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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Getting out of the Bath

I went to Bath from Bristol. Was trapped in a one way system by the taxi's GPS system and a taxi driver who seemed oblivious to the fact that the GPS system was taking him around and around the centre of Bath in repeating circles, but who was determined to obey his GPS orders anyway and thus ignored all the diversion signs that would have taken him where he needed to go.

But we got there. I printed stuff out. All was ready.

I came on in a huge thingummy of dry ice smoke that rolled across the stage and then lurched into the foggy darkness of what I could only imagine was an audience. You couldn't see much through the smoke but you could hear a few people coughing. It gave me hope.

Then I sat down and read some of the first chapter of "The Graveyard Book", and a little bit of "Odd and the Frost Giants", and then I answered questions. I'd made a promise to myself to try and answer as many questions as I could completely newly, ever since someone in Lund came up to me and said "I was answering along with you, word for word on that" (I think it was my reply to "How Did You And Terry Pratchett Write Good Omens?"). It meant I was a bit more hesitant and probably less funny, but, I hope, a bit more honest-in-terms-of-exactly-how-I-think-of-something-right-now.

They'd advertised the event as "12+ and adult" which meant that we got a mostly adult turnout of about 450 people. The signing went fast and everyone was really nice.

After, Bloomsbury publicist the magnificently pregnant Lucy Holden and I were meant to get the train back to London, but it was first delayed and then, eventually, cancelled, so we bit the bullet and got a taxi all the way from Bath railway station to London.

Stumbled back into my hotel very late and then couldn't sleep until early.


Dear Mr. Gaiman
I am very curious to know what the word "neepery" means. I looked up some of the dictionary's at home and came up with nothing. So i tried the internet and those dictionaries seemed to have nothing, except something about some physic's equation. Which has made my head spin and forced me to lie down, so strange it was. So i tried to just Google neepery and that has lead me to some other writers that write "neepery" and the context its used in didn't help me much. Will you please divulge on this young boys mind the meaning of the word neepery!!
Many Thanks
Sam
P.S. My best friend thinks that you made the word up, just to make yourself look cooler.


I have made many words up in my time, but that wasn't one of them. A quick Google gave me...
http://catb.org/jargon/html/N/neep-neep.html

neep-neep
: /neep neep/, n.
[onomatopoeic, widely spread through SF fandom but reported to have originated at Caltech in the 1970s] One who is fascinated by computers. Less specific than hacker, as it need not imply more skill than is required to play games on a PC. The derived noun neeping applies specifically to the long conversations about computers that tend to develop in the corners at most SF-convention parties (the term neepery is also in wide use). Fandom has a related proverb to the effect that “Hacking is a conversational black hole!”.


Hope this helps.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

me and you and you and me

Of the 22 replies about the "Fred and me" "me and Fred" thing waiting when I got up this morning, there were a few who said things like, As far as I remember from my parents' childhood teachings, it is considered sort of impolite to put oneself first when naming several people and I also grew up being told by my parents to always list myself last as well -- so you say my friends and I went to the store, not I and my friends... In terms of where it originates, I grew up in the States, but I think the grammar lesson came from my English father. But as far as I know it's a convention only - more about politeness than correct grammar. It's only the me/I distinction that's cold hard grammatical rules..

I can't imagine saying "I and Fred went to market" because it sounds wrong....

There was one that seemed to have got the whole thing a bit upside down, which I'm posting in case anyone else is puzzling over it...

Interesting about the me first or last thing, but it is somewhat irrelevant, because if one looks at the sentence and the dependent clause, "me" is incorrect anyway as it should be I as part of the plural subject of the word "chatting." So "Susanna and I chatting" or "I and Susanna chatting" is the object of "hear" but you made the common mistake of using "me" thinking of it being the object of "hear."

Not that you need a grammar lesson from a veterinarian, but I could not keep it to myself.

Shera


(Um, probably you should have done. You're suggesting that the sentence should have read And for those of you who want to hear we chatting (or who missed it because of the fire alarm...) or, removing Susanna from the sentence (an easy way to check your Is and Mes), And for those of you who want to hear I chatting (or who missed it because of the fire alarm...) which is slightly wrong unless you're in those parts of rural England in which it's perfectly fine.)

This was the most definitive of all the replies...

This is not a question but rather a response to yours. "Me and..." constructions are just as grammatically correct as "...and me" constructions, when usage suits them. Which, to be frank, yours did. I've never heard of citing "me" last as a preferred method of construction, and I've been a bona fide "Gloomy Grammarian" most of my life.

That said, in the "I could be wrong" vein, coupled with the "now I'll be up all night wondering" urge, I consulted a few books. "The Style Booklet" (David Sonstroem, University of Connecticut) says nothing useful, nor does the Associated Press style manual. Margaret Shertzer's "The Elements of Grammar" spends a great deal of time on nominative (I, you, she, he, etc) and objective (me, you, her, him, etc.) case personal pronouns but cites no preference for the specific order in which said pronouns should appear. "The Elements of Style," that Strunk and White classic, also speaks of the nominative and objective forms of personal pronouns but does not cite specific order as preferred. Finally, the college textbook "Analyzing English Grammar", fourth ed., Thomas P. Klammer, Muriel R. Schulz, and Angela Della Volpe, authors, examines personal pronouns at length and never cites a word order preference. I did not check the MLA handbook, but I imagine its focus is less on usage and more on proper citation (as it should be).

Now - one thing I did notice is that, by and large, many of the examples presented tended to be in the "she and I," "him and me" order. Perhaps your reader has used this prevalence to inform his (or her?) understanding that this order is, in fact, the correct usage? If so, that would be an error of quantity rather than kind - BUT "me and him" and "him and me" are equally grammatically correct, in their contexts as personal pronouns used in the objective.

In short (too late!), as far as I can tell, you and I are correct in our assumptions about when to use "me and Catherine," or "Catherine and me." It's a matter of personal preference, really.

And yes, now that it is 4:00 AM, eastern standard time, I can at last rest easy in my understanding of pronoun usage. Can you tell I am about to earn my Master of Arts degree in English?

Sincerely, yet somehow also Grammatically Yours-

Patricia Lafayllve


and this one, which made me smile, and may have something to do with it...

Sure, I've been told it's generally good form to put yourself last, but in this case, the sentence you wrote was iambic. Had the words been reversed, it would not be thus, and therefore less pleasant to read.
Cheers,
Annie


and finally,

Hi Neil,


The Oxford Reference Grammar(2000) states the following:


"Coordinated phrases

...In standard English, conventional politeness requires that in coordinated phrases, the second person comes first and the first person comes last:


my husband and I

you and your husband

you, Mary and me

you and me


In informal speech the first person is sometimes put first:


"This man suddenly fled past me and Martin and all these Falange started firing at him."

As a blog is generally considered to be informal, I think you can probably get away without being considered impolite!

Hope this helps,


Kate.


It does. And is a good place to end this outbreak of grammar neepery...


You mentioned that they used CGI to ".... cover Charlie Cox's naked torso because it would bring down America." Do you know if they are planning to restore the scene (and any others they deemed too adult for us Americans) in the DVD release? ~lindac

I don't know. I'm sure there will be some stuff that was cut, but I have no idea what... (ghosts I hope. Lots of really funny ghost bits went away.)

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Friday, September 28, 2007

A webcomic about me and my hair... or about my hair and me?

The signing was fun and, er, long -- probably the longest lunchtime signing I've done, which I wasn't really expecting. I played with the Japanese brush-pens a lot. I like the way that sometimes good drawings you don't expect come out of your brush.

Working on article about fairy tales for the Guardian right now, and they've also put an interview from several months ago up -- http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/sciencefiction/story/0,,2177992,00.html
and a pretty simple quiz that could win two pairs of tickets to the Criterion Event on Tuesday night at http://books.guardian.co.uk/competition/0,,2177394,00.html

The Times did an interview with Matthew Vaughn about directing Stardust, at http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article2538898.ece

Not a question but a heads up on the Latest Dork Tower strip:
http://archive.gamespy.com/comics/dorktower/archive.asp?nextform=viewcomic&id=1286
I am sure others have pointed this out as well but hey ho.

