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Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Nook

The nook was in the stairwell when I bought the house, and nothing that I put in it seemed to fill it properly. Eventually I asked Lisa Snellings to make me a statue to go in the nook, and she did. She came out to the house one Guy Fawkes day about eight years ago and installed it. It had a motion sensor, so that when something moved nearby, the jester would move, jerking a harlequin up so that as the angel turned her head they'd miss each other, and then there was a frog who would raise an umbrella, and a rat who just watched...

It looked wonderful. I think the cats wore out the motion sensor, though. They'd set it off and then the statue would move and then the cats would dart up and downstairs some more: it never stopped. The statue barely stopped moving until one day it stopped for good. I kept meaning to get it off to Lisa Snellings to repair, but never quite got around to it.

Then my son Mike and his friends turned up marginally the worse for wear one night last month, and some of the friends were, um, a bit rumbunctuous, which meant that a statue that had sat in its nook for years and years was suddenly face down on the stairs. Miraculously, it was unharmed (Holly wisely stopped them from trying to put it back in the niche), and I moved it, carefully, into my bedroom for safe-keeping.

I have no idea why I thought this would be a good idea.

A small horde of drunk and apologetic twenty-one year olds knocking it out of its nook somehow inflicted no damage on it at all. One entirely sober author in his forties, on the other hand, wearing boots, taking one step backwards in his bedroom without looking where he was going, and suddenly, following a loud crunching sound, that frog was no longer going to wave his umbrella without medical assistance.

So I finally sent the statue back to Lisa Snellings and asked her if she'd please just make it all better.

She sent me an e-mail this morning letting me know she's starting to fix the statue today, and will be documenting it on her journal, and I promised to send people over to look at it.

You can see Lisa and the statue at http://slaughterhousestudios.blogspot.com/2005/02/working-on-neils-sculpture-and.html (click on the photo for a larger image).

And follow the first of her posts about restoring it (and the Bill Hicks Foundation for Wildlife) at http://slaughterhousestudios.blogspot.com/2005/02/about-photo-neil-sculpture-and-bill.html

...

You know, I love librarians. I really love librarians. I love librarians when they crusade not to be stereotyped as librarians. I love librarians when they're just doing those magic things that librarians do. I love librarians when they're the only person in a ghost town looking after thousands of books. I love the ALA and am proud to be on one of their posters.

On the other hand, I feel the love diminishing a tad when I read an article by the president-elect of the ALA, and find myself unable to decide whether it's mostly that a) he's simply a very, very bad writer, or b) he lacks any skills of a diplomatic nature, or it's just c) he really believes that statements like "Given the quality of the writing in the blogs I have seen, I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex texts" are somehow going to disabuse people who keep blogs, journals and such from believing or repeating the calumny that "Michael Gorman is an idiot" (someone apparently said this on a blog, he tells us, expecting us to feel an outrage on his behalf I somehow wasn't able to muster). (Surely, if you're upset that someone called you an idiot, the wisest course of action would be not to write an odd screed that will itself convince many people who haven't heard of you before reading it that this is in fact the case.)

There are a great many wise and sensible librarians out there, lots of whom have been keeping blogs as long as there have been blogs around, and all of whom understand that the people who can and do read and write and comment on what they read and write are probably not the enemy. Can some of you take your president-elect aside and suggest to him that articles like http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA502009 don't put him, or the profession, in the best possible light? And tell that there are some fine blogs out there, too.

(thanks to http://www.bookslut.com/blog/)
...

A blog I'm currently hugely enjoying is http://comicfacts.blogspot.com/ -- you always wanted your comics fact checked, didn't you?

And I've just read an article that articulated the difference between English smiles and American smiles, and I realised I knew exactly what they were talking about, and had done for ages without knowing it... http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-523-1491935-523,00.html

Finally, an excellent article by Michael Dirda on H.P. Lovecraft and the Library of America edition of his work, that illuminates why some of us love Lovecraft in spite of the occasional lumps of clotted adjectival froth that can turn up from time to time in the prose: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/285tmhfa.asp
He actually competed in an ice-cream eating contest and was reportedly offered the editorship of a periodical called the Magazine of Fun, we learn. I now want to write a story about the H. P. Lovecraft Magazine of Fun.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Almost forgot to post this...

Less gluey and miserable than I was yesterday. Just a bit weak and blinky. I think I'm sort of done with flu -- if I were at school, I'd still have to take today off, but would feel faintly guilty about doing it.

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.)

Dear Neil,

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.
Yours,
Matt


You're welcome.

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.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

True glue

The 'flu trudges on. Spent a couple of uncomfortable days unable to think (or work). Now am in that condition where the fever's done and everything seems to have turned into glue: I have a head filled with thick glue, lungs filled with thick glue, gluey nose, gluey mouth, gluey mind.

I discovered that 'flu has its own red-state-blue-state thing happening: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/usmap.htm

Neil, Just a heads up, Tori Amos will be signing her new book Piece by Piece at the Barnes & Noble at Union Square in New York City tonight at 6pm. I plan on having her sign the lovely pencil sketch portrait in my copy of Hanging Out with the Dream King. By the way, I noticed that my copy with its autographed card was signed by you in red ink. This wouldn't happen to be an obscure "golden ticket" type contest where a bunch of fans get to visit your writing cabin and have strange adventures with you "idea gnomes" would it? Or, maybe the black pens just ran out of ink...Regards, Jim

I think I signed most of them in brown ink, but they took a long time to dry, so I switched to a red pen at the end. I try and stick to goofy colours, because sometimes it's hard to tell if things written in black ink were typed or printed.

Have fun at Tori's signing. Say hi from me.

I thought you'd be interested in this. It seems as if Animal Planet is going to tackle the mystery of Dragons http://animal.discovery.com/convergence/dragons/dragons.html Ken Jackson

I'm really looking forward to this one -- I actually played a small part in its creation, working as a sort of consultant at script stage. (It's the thing I'm alluding to here and a couple of days later, here.)

...

One of the things I always liked about Amazon.co.uk was that it had a phone number with people at the other end, and it wasn't ashamed of having a phone number, and you could ring it and say, for example, "One of the DVDs in the Laurel and Hardy boxed set arrived cracked" and someone at the other end would say "throw it away and we'll send you a replacement", and it was good. Sometimes Amazon.co.uk would send me books that bore no relation to what I'd ordered, sometimes they'd send broken things, but I'd call the phone number and we'd laugh together about it and they'd send the new thing and tell me not to worry about returning the old thing and that would be that.

Yesterday, a CD I'd ordered arrived. At first I thought it was a sort of a post-modern gag that the CD booklet claimed to be a French CD of music specifically for people born in the sign of Cancer, while the CD itself was the thing I'd ordered. Then I realised that, no, it was just a goof. I went to phone them and discovered that the phone number is no more. Now you're reduced to sending in e-mails from the website (and getting very quick replies telling you that they have to go away and figure it out). No more that sense of jolly cameraderie over the transatlantic phone-lines. It is the end of an era.

...

