Journal

Monday, May 16, 2016

Finishing Things

It's 2016, a writing year. On Friday I finished a book I've been working on since 2013 (you will find out what it is sometime in the next few months. Promise). Tomorrow I finish the introduction to it. The world feels a little lighter.

The book I finished is not the big thing I have to do this year -- I think I'm going to fall off the world completely to do that pretty soon. But it's something I'm really proud of nonetheless.

It's really nice not having to do anything but writing.

Having said that, THE VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS, my huge collection of non-fiction, of essays and speeches and suchlike, is coming out, and I'm even doing an event for it: http://store.unionchapel.org.uk/events/31-may-16-an-evening-with-neil-gaiman--audrey-niffenegger-union-chapel/

I'm not really meant to be doing any events this year, although I'm doing a couple of things that had to be postponed last year when I flew back to the US suddenly to be at a friend's deathbed. *
(Oh the things I've had to say no to.) But I'm doing this one CHEAP SEATS event in the UK. As we get closer I'll announce how it will stream, etc.

This is how they describe it:

To celebrate the publication of Neil Gaiman’s collection of non-fiction, The View from the Cheap Seats, the award-winning author will be joined by Audrey Niffenegger, bestselling author of The Time Traveller’s Wife, at a rare public event in London. The Union Chapel, Islington, will play host to these two literary heavy-weights, as they discuss Gaiman’s latest work, lauded by Stephen Fry as ‘magnificent’, amongst a myriad of other topics sure to delight fans – with a couple of surprises also in store…
Tickets are £20 each, and include a free signed copy of The View from the Cheap Seats for every ticket-holder, which they will receive on the night courtesy of Waterstones. The event will be live-streamed across the globe, via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, so fans who are unable to attend can also enjoy this special, one-off event. Furthermore, Gaiman and Niffenegger will be answering audience questions, both from within the chapel and from those viewers at home or in bookshops tuning in. Anyone not present at Union Chapel will have the opportunity to submit their own questions via Twitter ahead of the event using the hashtag #CheapSeats.



This is the first copy that arrived in my house, a couple of days ago. I'm going to give it, as a graduation present, to Maddy Gaiman, who was about 6 when this blog started and is 21 now. She graduated today from Wake Forest.

Gaiman's Law holds true: when I opened the book for the first time, I saw a typo and my heart sank. I've not found any more, though.

Ash has his first tooth. He's all joy, all the time. It was an especial joy to see him with his brother and his sisters this weekend.




I thought about posting some graduating Maddy photos, but instead decided to link to this page, of Maddy in 2007, aged 12, on the set of Hellboy 2. She took over the blog, and captioned the photos herself. http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2007/06/photos-yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.html

Nine years have passed since that blog came out, and it feels like yesterday.

And on May 26th, at 9pm, on Sky Arts, LIKELY STORIES begins. Four episodes based on short stories by me, directed by Ian Forsyth and Jane Pollock, with an original soundtrack by Jarvis Cocker. Check out the trailer:





*(One of the things I had to postpone was getting an honorary doctorate at St Andrews. It's now going to happen this year, and I am thrilled about it. https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/news/archive/2016/title,496871,en.php

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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: http://bit.ly/VfCheapSeats, B&N link and review: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/the-view-from-the-cheap-seats-offers-a-revealing-look-into-the-corners-of-neil-gaimans-mind/ and IndieBound independent bookshop link: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780062262264)

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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Sunday, January 03, 2016

We Thought You Were Dead, with baby photos

I've been very bad at blogging for the last three months. I've actually been pretty bad at everything for the last three months, except for changing a baby, bathing a baby, remembering the words to old nursery rhymes, and helping Amanda to get enough sleep.

People ask me what cool new music I've been listening to, and all I can think of is Wally Whyton's 50 More All-Time Children's Favourites (which I had on LP when I was tiny and recently downloaded on MP3) and the Ellis/Laycock/Broadside Band's Old English Nursery Rhymes (which I'm only allowed to play when Amanda is not in earshot, even though it calms the baby like magic). Nobody seems very interested in my opinions about nappies aka diapers (when we use disposables, we use the Andy Pandy bamboo ones, no! come back! I used to be interesting...) or baby clothes (huge fan of the Magnificent Clothes magnetic clothes line, which allow you to get up in the night and change the baby without ever waking up enough to figure out complicated things like snaps or buttons or velcro) or...

