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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Gremlin rules

Trying to get caught up, to get back onto a US-relevant sleep schedule, to get some writing done, and I just discovered that tomorrow is the day that they do the every-five-years-you're-middle-aged-stop-whining-about-it-complete-medical-checkover and find out if my heart is beating, what my cholesterol is, whether I have strange things growing inside me etc. My assistant has already left a prominent note in the kitchen pointing out that I must not eat after midnight.

A groundhog tunneled under the floor beneath the house's elderly garage, which meant that the concrete floor broke and fell in, and thus I was woken this morning by the gentle sounds of a small yellow bulldozer demolishing the garage, and now I keep looking out of the window and seeing the place that the garage isn't.

Dear Neil,

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for attending Balticon this past weekend. I can't even begin to imagine how exhausted you must have been, but at every panel you attended, you were very (to me at least) sweet, charming, and down to earth. Not that I expected you to grow three heads and swallow us whole, of course.

I do have a few questions for you. At the reading you did, what was the title of the second story you read, and where/when will it be published?

Again, thank you for attending Balticon, and I look forward to your future projects!

Suzi



Thanks to everyone who wrote from Sydney and from Balticon to say they had a good time. So did I (even if, at Balticon, I was a bit frazzled from all the flying). The stories I read at Balticon were "Orange" (which will, I hope, be in Jonathan Strahan's anthology THE STARRY RIFT) "The Day The Saucers Came" and "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" (which will be in the upcoming collection of my short fiction, FRAGILE THINGS).

Ok Neil-I was a good fan girl and I checked the archives, FAQ section, and did a blog search and still nothing satisfied my need for knowledge. Can you give a quick rundown of all the stuff you're working on right now? I know about Wolves in the Walls, Coraline, Stardust, Beowulf, Fragile Things, The Eternals and anything else? (you must be so bored). What I don't know is what is happening with all those things, your involvement in each of them and what exactly they all are. If it isn't too much to ask, I'd love to have more info on what it is you're up to. Thanks!

your rabid fan- Lisa



...and the ABSOLUTE SANDMAN and THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, and three very different semisecret TV projects in various stages of existence... You know, what I probably need to do is get the various essays on the site about things like Films up to date (http://www.neilgaiman.com/exclusive/essays/ to see what I mean). My work on the WOLVES IN THE WALLS play is done unless we add or change something -- it tours the UK this autumn and the US next spring. (Details at http://www.improbable.co.uk/show_example.asp?item_id=14 -- and I'm fairly sure that the Daily Telegraph review quoted on the site actually spoke, not of "highly humble songs" which conjures up pictures of little grey theadbare songs shuffling along trying not to disturb anyone, but of "highly hummable songs", which is something else entirely.)

Coraline the film's being written and directed by Henry Selick, with some very talented people (music by They Might Be Giants, design work by many talented people including Vera Brosgol)...

(There's also a Coraline graphic novel adaptation in the works, from the pen of P. Craig Russell. The pages I've seen so far have been stunning. But then, I would say that, wouldn't I? Let me find out if I can get hold of something to put up here.)

You can see a few unlettered pages from the first issue of Eternals up at http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=7445.

...

To close the book on the MCI posts of a few weeks ago (this and this), a nice man named Rob Moffett from my former Long Distance Carrier Verizon/MCI wrote to me after reading about the mysteries and frustrations of not being able to call Holly's UK phone, when I talked about it here in the blog and he asked if he could investigate. I wrote back and said sure, and said that all I'd I wanted was for someone to go "Whoa, that's weird. Sorry about that. We'll go and figure it out." Instead I kept dealing with increasingly irritating Indian people who all seemed convinced, no matter what I told them, that I just wanted someone to explain to me how to dial long distance.

Rob wrote to say

Neil,

I finally managed to track down the problem in our network. Since it’s not really my area, it took a while. Suffice to say that other MCI customers will soon be able to call Holly without a problem. For some reason there was no routing for that number in our system. I suspect it’s a recent turn up in the UK and we didn’t route those calls previously because they were not working numbers. Sorry it took so long to get an answer but thanks for helping me solve this problem for our other customers.

Rob Moffett
NNMC
Verizon Business


Which made me happy that I have a blog, and that people read it, and that it changes things that I couldn't do as a person-on-the-end-of-a-phone.

A couple of slightly edited letters (because this is becoming a very long post):

hi neil,
[...]

also, just one last curious question, i promise: do you write all your own blogs, faq responses, etc. or does HC provide ghostwriter-minions to do some of that for you?

warm regards,
saira


and

Neil,
for some reason i dont have much faith that you'll be the one who answers my question.. I always feel that i'll either receive an automated "thank you for your interest in me" message, or that one of the editors will reply pretending to be you..
Anyway, here is the thing, i would diiiiie to attend a book signing of yours.. why dont you come to Egypt?
and coming to think about it, how can i make it to your journal? what do i have to do so that you mention me in your journal?
[...]

Cheers,
Nag


Why don't I come to Egypt? Mostly because nobody's ever asked me to -- and as far as I know, none of my books are translated into Arabic. I don't know how easy or otherwise travel between the countries is in that part of the world, but I'm Guest of Honour this year at ICON in Israel. (If I could find a website with things like a date and a location, I'd link to it.)

Anyway, the blog's all me. There are essays on the site by me, and also ones not by me -- but it should always be clearly marked which is which. If something looks like press release or something it probably is. If it looks like I wrote it I expect that I did -- no-one's allowed to pretend they're me here, anyway. The FAQs are a bit of a hodgepodge -- they're extracted from answers I gave on the FAQ blog, but sometimes aren't really relevant because the context has been removed. Really I need to get a couple of days, roll up my sleeves and do a whole new FAQ section for the board, that's relevant, well organised and covers the whole run of the Frequently Asked Questions. I'll try and get it done by 2007. 2008 at the latest.

Hi Neil

Just seen an ad in Forbidden Planet London for a Fragile Things signing in September - any idea if you'll do any other signings whilst your over here - or a reading somewhere?

Thanks as always

John



Possibly. Mostly I'm over in the UK then for Fantasycon, and I'll get a day signing -- and perhaps reading, I don't know -- in London at the end of the trip, then I'll fly to New York for the US launch of Fragile Things. (I notice from the Fantasycon website that membership is limited to 400 people, so if you're thinking of going to Nottingham, it may be wise to book early).

Hi Neil,

I just thought your readers might like to know that an mp3 of your Triple J breakfast radio interview with Jay and The Doctor is now available for download off the Triple J website - http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/jayandthedoctor/listen/mp3s/neil_gaiman.mp3

I haven't had the chance to listen to it yet (my computer is suffering from progressive hard drive senility at the moment), but my wife heard you on the radio and says you have a lovely voice :)

Cheers,
Shane
(Canberra, Australia)


and also,

G'day Neil.

Loved the photo of the cake shop in The Rocks - it caught my eye too when I wandered past it on Saturday before my better half quickly steered me away:-)

Thought you might like to know that two of your SWF presentations have appeared on the web. The "Graphic Books" presentation with Audrey Niffenegger is at
mms://wmt.streaming.telstra.com/wh_telstr21/SydneyWriters/2006/SWFGraphicBooks_250506.wmv

and your "Meet the Writers" presentation with Jonathan Stroud is at

mms://wmt.streaming.telstra.com/wh_telstr21/SydneyWriters/2006/SWFSchoolDays_NeilGaimanJonathanStroud_240506Part2of3.wmv

Given that these are video presentations, they *are* bandwidth hogs - not for those on dial-up connections.

Steve



Thanks, Steve.

Mirrormask, I watched it at the Edinburgh Film Festival last year and enjoyed it a lot. Then seemingly all but buried. Screened at it's peak in the US on a whopping 42 screens. UK distribution i have no idea, one poster in a then UGC(i think) cinema sometime since which probably had a release date on it but it seems to have passed by. Do you feel it has been treated a bit shabbily?

