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Sunday, December 31, 2006

argh. also oops.

We've gone over to the new version of Blogger, as of the last post. That's why we now have these odd little labels.

There's a small amount of fiddling going on behind the scenes, and as those with long memories may already know, sometimes LiveJournal and Blogger do not play well with each other. So if your inbox just got a month's worth of old blog posts reappearing in it, we're incredibly sorry. (The industrious web elf says that anyone who feels they need a personal apology can write to her at neilwebelf@gmail.com and she will cheerfully abase herself.)

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to be greeted by puddles of unusual size

Home. Up too early.

Outside it's raining, and raining and raining, which makes it feel so much more like coming back to England after a holiday than like coming back to the upper Midwest after Christmas, where a weather website tells me the average high temperature for today is about 20 F and the average low temperature is 0 F and everything is meant to be, and usually is, ridiculously cold. Today the online weather charts have lots of cheery messages about record high temperatures, and it's raining on a warmish grey day in the upper Midwest on the last day of December. The ground, however, is still frozen, so the water sits in huge grey improbable puddles across everything.

Right. I had better go and buy food and do all those other things one does on getting back from a week away, which today I think include pretending that the person-high mounds of mail on the kitchen table don't exist.

Labels:

Thursday, December 28, 2006

indeterminacy

Heigh ho. Miles away from working internet, and the one time I try and get online I discover that Blogger has now updated itself out of Beta and my blog is still on "old blogger" and will be until the person who set it up at Authors on the Web returns and gets the emails asking him to please migrate it to New Blogger, so I'm trying to post this via email, having not a clue whether it'll work or not...

And the reason I'm trying to post is that when I did Internet Cafe my way online yesterday I discovered pretty much all of my FAQ messages were people asking whether I was really going to be writing the Silent Hill sequel with Roger Avary. I'm afraid that I don't think I am -- I mean, it's the first thing I've ever heard of it, and I'm sure that if they make a sequel Roger would want to write it himself.  I am writing Black Hole with Roger (we're one draft in right now), and we already wrote next year's Beowulf. If I get home to find an invitation to write Silent Hill 2 with Roger is waiting for me I'll let you all know, but for right now I think it's a discredited internet rumour.

There. I shall now send this off, and I wonder if it will post or not. Happies. Merries. Jollies. And love.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Ho, etc

Right. So I'm off on holiday today with the family. Back around New Year's. Not sure if I'll be near a web connection between here and there, so it's quite possible that you won't hear from me until then.

Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukkah, a Delightful Kwanzaa, a Cool Yule, a Slinky Saturnalia, a Funky Midwinterfeast, a Late Solstice, and any other holiday you fancy.

And do not break the Internet while I'm away. Look, I am putting it just up here, on top of the wardrobe, where it will be nice and safe...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

answers

This was the first of many... thanks to all of you who wrote in...


I'm sure you've been told by others, but Anansi Boys will be published in two parts in Japan. The character on the orange copy means "above" and is the first volume; the green copy has the character for "below" which indicates the second. (Books in three parts get "middle" for the second volume, and "below" means the third. Books in more than three parts, well, sometimes it varies--above 1, above 2, middle 1-3, etc.-- but usually they just number them.)

And in case you were curious, the title is "Ananshi no kechimyaku" (or "ketsumyaku") which would literally mean something like "the blood inherited from Anansi." For values of blood which are more metaphorical. A nice, slightly uncommon term.


and...

Hi Neil...

I'm sure a bazillion people have caught this (if you didn't!), in the third panel of the first page you posted for Coraline, the dialogue balloon says "CArOline" if I'm not mistaken.

Happy Holidays and thanks for the good stuff!

Mark Del Franco


It's meant to read "Caroline". Misses Spink and Forcible get her name wrong.

and on the subject of Coraline...

When I was in Portland last week, at the Laika Studios, I joked about putting one of the Coraline maquettes under my coat and taking it home with me. It wasn't much of a joke, really, more an expression of mingled admiration and longing.

Today a huge box arrived, inside which were thousands of foofs and a smaller, wooden box, screwed shut. I took out the smaller box, removed the screws and took off the lid, and found myself looking at a handpainted movie Coraline. She's sitting upstairs in the TV room right now, because I felt like it would be wrong to simply put her into a display case and lock her off from the world.

I'd post a picture, but I suspect that that might be a bit dodgy, so I shall wait until the official photos of my set visit surface, and you can see a little bit of what they're doing. Stylistically, the characters look a little like a mashup of early Ronald Searle and UPA cartoons. But you'll see...

