, because of the snow.)

Eventually I got, by plane, from Detroit to Minneapolis St Paul Airport, and when, a little while after I'd landed, I discovered that my luggage was no-one-knows-where I did not even blink an eye, because I still had my computer bag and my iPod and my cellphone, and the now rather battered carrier bag with all the little Christmas presents I'd bought in Gatwick, and anyway, I wasn't in transit any longer. Besides, I'd written about 20 pages of Anansi Boys on various planes and sitting at the gates of sundry airports, so I have nothing really to complain about. (Oh, authors are very simple creatures, really. When the words are flowing everything else can go hang.)

And Maddy was pleased to see me, and Mike has grown a beard, and the cats were bigger, and Holly's getting in on a plane tonight after her own Odyssey. Holly and I saw Mary Poppins in London (much better and more powerful than I'd expected, although it felt like there was at one point a much better script that had been relentlessly cut to get the running time down to about 3 hours), and I will take the family to see Spamalot in Chicago next week. So all is well. And I'm home.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Home for the Holidays

Am currently trying to get home. Am also very tired, in Atlanta airport, and (because my plane in from the UK was delayed) there's no guarantee that the connection I'm about to get on will actually get me to a plane that will take me back to Minneapolis. Am starting to feel like one of those people in movies, the ones where you and John Candy eventually wind up finishing the journey in the back of a truck filled with Elvis impersonators.

And John Candy's dead, now I come to think of it, which would make it a really weird journey indeed.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Scary Internet Magic etc

Right. I'm in Cork airport with Holly, on our way back to the UK and then home. Hurrah. The book is really fun and with luck and hard work will be finished in first draft by the end of the year. Cork Airport offers free Wireless Internet, which, after my three weeks on crackly dial-up is a bit like encountering a warlock. (Look! Pictures! And they move!)


Hi Neil,As you are no doubt aware, a lot of people are talking about Todd McFarlane filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Most people are assuming it is all of Todd's finances in every form going bankrupt, but I've seen it pointed it out that it is actually only one of his seven companies that filed for protection. I'm wondering is this one involved in the lawsuit you won?Hope the writing is going well and that you have a happy holiday season. Cal

My understanding is that it only marginally affects me, as the court judgment on the copyright violations was against both TMP and Todd personally, and he's not personally bankrupt, so that's where we would collect from. Now that Todd's primary appeal process is over (and he lost) we're waiting for the final accounting to figure out how much Todd owes, and for the judgment to then be made final. It may be the TMP bankruptcy will slow that up a bit, but, I'm told, probably not too much...

Hi Neil,Not sure you've seen Google Suggest: http://www.google.com/webhp?complete=1&hl=enYou may have read about it in the latest New Scientist (I think). It suggests search-terms as you type, giving 10 at a time in the order it presumably thinks is most likely. Your name appears in the list after n-e-i, and by n-e-i-l- -g you're on the top. By n-e-i-l- -g-a-i all the suggestions are for you, and it's interesting to see that two of them are misspellings. neil gaimen gets 6,340 results (vs an estimated 460,000 for the correct spelling)neil gaimon gets only 1,820 results...I was interested, so I tried neal gaimanand found it gets 374,000 results. I imagine Neal Gaiman would write humourous revisionist cyperpunk fairy tales, or perhaps a history of immigrants to America from various cultures, told from the perspective of their gadgets (and going on for three very very long volumes). Or was that Neil Stephenson?Cheers, Peter Hollo

One of the Joys of Google is the continuing feeling of "what will they come up with next?" (My favourite is still what happens if you type Gaiman and Pratchett into Google Sets at http://labs.google.com/sets.) (Oh, all right. For those who just want to click, you get this.)


Hi, Neil. Thought some of your readers might care to know:

Artist and Writer Richard Moore is currently doing a book called Boneyard published by NBM. He is on a quarterly schedule to allow him time to develop some of the other projects he hopes to get published in the coming years. Being a quarterly book and pretty far off the radar of the traditional comic buyer means he makes a startlingly small income from it and is reliant on his wife's job to keep the lights on.

The day before Thanksgiving, the family car was stolen. It has been recovered but the insurance company feels the thieves damaged the vehicle so much that it isn't worth repairing. The settlement they are offering isn't enough to buy a used motorcycle let alone a car that isn't a time bomb. His wife Jackie needed this car as she works quite a ways from home and can't rely on California's unfortunate public transportation system. They're really in quite a bad spot. We have set up a Paypal account to help assist them with getting into a used car before the rental car provided by the insurance company expires on Dec. 26.

