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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

it's a coffee percolator going "wheeee"

Just a quick note to say that the industrious web-elf is currently overhauling www.neilgaiman.com to make it a palace of unbearable delights, or at least a place that's better laid out and in which it's easier to find things. (Our new motto: less wood, more trees. Or something like that.) It's still a work in progress, but we've now replaced a morass of links with http://www.neilgaiman.com/works/films/ which needs more information, but is nice and easy to get about on.

And just so you know, I cannot get this song and video out of my head.

Also, this Galactus Jack Chick tract made me smile. Not quite as much as this pitch-perfect parodic use of Jack Chick tracts to warn us about the Elder Gods, which took a few seconds of googling to find. (Oops. Killed it. Try this one: http://esr.ibiblio.org/index.php?p=135)


Not a question really, more of an observation of my recent reading. After purchasing "Fragile Things" in audiobook format off of itunes(read by yourself), which I probably spent too much time listening to and not enough time doing schoolwork, and subsequently rushing to buy and read "American Gods" prior to listening to the novella, I've found that now anytime I read anything you've written, novel or otherwise, it always seems to sound in my head like your voice. I find it interesting, a bit creepy, somewhat reassuring, but always enjoyable. So, thank you

Yours Truly,

Will Swan


You're welcome, I think.

(I just discovered that Iamplify.com have the free downloads of me being interviewed about Stardust and the Stardust audio book, and the (really sweet) interview that Maddy did with me that was edited down for The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection both up for free -- they're in the Downloads section on the front page, mingling uneasily with the audio books on Weight Loss and Conquering Your Fear of Flying.)

Hi Neil,

I have seen on ebay a collection of Sandman, the full run, on a DVD with "comic reading" software that you install on your computer and read on your screen.

The price is redicullusly low, so I wanted to ask if this is official? It certainly doesn't look it, but always best to check!


Nope. All DVD/CD versions of the comics I've done are pirated. Personally, I wish that DC would do legitimate versions, as there's obviously a demand, and we could do it better than the pirates.

Hi Neil,

Just wanted to let you know that Rocketship in Brooklyn will be hosting a signing/reception for "Big Fat Little Lit," which includes, as you know, your collaboration with Gahan Wilson. Your NY area readers may enjoy attending this event (the open wine/beer bar may serve as an additional enticement). Full event info:

"Big Fat Little Lit" signing and reception with Art Spiegelman, Francoise Mouly, Kim Deitch and David Mazzucchelli
Friday, December 1 at Rocketship
208 Smith St., Brooklyn (F or G to Bergen St.)
8pm
free

store website: http://rocketshipstore.blogspot.com
book website: http://www.little-lit.com

--Bill Kartalopoulos.


It'd make a good Xmas present for kids too -- Gahan Wilson and I did a story for the third volume (It Was A Dark and Silly Night) that's reprinted in the Big Fat Little Lit.
(http://www.little-lit.com/bfll_artists/gaiman_wilson.html)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Small copyright puzzle...

I'm a bit puzzled by an article on the BBC website about copyright terms in the UK for recorded music that seems to claim that the day after the copyright term expires, the people who made the music will no longer be paid for it. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6186436.stm

Music journalist Neil McCormack told BBC Radio Five Live that this outcome would be a blow to the industry. "This was set before the advent, the big boom, of rock 'n' roll - the boom in popular culture which has led to a whole vast number of people making their living from these royalties.

"You can make a record in 1955 and have been getting royalties," he said. "Suddenly they're gone."


...but if you were getting royalties from a record you made you would, I assume, still be getting money from records sold through that record deal. The difference is that other people could now also bring out or use the material without paying a licensing fee to the record company who wouldn't pay you.

So if the Beatles material is going to wander into the public domain in the UK in 5 years, as the article says, someone could put out a CD in the UK containing 1961 Beatles songs. And a few years after that they couldn't pass off their CD of 1963 Beatles songs as being "Please Please Me", or use the photographs or packaging of the original LP. While EMI could put out a set of either cheap Beatles records, or of added value reissues of Beatles records, which would still make sure that the surviving Beatles would still get paid by EMI... wouldn't it?

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Good News! post.

I don't think that I was really surprised to learn that Anansi Boys had a review over on myspace books. On the other hand, I was quite surprised to learn that Anansi Boys has its own myspace page -- http://www.myspace.com/anansiboys. It has eighty friends as I write this and is, apparently, twenty years old and a Capricorn.

Meanwhile The Absolute Sandman, I was delighted to learn, tops the Detroit Free Press list of Best Spiritual Books of 2006. I somewhat doubt that it will befriend Anansi Boys on Myspace, and I expect it will now probably start hanging around with The Tibetan Book of the Dead and Chesterton's Orthodoxy, and would be deeply embarrassed to learn that Jessa Crispin has described it as "the ultimate comic book fetish object" .

