Wednesday, April 30, 2003

I could use this title line to write a poem, you know. But I'd have to compose it backwards.

Once I'd finished all my interviews for the day, I went up to my hotel room and did a long interview over the phone with a nice lady from Publisher's Weekly. "So, you're going to be signing copies of The Wolves in the Walls at Book Expo," she told me.

"I am?" I said. "Will they be real copies or just tasters?" And she thought it was funny that I didn't know, and I found it rather funny too, and we went on to do an enjoyable interview. So it looks like there will be advance copies of Wolves in the Walls at Book Expo America at the end of May, and I'll have to decide what I'm going to draw in them. I've got to the point where I can do a Coraline rat pretty fast, but I'm not sure I'll ever be able to draw wolves at speed. Maybe a jam-pot. There are jam-pots in Wolves after all. I bet I could draw jam-pots like nobody's business.

Wolves by the way isn't a new novel, as I've seen it mistakenly listed. It's a graphic novel/picture book, 62 pages of my words and Dave McKean's pictures, for kids of all ages. It's not a sequel to The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish although it shares a character. Sort of. This is the cover, from Bloomsbury's site.

Anyway. A long day over.

Before I came to Portugal, I thought that what Brazilians spoke was Portuguese and sounded Portuguese. I was wrong, I've now realised. It sounds Brazilian. Portuguese people talking Portuguese sound as if they're talking Russian.


A "which layer of Dante's Hell do you belong in?" test just arrived in my in-box from Jonathan Carroll, who no longer keeps up the White Apples journal, over at, but there's lots of cool new material from Jonathan over at his own website (for which, incidentally, I did the introduction).

Lots of really nice, and several really touching e-mails coming in, via the FAQ line, or through Julia Bannon, from people who found that their sites started getting serious hits after being mentioned here.

I really need more time on my hands, or more of you to suggest strange-but-cool web places. Nothing exciting to report right now, except I was heartbroken to discover that Twinkies contain real food and will not last forever.

And I should mention that, of all the unlikely places I've been, Sintra is one of them.

Awards and stuff

The Coraline audio book just got the Parent's Choice Silver Medal for spring 2003: details here.

American Gods has been nominated for the French Prix Imaginales, which will be awarded on may 17th. It's up against stiff competition...

Ange, La mort d�Ayesha, Bragelonne
Clive Barker, Abarat� Albin Michel
Jean-Louis Fetjaine, Le pas de Merlin, Belfond
Neil Gaiman, American Gods, Au Diable Vauvert
Martha Wells, Le feu primordial, L�Atalante

And I've been sent a copy of the DVD of A Short Film About John Bolton to take on my travels around Europe.

Lots of people sending me messages telling me they really want to know about the Jack Benny radio shows, many of them coming up with original ways to scream in e-mail, so when I get some time I'll try and finish the thing I was writing about them.

There. Now I have to go downstairs to be interviewed again (this is the fourth interview today. Or the fifth. I've lost count).

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

And so to bed

On the subject of ebooks:

I recently purchased the ebook version of Smoke and Mirrors and I'm enjoying it very much. But there is something that strikes me as a bit odd when I was shopping for your books in ebook form: the pricing is all screwy. (see for the current pricing).

I buy digital versions of books I own so that when I travel on the train I won't have to schlep around the heavy print edition. Convenience mainly.

So, $5 - $6 for an ebook version sounds ok to me.

Yet Coraline costs $11 while American Gods costs only $7. What? You can fit 6 Coralines between the covers of American Gods, yet I'm supposed to pay *more* money for it?

I realize this stuff is not in your hands, but you have to admit, that's not exactly a proper pricing scheme is it?

On a brighter note, I'm looking forward to your appearance here in New York in September. It's a shame you can't sign ebooks. :) (though as my luck would have it, I'll be turned away again, and take home the pre-signed copy. . . . . which will force me to make another comic about it, so others can share my pain).


Actually, for once I understand the rationale on the pricing. E-books are priced a little under the price of the physical book. Coraline's only out in a $15 hardback right now, so it's an $11 e-book. In August it'll come out in paperback, so it'll be repriced as much cheaper e-book. It does make sense, of a sort.


Really sleepy, so you won't get the story of my day in Lisbon, although it was really interesting, nor my thoughts on the connection between Michael Moorcock's city of peace, Tanelorn, and the architects-of-air LEVITY installation, nor even a description of the meals eaten today.

This website is maintained by Authors on the Web, and I notice they've cut and pasted the RSS page they did for this blog for the RSS page they've now done for William Gibson's webpages, which they also maintain. Unfortunately they cut and pasted a bit too efficiently as they left in the code for the aggregator for this blog in the instructions for Bill Gibson's. So if you're hoping for Bill right now and you're reading me, all I can do is apologise. You can tell us apart pretty easily, what with him being a tall thin Texan living in Canada, and me being a nowhere near as tall or even remotely as thin Englishman living in the US, currently in Portugal. (This has been a public service announcement.)

Monday, April 28, 2003

"Where d'you think you're going with that bonfire, son? We don't hold with book burnin' in these parts. New York is Book Country."


Not sure if you know about this, but Apple is announcing (finally) their
download-based music service. Jobs said that they're not just having music,
but spoken-word stuff as well.

Given that the artists are being paid for this, and that they've got some
sort of Digital Rights Management built in, do you think that the unabridged
reading of American Gods might be released this way?

Hope you're having fun in Europa,

You know, that's a really good idea. I've passed it on to the powers that be at Harper Collins. I love the idea of being able to download the American Gods Audio for the iPod -- spoken word audio is great on the iPod, and it doesn't need to take up a lot of room. Listened to several old Jack Benny shows (well, they can't exactly make any new ones, and these were 1947, which is on the late side for Benny) on the iPod on the way from Amsterdam to Lisbon. (I keep meaning to write something for this journal on why I like Jack Benny radio shows, but the things that people are screaming for come first, and it keeps getting put off.)

I was very excited to hear you were coming the to New York is Book Country thing (where, last year, I met Bret Easton Ellis). OK, so here's the problem, I just looked up the schedule and I found out the event is taking place on Saturday. Pain of Pain, agony of agonies! I am an Orthodox Jew, and therefore (as I think you know) cannot attend any event on the sabbath, now i'm not sure how many of your fans have this problem, but i can think of at least 3 others (my Girlfriend and two big friends, all Neil-Converts of mine) so i must ask (finally he gets to the point!) is there any other event you will be doing in NY that will not interfere with my religous observance and if the answer is no (here comes the impossible) is there a chance that the 4 of us could arrange a special meeting (maybe that Sat. night) with your esteemed Writenerness?
much thanks, tinged with sadness,
Menachem Luchins

Well, the good news is that I'm talking with Harper Collins about doing a signing for The Wolves in the Walls, possibly an event for Little Lit 3 as well (here's the website for Little Lit 2), in August of this year, so "NEW YORK IS BOOK COUNTRY" won't be my only New York event this year (details at -- which seems to be the first place where you can see the front cover of SANDMAN:ENDLESS NIGHTS, very small).

(Incidentally, tickets to the NYIBC event are $20 each, and are already on sale at their website, so if you want to be there you should probably order your ticket early.) (And I note with amusement that tickets to see me are $10 cheaper than tickets to see "To Be Determined" who will be speaking at 1:30. It's always humbling when an anonymous person who hasn't even been picked yet is more expensive to see than you are.)

The bad news for Menachem is we've been toying with having the Wolves signing on a Saturday, because the last New York Signing was a complete Barnes and Noble shambles and they sent about 400 very upset people away when they closed, and Saturday seemed like a really good day to do everyone so no-one has to be sent away. And everyone will be happy. (Except, of course, shabbes-observing Jews, who won't be there.) I'll talk to the Harper Collins people and see what we come up with. You almost definitely won't get a special meeting with just the four of you, because when I get to New York my time is spoken for by the minute, and even my friends get rumpled and grumpy because I didn't manage to spend any time with them either, but I'll look into the possibility of doing a Saturday-after-sunset event of some kind (or an event on another day entirely). You may be disappointed, you may not, but I can assure you that we'll certainly explore all alternatives before committing ourselves. (Argh. I've started sounding like a politician and talking about myself in the plural. The end is nigh.)

