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Monday, February 24, 2014

Tonight Live Streaming, and, hitherto unseen, a poem (unfinished)


Very quick blog...

Billings, Montana was WONDERFUL: I talked to a bunch of young people in the wonderful new library, read a little and answered many questions. I talked to people that night in the Babcock theatre, read a lot and answered fewer questions than I would have liked.

I was impressed by the future: I landed in Montana to discover that mysteriously my iPad had become a spiderweb of glass cracks, and not something I wanted to read from (or swipe my finger over). Leslie, my host, took me to Best Buy, where I got a new iPad and an army-tough case. I got back to the hotel, told the new iPad who I was, it immediately restored itself from the old one's last cloud backup, and a few minutes later I was doing a reading in the library, from a brand new iPad, without any work, sweating, cables or grumbles. Oh, I like the future sometimes.


Today, I'm in Calgary. The event tonight sold out minutes after it went onsale, but they will be livestreaming it: http://ucalgary.ca/cdwp/gaiman is the website, and it starts at 7:00pm Mountain Time.

Now I really need to decide what I'm going to do tonight. (Probably read.)

...

Yesterday I went through many notebooks and boxes and papers, looking for poems, for a project that I'll talk about when it's ready. I read stuff I wrote as a teenager, stuff I wrote while I was meant to be writing other things, found some forgotten treasures (none of them written when I was sixteen, I'm afraid: sorry, sixteen-year-old Me) and some unfinished things that actually looked like I ought to finish them.

And then, in a  small tub from the attic, on three folded up Byerly's cafe place mats I found this, a doggerel thing vaguely inspired by Robert W. Service or Kipling's ballads or somebody else. And I don't remember what was going to happen next, or what it was for, so I am simply putting it up here, on my blog, to make you smile. And because it doesn't have a title I'll call it...


Found on a placemat in the attic



It's kind of dead at Davey's when the clock hits three a.m.
And I know I didn't come here for the food
For I'm sipping something coffee-like that tastes a bit like phlegm
While I pick at cake that something might have chewed.



There's a bill upon the table for my unappealing fare
And a bored cashier is waiting by the till.
Then she takes my twenty dollars with a cool intriguing stare
like a kidney-surgeon waiting for the kill.



You seem like much too nice a girl to work in such a dive.
It's the sort of place that turns your brain to rot.”
She just smiles and in a sullen voice more poisoned than alive
She tells a tale that turns my spine to snot.



I have a fearful tale to tell, a bloody tragic lay,
A narrative of horror and of fear.
A story that will make you weep and turn your guts to clay,
before your braincells dribble out your ear.



Mine is a dark biography, a thing of dread and fright,
A tale that reeks of terror and of woe.
There are not words,” she told me, “to do justice to my plight.
But what the hell,” she said, “I'll have a go.



Nobody could envision it, it's nasty weird and strange.
Nobody could have dreamed, or said, or thunk.
And none who sit to hear my life will stand again unchanged.
(Some kill themselves, while others just get drunk.)



I warn you now!” she raised her hand, “if you are faint of heart,
Leave now! Just flee! Get out! Go 'way! And shoo!
It's horrible and sordid. Stop me now, before I start,
for every loathsome word of it is true!”






(I honestly no longer remember what her story was, although elsewhere on the placemat is the couplet:



I can't get into Heaven, 'cos of all that I've done wrong
And I can't get into Hell because the lines are far too long.




Which may be a clue.)


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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How does a Badger get to Carnegie Hall?


Last year I was asked if I wanted to be my favourite literary character for an exhibition at the Oxford Storytelling Museum. I chose Badger, from The Wind In The Willows, for my own reasons.

After I had had my photo taken as a Badger, by eminent photographer Cambridge Jones,  Philip Pullman stopped by for tea, and it wasn't until much later I realised that I was still made up as a badger when we spoke. (You can hear us talk about it, and many other things, on this "in conversation" at the Oxford Playhouse.)