We're hoping you might inform your readers that anyone with a Paypal account could contribute $1.00 toward keeping Rick and family going. The Paypal account is under richardmooreart@juno.com Even at just a buck each, if enough people responded it'd be enough to pull them out of the fire. He's a tremendous talent and just needs a bit of help to recover from this really nasty blow.

Thanks so much,
Dana


Richard's art can be seen on
www.richardmooreart.com and
http://www.nbmpub.com/humor/moore/bonehome.html, and of course he put up the collection of letters from Dave Sim to people getting Free Cerebuses at http://richardmooreart.com/sim/simgaiman.html. So we owe him one...

Well, we've all seen the magical powers of the Weeping Christmas Teapot (take a look at http://www.livejournal.com/users/stardustgirl/41180.html if you don't believe me), so this couldn't hurt.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Go fly a kite --

A year ago, when I started writing Anansi Boys, I compared the process of writing it to taxiing madly around the runway, trying to get a plane off the ground.

Right now it's definitely off the ground, although writing it seems more like kite-flying than plane flying. There's this big unwieldy thing that during my moments of I-can't-write frustration I was sure was never going to do anything, that's now way high off the ground, and then there's me holding on tightly to the string, scribbling as fast as I can all the time with the other hand, terrified of letting go of it in case it's dragged off by the wind and never seen again...

It's all cool. It may even be a good book, I don't know -- wonderfully (and what a relief it is not to) I don't even care whether it's any good or not. I do know that I'm at the exciting bit, and I have to keep writing to find out what's going to happen next, and then finding out what happens next, than which there can be no more delightful a feeling. And anyway, the people in the book are depending on me.... (yes, it sounds crazy. But that's still how it feels, and I'd not have it any other way).

I've got a bit less than 48 hours left in this house and I wish I had at least another week, although I'm scribbling about 4,000 words a day right now, so in a week I'd probably have run out of book.

Many, many apologies to anyone who is waiting for an e-mail from me, or a phone call, or anything. It probably won't come for a bit. I'm holding on very tight to the string of a kite and I don't want to let it go.

....

ps -- I can't watch it (not on this crackly dial-up connection) but Mark Askwith writes to let me know that at http://www.spacecast.com/command/videos/ you can apparently watch me and JK Rowling talk about censorship and book-banning and people who wouldn't know a Satanist from a fish-finger claiming that we're Satanists... (If the video doesn't work, tell them, not me.)

pps -- apparently you need to click on the picture of Ms Rowling, not on the headline, or you'll be watching the lovely Janis Ian instead of us. Or this link may work as the Real Video clip.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

in which you lot do all the work...

Dear Mr. Gaiman;

Since I know you are currently wrapped in the coils of the creative process,
I'll try to be brief. I thought you'd appreciate knowing that we are another
step closer to renaming the Bay Bridge to the Emperor Norton bridge (originally
mentioned in the 28 September 2004 entry of your journal
http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2004/09/people-need-bridges.asp).

A fairly detailed story is in today's SF Chronicle:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/12/15/SFSUPES.TMP.

The important detail is that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a
resolution, 8-2, with one abstention. The resolution now passes to the Mayor of
San Francisco, Gavin Newsom. If he approves it, it then passes to the Oakland
City Council (both ends of the bridge have to approve, after all), and then to
the California Legislature (state money pays for the bridge, after all).

Two other details of interest in this story:

- Like the late local columnist Herb Caen, His Majesty abhorred the linguistic
abomination "Frisco". (Mr. Caen, aka "Mr. Dot-Dot-Dot", was a local columnist
and coiner of the word "beatnik". I have no idea how well known he is outside of
the Bay Area).

- The cartoonist Phil Frank was doing a series of comics about local California
history, establishing another link between His Majesty the Emperor of America
and comics.

If anyone feels like burning some bandwidth, this link:
http://www.ktvu.com/video/3999534/detail.html brings up a RealPlayer video of
the television news story I saw this morning.

The discouraging thing is that the three people Kim Yonenaka asks either rather
dislike the idea, don't have any idea who Emperor Norton is, or both. Phil Frank
likely would note that it is not only students who know little of local history.

The encouraging thing is when the two reporters comment that the late Herb Caen
would have loved the idea. Invoking the aura of Herb Caen would be known as a
Good Move; he could be a very strong influence on local public opinion.

At the very end of the clip is a mention of a Radio DJ named "Emporer Norton".
As to whether His Majesty faked his own death in 1880, traveled abroad incognito
in the manner of Sherlock Holmes, then many years later returned to become a
radio DJ...as to this could be true, I will conjecture another time.

