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Monday, November 30, 2009

Amazing Audio Things, and Pictures. No Blood Anywhere.

For those of you who missed it, here's the NPR "Open Mike" piece I did on audiobooks... You can listen to it here, or download it, or email it...



And here, at closer to full length, are the interviews I did with Martin Jarvis and David Sedaris. If you enjoyed the piece, they are filled with wonderful bits that didn't make it in. And the Martin Jarvis interview is practically a masterclass in how to approach doing Audiobooks.



(The strangest moment for me in the Martin Jarvis interview is when he talks about remembering the voices of teachers, and names John Branston and Dick Glynne Jones. I went to Whitgift School in Croydon, which Martin had also attended twenty years before me, and I was taught by both of them. I was in John Branston's production of Julius Caesar at the Fairfield Halls -- and was taught O-level English by Dick Glynne Jones. As he said their names, I thought "He can't be talking about the same people..." but of course, he was.)



There's a sort of interview with me, and a gallery of snapshots, over at http://www.lomography.com/magazine/lomoamigos/2009/11/30/neil-gaiman-shoots-with-the-lc-a-plus. I love the low-tech magic of the camera, and the wonderful hodgepodge nature of the shots, particularly the ones that are a mixture of art and documentary, such as the moment when a collapsing shelf deposited the contents of a make-up bag into a toilet, Amanda's doomed attempts to make friends with sheep, or a photo that should not have come out (given the amount of available light) of my goddaughters watching the DVD of Coraline with their 3D specs on...

For me, the most exciting bit is that they gave Dave McKean a camera to play with. I can't wait to see what he did.

I've grabbed a few more shots from their gallery. Here's the Queen of Sheep herself...


Maddy's friend Claire, at San Diego airport...


And here's Ivy McCloud (almost invisible, far right) and my goddaughters and their friend...



...

I was reading the book "Coraline". I finished then told my parents about it. I was wondering if this book has any religouiseness to it. I tried, but only found what you've writen so i'm hoping you can tell. Just curiose

I don't think so. Although I think people bring religious points of view to books, and read them from those perspectives.

You sounded good on NPR this morning, so good you need your own radio show.

If I sound good, it's because Maeve McGoran, my producer, and Barry Gordemer, the editor, did such a sterling job. Finding the time to make this, to do the interviews and put it all together, took months. I'd love to do more radio, for NPR or for Radio Four in the UK, but I think it will always be little one-off projects. But I loved doing it.

...

Here's one that contains a Graveyard Book spoiler:

Dear Mr. Gaiman:

How is Silas erasing Scarlett’s memory of events preceding justified in The Graveyard Book? When the reason given isn’t satisfactory, and is it?, doesn’t it become the Problem of Scarlett? You know what I mean. I've just about read the Problem of Susan from Fragile Things which was so brave of you to write or, rather, re-write.

I thought it was so god-like of Silas to do what he did at the same time so unnatural of him to. It meant a reasonably strong character like her couldn't stare reality in its face bravely and overcome it which is what fairy-tales are about, be it children's, YA's, or adult's.

Your Sandman fan,
Ahimaz.


Silas did what he did because he thought it was for the best. Whether it was the wisest thing he could have done, in the circumstances, remains to be seen.

....

Hi Neil,
I live in Naperville, IL, and I just heard about your appearance in February for the Naperville Reads program. No one around town seems to have a whole lot of information about the events so far though. I was wondering if you had more information about what you'll be doing here, and if any of the events will be open to the public? Thanks!


I don't know yet. When I get a schedule, I'll put it here, and at Where's Neil.

Hi,
Before I book flights I was wondering if you could let us know if you're doing a signing at the NZ talk, or if you plan on doing a signing elsewhere in Wellington that weekend? I'd hate to have to get back on the plane only to discover later that I'd missed out on a signing op at Arty Bees Books by mere hours...
And your Captcha anti-spam thing just asked me to write down "$2-mil manistee". I thought you should know.

Mike


I think there's a signing or two involved, but it'll be organised by the Festival (tickets to the main event at http://www.nzfestival.nzpost.co.nz/writers-and-readers/town-hall-talk-neil-gaiman (The signings normally follow the events.) I plan to go to Amanda's gig, and will probably sign afterwards to keep her company.

Hi, Neil! Are going to sign any books at UCLA on February 4th, 2010? If so,before or after the discussion? Or do can we buy signed books?

I don't believe there are signings at the UCSB or the UCLA talks. I know I've been asked to sign sheets to stick in books (or perhaps to presign books), so there will definitely be something available.

Hi Neil,

Don't know if anyone's pointed it out to you, but the postscript at the end of your article in The Writer's and Artist's Year Book has the films of Beowulf and Stardust being released in 1987!

Ooops!

Regards,

Mark


Yup. And the wonderful Chris Riddell is Paul Riddell in the text as well. Ah well. Mysterious goofs happen.

...

Finally, a message from Beth at Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs:

Would you please put up a little plug for the current Vampire sets and tees? I'd like people's winter money to go to a good cause, and we're getting to our cutoff date on orders that we can get out to people in time for Christmas. The perfume plus tarot card sets are at:

http://www.blackphoenixalchemylab.com/vampiretarot.html

And the tees are at:

http://www.blackphoenixtradingpost.com/vampiretarot-bptp.html

The Snow, Glass, Apples locket is at:

http://www.blackphoenixtradingpost.com/neilgaiman.html

We still have a few sets of Sunbird left:

http://www.blackphoenixalchemylab.com/sunbird.html

I'm happy to plug them here. They'll make great gifts. The Sunbird scent is amazing, comes with a chapbook, and is almost gone. The proceeds from the scents and tee shirts go to the CBLDF. The proceeds from the lockets and medallion go to Alzheimer's Research.

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A bit sad. But it ends with Toast.

I went to Boston and spent Thanksgiving with Amanda and her family. It was wonderful. I spent any spare moments reading comics for a book I am guest editing next year. (This is a photo of us on the pavement outside her house.)

Now I'm home. Typing a blog entry, listening to TV Smith's Live CD.

...

The saddest moment of the trip was lunchtime today, and a call from Roz Kaveney to let me know that our friend Rob Holdstock had died, of an e.coli infection. He was only 61. When I stumbled into the world of SF and Fantasy, over 25 years ago, as a young journalist, Rob, already a successful and award-winning author, was absolutely friendly, welcoming and encouraging. A big, affable man, with a knack for putting people at their ease, he was always one of the Good Things about the British SF world. His book Mythago Wood was one of my favourite novels of the 1980s. I saw him less and less since I've lived in the US; like too many UK friends, I'd see him mostly at publishing parties and book launches. He died too early. My condolences to Sarah, his partner.

...

Two NPR pieces I should point people to. One is my guest-spot on "Morning Edition", talking about, and interviewing people about, Audio Books, at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120769925.

The other is "On The Media" , at http://www.onthemedia.org/episodes/2009/11/27. I'm one of several people talking about the future of the book (or The Future of The Book).

Big congratulations to Henry Selick, to all at Laika and to Focus for the Coraline Film, which won the Children's Feature Film award at the BAFTAs last night (http://www.bafta.org/awards/childrens).

...
Tickets to the 14th Dec Decatur GA Little Shop of Stories event - reading, Q&A and signing - are available from tomorrow: details at http://littleshopofstories.blogspot.com/2009/11/details-of-neil-gaiman-event.html (basically, from Monday Nov 30th, you can pick up the tickets in Person; from Monday Dec 7th, you can reserve tickets over the phone.)


...