If you want to know what my reasons for being a Badger were, or who Mr Pullman was dressed as in his photograph, you will need to visit the 26 Characters Exhibition at the Storytelling Museum, in Oxford, between the 5th of April and the 2nd of November, where you can learn about all of us, and see me as Badger, Terry Pratchett as William Brown (from Just William) and the rest of us. All the information you could need about it is at http://www.storymuseum.org.uk/26Characters



...

Today the Audie Award nominations for Best Audiobook were announced: I was thrilled to see that my reading of The Ocean at the End of the Lane is nominated for two awards (Fiction and Narration by the Author or Authors), delighted that Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman's The Fall of the Kings, in which I perform, and which is part of the Neil Gaiman Presents line was nominated for two awards (Audio Drama and Multi-Voiced Performance) and I was cock-a-hoop when I saw that John Hodgman was nominated for Solo Narration - Male for Robert Sheckley's Dimension of Miracles, another of the Neil Gaiman Presents books, and one I'm really proud of having brought into the world...

But, oddly, the one that put the biggest smile on my face was learning that I was nominated for an Audie Award as the narrator of someone else's book: The Dark, by Lemony Snicket is nominated for best children's book up to the age 8. I don't read other people's audio books, and I always say no when asked, but, unfortunately, Mister Snicket knows exactly where the bodies are buried, and he has photographs and mummified hands for souvenirs. Also, the book was very short: six minutes, altogether.



I have won Audie Awards over the years, and been nominated for more, so I do not mind whether I win or lose, but hell, it's fun to be nominated.

...

Just a reminder: I'm really not doing Social Media currently. Even the little blitz of posts of links to ticket info on performances of THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS this morning was automated -- I plugged them into WhoSay the night before, which then sent them to Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Google + as the tickets went on sale.

You can find out where I'll be and what I'm doing at Where's Neil: http://www.neilgaiman.com/where/ and it's worth checking back on it, as things get added.

For those of you who missed it:

June 25th, I'm onstage with THE TRUTH IS A CAVE at the Warfield - with the amazing FourPlay string quartet, and pictures by (and, in person) Eddie Campbell.

Location: San Francisco, CA
Wednesday, 8:00-10:00pm

Showtime: 8:00 PM
Doors open: 7:00 PM
Ages: All Ages

TICKETS:
http://www.axs.com/events/248155/neil-gaiman-tickets
Advanced Ticket Prices*: $40.00
Day of Show*: $42.00
* Service and handling fees are added to the price of each ticket

WHERE:
The Warfield
982 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94102


While on June 27th we do it again onstage at the Carnegie Hall in New York:

Location: New York, NY
Friday, 8:00-10:00pm

WHERE:
Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Carnegie Hall
881 7th Ave
New York, NY 10019


http://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2014/6/27/0800/PM/Neil-Gaiman-The-Truth-is-a-Cave-in-the-Black-Mountains/

Ticket prices from $39-$129.

Then we go to London and do it there on July 4th and 5th... http://www.barbican.org.uk/music/event-detail.asp?id=16044

Let's see. I should answer a question. It's been ages:

hey!
our name is Ina and Simen we go on Gausel skole.Her school Harvi a literacy project and we have been asked to ask a writer about this: what did you read when you were 11-12 years old?
please reply instantly.

With Kind Regards Ina and Simen :-)


I read anything I could get my hands on. At that age I was particularly obsessed with Michael Moorcock and Harlan Ellison, Ursula K. LeGuin, Roger Zelazny and Samuel R Delany, but I would read anything, and I did.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

EARLY WARNING USA... (and an exclusive cover reveal)

You may have noticed that I'm going to be reading THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS, accompanied by the FourPlay String Quartet and the paintings of Eddie Campbell, this summer. I've already announced the London dates here, at the Barbican, on the 4th and 5th of July: http://www.barbican.org.uk/music/event-detail.asp?ID=16044. (UK people: there are still tickets, although they are going fast.)

You can see some extracts from the original performance of it, commissioned by and performed at the Sydney Opera House, at this link: http://play.sydneyoperahouse.com/index.php/media/1152-neil-gaiman-the-truth-is-a-cave-in-the-black-mountains.html

Tomorrow, the US dates, in New York and San Francisco venues will be announced and go on sale. They will be at the end of June. The concert halls have asked us not to announce anything much ahead of time, but I'll put it up here tomorrow morning, and I'll do a timed announcement or two that'll go out to everyone on Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook and even Google+, for 11 am New York time and 10 am San Francisco time.