Hello Neil, please forgive but permit me to say, that I am an exceedingly large fan, and that I greatly admire your work. Now then. I have been wondering for some time which books, or writers in particular, were some of your favorites when you were my age (that being the formidable age of fifteen), how you feel they influenced your later writing style, and if you had already begun to find an interest in writing as a medium at this particular age. This is just something that I have been curious about, and would be delighted to know. If the answer which I seek is already located within the deep annals of this webpage, please accept my humblest of apologies. Thank you for your time, I appreciate it greatly.-Matthew

Let's see. When I was fifteen my favourite authors were probably Samuel R. Delany, Mervyn Peake, Will Eisner, Michael Moorcock and Ursula K. LeGuin. My favourite book that year, mm. Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, I think.

the frozen world

We have an ice-storm going on right now. Maddy just arrived home from school an hour early. It's rain, mostly, when it falls, and then it encases everything in ice. I'm about to walk to the bottom of the garden and write...



Meanwhile, I'm trying to figure out whether the Amazon.co.jp entries on Anansi Boys shows two different covers or a book that's being published in two parts...


For Your Enjoyment...

A couple of lettered pages from Craig's Coraline... One from near the beginning, one from nearer to the end. (Click on each to open a larger version of the image.)




Tuesday, December 19, 2006

On the interconnectedness of everything. Also, free stuff.

I haven't made much noise about it, because it's a sort of huge undertaking and I didn't know how long it was going to take or when it would be out, but for the last year and a bit P. Craig Russell has been quietly beavering away on a comics adaptation of Coraline, giving it the same amount of detail and respect and use of the original text as he did when he adapted Kipling stories or grand operas. Right now there are three pages (unlettered) up at http://www.pcraigrussell.net/. It's lovely stuff, and will be out later this year as a graphic novel from HarperChildrens...

And on the subject of Coraline, John Hodgman, who plays Coraline's father and other father in Henry Selick's Coraline movie (but is presently much better known for, among other things, being the PC in the Get a Mac ads) is giving away, for a limited time, free and clear, The Areas of My Expertise as an audiobook at iTunes. http://www.boingboing.net/2006/12/19/the_areas_of_my_expe.html has the iTunes link. You need this free audiobook. If you think you don't, you are wrong. Trust me. It's funny. Also, it's free.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Mailbags stuff and more librarythings

I love the Librarything unsuggester too! They also have a library suggester based upon your whole library. My question is, why are you NOT one of LibraryThing's list of Authors who Librarything?
http://www.librarything.com/librarything_author.php


Mostly because I've been on the road too much since I discovered LibraryThing, and haven't yet had time to join up and start logging the books. Of which there are rather a lot. However, there is finally librarystuff afoot in this house -- I've recently sighed and admitted there are too many thousands of books for the current basement library to hold, which means that as of today a large former bedroom has begun to transmute itself into a library extension, and I may take the opportunity to LibraryThing and organise. I did buy a Cue Cat scanner recently, anyway. Or I may just put all books of a similar size and colour into boxes and haul them upstairs. (I always liked Chris Cobb's colourful take on bookshop organisation -- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4182224)


Neil,I think the unsuggester might be broken. I've tried multiple titles, including yours, and there is always at least one or two items from my library on the list. Either that, or my tastes are simply more varied than they allow for. I may actually use it as a suggester, as it generally is a more varied list than the other, though I won't like many things on each of those lists. Dune by Frank Herbert came the closest, and there's still one or two I've got on my to get to list.Byron Grimes

It's not broken, it's simply pointing out statistical anomalies -- it's not even talking about whether or not you'd like something (as some people have written to me, complaining they like books from both lists). It's simply saying that it ought to be able to find a certain number of copies of book Y for people who own Book X, and it can't. Statistically, people who have a copy of Mein Kampf on their shelves, for whatever reason, have fewer copies of Terry Pratchett books than might be expected. It may be that all the people with both Mein Kampf and Guards! Guards! just aren't on LibraryThing yet, and once they join the anomaly will vanish. Or it may be that there's something to be learned from that.

If you plugged your personal library into LibraryThing it might help smooth over the anomalies you've encountered.

Dear Mr. Gaiman:My name is Chloe Cole. I’m a junior at Marion High School, in Marion, Arkansas. I’m writing you this letter to tell you how I felt about your book Coraline, and ask you some questions.I really enjoyed your book Coraline. I enjoyed it so much, that I’ve read it more than once. I really wanted to ask you about the buttons. I loved how they were used as the other parent’s eyes. Do they symbolize anything for you personally? What do you try to symbolize when Coraline goes into the other world through the old door?I would like to thank you for taking time to read my letter. I hope you can find time to reply to me in an email. My email address is (removed).