Given the recent run of bad news on this blog, I want to congratulate my friends and ace rockers Thea Gilmore and Nigel Stonier on the arrival of baby Egan. Thea's myspace page is at http://myspace.com/theagilmore and she has 4,607 more friends than Anansi Boys does. Nigel's webpage is http://www.nigelstonier.co.uk/ and according to http://www.nigelstonier.co.uk/free_cd.html he's getting ready to send anyone who asks for it a free sampler CD. Seeing two of his songs "Tricks" and "Me and St Jude" are two of my favourite songs by anybody, you might want to send him a stamped self-addressed envelope and see if you like what you get.

And equally deserving of congratulations, my friend Anna Sunshine Ison has just married her Mr Cavin in Las Vegas. This is a fine thing, and to celebrate I'm posting the Lexington Herald Leader's two minute long audio-visual feature on Sunshine's father's art. (He is a forensic anthropomorphologist.) It makes me smile: http://www.heraldleaderphoto.com/multimedia/cecil/ison.html

I met Yunyu at Continuum 3 in Melbourne and she gave me a CD -- she's just sent me her latest CD, Spiked Soul, and I really enjoyed it. You can see two of her videos at http://www.yunyu.com.au/home/music#videos.

Matt Cheney has discovered the Rules For Writing, and lays them out for us. Finally. http://mumpsimus.blogspot.com/2006/11/rules-for-writing.html

And finally, I would like formally to welcome Mr Eddie Campbell to the blogosphere. He can be found at http://www.eddiecampbell.blogspot.com/ and is taking callers.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Dave Cockrum

I wrote this two years ago, for a benefit book for Dave Cockrum:

For Dave Cockrum

The golden age of comics is when you’re twelve. The silver age is around fourteen, fifteen – that nebulous zone when comics still matter, but so does rock music and so would girls if you could only get close enough to one to actually do anything more than blush and stutter. After that comes the slow fall from grace, and then all the ages run together in one dark gulf. Nothing quite makes the magic happen in the way it did, back then, when the summers lasted forever, and the girl next door still had a pug nose and pigtails (the safety-pin in her nose and her mohawk wouldn't arrive for several more years).

I never quite clicked on Superheroes (TM Marvel and DC and how weird is that?) as a kid. I liked them well enough, but they always seemed to be slightly problematic. They didn’t do the important stuff.

The important stuff, the way I saw it was that super powers would allow you to survive school more easily. If I were secretly the Fastest Man Alive I’d never be late for school ever again. If I were invulnerable (and I could spell it and I knew what it meant) I wouldn’t be miserable and frozen out on an arctic football field, out in some defensive position where I could do the least harm. Even Aquaman didn’t seem to have it too bad: the hellish compulsory swimming classes in the unheated open air pool left me convinced that I would be prime drowning fodder without his powers, even if I couldn’t telepathically communicate with any of the local sticklebacks.

I think that was why I loved the Legion of Super Heroes, back in my own personal golden age. There were lots of them. They lived in the future. And their powers seemed made for surviving school with. (There were school meals put in front of me that only Matter Eater Lad could comfortably have disposed of.) They had a clubhouse. They didn’t fight bank robbers, either. (Mostly they seemed to fight each other, even if they had been brainwashed by intergalactic evildoers. This also made sense to me. I had lived twelve years, and had come to the conclusion that bank robbers turned up more infrequently than they did in the comics.) And, most of all, for just a little while – oddly enough, while I was twelve – they had Dave Cockrum.

I kept waiting for a time sphere to turn up, and to be invited to join the Legion. I had no particular power, not that I’d noticed, but then, you never know, I might get lucky.

I ought to Google and find out what the first Legion story Dave drew was; on the other hand, I still know the first of his stories I read. It was called “Curse of the Blood Crystals”, and it was inked by Murphy Anderson. (I have always been a sucker for Murphy Anderson’s inking.)

And, almost immediately it seemed, Superboy’s comic had become The Legion’s, and Dave Cockrum was the Legion artist (Cary Bates was writing), and suddenly it was cool...

When Dave started drawing the new X-Men, I already felt proprietorial, in a way that only comics readers can feel about artists whose work they love. I owned Dave Cockrum, just as I owned Neal Adams and Berni Wrightson and Jack Kirby and Jim Aparo. He was one of mine, and he owned a small part of my soul.

I was made foolishly happy, many years on, during the early Sandman years, at a New York convention, to be told by Paty Cockrum that she and Dave liked what I did. And, somewhere inside me, a twelve year old exulted: if I couldn’t join the Legion, this was easily the next best thing, and, for a moment, I was back in the Golden Age...

