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Thursday, March 31, 2005

mailbag stuff

When the first MirrorMask Teaser went up, we mentioned that the music wasn't from the movie, and people started to ask write in to ask where it was from and who did it. And I said I'd try to find out.

So for everyone who was wondering, Michael Polis at Hensons tells me it was by a composer named Fletcher Beasley. And a quick google gives a website at http://www.beatrevolution.com/ for the curious.

...

"Aargh! is now part of history and so is the clause, but Alan's piece for it, the Mirror Of Love, is available in a gorgeous book form"It might be worth mentioning that this is not really the *same* piece. It's a re-presentation of the *text* of that piece, with new illustrations by Jose Villarubia. But the original piece, as published in AARGH! was a comics story, with quite good art by Steve Bissette and Rick Veitch. Each is a beautiful work, with qualities that the other doesn't share, and I think they both deserve recognition.-- Alexx Kay

I should have mentioned that, you're quite right.

Hi Neil, hope the redrafting is going ok. I thought I'd point you in the direction of this article in the Guardian about children's literature and the new "golden age" for when you have free time again... it's pretty interesting, and I was pleased to see you name-checked alongside children's authors "at the top of their game". So kudos, and deservedly so. Hope all is well with you, Mehran - http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,6109,1448965,00.html

That's a really interesting article, and I love that final bit about me and Dave McKean. It doesn't mention one thing I've noticed over the last couple of years, which is that the review space for children's books seems to be shrinking back to where it was in about 1999ish. For a while in there children's books were getting individual reviews, now they're back to being reviewed in monthly clutches.

...I do have one question would you ever consider teaching someone to write, perhaps not how to write like you but how to develop their own style? Would you ever consider taking on pupils?

Mostly I say no when asked, because I'm not sure that the things I have to say are the things people want to hear. For example, my only response to something like this:

Dear Neil, Bradbury had a medicine for melancholy. How about the cure for insecurity?It's a writing question. Or maybe a plotting one. I don't know where I'm going after the first chapter. Instead of working to get to chapter two, I stop. I have notebooks and hard drives filled with thousands of good first chapters.Any experience with this? Got an antidote?

is to say yes, finish things, and to suggest that you might want to write short stories before trying novels. You can finish a short story in the same sort of length as a first chapter.

Beyond that most of the advice that I can give is so simple as to be useless. And I've already written it all in this blog over the last four years -- for example: http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2004/02/on-writing.asp


Neil, I hate to say this but Stardust the comic isn't up at amazon.com. The novel certainly is, but it's a shame the comic ain't cause I really wanted to order the illustrated version badly. Charles as a fantasy painter has no equal. Anyway, I hope you sort this out.

Well, they may be currently out of new copies at Amazon, but you must not let this deter you. Check your local comic shop. Check your local bookshop (and bookshops can always order things.) Check www.booksense.com (or in the UK http://www.localbookshops.co.uk). For things by me, it's always wise to check DreamHaven's www.neilgaiman.net site, which they created because I got tired of simply suggesting to people who wanted to know where to get anything of mine that wasn't obvious that they get it at DreamHaven. Incidentally, I did a DreamHaven search for Stardust, and they have it in and also have the wonderful Charles Vess San Diego print.

By the way, the full title of the DC Comics version is Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess' Stardust, which I mention not to be pedantic but because it can help in online searches.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

One down

The best thing about going into hiding to write is that when I need to be utterly antisocial, I can be. Last night I was on a roll, doing the MirrorMask "graphic novella" (which is what they're calling the picture book version). I'd sort of planned to do a 2,000 word, WOLVES IN THE WALLS like book. Instead, I've written a 12,000 word version of the story for it, entirely from our heroine Helena's point of view, which is sometimes the way of things -- one starts out on something that was meant to be an easy sort of instant novelisation and it turns into something quite different, bigger and odder and probably much cooler. It's more like a companion to the film now: you'll learn stuff that isn't in the film from it, and it untangles a few things that otherwise you might have to see the film five or six times to understand (although because it's all from Helena's point of view, it completely misses out any scenes she isn't in). And yes, it was a lot more work than I'd expected, but I'm prouder of it than I would have been of the book I had in mind when we agreed to do it.

Dave's now doing 22 new full-colour illustrations for it (again, he'd originally planned just to reuse stills from the film, but he got all caught up in this book too.)

...anyway, I was on a roll last night. So I just kept working. And somewhere around seven this morning I realised I'd actually finished it, so I sent it to Dave McKean and went to bed. Up around eleven this morning, with a message from Dave waiting letting me know that I'd given one section short shrift, and I looked it over, and he was right, I had, and it needed to be longer, so I simply made a cup of tea and turned it into a full chapter, and did a final tidy.

It went off to Dave, to HarperChildrens, and to Bloomsbury, about half an hour ago. And now I'm going to do all those things I've normally already done by five in the afternoon, like shower and make breakfast.

And then it's back to the Anansi Boys second draft.

...

Back in 1988 in the UK, Margaret Thatcher's government passed a clause in a local government act that was intended to forbid schools from talking about homosexuality as a family relationship or depicting positive images of homosexuality. It was a clause aimed, as one minister explained, at eliminating "the entire concept" of homosexuality, something that many of us found rather chilling. it was called Clause 28 and was introduced by Dame Jill Knight, who, coincidentally, had recently tried to get banned a comic of retold bible stories I'd contributed to. Alan Moore felt it rather personally, and he and his wife and their girlfriend put together a comic called AARGH! (artists against rampant government homophobia, if I remember the acronym correctly). The comic raised enough to buy a photocopier for the moore clan's local gay and lesbian centre, who, if memory serves, then decided that the entire Moore clan wasn't actually gay or lesbian enough.

Clause 28 was repealed in 2003, never having been used to prosecute anyone -- although it certainly cowed and confused a number of local councils.

There are those who believe that it was us doing AARGH! all those years ago that eventually caused the downfall of the clause, but they are probably the same sort of people who believe that wearing silver foil inside your baseball cap will keep you safe from meteorites.

Aargh! is now part of history and so is the clause, but Alan's piece for it, the Mirror Of Love, is available in a gorgeous book form -- http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog.php?type=13. Some of the pieces people did for it are up on the Internet (Dave Sim's is up at http://www.cerebusfangirl.com/stories/stories.html -- it's the first four pages.) Bryan Talbot and I just gave permission for the piece we did all those years ago to be put up online.

It was called "From Homogenous to Honey" which is roughly where you go in a small dictionary if you remove the word Homosexual.

Anyway, it's a bit clunky and there's at least one typo in the lettering, but I do like the fact that, online, it's not four pages, it just keeps going. And it makes its point, although I think it also demonstrates why I normally leave political comics to those better qualified than I am to do them, which is pretty much everyone who doesn't believe that putting silver foil in your baseball cap will keep you safe from meteorites...

http://gaycomicslist.free.fr/pages/blogarch.php?month=2005-03#154 gives you the link to the comic.

...

Yesterday my mother called to get tickets to your University of Chicago appearance (I was trying to get you a new fan!) and apparently they are sold out. They told her to call the day before and see if there are any seats available.

Ah. Well, they sometimes hold tickets back, and they sometimes get returns. Possibly dodgy men with pencil-thin moustaches will be scalping tickets outside the venue (although I wouldn't count in it). Here's the info, anyway: http://arts.uchicago.edu/gaiman.html

Several of you have asked whether I'll be signing books that night, after the talk, and the answer, from what I've been able to establish so far, is yes.

...

Work beckons.

Actually right now it doesn't beckon; instead it holds up a megaphone in front of its mouth and is shouting "OY!" through it, and then making rude gestures as soon as it's got my attention.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Tea Break

I should be busy writing two books right now, but Charles Brownstein of the CBLDF has asked me to let the world know that people who bid on the CBLDF auction are now getting "Second chance bid" e-mails from someone named guttermanhannah@aol.com. Needless to say, these are completely fraudulent, so I have cranked up the generator and am online for five minutes.

(Incidentally the actual Auction winner was Markus Gaelli , who will be using it to help promote Squeak -- go to http://www.squeakland.org/ to find out what that is. I'll tell you what the ship will actually be called when I surface.)

Also Michael Chabon just wrote to let me know that the First Amendment Project is financially out on the edge...

I'm on the board of the First Amendment Project
(www.thefirstamendment.org). It's a nonprofit advocacy organization
that among other functions provides legal counsel to writers, artists,
journalists and others facing prosecution on first amendment
grounds--an organization "dedicated to protecting and promoting
freedom of information, expression, and petition." Recently the
Project represented the teenager, George T., who was prosecuted AND
CONVICTED on criminal charges in California for writing violent poems.
The appeals court overturned the conviction.