So this is just to alert those of you who want good seats to know that you may want to be by your computers or phones tomorrow morning.

In June, Harper Collins will also be releasing THE TRUTH IS A CAVE as a book in its own right: Eddie has done many, many more illustrations to accompany it turning it into something that's almost a graphic novel. And the cover will look like this.


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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Remembering Maggie Estep

I ought to be writing, and instead I'm heading to the blog, because I just learned that Maggie Estep is dead. She died of a heart attack. She was 50.

I'd known about Maggie, poet and writer and performer, for years, because the amazing Kelly Sue De Connick worked for her, and Kelly Sue was my friend and she used to tell me that I would like Maggie, and that Maggie would like me; but nothing ever happened until this year, when I started visiting Hudson, in upstate New York, and Maggie and I got to meet. (I think she wanted to meet Lola my dog even more than she wanted to meet me. The first time, she brough Lola a dog treat.) Kelly Sue was right -- we really, really liked each other. We were old friends from the moment we met. One of the things I was really looking forward to about moving to that part of the world was spending real time getting to know Maggie properly. On her blog in September, the night we finally got to talk, she said,

After discovering that Neil Gaiman is married to that gorgeous force-of-nature Amanda Palmer, I FINALLY (after Kelly Sue had urged me to do so for twelve years) read some of Neil’s books. 
Neil bleeds.  Which is to say, he is my kind of writer.   Also, I discovered, he is my kind of human.   The kind of person you feel you’ve known since the beginning of time — and hope to know till its end.


And that was exactly how I felt too. I just didn't expect that the end would be so soon.

...

I haven't mentioned that on March 9th I'll be in San Jose, CA at the Cinequest Film Festival. They will give me their Maverick Spirit Award, and there will be conversation and Q&A, and probably I'll read something too. It's 90 minutes on the afternoon of the 9th, at the San Jose theatre, and you can read all about it, and get ticket info here.


There. Now I have mentioned it. If you are in the Bay Area, or going to Cinequest, I may see you there...



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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Why you should see WINTER'S TALE and other deep thoughts about stuff

Last night, I went to see WINTER'S TALE, Mark Helprin's remarkable novel, made into a film by writer (and now director) Akiva Goldsman.

Firstly: I really, really enjoyed it. Akiva took a huge, sprawling novel that spans over a hundred years and took the elements he needed from it to tell the story he had to tell. He made it small, of necessity. It's a fantasy movie, with demons and angels and a flying horse: it contains a noble burglar, a beautiful dying pianist, an absolutely terrifying Russell Crowe,  Will Smith stealing scenes as Lucifer, and New York, New York all the way.

Secondly, I'd seen a trailer or two before I went to see it. And the trailer is, well it's wrong. It tells you it's going to be a specific kind of movie and it isn't that. It's not really a love story, small l about the love between two attractive people who want to do kissing, although it may be a Love story (capital L about Love, and who and what we love, and why, and what it means for those we love to die).

If you like fantasy, or New York, or magical realism, you should see it. You really should. (You should also read the book. And John Crowley's novel Little, Big, which was published about the same time.) The screening audience loved it.

My only qualm, cavil or beef is this...

There's a thing that happens in Hollywood, when you hand in a script with magic in it, and the people at the studio who read it say "We don't quite understand... can you explain the rules? What are the rules here? The magic must have rules" and sometimes when they say that to me I explain that I am sure it does, just as life has rules, but they didn't give me a rule book to life when I was born, and I've been trying to figure it out as I go along, and I am sure it is the same thing for magic; and sometimes I explain that, yes, the magic has rules, and if they read again carefully they can figure out what they are; and sometimes I sigh and put in a line here and a line there that spells things out, says, YES THESE ARE THE RULES YOU DON'T ACTUALLY HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION and then everyone is very happy.

And there were places in the film where it felt like Akiva was, either because he'd been asked, or preemptively, explaining the magical rules. And I trusted him and the film and would rather have just figured it out for myself.