Neil Gaiman

March 5, 2004


...
Dave passed on today, from complications of diabetes.

http://www.nightscrawlers.com/forum/viewthread.php?tid=6539
http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2006_11_26.html#012477

Stardust Movie news and Answers

There's a photo of Michelle Pfeifer about to do a spot of goat-transforming in Stardust up at http://www.michellepfeiffer.us/images/magazines/1206premiere.jpg -- there's also an article beneath it...

Meanwhile, over at http://www.stardustmovie.com/ the first signs of life have been seen. If you head over there you'll see a photo of me on set, and a form to fill in if you have any Stardust questions. For now, I'll be the one answering the questions.

(Next week will be the first "test screening", where we find out what an audience thinks of the film, what it likes and what it doesn't. I've never been involved in one of those before. Fingers crossed.)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Sur(thanksgiving)realism

Yesterday was long -- Holly got in to the airport two hours after me, Mike two hours after her, so we never left the airport really, except to grab a little food and raid the Apple store at the Mall of America (which is very close to Minneapolis airport). At this point all of my family have Macbooks except me.

The best thing about coming home (apart from family) is the stuff waiting in plastic tubs on the kitchen table for me to read, look at, play with, watch, sign or inspect.

This morning, with a scratchy too-much-travel throat and hair that looks like some kind of mad tonsorial octopus, I pulled on my dressing gown and went downstairs and looked at the stuff that had arrived in my absence.

There's stuff I'm excited about reading -- John Clute's book The Darkening Garden, subtitled A Short Lexicon of Horror, thirty subjects from "affect" to "vastation" that will probably influence the critical discussion of horror for a good while to come, and volume 1 of the new Fantagraphics Segar Popeye collection, -- and there's stuff I've already read, sort of, like the Drawn and Quarterly Tove Jansen Moomin volume 1 (you can read the Moomin daily strips on the D&Q website, at http://www.drawnandquarterly.com/moomin/), which is one of the sweetest, strangest surrealist strips in history, and which I read earlier this year, because I wanted to write the introduction to it, and then time got away from me and it was something I didn't write this year, but the D&Q people seem to have forgiven me, for they sent me a copy anyway, and you should read it anyway, for it will make you happy.

(To read the Moomin strips in order online, you should start at #1, http://www.drawnandquarterly.com/moomin/index.php?id=1)

There's stuff waiting I have to listen to (now playing, the reissue of Lou Reed's CONEY ISLAND BABY, with three previously unheard tracks), and to watch (a pile of illicit Torchwoods, the Mighty Boosh Live DVD, and suchlike).

And there's a didgeridoo.

It's significantly taller than I am.

Someone sent me a didgeridoo.

I suppose now I'm going to have to get didgeridoo lessons.

Also, I made the cranberry jelly.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

bleary eyed and somewhat slightly travel-stained

This ought to be a post about everything I've done and gone in the last few days, finishing with going to see WOLVES IN THE WALLS in Oxford last night, but the alarm clock just went off I'm too short on sleep and running for the train in 20 minutes to get the plane to get home for Thanksgiving, so this is really just more of a sort of a wave before I start frantically packing and get back on the road again.

wave.



wave.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

what I did today more or less

Let's see... took Gatwick Express to London (read the wonderfully wonderful graphic novel Jokes and the Unconscious by Daphne Gottlieb and Diane DiMassa on the way), went to hotel, worked happily in hotel library until room was ready, saw Mitch Benn, discussed Mysterious Project, and burned seven Mysterious Project reference mp3 CDs for him, met daughter Holly and her friend, ate conveyor belt sushi with daughter Holly and Mitch Benn and daughter Holly's friend, saw renowned film director T.V. Gilliam and bought him whisky sours because he had a cold and he thought whisky sours probably have vitamin C in, not to mention the cold-fighting properties of preserved cherries, and we all talked (me, r.d. T.V. Gilliam, d. H. and d. H.'s f. but not Mitch Benn because he'd already gone off to do a gig) and then, evening almost over and all his whisky sours drunk, I waved goodbye to r.d. T.V.G. (having pointed out that he owes me and Terry Pratchett a groat each) and I set off with d. H. and d. H.'s f. to see Mitch Benn in his second comedic gig of the evening performing at the Chuckle Club, which by some strange coincidence was run, I discovered, by Paul Jay (aka Eugene Cheese), who I'd met twenty years ago at a meeting of the Society of Strip Illustrators, and who did a comic called George, The Toad and the Rock, which I loved as a teen and still consider one of the finer surrealist comics.

