Lots and lots and lots of messages arrived, too many to post and many of them extremely funny, all of them making it clear that people who write to authors have strongly-held opinions on the subject of sex in stories. (Most people seemed to want rather more than they were getting; which may well be the way of sex, after all.) I also have a lot of opinions on sex in stories, and they don't all agree with each other. I don't actually think that how one feels about sex in stories is a constant. I think it's a variable, the kind that changes depending on many factors.
I once said in an interview that I'd just about got used to the idea that my parents would probably be reading anything I wrote when I realised that my kids were now reading anything I wrote. It's not that it changes anything I ever wrote, one way or another, but it was certainly something I was aware of -- I suspect the emotions are closer to how one feels suddenly discovering as a teen that something really cool on TV has material you're not really sure you want to watch with your parents sitting next to you (or the surprise you feel twenty years later at realising the same embarassment happens in the other direction when you're the parent).
Then again, much of my potential embarrassment circuits were blown a long time ago, because most of the interviews and book and film reviews I did in the very early 80s were published in magazines in the UK between the pictures of the naked ladies. (These days the only people who get embarrassed are the collectors who wind up haunting uk eBay trying to find the issue of Knave with "We can GET them for you Wholesale" in it, or the interview with Douglas Adams or Terry Jones or John Cooper Clarke, or the doomed choose-your-own-adventure game I wrote with Kim Newman for UK Penthouse that many years on inspired Kim's novel Life's Lottery.)
But having said that, I was also amused to find in myself a potential for embarrassment that I didn't know I had, a year or so ago, when I was reading my friend Alisa Kwitney's novel Does She Or Doesn't She? I've known Alisa for over 15 years. She was my editor on Sandman back in the early days, and did "The Sandman King of Dreams" coffee table book. We ring each other up and talk about writing. I love her novels -- they're funny and clever and smart and suffer only from the chick lit cartoon covers (and I'm rarely convinced that the book titles she winds up with do the actual books justice). Still, I found when reading Does She or Doesn't She? that there were bits I read while doing the reading-to-yourself equivalent of humming very loudly or asking suddenly if anyone would like a cup of tea because you're going to make one for yourself now. (And it wasn't that the material was particuarly strong. It was because it was written by a good friend.)
Which is all by way of saying that I really don't think there's any one-size-fits-all reaction to sex on paper or on the screen, any more than there's a one-size-fits-all reaction to sex in (as it were) the flesh. Nor are any of us expected to be consistent about these things.
But I think I'd much rather that people were reacting to things I'd written than simply shrugging and turning the page.
(And while we're very loosely on the subject, I think the people involved in getting a Lois Lowry book banned at this school ought to be ashamed of themselves.)
I e-mailed you a couple of days ago to ask if you'd be willing to post on your blog that the Tantalus Theatre Group in Chicago is opening Ragnarok (which is about Odin and Loki at the end of the world) on Friday. If you do decide to post it and aren't to busy revising, could you please also mention that opening night to the show is free to anyone who calls in advance and mentions the notice?
www.tantalustheatre.org for further information
773-960-2066 for tickets
Thank you, either way. You have a seat at Odin's table waiting for you, if you find yourself in Chicago.
In addition, I should mention (and wish luck to) Drama students in Wellesley High School's Performing Arts Department. On the heels of their successful November run of "The Wiz," they will present Neil Gaiman's "Murder Mysteries" on Wednesday, March 2 at 4:30 p.m. and Thursday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium. Both performances are free and open to the public. http://www2.townonline.com/wellesley/artsLifestyle/view.bg?articleid=191848
A small follow up to all the Superman is a dick covers: http://mcsweeneys.net/2005/2/9stoeckel.html is a short story about Superman and his Fortress of Solitude from McSweeneys.net that made me smile.
I was amused this morning that two e-mails from friends meant that I wound up opening, one after another, Hera's website at http://www.herasings.com/diary.htm (that is the singly most disturbing-looking cat I've seen in ages) and then Kaotika's site at http://www.kaotika.com/news.html (my old friend artist Simon Bisley is the Kaotika drummer). Two more contrasting musical websites it would be hard to find. There's a Tsunami-benefit comics signing in Bedford on the 26th...
Also just got sent the review of The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection over at audiobookcafe, and while reading it I realised I've never mentioned here that the in-between-songs-music on this is Stephin Merritt's song "I think I need a new heart" (from 69 Love Songs). So now I have. (Also the review doesn't mention that the content is still cheaper at iTunes, for people who can use the US iTunes.)
Neil. I thought you'd like to know that Paris Hilton doesn't read your journal. http://blog.lomara.org/archives/2005/02/22/paris-and-vin-should-read-neil-gaimans-journal/ Melissa.
That's sort of funny.
Honestly, I was amazed at how easy it was to hack into my t-mobile voicemail, and how uninformed the people at t-mobile were when I phoned to tell them about it. ("But you can't do that." "Yes, you can. I just did.") The option to turn off the password bypass is in the voicemail menu, somewhere down deep, and I do strongly recommend finding it and using it.