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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Not so much a blog post

Good morning world.

Acres of unclosed tabs, a hundred things I meant to post, all sorts of emails in on the FAQ line, and I never even got to post all the links to Neil Gaiman coffees and things. Argh. For the first time in 8 years, I just found myself wishing, for a moment, that I had enough time to blog properly. Or a deranged hunchbacked lab assistant to blog for me.

For right now, if you go to http://kittysneverwear.blogspot.com, the lovely Cat Mihos, my LA assistant, has been blogging the last few days of press junkets, screenings and such. Lots of Cat's eye views:


Hi Neil,

It has come to my attention that you're going to be at the Coraline preview screening in Toronto on monday (!!!!!!)

I was wondering if you know of ways the public could win/buy tickets to be there, and if you were doing anything else in Toronto while you're here.

Cheers,

Sharmylae



I asked, but I think all the tickets have been given out. If there are any spares and any way to get them out on Monday, I'll Twitter it.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Screener Photo (still a bit like birdwatching but with people)



In this photo you will find, if you look carefully:

One author (me)

One director (Mr Henry Selick)

One Agent (Mr Jon Levin of the Creative Artists Agency)

One Actress (Miss Fairuza Balk).

To make identifying the people in the picture more difficult, I have muddled up the order. I will tell you though that the director (Mr Henry Selick) is taller than anyone else in the picture, and the actress (Miss Fairuza Balk) has the amazing smile. And that I (the author) am wearing what I like to think of as my Hungarian waiter's jacket, and am the one who needed the red-eye fix.

(Yet another photo by the amazing Cat Mihos.)
...

I'm in a hotel suite doing interviews.

Can I point to http://news.shelf-awareness.com/nview.jsp?appid=411&j=618968#2682175? It's an interview done with me in the cab on the way to the airport yesterday.

Also, I announced it on the Today show, and confirmed it on Twitter, but not here -- yes, Neil Jordan will be writing and directing The Graveyard Book film.

...

And now for something completely different: Coraline Banner ads....




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Here's the Button Trailer.



And yes, this was shot in my house -- in the front room I don't use much, and in the downstairs  library.

(Here's a nice, clean, properly formatted YouTube HD version.)

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

running for plane

So many messages it's impossible to pick through them or answer them all. (I read them all though.)Am still whirling in a tornado of amazing.

Hi Neil

I heard a rumour somewhere that you might be appearing at the Dublin Film Festival screening of Coraline. Is this true? Because it would be pretty awesome to have you there.

Eagerly anticipating respones
Jack


Yup. I'll be there. There will probably be an intro and a Q&A to go along with it.

(Amanda Palmer will be doing a gig at the Sugar Club in Dublin on the evening of the 16th.)

On the 17th, I'll be doing a signing/reading/singing from the WHO KILLED AMANDA PALMER book with special guest, Amanda Palmer (I will not be singing. She will,)at Chapters Bookshop on Parnell Street, at 5.00pm. (Or, if you are an Amanda Palmer/Dresden Dolls fan, Amanda Palmer will be doing a singing and signing with a special guest reader and signer of me on the 17th at 5.00pm.) (Plan is for me to read, her to sing, me to read, her to sing, then both to sign.)

More soon. Off to airport for LA round two.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

what I look like the day after I win the Newbery


Long long day. All interviews, pretty much. Here's a iPhone photo by my publicist from HarperChildren, Elyse Marshall, of me twittering on my G1, taken without me knowing.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28857583/ has my TODAY Show appearance this morning.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99914750 is the Talk of the Nation appearance I did.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2009/jan/27/neil-gaiman-newbery-medal-controversy is a great little article from the Guardian Books blog about the Newbery and me winning it, and any controversies currently arising from such.

For all the congratulations and the kind wishes, thank you all, so much.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

(Insert amazed and delighted swearing here)

The great thing about having a dead day in a hotel after a long junket, and this Monday was one of those, is you have nothing to get up for. So I had a very long late lazy bath in the small hours of the morning, and then stayed up talking to a friend on the phone, and then I read...

I drifted off to sleep with a Jack Benny show playing on the iPod around 3:30 am. I set the alarm for 11.00 am because I didn't have anything to get up early for, and planned to wake a little before the alarm, and start writing. I closed my eyes...

And then the phone was ringing. I think it may have been ringing for some time. In fact, I thought as I surfaced, it had already rung and then stopped ringing once, which meant someone was calling to tell me something. Probably the hotel was burning down. I picked up the phone. It was my assistant, Lorraine, sleeping over at my place with a convalescent dog.

"Merrilee called, and she thinks someone is trying to get hold of you," she told me. I told her what time it was (viz. five thirty in the bloody morning here is she out of her mind some of us are trying to sleep here you know.) She said she knew what time it was in LA, and that Merrilee, who is my literary agent, sounded really definite that this was important.

I got out of bed. Checked voicemail. No, no-one was trying to get hold of me. I called home, to tell Lorraine that it was all nonsense -- "It's okay," she said. "They called here. They're on the other line. I'm giving them your cellphone number."

I was not yet sure what was going on or who was trying to do what. It was 5:45 in the morning. No-one had died, though, I was fairly certain of that. My cell-phone rang.

"Hello. This is Rose Trevino. I'm chair of the ALA Newbery Committee..." Oh. Newbery. Right. Cool. I may be an honors book or something. That would be nice, "and I have the voting members of the Newbery Committee here, and we want to tell you that your book..."

"THE GRAVEYARD BOOK," said fourteen loud voices, and I thought, I may be still  asleep right now, but they probably don't do this, probably don't call people and sound so amazingly excited, for Honors books....

"...just won..."

"THE NEWBERY MEDAL" they chorused. They sounded really happy. I checked the hotel room because it seemed very likely that I was still fast asleep. It all looked reassuringly solid.

You are on a speakerphone with at least 14 teachers and librarians and suchlike great, wise and
good people, I thought. Do not start swearing like you did when you got the Hugo. This was a wise thing to think because otherwise huge, mighty and fourletter swears were gathering. I mean, that's what they're for. I think I said, You mean it's Monday?

"You can tell your agent and your publisher, but no-one else," said Rose. "And it will be announced in about an hour."

And I fumfed and mumbled and said something of a thankyouthankyouthankyouokaythiswasworthbeingwokenupfor nature.

Then I phoned my agent and my publisher, both of whom seemed to have intuited my news already through secret methods, but it may have just been that I was calling them on this particular Monday morning (and, in retrospect, someone must have phoned someone to get my home phone number). (Merrilee-my-agent: "You didn't start swearing, did you?" Me: "No." Her: "Oh good.")

I called Maddy, spoke to her, and she was beyond delighted, and I told her to try not to tell anybody about it, and told her lovely mum, who was thrilled for me.

Then I got a phone call from Elyse, Harperchildren publicist, wanting to know if I could fly in from LA to New York to be on the Today Show tomorrow morning. I said sure. I mean, what else was I going to say?

So I'm checking out of this hotel two days early, and I'm typing this with the ALA webcast playing in the background. They haven't got to the Newbury award yet. I'm not sure that they're actually going to say The Graveyard Book when they get to the Newberies bit. I might have imagined all of this, or they may have to do a sudden recount or something. But I think it probably happened. I mean, it's now 7:20 am and I'm drinking tea and blinking happily at the world. Spoke to Holly. Spoke to Mike. 

