Saturday, May 31, 2003

A major improvement on yesterday

Today was a good day.

It started with a terrific meeting with Roger and Brenda, my directors on the TAM LIN project. Then I walked across the hall and met with a company who wanted to finance DEATH: THE HIGH COST OF LIVING, and the only condition that they had thought might be a sticking point was something I already wanted. Things can go wrong (things can always go wrong) and lots of deals need to be made before a formal announcement can be made, but I wouldn't be surprised to be shooting DEATH next Spring.

Then to the bookfair, to the BOOKSENSE lunch. Each of the nominees for Booksense Book of the Year (of whom I was one, for CORALINE) were given a leather Levenger bag, filled with a multitude of cool Levenger articles, including a gorgeous fountain pen. And speaking as a serious pen person, I was very happy. It's a really good thing for award nominees to get cool stuff: you already feel like you won.

Did an impromptu signing at the Book Expo DC comics booth, and saw a number of old friends (including Len Wein and, artist Jill Karla Schwarz who I'd not seen in the flesh for 12 years), and DC gave away copies of Dream Hunters to happy people.

Then to the Booksense awards where I met lots of people I'd wanted to meet, and stayed for my category (didn't win -- Cornelia Funke did, which made her very happy. Michael Chabon, who was sitting next to me had already deduced we would lose to her, and he was right). (He also commented on the astonishing power of this blog -- a lot of you turned up on his Summerland signing tour and said hi from me. And the very amazing Neal Pollack and I compared notes on our blogs, and agreed about stuff.) So Coraline is a "BOOKSENSE BOOK OF THE YEAR HONOR BOOK" and I have a bag full of wonderful Levenger stuff.

Then a mad dash to the Audie awards -- I was a presenter (and not wearing a tuxedo), and followed Martin Jarvis (of whom I am an enormous fan). I pointed out that Martin and I went to the same school in Croydon ("Quite some years apart!" he shouted from the audience) thus proving to all Americans who had been told off for saying "You're from England? I have a friend in Leighton Buzzard called Bill -- do you know him?" that England really is a tiny place inhabited by approximately 500 people. I lost the Audie award for Coraline, then was asked to sign something, wasn't paying attention, and suddenly found myself being nudged when "Two Plays for Voices" won an Audie. "It will be collected by Harper Audio's Carrie Kania," said Kevin J. Anderson, who was presenting that round of awards. "I am not," said Carrie, sitting next to me. "It's your award, go and get it."

So I did, and I said something grateful, and thanked Brian Dennehy and Bebe Neuwirth and the cast and Brian Smith, the director. It's very lovely.

And came back to the hotel to type this and go to bed. Pretty good day.


Don't know about the FAQ's margins, but the Journal proper was demarginated by the line about
"so-bad-it's-well-not-good-but-everyone-will-at-least-remember-this-show-as- opposed-to-most-other-Eurovision-entries"

I noticed it at the time, but my screen was big enought that it wasn't terrible. Why is it that the Journal doesn't just wrap to anyone's screensize?

Jordan D. White

How odd. On my computer that wraps just fine. I'll go in and fix it.

Hi Neil,

Thought this would be fun for the blog. I stole it from :)


Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked will debut on The History Channel on Monday, June 23 at 9 p.m. (ET/PT).

The special is hosted by Shane West, star of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie.

Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked was granted "unprecedented" access to comic books published by DC and Marvel Comics from the late 1930's to the present. Featured are interviews with many of the most influential comic book writers and artists of the past 50 years, including Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Denny O'Neil, Michael Chabon, Jim Steranko, Kevin Smith, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman and Joe Quesada.

According to The History Channel, the program was "designed to bring visual depth, energy and movement to classic comic book images while still preserving the integrity of the artwork."

Have a great day!

I'm looking forward to it.

And finally (as I'm tired, and tomorrow -- well, later today -- starts early with a CBLDF Board Meeting and ends very late with a red-eye home for Holly's graduation)...
Dear Neil,
I had been searching for Stardust for a while now but managed to find it during a trip to the airport. While reading it I found something interesting on page 199. The thing that caught my attention was the reference to the sword Balmung. The reason for this was that it seems to be an anagram for Mablung, a character from the works of JRR Tolkien. I was only wondering if you intended to do this or if it was only by accident.


It may well be an anagram, but if so it was Tolkien's. Balmung was forged by Wayland Smith (you'll find him in Puck of Pook's Hill, by Kipling) and used by Odin, Sigmund and Siegfried. Here's a link.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Time to kill; the driver. (Repunctuate as needed.)

E-mail from Kim Thompson of Fantagraphics pointing out that he put the wrong telephone number on the fax they sent me (and everywhere else). The Fantagraphics number is actually the memorable 1-206-524-1967. The free number is still 800 657 1100.

Um, sorry to bother you, but the margins in the journal have gone all wonky again. There's a lot of left to right scrolling going on in order to read the journal. In small quantities, that's cool, in large quantities, it hurts my eyes. Ow.

Not sure what's happening -- I noticed yesterday on Lorraine's iMac that the margins were too wide, but on the Windows machines I've looked at it at, under Internet Explorer and under Opera, the margins are behaving themselves perfectly. (All explanations and suggested fixes gratefully received).

Typing this at the airport. Have several hours downtime at the airport. Harper Collins sent a driver to get me to the airport on time. The moment I knew for certain this was not going to happen the way it was meant to was the same moment I realised the driver had got so confused that he had got onto the freeway going the wrong way, and that after an hour on the road, I was almost home... First time I've missed a flight in about five years. (I am, by nature, enormously disorganised. So I compensate for a natural tendency to miss trains and busses and planes and sometimes entire countries by trying very hard not to miss them. It normally works.)

I'll do some reading and some writing...

I just read an article that gave me a total Neverwhere flash:
The miniature underground train that hauls mail around London will be closing this week. I know they are doing it for financial reasons, but it still makes me sad. The idea of mail being sent around by tiny underground train is just too wonderful.

Anyway, I thought you'd like to know what's up in London Below.

Katherine Olson

You can actually see that little train in the BBC Neverwhere series. Mr Vandemar uses it to run over Varney, after the bodyguard trials. (Neverwhere trivia: the scream of pain and collapse from Varney, just before this happens, is not just acting. Nick, the actor, had caught his foot on the rail tracks and broken his ankle.)

And Nick Setchfield sends this....

Thought you might be tickled by this link:

It's put together by a friend of mine named Jim Friedlander (whose dad,
strangely enough, was the BBC FX man who sculpted the head of Davros).
Jim also plays in the band Lincoln, and this site is a
secret and twisted part of the Lincoln website.



it falls into the "don't ask, just click on it and trust me" category. Really. Go on. You'll thank me one day.

Please Help. Also an intimate, but authorised Mickey Mouse, Wallaroos, and Pynchon.

Let's see.... coming up later in this journal entry, an urgent plea for help.

But first,

The Hello Kitty Tarot Deck

"This tarot deck is based on traditional Rider-Waite symbolism with Hello Kitty and friends substituted for the traditional images."

Yes, I know the website also has the Mickey Mouse four-fingered-glove vibrator on it, and even the deeply weird Pooh Bear Vibrator, but there's something about a Hello Kitty Tarot Deck that tells me the world will soon be ending. (Thanks to Red Fish for the link to the site.)


A rumour is circulating that you'll be attending the 'Mythic Journeys' convention (June 3rd through 6th) in Atlanta GA. Is that true? You don't seem to have any previous engagements listed for that date under 'where's Neil'. Just curious!


If it was happening, it would have been posted, honest. Nope, won't be there. Alas and sorry...

Lots of people asking more or less the same thing, of which this is an example....

