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Thursday, October 29, 2009

I go, I go; look how I go,

Mr. G is too busy to use the internet, so I'm still here.


Item, the first :: CBS Sunday Morning has moved the segment on Mr. G from this Sunday, November 1 to (tentatively) Sunday, November 8. More as it develops.

Item, the second :: Thanks to reader Tony McFee and Audible.com's director of direct marketing, we have the NYC subway ad!


Item, the third :: Reader Aurora RuPert carved Death into a pumpkin:

Death pumpkin




And then there was the mailbag:


In honor of the many Graveyard Book Halloween parties being thrown this weekend, Emily P. submits her own goblin variation, journal as an algorithms problem set:
Between the hours of 11pm on Friday October 30th and 11pm Sunday November 1st, 15 bookstores will be hosting Graveyard Book Halloween parties. Mr. G would like to visit as many as he can in these four hours. Assume you can model these bookstores as a connected graph G(V,E) where each vertex v corresponds to a bookstore. Positive edge weights w(u,v) denote the time (in minutes) it takes to travel between bookstores u and v.

a. Give an algorithm to calculate the maximum number of bookstores Mr. G can visit in four hours by traveling along the edges of this graph.

b. Give the run time of this algorithm.

c. Assume each bookstore also has a weight B(v) which tells you how long you can stay at that bookstore. Mr. G does not want to play favorites so on a given path p of n bookstores, he will stay k minutes at each bookstore where k = min(B(v1),B(v2),...,B(vn)). Given this constraint, give an algorithm to determine how many bookstores Mr. G can visit in four hours.

If anyone manages to provide a suitable answer set, they shall have an imaginary cookie.



Brittany H. writes:
Hi Lorraine!

I just wanted to say thanks for the link to BDFAR in Durham! I've lived in the area my whole life, but somehow how I had never heard of it. I am G-mapping directions there as we speak and now have a fruitful occupation for my afternoon.


1.) I'm not Lorraine. (She's far more fabulous.)
2.) You're welcome! I hope you liked it. I picked up some incredible used books there over the years, as well as the comics and music.



Teresa J. writes:
Any chance of you posting a photo of yourself before you hand the reins back? I'm sure the ladies would appreciate seeing another staggeringly good-looking, funny, and smart gentleman over whom they can swoon. :)


I'm sure they would, but I thought you were asking for a picture of me? *rim shot*

I like my quasi-anonymity. The closest you're going to get is this:


This is Eben, my spirit animal.



Apropos of nothing, except that Mr. G has been known to mention his Android phones, I'm playing with the Motorola CLIQ this evening. It's fun and cute, but I don't think I'll be trading my (deliciously modified, optimized) G1 in for anything short of a significant upgrade in processor and RAM.

I am feeling serious gadget lust for both the Motorola Droid and the Nokia N900, but the former is only on Verizon (and possibly, next quarter, AT&T), and the latter has a great deal going for it (including, but not limited to, my love for my N810 and the superiority of Maemo judged purely on the bases of openness and linux-completeness), but I've become rather partial to Android and its Google apps. I can only hope that T-Mobile quickly gets on the ball and announces something on par with either. (Surely Google won't bring out an inferior ADP2, or switch carriers?)



National Novel Writing Month begins Sunday. I've been participating successfully since 2005, and recommend doing it at least once if you have any sort of writerly ambition. It's a good deal of fun, and completely mad.



I've received several queries about where else I may be found online. I'm willing to go as far as re-stating that I have a largely neglected livejournal.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I have a chart. (A dragon chart!)






This is rumour control. Here are the facts:





First-time carver Charis sent the below image of a Coraline-themed pumpkin to Mr. G, who forwarded it to me, presumably for posting:

Other Mother pumpkin

If you have your own carved pumpkin inspired by one of Mr. G's works, I'd love to see it.




[Journal as the opening to every Twilight book:]

All of my attempts at writing a new post had been in vain.

With ice in my heart, I stared at the blank text input field, then tabbed back to my inbox. Still empty. When was Mr. G going to send me something else to post?

Would I ever learn what he was up to in China? Would I live long enough for that?

The odds of that didn't look so great.

Somewhere, far, far away in the cold mountains of Chendgu, a panda sniffled.

(Oh, Edward...!)




[Journal as academic paper:]

A Dream and My Cardigan: Thematic Similarities between Neil Gaiman's The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories and Miley Cyrus' Party in the U.S.A.