Okay. They just said it. I can post this.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Is Coraline right for (insert age here)?

Lots of questions like this today...

Hello Neil:

I am planning in taking my 6 year old boy for his birthday party to see your new movie coming out soon "Coraline'
I was wondering in your opinion if this film would be too scary for 6 years old.

Thank you for your response.

Graciela Jenkins


...and the only real reply I can give, is that it's a bit like saying "I'm planning to cook a mushroom omelette tomorrow, and do you feel this food would be welcomed by a six year old?"

Answer: I don't know. I don't know your six year old. They tend to like different things and respond differently. Does your six year old like mushrooms or omelettes?

And the answer to is Coraline right for six year olds is, I don't know. What sort of thing does your six year old like?

I think a good rule of thumb would be, that if your child can cope with The Nightmare Before Christmas and the original Wizard of Oz then they should be able to cope with Coraline just fine.

As a general rule, Coraline the book is much creepier for adults than it is for kids, who tend to read it as an adventure. I suspect that this will be true of the film as well.

...

(For those of you still having trouble with the last post, the author's hands are not visible. Does this help?)

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A bit like bird-watching but with people


In the hotel bar last night. One (1) actress, One (1) animator, One (1) author, and One (1) director.

I will leave it to you to decide which is which.
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Junkettyjunk


This is the sort of post that normally I say something about how tired I am and apologise for not posting anything, because by the time I get to blog, I am braindead.

It was the International Press Junket for Coraline.

And while I am completely frazzled and braindead and hoping that room service will come while I am still awake, I am also happy that I can point to http://twitter.com/neilhimself for today, and to the blog of my ultracompetent assistant Cat Mihos (who took the above photo of me during my three minutes of grooming) at http://kittysneverwear.blogspot.com/2009/01/coraline-press-junket-part-1.html to tell you what happened.

Room service just came. I eat then sleep now.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

The Perils of Advertising

Working Dog Holiday ends today. I will carry the dog downstairs one more time. And then off to the airport, where I will give dog and car to a friend who will drive both of them back to the land of ice and snow, while I begin two and a half weeks of perambulation in support of the Coraline movie.

The first Coraline trailer I've really liked. (It's up at YouTube in HD and is very cool.)



I don't know if you've heard this directly, but I know two people who, while being Gaiman fans, said independently of each other said, "I'm sick of this Coraline hype. Enough already."

While I'm eager to see the picture, I can understand what they perceive as advertising bombardments, be it billboards, web ads, commercials and so on.

I'm sure you would like as many people as possible to see the movie, do you think it's been "a bit much" with all the Coraline stuff out there?


Not really. It's a film without a big name star, handmade in Portland by a first time studio: it's not a film that the world is holding its breath for -- mostly, the world doesn't really even know it exists. The filmmakers have one crack at getting people in to see it on its first week of release, and only one, because, while it will undoubtedly go on to live forever on DVD format (and whatever comes after that), possibly even go on to Nightmare Before Christmas-like longevity, the perception of whether it was a success or a failure is mostly all about how it does when it goes out there on Feb 6th.

I'm proud of what Henry and his astonishing team did, and want as many people to see it as possible.

The reviews will help, but I'm not sure that reviews make as big a difference as simply advertising and letting people know something's out there. (Princess Mononoke was an eye-opener for me in that regard. In its first year it had the top positive review score on Rotten Tomatoes. Didn't get people in to see it.) Word of mouth and "buzz" are difficult, probably impossible to manipulate. So you advertise, and you put the word out to where people who see films congregate. 

I was sent the "tracking" for the film the other day, where the various studios and agencies find out what groups are planning right now to go and see what films, and if your friends are males under the age of 25, then all the Coraline promotion is working. Two weeks ago it was ranking very low on the list of films that that group wanted to see. Over the last few days it's spiralled up.

It's hard to promote a film that's as much for adults as it is for kids, easy for something like this to bomb -- or to be perceived as having bombed, which is not the same thing. The advertising is out there for another couple of weeks, and it'll probably get more pervasive as we get closer to the 6th of February, and will not please your friends. And the run up to Coraline will take over this blog more or less completely, I expect, because it's all I'll be doing. And then, after Feb 6th, it will all trail off, and the advertising will die away completely, and it will fade from the blog with occasional splashes of mention if the film does something interesting, or if I go somewhere to help  promote it.

(Which reminds me: Jameson Dublin Film Festival. I'll be there on February the 15th, when they will be screening Coraline. And, for anyone in Dublin -- or indeed, in Ireland -- who missed the signing last year, I will be doing a reading and signing in Chapters in Parnell Street on Feb the 17th at 5pm. Perhaps with an as-yet-unnamed Special Musical Guest.)

...

I read This Blog of Cheryl Morgan's. Thought "That's bizarre. I mean no-one would actually DO that." Then read around and realised that, yes, there are people who are interpreting the laws to get lead out of products aimed at children as meaning that they have to be kept away from book, with all that printing in it. It's mad and silly, but here's an American Library Association letter explaining that, yes, it's true, and what you can do about it. 

http://dintywrites.blogspot.com/2009/01/scary-library-shit.html

...



Lovely early BLUEBERRY GIRL reviews starting to come in:

Publishers Weekly

In a magical blessing for unconventional girls, Gaiman (The Graveyard Book) addresses the "ladies of light and ladies of darkness and ladies of never-you-mind," asking them to shelter and guide an infant girl as she grows. "Help her to help herself,/ help her to stand,/ help her to lose and to find./ Teach her we're only as big as our dreams./ Show her that fortune is blind." Sinuous, rococo lines-the flowing hair, drooping boughs, winding paths that inspired the pre-Raphaelites-spread their tendrils throughout Vess's (The Ladies of Grace Adieu) full-bleed spreads, potent mixtures of the charms of Arthur Rackham, Maxfield Parrish and Cecily Barker's flower fairies. An Art Nouveau-ish font in a blueberry color compounds the sense of fantasy. On each page a different girl-short, tall, white, brown, younger, older-runs or jumps or swims, accompanied by animals meant to guard and protect her. Fans of Gaiman and Vess will pounce on this creation; so too will readers who seek for their daughters affirmation that sidesteps traditional spiritual conventions. All ages. (Mar.)


Kirkus Reviews

A rich and beautiful prayer for a girl. "Ladies of light and ladies of darkness and ladies of never-you-mind, / This is a prayer for a blueberry girl." Three women in flowing robes-the appropriately mythological Maiden, Mother and Crone-float in the sky over a small, dancing child trailed by numerous birds of the air. Free her from "nightmares at three or bad husbands at thirty," let her run and dance and grow, teach her and help her find her own truth. The verse is lovely, sinuous and sweetly rhyming, piling on blessings. Vess's precise line-and-color illustrations fill each spread with velvet colors and the iconography of myths and fairy tales, a good match to fantasist Gaiman's words. Plants, animals, sun and meadow appear in elegantly drawn detail, their realism tempered by floating trees and magical flowers. The girl transforms from stanza to stanza and spread to spread, blond or burnished, child or nearly teen. There is nothing cute or cloying here, just beauty, balance and joy. (Picture book. 4-8)


The only Blueberry Girl event will be on Saturday March 7th, at Books of Wonder in New York. Me and Charles Vess, signing books for anyone who comes by, along with a display of the original paintings, a Q&A, and so on. If you're in New York, we'd love to see you -- more details as I get them.