There. No brain. I sound like a walking advert for baby things. If I get email done, or something read, I'm proud of myself. The rest of the time, it's changing the baby. Who mostly seems amused by the whole thing...



I've finished the giant proofread for a book coming out in May, called THE VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS. It's a collection of my nonfiction.  It's not every speech, introduction or article I've written, but it's all the speeches that seemed important, all the articles I was still proud of, all the introductions that seemed to be about something bigger than just telling people about the book or author they were going to read. (Kat Howard helped such a lot: she went through the archives, read everything, and made an initial call about what should go in or go out. Then she sighed whenever I changed my mind or remembered a forgotten piece I'd written about something).

I'm about three months behind right now, on everything. And I'm cooking a new novel in the back of my head, which I was meant to start next week, but may be as far as three months away while I finish things that people are waiting for.

I'm thrilled that people have been buying and saying nice things about Sandman: Overture (bit.ly/OvertureDeluxe).  It's been eight weeks at the top of the NYT Graphic Novel bestseller list, and it's made it onto lots of End of the Year Best Of lists, The consensus seems to be that it added something real to the Sandman story, and I'm not sure I wanted anything more than that, apart from the joy of working with J. H. Williams III.



Yesterday was our fifth wedding anniversary. It was a quiet day, with a lot of love in it. We did not need to sacrifice the baby to the Fish Gods, or send him into space in an attempt to save him from this doomed planet before it explodes. I'm profoundly grateful to his gorgeous, brilliant and kind mother, my wife and friend and partner and love. I wouldn't change a thing.

It's worth all the sleep I've lost.

And I'll try and be a better Blogger, in the months to come, and a worse Tweeter and Facebooker and Tumblrer.

Thank you for sticking around.


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Thursday, December 31, 2015

A New Year's Wish



I didn't write a new New Year's wish this year. But I recorded an old one. Thank you cameraperson Amanda Palmer.

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

TWO BABY PHOTOS! (And, oddly enough, some news too.)

I'm typing this in an airport lounge in Cleveland. It's a 'pay money or use a fancy credit card to get in' lounge, and I have a fancy credit card I never actually use in the back of my wallet, so hurrah, free internet and a cup of tea.

Last night was my first night away from the baby and Amanda since the birth. I spoke at an event at the University put on by the Cuyahoga County Public Library Foundation and Case Western Reserve University. I enjoyed talking, and managed not to get too wistful about missing the baby.

This morning felt very strange: I woke up in a kind of panic in a hotel bed, wondering how I had slept so long and why I hadn't changed the baby in the night and oh my god where was the baby oh right I'm in Cleveland.


This is what he looks like when he wakes up.



Now I'm flying back to them.

We've spent the last week in the sunshine seeing aged relatives and being on holiday. Real life (and chilly Autumn in the NorthEast) starts on Monday.

This is Anthony. We call him Ash for short. He wears a hat these days.


(I haven't received a full report on the Humble Bundle yet. Will post it here when I do.)

BUT THERE IS NEWS:

On November 9th, I'll be in Brooklyn, in conversation with Junot Diaz, talking about Sandman and such, and afterwards there will be the only Sandman Overture hardcover signing. (The book is officially released on November 10th.)

Tickets are free, but you must RSVP: https://neilgaiman.splashthat.com/

On Nov 7th I'll be in Conversation with Armistead Maupin at Bard. This is the fourth of the Bard talks I've been doing (Art Spiegelman, Audrey Niffenegger and Laurie Anderson were the first three).

Join a public conversation between Neil Gaiman, Bard’s Professor in the Arts, and Armistead Maupin, the best-selling writer and activist. Maupin is the author of 11 novels, including the nine-volume Tales of the City series, three of which were adapted for television with Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney. He and Gaiman will discuss their heroes Charles Dickens and Christopher Isherwood, the craft of storytelling, and many other subjects. Part of a regular series of conversations at the Fisher Center hosted by Professor Gaiman.
If you are in the area, you should come. Tickets and info at  http://fishercenter.bard.edu/calendar/event.php?eid=129331.

