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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The signing tour -- Kepler's RIP...

Tour News:

The signing for Kepler's -- http://www.keplers.com/ -- at Menlo Park on September the 28th is cancelled. This is because (as you'll see from the link) Kepler's has just closed its doors for good, rather unexpectedly. It was one of the stores I always looked forward to signing in, with nice, smart staff, good books, and a terrific clientele. Sigh. I'm sad it's gone, and so suddenly. (There's an article on the closure at http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=1707.)

(Remember, if you have a local bookshop you like, buy your books there. Otherwise it could happen to you.)

The two other Bay Area signings are still on--

Thursday, September 29 7:00 PM PDT
SAN FRANCISCO & BAY AREA
Michael Chabon and Neil Gaiman in Conversation
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA
415-927-0960

Friday, September 30 7:00 PM PDT
SAN FRANCISCO and BAY AREA
September 30, 7 PM PDT
Cody's
at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley
2345 Channing Way at Dana
Berkeley, CA
510-845-7852

(See http://www.codysbooks.com/ for details of the event)

...


Neil, Got the new SFX and was pleased to read your interview (notably the comment on this blog...); one thing confused me slightly, however. The words are generally about Anansi Boys yet the pictures are mostly Mirrormask. I suppose that makes sense considering the mediums of each, yet still a tad odd I thought. Nice photos of yourself and Dave McKean though. look forward to seeing you in Glasgow later this year at your signing, Roddy.

I've not seen it yet, although I was just sent a link to the SFX interview with me... (The photos were taken between two buildings. It was windy. That's my excuse for the hair in the photo anyway.) There really aren't many things you could use as illustrations for an ANANSI BOYS article though, especially not if my hair looked like that in the rest of the photos, so I'm not surprised they did MirrorMask pictures.

Which reminds me, over at http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/mirrormask/ you'll find lots more information about MirrorMask. There are interview clips with me and Dave, some film clips and so on. It also has a preliminary round of places that will be showing MirrorMask when it gets released -- click on the main picture and a window with the info should pop up (or just click http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/mirrormask/theaters/). And if you were hoping to see it when it comes out, be prepared for a road trip...

...

Hey Neil, Just wanted to let you know that I went and picked up my tickets to your reading in Cambridge, MA, and they don't have a whole lot left. I ordered mine over the phone and just stopped by when I could. the nice folks there explainned that there had been a recent surge in sales. Just wanted to pass along the FYI to folks interested in going.Thanks Ed

Which I post mostly to remind people who are planning to go to any of the events that are ticketed, to call and get your tickets ahead of time. Don't simply assume that if you turn up on the night you'll be okay -- you probably will, it's only me after all, but the whole point of ticketing is that they know how many seats they have.

Which reminds me,

Hi Neil, I work for Blackwell's bookstore in London and will be one of the members of staff present at the November 8th gig. I thought I'd drop you a quick line so you can tell your blog readers that yes, it's �7 (�5 concession), and yes, it's selling out fast!Love your work and really looking forward to meeting you.Claire x

and

Hey Neil,I was wondering if you will be giving out signatures at the Lenny Henry interviews Neil Gaiman event? I expect not because if they give out 930 tickets and you spent 1 minute with each person you'd still be signing over 15 hours later although probably with the pen held precariously between your toes, both hands having falling off a few hours earlier. So if I want a signing/meet Neil Gaiman moment should I come to one of the other events as well?Cheers, Elese

At the previous London events, for Coraline and for The Wolves in the Walls, in Congress Hall, which fitted a sold-out 600 people, about half the people got in line to get stuff signed, and half of them went home. Normally the shop holding the event tries to have lots of pre-signed stuff for people who don't care whether or not they meet me and watch me writing "To Hildegarde, warm, squishy, intimate wishes, Nel Gaaaaaaa" as long as it's signed, so they can buy it and catch their last train home.

The Blackwells event will be the best for coming and seeing a talk up on a stage, and Lenny reading bits of the book, and me reading bits, and doing interview and Q&A, and all that stuff. But, as you suggest, it won't be the best for having a nice chatty moment. If you're in the UK and you want to make the most of it, the signings to go to are normally the lunchtime ones -- they tend to be more sparsely attended and have room to chat in them. Evening signings tend to be marathons.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

befuddled and bewildered, but home

I've spent much too much of the last three days driving first to Detroit, then to Cleveland, and then back, with an astonishingly patient small girl in the passenger seat of the Mini. And I got a total of 14 hours sleep spread over three nights (most of it on the middle night, when I wasn't driving) so am more than a little befuddled, but happy to be home.

Miss Madeleine, who was the passenger in question, is of the opinion that having the Ditty Bops (http://www.thedittybops.com/) dedicate "Sister Kate" to you from the stage, when that happens to be your favourite Ditty Bops song, is the kind of astonishingly cool birthday thing that's right up there with, er having the Ditty Bops sing "Happy Birthday" to you backstage, not to mention being surprised by Tash and Tori and a secret birthday cake she wasn't expecting. Plus, Maddy got to have a crisis of conscience in a restaurant the following day when she had to decide whether or not she, as a newly-minted eleven-year-old, should order off the ten-and-under kids' menu. (She did.)

It was a grand birthday expedition, and we had some wonderful conversations while she was awake, as the sun came up, when I told her everything I could think of about her great-grandfather, and everything I knew about her great-great-grandfather. Fun.

I was vaguely surprised to discover that the Phil Silvers Show/Sergeant Bilko DVDs I bought from Amazon.com recently, which I played to keep me awake on the drive back (as they work almost as well if you can't see the screen) were bootlegs. At least, I assume that a legitimate DVD wouldn't have a BBC 2 continuity announcer talking over the end credits and telling you that The Weakest Link is coming up next on BBC 2.

Anyway, I'm home, and have just finished signing all the Anansi Boys endpapers for Headline in the UK.

I'm way behind on email and messages, but a host of people wrote to tell me about http://www.overduemedia.com/archive.aspx?strip=20050828 -- the Unshelved comic that's all about Coraline...

And I just noticed that, now Wolves in the Walls is out in paperback, there are bargain copies of the hardback around (Amazon, for example) while you can get the Dawn French audio cassettes of her reading Coraline at bookcloseouts.com at an extreme discount...

Right. A nap is in my immediate future...

Saturday, August 27, 2005

the author vanishes

I just dropped one daughter off at the airport -- she's off to Italy for a semester; and am now about to take another, smaller, daughter off on a birthday road trip. So I may or may not be posting for a day or two.

Friday, August 26, 2005

A post with lots of UK dates in it and one NY one

I woke up this morning to the rumble of thunder, thinking "Er, I put a Rainbow reference in last night's post when I meant something else entirely, didn't I?" And I did. I'll try and work in a casually cryptic reference to Brian Cant and Floella Benjamin, instead, at some point over the next few days. Sorry about that.

The rough dates and locations on the UK tour just arrived. I don't know that it's all set in stone, and it doesn't have addresses or any other information, but it should at least allow people to figure out when they need to skip out on Yoga classes...

Saturday, 5th November

1.00pm Ottakars, Norwich

6.30pm Waterstones, Canterbury


Tuesday, 8th November Event at Institute of
Education
arranged by Blackwells with Lenny Henry interviewing Neil. (See below)

Wednesday, 9th November

1.00pm Borders, Glasgow

6.30pm Waterstones, West End, Edinburgh


Thursday, 10th November

1.00pm Forbidden Planet, Newcastle

7.00pm Waterstones, Manchester


Friday, 11th November

1.00pm Forbidden Planet, Birmingham

6.30pm Borders, Oxford


Saturday, 12th November

11.00am Forbidden Planet, London

4.30pm Ottakars, Milton Keynes


Monday, 14th November

12.30pm Waterstones, Galleries, Bristol

6.30pm Waterstones, Bath


This doesn't include the Dublin signing yet...


*And as a postscript, a helpful message from Scaryduck (aka the man from http://scaryduck.blogspot.com/, consistently the funniest blog on the planet),

Neil,

Just so your blog readers know where to get tickets for your 8 November event in London, a very nice person from Blackwell's gave me the phone number for the box office: 0845 456 9876. The venue's limited to about 930 places, and is "selling out fast". I think the sum of seven of your English pounds was mentioned at some stage.
AC / Duck (Scary)


...

And one for the people in New York -- for September 18th 2005, a benefit for -- and at -- CBGBs:


Tix are now on sale for the CB's Gallery reading (NYC) at http://www.ticketweb.com/user/?region=nyc&query=detail&event=626430

Thanks ever so much for doing this on the 18th, and not the 17th. I should sacrifice something yummy to the scheduling gods.

Best,

J
http://heartonastick.blog-city.com/


Now I just have to decide what I'm going to read....

...

