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Monday, April 30, 2007

Some animal thoughts...

Fred the cat tends to get into scrapes while I'm away, and I arrived home yesterday to find him with half of his face shaved and on antibiotics, having tangled with something. Whenever he gets into fights he gets infected. Tonight he's staying with the vet as the infection got worse.

I ought to be very worried, but I'm not. I suppose by now I think he'll pull through because he always pulls through. He must be on life 15 or 16 by now: last year when I was on tour with Fragile Things, I was called about a minute before the Google Author Talk and informed that Fred had to be put down (which left me pretty shaken), but it didn't happen. He got through that, just as he gets through everything else.

Some animals are survivors.

Maddy's largest goldfish is called Moonbeam, and he's about nine years old, and has outlived every other goldfish we've ever had, and even survived an accidental case of poisoning about five years ago that killed off everyone else. He's now about a foot long. And there were five fish in that tank two weeks ago. The two smaller ones have now mysteriously gone, and Moonbeam looks astonishingly well-fed and happy, and I suspect that I need to rethink the whole Where The Goldfish Are situation.

I recorded the previously unrecorded tracks from M Is For Magic today in Minneapolis. Very different stories -- it was fun recording them though. Two from when I was very young ("How to Sell the Ponti Bridge" and "The Case of the Four And Twenty Blackbirds"), one from about Ten Years Ago ("Don't Ask Jack", which I couldn't believe I hadn't already recorded. You can see Jack here) and one story from when I was older ("The Witch's Headstone" now just out in WIZARDS:Magical Tales From the Masters of Modern Fantasy).

Like all audio recording it was fun, and then it got harder, and then I walked away quite braindead. I don't know anything else that's quite so exhausting in the same way. Still, I love doing the audiobooks. (And I just realised we need to update the information at http://www.neilgaiman.com/works/audio/)

(Teddy Kristiansen just sent me a link to his blog, where you can see the M Is For Magic cover, from roughs to finished painting: http://teddykristiansenblog.blogspot.com/2007/04/work-process.html)

On the way home from the recording, driving through the rain, just as I pulled off the freeway to head home, I saw a large, pale dog on the side of the sliproad. I went in a couple of seconds from a first glance thought of "Oh, he's just wandering around and knows exactly what he's doing," to, on a second glance, "He's absolutely terrified and if he isn't actually lost he's really scared of all the cars and in danger of bolting onto the freeway," .

I pulled over, crossed the road and hurried across to where he was. He backed away, skittish and nervous, then came over to me, shaking. No collar or information, just a choke chain. And big. And very wet and very muddy. With cars going past, I decided the wisest thing to do was to put him into my car while I figured out what to do. The car was the Mini. I opened the door and he clambered in. The dog took up most of the Mini that I wasn't in and a fair amount of the Mini that I was in. Big dog, small car.

I phoned my assistant Lorraine, and asked her to let the local Humane Society (really nice people with a no kill policy) know we'd be coming in soon with a dog, then I drove home, narrowly avoiding death on the way (it's amazing how much you can't see when a huge dog fills the car and your field of vision). I ran around the garden with Dog until he'd tired me out. (I really hope he'd just got lost, and his family are looking for him; it would be hard to imagine someone abandoning a dog that cool.) Then I put him into the back of a car much bigger than the Mini and took him to the Humane Society, where they fawned all over him. ("I think he's a husky-wolf cross," said the Humane lady who took him, and she could be right.)

I think he's probably a survivor too.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

bees and stuff

I'm home again. (There wasn't a blog entry for the last two days because the hotel in Helena, Montana, had such an intermittently dodgy internet connection -- it would sort of work during the day and then stop working at night, just about the point I'd think "Time to write a blog entry". So I'd sleep instead.)

The Moth event on Thursday night (http://www.themoth.org/) was wonderful and scary -- Pico Iyer, Jonathan Ames, Edgar Oliver, Laila Lalami, and a terrified me telling the last story of the night (about my day on Liverpool Street Station in Easter 1977). A quick google found a review up at http://wordriotpress.blogspot.com/2007/04/moth.html.

I've come away from the PEN World Voices event with a real respect and a great deal more understanding of what PEN is and does. http://www.pen.org/ is their website, and I commend it to you.

Then I went to Helena. Got in late on Friday night. Saturday morning, I talked -- first to librarians about the history of comics and comics censorship and the CBLDF and what it does, then about digital stuff (acknowledging myself to be a pixel-stained technopeasant wretch), then for a lunch I talked to librarians about writing and how I became someone who does that sort of thing, and then I talked to an audience of people from Montana mostly. I read to them, then I answered questions, then I signed books for many extremely nice people, and had to confess to most of them that I hadn't really seen much of Montana, what with being in a hotel talking all day. I have to go back -- what I saw was lovely.