The Green Goddess restaurant in New Orleans gets reviewed in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Note that they do not tell you that if you oh-so-casually ask for the Meze of Destruction, they will make a fuss of you and bring you Something Nice, for this is something you would only learn here.

...
And finally, over at http://twitpic.com/rhg4t, @heydeletethat does portraits of me and Amanda. On Toast. I mean, that's art on Toast.



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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Does Anyone Else have Something Further To Add?


Good morning. I cannot stay long as deadlines are happening.

Cat Mihos, in association with the CBLDF, has made the most beautiful print of Jim Lee's glorious pencil-art to accompany my poem "100 Words". It'll be limited to 750 numbered prints, and is lettered by Todd Klein. (Click on it in order to actually see it at readable size.) She decided that the first 24 hours it was on sale at her neverwear.net site, it would be $35, going up to $45 the following day. I linked to it on Twitter and... crashed the site. (Or possibly, crashed the shopping cart. I'm not sure. Different reports from people who couldn't get in.)

So Cat is extending the sale (at http://www.neverwear.net/store/) until the end of Monday, when she gets home from her trip out here, to apologise to people who had problems, and to allow people to get to it. You can read all about it (and see lots of Cat's candid snaps, including one of me in a 20 foot long Tom Baker style Doctor Who scarf I was sent by a reader who knits and likes Doctor Who and thought I needed one) over at http://kittysneverwear.blogspot.com

And on the subject of photos, KImberly Butler is out at the house right now to shoot photos of me, with her daughter Caitlin as a camera assistant. She is a remarkable photographer (http://www.kimberlybutler.com is her website). She's here because I am the Honorary Chair of National Library Week next year (details at this ALA website).

She's taking pictures of me to find one that could be used as a poster for National Library Week, and for press releases. Here are a few of the photos from yesterday, raw from her camera. I put up a selection at http://twitpic.com/photos/neilhimself. Here are four of my favourites. One of them is not of me.

(Strangest twitter comment this morning was from the person who told me off for surgically trimming my dog's ears. Someone who, I assume, has never encountered a German Shepherd or has any idea what their ears do. His ears are fine -- he just sticks them up when he's interested or listening. )



During the shoot Lorraine brought me tea. I got happy. Kimberly kept shooting.



Princess the cat and deformed bunnies (and a two-headed teddy). Probably will not be a National Library Week poster. (Click to see it full-size.)





Does anyone else have something further to add?



I go. Maddy's violin recital, a short story and an introduction are waiting. Zoom.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Blood! Blood in unimaginable quantities!"

I'm happy to say that I've not won any more awards in the last 24 hours, or done anything particularly noteworthy. I've walked the dog. Written things. Listened to things on headphones. Eaten a bit. (I've lost weight in the last year. I'm about twenty pounds lighter than I was this time last year, without having done much more than eating smaller portions and a lot more sensibly. This makes me happy.) I spiced three different chilis (the Hot, the Mild and the Vegetarian) for the weekend visitors. (Lorraine, my assistant, traditionally makes the chili, and I come in at the end and spice them. Thus it has always been.) During any down moments I've read comics, for a project I don't know if I can talk about yet. Some astonishingly good ones, some not so good.

Maddy and I watched the antepenultimate Doctor Who special, The Water of Mars, which we both liked a lot more than the Bus-in-the-desert episode. Good, scary classic, monstery Doctor Who which felt predictable (in a good way - almost inevitable) until suddenly it wasn't, and it got interesting in different ways. I liked the plot and performances, and feel comfortably certain that David Tennant's Doctor is going to have a better exit from the stage than any of the other nine. (Do not write and tell me that Colin Baker never even got to regenerate, and neither did Paul McGann, so really that should have been seven, because I will not be properly sympathetic.)

Let's close some tabs:



Dear Mr.Gaiman,
I am so excited that you are coming to my city, Winnipeg, for a book signing! I do have a tiny question though, how many books are you able to sign? Please write back! I'm looking forward to the book signing on December 15 2009!
From your biggest fan, Shivani Hunter


It's going to depend on the numbers of people who turn up. Assuming that it's around a thousand people in each location (Winnipeg and Decatur) I'll probably pre-sign a load of books, so people who just want to hear me read or answer questions and don't want to stand in a long line can get a signed book and go home, and we'll do something along the lines of I'll sign one thing, but if you buy a book of mine from the store I'll sign two things, which allows people to get the Thing They Love Most signed, and get something signed for someone (as we're heading into the holidays then) or for themselves.

...

Shaun Tan's story of Eric, the Foreign Exchange Student, from the Guardian, makes me toe-curlingly happy. It went up a while ago, and I've meant to post it here many times. Click on it, then click through the story, and you will not regret the time spent, I promise. Delicate, clever, gentle, strange and odd, in all the good ways. (It's possible I may have actually posted it here at some point. If so, smile indulgently, and read it again.)

...

Naperville, near Chicago, will be having its ninth annual "Naperville Reads" program this year, when everyone in the city is encouraged to read something by the same author. I'll be in Naperville toward the end of February, and "citywide events are planned". I do not know what they are either. Details at http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=338299

...

I started getting somewhat premature congratulations from people today when Screen International did interviews with the directors of Up, Fantastic Mr Fox and Coraline and described them in the headline as "this year's Oscar-nominated films". I think what Screen meant was "This year's submitted-for-Oscars and may-have-a-good-chance-of-being nominated films" as 20 animated films have been submitted so far. And no-one will know what's actually been nominated until Feb 2nd 2010.

And Coraline gets talked about in this excellent New York Times article on Unleashing Life's Wild Things.


Molly Crabapple's site has a great photo of the art that she and Fred Harper did for the Amanda Palmer Brooklyn show, with me and her and Fred and Amanda.

(Reminder: Miss Amanda's last show is in Knoxville, TN on Sunday. Mention at the Merchandise Table that some strange man sent you from his blog and you will get something cool.)

...

Remember the Best Pecan Pie on the planet I was sent for having The Graveyard Book on the NYT Bestseller list for 52 consecutive weeks? Elise Howard guest-blogs the history of the pie and how you too can make it. How good can a Pecan Pie get? About this good.

...

I'm enjoying the commentary and the travel photographs over at http://neverwhat.blogspot.com -- I don't know if I'm going to be able to be in Chicago for their production of Neverwhere at the end of April, but just from reading the commentary, I know I want to.

The annual Moth auction is now over, and soon I'll find out who paid $4,400 for afternoon tea with me, and when we're going to have it. (Part of me goes WHY DEAR GOD WHY? while another part goes, WELL IT IS FOR A GOOD CAUSE.)

...

I was fascinated to learn that there is a bedbug registry website tracking cases of bedbugs across the US, and letting you know which hotels have had bedbug outbreaks at http://bedbugregistry.com
...

And finally, a letter from one Rupert Psmith, a gentleman I had always believed to be fictional:

Dear fine, noble sir, I wish to inquire as to your favorite Wodehouse novels. As I was looking upon journals of my exploits, strangely written in the third person, it occurred to me that my autobiographical tales always seemed to bear the most power. I was wondering if you felt the same.

Yours sincerely,

Some Ass


I do. My favourite Wodehouse novel is definitely Psmith Journalist. I think, because it was about something, in a way that most Wodehouse books aren't. (They're about themselves, in the same way that Agatha Christie novels are about themselves.)

And yes, Comrade Psmith (the P is, of course, silent, as in Psittacosis or Pneumonia) you are my favourite Wodehouse character. Even if he did steal you from Rupert D'Oyly Carte.

...

