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Friday, October 18, 2013

A Perfect Week

The tour started on about June 13th, with an event and a signing in Bath. It went to the US and to Canada, then came back to England via Holland, and it finished in Scotland at the end of August. I signed about 75,000 books while I was on tour, most of them copies of THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE. Six weeks on, I came back to the UK and did a mini-tour for FORTUNATELY, THE MILK. It was the appendix of tours, the last bit. Even so, it had a few of my favourite moments of the year, in it and one of my favourite evenings ever.

My first day in the UK, I went to the opening night of THE LIGHT PRINCESS, Tori Amos's beautiful musical, at the National Theatre. It's a fairy tale, and is about feminism, ecology, and the importance of showing and having emotions. It contains some amazing performances, beautiful songs, and flying (and floating) effects that are jaw dropping. The audience loved it, and gave it a Standing Ovation. I came out certain that it would divide the critics, and the papers the next morning were mixed – the Daily Mail's reviewer gave it one star and described the audience who had loved it as “weak minded”, the Daily Express gave it five stars and said:

 With shades of panto, ballet, circus and opera as well as musical theatre, this bonkers but beautiful fantasy defies categorisation. Amos has said that any man taking a woman here on a date is guaranteed to get lucky afterwards. I’m not the best judge of that kind of thing. All I know is I’d go again tomorrow, and again the day after that.
I thought it was magic.

Ian Lamb, Bloomsbury's Children's Books Publicity Honcho, had set up several really enjoyable events. They began with a literary lunch at the Savoy Hotel, which reopened in 2010 after a three year long remodel. The food was wonderful, and between courses I wandered around with a microphone, talking about the book, reading from it and answering questions. This was only the second of the lunches, and I don't think that any of the people there were Savoy regulars: the ones I recognised were all regulars from signings and events, most of them looking a bit nervous and intimidated. The Savoy staff were really nice.



I was on SATURDAY LIVE, the BBC Radio 4 Saturday morning show, along with a comics creator, a Rock Manager, Tori (and elks), and a former Yeti. It was a delightful 90 minutes of radio. I forgot to talk about FORTUNATELY, THE MILK.
(You can listen to it here.)

I went to Cheltenham, and talked and signed at the literary festival there: 400 people queued up afterwards, most of them in the rain, and I felt very guilty indeed. I met Marcus Brigstocke for dinner – the first time we'd talked properly since we did the commentary on the DVD of A SHORT FILM ABOUT JOHN BOLTON, my short film in 2002, which Marcus starred in. From Cheltenham to Manchester, where I did another book event and signing, less formal and significantly less rained on.

Up first thing the next morning to do the BBC Breakfast Show (the segment is up here, but you may need Tunnelbear or equivalent to watch outside the UK). Normally Breakfast TV book spots are an excuse for the interviewers to not talk about the book, but the presenters (and their children) had read and loved FORTUNATELY THE MILK, and asked me about it, and I made up for not having mentioned it on the radio. (The Amazon rating went up from about 240 to 12 in an hour, for the curious.)

That night was astonishing: I gave a speech on behalf of the Reading Agency. It's about reading, and about libraries, and about our obligations to the world and to the future. Before the speech, I sat in my seat, and I looked down at the words I'd written to say and was consumed by a strange form of stage fright in which none of the sentences that I looked at seemed to make any sense. In a kind of awkward terror I got up and delivered the speech, and somehow it all made sense and all the sentences were sentences after all: it worked.

It's been widely reported, and published in edited form in the Guardian, and people everywhere have started using it to explain to other people why books and libraries and such are to be protected and endorsed, which is a wonderful thing.

The next day was the best day of all. It began early when my wife, Amanda, flew in to the UK to surprise me. And, because she knows me, she texted me the day before to let me know she would be surprising me at that night's performance of the whole of FORTUNATELY, THE MILK at the Westminster Central Hall.

I had spent a few weeks gathering together a motley and wonderful band of performers to help with the night's entertainment. In addition, Chris Riddell was going to come on the stage with me: I would read, and he would draw.

It was amazing, and I was amazed.

About 2,500 people were there. The tickets had sold out immediately – we could have done an event twice the size. My only regret was that there could have been more kids in the audience.

