There. I was in Boston and now I am home (This is a Kyle Cassidy picture of me at home, although it is from last month. I put it up on a family website recently to let the extended family know, subtly, that I now had a girlfriend. None of the aunts or cousins noticed that bit. "You have a wonderful fridge," they all said in the comments. "We wish there were fridges like that in England."). (Lots of people who read the link to the SPIN article have been writing nice letters congratulating me on dating the wonderful Amanda Palmer. Many of you add that you've known it since last year, back in August when pictures of me on the roof with Amanda were posted here, which is very nice of you, and demonstrates that you are all much smarter than we are, because we didn't start this, rather nervously, until earlier this year. So far it's working like a charm.)
Right. I said I'd expand upon my Independent Bookshop Plan, didn't I? The one I announced at Book Expo America when I won the Indiebound award for The Graveyard Book (which, if you will forgive a deeply baffled but happy exclamation, went back to #1 last week, and is this week at #2 on the NYT list, and has been there for an amazing eight and a half months so far), slightly to the shock (but immediate approval) of my publishers.
This is the plan.
(It's a North America plan, I'm afraid, open to the USA and Canada, but not to anywhere else in the world. If it works out perhaps we'll repeat it next year and open it up to the entire world, which might be fun.)
It's open to independent bookshops. I'm not going to try and define indies for this. Big chains (Borders, B&N, Chapters etc) are out, because you're much more likely to get me anyway when a book comes out. But this one goes from tiny one-person independent bookshops a long way from anywhere up to huge monstrous shops that occupy city blocks. What counts is Independence (and, for the competition, enthusiasm).
Independent bookshop owners look at me wistfully and ask "How can I get you to come to my bookstore in Vermont/New Orleans/Florida/New Brunswick/Nevada/Alaska etc?" and I tell them I don't know, because really I'm not going to take a couple of days off work (once you count the going and the coming back) to go and sign somewhere, no matter how nice the store and the people.
This is how.
You have a party. In your bookshop.
Better still. You have a Hallowe'en Party in your bookshop. You can have the Hallowe'en party anywhere in the month of October.
And you theme it around The Graveyard Book.
(How you do that is entirely up to you. Decorate with headstones, or give awards to people who come as characters from the book, or have competitions for making epitaphs, or make graves of cake, or... well, honestly, this is your call. It's your Graveyard Book party.)
Document the party. Photos, or video footage will, I suspect, prove more popular and useful than watercolour paintings or stream of consciousness poetry, when it comes to proving that you had a party and what it was like.
Then you get your documentation off to Harper Collins fast (I'll post who and how as we get closer), and they will decide who threw the best party and whose customers were the most imaginative and enthusiastic, and what was the most in the spirit of The Graveyard Book, and judging the merits of the store that had the Silas lookalike competition against the store that made all of its staff Jacks and ghouls against the store that hired a real werewolf to play Miss Lupescu...
And a winner will be announced, no later than November 15th.
Then, in December 2009, I'll turn up on a mutually-agreed day, pens at the ready, to do a reading and an Odd and the Frost Giants signing for the winning store.
The ten runners-up will get signed posters and books and Stuff.
And that's the plan.
I'll ask HarperChildrens to do a slightly more officially approved version of this, but that's the plan.
If you are the customer of an independent bookshop and you've always wanted to see me signing there then tell the people who run the store about this blog entry. They may not read this blog. It's possible. And feel very free to spread this information around.
And now I get to turn the blog over to Cat Mihos. Cat (AKA Kitty) is my assistant when I am in LA, and the recipient of mail, and the person who asks me to please answer letters, especially ones from schools. She also runs the Neverwear.net website, with the various t-shirts, posters, and such on it.
And for a while I've been suggesting that she makes it better -- easier to navigate, prettier, all that. And she did. Over to you, Miss Kitty:
Kitty here, with a report from the Neverwear.net frontlines.
My patient Boss has been pulling at my shirtsleeves for almost two years now, telling me to please improve the website...
Olga Nunes and Dan Guy spent the first half of this year shining up this gem of a site.
I believe the end result is both beautiful and easily navigated. I am grateful to them all.
At Wondercon SF earlier this year, while volunteering for CBLDF, I met Camilla d'Errico and fell starry-eyed in love with her artwork.
When I asked her if she might like to collaborate on a Neil print, she got a little weak in the knees...
Just look at what she came up with for HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS AT PARTIES...
To celebrate the new site, we are offering a discount on this new print, $10 off if you order in the next 24 hours (midnight June 13th to midnight June 14th).
Just enter this code when you order: GIRLSATPARTIES
If you twitter, you know that Neil's Twitter army is half a million strong, and announcement of the new print brought the site to the ground.
We had to find a new server to handle our bandwidth needs; call it a case of #neilwebfail, but, really, it is not a bad problem to have.
We here at Neverwear are interested to hear what you have to say about the new site.
Follow us on twitter.com @neverwear for giveaways every week, truly unpredictable what may happen...
Today I typed up and sent off an odd piece of memories about the 1987 Worldcon, my first, for the Anticipation program booklet. As I wrote it, it seemed more and more unlikely. Was I really at that room party where the jewellery was reported stolen, and the police were called, and then Iain M. Banks (who had been climbing the side of the hotel in the small hours but was not a cat-burglar) clambered in through an open window...? Of course I was. It just doesn't seem very likely. I left out as many strange incidents as I included.
There is something very odd and special about your first Worldcon, especially when you are 26 and are determined not to miss a minute of it (most of which I achieved by not sleeping, until finally I did). It's strangely comforting to think that I will have a quieter con at Anticipation as Guest of Honour than I had back then, but that other people will be having mad and wonderful Worldcons.
(PS this was posted and written by me, Neil, but the Webgoblin put together the Kitty stuff in the middle.)