Hello Chloe (although unless you're reading this blog you'll never know I replied). Just like it says on the FAQ form, I really don't do homework, so you'll have to decide on the symbolism of button eyes and doors and passages yourself -- but thought that it might be a good idea to point out
http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/156/Neil-Gaiman-Coraline-page01.html and the following three pages, which are a conversation from the Well website about Coraline from 2002, and in which I answer an awful lot of Coraline-related questions. (It's practically a Coraline FAQ.)

Hey Neil, I'm doing a piece on how one can make money from blogging. Any comments to share?Happy day, Ariel

Well, this blog has certainly helped this author get onto the New York Times bestseller list, mostly by letting enough people know that I had new books coming out at the point where they came out. Which probably helped me make money in the long term, through increased royalties, but isn't what it exists for.

Beyond that, I've never put up advertising or made any of the kind of links to Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble or wherever that pay you a referral fee. And while I'm happy to link to DreamHaven Books' www.neilgaiman.net shop site, I don't get a cut of anything they sell or anything like that -- I figure it helps a comparatively small local bookshop that I like enormously to stay in business, which is enough.

And seeing that I don't have any plans at present to sell www.neilgaiman.com to Google for millions, I'm probably the last person to have any useful ideas on making money from blogging.

(Mark Evanier's method seems like a perfectly sensible one to me... http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2003_06_22.html)

Mr. Gaiman, I sent this to you the other day, but I think I sent it to the wrong place. No offense, but did you know you look like the Corinthian with your sunglasses on? Thank you,Veronica

You know, on the cover of Sandman 14, I even look like the Corinthian with my glasses off. Or perhaps he looks suspiciously like a 28-year-old me with teeth for eyes.

Neil, the link on your webpage for the library unsuggester kept sending me to some internet crime reporting system, useful in it's own right but not the same thing. I was kind of disappointed. Have you been hacked by an over-zealous crime fighter?I absolutely love your books. Gaynel


I've checked the links and they work fine for me. I checked the LJ syndication and they seem to have worked fine for everyone on there. I wonder if your computer mistakenly thinks that LibraryThing is a fraud site or something.


Hi, Neil.
So this face recognition thing. Well. You, apparently, resemble yourself 66%.Please don't fall into an existential pit because of this.
http://andrewscottonline.blogspot.com/2006/12/myheritage-genealogy-software-with.html
Cheers,Andrew Scott

I've never been able to get it to recognise that I resemble me with photos of myself, so I'm very impressed you got 66%. Last time I tried it, it told me I looked like Barry Gibb, Placido Domingo and, er, Terri Hatcher, and at that point I gave up trying for good...

...

And finally, you might want to head over to http://greenmanpress.com/news/archives/98 to see what Stardust related sculpting Charles Vess has been up to recently...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Stardust Pictures!



This image is one of three from Stardust that's just turned up on Cinemablend. (The other two show Michelle Pfeiffer and goats, and young Master Thorne embracing Victoria Forester.)

http://www.cinemablend.com/gallery/previews/Stardust-1978.html?tid=8819

Friday, December 15, 2006

Extremely unsuggestive...

I think I have fallen in love with the LibraryThing unsuggester. It's the LibraryThing utility that tells you how unlikely people who own one book are to have another.

http://www.librarything.com/unsuggester

I am, apparently, the anti-John Grisham, at least as far as Sandman goes. If you have a Sandman graphic novel you are statistically much less likely to be reading John Grisham than the public at large. (http://www.librarything.com/unsuggester/861076). The unsuggester of American Gods would imply that if you read Christian dating books, you are very unlikely to own a copy of American Gods, and in fact the unsuggestions for American Gods are Christian books all the way (http://www.librarything.com/unsuggester/5678). I thought this was probably to do with the title, but it's also true of Stardust (although if you own Stardust you are also less likely than most people to own Dr Atkins' Diet Revolution -- http://www.librarything.com/unsuggester/897410) and of all my other novels. Except Coraline, for which it is also true, but in which unsuggestion list Vogue Knitting On the Go: Socks Two can also prominently be found.

(Incidentally, the unsuggestion for Hope Mirrlees' Lud-in-the-mist is James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. http://www.librarything.com/unsuggester/45057) . And what do people who like Gaston Bachelard's The Poetics of Space have against Stephen King? (http://www.librarything.com/unsuggester/17036)

And via Mark Evanier, I learned about this blog, and thus spent far too long reading about corrections made in newspapers and magazines this year... strangely gripping stuff: http://www.regrettheerror.com/2006/12/crunks_06_the_y.html#more

On leaks and buttons

Just to clarify for people who were puzzled and have asked, Henry Selick and his Laika team have already started making the film of CORALINE: most of the voice actors have already recorded their parts. They've cut together "story reels" of the storyboards (storyboards by a team including the talented Vera Brosgol ) for timing of each shot. (As Henry Selick points out, they can't shoot "coverage" on a stop-motion animated film. It has to be right, to be planned and edited, before it begins.)