The Project is also planning a campaign to combat and remedy the
shocking deficit of respect for and understanding of First Amendment
issues revealed by that recent Knight-Ridder poll of American young
people.

They're also about to run out of money. They went broke defending a
San Diego environmental activist who was sued by a huge real estate
developer for petitioning to protect bald eagles. The plaintiffs
tried--and failed--to sue her under RICO (federal anti-racketeering!)
laws!

TFAP won the court battle but it was a classic Pyrrhic victory. One
more like that and they are lost.

They need money.

There is so much to care about and we face so many demands for our
time, attention, and money.I know.But the First Amendment... it all
starts there, doesn't it? It seems to me that there's really no point
to anything else without that basic guarantee.

If you could manage to contribute even just a little, it would make a
difference. I hope you will. And I'll hope you'll forgive this
importunate but timely plea.

You can make a donation just by clicking here or entering
https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?aid=4512 in your browser.

Thanks.

MC


I've written to him with a suggestion for a way to take the "name a cruise ship" idea bigger and to get lots of authors playing with it at the same time.

Thanks to everyone who spotted typos in the Anansi draft and wrote to tell me about them.

Hugo nominations are up online -- congratulations to all nominated: http://www.interaction.worldcon.org.uk/pressr31.htm

Many of you have written to tell me about this:

http://amaztype.tha.jp/US/Books/Author?q=Neil%20Gaiman

and I got a reminder of a good thing here:

All the struggling little indies out here would be pitifully grateful if, when you mention preordering at Amazon, you could give a nod to www.booksense.com; their Store Locator identifies your nearest independents. Shopping with them, in turn, saves you shipping, boosts your karma and gives your an indefinable youthful glow. Many thanks -- Susan Ramsey, Athena Book Shop, Kalamazoo

Consider it mentioned with enthusiasm.

There's a webpage at www.Neilgaiman.com that we really need to overhaul with links to all sorts of booksellers but which people may also find useful in its current form -- http://neilgaiman.com/asp/buy.asp?bookid=23 is the version of it for Anansi Boys.

And for those who want a little bit more of Anansi Boys than is up on http://neilgaiman.com/books/anansi_ex.asp -- you could always watch me in my sinister beard doing a reading last October at the National Book Festival. It's at http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/04/cybercasts/ram/fantasy/gaiman.ram -- and you'll need Realplayer to watch it. (The BBC's ad-and-suchware-free version of Realplayer is at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/audiohelp_install.shtml.)

And for anyone who's made it this far down the post: Bob Morales feels this is the most inappropriate logo he's seen in a long time: http://www.arlingtonoptimist.org/images/APC.jpg
and Tom Spurgeon's 1000 Things To Like About Comics (in alphabetical order); http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/briefings/commentary/1244/.

And Chicago tickets for the talk with me on April the 19th go on sale today. http://arts.uchicago.edu/gaiman.html

Right. Tea break's over. Back on my head.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Anansi Excerpt

Hello world. I'm actually in hiding, in an attempt to get two books finished by April the 1st. Wish me luck.

I'm really posting because (the people who signed up for the Author Tracker thing already know this) the first three-quarters of the first chapter of Anansi Boys now up online. It's changed a little in small ways since the earliest draft (which is what's up there for you to read) but nothing important's different. You can read it at: http://neilgaiman.com/books/anansi_ex.asp

You can pre-order it from Amazon.com -- http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/006051518X (or from lots of other places, but that's the only link I can find) and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the MP3 CD is coming out at publication date (no, I won't be reading it. But I don't think anyone will complain when they find out who's doing it instead).

Michael Burstein wrote to say I thought you might be interested in a little experiment I did yesterday. On a whim, I took the first section of Anansi Boys that's been posted on your webpage and ran it through the Word grammar check. I wasn't trying to check your grammar, though. Rather, I wanted to see how the selection scored on the Flesch-Kincaid Readability scale.
I posted my results here: http://www.livejournal.com/users/mabfan/105017.html
I don't know if you consider these results significant or not, but it's certainly fascinating.

It is fascinating, yes. I'm not sure how significant it is -- the kind of book that Anansi Boys is has to be written in that kind of clear prose, or it wouldn't work.

any chance i can find a Neverwhere dvd in switzerland??Fran* honest-liar.blogdrive.comps.

Probably not, but the US Neverwhere DVD is, like the A Short Film About John Bolton DVD, Region Zero (yes, it says Region 1 on the info. It's wrong) which means that if you order them from the US, you should be able to play them wherever you are in the world. Deepdiscountdvd has Neverwhere for sale fairly cheaply.

...

For some reason, most people have decided that now is a good time to ask questions that need long, well-considered answers. All I can suggest is that, if this applies to you, you ask your question again when I'm a bit less crazed.

Meanwhile, here's a blog entry you may enjoy, on smuggling paintings into museums: http://www.woostercollective.com/2005/03/wooster-exclusive-banksy-hits-new.html

A few days ago I asked Mark Evanier to explain to me why Writers Guild West and Writers Guild East are currently squabbling. (I'm a member of Writers Guild East, by a handful of miles -- if I lived a few more miles west I'd have needed to join Writer's Guild West. This mostly means, as far as I can tell, I get invitations to attend things I'm not going to go to in New York, rather than the invitations to attend things in I'm not going to go to LA that I'd get if I lived on the other side of the Mississippi . The one time I had to talk to Writers Guild East about something legal and contractual, they put me through to a legal person who said that he didn't know the answer to my question and it was the kind of thing they mostly dealt with at Writers Guild West. But they take care of my health insurance...)

Mark managed to explain the current dispute in terms that I could understand, at http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2005_03_23.html#009729. (Mark's blog, by the way, is one of the few I read regularly -- http://www.newsfromme.com/.)

Also, for your reading pleasure, as I learned at The Mumpsimus -- http://mumpsimus.blogspot.com/2005/03/greatest-cat-story-of-all-time.html -- Fritz Leiber's short story "Space-Time for Springers" is now up online. It's the best SF cat story there is, and if it catches you right it can break your heart.

I'll be talking this summer at Children's Literature New England's annual Summer Institute: http://www.clne.org/works.htm for details.

Finally, if you ever disagreed with a professor about, well, anything, you'll be delighted to know you'll soon be able to sue: http://www.alligator.org/pt2/050323freedom.php. I suspect that the people who will be complaining that their ideas aren't being respected are the same people who feel that the first amendment goes too far...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

from the mailbag

Hi Neil, Are you absolutely, positively sure the Mirrormask book is coming out May 3? I have gotten info it was postponed to September, closer to the release date of the movie (and Anansi Boys). Just trying to get a straight answer, Your friend in the book trade, R.

As far as I know, it's still coming out May 3rd. The illustrated MirrorMask story book, and the Alchemy of MirrorMask art book both come out in September-Oct though. The Harper Collins online catalogue still has it as May 3rd. I'd not worry.

Neil:
As a trademark lawyer and huge fan of yours, I love reading your first hand accounts of the McFarlane debacle. I thought I would let you, and your adoring blog-public know, that a continually active link to the opposed MIRACLEMAN trademark application can be found here:

http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=76283194

(The TESS link had expired by the time I got to it.)

Best,
Emily


Thanks, Emily. (I wonder if Todd has any idea how quickly the stuff he says can now be debunked.)

Neil, Do you ever question the influence of your picture on the back cover of your books? I know Orson Scott Card once said something to the effect once that he doesn't have his picture on his books because he is well aware of his own attractiveness as a human being. Personally, I found that the traditional picture of you on the back of American Gods caused me to envision Shadow as looking exactly like the You in that picture, just as the slightly scruffier picture of you on the back of Neverwhere was how I envisioned Mr Mayhew. I know at least two other readers who shared these perceptions. Anyway, your opinions?

I always used to like knowing what authors looked like, perhaps because I've always liked thinking that real people made the books I loved: it made it even better, somehow, knowing that Mike Moorcock was huge and bearded, that Samuel R. Delany was black, that Will Eisner looked strangely like Commissioner Dolan, that Harlan Ellison looked like a feisty Jewish Puck in shades. (I don't think I ever thought that Zelazny heroes looked like Roger, except on the inside, just as I didn't think that Elric of Melnibone looked like Mike Moorcock.) I wanted to be an author, so I liked seeing photos of authors, because it made them real.

The biggest problem with author photos as far as I'm concerned, is the disappointment that sets in somewhere in the vast gulf between Cool Author Photo and Sadly Not As Impressive Author in Real Life, which is why I try and get new author photos taken every few years, so with luck people don't look at me and feel sadly disappointed at how much older or scruffier or less impressive I am than I was in the photo.

(I don't think there's going to be much chance of people confusing me with any of the characters in Anansi Boys, for reasons that'll become obvious when you read it.)