Sorry about the blog title. It was that or A Quiet Sort of Day With Tab Closing, and I thought perhaps the less honest one might be more fun. There was, in fact, no blood anywhere in this blog entry at all. Not even in imaginable quantities.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

LOCAL MAN IN HATE MAIL OUTRAGE SHOCK FIASCO

Anything I say about it would sound like bragging, so I'll just mention that The Graveyard Book won the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and leave it at that. I couldn't be there, so Chris Riddell accepted it on my behalf, and read out what I'd asked him to read. (The Booktrust site has an interview with me about it here.)

There's a terrific article/interview in the Guardian about it (I even like the photo, even though I cannot explain the hair) at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/nov/18/neil-gaiman-graveyard-book-awards.

I will not even attempt to explain the hair. It must have known what it was doing.

The Headline for the Guardian article is

Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book buried under awards
As the fantasy world's renaissance man collects yet another award, he talks to Michelle Pauli
I quite like the "buried under awards" joke. (Although The Graveyard Book definitely hasn't won all, or even most, of the awards it's been nominated for. Margo Lanagan's wonderful Tender Morsels and Jeffrey Ford's The Shadow Year [which may be wonderful but which I haven't read yet] beat it to the World Fantasy Award, just as Graham Joyce's Memoirs of a Master Forger beat it to the August Derleth award, for example.)

When I was a journalist, one of the things that stopped me wanting to spend the rest of my life journalisting was sub-editors who made me feel embarrassed by carefully introducing mistakes or slight distortions into things I'd written, or into headlines. So I felt a twinge when I read the Daily Telegraph interview, in which I was quoted pretty accurately,
Gaiman, 49, said: "I definitely don't write like Kipling but he was a literary hero as a kid.
"I was fascinated when I first started mentioning that I thought Kipling was an amazing writer.
"I started getting – not exactly hate mail – it was more disappointed mail.
"People would tell me, 'How could a writer like you – that we like – like a fascist, an imperialist dog?' "
but with the headline of
Coraline author Neil Gaiman received 'hate mail' for liking Rudyard Kipling
Neil Gaiman, the author behind the surprise film hit Coraline, received "hate mail" for professing that Rudyard Kipling was one of his literary heroes.
I keep forgetting about the new-style sensationalist Daily Telegraph. I like the way that "not exactly hate mail... disappointed mail" in the body of the article turns into "hate mail" in the headline. And was Coraline really a surprise hit? And is mentioning the Coraline film really how the Telegraph audience would go from "Who...?" to "Oh, right, him."

...

Someone wrote to me recently asking,


Dear Mr. Gaiman,

You've often talked about the rights for readers to choose the books they want to read without censorship. What are your thoughts of a library in Kentucky firing two librarians who restricted reading materials to a child?


Raymond

I figured I'd wait until the facts were in before commenting. So, in brief:

Over in Kentucky, a library worker (not librarian) felt menaced by what she felt was the satanic sexualness of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier, and kept it checked out for a year so no-one could read it. (Except her: and she had to be prayed over while she read it.) What worried this lady was,
She just didn't want this book in the Graphic Novel section, which is located next to Young Adult Fiction.
She wasn't trying to keep it from kids. She was keeping it from everyone.

Then a customer put it on order, and the computer would no longer keep it checked out to keep it off the shelves. She violated library policy by finding out who had it on order, discovered the person who wanted it was an 11 year old girl (no information has been given as to whether this was with or without parental knowledge, but I don't think that would have mattered to this lady) and she persuaded another library worker (also not a librarian) to help her stop anyone getting the book. Around this point their plan was exposed. They'd violated enough library rules and policies that they were dismissed. Strangely enough, even after they were fired, the original lady who took the book off the shelves still hasn't returned the book, which seems to me to have crossed the invisible line that separates "stopping people reading things you don't like" from "stealing".

(Incidentally, for those who haven't read it, LOEG: The Black Dossier is many things, but it isn't Lost Girls, and it certainly isn't pornography, although it has moments that comment on classic texts, including some pornographic ones. It has a couple of pin-up-y images. It's got comic-book violence in it and some realistic violence too. It has references in it to British children's fiction that an 11 year old girl in Kentucky is very unlikely to get. Pam Noles wrote an essay about race, minstrelsy and the problematic use of the Golliwogg in it. Is it a book I think an 11 year old would enjoy and get stuff out of? Depends on your 11 year old. I'm always surprised when I meet Sandman readers under the age of 13, but I've met some, and they were ready for it.)

The events are summarised at The Beat here, with a two page local newspaper article that presents a fairly balanced picture of the events here.

So my thoughts of a library in Kentucky firing two librarians who restricted reading materials to a child? I think the library did the right thing. And I think they should get their book back from the lady who stole it.

...

Over at Audiofile Magazine there's a celebration of the audiobooks of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (me): interviews with Martin Jarvis, Stephen Briggs, Nigel Planer and George Guidall talking about the ups and downs of reading us aloud. http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/epicks/1109_landingpage.html

...

Thank you to all the people who have submitted International Covers (here's the submission page) to the International Covers Page. I'll try and put a few covers here from time to time. Here's one from Russia:



This is the cover to the Russian Edition of FRAGILE THINGS, which I suppose might contain "The Witch's Headstone", or is just a very Graveyard Booky sort of a cover. [Edit to add, I just clicked on it, saw it full-size and realised they're both boys, and it's an "October in the Chair" cover.]

And finally, someone on the NPR blog wrote about Sandman. It's meant to be a nice review of the P. Craig Russell Sandman: Dream Hunters, and I think it was probably meant to be funny, but if so the author seems to have misjudged the tone, and instead just turned out a series of patronising cliches about somebody's idea of Sandman readers.

Which puzzles me, because I've met hundreds of thousands of people who read Sandman all around the world, and they look just like everyone else: all they seem to have in common is that they are intelligent bipeds capable of understanding comics, who like Sandman. Probably a lot like the person who wrote the article.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Revealed! The Rulers of the Darkness of This World

So about 40 bookshops had Graveyard Book parties in the Hallowe'en period. The grand prize was to be a signing by me, in the Winter Holiday Season. One. One signing.

The people at Harper Collins winnowed it down to the final eleven stores -- it would be one grand winner and ten runners up -- and sent me eleven reports on eleven parties. Some of these were videos, some were photos and descriptions. There were big bookshops and small, and all sorts of different kinds of parties.

(And it can't have been easy getting it down to those eleven. I'd read on the web a description of 13 Graveyard Book Parties, all of which looked like they could have been finalists.)

I looked at the videos and read the reports and looked at the photos. The parties were amazing. I watched them again. And again. They got no less amazing. Still, two were ever-so-slightly out in the lead. I watched their videos over and over, trying to decide. I wondered if I could legitimately award points for climate, or for whether I actually wanted to go there or not, (suddenly throwing Octavia Books in New Orleans into the lead), or deduct points for it being probably rather cold in, say, Winnipeg, in the winter. No, I couldn't. It was all about the parties.

Then I called Elyse Marshall at Harper Childrens. "Look," I said. "I can't in all conscience pick one of these over the other. If you're willing to give two grand prizes, and fly me to two bookshops, I'm willing to give up another day to do another signing."

She said she'd check.

She checked, and reported back. They were willing. And so was I.

So here is the official announcement, along with the second and third prize winners. (And, truthfully, the 28-odd runners up were good enough that I need to figure out something nice for them too.)

I'll sign in Decatur on Monday the 14th at 6.00pm, and in Winnipeg on Tuesday the 15th at 6.00pm.

...

I spent the last few days on the road with Amanda. It was mostly fun. I loved visiting Northhampton Ma - my first chance to wander the streets since I lived in The Old Bank on Main Street, writing the last two parts of A Game of You en route to Tucson, in 1991.