Nope. You were first.

Which reminds me that John Kovalic sent me one of these -- http://dreamlandtoyworks.com/my_little_cthulhu.html and it has become of my favourite toys...

Hey Neil, Just watched the Beowulf trailer - very snazzy - but I wondered, is it too late to get that fella to put a shirt on? Or maybe the Photoshop guy could airbrush one on or something? It is all a bit disturbing and a bit Conan. :-) Thanks,Pete

Yup. Too late. That longship has sailed. Oddly, though, in the morning scene in the Inn in the Stardust film, Charlie Cox is wearing a CGI shirt, because there were concerns that his naked torso could bring down America.

I was wondering if you knew if the stage production of Wolves in the Walls would be playing anywhere other than New York. I live in Chicago and would absolutely love to go (and take my mother, who is also a huge fan) but just can't afford to make it to NY. You have a huge Midwest following - which I am sure you already know, and I know it would be a hit out here. Thank you for your time and help. Jessica

Not that I know of at this time. When I hear anything, I'll post it here. If you have an appropriate local theatre, tell them you want to see it. You never know...

And this last one really puzzled me, mostly because it's citing something I can't recall encountering before. I'm on the road, so couldn't check the reference works I'd usually look at,

Dear Neil,

Hi! Sounds like you're having quite the time traipsing 'round the world!

So, to business:

You have written something in your blog that set off my "pet peeve alert." :

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE

Do not use "me and him." (Your actual statement was "me and Susanna.")

Naming oneself first, rather than last, drives me crazy!

It used to be that only uneducated people talked that way, but now I hear it everywhere, even out of the mouths, and blogs, of People Who Should Know Better.

I realize that a) language changes, and legitimately so, over time, and b) you are using a more casual voice when blogging

But, still, let's set a Good Example for those impressionable readers out there!

(And would Neil Gaiman, master of the English language, actually say "me and ...?" I shudder to imagine that.)

Carefully stepping down from my soapbox, and wishing you a Chag Sukkot Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!

-Randi


So the sentence in question began And for those of you who want to hear me and Susanna Clarke chatting ... which is grammatically just fine, at least the way that I was taught grammar. I googled and saw no problems with that construction at http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutgrammar/meandi where they give several mayor-and-party-based examples...

Me and my friend went to a party last night. [Wrong]
I and my friend went to a party last night.

My friend and me went to a party last night. [Wrong]
My friend and I went to a party last night.

The mayor has invited me and my husband.
The mayor has invited I and my husband.
[Wrong]

The mayor has invited my husband and me.
The mayor has invited my husband and I.
[Wrong]

...and then I tried randomly googling "you and me" (2.7 million) vs "me and you" (2.5 million), then "me and my friends" (about 2 million examples) and "my friends and me" (168,000 examples), and decided that if there was a general "me second" rule it was one that wasn't very well known. Is this a North American rule? Is it something I've missed? Definitive links or quotes from Fowler are welcome...

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Bugs and features

For anyone checking what's happening today at Where's Neil would learn that I'm doing a signing at Waterstones tonight at 7.00 pm, because the Google Calendar function has eaten the information about today that was posted there (not a bug but a feature, I am told) and, for its own nefarious reasons, doesn't quite get the concept of local time, so thinks everything is happening six hours later than it is.

As per http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/displayDetailEvent.do?searchType=1&author=Neil%7CGaiman it's a 1.00pm signing, just as tomorrow in Bath is not a midnight event but at 6.00pm -- http://www.bathkidslitfest.co.uk/event_J19.htm.

...
And for those of you who want to hear me and Susanna Clarke chatting (or who missed it because of the fire alarm...)

From Tuesday evening's session (which I had to leave early due to work commitments, so thank goodness for them recording the whole thing).
http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/podcasts/2007/09/audio_susanna_clarkes_observer.html
Regards,Martyn

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

to putter about the house?

This came in and was really helpful, so I'm putting it up in full.

Poor Neil! The whole concept of maid cafes is indeed pretty strange, but I guess somewhat understandable if you know some things about Japanese pop culture. Maid cafes are a type of cosplay (costume play) restaurant -- basically it's not too different really from going to Medieval Times or something like that in the US. (There are also Butler cafes, by the way.) The thing that probably makes it weird is that Maid cafes (and presumably Butler cafes too) are all about moe (mo-eh)! Which basically means that yes, it's about a fetish. I think what is weird to most Westerners is that Japanese fetishes aren't necessarily things most people not Japanese are going to find particularly sexy.

I think the person who wrote in about pedophilia yesterday is probably slightly misunderstanding the term "Gothic Lolita" and is applying it to the concept of moe/maid cafes. Gothic Lolita is a style of fashion/lifestyle in Japan ... and it doesn't actually have anything to do with the book Lolita or little girls. The term originated with a clothing line called "Young Gothic Lolita" (the men's line was called "Young Gothic Aristrocrat") that began being sold in the 90s. Most people into Gothic Lolita fashion had no clue that a book existed until it was published about in a magazine targeted towards the movement. I would say the attraction of the fashion for women is just a desire to emulate Victoriana, and for men it's a sort of strange sexual attraction to the primness associated with Victorian costumes. I mean, Gothic Lolitas do not typically bare a lot of flesh. Neither do the maids in maid cafes.

However, I would say that there is a sort of mainstream acceptance of vaguely pedophilic attitudes in Japan (mostly contained to fiction -- quite a few popular manga/anime series include overtones of it, including "Loveless", "Negima!", and "Enzai" -- all released in the US). I just wouldn't say the maid cafes are necessarily an example of that.

Sorry for going on so long,

Annalisa


and I just got this --

Hi Neil,

I'm the video guy at MSN UK and we've just been given the exclusive Beowulf trailer that was featured on Film 2007 last night.

If you think your readers would be interested in watching it, they should follow this link: http://video.uk.msn.com/v/en-gb/v.htm and click the massive Beowulf banner at the top of the page.

(I'm not so much acting as MSN corporate pimp here as much as I'm pimping that massive Beowulf banner. I'm also one of the photoshop guys here and I'm pretty pleased with that one.)

-Antony


and was surprised to see that the trailer was one that I'd not seen at all. It's fascinating where Beowulf is concerned (for me, anyway) seeing new bits of footage as the computer emits them. Can't wait to see the film in its entirety and find out what it is.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Criterion reminder

The event with Susanna Clarke was lovely, except for the, oh, 45 minutes or thereabouts that all 250 of us spent standing outside on the pavement in the cold, waiting for the fire brigade to establish that the problems in the nanotech lab next door were a false alarm.

I was asked tonight who'd win in a fight -- probably a no holds barred cage match, I suspect -- between me and Bill Gibson. I said me, but my daughter Holly, who was there, just laughed at me afterwards and said she couldn't imagine me fighting anyone. Holly says that Me vs Bill Gibson would be like a fight between a baby bunny and a duckling, and she is probably right.

I'm still really jet-lagged. I feel as if the going-to-Japan and the coming-back-from-Japan crash came at the same time -- just had a completely failed conversation with my agent, who soon figured out that the communication things simply wasn't happening, and told me to call him back tomorrow.

...

If you're in the UK, remember that next Tuesday, Oct 2nd is the big event at the Criterion:


Tuesday 02 October 07 Event 422 at 18:00

Neil Gaiman in conversation

Featuring: Neil Gaiman

Exclusive event-only book signing afterwards, at Waterstone's Piccadilly

Don't miss this one-off London appearance by one of the world’s greatest imaginative minds, and author of many bestselling novels, including American Gods, Anansi Boys, and the cult novel Stardust . The film of Stardust, directed by Matthew Vaughan and starring Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Ricky Gervais, Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro, premieres in London on Wednesday 3 October at Odeon Leicester Square. We have a pair of tickets to the premiere: all ticket-holders to the event will be entered into a draw and the winner will be announced after the performance.