Me and Armistead in San Francisco in the summer. 


There are a handful of other appearances I'll be doing before I retire from the appearances and talks thing at the end of November and go back to being a full time writer for a while:

On Friday Oct 23rd, I'll be at the West Virginia Book Festival, in Charleston, WV.
http://wvbookfestival.org/

On Friday the 13th of November I'll be in Texas. Will there be masked figures with machetes, or will it be a local chainsaw massacre? Probably neither, given that I'm talking in Austin, reading stories and answering questions and generally having too much fun on stage. It's a big Auditorium, and there are still a few hundred seats left, but they are going fast. http://thelongcenter.org/event/neil-gaiman/

On Saturday the 14th of November I'm doing the same thing, more or less, only with different words, in Long Beach, CA. (There are about 20 seats left, from what I can see: http://www.carpenterarts.org/2015-2016/neil-gaiman.html )

THE SLEEPER AND THE SPINDLE came out in the US and (much to my surprise) went in at #1 on the NYT YA bestseller list. It's now in its 3rd week on the list, and is a really pretty book.

Hayley Campbell's gorgeous book of everything you ever wanted to know about me is coming out in paperback soon, with a faux Victorian cover that doesn't have a picture of me on it. Too many people thought the hardback was just drawings of me or by me or something, so they gave it a title that clarifies what it is and why.

It's called The Art of Neil Gaiman: The Story of a Writer with Handwritten Notes, Drawings, Manuscripts, and Personal Photographs. (link.)





The UK gets a new hardback of GOOD OMENS, a beautiful new cover to THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, and also a (physically) tiny edition of HOW THE MARQUIS GOT HIS COAT BACK, to give people in the UK who have owned the author's preferred edition of Neverwhere for a decade parity with the US, where they only just got it but it had the Marquis story in the back.

I got to see the new UK covers for OCEAN and MARQUIS on Twitter this morning and take joy in posting them here:



And on a final note, the last part of Sandman Overture came out, and people have read it, and the reviews are very kind. I've seen https://comicspectrum.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/sandman-overture-6-dcvertigo/ and http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/09/30/the-sandman-overture-6-review
http://www.comicosity.com/review-sandman-overture-6/ and http://www.comicbookresources.com/comic-review/the-sandman-overture-6-vertigo and when I read them I felt like people actually understood what JHW3 and I were trying to do, and that we'd pulled it off.

It's a strange feeling, revisiting a story and characters you created almost thirty years earlier, and trying to add layers, so that if someone rereads the original story they will see events and characters they thought they knew as well as they knew themselves, in a different light.

I made it back by sunset.




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Friday, September 25, 2015

A huge thank you, and some life and some death...

Thank you all for taking part in the Humble Bundle, or just for putting up with me blogging, tweeting and facebooking about it. It's been over for a couple of days now: We just got a letter from the guys at Humble letting us know it was:
#1 on the Humble Book Tab
#1 Highest Overall Average for any Bundle.
#1 Media Coverage for a Book Bundle 
And they went on to say:
This bundle was particularly special since it elicited such a beautiful and positive reaction from both our fans and Humble newbies alike.   I talked with our Customer Service Manager yesterday and he reported that there wasn't a single negative comment.  (Except new customers not understanding how to redeem their bundles.  A very common complaint.)   This has never happened before either!
There was a tremendous amount of delighted energy at Humble HQ since the launch.    Everyone here was stoked to be involved.   Dare I say that it was almost in the realm of The Magical. 
 I was so happy how many friends, acquaintances and people I do not even know gave it a push.

John Scalzi went further -- he reviewed my 1985 Duran Duran book, and let the review become a gentle meditation on who we are and who we were and who we become. It's at http://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/09/22/duran-duran-neil-gaiman-and-beginnings/ and you might enjoy it.
Here are the final results for your interest:
Humble Book Bundle: Neil Gaiman Rarities
https://www.humblebundle.com/books?view=pPpiWRbzesK-Launch Date:  September 9th 2015
End Date: September 23rd 2015
Avg. price per bundle: $19.63
32,294 bundles purchased
Total Revenue: $633,787.98
(Note the numbers might change ever so slightly over the next few weeks.)  
I'll post the actual numbers here, and how much money that actually makes and how much is going where, when I get the information from Humble.  Hurrah for transparency.