And tomorrow morning I'm leaving London for a few days and don't know if there will be any internet where I'm going or not. We'll all find out tomorrow.

what i did next

As I've commented here before, the problem with blogging is that when things get interesting, you don't get time to write about it. So suffice it to say I went to Little Rock and on to Conway where I did a Q&A for students, read a poem, gave a speech and read a story and answered questions and signed until midnight and then wound up with Writing Professor Terry Wright and his wife Cindy in an Arkansas Denny's at 1.00am eating breakfast during a thunderstorm so violent that the wiring made crackly sizzling noises when the lightning struck (the manager had a remarkable memory and the least convincing wig I've ever seen), and from there I went to San Jose, where I was interviewed by writing Professor Mitch Berman, ate sushi, then read a short story and a chapter of The Graveyard Book, answered a handful of questions and again signed until midnight. Then I got up too early, flew to Minneapolis, went straight in to DreamHaven Books where I signed a lot of stuff for them (including, I was told, a quarter of a ton of Absolute Sandmans), back to the airport to check in, off to a hasty dinner with Mary and now-with-new-purple-braces (and only able to eat soup) Maddy, and dashed back to the airport, onto a plane and off to the UK.

Which is where I am now, for a couple of days. I'll probably just about get over my jetlag by the time I fly home.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

San Jose reminder

Just a hasty reminder that I'm in San Jose and will be giving a talk and signing and stuff tonight...

Details at http://www.neilgaiman.com/where/2006/11/16-nov-2006-san-jose.html

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

grey walls

I'm in Little Rock, Arkansas, and have spent the morning doing Beowulf movie rewrites. From the hotel window, Little Rock looks a lot like a large block of grey concrete, but if I get over to the edge of the window I can see past the grey concrete to a grey sky, more grey hotel and the top of a charcoal-grey bridge.

I'm just reading the introduction to Fragile Things, and I'm intrigued by your mention of a computer program called Babble that you used in the writing of "Diseasemaker's Croup". I'm really curious about what the program is and how it works, but I'm not able to find other references to it online. What can you tell me about Babble, and how can I get a copy?

A quick Google found me a copy of Babble up on http://www.bradsucks.net/archives/2003/07/08/lyric-generators/
It's strange that no-one's updated or reinvented it in the last 15 years, isn't it? It can make some wonderful things.

...

Just to let you know that Jonathan Browne, who runs the Richmond comic shop They Walk Among Us is doing a sponsored cycle up the Mekong to raise money for Diabetes UK. The link is
http://www.justgiving.com/jonathanbrowne
and any attention you can direct that way would be most welcome.
(There's actually an account of a signing you did at TWAU back in the day at http://www.ninthart.com/display.php?article=1185 . It's mostly about Graham Higgins' short story 'Helicopters', though - you only get a walk-on role.)

...

I won't embarrass the friend who thought I'd be amused by this by naming him, her or it.... but I was amused -- I am as much of a sucker for iPod accessories as the next person, but I think this one (possibly not safe for work, depending on your workplace) goes beyond what I'd imagined necessary.

...

Puzzling over why the Guardian thinks that Google Videos posted by tourists have anything to do with Google per se, and happy to see the return of the fountain pen. (I stopped travelling with fountain pens when you couldn't take ink on planes. I suppose you can again, now.)

Read The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl yesterday. I enjoyed it, as much as one can enjoy a book where you're half-way between landscape and an offstage character, but found waves of empathy with the fictional version of Mr Bendis at his signing in the story, as he has to explain to our hero that he can't read his graphic novel now, and won't make him famous, and has to get on with the signing because he has a line of people....

Oops. Got to run.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Suomeksi song of disgruntlement

Jonathan Carroll (he has a blog, you know) sends me the strangest and most wonderful things in email. Photographs and websites and links and allsorts.

This is one of them... It's the Helsinki Complaints Choir. I watched it twice, then made Miss Maddy watch it too, and she's now wandering around singing in pidgin Finnish.

Some of it is universal, some of it is Finn- and Helsinki-specific...



It made me miss Finland. Mostly it made me smile.

bits, oddments, and, you know, stuff...

Lots of writing going on at this end. I found my cellphone, though (it promptly crashed, although I discharged and recharged it and it now seems to be working again). Also finished reading the Charles Addams biography, and I can report that his second ex-wife stays evil to the end -- indeed, she appears to have forged a document giving herself 75% of the Addams Family as soon as Mr Addams was dead. The book itself was a disappointment, though -- I didn't feel I came away with any real insight into Addams as a person or as an artist.

Here's an article from the British Medical Journal I like the idea of...

An odd New York Times article about copyright and art...

Jack Williamson passed away, aged 98. I think the first SF novel I ever read was his book Seetee Shock, although it wasn't until I read his novel of shapechangers, Darker than You Think, as a teenager, that I knew I was a fan.