Price: £5.00

Venue: Criterion Theatre, Piccadilly
http://www.criterion-theatre.co.uk/

http://www.hayfestival.com/wales/browse.aspx?type=date&value=02-Oct-2007


I think I'll probably do a reading from Stardust as part of it. If you want to come, it's always wisest to order tickets early -- there will probably be seats on the night, but you can never be too sure.

(Also the Bath Children's Literary Festival event is this Saturday at 6.00pm -- http://www.bathkidslitfest.co.uk/event_J19.htm for details.)

Mr. Gaiman,I live in Beijing and your CCTV interview just aired (Sept. 25). I was really impressed that you could follow her random questions. I was disappointed that you were not deemed important enough to get the male reporter who usually interviews heads of state. I wanted you to know that the piece had aired and may air again Sept. 26. Thanks, Kade

Not to worry. I'm not a head of state.

Neil, Neil, Neil, Neil! Reading your blog can be so bloodly frustrating! What was your opinion of that Lolita restaurant? What do you, as a father of a young teenage daugther on the threshold of her maidenhood thinks of those young women exploiting the idea of pedophilia?

I'm not comfortable enough with the by-roads of Japanese pop culture to be able to say what exactly was going on in that place, but it didn't seem to be about paedophilia, not in any way I understand the term. It seemed to be about a whole set of cultural cues that I wasn't really able to read -- the clientele were about 60/40 male to female, most of the men were the same age as the girls working there (early 20s), and I got the impression it was much more about the girls getting to exercise their fantasies of being maids, whatever maids were in this context, and the customers of both genders seemed to enjoy playing rock, paper, scissors with them. My opinion was one of, mostly, complete bafflement and bemusement, and I was there because the guide felt that, like the fish market and the Meiji Shrine and the modern art museum, going to one of the maid cafes was one of the unique things about Tokyo.

Hi Neil, I have a quick question about agents and the submission process...
Months ago, shortly after completing my first novel (YA fantasy), I drew up a list of agencies that I thought might be a match. Several envelopes were dispatched to said agents. Fingers were crossed.I waited.Three weeks later, the replies began trickeling in. A few were form rejections; others had some decent comments, but were rejections all the same.Then an unfamiliar envelope fell through the letterbox. It turns out that this was the reply from my Dream Agency (why not aim high?). The gist of the letter was this: Your writing shows great promise, but this is not yet ready for representation. Send us your next project.
Here is my question:My second novel, which I think is a stark improvement on the first, is almost ready. Should I send it exclusively to my new contact at The Literary Agency Of My Dreams? Or should I treat the process exactly as I did first time round, and send out simultaneous submissions? Many thanks for your time.

I don't think there are any rules. If it was me, I'd send it to the new contact who thought you had potential, with a letter saying, you said to send you my next project and this is it, and I'm not showing it to anyone else until you've seen it, because they were nice, and deserve something for that, and if they feel they grew you from a bean they will work harder for you. But there aren't any rules. And if it was me I'd be sending my book to editors and not to agents anyway.

...

Why am I typing? Why aren't I sleeping?

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A wonderful world

In the notebook I left on the plane from China was also my introduction to something for Mark Evanier. So I am going to spend this afternoon recreating it, which is reason enough for not blogging, and instead posting the kind of thing that Mark puts up on his blog.

This is a Youtube video of Raymond Crowe at work (http://www.raymondcrowe.com/). I've seen him do it live and it's astonishing. He's really funny and amazingly skilled comedian and magician and mime and, er, maker of hand shadow-bunnies...
(Click on http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2007/09/wonderful-world.html if you're reading this on an RSS feed and can't see anything beyond this point.)

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Monday, September 24, 2007

no longer in Japan

I'm back in the UK, and, today, really starting to feel the jet-lag, which means that the long description of everything I did in Japan may have to wait, or to be one of those things I always mean to write and never do. But I had a really busy Saturday and was taken to many places -- the oddest of which was a blessedly short visit to the Maid Cafe. "The line between pop pulture and porno is sometimes blurred in Japan," said my guide as she took me there, which meant that whatever I was expecting it definitely wasn't the Japanese equivalent of being taken to a cafe where the waitresses were all completely asexual children's party hosts pretending to be six themselves, speaking in helium chipmonk voices and dressed like Alice in Wonderland, where I would feel as if I had tuned into a game show on a foreign television station that I did not understand. I kept trying to imagine how one could transpose something like that experience into the US or the UK, and failing.

I bought lots of brush-pens.

I came back to the UK.

And am now brain dead (which is okay as nobody is interviewing me today). Tomorrow I am a special guest chairperson at Susanna Clarke's event

EXCLUSIVE UK EVENT
Susanna Clarke with special guest chairperson Neil Gaiman, Tuesday 25 September, 7pm
UCL Bloomsbury Theatre, 15 Gordon Street, London, WC1H 0AH

Susanna is the international bestselling author of the wonderful Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and to celebrate the paperback publication of The Ladies of Grace Adieu she will be in conversation with legendary author, Neil Gaiman. This is a rare appearance by Susanna and the only UK event to celebrate publication so book early to avoid disappointment.

Click here
for booking information and ticket prices.


(Incidentally, Mike Carey is doing a talk in the same series on October the 25th.)

Several people have sent me links to this New York Times article on Bill Hader, and it made me feel incredibly happy to be lucky for someone, especially as long as the lucky thing is him reading the books and not, say, cutting off one of my feet and carrying it around in his pocket, which would be just dreadful really, all things considered.

And since I posted links to the Joyce Hatto case when it started -- here's the definitive article from the New Yorker, which is a lot closer to what I thought had happened than I expected.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

My first slideshow



I've just tried to experimentally embed a slideshow of the fish market. There will undoubtedly be tears before bedtime and I will regret this experiment, but here you go. It might work.

I then (after taking these pictures) had sushi in the fish market. I don't usually have sushi at 6.30 am, but it seemed like something I wasn't going to do very often (at least, not at those prices, I thought, when the bill came in).

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In search of In Search of Steve Ditko

I had sushi for breakfast in the fishmarket, sushi for lunch, and am about to go and have sushi for dinner. Even the Japanese think I'm pushing it a bit.

Will post fishmarket photos, and the story of my day, as soon as I've digested it a little more (the day, that is. Not the sushi). In the meantime...

Chris Ewen's Hidden Variable project now has its own website at http://www.hiddenvariable.net/. Chris got a bunch of authors to write lyrics for him, mostly Malena to sing them (although Cosi Fanni Tutti sings one, and Claudia Gonson sings my song "unresolving"). The fabulous Lorraine plays violin. You can hear song samples at http://www.hiddenvariable.net/songs.html


Jonathan Ross's In Search of Steve Ditko documentary has, for the moment, crept onto YouTube. (I'm putting some embedded video in here, so if you're reading it on an RSS feed and you can't see the video or links, click on the link to the original post now.)



Here are parts two to six:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbHblWpCIcU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4p3Gt2dFQQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXkDEIgYfTw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bn_ymGSFD2c
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvXGyRknQHo

and people who complain that I don't smile enough on camera will get to see me with a very goofy grin on my face in the final part, part 7...

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

mystery tabs...

I just opened up the blogger tab, and found this sitting there:

My sleeping is all messed up. Fell asleep at 6.00pm and slept until 7.15pm and now wide awake at gone midnight. Argh. Going to try to sleep.

If you join up at http://www.playbill.com/club/offers/ you can get into the New Victory Theater's WOLVES IN THE WALLS production at a substantial discount.

I assume I wrote it because the probability that elves crept in late last night and left half-finished blog entries is a very small one indeed. I think I was asleep within a few minutes of posting it, if I didn't actually start blogging in my sleep.

I was interviewed yesterday, then napped, then had a wonderful sushi dinner with the people from UIP. So far today I've been interviewed about seven times, but the interviews have been longer and more in depth and the questions are different.

I'll close a few tabs....

Beckett for Babies: of course! I hope that someone will actually publish this.