The venue, on Pearl Street, was run by the kind of people who save money and lose goodwill by not turning on the heat in the winter. Ever. There were two dressing rooms backstage, but only one had a little heater, so everyone crammed into that room (which did not ever make it to warm. It just wasn't cold) and read the sad graffiti from bands not (as is usual in these cases) bragging about their sexual conquests or drawing bits of their anatomy, or just writing the name of their band (size of band-name graffito is always in inverse proportion to whether you will ever have heard of them). No, the Pearl Street Ballroom dressing room wall was covered with mournful comments from bands about how much they hate the venue and the people who own it and how much they wish they could turn on the heating.

It was a wonderful gig, although I wore a sweater and a coat to watch it. We signed for people afterwards.

On Saturday Amanda and I drove through the rain to Brooklyn, which went fine until the car in front of us stopped suddenly, and we stopped suddenly, and the moment of triumph as we didn't hit the car in front of us was slightly spoiled when a car slammed into us from behind. We got to the side of the road, did all the things you do in circumstances like that, traded information, waited for the police to arrive, worried that Amanda might miss the gig (this may just have been the people in my car, which was me and Amanda), and were generally shaken. I wouldn't have wanted to perform after that (and in fact I declined to, when Amanda asked if I'd like to read a story from the Who Killed Amanda Palmer book that night) but she did an amazing gig that night - one of my favourites ever. Her backing group (who are also the support act), The Nervous Cabaret, are incredible, and they sound fantastic as a team. I've only ever really known her as a girl with a keyboard alone on a stage, before. Other highlights (for me) included the Brel song "Amsterdam" (which I knew as Bowie B-side, as a teenager) and a "Pirate Jenny", which always makes me think of Watchmen, and, for Maddy (who was originally meant to be there, but wasn't, so will see it onYouTube) a Ting Tings cover. And we did a signing afterward.

That was not the most exciting thing. The most exciting thing was that up in the dressing room beforehand (which was warm and nice and carpeted and had no sad graffiti at all) Sxip Shirey and I listened to the last of the music tracks that Sxip had done for my silent movie as we watched it in Quicktime on Sxip's powerbook, I chose the strings instead of the piano for the scene in the car when Bill Nighy is driving away from the pub, and we watched it all through, with Sxip starting each bit of music at the right place, making it the first ever play-through of the film with finished music.

The film (which is called STATUESQUE) will be broadcast in the UK over Christmas, on Sky 1 and (I think) Sky Arts. I am not sure which day yet, as there are eleven of these films, and the running order has not yet been decided. I'll post it when I find out.

...

With all the links to the film versions of the Hallowe'en Other Mothers (and Coraline families) I put up here, it's nice to put up a link to someone who was the Other Mother from the book:
http://never-travelled.blogspot.com/2009/10/other-mother.html

Which reminds me a bit of this wonderfully slimy article at http://www.magic-city-news.com/Old_Embers/Two_Stories_for_Children12574.shtml which I found actually offensive. Not because of how it characterised me and Coraline...
Those who made "Coraline" are also likely to endorse the evils of abortion and homosexual marriage, and given a chance, could easily change America into a Soviet-style hell on earth. That is - if you will - Mother Hulda shows the soul of the Right, and Coraline, the tormented soul of the Left.

A side-by-side comparison of the two stories reveals that ours is much more than a political struggle. Ours is truly "a battle against principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places.*"
...but because of the way it mis-described and omits important things from the Grimms' fairy tale it opens with (and ineptly compares Coraline to). Here's a link to the actual story: http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/diamondstoads/stories/holle.html

(Ah. A Quick Google showed me that someone had already done a sane demolition job on it.)

...

And finally, it's that time of year again. Tonight is the Moth Ball, a ball that exists to support The Moth, the wonderful true story-telling entity. And, as they did last year, they are auctioning off Tea With Neil Gaiman: It's at http://www.cmarket.com/auction/item/Browse.action?auctionId=99195129 and the auction has two days to go.

Theoretically it's tea in New York. Last year it was tea (and many small cake, sandwich and sweet-like nibbles) in New York in January, but was not at the Player's Club, because they were closed at the time that worked best for the people who won the auction. In truth, if you're somewhere I'm going to be near in the next six months, then we could probably arrange things to be near you.

I don't suppose I need to point out that, no, I don't get any of the money, it all goes to support the Moth - http://www.themoth.org/ -- but you never know.

It's going to a very good cause. If you aren't a Moth fan, check out their podcasts.





*i.e. me. Well, me and Henry Selick.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

A VERY SEKRIT PASSPHRASE

There were 38 independent bookshops around the land who had Graveyard Book parties. The people at Harpers somehow got it down to 11, and they sent them to me to judge the winner. The winner gets me for a signing in December. I watched the 11 videos/descriptions/ photos. I watched them again. I watched them yet again, this time with Lorraine, my assistant, watching too and saying helpful things like, "They are all so good. Whoo. Don't know how you'll make a decision. Look at that! They're line dancing to Monster Mash! And that Death is on stilts, isn't he. Is that a horse? A horse in a store? These are amazing." The fourth time, Woodsman Hans wandered in from the deep woods (where he is making a pond) and watched them too.

Then I made my decision. I called Elyse Marshall at Harpers and told her. "Ah," she said. "I'll have to check with the lawyers to find out if you can do that."

So we wait.

...

I posted the Amanda Palmer current East Coast tour dates here last night. http://www.amandapalmer.net/afp/upcoming-shows for venues and details.

Today it occurred to me that in the past when I've had friends on tour, I've often done special "Neil sent me" things, where people who come from this blog get some special free thing, which a) is nice for the people who get the free thing and b) tells the person on tour that people are really coming from the blog. I did it with Thea Gilmore (who is starting a new UK tour next week. People in the UK, go and see live Thea Gilmore, for she is wonderful: http://www.theagilmore.net for dates and venues.) I've done it for The Magnetic Fields, who, incidentally, have a new album coming out on Jan 26th. And then there's the Green Goddess restaurant in New Orleans, where you can mention the "Mezze of Destruction" to tell them you came from here and get sent something wonderful to eat or drink. (It changes, depending on what chef Chris DeBarr feels like making.)

I should do it for Amanda. I called her up and told her.

She called me back. "Beth and I have put our heads together and come up with a code phrase for people from your blog," she said. "So they say it and get a special free thing from the merch table."

"Fire away," I said.

"We think they should come over to the merch table and point to this poster...




...and say 'That chick in the yellow corset crowdsurfing looks kind of hot. I wonder if she's dating anyone?' And then they get something for free."

I said I thought that was a very bad idea, because people might say that anyway, and it was an awful lot for people to remember. And what if they sold out of that poster early that night?

I said, "What about any variant of 'Neil sent me from his blog?'"

"Absolutely not," she said. "That's boring."

I told her to leave it with me.

And then I stared at this screen glumly, with nothing happening in my head, and real work I should be doing starting to nip at my heels. So I turned to the Oracular Orb of truth at http://www.neilgaiman.com/oracle/ and I clicked on the orb and shook it.


Here is Doug Jones and some strange man it said.

If you go to one of Amanda Palmer's shows on this tour, wander over to the Merch table, and say that you found about it from some strange man's blog. And something good will probably happen. (If they just stare at you, tell them it was me, and this blog. If they keep staring tell them that the chick in the yellow corset in the poster looks like she probably has a really nice boyfriend.)

....

This seemed like a very good cause to me:

Hi Neil,

I am a long-time fan, and have even met you backstage at a Tori show (though that was many years ago!). I am writing to ask a bit of a favor.

