Friday, February 28, 2003
I got a sneak preview of my assistant Lorraine's band Folk Underground's CD this evening. They're making it a bit at a time; so far they've done four tracks, which sound (to my untrained ears) terrific. They're planning to press some CDs with those tracks on to give out to a few reviewers and friends at the Boiled in Lead St Patrick's Day at First Avenue Gig. (Personally, I think they should just burn a hundred and sell 'em as cool collectibles.)

And Foodporn's Robyn offers some Indian recipe books (I've used the first and it's terrific).

Two review/links that i haven't gotten onto FoodPorn yet and should be
because they're the best Indian cookbooks:
Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking:


Madhur Jaffrey's World-Of-The-East Vegetarian Cookbook

(those links are my affiliate links for foodporn, you can drop that part
of the URL if you want) :)

But those are essential cookbooks for really good indian food!

(you should know you'll hear from me if you write about food)

Robyn Pearson
is an article on Mike Moorcock, with a quote from me.

Sometimes it can be really rather wonderful to realise that people who were your heroes when you were twelve remain your heroes thirty years on.

Also forgot to mention that my editor at Harpers sent me the Trade Paperback (large format paperback) covers for American Gods and for Neverwhere today, and they are lovely. American Gods still looks spooky and cool, and it still has a lightning bolt, but it looks a lot less like a thriller, while Neverwhere just looks a little bit more respectable than the mass market edition. But not too respectable. is a marvellous article by Mary Gentle, A Lady Who Knows What She's Talking About, about, well, about SF mostly. And the writer-reader relationship. And why sometimes we writers expect you readers to do a little work. (Found via the ever-dependable Bookslut.)

Maddy (aged 8) would like it mentioned here that she's off-school with Something That's Going Around, and she doesn't see why I should get all the sympathy, especially as she'll be back at school on Monday. She'd also like me to mention that she and I played Scrabble this afternoon.

Dear Neil,

I am writing a BA dissertation on 'Sandman,' and I was just wondering if you know whether anyone has ever written a good old-fashioned journal article or critical review about you and your work - and if they have where I could get hold of it.
There are a few other questions I'd love to ask but that'll do for now!

Hope you're feeling better.

from Lizzie, Norwich

Yes, there are and people have. A few of them can be found at The Dreaming website's Academia section --, and there are a couple at, but the majority, as far as I know, are uncollected. People give me them from time to time at signings, or tell me that they wrote them. I've been at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts and heard a few presented... but there's really no central repository, I'm afraid.

I can't help wishing that there was, if only because it would give me somewhere to point people to, when they ask that question. Joe Sanders and I tried to persuade DC Comics to publish a book that Joe would edit of Sandman papers, but they felt it a little far from their core audience...

you've talked in the past about cooking Indian food. My husband and I adore it as well. Any books that you recommend? So far nothing we've made comes out quite as well as eating in a restaurant. Oh, and then there was the poppadom disaster. Just follow the instructions on the label. Hah. We ended up with burnt non fluffy poppadoms, a ruined pan and a flat that smelled like burnt food and oil. They should write a book "How to minimize Indian cooking disasters."


Actually the best recipes I have were downloaded from the compuserve Cooks forum in about 1991, and don't seem to be there any longer. I've a lot of Indian cookbooks, of varying degrees of usefulness, but if reproducing the restaurant experience at home is what you're after, the best one is probably this: The Curry Secret : Indian Restaurant Cookery at Home (That's an link -- I'm sure it's available elsewhere but that's the first one I found.)

And here's a fascinating look at what books people were talking about online last year...

Thursday, February 27, 2003
Let's see -- stuff from the mailbag... is the Askews Torchlight Children's Book Award, and Coraline's one of the nominees. is the ALA notable children's recordings for 2003, and Coraline made it on there, as well as onto the Ala notable Children's Books list at .

My French editor, Anne Michel, was delighted that Telerama magazine has run an article on me and Coraline. It's at, and is, of course, in French.

Hello Neil,

Why do you dislike signings so much? Is it the sheer tediousness of having to write your name over and over, or is it something else? I feel almost a wee bit.. you know.. guilty now..


Oh, I don't dislike them. If I disliked them, I'd stop doing them completely. I do like meeting the people, and talking to everyone in the line. I was trying to contrast them with doing readings, which are fun -- the good ones are proper performances. Whereas any romance involved in signing my name in someone's book evaporated for me in around 1988 by the end of the Black Orchid tour, after Dave McKean and I had signed our way around England.

I suppose it comes down to what I am and what I do. The writing and the readings are part of the magic. The signings are enjoyable but, like copyediting or being interviewed, they're part of the work.

One Ring Zero are doing a CD of songs with lyrics by writers of books and such. Up on their website for the as yet untitled CD at you can hear a little of some of the songs they've done so far -- including one by Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket).

A Dell repair man came today and replaced a bit of plastic with a crack in it on my notebook computer. He also broke the keyboard. He'll be back tomorrow with a new keyboard.

Your correspondent continues to convalesce.

Dear Neil,
I hope this info might cheer you up a bit in your state. Polish magazine "Fantasy" named your novel "American Gods" (here "Amerykanscy bogowie") the book of the year 2002 on the Polish market. And the reason given was (translation mine): "It is fascinating and reads very well. Gaiman not only uses beautiful literary language, but it is also clear (contrary to most writers of sf and fantasy) that he has original ideas and conceptions, and is not driven to writing by gold rush. ;-)" (the smiley was in the original text).
Yours sincerely,

That's wonderful news. I hope I'll be in Poland for a few days on the April-May European tour.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003
I made a quiz for a friend, "What SF writer will you marry?" ( It's a parody of the 'which SF writer are you?" quiz that went around. So I picked 6 distinctive and different writers pretty much off the top of my head--you, Cory Doctorow, China Mieville, Ted Chiang, Charlie Coleman Finlay and Kelly Link. Seeing as a majority of my test takers get you, I've been urged to pass it on to you. I hope it amuses you.

It's certainly august company to be in.

And Will Shetterly has just started a blog over at Will is a terrific person to talk to about writing, and will, I suspect, have a lot of sensible things to say in his blog about the process of writing.

Getting better a day at a time. In less pain today. Ate food rather than soup for the first time in a week. Run out of energy very quickly though. I'm going to start work tomorrow, I think, and just do a couple of hours -- I'm a week behind on 1602 stuff right now.

Got my set of the Little Endless statues today. They were immediately snapped up by Maddy for her room. Was surprised to see there were only 750 sets made, which makes it the rarest of all the Sandman statues (even the first one was 1800). I suppose that unscrupulous dealers will soon be selling individual pieces on eBay.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,

I seem to be in the same situation as you, and if you're not better by now and we both die sometime in the near future, I will have forever regretted not asking you this question, even though at that point, the answer would be irrelevent. Am I babbling? I'm sick. Please forgive me. Anyway, my question is this: Are you happy in your career? I know this seems like a question that pretty perfectly misses the point. It's a rather selfish question anyhow. I know that no one appointed you as a guidance counsellor for young people either, but you know, some of us look up to you just a touch. So, my question is, aside from your family and relationships, which I'm sure bring happiness, does the success that you've achieved in your career make you happy? Or does it simply become another monotonous job? I mean, if all the success in the literary world that one could achieve doesn't make one happy, then I'd just as soon become some backpacker wandering about Europe or climbing mountains somewhere and keep my writing to myself.

I don't really expect you to know all of the answers. I'd just like to know what your way of approaching them is.


No, success doesn't make me happy. But writing and directing and making art does. Just as doing a signing doesn't make me happy, while doing a reading does (if it's a good reading anyway). I've been writing now professionally for twenty years and it's not yet become "another monotonous job" -- although when I was done with journalism I stopped, and when I could see myself becoming tired of comics if I didn't take a break and learn some new skills, I took a break and learned how to write novels and screenplays, before coming back to comics.

Learning how to do new things makes me happy. ( I think I was happier making "A Short Film About John Bolton" than I have been in the last few years, just because there were so many new things to learn.)

"Being successful" is a sort of indefinable thing anyway. I'm very aware that I'm lucky, in that the stories I want to tell are, in the main, stories that people want to read. Currently Coraline, a book I took ten years to write and was pretty convinced was going to be barely publishable, seems to be the most successful thing I've written in terms of hardback sales and the number of countries it's been sold to. However, the next novel I'm going to write is nothing like Coraline and nothing very much like American Gods, but it's the book I want to write, and I'm pretty sure that in the writing of it, I'll be happy. (And just as often during the writing of it I'll walk around convinced I was an idiot to ever have started it with no idea of whatever happens next -- and, strangely, that's part of the process I enjoy as well, at least in retrospect.)

If I felt that I was as successful as I could possibly be (which doesn't have much to do with money or acclaim, but has a lot with not getting any better as a writer), I'd probably go off and do something else. Luckily, most of the time I just see how far what I wanted to create is from what I actually made, and that keeps me, fairly contentedly, chasing the horizon. As Browning put it, Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?

And get well soon, Sarah.

