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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Hallowe'en

You can download a podcast from Beowulf of me being interviewed about the film last week, almost immediately after I'd seen it all the way through for the first time.

Dave McKean says thank you, and he has now found his origami crabmaker. (And I say thank you too, to all the volunteers.)

Edit to add: Dave says...

Neil,
Please post a note thanking everyone for such a wonderful response.
It's great to know you can get an origami crab in an emergency.

d


Neil, I wanted to be sure someone told you that someone did a pumpkin rendition of Death (here: http://www.hommage.us/gallery/displayimage.php?album=8&pos=1) and entered it in the Wired "Show us your geeky pumpkins" competition (here: http://blog.wired.com/underwire/2007/10/show-us-your-ge.html).

I don't know how that compares to the previously posted Neil o' lantern but I have to admit that I bounced up and down in my chair when I saw it; it's always so cool to find more proof that Gaiman fans are legion ...

Cheers,

Betsy O'Donovan

How cool! and for more (not me-related) pumpkins...



Hi Neil, I thought you might enjoy this. www.duarte.com/halloween


Duarte Design specializes in presentation graphics. (We did Al Gore's slides for An Inconvenient Truth.) See what our designers came up with this Hallowe'en.

I'm a new employee here, and my husband and I had a BLAST carving our first entry to the contest. Enjoy!

and then there are the costumes...

Hello Mr. Gaiman.

I hope you don't mind it when, instead of using this form to send you interesting questions, people use it to send you delightful photos of themselves in their Delirium costume which they made for Hallowe'en. Because, (in case you haven't already guessed) that is my exact intention.

Also, I love your stories, and wish you continued inspiration and good fortune!
Love from Canada
Andrea
(You'll find the pictures here. Sorry if there's a better way of doing this, I'm not very computer-savvy.)

http://neilgaimanboard.com/eve/forums?a=tpc&s=733605825&f=68210996141&m=48010555241&r=29010566241#29010566241


I really don't mind posting it at all. If someone wants to create a Picassa or Flikr or something place that people can upload pictures of them in costumes inspired by stuff I wrote, I'll happily put up a link to it here.

...

Hi there. My name is Erin and some of my community members suggested I write to you and tell you a little about myself and see if you'd be willing to pass a link on to your readers.

I'm suffering from two neurological conditions that keep me from working, but not bad enough for SSA to find me eligible for Medicaid so I can have brain surgery, which would allow me to go back to work. I started a "grass roots" campaign that is getting larger every day. It's called Project Download and it gives a person the chance to help save my life by making one small click a day. Details can be found at http://projecterin.com/.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and possibly considering sharing it with your readers. It would mean the world (literally) to me.
Warm regards,

Erin Bennett

I wasn't going to, but I was impressed enough with Erin's FAQs (http://projecterin.com/faq.html) that I'm happy to put this up. Hope you get the clicks, and the medical treatment, and good luck.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Night Before Hallowe'en...

An urgent message from Dave McKean, who is making a low-budget film called LUNA right now:

I urgently need 2 white paper origami crabs to appear in a scene in Luna, like this one:
http://db.origami.com/displayphoto.asp?ModelID=2244
if anyone is willing to make them and send them to the UK straight away, I can pay a small fee to cover time (or a signed drawing or book?), give them a name check in the final credits, and give them a fedex account number for shipping.

Go to the FAQ page if you're an Origami whizz (and I know there are Origami whizzes out there, as I get given amazing things at signings) and drop me a line, and I'll put you straight in touch with Dave. Who will probably soon be drowning in Origami crabs.

Went in to Hair Police today and saw Wendy who turned the strange messy mop that my hair had turned into into a rather nice haircut. From there to Dreamhaven where I signed lots of stuff for Elizabeth and the www.neilgaiman.net site, including a half a ton of Absolute Sandman Volume 2s. As I drove home Roger Avary called to let me know that he's reopening his website after a couple of years without one -- http://www.avary.com/.

Then to Maddy's Parent Teacher conference. She's doing wonderfully at school, and got an impressive report card -- which, for the first time ever, she really had to work for, as she came to the UK for the Stardust premiere and having lost a week of schoolwork. (She's coming to LA with me for the Beowulf premiere, but is only missing one school day to do it.)

And then home. Opened the copy of Bust I'd picked up at DreamHaven (officially I get it for my assistant Lorraine, but I always read it first -- sort of like when I'd pick up a copy of Bunty for my sisters as a boy), and found myself staring at an unexpected advert for the Good Omens and Stardust scents from BPAL. Which reminded me that I had meant to congratulate the amazing Beth, who is the mind (and the nose) behind BPAL -- and a woman who has raised an enormous amount of money for the CBLDF this year -- on her wedding.

(And if you haven't looked at the CBLDF site recently -- http://www.cbldf.org/ -- Gordon Lee goes to trial on Monday. Finally. After three years, two completely different sets of "facts", and $80,000 in legal bills so far for something that should never have been a police matter in the first place... http://www.cbldf.org/articles/archives/000318.shtml for the story so far.)

Lots and lots and lots and lots of emails from people telling me that Marmite can be found all over America, normally beside the baking supplies (probably because of the word Yeast). I don't think I'm going to need Marmite again for another couple of years now, but than you all for the info.

(first time question!)

I've just heard from a friend who was quite annoyed. He met this famous UK author while the author was doing research on his latest book - and the author used my friend's anecdote as quite a major plot device in the book. However, my friend wasn't asked for permission or acknowledged in any way.

Has this ever happened to you (in the opposite direction of course)? I'd think there'd be lots of stories you've been told bubbling in your mind, and sometimes you wouldn't even realize that a story has been told to you by someone else. Would you contact someone if you were using a story of theirs?

I try reasonably hard to credit people who helped (see the very long list of names at the back of American Gods) but find it hard to find fault with the author in question. Authors are packrats. If you tell us an anecdote -- unless you preface it with "I am about to tell you an amusing and/or interesting anecdote. Should you at some future time use it in a book you will need to contact me to obtain my permission, or at least credit me by name. I shall now tell you the anecdote and then give you my contact details in a form in which you won't lose them," -- then it's fair game. I think our attitude -- I don't speak for all of us, but enough -- is that if your friend thought his anecdote would have made a good book, he should have written it himself.

I don't know the names of the people who took me down the sewers or into the disused tube tunnels when I was doing Neverwhere, but their anecdotes certainly made it into the book. I didn't give the name of the financially dodgy agent whose interesting approach to paying over royalties inspired the character and behaviour of Graham Coats in Anansi Boys either (probably a wise move, that). And, as you say, very often you know someone told you that Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria obtained a doctor's note to get out of being married, but who it was or when has melted down in the compost heap in the back of your mind to the brown sludge of memory. It's like remembering jokes, and who told them to you. The shape is now there in your mind, and you know the punch line is "Two coffees and a choc ice," but how it entered your head is a mystery.

(And it's worth pointing out your friend might be wrong. I get letters sometimes from people saying "You got this from me." And the people who send the letters believe it, but it's not the case. I find myself replying "Actually, I wrote this four years before you wrote your story," or "I understand you think I got this from something you said. Actually the entire story was in this newspaper on this date, and that was where I got it from.")

Having said all that, I'm also really sympathetic to your friend. Many years ago I was on a panel where I said "I'm going to write a book called X," and no-one laughed longer or louder than the bloke next to me on the panel who, eleven months later, brought out a book with the title I'd mentioned. I was in a conversation with another author who mentioned being stuck on a plot thing, and I said "Oh, that's an easy one," and made a suggestion, and suggested a title for the book for good measure, and he said "I owe you lunch for that one," but I scanned the acknowledgements in vain looking for a thank you when the book came out, and didn't get a lunch out of it either. And conversely I have fuzzy warm feelings for all those people who wrote books and actually did say thank you, and used their acknowledgments to acknowledge.