Someone tries to sell Belgium on eBay. Again, of course! Next time, perhaps they'll succeed.

Jeff Vandemeer's enormous book sale. 819 books still available.

Cory Doctorow on giving away free e-books. I think he's mostly right, and even where I'm unconvinced his research is useful and exhaustive.

There's a meteor in Peru that may be emitting noxious fumes. I have seen enough bad movies to know that the local scientist who told the state press agency that a fallen meteorite did not present any danger unless it hit some structure on impact."None of the meteorites that fall in Peru and make perforations of varied sizes are harmful for people, unless they fall on a house," he said, and denies the reality of noxious fumes will get his comeuppance somewhere in the middle of the second act, about the point where the things start crawling out of the crater.

Stephen Fry is blogging.
About smartphones right now, but wait long enough and he'll be writing about his cat just like everyone else. (For those of you who were about to run to the Ask Neil form, I've been away from home for over a month. I have no idea how my cats are.)

[Edit to add I see the Stephen Fry link is down, or has been replaced by some kind of dodgy page. Trust it'll be back soon.]

There's a second Beowulf trailer up at http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/beowulf/
which feels more like the film probably does than the first trailer did. Lots of bits of footage in it I'd not seen.

Okay. People have come to take me downstairs for the next round of interviews. Back on my head...


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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

lunchblog

Thirteen interviews into the day and I'm trying hard not to repeat myself -- most popular questions so far this morning are What Are the Themes of Stardust, What Are the Origins of Stardust, and What Is Your Favourite Miyazaki Film?

The hardest bit about doing interviews in foreign languages is the long bit where you wait for your answer to be translated into the tongue of the person interviewing you. I noticed that words like Fantasy and Comedy and Cast seemed to be unchanged, and loanwords in the Japanese, which I can understand -- was more puzzled when a list of colours I'd given was transliterated.

Anyway -- links I've meant to put up here for a while...

The Guardian Great Interviews booklets are also on line
:

The Dennis Potter Interview is up at the Guardian Website. Best interview in the world, although it's strange to see it written down. Art and death.

I enjoyed the Francis Bacon interview as well (and enjoyed the Damien Hirst introduction). Also art and death.

(The Sex Pistols interview was great TV, especially when you haven't been 16 for three weeks, but I can't see the point of transcribing it really... still, it's at http://www.guardian.co.uk/greatinterviews/sexpistols/0,,2154659,00.html. Art and swearing.)

more later...

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A nice day



So this is the view from my lovely hotel room. And a bit of the hotel room. (Telescope over on the far right.)



I digitally messed up this photo in order to give less information about stuff around us. So I'm at Studio Ghibli and that's Mr Miyazaki, and me, and Mr Suzuki, his producer.


Mr Miyazaki showed me the Nursery for local children that he's building as a sort of side project. In the foreground is Steve Alpert, VP of Studio Ghibli's international division.



And there's me and Steve Alpert. In colour and not even a bit fuzzed.

(I didn't think that jet-lag was getting to me until I got in the car to go back to the hotel, and then, with no time in-between, we were back at the hotel, and my arm and neck were cramped from the position I'd fallen asleep in...)

[Edit to add... why do I even try to use Picasa to post to the blog? It almost never works. Pictures should now show up. Sorry. ]

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

In Japan

Not a lot to report. I flew Virgin to Tokyo -- I had fond memories of Virgin Upper Class from about a decade ago, when I flew once it to LA and found it spacious and pleasant and really nice. It's nowhere near as good as it was back then, but the seats turn into all-the-way-flat beds, and that on its own is wonderful.

Less impressed when I realised, when I got off the plane, that one of the bottles of Talisker I'd bought in duty free as presents for my Japanese hosts (given the Skye connection with Stardust it seemed appropriate) was no longer in the duty free bag. I hope whoever wound up with it enjoys it.

I worked on Odd and the Frost Giants on the plane, typing up stuff that was handwritten. Odd is a slim book I'm writing -- a novelette, I guess -- that will be published for World Book Day 2008.

(I lost the notebook [left it on the plane from China to Amsterdam, en route to Budapest] that had the next chapter handwritten in it. So, having no other option, I'll shrug and write it again. Mostly it was just the fox talking and the bear interrupting anyway.)

Arrived in Tokyo and had the smoothest experience walking through any airport I've ever had -- passport, baggage, everything was simply ready as I got there, and I was out of the airport before the plane was even meant to land.

I was introduced to my people at UIP Japan, and put in a car with my driver and my security person (I have a security person here) while the UIP people followed in a minibus. And then I got to the hotel...

If you ever saw the film ANNIE, the bit where she arrives at the Warbucks Estate and is introduced to everyone while walking through the building, that was what it was like arriving in my hotel. I tumbled out of the car and was swept inside a tide of people, hotel people and UIP people, into the hotel, led by the general manager while shaking hands with er... everyone, or that was how it seemed... and soon found myself in the most beautiful hotel room I think I've ever been in (and I have been in many lovely hotel rooms around the world), with a view over Tokyo that's astonishing. The hotel has only been open for about two weeks, and it still has that new-carpet smell. The hotel room doesn't feel like anyone's stayed in here before. I was shown how to work things, and I needed to be shown -- it's the HAL 2000 of hotel rooms, with all sorts of strange technological innovations hidden away. The toilet seats that rise to greet you when you nervously open an unmarked door to see what's in there are the least of it.

(Having a panda on my lap was better than this hotel room. But as hotel rooms go, it's the best. It has an old telescope too, for looking at the stars, or at the scenery, or something.)

I checked the schedule -- the 43 interviews I was doing in two days has shrunk to a slightly more manageable 37. The Kadokawa event on Friday night should be enormously fun, presuming that I can still remember by then a) who I am and b) how to sign my name.

Today I get to recover, but plan instead to go out to Studio Ghibli and pay my respects there, something I've wanted to do since they first invited me, when I was working on Princess Mononoke, all those years ago.

...

If I'd stayed home I could have helped with this.... http://www.birdchick.com/2007/09/rolling-bees-in-powdered-sugar.html

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Bath's and Bristol's

About to leave for Japan -- but I thought I would post information on the OTHER UK signing that isn't the 2nd of October London one, before I leave. In Bristol,

WATERSTONE'S BRISTOL GALLERIES
Friday, 28 September 2007, 1:00PM

details at http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/displayDetailEvent.do?searchType=1&author=Neil|Gaiman

And on the following day I'll be at http://www.bathkidslitfest.co.uk/event_J19.htm

Saturday 29th September
J19 6 – 7pm, The Forum, £5
World famous for his Sandman graphic novel series, and
Event suitable for ages 12 and over acclaimed as a children’s author for his novel Coraline, and his picture books which include The Wolves in the Walls and The day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish, Neil Gaiman is one of today’s great cult writers. In this book festival exclusive, Neil Gaiman Event suitable for adults.travels from America to talk about his writing, his films and some of the many influences on his incredible imagination.

Supported by Bloomsbury Children’s Books



There. Will post again from Japan, I trust...

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Jim Rigney

I met Jim Rigney, who wrote under the name of Robert Jordan, at my friend Mike Ford's memorial service. (Mike died last September, when I was in London.) Jim was Mike's adopted family -- Mike would go and stay with Jim and his wife during the holidays. Jim was in a wheelchair at the memorial, fragile but happy (as happy as one could be, as I said at the time) to be there. We met and spoke and liked each other, bonding on a lost friend, and we've stayed in touch in email ever since.

I liked him.

I just learned he died yesterday.

And, slightly stunned, I found myself thinking, stupidly, "I shall have to stop coming to the UK in September if this is what happens whenever I do." As if, if I stayed home, I could keep everyone alive.

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Why It's Sometimes Better To Write It First

I've never quite had this conversation as an author, not that I remember. Not with an agent or with an editor. (Well, my former UK agent managed to kill one book by getting me to tell her the story over lunch, and then saying sniffily "Well, it's not really High Concept is it?" and saying nothing else about it, and after that the book in question never seemed as inviting...)