ABSTRACT: Speculative fiction and tween music are both ripe with stories of alienated characters attempting to find their way through unfamiliar, often bizarre environments, be it high school or the submerged city of R'lyeh. Sometimes, the two genres may intersect, such as with Gaiman's The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories and Cyrus' Party in the U.S.A., both about a lone protagonist's arrival in Hollywood, and subsequent descent into madness.

EXCERPT: ...cardigan, calling to mind Bjork's mad, transgressive act of eating her own cardigan in response to her treatment at the hands of director Lars von Trier on the set of "Dancer in the Dark". When Ms. Cyrus sings, "Noddin' my head like yea / Movin' my hips like yea", she is describing her own ritualized expression of otherness, dancing in her own dark, so to speak, submerging in the dim "womb dentata" of a club full of stilettos.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

playing with forms: Journal as a list of disclaimers

[My apologies to those of you seeing these posts again in your feed reader. I am attempting to diagnose the current LJ syndication fail. -your faithful web goblin]


  • Lest I give a mistaken impression by referencing The Guild and The Legend of Neil, please know that I am the very antithesis of a gamer. I have never played a MMORPG. I haven't played a first-person shooter since the original Castle Wolfenstein. Never the less, I enjoy a good laugh, so I avidly follow things like Penny Arcade and The Guild. (Am I the only one who thinks it's strange that PA has never featured Mr. G, by the way?)

  • I am not the knavish sprite I once was; it now takes me more like eighty minutes to put a girdle 'round the Earth, and twice that to get one around myself.

  • I don't, in fact, have a secret network of subway-photographing New Yorkers. Unless by "photographing" you mean "dwelling".

  • There is no sanity clause.

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playing with forms: Journal as "Weekly World News" tabloid

[My apologies to those of you seeing these posts again in your feed reader. I am attempting to diagnose the current LJ syndication fail. -your faithful web goblin]

Due to his special needs and peculiar physiology, Mr. G is shipped from place to place in a specially designed steamer trunk filled with a brandy-like solution. Upon his return home, he is not so much re-installed as he is decanted, the solution slowly replaced with tea. Mr. G spends the first subsequent week in a zombie-like fog as he marshals his power and bids his senses return to him, like Odin summoning Huginn and Muninn.

During this delicate period, care must be taken that nothing unusual intrudes upon the process, lest ZomblieN go wandering into the forest after deer and hapless hikers. It is rumoured that the lye pit is getting full, and Woodsman Hans needs a new shovel.

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playing with forms: Journal as back-page letters column

[My apologies to those of you seeing these posts again in your feed reader. I am attempting to diagnose the current LJ syndication fail. -your faithful web goblin]

Clare M. writes:
I haven't a question, more a spot of praise for Dreamhaven Books that I'd like to share with you, if I might be so bold.

Some time ago, Neil told us that Dreamhaven had a new batch of signed stock. I was looking for a special gift for my honorary neiece and so ordered a signed copy of Blueberry Girl, feeling slightly apprehensive about having it shipped to the UK. But, it arrived wonderfully packaged, very quickly and for a modest shipping fee. Thank you Dreamhaven.

Three cheers for Dreamhaven Books! It has bought, sold, and even published a lot of awesome stuff over the years.

In the spirit of this, the Graveyard Book Parties contest, and Tor.com's serialization of Cory Doctorow's Makers (for which he has requested that readers share some of their favorite booksellers or bookstores with the rest of the community in the comments sections after each post), please allow me to wax nostalgic about one of my favorite ones.

My local independent book store, growing up, was Books Do Furnish A Room in Durham, NC. From third grade through college I was there at least once a week. When I was little, buying Batman and X-Men comics, I had no idea that the store owners had great taste. By the time I discovered what I'd been missing, the Miracleman TPBs and the Dave McKean art books were gone, but I did manage to snag "Angels & Visitations", "Warning: Contains Language", "Violent Cases" (numbered and signed by Mr. G and McKean!), the whole run of From Hell, several Sandman shirts and posters, and "Signal to Noise".

It's an awesome place.




Eden writes:
How did you first get into Neil Gaiman's work?

That's a good question. I hadn't actually thought about it in, well, possibly, ever, so the answer surprised me. My first exposure to the idea that there was a "Neil" was when I bought a used CD of Tori Amos' "Under the Pink" for $9 at Books Do Furnish A Room. I loved it; later, I got online and found out what "hanging out with the Dream King" and "Neil says hi by the way" meant.