In the month leading up to ANANSI BOYS publication, there's lots of cool website stuff in the works. If you aren't signed up for the Author Tracker thing at http://www.neilgaiman.com/about/about.asp you may want to go and sign up, as they're going to be sending out cool and interesting (and never before seen) e-cards, pictures, and other stuff, much of which, but not all, may eventually end up at Neilgaiman.com. As far as I know, they won't spam you with other Harper Collins stuff. (I just signed myself up with my gmail account.) You can sign up at http://www.authortracker.com/ for information on many Harpers Authors. I suspect there will be much Terry Pratchetty goodness, for example.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

cats in boxes etc

I walked in to the office last night to find my daughters (aged 10 and 20) both transfixed by Glen Feron's Art of Retouching website. They would click on individual photographs, and mouse on them to see the original photo, mouse off to look at the photoshopped version that appeared in the advert or the magazine, and watch as human beings, with all the saggy bits that human beings have, would reshape or change into vessels of pure desire. I'm not sure that they'll ever believe in photographs ever again, and that can only be a good thing. (http://glennferon.com.nyud.net:8090/portfolio1/index.html for the curious.)

Today I made the first batches of salsa, all with stuff from the garden. (And store-bought limes.) I made five kinds: hot, medium, mild, Maddy Mild, and Green...

Let's see.

A few of you wrote and were puzzled about the MP3 CD nature of Anansi Boys. I thought I'd explained it before, but...

ANANSI BOYS as performed by Lenny Henry will be coming out in various audio formats (one of which I can't tell you about until I get an okay and the product is launched, and which I'm only mentioning here so I don't forget about it, and in fact seeing you have no idea what I'm talking about I might just as well delete this entire parenthetical comment).

It'll be out in audio CD, on about ten CDs. (Here's an Amazon link to see what it looks like.) This will be available in the US and also in the UK.

It'll be out in MP3 CD -- only two CDs. (Again, an Amazon link. It's similar to the other, but not the same. It's a bit harder to find on Amazon, but is now listed at bn.com)

It'll be up on Audible.com and iTunes, irritating people all around the world who can't download it for reasons of international rights sales and suchlike.

And it'll be in the mysterious format alluded to parenthetically above, which I'm not allowed to say anything about, probably not even that it shares a zippy sort of name with a classic English children's TV show.

(As I type this, by the way, the MP3 of Lenny reading track one has been downloaded 6,351 times.)

Also, I just noticed that the Amazon.uk page has a small video clip of me talking about Anansi Boys on it -- http://www.meettheauthor.co.uk/asp/playwm.asp?ISBN=773&BW=lb.

WHich leads us to...

Hi Neil.
Downloading the first chapter of Anansi boys now, and it's prompted me to ask you something that's been bothering me for a while. How come much of your work that's available in audio format isn't available in the UK? I've ordered the Audio Collection, and Two Plays for Voices from the US and I know Anansi Boys will be available from Amazon, but why is it that I could download the files if I was in the States, but I can't here in sunny Swansea. And, more importantly, are there any plans to change this?
Thanks for the books, the blog, and for regularly putting a smile on my face!
Cheers
Dave


Well, the Lenny Henry Anansi Boys will be available from Headline. The me-reading-Coraline wasn't available because Bloomsbury went with the Dawn-French-reading-Coraline option.

Bloomsbury really liked the Neil Gaiman Audio Collection and have mentioned wanting to do it, or at least the track on it of me reading THE DAY I SWAPPED MY DAD FOR TWO GOLDFISH. Not sure where that's at.

There are a few downloadable tracks over at www.neilgaiman.net -- the Dreamhaven site -- where they've put up a sample track from each of the Spoken Word CDs I did for them (Warning:Contains Language, Telling Tales and Speaking in Tongues.) Mostly what it would take to get the stuff out in the UK is someone who wants to release it, I suspect.

Then again...

...here i am writing to you. to complain! yes, to complain. you said you were thinking of making approximately 90 pages available on mp3? well, you suck! everyone who gets to hear 90 pages sucks! i'm profoundly deaf and quite profoundly Deaf as well--sorry, had to throw in cultural props--and covetous of a pair of ears that work for 90 pages of neil.

is there any way those 90 pages could be made available for those of us whose cilia/cochlea/hammer-anvil-stirrup/other ear parts have decided on early retirement?

thanks bunches!

erfo/beth

p.s. your daughters certainly delight!--thanks for sharing them.


The audio track I posted is closer to 9 pages than 90, honest. But you can certainly read it -- go to http://www.neilgaiman.com/books/anansi_hc.asp and you'll find most of the first chapter posted. You'll read more than people listening to track one will hear, anyway.


Hi Neil,

Sorry to be so ridiculously picky, and I'm sure you probably already know this - but the cat is actually both alive AND dead - rather than "neither-one-nor-the-other". There's a subtle but crucial difference...

Ian


You're quite right. The cat is both. On the other hand, until it gets to the final draft and typed and is sent off and accepted, the story's neither. So really it wasn't much of an analogy at all. Oh well. (The story is currently typed, went out to a dozen trustworthy and intelligent readers who have mostly written back with sensible comments, all of which are gelling and occasionally arguing in my head, and tomorrow I'll do the last draft and send it to Mr Strahan and he will decide whether it was ever alive in the first place.)

(And no, having sold lots of short stories and got awards for them and suchlike doesn't make me any more confident about something I've just written -- it just adds a new worry, of "what if it's awful but the editor takes it anyway?", something I try and avoid by working with editors I trust to reject stories they don't like...)

Where is this mystical information about your UK dates??? Am I just being painfully blind? I need advance warning to bunk off my Yoga class.

The moment I get it I'll put it up. Promise.

I thought you might appreciate this http://poetryondemand.blogspot.com/ it is the website of a friend of mine who is attempting to sell poetry as a fund raiser. When she told me the idea it made me happy about the world and I immediately told all the literary loving people that I knew, sadly this list was very short, so then I thought Neil Gaiman might think this is cool. Actually, that is a lie I then went on with my life and did not think about it for several weeks until I was puttering around in your blog, then I had that thought.

It was that last burst of honesty, really, that got me to go and look at it. And it really is a fun idea. Personally, I think she's undercharging on sestinas, though. Tricky little buggers, sestinas...

...

And I was thrilled to see that Dennis Kitchen got an article about his life and work: http://designforum.aiga.org/content.cfm?ContentAlias=%5Fgetfullarticle&aid=%23%2C%3E%23%28%0A I've been a fan of Dennis's since the Comix Book days, and a friend of his for about fifteen years, and I never got to congratulate him here for getting the CBLDF "Defender of Liberty" award. For eighteen years he was chairman of the board of the CBLDF and was the voice of sanity. Now he's retired to just do five full-time jobs, I also hope he'll draw more...

Damn. I'm falling asleep. I'll wrap everything else up tomorrow then...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Track one of fifty-six

I've been playing the ANANSI BOYS audio done by my friend, comedian and actor (and occasional blogger) Lenny Henry, since it came in, and it has made me happier and happier (except where it makes me go "How did I let a sentence like that get out? And now it is too late to rewrite it. Argh.") And I keep playing it for people who come over to the house, even the ones who don't think they like audio books.

I've wanted to put up something from it on the blog for a while, but we weren't sure if there were any copyright or licensing issues that might make it problematic. My argument was that it was just like putting up the text extract from the first chapter, only you could listen to it.

This morning the nice people at Harper Audio phoned to say that they would allow me to put up the first track of Lenny Henry's performance of ANANSI BOYS here at the blog. Stick it on your mp3 players...

I should probably warn you that it's a sixteen meg file. And that you don't get to meet Lenny's versions of Spider, or Grahame Coats or Rosie's mum...

Feel free to spread it around (particularly to people on LiveJournal because they may not know).

Here you go. I hope you like it.

False or True...

So this evening I finished a short story, at least in handwriting. Tomorrow I'll type it and it'll be done. In the meantime, it's like one of those cats in boxes, neither alive nor dead. It's about being fifteen in 1976, among other things, and it's called "How to Talk to Girls At Parties" (a title the elder of my daughters finds hilarious). It's sort of hard to describe, and I didn't know how it was going to end until I got there, which is the best and the worst kind of writing. The best, because when you get there and then you do know it's like being the first reader; the worst because, well, what if you don't, or there isn't an ending waiting, or the only end that's there isn't any good? But this time, at least, there was an end and I think it was the right one. Still, it's not typed into a solid second draft and done with, and I'm not yet relieved or elated. Just a bit anxious to see what it will look like when I print it out, and nervous what the editor will make of it. It's proper SF though, more or less, sort of, maybe.

And Fred the Unlucky Black Cat is sleeping on the end of my bed tonight, which he only does when he's miserable and in pain (which is to say, in normal circumstances he's out prowling the night killing probably innocent little beasties). Some beast has bitten or clawed him beside the nose, and I cleaned it off this evening and will get him to the vet tomorrow morning as it looks (and smells) pretty evil.

I hope the Livejournal RSS problem will be solved tomorrow...

Meanwhile a couple of true or false questions have come in...