The Coraline team are constructing puppets and costumes and armatures and they are building sets and making objects -- any single thing you see on the screen has to be made, after all.

They are also doing technical tests -- it's easy enough for me to say in the book, and for Henry to put into his script, that as Coraline walks away from the Other House, the trees are less like trees and more like the idea of trees, but making an orchard turn into a misty abstraction is easier said than done when you have to build it. So they've built one, and are doing their camera tests to see if it will work.

They have walls and walls of production art, posters, designs and so on.

I'm not sure that the difference between pre-production and production is as clear-cut on something animated as it is in a live action movie. March is when the camera starts rolling on the content. But they're certainly making their movie right now.

(Incidentally, my favourite tiny thing about the Laika Studio -- a 151,000 foot warehouse -- was noticing that the "Mission Statements" painted on the walls by the previous occupants have been elegantly graffitied over, with splashes of green paint spray-painted over with big black buttons. )

Incidentally, on the subject of stuff leaking out etc., it is with a certain wry amusement that I notice that the mission impossible team over at Ain't It Cool News has a bunch of art from Beowulf up. It's art taken from the Art of Beowulf book, to which I am currently writing the introduction. And my wry amusement derives from the fact that all I've been permitted to have at home of the material is teeeeeeny tiny images on photocopies, and now, online at aint it cool, they have the real thing and up digitally.

(Probably worth pointing out that this is "concept art" though. Some of it is simply a "what if we try this?", and not the way something will look in the finished film.)

So now I'm hoping that I can get some Coraline stuff up here at least before they put it up on aint it cool news...

[Edit to add: the pictures have now vanished from Aint It Cool, I'm afraid.]

Thursday, December 14, 2006

coraline by line #3

I'm home, jet-lagged, pooped, and am now on my way to bed.

Coraline looks amazing. I need to find out what I can say before I say anything here. But a lot of photos were taken, I was shown around, shown stuff, interviewed for the electronic press kit/DVD extras, and even did a two hour signing for the people working on it -- most of whom already had their own battered copies of Neverwhere or Good Omens, or their Christmas Present copies of The Absolute Sandman. I'm hoping that I can get permission to a) talk about some of what I saw, and b) put up a photo or two here.

(They will start shooting Coraline in March 2007, with a planned release date of late summer/autumn 2008.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Coraline by Line part two

I've been given an empty office and a MacBook Pro. But I've also
signed a non-disclosure agreement handed to me when I walked in the
door, which means I can't simply pick up the MacBook and use the
internal camera to take pictures of this place and all the things on
the walls. And on people's desks. And there are such things.

Today I'm going to see film tests and 3D tests, puppets and costumes
and things. But right now I'm going to watch the second half of the
second act story reel.

In case you're wondering whether I'm blase about all this, I can
assure you that I'm faking it well.

CORALINE by line

I'll be spending the day (currently rather a wet and chilly one) at Laika Studios, where I shall learn all about the CORALINE movie. I don't know if I'll be able to post any images or anything here, or what I'll be allowed to say about what I've seen. But I'll tell you and I'll post here whatever I can... (I was slipped some semi-animated story reels last night, and watched enough before sleep claimed me to learn that Teri Hatcher is really good, that French and Saunders are likewise, and that a story reel is a long way from being a movie).

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Santa thought

Just a little one to mention that over at www.neilgaiman.net, the DreamHaven Books site, they have the three DreamHaven audio CDs up. (You can see links to the CDs, and to Angels and Visitations, my first short fiction-and-stuff collection on their front page. Go further in and you will find much wonderful stuff -- http://www.neilgaiman.net/signed.php is the first of five pages of stuff they have for sale signed by me or by fellow conspirators of mine.... like Gene Wolfe, here interviewed at Fast Forward, and look, there's an entire edition of Green Man Review devoted to Charles deLint. But I wander from the subject. Audio CDs. Right.)

Each of the pages for the DreamHaven CDs has a sample track up from that CD, in MP3 form.

Warning: Contains Language, which was my first CD (and is actually a double CD), has, as its sample track, me reading "Nicholas Was..." my hundred-word Christmas Card to the world. (No, I'm not linking to the MP3 of it directly. It's DreamHaven's bandwidth, after all, and you can at least do them the courtesy of going and getting it from them directly.)

I was thinking about that the other day, and it occurred to me that if anyone feels like doing a seasonal remix or mashup of "Nicholas Was...", and sending me a link to it through the FAQ line, I'd happily and seasonally link to it here. In theory, at least, you would need to get it done by the 21st of December, as I have plans to be far from computers between the 23rd and the 30th of December.

It might be fun, anyway.

...