Alas, this is not in the least brief. My apologies, but I hope it gives you a
mental moment away from your struggles with the Gods of Writing.

I look forward to the publication of your latest efforts.

regards,

Lars Eric Holm


......

Fingers crossed that it goes through. (For those of you who want to learn about Emperor Norton, my story about him, "Three Septembers and a January", is in the Sandman collection Fables and Reflections, and is pretty much all true. Except I've never been able to get DC to recolour Mark Twain's hair...)

...


Hello Mr. Gaiman,

A bit ago, I was reading Gabe Choinard's blog at http://dislofics.blogspot.com and I just about cried. Remember Gabe? Didn't you have some cool conversations with him on his blog?

At any rate, Gabe is the founder of Fantastic Metropolis and the gone-but-not-forgotten S1ngularity, and is also the guru/mentor/agitator supreme of the Dead Cities messageboard. And I thought, you know what? If he's really in need of assistance, can't we do something about it?

A while back, Gabe posted on his board about selling Dead Cities merchandise through CafePress at http://www.cafepress.com/deadcities , and I bought the supremely cool "Elitist Bastards Unite" tee shirt. And he just posted a rather asskickingly cool print at http://www.cafepress.com/deadcities2.15324623 which I'm also buying. And since the stuff is so cool, I thought maybe you could put a shout out on your journal for him, so your readers can have the opportunity to help him out and get some cool merchandise as well.

I hate seeing people suffering at this time of year. Tis the Season, right?

I hope you find it in your heart to let people know about this. I had the opportunity to meet Gabe once, and he was a stellar guy with some absolutely gorgeous little girls.

Yours,

Jon Ridley



Consider it posted. Gabe obviously needs a hand right now (mostly, I think he needs a job -- anyone in the Western-Wisconsin-Eastern-Minnesota area take note).

Hi Neil,

Dunno if you've seen this yet, but the girl who brought us the raddest Doc Marten's ever (http://www.stardust-and-alchemy.com/portfolio/fgdmboots/endlessdocs.html) is in a bit of a bind. If you get this before X-mas, would you mind posting this link?
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=5544142456

If nothing else, it would mean a potentially very weird holiday gift.

hugs,
squeaks



Omygaaaad. A Holy Weeping Miracle Teapot! Quickly people, go and spread the word to the faithful! Also rescue Snoopygirl from her financial bind. Or pay her lots of money to customise Doc Martens for you. Or something.

Meanwhile, a secret source has let me know that:

The full, unedited text of Le Guin's commentary on the "Legend of
Earthsea" miniseries broadcast this week on SciFi Channel is at the
Agony Column here:
http://trashotron.com/agony/columns/2004/12-15-04.htm
If you've ever worked with Rick Kleffel or know of his hard work there
at the AC, say something nice about him. I sure hope he meant it when
he said he could take the bandwith hit.


I hope he can. Anyway, go and read it, and spread the word: It's an essay by Ursula called Earthsea In Clorox, which, as an author, it hurts to read. Of course, the books haven't been damaged: they're still between their covers, waiting for you, and you know that what's in the books is Ged's real story. But what the producers did to Earthsea reminds me of the versions of Good Omens the producers wanted (and which Terry and I said no to) where Adam was a bright, normal, AMERICAN kid living in Southern California, because, they were convinced, no-one watching the film would possibly understand anything else. Or the awful fists-flying Sandman script (which you can read about at ain't it cool news here).

You have probably already been questioned about this, but in my edition of Neverwhere there is an inconsistency. Early on in the book, Jessica calls Richard "Richard Oliver Mayhew", yet, near the end, when Richard gets his promotion the sign on his door says "R.B. Mayhew". Does the R.B. stand for something other than his name or...um, what's going on with his middle name? Thanks for your time.

It sounds like the kind of typo that is mysteriously impossible to eradicate -- like the crediting of the "Midsummer Night's Dream" Sandman story to Charles Vess and Malcolm Jones in Dream Country, when Malcolm had nothing to do with it. We fix it, it stays fixed for a couple of printings, then it mysteriously unfixes itself once more. I know that that typo has been fixed in Neverwhere several times, in several editions. It's definitely R.O. Mayhew.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

in which i write six hundred perfectly good words before breakfast

Woke up with the wind howling around the house like a wild thing and the iPod playing Jake Thackray's "Last Will and Testament" song. Picked up my notebook and lay there in bed writing. Wrote six hundred words. Took a page to note down most of the things that happen in the rest of the book. Pondered the rather web-like nature of the story-shape, and decide that it's fairly appropriate for a story about Anansi and his kin. Made a cup of tea. Made a fire.