...

After a long day, i got "your" love letter that the new york times sent out. It was rather funny and made me laugh a lot.(was even funnier trying to explain to my roomate that it wasnt a real love letter)Did you have anything to do with the writting of those love letter? Or did the new york times write them without the help of the varies authors? Do you know if every one got the same letter? Just curious, thanks.

Yes, everyone got the same letter (it's the UK Times, by the way, not the New York one). And yes, I wrote it. (Really, it's a short story.) The day before me people got one from Margaret Atwood. Today, I think it's Leonard Cohen. I think you can still sign up for the last three... http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/commercial/article2623706.ece

...

Finally -- this gave me a warm and happy smile.... http://papercuts.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/30/when-the-wolves-come-out-of-the-walls-its-all-over/

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Monday, October 29, 2007

the simplicity of black...

(I just discovered that there is a chipmunk living in the drainpipe that backs onto my bedroom, which explains the mysterious noises that I haven't mentioned here in case people started doing wolves in the walls jokes.)

...

You know, the main reason I've been wearing more or less the same thing for about 20 years is that I don't ever have to wonder what to wear. It makes life easy.

My assistant Lorraine just asked me what I wanted to wear to the Beowulf premieres in the UK and the US and I realised with a sort of creeping horror that I didn't know. I already wore a tuxedo-and-bow-tie to the US Stardust Premiere, and I wore a leather jacket black tee shirt and and black jeans to the UK Stardust premiere. That pretty much completely exhausts my range. I suppose I could wear a different leather jacket, or perhaps a tie instead of a bowtie with the tux, but (shakes head gloomily). I don't know. Decisions, decision. (I asked an actress friend what she was going to wear and learned that clothes designers actually lobby to have actorish people be seen wearing their clothes on the red carpet. I had to explain that it doesn't work that way for writers. I suppose I could toss a coin.)

...

I've been using Google Documents to share ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS with people who needed to see it... and just realised that none of the little corrections and fixes I've been entering -- and dutifully saving -- have been saved. Instead it seems to have taken a version of the document open in Google Documents on another computer somewhere in the house as its master text, which means the saves I've done on the downstairs computer I'm on have apparently not taken. (I've sat there going through all the old saved versions it's kept -- 121 of them and they only seem to go back and forwards between a couple of versions in which a But changes to a Still, because at a guess it's open in two different tabs somewhere on whichever computer it's on that Google is paying attention to...) Between the people who can't get in to see it and write me grumbly emails, and the way Google Documents sometimes fails to send the letters inviting people to look at it (but still lists them as now having access to the document), I think I should have paid a bit more attention to the word BETA underneath the words Google and Documents.

...

Hello Mr. Gaiman!

I just thought you might be interested to know I've carved a Jack O'Lantern of you for our dorm's pumpkin competition. I'm hoping to scrape a "Most Original" for it, but I might lose to the Andy Warhol's Marilyn Pumpkin. Ah well.

Here is a link to a picture of it I posted on facebook.

http://bgsu.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=34570514&id=20923362&op=1&view=all&subj=2200703877&aid=-1&oid=2200703877

Sorry it's not lit up, apparently they're a fire hazard. Such is dorm life.

I hope you're not weirded out by this. But really I don't know, I might not be as original as I think I am. Probably dozens of Neil O'Lanterns get made every year!

Thanks,

Katy Gehred

Probably. (Small grin.) No, I think it's just you. if more turn up I'll try to link to them here...

Neil,

We thought we'd let you know that you seem to have a bunch of knitter fans! A Knitters for Neil group has been started on the up and coming fiber arts site Ravelry.com, just thought you might get a kick out of knowing it exists. We're hoping to come up with some interesting you-inspired knits, so if you wouldn't mind letting everyone know that if they would like to join or have any ideas we can be found at http://www.ravelry.com/groups/neil-gaiman-knitters

Thanks!

Lauren

It seems like Ravelry is something you sign up for and then wait to be invited to join. But consider it plugged...

Not a question, just pointing out something your readers might find useful: you can buy british editions of books and ship them (almost) worldwide without having to pay postage at The Book Depository website (www.bookdepository.co.uk).
(I am not affiliated with this website, I just find their service useful and impressive)

Good to know, although it doesn't look like you can pre-order stuff there. Right now for Odd they send you to Amazon.co.uk, anyway.

...

I just learned that the official on-sale date of The Graveyard Book is September the 30th 2008
...

Maddy wants to know why I haven't posted a photo of her on this blog for ages, and suggests that simply by posting a recent photograph I could prove to the world that I still love her...



...

Lots of people wrote and told me I could order Marmite from Amazon.com -- and I did! It just arrived. Unfortunately two bottles (of twelve) were smashed in shipping, and I discovered that Amazon won't let you return or refund grocery items, so I don't think I'll be ordering groceries from Amazon again.

And many of you wrote and asked me to explain Marmite. And I shall. but not now.

...


Right. Back to rereading Bone.

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my World Book Day book


Where will I buy Odd and The Frost Giants since I live in the US? Will there be a distributor here? How long do I have to wait? Also, how long do I have to wait for The Graveyard Book? I'm aching to read new Gaiman.

Thank you, Mr. Neil.

Siri

You're welcome. Let's see... I don't know if Odd and the Frost Giants will be published in the US. No plans for it at present, anyway.

It was written for something called World Book Day in the UK, where a bunch of authors write books for nothing, and publishers publish them for nothing, and they get sold for
£1 each to kids who have been given £1 Book Tokens, and the whole thing exists purely in order to get kids reading. They describe it on their website as the biggest annual event promoting the enjoyment of books and reading.

It was started by UNESCO, borrowing a custom from Catalonia, where roses and books were given as gifts on April 23rd (St George's Day, Shakespeare's birth and death day, not to mention Nobokov's birthday and Cervantes deathday).

It's a registered charity. (Here's the FAQs on the website.)

In the UK and Ireland it'll be Thursday the 6th of March 2008.

Here are this year's books: http://www.worldbookday.com/1-pound-book-details.asp

As to how you'd get a copy if you aren't in the UK, I'd suggest either get someone in the UK to buy one for you, or simply order one from an online retailer. You'll be paying postage but it's still a 14,500 word book for $2 (that's about half the length of CORALINE) so it's not going to set you back much.

If you decide to use Amazon.co.uk -- which anyone with an Amazon account in any other country can use -- you want to use this link to the one pound copy of the book. They have -- and do not use -- another link up to a discounted twenty-five pound version of the book -- which is, I assume, and unless I hear otherwise, some kind of Amazon screw-up, although possibly they're discounting packs of 25 copies. [edit to add, guess confirmed. That's what it is -- a pack of 25 for retailers.]

Now I've finished writing Odd..., I've an essay on Jeff Smith's Bone to do and an introduction to a book about Frank McConnell, then I'm back full-time onto The Graveyard Book until it's done. Will probably fall off the earth in December to finish it.

I think The Graveyard Book will come out in about a year. Maybe a little less.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

The beginning of Chapter 3 of Odd and the Frost Giants

This is how Chapter 3 of Odd and the Frost Giants begins...



Odd had imagined that the side of salmon would feed him for a week or more. But bears and foxes and eagles all, he discovered, eat salmon, and feeding them was the least he could do to thank them for seeing him home. They ate until the fish was all gone, but only Odd and the eagle seemed satisfied with their portions. The fox and the bear both looked like they were still hungry.


