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Friday, October 31, 2008

a small Halloween* prezzie

Webgoblin here!

Once again, Mr. G is hopping around the globe and it falls to me to post the latest Coraline treats from Focus Features.

Today, the Coraline 1-sheet arrives in theaters! But you do not need to dash out to see it, my dears, because I have the exclusive debut sneek peek right here!



See also the very spooky official Coraline website and Focus Features' content-rich Coraline site.


* = Or, for those of you in parts of the world not celebrating Halloween, consider this an early All Saints Day present. And LJ commenters may post pictures of themselves as saints, photoshopped or costumed.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

sleepless in edinburgh and manchester

Yesterday is all a bit of a blur. This is, I suspect, mostly because I set my alarm for an hour too early this morning and didn't notice until I went out into the hotel lobby to stumble out into the day and realised that it was only a quarter to eight, not a quarter to nine, which meant I'd had about four hours sleep, not about five. I hope I can sleep on a plane or in a car between here and Manchester tonight.

Lovely interviews, lovely event, lovely signing (except possibly for the young lady who fainted in the signing line, and even she popped up at the end to let me know she was feeling better), and lovely incredibly late night dinner afterwards.

...

Stopped there and stumbled off into the day. Went to The Main Street Trading Company in St Boswells, Scottish Borders, and talked to about forty ten year olds, and did a very small signing. The shop -- a sort of dream bookshop and small town cafe -- is quite beautiful, and it was a wonderful break in between all the giant events to just chat to some children, answer questions, and, later, have a bowl of butternut squash soup. (I also suspect the shop of being peculiarly magic: you might claim that it's coincidence that Nick Sweeting from Improbable Theatre Company was in the shop visiting his parents when I was signing, and that I had almost popped in to see him on Monday in London but ran out of time, but it's a magnificently unlikely coincidence.)

I slept in the car back to Edinburgh, slept on the plane to Manchester.

Manchester was great. I got to be the first author up on that stage to have an opening band -- two of them, in fact, as Paul & Storm and Jonathan Coulton played a very short concert -- one song each -- for the people there. And I finished signing some hours later, and walked to the Jonathan Coulton gig in time for the final encore, "Creepy Doll" where I recited the second voice, overacted as requested, and played tambourine.

What is it with the tambourine thing anyway? I manage to spend an entire life, joyfully tambourineless, and now I have played it on stage in front of people twice in a month. Do I look like someone who would be happier holding a tambourine?

Saw Leah Moore and John Reppion, and then Paul & Storm and Mr Coulton. Paul filmed me for a strangely silly secret project of theirs.

Also, hurrah for 24 hour room service, even if they had run out of everything except irish stew.

So. Bed now, for another night of not-enough-sleep, then I get up and fly to Dublin.

Nearly forgot, Chip Kidd wants suggestions: http://www.goodisdead.com/index.php?/journal/entry/mr_sandman_bring_me_a_dream/

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Where I will be this week....

A quick reminder -- I'm in Edinburgh Tuesday Night - 7:00pm
Church Hill Theatre, Edinburgh
Capacity: 300 -- http://www.fidrabooks.com/events/ -- tickets 5 pounds with 5 pounds off The Graveyard Book.

Then Wednesday is Manchester -- Whitworth Hall, University of Manchester
Capacity: 650
Time: 7.00pm http://www.arts.manchester.ac.uk/martinharriscentre/mhceventspage.php?eventid=598
Admission Price: 7 pounds (5 pounds for concessions and UoM students and staff)

Then Thursday it's Dublin: Thursday, 7:00pm
Eason Books
O'Connell St, Dublin http://www.eason.ie/events

Friday's London, but it's sold out and there's a waiting list...

All details at Where's Neil. Now bed.

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A hasty reminder...

Someone wrote to me to say:

I'm trying out NaNoWriMo this year for the first time. I've never written anything longer than a couple pages, so I'm intimidated and excited at the same time.

I used the handy-dandy Search feature to see if you've ever mentioned it (because it sounds like the type of thing you'd do), and sure enough, it looks like you make a yearly plug of it. Except I didn't see any reminders for this year.

Writing starts on Saturday, so I was wondering if you'd remind people to sign up.

Wish me luck, and good luck to anyone else out there taking part!


I suppose I thought that everyone knew about it now. A silly thing to assume, now I think about it.

But for those who don't... and should: http://www.nanowrimo.org/ (And my third week pep talk from last year. If you're going to write a novel, save it until Week Three. You may need it.) (I did when I wrote the Graveyard Book.)

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

London on Sunday...

Tonight's event was lovely, and fairly small -- about 75 people, so the signing after was really pleasant and stress-free. A really interesting interview by Naomi Alderman, about comics and books and Jewishness and Will Eisner and such.

...

I think there are strange social conventions growing up about the nature of privacy. I'm sitting working quietly in the drawing room of my London hotel. Five feet behind me four Americans are talking and drinking coffee. They are rich and elderly, and are, at least according to their conversation, Republican bigwigs (or at least big donors and somehow influential), and are doing something that sounds perilously close to an early post-mortem on the upcoming election. I should be typing Batman, and keep finding myself listening to conversations about what one of them said to the Governor of New York ("I said to him, you govern like a Republican,"), Cindy McCain's successful stock dealing and medical history, a lot about why John McCain should have listened to them and gone with Joe Lieberman as vice presidential candidate, how the gentleman doing much of the talking's delay in selling (of all things) Marvel stock just lost him $160,000 in the stock market plunge... it's not the sort of conversation that I would expect people to be having in a public place -- or rather, if I put a conversation like this in a public place in a novel, I would pop the balloon of credibility for many of the readers. They seem convinced that they are unheard. It's like listening to someone being broken up with by a loved one over a cell-phone on a train. I wonder if the public space and the private space are just changing.

I was fascinated by the story of the lady who carved a Backwards B into her face, and claimed it had been done by a big bad black Obama supporter. Or at least, by one line in the report I read, "She was upset with the media for blowing this into a political firestorm." You know, the media gets an awful lot of stick, but I can't help thinking that it's not their fault (nor would the media reaction have been much changed if a black Obama supporter had claimed that a man in a KKK hood had carved a backwards J into her face). What on earth did she expect would happen? Ah well. The personal is political, and I suppose these days the lunatic is political too.


Dear Neil,
I was wondering if you read your fan page on facebook, (because most people seem to think that you do) but I couldn't find an answer on your site.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Neil-Gaiman/14937207023?ref=mf

From,
James
Toronto, Canada


I'm afraid not. And Neil Gaiman Not the real Gaiman. An unofficial fan page. at Myspace... that's not me either. (Every now and again I grumpy messages from friends and relatives who are convinced that it is.)

I'm me here at www.neilgaiman.com. I'm me at Last.fm -- http://www.last.fm/user/neilhimself. I'm me at Goodreads. Sooner or later I'll be me at librarything.

Hi Neil, I attended your talk on piracy vs. obscurity on friday and I wanted to ask you a question but was too nervous and then spent the whole weekend wishing I had asked you. I was wondering, in relation to the case of Stephanie Meyer's partial draft of Midnight Sun getting posted on the internet before completion, how would you feel and how do you think you would react if something you were working on got posted online before you had completed it? Also thakyou for a very interesting talk, it made me look at the issue in a very different way from the way I did before.
Suzanne


I'd feel astonishingly grumpy. World class grumpy. Grumpy beyond belief. Part of making art is that you don't want people to see it until it's done. Sometimes you don't even want them to know what it is until it's done.

When The Graveyard Book was finished in first draft, I got a strange message on the FAQ line from someone someone who'd got hold of a pirated version from within Harper Collins, complaining about a bit of it. It was, I discovered when I replied, from a false email address, and was actually useful, in that the person had misread something completely and realising how they'd misread it meant that I could fix something in Chapter 7 so no-one else would have that trouble. But it also left me resolved that the next time something goes into a publisher in first draft, it won't go beyond my publisher and my editor.

Hi Neil. Is "Dream Hunters," with Anano going to be in Volume 4 of Absolute Sandman? Or am I going to have four giant books with one little one next to them to have the complete Dream collection?

Originally the plan was for just the original four volumes of Absolute Sandman. Now there's talk of a fifth, which would have Dream Hunters and Endless Nights and possibly more in it, partly because of the requests that have been coming in here from people. I don't think DC Comics have made any decision yet.

