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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wishes

I have to read something tonight, if I can stay awake. (I'll do it somehow. Intravenous tea, possibly.)

I did an informal survey on Twitter to find who liked what of the New Year's Messages I've posted here over the years.I sent them to read this one, from http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2007/12/as-i-was-saying.html:

I know it's bad form to repeat yourself, but I was about to list all the things I hope for the readers of this blog in 2005, and I realised I'd already written it back in 2001, when I said...

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.


And I sent them to http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2008/12/another-year.html which ended,

...I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.
And some people liked one, and some liked the other, and I suppose I'll write something new for tonight. But I haven't written it yet, and wanted to post this before midnight happened in the UK.

For me, 2009 has been unquestionably the best and strangest year of my life, with many enormous highs and one huge low -- highs such as the Newbery, the Coraline movie, the low being my father dying so suddenly and unexpectedly -- but the biggest change of all was finding myself in a real relationship for the first time in a very long time, and with someone who loves me and makes me ridiculously happy, and who has me doing things I would never normally do, like finding myself in a Boston concert hall with a lethal musical instrument on New Year's Eve. And none of it, the good bits or the rough, would have been as easy without the support of my children.

You don't get many years like this in a life, and I am both aware of this, and amazingly grateful. And an email from my editor letting me know that the Graveyard Book is still on the New York Times Bestseller List after fifteen months, reminds me of how much I owe to all of you.

So thank you. Have a wonderful 2010. And goodnight.

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How I got to Boston

My son Mike had to be back at work at Google in San Francisco on the 30th. I had planned to get to Boston for Amanda’s New Year’s Eve concert on the 31st, and I had wanted a day in Boston to recover. We were both on 7.00 am flights from the highlands of Scotland – his flight to take him to Gatwick, where he would bus to Heathrow and take a San Francisco plane, mine to take me to Manchester, where I would fly to Amsterdam, and from there to Boston.

So I napped for a couple of hours and we left the house at 3:00 am. I drove for three hours, got us to the airport for 6:00am. Was sort of proud of myself. We checked in. We were on our way through the security line when a voice said “Due to snow, the airport is now closed. Nothing will be landing or taking off until 8:30.”

We ate breakfast. They called me to the ticket desk and changed my flight from Manchester to Gatwick, with the same get-to-Heathrow plan that Mike had, which I didn’t mind. At least we’re together, I thought. Then I noticed they’d made a complete mess of the actual reticketing, went back and pointed it out to the lady who’d done it. “Oh,” she said. “I didn’t notice. Not to worry. I’ll make a phone call and tell them what it ought to be.”

My heart sank a little at this. (If it is not actually written in the system you can find yourself screwed as people squint at their screens at what’s written there, and the statement that “a lady said she’d make a phone call” can be met with indifference.) But Lorraine, my assistant, was still awake, and had just emailed me to see if there was anything she could do. And the tickets had been booked through a travel agent with a 24 hour helpline, so I asked Lorraine if she wouldn’t mind making sure that everything was okay.

Since the last time I was in that airport they’d moved and hidden all the plug sockets, but I found one anyway at an office desk and charged my computer. At 8:30 the Tannoy voice said they’d tell us what was happening at 9:30 and at 9:30 they said they’d tell us at 10:30, and I do not know what they told us at 10:30 because I went to sleep in my chair, and slept until midday, when the Tannoy voice told us that we were boarding. From the Twitter stream, it looked like Lorraine was still awake and locked in a hellish battle with the airlines.

“We will still make it,” I told Mike. “It’ll be a close thing, but we will make it.”

I tromped across the quarter of an inch of snow that had fallen, puzzling over how this could shut down an airport, knowing the kind of snow it takes to shut down Minneapolis-St Paul airport. But then, in MSP they expect snow.

We boarded the plane, found our seats. The pilot announced that the de-icing rigs weren’t working and I went back to sleep. My hopes had shrunk from getting to Boston today to just getting out of the airport. I woke up. We were still there.

