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Friday, August 30, 2013

Urgent Letter From A Man Now Off Twitter, Tumblr & Tea

This leg - the UK leg, and the last - of the mammoth signing tour that started on June 13th, has just finished. About 50,000 people, probably about 150,000 things signed. (Said things including body parts, dolls, and a hairbrush. But mostly books and books and more books.)

It had many remarkable bits, of great joy. For example, they named a lane in Portsmouth THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE. And not just any lane: it's beside the Canoe Lake, where I was walked in my pram, where I went with my grandparents (it was round the corner from their house at 36, Parkstone Avenue). There were a few hundred people assembled in the sun: the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth made a speech in which she put me on the list of Portsmouth Writers (Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Kipling were the other people on the list), the poet laureate of Portsmouth read two lovely poems, and then I pulled the cloth off the road sign and hugged lots of members of my family, and talked to people, and even met a 90 year old gentleman who told me how, when he was sleeping rough after  being demobbed from the army in World War 2, my grandmother took him in for Friday Night dinner and my Uncle Ronnie gave him his spare suit...

It made me smile. Then again, everything that day made me smile.
(These photos are from Elliott Franks's website at http://elliottfranks.photoshelter.com/gallery/Neil-Gaiman-event-18th-August-2013/G0000BGlc8FWrkSA/. Elliott was there as a photographer -- and also as my cousin.)

That night there was a really fun event at the Portsmouth Guildhall (preceded by tea for my family, who were all a bit baffled and delighted by this. Best bit was hearing several elderly aunts explain to another why she should watch Amanda's Dear Daily Mail video.) There was also a Dalek.


 

The next event of magic was held in Ely Cathedral.

The queue looked like this:


...only there were over a thousand people in it, and it wound up going all the way through the town. (photo from here.) The place was magical, and I signed for people until the small hours of the morning, while, as the perfect summer evening became twilight and then night, the cathedral bats flittered overhead.



(Photo, along with some of the best  signing photos I've seen is from http://narshada.co.uk/neil-gaiman-book-signing-ely-cathedral).

From there, to Oxford, and the Oxford Playhouse, and my favourite ever conversation-on-a-stage. Possible one of my favourite ever conversations. It was with Philip Pullman, who is smart and honest and has everything that you'd every want in a favourite English teacher...

Fortunately a lot of it was recorded and put up on the web. (Not, alas, the audience questions...) You can hear it here. It's Philip Pullman and me talking about books and authors we love, children's fiction, and whether we ever get to bring back stories from dreams.



And from there to the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

I talked about Memory and The Ocean at the End of the Lane with Charles Fernyhough, talked about my children's fiction with Vicky Featherstone (who brought along a surprise wolf head and the pig puppet from the National Theatre of Scotland's The Wolves in the Walls), talked comics and Sandman in particular with Hannah Berry, and talked to Margaret Atwood about, well, everything really. (Did you know she does an astoundingly scary impression of the Wicked Witch of the West? Oh, she does...)




Also, I CO-JUDGED A LITERARY DEATH MATCH. Amy Mason won. I'm reading her book, and I'm reading Briony Hatch by the Skinner sistren, and Craig Silvey's book, and Craig Collins's comics... frankly, I made out like a bandit.

And I was interviewed (and semi-heckled hilariously by Phill Jupitus and Mitch Benn) as part of the Ad Lib Comedy thingummy at the Fringe, and it was marvellous.

Here's a great audio interview by the Scottish Book Trust towards the latter, even more brain dead, part of the festival:
http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/blog/reading/2013/08/neil-gaiman-interview-the-ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane

From Edinburgh to Dundee, for a lunchtime signing and on to Inverness for the end of it all.  A wonderful conversation with my new friend Stuart Kelly, one last last last signing (event photos here) and I was done.

This is a photo of me being done.


(Photo from here.)

There's now a video up of the US leg of the tour... it gives you an idea of what it was like -- 20 cities in 80 seconds...




I'm now recovering and going back to being a writer again. It's a bit odd. Currently I have the kind of headache you get from from caffeine withdrawal, having survived the tour on massive amounts of tea. I'm going for walks and just getting everything back together. I look a bit less battered, which is good.

So, I have gone cold turkey from things like Tea, Twitter, Tumblr and, er,  probably other things too.

I'll put up the occasional photograph of a hill here, I expect.

