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Monday, October 31, 2005

Mostly MirrorMask

Maddy, currently a demon-child in a red dress, red make-up and some nifty red horns I was given while on tour, will not be trick-or-treating tonight in a gesture of solidarity with her best friends who have just got braces on their teeth and thus cannot eat sweet sticky things. I suspect this means she is a Good Person. At that age I would have sympathised, but been pleased that there was more for me. (Except this was in England, where nobody gave you sweets on Hallowe'en when I was a lad. Mostly, as I remember, they just locked themselves indoors and shivered.)

...

My friend Lena St George-Sweet MBE writes from the British Council in Singapore to say:

Could you possibly tell your readers that �MirrorMask� will be shown commercially at two GV cinemas from 8 December; and if they log on to our site, they stand a chance to win tickets to our gala on 7 December.

http://www.britishcouncil.org.sg/whatson/event_details.asp?EvID=436
http://www.gv.com.sg/Booking/promotions.htm

So consider yourselves told. If you're in Singapore, go and win tickets.

There's a thoughtful review of MirrorMask at Emerald City, at http://www.emcit.com/emcit122.php#Mirrors and at http://www.empireonline.co.uk/redcarpet/ you can currently read small interviews with Jason Barry (who has from the interview, I suspect, not quite forgiven Dave McKean for putting him into a mask) and Stephanie Leonidas.


You say in the MirrorMask script book that Dave McKean wrote some of the scenes in the film. Why doewsn't he have his name on the script? It is story by him and you but script by you. Peace. Jackie.

Because the Writers' Guild, who hand out the credits, have a much higher standard for directors and producers who write bits of script than they do for writers -- mostly to stop a director or a producer (for example) going through a script and changing the characters' names, or inventing a bit of business or a scene on the set and then asking for a writing credit, or things like that. As I understand it, if you're a director you have to have written a substantial proportion of the actual script, and have done a lot of the heavy lifting to get your name on as a writer.

And as the WGAe site explains, Credits are the one area in which the writer cannot negotiate. The determination as to what a writer's credit will be rests entirely with the Guild.

(As another example, the shooting script of Beowulf was actually written by Robert Zemeckis, but solidly based on the previous scripts that Roger Avary and I had written -- as director he would have had to a lot to it to get a credit, which he didn't do, so the film when it gets released will be in just our names.)

In addition to the WGAe credits link, there's an excellent article over at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screenwriting_credit which explains many of the secrets of screenwriting (why the Story By credit on MirrorMask is "Dave McKean & Neil Gaiman" rather than "Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman", for example -- and that was after several phone calls with the lady from the WGA, showing her the original emails and so on, to convince her that Dave had to get story credit and stop it being just "By Neil Gaiman" which was what the WGA would have preferred. And once that "story by" credit was agreed, that meant we then couldn't describe MirrorMask as "Written by Neil Gaiman", under a different WGA rule...)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Deniable reporting

A positive review of Anansi Boys over at http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/ae/books/news/3421181 albeit one with some very odd assumptions and strange and silly sentences. For example, in the first paragraph we learn that Science fiction and fantasy writers especially took to [Joseph] Campbell because he allowed them to see themselves not as dime-store hacks but as working in the tradition of the Viking sagas and Beowulf. It's possible, I suppose, but I've never met any such people, and I've known a lot of SF and Fantasy writers. (Then again, I actually have been working in the tradition of Beowulf recently, and there's even a book about me, the Sandman and Joseph Campbell, so what do I know?) It's now the third review to mention Lewis Hyde's Trickster Makes This World, which is reason enough for me to try and find a copy at some point, if I remember.

There's another interesting Anansi Boys review over at Rain Taxi -- http://www.raintaxi.com/online/2005fall/gaiman.shtml -- and there's lots more interesting stuff online and in their print edition at http://www.raintaxi.com/.

The definitive STUDIO 360 Interview with me is still up at http://www.wnyc.org/studio360/show100105.html for free, although it's also up for sale at iTunes and at audible.com . (Anansi Boys, read by Lenny Henry is also up for sale at iTunes -- here's the URL, but it only works if you're in the US, I think-- and audible.com. And on CD and MP3 CD.)

The Japanese edition of Stardust just arrived, with a poster folded in it. I looked carefully at all the books up on Amazon.jp, so I could post the cover here, but it doesn't seem to have shown up there yet.

I'm looking very hard for the song you once wrote about Martha Soukup... I live in Israel (you met me at the signing in Washington :P) and there's nothing to be found about her, about her books and about your song. Personally, I heard it in the movie made in your tour from about five years ago. Where CAN I find this song? I'm desperate!

Well, the Live at the Aladdin video is now an extra on A Short Film About John Bolton. You can find the poem as the introduction to Martha's collection of short stories, The Arbitrary Placement of Walls, and I'm pretty sure it's also in my collection of oddments, Adventures in the Dream Trade.

Dear Neil, If I buy one of your books from a bookseller or another retailer that's discounted from the usual retail price, does that mean you get less money? Or do you get the same amount of money as if I bought a copy at full price?Thanks Nicolai

It depends on how discounted it is and where you get it from and what kind of agreement they have with the publisher. But I'd not worry about it.

...

I wasn't going to talk here about the online story that Angelina Jolie had walked off the set of Beowulf because she was fighting with Ray Winstone, because it just wasn't true and I didn't want to spread it. But now that it seems to have made the papers all over the world (from http://www.startribune.com/stories/1553/5693082.html to http://tonight.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=2957390&fSectionId=354&fSetId=251 or http://thebosh.com/archives/2005/10/angelina_jolie_47.php) and people are writing in to ask me about it, I suppose I ought to say something, as I assume that people reading it are going to be going "there's no smoke without fire". But this one is all smoke.

Beowulf's ahead of schedule; Angelina Jolie, when I met her last week (on her first day of shooting and after the first stories had already come out claiming she'd shut down the production) was there on time (after a 5:30 am pick-up) and was really nice and acting her heart out with Crispin Glover and Ray Winstone.

According to some sources from the set, Angelina was so furious that she told the producers she refuses to work any more with Winstone unless he says sorry.

"It's left poor Robert Zemeckis (director) in an awful position. Most of Angelina and Ray's scenes also feature Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich and Crispin Glover, so Robert risks losing these big names unless he reconciles the feuding pair," a source was quoted by Hollywood.com.

Which is all very convincing -- except that Anthony Hopkins and John Malkovitch had already wrapped their stuff and gone home a couple of weeks ago, while Ray and Angelina's scenes only have the two of them in, which means, Watson, that the "source" hasn't read the script, knows nothing of the shooting schedule, and isn't involved with the film in any way, not even distantly.

The theory on the set was that one of the gossip magazines had planted the story online so they could then deniably "report it", which is as credible as any other, I suppose. Anyway, feel free to point people here if they tell you Beowulf's been shut down.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

mostly words

Went out and did a saturday go-to-the-post-office-get-addams-from-framers-then-buy-some-food run and was delighted to see that most of the kids wandering round the supermarket with their parents were in costume.

It wasn't all the costumes, though. It was the small, lost-looking child (probably male) wandering through the pet-food aisle in an all-enveloping furry black and white skunk costume who made me so happy, but I am easily pleased.

The arrival of America's Next Muppet was reported in the Times - I'd not heard that it was a go from Hensons, but was lucky enough to be there when they were shooting some of the pilot... (Incidentally, if I'd written the sentence "Frank Oz voiced Miss Piggy and Yoda in Star Wars" I would have deployed a comma, to stop people making the obvious jokes...)

I'm looking forward to writing letters in my Jane Austen TrueType font -- http://pia-frauss.de/fonts/ja.htm to learn about it and to get your own.

Neil,Just a sad note on a cold Saturday. There was a notice on a library listserv I subscribe to that Sandman: Endless Nights has been challenged in Washington state due to the "pornography" in chapter 2. The librarian will be defending the book and was looking for help. I pointed her to CBLDF, ALA and a host of online review sites such as No Flying, No Tights. But can you think of any other places I might have directed her?thanks, be well, keeping fighting the good fight, Geri

In addition to the above, she could also approach DC Comics directly, who would, I suspect, be only too happy to give her a bundle of print reviews and articles on Endless Nights, and a list of the awards and so on it won. Having said that, I trust it wasn't on the childrens' shelves (as that would be a silly place to shelve it); there is a reason why it says "Intended for Mature Readers" on it.