...

And my copy of New Scientist arrived this morning, with a great article in it about Thirteen Things That Do Not Make Sense. I checked and was pleased to see that, probably just for a week or so, they have the article up online at http://www.newscientist.com/channel/space/mg18524911.600. Some fascinating stuff in there.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Guns and Statues

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek prison guards will go on strike next week demanding a change of their American-made weapons that date back to the U.S. wars in central America almost a century ago.
While antique shops would be eager to get their hands on them, prison guards just want to get rid of their obsolete 1911 U.S. Cavalry revolvers. The guns do not scare inmates any more as safety experts have advised guards not to fire them.


It's something about that last sentence, really. It's sort of like music.


Neil --

I don't know if you saw this interview with Todd McFarlane at http://www.ugo.com/channels/comics/features/toddmcfarlane/default_3.asp

He mentions the Miracleman suit and his future plans for the character. It doesn't really jibe with my understanding of the outcome, but I thought you (or your lawyers) might be interested.

-- Matt

UGO: Has the Miracleman film gone back to Neil Gaiman or wherever it is supposed to go?

TODD: With the lawsuit, Gaiman walked away from Miracleman. I have the trademark for Miracleman. No one wants to say it out loud, but that's what happened with the lawsuit. Everyone was like "Hah hah, he killed Todd," but unfortunately -- or fortunately, depending on where you are standing -- he had to pick some copyrights to some Spawn characters or pick Miracleman. He didn't pick Miracleman.

UGO: Did he take Angela?

TODD: Yeah, he took some of the Spawn stuff. For whatever reason he walked away from Miracleman, so now Miracleman will be in the Image 10th Anniversary book.


Good old Todd. This was the same kind of thing he was doing in the fan press before the legal case. Charitably, I think it's fair to say that he's telling huge and easily disprovable fibs. No, he doesn't (whatever he says in the interview) have a trademark on Miracleman. The shared trademark that Eclipse had was found to have expired in the mid 90s, before Todd bought the remains of Eclipse. (Todd put in a new Miracleman trademark application back in 2001, before the legal case, which we opposed as soon as we found out about it, and which hasn't been granted.)

Beyond that, he's also distancing himself from the reality-based community in his description of the result of the legal case. (I'm not sure what to say about that, other than it's all been pretty extensively recorded.) If Todd actually owned a share of Miracleman (something that became more and more unlikely as we finally saw the actual documentation he had on it, which consisted only of: a contract that said that Eclipse's rights to the character automatically reverted if someone other than Dean Mullaney owned Eclipse, and an expired Trademark notice for a Trademark shared with me, Mark Buckingham and Eclipse) then, yes, he kept that share at the end of the trial. Meanwhile, Mark Buckingham and my share of Miracleman isn't in any doubt at all. I didn't walk away from what Todd had; Todd simply couldn't demonstrate that he owned anything that I was walking away from.

We're in the concluding stages of talks to bring the Alan Moore Miracleman stories and the stories I wrote and Mark Buckingham drew back into print. (The stories are copyright Alan and me, the art is copyright by the artists who did it.)

Currently, I'm also one of the largest creditors of Todd's comic company.

I used to get hate mail from Image Fans accusing me of delaying the Image 10th anniversary book (which was due out in 2002) because, following the trial, I now co-owned the Cogliostro character, and Todd was at one point, apparently, telling people that I was stopping the comic coming out, which came as rather a surprise to me, because it was the first I'd heard of it (and was also nonsense). Cynically, I can't help wondering if Todd claiming he's now putting Miracleman into the just-a-little-bit-late comic is just a way to put off actually publishing the comic in question for another few more years.

Which reminds me -- Randy Bowen did a lovely Miracleman statue, which was released in January 2005:

http://www.comicstatues.com/bowen_miracleman_statue.html





Isn't it lovely? Anyway, it's a start.

...

Good news, former blogger Roger Avary is now a former ex-blogger (ex-former blogger?): anyway, he's started blogging again. http://www.avary.com/rogeravary/journal/journal.php (The rest of Avary.com is currently still down for refurbishment. But he's brought his journal back.)

...


hi Neil,

this is mostly a request to pass on some thanks. Last week, for my birthday a friend of mine was kind enough to buy me one of the Author's Preferred editions of American Gods (whether it is so she can snaffle the reader's copy has yet to be determined, but still :) ). Anyway, it is as beautiful as everyone has said it was to be (and I now have the only copy in Ireland allegedly), I'm exceptionally happy to have it and if you could say thanks to Ruthy on my behalf I should be eternally grateful.

thanks,

paddy


You're welcome. Ruthy, Paddy says thanks. (Incidentally, all of the signature plates were signed in Ireland -- so at least part of the book has already visited Ireland once: http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2003/12/my-exciting-night-finally-tee-shirt.asp has the story.)

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Author's Day

The name-the-cruise-ship CBLDF auction is over: it raised $3,533 for the CBLDF. I don't know who got it, or what the cruise ship is going to be named yet.

On Wednesday I go off for ten days to finish ANANSI BOYS: it's less worrying than it ought to be, mostly because I have a pretty good idea of the scenes that need to be written.

So far the feedback on ANANSI BOYS has been really positive, which has come as a relief. There seems to be pretty universal agreement on the things that don't really work too, most of which I think I already knew on some level but had sort of hoped to get away with (one place I didn't was a scene I wrote -- or thought I did -- from two different points of view in two different places, that I was quite proud of, and that left 100% of the beta readers convinced that I'd accidentally written the same scene twice, so that'll need to be fixed). Right now I'm looking forward to getting back to Fat Charlie and Spider and Daisy and Rosie and Rosie's terrifying mother and the Bird Woman and Grahame Coats and everyone.

Anansi Boys is being published on September the 20th, 2005, in the US (probably in the UK as well, although the UK signing tour won't be until mid-November); I was amused to discover from Amazon that the CD of the MirrorMask soundtrack (which contains the Iain Ballamy score, along with our version of Hal David and Burt Bacharach's "Close to You" and the "If I Apologise" song Dave and I wrote for the end credits) is also coming out on September the 20th, (here's the Amazon link). Dave's designed the CD, and it's lovely. Here's the cover:




Hi Mr. Gaiman,Was wondering if you had any hints on your upcoming Winter project for Marvel. Jason

The mysterious Marvel Project Two? Hints? Sure. It's based on something that was originally drawn by Jack Kirby.

And I think that's probably it for hints for now.

Neil-

I happened to catch this in my local paper, apparently the guy who does the newspaper strip Funky Winkerbean is doing a storyline based on the big "Adult sells sells adult comics to another adult, and gets arrested" thing that's been happening far too often for... well, forever. Here's the link to the first one: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/fun/funky.asp?date=20050303

It really looks like he 'gets it' and I really hope that exposure like this will get more attention paid to just how insanely stupid such occurances are.

- Phil
zerolives.org


It's an excellent storyline. If any of you wonder about the CBLDF -- what it does, and what the human cost of the kind of idiocy we're all fighting is -- than you should read this comic strip and the subsequent ones. (I had to twiddle my firewall stuff to allow me to read it on that site.) It's an excellent portrait of what it's like for small retailers who suddenly find themselves faced with the loss of their livelihood for selling things to adults that other people don't want to read, and don't want other people to read.

Aha! I see that in today's post, you revealed yourself to be a Futurama fan! (But were the brain slugs in that show from Neptune? I know that they were from the Brain Slug Planet, but not Neptune per se.) Because I'm an utter dork, I think it's really cool that one of my favorite authors is also into my favorite (but sadly defunct) tv show. But now I have to ask, who is your favorite Futurama character? It could be a main character or a tertiary character. (And you can't answer with "the Brain Slugs!")

Well, yes, I am a Futurama fan, but the brain slug reference was actually to the place Futurama stole it from, which was Robert A. Heinlein's novel The Puppet Masters (later made into a film. Read the book instead.)

(As for my favourite character in Futurama, you'll find that mentioned somewhere in the soon-to-be-more-easily-navigable archives of this journal. Oddly enough, I was discussing kitchenware.)

...

Lots of windows need closing. So...

Roger Avary talks about our Beowulf at Fangoria -- http://www.fangoria.com/news_article.php?id=3743

Beau Smith (the last Real Man in comics) has a new Busted Knuckles column out, where he says nice things about this journal, and much other interesting stuff besides. http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/busted/

A couple of years ago I bought a program that recorded streaming radio things to disk. The only problem was it made files of such enormous hugeness that I only bothered to use it once, and then abandoned it. Andy Ihnatko does a roundup of what's out there that does that now these days at the Sun Times: http://www.suntimes.com/output/worktech/cst-fin-andy17.html

...