There.  It's a real film -- it reminded me most of all of Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King...


...

Which reminds me, I don't think I ever blogged (although I Twittered, back in those halcyon twittery days) about Tim's Vermeer, a documentary directed by Teller (of Penn and Teller) about a man who thinks he has figured out the optical principle by which Vermeer did his paintings, and sets out to reproduce it, and one of them.

It's not a dry documentary about art. It's a glorious, challenging, funny film about being human. Here's a link to the website, which tells you where it's showing. GO AND SEE IT. You'll thank me later.

...

For some years now, P. Craig Russell and some of the finest artists in comics have been beavering away on a two volume adaptation of THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. And it's coming out this year: Volume 1 comes out on July the 29th, Volume 2 on September the 30th. Different artists each take a chapter.


Here's a couple of pages of Chapter Two...





Volume 1 artists
Kevin Nowlan
P. Craig Russell
Tony Harris
Scott Hampton
Galen Showman
Jill Thompson
Stephen B. Scott


The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Volume 2 – on sale 9/30/2014
Volume 2 artists
David Lafuente
Scott Hampton
P. Craig Russell
Kevin Nowlan
Galen Showman

It will be on sale in bookshops, and also, I hope, in your local comic shops. It's an amazingly beautiful two books.

...

I see from the BBC that Penguin India has agreed to recall and pulp all copies of Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus: An Alternative History. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-26133291 (Here was the NYT review of the book when it came out:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/books/review/Mishra-t.html.)  It's sad not to see a publisher defend its book.  

The solution to a book you don't like is to explain why you don't like it, point out its flaws, write your own book. It's not to get the book pulped because it offends you. even if you think it's bad. Especially if you think it's bad.

(And I note that the book is now tearing its way up the Amazon charts. Which may not have been the outcome that the people who tried to get it suppressed had hoped for. It's called The Streisand Effect.)





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Sunday, February 09, 2014

A short note from the Web Goblin in regards to the blogiversary challenge and the nature of completion.

You will know when you have completed the challenge.

You will know because you will be told that you have completed the challenge.

At no point are you expected to contact Mr. G to verify your completion. You may contact me via the Site Inquiry line if you wish, but I will likely simply reiterate the above two lines.

(Mr. G already gave you a big hint, which I was not anticipating.)

Happy blogthday, and happy hunting!

UPDATE: We now have our nine winners! They will be notified later today. Thank you to everyone for playing.

FURTHER UPDATE: I have been asked, via Twitter, to explain the solution. Once you had all thirteen clock images, you put them in order by time displayed (with the repeats being AM vs PM following the file name - vs _). There were three characters stacked vertically on each clock face. (I have no idea how people teased them out; I hope/expected some manipulation rather than squinting.) Read in order left to right it was a URL written across three lines. Once you went to that URL it told you that you had finished and instructed you to email me some info and a unique code.

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The Thirteen Clocks and the wonderful birthday

It was the 9th of February 2001. I'd spent most of the previous two years writing a novel (oddly enough, a lot of it in the house I'm currently borrowing), and now I was finally going to start writing a blog. (Which for obscure reasons mostly having to do with my agent Merrilee, I tended to call my blogger, perhaps because it was, and oddly enough still is, hosted by Blogger.) It wasn't NeilGaiman.com yet - we started the journal at Americangods.com when all it contained was a countdown and a blog.

I wrote:

I first suggested we do something like this to my editor, the redoubtable Jennifer Hershey, about a year ago, while the book was still being written (a process that continued until about 3 weeks ago). She preferred to wait until the book was on the conveyor belt to actual publication, thus sparing the reading world lots of entries like "Feb 13th: wrote some stuff. It was crap." and "Feb 14th: wrote some brilliant stuff. This is going to be such a good novel. Honest it is." followed by "Feb 15th. no, it's crap" and so on. It was a bit like wrestling a bear. Some days I was on top. Most days, the bear was on top. So you missed watching an author staring in bafflement as the manuscript got longer and longer, and the deadlines flew about like dry leaves in a gale, and the book remained unfinished.