Lisbon signing Information

Here's the info on public events in Portugal:

Signings will be at the BD Forum, on May 1, 2 and 3, at 17h30 every day. "Coraline" will be very much in evidence, as will "The Last
Temptation" (with Michael Zulli's drawings), these being the two books
released at this show by Presen�a and Devir, respectively. On Saturday, May
3, there will be a conference tentatively scheduled for 15h00 (subject to
confirmation on site), on the subject of writing for comics.

The official website for the comics event is at, for
more info.

some thoughts on interviews

I guess you'll be giving a fair amount of interviews on your tour through Europe, so this might be a good time to ask this. What's your favorite kind of interview and why? You've been on both sides of the table countless times; what can interviewers do to get a good interview out of you (or anyone)?

The worst interviews are ones where people come with lists of questions, and it doesn't matter what your answer was to question 1, they will then ask question 2. (There's nothing wrong with having a list of questions, for when you go blank or hit a brick wall. But they should be an aid, not the interview.) The best interviews are the ones where both of you forget that anyone's being interviewed, and you're just having a really interesting conversation with someone you didn't know half an hour ago.

It's best to tape interviews. It's not cheating. (It's very weird reading interviews done from notes or shorthand: it's like reading a reconstituted interview -- it may be what you said, but it's never how you said it).

Signings in Barcelona and Copenhagen. Await Instructions.

HI Neil! I just talked to the Coraline publishers here in Spain, and they informed me they've made an agreement with Norma (who publish your comics) for a signing for May 6th at 6 p.m. in the Norma store:
Norma Comics Barcelona
Passeig de Sant Joan, 7 y 9
08010 Barcelona
Telephone: 93 244 84 23
Fax: 93 265 23 10

The people at the store said however that it's not 100% confirmed, though.
Thought people would like to know.

And from Denmark, I got an e-mail to let me know I'll be doing a signing at Fantask in Copenhagen -- details at -- as far as I can tell it's 3-5 pm on the 13th of May. Thanks to Henrik for lobbying to make it happen.

Dear Neil,

Speaking of "Instructions," and since you were with Brian Froud recently, I was wondering if you (or he) ever figured out what has happened to the illustrated poster he did for the poem? Will it ever be available to your readers?

Safe travels,

I asked Brian and Wendy about it, and they believe it'll be coming out to coincide with San Diego Comic-con this year, as we're all three of us guests there, and that Brian and I will be signing some for charity -- maybe doing a CBLDF signed edition before the commercially available one comes out. They think.


I'm in Portugal, in Lisbon.

I've just discovered that I can get onto the web, through Compuserve, with my computer, which means I have hundreds of unread e-mails, and that people who badly and urgently need things from me can now wail wanly at me for them.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Things Man Was Not Meant To Know And Other Stories

Hi Neil,

Strangely, you didn't mention that you were asked to sing the rat
from 'Coraline' at the Fantasy Fair Q&A session today. Possibly
because, and I quote, "This is the weirdest thing I've ever been
asked". But you did a great job - properly clammy voice and everything.

Thanks for coming back to the Netherlands!

Katrien Rutten

You're welcome. I very cleverly didn't mention it, because if I mention it then every reading I do across Europe someone will ask me to sing the whole Coraline rat song, and probably be disappointed when I refuse. But yes, I was asked to sing the rat song, and I did. If Henry Selick actually makes the Coraline movie I think me and Stephin Merritt and Daniel Handler should do the rat songs. We could be the creepiest rats in the world.

So... next stop Portugal. If there's a hiatus in these reports, it means I'm having trouble getting online and the hotel computer is nookless.

More reflections on pointy ears, and some links to poems

Today at Elf Festival there were lots more people in leather jackets and fewer maidens with flowing gowns and pointy ears, but it was still fun -- actually I enjoyed it more than yesterday: at one reading I did "Instructions" and "Boys and Girls Together", my two fairytale poems, because I could find them from the web and print them out on the hotel nook computer, and now, looking at the Endicott coffee house, where I got them, I realise I could have read "Locks" as well... When I got to the end of "Instructions" the wind came up and howled and rattled the tent, and it felt quite marvellous. Managed to do two day's worth of question and answer sessions, and never repeat myself once.

"If teenage girls put on elf ears," I said today, back in the VIP room, pondering the unfairness of it all, "no matter how gawky they think of themselves in real life, they become beautiful. Whereas if I put on elf ears, I would look like a dissipated Vulcan."

And everyone looked at me and mentally sized me up for elf ears, and agreed.

Need to buy a belt tomorrow in the airport. The good thing about the meningitis was it meant that over February and March I lost about 15 pounds. But now none of my trousers fit around the waist, and I spent this weekend hitching them up, and hitching them up, and hitching them up, like a six-year old.

Lots of people wanted things signed but the lines were too long to do everyone in the half-hour segments they gave me. If you were one of the unlucky ones, I'll be in Brussels on the 20th of May, signing at Le Tropisme.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Castles and pointy ears and such

So the Elf Festival is in a castle in Holland, somewhere near Utrecht. It's a terrific castle, which looks like it was designed by Mad King Ludwig's younger brother Relatively Sane Prince Beppo. It's a 19th century fantasia built on the site of, and incorporating, the ruins of an old castle. In the grounds are tents, and in the tents are people, many of whom are wearing cool clothes and elf ears, and artists and authors. I suspect in the sun it would be gorgeous, but it was grey, and it rained, and people's boots churned the ground to mud. On arrival, I did a couple of interviews, and took advantage of a little downtime to pull out my computer and finish the introduction for Alan Moore's Voice of the Fire.

Then there was an interview over lunch. Lunch consisted of chocolate and cheese. The two most common foodstuffs in Holland seem to be chocolate and cheese. I bet if they have those illustrated posters of food pyramids in Dutch schools, half of the pyramid is probably chocolate, and the rest is almost certainly cheese.

I did two half hour readings-and-answering-questions (hoping I could be heard, over the sound of the drums from the drum and dance tent over the way, and the patter of the rain on the tent), and after each talk I did a half hour signing, which was not long enough for all the people there, but I did the best I could not to disappoint too many people, and then in the late afternoon I went to a bookshop in Utrecht and signed some more.

Then I went back to the castle, found Brian and Wendy Froud and we went into Amsterdam to dinner to talk about the film. Ate a lot (it was a lovely dinner and actually there was no chocolate or cheese involved at any point, except for the huge cheese display in the glass case as you walked into the restaurant). We talked a lot. I told them many of the ideas I was most nervous about and they liked them, which was a relief, as Brian will have to make them into reality one day.

Tomorrow is another round of signings and readings and questions. Today, I read bits from CORALINE. Tomorrow I may read something else. Or not. We'll see. Goodnight.

in haste

Yesterday was all interviews with journalists, followed by the signing in Rotterdam for a couple of hundred very nice people. After the signing the store gave me a present -- a bottle of green ink, an inkwell, and a glass-nibbed pen. Today the sun has stopped shining -- it looks grey and chilly out -- and I am off to the Elf Festival for most of the day, with a signing in Utrecht this afternoon. Am still standing, walking, smiling and signing. Actually, it being early morning, I'm still blinking sleepily and looking slightly rumpled. But you know what I mean.

Friday, April 25, 2003

stealth signings and pantoums

The less said about the two 1997 stealth signings in the
Netherlands, the better
, you said.

Aw. I suppose, if it makes for a happier memory, you could think of it
as a very exclusive signing session, not unlike the famous
Prince afterparty in het Paard in The Hague, which more people now claim to
have attended than could ever fit into the tiny venue.

"Neil Gaiman in the Hague in '97? I was there, dude!" Like that.
Here's my version:
You did a signing at the Haagse Strip Shop (comics store in the Hague),
which, as far as I can tell, was advertised by a teeny poster in the
shop window and nowhere else. I remember walking past that poster on the
way to work and doing a truly classic doubletake.

When I showed up for the signing there were three people in the shop.
Well, four, including me: the owner of the shop, me, another fan, and
you, looking somewhat forlorn behind a little table. The other fan had
her picture taken with you and I chatted with you for about half an hour,
about stuff we'd both read (you hadn't been able to get your hands on
The Mirror of Kong Ho either, but of course by now it's online) and
comics that you had a cameo part in (I can't remember which comic it was
that featured a sort of super-spy Gaiman, dressed in trademark black,
looking around for a disguise and deciding on another outfit that just
happened to be completely black as well...). And a great time was had by,
well, me.