Nope. It was commissioned by Sony from Hensons as a straight to DVD film, like "Kermit's Swamp Years"; everything it did after it was made -- getting into Sundance, the Edinburgh Festival, and managing to get a limited art house release -- was on its own merits. It's now out on DVD, selling even better than was expected, and gathering an audience.

Not to repeat or even echo the latest question you answered in your blog, but how the fuck does one play the published/agent game and stay sane (or, like, not crying, for that matter)? I swear--I could heat my home for a year if I burned all the form rejections I've gotten.

Do you know of any agencies off the top of your head that are especially friendly to unpublished authors? I just graduated college and completed my first book, a nonfiction thingamajic which is circularly about Tori Amos. It's really about her fans and all that drama (I saw thirty shows last tour in several different countries and came to some pretty weird conclusions), a specific sort of niche book that would probably be a hard sell for even an established author.

Blah. Sorry for the rambling. I think I'm still drunk.

xx
Robert


If I had a book like that, I don't think I'd be sending it to agents at all. The group of publishers who might be interested in it is small enough that I'd just do my research, make a list of potential publishers, and send a letter explaining what the book is to each of them, and find out if anyone wants to read it and go further.

Once I'd got a publisher for it, I'd probably get an agent.

That's me, though. (And I'd written and sold at least three non-fiction books before I found an agent, and that was more or less accidentally.)

I doubt there are any agencies who are "especially friendly to unpublished authors", except for the weirdo leech-agencies who plan to make lots of money from unpublished authors from reading fees, "editing" fees and so on, and never actually sell any real publishers any books. But agents take on unpublished and unproven authors every day.

Miss Snark has the best agent telling-it-like-it-is site out there, at http://misssnark.blogspot.com/.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden wrote an amazing essay and collection of resources about getting an agent and a publisher, here on this very blog at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2005/01/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about.asp and if I ever get around to doing a proper FAQ for the site, I'd put that in there. Essential reading for any would-be-published-author.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Like in the pepe le pew cartoons...

Australia's over, Balticon's finished, and I'm home again, typing this on Mike's pretty black Macbook while he reads the first issue of the Eternals (on a "here, you don't know anything about these characters, read this," basis). There are pears growing on the pear tree, cherries on the cherry tree, all the strange new bushes and trees were planted while I was away. I believe a motion-sensitive night-vision camera was installed for purposes of bear-watching, as well, but I don't know where.

A picket fence was put in as well, hiding a huge propane tank, and it was painted white. Which is, if you ask me, why, when Fred the (unlucky black) cat zoomed across the garden like a small black rocket to welcome me home, and did the cat thing, where you zoom, then you overshoot because you're going too fast, then you stalk back with your tail held high, his previously all-black tail was revealed to now be black with white stripes.

Now, I have great plans for tonight. They either involve going to bed, or having a bath and going to bed.

Friday, May 26, 2006

...brains... brains....

After 30 hours of travel, starting in Sydney Australia and ending up in Baltimore-not-in-Australia, and not really ever sleeping, although I wrote an article on Lost Girls for Publishers Weekly, then landed in LA and discovered it was twice as long as it was meant to be, so spent the next leg of the flight carefully throwing half of it away, I am too braindead to write anything sensible.

So I think it is time for your moment of Harry Stephen Keeler, here demonstrating his mastery of all accents.

"Av yez'll kape quite, yez'll not be hurrt," I told her. "Wan squeal from yez, though, an' Oi'll be compelled to black-jack yez."

"What do you want?" she demanded, staring at me.

"Ah, sure, we want nuthin' fr'm yer swate silf," I answered. "Only to kape yez quite till me soide-kick's finished wid the gintleman on the flure. Now come along wid me, honey, f'r Oi've got to make sure av yez, an tis the other room we'll be seekin' intoirely."

Whether my Irish brogue were convincing enough or no, I have no means of telling.


When Thief Meets Thief, Harry Stephen Keeler.

and a cellphone photograph of a Sydney shopwindow whose colours I liked...


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

zoom

It's been a bit hectic, and I have to write a short comic about Jack Kirby and the Eternals for Entertainment Weekly before I can go to sleep (sleep for four hours, get up, pack, leave for the airport). It's been a wonderful Festival and I wish I could hang about and enjoy myself more. Today I did a panel with the extremely wonderful Audrey Niffenegger, which I think will show up on the web somewhere. I met Sherman Alexie and went off into fullblown babbling fanboy mode, and was thrilled that Sherman Alexie seemed equally as happy to be meeting me. I had a marvellous time. I wish Australia was nearer...

My thanks, as always, to the Campbell clan.

Hi Neil, I LOVE your work.
I have been writing for the past six years ever since in high school and I'm scared that since I'm young editors would steal my work, what do you suggest?
Thanks,
Becky Stoehr


That you stop worrying. Editors want to discover cool new talent. They aren't going to steal your stuff -- they just want to see if it's good enough to publish.

It's not that there aren't crooks out there -- I see from Making Light that "agent" (she's one of the 20 worst) Barbara Bauer is still causing trouble for decent folk -- but if you are sending your work to a legitimate publisher or magazine, you won't ever have any problems with people stealing your work. Your task at this point in your career is simply to get your work out there into the world.

The Twenty Worst Agents list, by the way, is now up at http://www.sfwa.org/beware/twentyworst.html.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

sherbert lemons

Good morning world.

The time difference thing is slowly starting to drive me into gibbering wreckdom, as I keep waking up in the morning to a full day's email inbox...

I really enjoyed the Wil Anderson - Sydney Town Hall event on Monday, and I had a great time doing the (very different) University reading and talk last night. Jonathan Stroud and I did our first school event yesterday, despite not really knowing what we were doing, and we'll do something a bit like it later today. My scary godcreature, Hayley Campbell, (fresh from her starring role in The Fate of the Artist -- seen here on a sofa on page 29) is down from Brisbane, and has done a great job of carrying the bag of pens, not losing anything, and providing people with sherbert lemons in times of dire need.

Hey Neil,
I may be late to the party on this question, but I read Teri Hatcher is voicing the Mother roles in Coraline. What happened to Michelle Pfeiffer? I thought that was excellent casting.~Sam


I read that too -- it's all over the news. Michelle Pfeifer is a bit busy doing a marvellous job being a scary witch in the Stardust film, these days, and I'm sure that Ms Hatcher will do an equally great job as a mother and an Other Mother.

Henry Selick just sent me an early poster for Coraline. Obviously, the film that Henry's making will be stop motion, and this is just concept art, not a still from the film (and by "writer" they mean "of the original book", not of the film, which Henry did, very ably, himself)...



Lots of stuff up at The Dreaming, including a link to the Publishers Weekly review of Joe Sanders book The Sandman Papers. It Joe a long time to get his book into print, and I hope it makes him smile to see a comment like Of these new books about comics, this is the only one that genuinely deepens one's understanding of the comics themselves.

And here's an article by me and Adam Rogers about Superman from this month's WIRED -- http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.06/myth.html.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Quick Sydney Post

Up early to do radio (radio triple J, on the day that Finland finally wins the Eurovision Song Contest, heralding the Apocalypse).

I checked and , yes, I'm definitely signing after each Sydney Writers Festival talk -- the big Wil Anderson one tonight, the (free) University one tomorrow, the school ones on Tuesday andWednesday and the Graphic Books one with Audrey Niffenegger on Thursday.

Come and say hullo.

Got to run. More later.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

a copy-editing sort of a down-under day

I've spent most of today going through the copy-edited pages of FRAGILE THINGS. Much of this was done while sitting at a table at the Oyster Bar in Sydney Harbour, drinking tea and being outdoors and occasionally scribbling something on the manuscript in green pencil. There's no doubt that I was working, but honesty compels me to admit that it didn't really feel like it. Truth to tell, it felt suspiciously like a day off.

