I'm way behind in blogging. Partly because I started playing with Tumblr (http://neil-gaiman.tumblr.com/), which is fun because it's novel and shiny, and because it makes a few things that are hard to do in Blogger really easy. Partly because I was off the map for a bit, doing a number of things, including spending time with Amanda at her sister's in Santa Fe, where I got to be an Uncle to her nephew Ronan who started out calling me Uncle Neil and then switched to Neilgaiman, and when last seen was resisting all Amanda's efforts to persuade him to call me Uncle Neilgaiman.
Yesterday I went to see the Chippewa Valley Roller Girls play. (They played Harbor City, in Duluth, and were honorably beaten.) My assistant Lorraine is now skating with them as Quiche Me Deadly, although yesterday she was not skating, instead she organised... well, as far as I could tell, she seemed to be organising everything. Lojo Russo played the intermission, for example. After the game, Lorraine took me over to her teammates and introduced me to them.
Photo by Ctein.
Eventually she persuaded them to give me back.
I'm at home, wrapping things up, and preparing for the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego, and then the Evening With Neil and Amanda tour West Coast Tour that follows it.
On October the 31st, Amanda will be a musical guest (she will be forming a small and magical supergroup for the occasion), and I will be in the guest's chair talking with, Craig Ferguson. I had hopes of getting him a MacSween's vegetarian haggis. Zooey Deschanel will be the other guest. It will be fun.
And then we will careen from the Late Late Show studios over to the Wilshire Ebell for the Soundcheck and then the first of the "Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer" shows.
(There are still tickets available for the LA show as I type this - perhaps because it's on Hallowe'en, and people often have things to do on Hallowe'en. The two San Francisco shows, Portland and Vancouver sold out immediately. There are a few tickets left for Seattle on November the 9th.)
Which reminds me...
A year ago, on a plane, it occurred to me that there should be a scary book-giving part of Hallow'en, and I wrote this, here on the blog:
I was on a flight home last night, and I thought,
You know, there aren't enough traditions that involve giving books.
There's World Book Day, which grew out of Don Quixote Day/Cervantes Birthday/St George's Day in Spain, where roses and books are given, but really, we need some more instant traditions that involve the giving of books, the kind that spread all over the world.
And then I thought,
Hallowe'en's next weekend...
I propose that, on Hallowe'en or during the week of Hallowe'en, we give each other scary books. Give children scary books they'll like and can handle. Give adults scary books they'll enjoy.
I propose that stories by authors like John Bellairs and Stephen King and Arthur Machen and Ramsey Campbell and M R James and Lisa Tuttle and Peter Straub and Daphne Du Maurier and Clive Barker and a hundred hundred others change hands -- new books or old or second-hand, beloved books or unknown. Give someone a scary book for Hallowe'en. Make their flesh creep...
Give a scary book.
If you don't know what kinds of books there are, or what would be appropriate for the person you're giving a book to, talk to a bookseller. They love to help, most of them. (The ones that don't tend not to be booksellers for long.) Talk to librarians. (Do not plan to give away their books though, unless they are having a library sale.)
That's it. That's my idea.
Scary book. Hallowe'en.
Who's with me?
(And for those of you who protest that, honestly, you need no excuse to give books as gifts, and you do it all the time, and it comes to you as naturally as breathing -- well, that's wonderful, and I'm glad. Think of this as your chance to spread books to people to whom you might not normally give books, or to receive books you might otherwise never read.)
And, with help from the ever-amenable Web Goblin, Dan Guy, and the former Web Elf, Olga Nunes, we made the All Hallows Read website at http://www.allhallowsread.com/. (The festival was named on Twitter.)
This year, lots of people have taken the severed head and started to run with it.
Tor.com, for example, has a great list of suggested books. Here's a great piece on the Huffington Post website, with an excellent video.
A few months ago I called Elise Howard at Harper Children's, who has been my editor there for the last decade, and spoke to her about it. She loved the idea of getting involved. She offered to print a poster, for the winning entry in an All Hallow's Read poster contest...
Artists: Enter the All Hallow’s Read poster contest, and your winning design might become the official All Hallow’s Read poster in 2012.