While I was signing books in Montana, Charles Vess was in New York, going to a screening of Stardust.

He writes about it over on his blog...
Posh seats for, at most, 50 people. Filling those seats were several of the
movie’s stars (Robert DeNiro, Clare Danes, Charlie Cox), producers (Lorenzo
DeBonaventura, etc.) and many faces both recognizable and not. Matthew Vaughan , the director, introduced the film and the lights went down. Nervous couldn’t half describe how I was feeling at that moment. What if I found myself cringing at what had been done to “my” story. What if everyone started walking out? What if, what if…

And you can find out what he thought of what he saw at http://greenmanpress.com/news/archives/153.

I don't think I'm going to see it until the beginning of June at a screening in the UK. By that point everything will be finished, and I'll see a completed print. Like Charles, I'm a bit nervous -- I last saw a test screening with lots of stuff not there and not finished, but Charles's blog entry and Harry Knowles's comments the other day on AICN are extremely reassuring. (The longer UK trailer for Stardust, with ghosts, is up at http://www.stardustmovie.com/intl/uk/).

Charles Vess is giving a lecture in New York on May 2nd at the Society of Illustrators, and signing the new hardcover of Stardust on May 4th -- details at http://greenmanpress.com/news/archives/152.

I have worn my white bee suit today and gone and met the bees. The plumtrees are in blossom. And I have to make Maddy's dinner now.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

A Quick One

I'm hoping I'll get the time to write about the MOTH last night. It was scary and wonderful, and in the end, I did okay.

But this is just a quick one to say that Harry Knowles writes about STARDUST over at http://www.aintitcool.com/node/32443.

And according to the Observer, In Neil Gaiman's short stories, fantasy and realism are old friends, keen to embellish each other's best anecdotes. Fragile Things confirms Gaiman's reputation as an ingenious teller of sinister tales, whose whimsical and fine writing, at its best, equals MR James and Edgar Allan Poe .

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Readings and bees and books

Good morning world.

Holly and I got in to New York yesterday, checked in to the hotel and then ran to the MOTH rehearsal. Got there slightly late. I watched someone named Edgar tell a story of Southern Gothic madness that had happened to him, and then I told my much less impressive story. Got notes on it and then Holly and I headed out into the rain to get back to the hotel where my fellow panelists on the YA panel were waiting to be ferried to the Small Press Centre, a library on 44th st I've walked past over the years and never entered. It smelled like dusty books in dream-libraries. Did the panel (on "Leaving home as a rite of passage in children's fiction"), four very different panelists with very different styles, but a good panel nonetheless, and then dashed through the rain to the Town Hall for the reading.

I was sort of terrified -- there's nothing like being part of a sold-out 1500 seat reading with Nobel Prize Winners, Booker Prize Winners, Pulitzer Prize Winners and the star of The Man With Two Brains to make you feel like you're only there by accident and that just before you go on someone will notice and tell you to turn in your pencil and go home.

Backstage everyone was in the same boat, all clutching or shuffling our books or papers. I headed into a quiet corner to finalise what I was going to do and time myself (we had eight minutes. If we went over Caro, the festival organiser, was threatening to pull us off with a hook) and found Don DeLillo leaving the same corner. Half of us were sent to the left of the stage, half to the right. ("I hope this is not a reflection on our political positions," said Nadine Gordimer firmly as she was sent to the stage right gang.) Salman Rushdie was a stage right introducer and a stage left reader. I was sitting stage left, with Pia Tafdrup, Tatyana Tolstaya and Kiran Desai. Kiran was nervous and funny and we chatted quietly while waiting for it all to start.

I never drink before readings, and noticed with a certain amount of surprise that I appeared to have poured myself a plastic cup filled with white wine.

(They are a literary audience, I told myself. They will not have brought rocks. They will not throw any rocks they might have brought. Even if they have brought rocks and plan to throw them, I'm on near the end and maybe they will have thrown all the rocks they have brought before I come on, and I can probably dodge the few remaining rocks.)

Steve Martin came on first, read from a memoir about his early days as a stand-up comic, back when he was figuring out what it was that he did, and he sang and did the napkin trick as part of the memoir, and the audience laughed and loved it and we laughed and loved it over on stage left, and nobody threw any rocks and everything was going to be okay.

All the readings were brilliant and very different. When my time came I read two pages about home from the end of American Gods, and "Instructions", and the audience seemed to like it. I floated offstage and down to the backstage area where we watched Nadine and Salman do their bits on TV (better sound down there than stage left too) and then we were done. Except for signing books.

Soon I realised that everyone else had gone away and I was still signing books. I kept signing books. It went on for a while.