Hey Neil, I really liked your response to Angie's email about the "scene" in Stardust. Although I have yet to read that book, I had similar questions regarding American Gods. I understand that it is an adult book and so not many children are likely to be reading it, but as a sixteen year old high school student I was rather surprised at how much sex was in just the first half of the novel. Personaly, I justified the acts of sex in American Gods with symbolization rather than actual sexual intercourse, and I was wondering if you were going in the same direction. I felt it was symbolising the vulgarity, innocence, and uncontrollable passion of every day people rather than just detailing a romp in the sack. I enjoyed American Gods immensly, even though I blushed a bit every time I was reading it in the same room with my mum. All my love, Liz

Well, American Gods is a very different sort of animal to Stardust. One reason for swearing in the first sentence (and having an extreme sort of sex scene at the end of the first chapter) was I figured it would give anyone who was going to have a problem with either the sex or the swearing a chance to bail out early. And it's not a YA novel, not even by adoption.

Monday, February 21, 2005

mostly soup and sneezing at this end

After a week off school, Maddy went back to school today, and now I have the 'flu instead. Sigh.

Lots of bits of unposted stuff sitting here, so I'll tidy it and post it:

http://www.locusmag.com/2005/Issues/02Gaiman.html contains extracts from the Locus interview with me. And another photo, from the same Beth Gwinn shoot in Charles N. Brown's hotel room, which looks rather more like it was taken the morning after MCing the Hugo Awards than the rest of them. On the good side, the stubble's not green, the lips do not appear mysteriously to be bleeding, and probably the less said about the hair the better but I have to admit that it looks like an accurate representation of whatever was on my head that morning.

...

People who have no idea of the costs of small press publishing (or who assume that I'm making money from it, or that I have something to do with Hill House's pricing structure) sometimes write to chide me about the amount that Hill House Press charge for their limited edition books. All I can do is assure them that no-one's getting rich from small press publishing, and, now, point them to http://www.littlebig25.com/Editions.html where a 25th anniversary edition of John Crowley's marvellous Little, Big is being pre-sold, in order to raise the money to publish it. (You can assume the $900 copies are basically subsidising the unsigned $95 copies.)

...

I was stopped on the street at Sundance and interviewed about MirrorMask, and games. I said that my favourite game was still the original Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game, and that, as a text-only game, it had the best visuals of any game I'd played.

It's now up online in an authorised (and saveable) format. With visuals.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/hitchhikers/game.shtml

...

There's an account of the Sundance panel about animation at http://www.cyndigreening.com/2005/02/20.html#a581 -- it's a good account of many of the highlights, with a photo (although the way I remember it Leonard Maltin was the moderator, not a panelist, and wasn't fawning over the other panelists, but lobbing them questions to answer).

...

Dear Mr. Gaiman--I have found the strangest thing: "SUPERMAN IS A DICK" this subsection of NationalLampoon.com trumpets-and it's true! http://www.nationallampoon.com/supermanisadick/default.asp
Can you explain what got this practice of luring readers in with Superman's cruelty started? Were you even aware? Having worked with DC Vertigo, I figured maybe you'd heard of this before... Creepy, isn't it?

It's a hilarious assemblage of covers.

(As I understand it, they did Cruel Superman covers whenever Talking Gorilla covers started to pall.)

...

(There are mild 1602 and Stardust Spoilers below here. Just so you know.)

Every now and again I get messages coming in telling me off over things I've written. Mostly I don't put them up here because I don't have much to say about them, other than perhaps a vague and unrepentantly cheerful "Sorry you feel like that" or an occasional "yup, I didn't like that one either, when it was done". (Yesterday, for example, brought one from a very nice man in Brazil who liked 1602 until the appearance of Captain America, but was offended by Captain America's name -- after all, he should technically be only Captain Part of North America -- and by the fact that Captain America is, despite what's happened to him in the story, still idealistic about the idea of the USA. Obviously I wished he'd liked the story, but I suspect that it's like someone with a horror of teeny-tiny people complaining that The Atom's turned up in a comic again and it's gone all creepy. I'm happy to make sympathetic noises, but there's nothing really much I'd want to do about it.)

This one, however, I thought deserved a real reply:


Dear Mr. Gaiman:
My name is Angie Gordon. I am a junior at Douglas High School. I was recently assigned to read your book, Stardust, for my English class. I must give you credit. I love your style of writing and how quickly paced it is. In fact, your book is very easy for me to read and I don't like to read. So you can understand my relief when I finally found a book I like. The purpose of this e-mail is to address my concerns reguarding the very descriptive and vulgar scenes where Dunstan and the fairy are together and when the prince and the girl from the inn are togetner. Yes, I am 16 and I need to learn about it sometime, and that is not the issue or my question. My question is why you included these scenes in such a descriptive manner. I felt that it was irrelevent to the plot of the book and you could have still made your point without being so descriptive. These scenes have not changed my mind about how good of a writer you are, and I shall continue to read more of your books. I would just like you to consider that young teens and students in middle school may read this. They are already battling the decision of whether of not to have sex, I know because I have a little sister and I am in the STARS program, and the extra emphasis on the subject only encourages them even more.
Sincerly,
Angels Gordon


Sorry you found the scene in question to be descriptive and vulgar, Angie; you're probably right about the vulgarity (at least in the sense of vulgar that refers to the things that common people do), but I'm not actually convinced that the scene in question is as descriptive as you think it is. At least, when I wrote it I was certainly doing my best to write a scene that would mean one thing if you understood the mechanics of sex (from an "insert tab A into slot B" point of view) and would mean rather less if you didn't. But either way I really didn't see it as being irrelevant: if it weren't for that one act of sex there wouldn't be a book. For a start, nine months later, the book's hero wouldn't have been born.

(I suspect that if I'd set out to write a children's book, I probably would have written that scene even less explicitly. Instead Stardust sort of made it into schools and the YA shelves unintentionally -- after it came out it was awarded the 2000 Y.A.L.S.A. ALEX Award as one of the "top ten adult books" published in 1999 that young adults picked up on and enjoyed, and it's become popular in schools because people in the schools like the story.)

I'm not convinced that putting "extra emphasis" on sex "only encourages them"; the point about Dunstan and the fairy girl having sex is that it has consequences, lots of them, consequences which go on to affect pretty much everyone in the book. I tend to think (as an author) that's not a bad thing to tell people: not that sexual activity is enjoyable (which most people find themselves figuring out on their own, one way or another, around the time they hit puberty) but, much more importantly, that it has consequences.

Does that help?

...

(Oddly enough, Anansi Boys, appears to have no sex or swearing in it, althought it's ostensibly an adult novel. Probably the next children's book will make up for it.)

Lots of people writing to ask what I think about Hunter Thompson's suicide, and whether I knew him. I didn't.

I knew Jack Chalker, though, so here's a link to his (John Clute-written) obituary in the Independent.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

25,000 words typed in 3 days, and my hand hurts

Here's a quote that struck me as being wise and true this morning, from the film critic C. A. Lejeune. She was an English writer from the earlier part of the last century. It's from her review of Coward's Blithe Spirit.

"It is true that it may be easier to have wit than, in the deepest and most enduring sense, to have imagination. But it is easier to pretend to have imagination than to pretend to have wit. A pretender may get away with a phoney poem, because it is the privilege of a poet to be mysterious. But a pretender cannot get away with a phoney joke, because it is the point of a joke to be seen."

...

I finished typing the handwritten stuff of ANANSI BOYS last night, and came home from my writing cabin. Now I have to turn all the typed pages into things that make sense, follow sequentially, and don't contradict each other. I suspect that there are at least two scenes, perhaps three, that will turn out to need to be written once all that is done, but I also think that, barring disasters, I'll have a solid first draft of a book to show my editor in a few days.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Posters and whatnot...

