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Friday, January 31, 2014

WATCH ME READ GREEN EGGS AND HAM. WATCH ME, WATCH ME, SAM I AM.

You may remember that lots of wonderful books by me and Terry Pratchett are being auctioned and are in the lottery for Worldbuilders (and, er,  not so wonderful -- here's the eBay auction for my 1985 Duran Duran biography).

You may not have known that I'd agreed that if Worldbuilders made their stretch goal of  half a million dollars, I would film myself reading Dr Seuss's GREEN EGGS AND HAM.

Well, I did so agree.

And this afternoon, they made their goal.

I got the call, and I recorded the video. (As you can see, I am very beardy, because I am not going out in public, and am just writing.) And I've put it up on YouTube.

It made me miss having small kids around to read to. I hope you enjoy it.




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I should also mention that this beautiful full-colour David Mack print is now available from Neverwear (the previous, flat-colour version sold out a while ago).

Until now, Neverwear money has automatically gone to the CBLDF. This time, the money for this print is going to the Gaiman Foundation, which remains a major donor to the CBLDF.  (This year and last year it was the largest donor to the CBLDF, which I mention here to encourage other people and foundations to knock us into second or even third place.) 

(The Gaiman Foundation is a small family foundation which supports freedom of speech, literacy and education causes, and generally does good. I'm planning to sign and auction off a LOT of rare and unlikely stuff from my attic and basement for the Gaiman Foundation over the next couple of years.)

Kitty tells the story of this poem, and the tattoo that was made from it, at her website: http://neverwear.net/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=4&products_id=191. She's selling them for $25 each until Feb 4th, the official launch date,  when they go up to $38.

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The tickets to the Barbican TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS events on July 4th and 5th are selling faster than anyone expected. If you don't have a ticket yet, and are planning to come, you might want to buy your ticket sooner than later: http://www.serious.org.uk/events/series/neilgaiman.

(And yes, yesterday's hint was real. FourPlay and Eddie and I will be performing it in San Francisco and New York in the week before the UK event. Details to come as soon as I'm allowed to announce them.)

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Hi!
I'd like to get some parts of your poem "Instructions" tattooed in the near future and I wanted to know if you'd be okay with it? This poem means a lot to me, but I'd totally understand if it was bothering you because of copyright and author rights.
Thank you!

I'm perfectly okay with any tattoos you get done of my words, or of pictures from my books. I'm just glad I've said something that meant enough to you that you want to carry it around with you permanently. 

(A quick Google Image Search turned up many dozens of wonderful literary tattoos... here are quotes from Instructions, Sandman, The Dangerous Alphabet, Stardust and American Gods.)




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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Actual NEWS. Also some hints of News yet to come. Also, rain.

Yesterday the sun shone. I made friends with the family next door and signed their copy of The Graveyard Book and patted their dogs. "Finally," I said. "It's finally warm here in Florida!" I think I must have said it too loud.  Today the world went grey and chill and it rained and rained and rained. Which still puts me in a better position than people a few hundred miles north of me, stranded on iced-in traffic jams.

I'm missing Twitter, but mostly because I really want to use it to make me exercise. I love being able to tell nearly 2 million people I'm going to go and jog, and then I have to do it. It's not the same when I tell the walls.

Let's see. On the secrets revealed, front: You can expect a little smidge of news about two of my books being adapted into two TV series very soon, with a third to follow. Real news, very soon, promise.

If you are in the UK, and you are a member of the Barbican you can buy tickets tomorrow morning for the reading of my story, THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS on the 4th and 5th of July 2014. If you aren't a member of the Barbican, you must wait until Friday morning to buy tickets.

THE TRUTH IS A CAVE... won the Locus Award for best Novelette, and the Shirley Jackson Award for best Novelette as well. Eddie Campbell is an amazing artist (and he co-hosts the evening with dry Scottishness) and the Four Play String Quartet are the most wonderful musicians.

I'll read the story, while Eddie Campbell's paintings are projected above me and the astonishing Four Play string quartet plays underscore music. We've done it twice before now, at  a very sold out Sydney Opera House, where it was originally performed, and in Hobart to about 3,000 people at the MONA FOMA festival. Each time to very happy audiences.

(Photo of the rehearsal from Eddie Campbell's blog, here.)


There will be the reading of the story (and paintings and music). There will be a Q and A. There's other things that get read as well...