Andrew O' Neill was our master of ceremonies. T.V. Smith and Tom Robinson played two acoustic songs (and played pirates and such); As the story started Chris Riddell quick-drew amazing illustrations; Siobhan Hewlett was a pirate queen and stole the show; Mitch Benn stole it back with a song about Lady Pirate Captains; Tasha Hawley and Niamh Walsh were ponies – and got a round of applause from the audience – and Niamh returned as a wumpire; Lenny Henry brought the house down as a special surprise Dinosaur Space Patrol T. Rex, and asked me twitter questions. Then Amanda came on and played her Ukulele Anthem with final lyrics rewritten to be about FORTUNATELY THE MILK. And then it was all done.

Chris Riddell draws...

TV Smith and Tom Robinson perform THE THIN GREEN LINE


Mitch Benn, Andrew O'Neill, TV Smith, Niamh Walsh, Tash Hawley, Siobhan Hewlett

Mitch, Tim and Andrew do a very important plot dance. Lenny Henry and I do not dance.

(All of these photos from this great photoset I found on Flickr.)


I cannot thank any of these people enough for a perfect night.

(In the background, making things work for us and for the 2500 people, were Andy Quinn from Foyles, Alex Rochford from Time Out, and their respective teams, the lovely and talented Holly Gaiman, and the extremely terrific Kelly Fogarty who helped make everything easier and took the following wonderful backstage photographs.)










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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Back from the Blog Dead.

My whole tour is done, and I am tired and happy.

I just saw a beautiful, moving play called THE EVENTS at the Young Vic, starring Neve McIntosh and Rudi Dharmalingam (and a choir). It was about empathy and violence, and I highly recommend it.

Tomorrow, I will tell you about the last week in the UK, about FORTUNATELY THE MILK, about the astonishing show last night at Westminster Central Hall, about Breakfast TV and the Reading Agency Speech.

I will give you some tidbits first, though. Here's my BBC Breakfast Time appearance
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01jq6kd

The Saturday Live Radio 4 programme with me (and Tori, and a yeti) http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03ccvtp

Here's the Guardian's edited text of my speech: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming

And here's the School Library Journal on the Alamagordo N.M. attempted banning of NEVERWHERE: http://www.slj.com/2013/10/censorship/neil-gaimans-neverwhere-banned-at-new-mexico-high-school/

But now... I hand this blog over to the lovely Amanda Palmer. Who is very beautiful and wise, but uses capital letters only when she has to:


neil and i did a kickstarter about two years go, to sell pre-orders/pay for a tour recording of our “evening with neil gaiman and amanda palmer” tour up the west coast in fall 2011.
the kickstarter raised over $100k with about 3k backers, and we took two engineers on the road with us (many of you know jaron luksa, my veteran sound guys…he was one of them, and he brought his pal ken). they recorded every show in HIGH FIDELITY and then neil and i spent the rest of the fall and winter picking out our favorite tracks from what was probably about twenty+ hours of recordings. (that was slightly agonizing). that tour was pretty magical, and lots of unexpected things happened…including a fan of ours dying at occupy vancouver a few days before we got to town. one of the songs is dedicated to her. neil combatted his stage fright. i tried to work on my stage-control issues. we both learned to give each other space. we took questions every night from the audience and surprised ourselves, and each other, with some of the answers (so now there’s a “best of ‘ask neil and amanda’” on the record). mostly, we watched our fanbases merge, like a giant family wedding, and were relieved that no brawls broke out.
we asked our friend cynthia von buhler to make the art (it’s a hand-made cut-out, and gorgeous) and we packaged the whole she-bang onto 3 CDs.
around christmas 2011 – to tide them over, since the kickstarter backers were waiting for their discs (it took a WHILE) – we sent everybody a digital collection of material that didn’t make the final cut. it was called “a prelude to an evening with…”
here’s the variant cover (still cynthia’s art, adapted by @indeciSEAN):

and then eventually everybody got their discs in the mail and everybody was pretty happy, so yay.
this was the original artwork on that first kickstarter-edition:

then we didn’t do anything…..we didn’t release it online to the public or put it on sale in stores….no iTunes, no bandcamp, no topspin, no nothin. we wanted the kickstarter backers to enjoy it and i was already in the full throes of preparing “Theatre is Evil”. so we waited.
NOW – or, well, next month – is the moment we’ve picked (ta da) to release it to the general public…ALMOST the same tracklisting, but all-new packaging (so that the kickstarter edition stays super-special).
we also made VINYL. the whole album would have taken up (gulp) 6 sides, so we pared our favorites down even further and condensed everything onto two records.
this is the NEW packaging:

we also thought long and hard about what kind of merch to offer along with the album – since we know you love good merch, and christmas is coming.
we picked things we’d give each other and our friends and families: moleskine jounrals (blank, of course, cuz fuck lines), teapots & tea towels, mugs, and fuzzy velvet posters. we tried to bundle things in such a way that made the ordering pretty simple. the pre-sale of these bundles will end around november 1st. some of these items will make it to the webstore, but some may not – it all depends on order quantities. here’s the “super deluxe” bundle with all this awesomeness:
SO, your best bet is to order NOW before halloween night…all orders placed during this period will definitely arrive in time for the holidays.
(while we’re on the topic: all orders made from the webstore by december 1st SHOULD also be good for holiday delivery, but we can’t control international customs so…)
i deliberately chose songs for this tour that i HADN’T ever released but was aching to…songs like “dear old house”, “gaga, palmer, madonna”, “i want you but i don’t need you”, and “look mummy no hands” have been huge live favorites but didn’t quite fit on “Theatre is Evil” so they were burning a hole in my pocket. i consider these the official versions.
there’ll be plenty more noise on the socials to remind you, and i DO hope you all pre-order, but if you’re holding out for any reason…
on november 19th, the album should be available in stores (more on where as we get details) and online in the usual spots (bandcamp,amazoniTunes, etc.)
we’ll have the ENTIRE digital collection (the three disc’s-worth and the “prelude” EP – over 5 HOURS of material) up on my webstore for $10+
if you *ARE* one of the 3k kickstarter backers, WE THANK YOU SO MUCH for making this project possible. we wouldn’t have done it without you.
and if you want to help the cause and push the album forward, write some thoughts/reviews about it all (you’ve had it for a while, you’re entitled) down in the comments (or anywhere on the web) to help us, please. and include the pre-order link – bit.ly/EveningWithPreOrder – anywhere you are talking up the record.
here’s the final track listing:
Disc 1: NEIL SOLO1 – My Last Landlady
2 – The Rhyme Maidens
3 – The Day The Saucers Came
4 – Feminine Endings
5 – The Winter Gardens
6 – In Relig Odhráin
7 – The View From The Cheap Seats
8 – I Will Write In Words Of Fire
9 – The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury
10 – Making A Chair
11 – 100 Words
Disc 2: AMANDA AND NEIL1 – Margaret Cho Introduces the Show
2 – Makin’ Whoopee
3 – (Introduction to “The Problem With Saints”)
4 – The Problem With Saints
5 – Jump (for Jeremy Geidt)
6 – Ask Neil And Amanda
7 – (Introduction to “Broken Heart Stew”)
8 – Broken Heart Stew (by Amanda)
9 – Poem for Amanda (by Neil)
10 – Poem for Neil (by Amanda)
11 – Electric Blanket (a duet, feat. Amanda Palmer & Jason Webley)
12 – Psycho
13 – (Introduction to I Google You)
14 – I Google You
Disc 3: AMANDA SOLO1 – I Want You, But I Don’t Need You
2 – (Introduction to “Dear Old House”)
3 – Dear Old House
4 – (Introduction to “Gaga, Palmer, Madonna: A Polemic”)
5 – Gaga, Palmer, Madonna: A Polemic
6 – (Introduction to “Judy Blume”)
7 – Judy Blume
8 – I Don’t Care Much (with Lance Horne)
9 – Map Of Tasmania
10 – (Introduction to “Do You Swear To Tell The Truth, The Whole Truth & Nothing But The Truth So Help Your Black Ass”)
11 – Do You Swear To Tell The Truth, The Whole Truth & Nothing But The Truth So Help Your Black Ass
12 – (Introduction to “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”)
13 – I Will Follow You Into The Dark (for Ashlie Gough)
14 – Look Mummy, No Hands
15 – Ukulele Anthem
Bonus: A PRELUDE TO AN EVENING WITH… (which is available with the digital)
1 – Intro
2 – Ampersand
3 – Runs in the Family
4 – Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar
5 – Blake Says
6 – Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire
7 – Do You Swear To Tell The Truth, The Whole Truth & Nothing But The Truth So Help Your Black Ass
8 – Zombies and Shy People
9 – Drinking With John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester
10 – Making Mixtapes
11 – Everyone Should Have a Hobby That Could Kill Them
12 – It Was All Going So Well
13 – On-Stage Dating Service
YOU CAN ORDER HERE.
AGAIN, ORDER BY NOVEMBER 1st FOR THE XMAS DEADLINE!!!!!!!!!
if you have any questions not covered here, eric’s being a dear and helping out HERE on the forum.
also, do us a solid: ONCE YOU ORDER, share the joy & link, spread the word! please? make friends jealous of velvet posters!
BONUS for OZ/NZ: @POSstore has 1 of 10 LIMITED EDT 7″ vinyl that you have a chance at winning…more info at bit.ly/AFP7inchOH!! and ONE MORE LAST THING!!
NEW YORK (and surrounding areas): to celebrate the release of the record, we’ve added a (second) EVENING WITH NEIL & ME show on FRIDAY NOVEMBER 22nd at town hall (since the first night sold out super-quick). there ARE still tickets available, but they’re moving fast. you can grab yours HERE. it’s gonna be a fun couple o’ nights.
.....