Your original submission should spread the word about All Hallow’s Read and encourage participation in the program. The winning poster design will be announced and featured on AllHallowsRead.com and will become a limited-edition poster to be printed and distributed to participating booksellers for All Hallow’s Read in 2012 (printing and distribution sponsored by HarperCollinsPublishers).
I thought that the poster idea was a wonderful one, and was thrilled that they were going to sponsor that when I got another message from Elise. This time with something even more fun that they were going to do for people in New York. On Tuesday...
We’ve got everybody on board here at Harper for All Hallow’s Read and our big book drop on 10/25. In addition to encouraging readers to participate in the AHR book drop and retweeting their efforts and pictures, we’re going to drop sixty Harper titles for readers of various ages at locations around New York City. Lucky readers will find copies of The Graveyard Book and Coraline, Dark Eden by Patrick Carmen, Possess by Rachel McNeil, Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz, and Vampire Boy’s Good Night by Lisa Brown.
We’re going to create a downloadable sticker for All Hallow’s Read book drop participants to print and use, so that book finders can take up the mission, too.
Throughout the day, we’ll call out the AHR book-drop project on our Twitter and Facebook accounts. Look for your favorite Harper staffers in the #AllHallowsRead discussion on 10/25!
In addition to this book drop project, they've made some fine scary book recommendations (you can read them at http://www.allhallowsread.com/
book-recommendations/ - and I did a list myself, with the help of about 1800 suggestions from Facebook, right now as a PDF on that page.
Of course, you do not need to be a publisher to do a book drop, and we now have a page on the All Hallows Read site with a Book Drop Sticker that you can print out and put in a book, which lets people know that the book is there to be taken and read.
And All Hallows Read even has its own forum, where people can exchange ideas, tips and useful ways to give scary books.
It feel like the end of a decade, too. Ten years ago I was an adult author who was going to publish a book called Coraline, my first children's book from a major publisher. I had two editors, Sarah Odedina at Bloomsbury in the UK and Elise Howard at Harper Children's in the US. They were two of the smartest editors anyone could have. I felt comfortable with them, and safe with them, and they advised but never ordered, they supported me as an author, they were patient when they had every right to ask where the book I was meant to be writing was. One on each side of the Atlantic.
And in a matter of weeks, both of them have gone - each of them has her own imprint. Sarah is publishing Bonnier's children's imprint, Hot Key Books, in the UK, and Elise will be creating a children's line for Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.
I wanted to wave them goodbye here, and to say thank you for everything they did. Their authors will be very lucky to have them, and I'll miss them.
This is too long to Tweet, so I was wondering, are you aware of Mark Oshiro's "Mark Reads" project and the fact he's currently doing (almost finished) American Gods?
"Mark Reads" started as "Mark Reads Twilight" and was done as a joke, but when he started blogging Harry Potter in the same vein, he realised he actually liked the series and stopped making fun of it - and he now does books that he actually hopes to enjoy and think seriously about - he does chapter by chapter reviews/reactions and tries to read completely spoiler free. The blog has had literally millions of hits and hundreds of thousands of followers.
I know you can't mention everyone who ever does a reading project of one of your books and that you must have heard everything there is to hear, but the real reason I'm writing to you about him today, though, is because of something in particular he said in today's review (chapter 18)
"that’s half the charm of American Gods. This might technically be a fantasy novel, but it rarely feels fantastic. It feels like the very best history lesson I could ask for, or perhaps a fireside story told with sincerity and heart, or maybe even a tale handed down over the centuries. It’s comforting even if it is disturbing at times, and I found myself feeling like this was all being shared with me out of respect for me as a person. It’s not often that I feel that way about a book; it’s like Gaiman is a close friend who trusts you, so he hands you this as a gesture that he thinks you’re an all right person, that he feels safe in saying that you deserve this."
I just thought that was a nice sentiment about you, and that you should be aware of it.
I went over to Mark Reads and I was really impressed. It was fun, as an author, watching a reader paying attention and writing about his reactions, all the way through. There were some really smart people in the comments, too. (You can follow along as Mark reads American Gods at http://markreads.net/reviews/category/american-gods/)
And finally, two things: Lemony Snicket writing about money and about cake at Occupy Writers, and Elvis Costello sings one of my favourite songs from his first album, My Aim Is True, but with monsters instead of angels, and a two instead of a shoe.