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Sunday, July 03, 2011

A Late Night July the Third Post that took a while to finish

I walked the dogs just now. I could smell a heavy wild-animal-smell in the dark woods, probably a bear, at a guess. It smelled like it did a few years ago when we had a bear hanging around.

I wasn't worried: bears don't like dogs, and I don't think the dogs would go after the bear. But it was a strange moment.

There are more fireflies this year than I've ever seen here. If you walk down by the beehives at night it looks like a distant city at night, as the fireflies fill the trees and bushes and drift from one to another.

So, I'm home. Tour done, survived, and mostly enjoyed.

The worst moment was in Seattle. I was staying at the W Hotel. I accidentally sent my hotel phone number and room out into the world, via Twitter. I had meant to send them to Amanda, as the cell service wasn't great. The worst moment wasn't that bad for me (I just ignored the phone calls coming in as I talked to Amanda) but I felt really sorry for the hotel switchboard when I called in to explain what had happened. They whisked me to another room, and changed my name, which meant that when the Author Escort turned up to ask for my room and walk me up to the Seattle Town hall she was informed by the Front Desk that they had no-one of my name staying there.

I think she was troubled by this, having dropped me off at that same hotel an hour earlier from signing about 2000 books. (Probably University Book Store in Seattle still has some signed books.)

So that was the worst moment. Reassuring an author escort who thought she had wandered into the Twilight Zone.

Let's see.

So I was about to do the WITS show in St Paul last time I posted.

WITS was wonderful. I sang "The Problem With Saints" and a verse of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer". I read a poem and a bit of a book. I had fun with Josh Ritter, with Johns Munson and Moe, with Guest Hecklers Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett.

(Josh Ritter has just written a novel, by the way. It's really good.)

This is a moment from WITS with our second phone guest, MYTHBUSTER Mr Adam Savage. (Our first guest was Wil Wheaton.) He phoned in. I asked him to confirm an anecdote...



And here Josh Ritter and I are given a game to us to play by evil host John Moe. It's What Happened Next To People In Songs? I love Josh's tale of what happened to Elvis Costello's Alison...



From there I went to Seattle. I attended the Locus Awards Banquet, and was delighted to learn that I had won both the Locus Award for Best Short Story, for "The Thing About Cassandra" (this was awkward, as I had forgotten that it was on the ballot, and was completely taken aback, failed to thank the editors who waited for it and bought it and just babbled) but also the Locus Award for Best Novelette for "The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains" (I'd got it together by that point and thanked EVERYONE). Here are all the award winners... http://www.locusmag.com/News/2011/06/locus-awards-2011-winners/

I brought Tim Minchin, whose work I really like, and who, it turns out, I really like as a person too. He collected Shaun Tan's Locus Award for Best Artist (Tim did the narration for Shaun's Oscar winning short film, "The Lost Thing").

The first time I was at the Locus Awards, (it was 2006, you can read about it here at http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2006/06/wild-ginger-and-jimi-hendrix.html and that time it was my short story "Sunbird" that I forgot was on the ballot, proving that those who do not read their old blog entries are doomed to repeat them) Connie Willis mocked me for not wearing a Hawaiian shirt. This time I packed a black-on-black Hawaiian shirt especially, and Connie's wrath was mollified.

I missed the late Charles N. Brown.

After the Locus Awards I went on to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and inducted Harlan Ellison into the Hall of Fame. Harlan wasn't well enough to be there, alas. (CNN speculate that he's on death's door. He's not, but he wasn't well enough to show up.)

In the evening I went with author Maria Dahvana Headley (who was to interview me the next day) to Tim Minchin's gig in Seattle. If Tim plays your town, go and see him. Simple as that.

He played "White Wine In The Sun" at the end, for me, because I've posted here on my blog over the years how much I love that song, which made me curl my toes with delight.

The evening finished after the gig with Maria and Tim and I having the most amazing meal at Elemental at Gasworks. The kind of restaurant where there's no menu, you tell the people there what you don't eat, they feed you the best food you've had in years, paired with amazing wines, are funny, nice, won't tell you what you're eating or drinking, you spend the last hour there chatting with the owners (who were your cook and your waiter), the bill is half what you thought it was going to be, where they don't believe in tipping, and you walk out at 3.00 am not really sure that that just happened, just knowing it made us all very happy.

The next day was signing books in Seattle, tweeting my hotel room number (sorry W hotel, thank you for being so understanding, sorry Gail the author escort for plunging you into modern urban paranoia) and being interviewed at the Town Hall by Maria Dahvana Headley. Her book Queen of Kings, is good stuff - Cleopatra as Undead Monster-lady, a book half-way between I Claudius and Queen of the Damned. (You'd not know it from the US book cover, though, which seems aimed firmly at people who want a proper historical novel. The UK cover is good, though.)

Thank you to Molly Lewis who opened for us on the ukulele. (I noticed from a tweet from her that she would be there and tweeted back to see if she would bring her ukulele.) Thank you to Maria for interviewing me. Thank you Duane and all at University Books for making it happen.

From Seattle I flew to San Francisco.

During the WITS show in Minneapolis I'd texted back and forth with Adam Savage, thanking him for being on the show. And then mentioned that I would be in Berkeley. And then... asked if he'd like to interview me.