I wrote to the Guardian journalist, and I now get a credit in the Beowulf piece (I also pointed out that Polar Express wasn't -- and Beowulf won't be -- "stop-motion animation", but "motion capture". That one's not been fixed yet, but I expect it will be. It's the best thing about the web. Things are fixable...)

Mr Gaiman, My name is Laura and I'm from Michigan. Obligatory introductions aside, a WHILE ago you mentioned Sandman posters for the NY Book Fest/Fair/Thing. I was wondering if those are available all year round or if they only release the posters during the Fair time? (I seemed to have procrastinated way too long.)I was also wondering if it was nearing time for more MirrorMask news (like release dates? *fingers crossed*) because I feel Sundance was merely extensive teasing for those of us who couldn't attend.And since I am combining all of my questions into one long-ish message, why do you only have one collection of short stories? Did you stop writing short stories as a trade off for novels or are your current short stories homeless?Well, three questions to digest, thanks!

Let's see -- as far as I can see, the New York is Book Country posters are all still available http://www.nyisbookcountry.com/content/merchandise.asp has the various posters -- including the Sendak and the Spiegelman -- up for sale. (But they don't ship internationally, so if you're out of the country you'll need an American friend to send it to you.)

You can also buy the Sandman poster directly from the artist, Tara McPherson. She's signed it, too: http://www.taramcpherson.com/prime/paintings/nybc.htm Tara does do international orders, and has some amazing rock band silkscreen posters for sale into the bargain. If ever I do another CBLDF reading tour, I want Tara to do the poster.

As soon as I have MirrorMask release date news I'll put it up here, trust me. It will not slip my mind.

The next short story collection should be released in hardback about 18 months. It takes me a while to accumulate enough short stories for a book, and then once I have (there seem to be enough now) the publisher needs to fit it into the publishing schedule. In the meanwhile this autumn Smoke and Mirrors will be coming out in mass market paperback in the US for the first time, with a really nice Greg Spalenka cover.

...

I forget who sent me the link to this story --http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/4233289.stm -- my thanks to whoever it was. Like most people, I'm sure, my immediate reaction was "What if it really was Superman, Batman and Spider-Man beating someone up in the small hours of the morning by a Canterbury burger van in a dispute over a shortage of burgers?" But then I checked the boots. You can always tell real superheroes because they have proper boots on, not the fake boot-like things that sort of cover normal shoes, that people in rented costumes have, and these were obviously more fakes.

...

Neil: Thought you might like this: "Shockheaded Peter" recently returned to NYC; its a stage play that combines a children's pop-up book(ish) set with Edward Gorey-esque dark stories and is backed by the Tiger Lillies. The semi-grisly, semi-fabulously creepy feel kind of reminds me of Coraline. http://www.shockheadedpeter.com/

...and Julian Crouch, the director, is also going to be co-directing and designing THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS opera.

...

Sweeps weeks on television can be odd. Sweeps weeks in newspapers can be downright dangerous.

...

I'm going out to try and get the last of Anansi Boys typed up and off to my editor.

I may be some time.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

hi-ya! yo yo yo yiiiiiii-ha

(I wrote the first part of this yesterday, but rotten weather meant there was no Internet -- this is one of the odd things about having a rural satellite internet connection. In a month they'll a DSL line. I hope.)

Yesterday it rained. Yesterday evening it snowed. Thick wet snow that settled on the slush and rendered country roads impassable. This morning the phone began ringing at around 7:00am as small girls across town realised that a) school was cancelled and b) this was a disaster, not a cause for celebration, as they had Valentine's cards to give to each other, with small packets of sweets, candies, and other such edible delights attached, which meant that the phone was soon ringing off the hook as plans to c) get together and exchange Valentine's cards and sugary treats were made.

I went off to my writing cabin to write and missed all the excitement as a small posse of ten year old girls managed to lock themselves into a room during the few minutes there wasn't an adult there. They hatched plots to free themselves, most of which seem to have involved climbing out of an upper-story window onto a snowy roof and attempting to walk around the house. Luckily they were freed before their plans were put into effect.

There's an article about Beowulf films in the Guardian which I should have been pleased about and instead I found faintly irritating. I didn't mind them not mentioning me as half of the writing team on the film -- that's their call, and space is limited. I found I actually did mind the journalist not mentioning me while also quoting from this journal without attribution or acknowledgment. That's just... tacky. It's at http://film.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/Guardian/0,4029,1412252,00.html. Hurray for it's mentioning John Burrow, anyway.

Neil,

Just thought you would want to see that you were mentioned in a not so good review of "Constantine" the movie based on the "Hellblazer" comics.

http://filmfreakcentral.net/screenreviews/constantine.htm

Also, I am a very quite fan, but a fan nonetheless. My husband is from Hayling Island, Hampshire, and I love reading your blog. Everytime you use an English saying I feel very "in the know" because you invariably have to explain it to Americans the next day. Besides, us mixed English/American married folks have a certain understanding of each other that others just don't quite get.

Thanks for all you do,

Emily

You're welcome. There are a great many photos of me, barely able to walk, digging in the sand at Hayling Island.

Just read M. Atwood's article on her remote-signing monster and I wanted to reassure you that after your book signing in Charlotte in 2003 neither I, my daughter, nor her best friend, Allyson, became pregnant. Allyson did become sick and attributed it to your illness, however she was thrilled to share your germs. Stay Healthy, Karla T.

That's an enormous relief. (Several people wrote in under the impression that I hate or dislike Margaret Atwood, or that she hates me or something. I enjoy much of her writing, and the only time I met her she struck me as being a very shy person who wasn't enjoying being on a promotional tour much. Most people, sensibly, didn't assume anything of the kind.)

Mr. Gaiman,

My name is Mattew Resnick and I am a high school librarian in Great Neck, NY. I am looking to either write a book or professional article discussing how teachers can use The Sandman in their classrooms. I was wondering if you think this is a good idea and if so who do I contact to gain permission to do this article/book. Thank you for your time.

I think it's a fine idea. You'll probably want to make sure that you don't cover the same ground that Steven Olsen does in his new book for schools. But really, you don't need permission to do the book. You may need permission from DC Comics if you're reproducing images from the comics.

Dear Neil,

I just read "Creatures of the Night" and was extremely delighted, especially by the way Michael Zulli portrayed the cats in "The Price" and in general the careful and loving way the story was adapted for the graphic novel format. The same, of course, applies for "The daughter of Owls", which had me close to tears.

That led me to the big question: HOW IS FRED-THE-UNLUCKY-CAT-WITH-HANDS doing? We have a right to know!

And is Princess -the white beauty- still with you? She should be very old by now...

And PLEASE: could you do something with Charles Vess again in the near future?!?

Love,

Jamilah

Right. Cat update. Fred is huge and black -- not as huge as the original The Black Cat, the one I put into the story all those years ago, but still big -- and he still talks when he gets agitated: he wanders around the house going "hurrow? hurrow?" sounding bizarrely human. When I go for walks in the woods, Fred follows along, like a dog. Unfortunately he also terrifies all the other cats: he's bigger than them, and likes being boss cat. Because he terrifies them I throw him out a lot.

