Friday, January 31, 2003
Mark Askwith sent me this news article, perhaps to demonstrate the thin line between comedy and tragedy. I pass it onto you in the same spirit. IOL : Man shot in drunken penis-size competition

dear mr. gaiman,
i have been a fan of your work for several years now & have read almost all of it. however, there is very little information about films based on your work. as an actress, writer, and someday director & producer, i want terribly to find out more. i know that plans for death: the high cost of living are in the works & that jim henson company owns neverwhere. i even read that you had opposed scripts involving sandman. i understand how busy you are & i am sure you receive tons of emails, but i know i am not the only person interested in this information. thank you for your time.

pepper reed

Good morning Pepper. Let's see... If you go to you'll find the Cindy Lynn Speer essay/interview on what's happening in the world of films. It's about 3 months out of date right now, and I expect that in another 3 months we'll update it.

When and if anything more solid happens, it'll be in the trades, and I'll announce it here as well.

If you want to be in something, well, keep your ear to the wall, be prepared to send out head shots and be prepared for disappointment. If you want to adapt or produce something filmic, then talk to my agents -- you'll find them listed in the FAQs at

And good luck.

Dear Mr. Gaiman:

It's been a looong time since your last visit to Spain (at least for us, your spanish fans!), and I will be really really sad if I can't say hello to you in person when you come here, in April. So I want to ask you to tell us at least wich city/ies are you going to visit, and which days, as soon as possible, in order to get my holydays those days.

By the way, do you know if Coraline is going to be published in Spain by the time you come?

Thank you very much. Really looking forward for your next stories.


I'm not quite sure of the dates yet -- it will be the end of April or early May and as soon as we have dates for the tour, then I'll put them up here. CORALINE will certainly be published in Spain by the time I get there.

Incidentally, the Spanish edition of American Gods has just been released, in a heavy, hardcover edition with a bison-headed god on the cover. (You can see it here at the Norma site.)

Thursday, January 30, 2003
Let's pick out a more or less random grab-bag of recent questions...

Who is Trevor, and why is he using power tools at your house?

Trevor is one third of the people in my assistant Lorraine's new band, Folk Underground. This is their website. He is using power tools because he knows how to use them to make shelves that stay up. I've never really got to grips with the whole putting up shelves thing. Not the kind that stay up, anyway.

This statement of yours: "by posting inappropriate literary musings about George and Saddam..." reeks of the decline of World citizens in declaring how they actually feel. This self-censorship may be a cause of the power structure getting their way so much instead of the rest of us getting what is best for us. So many of else have all these wonderful things to say but are hesitant to say them because we fear the consequences. Please don't start second guessing what you want to express; no matter how negative or un-patriotic (nonsense) some of what you want to say might feel. Right for your own sensibilities not someone elses.
erik b

Good lord. And there was me, thinking it was funny, and all the time it reeks of the decline etc.

Luckily, being English, I can be as rude about George Bush as I like and remain patriotic. Also, being English, I'm allowed to be as rude about Tony and Cherie Blair, the Queen, the railways, London Congestion Charges and Cilla Black as I like, and still be patriotic. Well, as long as I'm not actually patriotic, I can be as patriotic as I like. Um.

How can I contact him personally with letter correspondance or even e-mail?

It's all there in the FAQs, honest.

Hello again Neil. It's 'Colin' again, from Warwickshire, UK. Thanks for your prompt response to my previous question re. Neverwhere on DVD. Much appreciated!

However ... just a few days later ... I stumble across this on Yahoo Auctions:

Does this mean that the official DVD is already available, and is *all region* ... which would be a delight for us Brit/EuroFogs ... or would I be right in wondering if there was a copyright issue here?

Please accept my apologies if you are not the right person to ask ... but perhaps you may know who is.

Thanks ... Colin

They're bootlegs. I hear the quality is awful, and the "WRITTEN, ADAPTED and DIRECTED by NEIL GAIMAN" on the cover should be a dead giveaway, as I didn't "adapt" them -- and I certainly didn't Direct them. That was Dewi Humphries.

Lucy Anne over at The Dreaming has found the second part of the interview with Constantine, the director of the Sex, Lies and Superheroes documentary, at ("Groupies" indeed! They were very nice ladies recruited from the ranks of the people at the signing the night before who didn't get their stuff signed because the line was too long, and they all brought significant others along, just in case Constantine was not, in fact, as he had claimed, a legitimate filmmaker interviewing Neil Gaiman.) See -- Sunday 14th of July.

Neil -
Congratulations! I just read in Locus that you've won the Most Collectible Author of the Year award! I didn't even know such an award existed, but it certainly makes sens that it should go to you...
All the best,

I don't know what to say.

Overheard in the kitchen:

"Now, I think it's time for a new House Rule, Maddy."

"Okay. What?"

"Well, you know that game where you sneak up quietly behind Trevor, and then you jump out and scare him?"


"Well, you're not to do it when he's using power tools."

"Hmph. Who said?"

"Well, Trevor did, actually."


Lots of FAQs coming in about Mirror Mask, the Dave McKean film that he'll be making for Hensons. (Here's a news release or something about it.)

This is the film that we wrote last year, in early February, in the Henson family house in Hampstead, which was a little like being in 1979, as the house hadn't been changed in any way since Jim died.

And while it grew out of talks about Labyrinth, it's not a sequel in any way, shape or form. (I would have loved to have done a Labyrinth Sequel, but the rights are held by Hensons and Lucasfilms, and it became apparent that that wasn't going to happen. So we did something else instead.) (And it looks like I'll get my wish to do a Brian Froud film in another way entirely.)

Dave and I cowrote the script last year, but it's very much his vision and my dialogue. (And sometimes his dialogue.)

The current plan is that it's going to be straight-to-video/DVD unless Hensons decide to release it theatrically, which will depend on how the finished film looks. The budget is miniscule, and about 70% of the film will be made by Dave using the techniques he explored in The Week Before and Neon, where he creates worlds inside the computer that people move about in as though they are real.

It has sphinxes in it, and travelling books, and floating giants, also circuses, a door of keys, and a swamp that isn't there any more.


The new Balvenie Islay cask 17 year old is a really nice whisky.

I pretty much destroyed the house server-computer by trying to install a new firewall on it.

And I seem to have, briefly, I expect, trippled the traffic here by posting inappropriate literary musings about George and Saddam...

Tuesday, January 28, 2003
I know that at this time of international tension, it's completely inappropriate for me to see the headline on Excite news:Bush to Argue Saddam 'Is Not Disarming' and find an imaginary conversation going through my head along the lines of:

"But George, you were dancing with Saddam all night. You must think he is the most disarming man on the planet."

"I do not. That man is not disarming. I was only dancing with him to please papa."

"George Bush, I do declare that you have started to blush! Mary Lou said Saddam Hussein was the most charming man at the party."

"I am not blushing. He is not disarming, and he is not charming, and he, he's a terrible dancer. Now leave me alone, or I shall tell papa!"

Good night.

Long, long meeting today, figuring out things like the initial DVD release and a host of other things.

Someone helpfully sent me a link to this review of Henry Selick's script for Coraline.

Getting on a plane tomorrow.

This in from dozens of you, but GMZoe got there first...

McSweeney's have posted teasers for their next issue, including an excerpt from your story
(general teaser link):
(Gaiman teaser):

They will keep releasing taster extracts from the rest of the stories in the days to come on the McSweeneys site.

It was odd reading mine -- I'd not looked at it since I wrote it in some days of madness last year.

Hi Neil,
or Hi whoever updates the 'where's Neil' page,

In his journal Neil drops a hint about a visit to Holland in april. Please please please tell me more about where and when, 'cause 'elfcon holland' does not give any hits. I really would hate to miss this, and since I have to plan a vacation in april I want to make sure I don't end up being away someplace wonderfull instead of being nicely at home and able to go see Neil somewhere close to home.
So please tell me anything you already know. I understand that if it is just booksignings you won't know the where and when exactly, but if it also involves appearing at a convention of some kind, please tell me what it is!!

It's the Elf Fantasy Fair -- is the program, and I'm looking forward to meeting Phillip Pullman and Robin Hobb and catching up with Brian and Wendy Froud there.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,
(being German I'm hesitating to call you "Neil" without knowing you at all)
having read Coraline it somehow reminds me of the German children's book "Krabat" by Ottfried Preussler, a very famous book over here, based on an old, creepy tale from a part of old Germany which now is Poland.

Don't get me wrong: the setting is very different, the characters are different either, Coraline is definitely it's own story and no rip-off - but it's that kind of creepy house with creepy woman killing kids story - like "H�nsel und Gretel" - which reminded me of "Krabat".

The question: have you ever heard of that story? Is it available in English at all? Have you had any other stories in mind - besides the Grimm fairytale - when you wrote Coraline? Could you name them?

Best regards and thanks for the good work.

Wolfgang Walk

P.S.: Krabat has very special ravens inside, so you might want to read the story if you haven't heard of it before.

No, I'd never heard of it. Just did an Amazon lookup, which tells me that the title of the book in English is The Satanic Mill, and that, while it's out of print I can get a copy for only $388.00. The reviews make it look terrific, but I'm not sure about the price...