I think part of that is that I tend not to get time off normally -- time when it's just me, and I'm somewhere new, and nobody needs me for anything, and the phone doesn't ring, and I can just get on with something. (It's always my own fault, and undoubtedly if I'd known I'd have a couple of days off on getting to Sydney, I would have filled them with something.) But having two days to catch up on sleep and on work (FRAGILE THINGS copy-edit, wrapping up ETERNALS #2 and sending it off, polishing the ORANGE short story, while tomorrow I read Alan and Melinda's LOST GIRLS), I'm enjoying them too much. Last night I wandered into a restaurant called Azuma, sat at the sushi bar, and, after a look at the kind of things on the menu, told the chef to just feed me whatever he wanted. And it was a very good call. He seemed to have fun, and I definitely did.

Here's a small cellphone picture of half of the view from my hotel window.




Lucy Anne's posted lots of clippings, mostly about Coraline-the-movie or Stardust-the-movie over at http://www.holycow.com/dreaming/

Hi Neil
Will you be signing books at the Sydney Town Hall talk on Monday or any of your other Sydney gigs?


I expect so. I bought some spare pens today, just in case people had things that needed Silver pens or sharpies to sign. So I'm prepared.

Hi Neil!

In your last post you answerd a couple of questions on Coraline, and mentioned Henry Selick, but what a coincidence! Just yesterday I remembered one short film I used to watch on the MTV, back in the early 1990's, and went for you tube to search it. And I found it! The short film was named "Slow Bob in The Lower Dimensions" and when I hit the play button I could see that its creator was the same Henry Selick!

So, your others readers, that are anxious to see the Coraline film as I am, may find "Slow Bob..." a really interesting sneak peak. Sort of. :o)

Here goes the link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZsqohyYv-A&search=slow%20bob

Cheers
-Alvaro Cavalcanti.
Manaus - Brazil


That's our Henry. I've not seen Slow Bob for a while. Wonderful stuff.

Hello Neil.
First of all I'd like to apologise if my English is horribly misspelled and barely understandable. It's not only quite late, but English of any form is also my 2nd language, so I hope this makes Sense.
I usually call myself a fan in the making when it comes to your work. I have managed to read 4 of your books since I was introduced to them at some point about two years ago, and let me tell you: It's not easy getting you books in Denmark without having to pay more than I have, especially when you don't want a translated version (I've managed to get 3 of the 4 I've read in English, and it took me a while to realize that the translated one was by you too).
But that really isn't what this is about, it's about Sandman.
You see, Denmark is not known for its great love of comics. I have to travel two hours by train to get to Copenhagen to get to a place where they sell anything that hasn't been turned into a movie. This means I have to plan ahead and know what I want, or I'd buy everything that sparked my interest and leave the store with a great grin and no money. I'm a student, I don't have a job... there's other things i want to buy. Now, the last two times I've been there, I've looked at the nice Sandman comics. I want them. Badly. But then I hear about this great glorius Absolute Sandman. And I wonder... Should I be patient and wait for it (hoping that it'll actually end up in one of the two places I go to when I want some quality comics, not that it happens often) or should I give in and buy the collections that looks so tempting there at the shelf?

~Mette M. Rønkel, who apologises for the length. 18 years and she still can't ask a short question.


Your English is just fine, Mette. Well, if AMAZON.COM really is offering the first volume of ABSOLUTE SANDMAN for 84% off, as it claims to be at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1401210821/sr=8-1/qid=1148114706/ then I'd just go and get that there. Because you couldn't buy the first three paperbacks of Sandman for $14.99, let alone an oversized recoloured, corrected version with a leather cover, and even if you're paying the shipping to Denmark, it's worth it. (If it turns out it's just some kind of computer glitch, though, then it's your call.)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sydney and me

And just like that, the author was in Sydney.

The best thing about the flight to Sydney was that they have power points in the seats, and I didn't have to worry about computer battery life. I had a few hours stopover in San Francisco where I ate some good sushi and did a tiny bit of research for The Eternals. So that was good.

Also wrote a short story on the planes, and departure lounges, which I may read at the Sydney events and find out if it works or not.

am just wondering if you could plug the new book to help benefit Bill Mantlo. As you may know, he was involved in an accident and now has permanent cognitive damage, so any book benefitting him is worth plugging. I still go back and read ROM SPACEKNIGHT or MICRONAUTS on occasion
Here is a link to the press release at Newsarama:
http://www.newsarama.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1987504

Easily done.

Someone else wrote in recently asking whether the CBLDF could or would do anything for comics creators who have fallen on hard times. I'm afraid now (it's just there for first amendment issues) -- but I'm glad to say there is an organisation that will help. It's the (A Commitment To Our Roots) Comic Fund. (Their website is http://www.actorcomicfund.org/).

Mr. Gaiman,

Love your work. You are an amazing poet, even when you write prose.

That said, I would like to make a humble request. As are likely aware, during Balticon there will be a charity auction for "Reading is Fundamental." The Balticon web site doesn't seem to be promoting this much, so I am making an effort. Would you mind posting something on your blog?

One of the items in this year's auction will be 2 tickets to the August 2 "An Evening with Harrry Carrie and Garp" event in New York City. The two seats (right next to my two) are in the orchestra, row FF.

If you are not familiar with this event, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and John Irving are getting together for an event at Radio City Music Hall in New York City for two nights, August 1 & 2. All proceeds from the event will be used to support the Haven Foundation and Doctors without Borders.
More Information about the event can be found at:
http://www.simonsays.com/content/feature.cfm?sid=33&feature_id=5567&DCMP=EMC-HCGStephenKing&attr=press

or
http://www.simonsays.com/content/feature.cfm?sid=33&feature_id=5566&DCMP=EMC-HCGStephenKing&attr=info

or just use google.

Thank you for your time,
Laura

You're welcome. It sounds like a fun evening.

Just letting you know about this article on Ain't it cool news. It says that Focus will be distributing Coraline. Glad to hear it. The link is http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=23353
That's what I just heard from Henry Selick. I had to go and look at http://www.focusfeatures.com/home.php
-- looks like it'll be a good home for it.

Quick Coraline question: I've seen it reported that They Might Be Giants is writing songs for the film. Am I to take from this that it will be a musical of sorts, or are they just writing random background tunes? Or is this wrong altogether?Thanks,snazz


It'll have some songs in it, written by They Might Be Giants. I'm not sure that it'll exactly be a musical, though.


Neil Buddy,There's been a lot of talk about Stardust here, but IMDB lists Coraline as filming as well. Any updates? So far the only confirmed cast member is Dakota Fanning, who is the other mother?

I think that Henry Selick will tell everyone when he's ready. I'm not going to announce it here before he does.


hi Neil. quick. is that pic of the barn photoshopped? or does your camera phone just take fantastic pics. -mrm of nashville

It takes pretty good pictures. It's a Nokia 6230i. I didn't do anything to the photo -- mostly I was just happy at how much detail it had caught.

Hi Neil,

If I wanted to adapt something you'd written - a short story or (dare I dream?) one of the novels - for the stage, who would I talk to so that, when/if I staged it, I wasn't torn limb from limb by a pride of slavering lawyers? Merrilee Heifetz is who I go to if I want to try to get the rights to film it... but is it the same for staging it?

And, because I'd rather not pester you any more than I already am, if I send in something on the FAQ line (like, well, this) and I don't get a response, should I keep sending it until you're less busy or have an answer, or just forget I asked and wait until I have something more worth your time?

Hmm. I suppose if you can't respond to this one, I have to answer that second question myself.

Anyway, thanks for your time, and writing, and so forth.

Greg Carere


Actually Jon Levin at CAA is the person you talk to about film rights. Merrilee's office is where you go to ask about Theatrical Rights. It used to be a lot clearer in the whole FAQ area, but it's all been redone in there and it's harder to figure out than it used to be.