Both myself and a tall friend of mine are fans of your writing and general story telling ability. However, of late said friend seems to have progressed from being a mere admirer to believing implicitly everything you say, or which you say on behalf of a friend of yours. Now I would like to know, honestly, are you using some sort of mind control ray on James (aka the friend)? I don't really mind, it's just that I'd like to know.
Do you know where the Gilbert quote "no funnier than if you sat on a pork pie" comes from and who he was saying it to? And is the line in 'Dream Country' a reference to that?
Finally, do you agree with the rewriting of Gilbert and Sullivan to make them, and particularly the humour, more accessible for modern folk? Or do you think that these great works should be performed as Gilbert intended. I would never dream of touching the music, but I think the libretti can often do with a tweaking (or in Ida's case, an overhaul).

1) no.

2) Yes, yes and yes.

3) Up to a point. Gilbert and Sullivan tend to be pretty resilient, and I think the problems with Princess Ida were problems when Gilbert wrote them.

Why don't you exist? I tried Who is the author of Neverwhere? Then who wrote American Gods? even desperately Who created Vertigo's The Sandman? (The top suggestions were Will Shakespeare, Dave McKean and Matt Groening.) I then got silly and tried Who is the author of Neil Gaiman's journal? William Morrow, Lisa Gallagher and Dave McKean were the first three choices. You don't exist do you?

Obviously not.

That's a weight off my mind. Good night. is an interview with the author of the worst novel published recently in America. It made me smile.

Also Ellen Datlow took "Feeders and Eaters" for the Horror side of Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (Terri Windling had already taken the story from Tori's tourbook for the fantasy side of things), while David Hartwell took "October in the Chair" for his Year's Best Fantasy and Stephen Jones took "October in the Chair" for his Best New Horror.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,
This is not really a question, but I can't seem to find an email address anywhere on this page to mail you with. If you were interested, the "Tiger Balm Gardens" mentioned by Janice Tay is now called "Haw Par Villa", and you can find out more about it here:

The second URL even has a table describing the various punishments a soul had to go through in the Chinese afterlife. Thought you might find that interesting.

Do get well soon!

From Singapore,
Derek Lin

I'm working on it. The blood tests were encouraging (they meant that I didn't have Lyme Disease). Still hurts to type, and to get into a position where I can read or watch TV. Listening to lots of Radio Four, though -- thank heavens for the internet.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Hi Neil,
Sorry to hear that it wasn't the flu; I hope you'll be able to spend more time upright soon. But since you asked - it was a Chinese herbalist called Aw Chu Kin who created Tiger Balm, though he invented it as an ointment rather than patches. He lived in Rangoon and it was his sons, Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, who turned Tiger Balm into a commercial success. They moved from Rangoon to Singapore, where they built a villa with a large garden filled with statues inspired by Chinese mythology.
The garden was opened to the public and though I didn't get a chance to visit the old Tiger Balm Garden before it was renovated, from most accounts, it was terrifying. The Courts of Hell were, unofficially, the Exhibit Most Likely To Make Your Kids Burst Into Tears And Behave Themselves For The Next 10 Minutes.
I'm not sure how there came to be a connection between selling health products and putting up statues of people having various body parts yanked out, but I like knowing that there is one.

Janice Tay

and also You can find their web site at, but I'd suggest waiting 'til you're completely recovered - their choice of fonts is enough to make your eyes cross!

Best wishes - Leslie

I'd known about the ointment for years. But the patches were a new one on me and worked astonishingly well. Thanks both of you for the additional background.

Your latest're not dying on me, are you? Sorry if I sound straightforward, but since I'm only 20 years old, whenever someone I admired (e.g. a writer) has passed, I either haven't been around (born, I mean), or was too young to even notice, so it'd be kinda weird.

Nope, not dying, except the usual, one day at a time, way. It turns out I've got something called viral meningitis (it never was 'flu), and the worst of it is over - I lost the second half of last week. Now it still hurts to type (I just woke up and knew I had a few minutes of typing time before I'd have to stop) or to do anything much except stare supine at the ceiling. I'm doing a little reading but am mostly listening to Radio 4 on the web, along with MP3s of old Jack Benny radio shows, and sleeping. (It will get better on its own over the next week to ten days.)

Sunday, February 23, 2003
Turns out it wasn't flu after all, so it may be a bit longer before I'm back up to speed, writing, e-mailing, blogging, remaining comfortably upright for more than twenty minutes at a time etc. Very grateful I have a terrific doctor who quietly broke all sorts of rules today so that I didn't have to wait until tomorrow to get blood tests and so on.

Saturday, February 22, 2003
While not yet hale and hearty, I'm at least back in the land of the conscious, which is a major improvement over the last two days. If I had to cast my vote for the person who's done the most to make me happy recently (like in the last two days), I would discover who invented Tiger Balm patches, it give it to him, or her. Hurrah for Tiger Balm patches.

Now follows a few days of getting back up to strength, catching up on e-mail, all that.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003
It's somehow a let-down when you list your symptoms -- the sudden crippling muscle pains, the chills, the unexpected projectile vomiting -- and vaguely expect the doctor to look impressed, and say something about naming the disease after you and getting a Nobel Prize, and instead being told that yes, it's 'flu. I mean, I can't even type right now (it hurts too much -- but I figure one blogger post is easier than replying to emails), and it's... 'flu.

So I was awarded the Most Collectable Author of the Year award (2002), which turns out, now it's arrived, to be this clear lucite structure with a huge swirly red-marble ball on the top which looks sort of like Jupiter, only much, much smaller and without all the methane. It's dead impressive. And by the kind of astonishing coincidence that only occurs when you know where the paragraph is actually going, by arrangement with Harper Collins, Hill House editions plan to start bringing out the novels (and Smoke & Mirrors) in nice slipcased leatherbound signed most collectable Editions. Which is nice.

I have this vague theory that Money, Work and Time have a complicated relationship for a writer. When you start out you have no money, no work and a seemingly infinite amount of time. Then you start to get work and money and you start to lose the time... something I was reminded of the last time I was in DreamHaven Books, and I bought a large box of books, and found myself wishing I could as easily buy a week or two to read them in (box included the second Fantagraphics KRAZY KAT collection, a previously unpublished Kathy Acker book, Rip Off Red Girl Detective, and lots of as-yet-unread stuff).

Let's see. What have I done recently... checked the DVD of "A Short Film About John Bolton" and was mostly very pleased with it, The DVD makers put together "A Short Film About A Short Film About John Bolton" for the DVD which is a documentary of me being interviewed by Marcus Brigstocke which is kind of fun, although you can tell I've been working nonstop on the film, without a day off, for over a month and am very short of sleep -- I look sort of rough and very tired and sort of brittle around the edges. Also I really should have brushed my hair, but it probably wouldn't have helped.

Also spoke to Charles Brownstein at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund about doing a benefit screening in LA at the end of March (possibly along with Dave McKean's THE WEEK BEFORE in order to make the evening long enough to make people feel it was worthwhile driving to the movies). We'll probably wind up holding it somewhere smaller than we'd like, to keep the CBLDF's costs down, so I suspect we'll wind up offering most of the tickets to CBLDF members, put some up on eBay, and possibly doing some other fun things as well. Bill Leibowitz of Golden Apple on Melrose will probably wind up doing most of the hard work to put the event together.

Trying to work out when I go to the UK to do the final shooting script of MIRROR MASK with Dave McKean. Looked the original draft of the script over yesterday for the first time in months and was struck by some bits I'd completely forgotten writing. The oddest of which, in a conversation between our two lead characters, a girl called Helena and a rather dodgy juggler called Valentine, was probably:

"Remember what your mother told you."

Mine said, it's a dog eat dog world, you get them before they get you, eat your greens, please don't do that, don't embarrass me in front of the neighbours, I think it will be better for everyone if you leave home and please don't ever come back.


She wasn't actually my mum, either. She bought me from a man.

Reading The Wee Free Men to Maddy, and we're both enjoying it enormously. She's started copying my attempt at a Glaswegian accent, which is how the eponymous pictsies speak. Getting fit again. Lots of backstage toing and froing on Endless Nights, what the book will look like, design decisions, all that. Bill Sienkiewicz's DELIRIUM pages have started coming in now, and he's hitting his stride. It's getting exciting -- I forget that there's a whole generation of comics readers who know Bill as an inker or cover artist, who don't know about Stray Toasters or even Elektra: Assassin. My story's being painted by the Bill who did stuff like that. It's about five very damaged people on a very strange rescue mission.

Writing 1602 Part 4 right now.

And my bedside reading is the DC Archives edition of Jack Cole's PLASTIC MAN. The first couple of volumes are a bit klunky, the third is getting there but the pacing of the stories seems slightly off. By Volume 4 however Cole hits his stride, and every story is perfect -- funny, perfectly paced, with a wealth of goofy details and pleasurable sight gags in stories that twist and reshape much as Plastic Man does. They're expensive books, the DC Archives -- $50 each -- but are often still a fraction the cost of buying the originals.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003
Dear Neil,
You mentioned mentioned three of your published short stories that "remain uncollected to this day. And probably will remain so forever," and I wonder how strongly you feel about this and why, because I'm inclined to feel the opposite. I empathize more with your dissatisfaction at all Douglas Adams unfinished stuff being printed ( I have mixed feelings there too... I've not yet sat down to read Salmon of Doubt, I'm sure I will) but when it comes to early published stuff and even unpublished stuff that doesn't meet your high standards, don't you think there's value for fans and aspiring writers to see something of the evolution of your style and process?
Additionally, for some writers (although this is less applicable to you) who have a distinctive voice and style that is a large part of their appeal, early work, though less refined, often contains even more of that personal and subjective element that is so integral to the writer's appeal; I'm thinking in particular here of Neal Stephenson's The Big U, a book which he fought having reprinted for many years, but I for one am tremendously glad he gave in. Literature is an artform, and writers can and should work on refining themselves as artists and their work as art, but for the most part that refinement comes at some cost to certain more primitive elements of their writing. As the creator, you have the right to control the reproduction of your work, but especially given how you admitted you feel about even recent works, do you feel your in the best position to judge what fans might enjoy or get out of earlier works that you'd rather put behind you? If republishing them seems too much like a stamp of approval, why not make them available electronically for free, so we could judge for ourselves? Thanks for ALL your stories,

You have a point, although I'm still not going to collect any of those early stories in a book.