Dear Neil,
I notice that you managed to wander around some of the nicer parts of mainland Europe and then skipped back over the Atlantic to America and you seem to have missed the British Isles out of your busy signing schedule. My simple and obvious question is therefore; when will you return to Blighty to see your adoring public?
I know that you have deserted this Fair Isle to live in the Colonies, but please come back and see us some time, I'll bake a cake and put the kettle on for you, if it will help!
I'm afraid I'm too impoverished to cross the channel to see you when you come to mainland Europe and you can't get a decent cup of tea from the world beyond Calais, and they all drive on the wrong side of the road and some of those foreigners don't even speak English!
Please note that I'm not a reactionary Xenophobic Euro-skeptic, it's just that I once went to Australia and discovered that the Euro (the intended currency for the whole of Europe) is a type of wallaby or wallaroo. Replacing the English Pound for a pocketful of marsupials seems to me to be a stupid idea...I personally do not have big enough pockets.
If you have any confusion about what I'm talking about you might want to visit:

- Simon Satori Hendley

You're right about the Euro...

I was in the UK signing last August for two weeks, when Coraline was published. I signed in LOTS of places, from Canterbury to Dundee (not to mention Dublin). The reason I wasn't signing in the UK on this tour wasn't because the UK isn't in Europe: it's because Coraline had already had a UK signing tour. I'm sure I'll be back for another signing or two at some point in the next year or so, but I'd rather go and write some more books first.

Dear Neil,
Do you NEVER journey into outerspace for signings/readings? How long must I wait!


We're still hoping to have several clonal duplicates of me on a galactic signing tour by 2006. Keep an eye on "Where's Neil" for details.

Okay. So, the Urgent Plea for Help...

I just got a fax from Gary Groth at Fantagraphics Books. It's a long one, and I'm sure by tomorrow they'll have it up on their website (I just wrote to Gary and asked him to stick it up so I could link to it.) Basically, they were badly hurt when their book distributor went bankrupt on them last year, owing them $70,000, and they were also badly hurt by printing too many copies of some recent books -- their cash is tied up in books in the warehouse. And they are up against the wall, with loans coming due.

There are a lot of people who have no love for Gary Groth, or the Comics Journal, or for Fantagraphics books, and would be very pleased to see them gone.

But for almost 30 years Fantagraphics has been publishing many of the world's finest cartoonists. They brought us Los Bros Hernandez's Love and Rockets and Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan and Dan Clowes's Ghost World and, er, Scott Russo's Jizz and cartoonists like Joe Sacco and Roberta Gregory and hundreds of others. Not to mention The Comics Journal, and classic and wonderful stuff like Krazy Kat and Little Nemo in Slumberland. They care passionately about the comics medium, and without Fantagraphics the comics landscape of the last two decades would have been much less interesting. They've offended a lot of people over the years --even so, if Fantagraphics went down the world of comics would be enormously less diverse, have less cool art in it, and, needless to say, it would be bad for comics as an artistic medium and as an industry.

They need help. Basically they need to turn the things in their warehouse into cash.

As Gary says at the end of his fax, "If this was a standard pitch, we'd offer you some extra incentive -- a discount or free books or knicknacks or whatnot. But, it's not... We need the full retail value of our books. But we can offer something that won't cost us any money: anyone (individually or collectively) who buys $500 worth of books from us will get a personal phone call from Gary Groth thanking you for saving Fantagraphics' ass. Think how much fun this could be at a party."

The phone number is (USA) 206 524 1967 or 800 657 1100. But you're much better off hitting their shopping website at

They have a lot of wonderful stuff up on the website -- comics, books, limited edition prints, a Chris Ware lunchbox, tee shirts, erotica (from their Eros Press imprint and elsewhere), CDs, DVDs, and oodles of other wonderful stuff, much of which would look a lot more enticing if they'd put a few more pictures up. I mean, would it kill them to show us what the Jules Feiffer print looks like? Or the two Barry Windsor Smith Prints? And what exactly is the Comics Journal Interview CD? Er, sorry. Anyway, they have lots of wonderful stuff there, buy anything and you'll make a difference, buy $500 worth and Gary will phone you up and say thank you really really politely.

I was trying to think of something I could add to that, to help, and I couldn't. Except if you don't want a phone call from Gary and you'd rather have one from me on their behalf, tell them when you spend your $500 and I'll see what I can do.


One last question before I sleep...

Dear Neil, firstly, I'd like to thank you for contributing to you journal on a regular basis. I was turned on to this two months ago and haven't missed a day since, unless you count that time when I didn't quite make it back to my house due to the intervention of a large dog with a funny hat-like thing. Secondly, I also enjoy your diverse and comprehensive use of the english language. There are times when I have to pull out my three-volume Webster's third new international dictionary (it's this marvelous set my Mother purchased before I was born and I most likely will pass on to my nephew when he's old enough to love such a thing) to understand what you're talking about. My question today has to do with a word that I couldn't find in the three-book set (there's got to be a word for that, I'm sure)(not the not-finding part, but the three-book bit) that you used in your Sunday entry: Pynchonesque (anonymity). I'm guessing this has to do with an actual person from the capitalised 'P'. Is there a story behind this? Thanks again. I'm now off to sell some people some comics. Much care, Dave.

Having to do with author Thomas Pynchon. If you Google Pynchonesque you'll find it mostly used to refer to the plots and style of Pynchon as a writer or as a stylist. I was referring to the way his photo isn't on his books (or, pretty much, anywhere: there are about three very old photos, one from his yearbook, that crop up on the web), there's no bio, he doesn't do interviews, and so on. He's maintained his privacy for many years, now.

(I once told my friend Steve Erickson (an astonishingly brilliant writer in his own right, incidentally) that I sometimes thought it would have been better to be anonymous and go the Pynchon route. He said he'd had dinner with Pynchon some months before, and Pynchon had said that if he were a young author starting out today he probably couldn't do the Pynchon route. Publishers want interviews, and photographs, and signings, and all the rest, now much more than ever before. It was pretty simple to be an anonymous writer when he began writing.)


And here's an article about Arne Svenson's Sock Monkey Book, at

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

A Genuinely Useful Post (unless you're not in or near Chicago or Los Angeles.)

I just posted this to WHERE'S NEIL. But seeing that most of you just check the journal (and many of you are reading this on feeds now) I thought I'd post the information here...

On the 30th and 31st of May 2003 I'll be at Book Expo America in Los Angeles.

(Erroneous bit removed.)

I'm definitely doing a signing from 1:00pm-2:00pm on the 31st of May

Then from 4:30 - 5:15 on the 31st I'm going to talk, answer questions and as an experiment read THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS with slides of Dave Mckean's art. It's in Convention Room 406A or possibly Room 403A (unless they've moved it again -- we keep getting moved to bigger rooms, but I'm not sure which we're in right now). The way they put it in their promo is:

Saturday, May 31

4:30 pm � 5:15 pm From Comic Book Writer to New York Times Bestseller; Neil Gaiman and His Works| Room 406A

Neil Gaiman was one of the first authors of graphic novels to be taken seriously by the literary world. His Sandman graphic novels have sold in the millions. He�s spent the last seven years writing prose, including the New York Times bestselling novels AMERICAN GODS (winner of the Hugo Award 2002) and CORALINE (nominated for a 2003 BookSense Book of the Year Award for Children's Literature). His upcoming works include the first new Sandman book in seven years, The Sandman: Endless Nights (DC Comics) and, with artist Dave McKean, a graphic novel for all ages, THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS (HarperCollins Children's Books). He will talk about his experiences as a writer for adult, YA and youth audiences, and will be reading the entirety of THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS, with a slide show. A Q&A will follow.

Admission: Free of Charge

But that Free of Charge only applies if you've already made it through the doors of the Book Expo, and that's not cheap (unless you're a member of the press). Then again, it looks really impressive.

(I'm not sure that I really like From Comic Book Writer to New York Times Bestseller -- it seems to imply some kind of evolution, like From Rags to Riches, or From the Cradle to the Grave. I mean, most of what I've been writing since September 2001 has been comics.)

At 11:00 am on 7 June 03 I'll be at the Printer's Row bookfair in Chicago, also reading THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS and other things, and answering questions... Genuinely free entry, and I'll be signing for an hour after the reading.


I never really liked Harold Wilson, Prime Minister of the UK for most of my childhood, until I read this article about his secret plan to disappear and run away and hide, as revealed in the Guardian, in which we learn that...