Princess is still white, still long-haired, but frailer than she was. She knows that she once used to be the meanest cat on the block, and she remembers being feral and living for years in the woods, but these days mostly she just sleeps and begs for chicken. I don't know how old she was when she turned up here, almost twelve years ago -- at least a couple of years old.

I keep meaning to write something about Captain Morgan, who used to try and push himself up people's noses (and still does, from time to time, but mostly he just snuggles up in a position that makes it really hard to type and then drools on you affectionately). He's getting big, and his ears are the oddest ears I've ever seen on a cat who wasn't actually a Scottish Fold. The top half inch of his right ear is flat and tilted forward, like something from a cartoon. Bizarre.

The next project with Charles Vess is already underway. It's an illustrated version of a poem called BLUEBERRY GIRL I wrote for Tash, my friend Tori's daughter, before she was born, which we're making into a book, that will, I hope, do good things for RAINN and the CBLDF.

Which reminds me: Georgia comics retailer Gordon Lee was arrested recently and charged with "distributing obscene material to a minor" and "distributing material depicting nudity". The CBLDF is going to be defending him.

Tom Spurgeon writes about the case sanely at http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/briefings/commentary/942/

...

Let's see: The auction for Terri Windling's Endicott Gallery is up at eBay -- some lovely pieces of original art up for sale, with four days to go.

There's a marvellous interview with Alan Moore at http://www.enginecomics.co.uk/interviews/jan05/alanmoore.htm. It's particularly recommended for would-be writers.

...

(Maddy is home from school sick today, and titled, but will not explain, today's post for me.)

Saturday, February 12, 2005

...and saw Tibet.

Margaret Atwood has much fun in the Globe and Mail putting me in my place for comments made on this blog about her automatic remote signing machine. And she says I'm cute-looking. I am putty in her hands.

The Patron Saint of Drug Runners and other potential stories

Let's see... you get a lengthy review/article by Peter Sanderson of Joe McCabe's excellent "Hanging Out With The Dream King" book at IGN. http://filmforce.ign.com/articles/587/587218p1.html It's a book that's interesting (at least to me) despite the way it's sold: it seems to be marketed as if it's a book of interviews with me, but it's not (although two interviews with me bookend the book). It's much more interesting than that: it's Joe's interviews with a bunch of disparate people I've worked with, or am friends with, artists and editors and writers and musicians. Tori's in there alongside Alice Cooper, so's Jill Thompson and Charles Vess, so's Kim Newman and Tery Pratchett, Gene Wolfe and Yoshitaka Amano. Even Sam Kieth's in there. I wished there had been more room in the Hy Bender Sandman Companion for more points of view and more in depth conversation from the people who aren't me, so this is like the other half of that book.

(There's a limited hardback, that I signed a tipped-in sheet for, as Fantagraphics is donating a portion of their profits to the CBLDF, and a regular trade paperback. Here's the DreamHaven link to the books.)

...

Consider this the first of several reminders that THE COMICAL TRAGEDY OR TRAGICAL COMEDY OF MISTER PUNCH, A ROMANCE (to give it its full title), the radio play I adapted from the graphic novel, will be airing on BBC Radio 3 at 10:00 pm on Thursday the 3rd of March.

(It's what I was in the UK recording in November. You can read about it here: http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2004/11/news-from-dead-room.asp)

If you're in the UK, you may want to listen to it live. If you're not in the UK, or you miss it, it'll be up on the web, and because THE WIRE is a monthly program, the good news is that it will remain up on the Radio 3 WIRE website for a month, starting after it's been broadcast -- http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/thewire/index.shtml. Dave McKean just finished recording the music for it, and is extremely happy with it (I've not heard it yet). His original plan, to make the music up from a museum of mechanical music was defeated when the couple who owned the museum retired and closed it down.

...

Hello,I've been feeling very lonely, stressed, and depressed lately. I won't bore you with the details of all that, though. I think it's part of the artist's job description, or something.I just thought I'd ask if you have anything that could cheer me up a bit. Please? Maybe someone else reading your blog could use a cheer-up, too. Sincerely,a girl P.S. I'm the one who gave you that inked Death picture at the last Fiddler's Green panel. I hope it's enjoying it's new cozy spot in your basement.

One of my favourite living writers is a man named Jonathan Carroll. He's a marvellous writer, and a wise man. He has a wonderful website up at http://www.jonathancarroll.com/ (and an article I did about him for his website at http://www.jonathancarroll.com/introduction.html). It has his blog on it, and articles and stories. It's a good place.

What no-one knows about Jonathan Carroll is that he is one of the people who finds goofy stuff on the web and sends it to his friends. This came in from him this morning, and while I'm expecting to see the Snopes debunking of it any minute, I shall post it because, you never know, it might cheer you up. http://www.heavy.com/viral/married/

Meanwhile, keep making art.

...

Another remarkable writer is Steve Erickson (not to be confused with Steve Erikson, who is a completely different person). He has a new book coming out, Our Ecstatic Days, which is something to get excited about, and he'll be doing some signings for it. Go and tell him I said to say hi. Spread the word in book places.


Thursday, 17 February, 7:30
Barnes & Noble at the Grove in Los Angeles
in discussion with Michael Silverblatt
�Bookworm,� KCRW National Public Radio
(Our Ecstatic Days is the KCRW Book of the Month for February.)

Monday, 28 February, 7:00
A Clean Well Lighted Place in San Francisco

Tuesday, 1 March, 7:00
Cody�s Books in Berkeley

Tuesday, 8 March, 7:00
Dutton�s Books in Beverly Hills

Tuesday, 29 March, 7:30
Barnes & Noble at Astor Place in Manhattan

Saturday-Sunday, 23-24 April
Los Angeles Times Book Festival at UCLA


...

I've only ever written one aggrieved letter to a school, that I can think of. It was when my son came home from school about ten years ago with a guide to picking careers, explaining how much you made a year from different careers. It was a very odd document, but the thing that prompted me to write to the school was the information that full-time poets make $30,000 a year, and I wrote to the school asking them to explain how poets made this money, who paid them this, and what for. The school never replied.

Anyway, the mysteries of what SF and Fantasy writers make is being exposed to the glare of daylight at http://www.tobiasbuckell.com/archives/001423.html. And no, I haven't done it because a) I'm not sure what my first novel was (Good Omens? Neverwhere?) and b) I was already a successful author when I started writing novels, so I suspect I'd skew the various figures unfairly.

...

An odd little haunting moment from an Excite news story about Mexican Indians being forced by gangs to abandon their traditional way of life and crops and grow drugs:

Aguilar said that the drug gangs had also intimidated some Indian communities into dropping traditional Holy Week Catholic Church rites to worship Jesus Malverde, the patron saint of the drug runners.

"The elements from Sinaloa are ... asking them to venerate the image of Malverde, the patron saint of the narcos, who is not recognized by the Church," Aguilar said.

From an American Gods point of view, I keep wondering how Jesus Malverde is coping with the enforced worship.
...

Hello Neil, I suppose you must have up-days and down-days when it comes to your blogging. Have you ever been tempted to resign the role, in the gracious manner of your fellow author Scarlett Thomas at www.bookgirl.org ? Cheers Ken

No, but I can't blame anyone who goes out like that. I'm lucky -- I've had (I just checked, and this is sort of scary) over 35,000 messages in from people on the FAQ line since we started it, and I only remember a couple of poisonous ones, and maybe a dozen crazy ones.