But I've had this conversation several times with Studio Executives, as a film-writer. I once went in to pitch a story to a studio boss and walked out with a commission to write a completely different film based on something that had happened to him on his holidays. Honest.)

(If you're on an Rss feed and it doesn't show up, click on http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2007/09/why-its-sometimes-better-to-write-it.html now)



via http://www.janeyolen.com/ and http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/blog

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

I just don't see it...

Mr and Mrs Wm. Stiteler -- AKA the Birdchick and Non-Birding Bill -- are currently in residence at my place in the US for the weekend, where Bill is trying to figure out why the upstairs Slingbox isn't slinging, and Sharon is checking the bees for mites (I think she may have to coat some 300 bees in powdered sugar, but don't quote me on this). Both of them are providing company to Cabal the dog. You would think that would be enough for them to do.

But nay. Far from it.

Someone wrote to Sharon's blog to say that my dog looked like me.

So Sharon and Bill decided to put it to the test. They just emailed me the results...



Nope. See? Nothing like me at all...

I've recovered from the Swedish trip, I think. One more day here in the UK before I fly to Japan.
So far the most unlikely thing I've done in the UK so far is see the revival of Boeing Boeing*, which was astonishingly funny, all things considered (although Rhea Perlman seemed a bit lumpy). Good farce is a fascinating artform -- things have to happen cumulatively in exactly the right way, and they have to build to a point where expected disasters happen in unexpected ways while unexpected reverses happen in satisfyingly expected ways -- one opening lie, or deception, or error has to ricochet and build through the plot, repercussing and causing more lies, more doors to open and close. I'd love to create a farce one day, but suspect I don't quite have the head for it.
Still, it might be fun to try.
*interestingly, if you Google "Boeing Boeing reviews" you get lots of Boing Boing hits, because Google knoews best.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Quick One

Hi Neil! I'm really happy you managed to squeeze in an event in Japan after all. Could you please clarify though if the 6.30 is am or pm, please?I also wrote a short guide on how to access the place - with maps and all - which might be of use to English speakers who have a hard time finding their way in Tokyo. It can be found here: http://sesam.hu/WordPress/2007/09/15/neil-signing-in-japan/
Kind Regards,SeSam

What an astonishingly helpful map -- thank you. And it's 6:30 pm.

Hi Neil,

It was great to see you in Sweden and get the opportunity to see Stardust long before the actual release date. And the movie was great btw, but I certainly missed a few things from the book. I wish that we could have stayed for the signing, but that will have to be the next time.

Me and my wife had some time in the line to get in to see the movie and started to think about one thing. Since I am working as a music promoter and agent the question that came up is: When you travel to events like this - do you have a tour manager? Most bands and artists that I work with do have one (the bigger the band, the more they act like a nanny...). And - do you have a rider prepared for you when you arrive like a proper rock star?

All the best & keep up the good work! :)

Niklas

ps - I am the one who for quite a while translated this journal into Swedish (just for fun and practice, I think that 99% of your Swedish readers understand English just fine), but after the arrival of our son last April all my spare time is lost (in a good way!). So if anyone wants to take over, they can e-mail me on hersa72@hotmail.com
.

Nope, no Tour Manager, although Angharad Thomas from the UK end of Paramount International, and Louise and Eva from the Swedish bit of Paramount were in Lund, organising the various press and TV interviews that I was doing and making sure that turned up on time. In Italy I had Christiana from my publisher Mondadori doing the same thing -- making sure that the interviews happened when they were meant to happen, while my daughter Holly kept a happy eye on me and made sure that I ate.

I keep thinking that if ever I do another reading tour I'd have a tour manager, though. (I know. When I did the Last Angel Tour in 2000 I said it was going to be the last ever reading tour - http://www.cbldf.org/pr/000825-gat2000.shtml for details - but that was seven years ago. And I miss it.)

Tour riders would be fun. (I have read too many of them with a crooked grin on my face over at http://www.thesmokinggun.com/backstagetour/index.html .) If I did a reading tour I'd take great joy in putting one together and demanding good sushi or miniature horses or something, but whatever I demanded or however I demanded it it wouldn't be as good as Iggy Pop's backstage rider...

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Lund, London and a Little Japan

Last night I introduced Stardust to the Swedes and did a Q&A after. Today I was interviewed by the Swedish press, then did a book-signing, and then I was given the "Finn the Giant" Award. In the crypt of the Cathedral at Lund. Beautiful live music was played, the legend of Finn the Giant was retold, and I was made the second person, following the unfollowable Terry Gilliam in 2005, to be honoured with the award.

In addition to a scroll, and flowers, I was given an amazing piece of art as my Award -- a portrait of me as a Saint, of sorts, all framed and ready to hang.

And then I left in the rain for the airport, happy to have met so many nice people and wishing I could stay longer in Lund.

....

Right. Here are the details of the upcoming Hay Festival London event...

Tuesday 2 October, 6pm

Neil Gaiman in conversation with Claire Armitstead, literary editor of the Guardian
The Criterion, Piccadilly
Book signing following the event.



The film of Stardust premieres in London on Wednesday 3 October. We have a pair of tickets to the premiere: all ticket-holders to the Hay Festival event at The Criterion will be entered into a draw and the winner announced at the book signing.
Tickets £5
Book at
http://www.hayfestival.com/ or on 0870 990 1299.

Probably worth mentioning that the Criterion seats 600 people, which is slightly less than the last event in London, a year ago, so if you want to be sure that you can come, get tickets early.

This just came in from Japan...


Dear Neil


I am a Japanese fan who is dying to see Japanese release of Star Dust, coming this October. This is not exactly a question, but do you know about the special menues are available at Pascal Caffet and Shiseido Parlour (Both are famous sweets shops in Japan) in Yokohama Takashimaya while the department store is having photograph exhibition of Star Dust? Those menues are Star Dust Sweets Set (Pascal Caffet) and Star Dust Parfait (Shiseido Parlour).

http://www.takashimaya.co.jp/yokohama/new3/index.html

Anyone who eats the menu will get a chance to win a pair of tickets of Star Dust. As your fan, I am wondering if I should take two hour trip to Yokohama to try both menues. (^^)

Kominami Mie

Hullo. Only if you like parfait and sweets, I would have thought. (I loved the website you linked to -- I'd not seen the Japanese Stardust poster before, and it makes me strangely happy that it has the Ghosts on it.)




Also, from it I learned that there's a whole Japanese Stardust website at:

http://www.stardustmovie.jp/top.html

In addition to which, late this afternoon I was told that...

On Friday, the 21st of September, at 6:30 pm in Japan, I will be doing a signing, at


Kadokawa Shoten

2-13-3 Fujimi,

Chiyoda-ku,

Tokyo

102-8177

Japan

(This is my publisher's office, by the way, not a bookshop. They were kind enough to agree to let me do a signing because I told them that people had been writing in to my blog from Japan and asking when I'd sign their books. So if you're in Japan, please come...)

...


Hi Neil

I thought you and your readers might like to know that the Mitch Benn podcast featuring an interview with you is now online - http://www.mitchbenn.com/podcasts/

Lena

Oh good. (I am now slightly less travel-weary than when I did the interview with Mitch, for those who worry about that sort of thing.)

...

Jonathan Ross's In Search of Steve Ditko documentary is broadcast in the UK this Sunday, on BBC4, and you can read what Jonathan has to say about it at http://arts.guardian.co.uk/art/news/story/0,,2169000,00.html

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Lund

Actually, the plane wasn't to Stockholm. It was, rather counter-intuitively, to Copenhagen. Where we were driven over an enormous bridge to Sweden, and were deposited in Lund.

Which is an astonishingly pretty University town, filled with green spaces and pretty buildings. There's a John Bauer exhition in the Museum I'm going to try to get to if I get any time tomorrow that isn't interviews or signings...



