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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Frankly, much too much stuff for one poor blog post to hold...

I meant to blog in Australia. I really did.

I also meant to get more sleep, jog, write and be a bit of a tourist. Almost none of these things happened.

Lots of other things happened, though.

I flew to Hobart, Tasmania. I have been saying for years that Hobart is one of the planet's secretly cool places, and people used to mock me for saying this. (Australian people would mock me. Other people would just stare at me blankly.) Over the last few years, however, the world has caught up a little with my opinions, and the MONA museum and the MONAFOMA (aka MOFO) Festival has a lot to do with it.

I rehearsed. I read a fairy story in the Theatre Royal Hobart. (I did other things there too: I sang "Psycho", and I did a reading of one of Amanda's songs, "The Bed Song", because she wasn't there.) Here's a video. Jherek Bischoff, Amanda's bass player and string arranger, made all the music happen. The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra provided the lovely string quartet.


Somewhere shortly after arrival in Hobart, I joined forces with Polly Adams.

I'm a patron of Tasmania's Bookend Trust, and Polly has inherited her father's conservation mantle, if not his Rhino suit, and is a patron of Save the Rhino. We got up early the next morning, and were taken off on a journey by Niall Doran of the Bookend Trust. We saw the devastation of the bushfires on the Tasman peninsula, learned the natural history behind the bushfires (basically, Eucalypts like fires - they clear the brush and help the seeds to germinate), saw an echidna by the side of the road, went on a wonderful boat ride (thanks to http://www.tasmancruises.com.au/) and saw awe-inspiring cliffs, seals and penguins (and a dead weedy seadragon), not to mention a place where the sea tips on its side...



...or it feels like it has. (Photo by Polly Adams.)

And then we were shows some of the fire devastation in Dunalley, and presented books to the primary school.

The primary school at Dunalley is not there any more. It burned down in the bushfires. They are putting up temporary buildings to house a temporary school while they build a new one. (We were joined by lots of nice people, including Robert Pennicott and Andrew Hughes, Tasmanians of the Year in 2012 and 2013.)

My publishers, Bloomsbury and Hachette, gave the school lots of my books, and lots of other books that they could use to auction or sell or include in the library. Here I am with Chair of the School Association Elizabeth Knox, Principal Matt Kenny, and various students and community members.





Frankly, I think Polly has a future in showing books to people.



(Photos taken from https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.10151236486214607&type=1 )

The school wrote about it at their blog entry at http://newdunalleyschool.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/a-visit-from-neil-gaiman/.  It's a really inspiring blog, as they chart their recovery from the fires and chart the plans for the new school...

Time was tight, so we flew by seaplane to Hobart so I could do an interview with ABC's Helen Shield (you can read about it and listen to it here: http://blogs.abc.net.au/tasmania/2013/01/neil-gaiman.html). (And Helen's interview with Polly is at http://blogs.abc.net.au/tasmania/2013/01/douglas-adams-little-rocket.html).

A mad dash to a quick rehearsal/soundcheck with Jherek and a string quartet, along with our special guests David Byrne and St Vincent, and an even madder dash back to the ABC studios to do another interview, this time with Triple J's The Doctor (You can read about it/listen to it at http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/thedoctor/blog/s3673304.htm). Then back to the Mona Festival. I got there at 7 minutes to 6. We were due on at 6, so I found a dressing room, changed clothes and went on stage to read "Click-Clack the Rattlebag", sing Psycho, and, my favourite moment of all, read my "Australia Day" poem with Brian Ritchie playing didgeridoo, and David Byrne making animal sounds on the guitar.

I listened to Kate Miller-Heidke singing wonderfully immediately after us (her cover of David Byrne's Psycho Killer was unbelievable. It was a bit like this:)



And then came the best bit of the whole night as Jherek and I had a close encounter with a guide dog puppy named Quinnell.