Then Holly and I went back to the hotel where the reception was in full swing. I ate enough hors d'oeuvres on plates going past to make up for the dinner I'd never actually had in all the running around, said thank you to lots of nice people who told me how much they'd liked my reading, and somewhere in there realised that I was not going to be able to stay awake for much longer. Fled to hotel room, lay in bed and thought "I'm so tired. I'm too tired to go to sleep." And then I slept.

...

Hello Neil,

As the article you linked mentions, we've been hearing about the bee losses for a few months. After you first mentioned the bees in your journal I wondered where yours would be coming from because I had wondered what would be done to replace all of the bees that were dying off around the country. Are you importing some of the African bees?

take care,
Cal


I don't think the bee losses are quite as bad as you imagine. There are bees, and there are bee breeders.

Sharon Stiteler explains,


Our bees are Minnesota Hygienic Italian Bees developed by Marla
Spivak at the U of M. She is one of the researchers studying Colony
Collapse Disorder--she said that this has been a problem for the last
15 years and this year the media has grabbed on to the story. has
studied the Varroa mite, which over the past 20 years has become a
major threat to commercial honeybees. First discovered in the United
States in 1987, the mite weakens the bee's immune system. It kills
off most bee colonies within a year or two after invading. Beekeepers
use pesticides to control the mites, but Spivak has studied ways to
breed honeybees that are resistant to it. The bees have been bred to
have a "hygienic" behaviors. They sense when brood is diseased and
cleans them out. They also clean out any dead bees as well. This
behavior cuts down on foul brood and other colony problems. Marla's
website:

http://www.entomology.umn.edu/Faculty/spivak/spivcv.htm

She is also the lady that taught the Beekeeping Short Course that I
took last month on how to keep our bees. Here is a link to an
article she wrote about our bees:

http://www.beeculture.com/storycms/index.cfm?cat=Story&recordID=290

Sharon


You can read Sharon and Lorraine's beekeeping adventure (without me, dammit) over at
http://www.birdchick.com/2007/04/hiving-part-1-panic-at-bee-hive.html
http://www.birdchick.com/2007/04/part-2-enjoyment-at-beehive.html and
http://www.birdchick.com/2007/04/trouble-with-olga.html


...

The most frequently asked question currently, in regard to the photos of the book I'm writing The Graveyard Book in, is (for example) In seeing the post about The Graveyard Book in which you show us your handwritten version in the fancy Italian book, I noticed that you haven't crossed out a word. Did you pick a particularly good page to show us, or do you simply have no need to cross out as you write? If the latter is true, you will make writers everywhere very jealous and variants, like I have a similar one where i write my poetry in, and I was wondering, considering the fact that you're writing a first draft in it, if you scratch out page-length text if you dont feel like they should be included in your story, or rip out pages, or something of the like that would ruin the neatness of the whole blank book and render it less "beautiful", since I myself wouldn't have the heart to.

I found myself mostly remembering Aubrey's comment on Jonson talking about Shakespeare and how much better it would have been if Shakespeare, who didn't, actually had crossed some stuff out.

If I'm writing fiction by hand I'll put a loose line through something that I'm definitely not going to use (but I'd never pull it out, and I'd normally want it to be readable in case I change my mind, or in case there's something there I can use). But it's pure first draft, straight out of the head and onto the page, sort of like this blog. The important thing is moving forward, for me: editing, fixing, tidying, leaving stuff out, that's all for when I put it onto the computer, that's all for the second draft.

Right. Better get out of bed and stop blogging: Laura Miller will be here in a few minutes to interview me about Narnia, and my hair looks really kind of scary.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

gubbins

Stone me, that was fast! Over at neilgaiman.info you will find http://neilgaiman.info/index.php?title=Academia
which is a place where papers on me-related stuff can be posted, with information on how to post papers, or where to email them if posting proves too problematic.

John Hodgman will not be hosting the Thursday PEN Moth event. Jonathan Ames will be.

People have written in to let me know that Kryptonite has been discovered and Army Wiccans can be buried.

And I had great fun reading at Bryn Mawr - I subjected a very patient audience to the whole of the second chapter of The Graveyard Book in handwritten first draft (well, I read it to them, I didn't force them to read it), and I got to learn where they laughed and what worked and what didn't quite.

Then I signed a book for each of them and stumbled away.

New York tomorrow. (Details of the four events I'm doing, and ticket info can be found at http://www.pen.org/author.php/prmAID/36)

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Monday, April 23, 2007

no cheese-based rants here

Most of yesterday's post got eaten by blogger, which is probably a good thing as it began with a lengthy rant about my disappointment with the dire soft yellow muck in a red wax Wallis-and-Gromited casing that calls itself Wensleydale that you can now buy in America, and how it's nothing at all like a proper Wensleydale (all white and nutty and crumbly and not in America), which would probably have left everyone reading this convinced that I was the kind of mad old man who writes about cheese and lost me any cool points I still possess.