But, you know, this time the line will probably go on forever, and
that's great, because I want your publishers to send you on more tours like
this, for one thing, and because you're a damn good author and deserve
proper recognition, for another.

See you on Sunday,

Katrien Rutten, The Netherlands

All very true -- and I didn't know that Kung Ho was out on the web. The comic in question is Eddie Campbell's Bacchus. Eddie said it was inspired by me arriving in Brisbane, showering and changing clothes into clothes exactly the same as the ones I'd changed out of...

Dear Mr Gaiman,
A genuine question! I have the Green Man collection (edited by Terri
Windling and Ellen Datlow) with your poem, Going Wodwo, in it. I was
wondering if that poem was free verse or some specific form... Also,
whether or not it's a specific form, do you happen to know a good site or
book with reference to more obscure poetry forms? Thanks!

I'm not sure you could call it free verse, as it has a very tight rhythmic and line structure, but it's not a classical verse form either.

The best book I've ever read on poetic forms is very small and odd and filled with examples and has been out of print for about 120 years, and is about 4000 miles away, so I can't even check the title for you. A quick search on google for poetry sestina villanelle gave a lot of online poetry sites (including a number of college courses online) -- this one looked pretty solid, as a good place to start.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

In the Port of Amsterdam...

Slept on the plane, which on the one hand was a very good thing, as I needed it, and I wasn't trashed on landing, and on the other hand was a very bad thing as I didn't get any writing done.

Met at airport by Kristal, the publicist from Luitingh, my publishers. Then I bought a cell phone that I can, at least in theory, use across Europe, and I bought shampoo, ditto, then back to the hotel where I did a couple of interviews, very different from each other. Interviews are really fun in the early stages of a tour, as you get to find out what you think about things when you're asked. They only get odd toward the end of the tour, when you find people asking you the same questions and you just give them the same answers. (I sort of hope that moving from country to country will ensure a variety of questions.)

I'm typing this in the hotel's "internet nook" (I'm not only in the same hotel I was in in 1997, but in the same room, which can cause some peculiar moments of temporal drift).

I managed to get the hotel computer to spit out a few of the FAQ questions, but most of the ones I meant to get to are on my notebook computer.

Inquiring minds want to know: what colour combination of Mini did you
order? (I thought the gunmetal grey with a white roof was pretty

Black. (I was a bit put out when they asked which black I wanted. The whole point of picking black is no-one needs to ask you which black you want. But I picked the metallic black. With a black roof.)

Several people have asked for more info on the Lisbon signing, and I'm trying to find it out.

And tomorrow night is the Rotterdam signing, followed by the Saturday and Sunday at Elf Festival. I'm not really sure how to do a half-hour talk -- it's a bit short for a reading, so I may just do Question and Answers. (The two half-hour talks and two half hour signings replace the hour long talk and hour long signing of previous years. I'm willing to bet that it'll be an hour each a day again next year...) And a signing on Saturday late afternoon as well. Details at the WHERE'S NEIL area of the site.

Really looking forward to meeting as many people as possible at the various signings and suchlike. (The less said about the two 1997 stealth signings in the Netherlands, the better.)

And as a final note, GMZoe has made an astoundingly impressive index to the many unlikely subjects covered in the two years of this weblog...

You get things in his index like:

-Gonzo: 11/29/02
-See also Jerry Juhl

"Murder Mysteries"
-Audio: 11/22/01, 11/27/01, 1/31/02
-Brief: 6/11/01
-Comic: 1/31/02, 5/07/02
-Movie: 5/11/01, 11/30/01
-Paradise Falls: 10/24/02
-Reviews: 7/25/02, 7/30/02

Music License: 2/04/03

-See Indivdual Artists, including: Abba, Tori Amos, Apples In Stereo, Black Box Recorder, Blur, Boiled In Lead, Lorraine Bowen, David Bowie, Kate Bush, Cats Laughing, Elvis Costello, Flash Girls, Future Bible Heroes, Thea Gilmore, Richard Goldman, Gothic Archies, Gourds, Hamell On Trial, I Am Kloot, Neil Innes, Kilburn And The High Roads, Lampchop, Langley Schools Project, Tom Lehrer, Maddy And Me, Magnetic Fields, Nina Nordenstam, One Ring Zero, Pachelbel, Pink Floyd, Pixies, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Rhino Records, Nino Rota, St. Saens, Sixths, Patti Smith, Stephen Sondheim, Carl Stalling Project, Steeleye Span, Al Stewart, Nigel Stonier, Elaine Stritch, Strokes, They Might Be Giants, Those Darn Accordians, Uncut, Suzanne Vega, Velvet Underground, Jim White

It's at and is a very strange document in its own right.

Goodnight. (Now I go up to my hotel room, phone home and then write.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

sock monkeys and travel plans

And there, it turns out the official sockmonkeybook site has just gone live at sock monkeys (200 out of 1,863) so before leaving for the airport I thought I'd mention that. The complete set of Sock Monkeys laid out like that is quite impressive.

I also realised that the WHERE'S NEIL section info on the tour isn't terribly helpful -- no addresses, contact numbers, times for signings etc., so I've asked my agents to try and get me a full list which I'll post as it comes in. And perhaps I'll see you in Holland, Portugal, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Italy or France.

No longer looking as much like a sheepdog...

So yesterday I did all the things I'd put off until I could get in to Minneapolis, including get my hair cut, test-drive and order a Mini, and go into DreamHaven books on Lake Street to sign some books for them (including the Arne Svenson book of photos of Sock Monkeys for which I wrote a sort of poem) to put up on the website they do.

I also handed over the Nebula -- The Lynlake DreamHaven has a showcase containing all the awards American Gods has won, mostly because I had always wondered what a Hugo looked like, what a Nebula looked like, and suspected that if I'd wondered then other people had too, and they'd probably give more people more pleasure being seen than they would on my mantel.

Took Maddy with and we did it all together, as I'll now not see her for a month. Sigh. Woke up this morning bright and early in the spring sunshine, followed immediately by a pang of despair at actually getting everything I have to get done before I leave for Europe done today, and a moment of missing everyone without actually having left yet. I fly out at 8.00 tonight, and will be gone for a month.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

...and what do you do with your Giant Puffballs?

So, I'm home again. It is a lot like the home I left, except that Lovesacs have sprouted like some particularly bizarre variety of giant puffball in several rooms. (Which reminds me: here is a whole page of Fun Things You Can Do With Giant Puffballs. Oh, those wacky mycologists. Not to mention zany. This autumn I will fail, as I fail every year, to persuade anyone else to eat giant puffballs, but perhaps I can show the family this web page, and we can Make Snowmen out of them.)

Yesterday I pottered around the place a bit, looked at all the fruit trees and garden things, went out to the cabin to write and came home an hour early, accidentally, because the clock on the computer was still on Eastern Time.

Updated the iPod firmware and put 400 Jack Benny shows onto it, along with everything else that was on there already, which should get me across Europe safely.

Trying to get all the writing I owe people finished before I get off the plane in Holland on Thursday (although today I also need to head to Hair Police to get a haircut, for my hair looks like that of a sheep dog and I can no longer see through the fringe, and do several other things, including, if I can, sign the 1100 signature sheets for a novella in the UK I've agreed to write an introduction to, which were waiting for me here). (Still wondering how "sign a few signature pages" became 1100 of the things, really don't have the time to do it, and have decided that once the current crop of introductions are done, then I'm not going to do any more for a very long time.)

And today's song is Thea Gilmore's "When Did You Get So Safe?" (You can hear a clip of it on her website.)

Not just a fine song, but a sensible thing for artists to ask themselves, on a regular basis...


Not a question, just a comment on a nice synchronicity you provided me today:

At dinner recently, I've been reading a few pages each day of "The Encyclopedia of Fantasy," by John Clute and John Grant. Last night, I left off two-thirds of the way through the page that begins with EMBLETON, RON(ALD SYDNEY).

This evening, just before dinner, I was catching up with your journal, which I hadn't looked at since Friday. Over the weekend, you had responded to a note that linked the Honda ad, Caractacus Potts's breakfast-making machine in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and the children's game Mouse Trap, to Rube Goldberg, by responding that the English had their equivalent of Goldberg in William Heath Robinson, of whom I'd never before heard.