I nearly forgot to mention, a couple of days earlier Amanda had asked me on Twitter to recreate her famous Map of Tasmania photo from the last time she was there. So, with the aid of a Map of Tasmania apron and photographer Dianna Graf, I did. And then Polly did too.




and here is Quinnell the guide dog puppy in training with his coat on (he's not allowed to play and lick you when he has his coat on) along with Dianna Graf, who took many of the the above photos and, with Mark, her partner,  is training Quinnell. We're in Hobart harbour and it is very windy.




And then Polly and I were getting up at 6 am again and we headed to Melbourne, where we stayed with my friends Peter and Clare. They have the best house in the world.


I spent a day or so mostly being interviewed -- the photo is from the interview at http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/books/melbourne-in-authors-good-books-as-he-plans-next-fun-escapade-20130123-2d7e6.html.

I'd a talk at the Atheneum Theatre, under the auspices of the Wheeler Centre.  I signed lots of books for people, and then stumbled off for a late drink and dinner with lots of Melbournian friends, including Sxip Shirey, Meow Meow, and someone named Knibbs who can, like me, raise both eyebrows individually or set them scurrying across her forehead like startled caterpillars. ("Did you teach yourself in front of a mirror when you were a kid too?" "Yup.")

Four hours of sleep and I said goodbye to Peter and to Clare, and to Polly too (I'd pretty much adopted her by the time I left, so it was a sad goodbye made happier in the knowledge that I'd introduced her to lots of people who would be fun for her to know in Australia) and flew to Sydney, to the offices of Hachette, where I was interviewed, looked after by publicist Anna Hayward, had my photo taken by Tamara Dean (look at her beautiful photo art here and here) and then I had lunch with my Bloomsbury publishers and answered questions for them on video, and I ran to the Sydney Recital Hall where I met FourPlay String Quartet for a rehearsal.

I really love the guys from FourPlay -- it's such a delight doing stuff with them. We ran through the Fireball XL5 theme.  We took the first fifteen minutes of FORTUNATELY, THE MILK and they created music and sound effects on the fly. They made glorious bush sounds for the Australia Day poem.  Working with them now is so comfortable and easy.

Photo stolen from http://capriciousnerd.tumblr.com/post/41897844603/agaimanevening because she posted on Twitter that she had photos from the night at the exact moment I thought I ought to look for some.


During the evening I read the first 2 chapters of THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE. I did a Q&A and explained why secrets do not leak out of the Doctor Who office in Cardiff. I sang the Fireball XL5 theme because I had FourPlay with me and I wanted to hear what they did to it...





I read the first fifteen minutes of FORTUNATELY, THE MILK... (it is so silly. I love it so much).

And then I gave an acknowledgment of country, and read the Australia Day poem, and we were done. No signing -- it was a long event, there were about 1100 people there, and I was knackered, but I scribbled on things for the people at the stage door on the way out.

Production entity Jordan Verzar and Festival boss Ben Strout, Jemma Birrell (artistic director of the festival) and festival PR Ainslee Lenehan and I, along with my old Whitgift school friend James Croll, stumbled off for an exhausted drink and conversation after the show, winding up in the bar of the hotel I was staying in, the somewhat O.T.T. but beautiful "QT", where the people were so nice and helpful. And then I was sleepily packing and it was daylight again, and I went to see the people at Animal Logic, who had given up some of their Australia Day to show me the beautiful film work they had done...

I proofread the UK edition of OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE on the plane back to the US, and read Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor. I breakfasted with my son and daughter in law and daughter in San Francisco airport. I got home to Amanda...

I slept. I slept for three whole hours, and then the furnace in the basement belched out soot and smoke, the smoke alarms went off, the fire brigade arrived, and my hopes of catching up on my sleep were dashed. (Nothing was damaged. Nothing burned. And the Cambridge MA fire department are fast.)

The first of my episodes of SELECTED SHORTS went up on the radio. I got to select and introduce stories I loved -- in this case Ray Bradbury's chilling "The Veldt" read by Stephen Colbert, and James Thurber's "The Catbird Seat" hilariously read by Leonard Nimoy.

