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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Sterilize yourself with fear

I've had trouble posting pictures here recently, so this is a small test to see if it's fixed now...

(It's the picture I wanted to upload yesterday, originally to illustrate how finding out how awful some of the things other people got into print are can improve your own confidence as a writer.)




Yup. Looks good. (Well, looks ghastly. But good.)

(Thanks to the Blogger folk for their help on sorting this out.)

Incidentally, if anyone knows how to get in touch with Alan Craddock, who painted the Ghastly Beyond Belief cover, can you let me know? I've always wanted to see if he still has it and to find out if I could buy it if he does.)

...

Hey Neil, I just wanted to let you know that the McSweeneys Book with the really long title is currently on sale for 5 dollars through their website. It's a chance for any of would be Gaiman completists who didn't get it the first time around.Best,Chris

The link to their summer sale on Noisy Monsters Unfriendly Blobs etc is here. It's a lovely book, and $5 is an amazing deal.

...

Four years ago, Nick Setchfield wrote and asked me about Victoria Walker. (It's at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2002/06/in-e-mail-from-sfxs-nich-setchfield-he.asp) and to save you clicking on it...

He wrote

There's been some interesting stuff on your website about preserving old
> books - but how do you preserve old authors? Jayne on the magazine has
> just tracked down a copy of The House Called Hadlows by Victoria
Walker, her
> favourite fantasy novel from her childhood. It's taken her
20 years.
> There's a photo of Victoria Walker inside, looking like a
magic hippy
> chick, preserved forever in 1971. But where is she now? Why
did she only
> write two books (the other one's The Winter of
Enchantment)? How does
> Jayne find her to thank her for writing the best
book of her childhood?
> If you have any leads, let us know!
>
> Best,
>Nick


and at the time I replied,

And then I got that strange tingly feeling you get when someone mentions a book
you'd loved once and half-forgotten almost for forever -- in this case The
Winter of Enchantment, which was on the shelves in my local library when I was
about eleven, and which I remember as being utterly magical, although the actual
what-happened is a confused sort of jumble of magic mirrors and cats and the
four seasons and victoriana. I did a web search and learned nothing except that
Garth Nix has really good taste in kids' books.

So in my copious spare
time (doomed and hollow cough there) I think I'll take this on as a project. Who
was Victoria Walker? Is she still alive? Why just those two books? Why have they
both been out of print for thirty years? The first thing I thought of as a
resource was this journal. This website is getting (according to a stats email
this morning) a little over 110,000 hits a day, and most people come and check
out the journal, which is an awful lot of eyes and minds. So if anyone out there
knows anything about Victoria Walker -- who she was or is, or any other
information about the books, send in your information on the FAQ line. And feel
free to mention it on other boards, journals and places.

And people did, and it became the sort of saga of Victoria Walker.

I tracked down and read The House Called Hadlowes, and reread the Winter of Enchantment (and talk about them at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2002/10/i-finished-reading-house-called.asp). An eagle-eyed blog reader, Graeme Roberts, made the final links and got the story of Victoria Walker at http://www.ibooknet.co.uk/archive/news_may04.htm. (I talked about it at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2004/05/pens-rules-finishing-things-and-why.asp)

So, bringing things full-circle, I got an email from that man Nick Setchfield this morning, with a press release attached and a link to http://www.fidrabooks.com/walker.html. The Winter of Echantment is coming back into print...

And sometimes people ask why I keep doing this blog, and what's it for. I think maybe, really, it's for things like helping get The Winter of Enchantment back into print.

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