And the next post will probably be all coffee. You lot are amazing. 

....

Nearly forgot: 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/jan/22/1000-novels-fiction-fantasy-introduction Is the introduction page to the Guardian's list of SF, Horror and Fantasy novels that you should read, along with mini-articles recommending other books by Roz Kaveney, Mike Moorcock, Susanna Clarke and others. It's a great list -- and you can have fun arguing over who shouldn't be on it and who was left out.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

In Just Seven Days I Can Make You A Man With A Dog.



This is what the Carrying a Convalescent Dog Up and Down Stairs Workout Plan looks like. Truth to tell, we're both really tired of it. He knocked over an impregnable barrier at the bottom of the stairs and shot back up on his own, rather than let me carry him back up, and while I've been using my knees to lift, my back is Not Happy About It All. Next time I succeed in finding a shop selling a dog sling, or I borrow a bungalow.

He (and my car, and someone not me to drive it) leave for home tomorrow, while I head off on in different direction for two weeks of Coraline promotional stuff. This is not a good thing, as all the things I was writing have come alive on me, all at once, and all I want to do is keep my head down and write them.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Buttons

Trust me on this: Go to http://www.bordersmedia.com/backlot/coraline.asp and watch the first film (it's Number 1 of 7.)

I'll try and get my hands on a higher quality version of it -- the one they've put up is amazingly low rez, and it was filmed in HD, so there's no excuse -- but I think you'll like it.

...

And I thought I had posted about this, but perhaps I only dreamed it: http://cartoonart.livejournal.com/20758.html tells of the biggest and the best CORALINE exhibition out there. Well, that I know of... It's at the San Francisco Cartoon art Museum, and it will run January 24 – February 15, 2009:


The Cartoon Art Museum proudly presents original works of art from the feature film CORALINE, produced by LAIKA, the Portland-based animation studio owned by Nike co-founder and Chairman Philip H. Knight, and released by Focus Features on February 6, 2009. The exhibition features drawings, storyboards, puppets, sets, costumes and more from this groundbreaking movie, the first ever stop-motion animated film to be shot in 3D. In stop-motion animation, everything seen on screen actually exists in the real world, as opposed to computer-generated animation. This exhibit includes almost 80 pieces from the extraordinary world of Coraline, created by a team of over 300 artists bringing to life the vision of the world’s foremost stop-motion animation director, Henry Selick.

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Batman & bits

A few weeks ago I showed the pencils of a Batman/Catwoman panel from the last Batman/last Detective story I wrote, which Andy Kubert is drawing, and nobody told me to take it down. Herewith some of Scott Williams' elegant inks for the same panel, and a word balloon to boot. (Click on it to see it crisp and clean.) The first part comes out relatively soon, and Andy is frantically pencilling the second even as I type this.

...

I just learned that there's a CORALINE exhibitionright now at Universal Studios in California. According to http://www.universalstudioshollywood.com/attraction_universal_experience.html
The miniature stop-motion animation set pieces and figures in this exhibit are shown courtesy of Henry Selick and the team of talented artists at Laika Entertainment.

If you're in the LA Area, you might want to check it out.

Of course, my secret dream is for, one day, a proper Universal Hallowe'en Horror Coraline House. (I suppose it's not secret any longer now.)
And I almost forgot:

http://www.metropolismag.com/story/20090121/behind-the-scenery is a wonderful article on, well, Coraline behind the scenes.


...

Is Neil Gaiman your cup of cup of novelty coffee? asks the Guardian, making the world wonder just why it's cup of cup of and not just cup of?

And I find myself wondering what a Neil Gaiman coffee ought to taste like, and what ought to be in it. Probably not peanut butter, anyway. If any of you have ideas, twitter them to me @neilhimself (edit to add, use a hashtag of #coffee) or send them in to the blog on the FAQ line if they are more than 140 characters. For that matter if any of you run coffee shops, especially the kind that are also bookshops and want to try out Neil Gaiman coffee on innocent coffee-drinking humans, let me know.

...


Meanwhile, I'm starting to get tired of carrying an 80lb dog (36 kg, 5.7 stones, and if he was distilled water he would be a bushel*) up and down stairs. Which I only have to do for a couple of days. 

I don't recall if you addressed when you set off on your trip, but why DID you take a convalescing dog with you? Wouldn't he be "better off" resting up at home? Couldn't whomever was left at home (Lorraine, Maddie or anyone else at Chez Gaiman) taken care of him?

Actually, it was because of him I hit the road. He'd just had ACL surgery. It was minus 20F outside at home, and getting colder, and he had a shaved back leg with a freshly stitched incision on his back leg, and taking him outside to pee was starting to seem like an act of cruelty.



* I know. Volume not weight. Please don't write in and tell me. It was a joke. It wasn't even a good joke. Do not waste the time you could be spending to make the world a better place telling me why my dog is not a bushel.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Putting off work for the last five minutes

There is no cellphone signal where I am, which makes finding a mislaid cellphone more or less impossible. Sigh.

Phoned in all the lettering corrections on the final issue of BATMAN. I asked the impossible of Andy Kubert and Scott Williams, and I think they gave me what I asked for better than I could have dreamed. I can't wait to see the last issue of DETECTIVE.

I am now on a carry-an-80lb-dog-up-and-down-stairs-four-times-a-day Workout Plan, because I cannot persuade Dog that newspaper on a balcony is something that he could use as a toilet. He says it's grass or nothing. He's actually being remarkably affable about the being carried thing.

Right, back to work.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Raising a Glass to Mr Poe

It's Edgar Allan Poe's 200th birthday today. And while I twittered a link to this (http://twitter.com/neilhimself), it occurs to me that I should have blogged it too. It's an essay I wrote as an introduction for a collected volume of Poe stories (now on deep discount at Barnes and Noble):

I met Poe first in an anthology with a title like "Fifty Stories for Boys." I was eleven, and the story was "Hop-Frog," that remarkable tale of terrible revenge, which sat incongruously beside the tales of boys having adventures of desert islands or discovering secret plans hidden inside hollowed-out vegetables. As the king and his seven courtiers, tarred and chained, were hauled upwards, as the jester they had called Hop-Frog clambered up the chain, holding his burning torch, I found myself astonished and elated by the appropriateness of his monstrous revenge. I do not believe there were any other murders in "Fifty Stories for Boys" and certainly none with such a colourful and satisfactory cast, nor such terrible and appropriate cruelty.


You can read the rest at:
http://www.neilgaiman.com/p/Cool_Stuff/Essays/Essays_By_Neil/Some_Strangeness_in_the_Proportion:_The_Exquisite_Beauties_of_Edgar_Allan_Poe.