Anyway, I'm now at Bryn Mawr, and Holly is eating the contents of the gift basket from the English department while I decide what I'm going to read tonight.

...

Am I crazy or was there a post about John Cale and Dave McKean up a while ago that is no longer there? Because, if I am crazy, I probably ought to know before I go teach 6th graders tomorrow (not that it would make much of a difference--being a bit crazy would probably help).
Thanks for your entertaining blog, btw...


It's still there -- http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2007/02/cale-mckean-cat-bag.html -- and I found it the way I always find things on this site. I open a Google window and type site:neilgaiman.com and then whatever search terms I'm looking for.

Once I'd found it I tried the website's SEARCH feature and discovered that I couldn't find the Cale McKean entry using it, no matter how I tried. I'm still not clear why the people who did the big redesign on the site a few years ago got rid of a working Google search page for their own thing that doesn't work very well. It's on the list of things to fix, and I'm sure the webelf will. For now, if you're looking for something on this site I suggest you Google site:neilgaiman.com and then search away. Sorry about that.

Hello Mr. Gaiman... (I like dots...)

At the signing in that snowy hell of Leipzig you said there's a plan to round up all thesis that have been about your work and putting them on a page. Do you still consider doing something like this?

Greetings Thomas


It's definitely something I think someone ought to do as a resource. People hand me theses and papers on my stuff at signings, and many of the ones I look at seem to be covering similar ground, which makes me crinkle my brow and think that it would be easier for people if there was somewhere that academic work already done could be posted or available and be easily consulted. Back when the Dreaming website was active some papers were collected and posted there, and they are still up at http://www.holycow.com/dreaming/academia/

It's definitely something that needs to happen.

...

There's a review of the UK NEVERWHERE DVD at http://www.thestage.co.uk/tvtoday/2007/04/tv_dvd_catherine_tate_hustle_neverwhere.php
and it appears that there are no extras at all on it. Not even the rather bemused commentary that I did for the US version (which is Region 0 and will play in UK players). I'm really sorry. There's so much cool stuff we could have put on a Neverwhere DVD, if there was time or the will to do it. Sigh.

...

And while I am at Bryn Mawr, the Birdchick is arriving at my house with bees. I wish I was there for the introduction of Bees to Hives, and hope that Sharon blogs about it.

Meanwhile, having read,

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/24/science/24bees.htm

I'm just glad to be doing my part in the rebeeing of America.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Lazy Sunday

Ivy McCloud's husband Scott phoned today. "We're 20 minutes away from you on the freeway," he said. "Can we stop by?" I said of course, and told him that I'd feed his family. So they stopped by, and I made some pasta sauce and pasta and fed them, and then -- after bouncing on the trampoline (them, not me) -- Winter and Sky did a Winterview with me, mostly on the stairs, and then after a few hours the McCloud gang got back on the road, and Maddy and I watched the Dr Who "Gridlock" episode, which I liked rather more than she did.

I see that the Fora TV broadcast of my reading at Cody's last year (http://fora.tv/fora/showthread.php?t=397) is now both embeddable and also downloadable in several different formats. Which is, I think, smart enough and nice enough that I plan to poke around Fora and see if there's anything there I want to download and watch. I'll embed the Cody's reading here. If you missed it before, it's about two hours of me reading, answering questions and then reading again.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

posting made hard

The internet in this house is incredibly wonky right now, but it seems to be working this minute so I'm going to do a hasty blog post while it is.

I'm home. Maddy and I have already watched two episodes of the new Dr Who series together (one this morning, one tonight), and it's really great stuff. Stronger opening episodes than either of the two previous seasons. We'll keep the third episode for tomorrow or Monday.

The Locus awards nominees have been announced -- http://www.locusmag.com/2007/04_LocusFinalists.html. The Locus awards are the SF awards that get the most voters. It's a better list than the Hugos for gender parity (8 women out of 35, rather than 1 out of 20), but still nowhere near as good as it could be.

I am thrilled that "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" made the shortlist (and equally as thrilled that it's the only short story the Hugo and Locus lists have in common).

As of today, the beehives have been carried out from the basement to the back of beyond and placed upon their breeze-blocks and boards. The birdchick (beechick?) will turn up on Tuesday with the bees. Unfortunately I won't be here -- on Tuesday I'll be out at Bryn Mawr doing a reading and a chat (http://www.brynmawr.edu/news/2007-04-19/gaiman.shtml) before heading to New York for the PEN World Voices thingummy.