Hi Neil,

on August 8, you wrote that you might have concrete information regarding the Hill House NEVERWHERE very soon. Has anything new come up since then?

Yrs
Martin


A rescue plan was put together that would get the Hill House Neverwhere published within all our lifetimes. I believe right now we're still waiting for Pete Schneider to reply to the email. I hope he does soon.

...

When I was interviewed by MTV the other week, they asked what I thought of Louis Laterriere saying he'd like to make a 1602 movie, and I said I thought it would be a fun idea and I'd love to see it. That then, oddly, became a news story (Gaiman Says 1602 Movie a Good Idea). On the latest SPACE podcast, it's mentioned that I was interested in writing this... which, seeing it's all a game of hypotheticals, I don't really mind, but no, no-one's ever asked, and I don't think I'd have any interest in writing a 1602 movie. But you can hear me on the podcast interviewed in a bar about 1602...

Henry Selick and Travis Knight are interviewed by Silas Lesnick ( a man who has written to me to thank me for upping the number of cool literary Silases in the world) at Shocktillyoudrop.com -- he also talks about seeing the first half an hour of Coraline at an LA screening.

Here's a lovely review of The Graveyard Book audio book.

A terrific Locus interview with Ursula K LeGuin is extracted in Locus Online, at http://www.locusmag.com/2008/Issue10_LeGuin.html. “I think both science fiction and fantasy are now becoming part of the mainstream. I wanted them to be respected as part of the mainstream -- I didn't want genre snobbishness to prevail. But there is a difference between how you write science fiction and how you write a realistic novel and how you write a western, even if they always have miscegenated (as we used to say). I think it's improving the mainstream, but I'm not sure it's improving science fiction.”

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday? Already?

Had a very pleasant time at the ORG last night: talked, and really enjoyed the Q&A part. It's nice to be patron of an organisation of smart people. http://www.openrightsgroup.org/ for details, and because they may post a recording of the talk.

Many tabs to close, so...

The French President is trying to ban a Sarkozy voodoo doll.

Jenni Miller interviews me for Premiere (mostly about Coraline).

The Kingsway Tunnels are for sale...

When I was in China, I was told by someone who had bought a new PC from an official company there that they were surprised that the operating system was not officially licensed from Microsoft. You could buy Windows operating system for a dollar in most DVD shops. Microsoft is now fighting back, but in a country with millions of computers but in which the majority of computers are running on illicit operating systems, they are being accused of "hacking" and "terrorism". Fascinating.

Tor.com plugs the Golden-Wagner-Bissette Prince of Stories book, and links to a competition to win a signed Dave Mckean poster.

The third of the Todd Klein prints (which will, I suspect, begin with C) (and will there really be 26 of them?) has been announced by Todd over at his blog. It's by an artist, this time, not a writer. Which one? Go and find out...

A nice little article on Henry Selick and the Coraline film.

The late Alan Coren mashes Hemingway and Milne.

...

Neil, I am on a mock Newbery panel at my library. We have a question. Is the Graveyard Book eligible, as Chapter 4 was published earlier?

I have absolutely no idea, and am neither a librarian nor a lawyer, but having googled the Newbery Award rules, it looks eligible to me.

[Edit to add -- that seems to be what other mock Newbery places have decided too.]

...

A lovely Guardian review of The Graveyard Book:
"...it's hard to think of a more delightful and scary place to spend 300 pages....Every page is crowded with invention, both funny and scary"

A just as lovely Times review of The Graveyard Book :
"This is one of the most original and touching children's books I've read all year, exquisitely illustrated by Chris Riddell. Gaiman's work is crafted and composed with care... it is a Hallowe'en treasure that will last long after your pumpkins have filled up with empty sweet wrappers."

...

Stephin Merritt interviewed in the Washington Post, and at length in (I think) The Columbus Despatch or rather, on their blog, in which we learn -- I've been working on a musical of the Neil Gaiman novel Coraline. And I'm one song away from finishing it. Or I was when we left on tour. One song away. But I'm still one song away, and I've got absolutely nothing done on it on this tour. And not for lack of trying. I just don't have any ideas.



And that's closed most things.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Practically a twitter really

I'm in London, in my hotel. I'm very jetlagged. Landed a couple of hours ago, got into a car from Heathrow, just had a bath and shaved and somewhere in there I had a room service breakfast (although it's lunchtime) and am about to get dressed and be interviewed. Then off to a graveyard to be photographed for the Times (Stoke Newington-- Abney Park, one of my favourites, and one of the four graveyards that I folded into one for The Graveyard Book). Then the Open Rights Group talk, at which I hope I can remember my name and identity (and they may have a couple of spare tickets).

That's all. In case you were wondering.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

shameless

Lots of people wrote to say that a G1 would work, sort of, in my area and that I should get it. A couple of people wrote to say that the stores outside of 3G areas actually weren't being sent the phones yet because of stocking problems and that I should get it. And people wrote to tell me I could buy it online. But mostly I just wanted to play with one and see what I thought.

And, having read another email, I think I may be being sent one now. So will play with it, if it arrives, and will report back here.

People have been writing to ask if I know anything about the Coraline movie video game, but I'm afraid all I know is what I've read in the news links.

...

If you click on http://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feature_wdesc.php?rec=4395 you can watch Michael Dirda introduce me at the National Book Festival on the Mall. And then you can watch me talk about The Graveyard Book, and do a short reading, and then answer questions. I tell the story of how I declined to buy an elbow in China.

...

Remember the complaint from a reader in Melbourne about the difficulty in getting Graveyard Books there? Well, this just came in from Sydney. It's a shameless plug. Shameless. But seeing I'm currently writing BATMAN in a Moleskin that was a gift from Kinokuniya Sydney the last time I signed there (and in which lots of people wrote nice messages, doodles etc, before it was presented to me) I find myself peculiarly happy to shill for them...

Hi Neil and fans

Wholly molly we can’t wait for the Graveyard book to turn up! The whole front of the store will be stacked high with the hundreds of copies of both editions. And thanks to our friends at Allen & Unwin, we will even have limited stock of the limited edition (hence it being limited). People would have to get in quick before the staff buy them all though!

Our Christmas catalogue even has an “Everyone Loves Neil” section where all Neil Gaiman new releases will be listed i.e. ‘Coraline the Graphic Novel’, ‘Prince of Stories’, ‘The Graveyard Book’ adult and Children’s ed. and ‘The New Annotated Dracula’. Kinokuniya is the one stop shop for everything Neil.

Everyone in Melbourne is welcome to fly up and grab a copy, or you can order through our website www.kinokuniya.com and click the Australia link, we can send it down for just $12.

Regards

Steve Jones
General Manager
Kinokuniya Bookstores of Australia


Shameless.

Talking about shameless things, the wonderful Thea Gilmore is touring the US for the next month, supporting Joe Jackson. On her last tour, if you told her merchandise folk (which was probably her) that you found out about the gig from here, you got a free thingummy of some kind. You could try it this time...

The tour list can be found at http://www.theagilmore.net/gigs.cfm.

She's the smartest songwriter I know, has an amazing voice, and is astonishingly tall. After I mention her here people write to me and say things like,

hi neil,

i just wanted to mention that i saw thea gilmore at the fleece in bristol (uk) last night and was blown away by her talent. her voice just transported me and she's really funny and self-deprecating and the bridge of her nose wrinkles up when she sings which is beautiful to behold. i came to her through you mentioning her here so just to say-thanks! I will take notice of your music recommendations in the future!

amanda


and

thanks for mentioning Thea Gilmore the other week. I went to see her play and she was awesome.

Gemma


and so on. Check her out on her website or at http://www.myspace.com/theagilmore


Neil,
I am currently reading reports that you and Roger Avary have left 'Black Hole' due to David Fincher taking over the project and having a different idea of how to go about the creative process. As with everything in Hollywood, I take it with a grain of salt. Can you confirm or dispell this news? Thanks.
Logan M. G.