And then one day about three weeks ago it was done. And after that I spent a week cutting and trimming it. (I'd read Stephen King's On Writing on the plane home from Ireland, where I'd gone to do final rewrites and reworkings, and was fired up enough by his war on adverbs that I did a search through the manuscript for -----ly, and peered at each adverb suspiciously before letting it live or zapping it into oblivion. A lot of them survived. Still, according to the old proverb, God is better pleased with adverbs than with nouns...)

Today I wrote a letter to go in the front of a Quick and Dirty reading edition Harper will put out -- taken from the file I sent them, so it'll be filled with transatlantic spelling, odd formatting errors and the rest, but it'll be something to give to the buyers from bookstores and to people who get advance manuscripts so they can see what kind of book this is.

I have no idea what kind of book this is. Or rather, there's nothing quite like it out there that I can point to. Sooner or later some reviewer will say something silly but quotable like "If JRR Tolkien had written The Bonfire of the Vanities..." and it'll go on the paperback cover and thus put off everyone who might have enjoyed it...

The Website soon became Neilgaiman.com and looked a lot like this.

The blog looked like this.

And then by late 2002 it looked more like this:

and inside the blog looked like this:

And then in January 2006 it started looking like it does now. Which means that, really, the website these days needs a from-the-ground-up overhaul...

But you know, creaky interface and lost links and all, this blog is thirteen years old today. In Internet Years, that means it is a huge slow thing, covered in cobwebs, with a deep rumbly voice like a mountain that is trying to remember how to talk. In person years it means it has acne and has just been barmitvahed, and is dreading writing all the thank you letters to the grown-ups who slipped it envelopes with cheques in.

Probably you haven't gone looking around this website. It's been a long time since I have...

So I thought we'd give you a reason to go poking around. The webgoblin went to work, and now there are, er, clues hidden all through Neilgaiman.com. The prize will be a Google Hangout with me. (Second prize, the snappy comedian in the back of my head announces, TWO Google hangouts with me.)

Happy blogthday.

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Friday, February 07, 2014

NEWS: Watchmen, Sandman, Chu, Russia and the Clown-Shoes of Cthulhu

I just wrote to Amanda confessing myself the most boring man in the world. My life right now seems to consist of writing and, once a day, jogging. The new iPod nano has decided to do the same thing that the one it replaced did, viz. reboot itself 2 minutes before the end of a timed run, which I've decided to outwit by not telling it how long I am going to run for, which works.
Pages of SANDMAN: Overture are coming in drawn from J.H. Williams, and different pages of Sandman are being written and going out from me to J.H. Williams. The ones coming in are the most beautiful mainstream comics I think I've ever seen. The ones going out are... well, all the characters feel like themselves. And, when we've met them before, they sound like themselves. And it's really strange when a character I've not written since 1995 turns up and all I seem to do for the dialogue is listen and write down what they say. I needed a story within the story at one point, so am telling a story I'd vaguely thought might one day be a giant miniseries as a three page story...
All the introductions I've agreed to write in the last 3 years are all needed now, so I am writing them. It's partly fun, because I get to tell people about things I love, and tell them why I love those books, but because they have all come together it feels a little like homework.
The most fun thing I did today was look at a rough sketch for the cover of the third book with Chu, the little Panda in it, and make a suggestion, and then, much later in the day, see Adam Rex's version of the sketch incorporating my suggestion, which headed straight into cuteness overload territory.
The second CHU book, which comes out in June, is going to be CHU'S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL in America but CHU'S FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL in the UK, because that's how the same thing is described in the different countries.
You can find out more about it via the Amazon US link at http://j.mp/Chus1st which is the only place I can find anything about it so far...