Lord Donoughue recounts how the Labour leader planned to "slip away unseen in our plane, indicating to the air traffic controllers that he was going to London, but during the flight to divert to a small airfield in Bedfordshire. Wilson would then race away by car to some secret hideaway".

"He had an old road map on his lap," Lord Donoughue continues. "At dinner, Wilson further developed his escape plans with mentions of false trails, diversionary cars and planes, as well as more plans for fleeing in the invisible aeroplane. So many complications were introduced, so many bluffs and covers that I could not work out how or when I was supposed to travel back to London, if at all".

When Lord Donoughe put the escape plan - which he describes as "a pathetic fantasy in a major politician" - to Wilson's controversial political secretary Marcia Williams, she described it as "schoolboy behaviour". "You will be on the plane to London, like everybody else, including him," she said.

Even when early results suggested a strong showing for Labour, writes Lord Donoughue, "Wilson began to implement his strange escape plans".

A blog with a footnote.

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Monday, May 26, 2003

"Therefore, please photo your cat lovelily with much trouble. "

Oh my! Thought a fellow lover-of-cats (ahem-in a purely non-sexual sense, of course) would appreciate this fabulous page of cat clothes, made even more hilarious by the translation from Japanese to English:
This amazing tidbit came from my Madison chum's enlightening and entertaining blog:

That is hilarious and wonderful. The photos... the strange translations. The idea that perhaps cats really enjoy wearing clothes made from dalmatians, as well as wearing chicken costumes and Anne of Green Gables costumes made me smile. Good blog too.

Spent today finishing the final final shooting script for Dave McKean's Mirror-Mask. Or Mirrormask. Or possibly Mirror Mask. (I know I ought to know these things.) Just emailed it off to the UK. They start shooting next week. (The film will star Gina McKee and Stephanie Leonidas and Rob Brydon and Jason Barry. My favourite writing moment was learning that we had Dora Bryan playing an elderly aunt, and promptly rewriting all of her lines for Dora Bryan.)

And I just learned that Coraline has been nominated for the prestigious French Prix Tam-Tam du livre de jeunesse (the results will be announced in November).

In the US edition, demons dance like a white band on Soul Train.

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Ducks, Drag Polo, Morels and the Wrong Kind of Mindless Crap

As far as I can tell from these photographs in this article in The Sun Whitney Houston seems to be turning into some kind of duck. Look, if I didn't tell you these things, you'd never know.

And if it wasn't for the Daily Telegraph obituaries, I'd never know that Sue Sally Hale had died, or even that she had lived.

Sue Sally Hale, who has died in Coachella Valley, California, aged 65, disguised herself as a man in order to break into the male-dominated world of polo at a time when women were banned from the professional sport.

For some 15 years from the 1950s, she played in tournaments organised by the US Polo Association under the pseudonym "A Jones", disguising her gender by tucking her hair under her helmet, flattening her chest with tape under a baggy shirt and sporting a false moustache. After the game, she would revert to her true identity for the post-match party and mingle unrecognised with the men against whom she had just played.

And (by the way) the quickest way to look at the variety of UK papers at once is via

Without it I would never have known that the British Entry for the Eurovision Song Contest got no votes at all, nor that The dismal performance prompted Terry Wogan, who hosted the show for the BBC, to comment: "I think the UK is suffering from post-Iraq backlash." He added: "I think it�s time to send in the gunboat."

It's possible that all over Europe people turned to each other and said "Oh, the British song was so wonderful, I want so in my heart to vote for it... but we need to send a stern message to Mr Blair -- let's vote for the Turkish song."

"But what if the British send in a gunboat to make sure we vote with our hearts and they win next time?"

"I don't care. This isn't about music. This is about politics."

But in all probability the British song didn't win because the song was mindless crap. Well, the wrong kind of mindless crap, anyway.


'ello Neil!

What's your favorite way of eating morels? I saw my first at Madison's farmer's market yesterday and was a bit daunted...
More importantly, however, I was catching up on your entries and felt a need to issue a warning about the rat song. If you download the screensavers from they include the rat song; however, the rat song will begin to play just as you're falling asleep in a nice patch of sunlight, surrounded by sunshiny cats and it will give you the Ralph Wiggums and scare the bejeepers out of your cats. Then, if you have a particularly vindictive computer, when you click the little box to disable the sound, it will wait until you're once again in The Soft Place and start singing again.
It's deliciously lovely when you're wide awake and expecting it, but screaming meemies-creepy when leaping from shadowy corners...

I'm glad I'm not the only person who's been terrified by the Rat Song starting up unexpectedly.

My favourite simple way of cooking fresh morels -- sliced not-too-thin and fried in butter with a smidge of garlic, and then, when then they're browning, adding eggs into which I've beaten a little sour cream, and just scrambling the whole together.

There's a whole morel website at for anyone who wonders what they look like, or what the fuss is about...

Of course, already the morel recipes are coming in...

Actually this isnt a question-just a comment. Morel mushrooms are also wonderful breaded and deep-fat fried. Clean them, soak them in salt water over night-drain them, dip them in an egg/milk mixture, roll in crushed saltines crumbs, fry, eat, and very definitely enjoy... ;)
You have mushrooms in your yard-I have morel-envy... ;)

... and I bet that Robyn AKA Chantrelle from Foodporn will have recipe suggestions that are much more interesting than mine. (The foodporn interview with me is here, by the way. And I think Robyn should do more interviews with people. It's much more fun being asked about food than about whether you consider yourself a postmodernist.)

Posting from home!

I'm home, I'm home. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the mosquitoes are as big as birds and rather more numerous. I don't have to fly anywhere or go anywhere or leave for... well, until thursday morning actually, when I go to LA for the Book Expo America. Then I fly home at 1:00am on Sunday to make Holly's graduation. And then I don't go anywhere until the 7th when Maddy and I go to Chicago on behalf of the Chicago Humanities Festival, so I can give a talk and a reading at the Chicago Printer's Row Book Fair. (Hmm. A look at their website tells me that commincations are breaking down somewhere: everyone else has a bio and a thing about what they're doing. I get nothing but a "Coraline is Neil Gaiman's latest book" as if I'm trying for some kind of Pynchonesque anonymity.)

Then I'm home for a bit (although I have to go back to the UK to make myself useful for some of the Mirror-Mask shoot and be filmed for the DVD extras documentary, and will probably take both Holly and Maddy with me).

Morels are a kind of mushroom. They look a little like brains from a 50s SF movie. They taste like heaven. I told my French publishers over a meal how one day in 1993 my lawn was full of morels, and how we picked and ate them and assumed that there would be more, and year after year, there never were. And I came home last night, and there were morels in the lawn for the first time in a decade, so we picked them, and I made morels and scrambled eggs for Holly and me, and I felt like the house was welcoming me home...

Friday, May 23, 2003

A thousand dreams that would await me...

Got up at crack of dawn and took train to the UK. Attended the cast reading of Mirror Mask. It was really wonderful. People laughed at the jokes and our two stars were outstanding, and Dave McKean's storyboards could be published tomorrow and drop jaws. They start shooting in less than two weeks, and I think this is going to be such an amazing film. People compare Coraline to a contemporary Alice in Wonderland, and it's not, whereas Mirror Mask kind of is.

Worked with Dave McKean on the script this afternoon and evening and night until I couldn't see straight and stumbled up to hotel room -- I'm flying home tomorrow after a month and a day on the road, and am right now more tired than I can easily remember.

Learned that Coraline is nominated for the Mythopoeic Award for best children's fiction.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Water flows uphill...

I'm only posting this because I want to see it... BBC NEWS: How does Dyson make water go uphill?

keeping on keeping on

Neil, just to let you know, if you got the Herbin Invisible Ink, Sam Fiorello of Pendemonium advises that it's *NOT* safe for fountain pens, but for dip pens. Usually not-safe means it can either 1) eat the ink sac/pen barrel or 2) gum up the works by not being water-soluble. --Kathy.

