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Monday, March 31, 2008

Airport Blogging

Sitting in an airport, getting really sick of Windows Vista on a laptop. It doesn't work -- I'm tired of waiting seconds for things to appear on the screen, of taking half a minute or more for something that ought to happen instantly to occur. The poor computer obviously can't run Vista, and shouldn't have been Vista certified, and the author isn't impressed with the way that a number of things that were easy in XP have got harder, nor with the fact it took most of a day for Vista to run a search on the hard disk to find a mislaid introduction I was working on, nor with its refusal to read or copy a bunch of files on a DVD Dave McKean burned for me (I wound up dragging them from the DVD to one of Dave's macbooks, from there to my iPod and from my iPod to the computer).

Have any of your readers suggested cures or workarounds for the Vista problem you describe in the 3-27 blog (sluggish text)? If so, please share -- many of us have the same problem.

A few people have written in to suggest I get extra memory, and I might, but I'm more likely to either a) say sod it and get an Airbook. It's heavier than the Panasonic W7 and doesn't have a disk drive, but it has a nice operating system that works or b) keep the computer and wander over to Linux Ubuntu.

My other solution is to warn the many people who read this blog that they may want to avoid Windows Vista.



Hi Neil

I have just finished reading "Odd and the Frost Giants" to my six year old son and I am thrilled that he enjoyed it so much. I bought it for myself initially but realised he would like to listen to it as a bedtime story. He spent most of the evenings wondering when Odd was going to meet the Frost Giants but now says his favourite part was how Odd grew after drinking from the well.

Now begins an internet hunt for some good children's books about Norse myths and legends - and I am definitely going to see if our library has "Eight Days of Luke" by Diana Wynne Jones, as I remember loving that as a child too.

Anyway, thank you very much for enhancing our bedtimes for the past week.

Sam

Roger Lancelyn Green's Myths of the Norsemen was the book that got me hooked when I was six or seven, and I saved up my money and bought a copy of Lancelyn Green's Tales of Ancient Egypt. Both of them are still in print.

For older readers who want a grounding in Norse myth, Kevin Crossley-Holland's Norse Myths is marvellous, and I see from his web site he's published a selection of it for younger readers called Viking!


Dear Neil,

I’m currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in creative writing. Shortly after I enrolled in a fiction writing course, I learned that my professor despises sci-fi and fantasy. I’m prohibited from writing them.

As an author of both, what are your thoughts on this? Does it get under your skin when academic circles dismiss sci-fi and fantasy as having “no merit”? Is there any hope for the genres to be more widely accepted? Can you leave me with any encouraging thoughts?

Thanks so much,

Leanne

A number of possibilities suggest themselves. Learn what you can from your course, write what you want in your own time. Or write Magical Realism or the kind of mainstream/slipstream fiction that has the kind of content you like in it. Or take a different course.

Truthfully, it's been a long time since I've run into the kind of phenomenon you describe. Mostly academic circles seem to be really accepting of all kinds of fiction, including comics. I'm not entirely convinced this is a good thing -- I remember how much fun it was in St Louis about twelve years ago being told that the English Department was boycotting my visit because I wrote comics (I was brought in by the art department), and suspect that being frowned upon by academia is normally a sign of life.

The odd thing about writing is that nobody ever asks you for your credentials. You can have all the qualifications in the world and they still won't get your novel published by a real publisher -- nor, by the same token, will any qualifications count against you. What a publisher wants is a readable, interesting, well-told book. This came in recently in response to something from a few weeks ago, and it may help...

Neil,



I just wanted to say a little something to Kathleen, who wrote to you asking for information on college writing classes. I don't know how you feel on the subject, but as someone who has written all my life and studied creative writing both in community college and, now, while earning my bachelor's degree I would just say to be careful what classes you take. If you are at a university known for its creative writing program, then go ahead and take the classes. However, if you're just at any old school that happens to have creative writing classes, be warned that it will be little more than being workshopped by your peers, who probably don't know much more than you. In a case like this, find a faculty member (or multiple faculty members) who know what they're talking about and work personally with them on your writing. I have yet to take a worthwhile creative writing class, and that saddens me. I'm studying at the University of East Anglia for a semester this fall, and i'm very
hopeful about the quality of their creative writing courses. But just write, and read, a lot, and find people you trust whose opinions you value and show them your work.


Logan


And then there's always things like http://www.sff.net/paradise/ and http://theclarionfoundation.org/.




Okay. I'm going to keep this short (so as not to take up too much of your time) and please try to read this in the spirit it is meant: could you please pull your finger out and write more books!!??

DOn't get me wrong. I'm sure you're busy and non-stop writing would be dull for you. But you create characters and worlds that are interesting, and they don't end in a way that could be considered final. The story ends, but the characters go on. It's the characters I want to read more about and so I put it to you (Mr. Gaiman) that youa re a slacker!! You get us (note how I'v promoted myself to spokesperson for everyone at this point) to engage with and enjoy reading your books, and then rarely continue the characters elsewhere! Yes I know shadow reappears in Fragile Things (the main reason why i bought the book), but it really is quite a short story and there's only the one. What about your sequel to Neverwhere?

Terry Practhett manages to produce three books before breakfast and he's quite old and sadly ill. You've no such excuse. Get on with it!

I suspect that you became a write / author because you're too slack to do a real job. Am I right?


I really, really hope you're trying to be funny because that Terry Pratchett comment made me feel a bit shuddery.

You don't seem to want more books, you seem to want more of the same book. If I'd written another Neverwhere novel instead of American Gods, you wouldn't have had American Gods.

I might well write another Neverwhere novel, or another American Gods novel. Right now, I really want to write more about the characters in The Graveyard Book. But I'm also very aware that when faced with two books I could write, one that covers stuff I've already written about and one that's something different, I'm more likely to try the something different.

If you'd like a long story about recurring characters, I'd point you to Sandman. It's about 2000 pages long, covers about 14 volumes (or four encyclopedia-sized ABSOLUTES and a couple of extra books)and should make you happy.

Second printing of Alphabets of Desire now available.

http://kleinletters.com/Blog/?p=990


Mine hangs in the downstairs toilet. And I've promised Todd I'll write something for his next print.

I hate to ask you this but I can't think of what else to do... I ordered the Dave Mckean DVD from Amazon back in October. It's been delayed 3 times already and I've just been informed it's been delayed again, this time until June. Do you know if these are actually going to get reprinted so that I can watch it some day?

Thanks,

Aaron


Dave says the Keanoshow DVDs are being printed now. The delays were about getting things right, and now they have.

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a quick one

Lots of questions about the Siegel copyright decision, including "don't you have to be dead to take advantage of this?" (no) and "Does this apply to you and can you get copyright on your Sandman stuff now?" (no and no)-- here's an FAQ on the Siegel decision: http://uncivilsociety.org/2008/03/a-siegel-superman-copyright-de.html

...

And here's the schedule of my trip to Australia at the end of April and beginning of May:


Wed 30th April HOBART

7.00pm PUBLIC EVENT: Author Talk & Signing

Address: Hadley s Hotel

34 Murray St, Hobart TAS

Duration: 20 min author talk & 40 min Q&A, followed by
author signing

Bookseller: Ellison Hawker Bookshop


Sun 4th May MELBOURNE
9.15am PUBLIC EVENT: CBCA Keynote Session
Address: Melbourne Convention Centre
Corner Spencer & Flinders Streets,
Melbourne VIC


MON 5th May MELBOURNE


1.00pm PUBLIC EVENT Author Talk & Signing

Address: State Library of Victoria

Centre for Youth Literature

(Village Roadshow Theatrette)

325 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC

Duration: 20 minute author talk & 40 minute Q&A/ signing

Bookseller: The Little Bookroom





MON 5th May MELBOURNE

7.00pm PUBLIC EVENT Literary Dinner

Address: Georges Restaurant

819 Burke Road, Camberwell VIC

Duration: 20 minute author talk & 40 min Q&A session
following dinner

Bookseller: Dymocks Camberwell


TUES 6th May SYDNEY

6.00pm PUBLIC EVENT Author Talk & Signing

Address: Books Kinokuniya

Level 2 The Galeries Victoria

500 George St, Sydney NSW

Duration: 20 minute author talk & 40 min Q&A session.
Followed by author signing.