“We'll find more food tomorrow,” said Odd. “Sleep now.”


The animals stared at him. He walked over to the straw mattress, and climbed onto it. It didn't smell like his father at all, he realised, as he sat down on it, as he placed the crutch carefully against the wall, to pull himself up when he woke. It just smelled like straw. Odd closed his eyes, and he was asleep.


Dreams of darkness, of flashes, of moments, nothing he could hold onto, nothing that comforted him. And then into the dream a booming gloomy voice that said,


“It wasn't my fault.”


And a higher voice, bitterly amused, that said, “Oh, right. I told you not to go pushing that tree down. You just didn't listen.”


“I was hungry. I could smell the honey. You don't know what it was like, smelling that honey. It was better than mead. Better than roasted goose.” And then, the gloomy voice, so bass it made Odd's stomach vibrate, changed its tone. “And you, of all people, don't need to go blaming people. It's because of you we're in this mess.”


“I thought we had a deal. I thought we weren't going to keep harping on about a trivial little mistake...”


“You call this trivial?”


And then a third voice, high and raw, which screeched, “Silence.”


There was silence. Odd rolled over. There was a glow from the fire-embers, enough to see the inside of the hut, enough to confirm to Odd that there were not another three people in there with him. It was just him and the fox and the bear and the eagle...


I wonder if they eat people, thought Odd. Whatever they are.


He sat up in the bed, leaned against the wall. The bear and the eagle both ignored him. The fox darted him a green-eyed glance.


“You were talking,” said Odd.


The animals looked at Odd and at each other. If they did not actually say “Who? Us?” it was there in their expressions, in the way they held themselves.


Somebody was talking,” said Odd. “And it wasn't me. There isn't anyone else in here. That means it was you lot. And there's no point in arguing.”


“We weren't arguing,” said the bear. “Because we can't talk.” Then it said, “Oops.”


The fox and the eagle glared at the bear, who put a paw over his eyes and looked ashamed of himself.


Odd sighed. “Which one of you wants to explain what's going on?” he said.


“Nothing,” said the fox, brightly. “Just a few talking animals. Nothing to worry about. Happens every day. We'll be out of your hair first thing in the morning.”


The eagle fixed Odd with its one good eye. Then it turned to the fox. “Tell!”

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

to autumn


It's perfect Autumn weather out there. Crisp and cool and sunny and wonderful. Perfect walking in the woods weather. Well, that's what the dog thinks, and who am I to argue?



At night, the tree below catches and strangles any living creatures that get close enough, but even it looks practically normal on a day like today.


The greenery in the background is buckthorn, which we're trying to eliminate as an invasive species. We're right now accumulating an enormous pile of the stuff to burn, which you can see below and in the topmost picture...

The burning won't be on November the 5th this year, because that's the Beowulf premiere...
...


I just read your 30-second scary story and thought it was a lot of fun. You're right: it was scary.
Is there any possibility that you will be publishing the 90-second REALLY scary version anywhere?


So I looked and it's up at

http://weekendamerica.publicradio.org/programs/2007/10/27/_ten_tales_of_terror.html

but do me a favour. Don't read it now. Wait until it's dark, then click on the link and listen to it...

I wish you could read or hear the original, longer version. But I kept cutting it and cutting it to get it down to 30 seconds, and didn't save as I went. I guess I could write a new version, but then I'd be expanding, if you see what I mean. (And there were people who handed in 70 second stories!) (Shakes head ruefully.)

The title is theirs, incidentally. And the editor has trimmed pauses or sped it slightly, to lose four seconds. (I think if I were doing a show like this I'd suggest people write minute-long stories, if only to allow for the pauses. If you're telling a scary story, it's the pauses that make the listeners do all the work, allowing them to build up the picture in the silence, and scare themselves.)

...

A couple of people have written to ask if I have to stop writing completely when the writer's strike starts. Nope. As a WGAe member I have to stop writing any film or TV, and can't discuss future work or option anything new with film or TV companies -- per http://www.wga.org/contract_07/StrikeRules.pdf The basic principle behind these Rules is very simple: you (and your agent or other representative on your behalf) may not pitch to or negotiate with a struck company, and you may not provide writing services, sell or option literary material to a struck company.

But I'll keep writing things that aren't film or TV...

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Scary Christmas

My editor liked Odd and the Frost Giants, hurrah. I spent today tidying the manuscript, happy that somewhere in there it turned into a real book. And now I need to not look at it for a couple of days before I do a final attack...

I just saw an early screening of "The Orphanage" (http://www.theorphanagemovie.com/), laid on for me at a local cinema. A very satisfying, astonishingly creepy ghost story. It's Spanish language, with subtitles. I think it'll be released at the end of December. Brought a bunch of friends and acquaintances, several of whom confessed, on the way out, to having watched it from between their fingers. It was pretty much gore free, and really could have been made at any time in the last forty years -- no noticeable CGI, minimal special effects, just a story that begins with a rising sense of unease and then builds on that, and builds, and builds, until you spend the last half hour with your heart pounding, worried for the characters, actually scared. Quite lovely.

Bill Stiteler was with me, and he blogs about it at http://williamstiteler.birdchick.com/?p=403

...

When I was in the UK in Summer by far the silliest interview I had was the one where the interviewer asked me to confirm that Matthew Vaughn had been removed as a director half way through the shooting of Stardust and that the movie was finished off by the producers. It's now up at http://www.littlewhitelies.co.uk/issue013/exclusives/int_gaiman.php

LWLies: I heard rumours from on set that it was quite a turbulent shoot. Did you spend much time on set and is there any truth in these rumours that Matthew Vaughn found it a very, very difficult film to put together? I heard that the producers more or less ended up taking it off him and finishing it without him.

Gaiman: That’s what we in the business technically call a lie. And that’s not even me being polite, that’s just bollocks. My daughter Holly was in production on the set – she started out as a kind of turning on and turning off the air conditioning runner, and she wound up as a fairly senior production assistant, which she did on her own – so I was getting reports back. It would be impossible for the producers to have taken the film off Matthew and finished it for him because the main producer on this film is Matthew Vaughn. Matthew brought in $30 million worth of the money – he brought half the money to the table. In terms of ‘turbulent shooting’ I was getting phone calls from Holly which would occasionally dish the dirt on whether or not Michelle Pfeiffer was in a good mood that day, but as far as I can tell it wasn’t any more turbulent that any other shoot. it was finished on schedule and nobody took the film away from Matthew, nor could anybody have taken the film away from Matthew.


Amusingly, the magazine it's from is called "Little White Lies". Just as amusingly, it touts itself as Honest, Passionate and Unmerciful: Eschewing hype, gossip and meaningless celebrity, Little White Lies is a magazine that engages with movie lovers who understand that cinema is about broadening your horizons.

Hello there.

I was just looking at the updated articles on the Straight Dope website and found recent mention of you, your brilliant mind, The Kindly Ones GN and Sleeping Beauty's unsavory beginnings.

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/071026.html

Thought you might be interested since apparently the self-proclaimed smartest man on the planet is also smart enough to appreciate you, which lends credence to his claim as far as I am concerned.

Cheers!
Alicia

P.S. I loved Stardust and recently went to NYC to catch the Wolves in the Walls production, which was charming and well worth the trip. May you always have such luck with adaptions of your work and I am very much looking forward to whatever comes next!

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finished Odd

The 30 Second scary story will be broadcast on the 27th of October on Weekend America. If you don't get NPR you should be able to listen to it -- and many other things -- at http://weekendamerica.publicradio.org/.