Let's see... lists dozens of sensibly-priced second-hand copies, along with, oddly enough, a link back to Amazon, where there is a page listing an in-print hardback edition, which I missed before.

And it's translated by Anthea Bell, who translated the Asterix books. Right. WIll report back...

Monday, January 27, 2003
So, a very small screening of the John Bolton film tonight at Sony. The sound was crystal clear, and did everything it was meant to do, which was an enormous relief to me -- it must have either been the hall speakers in Angouleme that were the problem or the projectionist not hitting the Dolby button or something. Also saw and approved a lot of the work done on the DVD release of the movie, including a sort of mini-documentary interview with me, a picture gallery of Bolton images, and biographies. The mini-documentary was fun, although I think I like me best without a beard: with a beard I look like, well, someone who isn't me.

John Bolton saw it, and approved, which was a relief. And people clapped at the end, bless them.

Slept for a long time. No longer evilly sick, just sort of gluey, as if dwarves had snuck in in the night and filled my lungs and nose and throat and head and chest and ears and mind with one of those thick sort of glues you'd get as a kid by mixing an epoxy and a resin, that never actually set.

I did the Phill Jupitus show on Radio 6 this morning, gluey voice and lungs and head and all. The BBC car dropped me off in the wrong BBC lobby and I sat there until the show's producer found me, having eventually called the car company to discover whether they'd picked me up, and exactly where they'd left me. She looked extremely relieved. So I was on for rather less time than they'd hoped...

Still, enjoyed doing the radio show: I've been doing radio shows hosted by Phill for almost a decade now: he's very good at making you forget that anyone's listening but him -- it's just a comfy space within which you sort of babble for a bit. Also, in my case, wheeze, cough, and make some interesting lung-bubbling noises.

The other thing I like about Phill is that he lets the guests pick music, so I asked for some Thea Gilmore.

Sunday, January 26, 2003
let's see...

No longer in Angouleme. Not quite as sick as I was -- it was just a bad cold, I think, but the kind of bad cold that people claim as a 24 hour flu, in order to take a day off work. Now sound hoarse and chesty, but more or less like me.

The hotel I'm in is very hmmm. I'd found it through the internet, and had wanted to send people over to look at it to see if it was the kind of hotel I'd want to stay at, which never happened. I'm not sure whether that would have done any good even if it had, as I'm sure that the room they would actually have been shown would have been not up in the lift to the top floor and then all the way down the corridor to the left and then down two long flights of stairs and through the maid's closet doors and up a few more stairs and into a very very very small room indeed, in which the promised bath is a shower.

Am too pooped and too English to complain.

Turns out the Newbery's don't announce their nominees. They announce the award-winner, and between one and several "honors" books, which are essentially runners-up. Details at

Saturday, January 25, 2003
In hotel room, sick and resting, and sounding a bit like Barry White.

I don't do sick and resting terribly well.

Discovered today that the fairy-haunted forest of Broceliande, which James Branch Cabell placed in Poictesme, is a real forest, in Brittany.

�That Cabell,� said Guy Delcourt, who told me, �He was very confused.�

And I found myself thinking about Terry Pratchett. Cabell, in one of his crankier essays, written shortly before his death in 1958, stated flatly that no author writes anything original after the age of 40: everything we have to say we write before then, and afterward we just iterate old themes with more skill. Or less skill.

And while I admire Cabell, for many things, that one has always bugged me....

Last summer I was sent a proof copy of Terry�s Night Watch, and because there�s always too much going on, and because I hate reading when anything feels even faintly like an obligation, it took me ages to actually get around to reading it. But I packed it for this trip and read it yesterday. It�s a Terry Pratchett novel, but one that�s moved up to the next level. I can understand why Michael Dirda, in his review of it, compared Terry to Chaucer for the sheer relentless humanity going on between the pages.

Will probably reread it within the next few weeks in order to examine the nuts and bolts of the thing.

It was an absolute pleasure to read, and it is, make no mistake, a real novel. It was written, I kept thinking, by the Terry Pratchett who made me buy Joseph Wambaugh books when we were touring America. Interestingly, it�s not a comic novel, and it�s not a satire: the humour, where it appears, is practically all in the craftsmanship of the writing and the human observation, not in the gags. It�s a really good, fairly dark book about what makes people do the right thing, what revolutions are, what cops do, all that sort of stuff. Death means something very final in Night Watch (and Death as a character, as a result, is barely in it, which is as it should be in this kind of book.)

And if in theme and characters it hearkens back to what Terry did in the previous twenty-whatever Discworld books, and what we did together in Good Omens, it�s still moved on. Between Maurice and Night Watch, it�s obvious that Terry�s discovered engines he did not previously use. It leaves me wondering where he's going to go next.

"That Cabell. He was very confused."

According to this article I got a mock Newbery award from the Milwaukee public library: JS Online: Children's list full of magic and the real ones -- nominees, I assume, not awards -- are getting announced on Monday.

Dear Neil:

Should unpublished writers starting out worry about copyrighting material before sending it out to publishers and agents? It takes so long and with so many short stories the cost can add up.

Kevin H. Ohannessian

No, of course you shouldn't.

Technically you own your copyright from the moment you make something. It's yours - go and look at the US Copyright office website FAQs. Having said that, you can't really sue anybody unless you register your copyright. Having said that, you don't have to register your copyright immediately on creating it -- within five years of publication seems to cover you. But when it's sold, or published, make sure it's registered if the publisher doesn't do it for you. (A magazine's copyright normally doesn't cover the individual stories.) (This is under US law -- if you're reading it somewhere else, google to check your local copyright laws. (For example is the UK copyright law FAQs.)

Still at Angouleme. Currently feeling pretty manky with the cold, so have taken myself to my hotel to rest for a little.

Looks like the French will go from famine to feast on Sandman stuff: Delcourt will be publishing all the trade paperbacks, while Norma have just published "Sandman: DREAM HUNTERS" in a french language edition.

Friday, January 24, 2003
Well, it was interesting seeing the film on the big screen. The soundtrack was really muddy, and slightly odd -- didn't sound like what we'd mixed the day before I left, and I must investigate when I get to London, -- and a few camera movements that looked fine on the small screen didn't on the big one. But by and large, it could have been worse.

Think I'm getting a cold. Grr.

"We deeply regret the consequences of BRMB's listener competition "The Coolest Seats in Town". It was never our intention to place anyone in jeopardy and we sincerely apologise to the participants and their families for their injuries and distress," said Paul Davies, the operations director at Capital.

"Over the past 30 years listeners to Capital radio stations have participated in and enjoyed many high profile station events including Europe's largest open air event, Party in the Park, without consequence.

"As responsible broadcasters we take the health and welfare of our listeners extremely seriously and adhere to stringent health and safety practices as testified by our exemplary track record to date.

"We acknowledge that, in this particular incident, mistakes were made. Following our own internal investigation we have worked alongside the health and safety executive and all the other relevant authorities, to put all the necessary steps in place to ensure that a situation like this cannot occur again," Mr Davies added.

if you read the article you discover this literally translates into English as "Asking people to sit on blocks of dry ice was an incredibly stupid thing to do and we won't do it again."

I wonder if the Plain English society still exists.


In Angouleme. Just did a presentation with Art Spiegelman, and he also showed me the dummy book for Little Lit #3 -- it looks an amazing book. Some lovely William Joyce, a surprisingly tender Lemony Snicket story (beautifully drawn by Richard Sala), and my bosom swelled with pride at the Gahan Wilson pages that I'd written.

Signed for two hours this morning. Sign again for two hours tomorrow morning. Tonight at 7.00 is the first screening of my film, and I have absolutely no idea what people will think.Or what it looks like at 35mm.

Thursday, January 23, 2003
Just to remind people in Angouleme...

I'm signing tomorrow (Friday) at the Albin Michel stand in the morning, probably about 10:30-12:30ish.

At 14:30 I'm in a discussion with Art Speigelman.

At 18:30 in the main hall should be a screening of "A SHORT FILM ABOUT JOHN BOLTON" -- this will be the first public screening, and the first time I'll have seen a finished print...

Then on saturday morning I'll sign with Dave McKean at the Delcourt stand -- I think it'll be around 10:30-12:30 again.

I am typing this on the train to Angouleme.

There was a long Neil-in-Paris blog that I would have written if I hadn�t settled down on the train and fallen asleep for two hours, convincing my editor, Anne Michelle, in the next seat reading a manuscript as I type this, that I am perfectly capable of falling asleep anywhere: she�s now watched me fall asleep in taxis, and even just sitting on a settee in a hotel lobby, and has decided that this is a charming and eccentric trait rather than a worrying symptom of encroaching narcolepsy. Really it�s just that I started my trip to France one night down on sleep, and have I think been trying to catch up ever since.

Let�s see... in no particular order...

It has stopped raining since I�ve been here, often for several hours at a time, but never at a point where I had a moment to go for a walk, so the only times I�ve actually gone for a walk I�ve had to towel my hair on my return.