My story "How to Talk to Girls At Parties" has been picked up by Jonathan Strahan for his Year's Best SF anthology

Neil,Could I borrow your readers for a few weeks?I am currently touring the USA in a MINI convertible visiting the smallest town in each of the contiguous 48 states. I was wondering if you would publish my web address (www.usain80days.com) on your site so that I could temporarily avail myself of the tasteful and learned throng that seems to accumulate around NeilGaiman.com?
Many thanks in advance.Terence

I really liked the photos, so sure.

...

The most important news this week is that Alan Moore (now legal in Canada) will be a guest on The Simpsons. (http://www.northantsnews.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=317&ArticleID=1865011)


Hello Mr Gaiman. I heard that the project you're working on with Penn Jillette is a film adaptation of the book 'The Road to Endor' by EH Jones. Is this true? And is it likely that the book will come back into print as a result? Regardless, I'm looking forward to it. KJ Forrest.

True and I hope so...


Hi my eternal idol, er I mean, Neil. I read your entry on wills and thought you might like to add this link to it. The link is from LAWCHEK® & Lawsonline™ and gives a listing of which states accept or do not accept a holographic will. I'm so glad mine does, because at this time I can't afford a real lawyer.

http://www.lawchek.com/Library1/_books/probate/qanda/holographic.htm
Michele Lee

Thanks Michele. That's really useful.


And one I've been puzzling over for a couple of days...

Though I appreciate that few books are entirely without typographical errors, I was sort of hoping The Absolute Sandman might have been one of them.

The Absolute Sandman, p.34:

"Alex hands over the reins of organization to Paul McGuire, ..."

Did this really go unnoticed all these years, or did the correction slip through the cracks?

A dedicated reader,

Kevin Yank


I've read it a dozen times and can't work out what the typo is. Let me know if you can figure it out.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Pumpkin things mostly

This was the pumpkin I carved the day before Hallowe'en, when it was done...


Time passed. As is the fashion among pumpkins, they slowly rotted and started to look really interesting and disturbing. This was taken about four days ago:




I'd planned to take more photos of them today, but the snow sort of threw everything off, as did the fact that people who didn't know that I meant it when I said I was keeping them around to photograph as they rotted threw them out. I went and found them and took a photo anyway.



Birthday portrait of an author trying -- and failing -- to take a photo of himself and some disturbing pumpkins without falling into the snow.



And -- authoring be damned -- this was undoubtedly the most important thing I was involved in today.

Dreaming of a White Birthday?

I woke up and the world is white. It snowed in the night and it's still snowing. How odd.

Lots of people have been sending in nice birthday wishes, and sending me links to the http://syndicated.livejournal.com/officialgaiman/ feed where more people are leaving happy birthdays...

Thanks so much to all of you.

squashed tomatoes and stew

As of five minutes ago, I am apparently now 46 years old. (It says so at http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/programs/2006/11/06/ so it must be true.)

I've never been 46 before.

It's a really grown-up sort of age when you see it written down like that. It's filled with numbers.

I don't think I'm a grown-up in my head. Not yet...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Stardust news

So the Stardust Movie News is that the head honchos at Paramount saw a rough cut two weeks ago, and decided that it was strong enough to be a "summer tentpole" movie. So it's been moved from March 2007 to July 2007. Which I think is mostly a good thing, as it means they have confidence in it and will get their mighty marketing machine behind it, but is a bit worrying as there's an awful lot of competition in the Summer, whereas around Easter we would have been the only thing like that around.

Quick One

It's always an odd moment to discover yourself (or, some years back, your assistant) as a corroborative detail in an Onion story...

This is today's:



Although it was odder by far the first time it happened.

I just got a CD filled with stuff -- art and characters and so on -- from Henry Selick of material from the Coraline movie, which looked really quite marvellous, particularly the tests of the way that the character of Coraline herself walks and moves. The maquettes of the other mother look really unsettling. I can't wait till, er... probably Hallowe'en 2008 actually...

Also I have somehow mislaid my mobile phone. Just thought you'd want to know that.

...

And when I was about seven years old my favourite SF story, found in an anthology belonging to my friend Christopher Harris's father, was "Mr Mergenthwerker's Lobblies". Some years ago I was lucky enough to meet Nelson Bond, the author of that story, at a convention. Later, we corresponded about James Branch Cabell. Nelson Bond just passed away, aged 98 -- http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/90254.

Monday, November 06, 2006

born to trouble

Had a very small bonfire last night, and watched the sparks fly upwards.

A few people asked about prints of the Charles Addams Boiling Oil cartoon -- they still sell them on the New Yorker cartoonbank site, currently at this link.

Hello Neil,

I hope to get something published one day. Due to some rather unfortunate events in my life, I am extremely protective of my family's privacy (as well as my own). Any work I release would (hopefully) not have my real name associated with it (I'd use a pen name). How possible is it to be a well known author, say, like yourself, and remain completely anonymous? I am talking anonymity to the extreme-- no photos, appearances, chances at being photographed, no information anywhere about my children, etc.