And that's what I love about having this blog, I think. Along with the flip side of it, which is getting things like this:

This isn't a question,it's a thank you.
Yesterday out of the blue I found myself thinking of a book I half-read a few years ago, and felt the urge to hunt it down again and finish it. Unfortunately what I could remember of the book was this; it was a book of stories within stories like the arabian nights or decameron; i had a feeling the author was Polish; it may have been a Penguin classic.That was the sum total of knowledge that my memory deigned to share with me, its been bugging me in that "its on the tip of my tongue" way for the past 24 hours and god knows how much longer I would have been suffering, but 30 minutes ago I decided to check to see if either you or jonathan carroll had sites I could bookmark on my new laptop. Lo and behold what should I find casually scrolling down your journal but a reference to Patocki's Saragossa manuscript.
So thanks Neil. Thank you for your apparent omniscience. I'll be sure to check here for the answers to life's little mysteries in the future.


Very wise. Herbin's Invisible Ink will gum up your fountain pen as well.

One from my friend Rob Elder about Book Crossing


I think you may have mentioned these folks before, or some org like them,
but here are more people "setting books free":

Here's the link

Hope all is well,


and this next one made me wish I wasn't on the slowest hotel phone line in Paris:

NH Audubon has an extensive site about the Peregrine falcons which have been nesting in downtown Manchester for the last few years. Today they went live with streaming video. It is really, really cool. In fact, it's so cool, I've been sending this to just about everyone I know (which is really unusual for me).

I've been watching the chicks sleep, stretch and get fed on and off all day.



I am searching for a story I heard at your Salt Lake City reading. It started out with the line "Time is fluid here". Can you please tell me where I can purchase this? I have been in contact with several people including Dreamhaven Books and none can seem to tell me where to buy this. If you could I would really like to own this and show people this amazingly haunting story.

It's called "Other People", and was published in the anniversary issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF) in Oct 2001. I looked at their website and found that you can order the magazine through the F&SF website at and Paypal it.

I'm sure that story will be in the next short story collection, which is sometimes called These People Must Know Who We Are And Tell That We Were Here, and sometimes called Fragile Things, depending on my mood. And it won't be out until after the next novel, so you don't need to start looking for it yet.


Today -- up at 5:45 am, flew to Montpellier (lovely city) where I signed, was interviewed, talked to several classes of kids about Coraline, and had lunch, but not in that order. The last day of the tour...

Tomorrow I get up at 6.00 for a 6.20 taxi to Gare du Nord, where I Eurostar to London an attend the readthough of Mirrormask, do any needed rewrites immediately after, get an actual night's sleep in a hotel, get up early and -- finally -- fly home.

I am tired and I am weary. I could sleep for a thousand years...

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

A Mystery Solved. Ink purchased. Lunch eaten. Will the Excitement Never End?

Hey Neil: The Frank Quitely Endless poster can be found online at

By the way, I love his Destiny.

David Caro

You're right, it is. And I noticed the Jill Thompson Death manga statue is at And furthermore, we even have an explanation...

Not a FAQ but rather a bit more info about the problems with the link to the Frank Quitely Endless painting:

The problem with the link to the Frank Quitely Endless painting is that the server for has been instructed to send a 403: Forbidden message to anyone attempting to load an image from it by clicking on a link from an external website. This is to keep people from "stealing" their bandwidth and storage by using images in their own web pages that still live on the server.

You can see the image by typing (or cutting-and-pasting) the URL in directly to the browser. If you're using IE, you can also view the image by clicking the Reload button once you've gotten the 403: Forbidden message. But for Mozilla-based browsers you'll need to click in the URL line and hit Enter.

(I originally left this as a comment on LiveJournal, but I thought it might be important/interesting enough to send in to the FAQ.)

Jon Reid

Right. I'd tell you all about my day and how my editor at Bloomsbury came to Paris from London by train to have lunch, and about the niceness of the Paris fans at the signing, but I have to be up before 6.00am to fly to the South of France for tomorrow's signing, so I won't.

Friday morning is the Mirror-Mask script read through, which I shall go to, adding an extra country and an extra day to the trip. Dave McKean starts shooting the film in ten days. It's dead exciting really. And in film terms, it's been so fast -- Hensons called us about it at the end of 2001...

I bought several bottles of sepia ink in a Paris ink shop today, as I've used almost a bottle of brown ink on this tour. And in the shop, at the last moment, because I had been staring at it covetously and imagining doing a signing tour, or even writing a novel with it, I sighed and bought myself a lovely little bottle of Invisible Ink as well. You never know.

try reloading

Lots of complaints that the link at to the Frank Quitely Endless painting doesn't work, or gets an access forbidden message. It seems to work fine if you refresh it, once you've had your access forbidden message.

I took a quick look at the DC Vertigo site at -- couldn't see it, but they've put up a cool little animation based on the Dave McKean cover.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

1602 revelation. Barney and Torture. How Not to Interview Lou Reed. Etc.

It's very late (gone 1:00am), and I should get some sleep, so you'll have to wait for a report on Colmar, Lille and Brussels (my favourite was Brussels, because it was really cosy, and I got to chat with everyone, and I'm tired enough at this point in the tour where I really appreciate ones like that) but I read an article yesterday on the plane to Alsace and felt very sorry for the interviewer: it's an Interview with Lou Reed, by someone who is hoping to bond with him, and is sadly disappointed.

I interviewed Lou in 1992 (I googled it and found it up at, went into it expecting something like the Guardian guy got, and actually really enjoyed it. I kept wanting to give advice to the unfortunate Guardian guy as he did everything he could possibly do wrong, wrong.

I actually answered someone's question about 1602 today. (It's easier just not to answer. My normal answer to "What is it about?" is "It is about 140 pages long", which does not endear me to the person asking). But today someone asked what Marvel characters were in it, and I said "Lots of them," and then he said "I understand it has Man-Thing in it," and I said "Lots of them. But not Man-Thing." Which is a real answer. Man-Thing is not in 1602.

Anyway, Marvel are getting a bit more informative than I am, in their own way, and just e-mailed me to tell me that there's some early information up at It's still a teaser, I'm afraid. But at least you can see what Andy and Richard are up to on the art (it's all taken from panels of issue #1).

You can get a sneak peek at the Frank Quitely poster of the Endless here. He painted the final story in ENDLESS NIGHTS -- Destiny's -- and he did such an amazing job we asked him if he'd like to do a poster, the first since Mike Dringenberg's Still Life With Cats over a decade ago...

Meanwhile, I read this article on the train to Lille today and was fascinated by the idea of US intelligence operatives being "forced to listen to the Barney 'I love You' song," something that probably ought to be specifically outlawed by the Geneva Convention. Later in the article, though, we learn that "it's a myth that being tortured is effective. The best way to win someone over is to treat them kindly," which makes me wonder if the forced playing of the Barney "I Love You" song is having deep, insidious and unconsidered effects on US intelligence agents.


Hi Neil,
I was wondering if you have any more info on the Novello Festival. The title, "An Novello Evening with Neil Gaiman" seems a bit vague. And the website doesn't offer much information about the event.

Thank You so much for coming down South! We don't get to see you enough as far as I'm concerned!

Thanks Again - Ned

It will be a talk, a reading, a Q&A period and probably a signing of some kind. I intuit this, mind you, based on the available evidence and the article Lucy Anne linked to over at The Dreaming.


Hello Neil. This is not actually a FAQ, but i wanted to let you know that i wrote a brief report on your appearance in Torino last saturday. I've posted it on my blog
Thanks for everything.
Too bad you didn't sing the rat song (i asked you ;) )

alessandro bonino

It's a matter of choosing your moment, I'm afraid. In the hall I was speaking in, with the microphone in my hand, drunk with power, I might have done it. In a walkway of the main Book Festival area, in the middle of an impromptu and unorganised signing, surrounded by people thrusting books and comics at me, while I was trying my best to sign as many of them as I could, the possibility that I would stop and sing the rat song was way below zero. Alas.

If you're curious about what it sounds like, you can always go into and click on one of the rats as they nip across the screen. Each time you click a rat, wait, and a verse of the rat song will be sung...