It's amazingly old news, and no, it wasn't "creative differences" -- I never met or spoke to David Fincher (who I think is a terrific director). Roger and I handed in our last draft of Black Hole to Paramount last August, before the writer's strike. When the strike was over, I heard from Roger, who had already written a film for David Fincher, that Fincher was on board, but that his method involved having draft after draft written, and then a month or so after that I heard from one of the producers that they'd brought a new writer on who would work cheaper than we would in order that David could have as many drafts as he needed, given that, contractually, Paramount would have to pay for every draft we did. (I don't know if the new writer was starting with the draft that Roger and I did, or starting afresh.) That was almost a year ago. At this point in time, and given how things move in Hollywood, I don't even know if David Fincher is still on board to do Black Hole any longer. Mostly, I just hope that whatever director they wind up with, and whatever script gets shot, it's faithful to Charles Burns' remarkable vision.
...

Ian Sinclair is Banned in Hackney -- http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/oct/22/hackney-library-book-ban.

Andy Riley is banned in Oregon -- http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/384107_bunnysuicide21.html -- or at least a lady who doesn't know what an ordeal is wants him and his book of bunny suicides banned...

"It is a comic book, but that's not funny. Not at all," Anderson told the Albany Democrat-Herald newspaper. "I don't care if your kid is 16, 17, 18. It's wrong."

Anderson contacted Principal Julie Knoedler, who told her about the district's book-challenge policy.

Anderson plans to fill out the forms, but she's not taking any chances. Once the review is over, regardless of the outcome, she plans to burn it.

"They're not getting this book back," she said, adding that if the library replaces it: "I'll have somebody else check it out and I'll keep that one. I'm just disgusted by the whole ordeal."


And I know what I want for Christmas.

...

And finally, another one from, I suspect, a parallel earth:

Dear Neil,

As a Borders (Waldenbooks, really, but same overall company) employee, I wouldn't blame you if you were calling for a boycott. I understand that it's bad for business, but the business is in bad shape as it is (and they treat us like we aren't people). A boycott might be the difference between whether it goes under or stays afloat, but there is absolutely no reason to be rude to someone who may or may not be calling for a boycott.

As I'm sure you understand, it's hard to sell books that you don't get from the distributors. Because the store I work at usually gets five or fewer copies of new releases, we do a lot of special ordering, and I guess we're lucky because most of the time people are willing to wait the week or two for the books to come in.

Special ordering things has its problems, too, though -- books take a very long time to come in when it says on the order page that both of our suppliers have multiple copies of this book in stock. It's ridiculous. But sometimes it works out nicely and books that are supposedly on back-order come in within a week.

So, I suppose, if people would remember to be patient, that Borders is not stocking some new books wouldn't be such a problem. (Remember: We can order almost anything if it's in print.)

Boycott Borders if you must. We'd prefer it if you didn't, but I'm not going to stop you, and I'm certainly not going to send you hate mail if you do. (Then again, maybe I'm past the point of caring what happens to Borders. There are other places to work.)

Thanks!
Sarah


It's the bit about how I "may or may not be calling for a boycott" that leaves my head spinning, Sarah. In this universe, I wrote a post explaining why I thought a Boycott of Borders was a very bad idea. And then got hate mail (and now sad "Boycott if you must, it's no secret we're in trouble" mail) from Borders people. Is there some kind of secret Borders messaging board where they discuss this, and decide that what I obviously meant by Don't Boycott Borders They Can't Stock Everything Why Not Support Specialist Stores Who Do Stock That Stuff was Boycott Borders? Tobias Buckell seems to be having the same mysterious problem.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A fine wensleydale?

I opened the Google window and found myself looking at an advert for a G1 phone. A couple of clicks later I was on the T-mobile website, checking prices and thinking, "Well, I do need a new phone..."

But randomly buying a phone I haven't even held seemed like, well, something that I couldn't imagine myself doing. I wanted to hold it. I wanted to know the specs and such, so I put dog in the back of the car and drove to the local T-Mobile shop.

I knew I was in the right place because there were huge posters everywhere, some bigger than I was, all advertising the new t-Mobile G1.

"Hello," I said, like a man entering a cheeseshop. "I'd like to play with a G1, please."

There was a man and a woman behind the counter. They said they were sorry but they didn't have a G1 for me to play with.

"When will you get them in?"

"We won't get them in."

"No?"

"No."

"Look, are we talking about the same thing? G1 phone. The one on that poster. And that poster. And that one..." The posters were staring at me from the counter. They were all around me.

"No. We won't sell it. We're out of the range and the Google and things that the phone comes with, they won't work on it."

I pulled out my phone, a Nokia N 73, with a T-Mobile SIM card, that happily spends much too much time on the internet doing, er, Google and things. "But this works here..."

"The G1 won't work. It won't do the Google here. So we aren't allowed to sell it."

"But...." I tried to think with this. then I said, "But you have posters." I gestured at them. All pictures of the phone in question, extolling its virtues and explaining that you could only get it here.

"We're a T-Mobile franchise. They send them to us. That's what we have to put up. The posters they send."

"Well, can we talk about the G1 specs?"

"We don't know them." The man and the woman behind the counter seemed very sad about this. The man added, wistfully,"We don't even know the price."

I knew the price, from the website earlier, and I felt guilty about this.

"They have them in the Twin Cities," said the woman. "You could buy one there."

"But if I buy it there, it still won't work here?"

"No," she said, with sadness and with, I suspect envy in her voice. "but they sell it."

There was a bit of a pause. I think I may have said, "Sorry about the posters," as I went out, or I may have just thought it very loudly. They all had pretty pictures of the G1 on them, a phone I don't think I'm going to bother getting.

...


Greets, Neil,

Did you realize that you just won "Hottest Daddy Blogger" in the Bloggers' Choice Awards?

Regards,
rae


I didn't, but I do now. Thanks to everyone who let me know.

Actually, my first reaction was "But that was last year," and then I realised that, no, it's this year too. And when I checked the winners list (at http://blog.izea.com/2008/10/announcing-the-2008-bloggers-choice-awards-winners-1.html), I had also won something called the Blogitzer for the blogger who demonstrates the best writing ability on his or her blog.

(I can see my Blogger's Choice Award from last year, on top of this desk. It's pretty and glass, about ten inches tall, and it's a very cheerful sort of award, which I know because it hasn't gone to live in a serious awards cabinet.)

If nobody minds, having won it twice, I'll now withdraw this blog from the Hottest Daddy Blogger category in future years, and let some other, er, Hot Daddies, have their day in the sun.

...

The Graveyard Book was reviewed in The Independent, an odd sort of descriptive review of the kind that leaves you, at the end, going yes, but did you like it? Was it any good? (Then again, a Google showed that the same reviewer in the same paper really, really disliked Coraline about six years ago, and has either mellowed, enjoyed the Graveyard Book more, or, on the evidence of the last paragraph, just decided not to buck the tide. Hard to tell. Still, I get compared to Leon Garfield, and that alone is cause for celebration.)

...

A message from the lovely Colleen Doran, to say
I posted a couple of pics of you. None as pretty as me.
http://adistantsoil.com/blog/?p=4415

Strange women I didn't know used to come up to me at conventions and say, "Neil, it's me, Colleen. It's just the hair that's different." And then I would blink, and it would be her, every time. Look at the photos and you will understand my confusion.

...

You can get backstage at the Boulder Graveyard Book event by reading http://kashsbookcorner.blogspot.com/2008/10/tales-of-three-book-events.html. The whole blog at http://kashsbookcorner.blogspot.com/ is fascinating, his account of how and why he bans books might actually clarify and amplify my comments from yesterday, and John Hodgman even appears and Googles lardons at one point.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Borders postscript

I'm getting a small pile of what could best be described as hatemail from people who say they're Borders employees who seem to think I've been calling for a boycott of Borders, and are being rude about it.  I don't think, from the quality of the messages, that any of them actually read what I posted yesterday. (I'd be tempted to say that if they had read it, they obviously hadn't understood it, but frankly, I simply don't think they read it.) Bizarre, and very disappointing. 

...

As you might already know, there's another mysterious conflict between events on my upcoming UK tour -- I'm in Manchester on the 29th at 
http://www.arts.manchester.ac.uk/martinharriscentre/mhceventspage.php?eventid=598 and Jonathan Coulton and Paul and Storm are also playing in Manchester on the 29th. http://www.jonathancoulton.com/2008/10/29/manchester-102908/ We'll be very, very close. But their event doesn't start until mine has been going for a bit. And mine will end way before Jonathan and Paul and Storm will have staggered off the stage for their limousines and helicopters and groupie-fuelled nights of rock and roll excess en route to London for their Shepherds Bush gig on the 30th. So it's quite possible that strange crossovery plans might be in the process of being hatched. 