(And when I finished writing that the internet went down for 3 hours, and then I fell asleep in front of the TV all jetlagged. Now awake, and with Internet, so posting it quickly while both things continue to be true.)

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Friday, April 20, 2007

After These Messages...

This is a message from your neighborhood Web Elf. Neil's back home and safe but his internet is currently not working. He should be back shortly.

Regards,
The Official Web Elf

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Other People

My memories of Virginia Tech are of one perfect day in 1998, when I was wandering around the country for a couple of days with Tori on tour, spending the afternoon at her grandmother's farm and then driving up to Blacksburg for a wonderful evening of watching wonderful music and meeting nice people.

I haven't posted about the Virginia Tech shooting, and wasn't going to. But...

I'm in the UK right now, and it's a long way away, and I'm reading about what happened in newspapers (because I don't turn on TVs in hotel rooms. I don't know why this is, but I don't), still managing to think of this as something that happened, tragically, to Other People. And then I see this, and my heart sinks, because this is the Michael Bishop who I met in 1999 when we were Guests of Honour at World Horror, whose son was a Sandman fan and oh god, and then I click on this, and I get my nose rubbed hard and painfully in the fact that there are no Other People. It's just us.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Page Numbering Question

This might be a really stupid question, but, when you write by hand, as you seemingly did when you were in reclusion just now, how do you keep track of what 'page' you are on? You wrote that you are on page 96, and I assumed that is (at least roughly) the page of the final printed book. Or is it the page of the notebook?


I don't know what page I'm on of the final printed book -- that will depend on the size of the type, illustrations, layout and many other things. I can tell what page I'm on of the book I'm writing in though.

Hang on. I'll get out a cellphone and take some pictures. I'll include my hand for scale. (Although it's only an accurate scale if you know how big my hands are. Er, they're quite big.)

The book looks like this:




I got the blank book in Venice and it is almost too beautiful to write in, but it's really solidly built and takes the amount of punishment that being hauled around the world by me tends to give. I have four of them -- two I bought, two were a gift. This was one of the gifts.

I wrote The Graveyard Book and my name on the first page because it made me feel like I'd started something...




I tend to write an average of a little under 200 words a page in this book. Depends on the pen-nib, really...




I go off and number the pages about 50 pages ahead of where I am, because otherwise I will absentmindedly misnumber them while I'm writing. And as I start a new page I circle the number. Putting the circle on the number makes me remarkably happy. Also drawing a small gravestone with a number on it at the end of each chapter.




I'm writing less words to a page than will be in the printed book, of course. There's about 20,000 words in the notebook so far. The chapter I've already written, "The Witch's Headstone", is about 10,000 words long. And I think* the book itself will be around 60,000 words - twice as long as Coraline.




*Well, I hope. It's unlikely to be less. I tend to underestimate, though.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bet you thought I was dead

The best thing about going off and writing, and not having a phone or internets and things, just a tiny rented cottage, pen and paper and stories in your head, is that everything gets sort of simple and I remember why I do this writing thing and why I love it.

When I got stuck, I'd change notebooks and write an introduction or something similar that someone was waiting for. Then I'd go back to the story. I never turned on the computer, except once to check a detail.

Oddly enough the story that seemed the lesser of the two (most of the chapters of The Graveyard Book are also stories), which is called "The Friend" was easy and comfortable to write, while the one I was excited about, "The Hounds of God" (which I may retitle either "Miss Lupescu" or "The Ghoul Gate" on the next draft, or I may not) was sort of odd and lumpy and is going to need a lot of repainting and moving of heavy furniture when it gets typed up. Still, it has some really good bits in, and I love the ghouls, particularly the Bishop of Bath and Wells and the Duke of Westminster.

I'm on page 98 of the book, and including "The Witch's Headstone" I think I'm actually half way through the book right now. Although some of the final chapter-stories are going to be long ones.
I'm writing a poem that runs through the next chapter, a P.L. Travers-like fantasia called "Danse Macabre", which I think is going to be chapter 5, after the already-written "The Witch's Headstone". Then I'm not sure. Then it's a chapter called "Every Man Jack". Then the last chapter, probably.

Probably more than you really wanted to know, but I'm an author who's been writing a book, and mostly it's what my head is filled with, and it's interesting if you're me.

(Most of the spare bits of head are filled with something that may eventually be called Lyonnesse.)

The worst thing about going off to write for a bit is returning to civilisation and finding several thousand emails needing to be read, work mail, personal mail, Blog FAQ mail.... I'm not sure I'll ever catch up.

Thanks so much to the webelf for having fun and posting links in my absence. It looks like she enjoyed herself, and she put stuff up I probably wouldn't have thought of, so that was good, and I am grateful. (I'm still trying to figure out where she got the Holly picture from, mind you.) Amused that she found, and hustled for votes for the blog awards (even more amused when I discovered that I was also nominated as Hottest Daddy Blogger [?]).

