Monday, December 01, 2003

How many songs about hearses are there, anyway?

Scores of suggestions for what to do with tee shirts, but they're starting to fall into categories, so tomorrow I'll post a few from each of the kinds of suggestions that are coming in.

Dear Mr. Gaiman:

In the past I have wrote some questions to you that had not been answered and, admittidly, they were rather dumb questions, so I have actually come up with a moderately intelligent one, and here it goes. My professor for comic book scripting told me once that it is impossible to listen to music and write at the same time. This statement would have followed up with a debate but my class and I were way too tired, seeing as our class was an early one. But my opinion is that music actually helps me write. I find that certain songs and types of music help set the tone that I want for a story, like having the soundtrack before the finished product. I was wondering on how you feel about this subject, does music help you write? If so, what would be some songs off of the soundtrack to a few of your works? I know this is all a matter of opinion of what makes someone comfortable when they work, but "it is impossible to write while listening to something" just seems a little too harsh of a statement.
thank you for your time, can't wait for your new novel.

Drew McKay
learning writer

What an odd thing to tell people.

I�m sure it�s true for him, mind you, but deciding that it�s true for the rest of the world is a leap of faith I wouldn�t have made, much like deciding that everyone in the world needs to write using your lucky brand of pen or it won�t be any good.

In my experience people need different things to write. I like music. I more or less need music. Given the choice I want something with a faintly interesting beat, and I like songs with lyrics. The first time I ever realised that other people weren�t like me was in conversation with Clive Barker, about fifteen years ago, when he mentioned that he had to have music, but couldn�t have anything with words in.

I know writers who need music, and writers who need silence, and writers who don�t honestly care what�s going on.

I�ll use music to set the mood I want, and I�ll use music to make the place I�m writing pleasant enough to get me to stay there and write.

I used to write with the TV on, for company, in the small hours of the morning; I don't think I could get that to work any longer.

As for soundtracks for things, I can hardly do better than refer you to GMZoe's astonishingly useful index to this blog up to last April, particularly the section called Music.

Playing as I type this is Wreckless Eric's "Final Taxi". And that just finished, and went into Warren Zevon's "My Ride's Here"... which makes me suspect that my iPod's shuffle function is seriously getting into songs about hearses.

Mr. Gaiman,
As a on again off again fan of comics, I've very much enjoyed your 1602. Sure enough, it had brought me into a comic book store or two..or three..(wondering if they had the new issue in yet and so on). But I've come across a curious thing at one of the stores I've gone to. And that was they priced 1602 part one at around $8. They sheathed it in plastic and that was about it. Are backissues supposed to sell so high? (The other stores I've gone to only charged me the cover price on it so $8 seemed very questionable). Have I entered...*dramatic music* a shady store?*violin screech*

Nope. Just normal comic shop supply and demand. There are more people who want to read 1602 #1 than there are copies available, so copies get marked up.

It's something that happens less and less since graphic novels started collecting things people wanted to read. At the last-but-one San Deigo convention I went to a retailer told me that I was a fool to have allowed the Sandman stories to all be available in books, because he was certain that Sandman #1 would now be worth $500 if it wasn't. I couldn't figure out why he thought this would possibly be a good thing.

1602 should be collected into hardback form in June 2004.

Oh, you actually were on a plane... I thought at first it was another aviation metaphor for your novel in progress. Cheers.

Ah. Good point. Yes, that was a real plane incident.

The novel seems to have made it off the ground, although it has not yet reached the kind of cruising altitude where you can turn your personal electronics back on (except for cell phones, radios or portable televisions).

It's started to make me smile, and I like spending time with the characters, and feeling like I'm the first person ever to read this thing. It has an easy, conversational sort of style, and I'm learning things.

Having said that, I'm not yet through chapter one. You'll know when I am. I'll let off fireworks or something.

When were you born?

Er, tenth of November 1960. Above a little grocery shop in Portchester. At about 6:30 in the evening.

Dear Neil,

Recently I read the article on you in Newtype USA, and you mentioned a book by Roger Zelanzy, Tales of the Norsemen. I'm trying to find a Christmas gift for my boyfriend, and he loves mythology; the book would be perfect. But, I can't seem to find a copy anywhere. I was wondering if you could help me out by posting a link to find his and similar myth literature. I'm sure many of your fans would appreciate it as well.

I love your work and it was such a pleasure to attend your reading in Charlotte for the Novello festival. You're a huge inspiration to me and my brother (I want write novels, he wants to write comic books).

Thank you,

Jillian Summers

I've not read the interview, but it sounds like a couple of lines have run into each other. The Tales of the Norsemen I was talking about (the one I read as a boy) was by Roger Lancelyn Green. (The one I recommend these days is Kevin Crossley-Holland's lovely Pantheon/Penguin Book of Norse Myths.)

And the iPod shuffle just threw up Timbuk Three's "Standard White Jesus" which doesn't have a hearse in it, but does contain the line "everyone wants to be on a postage stamp, but nobody wants to die", which was quoted in Sandman 14, and every now and again someone writes in on the FAQ line asking where that line came from. So that's where.