Tuesday, July 24, 2001


 An FAQ question in from Brazil points out the inconsistencies of yours truly. After all, I have cheerfully maintained recently that Felicia Quon has the world’s coolest name. But in the back of American Gods I say Owl Goingback has the world’s coolest name. So which is it?

I asked Felicia about this as she bundled me away from the Merril Centre last night, and she said, rather pointedly, “Yeah, I was wondering about that myself.” And when I last raised the subject of World’s Coolest Names with Owl Goingback, he wistfully told me about a man on the tribal rolls of the last century called Big Meat, and said he’s always wanted to be called Big Meat. So they weren’t much help, really, all things considered.

So, for purposes of simplicity, I think currently that Owl Goingback has the world’s coolest boys’ name and Felicia Quon has the world’s coolest girls’ name.

And FAQ thingie in from Germany wants to know if I will ever answer any of the FAQ questions. I expect so – probably when the current incarnation of the journal is done, a new one will arise, based on answering the FAQs (very few of which are actually frequently asked, and several of the ones that are seemed to be asked by the same person several time in the hopes of making them Frequently Asked.)

And Rabbi Michael Unterberg asks if there’s any reason the Golem in American Gods has the word Life on his forehead, instead of the word Truth (Hebrew Truth – Emet; If you erase the first letter it becomes Met, death, which is how you kill a golem.) And the answer is, yes, relying on rotten authorial memory. I’ll fix it in the paperback.

Someone at the Indigo signing asked, for a friend, about three continuity queries. One she’d misread (the whisky bottle Shadow takes from Mad Sweeney’s hands is not the same bottle as the ones the police took from his hands the previous day), one was intentional (a barefoot Shadow acquiring shoes in chapter 16), and one was a fossil.

Fossils plague authors. Ammonites and trilobites left in the text from previous drafts that you’ve somehow missed – that everyone’s missed. You think you’ve caught them all, but there’s always one that slips through...

I’ll scribble on the copy of American Gods back at home that I’ve been scribbling on since I got it, revisions and fixes for the paperback.

Meanwhile, we’re now in seventh printing for the US hardback of American Gods. (And, hearteningly, the trade paperbacks of Smoke and Mirrors and Stardust have now gone back to press several times in paperback.)

Let’s see. Toronto, yesterday. Woken up by room-service breakfast (which is the only reliable, alarm call for me at this point in the tour. Someone knocks on the door. I have to get up and open it and then, somehow, sign my name to a slip and do some simple addition. All of these things are more likely to wake me up than picking up a phone and hearing a pre-recorded voice say “This is your wake up call...”) and I had just finished cleaning my teeth when the phone rang for the first interview. This was Chris from Parsec, who had interviewed me a few years ago. Then downstairs for the second interview ( then off to the Beguiling for a drop-in-signing and then to SPACE for an interview with Mark Askwith.

Mark has been interviewing me for about 13 years now, initially for the much lamented PRISONERS OF GRAVITY TV show, and more recently for SPACE and its related stations. He always plans a number of shows, so in interviews he darts, conversationally, from topic to topic like a madman on a bus, leaving me trying vaguely to keep up and just trusting that he won’t cut stuff to make me look like an idiot.

Yesterday we lurched from the book to the nature of Fantasy to The Web, and at one point he handed me an Elvis Presley hawaiian doll and asked me to talk about it (Why, Mark, why?)

Then over to U8TV – a real life “Reality TV” show set in a loft. The behind-the-scenes people, Michael and Jodie, were fans, and I was interviewed on a couch by a strikingly pretty inmate of the loft named Jennifer who had read the book and, because she was a real person and not a TV interviewer, had made notes of sensible questions she wanted to ask. And it was a really good interview, although the most interesting bit for me was chatting to her before the interview started about what it’s like to live your life – or a small fraction of it – in the public eye. “I’ll be walking down the street and people I don’t know will tell me I should dump my boyfriend, or that I looked better as a redhead...”

Back to the hotel lobby where Christopher from Reel to Reel was waiting to interview me, and from there to TALK! TV (or possibly TALK TV!) and not only was I interviewed by a nice guy with amazing spectacles named Roberto but at the end, when he asked me to sign his book, he handed me a gorgeous fountain pen filled with sepia ink, and we neeped about ink and pens for a few moments.

Half an hour for a sushi dinner at 6.00pm, and Felicia “The Organised” Quon had already handed me a menu at some point that afternoon in the car, to make things faster. Joined by Nalo Hopkinson and her partner, David. She’s reading American Gods right now, and thanked me for not attempting to give Mr Nancy an inauthentic West Indian patois. (Her lovely novel, The Midnight Robber, is written almost entirely in a strange and beautiful hybrid Trinidadian/Jamaican patois. She knows from patois.) (Later, when Mark Askwith wasn’t around, we made Nalo go up and introduce me at the reading, in a transparent and blatant attempt to get the people to go out and buy her books.)

Sold out hall, and I read them the whole of Chapter One and Sam’s speech. Then a Q and A (during which I wound up at one point talking about Harry Stephen Keeler, but cannot for the life of me remember why), then a signing. Had a strange epiphany three quarters of the way through the signing, as my hand hurt and my elbow hurt, and I was tired and my handwriting had become something barely legible, and for a moment I felt weirdly grumpy and sorry for myself, and then I thought Yeah, but I’m still enjoying it. It’s fun. These are nice people. I have the coolest job in the world.

So I grinned and asked for a pot of tea, and I kept on signing.

I think the greatest distance travelled was the young lady who came up from New York by train for it, although probably someone came in from Newfoundland and didn’t mention it.

Signing over with at around 11.00ish and back to hotel.

Author up at 6.30amish (room service wake up, see above), shower, pack and downstairs where Victor was waiting to take me to the airport.

The whole Toronto experience was hugely improved by having a Driver named Victor who moved us from place to place effortlessly, and I was pleased that Felicia had given him a copy of American Gods. I scribbled an appreciative message on it for him, and he was happy.

And then onto the plane. I suspect there’s some kind of irony in the longest single internal flight of the tour (well over 5 hours) being the one that was, I discovered as I got to the airport, in coach, and to be on a completely crammed plane, armed with a full complement of squalling babies. And the less said about the flight the better. I have a magic “This man flies too damned much” card that makes upgrades happen on some airlines, but Canada 3000 is not one of them. Canada 3000 is the kind of airline that makes you check small roll-aboard luggage because they have limited space.

I’m typing this on the plane right now. The babies are all crying, and it’s been a long 5 hours. Luckily, I only have two interviews, two drive-by signings, and a Virgin Megastore signing and reading to do in what remains of today.

And I hear very good things about Vancouver sushi.


The plane landed 45 mins late, and I was met by Gwendolynn the Vancouver publicist ( who is a Powerhouse. Which is a good thing. And off to Sushi with an interviewer named Matthew. Good Sushi. Good questions. Exhausted author. And then back to hotel to post this and then, for 45 minutes I hope, nap.