The next time I was in BDFAR, I picked up the Sandman "Dream Country" TPB, because it was the shortest and least expensive. It hooked me completely, especially the Midsummer Night's Dream story with Vess. I picked up the earlier Sandman trades, started getting the monthly issue, and then got into his short fiction and other comics work. The rest is history, long-boxes, and continually upgraded bookshelves.




Sandi L. writes:
Are you enjoying your time updating Neil's blog?


Yes. I wasn't sure at first; I was feeling decidedly unwitty and unworthy this time 'round, convinced that Non-Birding Bill would be doing a much better job. In the past few days, though, I've received many nice notes, so I guess my meager attempts are not all rubbish.

I hadn't planned on doing any guest blogging at all. Mr. G isn't going to be gone all that long. I'm only posting because he keeps sending me little things he wants posted. I think he's kindly humouring me.




audra writes:
"goblin ears knit cap" ???

photographic evidence please. thank you.

and Angela W writes:
I should love to see a picture posted of you wearing your goblin ears knit cap.


I just knew, when I wrote that, that I was going to get a "pics or it didn't happen!" in response. And here it is.

Somewhere, in one of my previous posts from last year, I mentioned that the Web Elf and I had made grand plans for on-site bios of ourselves, complete with pictures in which we would be masked, or otherwise facially obscured, and wearing ears. I was going to commission a knit goblin ears cap from etsy or someplace. Alas, it did not come to pass.

If I did have a goblin ears knit cap, though, I imagine it might look something like this:

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playing with forms: Journal as industry blotter

[My apologies to those of you seeing these posts again in your feed reader. I am attempting to diagnose the current LJ syndication fail. -your faithful web goblin]

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playing with forms: Journal as CSI: NY

[My apologies to those of you seeing these posts again in your feed reader. I am attempting to diagnose the current LJ syndication fail. -your faithful web goblin]

Mr. G sent the below image and directed me to find someone in New York that could get me a clean, complete photo of one of these subway ads. I wasn't sure if he meant me to post the request here, or if he thinks that I have a secret network of subway-photographing New Yorkers. Which I do, of course. They're just... uh... busy with other assignments. So, my own efforts having come to naught, I turn to you.

If anyone can take a clean, clear, complete photo of this ad for me, Mr. G and I would be appreciative.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jump into this here blanket what we are holding / And you will be all right

First, the official business:

  • The awesome Elyse Marshall asks that I remind you that the CBS Sunday Morning show, which is profiling Mr. G on 1 November, airs at different times across the country, so you should check your local listings. Also, 1 November marks the Daylight Savings transition, so everyone needs to remember to fall back accordingly!

  • The Graveyard Book Parties map is currently up to 30 stores! Two readers even wrote in alerting me to parties at book stores that had not notified me on their own.

  • Anyone holding their breath waiting to see if I would get an award for my mantle can exhale. The winners of the British Fantasy Awards 2009 were announced last month and the winner in the nonfiction category os Basil Copper: A Life in Books, by Basil Copper, ed. Stephen Jones (PS Publishing). I can't wait to read it, and I have it on good authority that Stephen Jones is a treasure. Congratulations to Copper and Jones!






On to the mailbag!


Nicholas D., from Denton, MD writes:
Who are you, please? I see you are filling in on the blogging for Mr. G, but ... that's all I can tell. Please, some background?

My apologies! I didn't even think about the fact that there are no doubt new readers since I filled in for Mr. G during his previous China trip last summer, and the introduction that I posted at that time.

I am the web goblin, Dan Guy. I keep the site running, update "Where's Neil" and "Neil's Work", and find ways to make Mr. G's web-whims a reality.




Marjorie T., from Broken Arrow, OK writes:
whatever happened to the mechanical Panda, and do we ever get updates on the Anteater we adopted for Mr Neil?

The RoboPanda last appeared in this blog over a year ago in an entry in which I posted pics and video of the presentation. It has not been heard from since, which may be partially my fault, as I never got around to sending the planned self-addressed stamped postcards home with it. Perhaps Mr. G, when he returns home, can give us an update, preferably in video form, and sung.

The last update I received from the Staten Island Zoo concerning the anteater was nine months ago:
Unfortunately, we did not raise enough money to buy the tamandua.
We were hoping to purchase an armadillo.
However, the animal we were getting got a highly communicable illness and we could not get him.

We are still searching. Will keep you posted.

I have emailed requesting an update.




