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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Still reeling, still smiling...

I've spent the last three days in Naperville, Il. (and sometimes, I have been told, in Aurora Il.), near Chicago, where I was the guest author for NAPERVILLE READS. On the first night I arrived and signed 3,000 books for Anderson's Books, who are hosting this. (It took 3 hours and 10 minutes, with people helping stack up books and put them away). Then from school-starting time in the morning until late at night I got to talk to elementary schools, to middle schools, to high schools, to universities, to adults and to "families". Becky from Anderson's says I spoke in front of, and answered questions from, 8,000 people altogether (which is why we decided early on not to even think about signings). I did readings from (or of) Crazy Hair, The Wolves In the Walls, Instructions, The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish, Coraline, Odd and the Frost Giants, The Graveyard Book, Good Omens, Stardust, Anansi Boys and American Gods.

And today it is all done and I am utterly and entirely pooped, trashed and tired on a cellular sort of level ("My me hurts" as I tweeted somewhere near the start of the process). I still have to fly home. I couldn't have done it or survived it without Elyse Marshall from Harper Collins, who flew in to make sure it worked. (And who was called late last night by the airline to let her know her plane back was already cancelled due to Weather in New York, so is not sure when, if ever, she will be getting home.) I want to thank all at Anderson's, the staff and principals of the various establishments of education I turned up at, and everybody who came to hear me read and talk, who braved wild microphones and asked questions anyway.

Now, I get lunch with Gene Wolfe, as my reward. I've known Gene and Rosemary Wolfe for 27 years. I dedicated Stardust to them.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

"Of course, in Alabama the Tuscaloosa, but that is entirely irrelephant..."


I went to Alabama, to Tuscaloosa.

Before I left, I was interviewed by Tuscaloosa newspapers. "What do you expect of Alabama?" they asked "What do you know of Alabama?" I was a bit puzzled by that. It's the kind of question you usually get asked by small, nervous countries who don't get many visitors. ("Have you heard anything about Ruritania?" they ask, and you tell them that you've heard that the strudel in Strelsau is excellent and you're glad that Jews can now own land there again, and everyone's happy.) It's not something I'd expected to be asked coming to a state. But then, I'd visited (if not actually signed books in) 47 states and I'd not yet been to Alabama, so they sort of had a point. I told them no, I had no expectations.

The strange thing is that, as an author, there are places publishers never send you, and the American South (if you don't count Atlanta) is one of those places. When I'd ask, I'd be told it was because people didn't really buy books there, or there wasn't a demand, or something.

And all I know is, the first batch of tickets for my reading in Alabama were gone in 120 seconds. (Literally. We thought the website had crashed.) The few leftovers, released later in the week, went at the same speed. A 1078 seat theatre sold out in minutes, and they could have filled it twice or three times over. People had driven 4 hours to get there and more. Everybody there seemed hungry for words and stories and literature.

I had a wonderful time. As far as I could tell, everyone there also had a wonderful time. (See local paper reports: Writer’s quirky style wins over packed crowd and Author reads at Bama Theatre.) Lots of lovely messages from people who were there. I'll grab one, to give you the flavour:


Dear Mr. Gaiman,

I was at your reading last evening (in Alabama).

It was my first author reading... And it was also the first for my dad, my friend and her godmother (Yikes! We Alabamians really ARE deprived!).
So you were right: None of us have ever had a story read to us in twenty years (How about our whole LIVES?)

But your reading blew us away. I don't think we have NEVER laughed so much. And we teared up in all those sad, wistful places (or maybe that was just me). You were amazing. And keeping a theater of 1,000 Alabamians attentive for two hours with just a podium and words... That was another mind blowing thing. Oh, and should I mention that I'll never be able to read a novel and be satisfied now?!

I wish I could relive last evening again. So I just wanted to say (aside from "I love you!!") THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!! I wish there was a way to bold these words and make them bigger. It was an evening I shall never forget. Thank you!!

Sincerely,
Merry


They made a glorious limited tee-shirt, and a broadside illustration to celebrate. Hank Lazer and his team were wonderful.

This morning I talked to some grad students, was given a gift of some great-smelling locally made soap which later would really confuse the explosives-testing people at the airport, was taken to Dreamland Barbecue for lunch (as I had been instructed to do by dozens of people on Twitter and here) and flew home feeling really happy.