Will go back to writing in a moment.

Am thrilled, delighted and otherwise happy to mention that later today I get a daughter (Holly) flying in and joining me for my last week of work. She says she has lots of papers to write, and I've promised to teach her to cook when I'm not writing. (I'm also hoping that with someone around, I'll become rather less nocturnal.)

...

The lost Black House review has been found --

Neil, Love everything, yadda yadda, big fan, etc... That being said, I decided to google and track down that review, if I could, as i loved Black House and was curious as to what you thought. Here's the review: (black House link here) Moved around, I guess, not sure why. Thanks for American Gods--best read since Snowcrash, in my opinion.

Thanks. (later ed -- Blogger seems to have lost a bit of whatever I wrote here. How odd. I don't think it's done that before.)

...

Okay. Going to write more now. (Yes, I know it may just be the writing gods toying with me for their sport. But I'll happily take it if they're offering.)

...

(And I was asked to post that the London Vampyre Society is having a Neil-Gaiman-themed (or more probably a Sandman-themed) Christmas Party on the 18th of December. So I have. Details at http://www.revamped.co.uk/lvg/index.htm. and http://www.livejournal.com/community/weirdlondon/14360.html)

Monday, December 13, 2004

Some days the bear's on top...

I told my agent today, when she made the mistake of asking how the novel was going, that all was misery and gloom and that in addition I couldn't write for toffee. She pointed out cheerfully that we've had this conversation three quarters of the way through everything I've ever written in the last sixteen years, which frankly was not the kind of sympathetic response I was looking for*. Then she told that most of her other authors do it too about this point in a book. I think I preferred feeling aggrieved with the universe and unique to feeling like just another author three quarters of the way through a book.

It's just bear-wrestling, I suppose. Some days you're on top. Other days the bear's on top.

(*A properly sympathetic response might perhaps have involved sending someone over to my house carrying a large fruit basket containing a venomous and grumpy asp, so that I'd have a really good excuse to give my editors for not finishing this book viz. and to wit. being a bit too dead to keep writing.)

Anyway. Had not planned to post anything until I was a bit more on top of things, but this came in from Nalo Hopkinson, with a request that I put it up, and it's for an extremely good cause:

Nalo Hopkinson fiction for Caribbean hurricane relief

A few days ago, I wrote a Christmas story. I had originally intended to use it as a Christmas card, but to be honest, I've never yet managed to send out group Christmas cards to anyone. And since it is the season of giving, I've decided instead to post the story to be viewed for free. If you appreciate the gesture, please consider using the link on the story page to make a donation to hurricane relief in the Caribbean, which is still very much needed.

You can read "A Young Candy Daughter" here: http://www.sff.net/people/nalo/writing/fiction/daughter.html

and then there was

If you haven't read Making Light from the 12th, you ought to. It's about naughty Santas, Christmas traditions and what happens when old world personages get brought to New York City. Alison

She's referring to http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/005916.html#005916 and you definitely want to read it. Ho ho ho.


Neil,

Long time reader, first time writer. I'm sure you've been asked this before, but as I can't find it discussed on the message boards:

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." - William Gibson, Neuromancer

"The sky was the perfect untroubled blue of a television screen, tuned to a dead channel." - You, Neverwhere

?

You're either paying homage to Gibson, which is weird because the two books are in different genres and he isn't mentioned in the acknowledgements, or perhaps there's some manner of Jungian collective unconscious phenomenon at work here, in which you have unwittingly mimicked Gibson, or..?

Rob


Or it was a very small joke, essentially pointing out that since what is arguably the most famous opening sentence in SF was published in 1984, the nature of what a "dead channel" looked like had completely changed, from grey static fuzz to a pure dead blue. Well, I thought it was funny, anyway.


Hey Neil: Just curious; you often say you don't have time to do blurbs for books, yet you have time to write a review for the Times Book Review? Was it the Grimms tales that you couldn't say no to? Matt

It's apples and oranges: each and every week, about half a dozen books and manuscripts arrive at my house from editors or publishers or authors with a nice imploring note asking me to please read the books and give a blurb. I don't have time to read them, to decide whether I like them or not and whether I want to say something. So mostly they don't get read and mostly they don't get blurbed. (Or I suppose I do have time, but not if I also want to do things like write books and comics and movies, read things I'm quite looking forward to reading, do this journal or play with my children.)