About 10 years ago, I appeared on 20/20 with Tori, speaking about sexual violence. Since then, I've stayed close with Tori whose been a mentor of the best kind. I also started a nonprofit, Pandora's Project, that provides support, information, and resources to rape and sexual abuse survivors and their supporters. We operate Pandora's Aquarium, an online support group with more than 20,000 registered members.

Recently, I was named a 2009 L'Oreal Woman of Worth for my volunteer work with Pandora's. I was chosen for this honor from more than 2,500 applicants.

Now, one of the ten 2009 Honorees will be selected as the national honoree through a public online vote. Her cause will get an additional $25,000, and a lot of media exposure. This is the first time L'Oreal has recognized a sexual violence organization, and becoming the national honoree would allow me to shine a spotlight on this issue that affects so many women and women.

Voting is easy - people just need to go to the url below, enter their email address in the box on the right, and click the "submit vote" button. Each email address is allowed one vote, and voting ends November 24.

http://www.womenofworth.com/Honorees/Honoree2009Detail.aspx?nomid=5657c940-425b-47a2-879d-ed3c2d82b56f

I am wondering if you might be willing to send people to this voting link via your (infinitely popular) twitter or blog. I understand if it's not something you can do, but my experience running a small-budget nonprofit tells me it's always wise to ask!

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Shannon Lambert


I'll plug it happily.

Your correspondent asks "Will you be reading the original version where the wolf actually is killed, and not the 'oh my goodness our kids can't hear about death' version in which they bring him to the zoo?"

I fear she's in error; in the original version, written by Prokofiev, Peter snares the wolf, then convinces the hunters NOT to kill it, but to take it to the zoo.


I've been researching, and that's what I found out too. Wikipedia has a list of changes made in various versions of the story (Disney, for example, had the wolf not eat the duck). But the wolf was always taken to the zoo...

Radio! Books! Violin Lessons! Also, a haircut I do not mention anywhere in this blog!

Went in to KNOW radio station in ST Paul today and recorded an introduction to the NPR MORNING EDITION "Open Mike" piece I've been recording on audiobooks, and heard the edit. Asked them to see if they could find a bit more time in the piece for Audible founder Don Katz, who did an amazing interview and was pared down to about a sentence in the current edit. It'll go out in the next ten days, and as soon as I know when it goes out I'll put it up here. I talk to David Sedaris, Martin Jarvis, Don Katz and veteran audio producer/director Rick Harris in it.

Also popped in to DreamHaven and signed a bunch of books. The piles of books have grown so high, and the administration was proving so hard for Greg now that he is a one-man operation that I'm no longer personalising books there. But lots of signed books now in for the Holidays at DreamHaven's Neilgaiman.net site.

Spent much of the rest of the day driving around, being a dad, taking a daughter and her friend to violin, all that normal sort of stuff, and listening to Martin Jarvis's Good Omens audiobook as I did so. I'm about half-way through it now. It makes me so happy, especially hearing Adam Young read in something sort of close to Martin's Just William voice. Weirdly, I found it easier to hear what I wrote and what Terry wrote than I could if I looked at the text (which I discovered a few years ago, when I proofread the Harper Collins edition). The text is a bit of a blur, after all these years, but listening I'd find myself going, "Me... Terry.... Me in first draft, Terry in second.... Terry in first draft, me in second.... My footnote to his bit.... His footnote to mine..." feeling vaguely like an archaeologist. Even spotted a couple of tiny continuity goofs we should have caught 21 years ago that I may call Terry about and correct in future editions.

(Edit to add, here's a link for iTunes for the Good Omens book that will, I am afraid, almost definitely only work in the US and territories that buy books from the US.)

I still haven't done the Big China Blog. Until I do, I should point you to Amanda's blog, at http://blog.amandapalmer.net/post/240943999/east-infection-china-singapore, which has many photographs of our adventures, and of us, and lots of small anecdotes.

(She has an East Coast Tour on right now -
11.12 Portland, ME
11.13 Northampton, MA
11.14 Brooklyn, NY (SOLD OUT)
11.18 Philadelphia, PA
11.19 Falls Church, VA
11.20 Carrboro, NC
11.22 Knoxville, TN.
Go see her in concert. She's a wonder live. Tell her I said hi.)


Hi Neil,

I just read about your event in January, where in you will be narrating Peter and the Wolf. My husband and I are over joyed by this. We will hopefully be bringing our three girls up to see the performance. We did have one question though. Will you be reading the original version where the wolf actually is killed, and not the "oh my goodness our kids can't hear about death" version in which they bring him to the zoo? We are both, obviously, really hopeful that being you, and not afraid to scare children (thank you for that btw) will be speaking the true to the story version in which Peter shoots the wolf and then his dead body is paraded through the town as a trophy.

Thanks for your time,
~Cecily

PS- Do you know if there will be tickets for the event or the reception afterwards? It will be a long drive, and it would be nice to be prepared for either staking out seats all day or having tickets in hand. (We could not find any reservation information on the website)


I'd forgotten - or never knew - that there was an alternative version. The script I was sent is the Zoo version. I'll investigate...

And no, I do not know about tickets. I will find out.

Dear Neil,

Your Web Goblin offered to post photos of Coraline pumpkins, and when they were told this, my 8 and 11-year old daughters decided to make some. Here they are, along with 2 emoticon pumpkins and a turnip.

http://www.steampunkfamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/IMG_01521-300x225.jpg

I used them to illustrate a ghost story: http://www.steampunkfamily.com/2009/10/philomenas-fright/

Three of the four of us were Coraline characters for Halloween. (The 11-year old went her own way as Susan Sto-Helit.)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/37435081@N03/4077708519/sizes/l/in/set-72157622616148613/

The Other Mother is the scariest thing I've ever been for Halloween. All the children (even the 4-year olds!) knew who I was, and I elicited much nervous laughter when I offered to sew buttons in their eyes.

Thank you for being VERY SCARY INDEED


I love how many families were Coraline families, this year.

If, like me, anybody else was intrigued by your mention of Kenneth Grahame's other works and wants to read them with a minimum of searching, they'll be happy to know both 'The Golden Age' and 'Dream Days' are available for free on the always invaluable Project Gutenberg:

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/291
http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/270

Thanks for mentioning them in the first place; I'm always interested in children's lit of that time that has managed to slip through my net.

- B. Bolander


What a good idea. Two very beautiful, gently funny books by the author of The Wind in the Willows. I really enjoyed them, but stylistically they are, well, out of fashion, and will not be everybody's cup of Edwardian tea. Here's a passage that describes the illustration I put up yesterday, as small children steal through the house on a midnight expedition to obtain biscuits (ie cookies, if you are American):

The Blue Room had in prehistoric times been added to by taking in a superfluous passage, and so not only had the advantage of two doors, but enabled us to get to the head of the stairs without passing the chamber wherein our dragon-aunt lay couched. It was rarely occupied, except when a casual uncle came down for the night. We entered in noiseless file, the room being plunged in darkness, except for a bright strip of moonlight on the floor, across which we must pass for our exit. On this our leading lady chose to pause, seizing the opportunity to study the hang of her new dressing-gown. Greatly satisfied thereat, she proceeded, after the feminine fashion, to peacock and to pose, pacing a minuet down the moonlit patch with an imaginary partner. This was too much for Edward's histrionic instincts, and after a moment's pause he drew his single-stick, and with flourishes meet for the occasion, strode onto the stage. A struggle ensued on approved lines, at the end of which Selina was stabbed slowly and with unction, and her corpse borne from the chamber by the ruthless cavalier. The rest of us rushed after in a clump, with capers and gesticulations of delight; the special charm of the performance lying in the necessity for its being carried out with the dumbest of dumb shows.