I'm just saying.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Bookselling is science fiction

Before I get rid of links with me (or The Graveyard Book) in, http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/10/world_animal_day.html has some photos of amazing wonderfulness that will do your heart good.

Here's a short film from the Washington Post of the National Book Festival. It sums up a lot about the atmosphere and the fun of the festival, even if you overlook the strange moment of interspecies meeting (and romance?) that occurs at about 3:05...

Hi Neil
I would like to meet Dave McKean at Forbidden Planet and ask him to sign the Graveyard Book, (and maybe a couple of comics if poss) but it'll be bloody difficult to queue for him in Shaftsbury Ave at 5pm and then get to your talk near Aldwych for 6pm.
I was going to buy the Graveyard Book from Blackwells at your signing with the ticket discount as promised. OK, I know its only £2 but I wanted a few copies to give to friends - it all adds up you know!
So, my question is this. Why, oh why don't you ask Mr McKean to come to the London School of Economics signing after his? Please?
We have three kids to drag from one venue to the other if we do try to do both and you know what nearly/early teens are like - in Hallowe'en gear. They will not want to! (Well they might in a cab - but the cost!)
Sorry about the rant. I just thought maybe you could ask? Just a thought. Thank you for listening.
Maggie


Well, my event will have a 6:30pmish start time, not 6.00pm. but I take your point. Dave is planning to come down to the Blackwells event after his signing, and may well sign your books if you see him and ask nicely, but he isn't planning to do a whole second signing when I do mine that evening. He likes chocolate, and may well be bribable.

(Which reminds me -- Jill Thompson will be in London signing books in Gosh! Comics on the 25th of October, details at http://goshlondon.blogspot.com/2008/10/jill-thompson-signing-at-gosh.html

Also Jill has restarted the Magic Trixie blog over at http://magictrixie.blogspot.com/. Lovely stuff.)


Dear Neil,
I was reminded by the Graveyard Book pumpkin that, with Halloween coming up soon, now might be a fun time to remind your fans about the Flickr group that exists for sharing photos of anything inspired by your works. There were some neat Halloween costumes posted last year.
http://www.flickr.com/groups/inspiredbyneil
Best wishes always,
Emily


I'd completely forgotten that this existed, so yes, consider it linked to.

While on tour I saw a variety and quality of tattoos (mostly Sandman) that amazed me. I even took a couple of photos of people myself, to send to the artists who had done the originals. I keep wishing there was a place that we could gather all of those together...


Hey Neil!I just returned from a trip to Italy. While I was there I looked for a copy of the Graveyard Book in Italian as a souvenier but could not find it at all. In fact the only books of yours I found in the whole country were Stardust and a few of the Sandman graphic novels. I bought the pb of Stardust and the hardback of Brief Lives in Italian. My question is this, is the Graveyard Book even available yet in Italy? I looked in every bookstore I came upon. I just thought a foreign edition would be a great way to remember the trip as a book collector/lover!Thanks,Troy


Books tend to come out in the English language places before they come out in other countries, because it takes time to translate the books into the local tongue. (The only exception I can think of is Poland, who got M is for Magic out before anyone else.)

So no, The Graveyard Book isn't available in Italy yet. But to confuse people, when M is for Magic came out, it was called ( the Italian equivalent of) "The Witch's Headstone and Other Stories" and had a marvellously graveyardy cover.

[Edit to add -- Dear Neil--
I just want to point out a mistake in the post you just published. You said that "M is for Magic" in Italian became "The Witch's Headstone and Other Stories". This actually isn't true, because the title (as you can see on the cover "Il cimitero senza lapidi e altre storie nere") literally means "The graveyard without tombstones and other black stories".

Cecilia from Italy :)]

Lisa Snellings wants me to link to some photos taken some weeks ago of an encounter between between me and some of her poppets. I am pleased to report that the hair is longer now, and that I am no longer a poppet zombie.



There's a lovely review of The Graveyard Book from The Scotsman.

...Neil Gaiman's delightfully creepy little fable, a work of dizzying imagination, suffused with a rich gothic sensibility. I'm always vaguely suspicious of books emblazoned with the puff "set to become a classic", but in the case of The Graveyard Book it might well be the case. Yes, it is fantastical, eerie, exciting and imaginative: but it is also emotionally affecting. Best of all, unlike so many contemporary teenage books in this genre, it actually ends, rather than leaving the reader with a marketing-trick cliff-hanger. If Gaiman wishes to, the characters could no doubt return, but the satisfying closure means it works well as a standalone novel.

and Fidra are reminding people in Edinburgh, well, in Scotland, that tickets to their event have not yet sold out but if you are procrastinating (well, "faffing around" as they put it) they may well be.

Jonathan Ross writes about Watchmen in The Times:

...

I saw a bumper sticker I approved of yesterday in an airport parking lot, although possibly not for the reasons the people who put it on their car intended. It said,

EVOLUTION IS SCIENCE FICTION

and I thought, of course it is. Science fiction isn't just monsters and space rockets. It's where I learned about Evolution, for a start. I thought, there should be a whole line of those, saying things like,

LINGUISTICS IS SCIENCE FICTION

ECONOMICS IS SCIENCE FICTION

and even, for the Zelazny fans,

THEOLOGY IS SCIENCE FICTION.

Probably people would assume that means they aren't true, though, rather than that the definition of science fiction is a very broad one...

And talking about signs seen on cars, the Guardian says this one is an atheist bus ad. Seems more like an amiably agnostic bus ad to me...



...

Dear Neil,

I just read an article about ghost towns and Cairo, IL, is included in the list.

http://weburbanist.com/2008/10/19/ghost-town-abandoned-city-examples-images/

There are also some very cool examples of abandoned buildings in one of the sidebar links. Great stuff with Halloween only 10 days off.

Cheers!
Kerwin


I like it, although there are a lot of not-abandoned cities in their abandoned cities list, and while Cairo has a population of 3000-odd in a town that once held many, many more people than that, it's not a ghost town. A Google found http://users.stlcc.edu/jangert/cairo/cairo.html as a nice little portrait.

I was just wondering if you had seen this story: http://io9.com/5065839/should-sf-writers-boycott-borders

Pulling Sci-Fi off of the shelves seems like a terrible idea to me.

Mike


But they aren't "pulling Sci-Fi off the shelves". They are not stocking some new books. There's a difference, and it's a huge one.

Borders is obviously having real problems right now. (I got emails when The Graveyard Book came out from Borders managers and workers letting me know that their store had only got a fraction of the number of books that they had specifically ordered, and that's for a "lead title" by a relatively popular author. I remember visiting Borders head office in Ann Arbor almost a decade ago, and telling them that I didn't think much of the Borders website, and being told that that was all right, as they were going to have Amazon take over the Borders website anyway, and commenting that that might not be the wisest way to go, and I don't think it was, although you don't have to be a genius to have been able to predict that one.) Having said that, in the town where I live, over the last 16 years, the nearest real book shop has mostly been a Borders about 45 minutes away, and while it doesn't have everything, it is enormously better than the alternative.

Bookshops have neither infinite shelf-space nor infinite financial resources, and if you only have space and resources enough to put out on the shelves five new SF or Mystery or Horror books this month, then the sixth and the sixteenth books that come out in that field aren't going to get bought or shelved. And even if they are, a lot of them are going to vanish next month, and it's a rare author who remains popular enough to hold his or her shelf-space forever.

That is why specialist SF (and mystery and horror and childrens and so on) bookshops have always done well: they stock the books that regular bookshops don't. Instead of calling for a boycott of Borders for not stocking everything (which is, after all, not what Borders exists for) I think it would make much more sense to point people to the independent shops that DO stock as near to everything in their field as they can, and to promote them: I tried to find a link to a website with a listing of all of them -- DreamHaven and Other Change of Hobbit and Mysterious Galaxy, White Dwarf Books and the rest -- and couldn't find one. All of the smaller specialist bookstores are having a hard time these days, because online retailers do have the illusion of infinite shelf space.

Which, having typed that to figure out what I think, means it is my opinion that if the people blogging about boycotting Borders put their efforts into promoting the independents and the specialist places that are stocking all the books (or as many as they can) -- perhaps making an overall website to find them, more easily than http://www.indiebound.org/ (a good thing, but not at present much use if you want to know where in the world the SF and Fantasy shops are) more books would get sold and we would have a healthier SF and Fantasy field.