Which reminds me, I've been getting messages from all over the world recently complaining either that people can't download audio content from iTunes or Audible in the country they live in, or, more rarely, complaining about the price of downloading audiobooks, or the limited selection, from their local version of iTunes, and asking if I can fix it.

Your faith in me is gratifying, but no, I can't fix it. It's way out of my control. What I can do is point out a fairly simple workaround.

Buy audiobooks on CD and rip them yourself. Anything out there on Audible etc -- with the exception of the complete Maddy Interviewing Me -- is on a CD. In the case of Anansi Boys and American Gods, you can even buy them on MP3 CD. (Sometimes there's even a free streaming audio up of an entire Audiobook.) You can also, if price is enough of an issue, check out places like half.com or eBay -- people are much more likely to sell on audiobooks after they've listened to them.

Wherever you are in the world, CDs will work.

There. I hope that helps.

[Edit to add: Maybe we can do something after all. Ana Maria Alessi at Harper Audio has had an idea about all this, which she is now investigating. For the first time in six years we might actually put some paid content on www.neilgaiman.com -- I'll keep you posted.]

Monday, December 11, 2006

CBLDF fundraisers...

You want to sit on Frank Miller's signed drawing chair? Own the copy of Endless Nights I gave to Will Eisner when I went to see him before his death? Go check out
http://pwbeat.publishersweekly.com/blog/2006/12/11/sit-where-frank-sat/ and then get over to the ebay auction and see what you can find that would make a brilliant Xmas present for someone...

With another, just as cool, Auction coming up as soon as this one ends, which should have the new Dave Sim limited CBLDF print #3 in it...

(Also "How to Talk to Girls At Parties" is in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction this month. For any of you who wanted to read it but didn't feel like springing for a hardback of Fragile Things.)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

the lure of cheap fiction

Let's see... from reading many messages and links, I've learned that while there is an equestrian penknife with a hoof cleaner on it, the thing on Swiss Army knives that most people thought were hoof picks were probably actually leather punches, awls or marlin spikes. Just thought you should know that, because lots of people thought that I should know that too.


Hey Neil.You just linked to the 'Stardust teen paperback edition' on Amazon.com, and I was wondering: Is it just a repackaging of the original book, or an adaptation of the film? Thanks Joel

It's a repackaging of the original book... there won't be a novelisation of Stardust. Titan Books are going to do a Making of Stardust, written by Stephen Jones (which will also include the script).

There will be an Art of Beowulf book coming out, along with a novelisation of Beowulf by Caitlin R. Kiernan, and a Beowulf Script book, which should chart the evolution of the Beowulf film from the earliest scripts by Roger Avary and me, all the way through to the shooting script.

Stardust" the opera
The amazon pic looks more like a poster for a production at the Metropolitan Opera than a movie poster
Something you're not telling us...?


Probably mostly because it's not a movie poster, it's just a still from the movie being used as a temporary cover for a book. It probably won't be the final image for the book, either.

As for a Stardust opera, I'd love to see one, but suspect that it's probably one of those things that can't happen for a certain number of years because of the movie.

Hello Neil,
There's an interesting article in the LA Times, (Posted on Screenwriter John August's website) describing the difficulties arising when the author of a novel being adapted for a feature, is given too much creative control.
Is this why you decided to write your own screenplays? Have you been happy with the adaptations of your work so far?
What are your thoughts about this case, the actions of the Producer's, Cussler?
With very best regards,
Greg L.
http://johnaugust.com/archives/2006/clive-cussler-really-really-dislikes-sahara#comments


Mostly I don't write my own screenplays, if you mean that in the sense of adapt my own work. I've done it once or twice, but didn't really enjoy it. These days if it's a matter of making something I wrote into a film I'd rather help pick someone whose work I respect and let them get on with it, and for me as a screenplay, I'd either write original screenplays or adapt things I like and respect but with a willingness to do whatever's needed to turn them into good films. A film isn't a book.

(If it's something based on something I've written that I'm going to direct, I'd rather write my own script, though. At that point I actually have a chance of making the thing in my head.)

The only moment in the article I found myself sympathising with the otherwise-impossible-to-sympathise-with Mr Cussler was over his "Dirk Pitts has black hair" thing, which left me wondering what the Constantine movie would have been like if someone with power could have graven in stone, "Remember John Constantine is English and blond".

...

I love this story -- http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,,1969258,00.html. I think I love it most because it reads like the start of a classic detective story. Was the Bishop of Southwark drunk, or mugged, or something more sinister? Why was he seen 'sitting in the back of a Mercedes chucking children's toys out of the window and announcing: "I'm the Bishop of Southwark. It's what I do."'?

