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Friday, July 27, 2012

The middle of nowhere

I just took 24 hours off from the middle of nowhere. And am now returning. Will do a proper blog soon. In the meanwhile, if this works, two photos...

Edit to add, it doesn't work. Sorry. When I try to attach the photos it tells me the blogger app has stopped. Let me try a work around...

Okay. Sort of works although one of the photos may be sideways.



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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Post-premiere thoughts. Also a grave box.

Last night I went to New York for The Dark Knight Rises premiere. I really enjoyed it. I think I preferred The Dark Knight movie, because it had Heath Ledger's Joker and a plot I found hard to predict. Dark Knight Rises doesn't have those things: once the set-up is done you have a pretty good idea of what's going to happen and when (even if you've worked hard to keep yourself spoiler free, as I had), but how it happens is the delight. I preferred the last movie, but this is a better Batman movie, and, I suspect, a better film. (It's my third-favourite film of the year so far: Moonrise Kingdom and The Cabin in the Woods are ahead of it.)

I wore a suit. I walked the red carpet (which was, of course, a black carpet). I was even interviewed...



This morning, on the plane home, I was asked about the premiere on Tumblr, and thought I'd repost my reply here...




So, as a super famous person, do you get random invites to these kinds of things? (spectacular movie premiers) or is this a scenario of 'I would like to see that' and your 'people' take care of such things?
I’ve gone to six premieres, so far (for two of them I went to the US and the UK premiere, though, which makes eight, I suppose).
Of those, four were for films I’d written or that were based on books of mine, one was last night’s Dark Knight Rises (Diane Nelson, the DC Entertainment head honcho, had asked me to go with her, and I thought it would be fun, and it was) and the other was The Hunger Games, which was a request from my daughter Maddy, and my people (I don't really have people, but my amazing agent at CAA, Jon Levin) pulled in favours all over Hollywood to make it happen.
I get invited to other premieres from time time - normally by friends who made the films — and tend not to go. I don’t actually enjoy walking red carpets or the weird stressiness of premieres - all metal detectors and WE WILL CONFISCATE YOUR CELL PHONE and people on walkie talkies moving you through lines. I do not enjoy wearing fancy red carpetworthy suits. I have no celebrity/actor facial recognition skills and do not get much of a kick from peeing next to famous people. (Also, I'm rarely in the correct city on the right night.)
So the things I enjoyed about last night’s premiere were things like chatting to Neal Adams (it’s amazing how much of Neal’s work — and even more so, Dennis O’Neil’s — the film uses), catching up with Grant Morrison (who is one of my favourite people in the world, and I do not see him nearly enough), and running into David Goyer and learning what’s happening with the still semi-secret thing I think of as Our Film (well, until the rest of the world discovers what it is actually called, and the cat is out of the bag). And I liked spending some real time with Diane Nelson.
And the very best thing of all about the premiere was the email from Karen Berger about the first few pages of Sandman: The New Untitled Thing I received moments before the film started. 
She said it felt like coming home.
...

Just before I left for New York a mysterious box arrived... #2 of 49, it said. And it was postmarked Blithe Hollow -- apparently a gift from the cemetery:










There was also some amazing miniature stop-motion detritus in the soil.  
I love that Laika sent me a box. His name (according to the rolled-up scroll he was holding, and the note attached to his foot) is Eben Hardwick -- my own glorious zombie puritan hangman. 
I still feel part of the Laika family, after Coraline, and I am really looking forward to Paranorman.


...

Finally, when you get a chance, check out http://www.loa.org/sciencefiction/ - the Library of the Americas is doing American Science Fiction: Classic Novels of the 1950s, edited by Gary K Wolfe. I wrote an original essay about Fritz Leiber's The Big Time. Connie Willis wrote about Heinlein's Double Star. William Gibson wrote about Alfred Bester's The Stars my Destination... and, look Tim Powers and Nicola Griffith and Kit Reed and Peter Straub and Michael Dirda and James Morrow, all of us writing about 50s SF novels we loved.






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Thursday, July 12, 2012

And by the way, here is some actual news:



My big secret for the last 18 months is finally out, and it feels, literally, like a weight off my chest.

I like that I can tell people what I'm writing when they ask.

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on Stardust and Chu and 5 books, three of which are already written

Had a magical handful of days at home, the high point of which was having Paul Cornell and his wife Caroline out to be introduced to the beehives. (Caroline got stung, standing near one of the hives, from a wandering bee who was caught in her hair, but nothing else odd happened.) 


It's berry time, and I've picked blueberries and whitecurrants by the handful, and every night I'd count fireflies as I walked the dogs.


Now I'm in San Francisco for Amanda's art opening. I'm writing this in the hotel cafe, and then I will go back to the script I'm writing. More news of which may be floating around later tonight.


I just signed a book deal with Harper Collins Childrens books, for five books. (I am telling you this here because it is being reported as news.)