And just adding that the ordering window on the teapots is just about to close, so if you want a teapot, order now at http://bit.ly/AnEveningWithPresale.



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Thursday, October 03, 2013

One Ordinary Day With Chris Riddell Doodles

I'm in a departure lounge, right now. First an automated message called from Delta to tell me my plane would take off on time and arrive an hour and a half late. Then it called back to tell me we were leaving an hour and a half late too, which made a little more sense.

 People have written and asked why I'm not posting about walking with my dog in the woods, and it's mostly because I haven't walked with my dog in the woods since the start of tour season, except for a couple of days in early August. I wish I had.

I borrowed Glen, next-door's working sheepdog, to go for walks with when I was in Scotland, though. He wasn't very good at going for walks. He was very aware that he ought to be working, and would shoot off home to move sheep around the moment I took I my attention off him.

I was meant to be writing when I was in Scotland. Mostly, I was recovering from the tour -- from the whole thing, from early June on. Recharging my batteries by walking and cooking things on the Aga and juicing and not really writing at all. And then I recharged and started writing once again.



2011, Seattle, "Makin' Whoopie".

So, it's been a wonderful, crazed few weeks. FORTUNATELY THE MILK came out in the US and the UK, and got some wonderful reviews (including this one, from Boing Boing), and went onto the Bestseller Lists on both sides of the Atlantic. I finished, yesterday morning, writing a Sekrit Thing that took me a month longer than I'd expected it to. I'll tell you all about it in another month, by which time it will be less sekrit.

Chris Riddell, illustrator of FORTUNATELY THE MILK in the UK has asked me to tell the world that he will be doing a signing for his wonderful Goth Girl book (but he will also sign your Fortunately The Milk!) in Brighton on the 12th of October (at 4 pm at the North St Branch of Waterstones, to be precise). Chris also sends me amazing doodles of his touring life. (Can I put some of them on my blog? I asked him. Of course, he said, they are my therapy.)







...

Important things you should know:

1) BOSTON AREA: There are still tickets for the Becca Tribute night in Boston on Monday. The Dresden Dolls reunion! Me reading New Stuff I've Not Ever Read To Paying Audiences Before! Jason Webley nips out of retirement! Emilyn Brodsky is herself! A Cast of Thousands well hundreds well lots of amazing people... It's going to be wonderful. Get your tickets now at https://www.vendini.com/ticket-software.html?t=tix&e=a4e51df651ed159d57c8ee040f26e44d

2) NEW YORK AREA: The Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer at the Town Hall in New York on Saturday the 23rd of November sold out very quickly, with a lot of disappointed people, so we added another night: Friday the 22nd of November. Now you can see us AND catch the 50th Anniversary Episode of Doctor Who too. (It's an all ages event but there is likely to be swearing or songs and stories not meant for children.)  You can get tickets at this ticketmaster link.)

3) EVERYWHERE IN THE WHOLE WORLD AREA: The Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer triple CD, recorded from the tour of 2011 due to the loveliness of Kickstarter supporters, will finally be released to the general public on November the 19th.   It's a different edition to the one that 3500 Kickstarter backers got. You can also order it as a double LP.

It's up for preorders now. 

And there is also stuff! you can get with the pre-order, with Cynthia Von Buhler's amazing paper cut-out of Amanda and me on it, said stuff including a teapot, a tea towel, a notebook and mugs (There is a theme here.) All of it should be delivered well in time for the holidays.



To preorder it, just go to http://amandapalmer.net


...

And lastly, go and look at the TerraMar Project's website, if you haven't:  http://theterramarproject.org
The seas are our heritage, and we need to preserve and conserve them, for our children, for our planet, and for ourselves.

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