Once out on the dark landing, the noise of the storm without told us that we had exaggerated the necessity for silence; so, grasping the tails of each other's nightgowns even as Alpine climbers rope themselves together in perilous places, we fared stoutly down the staircase-moraine, and across the grim glacier of the hall, to where a faint glimmer from the half-open door of the drawing-room beckoned to us like friendly hostel-lights. Entering, we found that our thriftless seniors had left the sound red heart of a fire, easily coaxed into a cheerful blaze; and biscuits—a plateful—smiled at us in an encouraging sort of way, together with the halves of a lemon, already once squeezed but still suckable. The biscuits were righteously shared, the lemon segments passed from mouth to mouth; and as we squatted round the fire, its genial warmth consoling our unclad limbs, we realised that so many nocturnal perils had not been braved in vain.

"It's a funny thing," said Edward, as we chatted, "how I hate this room in the daytime. It always means having your face washed, and your hair brushed, and talking silly company talk. But to-night it's really quite jolly. Looks different, somehow."

"I never can make out," I said, "what people come here to tea for. They can have their own tea at home if they like,—they're not poor people,—with jam and things, and drink out of their saucer, and suck their fingers and enjoy themselves; but they come here from a long way off, and sit up straight with their feet off the bars of their chairs, and have one cup, and talk the same sort of stuff every time."

Selina sniffed disdainfully. "You don't know anything about it," she said. "In society you have to call on each other. It's the proper thing to do."

"Pooh! YOU'RE not in society," said Edward, politely; "and, what's more, you never will be."

"Yes, I shall, some day," retorted Selina; "but I shan't ask you to come and see me, so there!"

"Wouldn't come if you did," growled Edward.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Murder Re-Enacted

The Graveyard Book just won a literary award, which never gets old, and this one came with a medal, and also with a cheque. I thought, Hm. I have to get myself something with the cheque and I have to do it immediately, otherwise it will simply vanish into the day to day bank account of life, and I will never look at anything and go "Ah, that is the thing I got with my Graveyard Book Award."

So I bought this. It's "The Murder Re-Enacted":


It's an E. H. Shepard illustration (he's most famous for illustrating Winnie the Pooh) from Kenneth Grahame's book The Golden Age. Kenneth Grahame wrote The Wind In The Willows, the story of Mole and Rat and Badger and of course, Mr Toad, also illustrated by Shepard.

I once read an essay by A.A. Milne telling people that, of course they knew Kenneth Grahame's work, he wrote The Golden Age and Dream Days, everybody had read them, but he also did this amazing book called The Wind in the Willows that nobody had ever heard of. And then Milne wrote a play called Toad of Toad Hall, which was a big hit and made The Wind in The Willows famous and read, and, eventually, one of the good classics (being a book that people continue to read and remember with pleasure), while The Golden Age and Dream Days, Grahame's beautiful, gentle tales of Victorian childhood, are long forgotten.

If there is a moral, or a lesson to be learned from all this, I do not know what it is.

Right. Off to K.N.O.W. St Paul to record the intro bits to my NPR piece on Audio Books, and I will play the Martin Jarvis-read GOOD OMENS on the car CD player all the way there.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

half a lifetime?

The editor at CBS Sunday Morning asked if I had any photos of my son Mike back at the period when I first had the idea for The Graveyard Book - late 1985. I looked. We really didn't have any. I wandered next door and asked Mary (his mum, my former wife and for these last five years my friend and next-door neighbour) if she had any photos from back then. "No," she said. Then, "Do you mean those transparencies? I have them in an envelope somewhere." She vanished and came back with a large manila envelope from a long time ago. "Here."

Half a lifetime ago -- literally -- I was nearly 25, and working for magazines. Henry Fikret, who photographed a lot of the interviews I did, volunteered to take some photos of me and my family, and he did.A week later the envelope arrived, and I realised that everything he shot was on colour transparencies -- like huge slides -- and I was never sure what do with them, other than being fairly sure I couldn't take them down to Boots the Chemist and have prints knocked out. So they stayed in their envelope, and they kept their secrets, and were forgotten.

Yesterday I had the transparencies scanned, and finally got to see lots of pictures I had never actually seen before of Holly as a baby, Mike at the time that I would have watched him riding his tricycle around the graveyard, and me... at exactly half my age: A young journalist who had sold a very small handful of short stories and two non-fiction books, with dreams of writing fiction and comics. At the time I was dressing in grey, but was getting tired of the way that you would buy something grey and take it home and discover that it was a blueish grey or a brownish grey, and wondering if I'd have the same problem if I just started to dress in black.

And half a lifetime on, it seemed like it might be good to put one up here. I checked, and Mary didn't mind. What odd clothes we wore back then. What big glasses. And look, my hair is practically normal.





So long ago, and it went like the blink of an eye.

...

Birthday wishes are flooding in from around the globe. I wish I could reply to everyone personally, but it would take the next 365 days... so thank you. Thank you all.

And a particular thank you to Garrison Keillor, who announced my birthday on NPR and who also told me that on my thirteenth birthday they burned Slaughterhouse 5, and that on my ninth birthday Sesame Street was born. The Writers Almanac is a marvellous thing.

...

In January I will be part of a free concert for all ages on January 16, 2010, at 7pm, in the World Financial Center Winter Garden, New York. I'll be the narrator for the performance of Peter and the Wolf, performed by the http://www.knickerbocker-orchestra.org (whose website you should visit to get details).

Kissing is about spreading germs (and this is a good thing), a scientist says.

Alan Moore is leaping aboard the Underground magazine bandwagon. Following the success of IT and OZ, Alan's Dodgem Logic is coming out. There's a great interview with Alan at http://www.mustardweb.org/dodgemlogic/

(And enormous congratulations to Alan, who is now a grandfather, and to Leah and John, who are now parents, and Edward Alec Moore-Reppion, who is now, um, born. A Scorpio, like his grandfather and his whatever-exactly-I am, sort of honorary great-uncle or something. Not that we Scorpios believe in that sort of thing, of course.)

Again, thank you all for the birthday wishes...

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Monday, November 09, 2009

For those who read this blog for the articles

(Serena Altschul and some author in July, sitting on the trampoline after two days of interviews. None of which, oddly enough, were done on the trampoline.)


Mr. Neil,

I DVR'd yesterday's installment of Sunday Morning and after zipping through it back and forth multiple times cannot seem to find you, though the description indicated the correct episode. Was it bumped to next week? Have you been sucked into an alternate Neil-less universe?

A concerned reader,
Mary


I'm afraid it was bumped by the Fort Hood Massacre.

I checked: The profile CBS did of me is apparently still going out, probably some time in December, although no-one seems certain when. I was told that we could help ensure that it is broadcast (and possibly make it come out sooner than December) if CBS think people would actually like to see it. Which means that if you do want to see it, you can help the process along if you write or email CBS and (politely) tell them so:

ADDRESS:
CBS News Sunday Morning
Box O (for Osgood)
524 West 57th St.
New York, NY 10019

E-MAIL: sundays@cbsnews.com

...

My friend Steve Brust (a fine and brilliant novelist) wrote to Miss Manners about his financial issues, and what having a Donate button on a website means. She replied to him here. There's a fascinating conversation going on about it at his website that I initially missed because I was in China... Most people disagree with Miss Manners. Even I disagree with Miss Manners, and I don't have a Donate button, or use the Amazon links to generate revenue, or have advertising or anything. (That's because Harper Collins set up this website, and they pay for our bandwidth and such. If they stopped, I'd have to think about ways to make it pay for itself.)

...