This morning I got up early (landed late last night, in a blizzard) and drove Maddy about 40 miles to a Young Author event (she wrote a story for school that got her into it, and decided that she wanted me to take her, rather than her mother, mostly I think so that she could say "You'll enjoy it dad. There will be some real authors there, and you may even get to meet them," with a straight face. Little minx). I enjoyed it, and marvelled at the energy of the authors in question, selling themselves and what they do and the books they've written to an audience of several hundred kids, in a couple of shifts. It would, I suspect, scare me silly to do that in a way that talking to adults never could. (Plus, I could never sell my books to kids or to anyone with such guileless enthusiasm. I'd be like the Daniel Pinkwater character in his wonderful book Author's Day.)

(And I find myself remembering a conversation with David Gilmour, a dozen years ago, when even going out on the stage that the band were going to be performing on had given me a rush of stagefright, and I asked him if he ever got stagefright, playing in giant stadia. He said no, he didn't. Never. And then his wife, my friend Polly Sampson, reminded him just how terrified he had been the previous week when he had to go in to a nursery school, to play "Happy Birthday to You" on his guitar to a bunch of three-year-olds. At the time I thought "how odd" and now I find myself understanding that completely.)

Took Maddy to Sakura for lunch, and we played our usual variant of naughts and crosses (AKA tic tac toe) on the inside of the chopsticks wrapper, where we each have to draw something rather than doing Os and Xs. (In the past we've played such epic variants as bunnies vs monsters and fish vs body parts. Today it was mouths vs noses and boys vs girls.)

...

Now going downstairs to take an initial stab at dealing with the mail mountain. (Actually, today is the Fedex and courier package mountain. The Mail mountain is tomorrow.)

Thursday, March 17, 2005

This Was Not Dictated By A Neptunian Brain Slug.

Dear Neil,In your last blog entry you mention reading the Neverwhere comic adaptation. Is it out already and I somehow have missed it when I go to the comic shop on every Wednesday,or are you reading advance copies? Just curious as i have been waiting for it to come out since I first heard about it.Thanks,Troy

I'm reading advance copies. I think it starts coming out in June. Reserve your copies now.

There's a Mike Carey and Lucifer fansite at http://lucifermorningstar.com/ (where you can read the solicitation and look at the cover art) and Glenn Fabry has a website of his own at http://www.glennfabry.co.uk/news.htm. The art's amazing, and Mike manages to adapt the novel for comics in a way that, while respecting the story, makes no attempt at all either to sound like me or pretend to be me, which I think was probably a very wise way to do it.

...

The eBay auction is nearly over -- it's in the final fifteen hours, so if perhaps an elderly aunt has just died and left you many thousands of shiny silver sovereigns, why don't you nip over to eBay and name a Cruise Ship in her memory?

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=4535020492 -- currently bidding's at $3,205.

...

So Zemeckis must be a MORON for not knowing that Roger Avery has a blog!! You aren't the only one!!!! COME CLEAN!!

(blink.) Er, Roger's actually closed down his website for a while -- he's been blogging for many years, but was starting to feel that everyone was doing it, and that he needed a break. And being Roger, and thus not doing anything by halves, he's taken down the whole website while he decides what he's going to do next. (It's Avary, by the way, not Avery.)

Dear Neil, In the cell phone pic that Roger Avary took, are you wearing a shiny gold disco jacket, or do you just have a parasite of some kind attached to your back? If the former, you have my sympathies.--Mary Dell

It's just a red traffic light reflected on the back of the black leather jacket.

I mean, there are no Neptunian Brain Parasites. And if there were, what would one want with me? What you see in the photo is definitely not a parasitic alien brain-slug. No. Why would you possibly think that? Here, come into this small room with me while I press my hand against the back of your neck... See? Now we are united as one in the slug overmind. Is it not wonderful?

Hi! Just a quickie for you... For the last couple of years I have been co-running a small-scale professional theatre company based in York, producing new adaptations of existing novels - all sticking as close to the original authors' visions as the change of medium allows. We had great fun with the company, and enjoyed significant critical success (both with our audiences, and with the trained professionals armed with pencil and pad and a 6-inch column!) for shows as diverse as Terry Pratchett's "Eric" ('one of the best adaptations of a Pratchett novel I have ever seen and well worth the 500-mile round trip - Discworld Monthly), Stoker's "Dracula" ('purists will love it' - The Stage) and Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales" ('perfect' - York Evening Press)Unfortunately, critical success does not pay the bills, and the company went into liquidation last week. Very sad for us, and for our small but dedicated following, but we had lots of fun, and very few regrets.So, why am I telling you this? Good question, and thanks for reminding me. I am a long-time admirer of much of your work, and in silent tribute we named the theatre company "The Dreaming". Our website at www.thedreaming.co.uk even won an award 1 month before the company folded!It's the website I'm writing about - more accurately, the website URL. I now have no use for www.thedreaming.co.uk, and wondered if you knew anyone that would like to take ownership of it. I'm not selling it. It's a gift to anyone likely to give it a good home. All I ask is that whoever decides to care for it covers any cost of transfer away from my hosting company and to theirs (mine charges about �5, I believe).I'll miss the old fella, but all relationships come to an end in one way or another, and it's time we went our separate ways...So, if you know of anyone that would use it well, it's theirs for the taking... Thanks for your time.kind regards,Lee Harris

Well, I don't have any use for it, but probably someone reading this might want it.

Hey, we found the purpley 4x4 that Shadow buys in Lakeside. The yellow accents are a nice touch. http://www.houseofbrooks.com/liz/album/2005/03/20050313-06.jpg

Good lord. And I thought I made it up.

Hey Neil,Well, I don't even knwo how to put this... um, I saw the UK cover of Anansi Boys, and it rocked the world out of the American one, I think. Anyway, I had been avoiding Anansi Boys related tidbits for a long time, wanting to read the book without any pre concieved notions and all, but I couldn't resist reading the blurb on the UK jacket.So my question is this: Is the Anansi in this book the same as the one in American Gods? Put another way, at the end of American Gods, Odin tells Shadow about Wednesday, "He was me, yes. But I am not him." I understand what this means, hence my question, is this book a kind of successor to American Gods? Is this Anansi the same as in that book? I also read your answer to the question about movie adaptations of popular books. I wanted to know what you thought of The Lord of The Rings trilogy by Mr. Jackson.Cheers, and excuse the typos please.PS Neverwhere remains, to date, my fave.

Good question. As far as I can tell, the Mr Nancy/Anansi in Anansi Boys is probably the same one we met in American Gods, yes. But Anansi Boys is such a different sort of book to American Gods, being, at its heart, even when things get dark, a comedy, which American Gods isn't, that I'm not sure that takes you very far. Anansi Boys isn't the offspring of American Gods. It's more like an embarrassing, but very sweet, distant relative. Possibly a second cousin.

I'm pretty sure that I've talked about Lord of the Rings elsewhere on this blog, so I'll leave it as an exercise for you to find it.

(But if you want to read a speech I gave last year about C.S. Lewis and Tolkien and Chesterton to the Mythopoeic Society, you can find it at http://www.mythsoc.org.nyud.net:8090/gaiman.htm.)

Blogger may drive me gently mad...

So yesterday I couldn't get the post to publish, and I tried over and over again, without success. And then, half an hour later, without warning, it posted it three times. This evening I wrote a post about three photos. It went:

From my telephone: Robert Zemeckis explaining to me that, as the only one of the three of us with a blog, it would be my responsibility to keep the world up to date on BEOWULF; Roger Avary on the street this evening demonstrating his ability to hypnotise cell phones and force them to do his will; and me (also from my Nokia 6230, photo by Roger). Together, they are the BEOWULF team. (I am, oddly enough, the odd man out, not having any Academy Awards.) Would you buy a motion capture movie from these men?

And then I sent the three photos to a program called HELLO, which publishes them onto blogger. Unfortunately, and oddly, and irritatingly, the only one I could get to publish was the one of me, which rather ruins the effect of posting the caption about the three of us.

But this is Roger's picture of me.





...

Meanwhile today many messages like this:

Hey Neil,Y'know, you're just cropping up everywhere on the webcomics these days...First off, the good people at Friendly Hostility tipped their hat fleetingly in your direction (the Neil Gaiman shopping trap): http://www.friendlyhostility.com/d/20050202.html And then Something Positive went through some comparative angst: http://www.somethingpositive.net/sp03162005.shtml I presume you've been sent these links a couple of times at this stage, but still. Twas worth doing again, just in case:)Oh and hey - happy paddy's day! Elaine

Thanks to all who wrote in and told me.