You can see video extracts from the Sydney Opera House performance at http://play.sydneyoperahouse.com/index.php/media/1152-neil-gaiman-the-truth-is-a-cave-in-the-black-mountains.html and at http://youtu.be/BQ65W7_eeic?t=2m44s.

Four Play did the Simpsons Theme and the Doctor Who theme that was our interval music during the last EVENING WITH... at the Town Hall. Probably you want to hear their Doctor Who theme. Here you go:





This will be its first ever performance in Europe. Two performances, I should say, as we are doing the Friday night and then the Saturday too.

Tickets go on sale to the general public (not Barbican members) on Friday morning at 10 am UK time. If the Fortunately The Milk* reading (which wound up like this) was anything to go by, the tickets will sell fast, so do not put off buying tickets until May.

The link to click on -- and I'll try and remember to do a timed WhoSay post to remind you all, when the tickets actually go on sale to the general public on Friday, will be... http://www.barbican.org.uk/music/event-detail.asp?id=16044.

What's that you say? Wouldn't it be nice if we could also perform it somewhere like San Francisco or New York...? Hmm. Let me think about that one.

Oh. There are about 20 tickets left for the Symphony Space PRI "Selected Shorts" EVENING WITH NEIL GAIMAN on May 7th: http://www.selectedshorts.org/onstage/detail/8015

....

Anyone who is feeling like they would like More Culture in their lives should go and check out the BBC's CULTURAL HERITAGE site: 75 people talk about 75 things -- books, songs, music, TV, films, poems, paintings (I talk about a painting). http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p016p5mb/profiles/creative-minds
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p016p5mb/profiles/creative-minds?page=2

...

I was fascinated by this article: http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/school-ditches-rules-and-loses-bullies-5807957  and what it says about over-regulating children at playtime.

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Thank you so much to the The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) for choosing THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE as one of their Outstanding Audiobooks

Gaiman, as both author and narrator, immerses listeners in a modern fairy tale in which two stalwart children pit themselves against dark and relentless terrors. Through an exquisite management of pace and inflection, his voice becomes the story’s doorway just a surely as any rabbit hole or wardrobe.

http://rusa.ala.org/blog/2014/01/26/breaking-news-rusas-2014-listen-list-highlights-audiobooks-that-provide-extraordinary-listening-experiences/

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Here's a video from Upworthy taken from last year's Connecticut Forum, with Neil Degrasse Tyson and me talking about How To Be Happy: http://www.upworthy.com/wanna-see-something-brilliant-take-a-few-days-off-then-look-in-the-mirror?c=ufb1

* This book:


(Picture from here.)

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And finally, here's a fun little article on Maps (including Maps of Mythical Places) from the New Yorker blog. I'm pretty sure the stuff in it about Pauline Baynes drawing the maps in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings is tosh -- she drew beautiful maps of Middle Earth as posters, but the Pauline Baynes map for Lord of the Rings came out in 1969, long after the book was published with its map in it.





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Sunday, January 26, 2014

A poem about Invasions and Extinctions, written for Australia Day...

Read at the Sydney Opera House, Australia Day 2011.
  
We killed them all when we came here.
The people came and burned their land
The forests where they used to feed
We burned the trees that gave them shade
And burned to bush, to scrub, to heath
We made it easier to hunt.
We changed the land, and they were gone.
  
Today our beasts and dreams are small
As species fall to time and us
But back before the black folk came
Before the white folk’s fleet arrived
Before we built our cities here
Before the casual genocide,
This was the land where nightmares loped
And hopped and ran and crawled and slid.
And then we did the things we did,
And thus we died the things we died.
  
We have not seen Diprotodon
A wombat bigger than a room
Or run from Dromornithidae
Gigantic demon ducks of doom
All motor legs and ripping beaks
A flock of geese from hell’s dark maw
We’ve lost carnivorous kangaroo
A bouncy furrier T Rex
And Thylacoleo Carnifex
the rat-king-devil-lion-thing
the dropbear fantasy made flesh.
Quinkana, the land crocodile
Five metres long and fast as fright
Wonambi,  the enormous snake
Who waited by the water-holes
and took the ones who came to drink
who were not watchful, clever, bright.
Our Thylacines  were tiger-wolves
until we drove them off the map
Then Megalania: seven meters
of venomous enormous lizard...
and more, and more. The ones whose bones
we’ve never seen. The megafauna haunt our dreams.
This was their land before mankind
Just fifty thousand years ago.
  