(Here's a Bauer painting. I was going to put up a Kittelson picture as well , because Norwegians know what trolls look like too, but I couldn't see any of the ones I wanted in a quick scan of the web and I'm standing in a hotel lobby typing...[Edit: as many people have pointed out, that's because it's Kittelsen])

The Stardust signing and Q&A tonight is sold out, but the signing tomorrow at the Lund Town Hall at 2:30 is open to anyone, and I suspect that the mysterious event in the crypt of the Cathedral at 4:30 is likewise....

...

For those of you who are wondering (as I was) how and what my dog is doing, the Birdchick has posted some information about herself, the bees, giant puffball mushrooms, and my dog (who can be seen both investigating puffballs and being sympathetic as Sharon gets her First Bee Sting over at)

http://www.birdchick.com/2007/09/favorite-moment-of-beekeeping-thus-far.html

http://www.birdchick.com/2007/09/brrrrrr.html

http://www.birdchick.com/2007/09/hello-bee-sting-goodbye-dignity.html

which are the sort of things that I'd be posting if I wasn't on tour. Sigh.

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"What if it WAS the chicken?"

The nice people at MARV films invited me to a magazine launch dinner last night. (A free magazine for men called Shortlist.) The food was lovely, and I met Rob Brydon; I'm a huge fan of Rob's, from Human Remains to Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. More importantly for me, he was in MirrorMask, playing the father and the Prime Minister, but was not filming the days I was around, and so I wanted to say thank you. I wasn't really sure what to expect -- probably that I'd wander over and say "Hullo, I'm Neil Gaiman. Er I wrote MirrorMask, thank you for being in it," and he'd say "Not a problem, nice to meet you Mr um," and that would be that. But it didn't go like that at all -- he started talking about this blog, and then we had to explain MirrorMask to the other people, and then we talked about everything else. He's an astonishingly nice man who, he told me proudly, has a film of him reading The Wolves in the Walls to his kids. I kept telling him how much I love his work, and I do. I never found out why I should read Barry Gibb's blog, though.

In a couple of weeks the BBC World Service will be recording a dramatisation of ANANSI BOYS, starring Lenny Henry and Matt Lucas (as Fat Charlie's boss). I'll put more details up as I get them.

Right. They just posted that my plane for Stockholm is boarding...

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Even odderments

Over at http://floggingbabel.blogspot.com/ Michael Swanwick has begun to blog about the trip to Chungdu...

...

I've mentioned before on this blog my love of the work of Irish illustrator Harry Clarke -- over at http://goldenagecomicbookstories.blogspot.com the Clarke FAUST illustrations are being posted. You may not like them as much as I do, but I shall put up the links so far for lovers everywhere of the elegant ink-line, of the macabre and of the beautifully disturbing...

http://goldenagecomicbookstories.blogspot.com/2007/08/harry-clarke-1889-1931-4-of-his.html
http://goldenagecomicbookstories.blogspot.com/2007/08/harry-clarke-1889-1931-in-clarkes-short.html
http://goldenagecomicbookstories.blogspot.com/2007/08/blog-post_30.html
http://goldenagecomicbookstories.blogspot.com/2007/08/blog-post_9127.html
http://goldenagecomicbookstories.blogspot.com/2007/08/blog-post_2729.html
http://goldenagecomicbookstories.blogspot.com/2007/08/blog-post_5714.html
http://goldenagecomicbookstories.blogspot.com/2007/08/blog-post_9662.html
http://goldenagecomicbookstories.blogspot.com/2007/08/blog-post_6461.html

...


Dear Mr. Gaiman,


Your recent comment that the Polaroid 20x24 camera would be useless within the coming year has caused some commotion over on apug.org (analog photography users group) where we enjoy fretting about the future of film. Did someone really tell you that the 20x24 polaroid film was going to run out this year?


Thanks,Will





Yes, although I no longer remember whether it was the photographer, Marina Alessi, or the journalist (whose name I've forgotten) who told me this. They've been doing this thing of shooting the authors for Italian Vanity Fair for four years now, and this is either the last or the penultimate year, because, she said, there would be no more film.

I found a photo taken by Holly of the photo-shoot that shows the camera...



And an early shout-out for the diaries of anyone in the UK:

On the evening of Tuesday October the 2nd, I'll be doing a literary event in London -- being interviewed by Peter Florence (from the Hay on Wye festival), and doing a reading and the only UK signing. I'll post location details and how you get to it as soon as I know for sure.

(October the 3rd will be the big, red carpetty Stardust premiere in Leicester Square. Having been the only person in a tuxedo at the US premiere, I now have a yearning to be the only person in a leather jacket at the UK one. But I may change my mind.)

Right. Back to writing. Then I zoom to Sweden...

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Monday, September 10, 2007

oddments

Lots of people have written to ask if I'm doing an event in Japan. I was just given my schedule, which has 43 interviews on it over two days, but no public events or signings. I've told the people organising it that, if there is time and if I'm still standing at the end of the interview marathon, I'm very happy to do some kind of public event or signing, though. So we'll see, and I'll pass the information on as I get it.

Over at http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/beowulf/ you can see the Beowulf Trailer and the TV spot. Meanwhile, over at http://www.beowulfmovie.com/ there's all sorts of new content, and at http://www.beowulfmovie.com/restricted/index.html US viewers can see a new Not-PG-13 trailer. If you can find the age and zipcode of a real American Resident, you can watch it outside the US.

I keep waiting for Mitch Benn to put up his third podcast, but he hasn't yet, so I'm going to point you all to http://www.mitchbenn.com/music-stuff where you can download a bunch of strange little Mitch Benn songs that aren't on CDs yet.

Someone wrote to ask about the various documentaries I mentioned recently -- one of them has a broadcast date -- details at http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/comicsbritannia/ross-ditko.shtml

Susanna Clarke sent me this link, because, frankly, there's not enough knitting on this blog:
http://ysolda.com/wordpress/2007/08/21/coraline/

Nor have I ever posted before a link to Edward Gorey's The Trouble With Tribbles...

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Curtains

Holly, my daughter who moved to the UK, had a day seeing the family history sights of Portsmouth and Portchester on Sunday, and came back with a photo of the room I was born in. (From the outside.) For the curious, it looks like this, and is, I am told, the one with the curtains:


and being pedantic sometimes, I saw it and thought, "Every day, dammit. Everyday means something else." But then, I still think that momentarily means for a moment, not in a moment, so don't mind me.

...

I think this came in less than half an hour after I posted my question. You people are good.

Neil was asking about a Journey to the West Map. Can be found here:


http://www.quanpc.com/3575/EJB.aspx

Map's in Chinese though, but should be easy enough to follow - start in Xian in Mid-West China, then heading North West, then making a U-Turn into Afghanistan, Pakistan and then India.

Hope this helps. Just want to quickly thank Neil for signing my stuff in Chengdu, twice.
mafai

and then Martyn Drake came in with this --

http://www.einaudi.cornell.edu/curriculum/monkey/geographic/

is perhaps the closest you're going to find for a map of the journey.

Regards,

Martyn

and then a dozen of you offered other maps... thanks to you all. Not sure what this'll turn into if anything, but I got interested in Monkey again while in China and wanted to learn more about the cultural stuff that wasn't in the Journey to the West.

Dear Neil,

Why is it that you (almost) never do television interviews? Certainly none that I can find in the UK.

Other than references to one you did in Poland, it seems that your wonderful assistant is particularly wonderful at saying no to the "will your Boss please do television appearances?" part of the job spec. Which seems odd given the number of more speciallised personal appearances that you do make and your expanding profile (not that I'm casting any aspersions upon your dietary habits) in the mainstream public consciousness.

The new run of Jonathon Ross' excellent show would seem like an ideal opportunity - or have you turned it down so many times before that they've decided to stop pestering you and leave you in peace?