There is a cliche of Parisians, in which all the men are intense unshaven intellectuals who gesture with their cigarettes while talking, and all the women are fragrant and belipsticked creatures who wear unfeasibly tight skirts, and I would like to put the lie to this right now. (Having said that, Paris could certain fill the European Community Gesticulatory Cigarettes And Unfeasibly Tight Skirt quota of several countries all on its own.)

I did a radio interview � we wandered through the labyrinthine bowels of Radio France, hunting for the studio. �You must put this into your journal,� said one of the three interviewers, intense and unshaven to a man, so I have. (Just before the interview, Jeremy from Ska films in London turned up with the 35 mm print of �John Bolton�, which we�ll screen at Angouleme.) Discovered that my French was good enough to understand the questions I was being asked, so the translator only had to translate my answers.

And then a day of interviews and signings � Virgin Megastore at lunchtime (Dylan, who does the Bite Me webcomic turned up and gave me a lovely Death drawing), � and I signed for even more people at Mille Pages in the evening (and ate several amazing French cheeses and drank wine when I was done). No catacombs in the end, which was fine by me, for I had not yet caught up on sleep, and had several phone calls to try and make. Thrilled and bemused to learn to that there are catacomb-dwellers who have taken Neverwhere as a prime text, and they have promised me a catacombian journey when I come back in May.

Back to the hotel, did phone calls, and was relieved to find that Robert Zemeckis liked the latest draft of The Fermata, and had suggestions for the next one. It�s a very odd process, writing and rewriting this script, and one I�m not bored of yet, as Bob�s suggestions slowly turn the erotic souffle I wrote at first into something rather darker and more substantial.

Today I met my editor at J�ai Lu, the paperback house, had my photos taken, met my french sub-agent for lunch, and then came to Angouleme.

And the train�s slowing down.

I keep thinking that it�s really cool that Angouleme and Poitiers gave their names to James Branch Cabell�s region of Poictesme, and then have to remind myself that all the places around here in Cabell�s world were created by a Virginia writer, frustrated by trying to be accurate in his depiction of historical Tunbridge Wells and determined to be perfectly imaginary from there on out, and that they don�t exist, outside of fiction space, so I can�t go and see them. No Mispec Moor, no Forest of Broceliande...

Wednesday, January 22, 2003
Here's a reading list from Locus of the best of the year:Locus Online: Guide to Best of 2002

I'll write an account of my day and my doings on the train to Angouleme, tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003
Spent the day being interviewed, except for lunch with one editor and dinner with another.

Lots of new questions in the interviews. And I didn't even mind when they asked the same questions that people always ask, because their accents were charming.

More interviews tomorrow, on a day that includes two signings and a visit to the catacombs...

Further to yesterday's post -- the one about Sandman in France, not the one about projectile vomiting dreamworms -- I hear rumours this morning that the whole of Sandman will indeed be coming into print in French.

I'll have more information at Angouleme, and will post it then. But good news for Sandman-deprived French comics readers, anyway.

Monday, January 20, 2003
Writing Sandman broke all my responses to nightmares. I mean, I know I'm meant to be troubled by them, they're nightmares after all, but for years I'd wake so thrilled by nightmares that they became more and more infrequent, and you could almost hear them grumbling backstage as I woke up -- "I dunno what's wrong, I'm losing it, I did the whole corpse-with-a-knife coming at him bit, and he starts screaming 'This is so cool, I can use this!' I'm gutted, it's just awful, I'm losing it." "Nah, you're great, Oswald, you're still the best, it's him."

So this is just to say that I had a nightmare and awoke going "wow, now that was amazing!": a strange and intricately plotted story, involving at one point, the projectile vomiting of an enormous number of worms, and towards the end, a murderous identity-swap with an alien demon.

And I thought I'd check e-mail before going back to sleep. So a hasty hello from a darkened French hotel room.

Normally when I get to a foreign country I try to keep going until the next night and let my body catch up, but that wasn't going to happen this time, so I slept for a couple of hours and then went for a walk to try and wake up. Got rained on. Then to Albin Michel, my publisher, where there was a small champagne reception thing with crisps and I was introduced to lots of terribly nice reps and publishers and people who I wasn't quite sure who they were -- journalists and people who administer literary prizes and so on. Then to dinner with publishers and my translator, Helene Collon, who was impressed, during a conversation about Slapp Happy, to learn that I could say Acnalbasac Noom. Lovely food, conversation, everything, and now back in my hotel. "You're in the same room that they put Nicholas Evans in," I was told. Am now faintly worried I'll wake in the night with the urge to write a redemptive novel about damaged people and their relationship with each other and the totemic animals that will make them whole.

Tomorrow: interviews all the way...


Hi Neil

I've wanted to write for a few weeks now, but keep putting it off. I have several questions and comments for you.

I am planning on attending your signing in Paris on Wednesday. Do you know of anything special that we should be aware of regarding the signing, like having to purchase something, or something like that? I am planning on buying the French version of Coraline that day.

I had originally planned on asking whether there would be a translated version published at the time that you would be coming. And then I happened to be in the small 'librarie' just below our apartment and I saw it there, which I find incredibly cool considering we live in a tiny village outside of Paris. And if you don't already know, the version that I saw, and since most books don't have hardcovers in France I imagine this is the regular French version, had the American cover with only two of the Dave McKean drawings, one of Coraline at the front and one of the mouse band at the back.

Having recently started to read Neverwhere in French, I also wanted to let you know that the French version does have both prologues. I haven't noticed other differences between it and the American version yet.

I have also been curious as to why Sandman isn't really available here. The French seem hugely into comics, especially good adult comics and you find them everywhere, which I find unique, especially since comics is more of niche in the States, but no Sandman. I have seen both Death minis and The Black Orchid series (which I didn't even know about till I saw it in French), but I have only every seen the first four episodes of Sandman. The first half of Preludes and Nocturnes was published here as Preludes, but that is the only Sandman thing that I have found. Are the rest published, or are there any plans to publish the rest of the series? I just always find it surprising to not see all of your works here, given the atmosphere there is for comics here.

One last thing (I think) and this is said a bit tongue in cheek, but it seems to me as if Tori has been following your ideas with her last several albums. Strange Little Girls could compare with your retelling of tales just as Snow, Glass, Apples and there is certainly a huge parallel between American Gods and Scarlet's Walk. In that vein, is Tori planning on doing a children's album for Tash as her next project?

Are you going to still be in France for Tori's concert on the 4th of February? Or are you going to catch her elsewhere in Europe?

Thanks for the stories. They have given me so much.


Let's see -- nothing special that I know of at the signing. Expect some kind of to-be-announced limit on how much you can get signed, and shops are always happier if you buy a copy of the book from them, but I've not been told about anything special like this: if in doubt, you could always phone Virgin or Mille Pages and ask.

I've never understood why Sandman wasn't published in France -- the explanation for years was because it had too many artists and the french public would not be able to read something that had different artists. It would offend their sensibilities, or something. That was also the reason given for why the original Books of Magic could never be published in France, while Black Orchid could be.

But a small publisher did bring out Death and one book of Sandman some years ago.

A quick check shows that The Last Temptation, Murder Mysteries and Harlequin Valentine all seem to be out in French editions; and I know that The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish is out in French, and that Mr Punch has just been sold to a French Publisher. So we're making a little headway.

I'll miss Tori in Europe, alas -- will aim to see her when she returns to the US, before I go back to Portugal/Holland/Spain/Italy/Poland/other places we're waiting for confirmation on/ for the European Mostly Coraline Tour in April.

In Paris now. Able to go online. Now bath, then nap.

In Amsterdam airport, en route to Paris.

Wrote the first 8 pages of 1602 part 4 on the plane, because I have a spare battery for my laptop. E-mailed it to editors, who will, I expect, be very relieved as Andy Kubert finished drawing Chapter 3 on Friday. (In the first 8 pages, soup has been drunk and someone has fallen off a bridge.)

Shaved off beard yesterday morning. Nobody -- wife, oldest daughter, assistant, -- noticed, except Maddy (smallest daughter), although when they were told they all said that they'd noticed something was different and maybe I'd lost weight.

Okay. Plane boarding. B'bye now. Next stop Paris.

Sunday, January 19, 2003,,482-546306,00.html is a fascinating article about the legal side of the whole Pete Townshend case... it's odd to realise that, according to this, in the UK, it's not a crime to own or look at physical photographs or books of real or computer-created child pornography, but it is a crime to look at those images on a computer, because,

"In 1999 ... the Court of Appeal ruled that to call up an image on a computer screen was more than having it: it was �making� it. So the action of touching a key on a PC keyboard might put the viewer in the same case as those who took the photograph or sold the images."

...and then I think, in the real, flesh and blood world, no-one ever comes up to me in the street and presses porn on me, or idly posts porn through my letterbox, or chucks hard-core porn in, unasked, with the groceries. It doesn't happen.

In computer-land, porn simply arrives, in e-mail, unwanted and unsolicited, by virtue of my having an e-mail address that's been harvested, and has to be filtered out, with a greater or lesser degree of success. It's somehow uncomforting to think that, the next time I click on an innocent-looking e-mail called "Re: I couldn't open your document" and discover it's a porn site touting for trade with images of dwarfs doing it with zebras, that, under the law, I made those images.