Shmuel R., from Minot, ND writes:
Do you have any tips for the care and maintenance of waistcoats? I place no stock in the abilities of the local dry-cleaning emporium, and the servants are afraid to hazard a hand-wash ever since the unfortunate incident with the cheese.

To which I can only reply, good sir, that if you are storing or conveying -- or, dare I say, BOTH -- your unstable cheeses in your waistcoat then you are quite beyond my help. Never the less, I will add that nothing gets rid of dairy residue sunk into fabric like the collision of large hadrons.




Shawn G., from Sierra Vista, AZ writes:
Should I care about Differential Equations? Also, is the iCal still being updated, or should I not bother with it anymore?

On his death bed, my dear sainted great grandfather said to me something that I have never forgotten; he said, "Wait, we have an iCal?!?" No, seriously, we have an iCal? This is the first I've heard of it. The Where's Neil page and feed are still updated, though.

As for the other matter: yes.




Mr. Billy Bones, with whom some of you are doubtless familiar, writes:
What is your favorite answer?

I'm rather partial to "Yes." Many of the best experiences in my life have followed a "yes". (Look, I even used it in the question above!)

Though "42" is a good one too.




Tara G., from Portland, OR writes:
As a Web Goblin are you required to wear a specialized goblin costume while performing your web goblin duties?

Mr. G does not require that I wear a specialized goblin costume, but I feel remiss if I don't wear my goblin ears knit cap whenever I work on the site.




Melissah, from Ahoskie, NC writes:
How DO you maintain that wonderful figure?

Lactose intolerance, and a medically unsupported, hypochondriac suspicion that I have Crohn's Disease.




Karen B., from Boulder, CO writes:
Just curious how did you come to be Neil's web goblin?

Sheer force of will and biding my time. I'd like to think that being a polite, useful, trustworthy goblin also had something to do with it.




There are more questions in the mailbag, but I'm going to save the rest for now.


Disclaimers:
  • None of the above people are actually writing from the locations to which I have attributed them. Not so far as I know, at least.
  • The Legend of Neil is about a lot more than Zelda slash. There's also autoerotic asphyxiation.
  • The above disclaimer made more sense before I edited out the last question, my answer to which included the following paragraph:
    I mean, I am watching The Guild. Oh, and the other day I was googling for a particular legend that Mr. G had referenced and came across The Legend of Neil, which I assumed would be about Mr. G but instead involves Zelda fairysex slash with Felicia Day as the fairy. My disappointment was NONEXISTENT.
  • There was no blanket.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day Four: Went to ring bell, but cat had stolen batteries.

Mr. G sends "a small treat" to help us pass the time in his absence. He writes:
A small treat for Good Omens fans and audio book fans and just people who like quality. This is the first scene in the Harper Audio version that'll be out on Nov 10th, read by Martin Jarvis. (Out of the US people will have to buy the CD version as it won't be on Audible or iTunes for them I'm afraid.)

Download.



There are currently twenty-seven independent book stores plotted on the Graveyard Book Halloween Parties map, and that number is still slowly growing. Check back periodically to find one near you, and then please go and support independent book sellers!




The Super Assistants Team-Up of Fabulous Lorraine and Beth have been saving cats. If you would like to help, you should follow them on Twitter (@fabulouslorrain / @bethofalltrades) and await the next SOS.



I'd happily go to the mailbag at this point, in hopes of prolonging my blogging stay by playing "Mr. Answer Goblin", but no one has written me recently.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

further postcards from Mr. G


Mr. G writes from China, wishing me to direct your attention to the latest poppet creation from Lisa Snellings, Poppet Reads The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. This is the first in a whole Poppets Explore The Graveyard Book series to come. Lisa is donating 20% of the sale from Poppet Reads The Graveyard Book and all other The Graveyard Book Poppets and art to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. For more information, straight from the artist, check her blog.



The CBS Sunday Morning show will be airing a profile of Mr. G on Sunday, November 1.



I received a request via the FAQ line for a list of books that Mr. G has recommended here over the years. I'm not aware that such a list had been compiled previously, so I started one on the neilgaiman.info wiki, based largely on the books that he has mentioned reading to Maddy. Please feel free to add to it.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Being a Demonstration Along Strictly Macabre Lines

Some weeks ago, Mr. G posted:
I think that readers of The Graveyard Book who perform their own version of the macabray will always be right. And should put video footage of themselves performing it be put up, I will try to link to it.

And lo, someone has done just that.

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Additional tickets available!