He said yes, which was good as I'd had no idea who would interview me, and was ready to just get up there and talk (which is fun but less surprising if you are me.)

Here is a drawing done by Justin Devine of Adam Savage interviewing me in Berkeley.




(Oddly enough, we actually are talking about Doctor Who here. Sort of.)


The opening act in Berkeley was the lovely Zoe Boekbinder, whom I had asked to come and perform a couple of days earlier as I figured it would take a long time to seat 900 people. She did an amazing job and took full advantage of the church acoustics.

I came out afterwards and hugged people/old friends, had my shoes shined by someone who had asked if she could shine them after the show (I had said yes) and took photos with people who wanted photos taken to prove they had actually seen me and not someone else.

Late night dinner was in a Thai restaurant with Adam, Zoe and Justin (who drew the sketch above).

Woken early by an automated call from Delta telling me my flight to LA was cancelled. I twittered my distress and within minutes Brianne from Harper Collins Publicity, who was masterminding the tour, saw it and booked me onto a new flight.

I got to Los Angeles. Shaved off my beard. Pre-signed books. Went to see Craig Ferguson.

I love Mark Evanier's blog. It's at http://newsfromme.com/ where Mark writes about animation, television, the news, movies, Los Angeles, plumbers, casinos, comics and Late Night Television, among other things. Unlike this blog, he separates out his blog entries by subject. I barely noticed when Craig Ferguson took over as host of the Late Late Show from whoever did it before him, but I noticed when Mark started saying that Craig was the best of the late night talk show hosts, and I watched clips that he posted, and from there it was a short step to DVRing the show, and watching it.

And being sad when this wonderful mad Doctor Who Dance opening didn't actually go out:



I was in the Bay Area for Wondercon for Doctor Who in April, for a panel hosted by the Nerdist's Chris Hardwick, who said to me, at the end of the panel, "Have you ever been on Craig Ferguson's show?" and I said "No, but I like it..." and he said "I'll ask him..."

And pretty soon an invitation came in from Craig to be on the show.

Now, back in the 90s I said no, several times, to being on David Letterman's show. I didn't feel like I had anything to say to him, not anything I was prepared to give up any level of personal privacy for.

But Craig is one of us. Whatever that means. People who like books and SF and make jokes about H. P. Lovecraft and plug Doctor Who...

And it's late night television, and I guess I've given up a certain amount of privacy in the decade of this blog.

So I said Yes. It was nominally for the American Gods Tenth Anniversary edition, but that was just because that was the next time I was in LA. We mentioned it, but I wasn't there to plug my book. I just liked the idea of chatting.

The first guest was Paris Hilton. This was the third or fourth time I've myself in the same space as Paris Hilton, and have so far not exchanged two words with her, so I have no comments to make about her.

Here's the whole of my chat with Craig. It went on so long that they wound up losing the opening monologue (it was about sharks) and the song when it was broadcast.

And to explain the end, for the puzzled, Craig offers his guests different ways to end their segment - blowing the mouth organ (this was the option that Paris Hilton chose, although I believe she felt that this had left her open to jokes) or touching the baby disco ball on Craig's table, or an awkward pause.

You will have to watch this whole clip to discover what I went for.



Wil Wheaton and his wife Anne, and Cat Mihos (my amazing LA assistant and queen of Neverwear) and I grabbed some food. From there we sped to the Saban Theatre, where Patton Oswalt and Zelda Williams were already waiting.

There was a line of people around the block - about 1300 of them, all with Will Call tickets in envelopes with their names on. I wished that I had brought Zoe Boekbinder or Molly Lewis with me to play to the crowd as they waited.

The event started an hour late, but start it did.

Here are a couple of blogs with lots of photos that will make you feel like you were actually there.

http://www.beatzo.net/blog/2011/07/a-neil-gaiman-evening/ has some great shots of the lines of people and the Saban.

While http://mcvalada.blogspot.com/2011/06/it-is-great-to-be-grownup.html has some great photos of me, of Patton, of Zelda (she came out and guest-starred during the reading from American Gods) and she also has a 21 year old photo of me in shades and a leather jacket on the blog.

The next morning I had a close encounter with Chris Hardwick and his team, and also with the Reading Is Fundamental Smart Car. (For info on Reading is Fun/damental - go to http://rif.org/)

More interviews, more meetings, a table reading of my friend Michael Reaves's movie script, and then I came home to my dogs and my daughter.

I miss Amanda, though. She's in Boston right now. It's starting to get a bit old, this not-being together-in-the-same-place thing. I'll go out to her next week for a week. Then we're together all through August in Edinburgh. But I'd like to be coming home to her.

We're planning a tour-as-a-way-of-being-together from Hallowe'en to about the twelfth of November. I'll be in San Diego for World Fantasy Con before Hallowe'en, so we'll just drive up the coast singing (in her case) and reading (in mine) wherever we come to rest.

As soon as the dates and locations are set, we'll announce them. (And yes, we will definitely be stopping in Portland. And if we can, Vancouver and/or Victoria.)


(picture taken from http://assortedhearts.tumblr.com/post/6625219185/couples-amanda-neil-assorted-hearts)

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