Saturday, April 16, 2016

Good Omens, Cheap Seats, and the Memorial

I haven't blogged for a long time, but right now I'm on a train, and it feels like a good time to catch up. Thismorning I was interviewed by Charlie Russell for his documentary on Terry Pratchett. (Charlie made the previous BBC Terry Pratchett documentaries, Living With Alzheimer's, Choosing to Die, and Facing Extinction.)

We did it in a Chinese restaurant in Gerrard Street, because Terry and I had first met in a Chinese restaurant, in February 1985. It was easy and pleasant, and then suddenly it wasn't. I was talking about the last time I'd seen Terry, and what we said, and I found myself crying uncontrollably, unable to talk. And then I pulled it together, and we carried on.

 "Look,this is really unprofessional,” said Charlie, when the interview was all over, “and I haven't said it before to anyone I've interviewed, but would you like a hug?” And I said that, yes, I would.

 I'm still a bit shaken. It's as if all the emotion that I'd kept under control for the public Terry memorial, for the public Terry, the other night, erupted when I talked about the private people that were us.

 The memorial the other night was beautiful. I wore my mourning frock coat that Kambriel made for me, and I went out that afternoon and bought a white shirt and a black tie. (Actually, I bought four shirts, which, given how often I wear white shirts, should take me easily to the end of my lifetime.)

I read the introduction to A Slip of the Keyboard, which I'd written for Terry while he was alive. I got sad at the end but that was fine. And I held it together just fine when Rob, Terry's amazing right-hand man, presented me with a big black author's hat Terry had left me. I couldn't put it on, though. I wasn't ready for that. (I tried it on later, in the dressing room. I looked, to my mind, like a rabbinical cowboy assassin. Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

At the end of the evening, Rob announced upcoming things, and one of the things he announced was GOOD OMENS on the screen, written by me. (There was a little confusion in the way that it was reported, by the way: because Rob had been talking earlier about the letters found in the safe that Terry had left us, people assumed that me writing was something Terry asked me to do from beyond the grave. Actually, it was more of a last request while he was still alive. (“I would very much like this to happen, and I know, Neil, that you're very very busy, but no one else could ever do it with the passion that we share for the old girl. I wish I could be more involved and I will help in any way I can,” he wrote, once I said yes.)

I've been working on the Good Omens scripts for much of the last year, wishing that he was still here and could help, even if it was just to take a phone call. It's hard when I get stuck, and want to ask his advice. It's harder when I come up with something clever or funny that's new and I want to call him up and read it to him, and make him laugh or hear him point out something I'd missed. We were always each other's first audiences for Good Omens. That was the point. Neither of us had any idea whether or not we'd be able to sell this odd book or not, when we were writing it, but we knew that we could make the other one laugh. Anyway. I'm now 72% of the way through the Good Omens scripts, and the end is in sight.

My goal is to finish it before the publication day of THE VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS, my book of selected non-fiction, which comes out in the US and the UK on May 31st. There are two different covers. The US one shows me sitting looking thoughtful in a crumbling theatre, the UK shows me with my hair all blowing in the wind and gears exploding from the back of my head. Both of these seem pretty accurate, especially the exploding gears.

(US Amazon link:, B&N link and review: and IndieBound independent bookshop link:

I was, and still am, nervous about putting a book of non-fiction out into the world. I'm not scared of putting out fiction, but there's part of me that wonders if I have any right to burble in public about what I believe and hope and care about, that wonders if anyone is going to be interested in essays on books that (in a few cases) it seems like nobody cares about but me, or on the state of comics in 1993, or on how to write a review a book you find, when the deadline comes, you've mislaid. But the few early reviews seem really kind, and the handful of people I sent it to said lovely things about it (and all of them wrote to me to assure me that they had actually read it as well, and liked it as much as they said they did). There will be one event for the book launch, in the UK, which we will stream, so it will be an afternoon or later morning web-event in the US.

 I recorded the audio book while we were staying in Santa Fe. I'd never recorded a non-fiction audio book before, and wasn't sure what to do when I hit the interviews I did with Stephen King and Lou Reed, so I did my best.

 We spent the end of the winter in Santa Fe. It is a beautiful little city, and Amanda has family there, which was why we were there and not somewhere else, and I have friends. (I'd have lunch with George R R Martin. “It says on line that I'm in town to write your book for you,” I'd tell him, sighing. He thought it was much funnier than I did.)

 We went to Meow Wolf, which is a former bowling alley in Santa Fe, which contains a house in California in which an event has caused ructions in space and time that lead into other dimensions. It's a mad and glorious mashup of art, story, and Disneyland, and if you are in the SouthWest of America, you should go.

 Ash has grown. He's seven months old today. He's the sweetest, nicest baby. He smiles and is funny. I'm in London this week, and I miss him.

Our friend Prune, who is French, said that he was like “the baby they would show you in a shop, if you wanted to buy a baby.” 

"You mean, the display model?" 

"Exactly. The Display model baby."

I love him so much. He likes music, and stories, and he likes books too.  

Here is a photo of him liking a book. (The Chu's Day board book was a gift from my agent, who was amused that I had not thought to give him any of my own books. So she did.)

He likes it when I pretend to sneeze. 

And here's a video of him a couple of weeks ago, wearing his cardigan that Delia Sherman knitted him.

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