The online approach is more or less what we're doing -- although the problem with that is that those old stories were written before computers. Typed laboriously by hand, they were, by someone who doesn't like typing. But at least one of them will go up on the site sooner or later -- Michael Karpas from the site typed up a story and a letter I had published in a fanzine called DAGON in the early 80s (I think the story may have been the first thing I wrote to be published, and dates back to a time when I was trying on other people's voices -- in this case author and poet Robert Nye's -- and other people's characters. The letter contains the history of the P.G. Wodehouse -H.P. Lovecraft musical collaboration, and includes some lyrics from Cthulhu Springtime including the female lead's...

They say I'm just a bird in a gilded cage
A captive like a parakeet or dove
But when a maiden meets a giant lipophage
Her heart gets chewed and broken, like that old adage...
I'm just a fool who
Thought that Cthulhu
Could fall in love

"Manuscript Found in a Milkbottle" is pretty awful though. It was an idea in search of a story, and won't be posted. "Featherquest", my first published story, was cut in half -- from 8,000 words to 4,000 on first publication, so I'd have to find the original, but it was just a sort of shaggy dog story with a few good jokes, or not-so-good, probably won't be published. "How to Sell the Ponti Bridge," the third of them, may have been okay. I'll dig it out and find out.

I went to Radio Shack a few weeks ago and bought an intercom system for the house, because this is the kind of tall old house where it's a long way from the attic (where I'm typing this) to the basement library (where Lorraine does her e-mail), and sometimes you just want to push a button and say "your food's ready". The intercom just went beep, and Lorraine's voice sang, in a rather wobbly fashion, "Zippedy doo dah, zippedy-ay, my band is playing First Avenue on Saint Patrick's Day!" Then there were whoops from somewhere deep in the bowels of the house, and then a pounding of steps and Lorraine ran in, all teary-eyed and joyous, said "It's the twentieth Saint Patrick's Day Boiled in Lead gig and Neil my band is playing!" and then shot out again, probably to let her band know the news.

I checked the First Avenue website, and it's Monday the 17th, St Patrick's Day.

And fresh out of the FAQbox this morning, something that cheered me up...

This was meant to get to you sooner, but the technodemons had it out for this site I see.

I'm sorry, this is not a question really. Just a message, which is what this box is labelled for anyways, "message". Anyhoo....

When I read this in your journal;
"(I just made that up. I imagine it would go something like: "Oh, the preciouss, we takes it our handssses and we rubs it and touchess it,, Smeagol musst not touch the preciousss, the master said only he can touch the precioussss.... bad masster, he doess not know the precious like we does, no, gollum, and we wants it, we wants it hard in our handses, yesss..." etc etc)"

I nearly spit coffee out my nose. I'm partly sickened and partly amused with the fact I have a new way to torture my boyfriend. You see, and this most likely does not speak too highly of me, I can do a few impressions, and Gollum is one of them. I attribute the creepiness to my theatre training and the fact that I have a voice lower than Lauren Bacall's. But I'm forbidden to do my impression of Gollum and rarely risk the punishment, which is something akin to sleeping on the couch and not getting sex. You'd think I could convince my boyfriend otherwise with a come hither look and something enchanting from my wardrobe to let me come back to bed, but he really despises Gollum. Do you realize how tempting this little passage you've written will be to me now? How much I want to creep up behind my boyfriend and start reciting this?

The couch doesn't look so bad now that I think about it.

Or maybe I'll hold out for you and Warren to end up in the same bar so I can do my impression there.

Oh, one last thing, damn you for not going to Pittsburgh Comicon! I don't really damn you, just disappointed. I had a message from Mayana for you.

Putting the "Sin" in Sincerely,

I'll consider myself properly damned. Good luck, and you have a fun site.

Hello, Neil. I was just looking around Amazon and found this book, called Neil Gaiman's The Sandman and Joseph Campbell: In Search of the Modern Myth by Stephen Rauch. I was wondering if you could tell your adoring fans anything about this book, i.e. is it worth reading?

It's Stephen Rauch's thesis on Sandman. And beyond that (racks memory, feels embarrassed) I don't know. (I've probably read it at some point, and probably enjoyed it, but theses on Sandman tend to blur into each other in my head, becoming an amorphous sort of uber-thesis. Sorry Stephen...)

Monday, February 17, 2003
Hello Neil

I am intending to attend your appearances at the Salt Lake City library here in Utah Mar. 7-8. Having never been to a signing, I wanted to ask something as a matter of etiquette.

Last year, my wife conspired with my friend John Bray, a former comics dealer and friend of Dave McKean (Dave even directed a music video for John... that was FUN to watch!), to get me a special Christmas present. It was Sandman 1-3 signed by Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg, and Dave McKean. He told me he could never get to a place where you were to sign it and since I was such a big fan of yours (I have a collection of characters from The Sandman tattooed as a half sleeve on my right arm) that I could have them.

My question is, is it okay to bring these to your appearance in Salt Lake to be signed. I don't want to risk doing anything rude (and I assure you, I do NOT sell my comics. ESPECIALLY Sandman...) but I would love to have you sign these as well.

I know you are extremely busy, but if you find time, please let me know if this is a horrible thing to do so I don't embarrass myself.

Many Thanks,
Jesse Parent

I can't see why it would be a problem. Libraries like comics, after all. Libraries think graphic novels are Good Things. Depending on how many people are there at the Saturday signing, and how much time the library has for things to be signed in, the numbers of things that get signed may have to be limited, but that's the only problem I can foresee.,3604,896926,00.html is an article by Isioma Daniel, currently under Fatwa for writing the wrong thing in Nigeria. Very much something everyone should read -- if nothing else, to remind yourself that what you think you're writing isn't always what other people are reading.

Hi Neil! I have a question you may not want to answer, and if you don't, that's okay, but I thought I'd take a chance. I was at a Tori Amos concert in October of 2001 (may have been October 10 but I'm not positive on the exact date) in Boston, when Tori was touring for the Strange Little Girls album. There was a rumor going around at the meet 'n' greet and then among people going in to the concert that you were there. I think I may have seen you walking up the aisle of the Wang Theater, heading toward the exit, after the concert and I think we made eye contact, though I don't expect you to actually remember me. I know you were in Boston a week or so later for a forum at Harvard that also included Harlan Ellison. So I was just wondering if you wouldn't mind confirming or denying that you were there. It would be fun to be able to tell my friends that I was at the same concert as Neil Gaiman. :-)

I also wanted to tell you that I recently started reading Coraline to my eight year old sister Ruby. She has some issues, usually, with sitting still to be read to for more than a few minutes at a time, due to some developmental delays from having a very difficult early childhood with her biological family. However, I'm proud and pleased to tell you that she is absolutely enthralled by Coraline. She got me to read three chapters in a row to her the other night. It was quite surprising, seeing that my Mom can't get always get her to pay attention to a single chapter of other books. I just thought you'd enjoy knowing that a special young girl is really enjoying your work.

Matt Bear-Fowler

The MIT thing with Harlan and Peter David was the week earlier. And yes, that was me at the Wang. It was a wonderful concert. Not sure which gig I'll make it to on the next leg of the tour.

I'm really pleased Ruby's enjoying the book. One of the best things about CORALINE is the packages that have started arriving from schools, sometimes from remedial reading classes, filled with letters, drawings, questions and suggestions for what ought to happen in a sequel.

Sunday, February 16, 2003
This just in from Lance Smith: It's probably not fair to judge a movie by its trailer, but it looks like
the movie version of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is going to be as bad
as the movie version of the Sandman might have been. (And might still be for
all I know.) The fact that they're referring to it as LXG is quite ominous.

You can see the trailer here:

And I got a phone call from Mark Askwith today to say (among other things) that if you go and see Daredevil you will never get that two hours of your life back again.

Hi Neil,

This may seem a kind of embarrassing question (though I don't mean it to be), so up to you whether you want to answer this one...

As a writer (unpublished) I've read a lot of reassuring things in various places to the effect that 'When you get rejection slips/letters, remember that published authors get them too. Even famous, successful ones. Honest.'

Do you? And where from?

(Like I said, you don't have to answer that, but there are probably a lot of writers out here who'd be grateful, and might feel slightly better about the large brown envelopes with our own writing on that keep falling through the letterbox, if you did...)

Sarah C.