Time is a beast that eats and eats
gives nothing back but ash and bones
And one day someone else will come
to excavate a heap of stones
And wonder,  What were people like?
Their teeth weren’t sharp. Their feet were slow.
They walked Australia long ago
before Time took them into tales
  
We’re transients. The land remains.
Until its outlines wash away.
While night falls down like dropbears don’t
to swallow up Australia Day.





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Friday, January 24, 2014

Secrets and Books


I am tumbling like a comet through Los Angeles on my way to Seattle on my way back to the Florida Treasure Coast, where I was feeling very comfortably anonymous until I got a message from the director of the local book festival asking me if I'd like to come and do stuff, as she'd noticed me out jogging while she was walking her dog.

In my head, if I have a beard and am wearing jogging clothes I am invisible and nobody will ever notice that I am me. This is apparently not quite as true in the world outside my head.

I've done lots of things in the not-much-time since I've been here.  Meetings about Things I Can't Yet Talk About with People I Can't Yet Tell You About, mostly, although this morning I also recorded a lot of narration for the WAYWARD MANOR game (see photo above [from here]. That is what I am doing in the photo). Things have progressed since the last time I saw Wayward Manor material: The Odd Gentlemen showed me what it's going to look like, and it's looking really good. I signed 200 posters for them, for people who preordered the packages at http://www.whohauntsneil.com/

In all this, I've been assisted by the noble and long-suffering Cat Mihos, and if you get a card from me, it's because she cares.

I'll be up before dawn to fly to Seattle, go to a friend's birthday, and then take a red-eye and fly overnight back to Florida, where I will return to being a solitary hermit, writing Sandman and myths.

...

I just read my favourite graphic novel in a very, very long time. It was an advance copy of a book called KILL MY MOTHER, it's by Jules Feiffer, and it's his tribute to the work of the great Will Eisner (Feiffer was once Eisner's assistant) and to classic movies of the kind they don't make any more. The dialogue is wonderful, the plot enormously satisfying.  I've been a fan of Feiffer's pretty much as long as I've been able to read, and it makes me strangely happy that, at the age of 84, he's done something remarkable, ambitious and very different. Here's an article about the book from Publishers Weekly. It won't be out until much later in the year, and I will link to it then.

...

If you are in the US, or have an American address, The OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is being discounted this weekend ONLY  - it's at 50% off, $7.99, on Nook, on Kindle, at the Apple iBookstore and on Google Play

...

I've talked a little in interviews about Henry Kuttner's HOGBEN FAMILY stories, which were, in different ways, inspirational both for THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE and for Alan Moore's BOJEFFRIES SAGA. (Here is a Bojeffries page by the inimitable Steve Parkhouse.)

A new edition of The Bojeffries Saga is coming out from Top Shelf in February. (Click on the link for more information.)

The first and only ever complete collection of the Hogben Stories, THE HOGBEN CHRONICLES, is out from Borderland Press RIGHT NOW, in a fancy signed limited edition. Henry Kuttner is dead, 

alass, so it is signed by me (I wrote the introduction) and F. Paul Wilson and Pierce Watters (who edited it).  Information on how to order it at http://borderlandspress.com/hbc.html.



Let's see. What else was I meaning to blog about, here? Oh. Right. Yes. 

Worldbuilders, Pat Rothfuss's charity to help Heifer International. He's put up a post listing all the things that he has in the auction by Terry Pratchett and by me. I gave him one of the sold out limited edition Dave McKean-designed copies of OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, and a copy of the Dagmara Matuszak-drawn MELINDA. He has also managed to obtain other things - even the 1984 DURAN DURAN biography I wrote.

Some of these things are up for auction (here's the Auction Listing for DURAN DURAN), some in the lottery and you could win them for a $10 donation. 

They are up to about $375,000 so far. If they make it to $500, 000 I have told them I will record and post a video of me reading GREEN EGGS AND HAM.

And I will.

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PS -- CONGRATULATIONS to all at R. J. Julia Bookstore in Madison CT. I'll be doing a signing there this year. This is why.