Neil, I was just wondering what your reaction to Tori's "The Beekeeper" is. In the past, you've normally said something about her albums--even if it's just to mention that you've heard it. I'd like to ask you if you've listened to it. Also, if there was a song you liked particularly, could you tell us that as well? Thanks!Jenna from Marianna, Arkansas

I only got my copy a few days ago (it arrived a couple of weeks back, but I was in New York) and I've put it on my iPod and am getting to know it. Wasn't planning to say anything until I was past first impressions and closer to humming along.

Had a chat with Tori about gardening today, though. Mostly about the names of tomatoes that I'll be growing in my garden.

Question from Philly: What's your take on the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? The cast is without a doubt awesome. Sam Rockwell in Welcome to Collinwood was incredible. It's just that sometimes when I first read a book, the characters take shape against the way its described in the story. First profiles, forms, mannerisms, and then an actual face. In the end my Shadow is completely differant than in your book. I start to think how everyone kinda wants their favorite books to become movies just to end up being disappointed(Like Arturo Bandini being played by Colin Farrell). I guess my real question was what do you think of all these book adaptations(ecspecially sci-fi). P.S. Big fan of Mr. Croup

I'm happily avoiding the trailers for Hitchhikers, and am looking forward to seeing it. All adaptations of books are adaptations, and they aren't ever going to be quite the thing you had in your head. I'm really enjoying reading the Mike Carey and Glenn Fabry Neverwhere comics adaptation right now -- it's not the thing I had in my head when I wrote it, but it's a really cool adaptation. Your Shadow may be different from the Shadow in American Gods but given the seven or eight hundred thousand readers of American Gods around the world, I'm sure there are seven or eight hundred thousand Shadows in their heads, and I'm not certain that mine is more valid than any of yours. Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings wasn't the one in my head, nor should it be. I'd love it if in another thirty years some other filmmaker sat down with Lord of the Rings and made a completely different trilogy.

In the end, it's you and the book, and your imagination contributes to the book and makes it live, and makes it unique.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Weirdnesses and coolnesses...

Beowulf's offices are huge and empty: just Bob Zemeckis, an assistant named Chris, and a lot of empty rooms. On May the 1st Roger and I will deliver the This Movie draft of Beowulf, and soon after all the empty offices will fill with people, all of them industriously doing movie things. Right now it's just Bob and Roger and me, in a little conference room in an empty office, making stuff up, out of our heads.

In 2007 it'll be a Great Big movie.

Yes, since you were wondering, if I stop and think about it, it is a bit weird. Cool, but weird.

But cool.

But weird.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

four days.

So I've been home from New York for four days. In an hour or less I go off to work with Bob Zemeckis and Roger Avary on Beowulf for the next four days. Then home for about four or five days. Then into deep hermit-like hiding for the rest of March, in order to make the April 1st deadline on the second draft of Anansi Boys. [It's a great day for a deadline. It's really appropriate for the book, for a start, and whether I make it or not I can still call my editor and tell her I'm done. ("Really?" "Nope. April fool.")] And somewhere in there I'm also going to write a short piece on the Arthur C. Clarke Awards and a longer piece on M. John Harrison's Viriconium stories, and the thing for Voltaire, finish going over the restored text of Neverwhere (which Hill House will publish, but which will also become the usual text after that) and probably a couple of other things I've forgotten.

Sigh. There may be fewer blog entries over the next couple of weeks.

Hi Neil,As a writer, I think you may find this (http://www.livejournal.com/users/gmth/163530.html#cutid1) either sad of amusing, or just plain wrong. Mayra

Interesting. Well, if the kids are doing it as a vocabulary-building exercise, and someone tells them later that "by the way, using said is just fine" I don't have a problem with it. Learning what all those words mean and the shades of difference between them is good and useful.

On the other hand if they're actually being taught that "said is dead" and that randomly inserting a word from that list is better, then they'll find out the hard way that it's not. Unless they learn it, and then, not being writers themselves, they go on to wind up in positions where they can edit or teach writers, when they will unfortunately need to be hunted down and culled, for the good of the species.

You'll find my own comments on "said" at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2003/12/good-morning-he-exclaimed-perceptively.asp

It's odd -- I do run into people (particularly Americans, for some reason) who believe that Good Writing is impenetrable, and uses Lots of Long Words. I was taught, growing up, reading people like Fowler and Graves, that the secret of good writing was clarity and, where possible, simplicity, and that the aim was, above all, communication. By all means use any word you want, as long as it's exactly the right word for what you need to say.

Neil, A review of Mirrormask on the "Ain't It Cool News" site:http://www.aintitcool.com/secretdisplay.cgi?id=19613 Loved the covers of Anansi Boys, liked the UK cover better. merlot

Thanks.

Dear Neil,Question on Stardust that I haven't seen on your FAQ. When Tristran encounters the nymph turned into a tree she promises him she will tell him three true things; two of them right away and the other when he needs it the most. She gives him a leaf, which he is supposed to listen to when he most needs it... but he never uses it. Is that a loose end or was it intended? Good writing!

He listens to the leaf in the stables of the pub, on the mountain...

...

Hi Neil, I'm hoping you can settle a dispute I'm having with several co-workers. Is it "five years or less" or "five years or fewer"? I've read conflicting opinions in reference books and on the internet. I know that when the noun is plural and can be counted, then fewer is correct. However, does this apply to time as well? Any insight would be appreciated. Thank you. Jeanette

Well, I've never used "or fewer" with years in that phrase (and a quick google of "years or less" gives about half a million instances, as opposed to a couple of thousand of "years or fewer"). Possibly because time in that sense is, thanks to the "or", more amorpheous, like water, and the less would stand in for "in five years or (in) less (than five years)". I'd use fewer with years if I was talking about specific amounts of time. "He learned to fly in twelve years, two years fewer than it took him to learn to conjure ifrits."

...

Right. Off to the airport.

Friday, March 11, 2005

On Board the USS "Your Product's Name Here"...?

Outside my house the snow falls like something from the kind of film where they just ran out of fake snow and have just gone over to throwing white feathers in front of a wind machine, the wind howls like an asthmatic banshee, and some people just knocked at the door trying to sell me insurance.

On the good side, I just cancelled my DirecWay satellite link and put in a DSL line, so even though it's snowing up a blizzard, I still have the internet. (Previously, the satellite would go out whenever it seriously rained or snowed.)

It's only March, and I'm already trying to figure out where 2005 went. I just got offered a wonderful opportunity to make several cool films, only now I have to work out where the time to do it could possibly come from...

I wish I could Buy Time -- just write a cheque, and a few days later a brown cardboard box would arrive at the door containing three months (along with an extra bonus sunny weekend for being a good customer).

Ah well.

A question on the Anansi Boys cruise ship auction - are you going to be keeping veto power over the name? As in, if someone wins and goes for the "USS Fucko Bazoo" will it be that way forevermore? Not that I'll be doing so, it's already past my meager means. Just curious since the eBay description offered no such restrictions and I thought you might want to spell that out for the benefit of potential bidders before it's over. C. A. Bridges

(Hmm. The auction's only been up for 5 hours and it's already over $1,000. Good lord.)

I think we can burn that bridge when we come to it. I suppose it's remotely possible that there may be some millionaire with Tourette's Syndrome who reads my books and supports the first amendment and desperately wants to call the ship the er, Fucko Bazoo (a phrase that currently has 215 google listings, I was just surprised to learn) enough to outbid all comers, just as it's remotely possible that someone at Miramax or Lamy Pens or TeaDirect Tea may decide that this is a heaven-sent opportunity for cheap product placement, and it'll suddenly become the USS Latest Lindsay Lohan Movie or the SS TIVO RULES. But I sort of doubt it'll happen like that.

We have a week to go until we'll all know, anyway.

I suppose I could always eBay the opportunity to title a Blog entry

In Washington DC there's a TV show about SF and Fantasy called Fast Forward, and one of its interviewers -- often Tom Schaad -- interviews me each time I go to Washington, more or less. The last time I was in Washington was for the National Book Festival in early October, so I still have the sinister Hallowe'en beard in the interview. And I look (and sound -- the "err" quotient is a dead giveaway) rather tired and as if I've just that day driven a few hundred miles to be there, found a parking space and walked in to the interview (which is, oddly enough, the case) but I look as if I'm enjoying it nonetheless. I talk about this blog, and about M. John Harrison's Light, and 1602, and "A Short Film About John Bolton", and MirrorMask, and why I write children's books and lots of other things. Watch it at http://www.fast-forward.tv/.

http://www.sequentialtart.com/tarttastes_0305.shtml is a link to a page where some of the Sequential Tarts say nice things about stuff I've written. I'm not sure whether to be embarrassed about linking to it or not. (Probably not.) Hurrah for the tarts.