And I'm going on about this at greater length than I normally would because I don't get it. On the one hand you have a terrific university and a population that really seems to read and is hungry to interact with authors and to come to events like this. On the other hand, you have authors, who really like to go places where people like us. So why has it taken me 22 years of signing my way across America to get to Alabama? And why don't publishers send authors there?

It makes me suspect some kind of self-fulfilling deeply wrong idea here. Bookshops and such that wouldn't ask for signings because they know they'll be turned down? Publishers in New York who'd never send authors to places like that because they know nobody would go, and nobody asks?

...

This came in nine months ago:

Neil,
I just got home from the Coraline musical- it was delightful, enchanting, and fantastic! It was even better than what I'd imagined and I dream lots. My fiancee and I talked about the show all the way home from New York (we live in Philadelphia) and we both are wondering if there will be a CD made of the wonderful music? We loved the alternative instrumentation and all the singing was pure perfection tonight. I don't know if we'll be able to swing a second pair of tickets for the show, but we'd love to hear those songs again! Please use your powers for good once again and make this happen!

kerplink, kerplunk, kerploonk,
Elizabeth Hahn


I couldn't answer. I didn't know. Since then, people have written to me over and over asking, a bit wistfully, if there would ever be a Coraline Musical Original Cast Album.

Well, now there is. A limited edition CD with a 24 page booklet, all 27 song lyrics and so forth.


You can also go to iTunes (no idea whether the iTunes link is limited to the US version or if you can get it internationally). Also, if you get to see The Magnetic Fields on tour, with the new CD Realism, the merchandise table, in all probability manned by writer Emma Straub, will be selling the CD. Here's their tour schedule.

...




Dear Neil,

From following your blog over the years, I know that you have bees, fruit trees and a fairly extensive garden and seem to be evolving into something of a gentleman farmer. Was this a conscious decision? Also, where do you get most of your food and do you know how it was raised?

My wife has always been interested in the subject of where our food comes from and has gotten me into it (we live in a small town in Eastern Pennsylvania and, so far as I know, are the only family in town with a greenhouse and backyard poultry).

Thanks for your time.

Joseph Crockett


When I was a kid we moved into a house that had fruit trees, and an already existing vegetable garden (with an old man named Mr Weller, who had been the house's gardener in bygone years, came in and tended the garden every week), and there were gooseberry and currant bushes. I liked living in a world in which, in the summer and the autumn, I could graze. I still do.

And American Supermarket vegetables and fruit don't tend to taste like very much. They're grown for looks and for hardiness in transportation, I tend to think, not for taste.

So when we moved here I started planting fruit trees and bushes, and our garden, which started out about 17 years ago as a few herbs and too many zucchini/courgette/baby squash plants, has grown and grown. I had a period in the 90s where I grew exotic pumpkins a lot, but after a year marked by battles with a family of woodchucks who decided that their favourite food was exotic pumpkin sprouts, I retired, and we just grow a few now for Halloween and a few more for pies.

If I were home all the time I would happily get backyard chickens, but I feel like dreadful things would happen to them while I was on the road, so I don't.

Mostly, I try to buy from local farmers. (I was sad when our local organic farmer, near enough to walk to, went out of business: they sold milk from grass-fed Jersey cows that tasted like milk did when I was a boy.)

...

Now that practically all of the Sandman and Death stories have been collected in hardcover editions, as well as most of your other major works, is there any plan to collect Books of Magic in a deluxe hardcover edition? I still consider it to be one of your key books, including appearances by Dream and Death, and a particularly great appearance by John Constantine. If not, any particular reason why (original pages lost, etc)?

Last time I'll ask, promise!
Best Regards,
Michael K.


No-one at DC has ever mentioned it to me. I don't think they think there's a demand. There MIGHT be a demand for Books of Magic and Black Orchid and a few other uncollected things but the cost of doing the Absolute Editions is so high they have to be certain people would buy them, and I don't think they are.

Having said that, let me ask them. You never know.

...


Over at the Guardian, a bunch of writers (except for Phillip Pullman, who is wise) avoid actually working by giving advice to others. I stole a few from things I've said in this blog over the years for mine. But loved all of them, disagreed with a few, and wished someone had handed me something like this when I was seventeen.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/20/ten-rules-for-writing-fiction-part-one
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/20/10-rules-for-writing-fiction-part-two

...