I think I've solved a mystery no one even knew was mysterious. The web elf is your wife, isn't she? Don't forget my no-prize if I'm right!

I think only Marvel can give out no-prizes. But no, you are wrong. The web elf is the web elf. I think she looks like Dave Sim's Regency Elf, only more webby, but I could be wrong, and often am.


Hello,I would like to ask you if you are planning to write comic-book series like "Sandman"?Regards - PaweĊ‚ Deptuch, POLAND

No, I already did that.

Right now I don't think I'll ever do another 2000 page comic story, but as I said, I've been wrong before...

NEIL,

I'm trying to find my place in writing, and I am leaning towards the Screenplay format. Since you write in almost every format, Which is easier?

1. writing a comic

2. wirting a movie

3. writing a novel

Signed,Bob Castle.

I think it depends on which one I'm not doing at the time. When you aren't doing it, the other ones are always easier, and the kind of thing that you're writing is much too hard.

...


We've now overhauled http://www.neilgaiman.com/exclusive/shortstories/partiesstory, the "How To Talk to Girls at Parties" main page, and it now has a bit more explanation of what it is, links to the text version and the audio version of the story, and links to the other Hugo nominated short stories.

http://www.nippon2007.us/hugo_nominees.php has all of the Hugo nominees up, and links to all but one of the novellas, novelettes and stories, and even one of the novels.

There's a small and valid-up-to-a-point controversy going on about not enough women being nominated for Hugos this year. (For example, this from Bookslut.) (The up-to-a point bit for me is where it's implied by some commentators that the Hugo nominations are imposed from outside, rather than simply voted for by fans and readers who are eligible to vote. They're the Hugos, you get to vote for them as a member or supporting member of the WorldCon, and if you want to see something on the list next year, vote for it. Tell your friends to vote for it. Look at the 2004 Nomination details: in 2004 it only took about 25 votes, sometimes less, to get anything shorter than a novel on the list.)

...

An interview in connection with the PEN World Voices Festival next week in New York -- http://www.wildriverreview.com/worldvoices-neilgaiman.php.

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Though He Can Never Look At Cheese The Same Way Again

This is a message from your neighborhood Web Elf. Mr. Gaiman reports he is done with chapter three, somewhere around page 98, and has started chapter five, entitled "Danse Macabre." A little mouse has told me that Neil may return very shortly indeed.

So as a gift to herald his return, you should all go and vote for the blog at the Blogger's Choice Awards.

Or rather, you should all go and have a look at the candidates and vote for the best blog of your choosing. I would never presume to sway your judgment by asking you to vote for this blog.

No. That would be wrong.

It would be wrong, for example, to trick you into voting for this blog by showing you a video of rats being tickled:



As it would be equally wrong to bribe you into voting for this blog by showing you adorable photographs of Maddy Gaiman with her adorable new haircut:



No. I would not stoop to such low and dishonorable tactics.

But if you vote for this blog I promise I'll be your best friend and possibly also make you cookies and buy you a yacht and also a puppy.

Regards,
The Official Web Elf

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Friday, April 13, 2007

And Certainly Not In Anyone's Attic

This is a message from your neighborhood Web Elf. Mr. Gaiman reports he is knee-deep in Chapter Three, and things are going well.

I've asked the Oracular Ball if he will ever be returning from his mysterious whereabouts, and it told me: Tomorrow I plan to plant things, and to walk around the garden a lot.

Which, I think, is a good sign.

(
Because there are no more videos about The Graveyard Book, here is a YouTube video in which Neil reads Locks, from Fragile Things.)

The text for the Hugo-nominated How To Talk To Girls At Parties is now up at Cool Stuff & Things, along with the audio.

This came in from Terri Windling, who is selling her house:

Want to own a 16th century fairy tale cottage in England, complete with goblins on the kitchen walls painted by Brian Froud, Alan Lee, Charles Vess and other artists? Here's an extremely rare opportunity to do so. The cottage is located in the middle of a small, bucolic country village at the edge of Dartmoor...perfect for a writer, painter, or dreamer seeking inspiration in the countryside. More information is available on Phillip Fowler's website.

Lucy Anne, who runs The (del.icio.us) Dreaming, wrote to remind that tickets for the Rogue Artists' stage adaptation of Mr. Punch are on sale.

Finally, here is one of Holly's favorite songs as a small girl. (Mostly because it's rather wonderful.)



And here is Holly as a small girl, at about the time this was one of her favorite songs. (Mostly because I think by posting this, we are giving Cute Overload a run for their money.)