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Concerning truth in labelling

While I was in Italy I kept noticing a phrase that repeated on the side of the bottles of Italian Mineral Water. "So-and-so's Mineral Water has a diuretic effect. Also it aids in the dilution and elimination of Uric Acid," it would say, sometimes in Italian and English, sometimes just in Italian, the phrasing changing slightly from bottle to bottle, each time as if it was promising some kind of miracle cure unique to that brand of mineral water.

I'd comment on it to Italians, every time I saw it, puzzled and delighted. "But surely, if you translate that out of impressive-phrase-on-the-side-of-the-bottle-language it means if you drink this water you will pee?" I said.

And they agreed that it did in fact mean that, and said that the Italians liked the fact it seemed to be conferring medical benefits and possible weight loss.

I think that they should go further, and put a note on the side of bottles of Italian mineral water indicating the failure to ingest such water, from those bottles or in any related form, will undoubtedly result in dehydration and inevitable death. I bet they'd clean up.

In the City, in the Rain (Again).

In Paris on a wet Sunday afternoon. My editor, Anne Michel, took me out for lunch and then to the Matrix Reloaded, which I thought was mostly terrific. (Also thought it made the first film better: there were a couple of things that had puzzled me when I read the script for the first film that I figured would make sense when I saw the film, and still didn't, that now do.) (Which reminds me -- I should go to the basement and find the original script they sent me, with the cover letter and storyboards, and a copy of GOLIATH, the story I wrote, sign them and give them to the CBLDF to auction.)

Hi, Neil (if this message ever gets to you)... my name is Kristi and I'm a nineteen-year-old fan/fictionalist/clever girl/college dropout (due to lack of funds). My question is... not having a place to go to college next year, and with my main and totally unmarketable selling point being the ability to write, I find myself totally without a place to land. Nebulous thoughts of moving to New York and working in film (which is what I do right now) drift through my head, but I fear I'm about to get stuck in a lifetime of not being able to do what I really want. I love comic books, poetry, intelligent fantasy, theater, and film--- all of which are terrible fields to break into! Any advice you could offer would be so much welcome. Thank you so much.

I can't think of much worse than spending a lifetime doing something that isn't what you want to do.

I don't know that I'm really qualified to give advice. But I wasn't much older than you when I started writing fiction and not selling it to anyone. So I decided to be a journalist, and learn how the world and publishing worked, and meet everyone I wanted to meet, and feed myself and pay my rent, and, pretty quickly, that was what I was doing. Seeing there was a shopping list of other things I wanted to do, when I was done with journalism I carried on writing and am still slowly working my way down the list.

And they may be terribly hard fields to break into (except for poetry, which is easy to break into, and nearly impossible to make enough to buy a meagre dinner once a year with) but they are enormously fun ones, and talent and enthusiasm will take you a very long way. Sometimes the easiest way to do something is to do it.

(Well, that's easy for you to say, says someone cynically reading this, you're Neil Gaiman. As if I didn't start from every bit as nowhere as anyone else does. That's how you start. My philosophy starting out was that you learn how to do it by doing it and making mistakes -- and publishing them -- and carrying on. So far it seems to have worked, as much, perhaps, by accident as design.)

Was just wondering, when someone leaves a comment on your feed in Livejournal, do you get it?

Not as such, no. The Livejournal feed is simply a feed -- it picks up the journal entries from here and distributes them. So if you reply or comment it doesn't come to me, it just sort of sits there, attached to the post for people to read. Having said that, I've been keeping half an eye on the officialgaiman feed for the last few weeks, to make sure that it's still working (because the earlier livejournal versions sporadically didn't) and to make sure that I've remembered to put a title up (as when I forget, I've learned, the posts don't happen) so I've been seeing some of the comments. There's no guarantee I'll see any particular comment on any entry, though, and as I'm learning to trust the posting and getting the hang of remembering titles I'm checking it less and less.


Forgot to mention that Coraline is apparently on the Italian bestseller lists, and is currently nominated for the Mythopoeic Award. There.

Ways to Tell if You've Been On The Road Too Long.

You know you've been on the road too long when the idea of going into a posh hotel restaurant and having a posh hotel dinner provokes an almost physical reaction, and instead you go up to the sort of Mall-galleria thing in this converted Fiat factory and eat vegetable-fried-rice and vegetables in a little mall food court Italian-Chinese place.

Did a talk in the Turin bookfair yesterday and it was fun, except that no-one except me had expected that everyone there would have something they would want signed, and so when the talk finished there wasn't any plan for signing, so I found myself signing things being pushed at me by several hundred people who just sort of stormed the front area, so I scrawled as best I could, then went into the hall outside and finished signing for everyone who had followed. Then I met my Mondadori adult fiction editor, Eduardo, and did interviews for hours, and then I didn't go to a party and went up to the mall and ate some rice and went to bed instead. In week one or week two I would undoubtedly have gone to the party. Now I'm entering week four...

Fly to Paris in two hours. And the next flight I shall take will bring me home.

I know that there is more to Turin than a huge converted Fiat factory containing a book fair, a hotel, and a mall with a food court. But I will have to come back if I want to find out what that is.


Was delighted to see that my old friend Dave Carson has a website -- If you've ever wondered what H.P. Lovecraftian things really look like -- I mean, really look like -- you should go and inspect Dave's art. I bought a picture called THE KISS from him in 1986, a perfectly stippled pen-and-ink drawing showing two things, neither of them entirely human, one male, one female, both in perfect evening dress, with their faces melting into each other, which my wife, seventeen years later, will still not allow to be hung anywhere in the house where she might have to see it, so it is only ever hung on walls she never looks at...

Saturday, May 17, 2003

It's a very nice hotel room. But still...

Dear Mr Neil,

I'm not sure if this will be a horrible waste of your valuable time, but i thought, judging by the other websites you have posted in your journal, that you might find this one amusing:

it seems entirely pointless.

I was trying to find a site telling me how to roll a coin along my knuckles. American Gods got me hooked on coin tricks.


That is possibly the most compelling pointless site I've ever encountered. It's quite wonderful, and very odd. Thanks for pointing it out.


Several e-mails in from journalists this morning asking me to comment on the British List of One Hundred Best-Loved Books Actually Read By Human Beings Who Read For Pleasure (full info at,6109,957852,00.html) because Good Omens made the list. (One question to me began "As the author of Terry Pratchett's Good Omens, would you say..." which manages to be blithely offensive to both of us, on several different levels). 140,000 people voted, and the final list looks like a list of books people take down from their shelves for pleasure, to read and to re-read.

It's not the bookshelf in the front room that you keep to impress the neighbours, it's the shelf in the bedroom with books that you look forward to reading again when you need the company of an old friend. I'm glad to be part of it.

Talking about which...

>(Whereas Polish and Portuguese I would, especially when tired, start hearing as English, in "Mayor Snorkum will lap a pie chain" fashion.)<

I believe you are speaking in EricFrankRussellese!
A very easy thing to do. Fun is listening to someone speaking perfectly good English, but their accent is so thick you STILL can't understand it!
Hope you are having fun.

JT (Hitmouse)

and indeed I was. "Mayor Snorkum" (and the title of the entry, for those with RSS feeds, and yes, Mike, I'll find out about putting up the titles on the blogger) were quotes-from-memory from one of my best-loved books, Eric Frank Russell's NEXT OF KIN, aka Plus X and aka The Space Willies, although I think that the latter two versions may be shorter than "Next of Kin". It's almost definitely out of print. It will make you laugh, and discover your inner Eustace. (The disclaimer at the front of the book, if your edition has it, is worth the price of the book.)

Okay. I checked. It's in print. Alan Dean Foster's review calls it the funniest SF book ever written, and says that it was inspired by an actual incident in a Turkish POW camp. Which must be the "Road to En-Dor" incident of Jones and Hall, which Penn Jillette and I have wanted to make into a movie for many years. What a small world.

Next of Kin. What for will the cake be laid by Snorkum?


Am starting to feel ever-so-slightly battered and a bit fragile. On the road too long, I think. Looking forward to getting home next week and resting for a few days, and not waking up in a different hotel room each day.