One book I've mentioned here already a few times is Chu's Day, illustrated by Adam Rex, is a book for very small children. Here's a picture from it. (Click on it to see it larger. There is a snail in the picture. Can you spot him?) Chu is over on the right and he has his back to us (you can't see him in the version on my blog - click and you will). It'll be published on January the 8th 2013. And there will be another Chu book (already written), and Fortunately, the Milk (already written), and the next Odd novel (started and plotted) and a mysterious book that I think I know what it is (not even started, won't be for quite a while, and I think I know the setting but not the story)...


None of these books is the novel that has the working title of Lettie Hempstock's Ocean, which should be out in 2013 some time, although contracts aren't signed. That's a novel for adults and is lurching further toward the end of its second draft every day. (mostly I'm just listening to comments from friends who have read it, and fixing things, or thinking about them and letting them stay the same...)


(I came up with a brilliant new title for it today. I told Amanda the brilliant new title. She agreed it was brilliant. It bounced off the tongue. I started a delighted letter to my agent and my editors...I wrote the new title in the email. Then I looked at it. I shook my head. I called Amanda over. She read the email. "It doesn't look very good, written down, does it?" she said. That was what I'd been afraid of. It really didn't. I will keep pondering.)



Hi,

Does the new edition of Stardust include the original illustrations by Charles Vess? I know Neil mentioned that a full color front piece by Vess will be used. And that chapter headings, presumably in black and white will also be included.

I find it odd that nowhere on the web can I find this information. Also, it has not been 13 years since Stardust has seen a hardcover edition. I have in my hands an edition published by Vertigo in 2007. It measures nearly 8 X 12, and includes the Vess illustrations, these illustrations are considered so integral to the text that Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess are listed as co-authors on the cover.

I believe this needs to be addressed as it appears that Neil considers his text-block with a few illustrations to be the official version of Stardust. And the version with the original Vess illustrations to be a hybrid, unofficial variant of Stardust. In other words, Neil claims sole authorship of the official version of Stardust.

Thanks,

Lawrence Carlin



The illustrations that Charles Vess did for the original DC Comics version of Stardust are so integral to the text that that version of the book isn't actually even called Stardust. It's called Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess' Stardust, because when we asked DC if they could try and make sure they mentioned our names when they talked about it they said they were worried they might forget, so we put our names in the title instead. That edition has almost 200 full colour illustrations by Charles, and some slight textual differences (sometimes where text had to be trimmed to fit, sometimes where Charles had drawn something slightly different to what I'd written, and I'd then change the words to fit).


I don't consider any version to be the "official version of Stardust". I'm not even sure what an official version would be. 


And yes, the DC Comics version had a brief second hardcover edition in 2007.


Contractually, the prose-only edition of Stardust has had to be unillustrated until now, and I'm delighted that DC Comics gave their permission to have Charles do the two illustrations and the chapter heading for the new edition. I couldn't imagine even asking any other artist to do it.






Charles was saying on Facebook that he now has a bunch more pictures, done over the years since our Stardust was first published that he'd love to see published: perhaps we can persuade DC Comics to do a new, Deluxe Edition of Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess' Stardust. I'd love that.


The above is a (click to embiggen) beautiful fairy market painting Charles did for the endpapers of the 2007 edition, because the proportions of the oversized hardback meant that details and characters were lost from the double page spread of the fairy market inside the book...



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Monday, July 09, 2012

Clarity in Stardust Editions and Amanda becomes canvas

Right. I've investigated a little further. There are, as I said in the last post, two editions of the upcoming hardback of Stardust. The regular one (there will be many thousands of copies of this edition printed, and I hope it will stay in print for a very long time) will have this beautiful two-colour Charles Vess illustration as the frontispiece:

The signed limited (that is to say, there will only be a limited number of them, and each of them will be signed by me on a limitation page) deluxe edition will have this beautiful full-colour Charles Vess illustration as its frontispiece:


There's also a beautiful Charles Vess chapter heading at the start of every chapter in each of the books.

I'm slightly nervous, as right now the deluxe signed limited super-expensive edition is outselling the regular gift edition on Amazon, and I'm wondering whether anyone's actually keeping track of how many orders for the limited are coming in, and stopping orders when it reaches as many as they are going to make. The plan as of this morning was that there will only be a thousand of the signed edition, but that might change, and I may grit my teeth, flex my pen, and sign more. I don't want people who have already ordered it to be disappointed.

...

The Guardian this morning previewed Amanda's new video.

A few weeks ago, in London, Amanda got an email from filmmaker Jim Batt, with the video he'd been making for her song Want It Back. We watched it with our friend (and host, for we were staying in her spare room) artist Judith Clute. When it finished, Judith and I made Amanda show it to us again, and then again. We laughed and gasped in the same places each time. I love stop motion, and I love imagination, and I love that it’s a rock video that’s fresh and imaginative. I was impressed too by the way Amanda uses herself as a canvas. I sent it to Henry Selick, who knows from Stop Motion, and he loved it, and wanted to know how Amanda had had the patience and stamina to stay there for three days as it was done - he had known a rock star who had nearly killed the animator who tried to make him into a stop motion video. Her reply to both of us, when I enquired, was "yoga + meditating + ego + extreme desire for an awesome video = patience".