Actually, what happens when you hit "famous and successful" tends to be that you run into a completely different problem, which is not knowing if something should have been rejected. I'm quite grateful to a number of early rejection slips: they mean that things that weren't really good enough weren't published. I learned a lot from them. (In one case I learned that if you give a story back to an editor that he read a few months ago, and assure him that all the problems he had with it are now fixed, without actually doing anything to to it, because you're pretty certain that it was okay, he may print it). There are stories in boxes -- there's even a whole children's book -- that I'm happy (now) that I got rejection slips for. Having had them published would have been worse. (There's a reason why three early short stories that were published remain uncollected to this day. And probably will remain so forever.)

These days the odds are pretty good that if I've written a short story with a beginining, middle and end and it has my name on it'll be published.

So then I get to worry that everything's really unpublishable, and they're only taking it because it has my name on it, or to be kind. So then I don't really breathe out until the story's in a Best of the Year anthology, when I figure it was probably okay after all. But even so, between sending in the story and hearing from the editor, I'm normally still on tenterhooks, convinced that it will be rejected -- this despite the fact that with one exception every story I've written in the last decade has had someone waiting to publish it, which meant someone had already come to me and said "I'm doing a contemporary pulp anthology and would you write an M.R. Jamesian ghost story for me?" or whatever. (And the one exception, a story called "Other People" which I wrote on a plane trip to New York a couple of years ago, rather to my surprise, I sent to Gordon Van Gelder at F&SF, because I knew Gordon vaguely and liked him and thought it felt like an F&SF sort of story. And was convinced he'd say no to it until he said yes.) Which proves that writers worry too much, probably.

Does that help?


Saturday, February 15, 2003
Is Lorraine's band playing in Duluth?


They are -- I just checked the band's webpage at and then went and looked at the Tim Malloys website as well, and I think they're playing here.

Not that she'll read this for a couple of days, as she's gone off with her band to Duluth, but Happy Birthday to my assistant, the Fabulous Lorraine. And it's a very special birthday this year for Lorraine is. Er, ageless. That's right. Ageless and unaffected by the passing of the years. Right. (There. Bit of a close call, but managed to avoid giving numbers, and nobody noticed. Whew.)

Lorraine's been working for me for ten years, and she does a lot more than make tea and find things that I'm sure I was holding in my hand only five minutes ago and put me onto conference calls and decide what conventions and appearances and so on I'm going to. She also organises me, and makes sure I'm pointing in the right direction. Every working writer should have a Lorraine. But not the Lorraine, as she works for me.

Friday, February 14, 2003
Looks like something's gone technically wonky.

It's not that things go wrong that I mind. It's that they go wrong on Friday nights...

Anyway. Apologies if you're trying to read this and can't. Not, of course, that you'd know...

Happy Valentine's Day. I nearly forgot.

Thursday, February 13, 2003
It's been a sort of "interview at eleven" kind of week. Every day Lorraine-my-assistant would tell me about a call at eleven a.m. she'd set up for me, some interviews, some conference calls. Today was a conference call with Dave McKean and some Hensons people and some Columbia people about "Mirror Mask" (and how Dave and I need to do the final polish of the script ASAP, and they need to go out to actresses to play Helena's mother and the Light and Dark Queens). Then there was an interview about the history of the graphic novel, the conference call about Endless Nights, the one about the European Tour (except for Germany). Tonight I got back and Lorraine said "You're being interviewed tomorrow at eleven by Gene Simmons. It's for Gene Simmons' TONGUE, a new magazine." Definitely the most unlikely one this week.

Let's see... Several e-mails from asking me to tell you all that you can now read the fiction and lots of the content of for free, and that you should check it out. Holli-the-bookslut-intern reminds me to let people know there's a new issue of bookslut up.

My iPod came back from Apple with a note saying that they'd reinstalled the firmware and it worked now. And it does. The mail brought the reissue of Handsome by Kilburn and the High Roads and the latest issue of Uncut with the Bowie covers CD attached to the cover. Hearing the covers made me realise how much a part of me most of those original songs are.

Hey Neil,

I see mentioned on your site that an American Gods audio CD was supposed to be out at some point, but I can't find it anywhere. Just wondering if it is dead or delayed or ?


Last I heard, they were looking at releasing it as an MP3 CD as soon as enough people could play MP3 CDs, as they felt that not enough people would buy it to make a 20-plus CD package cost effective.

would you be the Crowley that posted in the guest book at on 2-11-03?

Not me. I'm really impressed by the guestbook at the House of Clocks -- some marvellous entries, but they aren't mine.

This is for those of us who really, really like your work but usually just search through your journal for anything new on that Dave Mckean guy. If you could tell everyone that has all the recent updates on him it would be...nice? Um...anyway...Cheers. /Daniel, Sweden

You know, I've been meaning to post that for ages. Thanks for reminding me.

Dear Neil,

I wanted to say that I love your stuff. American Gods was one of the best books I've read. It totally changed the way that I look at things, especially roadside attractions. But change in a good way, so thanks.

I also was hoping you could put an end to a discussion a friend and I have been having. We're trying to discern the difference between a short story, a vignette, a novella, and novelette. We assume there's a difference otherwise why would there be different words? We're not sure what the difference is. Length, perhaps?

Thanks, Keith

According to Locus Online: Story Lengths: Novella/novelette/short story
These three terms for works of fiction shorter than a novel, though somewhat interchangeable in general parlance, have acquired specific definitions both in genre publishing and as distinct awards categories.
Novella: 17,500 - 40,000 words (roughly, 50-100 pages of a book)
Novelette: 7,500 - 17,500 words (roughly, 20-50 pages of a book)
Short story: up to 7,500 words (20 pages or fewer of a book)
These are not rigoursly adhered to, with some awards using a broader "short fiction" category, or combining "novella/novelette".

A vignette is a sketch (it comes from the french for vine -- a decorative border running up a page) or a little moment, but something that doesn't add up to a story.

Trying to put together a screening of "A Short Film About John Bolton" in LA for the end of March to benefit the CBLDF. I feel a bit guilty at the idea of dragging people out and making them pay real money for a half hour film, so trying to decide if there's something else we could show as well, or if I should just get up and read something or answer questions or extemporise a saga or something. Hmmm... maybe Dave McKean would let us show "The Week Before" or "Neon".

Wednesday, February 12, 2003
argh. a dozen FAQ replies just got eaten by Blogger. Well, eaten by a Google window actually. But they still got eaten. One about the first time I was published, and one about what to do as a high school writer to improve your writing, and oodles of amusing and interesting links you lot had sent me. And I'm afraid I'm not going to sit and do them all again tonight, for I am yawning, and I want to get back to reading The Satanic Mill and going to bed.

& so to bed.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,

I'm sorry to be writing about something not very recent, but I was delayed by the FAQ problem. I'm writing about a comment you posted on Feb. 4th:

(Things like "We've been given this technology by the CIA where they can take a very small amount of video footage of a subject talking and type in what they want the subject to say, and it really convincingly makes it appear that that's what the subject is saying. Now is there any way we could use this in the theme parks...?")

Frankly, this gave me the heebie-jeebies. Please tell me that this is another example of your fertile imagination. Otherwise, given that the current administration is using CIA information to justify a lot of things, I am very afraid of what might be happening. The conspiracy theorists might actually have something...


Juli Thompson
St. Paul, MN

Nope, that's a real one, I'm afraid. What was impressive about it, from what I recall, was not that they could do it, but that it could be done convincingly from a very small sampling of mouth movements and voice samplings. And this was 1994, so I'd assume that the technology's come on a way from there.

I have no idea if the technology was actually any good or convincing or had or has ever been used -- we were just told it existed, that Disney had been given it or bought it from the CIA, and could we come up with a way they could use it to make money.

Having said that, without wishing to increase anyone's paranoia quotient, five minutes in a video editing suite will teach you not to trust anything you see on a TV screen, and the rise of Photoshop has demonstrated that seeing a photo doesn't make it true. And that by the same token doesn't mean that every photo is a lie and that nothing you see on a screen is the truth. You pays your money....

A few people have written for details on the Salt Lake City Library talk on March the 7th. Here's the library website info. (And if you're in the area this coming Friday they have a wonderful assemblage of authors, including Jules Feiffer and Scott Card at a black tie opening gala, and then, on Saturday, signing around town.)


Hi Neil,

This isn't a question, but I just wanted to show you a bit of fan-art I drew. All done in good humor, of course, in representation of your many fans. :)

Also, my friend and I love it when you write about slash -- we're fic writers (some of us slash) and the little bits that you write always crack us up.

Keep up the good work!


It made me smile.

Neil - Doesn't it suck, the news that Eddie Campbell Comics is short for* this world? Wasn't "Egomania" in its brief run one of the niftiest things to come along lately? O the of it all.

*"short for": that is to say, "not long for". It is not to say, "being a shortened form of", although in numerous profound and terrible ways I suppose it could be.

Well, the news, at isn't that Eddie Campbell Comics is stopping. Just that Eddie's not going to be self-publishing the next major work he's doing, and is enjoying not working for himself for right now. (At least, that's what it says if I've read it right.) In the meantime, twenty years of Eddie Campbell work, on Alec and on Bacchus, is now pretty much all collected and in print and available, which is in itself a small cause for celebration.