On the other hand, if you google on the site or search for Theatre rights takes you to http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2002/10/theres-article-on-roger-avary-at-salon.asp, which lays everything out in detail. And ought to just be in the FAQs, really. But it has been answered a lot. Usually when I don't answer something that gets asked a lot or repeatedly it's because I already have, often more than once.

(Oops. Suddenly too tired to keep typing. Nap now. Nap good. Yes.)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

my desktop and other animals

neil-I have a bone to pick with you! I live in the fair state of Arizona and would had loved to have seen you in your tux; why didn't you post that you were going to be at the con in Tempe, AZ in your "Where Neil" section ?

Cheesed off fan - kelly


Sorry about that, kelly. Why? Mostly because it wasn't a convention. It was the Nebula Awards Weekend of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, and I flew into Phoenix late that afternoon to attend the Nebula ceremony and present the Grand Master award to Harlan Ellison, and was back on the road to the airport in the morning before 8.00am. I didn't do any panels or signings, or anything. Promise.

(Something similar, although slightly less rushed, will occur in late June, when I go into New Orleans, to ALA -- I'll be there for a day or so, this time to accept an award or two, but I don't think there are going to be any events open to the public -- although I expect I will do a signing for Librarians.)

Hello.A simple one: what's your computer wallpaper?

Until a few days ago it was a Harry Bliss drawing, but then I drove past a barn that seemed to be in the process of being demolished, and it reminded me of a Dave McKean collage, so I stopped and took a cellphone picture of it, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it looked just as unlikely as it had in real life when I copied it over to the computer. It looks like this...




I have a friend much too shy to ask you this question, so I'm doing it for her. :)

She'd like to know how you reconcile the dichotomy of ordinary husband/father/family Neil with superstar screaming fanboys insanely popular writer Neil. How, she wonders, does one go from thousands of people standing in line to get your doodle on their book to, "Honey, the toilet's backed up?" with the equanimity you seem to?

I have a theory, but I'm being strong and hoping you'll offer your own answer instead of putting words in your mouth. :)

-Catie


Truth is, it's getting harder right now, as there's more and more stuff to do, and time gets tighter, and it all becomes a bit more like juggling than it ever used to. One way of coping is by deciding what's important and trying to stick with it -- for example, reading every night with Maddy when she was younger, and watching some interesting TV thing with her every night now (we're on season 2 of The Mighty Boosh at present) is something that I try and do whether there's a screaming deadline or not. One other way is to sigh and decide that, for example, although it would have been nice to have spent the last week hanging out in Pinewood on a flying lightning-catching ship captained by Robert De Niro, I'm more use to the world if I'm spending my time at home, recharging my batteries, taking out the rubbish, and, for an hour today, wandering around deciding where we're going to plant the shipment of seaberries, cloudberries, cornelian cherry trees, black walnuts and unusual things like the mountain ash-pear cross that arrived today. (All from http://www.onegreenworld.com/)

I don't do the signing/people screaming stuff too often, though. It tends to happen in small, concentrated periods, and when it does mostly I get to blink and go "Oh yes, I'm him too, aren't I?" and then get on with doing my best to make it as pleasant as possible for everyone, while it's happening. And I get good people to help and that makes it easy too.

I've been doing this for a long time now. I started signing books nearly 20 years ago. And I figured out a long time ago that the fame thing is interesting, but it's more fun for other people than it is for me.

It's definitely an interesting dichotomy, though. I was amused to be described both as "tall, dark and handsome" and as an "embarrassing old fart with a bad haircut" in a very nice article in the Sydney Morning Herald today. (http://www.smh.com.au/news/books/the-art-of-making-hits-from-myths/2006/05/16/1147545325924.html). You can be both. It happens.

And it's off to Australia in the morning...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Farewell MCI, an Epilogue

"It's MCI on the phone," said my assistant.

"Hello, this is MCI. We got your email. Sorry you have been having trouble. We will put you through to technical support now."

"Er. Okay. But I'm already transferring carriers."

"We are very sorry about that. Now I shall put you through to technical support."

"Er. Okay."

"Hello. MCI. What is the trouble you are having?"

"There's a number in the UK that MCI won't connect to."

"And what is the trouble with that?"

"Well, I want to talk to this number in the UK and..." Then there was a click as the phone went dead at their end.

I'm glad I just left MCI. I'm happy I'm not an investor in MCI. I wonder if they hung up on me, or if they just aren't very good at this whole making telephone calls thing.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Farewell MCI

I used to change long distance phone carriers every four or five years, going to whoever was giving out the NorthWest miles. The free miles ended sometime last year, but I stayed with MCI because I couldn't be bothered to change.

That was until today. My daughter Holly got to the UK, obtained a cell phone and called to tell me the number. I tried calling her back on it. The call didn't go through. Over and over, it didn't go through. I rechecked the number. Then, experimentally, I tried using my cellphone, and it worked like a charm.

I called the MCI operator to let her know there was a problem. She couldn't dial Holly's UK number. She got through to the International Operator, who had no trouble calling Holly. But, explained the operator, she couldn't get through to that number from MCI.

I asked what she suggested. She said that if I wanted to call that number, maybe I needed a different carrier.

I wandered next door, where they have Sprint, to use the phone there. I had no trouble calling Holly's UK phone.

So I sent in a helpful online Contact Us thing to MCI, explaining what was going on, expecting an "oops, yes, we're having trouble with that, sorry." Instead I got a succession of semi-automated emails that had nothing to do with the problem -- explaining to me, for example, how to make an international call. It was obvious that whoever scanned my letter and clicked on the autoreply, hadn't read it. I wrote back, pointing out the advice was useless, and asking whether it was ever going to be possible to dial Holly's UK number from MCI. Another email reply. More useless advice. I got terser.

A real human being called me! Ah, I thought. Now it will all sort out. I explained what was going on to the person, who was calling all the way from, at a guess, India. His English wasn't too bad, but he didn't get what was going on, hadn't read the emails, and seemed to think that I was having a problem with my cell phone. I repeated it. He didn't get it. I explained very slowly that there was a number in the UK that MCI wasn't connecting to although everyone else was. That the MCI operator's suggestion had been that I might want to change carriers, because she couldn't connect to it...

He assured me that he understood and he would send me an email that would make everything fine.

I breathed a slightly irritated sigh of relief.

And he sent me an email, or someone did. The email went very carefully over the steps to establish whether or not I was an MCI customer. Would I mind making a phone call to establish I was an MCI customer? And then make several other test calls?

I did everything they suggested, working my way down the email test call by test call and step by step, until, having done everything asked of me I discovered that my final step was to write back and let them know if I was still having trouble. And if I was they would open a trouble ticket for me, if I would let them know the number I was trying to call, the times at which I tried to call it, details of the problems I was experiencing and the amount of time I'd been experiencing the problem...

And I realised that nobody was listening, and I'd wasted too much of an afternoon already. And I googled rate comparisons and cheerfully changed long distance carriers.

tabs. also mothers.

It's mother's day! Happy mothers to you all. (Also happy my little sister's birthday and happy cricket day.)

I need to close a bunch of tabs, so lots of things in no particular order.

Given some of the recent silliness in the news about the Catholic Church and the DaVinci Code movie, I was pleased to read this article about Brother Guy Consolmagno, the Vatican's Astronomer, being sensible on other issues -- http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=674042006. (Brother Guy was last seen in this journal when I read a book of his essays Gene Wolfe gave me.)

A Thea Gilmore blog entry on the album-of-songs-inspired-by-stuff-i-made-up, and the Dancing Ferret info page -- if you preorder from them, you get it two weeks before it officially ships.

Here's a little gallery of WOLVES IN THE WALLS shots -- they're nice, although they now look to me very much like what they are, photos taken at the dress rehearsal. Everything got smoother, funnier, more satisfying as it went on.