And lastly, congratulations to DC Comics' new Co-Publishers, Jim Lee and Dan Didio and their team. As DC's President, Diane Nelson says, what I found most exciting about our dinner together a couple of weeks ago was her description of what she envisions for DC Comics: that they will take risks, and make mistakes and be brave. (I liked this interview with her at The Beat.)

And a welcome back to the writing fold to retiring DC Publisher, Paul Levitz. Paul and I have been friends for over two decades now. He cares deeply about comics, and if it weren't for him, and things he did in the 90s, I am not convinced that there would be a comics industry these days. That is not hyperbole. In 20 years we've agreed on things, disagreed on things, always respected each other's points of view. He's been talking to me wistfully about the day that he could stop being a corporate entity and get back to writing comics for, oh, about a decade now. I'm glad he's realising his dream.

I wish them all the very best of luck.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Small Bee Blog

Today was warm -- warmer than it's been for weeks. I missed the hottest part of the day (I was taking my son Mike back to the airport) but got home while it was still daylight and slipped and slithered through the thick, half-melted snow, to inspect the hives. As I expected, there were lots of dead bees around, freshly dropped, and lots of small brown spots on the snow. The bees in the hive took advantage of the warm day to clean out the dead bees from the hive, and to, er, defecate.

The bees we can see here in the purple hive, in the square exit at the top of the hive are alive and wandering around. The bees hanging around further down are frozen and dead.

Three out of the four hives look healthy. The little red hive is, I suspect, dead. I won't check until it's warm enough that, if there is a cluster of bees hanging on inside there, I won't finish it off by opening the hive to inspect it.

Here's a slightly more close-up look at the green hive. Click on any of these for better, bigger photos. (All pictures taken on my Nexus 1. The one above, with the flash.)

Next May we hope to take shipment of three hives of Russian Bees, which are reputed to winter better than the Italian bees we already have (this is because they maintain lower populations into the winter months, so need less food, and keep Queens-in-Waiting ready to go at all times in case anything happens to their Queen. Not because they wear little fur hats and dance cossack dances to keep warm, as a number of people, many of whom were Russian, suggested last time I blogged about this).

Below is a photo of me, taken mostly because it's the first time in ages I've been outside while home and not wearing a hat and muffly face stuff, and I wanted to celebrate this.

Tomorrow, Alabama.

Then home.

Next week, Naperville, then to the UK for a couple of days, then off to LA for the Oscars, where I will be cheering on Henry Selick for Coraline.

(And in Manila, where I will be on the 17th and 18th of March, an art competition.)

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Goofball

It's like owning two dogs. There's this one who poses nobly for photographs whenever he gets to the top of a hill or looks out over a river. And then there's this mad goofball. Normally the mad goofball doesn't show up in photographs.

We just went for a walk in the snow. I took my camera. And the goofball came out...

At the top you see his "Oh boy? We're really going for a walk? This isn't you just taking me out to pee? WOW!" face. At the bottom you get his "Hai! I can has BIG stick!" dance. (It was immediately followed by him dropping the big stick and pretending he meant to do that.)

But in the middle? Noble all the way...





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What Today Is...

Today is a very important day. Viz and to wit: Jack Benny's 116th Birthday. Which means that somewhere out there, he is still 39.

(A quick Google found 12 episodes of the Jack Benny Radio Show that you can download at http://www.oldtimeradiofans.com/template.php?show_name=Jack%20Benny. Very much worth a listen: the show's dated less than you'd expect, because the humour of the Benny show tended to be based on people, rather than topical gags, and I'd say that from around 1942 to around 1951 it's pretty consistently funny, with its best material between about 1946 and 1950. I'm not a fan of the 1930s Benny shows -- the writing was patchy, and there are occasional racist tropes and gags that lurch between unfortunate and just plain horrible, and as the 50s went on Jack's attention is on his television show, and there are weird moments in many of the radio shows where Mary Livingstone, Jack's wife, was recording her lines in the bathroom so she didn't have to stand in front of a studio audience, and the timing is off, which is a hard thing for a show that's all about timing, while Bing Crosby's brother Bob was no substitute for Phil Harris.... But when it was good, it was wonderful. And we'll not even go into the sexuality of the show at this point, other to say that it's consistently interesting).