A short while later, at the dinner table, I started in on the next unread entry in the Encyclopedia-EMMET, ROWLAND-another unknown to me. Here are the first two paragraphs:

"UK artist and inventor. A fine cartoonist, he was also a draughtsman and engineer. He became known for his succession of large, incredibly intricate "Gothic-Kinetic" inventions. Unlike William Heath ROBINSON, who merely drew his eccentric contraptions, RE regularly created three-dimensional working models.

"The amazing success of his Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway at the Festival of Britain in 1951 led to many more commissions, including permanent constructions like "The Rhythmical Time Fountain" at Nottingham, UK, and models built for CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG (1968)..."

How useful! Thanks...

I wish I liked the Encyclopedia of Fantasy more, but I really don't. (I love the Clute-Nichols Encyclopedia of SF). And I don't despite having written the R.A. Lafferty and the Diana Wynne Jones entries, and even though my birth and death dates in it are given as 1960-FRANKENSTEIN MOVIES which is rather cool actually. But I feel like there's a wonderful book mostly by John Clute on the Theory of Fantasy in there, in a sort of do-it-yourself hypertext, as you go from articles with names like THINNING and WAINSCOTS, but that that book should have been published first and separately, and the factual entries could have been better. It's the kind of book that made me hope, while reading it, for the next edition, but I fear that the economics of publishing and the scale of putting something like that together make a real next edition almost impossible.

A google finds us a lovely page about Rowland Emmett (two Ts -- the credits for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang were a typo) (1906-1990): British author/artist/engineer of "Gothic-Kinetic" sculptures which actually operated, as opposed to William Heath Robinson (UK) and Rube Goldberg (USA) who only drew such imaginative inventions; also various children's books.

I particularly loved the two Emmett quotes:

'It is a well known fact that all inventors get their first ideas on the back of an envelope. I take slight exception to this, I use the front so that I can include the stamp and then the design is already half done.' -- Rowland Emett

"The first principle in science is to invent something nice to look at and then decide what it can do." -- Rowland Emett

and also

Hi Neil,
All this talk about Rube Goldberg and Heath Robinson, and that excellent Honda ad, makes me think of some perhaps less widely publicized things that people who like physical contraptions might enjoy -

Arthur Ganson's sculptures are better seen in person than in video (he's got a permanent exhibit at the MIT museum in Cambridge, MA, and I highly recommend it) but you can find video on his website at I was completely enthralled when I first saw it, and I still am.

I wish I could see the originals -- kinetic sculptures that seem closer to Dave McKean's photographs of impossible things....

Monday, April 21, 2003

Coraline wins BSFA award. Author glows.

Just before stumbling to bed after a 17 hour drive home (with Holly, who decided not to get off at the airport and fly home, and just ride along and be company, as my co-driver) I checked my e-mail and got the news about the BSFA awards Coraline won for best short fiction -- and was thrilled. Locus Online: News Log, April 2003, p6 is the news, Chris Bell accepted the award on my behalf and tells me it's beautiful. So that was a fine Easter.

House is still standing, despite mysterious basement flooding due to pump failure. Cats are nocturnal and thus happy to see me. Will post when awake soon, I promise.

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Well, if I said "Fuck I got a Nebula" it was only in context of explaining that I was not saying "Fuck I got a Hugo." But I've got a Nebula. Fu--

I scribbled down some notes toward a speech, and then missed all the thank yous out accidentally, but I did not say "Fuck I got a Nebula". I made a proper speech. I was given the Nebula award for best novel by the Science Fiction Writers of America and I made a proper speech, and Mike and Holly were there, and life is good.

(Holly just read that over my shoulder. "You did actually say 'Fuck I got a Nebula' you know," she said.)

I just checked Locus Online -- there's a report, a photograph of the Nebula winners, all that. You can even see my more-or-less-not-much-of-a-tan.

Out of here and back on the road at the crack of a bit after dawn tomorrow, and I see that Jonathan Carroll has helpfully sent me a link to

Tonight we ate at Morimoto's. Not quite Roadfood...

i am writing an essay on the influence of the fairy tale in your work, with specific reference to Snow Glass Apples an wondered if you would be kind enough to give me a quote on the influence of the fairy tale on your work, Please.

You should be able to find lots of quotes by me if you search for "snow glass apples" on this site (and failing that, just do a google search for "Snow glass apples" gaiman interview and read whatever you find...) Best of luck.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Rube Goldberg, Heath Robinson, Pedro, Hugo and me

The newspaper article you linked to about the new Honda ad had a significant oversight that I'm surprised you didn't mention. They say: "The idea for the advert derived partly from the old children's game Mouse Trap, and from the wacky engineering of Caractacus Potts's breakfast-making machine in the Sixties film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." But both of those were clearly derived from the marvelous early-20th-century cartoons of Rube Goldberg. Examples of these may be seen at:

Up to a point, yes, and in America, yes. But... what the Americans describe as a "Rube Goldberg device" the English would refer to as a "Heath Robinson" device. And, being English, I think I can say that the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang breakfast machine was just as clearly ripping off William Heath Robinson, specifically some of Heath Robinson's illustrations for The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm (his pancake-making machine is a wonder).

Luckily there's a Heath Robinson site on the Internet as well -- W Heath Robinson's Art, although I can't see the pancake-making machine illustration there. Still, there are lots of Heath Robinson illustrations I wasn't familiar with, including this one:, which doesn't have an invention in it, but is a wonderful example of a perfect collaboration between a writer and an artist...

Charles Fort would have liked the Rube-Goldberg-Heath-Robinson phenomenon. In steam engine time the world brings forth steam engines, while in odd inventor cartoonist time the world brings forth odd inventor cartoonists.


Drove all day. Had lunch at "Pedro's SOUTH OF THE BORDER", one of those strange American places that are like nothing else on Earth... it's situated South of the Border between North Carolina and South Carolina. So of course it's a giant Mexican-themed tacky-strange place, straight out of American Gods. Here's the Roadside America commentary:

(There is a lifesize Rube Goldberg machine at the House on the Rock, by the way, talking of American Gods and strange places of America.)

Am now in tonight's Hotel, and am currently down one daughter, because they broke the door on the plane she was on when they closed it, so she's not here, and my son will get her when she lands and bring her back here, while I sleep.

... and lots and lots of you wrote to tell me how to use the Adobe Acrobat Text select tool. (Thanks to all of you. Now I know.) But by now it's probably easier just to give the Locus link to the full Hugo nominee list here:

Meanwhile, over at the The Dreaming -- Lucy Anne posts that the official RSS feed for Livejournal people (most of whom have already signed up for one or two rss feeds that don't work) is It does seem to be working. Tell any Livejournal people who are wondering why I haven't posted anything in a while that that's the one to sign up to....

and so to bed.

On the Road

I am in a motel Somewhere in South Carolina (I'm not trying to be obscure -- when I started getting sleepy I took the next exit and the first motel, and have no idea where it is, other than somewhere along 95), and will spend all tomorrow driving North, to rendezvous with the kids by evening.

Anyway, I'm just posting to say that Coraline has been nominated for a Hugo Award (I'd post all the nominees and things but the announcement was sent to me as a PDF file, and I can't simply cut and paste from it, and the information doesn't seem to be up at Locus Online yet, although it probably will be by the time you read this.) Coraline is nominated for best Novella (which it is, by wordcount, under Hugo rules -- it's a bit over 30,000 words long.)

And, while driving, and listening first to a reading of The Jungle Book, then to some Jorge Luis Borges Lectures, and then to several episodes of Round the Horne, I found the plot for the short-short story about audiobooks I promised I'd write for (And I just noticed, checking to see if I'd got the URL right, that they've recently posted a very long and chatty interview with me there.)


Sleep now. Sleep good.

Thursday, April 17, 2003
Just FYI: it seems that people are confusing Neil's attendance at the Book Expo in LA in May with the LA Times Book Fair in April. They are two separate functions, and from what I can tell Neil will only be appearing at the May Book Expo, as he won't even be in the States that weekend. But the Book Fair next week is still worth attending, even without Neil.

: )

You're right -- I should have picked that up.

The one I'm at is Book Expo America:
The one I'm NOT at, because I'll be in portugal or somewhere, is There.

sundry oddments, and then the road.

Thanks to you, Julia, Blogger, & anyone else for the permalinks!