A few times over the last year I've been asked by the New York Times to review a book for them, and wasn't able to. When they asked most recently, I decided The Annotated Grimm's Fairy Tales sounded like something that I would have wanted to read anyway, and I try to do a review or so a year (here's a link to the Washington Post review of Michael Chabon's Summerland; the review of the King-Straub Black House has vanished from the Post site, and the only version I can find online is edited down beyond a point where I'm comfortable in linking to it), just to feel like I'm part of the ongoing cultural wossname, and to remind myself that reviewers are intensely fallible creatures, or at least one of us is.

One book review a year I can do. Wading through a couple of hundred books a year is a different matter (it's the reading them that takes the time, not the writing the blurb).

Anyway, go and read what Ursula K. LeGuin has to say about the Earthsea TV series (about half way down the page).

Right. I'm going back to wrestling the bear.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

"You can't park here. Look, I don't make the rules, mate."

Dave McKean phoned me up today. I got unexpectedly testy when he commented on a couple of scenes in Mirrormask that were just two people talking, and on the problem of getting those scenes to have some kind of narrative drive. The reason I got testy was, as I eventually explained to him, because I've spent a day fighting with an uncooperative novel and every scene I wrote kept turning into two people having a conversation, and it was driving me nuts. It wasn't even that they were sitting around having interesting conversations. They were telling each other things the reader had already seen occur, and I felt powerless to stop them...

"You're not allowed to do that any more," said Dave. "Something else has to happen."

So I abandoned the incredibly dull scene I was slogging my way through in the Chinese restaurant and wrote a scene from later in the book, that seemed like it might be an interesting thing to write, set in the Hell of Birds. And because that scene meant that some things had to happen before that happened, I wrote the scene that it implied too. And the book's now behaving, more or less.

Only...

Only What Happens in the last part of the book is all different now. It feels more like What Happens than what I thought happened in the last half of the book when I started writing this (or, er, this morning). But...

AAARRGH.

On the good side, over two thousand words written so far today. On the not-so-good-side, many of them will be thrown away, and lots of the other ones fit into a plot I'm not sure I entirely currently understand.

Every now and again people write me kind letters letting me know just how much they'd like my job. On a day like today, I'd happily take their job. Even if it involves heavy lifting, standing around in the cold, or telling people they can't park there. Honest.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Good writing times

Just a quick heads up -- the DVD of my film "A Short Film About John Bolton" is now shipping though Amazon.com. The film's about half an hour long, but the DVD comes with many cool extras, including the whole of the CBLDF's "LIVE AT THE ALADDIN" video. I don't actually know whether it's shipping before Xmas from the various other outlets who sell it -- I think the early Amazon thing may be unique to them.

And I was delighted to learn (from Sheila Lynne, who sent me the link) that an Anglican spokesman is confident God is not actually worried, and will be "able to cope" with having George Bush, Hugh Grant, Tony Blair and the Beckhams arranged into a nativity scene at Madame Toussaud's, while a Vatican spokesman says "You cannot use contemporary personalities as the central figures of the Nativity ... And it becomes worse, if that were possible, if the people may be of questionable moral standing," he added taking, in my opinion, rather an unfair pot-shot at Bush and Blair.

Fortunately for the kind of people who worry that God may need to have a sit-down and a strong cup of tea after being exposed to famous waxworks, the UK is proposing a law that makes it offence "to criticise religious belief, practises or leaders". Lots of people think this is a stupid idea, including Lord Blackadder.

The writing's going really well, thank you for asking, while the telephone lines get worse and worse. (I hope this posts.)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Radio Silence

This one is mostly a note for friends, family, people I work with, and people who email me.

I've just spent several hours I don't have trying to sort out e-mail -- the incredibly slow dial-up speeds from where I am, combined with lots of people all deciding to sent me big pictures of things to all of my e-mail accounts, crashed everything. Things that ought to take a minute at normal download speeds take twenty or hours or simply don't happen at all, and untangling it has proved almost impossible.

So for the next ten days or so I'm going to stop doing email, or at least cut it way back. If you need me urgently, need to check anything, or have something big and important that can't wait, contact Lorraine-my-assistant, and talk to her.

Had an excellent writing day today until derailed by email, and hope to have an excellent writing night, or at least a good one. Right now, at least, the book is behaving. I'm still not sure why or how Fat Charlie is going to get out to the Caribbean, mind, but I'm fairly sure it'll take care of itself when I get there, and it probably has something to do with Mrs Dunwiddy anyway.