I should hunt through the house for Egomania 2 -- if it came out I never saw it, which probably means it arrived while I was travelling, and got put somewhere for me to read when I got back. I loved Egomania 1.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003
Was posting the Stan story merely to be illustrative of the sort of old man who lives around here, or was it to try and make a wider point about the wisdom or non-wisdom of proceeding with war in Iraq? I suspect you meant the former. I very much hope it wasn't the latter, because it's the sort of attack-the-person-not-the-position cheap shot that distracts from the good arguments the peace movement has. I'm still trying to make my mind up one way or the other, and I dismay every time those on the peace side, which I would normally automatically be on, simply shout something like "Down with Bush!" because what I need to make my decision in their favor is a plausible alternative to war that will achieve the disarmament aims. So, I hope that wasn't what you were trying to do there. Perhaps a little Christopher Hitchens next time?

If I'd wanted to post about the war (or not) in Iraq, I would have posted about that. I just thought it was a strange and interesting sort of conversation, that shaped itself into a poem when he left. I'd hate to think of it as an attack on anyone, especially Stan (who finds it I'm sure deeply puzzling and frustrating to have political conversations with me, when, from his perspective, such a normally sensible chap is all wishy washy about things that he perceives as self-evident).

Dear Neil-
You mentioned earlier that you recieved alot of flames about your comment on fan fiction. I know someone who also has a blog and has recently recieved some vehement hate mail about himself and his site. These emails have made him decide not to post on his site for a while- if ever. How do you deal with flames and trolls? Do they affect you or your feelings about your site/ the internet in general? Just like to know, because it's a shame that ignorant strangers can silence an intelligent and creative voice.

On the whole I try and ignore the obvious trolls, and mostly I've managed to avoid the flames. With the fan fiction thing, I was slightly grumpy only because it became increasingly obvious that few of the people writing to complain had read even the whole of the post, and that most of them had obviously just seen one paragraph quoted out of context on other people's websites or journals, and had agreed on what I obviously meant and that I needed to be reprimanded for wrong thinking. But that was more than made up for by the huge numbers of fan fiction writers who then promptly wrote to say that'd read the whole quote and agreed -- or disagreed -- but did it nicely and politely and graciously.


I just heard from Terri Windling -- she's taking the short story I wrote for Tori's tour book, which rejoices in the ungainly title of Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Louisville, Kentucky for the next Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. Which makes me very happy.

In Matsigenka (also spelled Machiguenga), IRAPUSATINKAATSEMPOKITASANOIGAVETAPAAKEMPAROROKARITYO is the longest word. It means: "They will probably really go head over heels into the water when they arrive but not stay that way".

In German, the longest word is DONAUDAMPFSCHIFFAHRTSELEKRIT- ZITAETENHAUPTBETRIEBSWERKBAUUNTERBEAMTEN- GESELLSCHAFT (80 letters), "the club for subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services (name of a pre-war club in Vienna)," according to 1996 Guinness.

So you know. Yes, I'm sure there are easier ways to play with margin size than by posting very long words. but at least it's educational.

Stan's a caretaker, and one of the places he looks after is the cabin I go and write at. He's a nice old man, and I get along well with him and his dog Boomer. I make him cups of tea and he stops and says hello.

This is the conversation that we had this afternoon.

What Stan Says.

You got your gas-mask? says Stan.

Nope, I say. I doubt anyone will be gassing us out here.

Mebbe not, says Stan. We�re a long way from anywhere out here.
But that Saddam, he�s going to get what�s coming to him
We got an air force. He don't got an air force.
We can bomb that Iraq flat, until they�re all dead. Every mother�s son of them.
That�ll teach him.

But it�ll kill a lot of people who aren�t fighting, I say.
People who want to get on with their lives. Who don�t like Saddam any more than you do.

That don�t make no mind. They�ve got missles, says Stan.
Nobody knows what else they�ve got. Bombs and things. Atomic bombs and gas.
And now that Osama, he�s living there in Iraq, in Saddam�s lap,
the one who did that New York thing. There are tapes of him talking.

We don�t know it�s him for sure, I say.
Course it�s him, says Stan. What, you�re telling me there are other people
who speak that language?

Yes, I say. Lots of them. Hundreds of millions.

Anyway, that Saddam, says Stan. We got to go to war,
because he�s a madman. So he has to be stopped. His troops will
kill to protect him, that�s how mad he is.
And he�s got missles.

I don�t think his missiles will reach us here, I say.
Nope. They won�t, says Stan. They�re that clever.
They�ll be smuggled across the border in secret
by folks who look like you or me.

Stan is bald and stocky and bespectacled. He wears check shirts,
worked as a cowman all his life, except for his years in the army.
He retired, too old to get up at dawn to milk another man�s cows.
He�s diabetic. Hardworking, broke and proud.

I wish they could send in the Mafia, says Stan.
Tell them to kill Saddam. The Mafia, they can do that.

Couldn�t we do that? I ask.

Nope, says Stan. That�d be breaking the law. We got to do these things properly.
We got to bomb them back to the stone age.
Anyway. Just checking in on you
to see you was okay.

That�s what Stan says.

Okay -- the FAQ line is working again. If you submitted something in the past five days, or tried, please send it again now.

The Nebula news is at, Locus Online's news page. The line at the bottom This year's ballot marks the first final-ballot Nebula nominations for China Mi�ville, Robert A. Metzger, Richard Chwedyk, Charles Coleman Finlay, Richard Bowes, Charles Stross, Gregory Frost, M. Shayne Bell, Carol Emshwiller, Tim Pratt, and all of the script nominees except for Joss Whedon had me scratching my head going "What about me?" for a moment, until I realised that of course I had been nominated for a Nebula before -- for the English language script to Princess Mononoke.

The nominees are:
American Gods, Neil Gaiman (Morrow)
Bones of the Earth, Michael Swanwick (Eos)
The Other Wind, Ursula K. Le Guin (Harcourt Brace)
Perdido Street Station, China Mi�ville (Del Rey)
Picoverse, Robert A. Metzger (Ace)
Solitaire, Kelley Eskridge (Eos)

It's an honour to be nominated, and American Gods has more than its share of awards already, so I'm happy it's on the list but will not worry about it further.

Stardust has been put on the Young Adult American Library Association website as a 2003 recommended paperback book -- they have some great lists of books on their sites .

Monday, February 10, 2003
Let's see -- first things first: don't use the FAQ submission form to send things until I post that it's working. Right now it's sort of half-fixed. Not fixed so it works, but fixed so that it looks like it works but all that's coming in on that line are empty messages with e-mail addresses attached. The content isn't arriving. As soon as it's working, I'll let you all know, honest.

Several people have congratulated me on American Gods making the final Nebula Ballot, but I can't see anything online about it.

Went in to Minneapolis today and did an interview/conversation with Michael Chabon for the Ruminator Review, then we went off to lunch, and then I drove him down to DreamHaven, where he spent too much money on books before he was taken to the airport. I spent too much money on books and drove myself home. The conversation was about genre, mostly, and the McSweeneys 10 (the subscriber's edition sounds a much cooler book than the Vintage paperback version), and the pitfalls and joys of genre, and odd things like Conan Doyle and Lovecraft. I can't wait to read the McSweeneys.

Also it was cold today. No, really cold.

Sunday, February 09, 2003
So this journal is 2 years old today. Also Ashley Jane Kneeland is 20. I went to Corbis to find a card (for Ashley Jane, not for the journal. It doesn't know it's two years old and wouldn't know what to do with a card) and idly tapped in Gaiman, wondering if I could send her a Patagonian Birthday Card. (Ashley Jane is my son Mike's girlfriend. She came out here this summer and helped out while Mike was in the Bay Area doing Adobe things, and is A Good Thing. Happy Birthday Ashley Jane.)

Instead, I found myself looking at a photograph of the Royal Stork Stakes. It would seem to be a photo from my Uncle Monty's betting shop in Portsmouth some time in the early 1960s (judging from the list of names, I'd hazard that it was after the birth of Prince Andrew and before that of Prince Edward). I put Uncle Monty, hunchback, betting shop and all, into Mister Punch.

Just one of those odd things that the world wide web gives us.

Two years, eh? Good lord.

Anyway: lots of thanks to the people who actually make this website work -- including Julia Bannon and Lisa Gallagher at Harper Collins, Sunil and the gang at Authors on the Web, GMZoe, Cindy and all the other people who helped by writing content and making things happen. It's possible I'll blog less as Anansi Boys starts to get written. Or possibly not. We'll see.

Saturday, February 08, 2003
Seems a bit odd, nothing coming in on the faq line. On the other hand, I've got over 7000 FAQ things that have come in on this computer alone, and I haven't replied to all of them, or even a significant fraction... So...


I run a website that organizes monthly meetings around the world for your fans. It's pretty cool, check it out at . We already have 300 memebrs signed up and the main complaint that I get is that there aren't enough people attending. Well, I'm sure you could change that.

Doesn't it weird you out that people are meeting to talk about you and only you? Don't you want to write about it?

I thought so.

Hope you can mention us.


I don't really imagine that people are meeting up to talk about me. It never works like that. That would be like assuming that when SF fans in London get together for their monthly meet up they talk about Science Fiction, or when ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha meet in a pub they talk about Douglas Adams.

I'm happy to be an excuse for people to meet and drink a beverage of their choice at each other, though. Then they complain about the venue, go off to get something to eat, and, if they like each other, do it again.