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Everything you wanted to know about pills and this one dog

The trouble with falling off the earth completely to get work done and take care of a convalescent dog is that there's stuff happens you don't notice. For example, you barely notice weekends -- last Saturday took me completely by surprise, although I have now discovered http://isitsaturday.net/ to miminise future Saturday-identifying problems -- but you notice them just enough to mentally tag that on Monday you need to phone in some Batman lettering corrections. And then Monday comes around and there's mysteriously nobody in the DC Comics offices, and I am vaguely puzzled, but it's not until the phone rings and it's my assistant Lorraine calling to tell me it's Martin Luther King day, and she won't be at work, that I understand why...

The dog, convalescing from fairly major operation to repair his back knee, needs to take pills: pain pills and antibiotics. Getting the pills into the dog has been proving an adventure. I have learned that some things work once.

The dog, whose name is Cabal (pronounced to rhyme with babble) is a white German shepherd who spent the first three years of his life chained in a farmyard (I found him by the side of a road, and, much to my surprise but not to that of anyone reading the blog at the time, wound up adopting him -- the whole story is at http://journal.neilgaiman.com/search/label/Dog if you go down to the bottom of the page and come up) and when the farmer handed him over to me, about the only thing he said was, "He don't eat much. Don't seem to like food."

He was seriously underweight, and I spent the first few months trying to find out what he would eat. (It turns out he likes raw meat and raw chicken, and we supplement it with kibble, and he's not as skinny any longer.)

Taking him to dog training was harder than I expected, because he's hard to bribe with food: cooked chicken scraps worked best when they worked. Praise worked better than food. He just wasn't that interested.

So. Putting pills into him...

Over the years, encasing the pill in cream cheese has generally worked, but somewhere in the recent operation, he got wise to that, and instead of swallowing the pill, simply sucks the cream cheese off and spits the pill out.

Putting the pill in regular cheese doesn't work. He thinks of cheese as something to nibble not to devour.

Sausages/hot dogs/lunchmeat etc do not work at all as the dog does not regard them as food items. I do not know why this is. He won't eat sausages etc. even without pills in. He has no interest in jerky, although he will gnaw on a dried chicken breast in a contemplative sort of a way (as in the photo below).

Wet dog food or cat food: ditto. As far as I can tell, he would rather starve than eat it. So suggesting mixing crushed pills into it is not going to work.

Someone on Twitter suggested Peanut Butter. It worked brilliantly the first time. The second time, he sucked off the peanut butter and spat out the pills. Ptui ptui plink plink.

"Pill pockets" were suggested. I went and bought some, and again, it worked once, and once only. Pill pockets are soft dog treats you put the pill inside, and press closed. Watching him appear to swallow the pill pockets, then retreat, drop them on the ground and carefully eat the pockets while leaving a clean pill on the floor was actually rather impressive.

Bread (which people suggested) didn't even register as a food item. Ice cream was deposited on the floor and licked up, leaving pill behind. Wrapping it in bacon, pushing it into cooked chicken, equally as useless: food eaten, pill not so much.

At the end of the day it always came down to putting the pill at the back of the throat, holding his mouth closed and stroking his throat and hoping to outwait him, and that mostly worked, but not always. He turned out to be very good at pretending that he'd swallowed it, and also seemed pretty distressed by the whole affair.

And then someone on Twitter suggested butter. And I thought hmmm. I wrapped the pill in a thin envelope of butter and put it into his mouth...

It worked. Gravity and slipperiness were on my side.

And it worked again this morning.

Only two more antibiotics (and three days of pain pills) to go. I shall report back.

Dog, pausing from chewing dried chicken breast, looks at the camera and hopes that today he will be allowed to run somewhere or at least go upstairs.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Something just went beep and I have no idea what it was

A new CORALINE web ad I've not seen before that feels, well, a bit more like the film than some of the other trailers I've seen.



But mostly I just wanted to congratulate Kelli Bickman on the birth of her daughter, Isabella! Kelli is a very old and dear friend of mine and my family's. She's the artist who painted the amazing mural in my bedroom. Also you should now buy a painting from her, so she can buy the baby, er, whatever it is one buys babies. A microscope, probably. Or an anaconda.

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Happy and wise, in our giant hologram. Also, I am a coffee.

Yesterday was sort of washed out post-drive. But I slept last night, and am getting ready to get some real work done today.

Hey Neil,

You wouldn't know when exactly the Coraline movie is releasing in Australia, would you? Is the Feb 6th release date worldwide?

Thanks, Patrick.


I don't, I'm afraid. I know it won't get to the UK until the beginning of May, as we're trying to work my schedule so I can be there for the UK launch.

(And that reminds me -- one for the people in Portland:

Neil,

I just thought that the Portlanders interested in going to see the Coraline premiere should know that the tickets go on sale on January 28th at 12:00pm. They're sold through the NW Film Center at the Portland Art Museum. Evidently there will be signs. No idea what the price will be, but hopefully they won't be $250. Thanks, and hope to see you there.

Jason


Here's a link with information on phones and box office times. It looks like the tickets will be $50 each.

You will see me there. And there has been talk of Miss Maddy interviewing people on the red carpet.)
...

 I thought it was strange that Lisa Snellings, who had once turned me into a Rat, had now turned me into a poppet-pretending-to-be-me (The original is for auction at http://tinyurl.com/npoppet and the regular edition at http://tinyurl.com/8jbdc9). But that was last night. I did not know what strange was. This morning I woke up and found I was now a peanut butter coffee.

You are a peanut butter coffee.

A second hand English book shop/café in Bandung (West Java, Indonesia) named a beverage after you. Here's a link to my blog about the drink http://esduren.multiply.com/journal/item/322 and to a photo album that captures that moment http://esduren.multiply.com/photos/album/128

Wish you a great weekend!
Greetings from Bandung,
Tita


Honestly Tita, having read your review, I just wish I tasted better. Still, I am now a java from Java, and must not complain.

I just commissioned an original sculpture from Lisa Snellings. The Last one I commissioned from her was for my stairwell nook, and it can be seen in this video...
video.

That time I told her the size I wanted and how much I could pay and left the rest to her. This time I told her I would like something happy and wise (and how much I would pay). And I left the rest to her. It's the best way to deal with good artists.

Nothing much else. My friend Michael Dirda now has a reading room at the Washington Post. It seems to be a combination of book forum, book group and review-place, with Michael at the centre like a wise spider dispensing wisdom and informed, honest opinions. (Also, it means you can browse Dirda's reviews, all in one place.)

...

We are living in a Giant Hologram, according to New Scientist.

Stacey's bookshop in San Francisco is closing.


And finally (a word mysteriously missing from the blog's word cloud), every day brings in three or four very much like this:

Dear Mr. Gaiman,

I'm an English/Art student from Germany doing a talk about one of your works. I'm not contacting you in terms of thesis or term papers. All I dare to ask whether you would answer some general questions concerning Popular American Literature. We are doing a seminar looking at this kind of Literature, started with the dime novels and your work "The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes" will be the last to discuss. Instead of just presenting it, asking general questions and discussing your work, I thought it would be great add something like an interview with the author.
My Literature Professor told me that you, as an author, probably wouldn't do such thing, however, I'm kindly asking you anyway. If this seems rude to you, I apologize.

Sincerely,
Angelika Pilz


I'm really sorry. The reason I have a blanket "I won't do your homework for you, please pretend that I am dead" rule, is that if I spent the time needed answering questions, I would never get any writing done. You've got one and a quarter million words of me burbling away on this blog, and many, many interviews out there already. Research it.