Regards,
The Official Web Elf

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Like Muenster, Or Swiss, Or Possibly Even Gouda

This is a message from your neighborhood Web Elf.  Neil's dropped a line from his mysterious whereabouts to say he's finished chapter two of The Graveyard Book, entitled "The Friend," and is now sinking his wee teeth into chapter three, "The Hounds of God."  (In the meantime, there's a snippet of video on YouTube where Neil talks about the origins of The Graveyard Book.)

There are some new Stardust stills over at Film Ick.

And here is a painting of Maddy.  Because, really, you can never have enough paintings of Maddy.

Regards,
The Official Web Elf

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Help, I've Been Kidnapped By Elves

This is a message from your neighborhood Web Elf. Neil is off waging a great battle against a pile of blank paper, and he has asked me to tell you he is Alive and Well. (For the curious, there's some rogue footage of Neil reading a chapter of The Graveyard Book on YouTube that may tide you over till he returns.)

There's also an article today about Neil Scary Trousers Gaiman over at The Independent.

For those who have been eagerly awaiting the audio for the Hugo-nominated How To Talk To Girls At Parties, you need wait no longer. Neil can be found reading it over in the land of Cool Stuff & Things, in mp3 format.

Lastly, here is a song. Just because.

Regards,
The Official Web Elf

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Friday, April 06, 2007

"I'm just going outside, and I may be some time"

I'm falling off the world for a bit to work on The Graveyard Book. I don't think there will be any internet where I'm going, so it may be a bit before I post again.

Then again, I sometimes announce that I'm falling off the world, and then follow it up with lots of posts about random things, so you never know.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

the enormous bed

Hotels are so different, one from the next. Today I'm in a room smaller than the bed I slept in last week. (The hotel put me in there because they were out of normal rooms, and told me it was the biggest bed in London. I do not doubt that it was. It would have slept families.)

The Independent on Sunday article will, I am told, be out this week.

Please can you settle a family row and confirm that it was you that we saw at The Now Show on Thursday evening? I wanted to get your, and Marcus', autograph but the youngest was too shy and ran away first.

b.t.w. My eldest, 16, oft quotes your "kindly declines your offer of a comb" and liked the bit about hunting for weasles.

Matthew


That was me, yes. I hope that settles the family row. I was there as Mitch Benn's guest, but was thrilled to see Marcus Brigstocke (who I hadn't seen since we made A Short Film About John Bolton), and then delighted to find out that I went to school with Steve Punt ("I saw your band in the music hall," he said, as only someone who was once fourteen can say to someone who was once sixteen. "You were a legend." And then we reminisced about the school peacock and Stewart Elsey's chips.)

You should have said hullo.

...

Lots of people wrote in to say that,

There are higher quality versions of the Tyger animation as well as more information on it at http://guilherme.tv/tyger/.

...


Hi Neil, I'm glad your having a fun vaction after a busy signing tour, but I'm wondering if any developments on the Crazy Hair front will be made while your hanging out with Dave. I remember you describing it last October and it sounds absolutly delightful!-Rachael


It's done! He showed it to me! He's finished! It's amazing! I may have to rewrite a couple of lines to make the words and the pictures match up perfectly, but just a couple of lines, and then we will be done. Expect it out in 2008 from Harper Childrens and from Bloomsbury in the UK. It's gorgeous. (There's a picture from it at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/uploaded_images/Pgs.24,25-707551.JPG)

Hello Neil,

Longtime fan here with a comics-world-related question. Seeing as Coraline is already in production and I can't be cast, haha, I've turned my sight on to the new 'Preacher' series (yet-to-be-cast) on HBO.

Specifically I'd like to try for the character of Tulip OHare, and thought I should send of a 'screen test' where I'm reading from the comic, as well as a few shots recreating panels from the comic, along with my headshot and resume. I'm also going to try to be signed with a local casting agent for Maryland... and see if they can help as well.

My question is:
1) Should I send my information to Ennis & Dillon via Vertigo? Would they recieve it?

2) How can I be a fan and still have my request taken seriously?

Any input you have would be greatly appreciated... as I'm sure you've had experiences like this throughout your career.

Cheers!
Jess Angell


Well, I've been given lots of headshots by people that I wasn't sure what I was meant to do with them over the years. To answer your questions...

1) Possibly it might get to them, but Garth and Steve aren't casting it. They won't do anything more with a head shot and DVD than shrug and wonder why you sent it to them. If you're amazingly amazing they might send it on to a producer who probably won't watch it, but you'd have to be jaw-droppingly brilliant, and even then it probably won't do anything.

2) Be an actress.