Let me know what happens.

hey neil, i've been trying to get the tickets for your edinburgh event at waterstones for quite a while. they actually wrote my name down on some sheet they have for booking but every time i call to confirm they keep saying they haven't received the tickets yet, they also offered to call me when they get them but backed off when they heard i'm in spain hehe, it's a pain because i don't know if i should book the plane tickets and hotel or not, would be great if you post it maybe someone knows what happened to those tickets. thanks, sylw

followed by

hey neil (god damn i hope u read it :p), i keep trying to get some info about "booked" tickets for waterstones event on 9th november, with no result. i am sorry to mess up your relaxation time but it seriously freaks me out, probably if i dont book tickets soon i wont come, and it will suck and make my bday one of the worst in the century (jk, well it will suck but not THAT bad, guess i'll survive) so i'm begging for some info about waterstones, more like 'what the hell is going on with the tickets if i cant get confirmation on the phone?! >:Pthanks,whalerrr

The message I got via Lucy Ramsey at Headline Books was Neil, I spoke to Andy Jameson at the shop and he said he can't understand this as they have had tickets for some time. They should try again. The actual event is at the Roxy Arthouse, 2 Roxburgh Place, Edinburgh. Lucy

So sylw/whalerrr, my suggestion would be to call the Edinburgh Waterstones, and if they give you any run-around, ask for Andy Jameson.

I don't have an email for that branch of Waterstones, but for any of you enquiring about Manchester tickets for the following day, you would email enquiries@manchester-deansgate.waterstones.co.uk.


Neil: Your clever reply to someone's inquiry, below...

"There is a world in which publishers let me choose typefaces, but I'm afraid it's also the world in which the Second World War was decisively won by the Belgian-Martian alliance. In this world, you'll effect a change in things like this by writing to the publisher directly. Honest."

... reminds me of 2 linguistic issues I've never been able to resolve satisfactorily. Maybe you can help:

First, if I had been writing that sentence, I'd have said, "...you'll affect a change in things...," generally believing that "affect" is the act of causing change, while "effect" is the noun- the actual change. I think I glean this primarily from the term "cause and effect" which, granted, could be verb-based, but I've always thought of as a pairing of described nouns. Any thoughts?

Also- and this doesn't stem from the reply above but simply came to mind as something that's always bugged me: Is the word "forte" actually pronounced "fort"? My 10th grade teacher insisted that this was so, but it's one of those words that even if you think you're right, you pronounce it incorrectly so everyone doesn't try and correct you.

Thanks for being someone I feel might actually answer these lingering questions, even if you don't. By the way, I drove 2 hours to see MirrorMask last week and I'm certainly glad of it. I must say however that I saw the film (had no choice, did I?) in one of those "theatres" where you sit at a table and eat a meal during the film. What a gross idea! People chomping all around you, fumbling with condiments while trying to keep your eyes on the screen, receiving the check and feeling the need to pay before the movie has ended. Very irritating.

Also bought Anansi Boys (See, I'm earning my keep.). Good stuff. Thanks, Neil.

Sincerely,

Craig


Effect and Affect as verbs mean two different things. Effect as a verb means to bring about a result, while affect in that context would mean to influence. ("I will effect a change of government means you will make one happen, while I will affect a change of government means that you'll influence one that's already happening. (Here's a useful reference -- http://www.bartleby.com/64/C003/015.html).

Forte pronounced "fort" is righter than "fort-ay" but they're both right.

(I've given up on trying to persuade Americans that the act of filleting a fish -- or indeed a fillet of fish -- is pronounced "fillit" and not "fillay".)

And, posted for Balance on the yesterday's font-comments...

Of no possible concern to you or to anyone else, but since you have someone complaining about Didot . . .

I'm a proofreader by trade (for academic writing, mainly), and I have the opposite problem - my pet hate is books that are printed in any kind of sans serif font (Arial, Geneva, etc.). It looks cheap and tacky to me, and I tend not to read these books unless I'm being paid. With AB, though, I can't even really *see* the problem, even after it's been described.

Just so you know that the opposite sort of crank exists.

(And you signed some of my books in Austin after I had already left - thank you most humbly.)

Cheers,
Emilio


Neil, Curiosity. In American Gods, your characters state that Paul Bunyan was the creation of an Advertising Agency. (One of the greatest evils in the world. I should know. Wasted two years of my life at one.) Where did you get this information? Or should this question be: Is this true? And if so, where would I find a reference to this? Yrs,Travis Clark

Richard Dorson (whose books I cannot praise highly enough) coined the term "fakelore" -- as opposed to "folklore" -- for things like Paul Bunyan, who, in his current form, whatever existed there before, was mostly made up by writers working for the Red River Lumber company...

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/020510.html


And finally, MirrorMask and Canada:


Dear Neil,

I have just been to the first screening of "Mirrormask" in Toronto. From what I can tell, there are only two theatres in Canada currently playing it and they're not doing much to promote or advertise at all. I spoke with the manager and gave her an "if you promote it, they will come in packs and droves" kind of pep-talk and she seemed interested.
For those who have been hunting high and low for Canadian release dates, ticket links with showtimes and addresses are here:

Toronto:
http://www.movietickets.com/pre_purchase.asp?house_id=6494&movie_id=47989&showdate=0

Vancouver:
http://www.movietickets.com/movie_detail.asp?movie_id=47989

Hope that helps,

Danielle

PS- In case you couldn't guess, I LOVED it.


I'm very glad. People have also let me know that MirrorMask is playing in Phoenix and in parts of Wisconsin, unnanounced. Probably your best bet, if you're in the US, is just to use something like Hollywood.com , which will see if MirrorMask (or any movie) is playing within 50 miles of any zip code or town you list.

PS: Nearly forgot to mention that those Hallowe'en Girls Malena and Lorraine are signing copies of their new CD, Mirror Mirror, at Dark Delicacies tomorrow, Sunday. (The first thirty should also be pre-signed by me.) Details at http://www.darkdel.com/.

(And that Peter Sanderson's four part essay on Anansi Boys -- in which he points out some connections that even surprised me -- concludes at http://comics.ign.com/articles/662/662494p1.html.)

Friday, October 28, 2005

a polite spoiler free post...

I woke up to a horde of messages like this,

Neil, You're one of my favorite authors in the world so I am sorry if this sounds mean but -I haven't seen Mirrormask yet (as it's not out anywhere close to me yet but as soon as it is, I'll be going to see it) and I am afraid you spoiled me a bit for the movie with your discussion of the Mirrormask script book. Could you try not to spoil the movie for those of us who haven't seen it yet? Monica

To which the politest answer I could muster was, don't worry, that wasn't a spoiler, except for a treatment of a film I haven't written that's printed in the back of the MirrorMask script book. (For MirrorMask the film itself it's not "what happens", and refers to an image rather than to an event.) You haven't found out how anything ends, trust me.

Lots and lots of upset messages telling me that the MirrorMask film listings at the Sony site bear no relationship to the places it's showing (including one sad message telling me that the theatre listed doesn't even exist). I've forwarded them to Hensons, who will probably forward them to Sony, but I don't know that there's much else I can do.

Slightly better news, for the people wondering about the UK tour -- there are updated listings at http://www.neilgaiman.co.uk/author.php for locations and information. (It doesn't mention the Irish bit of things, though.) Also the Manchester signing has just moved to a larger location (I don't know where), with more tickets. I wonder if there will be a saxophone player outside this time...

Hey Neil. I'm a graphic design student and big fan o' yours. Loved American Gods. Loved it. Can't wait to read Anansi Boys. I bought it. Why O Why did you and/or your designer choose to use the font, Didot, as your body text? This is a headline text. The thin strokes are too thin and the thicks too thick. This typeface hurts my eyes to read close up. So. I'm going to sell the hardback copy I have and wait for the paperback despite my giddy.Please don't use didot as a body copy typeface. Love you.

There is a world in which publishers let me choose typefaces, but I'm afraid it's also the world in which the Second World War was decisively won by the Belgian-Martian alliance. In this world, you'll effect a change in things like this by writing to the publisher directly. Honest.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Hello PEOPLE hello

I get the oddest things in my FAQ inbox. For example...

This is Ann, a researcher with People Magazine. Do you have any idea the cities in which Beowulf will be filmed? I understand the filming has started; we're trying to figure out where.

And I couldn't figure out how to reply. I mean, if you pick up the trades, they will tell not only where in Los Angeles they're shooting Beowulf but in which studio building. And Bob Zemeckis has all-but finished shooting the movie anyway. All in one room, on a 25-foot square space called The Volume, where he's been capturing the performances of some astonishing actors -- among others, Anthony Hopkins and John Malkovitch and Ray Winstone and Robin Wright Penn and Crispin Glover and, yes, Angelina Jolie (who is, I should add, excellent, along with being very nice, and will be, I have no doubt, the reason why I get odd messages like this from People Magazine). (And horses. Galloping horses.)

If I had to compare it to anything it's like watching the characters from Tron performing Shakespeare on a minimalist set. Only it's not like that at all.


I hope this isn't rude but I have the Mirrormask script book (which I loved) and at the end it has the story you first wrote to Dave McKean about (The Mirror and the Mask) and then the story that Dave McKean came up with instead (MirrorMask) and the emails you and he sent each other, & the way I read it MirrorMask is obviously his story. My question is, will you ever tell *your* story, about Lenore and the changeling and the fairy world so on? It felt like magic. Maybe as a graphic novel??