This article from The Guardian is a fascinating counterpoint to what I assume (without getting to read the UK papers) is UK tabloid baying-for-blood about the Townshend case.

Saturday, January 18, 2003
The first settlers arrived in 1865, aboard the Mimosa sailboat. They were escaping from the English penetration in their native country as well as from the attempt of the latter to impose their culture to them. They were looking for a virgin territory to be able to found the "New Wales" and follow their own rules and customs without being molested. Huge and virgin Patagonia was that promised land.... This way, Gaiman was born. Only 10 years later, it became the first district of the old Chubut Territory. A place full of history, undoubtedly. Not to mention a place full of inadvertent double-entendre.

Sorry about that: GMZoe sent me a link to an English Language site about Gaiman, the little Welsh town in Patagonia.

When I went there, I visited a tea-house where they have a Diana, Princess of Wales teacup and saucer in a little glass case, as a sort of a shrine: you could see the tea-stain in the bottom of the cup, where she'd left it.

Actually, thinking about it, my native guide, Andres Accorsi, a man who is scared of nothing (except vegetables -- see the April 2001 entries on this blog) took a bunch of photos of me standing against bus shelters in the town and so on. If I can find one I'll stick it up on the website.


Terry Gilliam talks about the Good Omens movie at Scifi Wire

Personally I don't really think the Good Omens movie is dead. I think of it as lying in a glass coffin with white lilies on its chest and with mournful dwarfs all around it, all of them waiting for a prince to ride up on a big white horse, carrying with him about sixty million dollars.

A friend told me that he found out from, that you were writing a story for the singer Tori Amos (whom i discovered through you... Thanks) that you are/were writing a story for her new album called "Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Louisville, Kentucky. " Has this been published? Im very interested in reading this!
Jessica in Tulsa.

It was published in the tourbook for the current Scarlet's Walk tour -- beautifully layed out and put together too; I was impressed when I saw one of the finished tourbooks. It's not anywhere else at this point that I know of -- I'll put it in the next short story collection (Working Title: These People Must Know Who We Are And Tell That We Were Here).

Friday, January 17, 2003
Just learned that Peter Tinniswood died last week. Tinniswood is someone who tends to be forgotten when people talk about great fantasy writers, but he wrote The Stirk of Stirk, a strange, wonderful, historical fantasy (about the noble Stirk of Stirk, his evil enemy, and an ancient, gay, Robin Hood). And the strange darkly wonderfulness of A Touch of Daniel. All of his books were funny, although often the humour hovered out past black, somewhere in the ultraviolet.

I interviewed him, as a young man, for Knave, and he was kind and intelligent and reserved, and very relieved when he realised I'd actually read his books. We talked about the opening lines of his first novel, A Touch of Daniel:

When Auntie Edna fell off the bus, she landed on her pate and remained unconscious for sixty-three days. At the end of this period she died, and they had a funeral.

At the party Uncle Mort, husband of the deceased, said:

"What I can't fathom out is why conductor didn't tell her they was only stopped at a zebra crossing."

and how he wrote them and had no idea who these people were, so kept writing to find out. (And to make sure that I'd get that quote right I went down to the library in the basement, and found that most of my Tinniswood paperbacks were signed by him, to me, "Thanks for being a super interviewer" he wrote in one, which means, looking back on it, probably that he was dreading the whole experience, and found it less horrid than he had feared.) is the Real Audio feed of a tribute programme to Tinniswood.

It looks like "A Short Film About John Bolton", the film I directed in November/December of last year, will get its first screening at Angouleme. "It would be on friday 24 around 18h30 and 19h00 right after the closing speech of this first day International conferences session," I am told -- and am very happy they've managed to fit it in. Jeremy from Ska films will pick the print up from BAFTA on Wednesday, take the train to Paris and hand it to me, because that's so much easier than couriering it, and means it will be my responsibility to carry it around from that moment on...

Had a long chat with Julia Bannon (the webmistress) tonight and she's going to be pushing Authors on the Web for permalinks and RSS feeds. I'd go into the blogger settings and do it myself, but the last time I went backstage to do something I got the FAQ blogger working, but also managed to make it black letters on a black background, and resolved to leave it to the people who set it all up in the future.

Have slowly come to the conclusion that the iPod isn't actually working properly -- I think the hard disk is actually damaged: computers keep losing it, telling me it's not working and they can't get to it, and transfers of files start well then die. I've tried everything else (full system restore, change computers, programs, firewires) and am now at the send it back and get it fixed or replaced stage.

Did a conference call with various entities at DC Comics this evening about ENDLESS NIGHTS -- suggested that they do a website with lots of cool material from the books on, along with Endless-themed screensavers, desktop themes and so on. If anyone has ideas for things you'd like to see DC put on such a website, send them in on the FAQ line and we'll send them along to DC.

Lucy Anne's put lots more links and such up at The Dreaming --- including the news that booksellers can nominate American Gods and Coraline for different categories in the Booksense Book of the Year, so if you work in a bookshop, then please vote for them, unless you didn't actually like them, in which case vote for something you liked better.

I was delighted to see the mention of a forthcoming Neverwhere DVD on the Journal. Will this be available in Region 2 (or Region 0) format to keep all us legion of European fans happy?

I don't know, but probably not. BBC worldwide still have the rights to Neverwhere in the UK. While they might release it on DVD if it's a commercial success in the US, I'd be surprised if they did, given how much attention they've paid to Neverwhere in the last six years since its launch. (Er, none, really.) I'd love to be proved wrong on this though.


Wrapping stuff up in preparation for going to France...

Woke up this morning having, I assume, popped a blood-vessel in my left eye while I slept: the white of the eye is the colour of blood, and I look quite scary. Wondering if I'll go to France with a beard or not -- I've had this one since November.

Okay. Back to writing 1602... on chapter 4 now. The big question is how many issues come after this. I'd originally thought of it as a 6 issue miniseries. At his point I'm just hoping I can finish the body of the story in 8 issues. (ME: What if the last issue's a double-sized one, like the first? JOE QUESADA: What if it's just two issues instead?)

For some reason, probably having to do with hustling votes, Dreamworks have started sending the DVDs of their movies they think might get writery accolades to the members of the Writers Guild, so this evening I watched "Catch Me if You Can", which had some lovely performances, was excellently crafted, and was the first Spielberg movie I've seen in many many years where I didn't find myself at any point urgently needing to kick the director. Well, except for the little girl in the window bit.

Hi Neil,

Just wanted to point out that CORALINE is listed four times on as a 'best of 2002', by gabe chouinard, Jeffrey Ford, Nalo Hopkinson, and Anne Sydenham.

Links to pieces on CORALINE below:,bestof2002-chouinard,3,bestof2002-ford,2,bestof2002-hopkinson,bestof2002-sydenham

Thought I'd share that with you. And also thought I'd apologize for practically elbowing you out of the way at the World Fantasy Convention so I could speak to Peter Crowther....

--gabe chouinard

Not to worry -- and Fantastic Metropolis is a wonderful place with fine sensibilities, so very glad to put up the links.

Thursday, January 16, 2003
Every few years strange messages come in from advertising agencies, enquiring about the possibility of asking for my services. Then it doesn't happen, normally because I explain that I don't actually wear Banana Republic clothes so wouldn't want to be photographed wearing them and pretending that I did, and things peter out, and I get quietly back to work. And the things I'd happily advertise because I use (1920s flexible-nibbed fountain pens) or aspire to (small Pacific islands with hidden temples and real volcanoes) just don't seem to be out there and advertising these days.

Tentative feelers have just started undulating on something that actually sounds fun and doesn't involve me getting a haircut. Bet it never comes to anything, though.

Right. Just thought you'd like to know.


Yes, I know there's a Monarch of the Glen TV series and don't mind at all. A TV series isn't an American Gods novella in Robert Silverberg's LEGENDS book.

Titles are pegs to hang things on, so you can tell them apart. The problems with CAPE WRATH as a title was that it was used by a recent novella, set in that area of Scotland, telling a horror story about viking hauntings and deaths. If I called my novella Cape Wrath it would simply add to the confusion in the world, and would make the other author rightfully grumpy.

Wheras "Monarch of the Glen" is, most famously, a rather unimpressive painting of a stag, done by Landseer in the 1850s, that became an incredibly popular print: books set in sad and shabby seaside hotels in the 1920s would always have a reproduction of "The Monarch of the Glen" on the wall.
No-one's going to confuse my story with the BBC series, and they're very different. So unless I come up with a better title before Monday it'll stay The Monarch of the Glen.

I hope I come up with a better title before Monday.

I hate titling things. I like it when things turn up in my head with titles attached. I never had to brood over a name for Stardust, because when it turned up, it was called Stardust. Coraline was called Coraline, and Anansi Boys, like it or not, is and always has been called Anansi Boys.

American Gods was a sort of placeholder name, as was Neverwhere, and in neither case did I come up with a better one.

The best title of anything of mine was probably Violent Cases, and that was Garry Kilworth at a Milford, pointing out that my original title for the story was crap, and that Violent Cases was there in the text ("Gangsters had tommy-guns, which they kept in violent cases...").