Thanks,

Anonymous Australian


It's not impossible, but to be successful you'd have to plan it out well ahead of time, depending on how anonymous you want to be. It's probably easiest to do if nobody cares who you are. The more successful you become, the more you would need to plan ahead (where does the money from the publisher go? Who do they make the cheque to? What name and address is on the copyright registration forms?).

Can you get away with not having an author photograph, signings etc? Yes, although you may have to write better to make up for what publishers could perceive as a problem. (If the book is good, though, they won't mind, although you might have to write answers to interview questions and so on...)

You might want to study the careers and secret identities of such people as Thomas Pynchon, Richard Bachman, James Tiptree Jr. and J.T. Leroy (who I tend to confuse with British Western writer J.T. Edson, rather embarrassingly), not to mention Lemony Snicket, and remember that, in the words of Ben Franklin, three can keep a secret if two of them are dead.

Hi, Neil! I've wanted to ask this for awhile: how do you like the convertible? How does it compare to the old Mini? You're the only person I know who has owned both, and I'm toying with the idea of buying a convertible, so I want to hear your review.
Mary Roane (missing Chicago after that last post)

There are a couple of real downsides to the Mini convertible -- a lack of trunk/boot space, and limited rear visibility. The upsides mainly consist of pressing the button that opens the roof and then pretending you're in a Japanese Robot movie, and of driving round in a Mini with the top down. I've definitely started toying with the idea of getting something bigger for getting groceries or driving to Chicago in, while keeping the Mini, which was not something I thought about with the old Mini. I wonder how soon until we see the Mini Traveller (or indeed the Mini Hearse).

Mr. Gaimain, I've heard a story that you once (accidently) launched a firework at Gene Wolfe's head on Guy Fawkes day. Considering today is November 5th, I thought it would be appropriate to ask if this is indeed true. So is it?~Kat

Yup. (Well, at a Guy Fawkes party about 13 years ago a firework shot rather close to Gene's head, although I don't remember now whether or not I was actually the one who lit the blue touchpaper. Astonishingly, Gene's come back to every Guy Fawkes party I've had since, though -- they happen every now and again, not annually -- and he seemed to relish the excitement and not to mind his escape from sudden death, which proved, to my mind, that Gene Wolfe is the last of the gentlemen adventurers.)

(Edit to add that although Gene was first menaced by Fireworks after World Fantasycon in 1993, my friend Medge points out he and Justin Ackroyd came all the way from Australia to fire the Infamous Firework of Death at Gene's head at the Guy Fawkes Party after World Fantasycon in 2002.)

...

And finally, a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly, for the STARDUST AUDIOBOOK, recorded back in http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2006/01/stardust-audio.html

Tristran Thorn falls in love with the prettiest girl in town and makes her a foolish promise: he says that he'll go find the falling star they both watched streak across the night sky. She says she'll marry him if he finds it, so he sets off, leaving his home of Wall, and heads out into the perilous land of faerie, where not everything is what it appears. Gaiman is known for his fanciful wit, sterling prose and wildly imaginative plots, and Stardust is no exception. Gaiman's silver-tongued narration vividly brings this production to life. Like the bards of old, Gaiman is equally as proficient at telling tales as he is at writing them, and his pleasant British accent feels like a perfect match to the material. Gaiman's performance is an extraordinary achievement -- if only all authors could read their own work so well. The audiobook also includes a brief, informative and enjoyable interview with Gaiman about the writing of the novel and his work in the audiobook studio.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Spotted Jam Tentacles

I got into my car on Friday afternoon and drove down to Chicago to see the Gothic Archies perform, in the form of Mr Stephin Merritt and Mr Daniel Handler (unfortunately their percussionist, the elusive Mr Lemony Snicket, was unable to be with them). It was as fine as I had hoped and as funny. Maddy thought so too.

Saw lots and lots of friends, including Jill Thompson and Brian Azzarello (we ate at Katsu, which is still, I'm happy to say, one of the very best Sushi restaurants in the US, and where the owner showed us lots of Geoff Darrow drawings) and I got to give a housewarming present to Audrey Niffenegger. I did the drive to Chicago in the Mini with ease, the drive back, er, less so. But very glad that I did.

Right. Much writing to do today, but Google tells me of many new reviews, and just so they're linked to...

Dave Itzkoff reviews Absolute Sandman and Fragile Things in the New York Times. This has a delightful Yuko Shimizu illustration of me upside down being caressed by strange spotted things coming out of a book (tentacles of jam, I suspect), and contains the marvellous sentence,
In the first 20 issues of the series collected in this lavish hardcover edition,
one can already see an author with a voracious appetite for literature and an
accompanying taste for the occult, prone to frequent references to high and low
culture, capable of rendering truly brutal acts of sadism, and fond of cats.