PPS -- if you are in the South of England, you might want to pay a visit to Tunbridge Wells Museum before March 30th, and see the Dave McKean exhibition. There's information about it at http://www.anke.tw/anke/2014/01/are-comic-books-art.html. Lots of original Dave McKean art. In a proper museum. And, am very glad to say, he didn't even have to die first. 

Did you know Dave got his first computer in 1995? It tells you all about it on the Apple site. Although it doesn't include the bit about me having to convince him first that it was okay to get a modem and it didn't mean that electronic art thieves would come down the telephone line and take all his art away. (Do you have any idea how proud I am that Dave is their 1995 thingummy? I am so proud...)


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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Secrets, a quiet life, and several random books by other people

Life is quiet. I'm jogging daily, enjoying juicing fruits and vegetables, playing with my new phone, writing, being proud that Amanda is getting all the five star reviews in Sydney but have got quite used to not being in Sydney myself.  I'm shifting the weight I put on during the May to October signing & promotional tour, and, I hope, getting back into the kind of shape I stopped being in when the tour started in May.

I love toys that help and encourage me: I just got a heart-rate monitor that talks to my ipod Nano while I run. I'm just getting to the point where I need a whole slew of new music to jog to, though, as my exercise playlist, which is about 20 years old, is starting to feel too familiar. (But it will always start with Sondheim's Something About a War. And it must always have Elvis Costello's Waiting For the End of the World on it. Otherwise the pillars of the universe might collapse.)

My not being currently on Twitter meant that you did not have to endure any grumbles from me about Federal Express leaving packages at houses they were not addressed to, or, alternately, handing over packages to the US Mail service, who then stoutly maintain that the house I'm in does not actually exist and returned said packages to the sender.

Lots of long phone calls happening, each of them about something really interesting I can't officially announce yet. I think there must be about half a dozen of these, now. I'm looking forward to being able to talk about them all.

Normally, the reason I don't talk about them is simply that the deal to make the thing isn't quite done. Although sometimes it's because the wait between the thing being announced and the time it's going to be available is so long as to be silly.

Still, in case you were wondering whether or not Fortunately the Milk artist Chris Riddell was quietly and secretively working away on a secret sort of thing by me that I'm not even going to even allude to, why, yes, he is.  There are many clues as to what it is in this picture, from Chris's tumblr blog.




Lots of book-related things out there. Let's see...

Headline Books have just found that the links to allow you to buy their ultra-deluxe signed edition of THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE had all been taken down over the last six months, which explains why they still have a handful left. They've remedied that, and put up new web pages. It's only for sale to UK addresses and is an astonishingly expensive, very limited, beautiful object. They only did 260 of them, and have a few for sale: https://www.headline.co.uk/Articles/Deluxe+Edition+The+Ocean+At+the+End+of+the+Lane+Neil+Gaiman.page will tell you all about them. (All the other limited editions, which were less limited than this, have long since sold out.)




...

Polish artist Dagmara Matuszak illustrated a poem I wrote once, called Melinda, and made it into one of the most beautiful of my books. (Also one of the rarest: the few copies out there that book dealers have for sale are very VERY expensive.) 

I'm writing another poem for her, but not writing it as fast as I should.














...

Brad Meltzer just sent me some books he's ridiculously proud of, illustrated by Chris Eliopoulos.

He told me, "This series was born because I was tired of my daughter thinking that reality TV stars and loud-mouthed sports players were heroes.  I tell my kids all the time:  That’s fame.  Fame is different than being a hero.  I wanted my kids to see real heroes...and real people no different than themselves. For that reason, each book tells the story of the hero when THEY were a kid.  We see them as children.  So it's not just Amelia Earhart and Abraham Lincoln being famous--but them being just like us." 

They are funny, and readable and, yes, probably inspiring. For small kids, about real people.

...

I learned from Cory Doctorow that Michael De Larabeiti's Borribles are back in print as ebooks, with a China Mieville introduction. And Cory's article also included an astonishingly patronising and cowardly letter from Collins Publishers to Michael's agent, explaining why they had decided to renege on publishing the third Borrible Book, Across the Dark Metropolis. (It was published by Pan Books, and it was in a cafe over the road from Pan, shortly after this, that Michael and I met and had coffee, long ago, and I told him how much I loved the books.)

The Borribles -- pointy eared street children, battling the police and evil rodents in the alleys and underground of a mythic London -- were remarkable, and definitely were one of the streams that fed into Neverwhere.