Friday, May 16, 2003

In Which Our Peripatetic Author Takes A Moment to Ponder Hypothetical Postcards

I have left Bologna ("Famous," I was told, "for its wonderful food, its friendly women and its towers,") and I have come to Torino -- Turin -- ("Famous for being an automotive and industrial centre, and also for black magic, and dark witchcraft." "Torino," I was also informed, in one particularly felicitous phrase, "is where you go to have your fortune guessed.") (That's like Detroit, but with a New Orleans reputation, for our American readers, or like Birmingham with a Highgate Cemetery reputation, for our English correspondents.)

On the streets of Bologna they sold postcards showing 50 foot high friendly Sophia Loren lookalikes gazing down, in a sultry fashion, at the two towers of Bologna and, beneath them, some enormous bowls of tortelloni. I wonder if they will sell postcards in Torino showing black magicians guessing people's fortunes in an abandoned Fiat factory.

My hotel is, delightfully enough, situated in an abandoned Fiat factory, and is very pleasant. I'll miss Bologna.


I got to talk to about thirty or forty kids this morning, from about age ten to their mid teens, about Coraline. When they were initially hesitant to ask questions, I told them about the (adult) Danish journalists who, more or less to a man (or woman) were extremely scared and disturbed by Coraline, and were very doubtful that it should be allowed into the hands of children (and who very obviously did not believe me when I told them that kids simply do not seem to be scared by Coraline). I asked if any of them found the book scary.

That got hands going up. They said things like "It was really funny," and "You can't be scared reading it because Coraline isn't scared, and she is okay," and even "When I was given it to read, I was told it would be horror, but it was not horror. It was very reassuring."

I wished that the Danish journalists could have been there.

Remembering the Concerned Mothers of America

I was delighted to see that the American Family Association have decided to attack the Pittsburgh Comic Convention: Local Make-A-Wish Foundation bombarded with e-mails over fund-raiser. Personally, I date the success of Sandman to the letter from the American Family Association's "Concerned Mothers of America" which informed us that they had officially started to boycott Sandman. (We ran it in the lettercolumn at the time.) That was the point at which sales began to go up, and they've never stopped. Based on that, I tend to see an American Family Association attack as a particularly good omen. I'm sure next year's Pittsburgh con will be huge, and make a lot more money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

That is night-gab. How can he starch a tepid mouse?

Let's see... if you're in North Carolina and want to come and see me talk in October I'm speaking at (link courtesy of the Dreaming). It does look like the tickets are going fast, so if you want to see me or John Grisham or Joyce Carol Oates or any of the other authors who will be speaking (but not the Lovely Bones lady as her tickets have already sold out) you should probably try and get tickets now.

Do you ever get tired of FAQ submissions that start off, "This isn't really an FAQ, but..."? Well, this isn't really an FAQ, but a hamburger. Okay it's not a hamburger, either. It's a follow-up/explanation of the superhero link you had in your journal a week or so ago:
I thought you'd find it interesting given how much ideas and stories intrigue you. ("Writers are liars.")


I think I'm mildly surprised that anyone believed it. I mean, I really liked it as a story, and was very happy to post it, but I didn't believe it, mostly because it was set in the Pantiles of Tubridge Wells. A superhero in Tunbridge Wells (or "Royal Tunbridge Wells" as Miss Spink and Miss Forcible insist on saying) would die of boredom before the Kryptonite or the supercriminals ever got to him. A superhero in London, sure. Manchester or Birmingham or Glasgow, probably. Brighton, possibly. Tunbridge Wells, never.

It's nice to have an explanation posted, but the mystery was better. Mysteries always are.

Hello! I'm an American, but I'll be in Goettingen, Germany for the summer. I was wondering if you had any tour/travel plans involving Germany, especially in August. I looked on the "Where's Neil" page, but couldn't find anything, and have no clue where to look on the Web in general. Also, with all this talk about translations, I was curious as to whether you spoke any language aside from English, whether fluently or not.


If I survive the current tour, I'll be doing a Norway/Sweden/Finland/Germany signing tour for Coraline at the beginning of October 2003.

Once, long ago, I spoke French. Still understand it enough mostly not to need interview questions translated, but it's never used and gets rusty. I can read German, and still retain a smattering of Latin and less than a smattering of classical Greek. If dropped in France or Germany for a while I suspect that my schoolboy language skills would return.

dearest neil,
my name is erin abbamondi, and i am a nice painter/writer/musician chick from south jersey.
i am writing you in regards to a project i have been assigned by my english teacher.
you see, i have been out of school for about a month and a half due to a liver infection and mono,
and seeing as the semester is coming to a close very soon
and this is my senior year of highschool,
i dont have the time needed to make up all of the work for each class.

she made a deal with me,
and told me she had a project she had wanted to test on my AP english class, but didnt think we'd take well to it.
she decided to assign it to me,
and the work i did for the project would be my second semester grade.

this is the project -

pick an author and read a minimum of five works by him/her.
research their life and construct a biography of yr own as background information to lead up to the heart of the assignment.

choose another author, compatible to the one above in some respects, and write a letter [ as the first author ] to the second author.

she said these were the makings of a partner project, and that she would have one student research just one another, and the other research another - each reading 5 works by their authors to get a grasp on their writing style.

since i'm working solo, she says i dont have to write back and forth between the two as was intended, but i could if i wanted extra credit.

i chose you as the author, because i've been reading you since i could read, courteousy of an uncle who read and showed me sandmans since i began to read myself.

i think that i'm also interested in the extra credit portion of the assignment,
and that's where my question lies [ and i apologize for the length/confusion of my ramblings.! ] -

if you could correspond with any author,
who would it be? why, also, if you'd like to tell.

if yr interested, i could send you the finished project at the close of the semester.

thanks so much for yr time and yr words.

quite sincerely,
erin of shmerin berry.

Let's see. My favourite living author to correspond with in the real world is probably Gene Wolfe, because he sends the best letters, and has the most perceptive points of view, or Jonathan Carroll, because he has amazing handwriting and sends cool postcards from Jonathan Carroll world, and occasionally sends me magical e-mails.

If we can count dead authors, I'd quite like to correspond with John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester -- the impromptu verse and occasional wine stains would make it interesting, to say the least. Or don marquis -- or better still, archy, don marquis's wonderful creation. (You should find and read the archy and mehitabel books.) archy was a writer, after all. I could correspond with archy forever...


Yesterday was a delight, although by this point on the tour I'm getting pretty tired: I saw Bologna, which is one of the world's cool places, and I was interviewed and then spoke to students and others in the university, in a building that combined both old and new, and then did a signing, and then a dinner with local writers and academics. The language thing is getting frustrating: languages I have failed to speak on this tour so far are Dutch, Portuguese, Catalan, Spanish, Polish, Danish and Italian. I wish I understood spoken Italian -- I can often pick the sense out of something written, as it's only a hop and a jump from Latin. But the language simply flows around me like a mellifluous river. (Whereas Polish and Portuguese I would, especially when tired, start hearing as English, in "Mayor Snorkum will lap a pie chain" fashion.) Today I talk to students in the Library Bourse, and then on to Torino.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Least Gratuituous use of the word Belgium in this journal.

Info for the French, Belgians, somewhat adventurous Dutch, at least two very adventurous Germans and possibly even some masochistically adventurous Poles: I just got a final final French schedule through.

The Tropisme in Belgium signing information is:

Tuesday 20 :

Morning in Lille
12h30- 14h : Signings at � Le Furet du nord � 15 place G�n�ral de Gaulle � 59800 LILLE (confirmed)
End of afternoon : Brussels
17h30 : Signings at bookstore �Tropisme�, Galerie de Princes 11, 1000 Bruxelles.


Also there's now only one Paris signing on Wednesday afternoon: 17 h30 � 19h30 : Bookstore Fnac Saint-Lazare � 109 rue Saint Lazare � 75009 Paris. Which should make Wednesday afternoon much more sane.

Why else would they play the accordion? he says.