....

This interview with Amanda makes me happy. It's the only interview I can remember that was about the two of us: http://blogs.citypages.com/gimmenoise/2013/08/amanda_palmer_on_neil_gaiman_he_desperately_loves_to_be_surprised.php

...

Right. Nearly done. Some housekeeping before I vanish: First things first. PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO. Then spread it around. Share it. It will make you smile, and you get a great sense of Skottie Young's wonderful artwork...




That's the US trailer.

The UK trailer... well, that doesn't exist yet. They want YOU (yes, you) to help, by recording part of the trailer:

http://www.gaimanbooks.com/ftmtrailer is the link that explains all the voiceover competition...

and they've put an extract up at http://issuu.com/bloomsburypublishing/docs/fortunately_the_milk_extract.

While, not to be outdone, Harper Collins are themselves giving away copies of Fortunately The Milk at  at http://harpercollinschildrens.tumblr.com/post/59489655003/giveaway-fortunately-the-milk-by-neil-gaiman

I'm afraid the UK Fortunately The Milk event (the one Bloomsbury are doing in association with Time Out and Foyles) is now sold out.

...

I'm off to be a writer for a bit, as I said. I'll blog if there's anything important: unplugging from the twin delights of Twitter & Tumblr.

I will next surface on the 14th of September at the Hackney Empire, where I will be the Voice of the Book on the opening night of the stage version of the radio version of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. (Tickets at http://www.hackneyempire.co.uk/hitchhikers)

In New York, the tickets for the Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer we are doing at the Town Hall to celebrate the release of the CD of the original tour is ALMOST SOLD OUT. There are still tickets, though, at the back of the balcony.  http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/03004B0CE260F20A

And finally, BlackBerry have made a very limited, not for sale, number of books of A Calendar of Tales, which are going out as gifts to the contributors and to those who helped make it all happen behind the scenes. You can see what the book looks like at http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2013/august/neil-gaiman-book (and read the tales and look at the pictures at http://acalendaroftales.com/)

...

And now I am going to sleep. Last night, my dreams were of signing books for people.  Everybody I had ever known was in the signing line, and I signed, and I signed, and I signed...

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

ATTENTION: OCTOBER 15th ALERT. NB DON'T SAY I DIDN'T WARN YOU.

Right. This is the plan.

If you are going to be in London on Tuesday, October the 15th 2013, you should buy tickets to come and see me read the whole of FORTUNATELY, THE MILK... on stage at the Central Hall, Westminster.

The event is being presented by Time Out Live and Foyles.

Things that will definitely be happening that night:

1) I will read all of Fortunately, The Milk... live on stage. This will take around an hour.

2) Chris Riddell will be drawing stuff live as well, on the stage for everyone to see.

Here is a picture that Chris Riddell did of either the dad in Fortunately, The Milk, or of me. I do not dare ask him which it is.



3) The tickets will cost £10, £8, and (these ones come with a special limited edition of the book) £20.

Things that will most probably be happening but I really need to start sending out emails and making phone calls to make them happen:

1) There will be mysterious guest stars. Some of them may get to read lines from the book...

2) There will be mysterious guest stars. Some of them might make some music to accompany things.

Things that have been announced as happening that might actually happen, you never know:

1) I will "reveal all" about the creation of Fortunately, The Milk...

There won't be a signing after the event. A lot of the books available for sale at the event will most probably have been signed by me that afternoon, however.

There won't be a second performance. We're talking about taping or webstreaming this but no decisions have yet been made, so if you want to be there, you should do your best to be there.

Things that will definitely not be happening on stage that night:

1) Ice skating and ladies who dance through hoops of fire.

2) Real live dinosaurs attacking.

3) Human sacrifice.

This is how you get tickets:

http://www.timeout.com/london/things-to-do/neil-gaiman-and-special-guests-fortunately-the-milk

And go to the bottom of the page, and click on buy tickets. Tickets are already selling fast, so you may want to strike like a cobra. Or at least, click on the link.

FAQs

Here are some possible questions about this event you might frequently ask, with useful and informative answers by me:

WILL THIS BE FUN?

Yes it will. Please come.

I MEAN, IT SOUNDS PRETTY BORING, YOU JUST READING A STORY. ALSO IT'S TUESDAY EVENING. I HAVE MACRAME ON TUESDAY EVENING.