Bookseller: Kinokuniya


WED 7th May SYDNEY


12.00pm PUBLIC EVENT: Author signing

Address: Dymocks George St

424 George St, Sydney NSW

Duration: approx 1 hour

Bookseller: Dymocks George St

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

oh good

This New York Times article is very good news, and was, I think, inevitable. In brief, a share in the copyright to Superman that should have returned to the creators, under laws that helped creators of art and music who had been ripped off when younger to regain a portion of the rights to their song or creation, has been deemed by a judge to have been returned to the heirs of Jerry Siegel, with Time Warner and DC Comics kicking and screaming all the way. (On the one hand, I can hardly blame them. On the other, the law was obviously the law, the conclusion was pretty much inevitable -- although I'm sure it's been an enormous relief to the family -- and I suspect the main purpose of the court case has been to put off the moment of reckoning as long as possible; not the moment of financial reckoning, because that clock started ticking in 1999, but the moment that the heirs to Superman could license Superman to entities other than DC Comics, which, as co-copyright holders, they are entitled to do. Marvel Comics publishing their own Superman comic, anyone?)

When I did something like this on a much smaller scale, I remember how much of a relief it was when the court awarded me my share in the characters I'd co-created. (I really ought to do something with it. Anyone want to publish an ANGELA comic? Or Medieval Spawn?)

It's traditional for newspapers to get Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's names wrong, but the New York Times photo caption Max Shuster, left, and Jerry Siegel, right, sold the rights to Superman in 1938 for $130 is a welcome variation on an old theme.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Chris Riddell



Chris Riddell is an award-winning illustrator of Children's books in the UK.

Bloomsbury are very aware that there are two very different audiences for The Graveyard Book -- that it's a book that works as a children's book and it's also a book for adults. So Sarah, my editor, proposed that Chris illustrate the childrens' edition, and that the one illustrated by Dave McKean will be aimed at an adult readership. In the UK, Dave's babe-on-a-knife-edge cover will be for adults (and may also have a signed, limited edition). Chris's version will be for younger readers.

Here's Chris Riddell's wonderful cover -- the jacket flaps are at each side. The text on the cover is dummy text -- it'll have a different quote on the back, I expect, and there are several things that need fixing in the blurbs and the biographies and such. But the artwork is really lovely, and I thought people would like to see it...

(Reposted as the colours were strangely wrong on the last version I put up.)


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Thursday, March 27, 2008

just by the way

Dinner with Steven Moffat in Bar Shu, spent mostly in enthusiastic Dr Who neepery.

I love my life.

...

As a side note, running Windows Vista on the (brand new , comes pre-loaded with Vista whether you want it or not) Panasonic w7 is making me really nostalgic for 1986. Whoever thought I'd get to type things then stare at a blank screen for a bit and one-by-one watch the letters appear? Cory and Mike's "Why Don't You Run Linux?" talks are staring to seem much more sensible.

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Life on Martian

I stopped daydreaming about being a famous rock and roll star about thirty years ago, when I stopped being in a band. And it's not a daydream that's ever come back. But I spent the night with friends in Cornwall and got to stay at http://martianengineering.com/residential.html (in the bedroom on the top right of the photos, oddly enough), which is the part of the studio that visiting bands stay when they record music, and I found myself wishing that I was a band so that I could come and stay here for three or four weeks and use all the cool buttons and switches and jaccuzzis and everything.

I suppose I could always come and stay anyway, but it wouldn't be the same.


Hey Neil,

I love your audio books. Listening to you reading is like having my Dad read me a bedtime story. Will you be reading The Graveyard Book and if so when will it be available?

Looking forward to it...

Thanks

Claire


Definitely. I'm really looking forward to reading it out loud. In a studio. (Daydreams for a moment about a world in which audio books sell in the hundreds of thousands and I get to come to Martian Engineering for three days with a director... Nope. It'll be at K.N.O.W. in Minneapolis, or in Harper Collins's studio in New York.) It will be out in the US and the UK to coincide with publication (30 Sept in the US, around Hallowe'en in the UK).


Dear Neil,

I am a huge fan of audiobooks (due to some vision problems) and I think you're the single best narrator I've heard -- and the only author reading his own work with a real talent for it. I want to thank you, first of all, for the accessibility of your work to those of us who listen instead of read. But I also really want to know how you learned to read so well. Is it something you're just good at, or did you learn to do it?


As I once said here, I think I owe most of it to Miss Webster, my elocution teacher when I was a boy, who cured my nine-year-old lisp within a few months and then over the next six years took me to LAMDA Gold Medal in "speaking of verse and prose"; and the rest to reading to my kids every night when they were growing up.

And I love doing it.

(Alan Moore's much better than I am, but no-one's dragged him into studios to do audio books, which is a pity. I'd love to hear an Alan audiobook of "The Voice of the Fire".)

To Mr. Gaiman,

My English teacher says that all good sci-fi exists to comment on society and its problems. As an author and a reader of science fiction, do you agree with this?


Not unless you change the words "all good" to "some". It's one of the many things that SF can do, and it's one of the many things that good SF can do. But there are lots of other things it does, including simply tell good stories (a valid end in itself).

Hi Neil

Where (if possible) could I find your podcasted interview about the Ramayana? Just curious.

-Paul


as soon as the Brtish Library puts it up (to coincide with their Ramayana exhibition, I expect) I'll link to it here.

Hi. I'm eighteen years old and entering college. I've wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember, and I was wondering if you could recommend any specific classes to take in college that could help me grow and develop into a successful author? Hi Neil - congratulations on being included in Weird Tales magazine's list of the 85 weirdest storytellers of all time!

http://weirdtales.net/wordpress/the-85-weirdest/


ps. You're not nearly as weird as Cirque du Soleil - they scare me. A lot.

best,

Kathleen

When I get home, I will tell Maddy. It will make her happy to know her dad is officially weird, rather than just, you know, informally.


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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Scary eyes

I went to the British Library today and recorded a podcasted interview about the Ramayana. In case you were worrying. And I had lunch with my editor at Bloomsbury. Oddly enough, Dave and Claire McKean were at the next table (in town to hang an exhibition of art at Foyles). It was lucky that my editor really liked the new The Graveyard Book cover, and so did I, or bread rolls might have been flung.

...


It's worth drawing people's attention to the fact that the free online reading copy of American Gods is now in its last six days online (it ends 31 March 08). I learned this from an email from Harper Collins, which also told me the latest batch of statistics.

For American Gods:

68,000 unique visitors to the book pages of American Gods

3,000,000 book pages viewed in aggregate

And that the weekly book sales of American Gods have apparently gone up by 300%, rather than tumbling into the abyss. (Which is -- the rise, not the tumble -- what I thought would happen. Or at least, what I devoutly hoped would happen.)

The book is up at This URL, if you're interested, or want to pass it along to a friend.


I was wondering if you'd consider giving a shout out for Don Rosa, the prolific writer/artist behind many great Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comics. He is spending the next six months recuperating from surgery for a detached retina, and I thought people might like to keep him in their thoughts and prayers.

Of course. We used to sit together a lot at foreign conventions, Don and I. People would look at us puzzled, and obviously wonder why the Uncle Scrooge guy was talking to the Sandman guy and what we could possibly have to talk about. Mostly I would be learning all about hummingbird feeders and bluebirds, and how to look after woodlands and suchlike, and sometimes I would be explaining to Don how comics business was conducted outside of Disney, and he would take that information and use it to better his lot across Europe. He's a really good guy, and I hope he recovers quickly.

