Thursday, January 05, 2006

Mostly Books and Beards

Neil -- I was reading over your journal and saw your note about the special edition of Anansi Boys offered by Ottakar's. I don't suppose you would have a suggestion for how those of us who don't live in the UK could get ahold of that? Is there a US retailer or some online service that Ottakar's has?Thanks! P.S.: I read and loved the American version of Anansi Boys, just so you know!

I didn't know, so I emailed Jon Howells, Our Man at Ottakars, who said...

Hi Neil,

Of course. Any of our stores will be happy to take orders from overseas -fans should contact any of the stores (details of all of them are on our website -

Post to the USA is �10.00 airmail (quick - usually a week), or a fiver surface mail (Willie Lumpkin speed). If any of your readers want to get hold of a copy through one of our stores via the website, they are welcome to do that. If they want to do it throughme, that's fine - they should email me at Payment will have to be by credit card, I'm afraid (unless they want to send dollars, which is fine, but not very secure and not very quick). Sorry we don't sell through our site, which would make life a lot easier. Maybe one day...

Happy New Year, Jon


I don't know if I've mentioned it here before or not, but P�ca Puppets in Ireland are going to be doing a theatrical puppet version of Coraline. I'm really hoping I get to see it. Their newsletter says,

Development of �Coraline�, P�ca�s next show for older children and adults, continued throughout the year. A co-production with �igse, Carlow, and in association with Project Arts Centre, Dublin, it is based on Neil Gaiman�s dark contemporary fairytale of the same name. Plans are afoot to bring it to the World Puppet Art Festival, Prague, as well as an Irish tour Summer/Autumn 2006. Director Sue Mythen and performers Margot Jones, Niamh Lawlor and Joe Moylan, did a week�s exploration of the story in Dec �04 assisted by the Abbeyonehundred. This year artists, Fiona Dowling and Slavek Kwi joined the team for intensive development of script and design, including consultation with children and child psychologists. This was thanks to an Arts Council bursary, and a Dublin City Council Award.

(and in other Coraline news, an article in the Education Guardian tells how Coraline is used in schools, with help from Powerpoint --,,1677046,00.html).

Dear Neil, are you going to be in Pennsylvania anytime soon? Just wondering. When do you start writing? Thanks a lot, Faith

On January the 26th, when I go to Temple University and talk, because Chip Delany asked me to. (He was in hospital at the time, and had a nightmarish catheter incident while we were talking, so the conversation ended with him getting off the phone in a hurry, although with remarkable composure, because of all the blood and such.) (I just looked to see if Chip had a website, and of course he doesn't, but there's a marvellous interview with him by Jayme Lynn Blaschke at
Sample Q & A:
Do you feel your most significant contributions to the field have/will come from a university setting, or as an author of fiction?
Writers write what the world compels them to write; and the University nudges you strongly toward writing non-fiction. Significance is not a factor in that -- because it's the one thing the writer him- or herself has no access to. The eighteenth century playwright Thomas Ottway very probably died more or less sure he would go down in literary history as the greatest English playwright of all time. During his lifetime, his work was regularly compared to that of Shakespeare, and it was a critical given of the time that his play Venice Preserved was a better play than Hamlet.

But today how many people remember Ottway? Or have ever read a line by him? If he survives at all, it's as a canonical example of just how wrong-headed an era or a local and provisional set of literary opinions can be.

When do I start writing? Fiction is normally after lunch, once all the email and calls and interviews and letters are done, unless I'm in hiding working on a longer piece, in which case it's when I wake up.


Marcus at Blackwells wrote to let me know that I thought I'd let you know that Alan Moore has agreed to host the Moorcock event we have on the 18th January. Blackwell Charing Cross Road present an evening with Michael Moorcock, in conversation with Alan Moore. Wednesday 18 January at 7pm.

Tickets �6, concessions �4, from the shop during opening hours (9.30 - 8.00 Mon-Sat, 12.00 - 6.00 Sun) or 0845 456 9876 (Mon-Fri, 9.30 - 6.00)

I really wish I could be there. If you're in the UK, and have any desire to hear two brilliant bearded wild writing geniuses talk about fiction and magic and anarchy and music (just a wild stab in the dark, that, on the subjects) then you should be there. Trust me.


Neil - thanks for pointing out that Anansi Boys is 50 percent off at B&N right now (I'm an employee and didn't know). Faithful readers may be interested in knowing that Terry Pratchett's Thud! is part of the same promotion and is also 50 percent off. (So is Paris Hilton's "book" Your Heiress Diary, but I suspect that she and you don't have much crossover in fanbase.) - Seth Christenfeld

Books-A-Million also has Anansi Boys 50% off as part of their after holiday sale both online and in their store. Robert

Hey, Neil. First, thanks for the wonderful stories and the engaging blog! I just wanted to let you know that in the UK (not sure about Europe) Waterstone's is also offering Anansi Boys at 50% off. I'm not sure when the sale ends but I saw it over the weekend.


Hi Neil,

I read this on a website ( about literary agents. It said, "Most agents do not represent short stories unless they're in an anthology for publishing as a book. There simply isn't enough money paid for short stories so that an agent can earn a living. If you write short stories, plan on sending your work directly to publishers."

If this is true, should I stop writing short stories and focus on producing a novel or a childrens/YA book? I was hoping that my short stories would at least get the attention of a good agent. Now it seems I have may to change my plans.

Oh, by the way, I'm an aspiring author who has never been published.

Thanks, Neil!

First off, I want to refer anyone with writing questions to, a post on this journal mostly written by Teresa Nielsen Hayden which contains everything you need to know, pretty much. It's worth bookmarking as an astonishing collection of web resources and information, honestly.

To answer your question (although the information is really in the paragraph you quote), most agents don't sell individual short stories. That's the bad news. The good news is that editors of things -- anthologies and magazines and suchlike -- that publish short stories do read short stories. This cuts out the middle-man.

An agent might well read your short stories, with an eye to seeing if you might have a novel in you. An agent mostly wants a novel to sell. If you have a collection of brilliant short stories that the agent can sell as a book however, if you're the next Kelly Link or Margo Lanagan, then an agent might well be interested in representing you. But you're unlikely to sell an individual short story for more than a few hundred dollars, and few agents are going to send your story out for you to potential markets -- it would cost more in postage than the agent will ever make on commission.

It's good to write short stories, and a fine way to learn your craft and to get your name out in front of people. I highly recommend it. And if your stories are published I'm sure that it will make getting an agent easier. But you'll have to send them to market yourself.