Go and read Cory's article, if only for the Collins letter. http://boingboing.net/2014/01/16/the-borribles-are-back.html

...

Talking about the delay between things being mentioned and them happening, Hayley Campbell came out to my house over 3 years ago, and rummaged around in the attic and the basement, found things written on things, and drawings, and all sorts of stuff. She even took objects away with her, and left post-it-notes in their place. (You can read about it here: .http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2010/11/coffee-table-book-and-why-reality-is.html)

Then she interviewed me and other people, and she wrote a book. It's about the art and the stories. In some ways it's a lot like the book I wrote, long ago, about Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

I read a draft of the book a couple of months ago. Hayley is a smart and funny writer. She's also honest and opinionated. I liked it....

Today I saw a cover. Apparently, it's not the final cover. But, look! Hayley's book is coming into existence.



PS: Stop press - Amanda has become an Agony Aunt for the Guardian in Australia. I suppose it's fair exchange for the Australians sending the UK Guardian Pamela Stephenson.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

On Jogging, Bees, and Wordless.

It's good to be on your own, sometimes. I'm spending the first few days on my own just looking after myself: juicing and jogging and getting back into shape after the OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE tour which went on for several exhausting months and became the FORTUNATELY, THE MILK tour at the end. Months of hotel and restaurant food, and exercising as and when it was convenient, which often it wasn't.

I'm using my iPod Nano to track the running.

I hated sports as a kid, hated running, hated anything that wound up with me covered in mud and shivering with cold while teachers in track suits told me that I was a bit rubbish and was not being sufficiently enthusiastic and where was my school spirit anyway? In the good and bad at organised games equation, I was firmly in the bad at games camp. I liked reading, and if it was snowing or raining, I liked reading inside in the warm.

In truth, I have not changed that much. I'd still rather read than go outside and run. But...

I like how running makes me feel afterwards.

I like the way it clears and unclutters my mind, and, sometimes, leaves room for new things to come in, like stories.

And I like the idea that time I spend running is Free: it doesn't come out of the hours of my life, but it adds to them instead. According to the New York Times:
In the long run, various studies have found, jogging adds years to life. Over all, each hour spent exercising (up to 30 hours a week) adds about two hours to a person's life expectancy, according to the Harvard Alumni Study, which has tracked deaths among 17,000 men for more than two decades. 
Even those who did not start exercising until midlife had a 23 percent lower risk of death over the next 20-odd years. Endurance activities like running, cycling, lap swimming, brisk walking and cross-country skiing conferred the greatest benefit, adding six years of life expectancy over that of a couch potato.

I'm not getting much writing done yet. Mostly I'm thinking about things, clearing my head and preparing to write.

Also, I have reached that point where Not Having Shaved since Christmas has turned into a beard.

Several people have written to ask me about the beehives, and will I be taking them to New York?



No, I'll leave them where they are, being tended mostly by the Birdchick and Non Birding Bill,  but I imagine that once I get established in the new house I'll put in some hives.

(The amazing bee photo above is from this fantastic Flickr account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usgsbiml/with/8119753576/ where they have over a thousand photos of North American Bees taken by the U.S. Geological Survey Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab.)
 (Via the Guardian and you can see them huge and glittery-glorious at Slate.)
...

Amanda is in Australia, where her show at the Sydney Festival is a hit -- stonking reviews, it sounds amazing, and I'm glad that she's singing the Vegemite Song again, which is the nearest thing she's ever come to writing a love song for me. I wish I were there -- or more realistically, I wish I could pop in for the day, have a meal, watch her show at the Spiegeltent, hug some friends, and then go home, leaving her to write, and for me to get back to the stuff I'm doing.

I don't think I've posted this here yet -- it's an afternoon at Google in New York a couple of months ago, at the time of the EVENING WITH NEIL AND AMANDA show at the Town Hall.  I read and Amanda made music, then Alan Light interviews us, and the audience asks good questions.




...

If you are in the New York /Brooklyn area, you want to see this. It's for one night only, January the 18th, at 7:30, tickets are $30, and if you are interested in comics, in graphic novels, in the wordless novels in pictures of the early Twentieth Century, or you just want to feel like one of the cool kids, you should go.