Hello.

I was wondering whether it would be possible to put up MP3s of the readings of the Graveyard Book, because I've been manually recording it using Audacity to put on my iPod, which takes 45-50 minutes of absolute stillness.

Thanks,
Jonathan

I'm afraid not. I did a complete audio recording of The Graveyard Book, in a studio, without crowd noises and such, for iPods. (Here's a link that will work some places in the world, and take you to the iTunes store for The Graveyard Book.) It's for sale on CD (here's the Amazon link). And while I don't mind anyone ripping the audio track off the videos to put on their iPods (there are easier ways than manually recording it, BTW), downloading the videos or whatever, I don't think it's my job to give you everything for free. I'd rather that you listened to or watched The Graveyard B0ok videos, and then bought the CD or download, because that way I can persuade myself that spending three days in a studio recording it was worth it...

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Guacamole-headed thoughts...

I remain utterly mush-headed, but should have completely recovered in time for the UK tour and to do it all over again.

Just a quick post about http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95790778, which is a really lovely review and link to an All Things Considered piece on me, beekeeping, Doctor Who, and (mostly) The Graveyard Book. (And while I was looking, I ran into this Stephin Merritt interview and songs too: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=94926812)

There's a Graveyard Book review in the San Francisco Chronicle:
Although aimed primarily at younger readers, "The Graveyard Book" has enough heft to keep adults thoroughly engaged. The model for the story is, of course, "The Jungle Books," but Gaiman pays homage to Ray Bradbury, with perhaps a salute to Charles Addams tossed in for good measure. Bod's coming of age has its moments of wonder, terror and tenderness, and Gaiman hits exactly the right notes every time.
and one in the Washington Post which concludes,
Like a bite of dark Halloween chocolate, this novel proves rich, bittersweet and very satisfying.
Barnes and Noble have pulled out an interview I did with them a few years ago, when Anansi Boys was published. It contains some pretty decent answers to some frequently asked questions.

There's a terrific account of a journey to the Coraline studios at http://community.livejournal.com/ohnotheydidnt/28623270.html

Brad Meltzer in the White House. And Lincoln. And me.

I think I'm starting to get rather fond of The Middleman. (There are a bunch of them on the Tivo, and they're playing in the background as I've been working this evening.) The vampire glove puppets made me go "I wish I'd thought of that." (I did a demonic serial-killing glove puppet a long time ago, reprinted in the Golden-Wagner-Bissette Prince of Stories. But vampire glove puppets...)

I have a ridiculous question - inquiring minds! - based on your point today about using Montblanc's "dried-blood-coloured Bordeaux" to sign your way across the US. Is it in any sense possible to take a bottle of fountain pen ink through security?!? I am imagining you do not check luggage, but how are you able to get away with this miracle of fluid-possession? Inky toiletries bag?!? I suppose it must be OK if the bottle holds less than 2 oz. of fluid...

I loved The Graveyard Book - it reminds me, too, I must reread Kipling, my childhood favorite was "Puck of Pook's Hill" which is a most magical book also!

best wishes,
Jenny Davidson


It's not a ridiculous question at all. You can put ink bottles in the clear quart bag for liquids (as long as it's less than 100ml). Or you can put bottles of ink in your shoulder bag and forget to put them into the clear quart bag, and discover that nobody ever seems to notice them, probably because the shapes don't look like bottles when they go through x-ray machines. (Sometimes you may have to explain to security people at airports what ink is and why it's in heavy glass bottles.) You can also carry ink cartridges.

I cheated on the last tour, though, and handed the ink bottle to Elyse Marshall, from Harper Collins and she always produced it when I needed it.

Have you seen this website? Wow.

http://www.suck.uk.com/product.php?rangeID=103&rangeNew=1

Check out the Cat Playhouses. And the Terrorist Tea Pot.

Stephanie.

That is the best Terrorist Tea Pot I've ever seen.

Hi Neil,

Just thought you might be interested in the Graveyard Book pumpkin my girlfriend and I made. We modeled it after the book cover and included our very own ghoul gate. It took a while but was definitely worth it. I put up the pictures on my blog, here:

http://decaffeinating.blogspot.com/2008/10/graveyard-pumpkin.html

Happy early Halloween and I hope you like the pumpkin! And thanks so much for writing The Graveyard Book in the first place.

Brent


And that is the best Graveyard Book pumpkin I've seen.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vincent

Those of you who made it to one of The Graveyard Book readings might have heard, after the lovely Bela Fleck Danse Macabre, "Vincent Price" introducing the evening.

(Brady and I actually recut the intro in Chicago, because in New York and Philadelphia we realised that lines were being lost because people were laughing over them, so went in and added time for people to laugh.)

If you go to http://www.publishersweekly.com/eNewsletter/CA6604218/2286.html and go down to the bottom of the page you will see a pre-tour photograph of my agent, my editor, my Vincent Price -- in this case, magnificently portrayed by Bill Hader -- and me (mysteriously yet inaccurately described as "actor Neil Gaiman"). (via http://delicious.com/thedreaming)

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Circus Fish

The answer to yesterday's question is,

Dave McKean,

(or David Tench McKean, as Wikipedia and thus everyone else now seems to be listing him as, thus turning a small fish joke into an alternate universe fact)

for Dave illustrated The Graveyard Book, and also illustrated (and even made comics for) Hester Blumenthal's Big Fat Duck Cookbook. I saw a copy of the Big Fat Duck Cookbook when I was at Bloomsbury a couple of days ago, and it is unbelievably beautiful. Also unbelievably expensive. My own plan is to be incredibly nice to Dave and see if he'll give me a copy for Christmas.

Which reminds me, Dave McKean is signing in London on Hallowe'en, just as I am. He'll be at Forbidden Planet from 5.00pm to 6.00pm so if you're coming to see me anyway that evening, you could always go and see him first. And if you aren't going to see me, you could go and see him instead.

(Dave did design work for the third Harry Potter film, which links all three authors on the list.)

Graveyard Book UK Tour: London Talk and Signing (31 October)

Hi Neil, I just spoke to Blackwell, and they tell me the event is sold out. *cries* They do have a waiting list with 30 people already on it so I'm not holding out any hope... I thought you might want to know.

NB I love the Graveyard Book very, very much. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Enjoy the tour!
Susanne (A fan)

I'm really sorry. We stopped doing London events at 600 seat halls back in 2003, because they filled up too fast, and we switched to the 930 seat Logan Hall. This time I was told by Bloomsbury that Blackwells simply couldn't find anywhere of that size free for Hallowe'en, and could only get the LSE Old Theatre, which seats about 550 people... which meant that I was fairly sure we'd be upsetting as many people as get seats. But that's all there was.

Again, apologies.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,

You mention in your latest blog entry you'd be 'so there' for a line of fountain pens. Montblanc has a line of famous author/patron of the arts pens that are to die for, mostly. http://www.penslimited.com/index.html The Semiramis is a particular favorite of mine.

The famous authors/patrons they've honored with pens do tend to be dead which could be a drawback in getting a pen designed for you. If there are any Gaiman fans working for Montblanc perhaps they could whisper a word in the right ear?

Regards,
Laurie

The awkward truth is that, while I love Montblanc ink and their ink bottle design (especially their dried-blood-coloured Bordeaux, which I signed my way across the US with on the recent tour) I'm not a big fan of their fountain pens: the ones I've encountered seem made to look impressive sitting on desks. They aren't things I'd want to write novels with, and the ones I've used or been given skip too much to use as signing pens. (I've got a couple of Montblancs, both gifts.)

On the last signing tour I signed books with a Namiki Falcon until the nib went sproing in Chicago, whereupon I switched to a Lamy. (And I became a convert to the Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen when I was in China, as it was a perfect writing implement for using in notebooks on the run.) I wrote The Graveyard Book mostly with a Lamy 2000, an elderly Watermans flexinib, and the Pelikan that Henry Selick gave me.

...

Neal Hefti's dead
. His Batman theme was, I think, the first record I was ever bought (for, I suspect, my sixth birthday) that I actually wanted, and I was deeply offended because whoever had designed the cover had drawn Batman's cloak as a two-piece, wing-like thing.

XKCD vs The New Yorker in a to-the-death-cartoon-face-off. Yes! (Only not actually to the death, because that would be a sad waste of talent and human life.)