I'm guessing that its not a priority because it doesn't connect you personally with your supporters, and with time tight as it is you prefer to focus on human connections? Or maybe the thought is a little too terrifying? Either way, however, it would be lovely if those of us who are ardent supporters but not in the convention-attending mould (for one reason or another) could occasionally get a slice of your off-the-cuff unedited insights and dreams.
Yours in hopeful anticipation
James

I do some TV -- I think I've mentioned in this blog fairly recently that I've been interviewed for a BBC documentary on Jamie Hewlett, and for one on Steve Ditko (done, oddly enough, by Jonathan Ross). I've been interviewed for film documentaries about Harlan Ellison, Gahan Wilson and H.P. Lovecraft.

I say no when TV documentary teams ask if they can come and live nearby and follow me around for six months (as they do from time to time) but I mostly say yes to documentaries where I think I can say something useful about something or someone I'm interested in.

I'm an author, and as a breed we tend not to do a lot of national TV in the UK (although I always wind up doing TV when I'm, say, Ireland). Mostly authors in the UK go on the radio. I did Jonathan's radio show a few years ago, but I don't actually think I'd be a good fit for his TV show -- it tends, like most TV chat shows, to interviews with Celebrities and with Personalities, and I really hope I'm neither.

But there are lots of video clips listed at http://www.neilgaiman.com/exclusive/Video/
and several hundred more over at http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=neil+gaiman&hl=en, and then there are things like http://fora.tv/fora/showthread.php?t=397

....

I see from http://johnwatkiss.blogspot.com/ that the paintings that John did for the Sandman presentation Paul Levitz and I did to Warner Films a few years ago (mostly to explain Sandman to them, because while they knew that many people liked it they hadn't a clue what it was about -- and truthfully, I'm not sure they were much the wiser after the presentation was over) are going up for auction. Jill Thompson did a few hundred black and white pictures and John did several colour paintings of scenes. Here's an illustration he did from Season of Mists:

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A Poet to a T

Someone asked me about Edgar Allan Poe while I was signing in Mantova a few days ago, which reminded me that I wrote an introduction to a book of illustrated Poe poems and stories which Barnes and Noble published a few years ago. Seeing that their book is now out of print, I don't think anyone would object if I put the essay up here at www.neilgaiman.com

It's at http://www.neilgaiman.com/exclusive/essays/essaysbyneil/poe/
(And for those of you reading this on an RSS feed, you can find it, and many more odd and interesting things at http://www.neilgaiman.com/exclusive/)

I know that you are very busy at the moment, but should you find time to mention in your blog that Charles Vess and Charles de Lint will appear together tomorrow night (Monday, Sept. 10th) at Malaprop's Bookstore in Asheville, NC to read, sign books, and answer questions, then I just might be the happiest little bookseller in the world. Pretty please? Much Love, -Gina

easy! I hope that people read this in time.

Neil,
This has probably already been brought to your attention, but just in case it slipped through the cracks... Here's a little piece that thinks they've figured out the virus that's causing the colony collapse disorder of the honey bees.
Looks like we might be getting some Israeli honeybees!
felix

Yup, people had sent it to me, but I hadn't put it up here. And should have done...

...

Over at http://www.flickr.com/photos/wardomatic/1324443199/ you can see the CORALINE poster that Laika films made for Comic-Con.

...

Your nose looks fine in the Enormous Polaroid. I thought you might like to be reassured about this.

Also, that's a very nice photo for a camera phone (the photo you took of the Enormous Polaroid, I mean). Is it one of those iPhone things? I'm not trying to trick you into endorsing your camera phone - I'm genuinely curious as to which phone works that well.

Thank you!

My nose looks fine because the photographer sensibly had me looking in the other direction, so the side of my nose that had gone a bit wonky (but is now fine, thank you very much) is brilliantly hidden.

The phone is a Nokia N73, with a nice little 3.2 megapixel camera built in. I bought it a week ago in Amsterdam airport, and so far I really like it, although the little navigation button could be better designed. Here's a shot I took with it of the square in Mantova a couple of days ago, with one of the many festival tents below.




And now I'm going to do the sort of things you do when you fetch up in the UK and you've been travelling for a few weeks. I'm going to Boots, and I'm going to buy shaving oil and more toothpaste, for example. Then I'm going to M&S and I'm going to buy a black sweater or two, because it's going to get colder on my travels from here on out.

Then I think maybe I might do some writing. That would be nice.

...

Given that I was bragging the other night about how the readers of this blog between them know everything, I wondered if anyone knew whether there was a good on-line map of the actual journey from China to India made by the Monkey and his traveling companions in the Wu Cheng'en book Journey to the West?

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Where am I?

I'm in England right now, feeling a bit travel-sick (literally. It's not a clever idea to try and type in a car going from Gatwick to London) and travel-weary.

I travelled to the airport this morning in a car with Boris and Mrs Spassky in the back, which was odd as I'd put a reference to Fischer Vs. Spassky into the script for "Black Hole" a couple of days ago. Cultural references shouldn't travel in the same car as you.

Let's see. I did an event for kids yesterday afternoon, then late last night was the event for the Festival volunteers -- I was sat on a large red throne and interviewed by Death, Delirium, Destruction and Destiny, among other people. It was fun, and odd, and strangely sweet, and then I signed until nearly one in the morning. Other interesting things I did yesterday would include coffee in the hotel lounge with fellow guests Kiran Desai and Mohsin Hamid, mistaking Colin Thubron for James Lovelock, and failing to get drunk with Jonathan Ames (went to bed instead).

Ran into an old acquaintance in the baggage hall at Gatwick which was nice (and he helped magic me through customs).

How was dinner with Chuck Palahniuk?

Nice, thank you. I had the fish.

I discovered today that Chuck's teaching at Clarion West in 2008, while I'll be teaching at Clarion. (Details at http://www.boingboing.net/2007/09/09/instructor-rosters-f.html). The Clarion website is at http://theclarionfoundation.org/ and author Robert Crais made me wistful in Mantova by telling me about his Clarion in 1972, taught by Chip Delany, Gene Wolfe, Joe Haldeman, Roger Zelazny, Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm...

Someone wrote to ask if the gigantic polaroid camera was the same kind as in this article -- http://www.making-ripples.com/2006/09/excuse_me_did_y.html -- and it looked exactly the same, yes. (The photographer, Marina Alessi, said there were three cameras in the US and two in Europe.) Someone else wrote to tell me that there's a bigger one -- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/essays/vanRiper/011120.htm.
I imagine the coming lack of film will doom that one as well....

Back home, Sharon Stiteler caught the bees on a coffee break, then harvested the honey. With my dog. And I am not there. Sigh.

...

If you want to see National Theatre of Scotland/Improbable production of The Wolves in the Walls ("a musical pandemonium") you can get tickets at https://secure.newvictory.org/newvictory/tickets/production.aspx?PID=86
(and read about it at http://www.newvictory.org/show.m?showID=1028522).

For all the people writing to ask me if it's also going to be showing up in LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis etc, as far as I know right now there are no plans for it to go anywhere else. Having said that, if people from local theatres see it in New York and want to bring it in, then all will change.

Hi Neil! In response to the question on Little Red Riding Hood posted a few days ago, the book by Jack Zipes called "The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood" (1993) has a translation of the traditional French oral folktale on which Perrault based his literary reversion :) It's a great resource. Hope all is well! - katrina

And it's by Jack Zipes. Who is my co-Keynote Speaker at the Fantasy Matters conference in Minneapolis in November. (Lots of other cool people and good writers will be there including Patrick Rothfuss and Pamela Dean.)

Details of the me-interviewing-Susanna-Clarke event in London on September 25th are at http://www.sci-fi-london.com/news/article/1185402300/6 (or http://www.sci-fi-london.com/news/article/1188643748/8).

Going to eat something now.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Quick Sweden Info

Last night's Mantova Literary festival event was really fun. Two more to go today -- the one at 10:30 tonight for the volunteers and all sounds like it will be very wild and fun. ("Do you mind if people dressed as your characters are up on the stage with you?")

Neil, Last month you wrote that you would be signing in Sweden soon. I can't seem to find any information on this neither on the Internet or on your site. Will you be posting time and place in advance so that I may buy cheap train tickets (or fix my car)? Regards,anders.