As the story stands right now the Bishop 'who earlier in the week told a congregation that he could not get his mitre on because of the lump on his head - told the Guardian he could not recollect what had happened. Police were informed the following day that his briefcase, spectacles, a mobile phone and papers were missing.'

I trust that the mystery will be solved by an elderly spinster who has a knack for solving mysteries, and will eventually be found either to hinge on the nature of the toys he was chucking out of the window, or to be part of the Russian spy Polonium poisoning case...

And I am beginning to suspect that whoever is currently writing the world, or at least the English bit of it, is starting to plunder cheap fiction for ideas.

...

In the Dec. 6 post (http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2006/12/boy-scout-legends.html), Neil mentioned a Gothic Archies ringtone. Where did he get it? Can others buy it?

Best -- C.


I just use a phone (Nokia N-80) that can play MP3s, and can take an MP3 as a ring tone.

...

I just checked out the world66.com map facility and updated it from the last time I filled one of them in. Every time I think I've seen a lot of the world a map like this reminds me how much I still have left to see...

(I don't count it if I've only seen the place from a train window or sat on the tarmac or stopped somewhere to refuel.)



create your personalized map of europe



create your own personalized map of the USA



create your own visited country map

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

boy scout legends

I need to post the helpful things people have asked me to do recently. Or at least, some of them. Or anyway, those I can find easily.

Here is one:

I'm not sure if you'll remember this, but, back in
January when you did a reading here in NYC, you
autographed a little tag and took a picture with a
breast cancer bear as part of my Project Teddy Bear to
support the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

Well, the auction for your autograph, bear and photo
are (finally) live and I was wondering if you'd be
willing to post a link in your blog? People can get
to your auction (and the 50+ others live right now)
here: http://www.lisawalks.com/ptb2006

In 2007, I'll be walking in my 13th Avon Walk in 6
years. I'm trying to raise $20,000 to bring my
fundraising total over the years to $100,000. All
proceeds from this auction will go toward that goal.

Thanks so much for your help!
Lisa Spodak
http://www.lisawalks.com


and here's a direct link to the auction for the Teddy that I signed. Here's another...

I was wondering if you might do me a small favor, even though you don't know me in the least. A good friend of mine in Athens, Georgia has a little girl named Sabina who was recently diagnosed with a malignant tumor on her brainstem. They are keeping their spirits up, but the burden is huge. Sabina has a web site to raise donations to help with medical bills. I was wondering if you would mind posting a link to her site on your blog. I've already posted it on my own public journal. I was trying to think of a way that I could really get it out to the public, and I thought that you might like to help. If you can't, I understand, but I thought it was worth a shot. The link is http://www.simplysabina.com/. Please check it out and you'll see that it's legitimate.

Best regards,
M.Webster


Easily done.

And this plea for help came in from my eldest daughter, the lovely Holly Gaiman, who decided that having a father with a blog read by a very large number of people with diverse and unusual interests was something she could cash in her nepotism (filaetism?) points for. She's working on a thesis on flipbooks (like these I suppose). I asked what she needed and she said,

Basically, I'm in the very early stages of writing my thesis on flip
books. Knowing your readership, there's probably someone out there who
is a flip book collector, expert, or something like that. I'm
basically looking for any cool flip book tidbits/stories/book
suggestions/any random coolness. Love you dad,
and she created an email address -- helpholly@gmail.com -- for anyone who wants to send her flipbook-related information.

...

This came in from Lisa Snellings Clark Poppets are back. Your readers will never forgive you if they miss it. Lisa's Winter Art Sale Also if you're lucky she'll have put up the Poppets on a Book Tour video by now over at http://slaughterhousestudios.blogspot.com/.

Here's a Gothic Archies piece on NPR that's an awful lot of fun. (Click on "Listen"). The lyrics to "This Abyss" are up there too -- that's my current ringtone, mostly.

And finally, according to this Guardian article, Swiss Army Knives never had a device for removing a stone from a horse's hoof. This is like being told there isn't any Santa Claus, only much, much worse. The verities and axioms of the world begin to crumble.

...

Incidentally, this just went up on Amazon. I don't believe this is the actual book cover -- I think it's a sort of a place-holder. But it's still a photo from Stardust nobody's seen before.

By Request...

Everybody who has written in this morning thinks I should now put this up. And I would hate to disappoint any of you. (My only grumble is that I would have left the title the same. It's more fun that way.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sell your certainty and buy bewilderment...

(Sorry to anyone who had trouble with yesterday's .M4a file. ITunes or Quicktime ought to play it. Over at the just-put-up http://www.neilgaiman.com/works/audio/stardust they have an MP3 file of the same bit.)