You can listen to it HERE.

(I'll be hosting for the next few weeks. Why don't you subscribe to the podcast? Information and links  at http://www.selectedshorts.org/podcast/. There are some great stories on the way.)

Then an interview with me went out on Morning Edition. You read about it and listen to it here: http://www.npr.org/2013/01/28/170085113/watch-this-neil-gaimans-imaginative-favorites It's about things I love, or things that influenced me.

No, I won't tell you what they are. Go and listen to it. It's fun.

(There were things on my list that we didn't have time to talk about: Doctor Who's Curse of the Fatal Death and the Magnetic Fields' Andrew In Drag video, for example...)

And I should stop writing this blog and go and write about weird stuff happening underneath London instead.

But if you've made it this far, the next week should be interesting. I'll be doing a really exciting (and quite goofy) Art Project, and you'll learn a bit about it in this film. (Along with seeing Cabal, alive and well and happy, three weeks ago.)









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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Life Goes On, with additional Awesome, the aftereffects of a hurricane & a firestorm

I am typing this on a plane on my way to Australia. I had planned to go to Australia to keep Amanda company. Amanda is, however, now not going to Australia until Autumn. Life is odd, sometimes. She will be in Cambridge, dreaming of the warmth and missing Australia, and I'll be in Australia, performing on stages -- even doing something unlikely with David Byrne -- while being a bit wistful for home.

I was on the stage of the Carnegie Hall last night. It wasn't my show -- it was more fun that that. It was John and Hank Green's show, An Evening of Awesome, and I felt like I was going to their party (and boy, can they throw a party). I had quite possibly the best time that any author except John Green has ever had standing on the stage of the Carnegie Hall, and I hugged Kimya Dawson and hugged Hannah Hart, and the Mountain Goats played and...

...ah, just watch the video if you want to know what it was all about. It starts 35 minutes in. (And my first bit starts about 1:43).




I gave copies of Chu's Day to some of the people on the stage who had very small children.


Chu's Day went straight onto the New York Times list at #2 today, which is good.

But... there was a problem.  I had noticed on the Amazon page that people were reporting that they were getting copies with water-rippled interior pages. And some of them were sending them back and getting more water-warped copies to replace them with. This was odd. I asked on Twitter and discovered that, yes, this had happened to people who got their copies of Chu's Day in places other than Amazon. I let Harper Children's know, and they did some SherlockHolmesing around. My editor Rosemary told me what they discovered. She explained,

...we believe that when the copies left the bindery in China, they were fine, but they arrived in the U.S. during Hurricane Sandy. The cartons of books were stuck on the ship, as the ship was unable to come into port, and so the tremendous humidity in the air caused a ripple effect on the pages of some of the books. The ship was unable to dock until November 9. There is no actual water damage on the books, or water-to-paper contact, but we have seen some ripples in a few copies that would be caused by humid air. The copies that shipped to us by air from the bindery were all fine, so the problem must have occurred on the ship.

HarperChildren have already gone back to press on the book twice, with the first reprinting due in to the US this week, and they are shipping out pristine copies of Chu's Day to their accounts to replace any Sandy-damaged copies. As Rosemary continued,

[the new printing] will ship directly from the bindery to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others. We are not wasting time by shipping to our warehouse and then to our accounts...

So if you got a hurricane-marked copy, you should be able to replace it very easily very soon. And we are very sorry.

...

Two Australian things: There are still tickets left for Sydney on the 25th. The first half of the evening will be all about Ocean at the End of the Lane. The second half will be stories and Q&A, and FourPlay and possibly even some songs. Tickets at this link.

