Thursday, October 10, 2002
So last week, before the trial, when I was at my lowest ebb, I phoned home. "When this is done," I told my wife, "Win or lose, I want a holiday. Just three or four days of going off on my own. But I hate to be away from Maddy so much."

"She's off school at the end of next week," she said. "Why don't the two of you go and have an adventure?"

Which seemed like a terribly good idea, and I told her so. Trouble was, I just didn't know where to go for an adventure. Driving around and looking at autumn trees would be fun for me, but torture for an eight year old. And Disneyplaces might be fun for a big group, but would be much less so if there were just two of us, especially if half of that two of us was me...

Several hours later the phone rang. It was my son, at college in Washington DC. "I think you should come out here..." he began.

"Good idea," I told him. "I'll bring Maddy."

So I'm on a three day holiday in Washington DC with an 8 year old. I'll do a few things I've wanted to do for a while -- get backstage at the Library of Congress, for example. And I have readers in the oddest places.

So, now settled down in Washington DC hotel room.

I'm reading Tony Horwitz's BLUE LATITUDES. I loved his book "Confederates in the Attic", and I have had a story about Captain Cook and his men and Australian megafauna in my head for about four years. It's called "Transit of Venus", and the Horwitz is a fine addition to the Cook books already rotting down in the back of my head.

Let's see...

got a question for ya..

Being that you're a good friend of Tori Amos.. and given the fact that your friendship with her is very well known among the public and the fans of Tori and you.. how often do you get asked about her? Do you ever get tired of people who interview you asking questions such as: "so, seen Tori lately? how's she doing? how's her daughter? you ARE her kid's godfather, aren't you? what's the word on the new album? you gonna write anything for it?" etc. ?

Have you ever had to fight back the urge to lose your cool and yell "ENOUGH ABOUT TORI! Aren't we supposed to be talking about ME??"?

Not at all. I get easily bored talking about me, after all, so I don't mind at all when people want to ask about Tori, any more than I mind if they want to ask about Terry Pratchett, or Dave McKean, or Yoshitaka Amano, or Kelly Link or... well, the list is long, and I never mind being asked about my friends. At a normal signing of three or four hundred people, there will be three or four extremely Tori fans in the line, and if there's a new album coming out they'll ask if I've heard it and if it's any good, and I'll tell them, and sometimes they just want to know if I really am the same Neil she sings about, or just if I've seen her recently, and I'm perfectly happy to answer. (Anyway, I figure one-in-a-hundred people are asking her the same questions about me in her meet-and-greet lines, just as they're asking Terry Pratchett if there'll ever be a sequel to Good Omens...)

And here's a very sensible one...

As i've admitted before, i'm totally hooked on audio books
and as much as i try to do *everything* online, audio book
rental i do not. Whereas Blackstone charges $10-15 for
renting, the local Library is free!
I'm sure the stock of audio books varies greatly from town
to town but our library has great audio books...American Gods
for one ;-)

Why didn't I think of that? Libraries are your friends.


I am currently redesigning my web site as its about time. And I have been scouring the net for an image to put on my site that looks half way decent, and suits my personality. As do a lot of the Sandman images especially the L'll Endless (which I once thought of getting tattooed but have since grown past that phase).

What I am curious to know is if I use an image either scanned in or pulled from the web, of say the Sandman or L'll death or something, am I breaking copyright? Worse than that am I stealing someone else's art? Obviously I would credit them for the image on the site, but as I have the design skills of a three year old with a crayon it would be nice to use art from someone actually creative and that looked good.

Is this something that's "Ok as long as it's for personal use" or is it just a straight forward "Wrong thing to do"?

Your opinion on this would be much appreciated.


My attitude is, I don't have a problem with it, it's not a commercial use, go for it and put up a copyright notice. DC Comics's attitude seems to be something much more complicated -- something like "If we knew about it we might have to say no, so we Don't Know That The Web Even Exists and that means we don't have to say no," -- which amounts to the same thing.