Stephen King's UNDER THE DOME was one of my favourite books of the year so far. (R. Crumb's retelling of the Book of Genesis is my very favourite book of the year.) So I was pleased to be sent this link to a really wonderful Stephen King poem:


(It's published by Playboy, which means that for some of you the site may be blocked.)

There's also a Stephen King story in this week's New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/features/2009/11/09/091109fi_fiction_king
(Needless to say, I only read the New Yorker for the articles.)
...




Dear Neil Gaiman, I ask for half-a-moment of your time (I would not presume to ask for more). This Spring 2010 I am teaching a Topics in Literature class on YOU at Winona State University (Eng 225: Neil Gaiman). Easy enough to select representative novel (American Gods), short stories (Fragile Things), children and YA (Graveyard Book), but here's the rub: I will likely only assign one Sandman graphic novel to students. I have been debating which is most representative, most worthy of inclusion, most amenable to class discussion and student scholarship. Then I thought I'd ask you. I know you suggest above that, for questions of this sort, we consider you a dead author, but I know you're not. When I came to a similar impasse about which of Ursula Le Guin's works to include in another class, she actually replied and offered her input. I extend the same offer to you: which of the Sandman volumes would you like to see on the syllabus?
Thank you for your time,
Nicholas Ozment, English Instructor
WSU


It's a hard one. I think if I were teaching I'd either go for Season of Mists or Fables and Reflections, because both of them have stuff to teach -- those nice chewy bits that people can like or dislike, argue with or discuss. I know a lot of teachers like to teach Dream Country because a) Midsummer Night's Dream won awards, and b) it's short and c) it has a script in the back. Your call. And good luck.

...

I mentioned recently that there were some beautiful new Polish and Russian book covers for my books that I'd seen at signings, which got me thinking. The International Cover gallery on this website is incredibly out of date.

It's at http://www.neilgaiman.com/p/Neil's_Work/International_Covers.

And though I get a lot of foreign editions in, and will at some point head down to the basement and rummage around and scan some (this week's mail brought the two-volume Japanese edition of Anansi Boys, on the cover of which Fat Charlie is not only Very White, but also Very Thin, and the complex Chinese - ie. Taiwan and Hong Kong - edition of The Graveyard Book) I thought that blog readers, being, as you are, all over the world, might be a better resource for knowing where to look for foreign covers.

So if you have, and want to scan in or link to foreign covers we do not have posted, or are a foreign publisher and would like your books up, there is now a submission page: http://www.neilgaiman.com/extras/covers/ which lets you upload them to the webgoblin, who will put them in the gallery (and on the pages for the books in question). And perhaps we should have them arranged by country as well -- some countries, like the French and the Russians and the Poles, have had so many different covers over the years.

(Also, Absolute Death was published this week. It is amazingly beautiful. Yes, I think they overpriced it too and no, pricing decisions at DC Comics are nothing to do with me. And the audio book of Good Omens will be released tomorrow. It's read by Martin Jarvis. People have asked why it is not read by me, and I have to explain that it is because if I read it I would just be doing my Martin Jarvis reading the William storiess impression, so better by far to have the real thing.)





Was your basement finished when you purchased your home or did you have it finished for your basement library? If you finished it yourself, how difficult was it? Also, I thought I saw a dehumidifier in one of the Photosynth pictures. Do you need one because of the books?

I'm asking because we have a full unfinished basement that we would like to have finished. We are running out of room for our books also. I don't think we don't have as many as you do though. :)

Any other suggestions for such a project would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
C.


No, when we got here the basement had a clay floor that puddled when it rained. We hired some nice builders and spent a lot of money finishing it, putting in drainage tiles, underfloor heating and all. There's a dehumidifier there in the summer and a humidifier in the winter, because after the first few years I noticed that binding glue and leather book covers were both cracking and flaking. There's now the equivalent of a large house in basement rooms beneath this house, filled with books and CDs and suchlike stuff.

And finally, a few photos from the China trip, taken by Ian Ford (or in one case, on his camera). Ian's a travel guide who now lives in China who helped organise my travels, and came along with me for part of the journey.

Amanda and I in the silk clothes that my publisher had given us as a thank you for coming, and because they are terrific.

Amanda, Ian Ford (in the pale top, also a gift from my publishers) and.. my publishers, SF World -- who will be publishing the mainland Chinese edition of The Graveyard Book very soon, and are very excited.




I'm holding the Galaxy Award for this year, given to the foreign author most popular with Chinese reader-voters. This was my second year of winning it, so I have retired from the competition and said that they have to find a new favourite foreign author now.

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Final Reminder for Bookshops

A quick reminder (as I was just asked) that today is the day that the bookshop Graveyard Book party reports have to be in to Harper Collins. By 9 pm PST.

http://files.harpercollins.com/Mktg/HarperChildrens/PDF/GraveyardContest_rules.pdf are the rules and info for those who lost them.

Hi Mr. Gaiman,

I was disappointed today to read you won't be part of the judging for The Graveyard Book contests. My not-wealthy, middle-of-nowhere bookstore just sent in its entry, and something we're concerned about is the fairness of judging.

For example, independent bookstores like Powell's (I'm sure you know) easily have enough money and are in a convenient enough location to ask you to come at one time or another. Against stores like that, who were able to put more money into their parties, we stand little chance.

I don't think that it's a lost cause for us; we were very creative. I'm just nervous to know you won't be judging. Can you tell me whether you think the judges will take things like size and location of bookstores into account? It would make me sleep a little easier until the results are announced.

Tusen takk,
Allison


Well, per the rules, the judging is based on:

(i) Overall creativity of the Party, as demonstrated by the invitations, signage, decorations, activities, entertainment, and refreshments.
(ii) Customer attendance and response (i.e., enthusiasm, costumes, participation).
(iii) Ability to capture and represent the spirit of The Graveyard Book.

...specifically to reward creativity, and not the ability to outspend other shops. (That was also why the party had to actually be at the bookshop, and not at another location.)

I asked my editor, Elise Howard, and she said,

Gosh, yes. Here's what we think is happening. We are looking at all the entries. On Monday, we'll send you the best 11, from which you will choose the Grand Prize Winner. The rest will get the first-prize package. So the short answer is that you ARE helping to choose.

The longer answer is that we will be very fair and will consider creativity, which includes work done with available resources, along with pure execution. (Don't you think? We haven't done anything yet; still waiting for more entries to come in.)


...which means that

a) I was wrong and will be the ultimate judge, from the shortlist. (Damn.)

and

b) everyone's on a level playing field.

Does that help reassure you?

PS -- Widgett's Graveyard Book Dessert competition winners have been announced over at http://www.needcoffee.com/2009/11/06/graveyard-book-dessert-challenge-winners/.

This one had NOTHING to do with me at all. But lor' the winning desserts look tasty...

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Note to self: Nights are for sleeping, Days are for Being Awake.

Still trying to get back onto a diurnal schedule. (And, I should add, failing.)

Maddy and I started watching the new season of Sarah Jane Adventures tonight, which seems back on form after a dodgy second season.

Many amazing things waiting for me when I got home -- I still haven't gone through them all yet -- but today's mail brought me a copy of the Fantagraphics Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons book. Three glorious volumes. I wrote the introduction to Volume 2, and thus got it for free. (If you're curious, there are many Gahan Wilson Playboy cartoons up at this website. There's a Gahan Wilson virtual museum over at http://www.gahanwilson.com

And, of course, although I posted it before, it bears repeating that you can watch the film that Steven-Charles Jaffe made of the "Dark and Silly Night" comic Gahan and I did for art spiegelman and Francoise Mouly's Little Lit at the New Yorker site, or here:



And if I'd been here for Hallowe'en I would have posted it here then. Which reminds me, The Graveyard Book party season is over. Over thirty independent bookshops had Graveyard Book parties (The ABA's Bookselling This Week reports on thirteen of the parties -- and the shops -- at http://news.bookweb.org/7149.html.) The very best one of all will get me in their shop doing a signing in December and, looking at these thirteen, I am very glad I am not any kind of a judge for the awards.