Rather important for your New York fans. I heard a rumour at the local comic book shop today that there were tickets being sold ($7) for the book signing at the Barnes & Noble on 17th street (Sept 20) and that you had posted a link on the blog. I jumped on my laptop like a lion and skimmed your blog to the point where I had last read it several times, but saw no mention of this. Could you please re-post the link or at least confirm or deny this?

Thank you,
Casey


I think your local comic shop were pulling your leg, teasing, jesting or otherwise toying with your innocence and good nature, and honestly the fact that you couldn't find any evidence of this on the blog should have been a dead giveaway. But I'll post it up here just in case they're telling lots of people this, and not just you. So no, it's not true.

All the information on the various signings as it comes in is going up over at WHERE'S NEIL. This is the link to the US ANANSI BOYS tour entry: http://www.neilgaiman.com/where/2005_08_01_archive.asp#112302364738102144 and it gets modified and updated on a pretty much daily basis. If you're planning to come to one of the signings then bookmark it and use it to check.


Is this true? (from http://www.houseoftomorrow.com/):April 30, 2005 > Work on Coraline Begins Stephin Merritt has started work on a musical adaptation of the children's book Coraline by Neil Gaiman. The projected finish date for this is fall 2006. It will be presented at St. Ann's Warehouse, in Brooklyn, New York, as well as several other theaters around the country.Posted by CG

It's completely true. I'm a huge fan of Stephin Merritt's work, so I'm really excited. (And Stephin's Coraline play will be a completely different entity to the Henry Selick Coraline movie.)

...

Long conversation this morning with Kelly Jones at Harper Collins, this site's webmistress, about the upcoming redesign. It's amazing how much stuff there is at neilgaiman.com that I'd completely forgotten about, and we want to try and make it easier to find.

Which reminds me of a nice article about this blog (and the website) from an Indian newspaper -- it's good to see it's being used as a resource, but mostly it just makes me happy that the world continues, more or less, to shrink.

And while we're sorting out the LiveJournal problems, one question has been answered by Livejournal's Krissy -- The official number of subscribers to your feed is reflected on http://www.livejournal.com/syn/ -- so that's 11,215 at the moment. The number that's reflected on your userinfo is truncated for performance reasons.

So as soon as it starts working again, 11,215 people will be cursing me for filling their friends pages with a mess of previously undelivered posts. Sorry.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Mysteries of Livejournal feeds

Dear Neil,

The reason why your LJ feed isn't working is because someone must've
changed the settings so now LJ is trying to read your Journal page
(http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/journal.asp), instead of the RSS feed
(http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/blogger_rss.xml), and is finding the
former unreadable (hence the RSS parser error message). Let's see if we
can get the folks over at LJ to fix it..

Regards,
Tania


Which is an enormous relief, as I was sure I'd broken something. Here's hoping someone can fix it. (We didn't create the officialgaiman link, and can't do anything to change it...)

... and, as if by magic, Krissy from Livejournal has just offered to help, and to be this journal's Livejournal contact for when things go wrong. I have gratefully accepted.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A Quick One

Hi Neil, re: Blackwell's event in Charing Cross Road. I have a ticket booked for 7.00 pm, 8th November at Logan hall, Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, WC1. I think this is the event you're talking about. If it is, I thought I'd better tell you just in case they forget. Imagine that! Best, Kathy.

That sounds right. It'll be Tuesday, in case anyone was wondering, and, schedule permitting, Lenny Henry will be interviewing me.

Incidentally, Lenny's reading of ANANSI BOYS is really lovely. I keep listening to it, and admiring just how much of a one man show it is. I'm going to ask Harpers if they'll let me put up the MP3 of the first nine minutes here to download, as a free sample -- fingers crossed that contracts and things will allow them to say yes.

Even more incidentally, fans of The League of Gentlemen may or may not have encountered the original radio series that the first TV series was more or less based on, set in a town called Spent. The six episodes are up right now at the Radio 7 site --http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbc7/listenagain/saturday/ -- from 20:00 to 23:00. There's a slightly jerky quality at the beginning, caused, I think, by the audience applauding at the end of every scene, unsure whether they're watching scenes or sketches, but it's lovely stuff. (And will be up until Saturday.)

And marginally less incidentally, Maddy and I have been watching the recently-released DVD of Do Not Adjust Your Set -- it's ten episodes (out of 14, I think) of the first season of Do Not Adjust Your Set (http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/guide/articles/d/donotadjustyours_7772255.shtml), which was my favourite TV show when I was seven. It's not really Early Python, but it is astonishingly good children's TV, especially once it hits its stride, and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band are the house band, sing, act as extras (and Eric Idle sings and plays piano on "Love is a Cylindrical Piano" because Neil Innes has flu). Also, for me, David Jason will always be Captain Fantastic.

I wonder if they'll ever release the second season, with the Gilliam animation in it...?

...

Edit to add: anyone got any idea why the RSS feed isn't behaving? The Livejournal feed is down -- http://www.livejournal.com/userinfo.bml?user=officialgaiman -- but I have no idea what the mismatched tag it's talking about is...

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Special effects added later

The internet here was down yesterday, so this is mostly yesterday's blog entry...

There's an update or two over at Where's Neil about the Victoria and Vancouver events on the Anansi Boys tour. We're still waiting for details about Toronto. No, I don't know why the Toronto event details are so mysterious or problematic or just so long in coming...

[Edit -- after a phone call: I do now, and it sounds like it's going to be worth waiting for...]

Re: V masks. They were passing out plastic, Halloween style, V masks at the V For Vendetta presentation at San Diego, so presumably they're obtainable from the studio.
Also, just walked by the Blackwell's in Charing Cross Road, and they have a sign up for their fall signing events which includes your Novemeber one. The description includes a note that your past two have sold out, so be sure to order tickets early. It appears it's possible to order them now, so you might want to alert the blog readers to this.

Consider them alerted, more or less (well, they're alerted, but since I haven't been sent a confirmed date and time yet I can't post it here, but it's somewhere early in November). For Coraline and for Wolves in the Walls, I did readings/signings for Foyles, so this year , for Anansi Boys, Headline decided it would be fairer to give other booksellers a go, and Blackwells got it. Oddly enough, Andy Quinn, who organised the Foyles events, has now crossed the road and is organising the Blackwells event. I know we're in a larger hall than we were last time...

And plastic V for Vendetta masks aren't the pressed- and -moulded cardboard Guy Fawkes masks of my youth (which aren't for wearing, but for putting onto a guy and burning).

Dear Neil,Why not make your own Guy Fawkes masks? You could simply find a Guy Fawkes picture you like on the internet, use your computer or a copy machine to enlarge it, and then print it on or rubber-cement it to card stock or 2-ply Bristol.Best regards,Helana

See above. When I was a kid, during the week or so before fireworks night, shops sold Guy Fawkes masks (V wears something that looks like one of them), that you could place on the face of the guy you were going to burn. If anyone reading this knows of anywhere that still makes them, let me know...

Hi Neil,I was surprised to notice that you didn't mention anything on your journal about the UK premiere of 'Mirrormask' in Edinburgh yesterday. Just wondering if there was a reason for that? I'd also like to say that it is a beautiful and wonderful film, and I think everybody there absolutely loved it. I hadn't realised before that Dave McKean was going to be doing a Q&A afterwards, so that was a nice surprise, and what a very lovely man he is. :)Thanks for the stories,Tina

Well, I wasn't there and didn't really have anything sensible to say about it other than "MirrorMask is showing at the Edinburgh Festival today, but unless you've already got your ticket you're out of luck".

We got a nice review in The Glasgow Herald http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/45316.html:

Film festival
August 19 2005
Mirrormask

This ravishingly visualised and sharply original fantasy marks the directorial debut of Dave McKean, the British illustrator best known for his work with the celebrated fantasy writer Neil Gaiman, who wrote the script. McKean's distinctive visual style is stamped all over the film, but it's no mere showcase for his artistic virtuosity. Rather, it's a sensitively observed portrayal of adolescent dreams and woes, which just happens to take place in a magical realm ruled (in the grand tradition of Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz) by two competing Queens. Warm, funny, and thrilling in its painstaking artistry, this is the kind of British cinema we need more of. Stephanie Leonidas is lovely in the lead role of 15-year-old Helena; Gina McKee and Rob Brydon co-star.

And the Daily Telegraph -- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2005/08/22/bfedin22.xml
A very different coming-of-age story can be seen in MirrorMask, the feature film debut of acclaimed artist Dave McKean. This is a boldly imaginative fantasy about a teenage girl (Stephanie Leonidas) who wants to run away from the circus owned by her parents (Gina McKee and Rob Brydon) and join real life. Instead, after a flaming row with her mother, she is transported into a strange parallel world, where everyone wears masks and mythical creatures run riot - sphinxes, gryphons, orbiting giants.