Here's the blurb from the website where you can get tickets:

Picture stories by Frans Masereel, H.M. Bateman, Lynd Ward, Otto Nuckel, Milt Gross, Si Lewen, and Art Spiegelman

Celebrated cartoonist Art Spiegelman comes to BAM with WORDLESS!, an innovative hybrid of slides, talk, and musical performance created in collaboration with acclaimed jazz composer Phillip Johnston. Spiegelman leads audiences on a personal tour of the first graphic novels—silent picture stories made by early-20th-century masters like Frans Masereel, Lynd Ward, and Milt Gross—accompanied by an all-new score by Johnston, who performs with his sextet. 

And if you are wondering what it will be like, here's a preview from the Sydney Opera House, the last time it was performed.



Here's the link: http://www.bam.org/talks/2014/wordless

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Friday, January 10, 2014

They say God Looks After Authors and Fools...

I drove south. The Polar Vortex let up and it started warming up once more. I played the Pixies' Dolittle, and the Hal Willner Son of Rogues Gallery, which left me with sea shanties in my head and craving for Men O' War and suchlike, so went to Audible and downloaded Simon Vance reading the Aubrey-Maturin Chronicles.

In South Carolina this morning, the man at the next table said, "Well, that was winter, all two days of it". The drive was uneventful... almost uneventful...

The strangest and scariest partof the drive was the final few minutes: the final mile of the road I reached, the road that the house I'm staying in is located on, was flash-flooded.

But I'd been driving for most of the previous 48 hours.  And I'd just stopped and bought groceries. It seemed unthinkable not to keep going. I didn't stop and think about what happens when you stall in floods, or that a Mini is not a very high car, and I was not thinking about having to wade to safety if the Mini did stall...

So I kept going, and by the time I realised it had been a mistake, and that there was sometimes over a foot of water,  it was too late.

In retrospect, only an idiot would drive an overloaded Mini for a mile down a badly flooded road, in the vague belief that the flooding would get better sooner or later.

And only a very lucky idiot would have made it quite safely down a flooded road, without accident, all the way to the place where he'll be staying.

And I did. Lucky idiot.

The house I'm staying is (I am happy to say) relatively high off the ground. The car is parked at the bottom the steps up to the house, and I am hoping it is still there tomorrow morning and has not floated away.

I'd planned to start jogging here tomorrow morning. I may be wading instead. We'll find out.

...

I loved this story about the Australian scientists' apology for not spending more time researching dragons. You may like it too. From their blog: http://csironewsblog.com/2014/01/06/accelerating-our-dragon-rd-program/

And I was relieved that Time Out gave Amanda a five star review for her show. I do not miss her yet, but soon.

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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Moving Day

I'm in an empty house right now...

I'm resting my computer on an empty shelf of a bookshelf because there is no table and I'm standing up to write because there is no chair.

There is nothing quite like moving. There's also nothing like the last hour or so in the house, when, bit by bit, everything is gone, and you retreat to the last room in the house with a table in it, and then there's no kettle to boil water in for tea and no mugs to put the tea in even if I boiled the water and nothing to sit on while drinking the tea anyway.

I'm left with things I'm going to put into my Mini, mostly clothes, books and computer & phone things, and then I drive South. When I'm ready for more fiction, I'll play the audio book of John Crowley's Little, Big, I think. Otherwise, there are many CDs (lots of them things people gave me while I was on tour that I never stopped in one place long enough to listen to).

Cat's done a sterling job getting the world into boxes and out the door: Amanda and I couldn't have done it without her, nor without Lee, Amanda's Cloud Club landlord (that's not the right word for what Lee is -- here's an article that explains it better than I can).

I can't wait to be able to move into the next house and unpack everything again, and make tea. There's a kettle waiting for me. It's on a moving van. It's in a box.

Let's see: the kind of stuff I'd usually have Twittered or Tumblerd or Facebooked, I will tell you now. Please pass the word along, if you are on such platforms:

First off, THEATRE! I want to congratulate Lenny Henry and Tanya Moodie for their What'sOnStage Theatre nominations, for Fences (for Best Actor and Actress, respectively) and to I want to congratulate Tori Amos and everyone involved in The Light Princess  for their nominations, including Best Newcomer (for Tori) and Best Musical.  (I also loved The Events, by David Greig). You can see the full list at http://www.whatsonstage.com/london-theatre/news/12-2013/the-full-2014-whatsonstage-awards-shortlists_32864.html and you can vote for your own favourites at http://awards.whatsonstage.com/  (A vote for The Light Princess increases your chances of seeing it elsewhere, he hinted cheerfully.)