Currently reading, when I get a second, M. John Harrison's short story collection, THINGS THAT NEVER HAPPEN. Not only can he write like a demon, but he can title stories. Excellent China Mieville introduction, too. Now we can only hope that someone brings Mike's remarkable novel CLIMBERS back into print.

First of all, thank you for keeping up with this journal; I'm sure it is not a high priority for you, but those of us that share your wide variety of interests (I call myself a 'renaissance savant') like to know what tidbits you find and we really like to know more about the processes of writing you have to go through. So, again, thank you.

Second, although I may be getting myself into trouble asking this, I take it from the e-mail from Pamela Kipnes that 'Neverwhere' has not been released on DVD by the BBC. Um, well, I have bought a copy of it on DVD from a relatively nearby comic store, supposedly put out on BBC DVD; granted, I should have suspected from the quality that it was a bad copy, but I just thought these things happen and I still wanted to support anything you put out. How do I make sure you and your contemporaries at BBC and any others involved get the money they deserve and aren't? I would be happy to send a check.

Well, buy a copy of the real one when it comes out, and we'll say no more about it. It should have the documentary/interview "NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND" on it as well, courtesy of the CBLDF (who should make some money out of it, hurrah), and other fun stuff. I'm hoping that what's left of Crucial Films can find the original footage -- there are some lost scenes it would be very nice to put back in. Given my druthers I'd re-edit episode 1, for that matter, but that won't happen. I bet a commentary would be fun though.

Oh, and tell your local comic shop that they're selling bootleg merchandise, and tell them I asked them politely not to.

Basically, unless you've bought a PAL format UK two-tapes video, you've bought a pirate copy, as it's never been legitimately released in the US. I sometimes tend to think that having a copy of Neverwhere that's been through a dozen or so copies softens up the picture very nicely, and compensates for the BBC video look of the thing, but that's just me.


Not enough time to start reading Maddy "The Wee Free Men" before I leave for France, so this evening she read to me -- Daniel Pinkwater's wonderful "Author's Day". And she did all the voices. Also we watched an East German fairy tale film, THE DEVIL'S THREE GOLDEN HAIRS, which is the sort of film best watched with an 8 year old who laughs at slapstick and squinches her eyes shut if there's likely to be any kissing. I was amused by the East German idea of the ideological soundness of the fairy tale as film, from the point of view of where and when (late 70s) it was made. There are bad kings in the original Grimms' story, but they do not normally leave you questioning the fundamental existence of a monarchy.

"What's happening?" asked Maddy, toward the end. "Well," I said, "right now the proletariat are rising up and are about to triumph in their struggle against the bourgoisie," which she thought was pretty funny because they all fell over a lot while they did it.

I am a bad person. While I was in the UK Scott McCloud told me to go and read BITE ME: a webcomic for the distinguished vampire. and I did, and kept reading, despite horrendously slow download speeds, and meant to post something about it here and didn't. It's funny, and it grows on you.


I'm about to send the American Gods story off to Robert Silverberg. It's as second draft as it's going to get. Unless I change the title between posting this and sending the e-mail, it's called THE MONARCH OF THE GLEN, after the Landseer painting, but that's only because I didn't get in quick enough for CAPE WRATH...

Enormous thanks to Claire Laybourne, who lives in the area I've been writing about, and who reads this blog. She sent an FAQ line message offering help a few months ago, and I took her up on her offer -- she read the first draft of the story and told me that it was okay, and offered much information to make it more accurate, geographically.

Just lost the first post in ages... ah well. Let's see... I'd learned about, the Resonance FM radio station, from a Guardian article:One of the most interesting, and strangely charming shows on the station is Taking a Life for a Walk, on which musician Caroline Kraabel walks around the streets near her London home, pushing the pram containing her 18-month-old son Clement with one hand and holding a saxophone with the other. As she goes about her daily business - visiting the post office, taking Clement to the swings - she improvises with her environment on the sax, the resulting music being broadcast live from the mobile phone attached to her head. "We wanted to get a complicated satellite link-up that would have cost the same as a month's running of the station," says Baxter. "But in the end we had to make do with Caroline's Nokia."

And ran across an article in the Telegraph about a Doctor who has been summoned to a formal hearing over his refusal to put a 34-year-old male patient on the list for screening for cervical cancer.
As the article explains,He first wanted a cervical examination and was refused because he did not have a cervix. He then asked to be put on the list for regular screening.

Appropriate responses all seem to be from Life of Brian.

Finally finished reading Eva Ibbotsen's Journey to the River Sea to Maddy tonight. It's exciting enough, and educational, and has heart and narrative drive and is solidly plotted and had plenty of opportunities for doing voices and such, but it never quite caught fire for us, which is, I think, why it took so long to read.

When I get back from France I'll read her Terry Pratchett's next book for young readers, The Wee Free Men.


Yes, I'm pleased that the Supreme Court upheld the copyright extension stuff. It doesn't bother me personally whether my own work goes into the public domain 50 years or 70 after I die, but a world in which stuff went into the public domain in the USA 20 years before the rest of the world (which has a 70 year expiration) would have been deeply problematic for authors and their estates.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003
I just got sent the URL for a strangely familiar website.... only it's in French. It should be most educational for anyone wanting to try their french out. And fun for all the French Speakers among you.

Hi Neil!
First I would just like to say how cool you are for keeping an updated online journal. One of the hardest things is to be a fan of someone and have to wait and wait for word about what they are up to or when is their next project coming out so kudos to you! Now my question. I was wondering if you could absolutly confirm or deny whether you are going to be at the Pittsburgh Comicon in April. Their web site has you listed as the keynote speaker, but then I saw and ad for the comicon and you were not mentioned at all which perplexes me. And if you are going to be there, do you have any info yet? Their web site is not very informative. In fact your Bio on it says, His new book for kids, Coraline will be out this summer. I just want to know for sure before I schedule off work, pack a car full of 5 friends, drive 6 hours and book a hotel room. Thanks so much!


I'm afraid not. I'd hoped to go and deliver the keynote address, but then learned I'll be in the middle of a European tour during the Pittsburgh con, so had to cancel, with regret, when I found out I wouldn't be there (which was some months ago, and they were definitely informed, so I'm surprised if they're advertising me as being there).

I believe that that weekend in April I'll be in Holland at the Elfcon, and I think that immediately after that I'm in Poland, but all things are subject to change. Currently from mid-April to mid-May I'll be in pretty much every continental European country (and a couple of Eastern European countries) with the exception of Germany, as the German publishers didn't want me). Lots of Scandinavian countries want me to come by later in the year, and I will if I can.

I will be a Guest of the San Diego comic con this year. I believe I'm a featured attraction (or something) at New York is Book Country. There are a couple of talks/signings at libraries this year, and that's really all I've committed to.

Hey Neil -
Not a FAQ, really, but I just wanted to make sure you knew, "Coraline" made Bookslut's list for best speculative fiction. Congrats again on that and everything else!

Book of the year, at that. How unutterably fun.

I am a student at a community college, and I have been nominated to compete in a theater festival. I was hoping you could tell me how to go about getting approval to use dialogue from your work in my performance at the festival. I am competing for a scholarship.

Write a letter to my agent, Merrilee Heifetz (you'll find her address over on the FAQs) and tell her what you want to do, and explain that it's not for profit, and I'm sure she'll say yes.

My saying yes automatically to not-for-profit student films of my short stories has now ended, I'm afraid, since someone without proper permission adapted something of mine recently (on which the rights weren't even available) and has entered it in all manner of film festivals and so on, which is a mess that's going to have to be cleaned up, and which also gave Merrilee the ammunition she needed to say "Now will you stop being so nice to these people? Next time it could be even worse!" and for me to sigh and allow that she had a point.

And this final one didn't come in through the FAQ line -- but seeing people have been asking forever when Neverwhere's going to be out in the US (and several people have sent me links to the pirated DVD on ebay, which proclaims on the cover that I directed it, which is an easy way to tell that it's bootleggd merch, for I did no such thing):

Hello Mr. Gaiman,

My name is Pamela Kipnes and I am the Marketing Manager for A&E Home Video/New Video. Through our deal with the BBC, A&E Home Video will release Neverwhere on DVD in a 2 pack set in June 2003. We are all very excited about this project, and I was hoping that you might want to be involved. If you were interested, I'd love to hear your thoughts on potential DVD bonus features, plus any other marketing or promotional ideas you might have.

I'll look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Pamela Kipnes

So I've replied, and we're starting to talk...

Tuesday, January 14, 2003
There. Lifts head above the surface and blinks again, four thousand words later. The novella's done in first draft: 16,000 words of Shadow in Scotland. Now I just need to tidy some things, title it, check some odd historical details, and it'll be done.

Let's see: This link is to the Publisher's Weekly Off-the-Cuff Awards, a set of very informal bouquets and brickbats from Booksellers. Coraline was awarded Best Audiobook for kids by the Booksellers of America. Which is fun, seeing as we got the same honour from PW the week before. And it's me doing the reading, which makes me feel like I must have done something right. (Although I'm sure that Stephin's music and Dave McKean's pictures helped rather a lot.) (Thanks to Lucy Anne at the Dreaming for the link.)

Incidentally, I should add that The Dreaming ( is an amazing resource in its own right for stuff on me and on Sandman -- in some ways much better than this one. If you haven't poked around there, I highly recommend it.