...

Christopher Handley was sentenced to six months in jail yesterday. He pled guilty to owning obscene comics - seven comics, imported from Japan, out of a manga-anime collection of thousands. He's a computer programmer, who had moved back in with his mother when she had health issues, who had, as far as I know, no interests apart from obsessively collecting Manga and bible study.

I wish he'd fought the case. But I can also understand why his lawyer persuaded him to go the way he did: he was facing a $250,000 fine and a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

The CBLDF was brought in after the case was underway as consultants. (Read why we signed on here and the background here: http://www.cbldf.org/pr/archives/000372.shtml .


Mr. Handley's case began in May 2006 when he received an express mail package from Japan that contained seven Japanese comic books. That package was intercepted by the Postal Inspector, who applied for a search warrant after determining that the package contained cartoon images of objectionable content. Unaware that his materials were searched, Handley drove away from the post office and was followed by various law enforcement officers, who pulled him over and followed him to his home. Once there, agents from the Postal Inspector's office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, Special Agents from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, and officers from the Glenwood Police Department seized Handley's collection of over 1,200 manga books or publications; and hundreds of DVDs, VHS tapes, laser disks; seven computers, and other documents. Though Handley's collection was comprised of hundreds of comics covering a wide spectrum of manga, the government is prosecuting images appearing in a small handful.


Hugely disappointed by the Boing Boing reporting, which links to an article on what happened and closes
On one hand, jail time for owning cartoon smut is a creepy example of victimless thoughtcrime. Then again, very little is as creepy as this guy's comic collection.


The last time I saw something like that, I wrote this:

http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2008/12/why-defend-freedom-of-icky-speech.html

Which explains what I think about such matters at length.

This time I'll just say that I'm reminded of the Florida matron at a comics museum fundraiser who, when I talked to her about the CBLDF and the
Mike Diana case, replied , "Well, I'm from Pensacola. And I read the local papers. And I can tell you, if there hadn't been something fishy going on with that boy, they would never have arrested him." And when I pointed out that if the local papers hadn't taken joy in implying that there was something fishy about that boy, he might have got a sane trial, and not wound up the first American artist to have the local police ordered to make 24 hour spot-checks on his place of abode to ensure that he wasn't drawing anything, she told me that I really didn't understand how these things worked, and that her sister knew someone in the police department and she was pretty sure that there was a whole load of stuff that they weren't saying and probably that boy got off easy....

Boing Boing person, you should be ashamed of yourself.

There's something really creepy about what happened here, but it's not anything Chris Handley did.

And I'll take this opportunity to point you to http://www.cbldf.com, where you can buy a CBLDF membership, along with tee shirts and merchandise and much good, rare, signed stuff...


Edit to Add: Rob Beschizza, who wrote the piece, states in the
Boing Boing comments:
Gaiman misinterpreted that line to be an expression of my opinion. But it's there so you could see the animating idea behind this prosecutor's case. I can accept that sarcasm is hard to convey in print, especially when it's the implicit sort aimed at here, but most people here evidently understood how stupid I think it is.
On these short posts, readers often add context and build upon the OP in the comments. The 'dilemma' posed in the OP was intended to invite this, and it's depressing that Gaiman decided to attack me over it.


(Which still leaves me rather puzzled. If you are expressing something that reads like your opinion at the end of a news round up, but which is actually meant to be a sarcastic restatement of what you do not believe in, intended to provoke comment and context, then why be depressed by someone commenting, or giving context? I've spent nineteen years working for and with the CBLDF, raising money and awareness and working with the staff and lawyers to try and keep people like Mr Handley or Mike Diana or Gordon Lee out of prison for creating or owning or selling drawn comics. From my perspective it's like reporting a mugging, and concluding "It's creepy he was hurt and robbed but very little is as creepy as wearing an expensive watch and going into a rough neighbourhood". If you want to invite comment from people saying that it wasn't the victim's fault you shouldn't be depressed if you get it.

And the reason I complained, and am going on here at far too great a length, is because prosecutors in obscenity cases look at community standards, and look at community reactions, to the "obscene" material and their prosecution of it. They want to be re-elected, and not to be perceived as wasting money and time on something that - very literally - hurts no-one. If they think the reaction is "Wow, jailing him, that's creepy - but very little is as creepy as his comics collection" they are not going to stop.)