I don't think so. MirrorMask was very much Dave's story from the start (it was a dream he had) but I think I used enough of my story in there -- the block of flats, Valentine as a character, the two girls becoming one at the end (even though it's not the way I'd originally imagined it), helping a sick parent -- that I think that, even though it and MirrorMask are very different, it would feel too familiar somehow (in addition to which I realised one I reread it for publication that I'd actually taken my favourite moment in it from Jack Vance's lovely story "The Moon Moth").

I think you'll just have to read that outline again and make the film-that-never-was in your head.

oops. I have to run. More later.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Belfast etc

A message in from Lucy Ramsey at Headline in the UK --

Dear Neil The Canterbury event on 5th November is now sold out. Lucy

--so any of you who are thinking about going to any of the UK events might want to lock down your tickets, or have a back up plan of going to some of the lunchtime signings instead. (Some complaints coming in from people about bookshops not answering their phones or putting tickets aside or things like that, for which I apologise but can't do a lot.)

The good news is that it looks like I'll be doing a signing in Belfast on November the 16th -- the first Belfast signing I've ever done. Details to come.

http://www.neilgaiman.com/where/2005_09_01_archive.asp#112564075495195381 is the UK tour for anyone in the UK who hasn't noticed that I'll be out there signing from the 5th of November to the 16th. (Additional info, or possibly more up to date info at http://www.neilgaiman.co.uk/author.php.)

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Amazon Mystery -- solved!

Lots of messages letting me know things like

hey Neil, amazon is trying to mess with everyones heads by punching in weird dates. there is a little mention of it here.
http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/newsitem.cfm?NewsID=4363

Most things are coming out 36 years ago on DVD it seems...seems the dates are just place holders til more offical info is available. C.

and

Hi Neil -Regarding the MirrorMask release date on Amazon.com.....It seems that they are doing weird things on the site showing strange release dates for things that don't yet have actual real release dates. I heard about it here -http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/newsitem.cfm?NewsID=4363. Hopefully they will realize how ridiculous this is and stop the madness soon.

And I finished Anansi Boys last week and loved it. Am now telling everyone I know to get it and read it. :-)Cheers, Kerry

Fair enough. And thanks for telling people to get and read ANANSI BOYS. (It's the best way of spreading the word about books, I am assured: word of mouth.)

Oddly, the coolest book I've had something vaguely to do with, NOISY OUTLAWS etc seems to have come out to a deafening silence -- I've only seen one review so far --http://wildcat.arizona.edu/papers/98/198/04_11.html (which finishes For my final argument on why this book is most definitely worth your $22, I offer this list of why you need this book now: hotshot authors, an amazing title, merciless jabs at crappy children's stories, awesome amateur poetry, a crossword puzzle that you can finish and feel smart about, and a half-finished Lemony Snicket story on the inside of the dust jacket that you're invited to finish and send-in (the winners get their entries published in a future McSweeney's book). On top of that, all proceeds from the book go to 826NYC, a nonprofit group that helps students develop their writing skills, so you can feel good - not creepy - about venturing into the children's section the next time you're in a bookstore ). So in the absence of reviews, consider this a little bit of word of mouth. I finally read it all yesterday, and it's wonderful.

And I notice that McSweeneys has now announced their NOISY OUTLAWS six city extravaganza on November the 12th (which I would be doing something for except I'll be signing people's books in the UK) but Lemony Snicket himself will be presiding over the business by satellite from Brooklyn to Michigan and beyond. It's a great book, all for an extremely good cause, and any of you reading who have blogs or write for newspapers or things should review it or at least mention the 6 City Extravaganza....


If I dress as Death for Halloween, the one from Sandman and I send you a photo will you put it up on your blog?

Um, no. I don't think so. But if someone else volunteers to set up a webpage, or one of the picture service things, where people who dress as Death (or, I suppose, any characters I made up) for Hallowe'en can send their photos, then I will happily link to it from here when Hallowe'en is all done.

It was Twenty Years Ago Today...

Hi Neil. Just thought you might like to know Amazon has the release date for the DVD release of Mirrormask listed for December 31st 2025. And we thought we had a long wait for theatre release.

Cheers, Jon A.


I went and checked at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000BT97AO/002-4249447-7730454 and Jon is quite right. Twenty years seems a long way away, but Sony are probably just scheduling it that far off because during the Great iPod Content Uprising Years of 2013-2024 people aren't going to have much time for things like actually watching films, what with gathering together in places where the iPodPeople can't get them and shooting them in the brain and all that stuff, and it's only after the Man-Droid-iPod Peace Treaties of 2024 that anyone gets back to the serious business bringing out DVDs of long-forgotten movies.

Alternately, I suppose it could be an Amazon.com typo and MirrorMask could be coming out on the last day of this year. That would be nice.


Reading Anansi Boys, I'm noticing that current technologies are mentioned quite frequently. In a way this sort of nails the book down to a very specific slice of time. Do you ever worry that including very contemporary things in a story gets rid of any ambiguousness as to the era in which it is set, possibly making it less "timeless?"
Also, I was very amused to see one of my favorite movies, Eraserhead, in the book, and it got me wondering what your thoughts on the film may be.

-jason.
oneiromancerproductions.com



Not really. I like to think that anything that relies on people being people is going to be pretty timeless, no matter when it's set. Someone once said that if you create a real person in fiction you can make an Everyman, but if you set out to create an Everyman you'll just make a formless sort of nobody, and I suspect that the same could be true of trying to set something in a timeless now. You don't dismiss Jane Austen or P. G. Wodehouse, or even Douglas Adams, for writing about their time, after all.

...

I'm answering questions about ANANSI BOYS over at http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/ -- Spoilers abound, so you may want to give it a miss if you have not yet read the book.

So, to entertain you and allow me to close a bunch of tabs, first some wonderful words from foreign tongues; here's a link to an apparently semi-official site for the Lestat musical (with a nice bit of Dave McKean art); this blog's official birding consultant has been picked on the team to go and look for the legendary Ivory Billed Woodpecker and that she's listing what she's allowed to take on this pleasure-cruise; Jonathan Carroll sent me a link to a site that allows the devout to accessorize their iPod shuffles appropriately; Archimedes' killer mirrors probably didn't work as advertised, alas; and Batton Lash's Supernatural Law is now a webcomic. I thangyew.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Addams Thing

When I was a small boy, about seven years old, the kid at the end of the lane had a copy of The Penguin Charles Addams, a slightly oversized black and white paperback, and I used to go over to his house and read it, treating each cartoon as if it were a riddle or a puzzle to be unlocked or solved. With the exception of one cannibal joke ("Dinner smells lovely dear, who is it?" is the caption, in my memory) I didn't find them funny. I found them fascinating, and I'd stare at them trying to unpick them. Part of the attraction may have been how much the nameless Uncle Fester looked like Leo Baxendale's Grimly Feendish character from WHAM! and SMASH! comics (now rising from the grave in the Moore-Reppion-Oakley ALBION comics, of course) -- I didn't know then that Baxendale had nicked Grimly's look from the Addams character, or that he'd actually written for the New Yorker a few of the jokes that Addams had drawn...

So I'd stare at these drawings of people in haunted houses knitting baby clothes with too many limbs, or of ski tracks going around trees, or of one small face staring up at a screen with joy from which everyone else in the audience was staring at in horror, repulsed, and I'd work hard to figure out the story of the image, the what was going on, the why and the whether it might be funny, the what-happened-before and what-would-happen-after, and, one-by-one, they would make me happy. (Then again, I was a seven-year-old kid whose favourite short story was probably Bradbury's "Homecoming".)

And then the boy down the lane moved, and took his Charles Addams book with him, and it was another decade before I saw more Addams drawings and realised that the drawings and that-TV-Show-I-Saw-Once-But-Was-Never-On-Again-That-Wasn't-The-Munsters were related, and and another three decades before I too owned a battered and now pretty ancient copy of the Penguin Charles Addams. (I have other Addams books -- including one that he signed to Phil Silvers -- but that original one is my favourite.)

To this day, one of my favourite places in the world is the tiny Charles Addams art gallery on the third floor of the New York Library (follow the signs to the Mens' Toilets and it's just before you get there), and one of the things, almost forty years on, that I still enjoy from an Addams cartoon is the moment of "Huh?" before the moment of "Oh," and then the way that the world reconfigures.

The cartoon that follows was my Anansi Boys publication present to myself. (Thanks to New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss, who pointed it in my direction.) It just arrived, and I've taken it off to the framers, very happy.

While Blogger for some reason didn't want to show the image, the new Picasa "Blog This" button worked like a dream. (Or it did if this publishes properly.)




... and because the leap from Addams to Gorey isn't a huge one, there's a Gorey Font over at http://www.emeraldrain.com/fm/content/goreyttf.htmlPosted by Picasa

Friday, October 21, 2005

Maddy decided that in the run-up to Hallowe'en she...

Maddy decided that in the run-up to Hallowe'en she wanted to watch a scary movie, "But not, like, you know Dad, the Boston Chainsaw Massacre or something," so we're currently sitting and watching The Innocents, which is significantly less disturbing than America's Next Top Model, Maddy's second-favourite TV show.