Secondly: A PIER!

The Ocean at the End of the Lane -- the road, rather than the book -- is where the busses drop people off in Southsea for the Canoe Lake and the South Parade Pier.



There is a trust that exists to buy, rescue and renew the South Parade Pier itself -- already once partly burned down in 1974 during the filming of TOMMY.


The future hung in the balance and came down on the good side. The pier survived that... Now it needs help to get to the 22ndt Century.

The website is at http://southparadetrust.org/, and you can buy a calendar and prints showing the pier in the style of many famous artists. Like this:



....

I wrote this blog entry, then forgot to press publish in the final mad loading of the car, and drove south for five hours. I just woke up in a motel somewhere chilly, with the vague impression I had forgotten something, and I pondered, like an author of very little brain, and realised it was this blog entry.

Hitting publish in three, two, one...

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Sunday, January 05, 2014

Life and Otherwise

Life. I took Amanda to the airport early yesterday morning, to fly to Australia, but the aftereffects of the previous day's blizzarding meant that she didn't go anywhere, and now flies to Australia tomorrow. I've felt guilty about how happy I am to have an extra couple of days with her. (Of course, I don't really get an extra two days: mostly she's off rehearsing for the Sydney Festival -- she's doing ten days there (you can learn about it here, if you are in Sydney), and is going to pretty much have to get off the plane and onto the stage). But we grab meals and yoga and we get two extra nights. And I do not mind at all.

I know where I'm going on Tuesday when we close up this house, which is a relief. (You can follow me on the road trip and learn where I am going that way.)

My friend Cat Mihos (she of the Neverwear website) is out helping me move. Which right now means she is going around the house putting labels on things, and I am writing this blog.

Two days ago, I went with Amanda to the memorial for her Latin teacher and friend, Michael Fiveash. He taught her about mythology. She had asked me to read Keats's Ode on a Grecian Urn as part  of the "Evening of Truth and Beauty". I never met Dr Fiveash, but as long as I've known Amanda she had wanted me to meet him -- even more so since I told her about the book of retellings of myths I'm working on. It never happened: he died before we talked. By the end of the memorial I felt I knew him.

I found myself brooding over what kind of memorial I wanted, in the unlikely but inevitable event of my ever being dead, and decided that whatever else happened, I would like this song by Jake Thackray either played or sung by a friend.


...and while I'm feeling morbid, I thought you'd probably want to know that deaths caused by lightning strikes in America this year are the lowest they have been since records have been kept. Only 26 people died from lightning strikes, down from 432 deaths in 1943 to just 23 in 2013.

Given that lightning strikes are obviously the clearest and most measurable indication of God's displeasure, it's nice to see that God is obviously very pleased with America. (There's a nice diagram here: http://www.wunderground.com/news/lightning-deaths-down-2013-20140103)

...

I have a copy of A PARTICULAR BOOK in front of me. Very soon, I will have read it aloud in its entirety and this event will have been videoed. This will be a special secret thing I'm doing for Patrick Rothfuss's Worldbuilders Fundraiser. I'm also giving them a signed copy of the glorious limited edition of Ocean at the End of the Lane, and of course, there is the copy of Stardust that I donated in 2008, which may be back in the running and winnable once again.

...

This was my very favourite of the FORTUNATELY THE MILK videos made by people to celebrate the publication of the book. It may be my favourite video of recent months. I would have bought Lauren Beukes' novel The Shining Girls even if I hadn't seen this video, because Joe Hill said such good things about it. Here you go:





And according to the Guardian, I "slugged it out with Jonathan Franzen"... by which they mean a lot of people read this edited version of my Reading Agency talk. I'm really glad they did.

Right. I'll steal a question from Tumblr to answer, then bed:

Is the BBC radio adaptation of Neverwhere available for sale in any format?




Yes. It's up on Audible and iTunes for download. It was also produced as a set of 4 CDs, but the AudioGo company who made the CD went bankrupt, and I can't find any CDs for sale at present. I'm sure it will be a CD again, soon enough.

(And thank you all for the encouragement with the social media break. I appreciate it.)

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Thursday, January 02, 2014

How I cope with the social media cravings, and in which I begin to become a blogger once again...