You really don't have to come. I don't mind. Although it won't be boring. It will be fun. (See previous answer for details.)

WILL THERE BE REAL LIVE DINOSAURS AND ALIENS AND WUMPIRES AND PONIES LIVE ON THE STAGE, AND HUMAN SACRIFICE, ICE SKATING AND LADIES WHO DANCE THROUGH HOOPS OF FIRE?

There will not. I thought I covered this already. Come anyway. Fun, remember?

SHOULD I BRING MY CHILDREN?

I would, if I were you. After all, if you tell them that you went to see the only performance of Fortunately The Milk without them they may grow to resent you and eventually plot against you and bring you down at your moment of triumph.

I WANT TO COME BUT I LIVE IN BRAZIL.

Brazil is a lovely place. On October the 15th you must drown your sorrows in cachaça-based alcoholic drinks, and go to the beach, and think about what you are missing.

WHAT IF I DO NOT LIVE IN BRAZIL?

Why don't you live in Brazil? The weather is wonderful, the people are delightful. One day we shall all move to Brazil, drink cachaça-based alcoholic drinks and sit on the beach, where we shall talk about art.

ARE YOU SURE ABOUT THIS? THE WHOLE MOVING TO BRAZIL THING?

No. I just ran out of useful questions and answers about the October the 15th FORTUNATELY, THE MILK night. Here, have a caipirinha.




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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Fortunately, the book... (Explained)

So I'm not certain right now if I have one book coming out or two, this September. So I will let you ponder the question for me.

I have a book called Fortunately, the Milk coming out from Harper Children's on September the 17th. It's published in the US, Canada, and many such places.

It's illustrated by the brilliant Skottie Young.

This is what the cover looks like:



I have a book called Fortunately, The Milk... (note the ellipses) coming out from Bloomsbury on September the 17th. It's published in the UK, Australia and various other places.

It's illustrated by the amazing Chris Riddell.

This is what the cover looks like:


(You cannot actually tell from this how astoundingly SHINY the cover is. Trust me. It is the shiniest cover you have ever seen.)

And I'm not really sure why there are two books. I know that different places and different publishers like different styles of illustration. And I am not grumbling, because I love Skottie's art, and I love Chris's art, and they are completely different -- in approach, in style, in storytelling.

You can get the feeling for Skottie's art, and the way the US version looks here:

http://issuu.com/harpercollinschildrens/docs/fortunatelymilk_usexcerptreveal

You get a feel for the UK edition with the same pages told in a British Way at:

http://issuu.com/bloomsburypublishing/docs/fortunately_the_milk_extract

You are, of course, allowed to order the edition you like best from the country of your choice. But in UK bookshops you'll find the Bloomsbury, in US ones you'll find the Harper Childrens...

Why is the milk in a bottle in the US, where milk almost never comes in bottles? Why is the milk in a carton in the UK, where milk actually does still turn up in bottles? Why does the dad in Chris Riddell's artwork look mysteriously sort of like me?

There are no answers to be found in this video of Chris Riddell drawing...





there ARE however, some answers, to all of your Fortunately, The Milk (...) questions here, in this video.

Watch it. All will be explained. Well, something will be explained, at any rate...



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Monday, August 05, 2013

I bet you thought I was dead...



I'm not really sure what it says about the last month and a half that the last actual blog post was the day before THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE was published, June the 17th.  Mostly it probably says that when I had any down time I was too tired to blog.

So I will do a brief recap of what happened.

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE was published. It went to #2 in the UK (beaten by Dan Brown) and to #1 in the US. It's still on both bestseller lists, six weeks later. (I think it's now at #7 in the US.)

The reviews have been fantastic. Ones that made me particularly happy would include the New York Times review

“Childhood memories are sometimes covered and obscured beneath the things that come later, like childhood toys forgotten at the bottom of a crammed adult closet,” Neil Gaiman writes in his slim, dark dream of a new novel, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” “But they are never lost for good.” Who we used to be sometimes seems like a faint shadow of who we are now, but Gaiman helps us remember the wonder and terror and powerlessness that owned us as children.(...)Gaiman is especially accomplished in navigating the cruel, uncertain dreamscape of childhood.
There is a moment, toward the end of this novel, when the narrator drops into the duck pond (or ocean, as the Hempstocks call it), and his mind melts and achieves a kind of transcendent understanding: “I saw the world I had walked since my birth and I understood how fragile it was, that the reality I knew was a thin layer of icing on a great dark birthday cake writhing with grubs and nightmares and hunger.”
Which replicates the experience I have whenever reading one of Gaiman’s books. His mind is a dark fathomless ocean, and every time I sink into it, this world fades, replaced by one far more terrible and beautiful in which I will happily drown.