Cody's in Telegraph Avenue is closing. This makes me very sad. I'm not planning to do very much signing at all for FRAGILE THINGS when it comes out in the Autumn, but I'm hoping to do two Bay Area signings, one for Cody's and one for Keplers.

Ellen Datlow's photos of the Nebula Awards weekend -- I wasn't there very long, but there's a photo of me in a suit talking to Gary Wolfe, just before going in to present Harlan Ellison with his Grand Master award. You can't miss it. I'm just above Margo Lanagan.

A paragraph from the Guardian that seemed to have strayed into reality from a fiction of some kind,
Mr McKinnon is accused of hacking into thousands of American military computer systems between 2001 and 2002, actions which prosecutors say cost hundreds of thousands of pounds in damage. Mr McKinnon, who achieved the feat from his bedroom using relatively low-tech methods, told the Guardian that he had been looking for information on UFOs.


Hi Neil,

I am happy you are back in your own bed. It's the one great thing about being away from home.... falling into your own bed.

Anyways, over at LiveJournal there is a community called "foundphotos" and there is this which I thought you would find amusing and I wonder if you remember that at all? http://community.livejournal.com/foundphotos/497354.html?nc=31

:) cheers!
Diana
Los Angeles, CA


I do remember that. It just seemed... appropriate, I suppose.
...

It's hard sometimes explaining the difference between films and books to people, and the role of the writer in each. Here's a fun LA TIMES article by someone from films who strayed into books.


Dear Neil,

I heard you had a new boof coming out some time soon called Fragile Things, and I saw the cover mock up at the livejournal feed of your weblog. I've looked around your website, but maybe I'm just retarded because I can't find any sort of information on when this book's coming out or what it's going to be about.

Is there a section on your website, or any other site, about this book?

Thanks,

Michael L.


I have such mixed feelings about Amazon.com. On the one hand, there are many good bookstores that are going out of business because of them. On the other hand, I remember my puzzlement, moving to the US, at the total absence of bookshops in many medium-sized towns -- I suddenly understood how the US could have a population over six times the UK's, but didn't sell six times as many books. On the third hand, I watched a local bookshop go out of business, run by a man who sat gloomily in the middle of the shop trying to ignore people, where they didn't sell paperback bestsellers because, he said, he didn't want those sort of people coming into his shop, and when he closed his door for the final time he put a "BLAME AMAZON.COM" note on it, which seemed rather unfair. And on the fourth hand (paw? tentacle?) AMAZON is a remarkably useful database for things like this. Indeed, a google of "gaiman fragile things" took me to this Amazon.com page. Does that help?

Re - cover of Fragile things

You know I wish just once publishing companies would ask booksellers what actually works when they are doing cover designs. Yes the cover looks gorgeous - but as with all covers that use that translucent paper - it will only look gorgeous until it has been sitting in a bookshop for a week after which time it will be covered in dirty fingerprints and the paper will be all tatty round the edges. That is of course assuming that it makes it into and out of the delivery boxes without being trashed.

Secretly I think publishers do it because then they can reject returns on the grounds that the book has not been returned in reasonable condition...when it has only actually been touched by about 3 people.

Whinge over...

Suze

Kent, UK


Not to worry, Suze. The UK FRAGILE THINGS cover is not translucent at all, and has a leaf on it.

I honestly don't think that publishers like it when easily trashed books come out. We had one badly designed US paperback edition of Stardust (the first, designed according to Barnes and Noble specifications, by the way. They hadn't liked the original design, and insisted that things be done to make it look "more like a best-seller". Which may be one reason publishers shrink from asking booksellers for input) which was so easily ripped and torn (it turned out you could render the book unsellable just by putting it into or pulling it out of a shelf) that, as the 90% returns began, the publisher gritted its teech and recalled the whole print-run of several hundred thousand books, and pulped it. And did a redesign. They would much rather have sold all those books.

Complaints also came in from a librarian because librarians put white-paper-backed liners around the dustcover, and it was pointed out that the art beneath will vanish like that, and a request for a Library Edition with a non-translucent cover, which I'll pass on to Morrow.

And I'm sorry to both of you -- but you can blame me, not the publisher. The translucent dustcover idea was mine, because I'd loved it when Dave McKean did it on the original hardback of DEATH: THE HIGH COST OF LIVING. Fingers crossed that it works.

Hi Neil

Unfortunatly I can't make it to the Sydney's Writers festival. But you mention 4 other Australian "things". Could you please fill us Aussie fan's in as to when and where we could see you?

Thanks Heaps!
We love you down here!

Léon


Sorry, Léon. I meant there were four other events at the Sydney Writer's Festival with me on them, not four other Australian events. The festival is bringing me in this time, and time is so tight that I couldn't work out a way to do a trip anywhere in Australia to do anything else. I arrive in Sydney, do Festival stuff, jump on a plane back to the US on the friday morning, fly for a day and get to Balticon on Friday afternoon...

Finally, The Carl Brandon society is fundraising. If you have the opportunity, and want to support diversity and the visibility of readers and writers of color in science fiction, fantasy, and related genres, please consider making a contribution. Information at http://www.carlbrandon.org/index.html along with ways to donate.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Small Dr Who thoughts...

"School Reunion" was much better than the first two episodes, but right now my money's on "Girl in the Fireplace" for a Hugo Award in 2007. Really lovely.

(Maddy also commented on something I've been thinking about all of the Steven Moffat episodes, which is just how Sapphire and Steel they feel around the edges. I have raised my daughter well, if she can spot that off her own bat at eleven.)

That was all.

...

Oh, and this made me smile.


I stumbled across this during my research for an upcoming trip to Alaska,
and thought it might help you distinguish the type of bear you've attracted:

http://www.mvermeulen.com/dalton/big/overview_04.jpg

Hope he goes away soon and leaves your garden in peace... almost time for
spring planting!

Yours,

Jane

Friday, May 12, 2006

bearsongs and eggshells

Lacking bear pepper-spray, I walked home across the garden last night singing very loud bear songs, which went something along the lines of, "Lalala, I am singing very loudly to alert the bear to my presence, Lalala because most of the websites I've found talk about making noise and giving bears lots of time to get away, Lalala also I do not want to startle a bear at all because according to everything I've read on the subject bears do not like being startled." You don't have to worry about rhymes with bears. They don't mind about rhymes. Or tunes. Or scansion. Frankly, hypothetical bears are a very easy sort of audience.

...


When I was a young journalist, I probably knew -- there in my head, when I needed them --several hundred phone numbers. I'd dial them regularly, and they'd sit in that place they'd be when you need them.

I realised yesterday that I now know at most a dozen phone numbers, and all but one of them predate my getting a cell phone in 1999. Either I press someone's name, and the cellphone calls them, or I pull the cellphone out and check the number if I'm dialling (there's an odd, antique word) on a landline. It's become my phone-number memory. My fingers and head no longer need to learn phone numbers, so they don't.

Anyway...

Lots of people have asked why I haven't linked to the cover of FRAGILE THINGS, and it's mostly because I don't have an online image to link to. But as I mentioned before, I do have a mock-up of it that the William Morrow art department did, which I finally took some photographs of the other day.

The plan is for the title and my name and the back cover copy to be printed on an translucent sheet, and for the images to be on the actual boards of the book. (The back cover has a diagram of a human heart on it from an old anatomy book.)

Odd -- they aren't uploading. Bugger. I'll see if I can get it to work another way.





  1. Posted by Picasa


There we go. As I say, this is just a mock-up, but you get the general idea. And the anatomical heart on the back is a little less, er, fluffy and gentle than the images on the front.