...

Right. Breakfast and put pills into dog and then work.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

journeys end

Woke up after three hours sleep in a bed, convinced that I was still on the road, with Jonathan Coulton's song "The Future Soon" going around in my head. But I'm awake, and the day has started...

At one point yesterday evening I found myself talking on the hands-free-bluetoothy-practise-your-shouting-while-driving-phone to a friend who called to tell me he wanted to make me a bit-part murderous monstrous creature in his next movie. I have never killed anyone in a film before and realised at the moment I was asked that this is definitely one of those things I need to do before I die, so I said yes. (If anything ever comes of it I will report back here.) He was thrilled and I was thrilled. "This is the best possible conversation anyone could have," he said. "The only way it could be better is if we invented a new ice-cream flavour that everyone's been waiting for without realising it," I said, and waited for inspiration as to the nature of a new ice-cream flavour that would be nice and necessary to strike, but it didn't.

The first part of the drive contained some beautiful/scary moments: blowing snow turned roads into slow white rivers that would occasionally erupt into something like steam or smoke-whirls on Neptune, that blinded then glittered like mica or diamonds when it hit the sunlight. Sometimes the road writhed with white snow-snakes. I kept driving -- pulled the camera out once, when it got less scary somewhere in Northern Iowa (with windchill minus35) and took http://phodroid.com/a6y4w4.

Slept in car in a rest area in Metropolis Il., phoned in to a radio broadcast  (and now podcast) about, chiefly, the book Steve Jones did about the making of Coraline (the book, the film, the upcoming musical) while parked on the side of Lookout Mountain, which felt a bit American Gods. (The hour-long show is up at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/stations/AuthorsOnAir/TheBeyond/2009/01/15/A-Discussion-with-Neil-Gaiman-and-Stephen-Jones)

The best bit of the drive was that the dog (who is convalescing from hind knee surgery) was forced to just lie down and not do anything else for two days, which is very good for his leg.

Got to my destination about half-past midnight, covered in dog hair and smeared with cream-cheese from an early-morning attempt to give the dog his medicine that, in retrospect may have failed less because of the cream cheese and more because my hands were so numb with cold. Got on line. Learned that this blog was voted Best Literature Weblog in the 2008 Weblog Awards, and was pleased.   Even if it means I may now have to have a pie-eating competition with Jessa Crispin. (And I will now retire this blog from eligibility in future years.) (I just challenged her to sushi eating at Katsu next time I am in Chicago. She accepted. This could get really nasty.) Congratulations to all the winners, and to all the nominees.

Back at home, Maddy told me school was cancelled yesterday because with wind chill it was -50, and you cannot have kids waiting outside in those temperatures. My beekeeping partner has gone mad and started doing science experiments on YouTube.  Megan-from-Clarion-who-lives-in-San-Francisco who was in Minneapolis (and gave me a scarf she had made me, which became invaluable on the travels) told me she had  thought I was making up the so-cold-it'll-kill-you bits of American Gods, and had now learned that, no, I really wasn't...

Which reminds me:

Hello Neil!

Are you going to teach at Clarion again, anytime soon?

I am willing to bet that being accepted to Clarion is a one-time thing. Also, as much as I admire other artists in the field I would love to have you as a mentor. So if you are planning to attend Clarion as a mentor again, say next year, or the year after, I am willing to wait to submit until then.

Thank you so much!

-Ash M.B.


I don't know. Probably, but when in the decade ahead of us I cannot say, and whether it'll be Clarion or Clarion West next I do not know, and the instructors for Clarion are always world class (this years' includes Bob Crais, Kim Stanley Robinson, Liz Hand, Holly Black...) and you will learn different things from each of them. I enjoyed my week at Clarion a lot, and I think most of the students liked having me there, and I know I learned a great deal...

But I can promise you that waiting for me would be the wrong thing to do. If you want to do the astonishing writers' boot camp that is Clarion, start applying: head over to http://clarion.ucsd.edu/... there are less than 20 places and hundreds of applicants. The application period is open until March 1st. It Will, as they used to say on the covers of self-help paperbacks, Change Your Life, but that's because it's Clarion and you're going through it with another seventeen people over six weeks, and not because of a specific instructor. 

(And if any of you, in these parlous economic times, wish to support the arts, you might want to think about making a donation to the Clarion Foundation, which is what pays the scholarships that help some of the students to get there, and to eat while they're there, and keeps the program running...)

...

Much to my delight and bafflement, The Graveyard Book is now in its fifteenth straight week on the New York Times Bestseller list. And the noise around the Coraline movie means that Coraline the book is now selling enough copies that it may go back onto the list as well. This is really fun. 

Someone sent me a link to Charlaine Harris's blog entry for Jan 11th, and all I could do was think, yup, I know how that one goes

Sometimes I think that ideas float through the atmosphere like huge squishy pumpkins, waiting for heads to drop on. I remember back in 1989 Terry Pratchett and I plotting a novel once about a serial killer who kills serial killers, and we had most of the pieces in place, and then both of us realised we'd have to actually write it, which seemed like less fun than making it up, and so we left it.  I would have put him in the Serial Killer's convention in Sandman, but he just didn't fit. And I was pleased when I saw the Dexter books that that pumpkin had finally landed on the head of somebody else, who wanted to write them.  Sometimes you're just lucky that the pumpkin lands on you first.

But the truth is, it's not the idea, it's never the idea, it's always what you do with it. I remember Jonathan Carroll telling me to "Write it new", when we talked about how I had thrown out a whole Sandman storyline on reading Bones of the Moon. And I'm pleased I went back and wrote A Game of You.  Charlaine's Cemetery Girl, if she writes it and I hope she does, would be different in every way from The Graveyard Book, because that's how it works.
...


(A google shows me holding mine at http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2008/02/something-im-proud-of.html - isn't it a wonderful object?)

Hmm. That Google also threw up something else: many years ago, I decided not to look at my Wikipedia entry, because that way is madness, and given that, as the person involved I'm not actually allowed to change things, much as I would perhaps like to, I decided that it is best left unlooked-at. But every now and then a google search for something else gives me the first sentence of my Wikipedia entry and I read that my family came to England from the Netherlands in 1916, and it irritates. I really doubt that there was much cross-channel emigration in the middle of World War 1 for a start. (My paternal great-grandfather came to the UK before 1914; and he would have come from Antwerp, which isn't in the Netherlands now, and wasn't then. And I wonder why the paternal line is so privileged...)

And the strange thing is, that if I grumble about it here, then that gives someone editing the Wikipedia entry something to link to, and thus it will be fixed. Until someone finds a link to something that got it from Wikipedia in the first place, and changes it back.

...

The first bloggy people-who-were-there reviews of the Coraline film are starting to sneak out into the world...



And my linking to the Ain't it Cool ticket giveaway got a few people in to the Chicago screening, so if you act fast it might get you into a screening in Austin TX - http://www.aintitcool.com/node/39765

...

Just looked in mirror, and was suprised to find that after only two days of driving, unshaven, and with  barely any sleep, I look sort of like a homeless person. This is just wrong.  Luckily, I have a limping dog who thinks I am cool. SoI shall shave, and then drive off to stock up a larder with food, and find a car wash (for my car is thickly encrusted with salt), and call in the lettering corrections on Batman, and get on with my day.

