Wednesday, February 20, 2002
Some months ago I got an e-mail from Emma Straub, who had discovered that her classmates thought that Stephen King's Salem's Lot was a bad book despite the fact -- or rather, because -- they were enjoying it. She wrote to me, to Steve King, to her father (P. Straub esq.), to Dave Schow and John Clute and Gary Wolfe, and, because she is nice, we all answered her. And then, when we read what she had turned our assembled e-mails into, some of us suggested she get it published somewhere.

In the February Edition of The Spook you'll find her article, decorated with portraits of us that demonstrate both that we are an odd-looking bunch, and that the artist didn't have a lot of reference photographs for several of the respondents. Please also check out the photograph of Emma herself in the contributors page and send her fan-mail.


Spoke to Stephin Merritt today. He's doing the musical stuff for the CORALINE audio book, which will come out in May-June, several months before the novel itself (which may be a first), and he sang me a bit of the songs the rats sing, which prickled the hair on the back of my neck. He's written an original song for the audio book, too, which is called "You're Not My Mother And I Want to Go Home", which I hope to get up on the Coraline Website, when we get that running...


Some time ago, in Las Vegas, I saw Teller examining some photos of Sock Monkeys. He told me his friend Arne Svenson was doing a book of portraits of Sock Monkeys, and he was deciding which one to write something for, and he wondered if I'd be interested in trying my hand at one. I allowed as how I would, and soon Arne sent me three photos of Sock Monkeys to pick from.

I chose one who looked like he had a lot of tales to tell, and wrote a monologue for him. You'll find the catalogue entry for the book here - although as with pretty much all art and photographic books, the online discounts from the Amazon.coms and bn.coms etc. of this world make it much cheaper to order from them than from the publisher.

From the FAQ line: You're one of my most favorite authors. Your work has greatly affected my life and your characters and stories stay with me years after the first reading. There, now that that's out of the way... I think it's great that you've chosen to make yourself so accessible on the web. I'm wondering why you decided to do so - I can see the benefits to your readers, but what are the benefits to you? Thanks, ~Caitlin Lyon

Mostly, it was an experiment when American Gods was in the works. I liked the idea of dragging people backstage -- through production, through publication, through promotion. And somewhere in there I realised I had grown to enjoy it. (How else would I get to let people know that I've got a monologue in a forthcoming book of photos of sock monkeys?) The blogger has about 18,000 regular readers (and there are several times that number of people who come in and poke around on every month, which makes me wish we'd tidied the place up a bit before they got here), which means that I feel guilty if I haven't posted anything in a while, as I have visions of 18,000 people clicking on the link to the journal and shaking their heads sadly.

And, though they don't all get answered, the people out there are terrifically helpful (Julia Bannon at Harper forwarded me an e-mail she had received from Steve Block telling her that Plus Books in Streatham had closed down last year, for example. Although the one in Colliers Wood is still going.) and the things that come in on the FAQ line are always eye-opening.

For example...

Neil, I'd like to marry your son. Is that alright with you?

And imediately a whole chorus-line of aunts, living and dead, raise their ghostly eyebrows sceptically and say, "So, this girl he's going to marry, you know her?" ("Er, no," I try to explain, "She's an anonymous e-mail from someone who reads the blogger") except for one who goes straight for the important things and says "So who's going to be doing the catering?" ("Auntie, you're dead. What does it matter?" "Living, dead, the catering is what they remember. You take your Cousin Laura's wedding. The smoked salmon? To die for.")

Which takes us to

It's spelled "nudhz"? I always figured it was "noodge." Valerie

Well, offers us:

nudge2 or nudzh or noodge (nj) Slang

One who persistently pesters, annoys, or complains.
v. nudged, or nudzhed or noodged nudg�ing, or nudzh�ing or noodg�ing nudg�es or nudzh�es or noodg�es
v. tr.
To annoy persistently; pester.
v. intr.
To complain or carp persistently.
[From Yiddish nudyen, to pester, bore, from Polish nudzi.]

so it's that too.

and a final riddle to be solved for someone who wants to know...
Hi Neil! I know (and I'm sorry) that this isn't really my business. But in your Journal (Jan.30), you wrote "Holly, over twice Maddy's age..." Then in your 'Where do you get your Ideas?' essay you said, "My daughter Holly, who is seven years of age..." I thought Maddy was 7 and your youngest kid Am I right? Anyway, thank you for the wonderful stories and I really hope you'll get to visit the Philippines. Thanks again ~~~ Cancan =)

Which would date the writing of the Where Do You Get Your Ideas? essay at about nine years ago, as Holly's now 16.