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Monday, June 17, 2013

Publication Day! Links! Tired Neil!


I've been stumbling across the UK, although mostly in and out of the BBC. I spent a day at the Guardian offices, editing their book website. (Here's a video: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/video/2013/jun/17/neil-gaiman-guardian-books-video).

My favourite thing was talking about Richard Dadd's painting, The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke, with Mark Lawson for Radio 4's Cultural Exchange. Check it all out at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p016p5mb/profiles/neil-gaiman
(The BBC have put up some wonderful stuff to go with it, ranging from Angela Carter to Freddie Mercury.)

You can also just click here:


One reason I picked the Dadd was that I'd just been spending time at the Tate in company with the painting, for Intelligent Life magazine.


You can read what I wrote at http://moreintelligentlife.com/content/arts/anonymous/gaiman?page=full

There's a great feature by Lev Grossman in this week's TIME Magazine. It's only for subscribers: Here's the opening: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2145490,00.html

Today THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE comes out officially. I will get up in a few hours and fly to New York for the Brooklyn signing.

(You can come and see me, listen to me talk and do a reading, possibly with some special guests, and you can say hello and get a book signed at 7 p.m., Howard Gilman Opera House, Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Avenue, at Ashland Place, Fort Greene, Brooklyn, (718) 636-4100, bam.org;greenlightbookstore.com; $45 and $55, which includes a copy of the book.)

We have so many articles out there, and so many reviews:

http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/books/211547701.html by William Alexander is my favourite, because it tells you nothing about the plot and everything about what it feels like reading the book. But there are lots of other good ones. (I'm sure I will miss a lot.)

Here's the Washington Post:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/neil-gaimans-beautifully-crafted-ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane-marks-a-happy-return/2013/06/16/23db3890-d2ae-11e2-9f1a-1a7cdee20287_story.html

Laura Miller at Salon.com
http://www.salon.com/2013/06/16/the_ocean_at_the_end_of_the_lane_neil_gaiman_returns/

Carole Barrowman at the Journal Sentinel
http://www.jsonline.com/entertainment/books/gaimans-new-book-a-beautiful-collision-of-memory-mortality-b9928190z1-211575211.html

James Lovegrove at the Financial Times http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/fa4ffac4-d28a-11e2-88ed-00144feab7de.html#axzz2WL41tJul

The Atlantic Monthly
http://www.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2013/06/why-you-should-finally-read-neil-gaiman/66244/


and a really lovely but slightly spoilery NPR review: http://www.npr.org/2013/06/17/191346480/a-deceptively-simple-tale-of-magic-and-peril-in-ocean


Here's the LA Times


with a longer story at http://www.latimes.com/features/books/jacketcopy/la-ca-jc-neil-gaiman-ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane-20130616,0,518593.story



CANADA DATES, FINALLY...



August 6, 2013


Location: Toronto, ON
Tuesday, August 6, 6:30 PM

Presented by Indigo Books & Music

WHERE:
Danforth Music Hall
147 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, ON M4K 1N2

TICKETS:
$20 plus tax and service fees

Twitter: @indigogreenroom

***

August 7, 2013

An Evening with Neil Gaiman

Location: Montreal, QC
Wednesday, August 7, 7 PM

Presented by Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore

WHERE:
Ukrainian Federation Hall
5213 Hutchison Street
Montreal, QC H2X 2H3

TICKETS:
Available in store – Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore, 211 Bernard Ouest
$10 with $5 off THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE with ticket purchase.

Twitter: @librairiedandq

***

August 8, 2013

An Evening with Neil Gaiman

Location: Vancouver, BC
Thursday, August 8, 6:30 PM

Presented by Vancouver Writers Fest
Book sales by Kidsbooks

WHERE:
The Vogue Theatre
918 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1L2

TICKETS:
Phone: 604.569.1144
In Person: 918 Granville Street
$21 adults $19 students (with ID) and seniors plus service charges. General admission.

Twitter: @vanwritersfest


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Monday, June 10, 2013

You have to be this tall to go on this ride

So much is happening. The tour machine has started to grind and whirr, and I have packed as much as I can of my life into a wheelie suitcase and a backpack, climbed onto a train, and I will not be home for a month and two days, and the tour proper, which starts tomorrow, does not end now until the very end of August. I will be on planes and I will be on a tourbus and I will sleep in hotels. I will see Amanda again at the end of July for about 8 days between getting back from San Diego Comic Con and going off to sign in Canada, and then again  for a few days at the end of September as she returns from Australia before we both go in different directions again.

I'm going to try and use this blog more, as a journal and as a place you can find out what's going on.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane comes out in a week. I am more nervous about this than I have been about any book I have ever published.