...

My girlfriend has all your books. I want to give her something she won't have as a Valentine's Day Gift. Advice please? Blogging Dave. PS Not too expensive.

There's something very heartwarming about those last three little words, isn't there? Well, not knowing what she has or doesn't have, I'll suggest:

Harlequin Valentine because it's a Valentine's Day graphic novel, with lovely art by John Bolton, and it begins with a Harlequin pinning his heart to his beloved's front door.

A Walking Tour of the Shambles, because I wrote it with Gene Wolfe. It's a guide book to an unusual area of Chicago. I think it's funny. Or possibly disturbing. (I was going to link to the Amazon.com page for it, but seeing they've only got one copy and are selling it for $95 I'll point you at the publisher's site instead.)

Creatures of the Night -- two short stories (The Price and Daughter of Owls) with art by Michael Zulli. (He's currently adapting my story The Facts in the Case of the Disappearance of Miss Finch, and doing a wonderful job.)

Speaking in Tongues -- the most recent DreamHaven audio CD. Me telling stories. (http://www.neilgaiman.net/sound/02-instructions.mp3 is me reading a poem called Instructions on that CD.)

...

...and no, it hadn't occurred to me that everybody would wave back. But I was pleased to hear that they had.

Friday, February 11, 2005

9,368 waves

Nothing exciting going on -- all of my time and brain is going into typing up from my notes and tidying ANANSI BOYS. I'm now just past the rather messy middle bit, and into the rather smoother last third.

The US cover of ANANSI BOYS has, beneath the spider's web, a shot of Eros (which I am reliably informed isn't really Eros but the statue of Christian Charity) in Piccadilly Circus on it for no particular reason other than it's a nice stock shot that says urban and, to a lesser extent, London. The day after it came in, I was writing a scene set around the back of Leicester Square, and the scene after it, in which something weird happened, was set at the entry to Leicester Square tube. And it seemed just as easy to have them turn left instead of right, head for Piccadily Cicus tube and have the scene now occur by Eros, thus making it look as if the cover was much more relevant than it was before I wrote that scene. I felt very proud of myself but suspect that you had to be there.

Life's quiet too -- the most glamorous thing I did today was attend a parent-teacher meeting at Maddy's school, the best bit of which was telling the teacher about the Publisher's Weekly praise for her interviewing skills.

(Which reminds me -- I've talked to my agent and to Harper Collins, and we're going to see what we can do to make the various books available through audible.com and through iTunes internationally. I'll announce something here as soon as it's sorted. Harper are also looking at bringing out AMERICAN GODS as an MP3 CD, later in the year.)

Proofread some MirrorMask photo captions this morning. ("No, it's not 'Helena surrounded by sphinx'. The plural of sphinx is either sphinxes or sphinges, and we're using sphinxes because nobody would know what 'surrounded by sphinges' meant." First time I've ever said "sphinges" aloud.)

I liked this MirrorMask review... Think "Alice in Wonderland" meets "Time Bandits" on an upside down street in a parallel universe which is I think more or less what Dave and I were aiming for.

If you didn't read the IGN Filmforce interview with Dave Mckean (http://filmforce.ign.com/articles/585/585797p1.html) you should probably read it before you read the one they just posted with me (http://filmforce.ign.com/articles/586/586421p1.html), as they were done back to back and Dave went first.

Several more queries about the Locus photo, some asking more questions about the mysterious bleeding lips, one asking about why I had green stubble and one asking about the strange hair products I must be using. Someone also wanted to know about whether you get a stylist for a Locus photo shoot. As far as I recall the photos were taken immediately after the interview, by photographer Beth Gwinn, in the middle of the World SF Convention, with me sitting on the floor in Locus publisher Charles Brown's hotel room, and entire the extent of stylist and grooming (and hair products) was my trying and failing to find a comb. Trust me, the actual magazine photo is much duller than the one that made it on line. (The Locus people are very happy, though.)

I've tried to cut down on the things I put up soliciting help for things, mostly because each one I put up prompts a flood of other people who are sure that I ought to post something for them. But this one's for Poppy.

Neil --

Doubtless you get millions of requests like this, but since the dog in question is a neighbor of yours, I wondered if you might consider reposting this in your journal:

http://www.livejournal.com/community/prime_liquor/27798.html

Hope this finds you well and mostly book-recovered. I'm just getting started on my new one, and the first frankly shocking thing I never saw coming has already happened.

Love,

PZB

Website: http://www.poppyzbrite.com
Blog: http://www.livejournal.com/users/docbrite/


There. I hope the dog finds a home.

Hey Neil, I had a question for you about Fiddler's Green. I'm looking to do a master's degree study on The Sandman and its fan culture and I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction for the convention's site (I seemed to have misplaced the link). Do you know if it's going to be an annual event? Or if there will be any other places where Sandman fans will congregate in numbers in the next year or two?Thanks,Beau RosselPrince George, BC Canada

The site is http://www.fiddlersgreencon.org/ although you'll probably get a lot more information from http://www.livejournal.com/userinfo.bml?user=fgcon (which is http://www.livejournal.com/community/fgcon/). There was also a large, vocal, and extremely friendly contingent from the Neilgaiman.com bulletin board at http://neilgaimanboard.com/eve/ubb.x.

I think that it was just that once, mostly because of the herculean efforts to put it on from the committee, many of whom had to forget about things like having lives in order to make Fiddler's Green happen. On the other hand, it wouldn't surprise me at all if lots of the people who met at Fiddler's Green didn't try and meet up again on their own steam. Ask them.

(Incidentally, I just learned that over 9,000 people are subscribed to the livejournal feed of this blog (http://www.livejournal.com/users/officialgaiman/). Blink. Blink. Blink. It says so at http://www.livejournal.com/syn/list.bml?page=1.) (Waves nervously at 9,368 people.)

...

On the birthday of this blog, I thought I'd remind people of one of the odder things it's spawned: the ineffable Johnny Theremin site -- there are now at least two complete Johnny Theremin stories up for you to read, and many incomplete variants, including the first three pages of a comic. http://www.johnnytheremin.net/news.html will give you news. The front page is http://www.johnnytheremin.net/index2.html which looks very Christmassy, and which I expect theremin webboss Laurie will probably give a Valentine's day theme to, unless she doesn't bother with it and goes straight to Easter or Guy Fawkes.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Hippy pappy thuthd etc.

Happy Birthday to this blog, four years old today. It can walk, talk, it knows its alphabet and it's probably prone to staring intently at people before making peculiarly personal remarks of the "Why've you got such a funny nose?" variety.

Happy Birthday also to all the people whose birthday it is today (including the gothicest of archies, Stephin Merritt).

I think we should begin the celebration with some music*.
...

The Locus photo has prompted a deluge of questions from people. Questions like,

Were your lips bloody on purpose for the locus mag photo? They look rather red and bleeding.

and

As I was looking at the Locus spread, I noticed something odd about the photo. It may have been the light during the shoot, and some of it might have to do with my computer screen, but your lips look a bit bloody. It gave me a laugh to picture the photo shoot where they made you look all nice but missed just a little bit...

not to mention several along the lines of,

What happened at the photo shoot in your LOCUS interview? Did the photog beat you up for some inane, obviously-doesn't-read-any-Neil-Gaiman issue? Your lip's bleeding isn't it? Soon

So I went and looked at the actual photo in Locus itself, the magazine version, in which my lips look completely normal and, frankly, rather boring. Not quite sure why they look so redly wet and vampiric in the version of the photo Locus sent me to put up. It's probably one of those insoluble mysteries, like what happened to the crew of the Marie Celeste, or where I put down my mug of tea.