Dear Neil,

This isn't a question, but rather, an apology for something I've felt badly about for quite a while now. I attended your reading and signing, in Toronto, for Anansi Boys. It was a fabulous evening, and I was lucky enough to be one of the first people in line to have my book signed. You drew me a very nice Mr. Punch, unasked, much to my delight. Thank you for that.

The reason I need to apologize is because, of the many photos I took that evening, one fills me with such terrible guilt I can't even look at it. The reason? My camera's auto flash setting. Which turned back on every time my camera went into standby, and which I'd not thought about until I perpetrated the following upon you . . .

There's one photo I snapped of you during your reading where you have extremely intense red-eye happening, and I can only imagine the blinding that must have caused. I am so, so sorry. I fully intended to respect the no-flash policy, and should have remembered to switch off the default setting. Every time I walk by that church, I feel terrible guilt. Moreso than I normally feel when walking past any church.

It's a small thing, and it's ridiculously late in coming, but I thought I'd at least get it said. Now my church-related guilt levels can return to their normal, questionably healthy levels.

Thanks, and sorry,
-Eden

Not to worry. I have world class photographic red-eye pretty much all the time. As a general rule, if it's taken with a flash, I look like I am possessed by the blazing forces of darkness, at least in the eye department.

...

It's sold a lot of copies, but Odd and the Frost Giants hasn't got many reviews -- http://www.greenmanreview.com/book/book_gaiman_oddandthefrostgiants.html is one of the few.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

The One From the Eastercon with the Dave McKean Subterranean Cover In It

The convention's over, and it was really good. Lots of wonderful people, a really nice atmosphere, and my main regret was all the conversations I never had -- I made China Mieville promise that we'd do a panel one day of us chatting, because we never manage to finish conversations and he knows so many cool things (and he seems to think that I do).

There were a lot of conversations I did have, though. Yesterday evening there was food with Mitch Benn, today there was food and talk with Farah Mendelsohn and Edward James, and Cory, Alice and Poesy Doctorow. And there were panels (my favourite today was either the one on the various incarnations of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Sometimes it's good just to be a fan. Or it was the one about darkness in Children's Fiction) and more signings and just running into good people...

And there was the party in honour of the upcoming Anticipation -- the 2009 WorldCon in Montreal . (http://www.anticipationsf.ca/English/Home) I talked to the con chairman, and then to Farah (who is head of programming) and we're starting to come up with some ideas for things that would be really special and fun.

(It's a World Science Fiction Convention, and it's about 18 months away, and I hope you'll come. There's a map of where in the world the members are from, and right now there's no-one at all from Eastern Europe or China or even Brazil....)

Also I seem to be guardian of an enormous pink pig.

....

“It is my opinion,” Wertham told the senators and the cameras, “without any reasonable doubt and without any reservation, that comic books are an important contributing factor in many cases of juvenile delinquency.” The child most likely to be influenced by comic books, he said, is the normal child; morbid children are less affected, “because they are wrapped up in their own fantasies.” Comic books taught children racism and sadism—“Hitler was a beginner compared to the comic book industry,” he said. In his book, he said that “Batman” comics were homoerotic and that “Wonder Woman” was about sadomasochism. He was even critical of “Superman” comics: “They arouse in children fantasies of sadistic joy in seeing other people punished over and over again while you yourself remain immune,” he testified. “We have called it the Superman complex.”
If you're interested in comics and their relation to America, or in censorship, or foolishness, you should read this: http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2008/03/31/080331crbo_books_menand

...

Dave McKean sent over the cover to the Subterranean Press edition (and probably the Bloomsbury Adult edition) of The Graveyard Book.

This is the cover....



And this is the wraparound cover, with the front and back cover and the space for the dustflaps, but without the text.







Right. Bed now.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Holly and corridors

My daughter Holly is here. She has been persuaded to take her coat off. She says she needs to be mentioned more in this blog. She says that I ruin the whole effect, however, if I actually point out that she just said that I should devote the spotlight to her here. She says she didn't actually say that and that my innocent paraphrase is in fact all hellish lies.

Holly would like to say something.

Maddy Gaiman has the best sister ever. Happy Easter, Maddy.

(Me: That's it? Her: Yup.)

So far today I've been interviewed by the French, done a Kaffeklatch (where 8 people who had their names drawn from a hat had coffee with me, although I drank tea) a Guest of Honour Reading and Talk, and another interview. Still to come today, a Wolves in the Walls reading for kids (and adults who have kidnapped kids and are using them as props to get in with) and another autographing. And an interview with Romanians.

Neil

I was interested in your throwaway remark on navigating the London Hotel. "It's a terrific convention (in a hotel the geography of which I cannot quite grasp)"

My wife and I spent our Silver Wedding anniversary in Vienna, and despite my reading up beforehand, I felt ill at ease using the underground trains as I couldn't get my bearings and felt terribly edgy for the first day and a half.

Once we walked around the inner ring of Vienna I had my bearings and was able to feel psychologically much better. Weird huh?

Have you read "The Art of Travel" by Alain de Botton? His practical philosophy is so interesting and makes me realise I'm not alone in feeling edgy on arrival at a new place - not for fear of attack - but insecure in the geography.


Truth to tell, I quite like new places, and don't really mind unfamiliar geographies. This hotel, on the other hand is something else.

I am used to sensible, Euclidean spaces, in which if you go through enough 90 degree angles you wind up where you started. Try that here and see where it gets you. It reminds me enough of the description of the unlikely convention hotel in Diana Wynne Jones's DEEP SECRET that I have to ask her if it was based on this hotel.

From the outside it seems almost normal. Then the corridors begin...

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

At Eastercon

It's a terrific convention (in a hotel the geography of which I cannot quite grasp).

My first Eastercon was Seacon in Brighton in 1984 -- a huge and wonderful affair. I was 23, wide-eyed and delighted by the convention. Bumptious, gawky, ransacking the dealer's room for Lionel Fanthorpe books for Ghastly Beyond Belief, occasionally mistaken for Clive Barker (why?) and starting to suspect that I might have found my tribe. And now, 24 years later, I'm some strange old-timery creature, at an Eastercon of 1300 people that's the biggest since, er, Seacon in 1984, and, despite the worries that friends have expressed to me about the greying of fandom, there seem to be an awful lot of people here the age I was at my first Eastercon or younger, an amazing amount of enthusiasm, and a lot of people who are having their first convention, and who may even now be suspecting that they might have found their tribe.

Altogether, a good thing.

Lots of old friends, and some new friends -- both China Mieville and Charles Stross are Guests of Honour as well, and I've known Charles for 20 years. (China for less than that.) I first signed in Fan Guest of Honour Rog Peyton's bookshop with Kim Newman in 1985 for "Ghastly Beyond Belief"... I keep running into people whom I sort of recognise. Then I mentally subtract 25 pounds, make their hair dark and realise who they are.


Did an enjoyable, even if none of us were quite awake yet, panel on mythology in the morning, a wonderful panel on Fantastic London in the afternoon. Ate lunch with Patrick Nielsen Hayden, dinner with the astonishingly nice Paul Cornell -- who I am definitely supporting for a Hugo, at least until Steven Moffat comes through with the promised ice-cream, at which point I might waver. But until then it's Cornell all the way. We spent dinner in full Doctor Who nerd mode. It was much too much fun -- and I got to tell him an obscure Dr Who fact that he didn't know. Possibly one that not even Steven Manfred knows. Holly said we were very cute, and she enjoyed the conversation except possibly when we got onto the early stuff. Also somewhere in there was a lot of signing.

I met my Romanian publishers and was given Romanian copies of my books, and promised to think about coming to Romania...

Lots of fun things tomorrow -- I want to do a bit of a reading during my Guest of Honour time, because the only reading I'm down for is one for kids (a Wolves in the Walls reading) but I have to decide just what I want to read.