More importantly, on the 21st, it's the Mona Bushfire Fundraiser Concert. The Tasmanian fires have been terrible things, and I've already been working with my publishers to get books to students at this school:



Probably you want to see me and Jherek Bischoff with special guest David Byrne doing some weird and wonderful stuff on stage. (We have over an hour to fill. We have plans. They will be weird. They will be wonderful.)  But we are only a very small part of the entertainment:

MONA is pleased to announce a Mona Bushfire Fundraiser Concert to raise funds for the Australian Red Cross Tasmanian Bushfires 2013 Appeal. http://www.mona.net.au/
Buy tickets: https://www.mona.net.au/shop/bushfirefundraiser.aspx
THE ARTISTS:
The Hoodoo Gurus
The Break
Kate Miller-Heidke
Evan Dando & Spencer P Jones
Neil Gaiman and Jherek Bischoff (special guest David Byrne)
Taiko Drum
WHEN & WHERE:
Monday January 21, 2013
Princes Wharf 1 (PW1), Hobart
Doors open 5.30pm for 6pm, until late
TICKETS:
$33
On sale now: https://www.mona.net.au/shop/bushfirefundraiser.aspx
All profits from the concert go to the Australian Red Cross Tasmanian Bushfires 2013 Appeal. Production costs kept low by the generous donation of time and services by dozens of companies and individuals. 
Mona and MONA FOMA staff are hosting the event. Suppliers will provide equipment and services, including artist accommodation; volunteers will staff the concert, and artists are performing for free. Mona has waived ticket booking fees and is giving all food and bar profits from the evening to the Red Cross.




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Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Power of the Dog. Cabal (2003-2013)

Sometimes, these things are hard to write. And sometimes writing them saves my life. This is one of those times I'm glad I have my blog here, and it's still so hard to write...


So. 30th of April 2007 I stopped and rescued a dog by the side of the road.

At the time I wrote...

On the way home from the recording, driving through the rain, just as I pulled off the freeway to head home, I saw a large, pale dog on the side of the sliproad. I went in a couple of seconds from a first glance thought of "Oh, he's just wandering around and knows exactly what he's doing," to, on a second glance, "He's absolutely terrified and if he isn't actually lost he's really scared of all the cars and in danger of bolting onto the freeway," .
I pulled over, crossed the road and hurried across to where he was. He backed away, skittish and nervous, then came over to me, shaking. No collar or information, just a choke chain. And big. And very wet and very muddy. With cars going past, I decided the wisest thing to do was to put him into my car while I figured out what to do. The car was the Mini. I opened the door and he clambered in. The dog took up most of the Mini that I wasn't in and a fair amount of the Mini that I was in. Big dog, small car.
I phoned my assistant Lorraine, and asked her to let the local Humane Society (really nice people with a no kill policy) know we'd be coming in soon with a dog, then I drove home, narrowly avoiding death on the way (it's amazing how much you can't see when a huge dog fills the car and your field of vision). I ran around the garden with Dog until he'd tired me out. (I really hope he'd just got lost, and his family are looking for him; it would be hard to imagine someone abandoning a dog that cool.) Then I put him into the back of a car much bigger than the Mini and took him to the Humane Society, where they fawned all over him. ("I think he's a husky-wolf cross," said the Humane lady who took him, and she could be right.)
I think he's probably a survivor too.



And that was what he looked like when he climbed into the Mini.


I seem to have acquired a dog.
I got a call today to say that the owner of the dog I found on Monday had called the Humane Society and collected him. I was happy Dog was back with his family, but found myself rather sadder than I would have expected -- I realised I'd half hoped that maybe no-one would claim him.
The call went on to say that the dog's owner, a local farmer, who kept him chained up in the yard, and couldn't walk well so couldn't walk him, thought the dog was a nuisance, always getting out and heading onto the freeway and sooner or later he'd cause an accident, and, when the Humane Society lady mentioned that the person who found him rather liked him, he told her that if I came over and picked him up I could have him.
So I did.

It took a long time before he was actually white around the neck and chest. The grey of the metal chain had stained his fur grey.

He'd been named Buck, in the farmyard, on the chain, but he didn't respond to it, and hadn't actually been called Buck by anyone, as far as I could tell. I called him Cabal, after King Arthur's white dog who could see the wind, and he seemed to like having a name he could respond to.