(The US cover via Amazon)




(The UK cover, courtesy of Bloomsbury)

And ironically, while I'm taking my social media sabbatical, I've been nominated for a SHORTY award.
Let's see...
...
Locus Magazine, the newspaper of the Science Fiction and Fantasy World, has put up its 2013 poll and survey online:
http://www.locusmag.com/Magazine/2014/PollAndSurvey.html
You can vote for the books and stories you read in 2013, and more, and you should. And fill out the survey: it tells them (and everyone) who reads SF. As long as you include your name, email and survey information, your votes will get counted.
And if you do not feel like filling out a survey it's also an excellent round up of the best of the year in novels and shorter work, art and non-fiction.
...
For the last 5 years I've been doing annual doodles for the National Doodle Day -- now Doodle 4 NF -- an annual fundraiser for the Neurofibromatosis Network. I've done two doodles. So far this year, I've only done one, "The Clown-Shoes of Cthulhu", which is up on their website, and which I drew in in an OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE signing tour book:


They do not get auctioned until May, by which time there will be another doodle to join it...
...
PEN International (the writer and artist's organisation, of which I'm a member) sent out a letter to the Russian Government protesting the "gay propaganda" laws, the criminal blasphemy laws and the laws that criminalise defamation, and I was one of the signatories.
I noticed people on the Guardian website wondering why PEN wasn't protesting about other bad things elsewhere: it does. Lots of them. Look: http://www.pen-international.org/
Mostly because, as you'll probably know if you've been reading this blog for a while, I'm a Free Speech absolutist. (Here's me explaining why: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2008/12/why-defend-freedom-of-icky-speech.html). And because I found myself remembering 1986 and protesting Clause 28 (later Section 28) with a comic...


This was the comic I did, drawn by Bryan Talbot and Mark Buckingham. Not exactly subtle, but it was agitprop and I was much younger and less subtle then. (For the complete comic, go to Bryan's website.)
It was in a comic called AARGH! (Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia) edited by Alan Moore, who has wandered into my life in two different ways this week. Firstly, Jackie Estrada is doing a Kickstarter to make a book of the photos she's taken at San Diego Comic-Con over the years, and includes this picture, in which the strangeness of perspective makes Jack Kirby and Alan Moore look even more different in height than they actually were. Sometimes I think this photo makes it look like Alan is the size of Gort, the eight-foot tall robot from The Day The Earth Stood Still, while Jack is normal-sized Klaatu, and sometimes I think that it looks like Alan is normal-sized and Jack looks like something Alan would have brought along to snack upon, were he not a vegetarian.


(Check out Jackie's Kickstarter. It has many more amazing photos on the Kickstarter page, and I cannot imagine how many photos that will delight comics lovers there will be in the book.)
The other Alan Moore-related news came about because I ran into Dave Gibbons in Las Vegas in early December, and he told me about a book they were putting together showcasing Watchmen original art. I reminded Dave that he and Alan had given me a page as a thank you when we were all much younger, and he suggested I might put it in the book.
As Dave says on this interview page...

I was talking to Neil Gaiman a couple of weeks ago — managed to have a catch-up with him over a cup of tea, which was great — and I mentioned this project to him and he’s got one particularly prime page that Alan (Moore) and I gave him back in the day when he used to help us with sourcing quotations and so on. He’s got the dream sequence — the Nite Owl dream sequence where there are, I think, like 20 panels on the page. So that’s a real iconic and favorite page.

You can see the page itself (and others) much larger than it is below at http://13thdimension.com/exclusive-first-look-at-watchmen-artifact-edition-from-idw/


And I only discovered when it came out of its frame, that when I'd had framed in 1987 I wasn't thinking about acid-free mounts and museum-quality glass and the kinds of things I think about when people give me art these days, and I should have.
(The story of what I did to help on Watchmen and why they gave me the page is here on the blog: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2008/08/please-stop-my-assistant-becoming-mad.html -- and the link to the 1989 Brian Hibbs interview with a me whom I barely recognise is at http://thedreaming.holycow.com/2008/08/05/gaiman-interview-with-brian-hibbs/)
...
So, signing the PEN Open Letter was something I did this week as a writer.
This video was something I did because it made me smile when I was asked. I suspect that Derren Brown, Stephen Fry, Rupert Everett and co. did it for the same reason. And they did it better than I did:


...
You have six days left to listen to Mitch Benn is the 37th Beatle, a trimmed version of his Edinburgh Show, which I never saw, so I am glad I heard it on the radio. I've been listening to the Beatles while writing recently -- I'd call it comfort listening, except I've barely listened to them since I was in my early teens, so Mitch's history-rant-pontification-and-occasional-parodic-songs came along at just the right time:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03szxdh
(That'll work on a computer for the next six days. If you follow the link on a tablet or phone, it won't work outside the UK. So use an app like TuneIn Radio and search for Mitch Benn, and it will come up instantly...)
...
And for Charles Dickens' Birthday (it's his 202nd Birthday today), I'm reposting the reading I did, in Dickensian beard and clobber, at the New York Public Library, just before Christmas: http://www.nypl.org/audiovideo/charles-dickens-christmas-carol-neil-gaiman-and-molly-oldfield
If you want to hear Molly Oldfield telling you interesting things about Dickens' reading tours and secret museums, followed by me reading the version of A Christmas Carol from Dickens' hand-annotated and edited prompt copy, now is your chance.

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Monday, February 03, 2014

American Gods TV series News -- and more...

That was interesting. On Friday I recorded and put up  Green Eggs and Ham. I'd actually already recorded a reading at the beginning of January: it was nice and elegant, filmed in an oak-panelled library in Cambridge, with a blazing fire behind me. I was relatively nattily dressed and as coiffed as I get. The only problem with that video was, as we discovered on Friday, the audio track was completely inaudible, and watching someone read something that might possibly be Green Eggs and Ham but might equally be the telephone directory or just me doing whale noises did not seem like a good idea. So, when I heard that Worldbuilders had hit the $500,000 stretch goal, I went for my jog, showered, and recorded myself reading Green Eggs and Ham again, and uploaded it and forgot about it.

It's now had over 315,000 views, it's been written up all over the place, and, having looked at a few of the comments, I suspect that I would have received fewer comments about how I look like a homeless person if we'd used the original inaudible one, but ah, the whole point of hiding out and writing (at least for me) is that I get to grow a lazy tangle of beard and have no idea where in this house a hairbrush might be, I'm not even sure when I last listened to the news, and that as long as I get the words written all is well.

So far my favourite comment is from Entertainment Weekly, which says:

Don’t you wish that Neil Gaiman was your kooky uncle? He would sneak you into the circus and you’d get to hold the Biggest Amazonian Python That Ever Lived (whose name was Lucille). He’d help you put frogs in your sister’s bathtub. He’d keep secrets for you, like that time that you accidentally buried your dad’s favorite watch in the park. He would agree that pirate treasure is only good if it’s buried. To help you cement the fantasy that Gaiman is your favorite uncle, here he is reading Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.
Let's see: there's news, as I said in the header. AMERICAN GODS is now being developed for TV by Freemantle Media. As to where you will be able to see it, who is going to be in it, who will be writing or show-running, none of these things have yet been settled. But it already looks like it's going to be a smoother run developing it than it had at HBO, so I am very pleased.

(A few people have asked for more background on this: HBO had an option on American Gods for several years. It went through three different pilot scripts. HBO has a limited number of slots and, after a while, passed it to Cinemax, who are in the HBO family, who decided eventually they didn't want to do it, and the option expired, which unfortunately meant we couldn't work with Tom Hanks' production company Playtone any longer, as they are exclusive to HBO. However, Stefanie Berk, who had been one of the brightest stars at Playtone, had recently moved to Freemantle, and was as determined as she had been when she was at Playtone to bring American Gods to the screen. And I was impressed by her determination.)

Other TV news also came to fruition today, although I do not have anywhere to link you to, so you will have to take my word for it: Anansi Boys is going to be made into a TV miniseries in the UK, by RED, for the BBC.

Yes, I'm really thrilled about both of these things. Freemantle has the harder task, as they are going to have to open up American Gods into something bigger than the book.

Red are just going to have to make an absolutely brilliant faithful version of Anansi Boys.

...

I've been meaning to plug the The Alpha SF/F/H Workshop for Young Writers (ages 14 – 19). It will be held at the University of Pittsburgh’s Greensburg Campus July 25 – August 3, 2014, and this is their fundraising week, raising scholarships for kids who otherwise couldn't afford to go. If you donate, you get a free PDF of flash fiction by Alpha Alumni. It's a great cause...  You can investigate further at http://alpha.spellcaster.org/.