I finished the first typed draft of Odd and the Frost Giants tonight. It's 14,000 words long, more or less, which makes it (I think) a novelette. I've sent it to a few people to read, and tomorrow I'll read it myself, and scribble on the printouts and change things, and wonder if it works or not, and try and make it work better.

Here's a link to Guillermo Del Toro and the lovely Selma Blair talking about Death: http://www.superherohype.com/news/topnews.php?id=6447

The just-as-lovely-as-Selma-Blair Colleen Doran has re-inked her chapter of A Game of You in Absolute Sandman Volume 2, and you can see what the same page looks like in the two different versions over at http://community.livejournal.com/scans_daily/4192671.html. Also Colleen put up a couple of pages of Sandman #20 pencils at http://adistantsoil.com/blog/?p=811

Someone sent me a link to a film that was meant to be H.P. Lovecraft talking in 1933, which just made me want to take everyone involved in creating it aside and show them interview films from that period, and make them really listen to the kind of questions that were asked back then and the way that they were answered. You can date interviews in seconds, in the same way you can date old commercials, or old TV shows. (I watched the first couple of episodes of The Tomorrow People with Maddy recently. We were a couple of minutes in when she said "This is the Seventies, right?") It was a good idea, but the joy of faking period stuff has to be getting the tone of voice and the tiny details right, because they make everything else work.

I clicked on the next YouTube link along, which turned out to be me talking about the Necronomicon, and why I want mine to have been signed by the author...



Right. Bed now.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

And now a word for those we sponsor....

Last night I wrote a thirty second scary story. Actually I wrote a 90 second REALLY scary story, then chipped at it, hacked and deleted and rephrased until it was thirty seconds long. Afterwards I wished I'd saved the 200 word version.

This morning I went to the local NPR radio station and recorded it -- we cut out another sentence, and I slowed down a hair -- for an NPR Hallowe'en special...

....


I believe that the curious can see the whole, uncut, me getting an award at Scream 2007 thing at

Neil Gaiman Receives Hell's Dildo - Scream 2007

Posted Today

Neil Gaiman accepts "Hell's Dildo" at the 2007 Scream Awards.

It cuts off before I welcome Roger Avary and Ray Winstone to the podium to introduce Beowulf, but if it hadn't you would have seen Roger wearing his "Scary Trousers" tee shirt in front of a billion people.

Posted by Picasa


(Cat Mihos blogs about the awards at http://furrytiger.blogspot.com/2007/10/birthday-girl-scream-awards-dream-life.html. Lovely photos, but my Big Pupil Thing means redeye all the way...)

I should mention that the amazing Cat's Neverwear site is over at http://www.neverwear.net/ and you can get your Kendra Stout "Scary Trousers" or your Dagmara Matuszak "Anansi Boys" tee shirts there. (I suggested that Cat should do a tee shirt with the full "I believe" speech from American Gods on it next...)

Which reminds me -- I've now finally seen the bound insides of the Hill House ANANSI BOYS (you can see pictures at http://hillhousepublishers.com/hh-update-22oct07-01.htm) and they are astonishingly beautiful. Hill House are still trying to get straight answers out of the Polish printer about when he's actually going to have the books bound and delivered to the US -- he's made too many promises to them that haven't come through -- but it looks like it's getting closer and closer to being a reality.

...

Ross Douthat replies to my post of the other day at http://rossdouthat.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/10/dumbledore_is_gay_ii_1.php

...

This is more of a marmite locating datalet then a question.

There is a large and rather unusual store near Cincinnati, OH called Jungle Jims.

Along with Jim's collection of large animatronic singing creatures, there is a decently size section of foods from England in the international part of the store.

They have a website at junglejims.com at which you can view some off the strangeness under the attractions section.

Marmite, of course, is there and also Hobnobs and various and sundry other foods of interest.

I feel like I'm writing a pamphlet for a tourist attraction now, so I'll stop.

Whenever I drive across America -- which isn't often -- I try and stop in at Jungle Jim's on the way back. And not just for the UK food, but for the amazing variety of world food. It's an amazing place. Would that all supermarkets could have that magic.

...

I just heard about the event chronicled in http://117hudson.blogspot.com/2007/10/show-must-go-on.html
We were lucky in that the actor who was hurt was the only one who was sort of understudied (as one of the wolves had also played Lucy's brother in an earlier production) so they reconfigured the second half for seven people instead of eight to do the wolf party...


...
Mr. Gaiman,

I checked to see if you've mentioned it yet this year, and saw that you hadn't-- would you mind taking a second to remind your fans who haven't already signed up that National Novel Writing Month begins in a week?

I'm a first-timer, but a lot of your journal entries recently have really inspired me to sit down and write, and NaNoWriMo is a great way to combine your advice and a great community. Figured I'd send in reminder in case there are others who feel the same way I do. Thanks!


-Laurie

I can do even better than that. I can point people to http://www.nanowrimo.org/
And I can finish my Letter Of Encouragement to the troops...

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Night Thoughts

Just watched my bit on the Spike Scream Awards -- I wished they'd left in the plug I did for the CBLDF, but I think they were probably right to have edited out me describing the astoundingly heavy award, when I was handed it, as "Hell's dildo".

So you know.

If you go to http://www.ugo.com/movies/minotaur-vs-centaur/?cur=main you can see me and many other people answering operhaps the most important question of this our modern age. Viz.: Who would win in a fight, a minotaur armed with a trident or a centaur armed with a crossbow?

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on being venerable

A couple of odd FAQ mails came in accusing me of either lying or "jumping on the bandwagon"when I mentioned the other gay Neverwhere character. So I thought I'd point them to http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2003/06/questions-answered-neverwhere.asp. (Odd, because they didn't actually seem to be from readers of my stuff, but seemed to be from people who'd been led here from some sites where people were arguing about other things.) (Shrugs.)

(And look! Neverwhere-inspired fashions from India! Who knew?)

The Scream 2007 Awards is on Spike TV tonight at 10.00pm Eastern -- lots of odd bits, and worth watching me get an extremely heavy award in order to see the Beowulf clip (from the race against Brecca, in which we see Beowulf's heroic battle with the sea monsters) and we also get to see Ray Winstone's (equally heroic) battle with the autocue. According to the organisers, the awards ceremony will also be repeated around the world on MTV-related channels for the next few weeks, and will be seen, I am told, by over a billion people. Most of whom will be going, "Who is that scruffy-looking man in the leather jacket and why isn't he Paris Hilton?" Anyway, worth checking your local listings.

(In http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=12177 as they report on the trip down the black carpet, I get described as a "comic book legend" and "venerable". I knew it. You blink for a moment, and voom! you got old. Venerable. Sigh.)

I was just asked if I'd be part of the London run of Beowulf publicity, leading up to the London Premiere on November the 11th. And I'm not sure whether to say yes or no right now -- on the one tentacle, having a daughter in the UK certainly makes it a much more attractive place to go. On another tentacle I've already been on the road for Stardust for 5 weeks, and I'll be going -- with my son Mike -- to the Philippines for a few days later in November. On yet another tentacle, I have things to write. On possibly a final tentacle, this is the last publicity-related thing I'd have to do until a year from now...

I'll find out how long I have to make up my mind, and see if I can push the decision back until then...