BBC Points West actually did a whole piece about Stardust at Castle Combe last night. They attempted to film Sienna Miller (is that right, I'm not paying attention), but a burly security man played at being a stage curtain with a large bit of black cardboard. One camera man got through during a non-shooting bit. One of the locals who is an extra was telling the crew how he had to grow a beard specially, and didn't have to wear his hat. Then they interviewed some tourists about what they thought in discovering a film being shot. That was about it. There was also a snap or two in the always inaccurate Western Daily Press. HTH flamingkitties (hiding in Wiltshire)


Thanks for the tip-off. Found it at http://www.bbc.co.uk/wiltshire/content/articles/2006/05/10/sienna_miller_filming_feature.shtml
with the realplayer footage at this link. And yes, Sienna Miller's playing Victoria (or Vicotria, as the BBC has it).

I also smiled to see that the IMDB cast list for Stardust seems to have added a fictional (?) person to the cast. (I don't quite get IMDB, sometimes. And Alfred Molina isn't in it either.)

...

The last time I was in Australia, on my day off at the end, Eddie Campell showed me his book The Fate of the Artist, and I loved it. And now, just in time for me to zoom back to Australia for the Sydney writer's festival, it's finally coming out -- http://www.firstsecondbooks.com/fate.html
for details...

And I just looked at the Sydney Writer's Festival website at http://www.swf.org.au/index.php which mentions that my talk next Monday is "Selling fast" so if you're in Australia and hoping to go to that one, you may want to get your tickets now. (Then again, I'm on four other things, so if you don't get to that one, you can catch me at one of the others.)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Mailbag time...

Hi Neil,

Technically not a question but...

Now that there's an ABSOLUTE SANDMAN in the works, I thought I had to point something out. It concerns p. 27 of FABLES & REFLECTIONS -- I have seen the word "peremptory" instead of "pre-emptory" used in Emperor Norton's proclamation in reliable sources; one source even claimed explicitly that "pre-emptory" was dead wrong. I don't know what is true, but you might want to check it up (wish I could remember the sources!).

Yr obt Servt
Martin

P. S. Love your books, etc. (you've heard it before). I would also like to say hi from my friend Freya, who thinks SMOKE AND MIRRORS is your best book so far.


How odd. It's "peremptory" in the script for Sandman 31 (I just checked), and it's "peremptory" in Drury's life of Norton, which I used as my reference. It looks to me like someone went in and "fixed" it after it was lettered -- probably, at a guess, DC's proofreader of the time. I'll get it fixed, although it won't be until the second volume of Absolute Sandman.

I have to proofread Fragile Things this week. I've done extensive copyediting and proofreading posts on this blog before (for example, http://www.neilgaiman.com/exclusive/agblogarchive/2001_03), and this will be more of the same. I am starting to think, though, that I should do up my own list of preferences for whoever gets to copyedit me in future, because there are several places that the Harper Collins style sheet and I part company, and it would be good if the copy-editor knew that ahead of time.

The bear in the woods destroyed the last standing (empty) bird-feeder last night. I think it's time to go and get some bear pepper spray, otherwise going for walks simply isn't going to happen. I briefly entertained thoughts of getting a Karelian Bear Dog, but after reading http://www.beardogs.org/kbds/owning.htmlI've decided that that might be somewhat overambitious a plan.

Do you have any detailed plans of what you will be doing at Balticon this month? Are there going to be any autograph policies in place depending on the length of the autograph lines? Have you decided what you will be reading at the reading?

http://www.balticon.org/program.html

Thanks,

Neil Ottenstein



No; probably but it'll all depend on how many people there are in each line and will be up to the convention; and not yet (often I don't decide what I'm going to read until I get up there) but it'll probably be something unpublished.

Neil,
I came across this comic at dorktower.com and thought you might find it amusing and\or grimly ironic.
http://archive.gamespy.com/comics/dorktower/archive.asp?nextform=viewcomic&id=1123

Regards,
Jon Deeming.


Bit of both, really.

Hey Neil,

I was looking for information on Stardust, and I noticed that the IMDB has you posted as a producer for Beowolf, Stardust, and Books of Magic. I was wondering what your role as a producer entails.

Thanks for writing the way you do,
Esther


For Beowulf -- not much. I suppose it's mostly a thank you for all the years Roger Avary and I hung in there with our script. For Stardust -- a fair amount, including suggesting the scriptwriter, having a voice in the casting process (although the final voice on everything is Matthew's, because he's the director and that's how it works), at one point in there serving as a sort of translator between the British Filmmakers and the American Film Studio, offering input on the script (often taken) and generally being a help where I could and staying out of the way where I couldn't. For Books of Magic -- I read the various drafts of the script as they came in, pointed out when they were getting too far away from the comic, pointed out when they were moving even further away from the comic, and, finally, enthusiastically agreed with the powers that be at DC Comics when they decided that the movie script had got so far from the comic that it would be best for everyone if the movie's character wasn't called Tim Hunter, the film wasn't called Books of Magic and we took our toys back and started again... (Their film might be quite good. It's just not anything to do with anything anyone who has ever read the comic would ever recognise.)

Monday, May 08, 2006

what bears do on the lawn

I forgot to mention yesterday that I took a small detour on the way home from the airport the other day, and, in a small coffee shop off the highway, I met My Dealer. My Dealer handed over The Merchandise (I don't think anyone spotted us) and we went our separate ways. Which meant that two nights ago Maddy and I watched the New Earth episode of the new season of Dr Who, and things felt like old times. (Some oddly me-ish moments of dialogue in there, too, which made me smile.) Last night we watched Tooth and Claw which I thought was a better episode (and no me-ish dialogue at all).

Currently trying to break up working with things like getting some exercise, smearing paint samples to help Holly pick a wall-colour, wondering when the bear is going to leave so I can buy new birdfeeders to replace the ones he destroyed (we were hoping he'd have moved on by now, but a google of "bear scat" confirmed my suspicion that the things that bears traditionally do in the woods are still currently being done on my lawn), discovering that you really can get an eleven-year-old's bike into the back seat of a Mini convertible if you take the top down, and trying to work out if the chocolate-coloured slinky thing living down by the pond is a fisher or a mink...

Several people wrote to let me know that the Sultan's Elephant had its own website -- http://www.thesultanselephant.com/home.php.

Cora Bisset, who plays the mother in The Wolves in the Walls show, was compared by a couple of newspaper reviewers to Kate Bush. Not a comparison that I would have made, but over at http://www.swimmerone.co.uk/music/ you can hear her sing Cloudbusting...

Last year I posted some puzzled -- possibly even tetchy -- comments about how the press was making up stories about Angelina Jolie and Beowulf -- Ray Winstone's take on it is at http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,1769179,00.html.

And then I got the lead in Beowulf with Angelina Jolie. You know they said in the paper, before she was even on set, that we were having murderous rows! Why don't they leave this kid alone? She's a great girl. I came home one day and I said to my wife, "I've had a bastard day, a really hard day." She said, "Why, what's the matter?" and I said, "I had to keep kissing Angelina Jolie." And she went [pause while he collapses with laughter] "Well someone's got to do it!"

Robin Pearson writes...

ok, i've got a strange little thing about reading People online...but
today had a picture from the set of Stardust!
http://people.aol.com/people/galleries/0,19884,1192364_10,00.html


I don't actually think they're in on set in London, though. I think -- at least according to this -- that they're at http://www.castle-combe.com/. (The place, not the website.)

A quick blogsearch showed more pictures of Sienna in Wall up at http://jocelynsspace.blogspot.com/2006/05/sienna-miller-on-set-of-her-new-movie.html
and commentary on the photos at http://community.livejournal.com/ohnotheydidnt/6700832.html.

Hi Neil,

Over the past couple of months you've made some offhand, disparaging comments about Wikipedia. Since offhand, disparaging comments are pretty scarce in your journal, I wondered if you wouldn't mind explaining your disdain. In a search of your archives, it seems that in January, you went from linking to 'wonderful articles' to calling it a 'hive mind'. What changed?