Also, Len Peralta is in the last few days of a Kickstarter to raise money for the second series of his Geek A Week cards.  Obviously, you want a set. Just as obviously, you hope he gets to his $60,000 stretch goal, because then he'll reprint the first season, which has a me card in it, and you can play his Geek a Week card game with it.



And on the subject of Kickstarters, I met Kat Robichaud at the first of the New York Town Hall  EVENING WITH NEIL AND AMANDAs, and thought she was wonderful. Really funny and grounded and nice, with an amazing voice. Also, mega Doctor Who fan. (Here's Kat and Amanda singing Delilah.)









...

Dave McKean's illustrated edition of SMOKE AND MIRRORS went to the printer today. All the illustrations are in black and red -- here's the drawing he did for "Shoggoth's Old Peculiar".



and the one for "The Price".


According to Subterranean Press, it's long since sold out BUT they think that when all is said and done there may be an extra 20 copies for sale... http://subterraneanpress.com/news/neil_gaimans_smoke_and_mirrors_at_the_printer
As they explain, "No need to start checking now, but you might want to keep an eye out once we announce the book is shipping."

A book that there are a lot more than 20 copies of is the new hardback edition of Dave and my first book, Violent Cases. He's done an amazing job of, as an adult and experienced artist, essentially remastering the art, to get it to look, for the first time, like the original art he did, 28 years ago.



There is new material too -- here are portraits of us Dave did for the programme of the theatrical adaptation:


(I should probably apologise for the haircut.)



Violent Cases was our first graphic novel. It's, in some ways, a lot like The Ocean at the End of the Lane -- it's an adult story with a child protagonist, that's about memory and powerlessness and identity: it has Al Capone's osteopath in it, and prohibition Chicago, and parties. And like The Ocean at the End of the Lane, the most unlikely bits are all true (and Neil deGrasse Tyson explained the science behind  one of the unlikely things to me last year, during the intermission at the Connecticut Forum).

It's available here - http://bit.ly/ViolentCases -- or at indiebound or at your local comic shop.
...

I love this video.  It's a visual interpretation of some interview extracts done to establish what Americans in different parts of America actually say. I remember the first time I heard someone tell me, casually, on seeing rain falling on a sunny day, that the Devil was beating his wife...



SODA / POP / COKE from The Atlantic on Vimeo.

...


In re: your reading of Green Eggs and Ham. I have very conflicted feelings about this book (and not only because I am named Sam and this book came out when I was three and I have had to cope with this all my life). The thing about it I have the most trouble with is that along with the intended message of "don't be closed-minded", it teaches a second and much more disturbing lesson:  "no" doesn't mean "no". It teaches that "no" means "ignore, and pester and wart and nag until you get your way".  And that is a pernicious thing to teach to small children. It teaches them to nag and whine to get toys or candy or whatever the desire-of-the-moment is; when they are older, and in the worst cases, it buys into attitudes and world views that enable rape culture.  As the father of daughters, who will now and forever be put at risk by such a culture, I cannot but worry at such a book teaching such a lesson.

I  agree completely that as a father, you should absolutely definitely teach your daughters (and, if you have them, sons) that No definitely means No, that they are the final arbiters of what happens to their bodies, and that they should be able to make decisions about such things and hold to their decisions in the face of nagging, wheedling, cajoling and even threats.

I also think that, as a father, you owe it to your children, particularly small children of the reading/listening age that Green Eggs and Ham is aimed at, to encourage them to vary their diet and at least taste things they think they might not like: kids are mostly inherently conservative about what they will and won't eat (and not just kids) and encouraging them to try new and different foods and not just eat peanut butter sandwiches for six years is part of your job as a parent. The message I've always taken from Green Eggs and Ham is that, all cajoling and nonsense aside, it's worth seeing if you don't like something before deciding that you don't. Particularly in the matter of food. Because you might like something that looks unpleasant. (Also that if you are going to pester someone, you should do it in rhyme, inventively, using small words that would delight a child, and with interestingly drawn animals and modes of transportation.)

Of course, that was what I thought before I read this comic, which changes everything.

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My current crusade is to make sure creative people have wills. Read the blog post about it, and see a sample will.