Today I had planned to sleep in, as I can, but it didn't work as I'm too used to leaping up early to fly somewhere or be interviewed, so when I woke up this morning I rolled over in bed, picked up my computer and wrote the introduction I'd promised M.J. Simpson for the US edition of his biography of Douglas Adams. It was meant to be a bunch of goofy memories and it turned into a sort of elegy, and when I'd finished it I was happy.

I couldn't work out while writing it why I'd woken up with Douglas in my head, or the need to get the memories down on paper, although I was pleased I had, and I knew MJ Simpson's publisher would be relieved. And then I finished it and e-mailed it off to MJ Simpson. Perhaps it's just that it's almost exactly two years since Douglas died -- I just reread what I wrote on the American Gods journal at May 12th 2001: He was immensely kind and generous, with his time and his material, to a young journalist, over 15 years ago; and watching how he, and how Alan Moore (who I met around the same time), treated their fans and other people � graciously, kindly and generously � taught that young journalist an awful lot about how famous authors ought to behave. And how most of them don�t.

And it's still true.

One of the things I like about Bologna is that I'm typing this in a peaceful hotel room, in the centre of the town, listening to accordion music coming up from the street. Steve Brust maintains that accordion players are only in it for the big money, the fast cars and the women, but I think some of them are in it for the music as well.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Neil Bolognese

I am in Bologna, Italy, which is nothing at all like Copenhagen, Denmark. It's also not like Poland (although I think that Bologna and Krakow would like each other. They'd have lots to talk about. They'd share anecdotes about the hundreds of years of being inhabited by students, for a start).

I learned today that the university event I'm doing tomorrow -- a talk and some question and answer stuff -- is open to the public... It's at 16:45 on May 15th, Aula Absidale di Santa Lucia, Via de Chiari 25, Bologna.

And, from Fabio Bonetti: Due to the collaboration between the University of Bologna and Fucine Mute ONLUS (a non-profit cultural association from Trieste, Italy), the Neil Gaiman conference of May 15th will be broadcasted live for the web: the links for the audio streaming are available on the home pages of Fucine Mute Webmagazine ( and (click on the Coraline cover). The expected time is 4.45pm GMT+1. The on-demand audio and video versions will be available as soon as possible.

Very long day.

Wasn't going to post the next letter, because so many appeals for good causes have been coming in recently, but then I read the Chicago Tribune article and was fascinated by the problems of success in the web world -- it's the strange intersection between a hobby (which is something that you spend money on) and a business (which is something that makes money, or at least doesn't lose it) and I started wondering where websites like TV without pity, or like this one, fit into that. (This website,, exists because Harper Collins put it up originally as an experiment, although these days it exists as a sort of flagship; if they stopped doing it, it would have to become very commercial very quickly, or scale down, or stop. Not that anyone's thinking in those directions -- in fact I just got sent some info on the expanding of to incorporate the Wolves in the Walls. But the paradox of the web is that it costs money to do and to be read. Where does a fanzine become a free-sheet?)

Hi Neil

One of my favorite web sites (next to yours) is Television Without Pity where fabulous writers recap a set of network TV shows on a regular basis.

The site is funny, well-written, smart and extraordinarily useful for any TV buff. But they're in trouble:

click here for link
and I was wondering if you could mention them in your journal to get some additional clicks and maybe some folks to buy stuff in their online store. I know your readers are incredible about helping the little guy and these guys sure could use it!

It may not be your style but I thought I'd give it a shot!

Thanks and as always, thanks for the journal!
Maria Walters

Monday, May 12, 2003

Not a dream, not a hoax, not an imaginary story.

Just spoke to Charles Brownstein at the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund. Some fun stuff on the way. I talked to him about things to do with Black Tee shirts, and he has many ideas. I've agreed to come up with a new CBLDF mascot -- which will be designed and made into something people can buy by Todd McFarlane, which should be fun, and it's nice to see Todd getting active for the fund. Here's the current list of CBLDF ebay auctions which includes the last of my Xmas cards for 2001 (well, there are probably a few in the basement, but this is the last of the ones I gave to the CBLDF to auction). It's a pirate ghost story called the Dangerous Alphabet.

(I found the following sitting in the blogger drafts folder. It was meant to have been posted 6 weeks ago. Now there's nothing in drafts but the start of an essay on Jack Benny.)

Hiya Neil. I brought my son to see the stage production of The Day I swapped My dad for Two Goldfish in the Ark, Dublin, last week. It really was a most excellent presentation. I really wondered beforehand wether or not twenty-something actors could be believable as young children - and size aside - they pulled it off. The audio-visuals were perfectly tied in with the live action - but the sound was a tad ropey in places. The script writer introduced a few of his own elements in to the story and expanded upon a few of the plot lines- not to great effect though. We thoroughly enjoyed it, and Conor went again the next day with his classmates and enjoyed it even more the second time round.

Roddy Doyle, author of the Snapper etc., was sitting next to us and he seemed to really enjoy it too!
I clandestinely took a few photos to send to you to see what the set looked like, but can't figure out how to attatch them!

Cheers, big ears!

It sounds really fun -- thanks for the feedback. (I think it's going to be touring, which makes me very happy.)

My friend Mark informs me that there's a new season of
Jonathan Creek starting this weekend.

How do they do that? How do British shows just /stop/ for
years, and then start up again as if nothing had happened?

Probably they assume you don't forget they existed, just because they aren't on your TV at the moment. In the US, you're on TV or you're cancelled. In the UK, it doesn't exactly work like that. And when beloved shows return, it's an event.

When I moved to the US, I couldn't for the life of me figure out why it seemed like every TV show wanted to be on all the time, like soap operas -- 26 episodes a year and enough reruns to make sure that, with luck, and if you could avoid cancellation, you could occupy that slot on the TV Guide forever. It seemed like a formula for filling the viewing time up with rubbish or repeats. "Why don't they just get in, do something good, and then stop, when they've done it?" I thought.

And while my own small series with UK TV was, in many respects, incredibly frustrating, whenever I've been offered the chance to create a series for US TV, it's always rapidly become more frustrating, because what one is asked to come up with is so much bigger and more unwieldy, and so much harder to keep under the control of a single vision. I'm not saying it's impossible -- there are some remarkable people who have done it astonishingly well. I'm saying it's a lot easier to make six good episodes of something, and then, a year later, make another six good episodes of something, than it is to make something amazing week in and week out.

"I'm a peer!" Splash. "You're a very short pier, Neddie."

Yes folks, it's that time of the month again, the day you can set your watch by every 31 days - Brighton Pier Flagration Day!,3604,953927,00.html
You really have to ask at this point if there's anything left to burn; it's beginning to get ridiculous. Are the plinths spontaneously combusting? Should the Brighton City Council re-think patching it up with the customary oily rags and newspaper this time? Stay tuned!

- B. Bolander

Sigh. It seems such an odd thing to do, burn down Brighton Pier, either professionally or recreationally. Still, whenever it happens I'll mention it in this blog. As long as people keep telling me.

I said I'd mention IDLEWILD, a first novel by Nick Sagan. It's a first novel I was sent to read by my old friend editor Jennifer Hershey, who thought I'd enjoy it. And she was right. It's what I was reading for last 6 weeks -- and is, believe it or not, (given how long it took me to finish turning the pages,) that rare beast for a first novel, a genuine page turner. (It's just I've been -- and succeeded in being -- really strict on myself for reading time over the last few months). I finally got to finish it in Portugal. It was absolutely fun, like a rollercoaster ride of fusion fiction: starts out like Nine Princes in Amber meets the Matrix, and as it goes on it turns, all recombinant, into several something else agains. At the end I wasn't sure that it had all worked entirely as intended, but it was gripping and the kind of book you simply don't want to stop reading, and on reflection the things that frustrated me tended to be places where I wanted more, which is not a bad complaint to have about a first novel.

(It was also a book I was recommended a couple of times recently by people in Hollywood who knew my taste and who were looking at it for a movie.)