Really interesting review in Melbourne's The Age. I definitely got the sense when I was out there last time that Australia was a bit behind the US and the UK in its understanding and acceptance of fantasy (despite having several of the best fantasists and fabulists currently writing out there), but I was still astonished that any reviewer would feel the need to start a review with,

THERE is a problem with "genre". All enveloping terms such as crime or science fiction are anathema to many. They're not serious fiction. Regardless of the grudging acceptance by the literary world of James Ellroy or William Gibson, commercial classification remains a stigma.
The worst one of all is that horrific appellation fantasy, a world definitely for dweebs or, at best, "young adults".


the review that follows is extremely positive, which is nice. But it still seems strange.


Hi. I just finished reading Anansi Boys I liked it quite a bit. Its also whetted my appitite for more Anansi stories. One thing is bothering me though, I don't know if someone has asked you this already or not but here goes. On page 145 Fat Charlie recalls the lines of a poem he read in school, "The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold... And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold." He then has trouble remembering what cohorts are. Now the week before reading Anansi Boys I read Terry Pratchett's Going Postal. On page 169 of the Harper paperback edition I read, "The postman came down like a wolf on the fold, His cohorts all gleaming in azure and gold..." and then a character mentions thinking that cohorts meant something different than it actually does. So are you and Terry Pratchett part of some Byron quoting club or something?

No, we just have heads that go to similar places sometimes, I think.

I'm pretty sure though that I ran into the couplet from the poem first quoted somewhere else, by someone else, long before I knew it was Byron (Kipling, perhaps?) -- but it's the kind of couplet that people tend to ponder.

Ogden Nash did it best (http://plagiarist.com/poetry/534/).

...

Part three of (probably) four parts of Peter Sanderson's extended essay on Anansi Boys is up at http://comics.ign.com/articles/660/660510p1.html .

...

Hello, Neil! I have a question in regards to "Stardust." After borrowing "Stardust" from the library, I have read it, and it was excellent. However, I have not yet bought the book, because I am kind of confused about the different editions. I know one is illustrated by Charles Vess, and this is the version originally published. Is the text in this version identical to the unillustrated version in its entirety? Thank you, and best of luck with the coming tour in the UK and Ireland. Aaron

I think there are a couple of sentences here and there in the text-only version of Stardust that were cut from the illustrated version because of space, and one -- about a badger's heliotrope dressing gown -- that was cut because when Charles drew the badger he forgot to put in the dressing gown.

NEIL. i just learned that dakota fanning is the voice of "coraline." no one, not even you, can describe how great that is. the fact that coraline will be on the big screen is incredible. but my question is this: since Henry Selick ("Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas," "James and the Giant Peach") is writing (NOT YOU?) and directing the film, and Bill Mechanic is producing it, HOW MUCH INFLUENCE AND INVOLVMENT WILL YOU HAVE? IT BETTER BE ALOT!! YOU HAVE TO MAKE SURE THEY DO IT RIGHT!!!!!

Honestly, unless you're actually directing the film, the best influence and involvement you can hope for is to have picked good people to make the film in the first place and cross your fingers that they get it right and don't die or get fired. (There's a film I'm listed as an Executive Producer on, based on something I created, which they apparently no longer send me scripts for, and the last script I did see bore so little resemblance to the thing I created that I suggested, without rancour, that they change the name of the film and the lead character in order not to confuse people.)

It's hard enough for the writer of a film to have any say in what happens the day it starts shooting, a million times more so for the writer of the original material.

In the case of Coraline, the film is Henry Selick's, and I have an enormous amount of confidence in Henry. The artwork I've seen so far has been excellent, I've heard some They Might Be Giants Songs I really liked.

And my fingers are crossed.

...

My assistant, the Fabulous Lorraine, is off at her initial CD release party tonight: http://www.lorraineamalena.com/. She'll be doing a signing, with Malena, her band partner, at Dark Delicacies in LA next week, looking, I suspect, nothing like what she does when making me tea and arranging travel. I've offered to presign a bunch of CDs for them.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

How you know when it's done

From UNCUT Magazine, which arrived today, a quote from an article about the recording of Springsteen's BORN TO RUN.

He hurled one tape out of the window. "It was the worst piece of garbage I'd ever heard," he [Springsteen] snarled of even the final version. "We walked out of that studio and I wanted to kill somebody." He tried to force Columbia to scrap it and record the songs live at the Bottom Line club instead. It took [producer and Rolling Stone journalist Jon] Landau to ease him back into reality. "Look, you're not supposed to like it," he said. "You think Chuck Berry sits around listening to Maybellene? And when he does hear it, don't you think that he wishes a few things could be changed? Now come on. It's time to put the record out."

Or as Sondheim said, You have to move on.

Always good to remember when you're making art. You don't have to like it, just be ready to do the next thing.

...

I'll probably be posting a bit less through November -- I'll be doing a couple of online things that, given the fact I'll also be doing the UK tour, may take up the majority of the blogging time.

I'll be on the Well, talking about Anansi Boys and stuff over at their inkwell.vue area --
http://engaged.well.com/engaged/engaged.cgi?c=inkwell.vue -- and helping with the Anansi Boys reading group questions over at The Barnes and Noble University (they have a university? Who knew?) at http://university.barnesandnoble.com/ .

Writing an introduction to Will Eisner's The Spirit work, which is good to do, but harder than I thought. Proofreading the new edition of Good Omens and doing another draft on a TV thing I'm writing with Michael Marshall Smith and Steve Jones, and I'm about to write a short story that may actually turn out to be a part of The Graveyard Book. It definitely feels like I'm home.

...

Having looked at it, the new Little Nemo In Slumberland book (http://www.sundaypressbooks.com/index.htm) is every bit as gorgeous as inspiring and as necessary as I had hoped. Yes, it is very expensive, but it is also large enough that, with the addition of legs, it would make a fine table, and, were you reading it on a boat and you were shipwrecked, you could cling to it until you were washed up on some deserted island somewhere, assuming that the desert island was near enough that you got washed up before the pages got waterlogged. And then you'd have something to read on your desert island, or even to make a small house out of. Which makes it a real bargain.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Some mailbag randomness

It's odd. I mean, ten minutes before this came in,

Was just reading through your FAQ and realized that one of your short stories is named after a line from Little Nemo and wondered if you had come across this, the perfect Christmas present:

http://www.sundaypressbooks.com/

If not, I hope you have someone who hasn't spent too much money on you this year and is looking for a great gift! (I know I'm keeping my fingers crossed.)


my copy of the book in question arrived (sent from Comic Relief in Berkeley. Do not pop in and sign things for them, while you're on a signing tour. They will sell you beautiful expensive books when you're not expecting it. You have been warned.) I was drooling over it, and wondering where to hang the calendar just before I wandered upstairs. (No, it seems there won't be a Sandman calendar this year. Get the Little Nemo one instead.) And several people had sent me the link to the New York Times article on the restoration.

...

After reading the Mirrormask review over at WIRED (http://wired.com/wired/archive/13.10/play.html?pg=13) I realized something...
Most reviews I've read of Mirrormask say it's based on a Graphic Novel made by Dave and you (I know it's not true) and that the creatures were made by Jim Henson's Creature Shop (I think it's not true). I think it would be nice to let everyone know the true story (if there is such thing as a true story)!

Santiago Casares


I'm not sure how to do it, really. In a world in which people wrote to the Village Voice, pointing out the errors in that review and got a reply that indicated that the chap who reviewed it still believes it's a graphic novel, I'm not sure it's worth even trying to correct people. Even Locus has a review in which Howard Waldrop seems to think that Hensons puppeteered the Small Hairy character "made of fur and wires" (actually a CGI character played by Dave McKean in a motion capture suit), while the New York Times review seemed convinced I'd drawn and co-directed it. (Although, bless them, they've actually run a correction.)

...

This isn't the first one I've got like this recently...

Hello.

So. Seeing as how you're also a fan of Moleskine notebooks, I went out to Barnes&Noble and purchased the cool looking Moleskine plain blank notebook.

So. I opened it and began writing in it with a Lamy 2000 fountain pen, and the ink bled right through onto the opposite page. Didn't look too good.

So. I experimented with other pens, and more or less, received the same results. Have you experienced the same thing as I have? I mean, I know you love those Moleskine notebooks and fountains pens, but how can you tolerate the ink bleeding through? Or perhaps you use a different kind of Moleskine notebooks.


Well, I discovered Moleskines in Venice in 2001, and bought enough then to last me a lifetime (aided by several people who read on this blog that I liked them, and sent me a few). Back then, the paper quality was pretty good. No bleed, and I used both sides of the paper.

And I'm still using the four-year-old Moleskines, although from the recent emails, it sounds like the current batch are being made with thinner or cheaper paper.

Which reminds me,

FROM JONATHAN CARROLL'S WEBSITE:

CarrollBlog 10.17


One of my favorite websites http://www.moleskinerie.com/, which I've mentioned here before, is having a fund raising auction to keep the site going. I donated a really nice Waterman pen that I've used on and off over the years. For you pen freaks, something you might want to take a look at. Even if you're not pen- interested, moleskinerie is a great and worthy site. The link to the auction is below.


ebay link here


Thought you'd be interested.