It's good to live in a world in which SF and comics get full page reviews in the New York Times Book Review. We've come a long way.

(And I loved discovering Yuko Shimizu's website, from the dancing pandas to the Letters of Desire book)

There's a lovely John Burns review of Fragile Things in the Globe and Mail. (Nice to see someone reading "Bitter Grounds" properly, too.) Steve Bolhafner reviews Fragile Things in Saint Louis, and Michael Berry reviews it in San Francisco. And there's a review of it at Bookreporter.com http://bookreporter.com/reviews2/0060515228.asp.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Evil and Goats

I'm busy writing, but this one seemed to want some kind of reply...

Neil: It amazes me that a writer should be so clueless on the complexity of human realtionships! But then maybe that's why you write Fantasy Fiction , making relatioships the way you DREAM them to be and not based on reality! Your remark about Charles Admas evil ex-wife was really uncalled for! I'm not saying the woman wasn't a raging bitch on wheels but maybe he lead her down that road to bitch dom! I've been reading the fuss over Paul McCathy tapes yelling at his dead wife Mary and a friend of my said she couldn't beleieve her ex-Beattle could be so cruel. And I thought the man wasn't a saint, so he yelled at her, it just proves they were married! If you live with someone you're going to have conflict! I often wonder if you have your wife locked up in the turret of your house like Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre, you never mention the woman in your blog! And if you two decide to part ways she has every right to half of what you have because without her you m ay not have been the successful writer you are now! I'm not a bitter woman but a person wise enough to know where human hearts are involved all kind of evil things can happen! Thank you for allowing me to voice my opinion. Truly- Ms. Wright

Sorry if I upset you by describing Charles Addams' second wife as "evil". While I agree that relationships are complicated and that Mr Addams was probably a far from ideal husband, when you get to the point in the biography where she's taken out the $100,000 life insurance policy on him and then gets him to write a suicide note she's dictated, I think "evil" seems a fairly apt sort of word.

(Then again, the New York Times review of the book only goes as far as describing her as "diabolical" and "the one woman he might reasonably have wanted to murder".)

Still, I've not yet finished the book. She may redeem herself by the end.

And this one was too important to ignore,

Dear Neil -Do goats figure prominently (or even in a minor role) in any of your works? I have read some of your novels but can't claim encyclopedic knowledge. I am trying to compile a list of goat-related science ficton/fantasy works and right now coming up a bit short. In fact, it totals exactly ONE title at the moment.Any help would be appreciated.

N. in Virginia on behalf of Princess Grace of BaaBaaDoo Farm

What about Stardust -- a book (and a film) with two goats in it? One that is transformed into a man, and one a man transformed into a goat.

There's goat in chapter two of Anansi Boys, of course. But it's curried.

So there we go. You now have another two and a bit goats.

There's also a high rise goat in this Charles Addams cartoon, of course...

http://www.charlesaddams.com/gallery02.html

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

miscellaneous stuff

Hullo, Mr. Gaiman. Been silently following the journal for quite some time now, but I'm moved to write you based on the Halloween picture of Maddy. I wanted to express jealousy at what appears to be an original from your Secret Origins collaboration with Matt Wagner and Bernie Mireault (a comic that got me IN to comics in the first place) and...is that an original Charles Addams piece? I've always loved that drawing in particular and if it has to be on anyone's wall but mine, I'm glad it's yours.

b


That Riddler Secret Origins page was the first comics art page I'd written I ever bought, from Bernie Mirault, back in 1988ish. It's now my son Mike's, because he loves it even more than I do, although it's currently sitting in the office on display waiting for Mike to discover where he's going to live and work for the next few years.

The Addams picture on the office wall is a print (the boiling oil on carol singers cartoon was an original he never sold, according to the rather drippy and disappointing Addams biography I'm currently reading, which means it will probably go up on the wall of the Charles Addams secret gallery just by the men's toilets in the New York Library if you wait long enough) [Edit, no an evil ex-wife got it from him in a divorce settlement], and was a triple gift from my gang of assistants, Lorraine and Cat Mihos (who helps out when I'm in LA) and Malena (my undead zombie assistant on 13 Nights of Fright).

(I do have a Charles Addams original, though -- you can see it at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2005/10/addams-thing.asp)

The other painting on the wall, for the people who wondered, is a Bill Sienkiewicz Judge Dredd cover (there's a picture of it at http://www.2000adonline.com/functions/cover.php?Comic=graphicnovels&choice=dredd18).

Dear Neil,

Could you please tell me what the name of the movie/TV show is that you included the clip for on Halloween? I'm a couple of years older than Holly, and I could swear that it's something I used to watch as well--something that I remember loving. It's driving me crazy that I can't remember the name of it, although I can tell you that it was shown each year on HBO during the mid-80s.