I'd never had a dog. I don't think he'd ever had a person. And we bonded. Over the next six years, we both changed and we both grew.

My house in the midwest is on about 17 acres of woodland. I rediscovered all of those acres, and local meadows as well. I had a friend at a time when I needed one badly: I was really lonely at the time.  I'd separated from my children's mother, Mary, four years earlier, and she'd moved out, and the house was  feeling very empty. I didn't really have anyone in my life, anyone who felt like mine.

I got unquestioning love from Cabal. Not in a subservient sort of way. When we went walking, he seemed fairly certain that he was in charge -- after all, he was faster, could smell things, and had a much better idea of how things worked in the woods.

He wasn't afraid of anything, except thunderstorms. And elevators.


I took so many photos of him in the woods that someone made him his own Tumblr feed.

He was less happy in the house. Sometimes his back legs would splay out from under him. He was wary of shiny surfaces, as if he'd had troubles over the years walking on ice in his farmyard.

We were a sort of an Odd Couple, both of us fascinated and delighted by the other one. Both of us protective. He'd stand between me and strangers; he'd move just out of my eyeline, and plant himself there; he was determined to keep me safe from cats, even though I had several cats, and had to divide the house into Cat and Dog territory (and I am not certain he ever realised that that was mostly for his safety, and not theirs).

People said we looked like each other. Some people even tried to prove this.



Amanda says he taught me how to love. She's probably right.

He had trouble with his back legs -- he'd run too fast, too far, too hard, and break the leg and keep going, or rip the tendon. There were operations, one on each, a year apart.

He always slept in my bedroom at night. And then he had increasing trouble getting up and downstairs, and I moved my bedroom downstairs, so he didn't have to worry about stairs. We put a ramp in outside the house so he could get in and out without worrying about stairs.

He was having more trouble walking outside: his front legs went where he wanted them to go, his back legs wandered and lurched. He was three when I got him. Now he was nine, and had a degenerative condition (degenerative canine myelopathy -- like MS for dogs). But he was always cheerful, friendly, and still capable of out-running a human in the woods if something interesting went past.

It made him sad and lonely when I travelled, so I got Lola to keep him company. It worked. Now, when I'd return, he'd be much more cheerful. Lola adored him, and put up with me because Cabal seemed convinced I was pack leader.

He was nine years old. An old, big dog. But still mine, with a determined, unquestioning love and loyalty I'd never known.

When I rented the place in Cambridge I'd planned to bring him out immediately, then I actually saw the house, saw the shiny slippery wooden floors and all the stairs and realised that wouldn't work. The dogs were going to come out here to be with me in about 8 weeks, when it would be warm enough for me to move my workspace out into the conservatory, and in the meantime I was going home whenever I could to spend time with him and Lola (and, over Christmas, my daughters). I was with him there a week ago. I go back in two weeks for a couple of weeks, and was already planning stuff to do with the dogs while I was there.

I got the phone call last night from Hans, who looks after the grounds and the house, from the vet's. Cabal had had a normal, fun day, and then suddenly got really ill. He was vomiting and having trouble breathing. I'd missed the last plane and was going to fly home this morning to be with him while he was ill. Another phone call: he and Mary my housekeeper were with Cabal, and they were both in tears. They put me onto the vet, who was going to try to get  Cabal to the animal hospital. He couldn't breathe. The vet thought there was a blood-clot in his lung. Another call: he wasn't going to make it to the hospital. His heart had stopped. The vet had just brought him back to life, but he was barely able to breathe and she was worried about him going into seizures and dying in pain...

And I wasn't there. If I'd been there, he would have been okay with whatever was happening. If I'd been there it would have been safe for him to go. I talked to him on the phone, intending to say something calming so he could hear my voice, and instead just cried and told him I was sorry that I wasn't there.