I walked back into the plane, told Mike that we wouldn’t be getting out of the UK today. “Yeah,” he said. “But we’re together”. And I thought, He’s right. This would be awful on our own. Together it was just some kind of interesting adventure.

We took off at 2:15pm. We landed in Gatwick at 3.45pm

Lorraine called just after we landed, before we were even off the plane. “You’re on the 7:15pm flight from Heathrow,” she said, and did a rapid briefing on what it had taken to get my ticket and its value back from FlyBe and over to British Airways. She’d been up all night and worked miracles. She was ready for bed.

While we waited for our luggage, Mike talked on the phone to United, and got off very glum. “They’ll rebook me, but they’re charging $1900 to do it,” he said. He’d also used his airmiles to do it in business class, and was losing that.

Luggage arrived. Lorraine called to make sure our luggage had arrived. She sounded beyond exhausted. “Can you check Mike’s ticket?” I asked. “They want another $1900 to get him home.” She took the booking number, called back twenty minutes later having got the change fee down to $300 and having got him back into business class. An amazing lady, my assistant.

We took a taxi in the rain from Gatwick to Heathrow, I checked in without problems, hugged Mike a lot. The plane was late taking off due to the new pat-down and bag-examine rules. I was patted down (the pat-down wouldn’t have found any explosives I’d hidden in my inner thigh, where the idiot on the Amsterdam-Detroit flight hid his, because the man was too polite to check there) and my backpack was opened and looked into (it has many compartments that weren’t opened or checked, and the man would have missed a syringe if I had had one, like the aforementioned idiot had). I wondered for whose benefit the pat-down and baggage rummage was, and decided it was to make everyone feel safer without actually being inconvenienced in the way you’d have to be if you wanted to make sure no-one actually brought something dangerous onto the plane.

I landed in Boston 28 hours after I left the house. Took a taxi to Amanda's apartment. I'd taken a hotel room nearby, as I knew she was going to be practising Tchaikovsky for the New Year's Eve gig until late, but was I asleep in her bed in minutes and the 1812 Overture with real cannon fire would not have woken me.

Yesterday was spent in the hotel, writing introductions and things. I went out for lunch with Chris Golden and Steve Bissette. Went back to the hotel. Wrote. Went with Amanda to watch her getting her hair done. Back to hotel.

What I am going to do today: write, (blog in bed which I am doing now), wear a tuxedo, do a brief reading at Amanda's show tonight, play an instrument. I am not looking forward to the latter bit.

...

Lots of interesting stuff creeping out at the end of the year. I'm probably proudest of this:




The theme of National Library Week is "Communities thrive at your library". Lots of details and a poster at http://www.ala.org/nlw.

AMERICAN GODS was named one of the ten best books of the decade by Time Magazine. This makes me happy -- American Gods tends to be a bit of a marmite book for people: they either love it or hate it. And the ones who hate it tend to be so vocal that I often forget how much the people who love it love it.

The Coraline film is turning up on Best of 2009 lists all over the world. But this one is particularly heartwarming.

My story I, Cthulhu is up on the Tor website. What's that you say? It's up at Neilgaiman.com? Well, yes, it is. But Tor have a wonderful illustration by Brian Elig (and some of his roughs up at Irene Gallo's blog).

Right. Time to stop blogging in bed and go and grab some breakfast.

Expect one more post, in a few hours, with a wish for 2010 in it...

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

From the Exact Middle of Nowhere

Waving from the Middle of Nowhere, where there's no TV, my cell phone doesn't work and the internet is slow and klunky enough that semaphore might be more efficient.

Statuesque aired last night on Sky 1. I didn't see it. Didn't get to see the first part of the last David Tennant Doctor Who either. (Statuesque is currently available on Sky Anytime, for UK Sky subscribers, until the 31st of Dec. Look it up under the title of "Ten Mintue Tales") (Yes, Mintue. I know they mean Minute, but that's what it's up as right now.)