A brief update concerning Neil's talk, "Neil Gaiman on Graphic Novels and Fantasy", at the Singapore Writers Festival.

Due to the overwhelming response for Neil Gaiman tickets, we have now moved his talk “Neil Gaiman on Graphic Novels and Fantasy” from Chamber, The Arts House to Victoria Theatre.

The date and time of the event are the same – Sunday 1 November, 2pm. Victoria Theatre is located next to Victoria Concert Hall, just across the road from The Arts House.

The festival will still honour tickets that were previously given out for the event. Additional tickets for this event will be available for collection from The Arts House on Saturday, 17th October from 3pm onwards. Tickets will be limited to ONE pair per person, and reservations will not be allowed by phone, email, or any other means.

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Waving From Beijing

Sending this to blogger by Email. I hope it will post.

I'm in Beijing right now, in an airport hotel, about to plunge off early tomorrow morning to Western China. Where, I am told, there may not be any internet or even phone text messaging, due to political unrest. So even emailling in blogs won't be possible.

There's no Twitter here, no Blogger. I can see Neilgaiman.com but the Journal pages are blocked.

So do not be surprised if I vanish. Will send photos or something as soon as I get back.

I'll be travelling around China, but will definitely be giving a talk and doing a signing in Chengdu in about 11 days, and then I'll be in Singapore for the Book Festival with the lovely Amanda Palmer (who will also be playing a gig there). And apparently signing for everyone who comes to the Singapore Festival whether they have tickets or not.

Before I got on the plane this morning (yesterday morning? 24 hours ago, anyway) I recorded my NPR MORNING EDITION piece on Audio Books. I interview David Sedaris and Martin Jarvis (who recorded the GOOD OMENS audiobook they're releasing on Nov 10th in the US) and Don Katz from Audible and Rick Harris, who produced/directed me in many of my early audiobooks. It'll be broadcast in November and I'm sure I'll be back in time to tell you when it'll be broadcast (with longer versions of the interviews on the web).

(That's what the photo's of. Cat Mihos took it of me in the KNOW studio recording stuff. Which reminds me, she has a sale on at Neverwear.net she wanted me to tell people about.)

Right. Bed, I think. Yes. Definitely bed.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

It Snowed This Morning


It snowed this morning. I thought it had all melted by the time I went out walking with a camera, but here's a sprinkling of snow on a tree-fungus. It's just wrong. I am not ready for winter. Not yet.

And below is Cabal and some leaves (and Maddy). Many of you have written in to ask why he's not wearing his Go Away Hunters And Do Not Shoot At Me orange cape. It is because he dashed off into the woods the other night after a deer, and returned without it.

Probably the deer is now wearing it to bamboozle hunters.




I'm madly trying to finish things before I head out to China for a few weeks, to wrap up the research on my Journey to the West project (this trip was meant to have happened in Feb/March, but the one-two good-bad punch of winning the Newbery Medal and my father dying threw the whole planned shape of the year out of whack, and it's not back yet).

I finished a short story called "The Thing About Cassandra" and the editors accepted it (hurrah, especially because they were most gracious earlier this year when a story I was writing for them crumbled into dust and ash in my hands before it was done). I'm trying to finish a short story about a cave on the Misty Isle before I leave, and I'll be recording my stuff for my NPR Morning Edition piece. Sxip Shirey is working on the music for my short film soundtrack and every day he sends me bits of music and I play them, and send back a yes, or a no, or a why don't we try this?

We harvested the honey on Thursday, and Cat Mihos chronicled it all on her blog (http://kittysneverwear.blogspot.com/2009/10/bees-glorious-bees-title-suggested-by.html) including film footage of me shaking bees off a frame, so I refer you there for photos and an account of our day's Beeing. Strangely my favourite moment was when the bees from the Green hive got upset, and suddenly I found myself crouching by the hive in the middle of a storm of very angry bees... and found myself feeling very peaceful and placid, and didn't move and I let them stop being grumpy, and all was good. (Except for Hans and the Birdchick both being stung on their ankles and through their bee suits).


Both were fun, and started giving me ideas for how to do the CBLDF Reading Tour next year.




Hi Neil,

I know Banned Book Week is over, but since you discussed it on your journal, I hope you won't mind one more question about it.