The script was co-written by Neil Gaiman, with whom McKean has already mapped out a dark and dream-like territory in comics (The Sandman, Mr Punch) and children's books (Coraline, The Wolves in the Walls). The film's visual world is extraordinarily rich, mixing live action with computer animation in a stunning explosion of textures. It's possible to place MirrorMask in a context that includes Terry Gilliam, Jan Svankmajer and Jim Henson's 1980s fantasies Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal - but the truth is that it's a one-off, the most original vision to come out of British cinema for some time.


The Bank of Scotland Herald Angel awards were given out to Edinburgh Festival things, and MirrorMask was the film that was given one -- details at http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/45381.html

Lots of people in the UK have been writing in to find out when Sony UK are going to be releasing it in the UK; several of you have asked if there's anyone they can write to directly, or petition. Given the reviews and the reception so far, I can't imagine it would come to that, but I'll try and find out more information here.

...

I said I was done on talking about Beowulf here until it starts shooting, and really I am. But still...

Lots of messages coming in from Beowulf fans around the world, of which the kindest ones say words to the effect of "I read something in a newspaper about the plot of your Beowulf movie and I don't like it. If you're going to change the plot that much, why call it Beowulf?", and of which the less restrained reminded me mostly of the kind of things I saw posted on Aint It Cool News when they announced that Spider-Man's web-shooters in the movie were going to be biological not inventions, leading me to suspect that Beowulf fans have more in common with hardcore Marvel continuity fans, in terms of having an emotional investment in the details of the story, than I had previously imagined. But I digress....

I'm not quite sure how to get across "None of the newspaper bits about Beowulf that you've read were written by people who had read the script or knew what they were talking about," in any other way than that. I thought I had explained it yesterday, but if I did it didn't seem to take. Mostly the articles you are reading are written by people who don't know what Beowulf is, then copyedited and rewritten by other people who don't know what Beowulf is, in order to explain to the casually browsing reader why the newspaper or webpage is running a photo of Angelina Jolie.

Trust me, this joke article -- http://www.pugbus.net/artman/publish/08202005_beowulf.shtml -- is as accurate as most of the stuff I've seen in print so far describing what the Zemeckis Beowulf is going to be like.

It's like watching some strange game of Telephone, in which each newspaper adds a little made-up bit to the story, and the next newspaper copies that story or changes it a little, and they all pretend they know what they're talking about. ("The filming of the new movie starts in September. The film crew will use the stop-motion technology, meaning the cast will have to act in studios, whereas all special effects will be added afterwards", we learn, in one lovely piece of nonsense that doesn't even refer to the plot.)

I don't think anyone who's seen the script is talking -- certainly there hasn't been an article yet that made me go "Good lord, this is actually written by someone who's read the script, I wonder how they got it?" (I received an e-mail the other day from the wife of our consulting Anglo-Saxon Scholar informing me that he was taking his confidentiality agreements seriously enough that he hadn't shown the script to her.) I'm sure that sooner or later something not fake will show up on AICN but currently everything I've seen written about the plot of our Beowulf movie has been imaginary.

It's also probably worth reminding people that the point of using the performance capture technology is that the characters don't have to look like the actors playing them. So Grendel will not actually look like Crispin Glover, nor Unferth like John Malkovitch, and so forth...

And now I really am done. By all means feel free to hate our Beowulf movie, or hate Beowulf and Grendel, but you should probably wait until you've seen them, or know more than a few fragments of casting, before you do. Personally, I'm at least going to wait until the film's been made before making up my mind what I think.

And you can always take comfort in reminding yourself that the poem was around a long time before Roger Avary and I decided to see if we could retell it as a movie, and it will be around long after all such movies have been long forgotten...

(Edit to add: Glad to see that, like all online communities, the Anglo-Saxon community seems to contain the voices of reason alongside the ones who like yelling: http://www.livejournal.com/users/othinn/63225.html)

...

Dear Neil,

I was at the pre-opening event of the new Centre for Children's Books yesterday (I've written what is probably more than you want to know about it in my LiveJournal http://www.livejournal.com/users/shewhomust/27424.html). Part of the entertainment was a wonderful theatre / dance / abseiling outfit called Scarabeus, who performed to a soundtrack of fragments of music and words.

And I thought you might like to know that one of the texts they sampled was The Wolves in the Walls. (It worked very well)

Thanks for all the good stuff to read

Jean


You're welcome, and how marvellous. What a great-looking place. I hope it thrives.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

What you do when you imagine yourself unobserved

I'm trying to remember the last time I was alone in the house, and I can't, but out of the blue it's happened tonight. Everyone else is somewhere else. It was just me and Maddy, but then, after an afternoon of running a lemonade stand with three friends, Maddy decided that she and her friends needed to have a sleepover. I tried suggesting vaguely that I'd be happy to take her and all her friends to a movie or something, but that didn't work. They need to give each other makeovers and do the things that only almost-eleven-year-old girls do, I was assured, as I dropped her off at the friend's and waved her goodbye.

So I came home to an astonishingly empty house, picked an ear of corn from the garden, cooked and ate it, and, faced with an infinite number of things I could possibly do in a house on my own, I decided I might as well carry on working on an extremely overdue short story. Which, I decided, my pen being empty, I would write in brown ink. This plan stalled immediately, as I was unable to find a bottle of brown ink. Not a problem: I simply decided finally to utilise the as yet untouched Private Reserve Ink Mixing Kit I was given for my birthday last year to create a shade of brown that would be glorious and lovely and the perfect colour to write a short story in. How hard can it be to make brown? I thought, It's just red and green, and I have lots of different reds and lots of different greens, so I'll just put a bit of each in, and I'll be away, which I did, and before long I had managed to transform lots of pretty ink colours into an entire bottle of ink the colour of toxic sludge: an unhealthy-looking liquid the exact shade and texture of industrial run-off after a heavy rain. It didn't look like anything you'd want to use to write a short story with, unless it was a very strange story about things with too many legs writhing up out of the old dump, and this story wasn't meant to be one of those.

Luckily, somewhere in all the messing around with ink bottles, I'd found an overlooked bottle of brown ink, so I filled my pen with that, and now I shall go and write, leaving the bottle of Toxic Sludge Ink to squat malevolently alone on the desk in the office, waiting patiently and inevitably for its time to come.

Friday, August 19, 2005

art, newspaper genetics, dead celebrities

I'm posting this link -- http://www.wefixart.com/ -- because I'm not actually certain what I think of it. Or rather, I really like it, with certain reservations. As an art project, paintings were bought from eBay for less than five dollars -- mostly prints of bad art, paintings on velvet and such -- and then handed over to 33 artists who worked into them, painted over them, made things out of them, put them in jars, etc. And will then be putting them back on eBay to sell.

And I'm puzzled about my reservations. I mean, I love A Humument (and was thrilled, when Googling it just then to check the spelling, to see that there is now an official Humument website at http://www.humument.com/ and surprised to find I've been spelling it wrong all these years) and working into other work isn't exactly new. I suspect it's just the eBayness of it all, the possible connection to the original artists, that I find myself catching on, because if someone told me about a project where you sent 33 artists out to junk shops to buy art for less than $5 and Do Stuff To It, I'd not blink.

Anyway, it's fun seeing what they started with, and what they ended up with.

...

And while I don't plan to talk about Beowulf again for a while -- probably until it starts shooting in September -- I am fascinated by the way that the media works. Or at least, the way they copy from each other and don't check things.

Two days ago we got a Variety article and a Hollywood Reporter article. Variety described Angelina Jolie as playing "the Queen of the Night" or somesuch, and added some details that I think they'd either made up or misunderstood or just got from someone who hadn't actually read the script. The Hollywood Reporter simply described her, accurately, as playing Grendel's Mother.

Since then the press articles have followed thick and fast, and are still turning up from all over the world. And I can tell who's basing their article on the Variety one and who's basing it on the Hollywood Reporter, and who's basing their article on other articles in other papers. It's a pity that The Independent, who did a really interesting article, read Variety and went haring off in the wrong direction (http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/film/news/article306932.ece), while the Guardian, amusingly, seem only to have read The Independent and their own press clippings, so they're still bizarrely convinced that Beowulf will be made using Stop Motion technology, and that Anthony Hopkins, Crispin Glover et al will somehow be acting by holding themselves in position, moving a teeny bit at a time, 24 times for every second of film. Funny Guardian. Silly Guardian. Lazy Guardian.

...

On the Powells.com interview, the moment I put down the phone I thought "Oh the book whose title I couldn't remember at the end of the interview was Grammar Without Tears by Hugh Sykes Davies," and meant to drop the interviewer a line and tell him so, but I forgot. So to make up for it, here's a link to one of my favourite Hugh Sykes Davies poems. It's called Poem. http://www.poemhunter.com/p/m/poem.asp?poet=6775&poem=30557


And in my disorganisation I've mislaid the email from the American Gods fan who thought I'd enjoy http://thepaincomics.com/weekly041229.htm. But I did, and thanks.


