Sunday, May 11, 2003

Now with added Danegeld

There is something about enthusiastic human stupidity that fascinates me. It looks like every credit card company responsible for every credit card in my wallet immediately went "He's trying to buy a TV in Poland? This is an odd and anomalous thing to do. We will deny it and put a block on the card," ...except, of course, for the credit card department of my local bank. My local bank went, "He's using his bank card as a credit card for the very first time, and buying thousands of dollars of electrical goods in Warsaw? Well, it's about time he started using that card." I heard that they seemed rather disappointed to learn that it wasn't actually me buying computers and TVs all over Warsaw (I suppose they thought it was just the kind of unusual thing that I might be counted on to do), and tomorrow my wife has to go in to the bank and fill out forms promising it wasn't me buying all those TVs.

Got up, did another TV interview, was fed lunch (Polish mountain trout, yum) by my Polish publisher, determined that I should never go without lunch in Poland ever again (the 6ths song "In the City in the Rain" playing in my head as we ate, as it has several times during this trip so far, although this was the only time I've eaten outside in the rain, under a giant umbrella), then waved goodbye to my new extended Polish family of publishers and translators and several children (not mine, theirs) in Warsaw airport, and headed off on a plane to Copenhagen.

Now in hotel. Was taken out for sushi dinner by Danish publisher, and the salmon was extremely wonderful. Will post journal and then turn some more pages of 1602 notes into more pages for Andy Kubert, then long hot bath and sleep.

Sleep good.


Dear Neil,

I just wanted to take the opportunity to say what an amazing bunch of people you have as your fan base...and no, I'm not giving myself some sort of strange roundabout ego-boosting. I am a New Yorker, and this will be the 4th year that I have been a proud participant in AIDS Walk New York. After running it by the fabulous GMZoe to make sure it was ok, I posted a thread in the "World's End" forum telling people about it, giving them a link to my fundraising website, and asking rather shamelessly for donations. Not only did I have 4 posters donate (Thirith, Manxom Vroom, Mr. Clean, and Xine) but those who couldn't continually bumped the thread up so that people would continue to see it and be reminded of it. My goal is to raise $500, and I'm confident I can manage it in the next week before the walk, thanks in large part to your incredibly generous fans. I'm so grateful, not only for the donations, but for the fact that your writing led me to this amazing group of people. So...I suppose, thanks for being cool enough to inspire such a great group to form :) Take care, and enjoy the rest of Europe!

~Amy (TheatreGeek)

Which gave me a nice warm feeling, as I tend to forget about the message board area -- GMZoe keeps it running amazingly smoothly, as do the community of people who frequent it, and it generally just exists on my list of one less thing to worry about.

This is not an FAQ, but rather a hopeful message to the doubting FAQ writers. I've been reading this journal for about a year, and periodically (every couple months or so) I write in an FAQ. I think I've written about 5 and Neil has responded to 4. So even though you shouldn't make a habit of trusting writers (they do make a living by making things up) I'll vouch for him on this account, that he does read them, all of them, all the time. Thanks Neil.


Oh, they all get read, except for the ones that are obviously long short stories or short novels. The thing I try and stress is that the odds are against your question/message getting answered, just because of numbers. Somewhere between 30 and 100 FAQ messages come in every day. Some days I don't answer any of them, some days I'll answer at most two or three. If a dozen of you write in telling me or asking me about the same thing, it may not get up although I'll probably mention it or try and simply pick a representative one (or the first one).

Which reminds me, it looks like I'll stay on an extra day at NEW YORK IS BOOK COUNTRY and do a Sunday event with art speigelman and the Little Lit gang of some kind, which should make a lot of Sabbath-observing New York area Jews enormously happy. (My Little Lit story is drawn by the amazing Gahan Wilson, and is about some kids having a party in a graveyard.)