Mitch Benn plays at the convention tomorrow night. He just sent me a link to his latest video. It's a happy birthday song of a political nature. But the tune's nice and catchy...

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Friday, March 21, 2008

feed me now

At the point where I really wanted to fall asleep I found myself having a conversation with my stomach along the lines of:

Stomach: It's dinnertime.

Me: No. It's nearly midnight. You had dinner, remember? With Steve Jones, Bryan Talbot, Holly and...

Stomach: That was lunch.

Me: You're forgetting the time difference. Really, I just need to sleep.

Stomach: FEEED MEEEE....


So I got up and ordered an omelette from Room Service.

And now that I'm up...

http://www.denvention.org/hugos/08hugonomlist.php
is the Hugo Award nominations. It looks a really good list.

Given that we've discussed the nominations for best short form dramatic presentation here over the last year, and have suggested three things...

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

Battlestar Galactica "Razor" written by Michael Taylor, directed by Félix Enríquez Alcalá and Wayne Rose (Sci Fi Channel) (televised version, not DVD)

Dr. Who "Blink" written by Stephen Moffat, directed by Hettie Macdonald (BBC)

Dr. Who "Human Nature" / "Family of Blood" written by Paul Cornell, directed by Charles Palmer (BBC)

Star Trek New Voyages "World Enough and Time" written by Michael Reaves & Marc Scott Zicree, directed by Marc Scott Zicree (Cawley Entertainment Co. and The Magic Time Co.)

Torchwood "Captain Jack Harkness" written by Catherine Tregenna, directed by Ashley Way (BBC Wales)


I was pleased to see them all on the short list.

And Stardust is on the long list (up against Harry Potter, The Golden Compass, Enchanted, and the whole of season one of Heroes), so congrats again to Matthew and Jane.

Now back to try the whole bed thing again...

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Oh to Be In England etc etc

In the UK for Eastercon. It's nice to be home (and amazing how comfortingly home it still feels after 16 years away).

I noticed that Terry Moore's STRANGERS IN PARADISE won the GLAAD award for Best Comic -- congratulations. Somewhere I have the beautiful GLAAD award that Sandman took for the same thing, about a decade ago. And then I read the small print of the Awards Press Release and realised with pleasure that STARDUST took the award for Outstanding Film (Wide Release) -- I was very pleased for Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman (and Robert De Niro), but wish that I'd known that it was happening. I called Matthew and Jane and told them. I wonder who accepted the award -- someone at Paramount? It says on the press release the awards ceremony will be telecast on Bravo, so I'll set the TIVO and find out.

The Eastercon is at a hotel near Heathrow, and because I took Silverjet in to the UK (this is the second time I've flown them, and I'm really impressed. The tickets are much cheaper than regular business class, every seat on the plane is business class, and you don't have to worry about checking in for an international flight many hours beforehand, as they have their own little check-in-lounges at the airports. I hesitate in plugging them because right now it's easy to get seat and to change flights) I landed in Luton, where I was picked up by a Taxi from the convention, which was a nice surprise (especially when I saw the lines of stopped traffic outside Heathrow).

I had a bath and then slept some more.

The con is, I am told, pretty full, but there are still memberships and day memberships.

I'm doing a signing on Saturday at 4.00, and my Guest of Honour speech/reading is Sunday at 2.00pm. There's another signing "on scooters" I am assured, on Sunday night at 8:15.

As a sort of general thing at the con, if you see me and I don't seem to be doing anything, and you have something with you you want signed, and you sidle over and mutter "It's for Norman" (if your name happens to be Norman) then I'll probably scribble on it for you.

Right. About to wander out into the world to see old friends and make new ones.

I have noticed that you look identically cool-writery in all your photos. I would like to know how this is done, please. When I'm in family photos whoever's taking it looks at the camera screen and gets a little frown and then they say "we'll just do that one again." I'll say sorry and then they say "That's alright, dear, you can't help it." and they take four or five and then just give up and email whichever one had my eyes most open and my mouth most closed.

Is there some trick?

Yes. You don't let anyone put the photos of you with your eyes shut, or with a goofy grin, or looking like you just dropped something, or drooling, on the back of a book or in a newspaper. Then people think that you always look like that.

Hey Neil,

I love your audio books. Listening to you reading is like having my Dad read me a bedtime story. Will you be reading The Graveyard Book and if so when will it be available?

Looking forward to it...

Thanks

Claire

I'll record it within the next month or so and it should be out in September when the book comes out.

I'm also planning to collect together all the live readings of chapters from the Graveyard Book as well... maybe make them downloadable or watchable from http://www.neilgaiman.com/p/Cool_Stuff.

So probably a thousand people have asked by now, but what does coffee which has been partially digested by a civet cat taste like? I've never quite been willing to shell out the extra money to find out. Is it worth it?

It was a perfectly nice, fairly mild, not-at-all acidic coffee -- with an astonishing caffeine kick to it. But I'm a tea drinker, not a coffee drinker, and while I could probably describe different teas in ways that might communicate things to other tea drinkers, when it comes to coffee it was a very nice, not-bitter, not-acid, cup of coffee, and someone else will have to describe the underlying notes of cinnamon and vanilla and red wine in civet-coffee, for it will not be me.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A miscellania of things to click on

On the subject of all things Terry Pratchett, there is a North American Discworld convention in "Phoenix, Arizona over Labor Day Weekend, 2009 (Sept 4-7, and maybe September 3 as well)" -- details at http://www.nadwcon.org/.

(Terry's also noted that while Matchitforpratchett is unofficial, this link isn't: https://www.committedgiving.uk.net/art/public/donor.aspx?id=cc)

A first review of The Dangerous Alphabet, the odd alphabet book by Gris Grimly and me, at http://editoon.com/sandbox/?p=849.

You can watch Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman collecting an award for Stardust at the Empire Awards. (It took Best SF/Fantasy film, beating some very worthy contenders, so worthy that neither Jane nor Matthew had thought to even jot down an acceptance speech.)

Susanna Clarke's short story Mrs Mabb can be listened to for the next 6 days via http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/arts/afternoon_play.shtml click on Tuesday.

I really loved the New Yorker article on Jamy Ian Swiss and magic (Jamy was my coin magic adviser on American Gods -- see http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2008/03/american-gods-blog-post-10.html). It doesn't seem to be online, but you can hear Adam Gopnik talking about it at http://www.newyorker.com/online/2008/03/17/080317on_audio_gopnik

--again, just trying to close some tabs before I head off to the UK in the morning, for Eastercon (http://www.orbital2008.org/). Hope I get to see you there...

...

Apologies to everyone who wrote from the Portland area asking if I would be doing a signing and if not would I sign just for you. Nope. Maybe next time (as it was I spent a couple of hours signing for all the hundreds of modelmakers, animators, costumers, carpenters and other wonder-workers at Laika. Mostly people's books and Coraline posters, but a few odd things including a naked Miss Forcible).

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Arthur C Clarke (and the closing of many tabs)

Maddy and I ran into Powells when we got back from Laika today. Laika had given Maddy a Powells gift card, and I love that place. Next to Arthur C Clarke's books was a note saying that he had died today.

I met Sir Arthur C Clarke in 1985, when he was in the UK to promote the film of 2010. He was staying in Brown's Hotel in London, where the doormen wore top hats and the hotel interior didn't seem to have changed in a hundred years. I interviewed him for Space Voyager magazine, but all I remember is that he was very kind and polite, and a vague surprise in discovering that he had a West Country burr in his voice. He seemed like someone from a past era, in that elderly wood-and-leather hotel, frail and elderly 22 years ago, but he was someone who had showed me the future, and who was living, very happily, in the future.

I grew up reading Clarke -- books like A Fall of Moondust and The Deep Range were books I'd read and loved before I turned ten -- but the story that made the deepest impression on me was a short story, 'The Nine Billion Names of God'.