Friday, February 07, 2003
The Barron Storey story in ENDLESS NIGHTS came today in colour photocopies. It's called 15 Portraits of Despair, and is a strange mixture of things that form fifteen portraits of Despair: some portraits are short stories, some are almost poems, and one portrait consists of several examination questions, and I was worried that it would be impenetrable or pretentious or something. Instead, the combination of Barron's gorgeous, imaginative art and the text make this one of the darkest and most accessible things I've ever had a hand in creating. Dave McKean laid it out and did the typography, and deserves a lot of the credit for making it so readable and beautiful.

That's why comics are magic -- because I can read this thing I wrote and go "This is so amazing!" I wrote it, but the finished thing needed Barron to paint and draw and create and Dave to put it together.

I may write for another hundred years, but I'll never read a prose story I've written with that sense of bemused, parental delight.

Right. We're not yet working, but we're nearly there: the FAQ submission thing is down, there's various new passwords and so on to learn, and I got an e-mail this morning from Webmistress Julia Bannon, letting me know that on Sunday this blog will be two years old, and would I write something commemorative. I suppose I will. But two years... It seems only yesterday that I was trying to write short essays about what goes on backstage in making a book... and then the book went on to win awards and bestsell and be published all over the world, and I discovered the joys of having some way to simply tell people what's going on directly.

Two years isn't very long in real time, but in Internet Years, this probably makes this blog the equivalent of one of those hunchbacked houses so old that the window glass has run like liquid and swollen on the lower half. (Jon Singer says this is not true and does not happen and it's just that when they put the glass into the window originally they put it with the heavy side at the bottom.)

And a correspondent who may wish to remain anonymous let me know that:

the inimitable Bran Ferrin--who was head of the Research and Development department, actually--left Disney a couple years ago to start his own company. Apparently, he's now building ergonomic war rooms, of the sort that allows the military to play war games and have their cappuccino, too. I'm sure
it's a very hot commodity right now.

Disney subsequently, in the maniacal genius of their ongoing self-destruction, went about systematically dismantling one of the most unique R&D teams in the country, and anyone left apparently reports directly to the current president of Imagineering, Don Goodman

Thursday, February 06, 2003
The server move means that posts are appearing and vanishing again -- there's a day's worth of now invisible posts, and I'm checking to see if I can make them reappear by writing and posting this.


No. I can't.

Oh well. Normal service should be resumed as soon as possible. You'll know it has when you get to read this, I suppose.

According to this article I'm 30% more likely to die of heart disease
and 70% more likely to die of a stroke than people who shave every day.

Meanwhile, an endangered Patagonian Toothfish (AKA the Chilean Sea Bass, which is his menu name) has migrated to the Arctic, seeking a better life, freedom from overfishing, and probably planning a campaign to have his name changed on menus to the Oozing Pimplefish.

And incidentally, I just realised that the Daily Telegraph obituaries are on line. This may not mean much to you, but when the Telegraph Obituaries get good, they are like the strangest short stories you can imagine, filled with inexplicable details and goofy grace notes. This one, for example, reads like a collaboration between P. G. Wodehouse and Gene Wolfe, with such passages as:--

Despite a brisk code of discipline, Singleton took a laissez-faire approach out of the classroom. Every November 5 the smallest boy in the school was sent down a tunnel to light the very core of the bonfire. None, so far as anyone can recall, was ever lost.


What central heating there existed was not always effective, or even switched on. Boys were permitted to capture owls and keep them in the fives court, provided they caught enough sparrows to feed them. One boy recalls being given the task of rearing a lamb to which he developed some emotional attachment. The animal, called Lottie, disappeared shortly before the school's Christmas feast, and the boy realised what had happened only when he was the first to be summoned for second helpings.

The FAQ line thingie seems to be down right now, probably as a result of changing servers. I'm sure it'll be up and working very soon.

Having spent weeks ripping hundreds and hundreds of CDs (35 gigs of CDs so far, and no end in sight), I'm puzzled to report that the only two CDs I've encountered that seemed to have some kind of serious copy protection on them were Rhino's DIY: WE'RE DESPERATE - THE LA SCENE 1976-1979 and Rhino's POPTOPIA: POWER POP CLASSICS OF THE '80s.

Which leaves me really puzzled. Is there something especially dangerous about late 70s/early 80s power pop, which means it must be prevented from falling into the wrong hands? Were there people at Rhino who didn't mind about the other DIY or Poptopia volumes but who knew that if Holly and the Italians' "Tell that Girl to Shut Up" or the demo of the Motel's "Waiting" got onto the web then the jig would somehow be up?

Wednesday, February 05, 2003
There's a nice Laura Miller review of Conjunctions 39 over at Books | Salon recommends. "What they have in common is no particular commitment to realism," she says, talking of Peter's "New Fabulists", and she has a point.

(It's Salon "Premium Content" but now that they give you a day pass in exchange for clicking through an inoffensive ad, it's easy to read and get to.)

And while we're on the subject of short stories...

The McSweeneys Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales comes out in February, with my ghost story "Closing Time" in it. According to the McSweeneys website, they'll be sending subscriber copies out 10 months before it's available to regular bookbuyers. Then again, Amazon says it'll be out on Feb 25th 2003. Very mysterious. This is what the cover looks like.

April brings Nalo Hopkinson's Mojo: Conjure Stories, which has a story I wrote last year called "Bitter Grounds". It's a sort of zombie story. Nalo has a wicked laugh, and is an amazing writer as well as being a reassuring editor. This is her website.

The other anthology with something new of mine in, Shadows over Baker Street, contains a lovecraftian Sherlock Holmes story I wrote called "A Study In Emerald", and won't be out until September.

Hah! I'd managed to get a day ahead somehow. It's tomorrow that I have to be on the phone all day. Today I can write!

Also started working out again in my own slapdash bouncing on a minitrampoline to obscure Stephen Sondheim songs sort of way ("Something About A War" is great to bounce to, while at the same time providing ironical countercommentary to the political events of the day). It's time to lose a few pounds and get back into shape. Yes.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003
Long, bitty day of phone calls and e-mail and not quite writing anything that I should have done. And tomorrow is all phone calls, I'm told -- all the interviews and so on that have been put off for the last month or so are jammed into tomorrow. So I get to write again on Friday.

Thanks to the fifty or so people (mostly fan-fiction writers who hadn't got the wrong end of the stick) who wrote in to say nice things following my last post about the ones who didn't. (The only thing I found slightly not-exactly-disturbing-but-just-a-bit-of-a-reminder-that- there-are-people-who-take-things-very-seriously-indeed was that several of you asked for me not to post your messages, or at least not to post the bits that could identify you to the fan-fiction community. Or to the part of it that takes things too seriously. Or possibly to the enforcement arm.) (Joke. That last sentence was a joke. Honest. Joke. I do not believe that the world of fan-fiction has or needs an enforcement arm.)


Pondering the nature of information right now, as I'm still ripping CDs onto the hard drive, so I can stick them on the iPod when it comes back from Apple all repaired and working again. Realising that a CD is no longer, as a record was, the thing that you need to make the music, instead it's now an archival place to go and get the music from, if the drive I'm putting the music on dies.

And yes, I knew that already. But now I really know it.

I keep thinking about a meeting I had under the Disney auspices about a decade ago, with the then-head (and possibly still-head) of the Imagineering unit, Bran Ferren, and a lot of really cool people from the worlds of academia and the stage (that was where I met lighting genius Jules Fisher, for example). We'd be asked sort of general questions, and then asked to ramble answers that might one day be useful. (Things like "We've been given this technology by the CIA where they can take a very small amount of video footage of a subject talking and type in what they want the subject to say, and it really convincingly makes it appear that that's what the subject is saying. Now is there any way we could use this in the theme parks...?")

I remember the talk drifting to CDs and music and what would happen when, one day in the far future, download speeds got fast enough that whole CDs could actually be sent up and down electrical wires, and the idea that perhaps one day it would be silly for music shops to have a store of CDs, when all you need was broadband and you could press your own CD and print out the label in the store.

And I suggested that perhaps we should stop looking at owning the object, and start looking at having a license to the content. Rather than buying, say, Lou Reed's Transformer, you'd have a Transformer license. You'd be paying to access the content, from wherever you were, whenever you wanted it, whenever you need it. I imagined an enormous central library of music, of film, of information, that you could access from wherever you were, that would know you were you, and what music etc was "yours".

Well, it was a radical and cool idea for 1994, at least it was for me. Now, everything seems transitional -- we're in a sort of no-man's-land between the object and the information.

And at the same time as I'm thinking that, I'm fascinated (and occasionally, surprised) by the dozens of CDs that I'm not bothering to put on the 120 gig hard drive (which has room and to spare, for now), and by how many copies of the same Elvis Costello Albums, not to mention Lou Reed's Transformer, I've managed to accumulate in my life, and why the first Carl Stalling Project is the only CD I own that's got the full five stars from the online CD-rating place...

I decided not to rip Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music onto the hard drive, by the way. It's not that I never play it, but when I do -- writing sequences in Hell for example -- I want to know I've done it. I don't ever want to idly hit shuffle and have some Metal Machine Music come on, when I'm not in the mood for it.