For months my wife and I have been sending back and forth cut-&-pasted gems from the journal, but today I cd simply send a link for the first time. What a marvelous world.


You know, most of the time, this journal is, in my head, mostly my way of a) getting my fingers working before I settle down to write, b) spreading interesting things I find or people send me and c) letting my friends know I'm still alive. And then I get a message like that and suddenly feel like I'm performing a valuable social function. Not one I could actually explain, mind you.

There are a few links I wanted to put down here before I hit the road....

Firstly, there's the CORALINE website at I heard from the Coraline webmistress that the hits dropped precipitously as soon as we took the link off the front page of, in addition to which there are tens of thousands of you out there who probably weren't reading this when Coraline was launched and don't know that there's a strange site with haunting Stephin Merritt music and odd games, and scuttling things that you can click on. It also has disturbing screensavers, scary rat songs, FAQ answers and so forth. is all flash animation, so it may take a little time to load for those of you on slow connections.

If anyone has not seen this:
Hi Neil,
This has little to do with writing. Just a neat thing on the web. It made me suddenly very proud of my little Honda:

or read the Daily Telegraph article on it: (The short version: it's not a trick, not computer enhanced. They just shot it 650 times until it worked.)

then they probably ought to. Despite the lack of the airbag. Genuinely cool.

And finally,,3605,937951,00.html is a really interesting article about how the mobile phone is replacing the computer in Japan.

(I don't think we're far away from the point where pretty much anything electronic you hold in your hand will be a phone, whether it's a stun-gun, a video/still camera, an MP3 player, PDA, a file storage device or a TV remote. Someone recently sent me a link to a site which allows your iPod and your phone to come in on the same set of earphones, which turn off the iPod when the phone rings, and I found myself wondering how long an iPod won't be a phone, or a phone won't be an iPod. It seems like a point of almost inevitable convergence.)



I know you mentioned today that you would be appearing at the Los Angeles Book Festival, but I can't seem to find anything written (or speak to anyone living or dead) who can confirm your attendance at the event (it on Saturday and Sunday, 26-27 April). When exactly will you be appearing and at which booth will you be reading "Wolves in the Walls?"

Jason Lacob
Lions Gate Television
Los Angeles, CA

Well, I won't be reading at a booth. I believe I'll get a room, and a stage, and a screen for slides. I don't know, but I can make a quick phone call and find out...

Right. Peggy Burns at DC Comics says that on Saturday afternoon, May 31st, at 4:30-5:15 pm I do the "author spotlight" in room 406A at the LA Convention Centre. She says I'll be doing a Harper Collins signing on that same Saturday 1-2pm, table 31. Other than that, I think it's lots and lots of book related events, for most of which I need to be in at least two places at the same time. (I'm at the expo as a guest of both DC Comics and Harper Collins, and in addition I'm nominated for several awards which are being given at the Expo, by different organisations, normally at the same times. I'll have my agent, the v. wonderful Merrilee Heifetz with me as a sort of combination chaperone, organiser, minder and negotiator, in order to move me from where I'm meant to be to where I'm meant to be after that, or even at the same time as that.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Solar Frogspawn

There's a marvellous photo and explanation here of the phenomenon of Solar Tadpoles, which is something I'd sort of missed until now. Scientists, we are told, now believe the tadpoles are superheated magnetic voids in the plasma. I, on the other hand, believe that they are the infallible early warning system of an upcoming plague of Solar Frogs. This is why scientists are scientists, and why my daughters look suspiciously at me whenever I try to explain the universe to them.

What strange and fearsome newfangled world is this?

We now have an official RSS feed -- all information available here: And if we don't have permalinks right now, we'll have them any moment.

Thanks to Sunil at authorsontheweb, and to the nice people at Blogger for helping drag this blog kicking and screaming into 2003 and to Julia Bannon, webmistress supreme.

Round two of the road trip starts tomorrow morning, as I pack everything and drive North. Expect posting to get a little spotty...

Charles Vess got his Locus article from me on what it's like working with artists.

Dear Neil
Will you be doing a signing at the Los Angeles Book fair or in the surrounding area?

I'm sure I will, yes. Your best bet is to keep an eye on the Book Expo website, or to e-mail the organisers and find out when I'm scheduled to be where. Seeing that DC Comics and Harper Collins are both bringing me in, I'm sure I'll have to do a signing for each of them.

I'll be doing a 40 minute talk, which should be fun -- one thing I want to do is read WOLVES IN THE WALLS with Dave McKean's images as slides behind me...


And I can unofficially announce here that CRAZY HAIR will be coming out from Harper Childrens, and that Dave McKean will be painting it. With luck, in 2004....

Dear Mr Gaiman

I just get the program from the french festival Etonnants Voyageurs, which will be in St Malo (not very far from Broceliande) from 7 to 9 in june, and apparently your presence is annonced.
Just one question : are you really coming ?
(hope yes hope yes)

Christophe Duchet

No, I'm afraid not. I'm leaving France on the 23rd of May -- I have to go to the Los Angeles Book Expo America at the end of May, and on the dates you list I'm in Chicago, doing something for the Humanities Festival. Not sure how the Etonnants Voyageurs would have me announced as coming, but it's definitely an error.

Hi Neil--
I'm lucky enough to work in the book industry, and lucky enough to live in the Philadelphia area where the Nebula awards are being held this weekend, in a year you happen to be nominated. I am also lucky enough to have a great Harper rep who was able to get me tickets to the awards banquet Saturday night. My question is, will you be there? I was not able to attend BEA last year, nor will I be attending this year in LA, which is unfortunate as that Saturday is "Graphic Novel Day" and you are giving a presentation/lecture. Your signings in the Philly area seem few and far between, and the last time I checked with my rep you had yet to make a commitment. I have been a huge fan for about 5 years or so now, it all started when a friend of mine I worked with lent me the Sandman series. Anyway, I hope to meet you one day, if not at the awards (it WOULD be a great excuse to visit the Philly area....)

Thanks for reading, and I hope you respond,


I hadn't planned to be there, but it now looks like I'm going to be in Philadephia on Saturday anyway, as Holly has decided she wants a final look at Bryn Mawr. Being in the area, I expect I'll be at the Nebulas, partly because my agent has pointed out very firmly that if I'm at the Nebulas then she won't have to wear a posh frock just in case she has to accept an award on my behalf, and partly because Harry Harrison is going to be there, and I've not seen Harry for over a decade, and mostly because I've never had a novel nominated for a Nebula before, and probably never will again, so win or lose it'll be good to be there and hear its name called out.

Fascinating Guardian article on the way that school history textbooks are being rewritten, to embrace the concept of European Union. Now kids are getting a revisionist history with a kinder, gentler past in it, one that the people who were living there probably wouldn't have recognised.

Soysal has examined how textbooks for children aged 11 to 14 have taught European history over three decades. She has found some startling changes since the Eighties.

The Vikings have gone from being depicted as pillaging aggressors to skilful, peace-loving traders. In early editions of From Cavemen to Vikings (A and C Black), the Vikings are referred to as 'fierce raiders [who] began to attack our coasts'. But in its 1994 edition, they are described as 'Danes [who] besides being farmers, were much better at trading than Saxons. The Danes and Saxons settled down together and Saxon England became one rich and peaceful kingdom.'

I think it's a lovely way to teach history, missing out all the slaughter and pillage and burning and going straight to the positive warm fuzzy stuff, and I am looking forward to the next round of textbooks.

"People in England and Europe did not get real holidays back then, so the Crusades were started as a way of getting some sunshine and exercise and to help people meet their Islamic counterparts in places like Jerusalem, for multicultural dialogue and a change of air."

"It was forbidden for Christians to lend money for interest, which meant that many Jews became moneylenders. This made them them tremendously popular and respected community members all across Europe."

"In 1588 the Spanish decided to go and visit England, in order to expand England's trading horizons, and a whole Armada of trading vessels set out on a visit. The English were so excited, they lit bonfires and gathered on the South Coast to welcome their Spanish Visitors. They even sent ships out to meet them. Unfortunately, the silly old British weather was against the Spanish, and most of their ships were wrecked and lost before they could land, which left the English very disappointed indeed."


Hi Neil,

Perhaps this should be directed to Julia Bannon, but I was wondering if I could suggest a page with an "In the works" list somewhere that basically gives us a checklist of things to be released. I know Wolves in the Walls is coming, as is the Neverwhere US DVD sometime in autumn, and 1602... it's just keeping track of the when's that becomes tricky. Thanks so much for listening!