Rick(dethbird)


I am. And I love Jonathan's blog.

...

Hello Neil,
I hope you're still enjoying your time of rest and relaxation. I'm writing regarding two things. First, and most importantly, what has happened to the Demonic Salsa Kitten? I noticed in L&M's photo section that there is a picture of "Lorraine's new Meow Meow." Did Lorraine end up taking the cat, and if so, what did she name it?
Second, in regard to your signing tours, I would like to put my vote in for more reading/speaking/ Q &A appearances rather than signing appearances in the future. Fans who want things signed can always buy things through the Dreamhaven store. I know that I personally have yet to be willing to make the trip just for a signing, (I live in southwest Missouri, the closest I think you've come is Chicago) but I would be there in a heartbeat if you were appearing at an organized event like a reading.
Thanks,
Jimmy
p.s. I discoved The Ditty Bops on iTunes about two weeks before you mentioned taking Maddy to see them in concert. It figures that she would have been into them before I was. She has to be the coolest little kid in the world.


Lorraine has claimed technical ownership of the kitten (which continues to be apallingly cute and is currently asleep on a pile of my tee shirts). I need to make labels for the salsa, and then send the bottles out into the world to do good... And I agree about the signings as opposed to readings things. (For those of you wondering what the readings would be like, check out "Live at the Aladdin", the extra on the Short Film About John Bolton DVD, which used to be available on video and is described here.) (I notice that things at the www.cbldf.com site are starting to go out of print, which means that if you think you might want any as Xmas presents you should probably order now.)

...

Let's see. Chip Kidd has begun to build a website at http://www.goodisdead.com

Lenny Henry blogs about (and plugs) Anansi Boys over at www.lennyhenry.com. He has a buy Lenny Stuff section over at http://www.lennyhenry.com/home/buy_my_stuff.asp?pID=3 for those of you who loved his reading and want to hear him doing other things. And for those of you who haven't listened to it, the first track of Lenny's reading of ANANSI BOYS (16 megs. Also nine minutes and 3 seconds) is still at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/01%20Harper%20Audio%20presents%20Anansi%20Boys.mp3

The other one

And here's the other one. (On the CD, the arrangement was done by Chris Ewen.) L&M call it "Dark Sonnet" but I never bothered calling it anything but Sonnet.


SONNET

I don�t think that I�ve been in love as such,
Although I liked a few folk pretty well.
Love must be vaster than my smiles or touch,
For brave men died and empires rose and fell
For love: girls followed boys to foreign lands
And men have followed women into Hell.

In plays and poems someone understands
There�s something makes us more than blood and bone
And more than biological demands...
For me, love�s like the wind, unseen, unknown.
I see the trees are bending where it�s been,
I know that it leaves wreckage where it�s blown.
I really don�t know what �I love you� means.
I think it means �Don�t leave me here alone.�

Monday, October 17, 2005

Seeing you asked...

Right. I've done a disk search and found the lyrics to Just Me and Eve... A caveat, which is that they weren't really meant to be read, more listened to. Probably best if you go to http://www.lorraineamalena.com/, download or click on the MP3 and then just read along.

Just Me & Eve

She pushes through the bushes, she's the apple of my eye,
She's got her finger on the pinnacle, she's naked as a sigh,
And there's a serpent in the turpentine, it's lurking in the leaves,
And this is it:
It's just me and Eve...

Well I say, Madam, she says Adam, she says, simply take a nibble
It's no intertribal libel, neither question it nor quibble,
And to follow she'll extol it in a low recitative,
And this is it:
It's just me and Eve

She polishes it up till it glows.
It's the pippin with the pip of a rose.
She'll dissolve my harmless qualms with a song.
She says it's just a little apple what could possibly go wrong?

By now the viper's getting riper, and it hisses out, now listen
All that glisters isn't golden, but who says it's gonna glisten
?
And it adds (it was an adder) it would hurt it to deceive --
So this is it
It's just me and Eve

She said, Adam, I said, Madam, Now your yen for horticulture
Took the pardon from our garden (home to vampire, vole and vulture),
She was naked that's a given but she'd something up her sleeve
And this was it: it's just me and Eve

Well I took the apple out of her hand,
It was red and green and utterly grand,
And Eve she started singing along,
She says, it's just a little apple what could possibly go wrong?

So I took it with a look that said I'm puzzled but acceding,
And I took a final look around the nook we call our eden,
She says, Me or the big G babe, who you going to believe?
And that was it: it's just me and Eve

There was fire in the air all around,
And everybody fell to the ground.
An angel started banging a gong
I said, it's just a little apple is that possibly so wrong?

So we wind up on the outside that's the downside of our dinner,
Was i truly that unruly or original a sinner?
So we grizzle in the drizzle, with no hope of a reprieve
And this is it
It's just me and Eve

Dublin again, and lots of other things.

For all the people in Ireland trying to get to the Rattlebag event:

Hi,

Thanks a million for putting the details of the public interview with Neil on his website, we've had a huge response!! The only thing is there is a problem with the phone number, the 208 6445 number seems to be broken at the moment so would you be able to change it to (o1) 208 2822.

Thanks a million

Grace O' Connor
Broadcasting Assistant
Rattlebag
RT� Radio 1


...

Slept, in two chunks, for about fourteen hours out of the last twenty, and am finally feeling human again, after the US Anansi Boys tour. I think it took me five days to unwind enough actually to relax. I now have to plan out the next two weeks, following which I head off to the UK and do it again (but, I hope, not as exhaustingly).

Various people have written in to let me know that the actual places now showing MirrorMask now bear little resemblance to the list up on the MirrorMask website. Sorry about this -- nothing I can do about it, although I've passed it on. Best bet at this point is to check with your local papers.

Also some people writing in to let me know that the MirrorMask sound was really muffled. Again, nothing I can do, but suggest that you complain to the cinema. It shouldn't be.

This is my favourite sort of weather: bluer-than-blue skies, enough warm blustery wind to set golden leaves spinning past the window and push the curtains around, a promise of possible thunderstorms in the evening. It's good.

...

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0930/p12s03-algn.html is me talking about a few things I like. (Nothing that will be any suprise to anyone who has been reading this blog, but still.)

Hi there, I've become hooked on "Dark Sonnet" ever since you posted it, and being a college student have vowed that as soon as I have money I'll buy the CD. Unfortunately, I am renowned for my inability to decipher song words. Would you/could you post the words to the sonnet, or direct me to somewhere where I could find them? Thanks, -Christina

and

Thanks for the link to "Just me and Eve". I've been listening to it all day and recommending it to everyone I can find.Just a quick note to ask if the lyrics are up anywhere. I looked on www.lorraineamalena.com and couldn't see them there. That's the problem with patter songs - it's so hard to take in all of the words at once. I would really appreciate it if you could point me in the right direction.Thank you Caroline

Sure. I'll dig them out and put them up in the next few days.

Hi Neil, I was at your Pasadena book signing and captured your Anansi Boys reading on video using my little Canon digital camera. Are there copyright issues or or other legal nastiness if I post the movie online?-- Debi
p.s. Have you tried wearing the hand-knitted black socks yet? (that wasn't me, that was my friend)

Only if I wanted to make them issues or nastinesses, and I'm fine with people posting things they filmed or recorded on this tour and putting them up. Not yet unpacked the majority of the things people gave me on the tour, including the significant socks, (although I am enjoying the Calamansi juice).

Will you be speaking at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia as part of the Visiting Writer's Series anytime in 2006?

I've been asked if I can give this year's James Branch Cabell lecture (not sure if that's the Visiting Writers Series or something else), and I very much want to -- just need to work out a date.

Mr. Gaiman, In re: MirrorMask, I am having an awful mess of a time finding a proper definition of 'snogging'. The web has been of no help (some places define it as essentially spooning, with others calling it 'cuddle followed by a kiss'), and the Britons I've approached can reach no agreement as to whether nudity is a factor or not, or if perhaps one's tongue figures in somehow.Can you help a poor girl from across the pond?

When I was much, much younger snogging was mostly lengthy kissing sessions in shop doorways, alleys or graveyards. I don't think that the shop doorways alleys, or graveyards are actually necessary, but the kissing definitely is. Tongues, I think, are de riguer. However, I think nude snogging would be something else entirely. Does that help?

A hasty google turned up http://www.thesite.org/sexandrelationships/havingsex/styles/snoggingmasterclass

...

For those who enjoyed the SHINING recut trailer a few weeks ago, I point you to http://www.moondogedit.com/ (click on Paul Lacalandra, then on Ordinary Girls), for a recut trailer of the Hayley Mills Parent Trap...

...

Neil,
Last week I got an ipod nano. After putting some music on the ipod, I checked out Anansi Boys from my library and copied the audio book CDs onto my ipod. I have been listening to the book as I go about my day. However, I feel guilty, as if I have ripped you off somehow. Is it okay to copy library versions of your books onto my ipod? Have I broken the law?