Dear Neil,
I am a high school student senior doing a term paper on the status of comic books as legitimate literature, and I would be ever so greatful if you would express to me your thoughts on graphic literature's impact on western culture and conventional literary thought. How do you, as a comic book writer, feel comic books are regarded by the conventional literary community? How do you feel comic books should be regarded? Any information you can give me will be invaluable to my research.
Many thanks,
Ally P.


Ally, go and use Google. I've given lots and lots of interviews over the years, many of which you can find on the web, about just those subjects. Also check The Dreaming website at www.holycow.com/dreaming, where many of those interviews have been extracted and archived. Good luck with your term paper.


Hello Mr. Gaiman,

I am Officer Mark Kearney of the Waynesboro Police Department in Waynesboro, Virginia. I am writing to invite you to the 2nd Annual Book 'Em literacy event. Book 'Em takes place on October 22 and 23, 2005 right here in Waynesboro. Book 'Em is a unique book event in that we are probably the only Police Department in the entire world hosting a book fair where the goal is to highlight the connection between illiteracy/poor reading skills and crime rates.

Our website is www.bookemfoundation.org. I encourage you to take a look at the site to get an idea what we are doing. We'd love to have you attend, if your schedule permits.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about Book 'Em or what we are trying to do,

Take care,

Mark


Hullo Mark, it's unlikely that I'd be able to come -- I'll either still be on the Anansi Boys book tour, or I'll be exhausted at home recovering from the Anansi Boys book tour for a few days before heading out to New Orleans for the book festival to accept the LOUISIANA YOUNG READERS' CHOICE AWARD for Coraline. (I'd link to the entry on Coraline winning the state award at http://www.holycow.com/dreaming/ but I can't figure out how to link to individual posts there.) But I wanted to post this publically because I thought that Book 'Em looked like a Really Good Thing (and I will happily send along some signed books for the auction).

At the Publishers' Lunch I attended last week, Joel Klein mentioned that the people who build private prisons in the US use third grade (that's about age eight for the non-Americans) illiteracy levels as their key to how many people are going to be in prison in ten, fifteen years, and how many prison cells they're going to need to build.

Which is one of the reasons I go and click each day at http://www.theliteracysite.com.

...

Following the ridiculous success of last year's tomato crop, I'll be going to http://www.heirloomtomatoes.bizland.com/ to get another variety pack. (And I'll remember I was not impressed by the White Wonders, and how much I loved the Green Zebras, and plant accordingly.)


And lastly (because I have to go and write)...

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=4535020492

The ANANSI BOYS eBay auction is now live. This is your chance to have a Cruise Ship named after you, or after someone you love. It's not an especially interesting cruise ship, and it doesn't transform into a giant killer robot or get shipwrecked or anything. It's a bog-standard Caribbean Cruise Ship. But if you've always wanted to have a ship in a book named after you, or plan to impress someone by casually handing them a copy of Anansi Boys, knowing it has a ship in named after them, which is more than they do (hmm. Probably a bad idea that, actually. In a worst case scenario you'd get a restraining order taken out against you and I'd be sued for invasion of privacy or something. Okay, new rule, the person it's named after has to approve of their name being used) -- or if you've just always wanted to be allowed to name a ship in someone else's book, then now is your chance.

And you'll be supporting the First Amendment.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Michael Zulli's last Sandman painting, not to mention Chicago

I spoke to Michael Zulli just now, who pointed me to Michael Zulli : Official Site where he's now doing THE LAST MORPHEUS painting. He got very tired of people asking him for Sandman portraits, and, having already said he wasn't doing any more, has now decided to do one last one: as he says, "it's going to be the biggest, grandest, most detailed, perfect image of the Sandman I'm capable of". Four feet high, two feet wide, and an oil painting. Michael was the artist of The Wake, and is a unique talent.

At http://www.michaelzulli.com/progress.htm he's detailing each day's work, beginning with rough sketches, and detailing each step. As I write this he's pencilled it onto the canvas and judging by the noises he was making in the background as I spoke to him, he has just begun to paint. I love the idea of someone using the internet to document the creation of art.

...

Meanwhile, I said I'd put up info about the University of Chicago "Evening With Neil Gaiman" talk when I got it. It's going to be on Tuesday the 19th of April 2005, at the Court Theatre, South Ellis Av University of Chicago, and tickets ($15 general, $5 for students) go on sale on March the 28th. All the info, including phone numbers and e-mail to get tickets with is up at http://arts.uchicago.edu/gaiman.html. I'll be interviewed by Gretchen Helfrich,
Host of Chicago Public Radio's Odyssey,
and will probably do some readings as well...

...

Finally, it looks like the young man who said he was writing about Zombie attacks, er, wasn't. http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/news/11086999.htm

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

UK Anansi Boys cover, and libraries



Seeing I've already posted the US cover, I thought I should put this up as well. It's a rough of the UK Anansi Boys cover, front and back covers and dustflaps. (The quotes will be different, and we'll have an up-to-date-photo, but this is more or less what the UK version will look like.) It's consistent with the new edition of all my books in the UK -- they'll all have a similar typeface, and a detail of a pen-and-ink drawing, and should be out in the autumn. (Click on the image for a larger, less distorted version.)

...

Several more requests in the last couple of days for help with high school papers, college papers and the like. Don't take it personally but a) I've not got the time to answer all these, and b) most of the information you're looking for you can find with the neilgaiman.com search function -- http://www.neilgaiman.com/search/search.asp -- which is what I'd use to point you to where I talked about fanfiction copyright issues or the CBLDF or what I think of Shakespeare or what the themes of Coraline are...

A couple of helpful posts in from librarians, offering a little more information:

Hi, Neil. I've been reading with interest the number of e-mails you get from people trying to write book reports and the like on your work.While my first instinct was to quote the Professor in "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe," I would instead like to suggest that there is a wealth of scholarly and critical information available through a nifty database called "Literature Resource Center," produced by a company called Gale. While this is not a database people can just freely access via Google, this is an amazing (and expensive) source of information that many public and academic libraries should have on-hand, and patrons can access it for free. Literature Resource Center duplicates much of the print information that a lot of libraries probably have in their reference collections (Gale is known for its "Contemporary Authors" series and "Contemporary Literary Criticism-Select" works).Anyway, you'd make a librarian very happy by letting people know that, besides providing 18 review and critical articles, 3 biographies, and 3 bibliographies, Literature Resource Center also mentions 9 articles indexed in the MLA Bibliography (a source that English teachers and professors love and respect -- trust me on this one).(And how weird must it be to know people are doing scholarly research on you?) Have a great day!Parenthetically yours,Ayanna GainesAsst. Reference Librarian, Elmhurst College

and also

Hi! I thought maybe you could also remind Ashley (the student doing the Neverwhere book report) that not all information is online, and she might want to go to her library too. I checked, there are several Gale reference materials that include criticism on your works (indexed here ). One to take note of is the CLC volume 195 that has some extensive criticisms arranged in a very accessible manner. Granted, most of them are Sandman, but Neverwhere does pop up a couple of times.*grumbles a bit about people relying on internet sources for book reports and papers :p*amy (the librarian)aka aitapata

Spiders all the way...

Home again, which is good. Lots of fun things waiting here in the mail for me, including Tori's new Beekeper CD and an advance DVD of the Animal Planet Dragons documentary, both of which I'm very much looking forward to.

William Gibson, noted author, was once a 19 year old draft-avoiding hippie in Yorkville, and he's seen being interviewed in this 1967 CBC documentary.
http://archives.cbc.ca/IDC-1-69-1587-10799/life_society/60s/clip11 I was delighted to discover that even a stoned 19 year old Bill Gibson still deployed words like, well, Bill Gibson.

Julian Crouch made sure I saw Shockheaded Peter when I was in New York, and I loved it. Had an enjoyable discussion with daughter Holly on the way out of the theatre, as she explained that it reminded her of Tim Burton, and I told her that things like Edward Scissorhands had, in their turn, reminded me of the Hoffman's ShockHeaded Peter poems I'd read as a boy. There are lots of little video clips on the website at http://www.shockheadedpeter.com/video.html

One Ring Zero did a make-a-video project recently of videos made by the general public -- you can see some clips and info at http://www.oneringzero.com/video.html. (I'm really looking forward to seeing the "On the Wall" video.)

I did an article on what it was like to go to Sundance with MirrorMask (and with Dave McKean) for the new incarnation of LOOK magazine. I think it's on the stands now -- I just got an e-mail from someone who'd read the magazine anyway. (If anyone finds a LOOK Magazine website, let me know.)

Which reminds me:

I realize that if there was Mirrormask news you'd tell us but we're getting impatient....

The current news is -- good news, MirrorMask will be getting a wider release than was originally envisioned; bad news, it's now going to be getting to the cinemas later in 2005 than was originally planned. I think it'll be released in early autumn. More news as I get it.