Aloha, Fran

Good idea.

Currently, it's a safe bet that 95% of everything I've done in the last few years will be out between August and October 2003, making it look as if I'm suddenly all over the place.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003
This in from Mark Askwith:

Just so I am not just known for elf panties...
Here's a Neilish thing!

And it's a marvellous strange account of an epidemic of "pitting" that led many to start speculating about radioactive particles, or even a tiny meteorite storm in the Seattle area in 1954.

Of course, despite any efforts on my part to whitewash his reputation, Mark will forever be known for elfpanties, which reminds me that someone helpfully sent a link to the Reverend Jen's current home on the web, at There is nowhere else that you'll read things like "In my essay Teletubbies- A Reason to Live, I list many of the reasons why I have embraced the Teletubby phenomenon wholeheartedly..." or get a simple, at a glance chart to how to tell different brands of Troll apart (although as Jen stresses, it's not the brand of Troll but how much you love them that matters). It's a lovely site -- Zen Kitsch.

Right. Back to essay for the Charles Vess edited Locus Graphic Novels Supplement.

Monday, April 14, 2003
Today's Cool Trivia Moment -- from concerns the origins of Lobster Newburg. Who was Newburg? What was Newburg? Ah, there's the rub...

Lobster Newburg. According to Dictionary of Words and Phrases by William and Mary Morris, the term is named for Ben Wenberg, a West Indies ship captain who came up with this dish by adding the ingredient cayenne to his famous recipe at Delmonico's Hotel. As the story goes, Mr. Wenberg had a falling out with the hotel owner, who, as revenge, reversed the first three letters of a dish which had previously been called Lobster Wenberg; hence, "Lobster Newberg."

A while back you mentioned that you were talking to A&E Home Video was going to release Neverwhere on DVD here in the US. Has there been any progress on that release?

Yup -- it's probably happening in the autumn. I'll be recording the commentary for it fairly soon.

As soon as I heard mention of Blackie The Unfortunate Guinea Pig and his Viking Funeral, I had to know more. Unfortunately, several Google site searches have turned up nothing--of course, given your past statements that Google periodically loses portions of your journal, it could be out there but unfound. Could you please either tell us the story or tell us where the story can be found?

~ Kass Fireborn

I don't think I've ever told that story here. At the end of it, Blackie, and Holly's dead hamster Roly, head off down the flooded river in a flaming cardboard box. Ah well, one day.

Hi Neil!

I look forward to meeting you at the "New York is Book Country" event in September. I caught your last angel tour, but never had the chance to actually talk to you.

I have a general question about meeting fans. If I do get to talk to you, I fear that I will become a blubbering idiot and barely able to speak. (I tried to meet Tori at several shows this spring but didn't get a chance, I know it would be the same with her.) I'm sure that after I walk away I will think of a brilliant (or at least semi-intelligent) question to ask you. But at the critical moment, it will be "um.. i love your work... um..."

What advice can you give us so that while in your presence we can keep our heads on straight? Or do you mind the blubbering when we lose them? I know you have commented at length before about your reactions to various praises from fans, but not quite addressing this issue.

Thank you so much for this journal! It means a lot to us little people.


I'm not sure it's entirely healthy to start thinking of yourself as one of the little people, Kate. Unless, of course, you actually are one of the little people (possibly one of Martin Millar's Good Fairies of New York -- and here's a three page webcomic about them, if you've not read the book).

Anyway, the main thing to do is not to worry about it too much.

The people who faint or start crying are well in the minority, but I don't mind, and I pick them up from the floor or give them a hug and tend to assume that it all got a little much for them -- which I suspect normally has much more to do with getting to the front of a line they've been standing in for hours, rather than the overwhelmingness of me. (I know me, and can assure you I am very unoverwhelming in person. Am also not scary.) And I'd take a heartfelt "I like your books" over a hundred clever prepared statements. Also, while you may be convinced that you made an idiot of yourself, I'll just remember the nice person with the green hair who couldn't remember how to spell his or her name...

I wrote up a thing on April the 11th 2001, prior to the American Gods tour, at (oh what I wouldn't give for permalinks) which is advice for people going to signings.

And I was going to put it in as a link, but having noticed a fair number of people recently sending me things I've recently put up links to, and the weirdness of the archives, it may be more sensible just to repost it for everyone's benefit... so:

1) It can be a good idea to call the store first and find out if they have any specific ground rules. Some do, some don�t. Will they be handing out numbers? Will you have to buy a copy of American Gods from them in hardback to get prime place in the line or will it be first come first served? What about books you bought somewhere else? Can you bring your ferret?

2) Get there reasonably early if you can. I�ll always try and make sure that anyone in line during the posted signing times gets stuff signed. At evening signings I�ll always stay and make sure everyone goes away happy, but on this tour there will be several places where I�ll need to go from a signing to another signing, so don�t cut it fine.

3) You may own everything I�ve ever written. I�m very grateful. I�m probably not going to sign it all, so you had better simply pick out your favourite thing and bring that along.

4) As a rule, I tend to tell stores I�ll sign 3 things people bring with them � plus any copies of the new book you buy (if you have six brothers or sisters and buy one each, I�ll sign them all). But stores may have their own policies � and we may wind up changing the rules as we go in order to make sure that everyone gets stuff signed.

5) Eat first. I�m not kidding. If it�s a night-time signing of the kind that can go on for a long time, bring sandwiches or something to nibble (some signings with numbers handed out may make it possible for you to go out and eat and come back. Or you may be first in line. But plan for a worst case scenario of several hours of standing and shuffling your way slowly around a store). (If it�s a daytime signing somewhere that a line may snake out of a store into the hot sun, bring something to drink. I always feel guilty when people pass out.)

6) You may be in that line for a while, so talk to the people around you. You never know, you could make a new friend. I�ve signed books for kids whose parents met in signing lines (although to the best of my knowledge none of them were actually conceived there). And while we�re on the subject, bring something to read while waiting. Or buy something to read � you�ll be in a book shop, after all.

7) Don�t worry. You won�t say anything stupid. It�ll be fine. My heart tends to go out to people who�ve stood in line for hours trying to think of the single brilliant witty erudite thing that they can say when they get to the front of the line, and when it finally happens they put their books in front of me and go blank, or make a complete mess of whatever they were trying to say. If you have anything you want to ask or say, just ask, or say it, and if you get a blank look from me it�s probably because I�m slightly brain dead after signing several thousand things that day.

8) The only people who ever get short shrift from me are the people who turn up with tape recorders who try and tape interviews during signings. I won�t do them � it�s unfair on the other people in the line, and unfair on me (and I was as curt with the guy from the LA Times who tried it as I am to people who decide on the spur of the moment to try and tape something for their college paper). If you want to do an interview, ask the bookstore who you should talk to in order to set it up.

9) Take things out of plastic bags before you reach me. Firstly, it speeds things up. Secondly, I once ripped the back off a $200 comic taking it out of a plastic bag, when the back of the comic caught on the tape. The person who owned it was very sweet about it, but tears glistened in his eyes as I signed, and I could hear him wailing softly as he walked away.

10) Yes, I�ll happily personalize the stuff I sign, to you, or to friends. If it�s a birthday or wedding present, tell me.

11) Remember your name. Know how to spell it, even under pressure, such as being asked.

[If you have a nice simple name, like Bob or Dave or Jennifer, don't be surprised if I ask you how to spell it. I've encountered too many Bhob's, Daev's and even, once, a Jeniffer to take any spelling for granted.]

12) No, I probably won�t do a drawing for you, because there are 300 people behind you, and if I had to draw for everyone we�d be finishing at 4.00am � on the other hand, if you�re prepared to wait patiently until the end, I may do it then, if my hand still works.

13) If it means a lot to you, yes, I�ll sign your lunchbox/skin/guitar/leather jacket/wings � but if it�s something strange you may want to make sure you have a pen that writes on strange surfaces legibly. I'll have lots of pens, but they may not write on feathers.

14) At the start of the tour the answer to �Doesn�t your hand hurt?� Is �No.�

By the end of the tour, it�s probably going to be �Yes.�

15) Yes, you can take my picture, and yes, of course you can be in the photo, that�s the point isn�t it? There�s always someone near the front of the line who will take your photo.