It's my third Wedding Anniversary today. Amanda and I are in Boston, and there's a blizzard warning. We have our house in Cambridge for another five days. Amanda goes to Australia on Saturday morning.

Two days in to Neil off Social Media, and it's interesting. I've a novel I'm reading on my phone's Kindle app, and whenever I would have been tempted to go and look at my Twitter Feed or Tumblr or Facebook, I read Gene Wolfe's THE LAND ACROSS instead. This is a good thing because 1) it is a very good book, and 2) it reminds me of the joy and power of fiction and 3) it distracts me from what had become a very automatic thing to do.

I wrote a rather sad email to friends yesterday, about not going to Australia, which is what I'd planned to do in January: accompany Amanda to Sydney, where she is playing in the Festival, and then on to Melbourne. I have people I was looking forward to spending time with, and things I was looking forward to doing... and then Amanda's book deadline moved (she's writing a book) and we both knew that if I went with her, she wouldn't make her deadline: when we're together we talk and we do things and we spend time together and are nice social human beings, when apart we are driven lunatics who make art.

My friend Kelly Fogarty wrote back from Melbourne and said, "If you're sad today you're only creating a memory of sadness for whenever you think of your last day with Amanda before she comes out here. People keep telling me that the way you spend January 01 is indicative of the rest of your year. If you spend it surrounded by sadness rather than excitement about both your upcoming adventures then where's the fun in that, or anything, for the rest of 2014?"


.... and I looked around. The contents of the house in Cambridge that's been our home together for 14 months is mostly in boxes right now, preparing to be moved out. But yesterday, the first of the year, our friends Rachel (from the Army of Broken Toys) and her partner Clare got married in the house: they decorated it with lights and string and repurposed ancient musical scores, and made it more beautiful in a day than we ever had when we were there.

The wedding was wonderful, the house was filled with happy people, the music was wonderful, I was having marvelous conversations with glorious folk dressed in their best clothes, and cocktails  and punch and mulled cider were being drunk, and you could feel the love and fellowship and joy in the air. I even danced with my wife. I thought about writing a wedding, one filled with love and joy. I think I will (although it is true that when I told Amanda the wedding plot that was in my head, a mysterious murder happens in the middle of it).

I couldn't think of a better way to start a year, surrounded by joy and warmth and love. I hope that 2014 is a gentle year -- many amazing things happened in my world in 2013, but there were too many deaths, too many small tragedies. I'll take love and fellowship and twinkly lights and brown-paper decorations.

...

It's been a while since I've answered questions from the FAQ line here, mostly because the things coming in mostly stopped being things that could be answered, while people were really good on Twitter or Tumblr about asking easily answerable questions. But for at least the first six months of this year, questions and answers are going to be here. And look, a question I can answer. So...

Is it true you are selling your Minneapolis home and buying a house in Cambridge? If yes, WHY?

Nope. The house in Cambridge was the one we moved into last November, mostly to be near to Amanda's friend Anthony while he went through chemotherapy. We rented it, and we're moving out in a few days.

We're planning on buying a house together in New York state right now.

I've no plans to sell the house near Minneapolis. It's such a happy place in my life and in my heart: it's where my children grew up. It has the best library ever. In the long term, I may well make it a Writers Retreat for writers who mostly aren't me.

I love it, and spent over 20 years making it somewhere I wanted to be and wanted to write, but had never planned to die there. That was my home. The new place will be my house and Amanda's house. I'm happy to have the adventure of building a life and a home together.

...

I just got a delighted email from Rosemary Brosnan, my editor at Harper Childrens, to tell me that FORTUNATELY, THE MILK is now is its 15th week on the various bestseller lists. I love that it seems now to have become one of those books that sells through word of mouth, through people telling each other they ought to read it, that it's funny, that kids are staying up late and reading it under the covers with flashlights, that adults have discovered it's funny if you're an adult, that kids are reading aloud to their parents, all that...

So, as a thank you to all of you who have bought it or read it or told each other about it, here's a picture nobody's ever seen in this form. The art that Skottie Young did to convince my publishers that he would be right to draw the book:


Which Skottie wound up colouring in and making into the cover. Because it was perfect.

...

And finally, here is the amazing Lady Rizo, singing a song by me (with chords by Amanda) on her first solo album. She has a remarkable voice, and if you ever get the chance to see her, you will not regret it...

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