The Guardian has just posted the Prologue online: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jun/10/extract-ocean-end-lane-neil-gaiman

So many articles, so many interviews, so many reviews. You are not expected to read them all. Even I am not expected to read them all.

The reviews I'm liking best are ones like this one from PopMatters that tells you nothing about what happens in the book and everything about what it felt like to read the book: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/172252-the-ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane-by-neil-gaiman/

Put simply, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the best-written book of Gaiman’s career. It features a level of craftsmanship, focus, and control that we normally associate more with literary fiction than genre. The book is focused, lyrical, and profoundly perceptive in its exploration of childhood and memory, and it’s also quite frightening—like one of Truman Capote’s holiday stories by way of Stephen King.

The same goes for this Den of Geek review: http://www.denofgeek.com/books-comics/neil-gaiman/25898/neil-gaimans-the-ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane-review

Is it, like Coraline or The Graveyard Book, suitable for children? It’s not being marketed as such. Reading some of the more nightmarish scenes, and the act of domestic abuse that lodges horribly in the novel’s throat like a silver shilling might (coins are a Gaiman staple and make a reappearance here), it’s easy to see why.
 If it’s not just for adults, and not quite for children, there is one age-flexible group it is written for. An obtuse thing to say about a book it may be, but The Ocean at the End of the Lane was written for readers. It’s for people to whom books were and are anaesthesia, companion, and tutor. If you’re one of them, you’ll want to wade into it, past your ankles, knees and shoulders, until it laps over the crown of your head. You’ll want to dive in.

This is an interview with me, about the book, by Joe Hill. If you wish to be completely unspoilered, bookmark it and then come back to it when you have read the book. It ends with a pancake recipe, which is a first for  me and interviews. http://www.omnivoracious.com/2013/06/uncharted-waters-joe-hill-explores-neil-gaimans-the-ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane.html

So now here is The Ocean at the End of the Lane--an overpowering work of the imagination, a quietly devastating masterpiece, and Gaiman's most personal novel to date. I had a chance to talk to him about it. Here are some things we said:

Interviews:  a lovely interview with Tim Martin in the Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10091579/Neil-Gaiman-I-wanted-to-write-my-wife-a-story.html

The result is the most affecting book Gaiman has written, a novel whose intensity of real-world observation and feeling make its other-worldly episodes doubly startling and persuasive. “There are a few things I do in Ocean which technically are the hardest things I’ve ever done,” he acknowledges, “and I don’t think I could have pulled them off 10 years ago.” But even for a novelist with such a Midas touch, approaching his publishers with it was, he says, a heart-in-mouth affair. “It went in with an apologetic note saying ‘It’s small and personal, it’ll be OK if you guys don’t want to do it,” he laughs. “I definitely wasn’t going ‘I’ve written my best book!’”



And here's an interview, more about the year than the book, in the Independent by David Barnett: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/neil-gaiman-interview-the-year-of-living-crazily-8650672.html

There are very adult themes in Ocean, which are obvious to the reader but which go over the head of the main character. Given his reputation as a children's author, is he at all concerned that younger readers might want to give Ocean a go?
"It isn't a children's book but some younger readers might think they're ready for it. That's why I started the book off with a couple of really dry chapters. It's like, if you've made it this far, then you might be ready for the rest of it." He smiles and holds a hand up high, palm downwards. "You have to be this tall to go on this ride."

...

The tour starts in the UK with two pre-publication signings: Bath on June 14th: http://www.toppingbooks.co.uk/events/bath/neil-gaiman/ for tickets and info (it just moved to a bigger Venue, The Forum).

Cambridge on Saturday June 15th at 8 pm: Tickets via Heffers http://www.neilgaiman.com/where/details.php?id=155

The Royal Society of Literature event on the night of the 17th in London is Sold Out.

Then on the morning of the 18th, I fly back to the US, and the tour kicks off with BROOKLYN! It's 7pm at the Howard Gilman Opera House. There may be special guests too. I will sign for EVERYBODY THERE.  Ticket info at http://www.bam.org/literary/2013/neil-gaiman

More information on the rest of the tour (except for Canada and some of the August UK things that haven't yet been announced) over at http://www.neilgaiman.com/where/. It's not up-to-date on sold-out events though: New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, Phoenix, SF, Portland, Seattle, Chicago and Lexington are all sold out.

Right. Back to work. Back to reality.

(Also, we picked a hashtag for Twitter: it's #OceanLane.)


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Sunday, June 09, 2013

Iain Banks. With or without the M.

I should be blogging about The Ocean at the End of the Lane, because it comes out in 9 days and the reviews and articles are starting, and right this minute I should be doing the writing I have to finish before I hit the road.

But I just learned that Iain Banks is dead, and I'm alone in this house, and I cope with things by writing about them.