Bob Morales, an old friend of mine and currently writing Marvel's The Truth sent me a link to this: -- a story about an industry that believes itself exempt from basic health and safety rules, in a fairly scary sort of way.


And to type that final 4000 words hooked up my old Northgate Omnikey Ultra keyboard. It's missing an F9 key, is 12 years old, has travelled in luggage and in the back of cars to a lot of places, I've typed many novels on it, and I keep expecting to retire it soon. Instead, I buy new keyboards, and rapidly find myself missing the feel of the Northgate -- it's a really nice sort of clicky spring and give under your fingers. You can program the keyboard if you want to, but I don't -- I just like the way it feels. And am faintly puzzled why, with most other peripherals having got so much better, there don't seem to be any keyboards around as pleasant to type on as the old Northgates. (Don't take my word for it. I just googled "Northgate keyboard" and got lots of articles by people saying the same thing, including a PC World article by someone who mentioned that someone was now doing a clone of the old Northgate Omnikey, although the keys don't feel quite as nice.

I'd feel like some kind of weird old fogey, going "well, in my day young feller-me-lad the keyboards were better" if only everything else wasn't better now. I don't want a 1990 monitor, or mouse, or printer, or computer, or gods-preserve-us tape drive.

Monday, January 13, 2003
Just got a nice e-mail from Robert Silverberg pointing out that I've used up the extra time past the deadline for the American Gods novella -- in his words, If you're still writing the thing, tie it off, put a tourniquet around any open veins it may have, and send it westward, because I've got to get going on preparing the final ms. I'm a couple of thousand words away from the end, which means that I'll not be posting here, or answering e-mail, or using the telephone until it's done. We'll see if I get any sleep for that matter. Much tea will be drunk, though. I can guarantee that.

Sunday, January 12, 2003
Someone looking for further Gaiman reading was concerned about "adult material", mainly sex and erotica in your stories... Well, America's fear of sex aside (I assume He/She was indeed American), I'd like to turn the question on it's head. Where are these themes strongest in your work and who else do you recommend, if any? The reason for asking is this: writing a sex scene should be a simple enough task, right? Well, it's not. I'm stuck with one in a story I'm writing. I'd like to read how big boys/girls do IT. Thanks, if you answer, thanks, if you don't. Coraline was absolutely delightful!

I don't think I write sex terribly well: I'm often concerned that it's too clinical, when I write it, and not passionate enough. Having said that, I was fairly pleased with the scene following chapter one of American Gods, with Balquis and her client, and Shadow's dream of Bast in the same book. There's a story called "Tastings" in Smoke and Mirrors which is one long sex scene and conversation, and there's a smattering of sex in several other stories in Smoke and Mirrors (the UK version also contains "Eaten", which is a treatment for a pornographic horror film in iambic pentameter, and "How Do You Think It Feels?", which has some sex in, neither of which are in the US edition).

There are some pretty good literary sex collections out there you might want to check out -- Susie Bright edits The Best American Erotica series, and Maxim Jakubowski edits the Mammoth Erotica series, and they find interesting authors and bits. My favourite writers of sex scenes are probably Alice Joanou and the late Kathy Acker (who would often take porn as a text to work into).

Hope this helps.

Saturday, January 11, 2003
The blogging ecosystem stats for this journal are at this cut-down ecosystem address.

You know, I thought I posted this when I was sent it last September. I probably didn't, because I'm now getting two or three messages a day from people asking if I've seen this site. But this was the first of them:

Entrances to Hell in England

You might enjoy this site: At least one of the entrances is designed for observation of the M25 motorway. Isn't that the one mentioned in _Good Omens_? I didn't see Crowley lounging anywhere nearby, but you never know.

Lynn Kendall

Let's see...

My daughter and the rest of her class have just discovered Coraline and can't wait to read another book of yours.They loved the story and it is all they talk about. They are all avid readers and love Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc as well. They are ages ten and eleven. Since they plan to read more can you tell me if there are any stories that would be inappropriate to this age group. Can we let her loose in a bookstore? We want avoid stories that would contain any mature material - mainly sex and erotica? Thanks.

Not sure if you mean stories of mine, or just generally. I mean, if I were just picking books for eleven year old girls who liked Coraline and Harry Potter, I'd load them up with Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett.

Of mine -- well Good Omens (written with Terry Pratchett) has a fairly oblique post-coital moment and some references to nipple-counting (it was something witchfinders did), but I can't think of anything an eleven year old would have a problem with. Neverwhere's an adventure and it doesn't have any sex or erotica in it. Stardust is a fairy tale, and it does have one sex scene, toward the beginning, but it's written in a way that means that unless you know what's happening, you wouldn't know what was happening. I'd read it and decide if you're comfortable with it or not. American Gods and Smoke and Mirrors are adults, or smart young adults, only.

In Comics I recommend the original BOOKS OF MAGIC graphic novel.

Beyond that... HarperCollins are bringing out Carla Jablonski's adaptation of THE BOOKS OF MAGIC as YA books starting next May.

I do plan to write another children's book, called The Graveyard Book, but by the time it comes out they'll probably be entering their teens.

Hi, Neil -

Just wanted to share a web site that talks about "this year's Puffies, for the most meaningless, empty book jacket blurbs". A dubious award for words of dubious merit.

Do writers get compensated for issuing blurbs, or is it all done for the sake of networking or being nice to a publisher?


Ah, now that one I did answer, and at length. Check out, the entry for April 16th.

Oliver Morton pulls me up, correctly, on my use of the phrase "curate's egg".

"Curate's Egg" comes from a Victorian Punch cartoon (see how educational this blogger is? As of several days ago, you know all about Punch, the Punch lunches, even the initials on the table of the Punch lunches).

Artist George DuMaurier drew a cartoon, entitled "True Humility" showing a nervous young curate eating an egg, at breakfast with a Bishop. The Bishop (who can smell the egg) observes that the curate's egg is bad, and the curate replies "Oh no, My Lord. I assure you! Parts of it are excellent!" But a bad egg is a bad egg. (I remember learning, with delight, as a kid, that you can tell if an egg is good or not by touching it with the tip of your tongue -- the tongue is sensitive enough that you can immediately find the warm spot that shows the existence of the little air-sac in the inner membrane at the big end of the egg, which, I learned from one of those "1000 Things A Boy Should Know!" books, isn't there if the egg has spoiled.)

As explained on Word Detective, DuMaurier's tag line, "Parts of it are excellent!", caught the popular ear at the turn of the century, and "a curate's egg" soon became a metaphor for a bad situation that someone persists in trying to salvage with misplaced or phony optimism. "A curate's egg" is still heard occasionally today, often incorrectly explained as meaning something that simply has both good and bad qualities. But that definition blunts the refreshing insight -- that Pollyannas are often ludicrous opportunists -- of George DuMaurier's classic cartoon.

Which is to say there's an underlying rottenness implied by "a Curate's Egg" that using it to mean, literally, "good in parts" doesn't get across.

Which means that the Neil Innes radio show isn't a curate's egg at all. Mea wossname.

Here's a bit of Mapping Mars, Oliver's book. Which is a very nice egg indeed.

Neil Innes was one of the songwriting and performing minds behind the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band, and the Ruttles, and he sang Brave Sir Robin in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and if you go to and click on "Innes Own World" you'll get a 28 minute long one man radio show that's a bit of a curate's egg: the surrealist sketches are missable, but the songs and the anecdotes are simply marvellous. (Do it soon. The show changes on Wednesdays.)

Discovered to my chagrin this evening that Alfred Austin, Victorian Poet Laureate, quite probably never wrote the poem on the illness of the Prince of Wales in 1871 that included the couplet,

Across the wires the electric message came,
He is no better, he is much the same.

Or if he did we have no record other than E.F. Benson stating that the lines are attributed to Austin, and they "sound like him at his best". And what's really sad and funny at the same time is that, whether he wrote them or not, they're the only thing he might have written that anyone remembers or quotes at all, and they're only remembered for demonstrating how incredibly crap British Poet Laureates can be when they attempt to be topical.

Currently, in with the FAQ stuff, I'm now getting four or five requests a week from students who'd like to do interviews, exchange e-mail correspondence, send me lists of questions and so forth, for everything from high school reports to PhDs. I'm forwarding them to my assistant Lorraine, who is saying no on my behalf. I wish I had the time to do them, but I don't. Or I do, but it comes out of writing time, and I'd rather get the writing done. So most interviews and extra-curricular thingies aren't happening.

Friday, January 10, 2003
Over at the LA Times there's a marvellous short essay on writing by Ursula K. LeGuin,0,4754375.story?coll=cl%2Dbookreview.

As for "write what you know," I was regularly told this as a beginner. I think it's a very good rule and have always obeyed it. I write about imaginary countries, alien societies on other planets, dragons, wizards, the Napa Valley in 22002. I know these things. I know them better than anybody else possibly could, so it's my duty to testify about them. I got my knowledge of them, as I got whatever knowledge I have of the hearts and minds of human beings, through imagination working on observation. Like any other novelist. All this rule needs is a good definition of "know."

Exactly so.