I'm serious. If you want to be in something like that, your best bet is to be an actress already. Be a good one. Take lots of parts. Do TV, movies and theatre. Be someone who, when a casting director says to a producer "I think we could get Jess Angell to play Tulip," makes the producer go "Really? Would she be interested in something like this?"

Casting is about a lot of things, and one of them is getting the thing made.

...

Hullo Mr G. I recall your excellent contribution to 'AARGH' when it came out (I'm that old), and thought you might be interested in the campaign to save the veteran London bookshop Gay's The Word, survivor of the Clause 28 battles and now threatened by the general Starbucks-ing of the streets. It's always stocked a good selection of gay & lesbian-related graphic novels and comic books. Times story here:

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article1462206.ece?token=null&offset=0



...but it's not really threatened by the Starbucksing of the streets. It's threatened because most mainstream bookshops have really good LGBT sections now, which they didn't have before. Just as it gets harder for the specialist SF shops once the SF shelves in the big bookshops get big.

I think it's sad when the little shops go, and I wish they wouldn't, but I don't think it's a bad thing when things that were once specialised interests become more easily available in the mainstream. It means that the small shops have to figure out what they can give their customers that the bigger shops or the online world simply can't.

...

Last November I mentioned Clive Barker's inspirational speech on genre as a continent, given impromptu at British Fantasycon. Someone wrote to let me know it's now up at

http://www.clivebarker.info/newsfantasycon2.html

...

Thanks for signing two of my treasured Sandman hardbacks on Friday. MUCH appreciated as always. I have one more to go!
I was wondering, did you watch Dr Who on Saturday night at the same time as your fellow countrymen? I'm guessing you didn't as you would rather watch it back in the US with Maddy. But if you did, what did you think?
Til' next time. Tony Scudder.


I didn't. I'm waiting until I am home to watch Dr Who with Maddy. Anything else would be wrong.

...

Congratulations to Bryan Talbot on the publication of Alice in Sunderland -- http://www.bryan-talbot.com/alice/.

And there's a German interview with me (in English) up at http://www.phantastik-couch.de/interview-with-neil-gaiman.html

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Rabbits and Tygers and Butterflies oh my

Dave McKean is showing me short films on DVD. And I just realised that the films in question are up on YouTube.

First he just showed me this. The Butterfly of Love. When he described it -- mirrored footage from Rashomon with a cool soundtrack -- it sounded, well, dull. And then I saw it, and it was haunting...



He also showed me Tyger. Absolutely beautiful, like something I dreamed as a boy.



And he wanted to show me this, but I'd already seen it. I might even have posted it here once. But just in case I didn't link to it, and because you should see it, here's the magical and disturbing eight minutes of Rabbit...

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Bless...

Why, I thought, in a not really paying attention to things sort of way, are people writing in and making jokes about my impending sainthood?

And then someone sent in this...

As far as April Fools' jokes this one is pretty good:
http://www.locusmag.com/2007/0401_NeilGaimanSainthood.html
they almost had me for a moment.
Sho



and it all made sense.

I thought it was really funny (it's a fine crop of April 1st articles in Locus this year), and it was nice to read "quotes" by me that sounded sort of like things that I'd say. If it did happen like that. Which of course it didn't.

Hi Neil,

You mentioned the Forbidden Planet signing on Friday and that the queues weren't very long. I had intended to be there, but on scoping out the shop beforehand found that their sign said you would be signing copies of Fragile Things. Alas, I had brought my copy of Anansi Boys with me (it has an off-the-shelf, pret a porter style signature, and I rather fancied getting the haute couture version).

Thus I scuttled away rather than face the social embarrassment of presenting a book for signature and being told it was the wrong one.

So could I ask you - would I have been turned away? Or should I just not be such a scaredy cat next time?

Thanks

Katherine


No, you wouldn't have been turned away, and I wouldn't have even noticed. Lots of people simply brought a beloved book or two along. Or a comic. I don't think I signed anything unlikely like a bass guitar or a rubber vampire bat at that signing, but you would be astonished at what people bring.

Your best bet if in doubt would have been to ask the nice people at Forbidden Planet, who would have reassured you.

There are signing tour FAQs up at neilgaiman.com and I'll try and get them pulled out and given their own easily findable page...

For now, the most recent time I posted them was at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2005/05/so-youre-going-to-signing.asp

...

I am at Dave McKean's oast house in Kent right now, finally starting to feel like my batteries are starting to recharge. I am trying to persuade young Liam McKean to put some of his videos up on Youtube. He's really funny. He knows many interesting things about pigs, too.

Thrilled to see that Pan's Labyrinth is now on the Hugo nominations list (http://www.nippon2007.us/hugo_correction_faq.php).

Right. I have to go and watch Liam on the trampoline now. I have no choice. Then I go with the McKeans to see the exhibition of Dave stuff in Rye.

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