Hello Neil,
I finished rereading the Sandman Collection again the other day, in conjunction with the Sandman Companion.
I didn't see it mentioned so I was wondering, in the final issue in The Wake (The Tempest), you have a scene discussing Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Day and the "remember, remember..." rhyme.
Was this a nod to the 'V is for Vendetta' comic?

Just curious.
Thank you for deciding to write.


No, just a nod to Bonfire Night. What I'm hoping for most from the V for Vendetta movie is the return of cardboard Guy Fawkes masks. I tried getting hold of some in 1996 for my own Bonfire Night, and couldn't, and friends of mine at the BBC said "Oh, we're the BBC, we can get anything," and came back a few weeks later saying "Nobody seems to make them any more". So I shall keep my fingers crossed...

...

Hi Neil. I have a copyright question that have not been able to find an answer for as of yet and thought I might run it by you. If I want to include a dead celebrity as a character in a short story or novel what is stopping me from doing so? Are there certain permissions I need to attain first? Will an anvil fall out of the sky and land on my head? I know you're busy but thank you in advance if you find the time to answer me. I can't wait to read Anansi Boys. May your well of stories always flow over the brim.

And I really didn't know. So I asked the shadowy figure behind Scrivener's Error, the best blog on matters legal and copyrighty (http://scrivenerserror.blogspot.com/). And this is his sensible reply....

The answer, as you might have gathered, is "it depends."

* Never use a dead celebrity who was a resident of California or Tennessee
as the central character of a work, or put "words in their mouths".
California and Tennessee have statutes that make "celebrity rights" work
very much like trademarks.

* Don't use a dead celebrity in a manner that might imply that the celebrity
is endorsing a product or service (or, conversely, criticizing a competitor).

* Don't use a dead celebrity in any fashion of attainder--that is, implying
or doing something that might "taint" other family members (who might be
surviving). For example, stating that dead celebrity X was a well-known
worshipper of the Old Ones who raised his children in the ways of Cthulhu
just might irritate any of those children, even though they're not the
"subject" of the statement.

Beyond that, I always advise simple courtesy. If a statement might be
defamatory or invasive of privacy or infringing on the publicity of a live
person, I don't think that statement should be used regarding a dead celebrity.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The filling in of mystery initials

It looks like all the mysterious Beowulf initials I posted a few weeks ago have now been filled in:

Ray Winstone ("Sexy Beast") has signed on to play the title character and will be joined by Glover as Grendel and Jolie as Grendel's mother. Rounding out the cast are Anthony Hopkins, Robin Wright Penn, John Malkovich, Alison Lohman and Brendan Gleeson.
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/film/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001017413

Someone sent me the story from English tabloid the Sun, http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2004580002-2005380375,00.html which left me marvelling at the Sun's casual use of the word eponymous while still not being able to spell Grendel.

Dear Neil, Very sorry to hear that you are coming to Denver on September 27th. Why? Because I have to go to Romania for 3 weeks for work! I have been so looking forward to meeting you, hearing you speak and read, and getting my hands on "Anansi Boys"!
I just called the Tattered Cover and they said that it was a "two book from home and as much from the store as you like" signing limit. I have both "Good Omens" (my favourite book in the whole world) and "American Gods" in hardback which I wanted to ask you to sign for me. But now, as I can't be there, I would need to ask my friend (a fellow fan) to get them signed. She has her own books she will want signed, so this is a cause for concern. Is this 2-book-from-home limit at all flexible? Or do I need to find a warm body to act as a stand in for me in the line?Best Regards, Debby


The warm body option is probably the most reliable. You will, of course, owe your friend who stood in line for ages for you but doesn't know who I am or read anything I've written, an enormous favour.

Having said that, you can assume that most of the bookshops on the tour will be happy to get a copy of Anansi Boys signed for you (and, for some of them at least, anything else of mine they sell) if you can't be there. (You just phone up with a credit card and order books before the signing and tell them you want them signed.) But still, they won't want to take delivery of your own books to get them signed.

Hi Neil, Just a quick note to let anyone know that there's a good interview with you at Powell's http://www.powells.com/authors/gaiman.htmlI mean, I'm sure you're quite aware that it happened, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it.
I used my limited bookseller powers to get Anansi Boys, which (as if you needed more positive reviews) is a very good book indeed. I think you mentioned ages back that you were trying to write the sort of book people would treasure, and pass on to their friends and remember fondly. For what it's worth, I think you got there. One last thing: I know everything's up in the air and the work of a bestselling author is never done, etc, but is there much chance of a reading/signing or other -ing happening in Dublin for Anansi Boys? Or anywhere in Ireland, given that it's not really that big...Cheers,Eoin

I'm glad you liked it. Tell people... (I was long ago told, and firmly believe, that word of mouth is still the best way to get people to try new books.) (Which reminds me -- Gene Wolfe's short story collection Starwater Strains, and Margo Lanagan's collection Black Juice are both marvellous, and if you like short stories you should buy them and read them. And if you don't think you like short stories you should buy them and read them and find out how wrong you've been. End of word of mouth.)

I'll be coming to Dublin at the end of the UK tour -- probably around Nov 16th. I'll be coming in for Bloomsbury, not Headline, and the focus of the signings and interviews will be the illustrated MirrorMask children's book that Dave McKean and I have done, but obviously I'll happily talk about and sign Anansi Boys too.


Hi Neil,

I just wanted to update you on the date for ticket sales for your Vancouver event. Ticket will be on sale at the Writers Festival box office beginning September 19 (September 14 for members only). They will be available at Ticketmaster Sept 1. Sorry for any confusion.

Best regards,
Ann McDonell
Development & Marketing Manager
Vancouver International Writers Festival


Thanks, Ann.

Will the BBC re-broadcast "Signal to Noise" anytime soon?

Not as far as I know, but the adaptation I did for the BBC (starring Warren Mitchell) is available on CD with an extra chapter of art and story (in the CD booklet) from http://www.allenspiegelfinearts.com/product.html (it's the small blue face on the second row down, fifth from the left). You may also be able to order it from the DreamHaven Books site at neilgaiman.net


Is Dave McKean really working on The Vampire Lestat Musical?
Sincerely hoping,
Brianna, Southern California


Yup.(http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2004/08/its-alive.asp)

Lots of people asking things like this one:

Dear Neil,

Is it all right if we bring you presents of food and/or drink to your signings (specifically, the one at Cody's on September 30)? If so, then what is your favorite kind of sushi?


While it's certainly true that there have been times when people bringing food has been a lifesaver, sometimes for me and sometimes for the people standing in the line waiting to see me, it's also really, honestly, probably not a good idea to bring sushi to signings. Long signings in warm bookshops... Consider me already grateful, but better to bring something that has less risk of giving the author food poisoning. The people at the place I'll be the following day will thank you...

...

I've been trying out lots of different spam blockers recently, as the volume of spam coming in has been getting worse every day, and I was convinced there had to be something better than Nortons, and better than Thunderbird, and having been disappointed by Qurb and Ella, I just started using Cloudmark Desktop, which is working like a charm. So I thought I'd stick in a happy a plug in for it here.

...


Hi Neil,

Thanks for sticking up for librarians!

It was disturbing to see that the city's chief librarian ordered the removal of the comics. If you read Denver Public's Collection Development Policy (http://www.denver.lib.co.us/about/collection.html) it says, "The Library upholds the right of the individual to secure information, though the content may be controversial, unorthodox, or unacceptable to others." More interestingly, Appendix 4, pg. 12, of the longer, PDF version says, "The item in question will not be pulled from the shelf during the reconsideration process."

Books are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. The fact that the chief librarian has removed them before the review is very interesting (in a bad way). The librarians I know also firmly promote literacy in languages other than English. Denver PL's website can be read entirely in Spanish by clicking a button. It's sad, that from this article at least, DPL seems to be catering to a group opposed to a population they clearly try hard to serve.

Also, that article is very misleading. I looked up Endless Nights in Denver Public's online catalog and it is labeled as young adult. In library lingo, young adult or YA means teens (12 or 13 and above), and juvenile means 11 or 12 and under. And as you said, librarians typically divide books by age so as to be easy to find. Also, doing a search in their catalog of the fotonovelas listed in the article, the books are not cataloged as children's items, nor, according to the catalog are they shelved in the juvenile section, but rather in the "language" sections. Sigh. Hopefully this will get worked out and the comics will be put back where they belong.

-Blythe


I hope so. It's a pity that Young Adult is such a confusing catch-all sometimes, encompassing both twelve year olds (who would probably find Sandman boring and confusing and pointless) and eighteen year olds (who might well be ready for it).

Hi Neil,

I read your journal quite regularly. As a parent I especially enjoy your stories about the girls.

I don't normally write, but I noted that your book signing is on September 24th in DC at the Mall. It should be quite interesting. There's going to be a large anti-war gathering in DC at the the same time. Guess I'll be at both.