...

My daughters just bounced in, sang "Happy Valentine's Day to You!" to the tune of Happy Birthday, and presented me with a card. My fiancee may be in Australia (and I miss her, very much), but life is pretty good. I'm rich in daughters.


(Poem rendered slightly moot because this Valentine's Day is also the first day of the Year of the Tiger, and in China, to celebrate the Lunar New Year, people DO give each other oranges...)

And I just put my reading of "Harlequin Valentine" up for you to listen to (and download if you want to) on Last FM at http://www.last.fm/music/Neil+Gaiman/_/Harlequin+Valentine. I'll keep it up there for a few weeks...

...

Finally, here's the info on my visit to the Philippines: March 17th 2010 I'll be in Manila, back in the Rockwell Tent, for the third Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards. When I started it, I put up the prize money for three rounds (I'd say 3 years, but each round of the awards took about 2 years). I'm really proud of what it's done so far. Looking forward to seeing the winners and runners up, reading the stories and comics and -- this year for the first time -- seeing the films.

I know there's going to be some book signing on the 17th and again on the 18th. http://www.fullybookedonline.com/ should have details...




Information on Warsaw and Moscow (I'll be in both places the week of March 22nd) still to come...

Right. It's really, horridly, unpleasantly cold outside. You know what that means?

Exactly. Off to walk the dog.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

With Great Power comes, well, something...

Last year I linked to R.A. Lafferty's short story "Slow Tuesday Night" (The new syfy channel that replaced the old Sci-Fi channel no longer have it up on their website, but you can find it in internet archives here.) It's a story about a world in which things happen fast. You should read it.

Sometimes I think it was written about Twitter.

For example, last night, before bed, I noticed this: http://hidenseek.typepad.com/come_out_come_out/2010/02/cannot-chase-paperchase.html It looked like a pretty clearcut case of plagiarism by a large company from a small crafter. I linked to it in Twitter, with a post saying

Fascinating Paperchase plagiarism over at http://bit.ly/cdrzKZ . Bad Paperchase.

I went to bed.

When I woke up, it was to articles like this:
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/paperchase-forced-to-deny-it-copied-artists-work-after-twitter-backlash-1896894.htm and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/7215124/Paperchase-forced-to-deny-it-plagiarised-British-artists-work-after-Twitter-campaign.html and (slightly more balanced) http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2010/feb/11/paperchase-design-hidden-eloise.

Now, the truth is, I didn't campaign, and I didn't mobilise 1.5 million people. I pointed a few to the link, they read the article, looked at the picture, went "No, you can't do that" and spread the word themselves. There's a community of crafters out there making small-run or handmade things who individually lack power, but together are a force to be reckoned with. And the mass of people are, on the whole, very good on the whole right and wrong thing...

But it's so strange. We're not quite in a world in which the established media have the power they used to, or at least, they are playing catch-up, and that's odd, and different, and sort of fun. And it's also a tremendous amount of responsibility. The first time this happened, about a year ago, I decided I had to use these Twitter powers only for good. And that's still the plan.

But you can't plan on it. And you can't second-guess what's going to happen. I suppose you try and do the right thing, and hope for the best.

Which applies as much to life as it does to Twitter.

...

Now, in case you weren't following, I won two SFX Readers Poll Awards, handed out at the SFX Weekender on Saturday. (The Full awards list is here.) These were my acceptance speeches (they'd told me which award would be handed out first, so I put the big news after the second award):

BEST NOVEL

Hullo.

I wish I could be with you, but I’m in LA, at the animation awards, waiting to see whether Coraline has won any Annies. I keep trying to master the whole bilocation thing but so far without any luck.

I came up with the idea for The Graveyard Book in 1985, sitting in a little English country graveyard, watching my son pedal his tricycle between the headstones. I put down the words from 2005 to 2008. Last night someone asked me how long the book took to write and I didn’t know if it was three years or 25 years. I’ve written a lot of books, but it’s one of my favourites, and it means a lot to me that it’s one of your favourites too. I want to thank Dave McKean and Chris Riddell, who illustrated it, and Sarah Odedina, my editor at Bloomsbury, because I don’t get to thank her enough. But mostly I want to thank you.