(Also, I commend to you the Banned Comics Humble Bundle that's going on right now: $231 of forbidden comics for Pay What You Like https://www.humblebundle.com/books )

...

Meanwhile, so many things. For example The Sleeper and the Spindle came out in the US on Tuesday. So did the new Sleeper and the Spindle Full Cast Audio. You can listen to it at https://soundcloud.com/harperaudio_us/sleeperandthespindle_gaiman or





And read a great interview with Chris Riddell (and see pictures from the book) at http://epicreads.tumblr.com/post/129147915806/books-for-keeps-window-into-illustration-with



The Moth put up a new radio show and weirdly, in a week a son is born, it includes me talking about my father and my son: http://themoth.org/posts/episodes/1520 (This was actually recorded somewhere on the Unchained Bus Tour of 2012.)

I recorded a documentary for the BBC  Radio -- I'm presenting it -- on Orpheus: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06cw171  I'm really proud of it, and it has wonderful people, like Margaret Atwood and Jonathan Carroll and Peter Blegvad in it. (And this is the poem I wrote for Kathy Acker that's extracted in it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/5gmSz0PkBn6G81cdsySP8mJ/orphee-a-poem-by-neil-gaiman)

Miracleman, The Golden Age stories by me and Mark Buckingham is coming out right now on a weekly schedule. You really want to go to a comic shop and buy it. It's thrilling for me rereading it now, and really strange starting the process with Mark Buckingham of finishing the story we began so many years ago.

...

The baby is nine days old, happy and healthy and, slightly to my surprise, he makes amazing noises: squeaks like mice and gentle burbling like mourning doves and little chirrupping grunts like guinea pigs. I adore him. And his mother's doing really well too. In case you were wondering. 



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Monday, September 21, 2015

Our Not-So-Humble Bundle.


He was born at 8:37 in the morning on September the 16th, which is, I am told, the commonest birthday in the US.  It was a long but rewarding labour. The name on his birth registration is Anthony, but mostly I call him Squeaker. He makes the best noises in the world, mostly squeaks and peeps and snuffles.

Amanda is an amazing mother. I am changing nappies (or diapers, if you are not English) and enjoying it much too much. This is wonderful.



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Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Holy Thundering Sludgebuckets! THANK YOU!

The Humble Bundle went live almost ten hours ago.

It's broken all the previous Humble Bundle records for Books.  As I type this, about 7000 people have already bought the  Bundle. It's raised $133,000. And it's done something really peculiar...

The average donation (right now $18.88) is actually higher than the level we had set as our top level ($15). This means that the books we thought were going to be mid-level books are actually, much to our surprise, the top level books.

This means a few things, including some changes of plans in the week ahead to make sure that as many people as possible get as much stuff as possible...

There's a great interview with me over at The Nerdist where I talk about embarrassment and age and why I'm willing to let some of the embarrassing stuff from the basement and the attic out. (Well, out for the next 13 days, anyway.) It's at http://nerdist.com/exclusive-neil-gaiman-discusses-uncovering-rarities-for-humble-bundle/

One of the best unexpected side-effects of this has been an ask me anything on Reddit with my daughters, Holly and Maddy Gaiman. You get a great sense of their personalities. They are both very funny in very different ways. For anyone wondering, this is what they look like now.





Maddy is the author of this book. Or she was, in 2002. It's letters and poems we sent each other while I was off writing American Gods, and she was Very Young. Only 100 copies were published, and given to close friends. And now it's part of the Humble Bundle too...



So thank you, and thank you again.

If you haven't bought it yet, you can still get your rare and collectible eBooks, eComics and eWhatnots at https://www.humblebundle.com/books for the next 13 days and 14 hours. 1249 pages of  stuff. All the money goes to good causes, and you can control how much of it goes to charities, to the creators, to Humble Bundle...

(There will be more stuff in the bundle released midweek. If you've already bought the bundle you will get it all without having to pay any more.)

...