Dear Neil, I'm having an odd sort of writers block right at the moment and was wondering if you had ever experienced anything like it. I wrote the first chapter of a graphic novel and handed it to my friend who is going to do the art work (he has a lot more experience than I do in the world of comics and graphic novels) and he loved it. His wife then told me that they both loved it and said some really wonderful things. I've barely written a word since then. I know the answer is just write, the answer is always just write, but I feel positively frozen in place. Any suggestions?
Thanks so much,
MB


I think the main thing you've learned is that you're not someone who can show things to people until they're done. And sometimes it can really throw everything off when people read a chapter and love it (or hate it) (or simply comment on it). Other people really need to have someone seeing something as it goes to drive them. You've learned that -- on this at least -- you're not someone who should be showing stuff around.

Suggestions? Put it aside for a few days, or longer, do other things, try not to think about it. Then sit down and read it (printouts are best I find, but that's just me) as if you've never seen it before. Start at the beginning. Scribble on the manuscript as you go if you see anything you want to change. And often, when you get to the end you'll be both enthusiastic about it and know what the next few words are.

And you do it all one word at a time.


Hello! I'm an aspiring librarian taking an archives course this term, and we've recently been discussing the deposition of celebrity and author papers into archival repositories. I was curious about your papers. I practiced some of my librarian magic to discover whether you were currently associated with a repository, but was unable to find anything (I am, after all, a librarian in the larval stage). Have you made arrangements for your papers? If you haven't, will you?

Many thanks,

Rebecca

PS. I think this sounds like a homework question, but it's really just curiosity. I truly feel that the world needs a place called The Neil Gaiman Archives. You know, for Gaiman scholars.


It's because I'm venerable, isn't it?

The Library of Congress made lots of happy and enthusiastic noises about getting the papers and manuscripts and handwritten stuff and printouts and everything, but it's never really managed to get off the ground there. (Then again, I've not done very much to make it happen, other than have the "We really must make this happen," conversation with the LoC people whenever I'm in Washington DC. And we all agree that yes, we really must make it happen, because otherwise the mice will eat all the Sandman archives. And then we all forget about it.)

Hey Neil,
I'm a junior in high school and recently they've (as in the school) really been pushing us to start thinking about what college we want to go to and what we want to do for the rest of our lives. I would really like to become an author, but pretty much every college I talked with told me that I can't make a living off of that on its own, and that I'd have to do something else on the side (which, I might add, is exactly what my parents have been telling me since I picked up a pencil and put it to paper). I really have no idea what else I would want to do with my life, and so I was wondering what you do to make money when you're not writing (or if you could give me any kind of advice). I'd really appreciate it because I have no clue what to do!
Thanks!

Well, if you're starting out as an author, you mostly can't make a living, because you need to write, which takes time, and you need to eat while writing, and have a place to write, and that costs money, and when you do sell your first book it won't be for much, because mostly first novels aren't sold for much, and often they aren't sold at all. (Stephen King made a lot of money from the paperback sale of his first novel. But he had, what, over half a dozen unsold books in drawers).

When I started, I made my day job writing. I was a journalist, I wrote a few short stories, I interviewed people, I wrote non-fiction books. It taught me a lot about the way the world worked, a lot about deadlines, and it meant I wrote enough to develop a style, a voice that sounded like it was mine. And it paid the bills, and I edged over towards prose fiction and comics and only gave up my last few regular columns when I could afford to.

That's how I did it.

When I went to talk to kids on careers at my old school, in the 80s, I advised anyone who was doubtful about writing as a career to do something else ("Johnnie wants to know if there's job security in being a freelance writer?" said one mother. And I told her that there wasn't, and if Johnny, who didn't say anything, really wanted job security, she should go and talk to the people from jobs in banking and hotel management in the main hall). It's not an easy thing to do. But I still wouldn't trade it for anything else...

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Monday, October 22, 2007

the flowers of romance

Cabal's cape did nothing to protect him against his encounter with a skunk last night... while I didn't have much of a right hand last night, for reasons you will learn at http://www.birdchick.com/2007/10/mr-neil-takes-one-for-team_22.html, so we didn't deskunk him until this morning.

There's an interview with me in The Independent in which I mention a few things I don't think I've said on the record before...


Neil --
In Ross Douthat's recent column in the Atlantic Monthly concerning the J.K. Rowling press of late (http://tinyurl.com/yq2wz2), Douthat suggests that "a writer confident in her powers wouldn't feel the need to announce details like this". It seems odd to me that ulterior motives are so quickly suspected -- she was an author answering a question with additional information not previously known. Do you find yourself withholding information during Q&A if it's not already contained in the story? Why or why not?


All that tells us is that Ross Douthat doesn't write fiction.

You always wind up knowing more about your characters than you can get onto the page. Pages are finite, and the story isn't about giving you all the information about everyone in it any more than life is. Things the author knows about characters (or at least, strongly suspects -- it's never really real until it hits the page, because the process of writing is also a process of discovery) that don't make it onto the page could include the characters' backstory, what they like to eat, the toothpaste they use, what happens to them after the story is over or before it began, and what they do in bed. That something didn't turn up in the books just means it didn't make it onto the page or wasn't relevant to the story. (Or even, it made it in and the author cut that scene out because it didn't work. One of my favourite scenes in Anansi Boys went because it made the chapter work better when it was gone.)

(I remember being astonished when I learned a few years ago, from an obituary, that two teachers I'd had as a child were a same-sex couple. Mostly astonished because at the age where they taught me, I didn't imagine that teachers had romantic lives, or were even entirely human; and learning that they were a pair reconfigured everything I knew about them, which wasn't very much.)

Neverwhere has two gay characters who are Out, as far as the book is concerned, and one major character who is gay but it isn't mentioned, simply because that character was one of many people in that book who don't have any sexual or romantic entanglements during the story. So it's irrelevant.

Sometimes even the author doesn't know for sure. (I used to wonder about Lucien the Librarian in Sandman. On the one hand, I strongly suspected he was gay; on the other, he seemed to have a small unrequited thing for Nuala going on. And if it had ever mattered in a story, I would have found out for certain, but it never did, so I didn't.)

And, truth to tell, sexuality tends to be such a minor thing, if you have several hundred characters running around in your head. You know more than you've written. One of the characters in Wall in Stardust, for example, is not what he is pretending to be in a way that has nothing at all to do with sex, although the clues are all there in the book, but if I don't do another story set in Wall you'll never find out who he is, or even why he's interesting.

As for withholding information... before the Internet, I'd tell anyone anything they wanted to know. ("Who's the missing member of the Endless?" "Destruction." "Oh.") After the Internet, I would try and avoid answering some direct questions because it might spoil things for people. "Why did Delight become Delirium?" "Who's the Forgotten God?" -- they're questions I would happily have answered for anyone who asked at a signing 20 years ago, because it wouldn't have gone any further, not in any way that mattered. Not any longer, because one day I may tell those stories. (If I knew for sure I wouldn't tell them, then I'd happily answer people now.)

Neil, would you please post the best-ever rice pudding recipe you mentioned? Presuming you were able to recreate it, of course. ^_^

Many thanks!


I tried one using the same method but I accidentally used horrible non-fat half and half instead of full cream milk, and the result was sort of grey and had a sickly corn-syrupy sort of background taste. Everything else worked though. I'll try one more, paying attention to quantities, and if it works I'll post it here.

...

Amazon.com lists Absolute Sandman 2 as being written by me (which it was) and designed (which it wasn't) by Dave Mckean. It doesn't mention any of the other artists involved (Shawn McManus, Kelley Jones, Mike Dringenberg, Bryan Talbot, John Watkiss, Matt Wagner, Stan Woch, Colleen Doran, Duncan Eagleson, John Bolton, Malcolm Jones III, George Pratt, Dick Giordano, P. Craig Russell and Vince Locke). So I sighed, and filled in the form that allows you to fix things on Amazon. It was always the best thing about Amazon.com -- they made goofs but they were fixable.