When is it OK to challenge a book? Should a book be challenged at all if it seems inappropriately placed? For example, I read a lot of young adult, and I found myself reading a book that was distasteful to me, as an adult. (I thought the language and sexual incidents were gratuitous to the story, and beyond what I would want a teenager reading.) I pointed this out to the children's librarian, and she said it would be reviewed. Afterward, I panicked a bit. Had I done something wrong, I wondered. Had I just banned a book?

In your opinion, is there ever a time to challenge a book's placement? For the record, I still don't believe in outright banning a book from a public library, but now I'm not sure how I feel about challenges to young adult sections.

Sincerely,

Amanda R., Louisville, KY


I'm not a librarian or part of the ALA, so you're getting one author's opinion here.

I don't think drawing a librarian's attention to a book, or even suggestion that it's been mis-classified is in any way wrong, or an attempt to ban books. My collection M IS FOR MAGIC exists mostly because I'd noticed some middle schools had begun to buy Smoke and Mirrors and really wasn't comfortable with that book, which contains some stories that really were just intended for adults, being in middle school libraries. (I don't have a problem with it being in High School libraries.)

I think librarians make judgment calls all the time, judgment calls based on community standards, on what they believe about books, and about those books that exist in the grey areas between Children's Books and YA, between YA and Adult Fiction. (Occasionally, as when I hear about The Graveyard Book being kept under the counter, or away from kids under 14, I find it irritating. But, as I say, I also think that librarians are allowed to make judgment calls.)

At the end of the day, I don't think the problem is the people who want to figure out where books get shelved. It's people who want to remove the books entirely, and would very much like to burn them. It's people stealing books as a way of making sure that other people don't read them.

(Here's an excellent article from the School Library Journal about the dilemma of shelving The Graveyard Book - http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6635766.html?q=graveyard+book+children%27s+collection -
which concludes,
Are some libraries shelving Gaiman’s book in the YA section because of its disturbing opening scene? If so, then that “clearly smacks of self-censorship,” says Pat Scales, president of the Association of Library Services to Children. Scales, who says that although determining what materials belong in the children and young adult section is oftentimes difficult, “Anytime you keep something from its intended audience or make it difficult for them to find, that’s self-censorship.” And that’s against professional ethics.

Scales’s advice is to buy one copy for the children’s section and another for the YAs. “Kids have loved ghost stories from the beginning of time,” she says. “What are you going to do? You can’t keep all ghost stories out of the children’s room.”

but truthfully, I wouldn't blame any librarian who decided they wanted The Graveyard Book kept in YA. I would get grumpy if confronted with librarians who had decided not to get The Graveyard Book for their libraries, despite the Newbery Medal, because they thought kids should be protected from it.

Dear Neil,

I’m sure you get loads of nice mail from lots of people around the world. How much nasty mail do you get, though, and does it make you feel bad? If it does, how do you deal with that? I’m a beginning author and I just got my first piece of nasty mail, wherein the writer said she had an absolute “hate crush” on me. I consoled myself with cake and wine but the effects were predictably fleeting.

Thanks,
C.B.

There are mean and crazy people out there, and the relative anonymity of the Internet means that there are always those who will glory in their ability to do the online equivalent of pushing a dead rat through your mail box and running away. You just have to pay attention and you rapidly notice,

a) they're a bit mad.

b) they are very few in number and

c) it's only the internet.

I get well over ten thousand FAQ messages in on this site every year. Most of them don't get posted, because most of them are people saying, in various ways, thank you. Out of that ten thousand there will be a handful, no more than a dozen or so, of weird, poisonous, creepy or crazy ones that come in (from a distinctly smaller number of people than there are email addresses). Most of those get filtered before they reach me. And the ones that make it through normally leave me with a strange, joyous feeling that I must be doing something right if those people don't like me. I'm fascinated by how much more upset they get whenever I get a big award or something good happens.

(On Twitter, I learned very rapidly that any people who posted something nasty, to whom I gave a second chance, would then post something REALLY nasty. So I learned to block first offenders without any troubling of my conscience.)

My advice to you would be to do with creepy emails what Kingsley Amis used to say he did with bad reviews: he let them spoil his breakfast, but didn't let them spoil his lunch. Let the effects of the creepy people be fleeting too. And keep writing, and keep doing well, because it really seems to irritate them.

Which reminds me, The Graveyard Book was made a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honours book, this year, and you can see video footage of the awards ceremony at http://www.hbook.com/bghb/video09.asp, including my editor Elise Howard reading the actual speech I wrote, and the video I recorded for them just as I went down with the hell-flu of last week.

...