And a fascinating FAQ:

Considering your answer to the "other mother" question yesterday, I'm assuming that you've never read the folktale "The Drum"? I was so certain you had, from Coraline! That folktale might have disturbed me the most as a child, out of all the stories in the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books, which I took delight in memorizing and taunting other children with. That story has, as punishment for the misbehaving of the two girls, the threat of getting stuck with a "new mother" with a club for a tail and glass eyes that glint in the firelight. Some things, I guess, are deliciously universal.

Coraline gave me the same sort of thrill, which I really have to thank you for.

I love this one. I love it because it means that Lucy Clifford's story "The New Mother" which was retold and found in the Neil Phillips Penguin Collection of English Folktales as "The Pear Drum" is continuing to live in the oral tradition.

Anyway, I've talked about Lucy Clifford and "The New Mother" a few times on this site, and in interviews (such as the Booklist one -- where I notice that pear drum is transcribed as pear drop). But I hadn't thought that story was still out there in popular currency, being told. Which is very cool.

could you please give me the URL you mentioned a couple of months ago for an author's journal/blog who writes about what it's like to be a writer? I have wracked my brain trying to recall her name, and trying to think of interesting and creative ways to search the archives of your journal all to no avail.

Probably the very wonderful Cait Keirnan's blog, the low red moon journal:

Hi Neil, On Jan 9th you answered a question about the faery market painting in Stardust. I always study that scene quite carefully when reading Stardust because there is so much wonderful detail to take in. Yet I couldn't remember spotting you in there and I was sure I'd have noticed you. So I've just pulled out my paperback (not DC) copy and it seems I was right - there is a very small amount of the left side of your body, little wider than your arm and that's all. It seems Titan Books cut you out! I wonder if they realised who the guy in the trenchcoat was when they lopped him off the page?

All the best,


It was an unfortunate error on DC's part for the hardback and first printing (the large size printing) of the book. They resized and recropped the four double-page spreads, and Charles's painting of me got cropped off. You can see more of me than an elbow in the original comic, and in the current normal-sized edition.


Spent today typing the second draft of the story. Also saw pencils of the first 18 pages of 1602 part 3, and was thrilled by them. I phoned Andy Kubert to tell him. "You know, either people will like this a lot," I told him, "Or they'll say things like 'Well, there was the Howard the Duck movie, and there was 1602'."


For those who care about such things, the final judgement in the case where I sued Todd McFarlane (and he, rather more unsuccessfully, sued me) came down. They rejected all of Todd's attorneys requests for a new trial. The judge enforced all of the jury's decisions, clarified a few things, and awarded me some attorneys fees. You can read about it, and read a PDF of the decision here.


I hate being in the final stages of a story. It's like trying to run programs on a computer with 100% CPU use. I'm left with just about enough native intelligence to walk, talk monosyllabically, and tie my shoelaces. I assume that I'm off figuring out the end of the story I'm writing, because the alternative, in terms of sudden-onset mental decay, is too dreadful to think about. Meanwhile I walk around aimlessly, cannot remember where I put things, or the names of the things that I can't remember where I put them. And I say "er..." a lot, and pick things up and look at them.

Typed more of the Legends story today.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Directed to the webmistress: any chance of inserting permalinks into the blog? I think there is a way to do it in Blogger--for example, Caitlin R Kiernan's blog has them. It would make it easier to point out interesting posts, if one didn't have to say, "Okay, go this URL and scroll down till you see this date. Oh, wait, it scrolled off the main page. You'll have to go digging in the archive then."

It's one of the things that's meant to be happening on the next iteration of the site, along with making it easier to find the FAQs and making it easier to find the FAQ blog. But I sent your message on to Julia-the-webmistress to remind her.

Hi, I just got the paperback DC illustrated edition of Stardust, and I'm looking (literally sitting in front of the computer staring at) the two page spread of the Faerie Market (it's on pages 20 & 21, if that helps). In the lower-left-hand corner there is a man wearing a trenchcoat and sunglasses. He has shaggy-ish black hair. He certainly doesn't look like he "belongs" in the scene; his dress is too modern. He appears to be perusing a bookshelf. Is this supposed to be you? He looks an awful lot like your pictures ... from a high school student looking for something interesting and quirky to put into her presentation on Sandman-in-particular, Neil-Gaiman-in-general

Oh. Yes, that's me. Charles Vess is in there as well, as is the young Richard Dadd.

how would i contact dave mckean?

I'd go via Allen Spiegel Fine Arts, if I were you. Info at

Allo, Mr. Gaiman.

So as to make this as short as possible:
You recently posted in your blog that you would be attending a signing in Paris on Wednesday the 21rst. I'm very excited about this and would love to attend-- just read Good Omens this week and cried all night at the end-- but I'm confused because the 21rst appears to be a Tuesday, not a Wednesday.

Could you please clarify which of these days it is?

Many thanks for the tears,
with love,

I checked the first e-mail they sent about the signings (still up at WHERE'S NEIL), and it's Wednesday the 22nd.

Is the "other mother" from Coraline something from folk lore or is it just something from the author's imagination?

Author's imagination.

Dear Neil,

On the subject of licensing of an Author's work, I happened across this today. I thought you might find it interesting. I have not read the book in question, but I suspect that giving away his work for free is either going to be a brilliant move or his downfall. Which do you think?


PS Am about to start a borrowed copy of "American Gods". Lack of funds precludes me buying my own right now. Horray for friends who can read!

I think it's a brilliant move by Cory Doctorow and by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, his editor. Cory does the wonderful, and Patrick's excellent blog is at (and is, in a lot of ways, the nearest thing out there to the feel and texture of the long lost Genie SFRA online community, or at least Patrick's bit of it). Cory has a wide online presence, boingboing exists at the centre of a lot of nexii (oh all right, nexuses), and getting the novel out in electronic form is fundamentally a promotional action, and a good one, for Cory as a novelist. It's a taster. People can read it, send it to each other, try it out. If they like it, word of mouth should spur sales of the paper copies. It's a story for the newspapers and the magazines and the online journals and the bloggers.

I'm as impressed with Patrick making it happen it as I am with Cory coming up with it. It's relatively easy to explain to your editor why you want to put your book up on the web in all formats as it's published, free. It's much harder, I suspect, as an editor, to explain to the publishing house you work for why they should allow the author to give away what he's given you the rights exclusively to sell.


Not so much a question here as a note of thanks. I'd been interested in Greek mythology as a child - Roger Lancelyn Green books being typically responsible - which tied in with an interest in history, especially Greek and Roman. My interest waxed and waned as time went by, and was close to being gone by my time in secondary school.

The 'August' issue of 'Sandman' changed that. It was the first issue I bought for whatever reason, and I went on to buy the whole series, and even a page from that issue from Bryan Talbot.

More relevantly here, it renewed my interest in the Greek and Roman world. I wound up studying Greek and Roman Civilization in Dublin, and did a master's in Ancient History there; I'm now doing a PhD on ancient warfare in Manchester.

My master's thesis was published by Routledge in February, and last week was reviewed, favourably, I'm told, in the TLS. The following passage was e-mailed to me from a lecturer in Dublin:

'Though it started life as a doctoral thesis, Cannae is much more than another addition to the depressing and ever growing genre of what we all know are theses roughly turned into books to further the career of the author. It has appeal for both general reader and specialist in Roman history. The former will find lucid narrative and analysis well informed by ancient and modern works, with judicious use of comparative material. For the specialist, it has two main hooks. It will fuel further debate on how ancient battles were understood by all levels of those involved, which raises fascinating methodological questions. It also provides the first extended scholarly study of the Carthaginian army since that of S. Gsell in 1928. As the evolution of this army is traced only up to the Hannibalic War, further work remains to be done.'

So, whatever happens, thanks are due in small part to you, for helping bring me back to the Ancient World, and as a separate issue, for introducing me to the works of G.K. Chesterton.

Thanks ever so much,
Greg Daly.

You're very welcome. And I think you just made my day.

Article in the Guardian on the digital dark age -- the way that the things we backed our data up onto are obsolete. (And I have drawers filled with old 5 and 1/2 inch disks, and tape-back-ups that I have nothing I could play them with to retrieve the information on them....)

There's a potential solution of course, over at New Scientist -- encoding information in bacteria.

The scientists took the words of the song It's a Small World and translated it into a code based on the four "letters" of DNA. They then created artificial DNA strands recording different parts of the song. These DNA messages, each about 150 bases long, were inserted into bacteria such as E. coli and Deinococcus radiodurans.

The latter is especially good at surviving extreme conditions, says Wong. It can tolerate high temperatures, desiccation, ultraviolet light and ionising radiation doses 1000 times higher than would be fatal to humans.

The beginning and end of each inserted message have special DNA tags devised by the scientists. These "sentinels" stop the bacteria from identifying the message as an invading a virus and destroying it, says Wong.

"The magic of the sentinel is that it protects the information, so that even after a hundred bacterial generations we were able to retrieve the exact message," says Wong. "Once the DNA message is in bacteria, it is protected and can survive." And as a millilitre of liquid can contain up to billion bacteria, the potential capacity of such a memory system is enormous.

I find the idea of people being infected by "It's a Small World After All" deeply disturbing.