BEST COMIC

I love Batman. I’ve loved him for over 40 years now, and when I was offered the chance to write the “last” Batman comic, I jumped at it. Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader was really a kind of a love letter to everything I had loved about Batman, and at the same time it was fan letter to all the people who had, over the years, made the Batman I had loved – Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Dick Sprang and Neal Adams, Adam West and Frank Miller and the list goes on and on...
I was delighted that people enjoyed it. Nobody would have enjoyed it even a little bit if Andy Kubert was not an amazing genius of great brilliance, capable of drawing like Brian Bolland or Berni Wrightson whenever I’d ask him to, and equally as capable of drawing like himself. I was more than happy to have been asked to make it, I’m thrilled you liked it.

Oh, and there's something else.

Over the years SFX, and its readers and their votes in the polls, have always been very kind to me. I thought I’d return the favour with what used to be called, in journalistic circles when I was a boy, a scoop.

As anyone who’s read my blog knows, I’m a big fan of a certain long-running British SF TV series. One that started watching -- from behind the sofa -- when I was three. And while I know it’s cruel to make you wait for things, in about 14 months from now, which is to say, NOT in the upcoming season but early in the one after that, it’s quite possible that I might have written an episode. And if I had, it would originally have been called “The House of Nothing”. But it definitely isn’t called that any more.

Countdown. You’ve got about 14 months.


Which I decided to announce mostly because being coy was getting wearing after 18 months. (No, I've never lied about it, and the only things I've flat-out denied were made-up stories about Ice Warriors or episode placement.) I'd let Steven Moffat and co. know ahead of time. And it got fairly well reported -- accurately by SFX in http://www.sfx.co.uk/page/sfx?entry=exclusive_neil_gaiman_confirms_doctor, picked up by papers like the Guardian - http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/08/neil-gaiman-dr-who - and then much more cautiously by the BBC itself in http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/8503737.stm with the headline Neil Gaiman 'has written Doctor Who episode' (as if it's a direct quote, which it isn't), with a line at the end saying A spokesman for Doctor Who would not confirm Gaiman's announcement. which left me scratching my head, wondering why I got the quotation marks and odd deniability, or the sense that they were poised to follow it up with Gaiman admits 'he made the whole Doctor Who thing up'. Oh, funny old BBC news website.

...

Dan Guy, webgoblin of this parish, and I, have put up a proper Facebook fan page to replace a couple of ones people had put up in the past that everyone seemed to think was actually me. Not a lot of content there, and there are no plans to put up anything you can't find here. It's at http://www.facebook.com/neilgaiman

(Thanks again to the magic of Twitter, where I complained that we couldn't figure out a way to make it happen, and were contacted by Facebook almost instantly.)
...

Hi, Neil - I am sure you will hear this many, many times... but I wanted to chime in and say that when I read "I don't really know how much longer this blog has to go," it was a bit of a shock. I know it's a little silly to have become attached to the blog of an author I've never met, but reading what you write here is a constant joy and entertainment, and I would be very sad to see it go. Please keep writing - here, and everywhere else.

Best,
-Megan


I think all good things end. When I started the blog, in February 2001, I planned to keep it going until September 2001. It's still going, and I'm certainly not planning to end it immediately. But it will end one day. Good things do.

Hi Neil. I don't know if you can answer this question. Since you're the best author who ever lived, you likely haven't encountered this problem. How do you deal with harsh criticism and bad reviews without wanting to slit your wrists? Some of us take our writing very seriously. Please tell me. I'd really like to know.
Thanks... and cheers, mate.


Well, for a start, never take seriously anyone telling you you're the best author who ever lived, because if you do you'd have to take seriously the person who announces that you're the worst author who ever lived.

If you make art, people will talk about it. Some of the things they say will be nice, some won't. You'll already have made that art, and when they're talking about the last thing you did, you should already be making the next thing.

If bad reviews (of whatever kind) upset you, just don't read them. It's not like you've signed an agreement with the person buying the book to exchange your book for their opinion.

Do whatever you have to do to keep making art. I know people who love bad reviews, because it means they've made something happen and made people talk; I know people who have never read any of their reviews. It's their call. You get on with making art.