My only hope is that the shop that wins will be somewhere warm. But most of the places on the party map will be just as cold by December as my house. (Vague and only climate-based relief that HarperCollins said No to Alaska in the rules mingles with vague and selfish disappointment that they also said No to Hawaii.)

It looks like the CBS Sunday Morning profile on me is going out this Sunday, the 8th, 9:00-10:30 AM, ET. According to this website:

Correspondent Serena Altschul visits author Neil Gaiman -- the tender-hearted master of the macabre -- whose books, including Coraline and The Graveyard Book have topped best-seller lists for 25 years.

.. which left me wanting to go "I am NOT a tender-hearted master of the macabre, I am in fact VERY SCARY INDEED," but I suspect I would convince nobody.

Thrilled to see that Odd and the Frost Giants was listed as one of Amazon.com's Best Books of 2009. While I was in China The Graveyard Book was listed as one of the ALA's teens top ten for 2009 as well, an award voted on by over 11,000 teens. (And I made it onto the list with lots of other good people.)

Also, Fragile Things was awarded the French 2010 Les Grands Prix de l’Imaginaire Award for translated short fiction. My thanks to the judges, but mostly to the translator, who in this case is the incredibly talented Michel Pagel. If I ever look good, do well, sell books or am popular in a foreign country, it's because of the translators, and they never get enough thanks or acclaim. And I think I'll post the cover here, because I never have.



I am becoming hooked on http://curiousexpeditions.org.

I was extremely disappointed by the news on the current status of Argleton in Lancashier, especially so since I was hoping to buy a house there. I was going to move to Chako Paul City in Sweden instead, but appear to be the wrong gender and orientation. So probably I'll stay home.

(Hmm. You know, posting that French book-cover reminds me that there are some really beautiful new covers out there right now, especially from Poland and Russia. I know for I have signed them for people. I'll try and get some nice clean examples to put up here.)

And finally, a link to Joanne Leow's blog. It was lovely to see her again, four years on, when I went to Singapore - it was a great interview, and you can watch us chatting about writing, what I'm currently up to, signings, and why I don't write the same sorts of things twice in a row, at the Primetime Morning site: here's part 1 and part 2.

...

Dear Mr. Gaiman,
I was wondering if you would be so kind as to mention an upcoming art auction on your blog. The art auction is “art for hearts”. It is an auction of artwork donated by children’s illustrators such as Korky Paul, Lynne Chapman and An Vrombaut. Most of the artwork is original although there are also some signed digital prints and screen prints too.
All proceeds from the auction will be donated to help fund research by the transplant team at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Transplanted organs do not have the same life expectancy as non-transplanted organs and the transplant team is looking at finding ways to combat this.
Full details of the auction are available to view at
http://art-for-hearts.blogspot.com

It will run on Ebay for a week starting on the 2nd of November. To locate the items people will need to type "art for heart" into the search area and choose "Art" or "books" for items.

Many thanks,

Kristine Stacey


You're welcome. I think this link has everything for sale in the auction: http://shop.ebay.co.uk/scrawldog/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=&_trksid=p3686

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Author Comes Home, and displays many photographs of his travels

I went to XinjiangProvince in Western China to continue researching my Monkey/China book. This is the photo I took of a scenic building that, I discovered when the men came out to arrest us, turned out to be a police station. If you're in Kashgar do not take pictures of this building. Trust me on this.


This is what I was researching and working on. (As seen in a little town square, on the way to Yarkand):


Xinjiang Province is going to be hard to write about. It's like walking into the Arabian Nights in some ways, and like going back in time in others. It was especially like going back in time on this trip, as, following the Uighur riots in Urumqi in July, the Chinese Government turned off the Internet, text messaging and all international phone calls in or out of the region. I had a great guide who was terrified I'd talk politics, and I rapidly discovered that everything except conversations about the spice-sellers in the market...

... or discussion of the pomegranate crop, counted as politics. It made my journey even stranger than it might have been already.

While I was there my camera started misbehaving: I hadn't even realised it had a motor in it, but the motor started vibrating gently, producing some very beautiful shots that weren't really what I wanted...
Like this shot of a lady in Yarkand market selling peppers and tomatoes that seem to have turned into jewels.

After a great deal of reflection I decided not to buy a camel in the market in Kashgar. Here are two camels I didn't buy.

In the Russian market in Urumqi I bought a new camera I don't like anywhere nearly as much as my old, sporadically-vibrating one.

I went from there to Jinan, Wuqiao and Beijing.

This photo, taken in Beijing was one of the highlights of my trip -- and was one the main reasons I went back to China. I wanted to talk to Liu Xiao Ling Tong (the stage name for Mr Zhang Jinlai), who played Monkey in the Chinese television version of Journey to the West. (Here's his blog.)

Then I went to Chengdu. I don't have photos on my camera of the Galaxy Award ceremony, or the speech I gave at Sechuan University, or the visit to the Earthquake Zone and the talk I gave to the kids there. (Science Fiction World and I are starting a library for them.) (If I can get some photos I'll put them up.)

And I was not able to take photos of the encounter with the fourth holiest Buddhist in China, because he is not to be photographed.

So instead here's a photo of Amanda Palmer, who joined me for my last few days in China, on the side of a mountain having been recognised by some happy Chinese tourists...


More photos of China and Singapore in my next post, I hope. In summary: Singapore was wonderful, but the visit was much much too short: we were there for about 50 hours altogether. Once again, the food was amazing and the people delightful.

...

Let's see. A quick handful of links...

A theatrical production of Neverwhere in Chicago next year is producing a fascinating visit-to-London blog over at http://neverwhat.blogspot.com/.

I'll be at the Arts Festival in New Zealand in March. Here's the Town Hall event - http://www.nzfestival.nzpost.co.nz/writers-and-readers/town-hall-talk-neil-gaiman, and it looks like I'll be doing some other events while there. It may sell out fast, so if you're interested, get tickets early. (And do not miss Margo Lanagan, who will also be there, for she is an Incredibly Good Thing.)
....

Through most of this summer I was playing with a Lomography Camera. The kind with film in, where you have no idea what you took until it's developed. (The one I used was an LC-A+.) I'm starting to love the results, especially when everything comes in slightly oversaturated. They look like pictures of dreams.



(Middle photo of the amazing bubble by Miss Holly Gaiman. Who is fundraising.)

(And you can, of course, click to embiggen the pictures.)
...

And finally, people sometimes write in and point out that, when I return home, I post pictures of my dog, rapturously dashing somewhere or dancing or stick-wielding to welcome me home. "Why do you not ever post pictures of cats?" they ask.

Good point. Here is Coconut welcoming me rapturously home:



Here is Princess, doing her version of a rapturous welcome, glad that I have not forgotten the trick that she taught me to do, during my time away. The trick involves turning on the tap in the guest bathroom and letting her alternately drink and attack the water with her sharp teeth, until she gets bored:

I'm sad to say that while I was away, Hermione died. She was the surviving member of the two mad cat sisters who live in the basement library and Do Not Mingle, and she was almost eighteen. You can see her in this Photosynth of my library downstairs (needs Silverlight). It feels strangely unbalanced to be in a house without Pod and Hermione in it.

There. Goodnight.

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