Also, things I should mention:

Miracleman #1 is out! The art by Mark Buckingham has never looked better. The story by me is, well, I'm still proud of it, after all these years. If you've wondered what the fuss was about, it's a great place to start and should be at your local comic shop.




http://marvel.com/comics/issue/50326/miracleman_by_gaiman_buckingham_2015_1

The Global Goals: On the 25th of September, the UN will officially adopt the new Global Goals. Head over to http://www.globalgoals.org and learn what they are, and what you can do to change the world for the better...



Before that, Penguin are going to be releasing the world's first Post-It Note book, to draw awareness to the global goals: I helped, a little, in making it happen: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/richard-curtis-and-neil-gaiman-michael-joseph-global-goals-curate-worlds-first-post-it-note-book-311417  Richard Curtis did all the heavy lifting.

And, in case you were wondering...


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Do YOU want to save THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS while DOING GOOD? Er, and also get some interesting things to read.



The thing about having a writing career that spans more than thirty years is that that you write things – books, comics, all sorts of things – that for one reason or another become rare. They go out of print. Often because you are embarrassed by them, or do not want to see them in print. Or because circumstances are against you. Or because something was only ever published in a limited edition.

I have a basement library filled with mysterious copies of things. Some I only have one copy of. One book, the hardback of my Duran Duran biography, I paid $800 for, about eight years ago, astonished that anyone would ask that much, but aware that I'd only ever seen one other copy. (I saw another one for sale last week for over $4000.)

Many years ago, I sued a publisher for non-payment of royalties, registering copyright in his own name on things I'd written, and various other things. And, because it felt right, I decided that any money I made from the case would go to charity. Long after the case was won, when the finances were eventually settled, I found myself with a large chunk of money.  I didn't want to give it all to one charity, and instead formed the Gaiman Foundation which has, for several years, been using that money to Do Good Things. The Gaiman Foundation has funded the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's Education program, various Freedom of Speech initiatives, the Moth's High School program which teaches kids the power of telling their own stories, along with helping to fund good causes like the Lava Mae charity, which gives showers and cleaning facilities to the homeless around San Francisco.

Giving money away to good causes has been a fine thing to do, especially when the results were immediate and obvious.

The only downside is that the initial chunk of money from the lawsuit is almost used up. I've been putting money into it as well, but last year Holly Gaiman (who is not only my daughter and an ace hat maker, but is studying running non-profit organisations and has been invaluable on the professional side of things of the Foundation) pointed out to me that if the Gaiman Foundation was to continue, it would need me to put in a big chunk of money as an endowment. And I started thinking...

Some years ago I took part in one of the earliest book-based Humble Bundles, and was really impressed with how the Humble Bundle thing worked.  E-books (back then,  of out of print or unavailable work,) would be put up DRM free: some of them would be available to anyone who paid anything at all, some only for those who paid above the average, some available to anyone who paid more than a specific amount. Artists and writers got paid, and money also went to support good causes -- when you paid for your books, you could choose how much of the money going to charity went to which charity, how much goes to the creators, how much to Humble Bundle. 

Hmm. I had the beginning of an idea.

Charles Brownstein at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is always willing to listen to my strange ideas. He liked this one.

This was the idea:

I'd put into the Humble Bundle all the rare things we could find. 

Books that were long out of print, stories and such that collectors would pay hundreds of dollars for, obscure and uncollected comics and pamphlets and magazine articles. Even the things I am still vaguely embarrassed by (like the Duran Duran biography, a hardcover copy of which, as I said, can set you back thousands of dollars these days, if you can find one). 

Books which have been out of print for 30 years, like GHASTLY BEYOND BELIEF, a collection of quotations from the strangest SF and Fantasy books and movies that Kim Newman and I made when we were 23 and 24 respectively. Things that were absolutely private and never before sold, like LOVE FISHIE, a book of poems and letters from my daughter Maddy (aged 8) to me, and from me back to Maddy, that was made into a book (with help from my assistant the Fabulous Lorraine) as a gift for my 42nd birthday. 

Two long out-of-print books from Knockabout Comics: OUTRAGEOUS TALES FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT and SEVEN DEADLY SINS, with stories written and or drawn by me, Alan Moore, Hunt Emerson, Dave Gibbons, Dave McKean and a host of others. 

Rare out-of-print comics stories by me and Bryan Talbot, by me and Mark Buckingham, even by me and Bryan Talbot and Mark Buckingham.