Hey Neil,

Just wanted to say a big thank you!! I saw you at the Con in Montreal in August and you talking about Gene Wolfe inspired me to get some of his writing...and now I can't stop! I wish I had found him before. Just read Peace...and reread it! Amazing! And gulping down his short stories now. Lots of jewels in "The Best of Gene Wolfe". Anyway, thanks!!

What's your favourite Gene Wolfe work?

Pi


It depends. Sometimes Peace, sometimes the Book of the New Sun, sometimes it's the last thing of Gene's I read.

Dear Neil I am 8 years old and in LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOve with your books so are my two little sisters and my dad. Cant wait to see you at Naperville reads!

Why, thank you. (I actually put this up so that I could remind people in the Chicago area about http://napervillereads.org/events.html and the events on the evenings of the 23rd and 24th of February
The 23rd is 7:00 p.m. Reading / Q&A event for Adult Fans held at Waubonsie Valley High School. This will be a ticketed event, with tickets available at Anderson’s and all 3 Naperville Public Library locations, Nichols Library, Naper Boulevard Library and 95th Street Library.

The 24th is very similar, but it's for families (which just means I'm going to read all-ages appropriate stuff on the 24th, but not necessarily on the 23rd). They are ticketed event, although the tickets are Free.

The Naperville Reads events look crazy busy, but I'm hoping my granddaughter & nephew can meet you at the Family Night on Feb.24 - will there be a signing and/or meet & greet?
Thanks much!
~Chris


I'm going to pre-sign about 3000 books, but not try and do signings each night, because each day is already packed from early in the morning with talks to school classes and groups and a 5 hour signing at the end of each long day will finish me off.

In terms of meet and greet, we'll see. If I can, I will.

Dear Neil,

Two questions:

1) Is the notion presented in American Gods that roadside attractions in America are built on places of power an original one of yours, or can one read more about this idea somewhere?

2) Have you ever driven down the Great River Road on the Wisconsin side? There are a number of unusual (and I think resonant) places along that route, the best of which is the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine just south of La Crosse.

Love your work!

Regards,

Chris Ellison
The Netherlands (but originally from Cannon Falls)


1) It's mine, I'm afraid.

2) I did, the first time I drove to Florida, researching American Gods. It was so cold...

OK, OK, so I'm only 20-some years late in asking, but I just found my box of Sandman comics and my son and I have been re-reading them at night, and my son asked: In the first issue, when Morpheus is trapped and Burgess (his captor) dies right in front of him, how come Death doesn't see her brother when she comes for Burgess? I know, I know, it was the first issue and seeing more of the Endless at that point would have been problematic, but still, I promised I'd ask (and now I'm kind of curious to hear what I know will be a creative answer). On a side note, I love how well even the early issues still hold up. I wish I was as good a writer now as you were at 28 (and a half). --Steve and Thomas

Oh, she saw him. They all knew where he was and what had happened to him. But it's not exactly the kind of family who would do anything about it, if you see what I mean.

Hi,
I went to the Magnetic Fields show here in DC tonight. It was, as expected, amazing. Just wanted to pass along word that they don't have the Coraline musical soundtrack at the shows yet, but they will have it later on. I failed to retain the dates given to me by the merchandise salesperson, though. He did say that it will be out in digital form soon too.
While I have your attention...
I was wondering why you chose Scotties as the dogs in Coraline, or if their is any reason behind it. My family has had Scotties since before I was born and I loved the use of them in Coraline, both book and film. Henry Selick's team nailed the way they jump up on you when you come to the door.
My apologies if this has been answered elsewhere. I'm a recent convert to your awesomeness (thanks to BPAL) and the search function gave me pages about people named Scott.
Thank you,
Shannon


I'll ask them when it will be out. [Edit to add, they have it for sale now.] In the meantime, you can catch up with the Magnetic Fields on the road at http://houseoftomorrow.com/calendar.php

And you can watch me (and Sarah Silverman, and Peter Gabriel and Lemony Snickett...) talking about Stephin in a trailer for STRANGE POWERS, a soon to be released documentary, at
http://strangepowersfilm.com/, and also up on YouTube:




And the Scotties came from Miss Webster, my elocution teacher when I was a boy. (I talk about it in this CORALINE conversation at the Well.)

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Now We Are Nine


Now we are nine.

I keep doing things I think are temporary and then most definitely aren't. I don't really know how much longer this blog has to go -- time enough to tend it and keep it growing and flourishing the way I know I should gets harder and harder to find -- but when I started I never expected it to last nine years.