Thanks in advance for either slapping my wrist or easing my guilty conscience.

A HUGE FAN!
Jeanne


What a wonderful ethical question. I feel almost rabbinical pondering it. No, I don't believe you've broken any law. If you'd checked out the MP3 CD from your library you'd be expected to put it onto your iPod, after all. There's a weird sort of ethical fogginess, in that I suspect that part of the idea of libraries is that when you're done with something you return it, and of course once you have your MP3 on your computer and iPod you can keep it forever. But I think this is just one of those places where changes in technology move faster than the rules.

If you're listening to it, and you've got an iPod or suchlike MP3 player, you're almost definitely going to listen to it on your iPod. That's how things are, and it's a good thing (it's why I got Harper Collins to release American Gods and Anansi Boys on MP3 CD, after all).

Probably wisest not to pull it off your iPod and give it to other people, though. Let them at least take it out of the library themselves.

...

And finally, Robert Morales sent me this link http://www.time.com/time/2005/100books/the_complete_list.html with the note "Look Under W". And I did, and I was made happy. You might want to do likewise. (Not sure I'd put more than about 20 of those on my top 100 list, but then that's the fun of lists.)

It also amused me how often the 100 greatest novels list crossed over with http://www.classkc.org/f-word.php, a list of books from a "like-minded group of parents" who want to get books with swearing in them banned from schools...

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Just me and Eve

When I was a kid, as anyone who has read my Heliogabolus story knows, I loved Gilbert and Sullivan. (The Heliogabolus story is up at http://www.holycow.com/dreaming/helio/, and then click on the Next link at the bottom.) Like anyone else who has ever loved Gilbert and Sullivan I suspect, once in a while the urge to write a Gilbertian Patter Song wells up unbidden in the auctorial breast, and some years ago, I succumbed. I wrote the song for the Flash Girls, but Emma didn't like the subject matter, so it went back to a drawer and was forgotten. When Lorraine&Malena started making music I pulled it out of mothballs and handed it over to them (luckily Lorraine still had the back of the envelope on which I'd jotted down the chords all those years ago). It's over at http://www.lorraineamalena.com/ and is called It's Just Me and Eve and you can listen to it for nothing.

Okay. I'll grab a few questions from the last week...

i want to read the kindly ones, but i havent read the previous volumes. if i read the kindly ones first, will i be able to understand the story without knowing what happened in volumes 1-8? thanks.

You may be able to understand it, but it won't mean the same if you haven't read the first eight volumes. I'd strongly suggest that The Kindly Ones and The Wake are read at the end -- but you can read the others out of sequence if you want.

I was flipping through a fantasy or sci-fi anthology that you had contributed to and found a story that touted itself as a prequel to American Gods. Not having read the novel yet, and being a college student with about $2.83 in my pocket, I didn't buy it and now the wily imp of a story is alluding me completely. Did I imagine this story? Where can I capture it?

It's a novella called The Monarch of the Glen, and it's a Shadow story. It's not a prequel to American Gods, it takes place a couple of years after the events in American Gods, and in it Shadow winds up in Northern Scotland, and was originally going to be called "Cape Wrath", but someone else got there first.

I have a fairly simple question, who is your designer, or in particular who designed the cover for American Gods? This question is for a class project at Grand Valley State University near Grand Rapids MIchigan.Thanks,Jenny EberleinGraphic Design student and a fan of your writing.

The American Gods cover was designed by Russell Gordon.

Who was the Earl quoting, in Neverwhere, with his "Brave the battling blade, flashes the furious fire" etc?Google is yielding nothing but people quoting you.

That's just me, I'm afraid.


Hi Neil!
It's Luca from Italy. Some questions.
Is there any possibility to have an Italian edition of Mirrormask (the movie, non the book)?
When will be released the Italian edition of Anansi Boys? Will you have a signing event in Italy for the occasion?
Finally, in a web search I've found an Italian translation of your blog. It's a pretty good site (specially for people like me - too lazy for translating on my own) but is non listed on your foreign partners page. Maybe you don't know it yet, so http://www.karmanoid.com/neilgaiman
You are one of my favourite writers and I have to thank you for let me dream for all these years.
That's all. Sorry for my English ;-)
Luca
PS Just forgot. Mondadori is rumored to reprint MrPunch in Italy. Is that true? Or it will be reprint by Magic Press, the same of the first (very good) edition? ..or there will be no reprint?!


Thanks for the link to the Italian translation. (And if anyone knows of any other blog translations not linked to on http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/foreign.asp, let me or Kelly-the-webmistress know.)
Mr Punch is definitely coming out from Mondadori. (I believe they may be doing the MirrorMask children's book as well, but I'm not certain.)

Hi Neil! Congrats to you, Andy, Richard and Todd for 1602 winning the Best Graphic Novel Quill! Must say that, from reading your blog, you're very humble. Mostly you give indications that you don't expect to win. Is this usual practice for all your nominations or do you "feel good" about some of them? Are you usually wrong or right? Aloysius

I don't expect to win. Normally, I'm simply happy to be nominated (my theory is that if you're shortlisted for an award, that's cool and important. After that, it's a horse race).

Several years ago I had an extremely miserable day when I went to link to the website of a major award, the morning before the awards ceremony, only to discover that someone had got confused and posted the winners -- and I'd won Best Novel. I alerted the organisers and they took it down, and then I went through the day -- and in particular the evening awards ceremony -- feeling like a heel, because I knew I'd won, and had to pretend that I didn't. No fun.

Dear Neil,
I have burned my copy of Good Omens, as instructed. I await further instructions.

In the meantime, I was wondering how you feel about the degree of impersonality that seems to have crept into book signings with your increased popularity. I saw you in Boston (1992?) and while the line stretched around the block, there wasn't the same sense of an assembly line. While it's great that you get to see fans, and we see you, that interaction becomes a little lessened. I guess it can't be helped. Or maybe I'm just frustraqted because I tried to get my picture taken with you instead of just introducing myself, as I'd originally thought, so I could at least say I'd met you.

Oh, and kidding about the book. I both love it and need it for the next book club reading. Glenn Portland, OR

How do I feel about it? Not entirely comfortable. I think this was probably the last US signing tour as such -- it doesn't really work when you've got 600+ people in a signing line, unless you're willing to do the "no personalisation, don't talk to anyone, sign your name and move on to the next" thing which I'm really not. The next US tour is much more likely to be something like the Guardian Angel tours I did for the CBLDF, or the Cody's Coraline event, I suspect.

I've been following the letters about your Waterman fountain pens in the blog recently and decided to try one out. I ended up getting a chance to try one and now it pains me to write with a cheap ballpoint. So my question is, where do you get a Waterman for $50? The cheapest ones I can find (ebay included) that are in decent shape are about $120 which, needless to say, are a bit over my budget. Where do you get your pens?-Tessa p.s. I Love Anansi Boys.

Some I get from Kathy Li, and some from eBay. I just checked eBay for completed auctions for Waterman 52s, and they ranged from $16 to $450, with things that you could write with but that pen collectors wouldn't want coming in around $50. Kathy Li assures me that if I'd just take the time and trouble to learn how to fix up old pens I could pick them up for nothing, or almost...

Hey, Neil.

This is probably an embarassing sort of question, but then again maybe not. At any rate, it's a question I've wnated to ask somebody, and you're pretty much the only person I can think of.

How do you write a sex scene?

Where do you get the ... necessary inspiration, and how do you keep it understandably ... sex, without resorting to the painfully obvious? I'm just sort of stuck on this whole question, and the only thing I can do when I contemplate this question is turn an embarassing shade of pink.

Pointers, advice, or sugar cookies would be appreciated.

-Leigh


You're asking the wrong person, I'm afraid. One short story in Smoke and Mirrors, "Tastings", took about four years to write, because whenever I got too embarassed I'd stop writing. And while I once wrote an extremely filthy Cherry Poptart story, I left the mechanics of what the people were doing in the panels up to the imagination of the artist...

One thing I'd suggest, whether it's writing sex scenes, writing partings, writing anything really, is look at how writers whose work you like did it.

I would say that it's astonishing how much people's imaginations will do for you, which is to say, ever since I was accused of writing explicitly pornographic sex in Stardust, I realised that people can always fill in the blanks with far more detail than you think you've provided. So you can probably do more by writing less than you imagine. Does that help?

Neil, I have an ongoing dispute between myself and several lady friends. They think that you are attractive, that you have an "older British man appeal." On the other hand, while I love your books, I think you're rather not. Would you mind clearing this up for us? Are you attractive?

I don't think so, but then, I'm not actually my type.

Your blog comment about having not shaved and looking a bit like a werewolf prompted me to create this bit of Photoshopped nonsense:http://pics.livejournal.com/ashiikankwe/pic/0000ekf7
Just thought I'd share. Teehee.-Ashiikankwe

Nope. Definitely not my type...