Edit to add -- the day is ending and this still hasn't gone up on the LJ feed. If you're on LiveJournal and curious if I've written anything or not, you may want to check the actual blog at http://journal.neilgaiman.com/

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

test post

Just seeing if I can now blog from the G1, and I can. Well, I can if this posts. No more shall I submit to the tyranny of 140 characters. Unless I want to, of course.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Snowbirds

Cabal's left hind leg is shaved, and has a stitched-up incision. It's so cold outside that he's whimpering when I take him outside to pee; it's so cold outside that it hurts to breathe. And I'm way behind on deadlines. So I'm going to put him in the car and drive south, until I get somewhere it's warm enough for a sick dog and a grumpy author.

I think it's a good bet that I'll be off blogger, twitter, and probably even email for at least a few days.

In the meantime, a fully-browsable version of Coraline, for those of you who want to read the book before the movie comes out....




...and the School Library Journal has done an article on all the various versions of Coraline currently out there.

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In which I decide to spend the rest of my life in bed

The problem with deciding to lie in a downstairsy sort of a bed and do email, because your clothes are all upstairs and you know the halls and corridors between where you are and your clothes are going to be cold for it is minus ten F (that's -23 C) outside and this is an old house, is that the email does not stop coming in as you're doing it, and I'm about five days behind anyway, and I'm starting to realise that I will not catch up and the day will be done and I will still be here, warm in my makeshift bed, tapping away on email.

Lorraine just came by to tell me that the chestnuts I sprouted and planted in pots in the kitchen have started growing into small trees. My housekeeper followed her in to look at me in the puzzled sort of way you do when someone is in a bed that shouldn't really even be there at noon answering email. "I shall stay in bed for ever, answering email," I told them, amiably. "It's cold out there."

Neither of them seems even slightly fazed by this.

...

"Hold Me" -- Hellblazer 27 -- is written about at http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=19497. Weird Tales is now up to Brief Lives in its book-by-book Sandman reviews: http://weirdtales.net/wordpress/2009/01/13/recurring-dream-the-sandman-vol-vii-—-brief-lives/

There are now toy weeping angels.This seems right and proper. On the other hand, the Coraline stuff from Hardees/ Carl Jrs makes me feel like I've slipped into a strange alternate universe because it has nothing to do with me at all -- it just exists, and I kind of hope it will make kids happy, and that some of them may even be moved to find the book but... I dunno. Still processing that one. It's not bad. It just is. Then again, they have nice wallpapers and many useful things. Here's one with the shadow of the Other Mother in it...



It's nice down here in this seldom-visited room. I can see the Amano Dream Hunters centre spread painting and a Barry Windsor Smith Sandman drawing on the wall from where I'm lying, along with several Lisa Snellings statues.

Pretty soon now, I'm going to have to get up.


Neil,

I was very excited to hear that the Premiere for Coraline would be in Portland, OR. I was wondering when I'd be able to get my hands on tickets for the premiere? I'd really love to be the first to see it on my block.

Thank you for what you do,
Jason


What I do know is that the Coraline premiere is the opening night of the Portland International Film Festival. What I don't know is how you get tickets, although looking at the Film festival site, I suspect that you might have to become a "Director" with a $250 donation to get Opening and Closing night tickets. Or find someone who is already a donor and wants to scalp or give away their tickets. Or, possibly, keep an eye on local papers for any Coraline premiere ticket giveaway promotions...

Hi Neil,

Absolutely love your work. You mentioned in a post that you would be attending Portland's International Film Festival for the screening of Coraline. Will you be doing anything else while in Portland (signings and such)? It would be great to see you.

Thanks so much,
Jennifer D


It's possible but not likely, because Laika and Focus (who will be bringing me in for the Premiere) will probably already have packed my dance card with press interviews. If someone with power over my schedule while I'm there decides that what they really need is for me to give a talk or a signing, then it might happen. But you're more likely to get an autograph on the red carpet, I suspect.



As you wrote of the extinct Tasmanian Tigers awhile back, I thought this article might be of interest:

http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/scienceNews/~3/3OCag2wGq7c/idUSTRE50B72T20090112

Extinct Tasmanian "tiger" DNA has clues to demise

Ta,

Heather


Possibly, but I can't help feeling that declaring that they had to be wiped out, putting a bounty on each pelt, and then shooting them until there weren't any left had rather more to do with it.

Hi Neil,

whilst it's hard to imagine that you haven't been asked this before, I tried to find an answer in the FAQ section, but couldn't. How easy did you find it to move to America, as a UK citizen? I'm a writer, with two published short stories, currently working on a novel. I would love to move to New York in a few years. As a writer, did you find that a difficult thing to do? All the websites I look at suggest that the only way to manage it is to be one of those scarily specialised individuals, who can fill an existing gap in the labour market. Thanks for your time and of course, all the stories. Kind regards, Josie


It was 1992, I was married to an American, we already had two children, and most of my income came in from DC Comics. It was a bureaucratic and irritating process to get a Green Card, but not actually difficult.


How do you prefer your cup of tea?

Not Earl Grey. If it's a black, English breakfast-style tea, then made with boiling water and, once brewed, with cold milk added. If it's green, sencha, or something else, just with hot water.

Because there's a lot of honey around here these days (see beekeeping posts for details) if I use a sweetener it's honey, but usually I don't bother.

...

Lorraine just reappeared holding a plate. "Breakfast for today consists of lightly stir-fried oriental vegetables topped with an egg," she announced. "I presume sir will be taking his breakfast in bed...?" Apparently sarcasm works incredibly effectively to get me out of bed. In case you were wondering.

I sighed, got up and rejoined the world.

Email be blowed.


.....................
Edit to add: If anyone at LJ can solve the mystery of why it's suddenly taking somewhere between five and ten hours for the syndicated feed to appear on LJ, the webgoblin and I would be much obliged. In the old days the LJ synd was a good way to find out if I'd put code in that had broken the RSS feeder -- if it didn't show up, I had -- but now it just seems routinely to take forever.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

downstairs

Home again, to sad convalescent dog who cannot go upstairs, and a bed set up in the posh front room downstairs that I never use, where I'm going to be sleeping for a few weeks.

Twittered a lot over the last few days -- would have been a lot more likely to have blogged instead if there was an easy blogging app for the G1, or if the mobile blogging thing register thing worked, which is still doesn't. (The Blogger team wrote to me pointing out that I can blog by email from the G1, which I suppose I can, but I don't -- it adds just enough complexity that I'd rather just open twitdroid, type something and let it go.)

Starting to get an idea of the shape of the end of this month. I'll be travelling around a lot for the Coraline movie, and finally attending the premiere in Portland, Oregon. I love that they aren't having the premiere in LA. They made the movie in Portland, after all...

I just got an invite to the Dublin film festival for the Coraline screening there, which I hope I can do. Then March the 7th is a signing at Books of Wonder in New York with Charles Vess.

And after that, I'm not sure...