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=1&ItemID=8294


It should be a busy day in Washington DC.

How often do you update sections of your website such as 'Awards'? Seems to me I remember you winning a Hugo in 2004 for a Short Story...

Joel Lord
2004 World Science Fiction Convention Hugo Ceremony Stage Manager


Not often enough, obviously. And then I lose track of them, so if anyone notices awards that should be there, let me know. We'll try to get it updated in time for the site's upcoming regeneration...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Practically Arkham

Am in Providence for the day, helping settle my son into his new living quarters. I think he needs a copy of the Library of America H. P. Lovecraft as a housewarming present, so that when the geometries of the house become subtly wrong, and he finds himself having to rummage through old newspaper clippings to find out what happened to the apartment's prior tenant, he'll at least know that this is perfectly usual. That way he'll also know to keep a diary explaining all this for us, and finally vanish... in a welter.... of italics and ellipses...

Let's see. Terry Gilliam says he still wants to make Good Omens. (It's at the very end of the article.)

Dave McKean talks about Signal to Noise.

Time Out talks about the Locarno Film Festival:

But best of the lot was Dave McKean's first feature, 'Mirrormask' (written with Neil Gaiman), which makes marvellously inventive use of both digital animation and live action to turn a teenage girl's feelings of guilt about her mother's illness into a funny, frightening and absolutely engrossing odyssey into a weird and wonderful darklands populated by all manner of bizarre beings. A terrific addition to the tradition of films that includes the likes of 'Time Bandits' and 'Brazil', it boasts an extraordinarily strong lead performance from Stephanie Leonidas (currently on our screens in 'Yes'); trust me, this young woman will go far.

The Associated Press has picked up on the First Amendment Project auction, in hundreds of newspapers around the world. (Here's an example.)

Chris Bridges is funny and wistful about it.

And I like CNN's opening paragraph For the right price, Stephen King will kill off your mother-in-law.

Mr. Gaiman,Back on March 5th (I love your journal's Search function!), there wasn't a decision yet about whether the five "missing" stories would be in the mass marked edition of Smoke & Mirrors, or be held til next year's short story collection.Assuming you know by now, what with the mm edition coming out soon, what was the final decision?Thanks much,Mark James

We decided to leave them out, to keep the edition consistent, and put them in the next short story collection, which should be out around this time next year, and which will probably be called Fragile Things.

Right. Gotta run.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Probably the Tommies...

A couple of BEOWULF FAQs. Well, sort of...

Will Beowulf in the upcoming movie with the same name have a helmet with horns or wings? Since the real vikings never had such helmets, will this be a movie about how they really looked or about the look the populare culture have created about them?


I don't believe that there will be any horned or winged helmets in Beowulf, but that's not up to the writers, that's up to the designers and the director.

The whole horned helmet thing actually seems ever-so-slightly less cut and dried than "the real vikings didn't have such helmets", though. There were horned helmets -- probably not in Viking times, but earlier (but then, Beowulf is itself set earlier than Viking times) -- take a look at, for example http://www.tirbriste.org/dmir/ArmsArmor/01/0101/0101.html -- although they are more likely to be ceremonial or religious than they are battle helmets, mostly because I suspect that if you've got a horned helmet on during a fight the bloke you're fighting with would grab a horn and pull the helmet in question either (a) down over your face, or (b) off entirely before hitting you over the head with something sharp.

Which brings me to current Beowulf FAQ #1, which is, paraphrased, because it's different every time, Will my favourite but honestly rather obscure bit of the poem be in the movie?

And the easiest answer is, probably not, no. It may be, of course, you might get lucky, but I wouldn't put money on it. Books aren't films, and poems aren't films even more than books aren't films. When Roger Avary and I wrote it originally we decided that anything that was actually reported as happening in the original poem happened like that, but that anything where we only have someone in the story's word for it what happened might -- or might not -- have happened like that. But we still didn't try to put everything in the poem onto the screen. When Bob Zemeckis bought the script and assumed the director's mantle, he wanted some small changes from the narrative of the poem and one big change, which, because we understood why he wanted them made, we were willing to make. And then there was some trimming to do before the film gets shot. (It's not an epic. It's really a story about how the choices we make when we're young can affect us when we're old, and even that's probably saying too much.)

Yes, there is still some Old English in it.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,I was wondering if you wouldn't mind helping me choose which event to see you at in September. I'm currently deciding between the interview with Susannah Clarke, the book signing at B&N in NY, and the National Book Festival in D.C. I haven't been to anything like these events before and I'm not really sure what to expect. I guess basically my question is: both the interview and the festival sound very interesting (I loved Jonathan Norrell as well), but I'd also like to be able to ask you to sign a book or two if possible. Will either event allow that? Thank you so much for your time.Sincerely,Carmela from New Jersey

Well, I don't believe there will be signing at the Susanna Clarke interview (and Anansi Boys won't be out on the Monday even if there is). There will be a signing and a reading at the Barnes and Noble signing, and they've promised this time not to send over half of the people who turn up away. There will be a reading, a talk, and a signing at the National Book Festival -- BUT I cannot guarantee that everyone there will get stuff signed. Last year I did two signings, in order to get at least the majority of the people there a signature, but it depends totally on the goodwill (and available signing space) of people running the Book Festival. (And, of course, on the vagaries of the airlines who will be getting me there from Boston on Saturday morning...) The National Book Festival will probably be a more fun event than the B&N one, though, or at least contain rather more of me talking...

...

I just heard that my problematic story "The Problem of Susan" has been nominated for a British Fantasy Award. I may put it up online for a while -- it seemed a popular thing when we put the Hugo nominees up online. At least people knew what they were voting for. Then again, I may not.

(Which reminds me -- thank you to all of you who voted for this weblog in the Hugo Award nominating process. http://www.interaction.worldcon.org.uk/downloads/stat-nom.pdf has the nomination statistics, for the curious.)

And, because I don't remember if I put this up before or not, here is the cover to the US mass market (ie small, pocket-sized) edition of Smoke and Mirrors, which comes out in about two weeks from now...





...

And finally, from today and for the next month, you can vote on the Quill Awards. Now books will have their Oscars. Their Emmies. Their (whatever the name of the award for Best Criminal that the Batman villains competed for in Batman Versus the Three Villains of Doom novel I read when I was eight) (hah! for once the much-vaunted Google search engine has failed me utterly) (hang on. It was a gold-plated tommy gun, which means it was almost definitely the Tommies) . Their Tommies.

Go to http://www.quillsliteracy.org/nominatingvoting.html and follow the instructions.

(Still, I really hope that in future years they replace the word "consumers" with the word "readers".)

Mr Punch; and the Maul...

Let's see -- for the next week only you can hear the BBC Radio 3 adaptation of Mister Punch at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/radio3_aod.shtml?radio3/thewire
(the first three minutes is the end of the Proms before it, with lots of applause). And a few people wrote in nervously to see what I thought about them recording it, and I can't see why that would be a problem, any more than it's a problem taping a TV show for personal use. We're hoping that the BBC may one day actually let us put it up on neilgaiman.com, or failing that, keep it up at the BBC.

The cast list and information is at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/thewire/pip/zhji7/

And you'll be pleased to hear that Osama Bin Laden has been banished from Punch and Judy: Hi Neil, its John from Brighton who sent you the West Pier pictures last year. Anyway, here's another SE UK coastal story, this time about Punch and Judy being banned in Broadstairs due to being a bit too contemporary. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/kent/4134090.stmHope you enjoy! John King www.KingOfMyCastle.com

...

Neil,In the "Where's Neil" section of the site, you have listed a signing appearence at the Mall of America in Minneapolis on October 10th. The "event calender" on their site has no mention of this at all! I'm a bit worried, as there are no details anywhere yet.Do *you* have details yet? Will this be a ticketed event? Will it be a reading? I'm certain I'm not the only one plagued by these questions, so if you might answer this in the journal, it'd be wonderful. Put my weary mind to rest, Mr. Gaiman. Rob Kaas California

It doesn't look to me like the Mall of America calendar -- http://www.mallofamerica.com/events/ -- has anything in it beyond August, so I'm not sure why you're worrying about it not having an October event. Having looked at their outlines for the various signings they've got in August, it looks like having special Mall of America wristbands is going to be enormously important in all this. I have to confess that the prospect of doing a reading at the entrance to Camp Snoopy fails to fill me with anything resembling partial joy or even modified rapture, but I have no doubt that we shall somehow all, as comrades in adversity, make the best of it.

My own weary mind mostly wants to know why this would plague someone in California? As I understand it, the Mall of America is something that historically has mainly troubled people in the Minneapolis area. The discovery that worrying about the Mall of America is a phenomenon that has been slowly spreading and has now reached California leaves me concerned that by the end of the next decade there will be farmers in rural China who will spend much of their time worrying about the Mall of America. Which of course by then will cover the greater part of the North American continent anyway...