On the other hand, we got a few hour's sunlight today. I saw some of that. And yesterday we went for a walk and, using map coordinates and the GPS Mike's amazing new Google Cell Phone (aka Dogfood) we found a Viking stone circle. And I'm cooking a lot on the Aga. My favourite present was one my children had clubbed together to get me: a painting of my dog, by artist Kelli Bickman. They know I love Kelli's stuff, and figured that I would be made happy by a painting of Cabal by her. And I am, very happy indeed.

Anyway. I hope you had a very happy Boxing Day, and that all your boxes belong to you.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why all the lettering is getting smaller...

I'm flying out tonight to the UK. I'll hole up in the middle of nowhere with my children and ex-wife and my mother as well, and probably be off-the-internet the whole time. There will be no TV in the middle of nowhere, so I will miss Doctor Who and miss "Statuesque" on Sky1 (10 pm Christmas Day).

Then I fly from the UK to Boston in time for Amanda's New Year's Eve gig with the Boston Pops. It looks like an amazing evening, and "Statuesque" will get its American premiere on a big screen as one of the evening's many entertainments (here's the Boston Pops page listing all the stuff that'll be happening that night).

Trying to deal with the last things I have to do before I get out of here. (Also realised very late last night that the problems I've had reading comics for the next Year's Best American Comics that I'm guest editing has nothing to do with losing my love for comics and everything to do with the fact that somewhere in the last year I must have started needing reading glasses for small print and had not realised this. I found a pair of reading glasses and the world became one with good, easy-to-read comics in it once again... I suppose more things like this will happen as I age. How odd.)

I leave you with a handful of links...

Edgar Oliver was on the Moth bill with me a few years ago. This week's Moth podcast is The Secret Origin of Edgar Oliver. (http://www.themoth.org/podcast is the Moth's Podcast page. It's a fine thing to have on your podcast list: strange, true stories that arrive weekly into your world.)

A reminder that I'll be narrating a performance of Peter and the Wolf in New York on January the 16th. (Details at http://www.artsworldfinancialcenter.com/cgi-bin/Go.cgi?q_id=1004&q_category=1)

The McNally-Robinson blog entry on my trip to Winnipeg: http://www.mcnallyrobinson.com/editorial-1366/Neil-Gaiman-in-Winnipeg

And, for a heartwarming story, go to Cheryl Morgan's blog at http://www.cheryl-morgan.com/?p=7272 Then follow the link.

Okay. Back to last-minute things...

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Nakedly Commercial Post Sweetened By A Dog Photo


Just a quick post to let those interested know that both Amazon and Barnes and Noble are doing extreme Christmassy discounts on ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS. It's available for 50% of the cover price...

The Amazon.com link is http://www.amazon.com/Odd-Frost-Giants-Neil-Gaiman/dp/0061671738

The Barnes and Noble link is at http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Odd-and-the-Frost-Giants/Neil-Gaiman/e/9780061671739

...

There are few picturebook-makers as cool as Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman, and their latest collaboration, Crazy Hair (Bloomsbury £11.99), for 3-6s, is wild. It’s about a father whose hair is so big it contains tigers, pirate ships and carousels. Distortions and magnifications make the images strange and dark, rivalling the text for energy and verve.
I got to amaze and impress my daughter Maddy the other day, using http://us.akinator.com. You may enjoy impressing someone with it. Or perhaps just learn to demonstrate your telekinetic skill (I wish I'd known how to do this when I was twelve. I would have conquered the world with it).

Here's a Czech literary scandal I found fascinating, featuring a non-existent 19 year old Vietnamese girl: http://english.vietnamnet.vn/reports/200912/The-literary-scandal-that-rocked-the-Czech-Republic-884057/.