Incidentally -- for teachers and librarians (and just people who like cool posters) -- there's an ALA "READ" poster for Coraline. And there's an advance screening of Coraline in Chicago in a couple of days -- tickets from Aint it Cool.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Quick One

I twittered about my dog needing surgery. Lorraine has written two blogposts that explain all to the curious...

http://lorraineamalena.blogspot.com/2009/01/as-many-of-you-have-already-seem-to.html

http://lorraineamalena.blogspot.com/2009/01/cabel-update.html

...poor thing. He won't be able to go up stairs for six weeks, or be allowed to run.

Meanwhile, there's a photo of him, and me, and snowshoes from the other day, at http://twitpic.com/107mi.

And James Vance sent me a link to his blog that I wanted to pass on. I feel guilty as I don't post all the appeals for help that come in to the blog, mostly because if I did each blog post would contain a link to one or more appeals for people who need medical or other help... But I post some. And they make a difference.

...

I'll be doing, with Steve Jones, a live chat on the 15th. Details at http://www.fearnet.com/news/b14268_chat_with_neil_gaiman_about_coraline.html (I just saw a wonderful Coraline trailer that made  it look more like what it is and less, well, sweet and innocuous. I really hope it makes it out into the world, even if it's just onto the web. (Here is a Washington DC Coraline Wall.)

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The awful truth

I am easily made happy. Today's mail brought a letter from AudioFile Magazine, with copies of the magazine along with Certificates saying that The Graveyard Book audio had won an Earphones award, and another certificate which said nice things about my reading aloud skills (Here's the full list of their Best Voices of 2008.)

I think, more than anything I do, I get concerned about the audiobooks, and made happy when they (and I) get recognised. They're hard work; I'm very aware that I'm not a professional reader-of-books-aloud; and, most of all,  they're personal. If you don't like a book I've written I won't take it personally: I'm not the story, after all. But if you don't like a recording of me reading something... well, it was me sitting in that studio for three days reading aloud to a director and engineer in another room, for an imaginary audience, and yes, it's personal.

So, right. Big happies all around.
...

Several ones like this in today...

Kevin Murphy (Mystery Science Theater 3000's Tom Servo, and now of Rifftrax fame) wrote today that you are secretly Leonard Cohen. Are you? Photographic evidence points to yes: http://blog.rifftrax.com/2009/01/06/okay-now-what-the-hell/

Or to quote Kevin Murphy,


Why didn’t anyone else see this coming?  Why am I the only one to realize that Neil is actually groaning, tortured, half-mad folk-rock poet Leonard Cohen, who maintains his astonishing youth and beauty by feasting on the pineal glands of innocent women?!
I dunno. 

You spend your adolescence dreaming that you'll grow up to be Lou Reed, and then you grow up to be Leonard Cohen. Having said that, 'Tower of Song' is one of the songs I would take with me to a desert island, even if, in Manila, my fingers once typed John Cale when my head thought Leonard Cohen.

(Strangely, as I write this, I'm sitting on the sofa with Holly watching Lou Reed introduce Leonard Cohen at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as we clear out unwatched stuff on the TIVO).

Excuse me. I must pause to nibble a pineal gland.

I was wondering if you'd seen any of the coverage (boingboing, Ebert, QuestionCopyright) about Nina Paley's Sita Sings the Blues?

On the one hand, I think an artist using another artist's work as the basis of a movie should get permission/compensate that person. On the other hand, the creator in this case has been dead for twenty years, and forgotten for more. Meanwhile Nina is arguably generating value for the corporations that currently own the rights.

I also thought it was interesting that she's come to the conclusion that physical distribution is more likely *limit* the audience that can view her work.


It's a bitch. The film looks amazing from the description and the online bits I've seen. Music rights clearance issues are always a bitch. (Dave McKean ran into something similar with the Django music on The Week Before, which is why Keanoshow is only legitimately available outside the US.) I love Nina Paley's work, love the Ramayana, and would very much like to be able to see this.

Still,  at least Nina Paley has a plan.

Now that you have a Wii, will you be playing the Coraline Wii game? Or would that be incredibly boring for you since you created the world it is set in?

The Coraline Wii is a mystery to me. (It might be less of a mystery if I asked anyone at Laika about it, mind you.) Then again, I seem only to be using the Wii as an exercisey fitness thingummy at present. Weight is dropping, waistline shrinking, and scores are going up for the most part, I'm loving the yoga and the balance stuff, and my trainer was impressed yesterday at stuff I seem to be able to do I couldn't do before, like snowshoe up the side of a hill without getting out of breath. (My first time in snowshoes. Interesting things. I thought they'd look more like tennis racquets.)

...


I liked http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/04/weekinreview/04gough.html?_r=1&ref=books so much I followed it back to http://www.juliangough.com/journal and then I clicked on http://www.juliangough.com/journal/american-gods-and-london-literary-novelists.html and was chuffed and impressed.

...

Won't you please pimp yourself out on the blog awards? Everybody's doing it....

http://2008.weblogawards.org/polls/best-literature-blog/

Consider it pimped. Nice competition, though. I'd probably vote for Bookslut, but Maud Newton and Arts and Letters might edge them out... and then there's Mr Pepys... it's all good stuff.

...

And finally, The Office gives us http://princessunicorndoll.com/legend.shtml. They sell the t-shirts too.


Urk. Bed.

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Mysteries and evil buttons


I should be writing and not blogging, so I will put up one panel of pencilled Andy Kubert art from the first part of the Batman two parter I'm doing, and hope nobody tells me to put it down again...

Dear Mr Gaiman
The black Coraline keys around, is it true that if you have one you can participate in a scavenger hunt? or are they just something cool you can collect?


I don't know. I'll ask. I suspect the "scavenger hunt" thing may have been made up by someone selling them on eBay, though, as no-one has mentioned it to me. The impression I get is that they are simply mysterious keys that sometimes appear on walls. Yup, I checked. The keys are just keys. No competition there.

There will, however, be a limited edition of 1000 pairs of Coraline Nike Dunks, winnable from watching the film and through the website, though, and they will look like this, with black buttons and stitching and such...



The fake Coraline box Other Mother doll was taken down from eBay, and the person selling it seems to have vanished too -- seeing that he had a few "he took my money and never sent me anything" complaints on eBay, I do not think he's a great loss to the world of online retailing, and will probably be back there soon enough under another name.

I don't mind people making their own dolls. I just mind when they do it to try and screw other people. I liked this one...

Hi Mr. Gaiman-

Huge fan of Coraline here. I didn't get a mystery box, unfortunately. But, I didn't want to miss out on the excitement, so I created my own handmade fully-articulated Coraline doll.

http://i160.photobucket.com/albums/t163/waistworks/doll2.jpg

Lovingly hand-made with kitchen gloves for the raincoat and boots, do-rag for the skirt, beenie baby for the pink top, knit sock for the stockings, twist-ties for the boot bows, blue paper for the hair, lots of super glue and of course, buttons for the eyes and raincoat.

Thought I'd share. Happy New Year!

Philip


...although mysteriously, according to the Evil Buttons blog, which seems to be keeping track of all things Coraline (so I don't have to) this doll seems to have also been offered for sale by the person selling the Other Mother doll, not as something recently made but claiming it "...comes as a trip swag from someone who went to Siggraph this past Dec."

Oh, such mysteries.