Mostly, I used it more. And several of those wonderful articles have been replaced in the meantime by ones nowhere near as good, and in some cases ones significantly less accurate. In addition, lots of things would come in on the FAQ line beginning "It says on Wikipedia..." and then going on to ask about something that someone had got wrong somewhere -- most of which I'd just sigh about, some of which I'd correct here. For good or ill -- and it wasn't meant as disparagement, just as a statement of fact -- the creative entity behind any Wikipedia article is a hive-mind: it produces some excellent work and some real rubbish and there's no way for anyone reading a specific Wikipedia article to know which s/he is reading at that precise moment of its incarnation.

A friend -- a movie writer -- recently commented to me that, while he used Wikipedia a lot, the Wiki articles on anything he actually had personal knowledge of were mostly only about 60% accurate. "I think you can change them," I told him. "That's part of the Wiki thing, isn't it?"

"I did," he said.

"Oh. Well, then.That's all right."

He shook his head. "I checked last week. Somebody already changed them all back."

It's fairly easy to judge most works of reference. You check a couple of things you know something about and if they get them right you figure they've done their homework, and if they don't you discount the whole thing (well, I do). You can't apply that to Wikipedia. There's great stuff there, there's bollocks, and they exist side by side. (Also, by its nature, it privileges things you can link to.)

Picking something at random, I just looked up Aziraphale on Wikipedia. And was suprised to see that it had an entry. (I was going to do Sandman characters next.)

Aziraphale did fairly well, then concluded Also, Neil Gaiman mentioned in his blog that Aziraphale and Crowley are currently living in the South Downs. When he was asked in a book signing just what the two were doing there, he told that Aziraphale and Crowley were 'sharing a cottage'. It also got mentioned that Aziraphale watched porn, taking notes -- this quite suggests a certain kind of a relationship. Neil Gaiman discussed this at a book signing in Cambridge, MA. A video of this discussionwas taken by Vampie6 and posted the Livejournal community Lower_Tadfield on 23 Septemter 2004. *Update: the link to the video is broken, but there is a brief mention of this account to be found in the same LJ community.

Which seems like a rather desperate attempt to make slash canon (which it isn't) by half-remembering http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2005/06/optimism-faith-english-breakfast.asp and then misunderstanding a reference to a running joke from the sequel to Good Omens we never wrote (which had Aziraphale trying to watch a complete soft-core porn movie in the hotels he was in across America in the free two-minute increments that he'd get when turning on the TV). (I think we talk about it in the Locus interview which this -- http://www.locusmag.com/2006/Issues/02GaimanPratchett.html -- is extracted from. ) And I can't see what any of it's doing in that entry to begin with...

So I'll use Wikipedia but not rely on it. Does that help?

...

The megatalented Thea Gilmore has a new CD out soon - Harpo's Ghost. Details at http://www.theagilmore.com/ and at Thea's myspace place - http://www.myspace.com/theagilmore.

The equally megatalented, although significantly shorter than Thea Gilmore, Stephin Merritt, is being defended against what seem to me to be remarkably wrong-headed accusations of racism (he said on a panel that Zip-e-dee-doo-dah was a great song from a bad movie) this morning over at Slate.

http://arts.guardian.co.uk/reviews/story/0,,1762746,00.html mentions that there's a Jake Thackray 4 CD boxed set out (something that will probably only interest five people reading this blog, but I bet they'll be really interested, and it interested me.)

Dear Mr Gaiman,

I wrote a movie script and would like to sell it. What do you can advice me?
Thanks.

Sincerely,
Gulia


Probably first to register it with the WGA. I'd read up a bit on Hollywood (if that's where you're going)-- William Goldman's books Adventures in the Screen Trade and Which Lie did I Tell?. Maybe Jane Hamsher's Killer Instinct. And beyond that... Find someone who likes your script and wants to make it, I guess. I don't know. (Thinks for a moment.) I think I'd point you at a reliable place where there's lots of advice for people in your position. Right. Go to http://www.wordplayer.com/ It's Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio's site. They write movies, they want people to write good movies, and they know their stuff. Read their articles. Explore their links.

on my own bed

You know, what made me happy this morning was not waking up in my own bed, although that was, on its own, pretty wonderful. It was the knowledge that I'll be waking up in my own bed again tomorrow, and the day after that, that put a grin on my face. I got up this morning and wandered the garden, sprayed "bee lure" on the apple trees and the cherry trees (too late for the plums, I'm afraid).

So I've been all over the place in the last few days, including Ohio, where I'd been invited speak to the R&D department of Honda about Imagination and Creativity (something arranged by the Greater Talent Network), and then onto Phoenix where I was honoured to be able to present Harlan Ellison with the SFWA's Grand Master award. I made a shorter speech than I'd originally planned to, leaving out all the fun Harlan anecdotes, because I felt that I wanted to make sure that people remembered the reason that Harlan was getting the award was not because of Harlan the legend, Harlan the gadfly or the persona, but because of the stories -- not the ones about him, but the ones he's written. (And if you've never read any Harlan Ellison stories, or if you have and you'd like to read more, I highly recommend The Essential Ellison as a good place to start. Treat yourself.)

I got home A couple of days ago Fred got into the part of the house where the dry food was, and ate some, and is now at the vet again. Lots of you have sent helpful suggestions, many of which have already been tried, and some of which I shall try this week. Sigh. (The complete saga of Fred in the blog can be found at http://quotableneil.blogspot.com/2006/05/lets-hope-he-doesnt-drop-dead-fred.html although it misses out this one.)

Because I was doing a peripatetic bounce around America, I wasn't in London, and I missed the Elephant (an article about it at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4981728.stm and footage at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/help/3681938.stm) which seems like something from a M. John Harrison story.

One of my favourite short stories from last year was called "Best New Horror" by an author I'd not previously heard of named Joe Hill, in PS publishing"s Postscripts #3. His website's http://www.joehillfiction.com/index.htm , and I just noticed that he has a collection out, 20th Century Ghosts. I don't have much time for reading currently, but I'm going to order a copy.

Waiting for me at home were the lovely UK Headline paperbacks of Anansi Boys, and the just as lovely, albeit in a much more French sort of way, electric-spider-covered French edition (there's a picture of it here). Not to mention a table-full of waiting mail...

Right. Longer post when I get caught up.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Several days of unposted mailbag...

Note to advertising agencies. If you want to make sure that people like you, it's probably wisest not to sue bloggers for defamation. Otherwise people will come to the not unjustifiable conclusion that you really don't know what you're doing when it comes to public relations, and go to a different ad agency. (Currently, if you google Paino Advertising, its own website comes about 45 spots down, way beneath all the people commenting on how foolish they were to sue a blogger who was rude about them...)

...

A small, shamefaced and very nice apology came in...

Er, right, about that Myspace thing. Just so you know, I didn't realize it'd get out of control so quickly. I did that as, well, as a sort of experiment to see A) how many people would buy it without any sort of proof and B) to see how well I could mimic someone (apparently not very well). At any rate, I was planning on deleting the account myself when I saw how many people had believed me (I felt kinda guilty, damn cricket!) but it appears that someone beat me to it. Anyways, I truly am sorry and, to those who were added as friends and suchlike, i'm truly, rather sorry. Oh, and for future reference, don't believe any of those myspace accounts, I was inspired to this by Tom Cruise's account (who is likely some schmoe like me) and, since i'd just been reading your blog here Neil, I decided to try it as you. It could have been anyone really. Sorry again and, also, sorry about the spelling, it's not one of my strong suits and I didn't figure anyone would really see the account.

Sincerely,
Someone-who-would-rather-remain-anonymous


Not actually a problem. It's just that it's the internet, and it has, like the night, a thousand eyes, the owners of which immediately write to me and each other to find whether something is really me or not.