There would be small-press short story & suchlike collections like ANGELS AND VISITATIONS and the LITTLE GOLD BOOK OF GHASTLY STUFF containing stories that went on to win awards and be collected in the more big, official collections (Smoke and Mirrors, etc), and stories no-one has seen since, not to mention non-fiction articles, like the one about the effects of alcohol on a writer, or the one where I stayed out for 24 hours on the streets of Soho, that are now only whispered in rumours.

There would even be a short story of mine, “Manuscript Found in a Milk Bottle”, published in 1985, that is so bad I've never let it be reprinted. Not even to give young writers hope that if I was that awful once, there is hope for all of them.

Charles from the CBLDF liked the idea.

It was a good thing Charles liked the idea. He had to do so much of the work, coordinating, finding, talking to people, getting contracts with artists and publishers and everyone signed, all that. Which he did, cheerfully and helpfully and uncomplainingly.

The Humble Bundle people liked the idea too.

Humble Bundle money is divided between the creators and the charities, with the person buying the Humble Bundle deciding how the percentage that goes to the charities is divided.

I'm giving my entire portion of Humble Bundle creator-money directly back to the Gaiman Foundation. (My agent Merrilee has donated her fee, too, so 100% of what comes in to me goes to the Foundation.)

There are, obviously, other authors and artists and publishers involved. Some have asked for their money to go to charities, and some are, perfectly sensibly, paying the rent and buying food with it.

(Originally, we'd hoped to split the charity money between the CBLDF and the Gaiman Foundation as well, but in the very last couple of days of putting things together we discovered that was impractical, so we made the other charity the Moth's Educational Program instead: it's the Moth storytelling in High Schools, it's done some really good things, and I'm proud to be helping it.)

Normally Humble Bundle likes to explain that you are paying what you like for perhaps $100 worth of games or books or comics. It's hard to price this stuff – buying Duran Duran and Ghastly Beyond Belief together could set you back thousands of dollars. Here, you'll get some ebooks if you pay what you like, more ebooks if you pay over the average, and some choice plums (like Duran Duran, and “Manuscript Found in a Milk Bottle”) if you pay over $15. 

There's a total of about 1,300 pages of DRM-free ebooks and comics, fiction and non fiction. There's even a Babylon 5 Script I wrote.

These books and comics and suchlike are going to be available during the two week on-sale life of the Humble Bundle. After that, they are going away again. This really is your chance to read them.

Click on the link: https://www.humblebundle.com/books. It will take you somewhere that will look a bit like this, where many pages of ebooks will be waiting for you:


And remember, it's pay what you want. (If you want to pay the thousands of dollars it would have cost you to buy all this stuff as collectibles, you can do that too. I'll be grateful, and so will the various charities, not to mention the artists, other writers and so on.)

Thank you to Charles Brownstein; to Mary Edgeberg, Holly Gaiman, Cat Mihos, and Christine DiCrocco, on my team; thank you to my agent Merrilee Heifetz; to everyone who drew or wrote or published or in other way gave us permission to put things up; to Mike Maher and the team at Scribe for mastering the eBooks;  and above all thank you to everyone at Humble Bundle for relentlessly doing good for wonderful causes.

I hope you enjoy all 1,289 rare and collectible pages. Even “Manuscript Found In a Milk Bottle”.


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Sunday, September 06, 2015

How to help your family and save lives.

It's very safe here: we're in Tennessee, in a perfect little house we are borrowing from a midwife who has gone out west to her son's wedding. We are cooking, eating,  catching up on our sleep. Amanda's due in a week and her Nesting Instinct seems to be manifesting chiefly in trying to clean out her email inbox. She's also cleaning, washing and folding baby clothes and clean towels. I'm writing a lot, enjoying the lack of cell-phone connection, and the lack of internet connection, and getting things written without distraction. (I wrapped the first draft of a script on Thursday, wrote a preface to SANDMAN:OVERTURE on Friday.) We've felt like a couple for a long time. We're starting to feel like a family.

And the safety feels very fragile, and like something to be treasured.