(Feel free to continue sending things in to the FAQ line, but if it's a link to a short film or piece of music or something, assume I'll not even try to listen to it or watch it.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Urban Legends

Neil -It's interesting and a little creepy to learn that the Matrix doesn't rightfully belong to the Wachowski Brothers, said Brothers have been sued for (among other things) copyright infringement, and their new "sister" is going to get a very large settlement for all three movies. You may know this already.Link to Salt Lake City Globe Here Good luck with the rest of your book, Laura


Actually, what I got out of that article was that the Salt Lake City Globe are extremely lazy people who print press releases, and that all that has happened is that a judge has said yes, the plaintiff's case can go to trial. Nobody's won it, and that I certainly wouldn't put any money on the plaintiff winning it. (At the point where the plaintiff announces that she's not just getting a cut of all the Matrix movies, but of the Terminator films as well, that she --

will recover damages from the films, The Matrix I, II and III, as well as The Terminator and its sequels. She will soon receive one of the biggest payoffs in the history of Hollywood, as the gross receipts of both films and their sequels total over 2.5 billion dollars

-- my loony detector alarms started going off and I began to read a bit more closely, and the case started looking more and more like the mad muggles lady who sued J. K. Rowling for plagiarism, another case that went to trial and stopped right there.)

Remember that while Hollywood people are often ethically challenged, they aren't stupid. It's normally easier to buy something than it is to steal it.

Ah well, if she has a case, best of luck to her.

...

This post brought to you courtesy of a very slow Norton Antivirus Live update and an incredibly slow dial-up connection.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Different countries, different customs...

I've known Dave McKean for about 19 years now. He's spent his entire career fighting for respect for comics, creating an enormous and significant body of work which forces people to take comics art seriously. Many years ago he did Black Orchid and Arkham Asylum, but that was the closest he ever got to superheroes, and it wasn't very close even then. Since then he's done CAGES and MR PUNCH and SIGNAL TO NOISE and PICTURES THAT TICK, and of course MirrorMask...

So what does this mean? Well, for a start it means that you can buy a ticket to see him give a talk in London on the 14th of December at the D&AD Presidents Lecture -- http://www.dandad.org/shop/presidents-lectures.html (Dave's half-way down). But mostly it means that you finally get to see a picture of Dave as a superhero...

...

And the reason for this post is to let you all know that there's an interesting new case for the CBLDF.

In the UK, where I come from, we've a long history of Customs acting as censors -- seizing books like R. Crumb's My Trouble With Women, often seizing entire shipments of Underground type comics, and forcing Knockabout Comics to a number of expensive court cases over the years to attempt to get their material back.

(Note for Americans: The UK has no First Amendment, no guarantee of freedom of speech. What they have instead is an Obscene Publications Act. This means that publishers and creators can be sent to prison for publishing comics, and that local magistrates get to condemn material with statements like: 'In my judgement, the publications complained of have no literary, artistic, educational or intellectual merit save as an illustration of a curious form of depravity and titillation... I find without hesitation that when taken as a whole all the publications are obscene within the statutory definition... Further, I am in no doubt that a significant proportion of the likely readership would be depraved or corrupted by the consequences. Indeed, I dread the consequences for some of the readers.' -- Check out http://www.abel.net.uk/~savoy/HTML/gqart.html for the story of where that quote comes from.)

It's a little worrying when US Customs decides to get in on the unofficial censorship act.... http://www.cbldf.org/pr/archives/000237.shtml for details.

For the record, parody, such as http://www.richiebush.com/ (which is, in comics rather than animated form, one of the two things that US Customs has a problem with) is protected by the First Amendment. Parody, whether or not you agree with its content, is not "piracy". It's why Mad Magazine can exist, for a start.


...

Back to work. I appear to have become completely nocturnal. Am now wild-haired as well as wild-eyed. Badly need a shave, too. God, I love being an author.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

If I only had a brain (reprise)

You know, I was about to write something about my day, and about the sad black thing I just took out of the oven that was meant to have been a baked apple, and then I realised I had written it all before.

366 days ago, to be precise.

I just assume it's the same phenomenon going on at present. So you should probably read this one instead:

http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2003/12/if-i-only-had-brain.asp

It was bizarrely comforting thing to read about my last stay here, trying to start this book. It makes me feel less useless going through the same thing trying to finish it.

...

PS: I've heard that people are having trouble with the www.cbldf.org site -- remember that http://www.cbldf.com/ also exists, is the commercial site, and offers memberships, tee shirts, cool posters (did you know that you can still get the beautiful Craig "Blankets" Thompson screen print poster for the Last Angel Tour I did? unsigned and signed) and lots of other stuff that would make great presents. Hint hint.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Grimm, Grimmer, Grimmest

I'm holed up, unshaven, wild-eyed, and working on the book. I've promised myself I won't do any chatty, interesting posts until I'm a lot further along...