And in case any of you need photos of worried or screaming children sitting on the laps of Santas who go from inert to terrifying: http://www.sketchysantas.com

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Xmas Roundup With Some Good Links and a photo of an author in it

How the hell did it get to be December the 18th? Ohhh. All the links I meant to post. Arghh.

For a start, I want to repost this little true thing I wrote, from last year's Independent: it's about being an eight year old Jewish kid who really wanted a Christmas tree...
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/neil-gaiman-hanukkah-with-bells-on-1203307.html

I wanted to tell you that you can still get the signed prints of "Before You Read This" I did with Todd Klein -- it's a poem I wrote that Todd lettered -- at Todd's website (along with Todd's other unique signed prints -- collaborations with Alex Ross, Alan Moore and J.H. Williams). http://kleinletters.com/Blog/?p=6525. (If you're hesitating, order: they're really cheap, and the second printing will be gone soon.)

Also, for signed things and rare stuff, you can Do Good while last minute shopping by heading over to the CBLDF shop website. Here's the page with stuff related to me on it.)

I just got my author's copies of "A Hundred Words To Talk of Death", the poem I wrote that Jim Lee illustrated and Todd Klein lettered. (Someone wrote to me on Twitter pointing out that it is two syllables short, and unable to figure out why. I will leave that as a problem for you to solve.) It's beautiful -- the same size and quality as the print of "The Day The Saucers Came". It's glorious. (Thinks: I can take a photo to show people.)

I didn't used to think of Jim Lee as a glorious and subtle pencil artist, but he really is, and this is wonderful. (You can order them from here, and read about Kitty's adventures in shipping them out over at http://kittysneverwear.blogspot.com/, with bonus pictures right now of my Very Late Guy Fawkes Part of last month.)

Here is a photo of an author who needs a shave holding a print of "One Hundred Words" poem.

Kitty herself is heading off on tour with Lady Gaga early next year, and Maddy is going to see them in Chicago (where, about eight years ago, I first met Kitty, on the road with Tori) (Who will be interviewed tonight on ABC -- Tori that is, not Kitty or Maddy).

Amanda and I have been having something that isn't quite an argument about Lady Gaga for a few weeks. We have really rubbish arguments, because they normally resolve into the discovery that we weren't arguing at all, just saying the same thing from two different points of view. Amanda posted a ukulele video-song-blog she'd written late last night from her Boston flat when she was probably meant to be practising her New Year's Eve Tchaikovsky, and I discovered that our latest argument wasn't an argument and we were talking about the same things again. It's art. You make it.

I don't think I will ever write songs and post them on YouTube instead of blogging. I'm in awe of someone who can. It's a good song, too, not just a funny and wise end-of-an-argument, even if she has to stop and scroll down at the last verse.




Also, she said "aluminium".


And finally, in keeping with the not-exactly-Christmassy-but-sort-of theme of this blog...

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Late night mystery post...

Hullo everyone. I took a week off from Blogging, then didn't have a second during the whirlwind of the last few days.

As a result of which I have dozens of open tabs and dozens of letters to the FAQ line that I've marked as things I should answer. I'm not going to try and do them all now (Maddy told me that I'm taking her to school at 6:30 am, as she's got her first period of Driver's Ed). But there are a few things I should say before I sleep...

The first one is to congratulate Henry Selick and all the Coraline team (and Laika, and Focus) on the wonderful way they are being recognised by Awards. Yesterday, for example, we learned that Coraline is nominated for a Golden Globe award.

There's a great website at http://awards.filminfocus.com/#/coraline/awards which is a bit out of date right now. My favourite of the recent awards is that the Alliance of Women Journalists gave Coraline their Best Animated Character award, although the biggest honour is Coraline being on the American Film Institute's list of the ten most important films released in 2009.

I went to Atlanta. It was foggy and thunderstormy and I signed for 1,050 people. (Here's the Atlanta paper blog on the event. And Little Shop of Stories said Thank You so very nicely.)