To celebrate, http://www.neilgaiman.com/p/Cool_Stuff/9th_Blogiversary is the page where you can post your own photo of you doing something with a nine in it.

The last time we did something like this, the day I had 666,666 followers on Twitter, it became http://www.neilgaiman.com/extras/6by6/mosaic01.jpg, and then it became this extraordinary The Garden of Earthly Delights at http://www.uslot.com/neilballoons/ (You will need Silverlight to view this last one properly. I mention this because, for reasons on which I have never been entirely clear, people who will happily download and install all manner of other software, apps and plug-ins will lurch into righteous 'But it needs Silverlight -- how can you DO this to me?,' mode without warning.)


video

Above is Maddy Gaiman, occasional contributor to this blog, wishing it a Happy Birthday.


video

And this is me, doing likewise, and a little bit more, in my first ever video journal entry.

(I was wondering about what to film these on, and wound up doing them on the Nexus 1. The sound quality outside in the snow is a bit dodgy, but it's not bad. Maddy filmed it. It is she you can hear going Yay at the end of mine.)

A few thank yous seem appropriate:

Dan Guy, the Web Goblin. Danger is not his middle name, but he's only two letters and a space off from having it be his first.

Former Web Elf Olga Nunes. Nobody else could have persuaded me to bounce on a trampoline and whisper in a library in praise of xkcd, as she did at http://www.olganunes.com/xkcd

(You've all seen




...haven't you?)

I want to thank Lisa Gallagher, my former publisher at William Morrow, and everyone at Harper Collins, for their support for this entire website (and for www.mousecircus.com, the junior version). I want to thank Authors on the Web, who started it off, nine years ago, with the now long-defunct Americangods.com.

And, as always, I want to thank my agent, the redoubtable Merrilee Heifetz, who phoned me about a decade ago and said "There's something called Blogger I just heard about that sounds like it would be right up your street..."

And it was.

(The picture of the cover of Instructions is at the top of this blog because it looked prettiest there. But really it should be down here, with me telling you it'll be released at the end of April. [Amazon link, given that they seem to have reinstated the ability to buy books from them by authors published by Macmillan.] You can see some sneak images at Irene Gallo's blog, here.)

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

A Quick One

I know. I'm really behind. Right now I ought to settle down and do a solid big blog entry.

Only it's a choice between that or sleep. And sleep is just about to win.

CORALINE got 5 ANNIE awards tonight -- more than anyone else. (Although we lost Best Picture and Best Director to UP.) I was ready to give Dawn French's speech if she'd won best voice, but she didn't.

(Her speech, had she won, was "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!" I could have done that.)

And then there's this. Which deserves its own blog entry too.

UCSB was great. UCLA was harder, as I was reeling a little from lack of sleep from the signing the night before, but the people there enjoyed it.

(Also, the Nexus 1 phone is wonderful, especially with the lastest update, allowing us to make things bigger or small by pulling them apart or squeezing them, which was the one thing that iPhones did I envied.)

Also LOTS of questions to answer and comments to post.

But first, sleep.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Playing a small imaginary me


I'm so behind.

In LA. Working hard, meeting people, sorting things out, the usual. Woke up this morning to a phone call from my agent, letting me know that CORALINE had been nominated for an Oscar. It would be nice if UP won Best Picture and CORALINE took Best Animated Picture, but truthfully, I do not believe that will happen.

Then went to record my part in PBS's "ARTHUR". I play me. And I also play a tiny imaginary version of me. (This is me recording my part, above. I am just wearing a black tee shirt, but it looks like I am wearing something much more interesting.)

Today, more meetings, then being interviewed for a documentary on the history of DC Comics.

Special thing: the people at Fantagraphics have put up a secret web-page to give readers of this blog a discount ($100, reduced from $125) on the Huge, Wonderful Three Volume Complete Playboy Cartoons of Gahan Wilson book they are publishing, and in addition are offering the first hundred people who sign up from here, free, a signed three-colour Gahan Wilson print, into the bargain. I wrote the introduction to one of the books, and am getting nothing back from this (in case you were wondering) but the warm feeling of getting 50 years of glorious, scary, disturbing and wonderful Gahan Wilson cartoons into the hearts and minds of the world.


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