However, just in case you want to know what I thought of the new Annotated Grimms' Fairy Tales, annotated and translated by Maria Tatar, you can find out over at the New York Times Book Review site:

at present the link is http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/05/books/review/05GAIMANL.html

(The New York Yimes link generator at http://nytimes.blogspace.com/genlink hasn't yet got it up.)

(And though I've done a few reviews over the years for the Washington Post, this is my first for the New York Times.)

And over at The Beat, Ace Macdonald reveals the terrible truth about me and Jill Thompson. (She also, puzzlingly, reveals that she can't tell the difference between filking and the saturday night masquerade's band.)

Okay. Back to work. (Waves at everyone aimiably.)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

plugging conFusion

I thought I was gone too, and after this I pretty much will be. (First I'll drive into the nearby town and buy food for an empty fridge, and plug-converters as I left mine in the odd hotel I was in in London. Then I'll write.)

But I owe Anne Murphy many favours, because she's been my minder at four or five conventions or events over the last year, and has magicked up cuff-links an hour before the Hugo Awards and reminded me to eat when I forgot and so on. (She actually made a Guide to Neil Handling for conventions.) Also her husband Bill makes balloon animals. I don't know why I find this so impressive, but I do (and so did the people at the Chicago Humanities Event, who were wandering around with balloon poodles and crowns).

She writes to say:

The pertinent details are that The Fabulous Lorraine will be appearing in concert with Emma Bull and Steven Brust at 9 pm on Friday, January 21 atConFusion, which is a science fiction convention in the Detroit Michigan area the weekend of January 21-23, 2005. GoHs: Emma Bull and Will Shetterly, Steven Brust, David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, Derek Grime,Christian Ready. Pre-reg is only $30 through December 15, and folks can register through the website, which is at http://www.stilyagi.org/cons/2005/..
The hotel is the Troy Marriott, which is really quite swank for the $84/night room rate (the Marriott reservation # is 1-800-777-4096- get theConFusion group rate) . ConFusion is well known for its fabulous programming, kids' programming, and party scene, and includes a Masquerade, Dealer's room, Art show, and 24-hour Gaming and ConSuite. Right now we are especially pushing for submissions to our writers workshop as the deadline is December 11. Questions? Write to confusion@stilyagi.org. Lorraine will be hanging out with us for the whole weekend and it should all be a crazy lot of fun.

So there you go.

When were u born and where. its for a book report. thanks.

On the tenth of November 1960, about 6:30 in the evening, in Portchester, Hampshire, England.

Dear Neil, I used to consider myself a writer. I also used to have ideas. I remember what it was like to have ideas; my stories never made any sense because I'd restart them halfway through because an even more brilliant plotline occured to me. I never seem to have ideas anymore, and this makes me really sad, as it means I very rarely write, and I like writing. You, however, seem to be full of ideas; I was wondering if you could give me some hints on how to re-inspire myself. Thank you very much!Much love, Jay

Sure. Write. More ideas that you can't use right now turn up while you're writing than turn up while you're doing anything else. The trick is making note of them and remembering them, and not abandoning the track you were on because you've suddenly realised that no-one's ever written a story about fish ventriloquists before...

Neil,One quick question. Is there a universal policy for bringing a voice recorder to a book store reading/signing? I'm going to my first, and it's one of my favorite writers (Pete Hamill), so I'd love to capture it, in an unobtrusive way. Also, in reading your commentary on Alabama's pending book ban, I finally joined the CBLDF. If you get gold stars or holes in a punch card for inspiring new members, feel free to add another on my account. :) Regards,Jim

Often, before a signing or a reading, a managerial type will come over and say "there's a young/old man/woman/person in the audience who wanted to know if he/she could record/video/film what you do tonight. Will that be okay?" And I say sure. There are often other people who do it without asking, which doesn't really bother me. (They're always good about turning recorders off if I ask them to.) Just ask politely and I expect it'll be fine. And thanks for joining.

Shopping. Writing. Gone.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

world AIDS day post...

Right. This is a post from an airport. There may be occasional small posts over the next three weeks, but there probably won't be much if anything. I have a novel to finish, and I don't really plan to do anything else but write it. (Note to family, friends and correspondents: I probably won't be replying to or originating e-mail either. I'll either be writing, eating, sleeping, or, less than I'm sure I should, going for walks as exercise and to stop me going stir crazy. I hope it'll be fun -- a year ago I started the novel in a friend's house, and now I'm going back to the same house to wrap it up.)