I went to Winnipeg. It was cold outside and I signed for 869 people. Here's the Winnipeg Newspaper article. Just behind me, in the grey shirt, is the wonderful Elyse Marshall, publicist from HarperChildren's, who looked after me on the Graveyard Book Tour and who can now run a huge signing in her sleep, which is great, because it means I don't have to worry about any details or disasters. I just do my job and sign and meet everyone.

(How bad can it get? Well, there was the time Terry Pratchett and I were signing in, er, I think it was Leeds, when the people who worked at the shop saw all the people who had turned up for the signing and got scared enough that they locked themselves in the staff room at the back, leaving Terry and me to climb onto tables and shout at people until they formed some kind of a line. The staff didn't come out again until the people had all gone.)

Strangest moment in Winnipeg was getting back to the hotel room at 1:30 am to notice that, beside my bed, a framed photo of my children had mysteriously appeared. I assumed that this was a cool thing the hotel had done. Elyse, on the other hand, was convinced it was the action of a crazed stalker, and insisted I deadbolt and security chain my hotel room, and was enormously relieved, a few hours later, when she knocked on my door and I removed the chain and was obviously still alive.

Dept of delightful mysteries: in hotel room, by my bed, is a ... on Twitpic

Before we left the hotel I took the photo out of the frame and left a thank-you note in its place.

I took the photo and left a note in the frame. on Twitpic

Flew back to Minneapolis. I stopped off at DreamHaven on the way back from the airport this afternoon, and signed more stock for Greg (http://neilgaiman.net/). Theoretically enough to see him through Xmas.

Several people wrote asking me to express my outrage at HarperCollins joining several other publishers in delaying the release of books on the Kindle or e-book format to some months after the hardback comes out, as detailed at http://www.engadget.com/2009/12/11/harpercollins-now-also-thumbing-nose-at-e-book-industry-with-dig/ but after I read the article I couldn't manage any outrage at all, no more than I could manage for people who demand that paperback books come out at the same time as hardbacks. It seemed a legitimate way to publish, anyway.

And, for those of you who want to learn exactly how an author should not respond to an Amazon One-Star review, we present an author named Candace Sams, who begins by pretending she's not the author, just someone defending a good book, then, when outed as the author, claims she's part of a noble group standing up against an evil one-star reviewer, and then informs everyone on the Amazon Comments thread that she's reported them all to the FBI. The Amazon Thread is here. Teresa Nielsen Hayden comments on it at Making Light, here. (Via Cleolinda's twitter.)

And yes, it's a horrible car crash, and I post it here not because it's funny in an Oh God Make It Stop kind of way, but because, if any of you are ever tempted to respond to bad reviews or internet trolls etc, it's a salutary reminder of why some things are better written in anger and deleted in the morning. (Also, if you're an American Games company, don't sue a British blogger in the Australian courts for a bad review.)

Oops. I have started blogging. I will stop now, and sleep for a little while.

...

Before I go: Sky has a website for the Ten Minute Tales series, which includes Statuesque, my film starring Bill Nighy (which goes out in the UK on Christmas Day) : http://sky1.sky.com/10-minute-tales. I wish I could have been at the screening in London on Sunday, more so when I saw my old friend Paterson Joseph stars in one of the films.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

What I plan to do this week

Write.

Walk the dog. (Seen here being walked by me half an hour ago. I was not wearing special protective warm clothing. It was remarkable.)

Not go onto the internet except occasionally to email people things they are waiting for.

Sleep.

Posted via email from Neil's posterous

Friday, December 04, 2009

In Which I Test Posterous

I'm testing http://posterous.com out, as a way of posting to Blogger from my phone, using email. So this is a test posting...

I'm attaching the "mass market" paperback cover for Fragile Things, which will be released in the US in February. It shows someone who looks like me with jam, or dreams, or ideas, squidging out of a book and all over him.