(I answered ten questions yesterday over at http://www.chizine.com/neil_gaiman_interview.htm and oddly enough, not one of them was about whether or not my lips were bleeding. Go figure, as Maddy loves to say.)



*Icelandic lounge music, of course.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Cake? Balloons?


Here's the first two pages of the Locus interview. The text in the large version should be more-or-less readable (probably a bit less than more). Read and puzzle with me over such questions as Why am I comparing writing short stories to making small misshapen clay pots in school?

And feel free to spread the special offer URL ( https://secure.locusmag.com/2005/Issues/02SubscribeGaiman.html ) around. I'm not sure how long it'll be valid for, but I expect they'll keep it up for at least a month.

...

http://www.parkrecord.com/Stories/0,1413,122~8138~2680660,00.html is an article from Sundance, with a photo of Dave and me down by the pool area in the Marriott in which interviews were done. I see they've changed the wonderfully Cold-Comfort-Farmish phrase "Jim Henson's child" (which was in the headline of the original newspaper) to the rather less evocative "Jim Henson's daughter" in the headline. I took immense pleasure in addressing Lisa Henson as "Jim Henson's child" on the day that came out, sounding as Aunt Ada Doom as I possibly could ("Aye, ye would believe that the godforsaken shuttle bus would be here soon, Jim Henson's Child. I say we just get one of they taxis.")

I still wonder if I was the only person who, when watching the film of Cold Comfort Farm, actively missed the stuff I'd been hoping for, the 1930s videophones and autogyros which are in the book (because it is, as readers will recall, set "in the near future").

...

Tomorrow this blog will celebrate its fourth birthday. I have no idea what to do to celebrate, or even if celebration is appropriate. I don't have to do this, you know. Dammit, I can stop whenever I like.

....

Addendum: From Patrick Nielsen Hayden:

But, but, it wasn't the voice of Aunt Ada Doom you'd have been imitating, you wight. It was Mrs. Judith Starkadder who insisted on always addressing young Flora as "Robert Post's child." "There's a curse on the place, Robert Post's child! 'Tis the Starkadders' doom."
Notwithstanding which, the image of you croaking Starkadderishly at Lisa Henson is priceless. And no, you aren't the only person who missed the videophones in the 1994 adaptation of Cold Comfort Farm, almost perfectly wonderful though it was...-p.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Kids! Free! Locus! (Normal conditions apply, offer void where prohibited.)

If you don't count Dave Sim sending a couple of thousand people a free comic, there's never been a special offer on this website before. But I got an e-mail today from the people at Locus Magazine, who just brought out an issue containing an interview with me, proposing a special offer...



(Locus Magazine looks like this, but is, in reality, much bigger.)

They sent me a jpg of the interior spread, consisting of a photo of me (I forget that I lost a bunch of weight at the end of last year until I see pictures of me taken before I did) and the first page of the interview. (The Locus house style on interviews is to take out their questions and make it appear that it's one long stream-of-consciousness monologue.)I'll try and get the spread posted here.

Most importantly, they gave me a link to a special webpage where you can either order the edition of the mag with me in it (and, much more importantly than me wittering on, their best of the year round-up) without having to pay postage, or where you can get that issue free with a year's subscription.

Here's a link to an overview of the issue in question: http://www.locusmag.com/2005/Issues/02Profile.html

This is the link to the special offer: https://secure.locusmag.com/2005/Issues/02SubscribeGaiman.html
...

And for those of you with no interest in Locus, or who just want to read a Dave McKean interview, there's a wonderful MirrorMask interview with Dave McKean over at IGN filmforce: http://filmforce.ign.com/articles/585/585797p1.html

As for what I've been doing today... well, today I got to remember why I'm not a journalist any longer. I wrote a magazine article about my experiences at Sundance that turned out to be 500 words too long (I'd forgotten to ask for a wordcount, and I guessed wrong). It took every bit as long to cut 400 words as it did to write the original 1700 words. (Yes, I know it was 500 words too long, and I only cut 400 words, but once I'd cut those, it started getting longer again with each edit, so I called it a day and figured the nice people at the magazine can cut the other 100.) Tomorrow I'm back onto Anansi Boys.

Which reminds me, both the US and the UK publishers sent me their cover designs for Anansi Boys today. It ought to be odd, having the cover for a book that's not finished, but truth to tell I found it sort of reassuring: something to hold on to at the moments when you're not sure if the book will ever be finished or if it'll be any good when it is -- a book cover, for a real book, with a jacket blurb that describes the book in question somehow makes it a bit more real.

So, I notice today at my local bookstore that there is an interview with you in the magazine "Gothic Beauty." Hmm... Odd. Very odd.

Odd? Really? Damn. I thought I'd finally hit the big time.

Hello Neil. Did you know Thea Gilmore is coming up to Edmonton for the Folk Fest. You should come up, it's a great 4 day long event. And you could explain to my eldest daughter about the Horses in the Walls.
Cam


I didn't, but it seems like ages since I've plugged Thea Gilmore on this site. And she remains as wonderful as ever.

Hi Neil,

Jukka from Finland here, writing some tech oriented help information. The reason for this is, because of the time difference I tend to miss a lot of the links you post, as the pages tend to be offline or otherwise not available after thousands of your Journal readers have killed the server.

I've got a solution for you, one that will take the stress off those sites/servers. It is called Coral (The NYU Distribution Network) and it is a network of servers around the world which mirrors (read: makes copies) the pages that have high bandwidth (also jokingly called the SlashDot Effect).
Easiest way is to install a Firefox extension for it, after which you'll have a "Coralize This Page" in your Right-Click menu (when clicking on the page in question).
Get it here: http://www.scs.cs.nyu.edu/coral/plugins/

The other way is to add ".nyud.net:8090" to the hostname, ie. http://www.neilgaiman.com.nyud.net:8090/faq/faq.asp and then using that link as the link on your Journal.

Homepage for the Coral project: http://www.scs.cs.nyu.edu/coral/

Best regards,
Jukka Kolehmainen a.k.a. Shrike


PS. I'm truly annoyed with iTunes as they wont sell your Audio Collection thingie here in Finland. I was buying it and being all excited and then I got the feared "This item is not available in your country" notification. DAMN THEM!

I'll ask my agent if we can do something to open up the various Audio Books to the rest of the world. And I'll try Coralizing things...

...

Finally, I was sad to see Ryan of http://www.sandman.tv/ has taken his amazing Sandman art collection offline, since scammers (or at least, a scammer) was using it as a source of art to sell forged "original" Sandman drawings. Check out the eBay links Ryan's posted, and marvel at the crudeness of the fakes.