I was astoundingly unimpressed to find that in Alabama a lawmaker is proposing to prevent libraries from having books on their shelves -- books that contain gay characters. (This reminded me of a comics story I wrote in 1987 called FROM HOMOGENOUS TO HONEY, for Alan Moore's AARGH, which Bryan Talbot drew, about removing homosexuality from culture and history.)

If the bill became law, public school textbooks could not present homosexuality as a genetic trait and public libraries couldn't offer books with gay or bisexual characters.

When asked about Tennessee Williams' southern classic "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof," Allen said the play probably couldn't be performed by university theater groups.

Allen said no state funds should be used to pay for materials that foster homosexuality. He said that would include nonfiction books that suggest homosexuality is acceptable and fiction novels with gay characters. While that would ban books like "Heather has Two Mommies," it could also include classic and popular novels with gay characters such as "The Color Purple," "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and "Brideshead Revisted."

The bill also would ban materials that recognize or promote a lifestyle or actions prohibited by the sodomy and sexual misconduct laws of Alabama. Allen said that meant books with heterosexual couples committing those acts likely would be banned, too.


The Sexual Misconduct laws of Alabama, by the way, apparently defines sexual misconduct as "a misdemeanor banning acts of oral or anal sex between adults not married to each other". So you know.

(I wonder, in a multi-series book, would a librarian have to yank early books in which you didn't know a character who later turned out to be gay appeared without any reference to his or her sexuality.)

In recent years the CBLDF has become more active in the legislative end of things -- joining forces with other organisations to help strike down bad legislation. (We just recently won a victory in Arkansas on this front.) I hope that this bad law doesn't get on the books. (No Sandman on the library bookshelves. No Melmoth. No Love and Rockets. No... but you can carry on with the list yourself) But it's nice to know that if it does, we'll fight it. And so, I have no doubt, will the librarians. (Rule 1: don't fuck with librarians.)

And if you're wondering whether or not to get people CBLDF memberships as presents in the holiday season, why yes, that's an excellent idea. http://www.cbldf.org/membership.shtml is the page with the link to membership application. (And if you're a CBLDF member already, remember, you can always upgrade your membership status, and you get cool stuff and the satisfaction of helping. Penn and Teller, for example, are both ANGELS...)

Hey Neil, i've been reading your blog for some time now, and have always thoroughly enjoi-ed the random/helpful links posted in it. well the other day, i came across this http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4051553.stm article and i thought some of the readers of your blog would like to help fight back against spammers, and eat up their bandwidth so i came across the screen saver, and it can be DLed here (http://makelovenotspam.com/intl/) keep up the good work.-Zero(aka Shawn)

I like the idea. I hope it works. Or even helps. (But I couldn't connect to the make love not spam site.)

I'm interested that you no longer think in pounds, but dollars. I've spent fairly long times in other countries and never had the slightest idea what a currency was worth except in terms of dollars: "A franc is, um, it's almost a quarter, so that's like, a gumball..." How long did it take after moving here for you to stop doing conversion rates in your head?

Well, I'd been getting mostly paid in dollars for five years before moving to the US; and mostly I try to ignore conversion rates entirely. I try not to think in terms of currency conversion, as it just makes me crazy. In terms of buying power, a dollar in the US tends to have the same buying-power as a pound in the UK or a Euro across most of Europe. (Still, the last time the dollar was this low was twelve years ago, and it was then that I bought my house in the US.)

I like typing in international airports. The lady sitting next to me is hushing her crying baby by singing to her in what sounds like Russian.

Hello Neil

UK readers may like to know that The Works (a chain of bargain bookshops) is selling the VHS edition of Neverwhere for �4.99. And if anyone finds the copy which I managed to leave on the bus home today they can get it even cheaper.

Cheers

Ken


Consider them told.


Hello Neil! Seeing as X-mas soon is here, I was wondering how you told your children that there is no real living Santa Claus. Did you tell them as soon as they popped the question? Same thing with the easterbunny and different types of man-made "stories" :) Much appreciated if you answer this, I know you are busy.
Thanks from a big fan in Sweden, Fredrik Josefsson.


My children have, on occasion, strongly suggested that there might not be a Father Christmas. They also seem very doubtful about the existence of the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny and the Weird Knife Lady In The Attic. I humour them by pretending to go along with all this, but I keep my own counsel on the matter.

...

I'm STILL playing the Chris Ewen Hidden Variable song "Unresolving". It's really marvellous -- haunting and haunted and odd. I have no idea when Chris will be finishing the whole Hidden Variable project, nor when you'll be able to hear it. I promise I'll post up here when I do.
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