Best,
Jenny Rappaport


it was....


I Just want to say I am glad someone else in the world enjoyed watching The Worst Witch 18 years ago. My sister and I would watch it every year. About 3 years ago she procured this on DVD and we laughed at how cheesy it is, and, I think, worried those who had never heard of it that we forced to watch it on our tstaes in movies. Especially in the world of Harry Potter, Mildred Hubble will always have a sepcial place in the heart of my family. Thanks for the holiday memories



...

Just read your post on having writers create a will for their literary estate. This is a site for the rest of their estate and their life.

http://nolo.com/

Thanks for advocating for DIY when dealing with (most parts of) American law.

jim bruce


Truth to tell, I'm not actually the world's biggest advocate for DIY law things, not after watching a nice old curmudgeon with a DIY attitude to the law, all of which he'd got from helpful websites, get himself sent to prison by a judge and prosecutor who really all just wanted to send him home. But nolo.com is a terrific website.

Mr. Gaiman (and all little minions who will peruse this between myself and Himself),

One huge appeal of being a writer (merely an aspiration of mine, which may or may not convalesce into a sustaining career) is that I am under the impression that if one has a laptop, or pen and notebook, then the exact location on the planet is unimportant, since writing can be done anywhere. I worry I am perhaps incorrect in assuming the nomadic possibilities of being an, ahem, novelist, if you will, as it only very recently occurred to me that perhaps a writer is constrained in location by his or her choice in a publishing company, and editor, and the countless other behind-the-scenes people of which I am unaware. Do you feel you are limited in your whereabouts due to necessary proximity to those folks that assist in turning your ideas into something devourable by the devout masses? Alternatively, would managing everything via e-mail from any location that struck your fancy be plausible?

Sincerely,
Rachel Harbin
Michigan, USA


If you're going to write novels (if you're going to write most things) nobody cares where you go to write, and nobody cares where you live, not as long as you can get and receive mail. Nobody cares what you wear while you write or what time of day or night you do your writing. What they care about is how well and interestingly you write, how much you make them want to turn the pages, how much they want to find out what happens next.

Worry about what goes on the page, not about which country or which coffeehouse you're writing in.

Hi Neil,

I've been out scouring bookshops looking for a copy of Fragile things but the bookshops know nothing. Is there a set release date for it in Australia or should i just order through Amazon so i don't have to wait.

Sarah


The details of the Australian edition of Fragile Things are at http://www.hha.com.au/books/0755334124.html. Rumour says it may arrive in your shops on November 9th.

If it was me, I would simply contact Justin Ackroyd at http://www.slowglass.com.au/ ("Australia's largest science fiction, fantasy and horror mail order bookstore" says the webpage. Also Justin's a good bloke.)

(Although you get some fine things in Australia before the rest of the world does -- wonderful Margo Lanagan collections, for example.)

What is "Interworld"? I've heard about "M is for Magic" but not "Interworld" - both showing a pub date of 7/2007. Enlighten us. Thanks

I'll tell you all about the mysterious Interworld, which is a HarperChildren's book by me and Michael Reaves, sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Hi Neil!...I was wondering if you had any words of wisdom for those of your fans who are delving into the wilds of NaNoWriMo in November?Thanks!!

Well, first of all, I want to wish all of you doing NaNoWriMo the best of luck. (And I meant to mention the new site for young people and teachers who want to try writing a novel in a month -- http://ywp.nanowrimo.org//modules/cjaycontent/index.php?id=34).

No real worlds of wisdom, though. Write something you'd want to read. Make your daily word count, if you can, but the world won't end if you don't. Surprise yourself. Make magic. Remember that none of the rules you've been told apply when it's just you and a blank sheet of paper. And when you're creating characters, write people you would want to spend time with -- even the nasty ones.

Last Night's Costume

"Oh, I know what I'll be," said Maddy suddenly, having rejected my suggestions that I could make her up into something perfectly monstrous. "I'll be you."

So she went and got my clothes, put them on, and finished it with a leather jacket and some dark glasses.

I took some photographs of her, doing her best impressions of me being photographed. (This is one.)



Then I drove her to her friend's house.

When she got home, I asked her how it had gone. "Well," she said, "Only one person asked what I was meant to be. I said I was my dad, but they looked sort of blank, so I said I was a secret agent, because of the dark glasses. And they liked that."

Then I made up a tradition of us reading vaguely spooky poems to each other before she went to sleep, Kipling's Smuggler's Song and Monro's "Overheard on a Salt Marsh", the Macbeth "Hubble Bubble" speech and a few more. You can make up traditions if you do it with conviction, and remember to do it next year too. Posted by Picasa
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My current crusade is to make sure creative people have wills. Read the blog post about it, and see a sample will.