I finished a short story - technically, I suppose, a novelette, as it's 10,000 words - that I've been working on for much of the year. For most of that time, even through to the end of the first draft, a couple of weeks ago, I was convinced it was never going to work, would be a stunted, crippled little thing that was doomed to disappoint me. I knew it was missing something. What that something was occurred to me last week, exhausted after a yoga session in Boston, as my mind blanked, and later I wrote two short paragraphs in my notebook. Those paragraphs percolated and began to breathe, and I put them in and the story shifted, subtly, around them. The second draft took wing, and I found I was clear enough in my mind about what the story was that taking out things that weren't part of the story and putting in things that were was now easy, and the more I did it the better the story got, and now I'm happier with it than I've been with anything I've written for well over a year. It's called "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains..." and it is not exactly a happy story.

Right...

Dear Neil,

Patrick Rothfuss is making the world a better place in a very tangible way with his charity run Worldbuilders 2009. (http://www.patrickrothfuss.com/blog/2009/12/worldbuilders-2009.html) My sphere of influence in this world is rather small, but you could, just by mentioning it in your blog, raise a lot of awareness and thus help a Very Good Cause. It would mean a lot to me, and no doubt a helluva lot more to Pat and the people that receive Heifer's help. Many thanks and much love,

a fan of Wonderful People,
Gaetan Verhegge

Consider it plugged enthusiastically. I sent Patrick a signed copy of the incredibly beautiful STARDUST Advanced Reader's Copy when he did this last year, and it got to him a little late, so he has that along with many other amazing and beautiful books to give to people who donate. Check it out.

Hi Neil,

Congrats! You have received three 2009 Goodreads Choice Award nominations:
Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? in the Graphic Novel category
Blueberry Girl in the Picture Book category
Crazy Hair in the Picture Book category

Blog, tweet, spread the word. Encourage all your fans on Goodreads to vote!

Best,
Jessica

Consider it spread.

Hmm. Okay. I'll email this in, now. Not sure how I can do the blogger labels, though. Let's see if it works.

Posted via email from Neil's posterous

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Chilly and Statuesque

Ah, I think, for a blog post I really need more than "Coraline has just garnered ten Annie Award Nominations, more than any other animated film". (Variety) (Congratulations to Henry Selick, to Travis Knight, Dawn French, Shane Prigmore, Shannon Tindle, Bruno Coulais, Christopher Appelhans, Tadahiro Uesugi, Chris Butler, and the whole Laika and Focus crew.) But I am feeling extraordinarily blank.

The weather just got cold, and dog-walking tonight was less fun than it should have been; I wore gloves, and solitary crystalline flecks of snow spun into the light of my flashlight-beam and vanished again into the dark. I took Maddy and her friend Anna-Rose to violin tonight, and yesterday I carried the beautiful E. H. Shepard ink-drawing I got myself to celebrate the award in to the framers to be framed. I'm concerned that we should have insulated the beehives by now.

Tickets for the Decatur event on the 14th went faster than anyone expected. More will be released on Monday -- keep an eye on their blog (http://littleshopofstories.blogspot.com) for more information.

...

Dear Neil,
If you could choose a quote - either by you or another author - to be inscribed on the wall of a public library children's area, what would it be?

Thanks!
Lynn


I'm not sure I'd put a quote up, if it was me, and I had a library wall to deface. I think I'd just remind people of the power of stories, of why they exist in the first place. I'd put up the four words that anyone telling a story wants to hear. The ones that show that it's working, and that pages will be turned:

"...and then what happened?"

...

Oh. I nearly forgot. The short film I made, Statuesque, starring Bill Nighy, Amanda Palmer not to mention Becca Darling and Liam McKean, will be broadcast in the UK on Sky 1 at 10:00pm on Christmas Day.(There are eleven films altogether, and they'll go out every night starting on Dec the 21st, and ending on the 31st.)



Master Liam McKean can currently be seen in Oliver! at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Miss Amanda Palmer is probably fast asleep at home in Boston.

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