This made me smile:

Hi Neil,
I know you're a very busy man, so this is very short, I've just finished reading Ananasi Boys and I thought it was brilliant. What impressed me even more than the deft interweaving of comedy and horror was the book's voice. I've recently got wed to a very fine lady of mixed-race descent; which means I have also married into an extended West Indian family ( - and have learnt, amongst other things, that while Brian Lara is an exceptional cricketeer, he is a lousy chemistry student).
Seemingly without effort you have managed to evoke that network of family, where cousins and aunts and uncles live in the US and half-a-dozen European countries, and where 'home' is still somewhere in the Caribean. And I can't quite work out how you did it!
I'm now raiding my wife's collection of West Indian fairy tales/childhood stories/myths to catch-up on all the Anansi stories that I've been missing.Please keep up the good work! James

...

The first two parts of Peter Sanderson's piece about ANANSI BOYS are up at IGN.com -- the first at http://comics.ign.com/articles/656/656802p1.html and the second at http://comics.ign.com/articles/658/658600p1.html

werewolf world

Day five of not-shaving, and I am starting to look a little like a werewolf.

Other than that, this has been a perfectly normal Saturday in mid-October. I made blueberry pancakes for Maddy, and juiced a bunch of local apples and late garden vegetables for me, and am starting to come out of the muffle-headed cocoon I went into when I got home. Haven't written anything yet, and last night when a software update rebooted the computer, losing me most of yesterday's blog entry and a bunch of firefox tabs I barely minded...

Walking around Glasgow, I keep seeing this everywhere:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/90252691@N00/52526126/

I'm not sure what, or even if, it's advertising. A bit of your book escaped into the world. Weird.

-- Stu West


Thanks so much for sending that over! I hadn't known about them, although I can figure out what they're for -- http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2005/06/blogging-for-joy.asp may be clue...

Hi Neil - I'm trying to figure out where on the Internet I can find out how many books, for example, you have sold (like a statistical website). I realize that's probably a fairly invasive question, and you may not even know where to find that information, but I thought there has to be a way to track "sales" per ce and figured you may know. I also appreciate that you're not a directory service...but again, I thought I would ask. Thank you!!! Chrysta

I don't think that information is available anywhere online. It's not even something I know, without piling up hundreds of royalty statements and totting it up. I can average things out based on what I do know (for example, in 2003, a little over 300,000 Sandman trade paperbacks and hardbacks were sold in the US) but really don't know. Sorry.

do you have a signed copy of anansi boys or limited edtn copy for sale. i'm from scotland in the uk. can pay by any method regardless of cost.thank you

Your best bets would be
a) go to DreamHaven Books -- www.neilgaiman.net -- who do a whole shop of stuff by me and have lots of signed books in stock
b) check out the shops I signed in on the last tour -- most of them had extra books signed. I also signed hundreds of books at http://www.booksmith.com/.
c) wait until I come to Scotland on the 9th of November...
Wednesday, 9th November
1.00pm: Borders, Buchanan Street, Glasgow Signing Contact: 0141 222 7700
6.30pm: Waterstone�s, West End, Princes Street, EdinburghTalk and signingContact: 0131 226 2666Tickets �3
(Full UK signing information here.)

Hi Neil,Is there a Europe tour after the UK tour? (I live in Belgium) Regars. fred

No. There may be something next year, when the book starts to come out in translation, but it will depend a lot on what else is going on.

Hello,I've been looking forward to seeing Mirrormask for months now and I have yet to see any canadian venues for it. It's not announced on any local listings (like www.cinemamontreal.ca) and it doesn't appear on the Canadian Sony website. Would you happen to have any inside info on this??
thank you Joelle Sekla
PS. thanks for coming down to Toronto. I had a blast.

Mark Askwith just phoned to tell me that MirrorMask will arrive in Canada on the 28th of October. You now know all that I know, and more than I knew 5 minutes ago.

Dear Neil, I was cruising George RR Martin's site and found a great link posted there (http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/authors.html). It occurred to me that some of your other fans might wish to see yours and possibly other authors' speeches/discussions/q&a's on video from last month in DC. Hope this is more of a help than a hindrance. Cameron

(If you're using RealPlayer, you may have to go to tools/preferences/media types/advanced and put a check against real time streaming protocol before it will work...)

...

And a couple of small public service postings before I go off and take Maddy somewhere that she can eat blue moon icecream on a perfect autumn day, when the sky is blue and the leaves are gold...

One personal...

Hey Neil, I was near at the end of the line at your recent Toronto signing. First off thanks very much for staying so late for us. It was really heartening to see you maintained your good cheer despite the fatigue you must have been feeling. I struck up a really nice conversation with the person standing right in front of me while waiting in line and am now kicking myself for not getting any contact information.

The only thing I know about her that could help me get in touch is that she reads your journal regularly. So if you could mention on the blog that Aamir (me) would really like to continue the chat I was having with Bonny in the Toronto sign lineup that would be very very much appreciated. Regardless thanks again very much for everything.

And one political...

Hi Neil,

Any chance you could include this quick & urgent plea to fellow UK readers of your blog to contact their MPs asap, via www.writetothem.com or other means, to ask them to vote against the Identity Cards Bill, which has its third reading in the House of Commons next Tuesday, 18th October. This is almost certainly the last time that MPs will get to vote on it. (It scraped through by a majority of only 16 at the last reading.)

For a good clear explanation of how a National Identity database can link up lots of other databases, and why this is so dangerous, people might like to read: this post

For a rather longer but very readable, thoughtful and highly recommended overview of the ID card issue, there's http://www.law.ed.ac.uk/ahrb/script-ed/vol2-1/idcards.asp

Or, there are some singing dogs:
http://eclectech.co.uk/clarkeidcards.php

Thanks!

Very much enjoyed Anansi Boys, and working my way through the gorgeous new Hodder paperback reissues of your other novels, though my mind boggles at books with 'extras' and what can only be called 'director's cut' editions of the text. I have a terrible, terrible urge to have you sign ALL of them next month, seeing as I couldn't resist getting a new set of books that I thought I'd already bought. I doubt I can be that mean, though, damn. :)

(Am very tickled by how incredibly well-endowed they all are with hyper-enthusiastic flowery accolades. "As Gaiman is to literature, so Antoni Gaudi was to architecture" (Midweek, from the inside front of American Gods). Huh??? They're all perfectly correct in what they say, of course, but it is rather funny seeing so many of them blurbed over every spare inch of cover, inside as well as out, of one small paperback.)

See you in Manchester!

best wishes,

Maria Ng


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Free song at end of post...

Starting to crawl back to life. Am wearing a black tee shirt with a dancing skeleton on it, and once-black jeans that are now sort of grey. Still have not yet shaved, for those keeping track.

Now the North American leg of the tour is over, it occurs to me that I should say thank you to all the people who came out to the signings (and some of you came a VERY long way), and who stood for long periods of time, and who are, in all probability, still puzzling over my handwriting, and who put up with me reading to you. I'm very grateful.

Lucy Ramsey at Headline in the UK tells me that some of the evening events are in danger of selling out soon, so you may want to check the UK signing list over at Where's Neil, or at http://www.neilgaiman.co.uk/author.php, and make sure of a ticket for any of the ticketed ones.

Someone in Dublin wrote to say they were having trouble getting through to Rattlebag on the phone to get tickets -- according to the Rattlebag website
You can contact us at our 24 hour comment line on (01) 208 3445, write to us at "Rattlebag", RT� Radio 1, Donnybrook, Dublin 4 or e-mail us at rattle@rte.ie
so you may simply be able to email them.

...

In honour of of Harold Pinter winning the Nobel Prize for literature, I think we should now have a small pause.






...

I need to go through the Firefox tabs and post a bunch of links and close a bunch of tabs. In the meantime, you can be awed at my ability to go birding while on tour at birdchick's blog,
or discover the open rights group (of which I seem to have become a patron), or read Nalo's entry on the Toronto event...

(There's a cliplet of the Toronto event over at http://www.spacecast.com/hypaspace.aspx.)

Paul di Filipo reviews ANANSI BOYS over at Scifi.com -- http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue441/books.html -- the only review of any of my books to cite Paris Hilton, I think -- and Roz Kaveney's review from Time Out is up on her Live Journal -- http://www.livejournal.com/users/rozk/92084.html.

Mandy who does Nice Hair gave me a lovely "thankyou for not suing me" drawing in Vancouver, and has put up a new episode, in which the hair in question starts behaving like it always does in real life....

Meanwhile, over at the Lorraine and Malena webpage, Malena has put up an MP3 of the first track of their new CD.

(She phoned to ask how to put up part of an MP3, and took my suggestion to put up the whole songs instead, on the basis that if people like them they may buy the CD or share them with friends, and either way people will hear them.)

It's a song I wrote the words and music for, arranged by Chris Ewen, and is also, I'm afraid, a sonnet. (L/M are a mighty two-headed blogger as well.)

Go and listen.

...

And I've just learned that ANANSI BOYS is now up at iTunes, for those of you who would like instant happy Lenny Henry gratification (and the link only works if you have iTunes).