The big MirrorMask book will still be out on May 3rd, and will be the first thing available. (You can read about it at http://www.neilgaiman.com/books/mirrormask_hc.asp)

...

How do you know when your book is done? When do you say, "Oh, that all fits then, I'm guaranteed no nightmares about adjectives, this book is the book I want it to be?" The cover for Anansi Boys is nice. Do you intend to have lightning featured on all of your novels? ;-)

No, but I don't mind the lightning on novels that have a connection to American Gods and although Anansi Boys is funny and odd and very different in tone to American Gods, it does share one character with that book, even if he dies on page one. (You can watch me in reading some of the first two chapters of Anansi Boys at the 2004 National Book Festival at http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/04/cybercasts/ram/fantasy/gaiman.ram. You'll need RealPlayer, though.) I think Morrow like the idea of using the lightning bolt to somehow denote that the book is part of the American Gods family.

The part of the cover that I wanted, of course, was the web.

How do you know when your book is done? Hmm. I forget who it was that said that art is never finished, only abandoned, and that's true up to a point. I'm never satisfied, but normally there's a point that feels like you've reached the end of a story, that the journey begun is now over, and another point, somewhat later, where you feel like something's been fixed and changed and polished as much as it's going to be fixed and changed and polished -- not that nothing more can be done with it but that any more changes are going to make little difference to the end result and might just make it worse.

"It's good enough for jazz," I think. And besides, by that point I'm normally getting much more interested in the next project, which is another indication that the last one is probably done.

(Right now I'm at the point where I'm suddenly embarrassed that I sent the zeroth draft to anybody, wish that no-one had read it, and am really looking forward to trying to get the first draft done -- my deadline is April the 1st, which seems very appropriate for this book. Mostly at this point it's a matter of writing about six or seven more scenes, and making a few things clearer, polishing a couple of themes until they shine.)

Dear Neil, Love your books, but am horrified by the web on the cover of Anansi boys. You have expressed a distaste for spiders yourself, and even the intrepid Coraline had a thing about them. Of course, in American Gods, the guy turns into a spider- but why? Why do you subject your arachnophobe readers to spiders and to pictures of spider webs?I'll buy Anansi Boys as soon as it is released in New Zealand, but I'll be reading with my eyes closed.Cheers, Sarahjane PS. Please assure me that Anansi Boys won't be illustrated.

Why? Er, because Anansi (Mr Nancy in American Gods) is a spider, and because all stories belong to him. Because stories are like webs, or, at least, this one is. And because I'm perfectly happy with the idea that, while large spiders make me (and Coraline) uncomfortable, that's probably a failing in me rather than of the spiders which are inherently cool and charming creatures as long as they aren't both large and sitting on my pillow at the time.

You'll probably cope all right with the book, but you might want to close your eyes in Fat Charlie's dream on the plane to Florida, when Grahame Coats brings on the wedding cake.

There aren't any plans to illustrate it. And there almost definitely won't be a special New Zealand edition with extra spiders.

...

The CBLDF auction to name the Cruise Ship in Anansi Boys (or to have it named after you) starts on Friday and will run for a week. I'll post a link as soon as I get one.

And to correct something I said last week, it seems the e-book of Smoke and Mirrors only contains 3 out of the 5 stories that are in the UK edition.

Monday, March 07, 2005

ANANSI BOYS: The hardback US cover


This is the sneak preview of the US cover of Anansi Boys. The web was my original suggestion, the web with a lightning bolt through it and a city scene at the bottom was my editor Jennifer Brehl's idea. It came to her in a dream, and she woke up and sketched it before she could forget it. (Click on it for a bigger version.)

good night moon

Much too tired to be posting anything, but this article on Robert Crumb seemed like too good a thing to fail to mention -- http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/crumb/story/0,15829,1431884,00.html

And the Radio 3 Mr Punch was reviewed at http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/34593.html Distorting mirrors, ghost trains, that tall, narrow tent wherein lurked violent puppets. Was there anything spookier to a child than the old fashioned seaside fun arcade? Well, the funsters who worked there often topped the creepy league. This, anyway, was the impression left by the latest play in The Wire series, The Tragical Comedy and Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch (Radio 3, Thursday), which explored the weird parallels between a small boy's encounter with Punch and Judy and the hushed-up furies inside his own family life. Powerful and chilling, the work was adapted by Neil Gaiman from the acclaimed novel he wrote with Dave McKean, and this time round that grotesque squeeze-box voice chanting "That's the way to do it" really was nightmarish stuff.

Hi neil, i hope its all right if i call you that because im not quite sure what else i could adress this as. I've been a real fan of your work for quite some time and so when my teacher offered us the oppurtunity to do a book report (yes, we still have book reports in 10th grade apparently), i chose Neverwhere. This time however we need background information and unfortunately there is none avaliable on the internet. So, what better then to ask the primary source? I was just wonderin what gave you the inspiration to write Neverwhere and did nything in your life influence you to write it? Also, what helped form your one-of-a-kind viewpoint of the world? again, i doubt you read these [being busy with book tours an all] to answer an unimportant email, but id really appreciate it. I hope to hear from you, but i'll understand if i dont.sincerly, ashley

I was going to point you to the old Neverwhere web site, which is up at the gallery section of neilgaiman.com, at http://www.neilgaiman.com/gallery/gallery.asp, which has an interview on it, but that seems to be dead right now (I've alerted the webmistress).

There's a reading guide to Neverwhere up at http://www.neilgaiman.com/books/NW_ReadingGuide.asp but honestly the best resource for you would probably be the interview at the end (and possibly the commentary track) on the DVD of the BBC's Neverwhere -- it's available to rent at places like Netflix.

(I'd forgotten that we had a bunch of audio and video clips in the gallery, along with the photos of me age 3 etc. Am much too embarrassed to find out what's on them, mind you, so you listen or watch at your own risk. We definitely have to make it easier to find things in the next version of the site.)

...

(My favourite moment of this evening was watching Holly talk about her recent Graphic Novels course with art spiegelman and Chip Kidd, and Holly was talking about it as she'd talk about anything she was studying, mid-term on Blankets and all, and art and Chip both had these sort of "Holy shit the world is changing" expressions on their faces that were a joy to behold.)

Saturday, March 05, 2005

"Fame is rot; daughters are the thing."

My daughter Holly was meant to be in Italy right now, but strange European weather and plane problems mean that she wound up trudging back from the airport yesterday, and I changed hotel rooms for one with two beds and she's currently sleeping sweetly in the bed next door, and will be hanging out for a few days until she's ready to try and go to Italy again.

I've learned lots about the release plans for Anansi Boys. It'll be published in the US on Sept 20th, and I'll be doing a signing tour of the US, which will probably go until about October the 6th. At which point I'll fly to the UK and go everywhere and sign more books.

Today is the photo shoot for the next novel (and given how long the American Gods photo lasted, probably the photo that will be used for the next four years). When I was a boy it seemed like all author photos were black and white snapshots of people sitting at desks. The men smoked pipes and the women smiled. Today will be several hours with Kim Butler -- of http://www.kimberlybutler.com/home.html fame -- who took the beardy author shot from the ALA poster, and I'm pretty certain that I won't suddenly start smoking a pipe. I'll report back on how it goes.

Are the five stories in the English edition of Smoke and Mirrors that weren't in the American edition going to be in the new paperback?

Um. I'm not sure. Haven't thought about it.

Let's see. The background on this is that Smoke and Mirrors came out in the US first. When, a year or so later, it was going to be published in the UK, there was some talk of doing a sample or a chapbook or something to accompany it, so I sent the UK publisher four stories that had been written after Smoke and Mirrors (the fifth story, "Eaten", was deemed too extreme to be published by my editor at Avon, but caused nobody at Headline to turn a hair). Instead of doing a chapbook or something, they simply put them into the UK Smoke and Mirrors, and we wound up with a variant edition.

(Oddly enough, the e-book edition of the US Smoke and Mirrors also contains those stories.)

The two options right now would be to put the extra stories into the 2006 US short story collection, or put them into the US mass market edition of Smoke and Mirrors. My hesitation on the latter course is that it might be viewed as a way to make people who already have Smoke and Mirrors go out and buy it again; so it might be easier simply to wait and put them in the 2006 short story collection, while I leave them out of the UK edition of that book. (So spread over the two books, everyone in the UK and the US would have the same stories.) Not sure. I'll chat to my editor.

...

Have you seen this yet? http://www.biojewelry.co.uk/

While there's a there is a certain ick-factor to it, growing your own "ivory" jewelry is kinda cool. It's eco-friendly and has loads of potential (scrimshaw, relics, collectibles: the possibilities wondrous, even before taking into account all the situations in which little bits of unexplained bone could cause consternation, should one so desire) and the ick is mitigated by it not being bone taken from a dead person.