I went to Le Furet du Nord (the bookshop in Lille, France, where you'll come on May 20) yesterday, and started worrying people with questions about why they had so few of your books in english, why they had moved them from fantastic literature to general one last week, and whether they knew if there was going to be a better translation of American Gods one day, the Diable Vauvert one being so terribly bad. Well, I had no real answer, but one of the salesmen tried to tell me who you are and what you wrote, so : you're an American writer, you wrote a novel about September 11 but it's impossible to find it in France (nobody knows exactly why), you also wrote another novel, about your father ("there's something about fishes in the title") - the salesman looked worried, I guess he thought the book was a pretty sad one.

So it looks like you're not English after all, and some of your books are forbidden to french readers, and you swapped you father for two goldfish. Prepare for a very sympathizing welcome on May 20...

Take care,


PS : you told Carina from Danemark to whom you'll be giving interviews in her country... could you give the same information for France ? Thank you !

I'll try and give that information, but publishers usually only know who all the interviews are with a day or so before they happen (and even then a few get added at the last moment -- even Danish ones). You'll have to be patient.

Dear Neil,
First of all we would like to thank you for coming to Poland. It was nice to see you, listen to you and get the books signed. And even though you say you hold nothing against Warsaw, we are still terribly sorry and ashamed because of what happened to you here. Hopefully, your overall opinion on your stay in Poland will remain positive.
Anna & Michal

I loved Poland, and figure that in future I'll be much more careful travelling anywhere. There's undoubtedly some company out there that sells really really good wallet-passport-valuables concealers or protectors or whatever for serious trvallers, and as of now I no longer think things like that are a sign of someone who worries too much about things that aren't going to happen. I'll also start looking for effective laptop computer locks (I want to be able to leave a laptop in a hotel room without worrying too much about it being there when I come back. Up until now it always has been, but the wallet thing taught me that there is always a first time...)

To one "Neil":

How did you become such an Ubiquitous Author? It seems like everywhere I turn, there's a (pleasant) surprise: something relating to Neil Gaiman. The Matrix website with "Goliath", the special features on the Princess Mononoke DVD (which is still my only video proof of your existence), the White Wolf Vampire website with "15 Cards from a Painted Vampire Tarot", and many idle comments elsewhere.

Did that just happen at random? Or do you just keep in touch with so-and-so that you met at the Hugos, and someone else from the Nebulas, and so on? Sometimes I wonder if there's some kind of vast conspiracy where authors share readers by dedicating books to each other, and talking about how they're such good friends, and whatnot. I don't know... just curious how one becomes so well-connected with so many talented people and groups, namely all the stuff I end up reading.

Two random questions, as well: any chance that I can find your wonderful essay on cities that showed up (again, seemingly at random) in SimCity 2000? And (be honest), which do you think came first, the chicken or the egg?

~~ Greg, He-Who-Reads-In-Many-Places

P.S. (I'm voting for the chicken.)

I went poking around on the hard disk looking for the SimCity 2000 essay (if you click on a library, then click on 'RUMINATE" it comes up, by the way) and couldn't find it at all, although all that means is I gave it an odd filename too long ago.

As for becoming ubiquitous... it just sort of happened. ("I used to want to be ubiquitous, but now I'll settle for being all over the place," I wrote on some convention or book bio, a long time ago.) People ask me to do things, and normally if it sounds like fun I say sure, and do. (Or at least, I did... these days there are too many demands on my time for me to say yes to more than a fraction of the things that come over the pike.) But I still try and say yes to a few that just sound like fun.

And everything hatches out of the World Egg at the start of it all. Universes, dreams, stardust. Even chickens.

Hi, Neil.

I own one of the lovely little Sandman 10th Anniversary fobwatches, and the battery's run dead. I can't find an instruction sheet in the box for it and the email I sent to the dcdirect address listed at their website bounced.

How the hell do you replace the battery?

Sorry to bother you with this one, but I've had 3 jewellers decline to try and open it, and searching the net has also proved fruitless. Being the Horse in question, I reasoned your mouth was probably the most appropriate to approach.


No idea, but I forwarded your message to people at DC Comics, and when I get a reply I'll put it up here.

And finally -- have you ever wondered what the fastest computer in the world is? No, faster than that? Me too... here's a fascinating answer.