There's a wonderful interview with Terry Pratchett in the Guardian. I would have loved to have been in the room with Terry when he read the final line, though -- "Good Luck to you, you sweet man." I remember the noise Terry made when I told him that a gentleman who had been his minder at a convention had described Terry to me as "a jolly old elf". I don't think that teeth actually ground together but it was a jolly good noise all the same, and he said several things that were not at all elf-like.

Remember http://www.matchitforpratchett.org/.

...

The Dave McKean Vertigo Tarot deck is being reissued, along with the Rachel Pollack book that accompanied it -- details at http://www.dccomics.com/dcdirect/?dcd=3403. You can see the cards at http://www.elsewhere.org/tarot/vertigo/

...

The Daily Star in the UK has actually reproduced the Angelina Jolie naked-but-for-gold-drips scene in Beowulf with a real live model, at http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/view/32553/Daily-Star-babe-Claire-s-Jolie-good/

Claire, 23, certainly had the Midas touch as she revealed her own golden globes...
...

It was the Best World Book Day Ever.


...
A much better article on the Freeway Bee accident from the Sacramento Bee. (It's their newspaper's name.)

...

Neil,

I know you said you weren't doing the last.fm friend thing, but is there any way you could? Reason I ask is because it's the only way I can see your playlist and be able to listen to your music through my living room entertainment center (the media center software I'm using will only allow me to choose 'Friends' and then streams their radio station; i can't surf by username alone).

Just curious, but I understand if you don't want to open that Pandora's Box! :-D

I changed my mind, and now, to make life easier for all, I automatically friend everyone on Last FM who asks. http://www.last.fm/user/neilhimself
is the ID -- http://www.last.fm/music/Neil+Gaiman is where you can find stuff by me to stream or download.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

picture time

Hey world! It's Maddy G-Dogg. Guess what! IT'S PICTURE TIME! WOOOOOOOO




Myself, Dad, Heather and Henry Selick. Yeah, we look cool. I know.



The Wonderful Madeleine and Henry Selick's son, Harry.



Me getting my make-up done! Oooh la la!





Henry's magnificent assistant Shelley!! And I would just like to point out that behind her, there now sits a napkin. On this napkin, written in the finest of magenta ink, is:

Maddy Gaiman is amazing!
-the world.
P.S. I heart Shelley




Marvelous Maddy and Shining Shelley!



Dad, me and Merrilee in a yummy little sushi restaurant! P.S. If your daughter has never tried a Caterpillar Roll, please do not persuade her to pop one in her mouth. The whole eel and avacado thing is not something that a particular 13-year-old is a fan of.




Me with my chocolate pig named Franklin. :)

That's all for now folks. Oh and by the way as I am writing this, my father, aka the brilliant yet slightly odd Neil Gaiman, is downstairs signing some books like crazy! GOOOOO DAD!

Bye. :)

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coolth

Probably nobody except me thinks Moby and Lou Reed playing Walk on The Wild Side together is as cool as I do, but it's my blog, so here it is. (click http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2008/03/coolth.html to read the post in full if you're on a feed...)




Lou Reed at The Levi's®/FADER Fort from The FADER on Vimeo.

Meanwhile the former WebElf is working hard on the ancient texts from the American Gods part of this blog, making stuff from seven years ago readable as individual entries and adding labels and suchlike. catch her handiwork at http://journal.neilgaiman.com/search/label/American%20Gods%20Blog


Right. Off to Laika for round two. Next post should be photos and captions from Miss Maddy...

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Maddy Is Back

Hey everyone!! Well this is Maddy Gaiman and I would just like to say that I am very tired! Today was a long day and now I totally know how dad feels after he gets done with a day of interviewing, or at things like Comicon.

Well we arrived at Laika studios this morning at like 10:00, ate a nummy breakfast, and went on a tour around the sets of Coraline. It was amazingly super cool!! There are sooo many sets for all the different scenes in the movie. Then I interviewed Henry Selick and my dad, then did a bunch of little TV spots for things like [censored by her father and Laika] and [censored] and [censored], where I would be all like "Hi! This is Maddy Gaiman. Stay tuned for an exclusive sneak-peek of the cool new 3-D animated movie CORALINE!".

After that I interviewed Georgina Hayns and Deb Cook who are the heads of the departments for puppets and costumes for the puppets. It was pretty wonderful. I love all of the puppets, too. I would never have the patience to do what the people working there do. With all the fine detailed things, and moving the puppets a tiny little bit every shot and taking a picture and then moving them a little more, my head would about explode!! That takes talent I tell you. Oh, and we also saw about 20 minutes of footage in 3-D and that was also pretty darn fantastic. The film is coming along great so far and I simply cannot wait to see the finished version!


Okay, well I better get to bed because I am pretty tired. But hopefully I will be back tomorrow with some more wonderful blogging!


Talk to ya lata skatas!! :)

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From The Coraline Set

From The Beat, here's P Craig Russell drawing the Sandman Dream Hunters comic.



The thing I was going to write about this morning isn't getting written now though as they need me for make-up and an interview...

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Rain and suchlike

Good morning! Miss Maddy and I are in Portland. Last night we went to Henry Selick's house and met his family and lots of nice people from Laika and ate lots of amazing food (and I also drank my first cup of the kind of coffee that's made from beans that have travelled through the digestive system of the civet cat [Paradoxurus hermaphroditus]).

Today it's off to Laika to visit the Coraline sets (all 40 of them) and to be interviewed for the DVD extras. Maddy will be doing the interviewing.

I have to get dressed... Here's Maddy:


Well helloooooo everyone I missed you so! Um well today we are going to visit the Coraline sets as I see Dad already mentioned, but I am very excited because everything is going to be super cool! Plus I'm going to interview people so you better watch out because the new Larry King is right here. :) Just kidding! Or am I? Anyways we have some pictures of last night's get together but I do not exactly have the camera with me right now so I guess you will just have to wait until later to see them. It will be the time of your life! Ok, well have a really great day. :)



Me again. People have sent me lots of important emails this morning, many of them letting me know that a bee truck overturned near Sacramento.

Millions of swarming honey bees are on the loose after a truck carrying crates of the buzzing insects flipped over on a highway in Sacramento.

The California Highway Patrol says 8-to-12 million bees escaped from the crates in which they were stored, swarming over an area of Highway 99 and stinging officers, firefighters and tow truck drivers who were trying to clear the accident from the roadway.

CHP Officer Michael Bradley says at about 10 a.m. a tractor trailer owned by Inter City Inc. flipped over while entering the highway on its way to Yakima, Wash. The flatbed was carrying bee crates each filled with up to 30 thousand bees.

Bradley says several beekeepers driving by the accident stopped to assist in the bee wrangling. The beekeepers called their colleagues, who responded and came to help repair damaged bee crates and get them loaded onto two new trucks.

The bees were on their way back to Washington after being used in the San Joaquin Valley to pollinate crops.

(I don't think they were swarming at all. But hurrah for the drive-by beekepers.)


And meanwhile,

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

running out the door

Sometimes I lose track of time -- Maddy and I are going to go to Laika in Portland for a couple of days, to visit the Coraline set. Truthfully, it's Maddy who will be doing most of the work -- they want her to interview me and Henry Selick and several of the crew. I thought I had many hours before I left. Days maybe. And suddenly I'm gazing bleary-eyed at the day as Lorraine tells me there's a car in the drive and Maddy and I leave in fifteen minutes and probably I ought to put on some socks.

Dear Neil,

Thanks for blogging the initiative to match Terry Pratchett's $1 million donation to the Alzheimer's Research Fund. In way of an update to that, there is now a website - http://www.matchitforpratchett.org/ and a Facebook group (naturally) - Matching Funds with Terry Pratchett. It might be helpful to mention these as well on your blog, if you were so inclined.


Looking forward to seeing you at Orbital.

Best wishes,

Nina


Absolutely. Consider them mentioned.