Here is a song I like by Vermillion Lies, called Circus Fish.

(I am also now listening to Mitch Benn's Sing Like an Angel)

Peter Straub in Time. (And belated congratulations to Emma and Michael!)

(Also Happy Birthday, Cat Mihos...)

Tasha Robinson at The Onion sent me a link to the Onion AV review of The Graveyard Book.

And looking into the mirror this morning, it occurred to me that as we age we slowly turn into Mort Drucker caricatures of ourselves, and I found that strangely comforting.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

ethel the aardvark goes quantity surveying...

A bit jet-lagged and I have a head like a muffin right now. All is vague, and most conversations end with me saying, "Probably you should email me and tell me that we had this conversation". Which is fine, I suppose, given that the cure is just resting, catching up on sleep and, perhaps, walking the dog for a day or two.

The charts are out, and The Graveyard Book is indeed at Number One. And as I typed that I got a call from Elise my editor to say we're still there at number one for the second week running -- which is an achievement for a book I keep being told that nobody can find. My favourite account of this is http://folkchick3.livejournal.com/380582.html where an attempt to buy The Graveyard Book turns into something approaching this:



(The visual track has been lost, so here is the audio and some stills).

And then we have a plaintive wail from Melbourne...

Hi Neil,

I find that the response of book stores in Australia to the upcoming November 1 release of The Graveyard Book to be lackluster at best.

I live in Melbourne and have been enquiring at every retailer in the CBD and surrounds about the release date, hoping that one store might have ordered advance copies. I found that most of the larger franchise stores don't seem to know about it or even to care enough to meet the release date.

This confuses me as I would have thought that The Graveyard Book would have been hyped up quite a bit after your visit here earlier this year.

The closest Borders store in Melbourne has bothered only to order five copies!

Considerering I intend to purchase more than one copy, I am worried for myself and my fellow Aussie fans that have been forced to wait and extra month for The Graveyard book to come out down-under.

I wish indeed that Melbourne had a Kinokuyniya like Singapores, or even in Sydney (which is hard for a Melburnian like myself to admit).

Cheers,
Daniel


Hmmm. Speaking here as the author of the book in question...

I think my main suggestion, would be to call bookshops and see if they have it, and to reserve your copy if they do. Australian publishers Allen and Unwin back in Sydney will have lots of copies, which they want to sell in volume, and if bookshops sell their copies they will (we hope) order more and the books should reach the shops extremely fast. It's not like the replacement copies in Melbourne are going to travel by ship from England.

One possibility for the problem you're having finding the book in Australia (apart from it not having got there yet) is you might need to ask about two different ISBNS: There's the childrens' edition http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.aspx?page=94&book=9780747569015 which they are publishing in November, and the adult edition http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.aspx?page=94&book=9780747596837 which is, according to the webpage, coming out in December.

I was told that Borders in the US have noticed that they've sold lots of copies of The Graveyard Book despite the difficulties people have had finding it, and that they're now planning to move some copies to the front of the store to make it easier to find. Which fills my heart with love for Borders.

And my heart is already filled with love for the independent stores around the world that have placed it wherever in the shop they wanted to, and for people in the big chain stores that are ignoring corporate edicts and putting the books in piles near the front.

One thing I'd suggest for people who work in bookshops, if it's the kind of shop that has "staff picks", you could make The Graveyard Book a staff pick, which would move some copies nearer the front of the store. Also, Hallowe'en is coming, and if you have Hallowe'en displays, for children or for adults, you could make sure that you have copies of The Graveyard Book on both tables.

I've heard from a few individual shoppers who have been taken to carrying surplus copies of The Graveyard Book around bookshops and putting them where they feel they ought to be. It's not something I'd recommend, mostly because it can result in upsetting the staff when they try and send people to the actual places their computers tell them that the books are.

On the other hand, placing the books you like (or that were written by your friends) face out, if they are only spine out, is something that no jury will ever convict you for.

...

William Gibson has a line of bags named after him! (Which is fun. I don't want a line of bags named after me, which sort of removes the envy factor, but if there was a line of William Gibson fountain pens, I'd be greenly envious. If you wish to do a line of Neil Gaiman fountain pens, I am so there. As long as they're cool.)

William Carlos Williams was a bad flatmate.

My assistant Lorraine found a home for the two Bengal Cats she was fostering, and is now going to foster an "F1" -- half asian leopard cat, half domestic. I wish her luck...

And this one made me happy -- also, I suspect, from Australia:

G'day Neil.

Thank you. If you hadn't mentioned the influences on "The Graveyard Book", I'd never have read Kipling's wonderful "The Jungle Book" (and then gone on to "The Second Jungle Book", which I think is an even better read).

I never suspected that the stories in both books were as well written and entertaining as some of Kipling's other short works ("The Man Who Would Be King" and "As Easy As A.B.C." come to mind). Walt Disney took great liberties with the stories (surprise, surprise) which turned me off reading the books for over 30 years. When they eventually thaw him out he'll have a lot to answer for ;-)

So thank you once again, and I'm looking forward to reading "The Graveyard Book" as soon as it arrives in the mail.

Steve


....

And finally, I'd remembered an Onion article from almost eight years ago, and wondered how well it held up today...

And it held up better than I'd expected. http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28784

...

PS: According to Reuters, Bloomsbury is doing fine during the credit crisis, and "Recently released titles by Heston Blumenthal, JK Rowling and Neil Gaiman had also proved popular." What one thing do two out of the three autumn books referred to (and all the authors) have in common?

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

linkworld

Home.

Tired.

But home. And my dog is very happy to see me.

Walked outside under a mist-shrouded moon and the world smelled like leaf-mould and mist and autumn earth, and I thought, it was late summer only last week, and before that I was walking this path about to go to China and it was mid-summer and life this year feels like it's a series of stop-motion images, one replacing the next.

Can you please put a word out for the Iowa man arrested and facing 20 possible years in jail for possessing-- not distributing manga? (It was the mail man who decided that his express mail package had questionable art, and reported it to the police). The Comic Book Legal Defense is trying to help.
http://www.cbldf.org/pr/archives/000372.shtml

Absolutely. Normally when I explain what the CBLDF does, I explain that it's there to defend the First Amendment rights of comic creators, publishers and retailers. Now I'm going to have to add "readers" to that list.

"Handley's case is deeply troubling, because the government is prosecuting
a private collector for possession of art," says CBLDF Executive Director
Charles Brownstein. "In the past, CBLDF has had to defend the First
Amendment rights of retailers and artists, but never before have we experienced
the Federal Government attempting to strip a citizen of his freedom because he
owned comic books. We will bring our best resources to bear in aiding Mr.
Handley's counsel as they defend his freedom and the First Amendment rights of
every art-loving citizen in this country."

Mr. Handley's case began in May 2006
when he received an express mail package from Japan that contained seven
Japanese comic books. That package was intercepted by the Postal
Inspector, who applied for a search warrant after determining that the package
contained cartoon images of objectionable content. Unaware that his
materials were searched, Handley drove away from the post office and was
followed by various law enforcement officers, who pulled him over and followed
him to his home. Once there, agents from the Postal Inspector's office,
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, Special Agents from the Iowa
Division of Criminal Investigation, and officers from the Glenwood Police
Department seized Handley's collection of over 1,200 manga books or
publications; and hundreds of DVDs, VHS tapes, laser disks; seven computers, and
other documents. Though Handley's collection was comprised of hundreds of comics
covering a wide spectrum of manga, the government is prosecuting images
appearing in a small handful.


Putting the case into context, Burton Joseph,
CBLDF's Legal Counsel says, "In the lengthy time in which I have represented
CBLDF and its clients, I have never encountered a situation where criminal
prosecution was brought against a private consumer for possession of material
for personal use in his own home. This prosecution has profound
implications in limiting the First Amendment for art and artists, and comics in
particular, that are on the cutting edge of creativity. It misunderstands the
nature of avant-garde art in its historical perspective and is a perversion of
anti-obscenity laws."



Here's the Harper Collins trailer for The Graveyard Book. It's the version from YouTube.