16) I do my best to read all the letters I�m given and not lose all the presents I�m given. Sometimes I�ll read letters on the plane to the next place. But given the sheer volume of letters and gifts, you probably won�t get a reply, unless you do. (On one previous tour I tried to write postcards to everyone who gave me something at the last stop on postcards at the next hotel. Never again.) If you�re after a reply or to have me read something, you�re much better off not giving it to me on a tour. Post it to me care of DreamHaven books in Minneapolis.

(And although things people give me get posted back, on the last tour FedEx lost one box of notes and gifts, and on the tour before that hotel staff lost or stole another box. So smaller things I can put into a suitcase are going to be more popular than four-foot high paintings done on slabs of beechwood.)

17) No, I probably won�t have dinner/a beer/sushi with you after the signing. If it�s a daytime signing I�ll be on my way to the next signing; and if it�s an evening signing I�ll be heading back to my hotel room because I�ll be getting up at six a.m. to fly to the next city. If there actually is any spare time on the tour it�ll�ve been given to journalists, and if there�s any time on top of that old friends will have started e-mailing me two or three months before the tour started to say �You�ll be in the Paphlagonian Barnes and Noble on the 23rd. That�s just a short yak-hop from my yurt. We must get together,� and would have got themselves put on the schedule. (Still, it never hurts to ask.)

18) If you can�t read what I wrote, just ask me. After a couple of hours of signing my handwriting can get pretty weird.

19) If I sign it in silver or gold, give it a minute or so to dry before putting it back in its bag or closing the cover, otherwise you�ll soon have a gold or silver smudge and nothing more.

If I think of anything else, I'll mention it as I go -- or expand this one...

The only thing I'd add, is that if it's me signing at a store, it'll go on till everyone's done; but if I'm doing a signing at a book festival or similar they often allocate a period of time to signing, with a real cut-off when the time's up, so the further up the line you are, the more chance you have of getting something signed.

More information will be posted as it comes in (and I'll copy this entry to WHERE'S NEIL) but what I've managed to find out about the tour so far is as follows, cut and pasted in from various e-mails, (I've removed Interviews, Flights, Dinners, and Hotels):

European Tour 23rd April to 23rd May 2003

Friday, April 25th

7:00pm to 9:00pm Signings and a lecture at bookstore Donner, Rotterdam

Saturday, April 26th


12.30pm-1.00pm Lecture

1:00-1:30 Signing

1:30 to 2:30pm Free time

2:30 to 3:00pm Lecture

3:00 to 3:30pm Signings

3:45pm Departure for Utrecht

4:15 to 5:15pm Signings at bookstore Broese in Utrecht

Sunday, April 27th

We will be at the Fair the whole day

09.00 Departure for Haarzuilens (Elf Fantasy Fair)

12.30-1:00pm . Lecture

1:00-1:30pm Signings

1:30 to 2:30pm Free time

2:30 to 3:00pm Lecture

3:00pm to 3:30pm Signings



6.00 - 8.00 p.m. - CORALINE signing session at BD Forum

There may be more than this in Portugal (I've cut out lots of interviews) -- it's not all in yet.

Sunday 4 May -

departure to Barcelona

Monday 5th May


Tuesday 6th May


(Doesn't look there are any signings organised yet for Spain)

Wednesday 7th May

Fly to Poland

8th May Thursday

All day spent in Warsaw.

5:30-7:00pm - booksigning in EMPIK Gigastore

9th May Friday

A trip to Cracow

5:6:00pm booksigning in EMPIK Megastore-Krak��w
7:00pm to 9:00pma literature evening in "Klub po Jaszczurami"

10th May Saturday

Coming back to Warsaw
11.00am-5:30 a convention (GaimanCon) it will revolve around his books
and graphic novels.

11th May Sunday

Fly to Denmark

Monday 12th May


Tuesday 13th May


(Again, apparantly no signings set)

Wednesday 14th May

Copenhagen - Venice then to Bologna

Thursday 15th May

h.3 p.m. Santa Lucia (University building)

- Gaiman will be the guest at Bologna University with Prof. Emy Beseghi. Students of three courses (Foreign Languages, Communications and Educational sciences) will attend.

Friday 16th May

h.10 a.m. Sala Borsa Palazzo dei Notai

- Gaiman will meet young adult students who have already read his book at school in the main historical building of Bologna.

In the afternoon a car will bring him to Torino

Saturday 17th May

Sunday 18th May

Torino - Paris

Monday 19th May

Afternoon in Lille

� Signings in Lille : Bookstore � Le Furet du nord �

Tuesday 20 May :


� Signings in Brussels : Bookstore � Tropisme �

� Wednesday 21 May

Day in Paris

Bookstore Chantelivre 11 :00

Bookstore Le Chat P�tre Librairie, 3:30pm

Bookstore Fnac Saint-Lazare ,5:00pm

� Thursday 22 May


� Signings in FNAC � Colmar

Friday 23rd May

Fly Home!

Hi Neil!
This might be a funny thing to say, but apparently you're wrong about where you'll be on April 26th. a bookstore in Utrecht (in The Netherlands, just to clarify that) called Broese has posted quite a few notices saying that you'll be there from 1600 till 1700 to sign my, er, people's books.

So, either they are full of crapola or you will indeed not be at the Elf Fantasy Fair on the 26th of April, at least not the full day.

Hmmm.... I tried to figure it out from but failed, leaving me with nothing but mysteries -- do I have two half hour readings and two half hour signings each day, and then will I be spirited off to sign my way across the Netherlands? And is my nose really that big?

I'll try and find out.

There. Big long journal entry done, filled with interesting links and what-have-you, and then my finger slipped onto the wrong key and the whole thing vanished.

Last time that happened I never got back to the post that I'd lost, and those questions remain unanswered to this day, so this time I'll do it all again....

this is probably not a faq. however, being a well versed scholar of lore and gods and practices, as well as being a companion to hunting animals, i wonder what your take on this is: tonight i discovered that my cats had brought in a woodpecker - one that i have seen in the last few weeks, and who had begun pecking at my bedroom window in the last few days. it apparently tried to get away, and died behind a small bookshelf. we discovered just now, beautiful, unbroken, and were left with the dilemma of disposal. what is the proper action for a hapless human to take? i thought of preserving it, passing it on to my mother, who teaches high school science to under priveliged, low iq students. they all live in housing projects. how many have seen a woodpecker? my boyfriend shot me down before the proposal was out my mouth. "you are not keeping a festering corpse in the freezer with our food!" at first i argued, feeling that because my domesticated cats killed for sport, the bird's life should be put to some greater purpose. but then i began to think that i had no right to deny the creature rest and decomposition. then the question - do you leave it on the ground, where the cats or other animals might eat it's body, do you put it in the trees, where it's living kin may encounter it? there is no right answer, i know, in this conflicted, separated world we have created to live in. but i wonder, still, what would be most appropriate, what would it want? any thoughts? i don't know how bird's treat their dead (only that they pass judgment over their storytellers).

I once handed a red-tailed hawk with a broken neck over to the local Department of Natural Resources, not to mention kept Blackie The Unfortunate Guinea Pig in the freezer until he could be given a full Viking Funeral, but am not an expert on these matters. Luckily, this journal has managed over the years to accumulate its own corps of experts, and Sharon Stiteler is the official bird lady of (In the journal entry of 3 Dec 2001 you'll find her showing me, Maddy and myassistantlorraine around the Minneapolis Raptor Centre.) So I asked Sharon...

Sorry for the loss of your woodpecker. It's hard to know what is the right
thing to do in that situation and at the same time it's an incredible
experience seeing the details and beauty of a bird up close in your hand.

The best thing overall would be to put the dead bird back out in the wild
somewhere discreet. When you go into some nature centers you will sometimes
read "Take only pictures, leave only footprints". The reason is that
something you take no matter how trivial or small it may seem to you is
something that could be used by a living creature. The woodpecker corpse
could be valuable nourishment to a variety of creatures: raccoons, possums,
crows, even hawks and owls will often eat something that has already been
killed. Also many types of insects will devour the corpse and in turn those
insects can be valuable nourishment to many passing migrating songbirds now.

Birds think in an entirely different way than we do and death is a daily
part of their survival. If another of this woodpeckers species sees it
dead, it will not cause psychological harm, if anything it will serve as a
reminder that if one is to survive day to day in the wild, one must always
be on their guard.