(For those Minneapolitans too scared of the Mall to come down to the October 10th signing, there will be a DreamHaven signing, but it won't be until I get back from the UK signing tour, probably at the end of November. Dates to be announced as we figure them out.)

Friday, August 12, 2005

"any stick to beat a dog with..."

Neil,I don't know if you've heard about the flap at the Denver Public Library, which started over Spanish-language fotonovelas (comic books) and has now seemingly extended to English-language graphic novels and more. One of your works is mentioned....http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_2934810 Is there a convenient way to let the CBLDF know (except that now you know, I assume the CBLDF will, too)? I looked on their site, but I must've overlooked it.

Good lord. So let's get this straight...

An anti-immigration, anti-Spanish language group discovered that there were some possibly racy Spanish language photonovels in the Denver Library. By complaining, they got the books taken off the shelves, although they are quite upfront about the fact they aren't complaining about the content, they just don't want any icky Spanish things in their nice English-speaking library, and the fotonovels are a useful stick to beat that particular dog with. They also discovered inadvertently, or perhaps the newspaper reporters did, that there were graphic novels containing breasts and/or references to matters sexual in the same library. And that it was perfectly possible for children to see these things if they went to the shelves they were on and took them down (much as, I suppose, in my childhood, it was possible for me to wander into the adult library sections and read Portnoy's Complaint or thumb through the library National Geographic and discover a photo spread on a tribe that had not yet discovered the bikini top).

And the newspaper has decided to play along and expose this non-story. (I particularly like the photo showing the five year old and the baby in front of the now-empty shelves in the Spanish section, implying that the five year old has somehow been rescued from being forced to read adult photonovels, and that the Spanish section is where children are found. I liked it almost as much as I like the photo of a rather tame page of Transmet (and beneath that a Sin City) captioned A page from an English-language comic book, "Transmetropolitan," which includes explicit sexual content, which merely serves to demonstrate that this Denver newspaper has a remarkably low "explicit sexual content" threshhold. )

Most libraries are smart enough to keep the graphic novels for kids in the children's sections, while putting the ones that aren't for kids, like Sandman or Transmet, in with Graphic Novels, which is Not In the Children's shelves. This is because most librarians are sane. You have to get a long way down the article before you notice there actually people (oddly enough, librarians) saying sane things...

"We are not circulating them as children's material; we're circulating them as adult materials," said Beckie Brazell, head librarian at the Ford Warren branch in the Whittier neighborhood. "It's the place of the parent to decide what their children read and check out."

I've forwarded the article to Charles at the CBLDF, who wrote back to say he'll get in touch with the ALA and see if they need help or information. (The CBLDF website is http://www.cbldf.org/ and the contact information is at the bottom of the page.)

It's been twenty years, and newspaper headlines still oscillate between "Wham! Bam ! Pow! Comics Have Grown Up!" and "OH MY GAAAD THIS COMIC NOT INTENDED FOR CHILDREN HAS CONTENT NOT INTENDED FOR CHILDREN IN IT!" articles. Bizarre.

...

Jenny Davidson cunningly managed to worm a copy of the ANANSI BOYS proof out of my agent's assistant, and has now written about it (and Blackadder) on her blog.

http://jennydavidson.blogspot.com/2005/08/in-general.html

And another early ANANSI review at http://www.livejournal.com/users/threemonkeys/32519.html (it contains some spoilers).

I've been listening to Lenny Henry's reading of ANANSI BOYS over the last few days, and loving it. His choices are mostly really good and sharp -- I was particularly impressed with his Mr Nancy and his Spider and the unctuous awfulness of his Grahame Coats, and also the minor characters like taxi drivers and police who really come alive. Occasionally I found myself wishing I'd been there when Lenny was taping it, thinking No, he should just be tetchy there, not actually angry, but no more than half a dozen times in the whole book. Mostly I just revelled in the voices and the pace of the thing. It's magic. He's really good.

(And Chef! is coming out on DVD. About time. Lovely stuff -- well, at least, the first two seasons are.)

And I loved receiving it on two MP3 CDs, which I copied onto the computer and shoved onto the iPod. But then, I would, wouldn't I?

(Incidentally -- I was fascinated to learn, when I ordered my new Mini last week, that I had to choose between all the clever Mini-running-your-integrated-iPod bit, and having bluetooth for the phone in the car. I chose bluetooth in the end.) (The new Mini arrives in December, when Holly gets back from studying abroad, and she gets my old one. This will be the worst time of the year to take delivery of a Mini convertible but what the hell.)

...

I'm now two and a half weeks into trying to get into shape for the signing tour. (I don't want to look buff; I simply want to survive it.) So three times a week a nice man who looks like a golden age superhero shows up at ten a.m., bringing with him an assortment of oddly-shaped things, and then I work out with weights and with giant coloured rubber bands and an enormous red beach ball, stretching and lifting and grumbling. And I spend the days that I don't work out vaguely aching in my muscles from the day before's workout. It seems so far to be working though -- I've got a flatter tummy and my posture seems better.

We're planning some kind of exercise routine that I keep doing on the road, using the multicoloured giant rubber bands. (Yes, I know hotels have gyms. But I normally only get to be in the hotel between the end of the signing -- say 1.00 am -- and the point I crawl out of bed to get on the plane to the next city -- around 7.00 am if I'm lucky and the airport is nearby.) I am, as a rule, crap at exercising on the road. I hope that the multicoloured rubber bands in the luggage will make me feel guilty enough to do something about it.

...

Hey Neil! Thought you might want to know, as of this morning, the "August 17th" CB's 313 event has been "cancelled" and TicketWeb is refunding tickets that have been purchased for it. As of right now, there hasn't yet been an update with the correct date, but I'd imagine they'll be getting one up soon.Thanks!Nick

Oh good. As soon as there are details (and I think it'll be the 18th of Sept. now) I'll put them up here.

Can you further explain what you meant on "Meanwhile Jaime, Erwin and I are plotting a cool thing for the Philippines, and trying to figure out exactly what sort of shape it'll take." Thanks.Ryan Ambrosio

No. Be patient.

Barnes & Noble #267533 E. 17th Street..? NYC (near union square) wasn't that the place where most of your fans were turned away last time?i remember, it was horrible and you told me that you were pretty pissed. why is the signing
happening there again? -dena

Didn't I answer this one already? Anyway, yes, that was the store in question, and I was really upset. B&N have since apologised, and asked for a chance to get it right, and I agreed to give them the chance. Let's keep our fingers crossed. It should start a little earlier and go much, much later than the last one.

Meanwhile, it looks like around the country some stores are working on ways to subsidise the fact that in order for the event to work, given the numbers, they're having to hold it offsite in rented premises. Some of them may be charging for tickets; others are putting in rules on needing to buy books to get tickets. In these cases, there's nothing I can do -- my preference is for signings that let everyone in for nothing and where you don't have to buy anything (and in my experience, the bookshops are never out of pocket on those), but I can see the bookshops' point of view, and it's their call. Anyway, I'll do my best to give value for money (perhaps by doing a reading that will be 20% funnier than the free readings, and by answering 17% more questions.) (Or by talking a bit longer anyway.)

Anyway, here's the news on the Cody's signing. You can't pick up your tickets until the 20th of September, but you can pre-order them now: http://www.codysbooks.com/calendar/calendar2.jsp#gaiman

...

I seem to have accumulated a foot-high stack of CDs people have given me or sent me, and I'm listening to them as I get a chance, mostly while working. My favourite from the last few days is definitely Ist's (http://www.istianity.co.uk/home.htm) King Martha, which you can hear bits of at www.myspace.com/ist. Smart lyrics, catchy tunes, and a nice, friendly website into the bargain.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Vancouver, addition

This just added to the Where's Neil site (http://www.neilgaiman.com/where/where.asp):

Thursday, October 6, 12 Noon to 2 PM PDT
VANCOUVER, CANADA
CBC Bookclub
CBC Radio - Studio One
700 Hamilton Street
Vancouver, BC
Tickets to the bookclub can only be won. 70 pairs of tickets will go to people who enter through the web site
http://www.cbc.ca/bc/bookclub/. Contestants must, in 200 words, explain why they want to attend.

And here's their William Gibson show -- http://www.cbc.ca/bc/bookclub/williamgibson.html

If you're in British Columbia, this is your chance...

Open the box...

The box from the Philippines arrived yesterday (roughly the size and weight of a box you'd get a smallish fridge in). So much cool stuff -- art, letters, weird gifty things. I've already hung up the lightshade and put the bracelets on Maddy and eaten a bag of dried mangoes and read about twenty letters (out of a few hundred) and admired art and hung a mask on a wall... I think it will probably take several more days to go through it all. Meanwhile Jaime, Erwin and I are plotting a cool thing for the Philippines, and trying to figure out exactly what sort of shape it'll take.

...