Also, I think I have slipped into a parallel universe in which everything is reversed. The Sun accurately reports everything that Terry said, while the Daily Telegraph sexes it up and tries to make it controversial.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Closing Many Tabs

When I get a second I'll post about seeing The Magnetic Fields in Chicago. In the meantime, lots of tabs need to be closed here...

...

On April the 18th I'll be doing a reading and a Q&A as a benefit for the CBLDF at the New York Comic-Con. I haven't mentioned it here but people have already noticed,

Mr Gaiman,

I was really excited to hear that you'll be attending our Comic Con here in New York. then I read that it'll be a ticketed event. I'm sure it's for the Heroes fund or some other worthy cause, but surely you can do a free signing while you're there. You'e Neil freaking Gaiman, I'm sure DC would let youtake over their booth for a couple of hours. Please.

regards,

Frank


Hi Frank

I don't think it'll happen, I'm afraid. The CBLDF and the New York Con have organised the appearance as a fundraiser, and to ensure that it's successful that's going to be my one appearance (it's a lot more of an appearance than I had planned to do before the CBLDF asked me -- if they hadn't asked, I wouldn't be there at all). As you say, it's a worthy cause. (It's the same sort of thing they set up for Stephen King last year.)


Neil Gaiman, the renowned author of science fiction and fantasy short stories and novels, graphic novels, comics, and films will be presenting a live reading benefiting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund at the New York Comic-Con. The appearance, a paid ticketed reading event, will be called an "An Evening With Neil Gaiman" with 100% of the proceeds going to benefit the First Amendment legal work of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. "Reed Exhibitions and the New York Comic Con have always shown a passion for the First Amendment, and their continued commitment to the CBLDF is a tremendous boon to our work," says CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein. "We're thrilled to team up with them for this rare and special event."

"We're elated to be working with the CBLDF to host this incredible event," states Lance Fensterman, Show Manager for New York Comic Con. "Neil Gaiman is a huge personality, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is an incredibly influential and important organization. To have them both come together like this at New York Comic Con is a significant honor and I know this will be an enormous highlight of our weekend activity."

"An Evening With Neil Gaiman" will be Mr. Gaiman's only public appearance at New York Comic Con. It will be held on Friday, April 18, at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City, and will feature a reading of material selected by Mr. Gaiman. A limited access VIP reception will take place immediately before the event. New York Comic Con, the largest popular culture event to occur on the East Coast, will take place at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City, April 18 – 20, 2008.


More details over at,
http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=13300
http://www.mediumatlarge.net/2008/03/neil-gaiman-at-nycc.html

...

P. Craig Russell is doing some amazing art right now on his Dream Hunters comic and he talks about it at

http://www.pcraigrussell.net/archives/70

...

This just came in from Harper Collins...

Stats on the American Gods full access promotion:

The book has now had 54k users and 2.3M page views. On average each user is viewing 42 pages.

Which doesn't tell us how many people have read the whole book on their screens and how many people have read one page and shaken their heads and gone away.

It'll be up for a couple more weeks...

This next just came in from Jennifer Brehl, my editor at Harpers, and someone who has been hard at work on making the book available.


Neil –

Below is a link to the survey that the HC internet team hope your will post to your blog. They are very enthusiastic about getting input from your fans to help them to improve the Browse Inside application.

The first few questions will be used for segmentation: current fans vs. new readers, print readers vs. digital readers, etc. It may be that the different groups have different reactions to this promotion and to the online reader.

At the end of this, the internet team would like to invite respondents to participate in a “Browse Inside” Advisory Panel to provide more in-depth feedback.

As you know your fans better than anyone, we’re eager to hear your opinions.

You can click through to the survey here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=_2byu40J8QdlbaaA5Iar6hvQ_3d_3d

I hope that people will take the survey -- the ones who didn't like the way that Harpers did it as much as the ones who did. If you would prefer a downloadable book or a different interface or something, let them know...

...

A review of M is for Magic in the Daily Telegraph that I've put up because it has the lovely Rick Berry cover for Diana Wynne Jones's magical short novel The Game in it.

I was vaguely wondering about whether to do a glossary of unusual words for The Graveyard Book, but for some reason when I read,
parents may need to be on hand to explain adjectives such as Miltonian. A glossary, rather than Gaiman's introduction, would have been a nice addition.
I found myself deciding against putting a glossary in. I thought that really, part of the fun of words is finding out what they mean. It was always one of the things I loved about books -- that they had cool new words in them. There are words I remember going and finding what they meant, puzzling over and chewing until I understood them (disembowel, for example, a word I ran into as a 7 year old in a John Brunner short story that taught me an awful lot about bodies and what's in them and what you could do to them) and words I remember discovering from fiction and understanding from context.

And it's fun as an author to throw in good words. Someone told me off for putting the word roiling in Odd and the Frost Giants [v.tr.1)to make (a liquid) muddy or cloudy by stirring up sediment. 2) To displease or disturb; vex: My roommate's off-putting habits began to roil me.v.intr. To be in a state of turbulence or agitation], as if kids would be upset by an unfamiliar word. I think I got roiling from R. A. Lafferty, as a kid, and loved it.

Which reminds me -- the nine books of the World Books Day promotion are all in the top ten Uk bestsellers this week...

...

Less a question, more a link asking for comments:

http://robinhobb.com/rant.html

Nicked from George R.R. Martin's blog (grrm.livejournal.com), and as much as I love reading both of your journals, I love reading your books and your characters more. And I know that blogging is a distraction to me whether writing papers or short stories -- especially that temptation to tell people what the story's about, which somehow always makes me want to write it less...

I think she has a very valid point (writers need to write, and they need to write the thing they're doing). Beyond that, I read the rest of the rant as a thickly trowelled-on mixture poetic license and rhetorical excess to make the point that when you're blogging, you're not working (a true statement). And it's obviously true for Robin. Me, I like being an author with a blog. And one reason I don't do comments here (as I've said before) is pretty much for the reasons she outlines -- I might get sucked into it and lost forever.

But I think that suggesting that a writer stops being a writer because they blog or have a LiveJournal is silliness, and obviously easily disprovable. Different writers work in different ways. Some are sociable, some aren't. As Robin Hobb says on her FAQ
I've always preferred to work alone, not sharing my work with anyone until it goes off to an editor. That's my quirk. Many professionals attribute a lot of their success to workshops and writers' clubs.
And I think her rant and her reaction to blogging is just part of the same quirk. Blogging works for some writers and not for others. For those for whom it doesn't work, her rant is a useful exhortation not to do it.


...

Another link from Jonathan Carroll -- this one to abandoned Russian wooden houses... http://englishrussia.com/?p=1808#more-1808

...

A couple of years ago Gene Wolfe wrote two stories inspired by Lisa Snellings-Clark art. DreamHaven published them. It's a book called Strange Birds. It's a wonderful book-- the second story is one the most disturbing horror stories Gene has ever written.

Now DreamHaven have announced Strange Roads, a chapbook featuring three new stories by Peter S. Beagle, with a full-color cover and black & white interior art by Lisa Snellings-Clark. Limited to 1000 copies.

http://dreamhavenbooks.com/snellings.php

(Strange Birds, Strange Roads... I wonder what the next book title could be, and what poor foolish author will be sucked into Lisa's dark world of madness and poppets and pain.)

(It's me actually.)

...

The Children's Book Council of Australia are holding a conference (as mentioned earlier on this blog) called "All the Wild Wonders" in Melbourne this year. It'll have some fun keynote speakers
(http://www.iceaustralia.com/cbca2008/speak.html)
two of whom will be giving speeches that are open to the public. Those two are me and Shaun Tan. And I want to hear what Shaun has to say enough that I'm going to get up early on Saturday 3 May 2008, because his talk starts at 9.00 am. (Mine is on Sunday the 4th and starts at the same time.)

...

I'm sure a lot of people have already asked you, but I'm dying to know your stance on the Spitzer scandal. Having written about it from time to time, how do you feel about prostitution in general?


