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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eleven Days or Thereabouts

Dear Diary

right. When last heard of I was putting on fancy clothes to go to the Newbery Caldecott Wilder Awards Dinner, and receive the Newbery Medal.

I wrote the speech back in April, and recorded it then, so that it could be given out to people at ALA as a CD and printed in The Hornbook. Then I didn't look at it again, figuring that way it would be new and interesting to me when I got to it at ALA.

This did nothing to decrease my nervousness; neither did wearing a suit.

Beth Krommes gave her acceptance speech for the Caldecott Medal for her book The House in the Night, written by Susan Marie Swanson. I gave my speech and somehow wasn't nervous any more when I gave it. Then Ashley Bryan was given the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and had a thousand librarians singing and reciting poetry together. It was pretty wonderful.

Here's a Scripps report on the evening, my editor Elise Howard writing about the experience of getting The Graveyard Book a chapter at a time over three years; and at http://wowlit.web.arizona.edu/blog there is a multi-part interview with Nick Glass, who was on the Newbery Medal Committee.

So I won the Newbery Medal (or did I? At http://jameskennedy.com/2009/07/13/i-win-the-newbery/ James Kennedy tells a very different story.)

The following morning was a signing that went on for a very long time. As I walked away from it I got two phone calls: the first to tell me that a dear friend, Diana Wynne Jones would be going in for an operation. I called Diana, and I'm not sure whether we reassured each other (although the operation was a success, and by the time you read this she should be back at home). As I put down the phone on her the phone rang again, and I learned that my old friend Charles Brown of LOCUS Magazine had died, peacefully, asleep on the plane on his way back from Readercon, one of his favourite SF conventions.

Charles was irreverent, astonishingly well-read, opinionated, funny, and he knew where pretty much all the bodies were buried in the world of science fiction and fantasy, or fancied he did. I enjoyed his company from the first time I met him, in the UK, in around 1987, enjoyed and was frustrated in equal measure by his interviewing technique from about 1989 on (he would ask opinionated questions and make statements and really have a terrific conversation with you - then, when he wrote up the interview he would leave himself and everything he had said out, as if it was a long monologue). (Here's an extract from one of those with me in 2005.)

He had been expecting to die for a long time - his health was not great - and had put various mechanisms in place to make sure that Locus Magazine continued after his death. Having been dragooned into being part of one of these mechanisms, I wound up seeing Charles every few years at meetings which existed, as far as I could tell, solely so that he could see a bunch of his friends once a year and point out to them, with a delighted chortle, that he was not dead yet and had no need of their help: have a bagel.

(I suspect, by the way, that the Locus Special Offer for readers of this blog still applies, seeing the webpage is still up.)

This is his placeholder Obituary in Locus.

The last time I saw him we had brunch in the Hotel Claremont in Berkeley. He told me delighted stories about the 1968 Worldcon there, of the intersection at that con of the SF old guard and the (then) young hippies, told scandalous stories and named names. I have forgotten all the stories and all the names, except for the information that convention attendees used the laundry chutes as a quick way to get downstairs, which was the least scandalous thing I learned.

Then I did a CBLDF panel, during which I took pleasure in pointing out that the same Nick Bertozzi comic, The Salon that had almost got Gordon Lee imprisoned in Rome, Georgia, last year, was in this year's Lynda Barry edited Best American Comics 2008.

Home from Chicago. Signed hundreds of book jackets with Miss Amanda Palmer for her Who Killed Amanda Palmer book. Then, in company with Miss Maddy and Maddy's friend Claire, we set out on a mad adventure (which we are still on).

In San Francisco we stayed at the Hotel Union Square, which was amazingly convenient and nice. Visited Google, got to be backstage at the Fire Festival, dined with Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman and their marvellous family (I suspect Michael and Ayelet of having acquired their children from some amazing Madeleine L'Engle-like Wrinkle in Time kit)(also they have a drumkit for their kids in the lounge), saw Wicked because the girls wanted to se it, and they loved it utterly (my mini-review? love Gregory Maguire's book, liked the book of the show, was sort of unmoved by the songs which seemed no better than they had to be), lunched with Daniel Handler and Lisa Brown, and generally tried to be on holiday, except for Sunday Morning.

Sunday Morning I did a reading and a signing for Brian Hibbs (and a hundred people) at Comix Experience. It celebrated Brian's Twentieth Comix Experience Year. Brian describes the signing here. (He also describes the problem with Twitter and signings and suchlike in a fascinating essay here.)

On Tuesday evening, as I blogged at the time, we found ourselves in Las Vegas, where an improvisational Tarot comedy troupe had much fun interviewing me and then making comedic theatre, and a great time was had by all... ( my card was the three of cups)

Neil was amazing and so was the Tarot troupe. Thanks @neilhim... on Twitpic
Picture by Tarot show producer Emily Jillette.

And now I am in San Diego, where tomorrow, Friday, I will be doing a Coraline panel (room 6A at 10:30) and an autographing (turn up in the autographing area at 9.00am and pull tickets from a hat. 100 of you will get in).

Tonight I had dinner with Henry Selick and friends, and bumped into Mr Miyazaki and the Studio Ghibli crew outside the restaurant, so got to introduce Henry Selick to Mr Miyazaki, which made Henry happy. A wonderful San Diego moment.


and that's all

Neil

...

PS:

This brought me joy: The Independent newpaper in the UK put the Graveyard Book audiobook second on their list of Year's Best audiobooks (and the first was a Doctor Who audiobook).

This made me smile too, Wired's list of unfilmable comics and books: http://www.wired.com/underwire/2009/07/after-watchmen-whats-unfilmable-these-legendary-texts/

On the other hand, my appearance on Kevin Smith's list of the five coolest people I've met at the San Diego Comic-Con http://popwatch.ew.com/popwatch/2009/07/kevin-smith-comic-con.html put me in mind of the time I encountered Kevin Smith. It was round the back of the San Diego Convention Centre, near the loading bay. I was on my way to a panel when a gentleman with a kerchief-mask covering his lower face, holding a brace of pistols and wearing a rakish tricorn hat leapt out and demanded my wallet, and to dance a measure with my female companions. Obviously, I was having none of it, and with a cry of "Never, miscreant!" I stumbled into the fray. During our struggle the kerchief-mask slipped and I was shocked to see that our attacker was in fact director, writer and raconteur Kevin Smith himself. He fled, dropping my wallet and also several of the original Graphitti Buddy Christ and Jay & Silent Bob toys.

I can only presume that Mr Smith's description of me in EW as "a sweetheart" was due to the fact that I did not turn him in that day to the San Diego magistrates that day to be hanged and gibbeted as a common highwayman or footpad.


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