Her first starred Publisher's Weekly review

I meant to post the Publisher's Weekly review of The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection when I first saw it. Not because it's positive about the CD (although it is) but because (as you'll see) it made me a ridiculously proud parent. They just put it up on Amazon, so I'm stealing it:

From Publishers Weekly Starred Review. As author Gaiman demonstrated on his recording of his first children's novel, Coraline, he's more than up to the task of reading his work with great style. Here, again, he performs as a consummate storyteller, reading four stories, two of which have been published as picture books. Gaiman has a slow, suspense-building pace and a slightly ominous tone on "The Wolves in the Walls," in which Lucy tries to warn her preoccupied family of what the creaking, crackling, scritching, scratching noises in their house must surely be. "On The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish," Gaiman's first picture book, the author/narrator rolls along at a jaunty, entertaining clip. On "Crazy Hair," Gaiman is sprightly, reading this silly rhyming poem about the very wild 'do of the 11-year-old narrator, big enough to house nesting birds and lions making a lair, and very resistant to brushing. Listeners and fans are also treated to a reading of "Cinnamon," a colorful original fable about a princess who refuses to speak (though a tiger in the exotically set tale has lots to say). which had previously appeared only on Gaiman's Web site. Gaiman's daughter Maddy conducts a warm, revealing and lively interview with her dad that is likely to charm listeners of all ages. Ages 5-up.

She was really good, too. There was some talk about running the whole interview she did with me on this web site, or over at www.mousecircus.com (Harper Audio had to edit down her interview to the six minutes you get on the CD) and I'll see if we can make it happen.

Also, this just came in about the iTunes download of THE NEIL GAIMAN AUDIO COLLECTION --

Neil,

iTunes conflated all of the story-files, and did not provide a
time-index. Your readers may value the following:

The Wolves in the Walls 16:39
Cinnamon 8:24
The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish 13:27
Crazy Hair 3:26
Maddy's Interview 6:46

Cheerio,

Doug


Thanks. I think it's a deliberate decision by iTunes/Audible not to divide audiobooks into sections - probably because the iPod will happily bookmark any audiobook, so you can go away and listen to other things, and when you come back to your audiobook it will remember where you were. Which is very kind of it.

(It works for Audible .aa files and iTunes M4b files. And you can always rename stereo M4A files to M4b, and it'll work on them too.)

( http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?playlistId=42928926 is the link which should open the AUDIO COLLECTION in iTunes. The iTunes preview is a fun bit from near the beginning of "The Wolves in the Walls".)

This corrected a misapprehension on my part:

Sadly audible.com is not allowing me to purchase either Coraline or American Gods from outside the US. I should be able to purchase it as there is a workaround I've used before but if you thought that Audible were providing world wide access, you are sadly mistaken.

I suppose that contractually Audible is acting more like a publisher (having a license for a certain area of the world) than like a retailer (you can order the CD from Amazon.com wherever you are in the world). Let's see... Ah. Right. It's in their FAQs.... As a distributor, we need to abide by the restrictions that publishers assume when they publish a work.

Interestingly it looks like Audible does have world rights on the LEGENDS II audio collection, which contains the American Gods novella "The Monarch of the Glen".

....

More on Bill Loebs -- from Millarworld:

The good news is, the postal address you guys have, is still current for Bill. You can mail anything, comments, fanmail, job offers, or financial assistance to Bill at:
Bill Loebs
PO Box # 558
Pinckney, MI 48169-0558
Additionally Bill's email: bloebs@yahoo.com is hooked up to a PayPal account, so no one has to collect money on Bill's behalf. You can send any donations you would like to his PayPal account directly to bloebs@yahoo.com

Having said that, I think the best thing that anyone could do for Bill is give him a comic to write.

...

Neil, A rather beautiful black and white movie about muppets, here <http://www.joeytomatoes.com/muppetsovertimeoriginal05.htm>, entitled Overtime. Thought you might like it.Thanks for the stories you tell, Guan

I thought it was lovely.

...

And while we're on the subject (as we were earlier) of audio fiction, someone whose message I can't access right now, sent me a link to http://www.boston.com/ae/books/articles/2005/02/06/small_shots_of_intoxicating_fiction/
in which two of my stories, on different audio books, get reviewed. (I've still not heard the Christina Pickles "Chivalry" so can't cmment on the reading.)

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Gloomy Sunday

This morning's news is that MirrorMask won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Sarasota Film Festival. Which was a lovely thing to hear first thing on a snowy Sunday morning.

There's a website at which someone in the movie business posts descriptions of films from cover letters on spec scripts that come to him. These tend to be funny, although it's worth remembering that each one that makes me smile at the awfulness of it could just as easily be a capsule description of something that actually was made. (Most plots sounds stupid when reduced to their essentials. Black convict is pulled off a chain gaing and made sheriff of a little Western town. Hilarity ensues.) Even so, I'm starting to think that Alan Moore was tapping some kind of Jungian vein when he co-wrote the Sinister Ducks song all those years ago. In steam engine time (well, duck-warning time), people start needing to warn the world about the ducks: http://queryletters.blogspot.com/2005/02/episode-iv-attack-of-ducks.html

(And this news story solved, for me, the vexing question of What Killed The Dinosaurs? The answer, again obviously, is those evil ducks did. I'm glad we've sorted that one out.)

Hi Neil, So it occurs to me that Mirrormask is not the first time you and Mr. Mckean have teamed up in the audio-visual department. Some time ago, you were given an award for Best Guest on a little known show called, "Prisoners of Gravity". Your acceptance speech, filmed by Dave, was by far one of the funniest moments in TV history... at least in my humble opinion. Any chance that will ever be available online? Your devoted reader, Kipp www.underduck.com

I don't know. I don't believe it's ever been repeated. I've asked Mark Askwith, who was the producer of Prisoners of Gravity, for an official answer, anyway, and will report back.

...

When I was about 12 or 13 I was completely obsessed by Mike Moorcock. By the time I was 17 or 18 I was almost embarassed that I'd ever been that completely fascinated by any living author. I'm not sure that I sorted it all out in my head until I wrote the pretty much autobiographical short story "One Life, Furnished in Early Moorcock" many years later.

Anyway, there's a lovely interview with Mike Moorcock over at http://www.irosf.com/q/zine/article/10115. And if you're curious about the Michael Moorcock and the Deep Fix music, the whole of the "At The New World's Fair" CD is available for download at Mike's official site. http://www.multiverse.org/article26.html for details.

Which reminds me -- apparently the Neil Gaiman Audio Collection is only available on the US version of iTunes. (But I assume that Audible.com will sell it to you wherever you are.)

Neil,I read the article you linked to about Bill Messner-Loebs. I'm pretty sure I remember enjoying his work on The Flash in the early and/or mid-nineties. Do you have any idea how I might possibly be able to send him a few bucks? I probably can't help a whole lot, but I can probably help a little. Thanks. Steve

Personally, I'd love someone to a) give Bill a title to write or draw and b) collect WASTELAND, the very strange protovertigo series of short stories that DC did in the late 80s. Over at http://www.carterscomiccritiques.net/ there seems to be a coordinated effort to do good things for Bill and Nadine that you might want to check out, Steve...

And finally, a few people sent me links to the new Minneapolis public radio music station at 89.3 -- and having checked out their playlist --http://minnesota.publicradio.org/radio/services/thecurrent/playlist.php -- I think I'll be tuning in. (They also broadcast over the web.)

Saturday, February 05, 2005

More useful stuff. Nothing about being woken up by cats.