I spoke to the vet one last time, and told her to let him go,

Photo of us by Kimberley Butler. She called it Unconditional Love

I cried. Amanda came and held me, and I cried some more. Holly called and I told her what had happened, and she cried too. It was so sudden and unexpected and I wasn't there with him when he went. And I'd lost my friend.

I thought I was all cried out, and then I heard that Lola had taken his collar from the counter top and slept with it all night, and I cried again.

So many kind emails, messages of all kinds. I'm grateful to all of them. To all of you.

I'm so glad I knew him. I'm so glad we found each other. I don't imagine I'll ever have another bond like that in my life. I wish dogs lived longer.


Kipling said it best:

THERE is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day; 
And when we are certain of sorrow in store, 
Why do we always arrange for more? 
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.


We can beware all we like. But the poem is called the Power of a Dog, and it is a very real power, and it is, as Kipling knew, a good thing.

He was the best dog in the universe and I'm going to miss him so much.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Chu's Day: a history and a signing...

So Chu's Day came out two days ago. It's my first book for really really small kids. I hope it gets read to kids too young to read it for themselves, and that they enjoy it and demand it be read to them again. Adam Rex's illustrations are beyond cute, for they are witty and wonderful.

Chu's Day sprang into my head pretty much fully formed one day in Beijing in 2009. I grabbed a notebook and wrote the story.

When I got home, I picked up a notebook and a pen, and simply drew and wrote the story as it was in my head, because it seemed easier than writing long descriptions of what was going on on each page.  That was what I sent to my editor at Harper Children's.

I can't find the original handwritten one - here's a few pages taken from a version that Harper Children made to show how the layouts would work with type:



They really liked it. Now I had to choose an illustrator.


I really liked Adam Rex's work. I'd seen some of his actual prose books, which I'd enjoyed.  (I had completely forgotten that he had given me a Sandman painting back in the late 90s, which was one of the pieces of artwork that were auctioned off for the CBLDF at the Fiddler's Green Convention in 2004.) I browsed illustrator websites, but there was something about the way he drew animals, funny, honest, accessible, realistic and cartoony at the same time...


We asked Adam. He said yes. I was happy.

He took my doodles as a framework, and then added his own layers, jokes, bits and such...

So pretty soon my scratchy doodles, like the one above of the elephant blowing dust off the book, or the one of Chu and his father in the diner, became things of beauty and wonder like this:




Most important of all, obviously, Adam gave Chu aviator goggles.



It's been out for a couple of days. People on Twitter are reading it to their children, which makes me happy.

You can get it Amazon, Barnes and Noble, from Independent bookstores via Indiebound, or pre-order a signed copy from Books of Wonder at http://www.booksofwonder.com/prodinfo.asp?number=105164.

Right now the reviews are coming in. They are mostly really nice. Even the one for the three-minute long Audio Book.

I got a press release from Harpers this morning, and I'll cut and paste a bit from it into here....

PRAISE FOR CHU’S DAY

The rhythm of Neil Gaiman's humorous picture book about a sneezing panda, ‘Chu's Day’, replicates the tantalizing on-again-off-again feeling of a sneeze that is just . . . about . . . to explode . . . but doesn't. ...The explosion, when it finally comes, will delight children ages 3-6 with its comic magnitude.”
Wall Street Journal

“The hows and whens and whys provide the substance of this slight tale, which is enriched primarily by the sly humor in Adam Rex’s deeply hued oil paintings. … You can bet that when Chu finally does sneeze, it comes at an unexpected and inopportune moment — and shows Gaiman’s keen understanding of a 5-year-old’s comedic sensibility.”
New York Times