Miss Kitty was along for the first few stops of the Graveyard Book tour, and then for the last one. She's posted an account, with lots of photos, on her blog: Here's the first, at the National Book Festival in Washington DC, then to New York, Philadelphia and Chicago (where Kitty and her young man Drew were reunited, and I lost her until...) Minneapolis (where you have a wonderful photograph of my dog, asleep at the reading)

(Also a Washington Post photo of me reading on the Mall.)

You've probably already received 15 emails telling you the same, but American Gods made a list of the 100 best books of all time in the Sydney Morning Herald. I would have voted it number one myself, but it was up to a popular vote. (I try to get as many of my friends and coworkers as I can to read American Gods - up to 8 now. :)
Anyways, the link is here:
http://www.smh.com.au/news/entertainment/books/top-100-books-of-all-time/2008/10/04/1223013851889.html?page=2
Thanks,
Eve


What fun!


Dear Neil,

Is there a research bibliography for "American Gods?" I was thinking specifically of the cons that Wednesday relates to Shadow and the various magic tricks Shadow does/mentions/researches and realized that if you're willing to fly halfway across the globe and risk Mongolian blood worms for research purposes, you no doubt read piles of books for information that is held therein. Assuming there is a research bibliography, would you please publish it? I'd love to see what other cons are out there that Wednesday and Loki may have used.

Cheers!
-Kerwin


There's an incomplete bibliography up at http://www.neilgaiman.com/works/Books/American+Gods/in/183/. I talk about Coin tricks at http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2004/07/in-which-author-is-briefly.asp and apologise for never finishing it at http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2006/01/useful-information.html David Maurer's The Big Con is a lovely book, although I mainly put it down because I can't remember the rest of the books on confidence tricks I used.



Hi Neil,

Just a quick query/comment. At the weekend I bought a copy of The Graveyard Book from my local Waterstone's store, despite the release date being 31st October. (Unless I have the release date wrong, but this is what it says on Amazon). I was confused that shops were able to sell the book before the offical release date as I can remember the hype surrounding the last Harry Potter, where shops were covering their shelves of the book with plastic or paper covers so you couldn't even look at the book, never mind buy it.

Is it just that, with the Potter books, there is so much media attention that shops go out of their way to avoid selling the book early or is this a legal obligation for all books? If so, shall I return my copy of the book to the shop?!!!! (please say no to this last point, I can't bear to part with it now I've got it!)

Cheers,

Vicki


Not at all. The way it works is like this: there are release dates for books. Sometimes they are really strict, what are called "One Day Laydowns" (The Graveyard Book in the US was one of these) and if the books go on the shelves early bad things happen, and sometimes they aren't -- the books go out to bookshops with a note on the box of what the release dates are, but get put out on the shelves around that time, or earlier, without anyone getting too grumpy.

So while copies have crept on sale early in some shops in the UK, nobody is going to get into trouble. They would have got into trouble if copies had gone onsale early in the US, though.

Hello, Neil, hope you enjoy it back here in Britain. I was just wondering, is there any difference (text wise) between the child and adult additions? Also, exciting!, The graveyard book was been released 3 weeks early, which is pleasing. Just making sure you know. see you in manchester hopefully. Matthew.

Nope. No difference in the words. Just the pictures and the ISBN.

The Site Inquiry line is the prefered method of contacting the Webgoblin, and he would like Ana K, who wanted to translate this blog into Russian, to get in touch with him.


Neil,

Just wanted to say thank you for posting the link to the story I did for the LA Weekly. I really appreciated having the chance to interview you.

BTW, my friend Jeaux Janovsky (actually the person who turned me onto The Sandman sixteen years ago) did some cool artwork for his blog post about the story and I wanted to share it with you.

http://doubled8.blogspot.com/2008/10/neil-gaimans-graveyard-book-exclusive.html
Thanks again.

Liz


Consider it posted.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Music! Music! Music!

I forgot to tell you:

According to Claudia Gonson, of the Magnetic Fields, if you go to Magnetic Fields gig on this current tour, and tell them I sent you, they will give you a Magnetic Fields badge (or similar tchachtka) for nothing, thus saving you a dollar.

So go to see the Magnetic Fields. http://www.houseoftomorrow.com for details... Then go and see them. My favourite live band in the universe.

Also, I watched Ella Edmondson perform this evening, and she's astonishing. She's going to be a star. That's not even a confident prediction, it's just what's going to happen. Go and check her out at http://www.myspace.com/ellaedmondson and http://www.ellaedmondson.net/.

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from darkest cornwall

Got to Cornwall about 4:30 am (I slept for an hour or so in the car, then read a script). Dropped off by car and driver at hotel. Glad to see someone up and about to check me in. Take my bags to front desk, tip driver handsomely. Driver drives away. Night-porter slowly establishes that I'm not actually staying in that hotel, but another several miles away, and that driver was a bit overenthusiastic in dropping me off at hotel. Also that you can't get a taxi in rural Cornwall at five in the morning so I am stuck there. I sit in the lobby and write Batman. Somehow, in my jet-lagged state, this all seems quite normal.

My cellphones do not work in this town, and they are out of charge to boot.

After three quarters of an hour the night porter turns up and takes me to a hotel room, magicked into existence just for me, and everything is suddenly wonderful. I sleep for six hours, have a long bath and then go down to see my friends who are having a joint 50th birthday.

I eat the best Cornish pasty I've ever had for breakfast, and wash it down with cider (the alcoholic sort that doesn't taste even faintly alcoholic, so be wary) and listen to the seagulls and am happy. Also run into several old friends, which is good.

Am now in the hotel office, as my room doesn't quite reach the internet.

...

I mentioned the Andre Norton case on this blog some time ago. The case is now resolved -- see Scrivener's Error. Can I point all of you who read this who are writers -- or who know writers -- or who may one day be a writer -- at http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2006/10/important-and-pass-it-on.html.

I heard from Marcus at Blackwells that they're down to the last 60 seats for the Hallowe'en reading event...


Friday 31st October, 6.30pm
The Old Theatre, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, WC2A 2AE

Blackwell Charing Cross Road are very pleased to announce an exclusive London event with Neil Gaiman, to celebrate the launch of his fantastic new novel, The Graveyard Book.

Join us on the 31st October, Halloween, for a talk and signing at the Old Theatre, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, WC2A 2AE, starting at 6.30pm. As it's Halloween, dressing up is welcome (but not compulsory). There will be a prize for the best costume, as decided by us, and the winner will also get a chance to pose next to Neil for a photo. Make sure to wear something that lets you fit into a theatre seat, and is comfortable enough to deal with a long signing queue

Tickets are priced at £8 and £6 (concessions), and will entitle you to £2 off either edition of the book on the night. Tickets can be obtained by visiting Blackwell, 100 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0JG, or by phone on 020 7292 5100 for posting to your address. We expect the phone lines to be very busy for the first couple of days, so do please bear with us!


Here's an interview from the LA Weekly, backstage in Santa Monica, and here is Pink is the New Blog at the same event (with added Blueberry Girl).

...

Lots of people have written in to ask about the Bela Fleck recording of the Danse Macabre that he did for The Graveyard Book.

(It was the musical piece that preceded Bill Hader's lovely "Vincent Price", for those of you who were at any of the readings.) It's on the audio book of The Graveyard Book --the one you'd buy at iTunes or on CD.

Some people asked about the cellist playing with him; others wanted to know if it would be available as a separate download. According to Mr Fleck:

The cellist is Ben Sollee, a great young player from Louisville.


There are no plans to do anything else with it at my end, because it's Bela's music and he recorded it, and if anyone's going to put it up for download or something I think it ought to be him, not me. Bela Fleck's website is http://www.belafleck.com/. (I love this blog. I sigh that it would be lovely to have a Danse Macabre on banjo, and the best banjo player in the known universe reads it, writes in to ask if I'd be interested, and then records it and it's even better than it was my head when I suggested it. I mean, honestly, how cool is that?)

Here's the magical audio widget, for any of you who would like to hear some of it...



...

Dear Mr.Gaiman:

I'd like to inform you that apparently you have killed (not only perhaps Amanda Palmer but also) the third installment of Phonogram:
http://gillen.cream.org/wordpress_html/?p=1652

But no bad news should be given without a good one. The Coraline movie official site is up!:
http://www.filminfocus.com/focusfeatures/film/coraline/

Best,
- Sam


Life has no obligation to be likely, does it? Or even convincing.

I like the Coraline website though. And am wondering what's going to happen over at http://www.theothercoraline.com/

...