Information came in yesterday... so: on the evening of Thursday the 13th of September I'll be presenting Stardust and doing a Q&A at the Fantastic Film Festival in Lund.
On Friday the 14th at 2:30pm – 3:30pm I'll be doing a signing at the Lund Town Hall. And then at 4:30 I will be at an event in the crypt of the Lund Cathedral...

The following week I'll be in Japan, and I should have information on that very soon.

Right. Leaving the press office now.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

The Enormous Polaroid


I'm alive. They did the Vanity Fair Enormous Polaroid picture this morning, and it was a strange experience standing for fifteen minutes while the huge device was adjusted. It's one of five giant Polaroid cameras in existence -- and this year it will run out of film and chemicals, and then it will become wood and brass and glass and cloth, without function. Here's Holly beside the Polaroid looking happy. (The photo is from my new phone.)
Right. I have to leave the press-room-with-internet and go and be interviewed again now.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Mantua...

I'm in Mantua -- Mantova -- with a daughter (Holly). I'm a bit jetlagged, or just travel-drained. My hair really needs cutting, and my nose looks like some kind of weird medical experiment ("You will get your photo taken today by Vanity Fair," I was just told. "It is a huge Polaroid, the biggest Polaroid picture there is. Then you must sign it." I can pray for a miracle, or people will look at my photo in the years to come, and sigh, and say "I wonder what was wrong his nose?" Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.) Too much travel.

There's no internet in my hotel, but I've brought my computer up to the press room of the literary festival. Last night's dinner with my publishers included writers Nathan Englander, Robert Crais and Colum McCann. I met Chuck Palahniuk and we've resolved to try and have dinner tonight. People think all writers know each other, but we don't, except in Mantua.

My events here are (in the Festival website's English translation)

108
Friday 20:45
Palazzo di San Sebastiano
Neil Gaiman, Matteo Stefanelli
NEIL GAIMAN CON MATTEO STEFANELLI
Euro 4.00

Neil Gaiman is an exception in contemporary literary panorama. Gaiman, with his eclectic style, is an author of rare sensitivity and infinite imagination, able to create stories rich in psychological symbols. Matteo Stefanelli will meet him.


Evento sponsorizzato da: Tratto Pen by Fila - Giotto by Fila - Fabbrica Italiana Lapis e Affini s.p.a.

141
Saturday 15:30
Teatro di San Leonardo
Neil Gaiman, Federico Taddia
NEIL GAIMAN CON FEDERICO TADDIA
Euro 3.00
(dai 12 ai 15 anni)

Daddy? He looks like a normal guy but in reality he is an African divinity. Do you fancy a jump on a parallel world? Gaiman makes Coralline, a courageous little girl, discover an identical house, parents who are exactly like her own among talking cats and musician mice. These are just some examples of what this incredible author can do. Federico Taddia will meet him.


Evento sponsorizzato da: Litocartotecnica IVAL S.p.a.

Saturday 22:30
Piazza Virgiliana
Neil Gaiman
BLURANDEVÙ
Appuntamenti in blu: gli autori rispondono alle domande dei volontari-conduttori di Festivaletteratura

“The important thing is to write as much as possible, to feel like telling stories (…) If you are a talented writer, you must try everything till you find the most suitable way for you. I think the most difficult thing is not to get tired, try and try again even though the first results are far from satisfactory.” In fact, Neil Gaiman has experimented with all sorts of things: he has drawn comic strips, written children’s fantasy books and novels as well as screenplays and stage sets. An exceptionally talented writer to discover together with Bulurendevu’s volunteers


Evento sponsorizzato da: VYP Very young person Cariparma e Piacenza
event

Someone wrote to ask when Stardust would be released in the Philippines -- I checked and it's the 17th of October. I was sent a complete list of upcoming Stardust release dates around the world -- you can download it here:

STARDUST Release Dates.pdf

hi neil-
do you have any leads to a text of the French version of Little Red Riding Hood in which Red is convinced to eat her grandmother and then is eaten by the wolf?
Thanks!
Annie

I searched Neilgaiman.com and found http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2001/11/lets-see.asp

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Visit Stormhold

These little "Tourism Guides" for the International release of STARDUST are rather fun (and, oddly, feel a bit more like the movie than the real ad campaign did). Four YouTube videos (I mention this because they don't always make it into the RSS feeds of the journal). (info found at http://www.chewingpixels.com/?p=466)







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Sunday, September 02, 2007

I See You Quiver With Antici....


On my last day in China I nipped up the wall, hastily blogged, and then went out shopping.

I really enjoyed the shopping expedition, despite exasperating my handlers (and even my driver) at my inability to haggle properly. I suspect I even irritated the gentleman I was meant to be haggling with. I don't have getting insulted by the ridiculous price being asked, criticising the seller and the quality of his merchandise, and then threatening to walk off in a huff down, not even half-way, and at the point where the wallet (it was for me. My old one had dissolved into frayed cardboard) was significantly cheaper than it would have been in the US, I just said Okay, and paid for it.

Cygnus and Heather (who were my handlers) and the driver (who was just sort of hanging around to help carry things because it was more interesting than waiting down in the car park)immediately told me off in no uncertain terms. I had let the side down. With another ten minutes of histrionics and finger-wagging (it was made very clear to me) I could have probably got at least another couple of dollars off the price of that wallet. After that I let Cygnus and the driver do the haggling (Heather had already said goodbye and gone off somewhere, probably in disgust at my haggling crapness). I picked out things I liked, and, in the end, paid for whatever had been haggled for. They did the in-between bits.

(Thanks to all the handlers and interpreters, to my driver, to Grace-the-Great-Wall-Guide, and all the people from Harper Collins US, UK and China.)

The nice things I got were gifts for the people from Harper Collins China. The fun stuff was gifts for other people and odd things for me, like a jade disk that, I have discovered, gives me something to do with my hands on long flights.

Then back to the Beijing hotel for a marathon stint of packing -- China is a gift-giving culture, and I had been given many things -- and a trip to the airport this morning. Got onto the plane, worked on the plane until my computer died, slept a little, then changed planes in Amsterdam, and flew to Budapest where I am now posting this on the astonishingly expensive local hotel internet.

When I got on line I learned that Montreal won the 2009 Worldcon bid -- http://www.anticipationsf.ca/ is the website, where we learn that:

Anticipation, the WorldCon will be held August 6-10 at Palais des
congrès de Montréal
from August 6th - 10th, 2009.


Neil Gaiman - Guest of Honour


Elisabeth Vonarburg - Invitée d'honneur


Taral Wayne - Fan Guest of Honour


David Hartwell - Editor Guest of Honour


Tom Doherty - Publisher Guest of Honour


Julie Czerneda - Master of Ceremonies



Our new mailing address is:


C.P. 105, Succursale NDG Montréal, Québec Canada H4A 3P4


And before I read the email telling me I was a guest I had already read this, from the FAQ line,


Congratulations on officially becoming a Worldcon GOH! Looking forward to Montreal in 2009. How do you feel about it?

A bit nervous. Happy, too. I hope I can do it justice. Someone else wrote in to tell me that he thought I was a bit young to be a Worldcon Guest of Honour. I'll be 48 in 2009, and a couple of minutes with Wikipedia showed that Brian Aldiss, Roger Zelazny, Harlan Ellison, James Blish and Bob Silverberg were all some years younger than I am now when they were first Worldcon Guests of Honour (or, in the case of American conventions, Honor) (and there may be more -- after I found those five I stopped looking). And if anyone wishes to point out that Aldiss, Blish, Ellison, Silverberg and Zelazny were giants of the field while I'm just someone who writes stuff then they'll get no argument from me. (I'll have been earning a living by writing, and working in the SF and fantasy field for about 27 years by that point, for anyone who wondered.)

I'll be a Guest of Honour at the British Eastercon in 2008 (http://www.orbital2008.org/), and will, I am fairly certain at this point, be saying no to any other convention invitations in 2008 and 2009.

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