“A humorous story of a small panda with a giant sneeze! … Adam Rex's warm and colorful illustrations show in detail just why Chu's parents feared this little panda's sneeze.”
USA Today

cid:image002.gif@01CC4BA4.36F64250“Gaiman’s comic timing gets a boost from strategic book design and from Rex’s hyperreal paintings, which emphasize Chu’s round, fuzzy form and apparent harmlessness. Gaiman and Rex deliver a classic one-two-three punch, making hay from the notion that a cuddly baby panda is not to be trusted.”
   — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Kids will find the idea of a monstrous sneeze funny, and it may prompt some attempts of their own. Rex’s richly detailed illustrations are brimming with fantastic touches. Share this one at toddler storytime for lots of giggles, or one-on-one for spotting details in the art.”
— Booklist

cid:image003.jpg@01CDE9B0.74279740

CHU’S DAY EVENT!
NEIL GAIMAN and ADAM REX will be doing a book-signing at BOOKS OF WONDER on Saturday, February 23rd at Noon!
*Neil and Adam will be pre-signing a quantity of limited edition CHU’S DAY posters which will be available to fans at the event and online for a donation to Books of Wonder*

And the other reason I am posting a bit from the press release is that Adam and I are doing a release event at Books of Wonder on Saturday February the 23rd. We'll sign all the copies of Chu's Day anyone wants, and other books as well. Books of Wonder is one of my favourite Children's bookshops in the world. They've been going through some rough times recently.

The last release event I did there, on the 7th of March 2009, had a certain amount of tragedy in it -- in the taxi on the way to the signing I learned my father had died unexpectedly of a sudden heart attack, and it was the 8 hour signing event that helped me keep it together and not fall apart. (Here's a Youtube video of me talking about and reading Blueberry Girl on that day, and not falling apart.)

It's at 18 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011 on Saturday, the 23rd of February, at Noon.

Goodnight.

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Thursday, January 03, 2013

Amazing Book Cover Announcements and throwing up in anniversary gutters

My publisher, William Morrow, have just released the cover for my first adult novel in about 7 years, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It comes out in June. It looks like this:



This is how the publisher describes it:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac—as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly’s wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark. It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family's lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed—within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duck pond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

And they've announced the existence of the beautiful Chip Kidd-designed Make Good Art speech book, which will be out in May. (An actual "by popular demand" book, because lots of other publishers came to my agent and asked if they could make my speech last year at UArts into a book, in time for Graduation Time this year. And we went to my normal publisher and suggested they do it, and they agreed.)



Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012 from The University of the Arts (Phl) on Vimeo.

Chip is probably the finest book designer in the world. And in this book he breaks all the rules of design and makes something amazing in its own right.

Amazon run the biography of from Chu's Day on the Make Good Art Amazon page, which will undoubtedly confuse some people.


Morrow have also released The Ocean at the End of the Lane desktop wallpaper in, so far, six version, so you will not forget that it is coming out:
And…
  • A 3-D image of The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Download)
  • A 3-D image of Make Good Art (Download)

They look like this:


...

I sang the Fireball Xl5 theme, as you probably know if you've been reading this blog.

Here's the footage of that, and my new year's wish:




In other news, my second wedding anniversary last night was fun, except for the food poisoning, which meant that Amanda and I threw up in gutters a lot, and I spent this morning in the ER watching her get a saline drip. We went out for such a fancy anniversary dinner, and it was the most expensive food we've ever thrown up. Next year I think we'll just go somewhere we like.

(I read Michael Fry's The Odd Squad in the ER, because that was what I had with me. Perfect ER reading while the person down the hall is screaming and the homeless man in the wheelchair has begun to grunt, loudly and incoherently, and your wife is sleeping on a drip beneath the beautiful black Kambriel greatcoat, which seems to have found its person. Funny and sweet with a steely centre.)

I'm now on my way to Minneapolis from New York, to see my daughters and my dogs, and to take part in the pilot for a new NPR radio show.

...

REMINDER: Sydney Australia. Melbourne's sold out, but there are still tickets to come and see me in Sydney on January the 25th. It will be a long, fun evening. There may well be some music. (And if anyone from Salt & Poppet is out there, and if you still have the Australia Day Poem puppets from Melbourne and want to repeat it in Sydney, let me know.)


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