Probably the years she spent as a human statue helped as well.

 I'll put the video up here. I'm putting it up because I think it's marvellous. Do not watch it if you are at work, or you have people around who will give you funny looks if naked bodies turn up on your screen. (Also, do not watch it if you're hoping for erotica. It's not that, either.)


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Sunday, July 08, 2012

Tesla Coils, A Stardust Cover, A Sinister Photograph of Beautiful Women, and a small and unfortunate murder.

I'm home, after ten days in New York and Boston and Cape Cod. I've left Maddy behind in New York, where she is doing an internship before going off to college. Then I left Amanda behind in Boston, where she  is packing before she goes to France and Italy to do interviews about her new album before she flies to San Francisco for her art show and Kickstarter-backer concert.

It's a beautiful night. I'm told it was evilly hot while I was away, but it's glorious now, a night filled with fireflies, somewhat spoiled by Lola dashing off into the darkness while walking through a cornfield, and returning in triumph with a young raccoon she had just caught and killed.

Barnes and Noble have once more started to sell the Sandman graphic novels (along with the other DC Comics graphic novels they'd stopped selling) in their brick and mortar stores, so I am happy to link to them once again. I doubt either boycott actually did anything, but mine made me feel marginally empowered. Anyway, they are selling copies of STORIES, the anthology I edited with Al Sarrantonio, in hardback, for $2.99. (It contains my story "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains", and many other wonderful stories by wonderful authors, and it won the Shirley Jackson award and the Locus award for Best Anthology.) I'm not sure how long they'll be selling them at that price.




Here's the video (via the Open Spark project "Your Music Played By Lightning") of the 8in8 song Nikola Tesla, words by yours truly, played on enormous Tesla Coils. It is impossible to describe the glorious nerdy rush of pride I felt looking at (and listening to) this.

Here's a fan-made-video of the song with lots of cardboard in it, and fewer giant electronic zaps...



There were many wonderful things on the kitchen table waiting for me, but my favourite was the mock-up of the new edition of Stardust.

There hasn't been a hardback of the prose-only version Stardust in print in the US for about 13 years. I'm not sure why not. Jennifer Brehl, my editor at William Morrow, talked to me about what I wanted to see in a book. I told her I wanted it to look and feel like something from 90 years ago, like the books I treasured as a kid that I found in the school library (the ones I'd buy for a penny in the school library sales, and loved ever after). Bless her, she got it. She took all my blathering and went off and has started making it into a book. 

She's commissioned Charles Vess (with permission from DC Comics) to do a frontispiece, an illustration and chapter headings for the new book.


The cover will look a lot like this.

And Charles just sent me a finished, painted illustration for it:


It will be really beautiful. There's a regular edition and there will also be a signed limited very fancy and quite expensive edition (Amazon's is the only link for the fancy edition I can see so far).


Here's an Indiebound link to the regular edition. A Barnes and Noble link to the regular edition.

...

Something else that was waiting for me when I got home was an envelope of photos from Lomo. I love my LCA+. I love the strange greens it produces when I use Agfa films. I love having forgotten what photographs I took, and then the delight of seeing them and of finding out what happened.

This is my favourite photo from the envelope, I think because it's faintly sinister: artist Cassandra Long and (coincidentally but delightfully) Lomography's online chief, Alexandra Klasinski, at Amanda's Brooklyn end-of-Kickstarter celebration party.


And finally, a thank you to Dan Guy, Webgoblin of this parish, who has taken blogger and this template and made it do things it was never meant to do, which should actually allow you to share it places across the web, in the way that people today like to do. (If you want to share it somewhere else, drop him a line at http://neilgaiman.com/feedback/ and ask...)

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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

An Evening With in Edinburgh. Also, falling asleep.

My daughter Maddy and Amanda and I are visiting Amanda's parents on the Cape for July the 4th. There will, I am assured, be fireworks later.

I have been reading Amanda the new book (ie it may still be called Lettie Hempstock's Ocean) in bed for a while now, at a few pages a night. Normally I read it until she falls asleep. Last night I started falling asleep while reading - having microdreams between words or paragraphs - so I finished reading her chapter 14 this morning.

I'm enjoying it. I hope she is. I learn so much about the words, reading them aloud, and I spot places where what I meant to write and what I actually wrote were different.

Tickets are now onsale for the AN EVENING WITH NEIL GAIMAN AND AMANDA PALMER we're doing in Edinburgh on August 12th. It'll be the same sort of thing we did on the West Coast tour. She'll play piano and ukulele, I'll read poems and stories (but not long ones). We'll answer questions. Odd things will happen. We took the Queen's Hall for the evening, so it didn't have to fit into the Fringe rules of only being an hour long.

You can get tickets (and choose seats) here. Don't be put off by the way the page doesn't really have me in it. They didn't use the right artwork or text. They will. http://www.thequeenshall.net/whats-on/shows/Amanda%20Palmer%20Neil%20Gaiman%202012

(This is the only show we'll do together this year. Amanda's other gigs should all be with her band.)




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