Monday, September 22, 2003

Hi Ho the Glamorous Life...

New York is already starting to recede into a strange signing hand-aching braindead sort of blur.

I stayed at the Library Hotel -- having mentioned it on the journal I thought I'd try it -- and was disappointed. The concept of themed book-filled Dewey decimal-numbered rooms is a wonderful one, but I felt like they'd missed out on the whole hotel bit that goes with it. There was no food, for example. No room service. There's a restaurant attached to the hotel that you can order food from and go down and pick up, when it's open (which it isn't on, for example, Sundays) but nothing else, which meant I kept rediscovering how weird it is to stay in a room-service-less hotel, normally by being very hungry (during days like the last few, when food doesn't always get included in your daily schedule and you grab food wherever you can). It also had a patchwork of amazingly nice and helpful staff, along with some amazingly unhelpful or clueless ones who managed a couple of times to slide over into a sort of Basil Fawltyesque rudeness, astonishing Fred, the driver who DC had assigned to me to make sure I got to all the events on time.

On the other hand, the conceit is nice (and I hope the lawsuit is dismissed), they don't mind if you have your photo taken in their hotel (lots of hotels get very twitchy if you're being interviewed and there's a photographer there, and I had a day of interviews), and I ran into a bunch of nice readers-of-my-stuff-and-this-blog-down-from-Boston in the elevator , which was fun -- they were there because I'd mentioned it here, which is why I'm shaking my head and giving it a thumbs down in the journal at this point. I don't think I'd ever stay there again. It's not cheap, and for the money you're paying for a room there, you could get a room in, well, an actual hotel. New York's full of them, even if the rest of them are a bit further from the New York Public Library, and don't have books aplenty everywhere. (Would I have been more forgiving if my room had been something other than "New Media" and filled with books telling me how to survive the Coming Millennium Bug? Possibly. Might it be a lovely hotel if you're not an author on a crazed booksigning spree? Also possibly.)

(Remember: if you're in New York, go to the Public Library on 5th Avenue and 41st, go up to the third floor, and --this is not a joke -- follow the signs to the Men's Toilets. Just before you reach the toilets, you get to the Charles Addams original art exhibit, which changes several times a year, and is always wonderful.)

Sunday was fun in a smashed sort of way. (Saturday did the smashing: an hour of talking and reading to 500 people, followed by seven hours of signing. It was made easy because everyone was so nice, but I was punch-drunk by the end.) The highlights of Sunday included a signing in the middle of the street for a hundred or so wristbanded people, eating ice-cream with Shelly Bond, Scott Rowe-from Time-Warner, Danny Vozzo and his family (he met his wife, Stephanie, because she was a Sandman fan who went looking for his name in the New York phone book, long enough ago that they have a ten year old daughter...) and Fred the driver, and doing the talk in the evening with art spiegelman at the 92nd St Y.

After the talk at the Y art and I signed, and I was made happy to see how many of the people there had things by both of us. Then got a hasty something to eat, once it was done, and was in bed by about 1:00am. I got a very small amount of sleep before the alarm call and a 5:45 am pick up by a driver and on to the airport.

No-one at DC seemed quite certain why I had to leave New York so early, but there seemed a general consensus that it was important and Rich Johnson, the man who sells the DC graphic novels to the book trade, and who would be my host at this Barnes and Noble thingie in Ft Lauderdale, would explain why when I saw him at the airport. He stumbled, grey, morning-eyed and uncoffeed, up to the airport gate this morning. "Rich, why am I on this plane?" "No idea," he muttered. "I only discovered we were on the same plane a couple of days ago. I didn't book it."

So I slept on the plane. This was a good thing...

Oh well. The sea is pounding outside my bedroom window, and it bought me a little writing time, and one of my favourite characters in 1602 will meet a nasty end in a couple of minutes.

Barnes and Noble Fort Lauderdale signing tonight...


Several people asked if I was serious about Steve King at his best being as good a writer as anyone. As good as Shakespeare, or Rochester, or Tyndale? Probably not. As good as anyone on Bloom's list of "more worthy" writers. Absolutely.

(A helpful one for anyone who wants to read the Bloom comments and doesn't want to register:

Hi, Neil,

I hate having to register to use otherwise free services on the web. To save your faithful readers who feel likewise the indignity, here's an ID they're more than welcome to use to access the LATimes:

login: gaimanfans
password: gaimanfans



And I commented during the Equitable Centre talk -- during a question on why the idea of reading the future through entrails and innards cropped up in my fiction -- that I'd never understood how you could tell the future through Cheese, although I knew it was a real way of looking into the unknown.

And someone's replied to say:

My curiousity was piqued by your comment about Tiromancy (sometimes with a "y", though that would suggest a rather different Latin root), the telling of fortunes through cheese. According to Shaw's "Divining the Future: Prognostication from Astrology to Zoomancy" (1998), it was probably practiced by looking at the formation of mold spores on the surface of the cheese, much in the same way as divination through tea leaves. Other (less reputable) sources argue for attaching notes to pieces of cheese, then seeing which is the last to be eaten by a mouse (which seems more like sminthomancy, if such a thing exists), or which is the last to go moldy.
I'm sure you've got a flood of responses on this, but thought I'd throw in my two cents.

and GMZoe writes to say:

We have some people on the message board wondering how long the Sandman library editions (as opposed to the new editions) will still be available through bookstores. A few of them have invested in half a set so far, and want all their copies to match, but can't afford to buy the rest all in one go.

Well, as the books go out of print, and need to be reprinted, as they do every few months, the new covers will go on. Preludes and Nocturnes should be drifting into stores over the next few weeks. No-one's going to take the older editions off-sale. There are thousands of them out there, in bookstores and comics stores, and I expect it'll take several years until they're harder to find (much as the first run of Sandman books are now. And you still run into them on shelves from time to time).

I'm encouraging DC to do a Boxed Set of Sandman books as well. This is not something for people who already have the books, but something that just makes it easier for someone who wants to get them all, to get them all. Few and far, far and few, are the shops -- even online ones -- with all ten books on hand and for sale.