Nope, nobody's asked me (probably very wisely). I think my views on adult sex-workers are a lot like the ones expressed on Penn and Teller's Bullshit episode on Prostitution (on YouTube here) only without all the swearing.

...

And finally, from Farah Mendelsohn, an important one:

Dear Neil,

this may be old news to you, but Terry Pratchett has donated $1 million to Alzheimer's research.

Pat Cadigan has launched a "Match it for Pratchett" campaign to get fans to see if we can raise as much. The initial post is here: http://fastfwd.livejournal.com/316828.html

And a logo has popped up here: http://swisstone.livejournal.com/433197.html


If you felt like blogging it, we'd be very chuffed. You have more reach than anyone else in sf and fantasy.

cheers
Farah

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Station

Jonathan Carroll sent me a wonderful poem by Li-Young Lee.

I did a search to see if it was on-line legitimately, and found it being read by him at http://www.blueflowerarts.com/li_audio2.html

(And a whole audio gallery of the agency's poets reading their own work at http://www.blueflowerarts.com/audio_gallery.html)

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

DANCE! Dance! DANCE! (and wave your Barbie Whistle Torch around)

My friend Penn Jillette continues to do things that scare him. And one of them is Dancing on Television. Something that would scare me. It's Dancing With The Stars, the US version of Strictly Come Dancing.

Emily Jillette (Penn's wife, and mother of Moxie Crimefighter Jillette and Zolten Penn Jillette) wrote to me and she says,


Hi, everyone...

As most of you know, Penn will be on Dancing with the Stars starting
March 17th on ABC. Kym Johnson (from Australia) is his partner.

He's working so hard and is doing his very best to win!

If you want to show your support and gain attention - please visit my
CafePress store and buy some shirts!

http://www.cafepress.com/dwts


So tune in and VOTE! You can vote 10x from each email you have, and
text 10x from each phone line you have.


Thanks!

Emily

So there. Meanwhile, Colleen has rediscovered her Barbie Whistle Torch.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

What Kurt Said

So Kurt Busiek wrote about Odd and the Frost Giants, and I linked to it here and he emailed me, and I needed to ask him if I could use a bit of something he and I plotted on a long car journey about 12 years ago for a mystery project, and he said yes, and I sent him The Graveyard Book as a thank you.

He wrote about it, too:

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK's title is an homage to THE JUNGLE BOOK, since TGB is about a boy whose family dies, and who winds up being raised in a graveyard, by ghosts, and the other things that lurk there.

The boy, named Nobody ("Bod" for short), learns many things, discovers odd places and curious people, deals hesitantly with the world outside the graveyard and eventually has to deal with the forces that killed the rest of his family, and who are still looking for him. I won't say much more about the plot, because hey, it's not going to be out for months.

But I think it's likely Neil's best novel yet. It has a great deal of warmth, whimsy, dark fantasy (verging on horror), adventure, charm, suspense, monsters, ghouls, a witch, school bullies, policemen, ancient burial mounds, knife-wielding killers, dancing, mystery, trouble, a dash of romance, life lessons, and a creature named Silas, who is both what he seems to be and not. And the most endearingly dangerous and threatening ancient terror you've ever met. The story's engaging, there's a real sense of menace, and it builds to a strong and satisfying climax.

The ghosts are a delight, and the sense of magic and possibility and things happening in the shadows is compelling and attractive. The writing is quite good, but not showy -- the story and characters take first place, always.

It's a short novel, under 70,000 words, and it works as YA, provided you don't mind YA books starting with dead bodies (including a child), bloody knives and a toddler in jeopardy, but it's not limited to that -- it's a book that'll be as satisfying for an adult to read as for a young teen, but they'll get different things out of it.

It's more in company with STARDUST and NEVERWHERE, in that it's an occasionally-dark fantasy involving a world one step outside our own, than with AMERICAN GODS and ANANSI BOYS (which are more about stuff intruding from the beyonds into our own), but written by someone who's had that much more practice than any of those. I could say it's "like GOOD OMENS meets A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE" but, well, that's a facile and shallow comparison, so I won't.

In any case, this is a wholehearted recommendation. I like most of what Neil writes, but THE GRAVEYARD BOOK is very high up on the list, even so.

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

I am sick of winter and would like some sunshine now please

Lots of really good suggestions for ways to outwit Heisenberg's Uncertain Rice Pudding Principle, and I will try them and report back, although it may have to wait until the snow melts and Spring is sprung and the farm shop around the corner start milking their cows again.

And the webgoblin says that the deceptively ordinary-looking image URL http://www.neilgaiman.com/extras/countdown.gif should, if pasted into things, allow you to have your own Graveyard Book countdown badge.

The webgoblin adds: For example,
<img src="http://www.neilgaiman.com/extras/countdown.gif" width="144" height="164" />
posted to a webpage or in a blog, will give you:



Never mind the bloody USA.

When can I get it in East Finchley?


About three weeks after it comes out in the US, at an educated guess. It says November 2008 on the Bloomsbury site (and 3 Nov 2008 in the Bloomsbury catalogue), but I would imagine that they actually would want it in the shops before Hallowe'en...

...

Normally I just smile and shake my head when people start worrying about security issues when it comes to books. They're books. It's only friends of mine who have never published anything who send me copies of their manuscripts all locked and encoded, with the password to open it in a separate email. The bestselling and award-winning authors I know just send me books as email attachments months before they come out.

But I got a call from my movie agent, Jon Levin at CAA, who mentioned that movie book scouts in New York had somehow got hold of The Graveyard Book as a computer file and had been slipping it to producers and studios, who had been calling him about it, and then I got an oddly-written anonymous grumpy message on the FAQ line from someone who had obviously read an early draft and found a bit in it confusing, and I'm now fascinated by the idea that there are people out there with my book, before it's even properly, absolutely finished, who I didn't give it to.

I really don't think I mind, but I had to stop and think about it for a while first. And I guess that the reason I don't mind is because the alternative is that people don't care. It's a problem of success, and for the most part the problems of success are good problems to have.

I'm unlikely to be more circumspect next time I write a book -- I'll still email the book to friends to get a sense of what works and what needs fixing, and I assume that the book scouts will still have their mysterious agents pervading the New York book world.

Ah well. In the meantime I'll keep writing the book and keep playing with it until the last sheet of the last galley proof is pried from my cold numb fingers.


Hi, Neil.

Regarding the Absolute Sandman, can you explain to a broke graduate student who has all of the Sandman graphic novels and a good number of the individual comics why the Absolute Sandman is still a must-purchase-or-possibly-suffer-lifelong-regret-and-trauma thing?

Thank you,

Brandi

Dear Brandi

you should use your local library as a resource. Sometimes your library will have a copy, sometimes it's only available on inter-library loan and will have to be ordered. And then you can read them without paying money and decide what you think.

(Libraries are your friend. It's one of the refrains of this blog, I think.)

I'm not entirely sure that the Absolute Sandman replaces the trade paperbacks, any more than the trade paperbacks replaced the comics (because the covers and the ads and the letter column and all that stuff gives you an experience you don't get from a trade paperback) and I don't want to start turning into Elvis Costello, who has now sold me all of his music at least four times in ever-more-upgraded formats with extra bells and whistles.

But if you want a permanent copy for your bookshelf, the Absolute Sandmans are as good as it gets. I don't think they're going to vanish from the book and comic shops immediately -- DC have overprinted healthy amounts, certainly good for a few years to come -- but they are probably too expensive per unit to go back to press in Hong Kong for smallish reprints.

Dear Neil,

For the person new to 'Sandman' and not sure they'd love it enough to justify the price for the Absolutes - I had never read 'Sandman' (hangs head in shame) and bought the first one on a whim. They are definitely worth it - I have the second as well and have already pre-ordered the third. I was wondering if 'Dream Hunters' and 'Endless Nights' would be included in the 'Absolute Sandman' collection, or should I go ahead and buy them?