Neil, I sent my mom an "other mother's" day e-card from but it never got there. I sent one to myself to see if it was working and still haven't gotten it. Also, when you preview the card, it only shows what you would see of the text if you couldn't scroll down through the rest of it, so maybe that doesn't work even if the e-card arrives. I think i'm going to be alright, but my mom might never forgive me so I'd appreciate it if you posted this so my mom could see the misunderstanding. thanks


Dear Frank's Mum

please can you let Frank off not having sent you a Mother's Day card. He did really, only it's still wending its way through cyberspace, on a particularly long wend. Do not blame Frank. Forgive him. He tried his best.



There. How's that? (I let Victoria, the mousecircus webmistress know, and got an e-mail back saying

Thanks so much, Neil. We're actually in the process of looking into this problem - my designer and the hosting agency are investigating the problem and I'll get back to you asap.

I do apologise for the glitch but we are onto it!



so it sounds like it's getting fixed.)

Dear Neil, When is Sandman: Endless Nights coming out? I've been waiting forever it seems like & I am always patiently awaiting your next work but sandman holds a special place in my heart :)

September. Come hell or high water. (I have to write the introduction to it this week. It'll be odd, writing my own introduction. Maybe I'll write a contradiction instead. It worked for A. A. Milne.) We're just waiting for the last two pages from Glenn Fabry, the last three from Bill Sienkiewicz...

And in answer to the pocket watch battery question....

Hello Mr. Gaiman.
I've very much enjoyed reading your writing over the years. It's been very inspiring.
I really didn't ever see the need to write to the FAQ before (seeing as how I'm sure you've been asked EVERYTHING at one time or another and the answers are on here somewhere).
However, I did see that someone wrote a question about the Sandman 10th anniversary fob watch. I happen to have one (and I love it). Mine didn't come with instructions either. I took it to a watch shop and they popped the back off and put in a battery. It's like any other standard pocket watch, they told me. I hope this helps answer that question a bit.
Have a wonderful week.

More on Translations

Hi Neil!
Regarding translations, you wrote:
"The only edition of American Gods that I've not heard more or less
universal dissatisfaction with (at least, from anyone who's read it or
read both and mentioned it to me) was the Spanish translation, which I've
mentioned to NORMA."
I'm puzzled -does this mean the Spanish translation is generally well
considered? I ask, because it's pretty bad (I admit I've not read it
completely, but I've read the original and browsed the translation at
different points, as I always do with Spanish editions coz I'm not only a
fan but a translator myself), and people generally dislike it.
Usually there's so much of your work that gets lost in Spanish
translations, but American Gods seems to be the worst case (though it's true
it's a difficult one to translate) -I was not very satisfied with
Coraline either, but that might be just because I tried to convince the
publishers to give me the job and they blatantly ignored me, so I'm not 100%
objective here ;) (incidentally, I also tried to become interpreter for
you when you came to Barcelona, but was not possible *grumble* Had to
be content with just attending) :D

(And yay! to the people from the board too, it's true you got a nice
fuzzy group of fans there :))


oops. I took that stray *not* out and made a bit more sense of it. What I meant was that the Spanish translation of American Gods is the only one that everyone Spanish who spoke to me about it grumbled about (including all the journalists who came out to do interviews in Barcelona).

While a followup on the French Translation thing... (which almost makes me wish that this journal had a comments board, so you could talk amongst yourselves. Almost, but not quite, as the last thing I need is something else that has to be read):


To answer your french translator Patrick Marcel, I think that the
french translation of American Gods doesn�t work well because its french
isn�t always understandable (Mr Marcel, whose translations I like, can
find the first chapter of American Gods in french on the Diable Vauvert
website) and because its understanding of the original text is sometimes,
well, say, imperfect. I won�t make a list of the various things that
don�t work in the translation � it would be long and boring -, but I felt
really happy, reading it, not to have read you in french first, for I
probably would have thought American Gods was a fine story badly

I understand that translating is a very difficult thing (and have also
used to collect Rilke�s Duino�s Elegies translations, which made me
grin reading your blog this morning). I�d just like to be able to tell my
friends who can�t read you in english that they�ll love American Gods
if they read the book in french, but the fact is I�m not sure they will,
and so I end up telling them to either learn english or buy Neverwhere,
Good Omens or Sandman � Dream Hunters, which have good translations in

Sorry if I offended Mr Marcel, and I�m happy to learn that American
Gods has been nominated for french awards. Your book is excellent, and,
well, maybe I�m just being sort of a fundamentalist on the matter of
translations ? I�m going to try and make some friends read American Gods in
french, and will write you again to tell you if eventually I was wrong
about the translation. Honest, I won�t tell them I don�t like it
*before* !



PS : thank you for your answer about the french interviews. I�ll be
patient !

There... and I think that's the last word on translations. At least for now. Right. Back to work.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

The best-kept secret in Oslo

Hello! You know you rock in so many different ways, right?

I never really saw myself writing you with any questions, but last night I dreamt of you (you came to a dinner party with me and my friends, and we all drank a lot and had some very interesting conversations, none of which I can remember, although I'm sure that Lucien has them written down somewhere). And, well, you seemed so approachable in my dream, and I decided it's probably OK to ask you where in Oslo the crypt/memorial hall/burial chamber is, that you mention in your FAQ. You see, I live there, and I can't for the life of me figure out where this place is.

I also wanted to thank you for writing good stuff about rats (which isn't the same as nice stuff, it doesn't have to be). People who own pet rats know that these critters can be very charming and loveable, and it is tiring to see them used as a stock horror prop, as they often are. But your rat characters are really good, and I wish that I could teach my four rat girls to sing the rat song from Coraline.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy Denmark. It's a lovely country. Try the hakkeb�ff with fried onions!

Yours, Annette Nordheim

Sure -- it's the Emmanuel Vigeland Museum and Mausoleum. Website's at -- as it says on the site: Emanuel Vigeland Museum at Slemdal is one of Oslo's best kept secrets. The museum's main attraction is a dark, barrel-vaulted room, completely covered with fresco paintings. The 800 sq.m. fresco Vita depicts human life from conception till death, in dramatic and often explicitly erotic scenes. Large groups of bronze figures reiterate the dedication to the mystery of procreation. Entering the museum is a unique experience. The impression of the dimly lit frescoes with multitudes of naked figures is reinforced by the unusual and overwhelming acoustics of the room.

All true, and the reproductions of the frescoes on the website do it a disservice. They are enormous and were made to be seen by candlelight in a strange whispery hall where minutes slip away into hours and it echoes of darkness and half-forgotten lust.

Patrick Marcel, who translated most of my books into French, writes to say,

I see in your blog a letter from a French reader about the "unspeakably bad"
translation of AMERICAN GODS. Well, I haven't actually read it, so I may be
going out on a limb, here, but I'd be astounded if it were bad. Michel Pagel
is a good multiple award-winning writer, with a strong style, he speaks and
reads English fluently and has both some good knowledge of mythology and an
access to your e-mail, so I doubt he missed much.

Plus the book is shortlisted for one or two awards in France; not too tawdry
for a book with an "unspeakably bad" translation.

The only debatable French translation of your books I know about (I can't
really comment on mine, but I rather think they are decent) is STARDUST. (I've heard various
reports about it, some readers finding it all right, some thinking it misses
the point many times. I have to check it out, one of these days.)

I realize not everybody can like everything, but I just wanted to mention
that letter seems to reflect a minority opinion.


On the whole the comments about the French American Gods have been very positive. (As patrick says, it's nominated for some awards.) And someone who doesn't like a translation doesn't always mean it's bad translation, just that it didn't work for them. (I used to collect translations of Rilke's Duino Elegies, trying to triangulate something that would have the same effect as the German. Some would have the grace of the original poems, some the feel of the language, some the form. No one translation ever had everything, or ever could have.) The only edition of American Gods that I've heard more or less universal dissatisfaction with (at least, from anyone who's read it or read both and mentioned it to me) was the Spanish translation, which I've mentioned to NORMA. Then again, it's a book with puns woven into the weft and the warp of it, along with a host of obscure historical, mythic and American things going on. I figure any translator who can make "Mr Wednesday" work, or pick a viable alternative, is already ahead of the game...


Dave Mckean just e-mailed me a picture of the Dark Queen from the Mirror-Mask film. Big grin. Huge, very tired, grin. Oh yes.