Sheila
www.batwrangler.com


I think I like it, mostly because it feels like the SF I grew up with...
...

http://maps.google.com/, which seemed a little klunky when they launched it, is now either getting smarter or I'm just using it more.

...

Lots of plans to overhaul www.Neilgaiman.com, to make things easier to find, to make it cleaner, less cluttered, to make it possible to (for example) read the whole blog archive comfortably (currently a bewildering series of difficult to navigate weeks), or stumble across the short stories (like this or this) or the bibliographies or essays or whatever more easily.

At present I'm getting five or six requests a day from people who are doing school or university papers about me, and would like help or background or a few questions answered, none of which I'm capable of replying to, and mostly the information they need is somewhere on the site already. (Use the search function -- http://www.neilgaiman.com/search/search.asp.)

I've suggested to Julia the webmistress that we do a survey of some kind to figure out what kinds of things people would actually like to see on the site, and she thought that was a good idea. So expect that sooner or later.

...

In case you missed it, Tim Burton's having a garage sale. Which somehow reminds me of one last thing -- I've got to name a currently unnamed cruise ship in Anansi Boys. I have no idea what to call it, and, a couple of days ago, realised that my utter lack of inspiration could do good things for the CBLDF: later in the week, the CBLDF will do an eBay auction where, if you wish, you can bid to have the ship named after you, your loved one, your dog, or even your favourite word. It's not a particularly exceptional cruise ship, nothing much happens on it, and it will only get mentioned by name a handful of times in the book. I'll announce it and link to it here when Charles Brownstein gets the auction up.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Smoke and also Mirrors as well...


I'll put the US cover of Anansi Boys up as soon as I can. In the meantime, here's the Greg Spalenka mass market paperback edition of Smoke and Mirrors, which should be coming out from Avon Books in the US this autumn. On the cover (click on it for a bigger version), in addition to a holy grail, a sleeping snow white, an angel and the masks of comedy and tragedy, there is also an author, which means that we don't have to put in an author photo.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Voices in my head...

Dear Neil Gaiman,

I just listened to your radio play online by very cleverly following your link to BBC and downloading Realplayer and then going to timeanddate.com to calculate the time difference.

It was great. Just thought I'd say so, along with lots of others, I'm sure. I felt very part of it, listening and imagining. My dad always listened to "The Shadow" while falling asleep when I was a kid, and I'd listen too, drifting off to 'who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men...the Shadow knows.' And I sat there today feeling like a wise kid, which is rather difficult to pull off as an adult. Thank you for it, and Dave McKean too for the lovely piano music.

At the risk of being a real pest, I wrote a longer "I think this" about the play at http://www.jasminembla.webeve.com/. I assure you at least four more people will go listen to the play once they've read it (yeah, spouse, sis and parents).

Thanks again,

Jasmine.


I really liked what you wrote about it (or at least, it was what I was hoping people listening to it would experience) and I'll pass on your appreciation for the music to Dave.

For the next month people can listen to Mr Punch at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/radio3_aod.shtml?radio3/thewire. (It's about an hour long -- and I don't think you need RealPlayer for it.) I have no idea whether we'll be able to ever get it out on CD or any more permanent form, so if you're curious, you'll probably want to check it out while it's available.

(And Mr Punch was a Guardian "Pick of the Day" at http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv_and_radio/story/0,,1429198,00.html -- courtesy of http://www.holycow.com/dreaming/)

...

It looks like the Hobbit-sized people were indeed a new species of human, and not just a dwarfish version of the regular kind: http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/science/story/0,12996,1430393,00.html.

...

Just in case you haven't seen it, a mystery from up Glasgow way:http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/34553.html Happy working,Emilio Englade

A doggy suicide bridge. How utterly Fortean...

...

Hi Neil! Thought you might be interested in a review of "Two Plays for Voices" on the SFFAudio website:http://www.sffaudio.com/2005_02_01_sffaudio_archive.html#110961440615910433 All my best,--Scott

Thanks a lot. I think the main reason why both the two plays worked so well (and why the CD won an Audie Award) was each had great casts, and a terrific producer/director in Brian Smith, who let me do my own adaptations of my stories. (Just as Lu Kemp let me adapt Mr Punch myself.) I love audio stuff, probably more than any other medium: it's like comics, except it does it all in your head...

It's pretty, but is it art?

I know I'm a bit remiss in posting right now. I will do as soon as I get a bit more time. Today I found myself on a panel about things that happened "in the margins", with art spiegelman. Art and I were on the panel to talk to the association of publishers about graphic novels. Neither art nor I had planned a talk, both of us figuring that we knew what sort of thing we ought to say well enough to wing it. But as the panel went on, I jotted down a few topics to discuss while art drew small people on his notepad. Different people on the panel spoke about different things. Then art took the microphone, and proceeded to give, point by point, the speech I'd outlined for myself, sometimes even line for line (my handwriting is small and scritchy enough that I can assure you he wasn't cribbing). I couldn't be horrified, it was too funny. So when it was my turn to speak, now speech-less, I burbled about other things and tried to add grace notes and anecdotes to art's talk, and people seemed to enjoy it. Personally, I think it demonstrated that if you have a panel discussion, if you've got art, you probably don't need me.

Wound up chatting to Don Katz from Audible.com, who was also on the panel, and am hatching lots of plots to make stuff available through audible.com (cheaply!) as we approach the publication of Anansi Boys later in the year. Tomorrow is all talks with Morrow about the publication plans for Anansi Boys -- where I'll be going on the signing tour, all that. (Please, please do not ask me to come and sign in your town. I don't decide where I go and sign. People who run bookstores who want me should talk to Harper Collins about it.)

Lots of people writing to draw my attention to this story, in which William Poole, accused here of trying to "recruit a gang to take over the school," Detective Berl Perdue said.
"He didn't have a gang, but he was attempting to organize one," Perdue said. Police said writings in which Poole tried to persuade other students to take part in the takeover were found.
This article explains that the writings in question were a short story written for English class about a zombie attack. I'd be more inclined to doubt Mr Poole if there hadn't been a number of similar cases of the authorities being unable to tell the difference between fact and fiction (one of which I wound up joining Harlan Ellison, Michael Chabon, Peter Straub and others in an amicus brief, for a California teen who was expelled after showing classmates his poetry), including, famously, the Mike Diana case.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Replacing one lost...

It was just a coincidence that the house power went down for twenty seconds early this morning, just as I clicked SEND, of course. But still. Makes you wonder. (Well, no it doesn't, really.)

I've forgotten, of course, most of what I wrote. I do remember putting up a link to http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/thewire/pip/4uyaw/, which is the BBC Radio 3 page for Mister Punch, and saying that it should go live, with a "Listen Again" thing on Thursday or Friday, and that you should be able to listen to it for the following month (which is three weeks longer than most BBC programmes, but The Wire is a monthly event). I heard it a few days ago, all edited and tight, with lovely music by Dave McKean and Ashley Slater, and I genuinely didn't know what to think, or what I thought about it. I think I'm too close to it -- I wasn't hearing the sound pictures: I was remembering being in the studio watching it being recorded.

Lots of good photos of The Statue now up at Lisa Snellings' blog -- http://slaughterhousestudios.blogspot.com/ -- (before restoration: the keen-eyed among you will see the white line on the frog's arm; but after cleaning, I think). I forgot to mention in the last post that I took advantage of the absence of statue and the presence of some builders to have a little spotlight put in the top of the nook for when it comes back.

The zeroth draft (well, possibly the first draft) of ANANSI BOYS has gone out to a small bunch of helpful Beta Readers, just so some other eyes can see it before it goes to meet its publishers and editors for the first time. I feel like I have a book that still needs some plastering and wallpaper and I may have to move the sofa and change the curtains, but that it is definitely a book.

Right. That's about it...

Hi! My name is Rachel and I'm a first-year student at the University of Chicago. I just came from an exceedingly good lecture/performance by Anna Deavere Smith as part of our Presidential Fellows in the Arts program, and the bill lists that Neil Gaiman will be coming here next month. However, neither our website nor yours says anything about that.Is this true? Please say it's true. You would make a thousand very brilliant, very devoted, and very stressed students (plus the faculty, plus the far too kind denizens of Hyde Park) extraordinarily happy. And we would do wonderfully geeky things for you in order to express our appreciation, like translate one of your stories into Latin, or at least into a computer programming language. Or we could form a Facebook group in your honor. Please, please, please come. We're good people, if gifted with a slight tendency to like the erudite. You'll fit right in. Please?

I believe I am, yes -- I do 't have dates and such yet, or I'd have posted them.
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