But a world in which you could catch the complete works of Dickens, or Kipling's "The Gardener" or Dangerous Visions might be rather interesting. ("We've done all the tests, Mr Brown, and I'm afraid you seem to have a rather nasty case of Huckleberry Finn.")

Wednesday, January 08, 2003
Have now started typing the LEGENDS novella -- I've not quite finished it as a handwritten story yet, but I know enough about it to feel like I'd rather start typing the second draft now and put all the pieces in place for the end when I get there.

Am finding myself pleasantly surprised that so far, in the typing, that it's not the dull thing I was scared it was while I was writing it.


I really like your website, especially the way this technology allows you to engage in a non-overwhelming form of dialog with your fans.

I'm curious to know if you think that such a short feedback cycle affects your art in any major ways. I'm sure you have more artistic integrity than to, say, "screen test" your stories so that your audience is always happy with the ending, but do you think it affects you in more subtle ways?

Well, bear in mind that I come from comics, where a monthly letter page meant that, every month, I'd be sent a couple of hundred letters on Sandman. You had a short feedback cycle there, and it was very useful, but not, I'd wager, in the ways the people writing thought it was. (I was very happy that, by issue 6, we were getting a lot of letters reminding me that they wanted to meet Dream's brother, Death, for example.)

I'm not sure that there is a similar thing going on here, though. Mostly by the time I've done whatever it is, it's already too late.

In the book world, whatever it is that's coming out now was usually written years ago, and I long ago resigned myself to the fact that the next thing I'll write will be the next thing I want to write, and it doesn't really matter what people are waiting for. Readers mostly want more of the last thing they liked, anyway. I'd rather write something that nobody knows if they'll like yet or not, which may be perverse of me, but is how I'm built.

In comics (which is a medium that gets mistaken for a genre) my readers sort of understood that if they didn't like one thing I did, the next would be different, so it was probably worth sticking around. That's a harder lesson to teach people in books, who read one thing I write and assume that's what I do or that's all I do. But they'll figure it out eventually, or they won't, and it's not going to change what I write.

The knowledge that this journal has somehow attained a six-figure readership certainly affects what I'll write on the journal itself -- I'm a lot less likely to talk about other people than I was in the early days, when I probably knew personally half the people reading it. (I'm happy to put Maddy and Holly in as they lobbied loudly to be mentioned in the blog last week.) Which makes me feel more comfortable, as I don't have to worry that I'm putting anything someone considers personal out onto the web, although has the downside of occasionally making the whole site feel a bit like the end of The Wind in the Willows, when... soon as the door had closed behind him, Toad hurried to the writing-table. A fine idea had occurred to him while he was talking. He would write the invitations; and he would take care to mention the leading part he had taken in the fight, and how he had laid the Chief Weasel flat; and he would hint at his adventures, and what a career of triumph he had to tell about; and on the fly-leaf he would set out a sort of a programme of entertainment for the evening-- something like this, as he sketched it out in his head:--


(There will be other speeches by TOAD during the evening.)


SYNOPSIS--Our Prison System--the Waterways of Old England--Horse- dealing, and how to deal--Property, its rights and its duties-- Back to the Land--A Typical English Squire.

SONG . . . . BY TOAD.

(Composed by himself.)


will be sung in the course of the evening by the . . . COMPOSER.

If you see what I mean.

The bathroom reading book at present is A.A. Milne's Autobiography. It's a funny book, beautifully written -- I'm particularly enjoying the chapters on his days as a freelance humorous journalist, followed by his becoming deputy editor of Punch. He's just carved his initials into the table at the Punch offices, at which they have the Punch lunch.

I was invited to a Punch lunch, as a young journalist, and at the end of the lunch the editor showed me all the signatures and initials of the giants of humour (and Prince Charles) carved into the table-top. (An idle google just gave me a history of the Punch Lunch, and even a map of the table-top with a who's who of the initials. There is no Punch anymore, although a magazine of the same name was brought back for a few years (and it left the website I just linked to behind) and according to website the table "forms the centrepiece of the Punch Board Room on the first floor of Trevor House, the modern office block in which Punch is now based, opposite Harrods," although the last I heard the offices had closed down and the table was in storage...

Meandering sort of morning post there... anyway, to add to the A.A. Milne-ness of the morning, Bob Morales just sent me a link to this article in Fortune: - Magazine - The Curse of Pooh. It's the best summary of the Pooh vs. Disney legal case I've seen so far, and an interesting pen-portrait of some of the people involved.


This just in from my French editor -- my signings in France at the end of January:

Paris, Wednesday 1/21 :

13:00-14:30 Virgin Megastore 52 av. des Champs Elys�es 75008 Paris

19:00 Librairie Mille Pages 174 rue Fontenay 93400 Vincennes

Angoul�me, Friday 1/24

10:30-12:30 With Dave McKean at Albin Michel BD booth

Angoul�me, Saturday 1/25
?? With Dave McKean at Delcourt booth

David Goldfarb writes to let me know that the Sandman Annotations for 72, 73 and 74 are now up at Additions, suggestions, comments, observations and more accurate descriptions of cheeses can all be mailed to David, who will undoubtedly either welcome them or tell you what you can do with them. And may one day be cajoled into completing the annotations for Sandman 75, if he knows enough of you care.

Holly and Maddy and I went to see Wendy at Hair Police in Minneapolis. Holly got a foot of hair taken off (and saved, to be donated to something that uses hair only for good) and had what remained styled, and looks stunning; Maddy got green, blue and purple hair extensions, and looks both cute and outrageous; and I no longer look like a yeti.

Just heard that Todd Klein is going to be lettering 1602, which made me very happy indeed. It would be difficult to quantify how much of what made Sandman special was Todd going the extra mile on creating lettering styles for characters -- everything from Delirium's wiggly style to Dream's white-on-black, upper and lower case, wavy-bordered style added to character. But more than that, Todd is simply a consummate professional who made me look good for years, and I'm relieved he'll be doing it again. You don't notice good lettering, you notice bad lettering. Todd is someone who doesn't get noticed (except when they hand out the awards).

Tuesday, January 07, 2003
Back in June, I said, here, "Am currently, when I get a second to read, reading Pattern Recognition, the upcoming William Gibson novel. It's astonishingly good -- he's turned all his ability to extrapolate to the present, and creates a textured world which is completely imaginary while it's also perfectly true and exactly now. It's filled with moments of puzzled recognition, like browsing the Ebay of dreams. A pleasure to read, and if there's any justice in the world it'll take home its share of literary awards next year, and gain (and regain) Bill an awful lot of happy readers." And I meant it, too. Anyway, Bill Gibson has a website with a blog and everything on it.

It's interesting reading his first few posts, and it reminds me of when we started the first incarnation of this site, and the first days of this very journal -- it was very much a writer's monologue, and it was very focussed on American Gods.

That was before its slow devolution into shambolic post-it notes on the wall of my daily life. I hope he posts from his book tour. That's where it all begins to fray.

Many, many years ago, in one of the last pieces of journalism I did, I interviewed Bill Gibson for London's Time Out. In the interview that I'd handed in to my editor Bill had described himself, when young, as "a geek who couldn't play baseball". When that week's Time Out appeared it had been carefully copy-edited. Bill pointed it out to me, with laid-back glee, when we bumped into each other on the corner of Denmark Street. In print, it seemed, he was a Greek who couldn't play baseball...


A comment on your comments about the ebook lending and the PLR.

One of the few laws that the media companies (which by and large profit much more than the artists) have not managed to undermine in their quest for a pay-per-view world, at least in the US, is the right of first use.

This is the law that lets me purchase a book, video tape or DVD and lend it to my friends, or rent it out, or even sell it on to somebody else. In many countries (Japan for example) this is illegal. There are many cases in Japan where video game companies have sued used videogame stores in order to make them stop selling the games.

Now I'm a huge fan of yours, and a lifelong reader, regularly dumping large chunks of change on books/dvds/etc that I hope eventually works it's way up to the creative people behind the works, but disagree that authors/creators/etc should be compensated when a purchased copy of their works is sold or lent to others.

The creator of a work deserves compensation, but authors have lived for centuries without nickle-and-diming their readers into other hobbies.

Er, yes. You can go and find things I wrote in March (Tuesday, March 19, 2002) and April (Wednesday, April 10, 2002) pointing out that books don't have single end-user licenses and why I think that's a good thing.

I don't have a problem with you buying a copy (physical or electronic) of one of my books and then lending it to as many people as you wish. Or selling it. Or making a papier mache house with it. (I do have a problem with you copying it and selling the copies, or simply giving them away, without my permission.)

In the case of PLR, I think it's a sensible system. I don't see anyone being nickel and dimed -- the authors who receive their PLR checks are normally very pleased, they buy a dinner with it, or pay for heating. It's capped, so no-one's making a fortune out of it, and the vast majority of the authors are getting less than 500 pounds from PLR. Many of the authors in question are old, many of them are being compensated for books long out of print, the libraries are free, and the money doesn't come from funds that would be buying books. I can't see why this would be a bad thing. In the main, it simply fosters a general feeling of goodwill between authors and libraries.

I can't see it happening in America, though.