And finally, a reminder from Anne K.G. Murphy:

In most states, the deadline to register to vote by mail has just
passed (see http://www.eac.gov/voter/docs/state-reg-deadlines.xls/attachment_download/file)
but it's yet to come in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware,
Idaho* (mail-in today!), Iowa*, Kansas, Maine*, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Minnesota*, Nebraska, Nevada (mail-in has passed but
you can still walk in and register), New Hampshire*, New Jersey, New
York (today!), North Carolina (mail-in today or at one-stop stations
until Nov 1), Oklahoma (mail-in today!), Oregon, South Dakota, Utah
(walk-in), Vermont, Washington (walk-in), West Virginia, Wisconsin*,
and Guam.

*in starred states you can also register on election day, if you miss
the mail-in deadline, which is also true for Montana and Wyoming,
whose mail-in deadline has passed. North Dakota does not have voter
registration, according to that reference, so I guess North Dakotans
just walk in and vote.

Please consider helping the votor registration effort with such a post
on your blog.

thanks!

--Anne

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Apology: Italy

I'm meant to be in Italy at the Autonnonero Festival this weekend (http://www.autunnonero.com/), and, with horrible regret, I've cancelled that part of the journey. I'm just too tired, post-China and (especially) after the Graveyard Book Tour. It took more out of me than I was expecting. Next time I do a mega-reading a night in eight cities I will schedule a day off in there somewhere, for a start.

I'm really sorry -- to the fans in Italy, and to the festival. It's horribly unprofessional. If I could do it I would. I'll try to put a visit to Italy at the top of my list of things to do, or, if they'll have me, come back to the festival next year. But not this weekend. I'll be back in the USA, walking my dog or, probably, fast asleep.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

unslept and somewhat slightly dazed

Having a very odd day. In an end-of-tour slightly dazed state, flew to the UK, where I have four days of stuff to do. So far I've done half of my list for Day One -- Saw Holly (oldest daughter) and watched Amanda Palmer perform "I Google You" not on YouTube. In order to do the latter, I found myself agreeing to read the liner notes on the back of Who Killed Amanda Palmer as an on-stage introduction (which was fun), and then being yanked onto a stage to do backing vocals and what-the-fuck-am-I-doing-here-I-think-I've-turned-into-Davy-Jones tambourine on "Oasis" (which was... unlikely).

Problems with cell phones complicated by a just-received email from my assistant pointing out my phone charger is still at home.

Soon I get in car and head into deepest Cornwall for a birthday. Then straight back to London for a day of meetings and interviews. Then I fly home to the US and collapse, completely and utterly.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

So it ends...

The tour ended last night. The last stop of the Graveyard Book reading tour -- up, like the others, at Mousecircus, at http://www.mousecircus.com/videotour.aspx?VideoID=11.

Chapter Eight is the shortest of the chapters, so I tried to make up for it by doing twice as many Questions and Answers. And somewhere in there, I forgot something I had meant to mention.

I didn't know I'd forgotten it until Elyse Marshall from Harper Collins, who was the tour publicist, tour manager, tour organiser and wrangler said, when I came off stage "You didn't tell them that The Graveyard Book is at Number One on the New York Times children's book list."

"I did, didn't I?'

"No. I was waiting for it. You didn't."

"Oh, bugger."

We'd got the news from Elise Howard, my editor, while I was pre-signing books at The Red Balloon bookshop. (http://www.redballoonbookshop.com), and Elyse had bounced into the air and done a happy dance. "This means," I told her, when she had finished, "that you're the number one children's book publicist in America."

So this is the end of the book.



It was good, although the church acoustics were a bit echoey, even with a thousand people in the seats -- something you can hear on the audio.

I'm tired. The travelling is not yet done, but I'm tired enough that I'm investigating the possibility of cancelling some of the things I'm meant to be doing over the next few weeks and coming back and spending time at home recovering with my loved ones instead. (The UK tour at the end of the month will still happen.)

Hi Neil,

I was at your first Graveyard Book reading in NYC and have been delightedly following all installments. I just recently quit my job to go freelance and it has been great to tune into each chapter as I do my work at home. Will there be a collected video of these readings available? Watching you read, your face taking on the myriad expressions of your characters, is so much better than just an audio. Stray noises and all.
Thanks for giving us the experience,
Claudia

I don't know. We haven't really thought that through. We also have about six hours of me answering questions and babbling and burbling that we haven't really figured out what to do with either. I suppose we could do a DVD or something of the whole tour: we have everything in much higher resolution that it's up on the web. Or we could make a virtual Neil that answers questions in video clips as an extra FAQ thing. But really, we didn't think any further than "I want to read the whole book, and I think we should put up video as we go..." and that Colleen O'Connell and her team and film-maker Brady Hall made it happen so smoothly still leaves me beaming and surprised.

For now, the whole book is up online for free and I have no plans to take it down.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,
I really enjoyed your reading last night. I'm a local young adult librarian in Washington County, MN, and wondered whether it would be appropriate/legal for me to stream one or two of the videos of you reading from the Graveyard Book from the mousecircus website for the kids/teens at a Teen Read Week event at my library. (I have the sense that this could be considered a "public performance of a copyrighted work", which would make it different than just me watching the films online, but I'm not sure.)

I wouldn't be charging them or anything strange, and it wouldn't be a publicized part of an event - just something I thought they might really enjoy and not otherwise find.

Thanks for any guidance.
Virginia Weil
Youth Services Librarian,
Washington County Library, Park Grove Branch


As far as I'm concerned, the videos exist to allow people who weren't there to experience the readings, to taste the story, to enjoy it. I'd love it if libraries used them. I'm happy if bookstores use them, or if schools use them for that purpose, in the US or out of it.

...

So the book came in at Number One -- and really I want to thank all of you who prowled your bookshops and badgered them to go and find that one copy they still had in the back, and every bookshop employee who ordered a few extra copies or made it a store choice, or who put in on a hallowe'en display. And I want to thank everyone at Harper Collins, with especial thanks to Elise and Elyse, and Brady, and Cat.

Finally some good advice:


I used to work in a chain bookstore, and thought I might shed some light on bookstores where it is not easy to find The Graveyard Book.

A chain bookstore is a big place, and although each book has a catalogued section where it should be, the books may be displayed on end-caps (those displays at the outside ends of the shelves), or on cardboard displays provided by the publisher, and the employee you ask for help may simply not yet know where the book is on display if all the copies are gone from the catalogued section.

Additionally, at the store where I worked the combined taste of the employees covered much, but not all, of the store. The employees on duty at any given time may just not be familiar enough with Neil's work to know that there is a new book out, and therefore are less likely to be aware of end-caps and displays.

I personally went to a small local chain and was told that they had the book, but no one could find it (and mostly, they left me on my own to locate it). Before trying Barnes & Noble next, I called them first, confirmed that they had the book, and asked them to hold a copy for me at the register. I know this takes a lot of the fun out of browsing the bookstore, but I would recommend this method to people looking for the book since it seems to be difficult to locate.


Or you could just move to Singapore....

Dear Neil,

In my completely biased opinion as a buyer at Books Kinokuniya, Singapore, I'd like to suggest that you direct all the readers who are unable to find The Graveyard Book at other book stores to Books Kinokuniya, Singapore! Not only have we correctly displayed them both at the children's and adult's sections, it's also splashed at the various new arrivals sections around the store. You just can't escape The Graveyard Book here at where we are!! Also while you're doing that, perhaps you'd also like to pop by and sign a few copies personally... And maybe a shirt and a wall or two?

What do you say? I can beg a pretty cookie if need be.

Warm wishes,
Felicia Low


I say thank you. (The last time I was there I promised I would come back. And I will. But right now I don't want to think about travelling.)

...

A final reminder: the Subterranean Press signed and limited edition of The Graveyard Book book that Amazon lists is something they won't be able to deliver, Subterranean Press and Harpers keep asking them to stop listing it, but for some reason, they keep it up there, and I notice its Amazon ranking rise, which worries me as it means that people are ordering it from Amazon and will not get it. It comes up as "hardcover" too, and makes it hard to find the actual Amazon listing for the book.

So, the Amazon listing for The Graveyard Book is actually http://www.amazon.com/Graveyard-Book-Neil-Gaiman/dp/0060530928.

You can order the Subterranean Press limited edition, while stocks last, here.

There.

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