If anyone decides they need to role-play as me (shakes head, blinks, shrugs, mutters oh god why?) then it's probably best if you just announce right up front that you aren't me, to get that out of the way. (Several people have already sent me this one -- although not surprisingly none of them thought it was me at all.)

What an odd world.

HEY NEILZO

it says on Wikipedia that you and Terry Pratchett wrote Good Omens in different countries and so Terry did the actual writing, and you just talked on the telephone but it says in the new edition of Good Omens that you were in England and that you both wrote it. WHO IS THE TRUE???


We were both living in England when we wrote it. At an educated guess, although neither of us ever counted, Terry probably wrote around 60,000 "raw" and I wrote 45,000 "raw" words of Good Omens, with, on the whole, Terry taking more of the plot with Adam and the Them in, and me doing more of the stuff that was slightly more tangential to the story, except that broke down pretty quickly and when we got towards the end we swapped characters so that we'd both written everyone by the time it was done, but then we also rewrote and footnoted each others bits as we went along, and rolled up our sleeves to take the first draft to the second (quite a lot of words), and by the end of it, neither of us was entirely certain who had written what. It was indeed plotted in long phone daily calls, and we would post floppy disks (and this was back in 1988 when floppy disks really were pretty darn floppy) back and forth. I don't know where whoever wrote that Wikipedia entry got it from, but then, it's Wikipedia, which means it's only as good and as bad as the Wikipedia hive mind that created it.

Hey Neil,I ran across this by accident today (and it's the first time I've actually appreciated Internet ads!) This Saturday, May 6th, is Free Comic Book Day (http://www.freecomicbookday.com/) Alas, no Sandman, but it's pretty cool anyway.Theresa

It is!

Hi Neil, I've just purchased and begun reading the 'Stardust' paperback. It is the only book of yours I have never read, however this is only because I have read the comics many times over. Now that the filming is under way I was wondering if you might give us more details about who is who in the cast and other than the already mentioned charaters' name changes, are there any major changes to the story? Having just viewed the rather limited cast info at IMDB, I'm having fun picturing Ed Molina as 'Charmed', albeit with a little hobbit(tm) film magic to make this large actor fit the character description. Any hints?Kevin Be in Georgia

Alfred Molina actually isn't in it, and was never actually cast -- I don't know why the IMDB lists his name. And while there are some changes to the story, alas -- most of them what you get from having to compress a book into a movie -- it's still the same story. Or it was the last time I saw a script. But I think you'll have to wait until June 2006, or keep an eye on places like Ain't it Cool News, to find out more specifics of plot.

I woke up with this thought in my head, checked the FAQ like a good little fan girl, but cannot find the answer. I know that many of your fans have tattoos of your work (and some of your signature), but do you have any tattoos yourself? And if not, would there be something you have always wanted to take to the mortuary permanently attached to your skin? Shalene Shimer

No, none. Mostly because I haven't yet found anything I'd want there for ever.


Hello.

Well, some time ago, searching through your website, I came across a section in which you liste all the research material for American Gods, one being a book called The Forbidden Zone by Mike Lesy. A book you've spoken of in a few interviews.

So I managed to snooker a copy from eBay in excellent condition for only a few mesely bucks. And I just finished it a couple of days ago. But all throughout reading it, I couldn't help but feel that the way Lesy fashioned the overall feel of the book had a profound influence on American Gods, and how some aspects of The Forbidden Zone parallel American Gods, in some obvious and not so obvious ways.

Anyways, here's my point: Zone is an excellent book, and you're absotively correct on how it's depressing that it's out of print, since I feel it's quite powerful and informative and urgent.

And, so, you're a man of some influence within the literary world, no? Perhaps you can coax the original publishers in printing the book again? Pretty please? I promise to buy all your books if you do.

Twice.


I don't know that I have that power. Be fun if I did. I've been talking with Dark Horse about their publishing a line of out of print books that I love or miss, which has been a really interesting process so far -- although the books we've been talking about at this point have been fiction. The Forbidden Zone is a marvellous book -- I talk about it at http://www.neilgaiman.com/works/books/americangods/bibliography?format=hb and if anyone's reading this who has the4 power to bring it back into print, I recommend it.

Hi Neil,
Thanks for the picture of the Anansi Boys PB. I noticed at the top it said, by the author of American Gods and Fragile Things. Er, that means Fragile things is coming out really, really soon, right? (Amazon says Oct. 1, is that right?) When will we get to see the cover for that? A quick search on the site reveals it's "going to be lovely..." Please stop teasing us!
Thanks,
Dave/the Scoundrel


I don't have a picture of it, otherwise I'd post it -- they made dummies of the cover and gave me one, though, so I suppose I could always take a photograph of that. I think it'll be out in the last week of September 2006.

Hello Mr.Gaiman,
I did give a reasonable try at searching for the answer to my question in the archives to no avail, so please excuse me if forty five other people have already mentioned this. I finished Anansi Boys and toward the end there was a turn of phrase that caught my attention. Is, "The grave, as has been pointed out, is a fine place, not to mention a private one. . ." a nod to Peter S. Beagle? If I'm correct, then I think that was a clever way to pay him a much-deserved complement. -Erin


It's certainly a nod to Peter Beagle, and his lovely book "A Fine and Private Place", and it's as much a nod to Andrew Marvell and his lovely poem "To His Coy Mistress", lines from which which have probably titled more SF and Fantasy books than any other single poem.

...

Congratulations to Dave McKean, who is shortlisted for a Greenaway Medal for the MirrorMask book, and MirrorMask the film was awarded a Black Tulip for best Debut at the Amsterdam Fantasy Film festival.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Eternals Sneak Peek

On the theory that sometimes it's better, or at least quicker, to apologise after than get permission first, here's a first look at pages 2 and 3 of the first issue of The Eternals.

(If this post vanishes it'll be because I'm not meant to show it yet. Somehow I don't think anyone will mind, though. It made me smile to get this in email this morning -- we're trying to, not copy Kirby, but to get that feeling of scale and energy and wonderful madness that Kirby had, and, for me anyway, Messrs Romita Jr, Miki and Hollingsworth pull it off... Click on it to see it larger.)

Monday, May 01, 2006

Two from Bill

If ever I have to stop blogging for a bit I think I'd ask Bill Stiteler to come and guest-host for me. Already today he has sent me to a set of "Celebrity" Pixies covers. (I thought I'd like the Frank Sinatra "cover" of This Monkey's Gone to Heaven best, but actually it was easily beaten out in my affections by The Bee Gees "cover" of Wave of Mutilation...)

http://wiredblogs.tripod.com/music/index.blog?entry_id=1470504 which leads to http://www.myspace.com/matthewscelebritypixiestribute

and then he pointed me to http://www.hitrecord.org/picturesofassholes.html which is Joseph Gordon-Levitt's video of some of the paparazzi shooting him. Strange, bottom-feeding creatures.

In addition to which, Bill's wife The Birdchick let me know today that the solution to having had our birdfeeders trashed by a bear is to not fill the birdfeeders (or have food around) for the next month, and hope he'll move on. She said I'm so bummed that I won't be able to watch orioles from your kitchen
this spring, but having a bear is pretty cool. On the up side, I
would guess that you have an amorous young male who woke up from
hibernation and went a little too far south. I seriously doubt you
have a female, they are emerging with cubs right now and can't travel
too far and if she had hibernated close to your home you would have
seen evidence of her last fall. This is good, because the female
with a cub would be more dangerous than a male. Although,
considering Fred's luck, you might want to restrict his nightly outings.


Fred, by the way, for those of you who write in and ask, is currently doing as fine as can be expected when you're not allowed to eat with any other cats, or near any other cats, and have to take daily medicine, and you're only fed soft food (which he hates) rather than nice crunchy hard food (which he loves, but won't drink anything when he eats it, so he winds up with a gut filled with food that is, er unpoopable). But as Sharon says, it's time to keep him inside at night.
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