I met Iain in late 1983 or early 1984. It was a Macmillan/Futura Books presentation to their sales force, and to a handful of journalists. I was one of the journalists. Editor Richard Evans told me that he was proud that they had found The Wasp Factory on the slush pile -- it was an unsolicited manuscript. Iain was almost 30, and he got up and told stories about writing books, and sending them in to publishers, and how they came back, and how this one didn't come back. "You ask me what's The Wasp Factory about?" he said. "It's about 180 pages." He was brilliant and funny and smart.

He fitted right in. He was one of us, whatever that meant. He wrote really good books: The Wasp Factory, Walking on Glass and The Bridge all existed on the uneasy intersection of SF, Fantasy and mainstream literature (after those three he started drawing clearer distinctions between his SF and his mainstream work, not least by becoming Iain M. Banks in his SF). His work was mordant, surreal, and fiercely intelligent. In person, he was funny and cheerful and always easy to talk to. He became a convention bar friend, because we saw each other at conventions, and we would settle down in the bar and catch up. (A true story: In 1987 I was at a small party at the Brighton WorldCon in the wee hours, at which it was discovered that some jewellery belonging to the sleeping owner of the suite had been stolen. The police were called. A few minutes after the police arrived, so did Iain, on the balcony of the Metropole hotel: he'd been climbing the building from the outside. The police had to be persuaded that this was a respectable author who liked climbing things from the outside and not an inept cat burglar returning to the scene of his crime.)

We were never good friends, mostly because we were never in the right places long enough. We were pleased to see each other. We ate together. We talked. We liked each other's work. We always figured we'd have more time.

The last time I saw Iain was in Edinburgh, in August 2011. Amanda and I had taken a big house for the duration of the festival, and on the night that she did a gig in Glasgow, I invited over a bunch of writers and a bunch of  actors and comedians who really liked writers. Because Iain was coming over and he had written Raw Spirit, a book about going around Scotland to find the perfect dram of whisky, I bought the most special and fancy bottle of whisky I could for the night, especially for him.

He arrived with a large bottle of red wine. "I don't really drink whisky any more," he admitted. "Not since the book." The ridiculously fancy bottle of whisky was tasted by everyone except Iain.



It was a fine and glorious night. There were fireworks, which didn't go off as expected, and the best conversation, and I was looking forward to repeating it this year.

In April I heard Iain had terminal cancer.

I didn't write to him. I froze. And then, a week later, with no warning, my friend Bob Morales died, and I was upset that I hadn't replied to Bob's last email, from a week or so before. So I replied to Bob's last email, although I knew he'd never read it. And then I wrote to Iain. I told him how much I'd loved knowing him, how much I'd enjoyed being his friend, even if we only saw each other in the flesh every few years.

I finished,
I think you're a brilliant and an honest writer, and much more importantly, because I've known lots of brilliant writers who were absolute arses, I think you're a really good bloke, and I've loved knowing you.
And he wrote back and said good, comforting, sensible things. Goodbyes are few enough, and we take them where we can.

I hoped that he'd get better. Or that he'd have time. He didn't. Hearing of his death hit me hard.

If you've never read any of his books, read one of his books. Then read another. Even the bad ones were good, and the good ones were astonishing.


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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

On Casting The Doctor

torchyvalentine asked: What would you say to Sir Ian Mckellen taking the reigns as the 12th Doctor? For that matter, who do you think would be a good actor for the character?




I think that if you’d asked me who should be the 11th Doctor 5 years ago I wouldn’t have listed Matt Smith, because I didn’t know who he was or what he was capable of, and if you’d asked me who should play Sherlock Holmes in a modern day revival around the same time I wouldn’t have said Benedict Cumberbatch, because I didn’t know who he was either.
I actually like it when The Doctor is a relatively unknown actor, or one without one huge role that made them famous. A star, like Sir Ian, brings all the other roles they’ve ever played to the table when they act. Seeing John Hurt as the (Spoiler) at the end of the Name of the Doctor, meant that this was a certain type of part with a certain amount of gravitas, and you understood that John Hurt was bringing everything with it (including being John Hurt), just as Derek Jacobi did as the Master. 
But I like to see The Doctor as The Doctor, and an actor who doesn’t bring baggage is a grand sort of thing. A star waiting to happen. So I don’t want to see Helen Mirren or Sir Ian McKellen or Chiwetel Ejiofor, or any of the famous names people are suggesting.
I want to see The Doctor. I want to be taken by surprise. I want to squint at a photo of the person online and go “but how can that be The Doctor?”. Then I want to be amazingly, delightedly, completely proven wrong, and, six episodes in, I want to wonder how I could have been so blind. Because this is the Doctor. Of course it is.

(From Tumblr. But I thought I should put it up here, too.)

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