And A.S. Byatt reviewing it in the Guardian (!), and, well, hundreds of reviews, actually, and I've lost all the links now. But people, on the whole, have liked it.

There have been lots of interviews with me. In some of them I say the same things, and in some I say different things. For example, here's the Financial Times asking rapid-fire questions.

I went on a tour. Sometimes I was on a bus, and sometimes I wasn't. I didn't get a lot of sleep, and I signed many many thousands of books for many thousands of really astonishingly nice and patient people.


(Photo by the invaluable Cat Mihos.)

I'll grab some accounts from people's blogs (thank you, denizens of Twitter for pointing me at some good ones): Here's an account of the Symphony Space evening, when I was interviewed by Erin Morgenstern.  Here's a beautiful account of the Chicago signing, from someone standing next to me making it all work. And here's another, with photo of lovely people who ran the event too.

After Portland, I went ot Seattle and had a magical break in order to teach 18 of the smartest writers I've ever encountered how to... well, I'm not sure what I taught them how to, actually. Mostly I learned from them. But they were students at Clarion West: I inherited them from Elizabeth Hand, and I passed them on to Joe Hill, and I think they all have a great future ahead of them. (Over 700 writers applied for the 18 places.)

You can see some of them (and me) if you click on this link, then go to extreme right of the third row: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/interactive/2013/aug/03/selfies-celebrity-instagram-twitter-photography

Then I went back on the road. It turns into a bit of blur again immediately, because a plane tragically crashed in San Francisco on landing, which threw all plans into disarray closed off a runway and meant that the following day I didn't get to Ann Arbor until two hours after the signing was meant to have started, and everyone was really nice...

My bag was lost and spent 4 days following me around the country.

The tour finished in Lexington, when John Scalzi introduced me and interrogated me while a rock band played loudly next door: Look, here is me in a Cyberman head backstage with Scalzi. And then it finished properly in Cambridge two days after that. And then it finished later that week at Comic-Con in San Diego.

By the time of Comic-Con I was VERY tired indeed.

Entertainment Weekly took a photo of me there. I looked like this:


I presented Eisners, avoided being snogged by my co-presenter Jonathan Ross (as a follow up to this 2007 moment)(Mr Ross kissed John Barrowman instead), although I made up for it by kissing Chip Kidd instead when he came up to collect Chris Ware's final Eisner Award. I was on a great Sandman panel with Sam Kieth, J. H, Williams III, Dave McKean, Todd Klein and Shelly Bond. I was on  panels about Jack Kirby and Will Eisner, and there was a Spotlight panel, where I was interviewed (and, unsurprisingly, embarrassed) by Jonathan Ross:


I went home. My wife came off tour. I picked her up at the airport with a handmade sign.

We went to the Newport Folk Festival. We painted a mural on an unborn baby's wall.




 We both recovered a bit more.

Yesterday, I started writing again.

Today I flew to Canada for the start of the next leg of the tour. Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver. All sold out, I'm afraid.

Next week I go to the Netherlands and sign in Rotterdam and Utrecht (Details on WHERE'S NEIL), and will be at the Lowlands Festival at 17:30 on Saturday afternoon. Then round two of the UK, and on to the Edinburgh Book Festival. The Edinburgh Book Festival events are sold out...

If you are in the South of England, and free on the evening of the 18th of August, come to Portsmouth and watch me do an EVENING WITH NEIL GAIMAN and a book signing in the Guildhall. That afternoon, there will be a naming ceremony as a small road by the Canoe Lake becomes "The Ocean at the End of the" Lane. It points at the Atlantic Ocean -- or at least at the English Channel...  (Details here.) If you think I'm delighted by this, you'd be right, but a lot of the delight has to do with all of my Portsmouth Relatives Who Have All Moved To Exotic Places Like Harrow coming back for the day to watch me beam delightedly at the lane-naming, and to tell me that my grandparents would have been proud.

Baffled, undoubtedly, but proud nonetheless.




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