I just got an email from them, listing all the names I'd submitted (along with Alisa Kwitney's, who wrote the introduction). And it concluded,
Action: None. We could not verify the requested update.
Data accuracy is highly important to us. We appreciate the time you have taken to submit your updates to us. Best regards,
Catalog Department

And sure enough, it's still wrong, and just lists me and Dave.

I'm wondering how they couldn't verify it. I mean, if you google Absolute Sandman 2 it takes you straight to http://www.dccomics.com/graphic_novels/?gn=7881 which has a complete list of everyone in it and what they did.

If anyone is reading this who works for Amazon, would you mind asking them how they verify these things? And whether there's any point in sending in corrections in the future? Up until now, the fact my name was the same as the person who wrote the book, and that I'd been on Amazon since 1997, always gave my corrections some kind of weight.

It's not that they make mistakes (according to Amazon.co.uk Odd and the Frost Giants (actual price £1.00) is a £25 "sturdy board book that will help every child to learn their numbers from one to ten - with the help of the snappy selfish crocodile". ) It's whether they can fix them. (Here's the correct link to Odd.)

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Superdog

Hunting season -- for grouse and pheasants and suchlike -- has already started, judging from the loud banging noises. And Cabal the dog has turned into Krypto for the next five weeks...

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More of a not-a-blog entry than anything

I need to blog about the Coraline 3D movie preview, about seeing Beowulf (in 2D -- I don't expect to see the 3D print until the premiere or just before) (short form response, it's a remarkable film unlike anything else I've seen or experienced, I look forward to people seeing and talking about the movie rather than the trailers, and you should be able to hear me interviewed at length about my reactions over at the Beowulf Podcast some time this week -- the iTunes link to the podcasts is at http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=262082826)
and I also need to blog about the Spike TV SCREAM Awards (http://www.ifilm.com/network/spike/) (October 23rd on Spike, all around the world.)

But right now I'm going to wrap the bees up for the Winter, and then I'm heading for the gazebo at the bottom of the garden (see picture below, taken this morning) to get back to what I was doing when I had to drop everything and go and do Coraline and Beowulf and Scream 2007. Now nearly one week late, although at least I'm typing the second draft of Odd and the Frost Giants (http://www.worldbookday.com/1-pound-book-details.asp)and not making stuff up any longer, so I should wrap it up today or tomorrow...



(The cages are for blueberry bushes, to keep the rabbits and the groundhogs out.)

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Friday, October 19, 2007

a legend in our own lunchtimes

Justin-from-Tokyo (who I also bumped into a few weeks ago in Narita airport, because it is a small world) was the journalist who told me that Douglas Adams had died, way back in the beginning of this blog. Some months ago we had lunch surrounded by audio equipment for the Rotten Tomatoes lunchtime podcast. It's now up. I have no idea if they've left in all the cries of "Pass the salt," and "If you aren't going to eat that can I have it?" and "Oh god. Mine's still twitching," that you normally hear over lunch, but you can find out over at http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/dinner_and_the_movies/news/1670066/.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Embed Time Stories

I'm typing ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS currently. Am wondering whether to change the title to Odd and the Frost Giant, because only one Frost Giant ever comes onstage (as it were), although there are others in the background, and of course there's always Loki.

I was just looking at the new expanded Beowulf website, over at http://www.beowulfmovie.com/. They had TV spot trailers up, and I was pleased to see in this new one had lots of little bits of footage that weren't in the stuff I've seen so far (which is minutes 15-30 approximately) -- shots from the Race with Brecca, of Beowulf from the last part of the film as an older man, bits of Dragon footage, and a lot more than just Grendel's Mum in human form. It says it's easily embeddable, so I will give it a shot.

Am really looking forward to seeing it all and finding out what it is that Bob Zemeckis and his team actually made.

(The video's acting a bit oddly when I put it into Blogger. Let's keep our fingers crossed that it behaves when I post this. And if you're reading this on an RSS feed and it cuts off here, click on the link to the actual neilgaiman.com/journal webpage to keep reading)

[Deleted because too many people complained about it being really irritating and autoloading. Sorry -- Paramount had promised they'd get it click-activated.]


Meanwhile... the web takes you odd places. I mean, I'm out of Marmite. Not a problem in the UK, but problematic in the US. So I google to find out how to order Marmite, and the next moment I'm discovering that you can make Marmite go white by hitting it for half an hour. FOR THE SAKE OF ALL THAT'S HOLY, WHO ORIGINALLY HIT MARMITE FOR HALF AN HOUR AND DISCOVERED THIS? It's at http://www.flickr.com/photos/fuunsaiki/303084929/

Hi Neil,Thanks for link to the Wikipedia entry on cants. Now I finally have a word to describe Carny Talk, a language my grandparents taught me, that they used in the carnival back in the 30's. I'm always looking for more information about that. Here's the page where I discuss the version I was taught: http://www.winterscapes.com/carny.htm
-Kate Winter

Thanks, Kate. I loved your link to http://welcometothefair.com/lingo/ and thought I should link to it here for people who are planning to write Novels in November. After all, half of those words are plots...

I was fascinated by this Guardian article -- http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/10/observer_books.html -- not only because it links to the winners of the Guardian "graphic short story" prize (suddenly I find myself turning into Eddie Campbell, and wanting to explain that Graphic Novel just means comics anyway, and Graphic Short Story actually means er, comics), but I was bemused by the view of history in which quality UK newspapers started reviewing comics seriously in 1996, about eight years after the real reviews started. I think what the writer is actually saying is that he was surprised when he started editing the book page to find that his reviewers were doing reviews of graphic novels, but to his surprise these reviews and the books they were reviewing were as good as the other books they were writing about.

Bill Stiteler sent me this link to a set of photographs from a parallel universe -- http://www.flickr.com/photos/williamhundley/sets/72157594235409275/

Joshua Middleton has some lovely pictures up from a Sandman project that didn't happen at http://joshuamiddleton.blogspot.com/2007/10/one-that-was-put-to-sleep.html

and I think I should offer congratulations to Holly Gaiman on becoming employed.

...

Thanks to Dan the mighty WebGoblin, people who go to http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2004/01/you-think-theyre-cuddly-but-i-think.asp, or who just click on the final link in this post can once again download or hear The Sinister Ducks song.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

The view from the end of chapter 8


It was raining, and the dog sat with his head in the rain waiting for it to clear up and for me to be done with writing and ready to do something -- anything -- more interesting.

(I recommend having a finished mock-up of the cover of the book that your publisher sent you, World Book Day sticker and all, knocking around, for when you feel like going to do something else. It's there to remind you that if you don't finish the book in time, the cover will go on a book of blank pages, I think.)

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Why write?

The best thing about writing fiction is that moment where the story catches fire and comes to life on the page, and suddenly it all makes sense and you know what it's about and why you're doing it and what these people are saying and doing, and you get to feel like both the creator and the audience. Everything is suddenly both obvious and surprising ("but of course that's why he was doing that, and that means that...") and it's magic and wonderful and strange.

You don't live there always when you write. Mostly it's a long hard walk. Sometimes it's a trudge through fog and you're scared you've lost your way and can't remember why you set out in the first place.

But sometimes you fly, and that pays for everything.

No, it's not quite finished, but I don't mind right now, and I suspect that I can persuade my publisher to wait another couple of days. It's alive, and a real book, even if it's a short one and I cannot wait to get back to it.

....