Right, more Tabs closing:

I was sorry to learn that Henry Selick and Laika, the director of and studio who made the Coraline movie, are parting company. They were an unstoppable combination, and I wish both of them extremely well in whatever they do in the future.


Was thrilled to see One and a Half books by me on the Australian Favourite Books of All Time list.

Was fascinated by this New Scientist article -- I've been interested in this ever since I read Ann Hubble talking about the experiment breeding Arctic Foxes for tameness, which, in a couple of decades, produced an animal profoundly doglike. (And the footage of the tame vs aggressive rats is a little chilling...)

...

I just noticed that to celebrate our Year On The Bestseller Lists, over at http://www.mousecircus.com/videotour.aspx, where you can still watch me read ALL of The Graveyard Book for free, new Q&A videos have started appearing.

(It looks like they've been going up for the last 5 weeks. I should have mentioned them here, sorry.)

If you head off to http://www.mousecircus.com/videotour.aspx?VideoID=16 you will see lots of me answering questions. It's surprising to me how tired I look in them -- I'd forgotten just how gruelling the schedule was, and now all I remember is how immensely enjoyable it was to read stories to and answer questions from so many people across the USA.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

One Perfect Autumn Day With Editorial Pie

If you were wondering

what kind of a day it was

it was a this kind of day.





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Monday, October 05, 2009

The Monster That Devoured Cleveland

In a hotel room in Cleveland. The hotel just sent up a Bic disposable razor, as I had left my many-bladed thing at home, and wanted to shave. For the first 30 seconds of shaving, I thought, ah, why do I use an expensive shaving device rather than one of these? It works just as well. Then I noticed the amount of blood appearing and decided that there was a lot to be said for multi-bladed shaving devices. Also, ow.

Anyway, I went to Cleveland yesterday -- set out very early in the morning and got to Cleveland in time for a 2:00 reading/talk and a signing. There's an auditorium in the Cleveland Library (a beautiful building that used to be a Catholic Girl's School) that fits over 650 people. The auditorium was full. So was the overflow room where 350 people watched it on a big TV (I went and said hello to them first, so they knew it was me and not just animatronics). I learned when it was all over that fire marshalls and such got involved, and that people were being turned away (I'm really sorry).

Then I did a reading. The cold has left my throat missing a chunk of range, but done that nice thing where I get all this bass I don't normally have, so it was easy doing the bear's voice, and harder doing some of the others, and then we did a Q&A and I did another reading and it was all over too quickly.

After it was over, I signed forever. I was given lots of really good art. (I'm often given art. But there was more really good art at this one.)

Hi Mr. Gaiman,
I've been a devoted reader since middle school (I'm now a graduate student, so that's a long time!) I was so excited to find out you were giving a talk in Cleveland, where I started grad school recently. I was so disappointed to show up today, with the Graveyard Book in tow for signing, and be turned away by police officers due to overcrowding at the library. I had been looking forward to this event for a few months now, to finally get the chance to meet you.

Will you be returning to the area anytime soon?

Signed,
A sad, devoted fan


I'm sorry. I don't think anyone at the library had dreamed that more than a thousand people would show up. I think some of them thought it was a bit optimistic having an overflow room at all. I'm in Toledo tonight, which is sort of in the area, but then it's going to be a while.

I'm thinking about doing a Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Reading tour at some point in 2010. It'll be a decade since The Last Angel Tour, which was, as far as I was concerned at the time, the last time I was ever doing this. But, you know, ten years...

(Incidentally, people sometimes ask me where they can buy signed stuff from, and I normally say "I don't know" or "Dreamhaven". But there's always the CBLDF Neil Gaiman store. A useful tip for Xmas. Also the only place that you can get the me-related BPAL perfume "imps" (small sampler scents).

Hi Neil, love your work and am wondering will you be visiting little old New Zealand any time soon? Would love to hear you speak, I realise you must be super busy and thank you in advance if you have a chance to answer.

Kia kaha,
Kat

Yup. In March, although I don't think the event has officially announced it yet.
..

Right. Got to go and find a car now. Thanks to everyone in Cleveland, or at least, the library people, and the people who came to the library, and my friend Chelsey Johnson, who came out and ate with me afterwards. Now on to Toledo (Details at http://www.toledolibrary.org/events/authors.asp, although it's not going to be a signing, I see. Probably a good thing, as, after yesterday, my hand hurts.)

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

It's been One Year...