There's a photo I'm not going to post. You've probably seen it already: it shows Aylan Kurdi, a three year old Syrian refugee, dead on a beach in Turkey after his family tried to get to Greece. It made me cry, but I know I'm overly sensitive to bad things happening to small children right now. I'm reacting as if he's family.

In May of last year I was in a refugee camp in Jordan. I was talking to a 26 year old woman who had miscarried her babies in Syria when the bombs started falling. She had made it out of Syria, but her husband had left her for another woman he hoped would give him babies. We spoke to women eight months' pregnant who had just walked through the desert for days, past the dead and dismembered bodies of people fleeing the war, like themselves, who had been betrayed by the smugglers who had promised them a way to freedom.

I gained a new appreciation for the civilisation I usually take for granted. The idea that you could wake in the morning to a world in which nobody was trying to hurt you or kill you, in which there would be food for your children and a safe place for your baby to be born became something unusual.

I wrote about my time in the Syrian refugee camps here, in the Guardian. (You can read it here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/21/many-ways-die-syria-neil-gaiman-refugee-camp-syria and you should, if you have time. I'll be here when you get back. And here are some photos from my time there: http://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2014/may/21/neil-gaiman-syria-refugees-jordan-in-pictures)



Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon have, between them, taken in millions of Syrian refugees. People who fled, as you or I would flee, when remaining in the places they loved was no longer possible or safe.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has made a plea to Europe that you should read (and insist that whoever represents you also read)  at http://www.unhcr.org/55e9459f6.html
The only ones who benefit from the lack of a common European response are the smugglers and traffickers who are making profit from people's desperation to reach safety. More effective international cooperation is required to crack down on smugglers, including those operating inside the EU, but in ways that allow for the victims to be protected. But none of these efforts will be effective without opening up more opportunities for people to come legally to Europe and find safety upon arrival. Thousands of refugee parents are risking the lives of their children on unsafe smuggling boats primarily because they have no other choice. 
The UN Refugees Agency wrote about words, and how they matter. In this case, the word migrants and refugees: they don't mean the same thing, and have very different meanings in terms of what a government's obligations are to them.  http://www.unhcr.org/55df0e556.html
 One of the most fundamental principles laid down in international law is that refugees should not be expelled or returned to situations where their life and freedom would be under threat...
Politics has a way of intervening in such debates. Conflating refugees and migrants can have serious consequences for the lives and safety of refugees. Blurring the two terms takes attention away from the specific legal protections refugees require. It can undermine public support for refugees and the institution of asylum at a time when more refugees need such protection than ever before. We need to treat all human beings with respect and dignity. We need to ensure that the human rights of migrants are respected. At the same time, we also need to provide an appropriate legal response for refugees, because of their particular predicament.

It's worth making sure that people are using the right words. A lot of the time they don't realise there's a difference between the two things, or that refugees have real rights -- the rights you would want, if you were forced to leave home.

A lot of people have been asking me about ways that we as individuals can change things for the better for refugees: there's an excellent article in the Independent about practical things you can do to help or make a difference.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/5-practical-ways-you-can-help-refugees-trying-to-find-safety-in-europe-10482902.html

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is feeding and housing and housing and helping literally millions of refugees around the world, always with the eventual goal of getting them safely home one day. Their funding comes from governments and private individuals all over the world. But this crisis has stretched them thin. You can help.

Donate to them at http://rfg.ee/RN3uy​ -- and please, share the donation link:
With your support, UNHCR will provide assistance such as:
  • Deliver rescue kits containing a thermal blanket, towel, water, high nutrient energy bar, dry clothes and shoes, to every survivor;
  • Set up reception centres where refugees can be registered and receive vital medical care;
  • Provide temporary emergency shelter to especially vulnerable refugees;
  • Help children travelling alone by providing specialist support and care.
As I said on this blog when I came back from visiting the camps:

I came away from Jordan ashamed to be part of a race that treats its members so very badly, and simultaneously proud to be part of the same human race as it does its best to help the people who are hurt, who need refuge, safety and dignity. We are all part of a huge family, the family of humanity, and we look after our family.  




(I'd love it you would spread this post around, and spread the links inside it. People who know that I'm involved in Refugee issues have been asking me about places to donate and what to do and what to read, so I put this together for them, and now, for you. http://rfg.ee/RN3uy​ was the donation link.)

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