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

FINALLY, Dublin

Spending today in a dressing gown. Have not shaved. Am barefoot, but despite this have wandered around the Octobery garden, feeling like I'm now entitled to a Day Off and I am taking it, dammit. Next on today's pulse-pounding agenda: a bath. Then maybe a nap, unless that seems too exciting.

I have Dublin information finally -- this will be the only Irish appearance, I'm afraid, so phone the number below now for tickets if you want to come along:

Tuesday 15th November 2005. Rattlebag Public interview with Myles Dungan
Time: 7 pm
Venue: Studio 1 - RTE Radio Centre, Donnybrook, Dublin 4
Tickets: Free of charge but early booking is essential from 01 2083445

(And I don't know if there's a signing of any sort afterwards, but will be happy to scribble on anything that comes my way.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Michael Zulli's last Daniel

A down day today (I was interviewed and had a haircut. Everything else is a blur.)

Michael Zulli swung by tonight for dinner, being in the area. I've not seen him for about nine years (although I hadn't noticed this, because we keep working together, and talk on the phone, and time passes and you never know) and it's been such a delight to see him; same old Michael, magnificent moustache and all, but now with extra swatches of grey at his temples and laugh lines at the corner of his eyes. He told me that he's recently been working on an oil painting of Daniel, as a companion piece to his Morpheus. You can see it as work in progress at:

http://www.michaelzulli.com/lastdaniel.htm

It's up for auction at eBay right now (here's the link), and the auction has six days to go.

("You auctioning anything else?" I asked. "Only a set of Sandman Watches," he said.)

...

I meant to post a link to the Mumpsimus MirrorMask ONION HEADLINE contest winners entry, but I forgot... http://mumpsimus.blogspot.com/2005/10/mirrormask-contest-winners.html

...

I've been listening to Lorraine and Malena's new CD, Mirror Mirror, which Lorraine brought home yesterday. It's Lorraine's best album so far, I think -- it's sort of like the Flash Girls, only darker and sweeter.

...and as I was typing that the phone rang, and my agent Merrilee told me that Marvel:1602 won the Quills Award for best Graphic Novel. (Winners are listed here -- http://www.quillsliteracy.org/categories.php. And yes, they still have the title of the book wrong. Twits.) Which made me relieved that I recorded the thank you speech yesterday, stressing the important bit, which was, as far as I remember, something or other about the variety of stuff out there on the Graphic Novel shelves, and stressing how deeply different and good the various nominees for the category were. Not sure that we deserved to win, given the competition, but the five contenders were so different anyway, only having in common that they were made of words and pictures, and if the awards serve to draw attention to graphic novels as a category, then that's a good thing...

The awards will be shown on NBC on October 22nd. No idea whether my bit will make it in, as I suspect that Graphic Novels will be one of those categories like the Oscar for Best Assistant Key Grip (Foreign) which never turn up on the actual telecast.

UK update

More UK details over at Where's Neil (http://www.neilgaiman.com/where/where.asp) (at least, the phone numbers should now be right). Dublin will be either one or two days after the last UK event, with a signing and possibly more cool event-type things happening there, and I'm waiting for information I can post to come in from Cormac (AKA Our Man in Dublin).

It looks like one change has already happened to the venue in Edinburgh, though...

Hi Neil, hope you're feeling better after finally getting home to bed...
a quick housekeeping note on the uk tour: waterstones in edinburgh has moved the venue for your reading/signing session as demand is, well, demanding. you're now in a converted church, i believe (and much closer to my flat, hurrah), hopefully more atmospheric than a bookshop.
i'm really looking forward to hearing you read - i just finished the book a couple of nights ago and can't wait to re-read it already! it makes me sad that i can't write like you do, but then very happy that someone can write like that and i can read it. also, as a freelance newspaper sub-editor, i love the fact that you use punctuation so beautifully. (i know, a strange compliment, but it is a compliment, trust me!)
thanks for writing, and thanks for blogging - it just makes the books better when we get to hear about the process.

Louise


You're welcome.

Lots and lots of interesting clippings on ANANSI, MIRRORMASK and so on out there, but it is with enormous pleasure that I point you all to The Dreaming where Lucy Anne has assembled them all, and more, for your reading enjoyment.

End of Round One

Well, that last one was odd, like putting a foot down on a step that isn't there, but now it's all over for a few weeks, before the UK tour (and a Dublin trip). And I have come to rest at home.

Did some fun NPR stuff today (here's the stream for Midmorning, not certain if the Mary Lucia interview at the Current is up anywhere yet) , and also recorded an acceptance speech for the Quill Awards, in case 1602 wins, because you couldn't get me back on a plane to go to New York and put on a dinner jacket at gunpoint right now.

I'll try and do a post about my adventures on the road for the last three weeks at some point soon...

So Neil, what did your wife say when she found out you lost a thousand dollar Waterman pen? I was in the dog house for a week once when I left a pair of hundred dollar sunglasses lay at a Mcdonald's in North Platte Nebraska. Its been three years, and she still brings up those glasses. Eric

You'll be happy to hear that vintage Waterman 52 pens (if you aren't a pen collector, but just want something to sign books with) are significantly less than $1000. By a good $950, for the most part...

Neil-About a month ago I received a loverly notice from Harper Collins Author Tracker that the re-launch of neilgaiman.com was coming soon to a browser near me! Now, I had expected this to occur after the release of Anansi Boys or Mirrormask, however the site still appears to be the same...So my question in short is, do you have any idea about when the new site design will be launched? I'm curious to see what elements it plays on!!And if you can stand some fan "gushing" I absolutely adore Anansi Boys, and I actually feel it bears a resemblance in style to Neverwhere (which isn't a comparison I've heard yet). I won't go into details to spare those who haven't read it yet, but again, fabulous!-Jen

It's pretty much done. Unfortunately I had to go off on tour as it was nearly ready, and I couldn't sign off on it, or learn the secrets to making it work. Soon. It looks nice, lots of work has gone into it, and I'm hoping stuff will be a lot easier to find...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

home

The best bit about getting home, apart from hugging Maddy who has, I am convinced, grown in the last three weeks, was wandering through the frostbitten garden, discovering all the things like leeks and broccoli and carrots that don't mind the frost. Picked lots of eggplants. Then wandered inside where I opened a handful of letters and packages -- discovered I'd been sent an iPod Nano as a gift, and there were a couple of different Best of the Year anthologies with "The Problem of Susan" in them on the kitchen table. Plugged in and activated a replacement Tivo from Weaknees.com, watched a black and white episode of Bewitched with Maddy, and then put her to bed.

Mounds of unanswered email. Dozens of unposted FAQs. Ah well.

Lots of people writing in to ask why I didn't blog about their signing or event -- was it that bad? -- and the answer is no, I just went to sleep instead of posting that night, and haven't caught up. After most of those signings, when the choice was blog or sleep, it was no contest.

I'm cheerfully braindead today. Will need to function tomorrow (Monday) with lots of radio interviews and the Mall of America event. Then I can be braindead again.

Hi Neil,You're mentioned (in a somewhat disturbing - yet loving - way) in a webcomic. Link's here: http://www.somethingpositive.net/sp09262005.shtml Wonder if you get that sort of thing much.

How kind. And not as far as I know. At least for the present, my children remain uneaten.

Lots of variations on,

Hullo Neil,I was just wondering about your photo on the back cover of Anansi Boys. Is it an old picture? You look about twenty. (One of my aunts who brought it here from Virginia browsed through it and exclaimed, "But he's a kid!" ) No offense -- we think you're way cuter now you're in your forties.Warm regards,Tania

No, it's a detail of a photo taken in January. You can see the original up at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2005/04/three-photographs.asp.

Hey Neil...Its Joe from New Orleans...Are you still making it down here this year or has everything been cancelled...?

It's been postponed -- from the website (http://www.louisianabookfestival.org/)
Pending availability of the Louisiana State Capitol building, the next Louisiana Book Festival will be presented on Saturday, March 11, 2006.
I don't yet know if I'll be able to be there.

It seems like you've divorced yourself from your comics on your website. It's my opinion that your comics are some of your greatest works, some of your comics even greater than your novels. Is there a reason why you seem to have distanced yourself? Ben

Because www.Neilgaiman.com is built and maintained by Harper Collins, which means that they put their overall emphasis on the books when it was contructed. If anyone wanted to volunteer to expand the whole http://www.neilgaiman.com/comics/comics.asp section, I'm sure that the webmistress would be delighted.

Hi Neil, have you seen the interview with you and Susanna Clarke on Salon.com? It's quite good, but if I were you, I might take issue with the illustration at the top of the article. It makes you look rather like a pudgy woman which, the last time I saw you at least, you were not.
http://www.salon.com/books/int/2005/10/08/gaiman_clarke/index_np.html

Oh, I don't know. I may look a bit sketchy, but Susanna is unrecognisable. Nice interview, though. (and there's a review of ANANSI BOYS at Salon.com here -- http://www.salon.com/books/review/2005/10/01/gaiman/index_np.html) You'll need to watch an ad to read it, though.

Okay. Bed now. More blog probably Tuesday...
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