Dave McKean has done 33 new Mirrormask drawings for the lettered editions of the signed and limited Mirrormask Script book. You can see all the drawings here for free (although it will cost you money to buy the book with the actual drawing it). Click on the thumbnails to see the whole thing.

And on the subject of Mr McKean, I am delighted to announce that on Thursday, January 11, 2007 7:00pm at the Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Dave and I will be "in conversation". The Free Verse event "celebrates 20 years of the duo's artistic partnership--Gaiman and McKean will each offer a brief presentation of their own work, then follow it up with an on-stage conversation about the aesthetic challenges they face together and separately."

At http://raintaxi.com/readings/ we learn that "while this event is free, tickets are required. Tickets are available at the Walker box office starting one hour before the performance. This event will also be webcast live and archived at channel.walkerart.org. "

...

It's always odd when you read a piece of criticism that tells you nothing except that the person writing it doesn't know what he or she's talking about. Case in point, a recent New Yorker review of the Mary Poppins stage play (which I saw in London a few years ago, and which had a lot wrong with it, mostly in its desire to be part of P.L. Travers' world while never quite daring to step outside the Disney frame it was built in, and many things, lots of them Disney things, that were right with it). But the New Yorker criticism of it seems to be something completely outside of that. For example: After reading the P. L. Travers books or seeing the 1964 film version, starring Julie Andrews, we wonder if Mary Poppins makes the children she cares for better people by being, as she sings near the start of this show, “practically perfect,” or if she’s a Pied Piper-like fantasist who preys on her charges’ escapist wishes. Is it all about her or all about the emotionally transformative effects of love?
and, of course we don't wonder, if we've read the books, because it's obviously all about nothing of the kind. At the point where the writer complains that At no point does this Mary Poppins get her hands dirty in a sinkful of Dickensian dishwater, I found myself wondering exactly what the critic in question thinks that Edwardian nannies or governesses actually did. They weren't servants. They were of the family yet not part of it. That was sort of the point.

And of course Mary Poppins is not -- in the books -- actually "practically perfect", although that's her own opinion of herself. She's conceited, dangerous, implacable and a force of nature. She teaches the Banks children nothing as banal as moral lessons, and I don't believe that anybody is really emotionally transformed in the books, except for a handful of lucky people in the stories who are given the ability to run away from their lives or are set free from some kind of physical imprisonment (and that occurs more in the stories that Mary Poppins tells the children than in the stories themselves).

(Oddly enough, there's an excellent article from last year's New Yorker about P.L. Travers and Mary Poppins and Walt Disney -- http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/051219fa_fact1-- which is much more sensible, and points out that:

The literary Mary Poppins is by no means an untroubling character. Indeed, at the end of the first chapter of the first book—in which she arrives as a shape hurled against the front door in the midst of a gale, assumes the form of a woman, bullies Mrs. Banks into hiring her, snaps at the children, and doses them with a mysterious potion after she gets them alone in the nursery—she earns only a qualified endorsement: “And although they sometimes found themselves wishing for the quieter, more ordinary days when Katie Nanna ruled the household, everybody, on the whole, was glad of Mary Poppins’s arrival.” She is, in fact, very often “angry,” “threatening,” “scornful,” and “frightening.” She calls the children cannibals, jostles them down the stairs, and makes them eat so quickly that they fear they will choke. She has a habit of saving the children from horrifying supernatural experiences, it’s true, but this would seem more of a boon if she herself hadn’t brought them on in revenge for naughtiness. Often, she seems like someone who doesn’t like children much. )

And I wound up thinking about this because I read the extremely dim New Yorker review on the same day that I got my copies of Myth, Symbol, and Meaning in Mary Poppins - The Governess as Provocateur, a wonderful and brilliant book-length study by Professor Giorgia Grilli about the nature of the Mary Poppins in the books and about magic and shamanism and what nannies and governesses were, and how precisely and deeply subversive a figure Mary Poppins is.



For some reason Blogger won't let me put a picture of the cover up here [edit to add, but blogger beta did], but you can see it over at http://www.amazon.com/Meaning-Poppins-Childrens-Literature-Culture/dp/0415977673. It's probably too expensive for individuals, but if you're interested you could order a copy from your library. (It also has an introduction by me, but do not let that put you off.)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Small giftie taster thing

It just occurred to me that it would be a good idea to give people a little more of a taster of the "Stardust" audiobook than you can hear over at Audible.com. We don't yet have a page up here at Neilgaiman.com for the Stardust audio book.

So this post is temporary, and it may vanish soon...

1-02%20Stardust%20Chapter%20One.m4a

Not quite so bloody really

The phone just rang and it was Brendan from Final Draft, who reactivated my authorisation and was baffled at why or how it happened ("There are lots of reasons for losing authorisation. Yours just doesn't fit any of them.") So I can open the script again, and am reminded of why I stick with them. Lots of people wrote in suggesting different screenwriting programs, and I'm grateful, but for now I'm more or less happy.