The Hype Machine is a wonderful music discovery engine and internet music channel, and I've loved using it ever since I learned it on the Fabulist. Now, as you learn from the latest Fabulist posting, it's going to take 10,000 of us leaving the Hype machine window open to launch the new version of Hype Machine. They have about 1800 people right now, so if you wouldn't mind going to http://hypem.com/new and not closing the window I'd be very grateful. Thank you.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Teabreak over, back on my head

The ladies from LUSH in Bristol gave me a gift box (back when I signed in Bristol, a couple of weeks and a hundred years ago) filled with things that make baths more interesting, and at the point where I couldn't write any more last night I had a bath, and decided to add a crumbly bubble blackberry something from the Lush box. Wandered off as the bath ran, wandered back to find a seven-foot high tower of bubble.



It was sort of like having a bath in a fluffy blackberry-scented igloo. Or a meringue.

Also made -- accidentally -- the world's best rice pudding, last night, good enough that I now have to try and repeat it and figure out exactly what I did and if it can really be that simple.

Am not posting about the Return of Princess (hurrah), or Cabal's digestive problems (ew).

I'm still writing the argh book. I think I know what Odd's carving, too... I think it's going to be a long night.

If you sign up at http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/commercial/article2623706.ece you will apparently get a love letter from me in your email. Also one from Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Five in all, I think, over five days. It's to promote this:

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Every Day I Write the Book

You may want to point these out, for those of us in the UK who haven't already spotted it.

Making of Stardust (Documentary)

Time - 14:20 - 14:50 (30 minutes long)

When - Sunday 14th October on five

A behind-the-scenes look at the new film Stardust, which stars Claire Danes and Michelle Pfeiffer.


Also - Film 2007 with Jonathan Ross is at 23.05 on Tuesday 16th, on BBC, and includes reviews of Stardust...


Consider it posted. And the Daily Mirror are giving away Stardust CD Roms (do not ask me what is on them for I do not know) - details at http://www.mirror.co.uk/2007/10/12/free-stardust-cd-rom-89520-19940921/

And I am still posting links to things instead of writing interesting things in the blog, because I am still somewhere in the hell that's either Chapter 5 or Chapter 6 of THIS DAMNED BOOK which seems determined to be longer than it was meant to be. (You're not a novel, I tell it. You're not even a novella. You're a novelette. And you're due in on Monday. But the story merely laughs and stretches ominously and I have no idea what this bloody pool is doing in the middle of the forest.)

Read Josh Olsen, and know that nothing on the Internet is true. http://www.laweekly.com/news/news/the-life-and-death-of-jesse-james/17427/

And here's Laura Miller on the Charles Schulz biography.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Re: Your Brains

I'm in Chapter Five of ODD.... I think this is good, although I have just realised I have no idea what happens next and that the plot I thought I was writing isn't the plot at all, and that everything's different.

This wouldn't be a problem, but the book is meant to be handed in on Monday. Argh.

The essay on fairytales I wrote for the Guardian is now up, at http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,2189656,00.html. It was meant to be 2000 words, but somewhere in there I crept up to 2,200.

The Guardian editorial folk did a mostly terrific job of editing me down -- although towards the end, I sighed when I saw that what I'd written, which was originally,


Still, the people who wanted fairy tales found it and some of them knew
what it was and liked it for being exactly that, and one of those people was
film-maker Matthew Vaughn.


I tend to be extremely protective when it comes to adaptations of my
work, but after talking to Matthew and to his collaborator, screenwriter Jane
Goldman, I felt safe. I enjoyed their screenplay and I really like the film they
made – which takes liberties with the plot all over the place, compressing,
expanding, changing, simplifying and complicating, all in the space of two
hours. (I know I didn’t write a pirate captain performing a can-can in drag, for
a start...)

But I think the reason I liked what Matthew and Jane did so
much is that they had treated what I had made as a fairy tale. Not as a novel,
to adapt or to ignore, but as a tale that they loved, to retell. A star still
falls, a boy still promises to bring it to his true love, there are still wicked
witches and ghosts and lords (although the lords have now become Princes). They even gave it an unabashedly happy ending, which is something people tend to do
when they retell fairytales.

had become,


Still, the people who wanted fairytales found the book, and some of
them knew what it was, and liked it for being exactly that. One of those people
was film-maker Matthew Vaughn. I tend to be extremely protective when it comes to adaptations of my work, but I enjoyed the screenplay and I really like the film they made - which takes liberties with the plot all over the place. (I know I didn't write a pirate captain performing a can-can in drag, for a start ...)


A star still falls, a boy still promises to bring it to his true love, there are still wicked witches and ghosts and lords (although the lords have now become princes.) They even gave the story an unabashedly happy ending, which is something people tend to do when they retell fairytales.

mostly because Jane Goldman is edited out. And she did a sterling job.

So here's a photograph of Jane being menaced on the Stardust set by a wet and ghostly Septimus (Mark Strong), by way of a small apologetic sigh.


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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hanging on the telephone

I ought to be at work on the novel, but I'm sitting in front of the computer waiting for a phone call from the UK, so in the meantime, here's an article from the New Scientist (who have recently mostly rendered their website useless, even, pretty much now, to subscribers but have this up in full)

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg19626255.100&feedId=online-news_rss20
Geoffrey Miller and his team at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, compared the earnings of lap dancers who were menstruating naturally with those of dancers taking the hormonal contraceptive pill. During the non-fertile periods of their menstrual cycle, both sets of dancers earned similar tips. But when naturally cycling lap dancers entered their fertile period they earned significantly more in tips than their co-workers on the pill...

Vanity Fair
on Sushi .

People have been sending me links to: A Where Do You Get Your Ideas cartoon that made me smile, and to a blogpost on infixing and stressed syllables...

(Several people wrote in to let me know that there are other examples of infixing in English than swearing, but with the exception of some chemical names I can't see that they actually change the meaning or emphasis of the word. Edumacation and hizouse simply demonstrate that, yes, you can put other syllables into a word, Ned Flanders-like for comedic effect or as cant.)

I was delighted to see that Barry Humphries (here seen being interviewed with his protege, Dame Edna Everage) is now a Commander of the British Empire http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7038277.stm, and not just because Michael Swanwick was kind enough to send me a signed copy of his book-length essay on James Branch Cabell - WHAT CAN BE SAVED FROM THE WRECKAGE? JAMES BRANCH CABELL IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY - with an introduction by, and also signed to me by Mr Humphries. Hurrah. (Read about the book here.)

I love Michael's essay, although I'm not entirely convinced by it. (Michael feels that Cabell doomed himself to obscurity. I think it was more time, and fashion what dun it.)

I enjoyed this Jamy Ian Swiss interview with Derren Brown. I love what Derren does, but I tend to feel uncomfortable when I read interviews by journalists who fail to notice that Derren is a magician and not a miracle worker. I don't know of any other interview with him by a magician where they talk about the difference between the trick and the effect...

Ooops. That's the phone. Going now.

Nearly forgot: Here's the New York Times review of The Wolves in the Walls.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

stuff.

I'm trying to finish a book right now (it's a very short book called Odd and the Frost Giants and is due on Tuesday) so postings may be a bit erratic, or may vanish completely for a bit.

...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/apelad/1481245335/in/set-72157600296941365/
is really funny. I bet General Zod would post it on his blog too, if he had one.

Variety reviews The Wolves in the Walls -- "a thrilling, frequently beautiful stage adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's merrily creepy picture book." -- http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117935039.html?categoryid=33&cs=1

as does Theatermania http://www.theatermania.com/content/news.cfm/story/11767
and the New York Sun http://www.nysun.com/article/64257 which begins, Chalk it up to Americans' overly anxious views of parenting, but here's a phrase one tends not to hear in the States as the childrens' bedroom lights are switched off: "If the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over."