About eighteen months ago, at a party held by ex-HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman, in LA, on the Fox Lot, a nice lady named Riley Ellis came over to me, introduced herself, and explained that she had read an advance copy of The Graveyard Book and that in her educated opinion it would be at least 53 Weeks in the New York Times bestseller list. I took this, at the time, as amiable Hollywood Hyperbole indicating that she had liked it. While I'd had books on the bestseller lists -- I'd even had Number Ones -- nothing ever lasted more than 6 weeks. The books went onto the list, drifted off, then carried on quietly selling forever.

Then The Graveyard Book came out. It went onto the New York Times children's bestseller list. The children's list is only ten places long. Weeks went by. It stayed there. When it started to drift down, it won the Newbery Medal, and drifted up again. And then, in defiance of all reason, it stayed there.

I told Elise Howard, my editor at Harper Collins, that if they could keep it at #1 for four weeks, I would buy everyone at HarperChildren's cupcakes. They did. I did. (Actually, my agent, the amazing Merrilee Heifetz, paid at least 10% of the cost of the cupcakes, and did much more than 10% of the organising to make them happen.)

Somewhere in the cupcake madness Elise promised me that if The Graveyard Book managed to stay on the list for a year, she would bake me a pie. It seemed unlikely, but then...

...people kept buying it. Last week was week 51. And we had drifted down, a place here, a place there, to our lowest position on the chart. We were at number ten. Below that, you aren't on the charts any more.

And suddenly, it became very important. Firstly, 52 consecutive weeks is a lot more than 51 weeks, and secondly, PIE. Elise was going to bake one. (I am sure there are many people who edit books and also casually produce pies. Elise, for all I know, may be one of these people. I do not believe she is. I liked to think that she was someone who, if The Graveyard Book stayed on the NYT Bestseller List for a year, would need to brush up on her pie-making skills, to navigate the unfamiliar twin territories of piecrust and filling. It would be an adventure.)

I sent out a thing on Twitter, suggesting that if there was anyone who'd been putting off buying a copy of The Graveyard Book, this would be a Very Good Week to do it.

And then it was today. Wednesday, when the previews of the Times list creep out to advanced subscribers. And the whole house was on tenterhooks. I was on tenterhooks, as sat and I signed sheets of paper for the Neverwhere Limited Edition. My assistant Lorraine? Tenterhooks. Her friend Betsy, Woodsman Hans (who dug out a giant pond while I was away)? Tenterhooks all the way. The only one not on tenterhooks was Cabal, my big white dog, now back in his People Shooting Season orange cape, who couldn't figure out why we weren't taking him for a walk, and was getting frustrated with the foolishness of people.

The phone rang. Lorraine said, "It's for you."

I took the phone. "Hello," said Elise Howard, happily. "What kind of pie would you like? I was thinking rhubarb..."

The Graveyard Book had crept up to #8. (And Odd and the Frost Giants had gone onto the list at #5.)

So we did our year, and I wrote an email to Riley Ellis saying You Were Right, and she wrote back to point out, very sweetly, that she'd said 53 weeks actually.

So now Merrilee and I are plotting ways to send pie to HarperChildrens (my initial plan of finding a bakery in New York that would enthusiastically make an amazing pie big enough to feed 125 people seems to have been sunk by real life) and once again she will pay about 10% of the price of the pie and she and her assistant Jennifer will do 98% of the organising.

A year ago I was reading the first chapter of The Graveyard Book to a roomful of people in New York. I had just returned from China. I had a broken finger. My dad was still alive. Amanda and I were vague friends and project-buddies. I thought I'd written a good book, and hoped people would notice and like it, but none of the awards or recognition had happened. And now I'm planning my return to China in a few weeks, to wrap up the research for the China book. I'm writing again, and enjoying writing again...

...

Banned Books Week continues.

Several people wrote in telling me that I had it wrong in yesterday's post and that there aren't bookshops in every little American Town where kids can buy books that have been removed from their school libraries.

Actually, I knew this already.

The last time I posted here about the lack of sarcasm marks in punctuation, people wrote in to tell me that there are Ethiopian languages that actually have a written sarcasm mark, intended to show the world that the person writing means the opposite of what he says. So if anyone is translating this blog into Ethiopian, you'll need to put sarcasm marks around that bit of yesterday's post.

Ah well. To make up for it, here is a link to a sane and civil (and sarcasm-free) letter from a librarian to a concerned parent, explaining why he does not plan to remove a book from the library shelves: http://jaslarue.blogspot.com/2008/07/uncle-bobbys-wedding.html

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