Way behind on about five different things, but happy.

And it's snowing.


Hi Neil
You were on the wireless on Sunday 3rd December, contributing to a Radio 3 documentary about H.P. Lovecraft. It should be available via Listen Again until Sunday 10th. Here's the link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/sundayfeature/pip/t8iz3/
Tom

Bloody Final Draft

You know, if I was ever going to write a screenwriting program, I would make sure that the bloody thing didn't hiccup, randomly "lose authorisation," and stop working when an author was on deadline. And if it did suddenly decide it wasn't authorised, I'd at least have some way to fix it if it happened late at night, when the nice support people are home in bed and authors are on deadline.

Sorry. Just wanted to grumble. Final Draft isn't cheap. I really think it ought to work.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

closing tabs

I didn't get to the Stardust test screening in Pasadena, and won't be at the screening in Sherman Oaks in an hour, but the first of the reviews have already started to surface from the first screening, and they're up at ain't it cool... http://www.aintitcool.com/node/30863. They aren't spoiler heavy, but there are a few.

[Edit to add -- And also a much longer review now up at http://www.aintitcool.com/node/30866 ]


(From these screenings they learn things that will influence the edit and so forth. I think so far the biggest thing they've learned is that everyone seems to love Robert Di Niro.)
...


I love it when the underground goes mainstream in odd ways. Here's my favourite disturbing photographer, Joel Peter Witkin, doing a hat fashion shoot for the New York Times. I sort of wish he'd had a few more women with three breasts or extra heads, but the images are beautiful, and pure Witkin.

...


There's an interview with me in the Minneapolis City Pages at http://www.citypages.com/databank/27/1356/article14921.asp, and from this City Pages review (http://citypages.com/databank/27/1356/article14926.asp) I learned that Susanna Clarke "exploits her gift for the creation of tiny fictional packets of dread, one she honed during the years she spent writing episodic tales for Neil Gaiman's masterful Sandman graphic novel series," which is the kind of thing that makes me point out she only wrote one story, "Stopp'd Clock Yard" in the Sandman: Book of Dreams short story collection, and it is very good, but it wasn't very episodic.


...

Over at The Comics Journal website, Art Spiegelman writes a terrific gift list --
http://www.tcj.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=470&Itemid=48
-- and I'll try to suggest a few cool gifty book things over the next few days.

Until I do, a small gift for anyone reading. Daniel Pinkwater's latest novel, The Neddiad, is a wonderful thing. I know because his publisher sent it to me, and I read it. I really liked it (I am a sucker for Pinkwater, and this is grade A+ Pinkwater) and I mentioned it in Forbes Magazine.

Mr Pinkwater is currently serialising it online, prior to publication. We're now up to Chapter Nineteen, with a new Chapter going up every Tuesday. It's getting exciting. Go and read the first nineteen chapters. Mystery! Travel! Shoelaces! Shamans! Turtle! Thrilling Air HighJack Foiled By Simple Conjuring Trick! http://www.pinkwater.com/theneddiad/

Friday, December 01, 2006

Replacing something that doesn't exist

Just realised that the long blog I did yesterday evening about Maddy's tendency to leave self-referential notes about wherever she's been sitting ("This is a post-it note" "Maddy Gaiman wrote this" and, on a notecard "Hello. This is Maddy. I love notecards. They look very official when you write on them." They can also contain her name, practice signatures, casual good wishes to the person reading the note such as "have a magnificent evening", and, occasionally, drawings of a girl's face), and which also talked about the Stardust Focus Group screening last night, didn't post. I think that's the last time I'll use the Picassa blog feature -- it's crashed or failed too many times. (I used it in order to upload a photo of the whiteboard that Maddy had written all over last night while I was on the phone to Tarquin-from-Stardust, which amused me because it was quintessentially one of those notes, only more so.)

What makes the vanishing blog entry even more frustrating is that I'd copied the text from the Picassa entry, because I knew it sometimes crashed, but that it crashed anything I tried to copy the content to. Memo to self: do not blog with Picassa. Just don't.

It may be the fault of the computer, which has just decided that it no longer has a sound card because of what the readme file describes as a "known issue" which it tells you to solve by simply uninstalling and reinstalling the software, said software being, according to the computer, un-uninstallable.

This is the magnificently self-referential whiteboard in question, photographed by my phone...


And as I said in the vanished blog entry, in a few years Maddy will forget that she had ever existed in a flurry of self-referential notes, and I will forget as well. And sometimes this Blog is just a diary, or a reminder. You forget the things you were certain you would always remember, especially the tiny things, and all too often they're the things that matter.
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