Which reminds me:

Dear Neil,
I wonder what you think about the new Lou Reed album "The Raven". After all it's his first venture into the realm of fantasy - although the classical one.
Sincerely yours,

I think the songs are the most interesting, musical and varied things he's done in years. Really really cool. The play extracts seemed parodic. The only time I had dinner with Lou Reed, about six or seven years ago, he recited the opening to "The Tell-Tale Heart", and his laconic delivery was perfect. I wondered as I listened to the mannered and overwrought theatrical stuff why he hadn't put that in there instead.

The Salt Lake Public Library, lavishly celebrating their new building, is announcing a Neil appearance on March 7-8. What's the "presentation" announced for the evening of March 7 going to be? A reading?

Hmm.. good question. I'll probably decide on the afternoon of March the 7th. At a guess, a talk, some readings and a Q & A.

I read in some magazine, a short article about an upcoming Sandman TV series? Is that for real? Because judging by the magazine where I read it, it could easily be a false rumor that got spread on the net and picked up by a contributor.

It said that it'd be done by WB, and the BBC, but still...I haven't been able to find anything on the matter. Is it true? And if it is, the most important question would be 'will you be involved in it? Will you write for it? (I hope so)'

Well, that's pretty much it. Please, excuse my poor English, but it's not my first language.

That's all I had to say...oh, and you're a great writer, and the light of my life, and yadda, yadda, yadda. You know the drill.

Sincerely yours,

--Claudia LL

Sounds like a hoax, I'm afraid.

Looking over your cannon (I feel downright like James Lipton), I could not find any plays that could be produced on stage. Have you ever had the urge to become a playwright in addition to your other endeavors?

(On an entirely personal note, thank you for replying to my request of your top five movie titles - I found four of the five and used them happily in my recuperation after surgery, although I couldn't watch "Brazil" since it made my stitches hurt.)
Shalene Shimer

I'd love to write a play or a musical, yes -- there's something amazing about live theatre. Several years ago I began an adaptation of "The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories" as a play, just to learn how to do it. It was going fairly well, and then that computer fell off a table after I caught my foot in the cord and kept walking, and while I thought everything was backed up I've never seen those files again. (which doesn't mean they're gone forever. Just that even if they exist it sort of slipped off the radar). I'm having very sporadic conversations with a nice lady in Scotland who wants me to do something with a play in an environment, which I'd love to do -- sort of like the "Miss Finch" short story I wrote, only for real.

Dear Neil,
I've recently re-read The Two Towers and now I just have to know... Is Gilbert's habit of "hoom"ing a tribute to Treebeard? It's one of those niggling wonders that just doesn't seem to go away...
Also, are you planning on reading any more of your own books on tape/cd or writing anything more along the lines of Two Plays for Voices? I've become hooked on's Seeing Ear Theater thanks to the Coraline cd which led me to Snow GLass Apples and Murder Mysteries on that site. I absolutely hated books on tape when I needed them, they seem so impersonal (and so frustrating when you can't see the words and feel the paper), but listening to Coraline was like having a rather creepy and wonderful bedtime story read to me which is a far, far different (and better) thing. I think radio drama is ideal for performing some sci fi and fantasy work, it leaves so much to the imagination which is, of course, exactly the point...
Ooooh! And while i've got the nerve to ask questions, do you have plans to visit WisCon this year?
I think that exhausts my nosiness.
Thank you for keeping the blog updated. It's funny and fascinating and one of the few sites i check on a regular basis.

-- culufinwen

Yes, I think Gilbert's "Hoom"s must have been Treebeard inspired, although they were mostly there because the real Chesterton had, I am told, a high squeaky voice, and I wanted Gilbert to have a slow deep voice.

Very much hoping to do more audio: I recorded three CDs worth of short stories and poetry for DreamHaven almost two years ago: I think they're waiting for Rick Berry to design the cover of the first one before soliciting it. And for Harper Collins, I'm talking about doing a CD of "Wolves in the Walls" and also "The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish" -- although we need to get onto it for it to happen before "Wolves" comes out in August.

No plans for WisCon -- I think that ComiCon, the San Diego one, is the only US con I'll be at this year.

You know, in the grand list of Things I'd Like To Be,
a pier in Brighton comes really low on the list.
Oh dear. First the succession of West Pier disasters, and now this.

I wonder if they still have the ghost train down at the end of Palace Pier.... hmm. Probably a moot point, now.

You know, I should know better than to even mention fan-fiction here.

Somehow I assumed that the comments in last night's posting would be read at least as a response to the question I was replying to. Judging by the astonishing number of mostly more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger (but occasionally pretty nasty) FAQmails coming in and telling me off in no uncertain terms, it wasn't seen as a reply to that one question (do you think writing fanfiction is useful for honing writing skills), but as an all-out attack on a lifestyle, ie. people who write fan-fiction.

Having said that, it also looked like a lot of the people telling me off hadn't even read the whole post, or had just seen other people on other sites quoting the last paragraph, which was then extensively quoted back at me as evidence that: I don't know what I'm talking about; do not understand that people are writing fan-fiction for pleasure, or that fan-fiction is a valid artistic purpose in itself; that I am myself nothing more than a glorified fan writer; that people writing movies and TV shows and comics and books are really writing fan-fiction; that real life is really fan-fiction; that all comics writers are writing fan fiction and what about that time I wrote (insert comics/historical/mythical characters I didn't create here)?; that Shakespeare was writing fan fiction; and that my choice to write fiction that I do not call fan-fiction should not be seen in any way as a reflection on those who wear their fan-fiction proudly. Also if I'd just read some decent Buffy/Smallville/Legolas/Gone With the Wind fan-fiction I wouldn't have been so rude about those who choose to write it.

(All taken from real e-mails, with no exaggeration. And I'm still trying to work out how I was rude about people who wrote fan-fiction. But obviously feelings were hurt, and I'm sorry about that. If I'm going to ruffle feathers I want to do it on purpose.)

Anyway. Point taken. You can all stop writing in about it now, please.

You know, the trouble with a journal like this is that I hate repeating myself, so I didn't bother saying anything I'd already said elsewhere -- in the April 8th 2002 blog entry for example. This was obviously a mistake. Ah well.

Anyway, by way of apology let me offer this piece of very cool fan-fiction from the Onion, as the U.N orders Wonka to submit to Chocolate Factory Inspections.

Monday, February 03, 2003
A hall of mirrors moment: Here's a link to USA Today as Janet Kornblum writes an article that quotes from this blog.

Long, occasionally frustrating, eventually rewarding day of battling with computers. I've more or less managed to get the house network working again, and to reinstall the satellite dish for internet, and everything's more or less where it was four or five days ago before I screwed everything up a little, and then, in an attempt to fix it, screwed everything up a lot.

Also it snowed -- several inches -- and then began to rain.

This in from Tom Galloway:

Don't know if Cheryl Morgan's mentioned this to you, but she's been taking Hugo nomination suggestions at her Emerald City fanzine at http://www.emcitcom/hugo_rec.shtml
and apparently has been getting a fair number of suggestions for Coraline for Best Novel. However, by word count, which is how the various Hugo categories are differentiated, Coraline can only go into the Novella category. It's probably worth mentioning this on the blog, since 1) a fair number of people probably automatically think "one story book = novel" and 2) for reasons that are a bit complicated to go into, if someone submits a Hugo nomination ballot with five Novella nominations and lists Coraline as a Novel nomination, the Coraline nomination will likely be tossed out (whereas if they only had four listed Novella nominations and had Coraline up for Novel, their Coraline nomination would be moved to Novella; the gist here is that often the Hugo Administrators won't allow a single person to make an effective six nominations in a single category as allowing five listed Novella nominations *and* moving a Novel nomination for Coraline to Novella would do)

Or, to really simplify it, if you want to nominate Coraline for a Hugo, be sure to do so in the Novella category, *not* the Novel category.

Tom Galloway

(Coraline's 30,000 words long, in case anyone was wondering. I just did a word-count.)

oh well... I should do a couple of others, shouldn't I?

Hello Neil:

At the end of December, you mentioned on your journal an essay on Dave McKean that you wrote, and that would be featured on your website at some point I keep checking the "exclusive material" section, but I haven't seen it so far. Am I looking for it in the wrong place (or the wrong website), perhaps?

I was also wondering if you'd be attending Dave's upcoming Narcolepsy retrospective exhibition in Belgium. I would love to see it, but I won't be able to. Please report back if you happen to make it!

I loved Coraline, by the way, and the little rat face that you drew on my copy is great too. Thank you for coming to New York -- it was a thrill to see you again at the Barnes And Noble Coraline signing last July. Looking forward to your next books and comics and movies. Thank you for the stories, the coolness, and (oh yeah) the time -- Gabriel

If it hasn't gone up, that's just because it hasn't gone up. It'll go up sooner or later -- I hope that after we go onto our own server it'll speed up the process of getting new stuff up on the website. No, I won't be in Belgium, I'm afraid. And you're welcome.


The question is: Why are comics taking the back seat to novels? Don't get me wrong, I find your novels to be as, if not more amazing than your comics I could presume why it is you decided to focus your attention on writing novels rather than comics, but I would prefer hear it from you. The Sandman seemed to me to be one of the most notable comics of our time. When it comes to comics, as you well know, intelligent series' are far from abundant. I suppose I just never expected you to leave the comic world, or perhaps I didn't want to see it lose such a talented writer. I tell myself that the switch was just an example of the natural progression of a writer, however that seems to be a bit too simplistic.