I want to make one of these. If I finish my book in time before the ground here freezes, I shall make one. If not it'll wait until spring...

Sharon Stiteler and I went out today and did what will probably be our penultimate beehive visit before the winter sets in (next time we'll be insulating the hives against the evil midwestern winter). Sharon has claimed for as long as I've known her that we have a Saw-Whet owl around here, and finally, yesterday, she saw it (and so did I).

I was fascinated by this article in the New York Times -- both by what it says about science, food and dieting, and even more, what it says about people.


Lisa Snellings-Clark
is having a hallowe'en sale, which includes a Neil Rat with Glow in the Dark eyes. And she's interviewed here.

Gilbert Hernandez is profiled in the LA Times.

And from the Forbidden Planet blog I learned that the second volume of ABSOLUTE SANDMAN comes out, well, now. (And someone just wrote to tell me that if you preorder it from Amazon you get an additional 5% off, bringing it to 42% off. Which is not as good a deal as the 87% off they accidentally offered Volume 1 at, but it's not bad...)

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Leftovers mostly

A closing of tabs sort of blogpost, this --

There are free preview tickets for Stardust in the UK at http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/screen/article2590223.ece

I have no idea what this is: http://www.mobile-ent.biz/news/29076/Enpocket-and-Paramount-find-love

At the Stardust afterparty I ran into someone who looked exactly like Mark Millar did the last time I saw him, only this gentleman was about, oh, 17 years older. He writes about the fun he had at http://forums.millarworld.tv/index.php?showtopic=73753&st=0

You'll have seen this -- Play-Doh bunnies invade New York -- already. But if you haven't, you should...
http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/play-doh/sony-bravia-ad-showcases-mick-keef-and-a-tsunami-of-bunnies-306942.php?autoplay=true

Meanwhile, Stephin Merritt sings a nursery rhyme for Volvo as only he can, all gloomy and strange and odd:
http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/download/45600-stephin-merritt-the-wheels-on-the-car-volvo-ad , with an Stephin Merritt original song for Volvo "I'm in a Lonely Way" just released through iTunes, according to http://www.houseoftomorrow.com/

Over at http://www.quickstopentertainment.com/category/comics-in-context/ Peter Sanderson is now four essays in to his dissection of The Eternals. I think my favourite moments of these essays (as an author) are the bits where I read something Peter says and think "I didn't expect anyone ever to notice that." My second-favourite bits are the moments where I go, "Oh. I never thought of that. Bugger."

This is a piece of journalism I'd heard about years ago and wanted to read, and just found online. It's Gay Talese's Frank Sinatra Has a Cold. http://www.esquire.com/features/ESQ1003-OCT_SINATRA_rev_

...

Oh, and a word from our sponsor: my short story collection Fragile Things is now out in paperback, with an Olive-and-dayglo-Orange-coloured cover.

(And on Amazon, I just noticed the Audiofile review of the Fragile Things audiobook I'd never seen before, which I am posting here because I'm much nervous about my reading than I am about my writing, and a review like this one made me grin.
Master storyteller Neil Gaiman begins this collection by introducing many of the stories, his introduction proving to be a story in its own right. Gaiman's performance aptitude matches his writing ability, as each tale resonates with subtlety and insight. Every character, no matter how brief his or her appearance, receives impeccable attention vocally and textually. And every word of narrative shines. Listeners new to Gaiman will be surprised by the variety of literary genres in this collection, from fairy tales to crime to romance and even science fiction. Gaiman steps nimbly through each, offering a shadow of meaning here, a barely perceptible nuance there, a punch of anger or a featherbed of sweetness where needed, leading his audience through 10 hours of the best listening of the year. R.L.L. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award


There.)

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Regaining solidity

I seem to have been asleep for most of the last 26 hours.

My world seems to have shrunk to, Slept. Got up. Went back to sleep again. Repeat. (Somewhere in there I blogged and even answered the phone, although I'm not sure who I spoke to or what I said.)

"You're looking a bit better," said Lorraine, my assistant, when I wandered downstairs just now, on her way to walk the dog. "You look less transparent."

I feel a bit less transparent, but not entirely solid yet. I think maybe I'll eat something, and then go back to sleep once more.

The weather when I arrived home was summer-hot, as if the colours of the changing leaves were some kind of mistake. Now it's autumn and rainy and chill...

...

Susanna Clarke has done a beautiful interview with Alan Moore for the Daily Telegraph.

I only just discovered that Terri Windling didn't know that Stardust started at her house, but it makes it even nicer that she was at the Premiere. Here's Matthew Vaughn having a surreal Stardust-and Thor week. My favourite bit was,

To Paris for the NRJ movie (the French equivalent of MTV) awards. I was with my wife, so the press line went berserk and I was literally pushed off the red carpet. Claudia was asked why she was there - to which she replied it was to support her husband and his film.
And where is he again? Getting soaked in the rain looking like a deranged fan. She then realises that I'm not next to her. She points to me and a disappointed security thug lets me on the red carpet.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

the verb and the infixed expletive

Radio 3's The Verb will be up for another five days. You can get the link to the show and who's talking at at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/theverb/ or listen directly to the one with me in (until Friday) at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/radio3_aod.shtml?radio3/theverb.

I don't think we talked about North and South poetry, which is how it's advertised.

You can hear me read the first page and a half of THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, though, and talk about writing and blogging, and listen to lots of other discussion about language, poetry and literature and words.

My favourite conversation about language and words was before we went on the air, when Ian told us not to swear (as Radio 3 is only allowed one serious swear word per show) and also not to answer any question with an enthusiastic "ABSOLUTELY!" (which is apparently what writers tend to do). And when I said that I thus presumed that "absofuckinglutely" was right out, Deborah Cameron (Rupert Murdoch Professor of Language and Communication at the University of Oxford) enthusiastically explained to me that swearing is the only example of infixing in the English language and I was happy, for I had learned something.

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be it never so humble...

I am home.

Which, after six weeks and over half a dozen countries, is a very nice thing to type.

I think I did the last ten days running on empty, and the last two days (Press Junket, Premiere, Press Junket, fly straight to New York, Wolves in the Walls opening night, fly home) by doing that thing they used to do in westerns where they start breaking up the train they're escaping in and throw it into the train's furnace to keep going.

My dog is here, and was a bit puzzled at first, but having dragged me off through the woods a couple of times has now decided that I am definitely me and this is a good thing.

My entire family is in the UK right now (well, all the female members of it, Mike is off in the west being a Google), but Bill and Sharon Stiteler were out here, planting trees and flowers and feeding the bees, so I made the three of us Maitake Mushroom omelettes this morning and realised it was the first time I'd cooked anything in six weeks.

Lots and lots of cool stuff waiting for me -- some of it I sent back, some of it is stuff that arrived while I was waiting -- foreign editions of books and suchlike. I'll try and take photos. I think my favourite was the Korean edition of Stardust...

The most beautiful thing was an advanced copy of the Hill House Anansi Boys notebook, beautifully designed by Dagmara Matuszak, containing all sorts of strange stuff, including my initial outline from around 1998 and the first 15 pages of an attempt at an Anansi Boys film script from around the same time (it has a Jerry Springer Show joke in it that feels extremely 1998). Seeing that many people, including me, had started to despair of ever seeing the finished books, I think this is a hopeful sign.

(Incidentally, Thea Gilmore has a new website at http://www.theagilmore.net/ from which I learned that the Cowboy Junkies are playing The Trinity Session in London at the Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday.)

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