People have written since March complaining that they missed the audio version of Mr Punch when the BBC broadcast it. This came in this morning:

I just want to remind you to remind your blog readers that "The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch" will be repeated on Sunday 14 August on either BBC radio's "The Wire" or more likely on BBC radio's "Drama on 3". The reason I can't say for sure whether it will be "The Wire" or "Drama on 3" is because the BBC seems to have announced future "Drama on 3" broadcasts on the web page of "The Wire".It will be available for people to hear it online for the following week at either:http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/dramaon3/?focuswin- or -http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/thewire/index.shtml--Ross Nelson

Good to know, and it'll be up for a week afterwards. I'll try and put something up here as soon as I have a link -- meanwhile, keep an eye on http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/listen/index.shtml which may list it.

Edit: Well, the listing is http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/thewire/pip/zhji7/)

(There's some nice footage of Punch and Judy at the BBC site, btw -- http://www.bbc.co.uk/devon/family_friendly/punch_and_judy.shtml)

Neil,TicketWeb has tickets on sale for an event called "Neil Gaiman" at CB's 313 Gallery in NYC on August 17. (http://www.ticketweb.com/user/?region=nyc&query=detail&event=622351) I don't remember you mentioning anything about this in your journal; I've done a search and haven't found anything. It seems suspicious since 1) you usually tell us when/where you'll be appearing, 2) you're going to be in NYC in September, and 3) this is a 21-and-older event and I can't remember you ever doing something like that. I'm hesitant to buy tickets for this mysterious "Neil Gaiman" show. I'd rather not spend 10 dollars and an evening to hear a bunch of people reading from your books or something.--Tsippa

I will be doing a reading at CBGBs, but it will be on Sept 17th, not August 17th. I hadn't posted anything about it as I don't have details yet, other than a date. It's a Save CBGBs benefit gig. According to the CBGBs website it's actually "16 with valid ID to enter, 21+ to drink", and it stresses that while tickets will be available via ticketweb, there will be a limited number onsale on the door. So I'll put more info up when things get nearer and I can tell you more.

(Update - while CBGBs has won its first found, it still needs the benefits to keep going.)

...

Go check out art lad's blog at http://artlad.blogspot.com/. And not just because he links to me...

And I've been asked to mention that the QUILLS award voting process starts on Monday the 15th. Voting is here. http://www.quillsliteracy.org/nominatingvoting.html (I don't mind if you vote for me or not.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

This September, Your Name Here...

It's nice -- and that's an understatement -- when something good done in this blog has repercussions. You may remember that back in March I auctioned off the name of a Cruise Ship in ANANSI BOYS for the CBLDF. And we made $3,533 for the CBLDF. And that happened around the same time that Michael Chabon used this blog to mention to the world that the First Amendment Project was running out of money having used most of it up defending Freedom of Speech issues (and many of you went and made donations). So I suggested to Michael Chabon that we might want to try something similar to what I'd done with eBaying a name in a book, only bigger.

Michael and the FAP folk went away and did lots of work. And now it has borne cool fruit...

Have you ever wanted to be in a Stephen King book? (You must be female in order to die, though.)

Stephen King

What he's offering:
"One (and only one) character name in a novel called CELL, which is now in work and which will appear in either 2006 or 2007. Buyer should be aware that CELL is a violent piece of work, which comes complete with zombies set in motion by bad cell phone signals that destroy the human brain. Like cheap whiskey, it's very nasty and extremely satisfying. Character can be male or female, but a buyer who wants to die must in this case be female. In any case, I'll require physical description of auction winner, including any nickname (can be made up, I don't give a rip)."

When you can bid:
September 8-18


Or a Lemony Snicket book?

Lemony Snicket

What he's offering:
"An utterance by Sunny Baudelaire in Book the Thirteenth. Pronunciation and/or spelling may be slightly 'mutilated.' An example of this is in The Grim Grotto when Sunny utters 'Bushcheney.' Target publication date is Fall 2006."

When you can bid:
September 8-18


or a Jonathan Lethem-written Marvel comic?

Jonathan Lethem

What he's offering:
"I need the name of a Columbia University professor for a comic book I'm writing for Marvel. It can be your name or the name of a friend -- but if it's a friend, I need to hear from them with their permission."

When you can bid:
September 8-18


While I am promising to put your name onto a gravestone in my next children's novel, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK.

Anyway, the schedule (and the complete list of authors) is as follows:


September 1-10: Michael Chabon, Amy Tan, Peter Straub, Andrew Sean Greer, Karen Joy Fowler

September 8-18: Stephen King, Lemony Snicket, Dorothy Allison, Jonathan Lethem, Ayelet Waldman

September 15-25: John Grisham, Nora Roberts, Neil Gaiman, Dave Eggers, Rick Moody, ZZ Packer


And all the information is up at http://www.ebay.com/fap (or at http://cgi3.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewUserPage&userid=auctioncause). It's a perfect birthday present, graduation present, retirement present, way to impress a boyfriend, girlfriend, parent, child. And it's for an extremely good cause.

Spread the word.

Stick the info up on your blog or journal. Put it in your newspaper or magazine (if you happen to write for one). Print out the page (http://cgi3.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewUserPage&userid=auctioncause at present) and pin it up on your office bulletin board. It would be a good thing if, when September starts, everyone who wants to be in a book by any of the above people knows that this is their chance.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

morning posts

Hi Neil,
Semi-long time lurker, first time e-mailer (as if it makes any difference at all, it just seemed appropriate). I just thought I'd try to be helpful in a couple ways. I believe you reported incorrectly that "Guards! Guards!" was playing an episode a week. In reality, they're airing the episodes daily, beginning last Friday and concluding this Friday (August 12th). The first two episodes are available in the "Listen Again" section now. I wouldn't want anyone who was looking forward to it to miss them due to a misunderstanding.

As to your recent printing issues, I sympathize. There is a way around that, although perhaps not one you'd like to hear. They sell mobile printers now (HP does for certain, at least), which would let you avoid hotel printers in favor of your own. The battery life is quite nice and I think the HP mobile deskjet 450cbi comes with a adapters for both 110 and 220 currents, assuming you choose to forego the battery entirely. Of course, this means adding another four-odd pounds to your laptop bag, but if you only want to print from hotels then you could store the printer in your suitcase and save your shoulder.

Keep writing and I'm sure we'll all keep reading.
- Jean (adding to the probably small South Dakota readership)


Thanks so much for mentioning the Guards! Guards! thing. Daily, not weekly. Right.

You aren't the first person to suggest I travel with a printer, and 13 or 14 years ago I used to (the printer back then weighed 4 lb. The power adapter for the printer weighed about 6lb. I could never figure that one out) but I believe, possibly wrongly, that nice hotels with business centres ought to have printers that work. And that even if they don't now, they will one day. It's this cheery optimism that gets me through life.

My daughter Holly's fondness for Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty is legendary.(Well, it is in my house.) I'm thrilled to see she has taken it to new heights by winning first prize in their 2004 competition. Hurrah for the mysterious Holly G.

Hi Neil. Thought maybe a mention of Jill Thompson's new manga The Dead Boy Detectives was in order, considering that it hit the shelves last week. I work at a Borders in Rhode Island and happily put a bunch on an endcap for all to see, and hopefully to scoop up and enjoy. It's another Thompson treasure. Truly fabulous. Have a lovely day, can't wait for Anansi Boys!
Beth


You're right -- and it's been getting lots of lovely reviews too, which I've been meaning to post here and have forgotten to.

Here's the one from Booklist:


Thompson, Jill. The Dead Boy Detectives. 2005. 120p. illus. DC Comics/Vertigo, paper, $9.99 (1-4012-0313-2). 741.5.

Ghosts Edwin Paine and Charles Rowland, introduced in Neil Gaiman�s fourth Sandman opus, Season of Mists (1994), and featured in Thompson�s At Death�s Door (2003), are still avoiding Death and still finding time to run their own detective agency. Their latest case brings them stateside to a girls� boarding school in Chicago. While undercover, they work their way through the clues to find an absent classmate. They and their new friends at the school suspect the worst, and the teachers� mysterious attitude about the missing girl isn�t helping. Thompson�s cute art, distinctive while remaining within traditional manga-anime conventions, fits a story full of well-written over-the-top screwball comedy and featuring cameo appearances by Death and the Sandman. Sandman series fans may be a little disappointed (it�s too cute), but manga mavens will be in heaven. ��Tina Coleman



Meanwhile, the Germans have been told they can't reserve things on beaches with towels any longer.

I was trying to find information on whether I'd broken the law by taping up the side of my passport where the plastic had started to come away, and all I found was a thing telling me not to smile on my passport photo in future.


I rather like the banner I saw on Locus's page when I went to look at the Hugo winners.
"God is dead... Meet the kids... Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman."
Who comes up with these tag lines?
Grin.
Hitmouse


Me, for that one, I'm afraid. Although it's not meant to have ellipses in it. I've been waiting to use it since I came up with the idea of the first couple of chapters of Anansi Boys in about 1996.
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