Where is the teacher's guide to Coraline that I keep reading about? I can't find it anywhere...I plan on having my students (9-10 year olds) read the book in Lit Circles and then see the movie. Will it be rated PG or PG-13? We have restrictions in our district. Also, if I order copies of the books for the kids do I want the regular version or the movie tie-in version? Thank you for the reply...just trying to prepared for the February release.
Vickie Weiss


I went and asked, and the Coraline teachers' guide is at http://www.harpercollinschildrens.com/HarperChildrens/Teachers/BookDetail.aspx?isbn13=9780380977789&BDMode=7

I also discovered this widget:


...

http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/67364-popmatters-best-of-books-2008-fiction is a terrific Best of the Year round up, and what the reviewer said about The Graveyard Book made me happy.



Hi Neil!

I was wondering what fountain pens you're using in this picture (I didn't take it--just stumbled across it).
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jrho/2896616160/in/photostream/

I am guessing that it is a Namiki Falcon and a Lamy Accent on the table.

It's seriously been plaguing me. Thanks a lot!!!


Spot on. For some reason, most of my pens skipped badly on The Graveyard Book, but the Namiki Falcons worked. That one held up valiantly and then the nib died after a heavy bout of signing in Chicago, and I never really replaced it.

...

Oh, all right. Since you asked. Or you would have. Another four panels of Andy Kubert's pencils...

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Actually I didn't shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die, but he could tell I was extremely cross

Someone sent me a link this morning to an eBay auction that claimed to be of the contents of a Coraline Box. And as far as I can tell right now, it's a fake thing (still waiting to hear back from the studio), in that it's not a costume from the film and it's very obviously a home-made doll. How odd.

Too many FAQ line questions stacking up: I'm getting close to the point where I'll do a massive answering of stuff, I think. You're more likely to get a question answered if it's actually a question, and if it's short, and if it's answerable, and if I feel like answering it.

Several people misread the last post, and assumed that I was saying that Paterson Joseph was the Doctor and I was somehow disappointed. No, I was saying that Matt Smith is the next Doctor and that Rich Johnston had somehow got it wrong.

The new, revamped WEIRD TALES is doing a bunch of stuff about me and Sandman on their website (and they have an interview in the next issue of the magazine). There's a nice description of what it was like backstage at The Graveyard Book reading in Seattle at http://weirdtales.net/wordpress/2009/01/02/neil-gaiman-an-appreciation/ by Lisa Mantchev.

And finally, if you go to Amanda Palmer's latest Blog entry http://blog.amandapalmer.net/post/68226761/very-many-lots-of-things and go about half way down, you will see a photo of me.*

I am convinced that it was taken at my comeback gig after I got out of prison.

Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash were hanging around backstage, playing Gin Rummy.

"Aren't you going to come and watch me sing?" I asked them.

"We've heard you sing," they said. "If you don't mind, we're playing a really exciting game of Gin Rummy here."

Only the fact that I do not sing in public and have not been in prison (other than as a visitor and novelist) makes me suspect that I'm making this up. I mean, the camera doesn't lie.



*The photo was taken by Pixie.

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

For those of you who missed it...

As many of you learned from Rich Johnston's Lying In The Gutters, Paterson Joseph is definitely going to be the new Doctor Who. It even got a green light. But alas,  for once, in an affront to decency and sense, Rich is less reliable than the Daily Mail.

Admittedly the Mail printed their story after the BBC had announced the new Doctor.  

I'm a teeny bit disappointed about Paterson Joseph. But still, now it means if I ever wrote a story where the Marquis de Carabas met the Doctor... no. That way lies madness.

Matt looks very at home in front of the TARDIS, though. And I trust Steven Moffat's judgment completely. So that's one less thing in the world to worry about.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Rumour control?

My opinion of IO9 just lurched down. This morning brought lots of mail from people asking about the truth of,
http://io9.com/5122012/a-new-side-of-sawyer-doctor-whos-returning-monsters-and-gi-joes-troopers
Rumor patrol: Word has it a designer has done "extensive work" on seeing how CG versions of the Martian Ice Warriors would look — but it's not for any particular episode, necessarily, just so the show's producers can see what the Warriors would look like, for future reference. Or possibly, they're showing up soon. In related news, Neil Gaiman has denied his season five episode ("Faces In The Dust") will feature the Ice Warriors. Also, Mark Gatiss has an Ice Warrior story called "Cold" in the Doctor Who Storybook 2009 (and past storybooks have yielded stories that later became episodes, including "Blink.")


So no, it's just lies.

I haven't denied that my Doctor Who episode "Faces in the Dust" will have Ice Warriors in it, because I'm not writing a Doctor Who episode called "Faces in the Dust" (which is a pretty rubbish title, who makes this stuff up?) and I've been having much too much fun not denying anything about Doctor Who, other than admitting to having enjoyed some nice dinners with Mr Moffat, as chronicled on this blog. (If I'd denied it, I would have denied it here, and as you might have noticed, I didn't.)

But I'm denying this because it's said in that authoritative way that makes it look as if people know what they're talking about, when it's just people-making-stuff-up-bollocks.


Hi Neil,
Happy New Year. Long time blog reader, first time blog asker.
It seems that you are publishing a lot these days, and I buy everything you put out (oftentimes extra copies for my niece). Based upon your prodigious output, have you ever released any of your work pseudonymously? I think you have and I think I know the name you've used? Just wondering if I am way off base or not?
Thanks for all you do.
Sincerely,
Eric


Not for about eighteen years, when I was writing for magazines, some of them competing, and wrote too many articles, so I was Gerry Musgrave and Richard Grey along with a couple of house names as well as being me.  But I always wanted books by me to be by me, so even my Duran Duran biography had my name on it.

If there's anyone you suspect of being me as well these days, I'm happy to say that they are themselves.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Don Westlake

In the  1970s and the early 1980s I used to buy imported American novels in London, things you couldn't buy in the UK. I'd get the train up to London, and wander from shop to shop.... Mostly SF and Fantasy, but also books by Donald Westlake. The Dortmunder books. Anything, really. If it had his name on it, I'd buy it. He was funny, he was smart, and he built novels like fine watches, never wasting a word. 

He wrote as Donald Westlake: often funny, warm novels. He wrote colder novels as Richard Stark -- same author, but writing on the other side of the street, the one where the street lights are broken and there's no comfort in the shadows.

I never met him.  But I was a fan. Still am.

...

Thank you to all who made The Graveyard Book a finalist for a Cybil Award. I think that's the first thing that The Graveyard Book has been nominated for, and I'm thrilled that it's an award that comes from the blogging community.

In addition to the Coraline-the-Movie website at www.coraline.com there's also a Focus Films website at http://www.filminfocus.com/focusfeatures/film/coraline/articles. 

Really strange, not un-positive review of Blueberry Girl over at http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6625221.html?industryid=47085
which is a book for mothers-of-daughters-to-be. I"m puzzling over the "New Age" tag as well as the rest of the description. Very odd. But an enthusiastic review of Hank and Chris and Steve's Prince of Stories book there, at http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6625223.html?industryid=47085.


A nice little piece on The Man Who Was Thursday in the Wall Street Journal.

...

My Wii Fit age is now less than my actual age, after four days of Wiiing. Hurrah.

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