Holly H. (Scooter)

It does seem a bit simplistic, or at least, a bit wrong. You might want to take a look at the list I wrote early in January of what I did last year. Most of what I wrote was comics -- about 200 pages of comics last year. Much of that will start being published in late summer and autumn, and people will go, good lord he's back doing comics. Although by that time I'll be doing another novel -- I think it's about time to write one: it's over two years since I finished American Gods, and I think it's time to try and do a longish piece of prose again.

You're a very strange and interesting person. Are there more of you?

I keep hoping that sooner or later a few more of me will show up, and then they can write some of the things people are waiting for. Maybe they could even even catch up on e-mail. But currently it's just me. Peculiar, isn't it?

Do you read any fanfiction? I've noticed your somewhat-professed interest in anime, and fanfiction is a pretty prevalent subset of anime fandom, and fiction = writing, so it kind of all connects upon itself, leading back to you. If so, what are some of your favorites?

Also, do you think writing fanfiction is useful for honing writing skills(as your characters are already established and you're given somewhat rigid specifications), or not useful(because of the previous parenthetical aside, and because that gives you less room to be truly creative)?

Er, no, I don't read fanfiction.

I think that all writing is useful for honing writing skills. I think you get better as a writer by writing, and whether that means that you're writing a singularly deep and moving novel about the pain or pleasure of modern existence or you're writing Smeagol-Gollum slash you're still putting one damn word after another and learning as a writer.

(I just made that up. I imagine it would go something like: "Oh, the preciouss, we takes it our handssses and we rubs it and touchess it,, Smeagol musst not touch the preciousss, the master said only he can touch the precioussss.... bad masster, he doess not know the precious like we does, no, gollum, and we wants it, we wants it hard in our handses, yesss..." etc etc)

There have been a few remarkable talents who came out of fan fiction or who did amazing things with fan fiction -- I remember talking, somewhere on this journal about David McDaniel.

But I do think that, in the final analysis, all a writer really has to give is the stuff that only she or he can give the world and no-one else can. That the sooner you sound like you and tell the stories only you can tell, for good or for ill, the better. And from that point of view, I suppose I think of fan-fiction as training wheels. Sooner or later you have to take them off the bike and start wobbling down the street on your own.

Sunday, February 02, 2003
A few years ago, I was in Florida, driving up the east coast on highway A1A, which is as far east as you can get and not be in the Atlantic Ocean. It was night, and I was driving over a long bridge, when I saw something very beautiful in the sky. It started out like a streak of orange flame, and then, as it rose, it burned bluer and brighter than anything I'd ever seen -- the nursery rhyme line "like a diamond in the sky" suddenly had meaning, a huge, blazing, blue-white diamond of flame, and I pulled over to the side of the bridge and watched it rise and rise and rise; and realised I watching a space shuttle launch, one that had been delayed for days because of dodgy weather, and now it was launching and I was watching it, and I felt very proud to be part of something -- humanity, I suppose -- that had put that flaming diamond up there. And eventually it rose out of sight, and I drove north.

There are people dead now, and hurt, and pain, and questions. But I still feel proud to be part of the thing that made it.

My copy of "The Satanic Mill" arrived today. Will report back.


Found on Teresa Nielsen Hayden's blog: a quiz. A cool one. Personality Quiz - What Poetry Form Am I?

I was a sonnet, which didn't surprise me at all. I'd like to be a villanelle or a triolet or a rondel, but at the end of the day, I'm a sonnet.

Saturday, February 01, 2003
All plans for last night -- including listening to Iolanthe with Maddy -- were efficiently scuppered by my falling asleep by around 7:30pm. I slept for 12 hours, and suspect that the jet-lag/flu aftereffects finally caught up with me.

And now I'm awake while everyone else in the house is fast asleep, except for a cat named Zoe, who is sitting on the desk beside my computer.

A suggestion thinly disguised as a question:
Could you save the Sandman movie by writing a script in which the story lines for Preludes and Dollhouse overlap? The solution would be very simple . . and I felt rather keen. By having the Sandman undertake his quest to retrieve his tools AND his servants at the same time, the quests become interlocked. The Corinthian would take the place of the John dee Character, eliminating the need for the Superheroes, and painting the Corinthian as the whole nega-sandman that the readers were convinced that John Dee would become upon destroying the ruby. It Could still include the bag of dust, the helmet in hell, the diner scenes, the serial convention, Rose and her brother, Fiddler's green, the introduction of many primary characters from the dreaming, and have a much cooler battle between the Corinthian and Morpheus, as the Corinthian may actually have stood a chance had he possessed John dee's Ruby. I don't have to explain how this would appeal more to the Hollywood big-wigs, and it ALMOST fits perfectly into your original vision for the series. It just kind of morphs certain elements together. Think about it?

Notice: A Question mark at the end of the paragraph suggests a question.

First of all, anything to do with a Sandman movie is er, nuffink to do wiv me. I'm not writing it, producing it, directing it. I'm not involved. Honest.

Second of all... oddly enough, your plot suggestion was what more or less happened in the second draft of the film, the Avary-Rossio-Elliott draft. Roger Avary's story of how he joined (and left) the Sandman film, along with their complete script is at

Neil -

This is a Tori question which I hope you don't mind terribly. With the release of her latest CD, Epic set up a companion website accessible via the enhanced CD. The website, among other things, promised chances to hear the B-sides for this album. Well... after many technical problems and terrible trouble with the website, I managed to hear the first B-side: Tombigbee. This is an absolutely gorgeous song. Should I have ever needed it, this song reaffirms my love and appreciation of Tori.

In any case, all this struggle to hear this one beautiful song brings me to my question:
when you get to hear Tori's songs before we do (for example, receiving a copy of the unfinished album), do you get to hear the B-sides as well? Or must you go along deprived with the rest of us?


It depends on where I am when.

With "Scarlet's Walk" I got to hear about 21 songs, in the passenger seat of Tori's SUV in Florida, parked in her garden. (She didn't have a CD player in the house, and neither of us thought to put the CDs in the DVD player because we weren't thinking.) (Although actually it was a really appropriate sort of way to hear the songs, in the front seat of a car.) So I heard the songs that were going to be on the album, and also Tombigbee and Mountain and so on. But at that point she hadn't quite made up her mind which tracks were going to Scarlet's Web and which would be on the CD, so I heard them all.

With "Strange Little Girls" I heard the four songs that didn't make it onto the CD when I was in Cornwall. "After All" and "Only Women Bleed" wound up on Bs. "Hoover Factory", which would have been Rattlesnake's B-side, is really sweet, although it never got heard, and the other one is amazing. (I'm not going to name it, as she never has, to the best of my knowledge.)

OTOH there are lots of Bs I only hear when she sends me singles, and some fall through the cracks, and I only find out about them when she plays them live and I ask "What was that song?" afterwards, and she says "Oh, it was a B side".


I got this in e-mail today. It's the shortlists for the British Science Fiction Association Awards for 2002.

Best Novel:
Effendi - Jon Courtenay Grimwood (Earthlight)
Light - M. John Harrison (Gollancz)
Castles Made of Sand - Gwyneth Jones (Gollancz)
The Scar - China Mi�ville (Macmillan)
The Separation - Christopher Priest (Scribner)
The Years of Rice and Salt - Kim Stanley Robinson (HarperCollins)

Best Short Fiction:
'Singleton' - Greg Egan (Interzone 176, February 2002)
'Coraline' - Neil Gaiman (Bloomsbury)
'Voice of Steel' - Sean McMullen (SciFiction -
'If Lions Could Speak' - Paul Park (Interzone 177, March 2002)
'Router' - Charles Stross (Asimov's, September 2002)
'Five British Dinosaurs' - Michael Swanwick (Interzone 177, March 2002)

Best Artwork:
'Experiment 1' - Peter Gric (cover, 'The Third Alternative' 31, July 2002)
cover of Interzone 179 - Dominic Harman (Interzone 179, May 2002)
'My Name is Death' - Fraser Irving (page 1 of 'Judge Death: My Name is
Death, 2000AD Prog 1289, 1st May 2002)
illustration for 'The Routine' - Joachim Luetke (The Third Alternative 31,
July 2002)
'Obliquitese' - Richard Marchand (cover, 'The Third Alternative' 32, Autumn

Best Related Publication:
'The Interrogation' - Nick Gevers interviews Chris Priest (Interzone 183,
September 2002)
introduction to 'Maps: the Uncollected Stories of John Sladek' - David
Langford (Big Engine)
'Mapping Mars' - Oliver Morton (Fourth Estate)
'The Timex Machine' - Lucius Shepard
'Once There Was a Magazine' - Fred Smith (Beccon Publications)


And finally, this in from Harper Collins marketing mistress, Lisa Gallagher, who wrote in order.... warn you that, after much careful research, we are finally switching the website to a dedicated server. The switch is being made on Monday, and it may take 48 hours to be back to being fully operational. All the journal & archives will be backed up just to be safe, but I'm assured that there will be no problem.

Anyway, you may want to warn people this weekend in the journal that Monday - Wednesday may be problematic.

So. I'd like to warn all you people that Monday to Wednesday of this week may be problematic. Dress warmly, don't walk under ladders. You may want to stay home, in a dark room and move as little as possible.