If I've read the tech tv website correctly, the Screensavers episode from Sundance where they interview me and Dave McKean and show some MirrorMask clips --g4techtv.com/screensavers/episodes/3859/Hardware_Hacking_Podcast_Challenge_Slamdance.html -- will be repeated tomorrow (Sunday) at Midnight Eastern and 9:00pm Pacific.

(As a minor note, I'd not realised before looking at that page that Caller ID could be easily spoofed. When I learned that it could, I tried calling my T-mobile cellphone from a spoof of its number, and went straight into voicemail, bypassing the password. I've since changed the options so that it always demands a password, no matter what number is calling, and mention this in case anyone else out there has a US T-mobile cellphone...)

An astonishingly useful and sensible post

I promised I'd let people know when Audible.com put AMERICAN GODS (read by George Guidall) and CORALINE (read by me) up again. (They've been down for the last year while contractual stuff was sorted out.)

They're now up -- along with THE NEIL GAIMAN AUDIO COLLECTION (which is also available for download, slightly more cheaply, at iTunes).

(The NEIL GAIMAN AUDIO COLLECTION is the one with me reading "The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish" "The Wolves in the Walls" "Cinnamon" and "Crazy Hair" on it, along with Maddy interviewing me.)

Meanwhile, the UK audio book of Coraline, read by Dawn French, is being broadcast over the next ten days over at http://www.oneword.co.uk/. (Unfortunately, they don't have the BBC Radio 7 audio on demand thing down.)

...

Hi Neil, Let me be one of a zillion readers to let you know about the good news from Joe Gordon. He's been hired by Forbidden Planet, gets to stay in Edinburgh, and will even get a higher salary. Joe's blog entry about this: http://www.woolamaloo.org.uk/2005/02/my-interstellar-journey-to-forbidden.htm
Forbidden Planet International's site: http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/ Cheers _drogheda

Hurrah!

Hey, Neil, A bunch of fans out here in California are getting together to do a fun event based (loosely) on some of your _Sandman_ books. Here's the link:http://home.earthlink.net/~giantsdance It'll be in Hollywood. If you're in the neighborhood, feel free to drop by! Best regards, Richard

It looks like fun.


Dear Mr. Gaiman,My name is Thomas and I am 6. I like your goldfish book, my dad has read it to me a lot. I like the boy in the story because he has a sister like me, but I don't have goldfish. I would like some, but I like my dad too. I didn't like the wolf one because it scared me but then I heard you reading it on the CD in our car and I really liked it. My sister cried but I laughed. Now I like the book too. Lucy is really brave.I have one question for you: Who is the Queen of Melanesia? Thank you.Love,Thomas G [as dictated to his dad]

Dear Thomas, She's incredibly important, and is one of those queens who wanders around helping people with the gardening and popping in for short visits and doing the washing up. There really aren't enough of them around, so most people have to do the gardening themselves.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Waking up, blinking...

Sometimes you only realise you were exhausted in retrospect. Yesterday evening, around 9 o'clock, I lay down on the bed beside a young daughter who had decided she needed a goodnight cuddle from a dad who hadn't been home for two weeks. She was obviously really tired. "I'll hug her for a moment," I thought, "and then she'll be asleep, and I'll get back to work." That's the last thing I remember thinking. I woke up 14 hours later....

Lisa Snellings continues her authors-as-rats sequence with H.P. Lovecraft (having already done me and Mr Poe). She's donating a portion of her profits on these to the CBLDF.

And the CBLDF just won the Charleston case where US Customs overstepped its bounds and seized a comic containing Peter Kuper's Richie Rich parody, Richie Bush for infringing copyright. (It wasn't. It was a parody, and is protected speech, as Customs rapidly discovered and, to their credit, have tacitly admitted.) Given the costs of going to trial, it's always good whenever the CBLDF can make things happen without getting to that point.

Several people have let me know about the Chicago cook who makes edible paper sushi and levitates the condiments. Here's the NY Times article.

Here's another Aint It Cool News MirrorMask review.

Charles Vess wrote to remind me to mention that there's a benefit auction coming up for Terri Windling and Endicott Studios, with some wonderful stuff in it. (He and I are donating a particularly cool set of Stardust prints.)

And now I'm going to write some more.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Back into madly finishing things mode

Good Morning...

I'm home. This is an extremely good thing. (I have a daughter who missed me very much. And I her.)

On the down side, I got home and realised with a sort of sick thud that Sundance and Sarasota had completely eaten the last two weeks of January, which was meant to be novel-finishing time, and that I have to get the finished novel to my editor before she goes to the London Book Fair at the end of the month. I've also got to copy-edit the MirrorMask script book today, write the MirrorMask novella, and do several other things I've promised people. (And then there's the Beowulf movie.) Suddenly the air is filled with the little crunching crashing tinkling sounds of juggled deadlines hitting the floor and smashing into teeny tiny bits.

So I'll be posting a bit less while I try and get everything finished. Bear with me.

Meanwhile, a quick clear-out of open firefox tabs before I vanish.

...

For the curious, here are a bunch of MirrorMask reviews and mentions:

http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11264&reviewer=128

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0366780/usercomments

http://www.twitchfilm.net/archives/2005/01/twitch_intervie.html#more (an interview, not a review)

http://www.eonline.com/Features/Features/Sundance2005/Daily/
050127.html


http://www.joblo.com/index.php?id=6472 and http://www.joblo.com/index.php?id=6426

http://www.calgarysun.com/perl-bin/niveau2.cgi?
s=films&p=91857.html&a=1



...

In the Bay Area, Rory Root's lovely COMIC RELIEF shop is moving. Details at http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/
comic_relief_finds_new_larger_home/


And if you get to them before they move, they've got a sale on. Go buy good comics.

...

So far over 11,000 people have voted at http://scottmccloudvsabear.com. Scott is out in the lead, but not by much.

For months I've meant to post the link to Sushi Pillows at http://www.theoriginalsushipillow.com/pages/2/index.htm. (Mine just arrived -- I ordered one of each -- and they are very lovely. I'll report back when the sofa they're meant to go on finally turns up as well, and they come out of their bags.)

Scaryduck is going to be self-publishing some of the highlights of the Scaryduck blog and more. http://scaryduck.blogspot.com/2005/01/tales-of-mirth-and-woe.html. (Scaryduck is the kind of blog that you must not read while drinking liquids or they'll be nasally ejected and all over the screen and keyboard in no time.) (This is good self-publishing, and not the PublishAmerica kind.)

Which reminds me, Scary recently sent me a link to an animation of the Sinister Ducks' SINISTER DUCKS song: http://pip.rubberfeet.org/stuff/ducks.html

Coraline is a pick for the Young Adult Library Services Assoc. paperbacks for Young Adults this year. (Some very cool categories.)

This article on Bill Messner-Loebs was demoralising -- he's an excellent artist, a very good writer and an extremely nice man. He ought to be working, and he ought to be working in comics. If you're a publisher and reading this, get him to make you a graphic novel.

And finally -- I received a really amazing gift from Lisa Snellings yesterday: you can see a photo of it at http://slaughterhousestudios.blogspot.com/2005/01/itsy-bit-inside.html. It's beautiful. I think the thing I love best about Lisa's blog is not only the images of her art she puts up (and the current two-and-a-half-dimensional sculptures she's doing are astonishing) but that it's the kind of place where you get to find out whether puppets are particles or waves.
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