Regards,

Mary

No, they won't be coming out in Absolute format.


Hi Neil,

Is it true you will be in Australia in May, 2008?

Cheers,

Yoomi


It is, it is. I'm out in early May for a conference on children's literature in Melbourne, and I'll do a couple of signings while I'm there. Details to come very soon.

...

Maddy wants me to let everyone know that the two of us are going out to Laika together in a week to see the Coraline film set, and that she plans to be Special Guest Blogger during that time. So I have.

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29 Weeks, 2 days, 19 hours, 57 minutes, 16 seconds

The Webgoblin made Graveyard Book counters for us. Go and look at the front page of neilgaiman.com to check it out.

The Blue Peter website has the first chapter of Odd and the Frost Giants up at http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/bluepeter/bookclub/top_three/top_three_march_2.shtml


Any luck on recreating the best-EVER rice pudding? :D

--Denise

No, and I'm a bit grumpy about it. What I did was put some sweet rice in a bowl, then add some raw sugar, a smidge of salt and and then pour in some local milk. Then I shoved the bowl in an oven, and when I took it out a while later I had a perfect rice pudding. Thrice. The fourth time, having mentioned it on this blog, I figured I'd actually work out the amounts and immortalise it, at which point it all went wrong. It worked fine as long as I was doing it by eye, but was doomed the moment I started to try and pay attention to what I was doing. It's like one of those particles that you can know where it is or how fast it's going, but not both. I can apparently cook rice pudding well or keep track of times and quantities but not both....

One day.

Hi Neil,

Regarding the amazon discount on Absolute Sandman 3.

I place my order last week working out that the discount of 37% plus the extra 5% would be a 42%.

However, the 5% discount was applied to the already discount price so in total it was just over a 40%.

Still a bargain compared to the 10% discount that amazon.co.uk are offering.
Regards

Chris



Ah. Good to know...

Hello Neil,

I know there has been a lot of hooplah about the free book. However, your diabolical plan has worked on me. I read it last weekend, then immediately went out and bought Anansi Boys.

Now I'm interested in reading Sandman next and am confused as to what to buy. The Absolute Sandman looks cool, but the $77.62 on Amazon is pretty steep for something I'm not sure I'm going to love $77.62 worth.

So, is there anything still in print that will give me a just a taste of Sandman?


Of course. The trade paperbacks are cheaper, and a way to find out if you like it. There are ten volumes in the Sandman series, along with Dream Hunters (a prose book with lovely illustrations by Yoshitaka Amano) and Endless Nights (a set of seven short stories).

http://www.amazon.com/gp/series/9268/ref=pd_serl_books?ie=UTF8&edition=paperback
are the books. They should be available from any good bookshop.

I think the Absolute Sandmans are absolutely worth it, by the way. They're beautiful, each one's 600 pages long, oversized and slipcased. And the odds are good that, given the cost of production, they won't stay in print forever.

Hi Neil,

You are currently in the running for "Most Likely to be a Defrocked Pirate Living in the Wrong Century" poll on Deb Geisler's blog on Livejournal. She talks about it here:

http://debgeisler.livejournal.com/845069.html

And the poll is available here:

http://www.livejournal.com/poll/?id=1149613


Regards,

Heidi

I voted for Steve Brust.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

The one with the finished Dave McKean Graveyard Book cover



This came in from Dave a couple of minutes ago. Click on it for a much, much bigger version.

Now to find out what everyone at Harper Collins thinks. I'll post the one with the knife when Dave does that too...

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Very small footnote to Free

Today my assistant Lorraine is in the kitchen doing mysterious things to obtain beeswax from slumgum, and I am mostly on the phone copy-editing The Graveyard Book.

Anyway. Free books. I started thinking about times we've used this principle in paper books -- using the free thing to spread the author or the idea, and, if you ignore the five fingered discount (remember, in the UK you can add Terry Pratchett to the "four authors who are flying off the shelves and don't forget the graphic novels" list) then you still have things like Free Comic Book Day. And before there was ever Free Comic Book Day, there was Sandman 8.

It was 1989. I wrote Sandman #8, Mike Dringenberg drew it, and the editorial and marketing departments at DC Comics got enthusiastic about it. I went out and got three pages of quotes from fantasy and horror authors about Sandman, wrote a "The Story So Far". DC Comics overprinted Sandman #8 and sent each retailer an extra 25% above what they'd ordered, for free, and told them that they could do whatever they wanted with them.

Some stores simply sold them.

The smart stores gave them away. Some of the smart stores even went back to DC and asked for more. The stores that gave them away were the stores who, a year or so later, found it very easy to sell Sandman trade paperbacks to their customers. And then to sell Sandman hardcovers. And some of them are now selling the Absolute Sandmans.

(And a few people have written to let me know that ABSOLUTE SANDMAN Volume 3 is now up at Amazon, with the extra 5% discount for pre-ordering it bringing it to 42% off.)

Anyway. There weren't any grumbles that we were somehow devaluing other comics, or that this was Marxism in action, or that this was going to put comics retailers out of business or anything like that. It was about expanding the readership, about convincing people that it was safe to try something new.

(I just called Brian Hibbs at Comix Experience who put labels with his store's name and address on his free comics and then left them at barbers' shops and on buses and anywhere else he could, bookcrossing style -- he said he passed out about 400 copies of Sandman 8 and got 100 readers back, who bought every copy of Sandman, and the collected editions, and some of those people are buying Absolute Sandmans from him now -- and then he pointed out that it wasn't just Sandman that those people bought, but lots of them discovered comics and bought everything...)

...

Rachel McAdams says she would like to be Black Orchid on the screen -- I'd like to see that too. I didn't know what I was doing when I wrote Black Orchid, and it shows, but there's some dialogue I'm still really happy with, and a wilful attempt to avoid cliche that I'm still proud of. And Dave McKean created an entire school of realistic superhero art (one he's still apologising for). It was our first full-colour baby.

I wish her luck.

...

How does he come up with the cover images? Dave I mean. Does he just make it up out of his head like writing? Or is there a HarperCollins committee that says, "We would like a blue cover with a knife. And perhaps a black one with some mist...no no, more swirly please."


Can you ask him? And if he answers, can you post it?


Thanks Neil!

-Miriam


I can answer this -- I was there and watching it. The first cover Dave did was done to a Harpers request (they sent him a sketch of the kind of thing they wanted, and he painted that). With the more recent ones I posted, Dave had simply read the book (which I was still writing when he did the first one) and then sketched a bunch of potential covers and handed them in.

Hi Neil,

Can I ask what happened to the much more finished graveyard book cover that you posted a few weeks back? I have a feeling that Dave might be someone that hands in finished pieces on a whim sometimes, but had he just done that for promotion etc, or was it just an early version? I know what it is like to do covers several times, not just as roughs but also finished pieces, and I think the rough sketches you posted might be stronger than that one, but I just wondered...

-Joel Stewart


Well, it exists, and it might be used in promotion, or turn up in the back of the Subterranean Press Edition or as a colour Frontispiece to the Bloomsbury limited edition, but it probably won't be a book cover (unless there's a foreign publisher who wants it, I suppose).

It was done to order, but it really didn't reflect the book I wrote, which was why we went back to Dave and said, "you don't have to worry any longer about doing a book cover that looks like it's for young readers. Just do a book cover."

And yes, I think most of the ones he came back with are stronger than that was.

And yes, it's not at all unknown for Dave simply to do finished art and hand it in. On Sandman he did it after he was removed from the book, as we started The Doll's House. He was told that he was off Sandman so that he could concentrate on finishing Arkham Asylum -- he simply went home and did the next three Sandman covers and sent them off to DC...

...

Which reminds me -- it's been a very long time since I posted a link to http://gaimanmckeanbooks.co.uk/ -- there are some very wonderful Dave McKean screensavers and ecards and suchlike there...

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