As for giving the woodpecker to your mother who is a teacher, that is a good
idea too, but sometimes it can take awhile to get the proper permits. In
the United States we have the Migratory Species Act which basically says
that a person cannot have any part (living or dead) of a native North
American bird species--not feathers, body parts, eggs, or nests without
permits from the state and federal government. Even if you just find these
items on the ground, legally you are supposed to leave them there unless you
have the permits. Now, U. S. Fish and Wildlife is careful when enforcing
this Act--otherwise they would be hauling in third graders all across the
country, but it is a useful tool for prosecuting poachers. Since it is
illegal to have the woodpecker corpse without the permits it would be
difficult to find someone to mount the woodpecker for display. Museums and
nature centers often have these permits on hand and usually are happy to
take corpses of birds and use them as educational skins.

Some wildlife rehabbers--especially raptor rehabbers love to get intact
corpses because they can be used to help other injured birds through a
process called imping. Most birds molt their feathers (drop old feathers
and grow in new ones) once a year. If a bird is injured immediately after a
molt and loses valuable flight feathers, it has to stay with a rehabber
until the following year to grow in new feathers. Imping is the implanting
of feathers from a bird that has died and implanting them into a live bird.

I hope this helps,

(the bird lady)

And because that was such good advice, I put up a link to, where you can get lots more bird advice, pictures, stories and video clips from Sharon. Not to mention buy birdfood and things.

And then, because it is the single funniest audiovisual clip featuring one of my friends in the whole world, I should point out that if you go to and go down to the bottom of the page, THE MOUSE INCIDENT is waiting for you. You'll like The Mouse Incident.

Dear Neil -

You gave a nice plug to the Author Yellow Pages site recently, and I went off all excited to see if it listed any of the author sites I'm associated with, and whether I could add them if not. And discovered that you have to pay for a listing - or at least, we lesser mortals do. So my FAQ is a rather cheeky "did you or your publisher pay to be listed on this site?"

I'm rather assuming not, and feeling a familiar irritation with listings sites which use free data to build up their site, and then try to charge for inclusion (and pretend to be a full directory, when actually their usefulness depends on how many people are prepared to pay...). But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, here...

Thanks for all the other links, though - there's always something worth following through in your diary!


Sorry about that -- if I'd clicked around a bit more I'm sure I would have realised it was a pay-to-list site, and wouldn't have put it up. But I was dazzled by their listing this site above Jeffrey Archer's, and I failed to inspect further. No, I didn't pay for to be listed, but it's perfectly possible that Harpercollins (who own and run did -- or more likely, got a bulk rate for a bunch of their author websites. Sigh.


>From the information on the website of the Elf Fantasy Fair, I gather that Neil will be there both days, 26 and 27 April. Is this correct? I'd really hate to come on the wrong day and miss it...


Wendy Westerduin

It's on my schedule as both days, although I don't know what I'm doing when.

A lot of people wanting to know about the San Diego Comic-Con. Yes, I'll definitely be there. No, I don't have a program of events, but I can assure you all that if it's like any previous Comic-Con I'll be running madly from panel to signing to panel to reading to panel to signing to presentation to CBLDF event to panel again for most of the convention. If you want to be absolutely certain of getting to see/talk/get something signed, it's worth my pointing out that Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Members always get special events and so on at San Diego. The last time I was a G of H, in 1999, I read what was written at that point of Coraline, and all of The Wolves in the Walls, to about 30 people at the CBLDF members event, and did a special CBLDF members only signing.

Lots of cool stuff to read up at Their latest news story is about an American Hero. Who happens to be a librarian...

Sunday, April 13, 2003
An article from the Straits Times in Singapore on the history of Iraq, sent to me I think because it talks about the Sandman book Fables and Reflections (and the Ramadan story) at Paradise lost - APRIL 14, 2003.

And this deserves to be put up in full...

The Fore, Kuru, anthropology and cannibalism!

You may or may not have been told this by others, but, well, you haven't posted anything about it, so I figured, why not send it in. This is in reference to your original post about cannibalism, of course, and the mention you made about a certain mysterious neurological disease.

The disease in question is/was called Kuru. The people who had it are called the Fore, and they lived, of course, in New Guinea. Point of interest: if you hear anything really strange as far as cultural practices/believefs go, chances are it is probably linked in some way to New Guinea. Including things like the idea that semen is not somethign the body gets baturally, and so it has to be passed along from older males to young boys by ritual insemination (One of the tribes in question there would be The Sambia, about which a lot has been published). But I'm getting distracted!

The Fore. What happened with them was kind of complicated.
basically, it went like this. Someone got the first case of Kuru, and died terribly from it. That village blamed sorcery from another village, and they went to war, and lots of young men got killed (well, a significant anount, anyway. Warfare in new guinea isn't waged in quite the same way, but some people died). Women and young children kept getting it, and so there were more accusations of sorcery, and so on. When people in other villages got it, the same accusations were made, and so on. And so on top of the peole dying of Kuru, lots of young, healthy Fore men were being killed in the wars. Since the Fore weren't an especially lage group to start with, this meant that their tribe was on its way to being wiped out!

Step in a medical researcher type, a Dr. Gadjusek. He starts investigating the Foreand Kuru. He realizes the disease affecte the central nervous system, and causes it to basically decay. Symptoms, for the record include a lack of fine muscle control and coordination, so that movements appear jerky and twitchy, as well as difficulty swallowing. Another doctor sees his work and notes the resemblance between this disease and scapies in sheep (and also makes Kuru the same *kind* of disease as Mad Cow. Grr *moooo* Grr). They do all kinds of crazy tests to try and figure out how people catch it. Eventually, they identify kuru as a brain effecting slow virus.

Enter a pair of anthropologists, Robert and Shirley Glass. They discover that the Fore claim to be cannibals, but that only women and children (the main victims of Kuru) participate! Once the link is made, the Fore are convinced to stop this practice, and Kuru ceases being such a problem. Gadjusek goes on to win a nobel prize!

But the story doens't quite end there. I don't remember all the details, and I don't have access to the notes from my Medical Anthropology class, so I'm nameless and sourceless at the moment.

First off, let me say this. In the early days of anthropology, there were lots of claims of cannibalism. Generally it si the sort of thing that is attributed to the people in the next village, sort of thing. But sometimes, people would claim to do it because it got interest from the researchers. It seems the Fore were one of these groups. Later anthropologist (or at least, different ones) have shown that the Glasses were, basically, lied to. Which is kind of an anti-climax to the story, I know. The funerary rites did involve brain *handling*, but not consumption. The virus is passed from the brain fluids, so handling was still enough to pass it along, it for example, the women didn't wash their hands before eating, or were wiping at their eyes, or noses, or the faces of their children, and so on...

And there is a half decent page that explains this stuff (or the medical parts of it, anyway, but leaves out most of the anthropology) here:

Anyway, um, that's all. Hope you find this interesting to read, at least ^-^

-Heather H

Fascinating... thanks.

I also found this which is useful for currently working doctors

I missed the fuss over the concept of googlewashing as laid out in this article about the redefinition of "the second superpower" over at The Register. What fascinates me about that article, and some of the ones I've seen since, is the horror at the idea that Google can be manipulated, that its algorithms, like the peace of God, passeth all understanding. Not to mention move in a mysterious way its wonders to perform. It's a search engine; of course it can be manipulated. (Also, it loses large chunks of this site from time to time. Just thought I'd mention that.)

On the other hand, I was surprised to learn that you can buy yourself a BAFTA nomination, according to this Telegraph article. This seems to be, according to people who approve of the practice, quoted in the article, because a) the BAFTA tastes are just too far from the mainstream, so they need to pay money to get the stuff that people actually watch on the shortlist (eg "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here," and b) because the BAFTA tastes are so boring and middle of the road, if the TV stations didn't pay to have shows on the shortlist, the exciting, edgy stuff wouldn't get a look-in (nothing cited to back this up, unless you think that "I'm a Celebrity..." or "Dr Zhivago" are edgy, dangerous TV. (BAFTAs are the UK equivalent of the Oscars and the Emmys.)

Had a quiet Sunday, mostly spent working on the next draft of The Fermata, a film-script I'm writing for Robert Zemeckis. It's one of the only times I've ever enjoyed the "Hollywood Process", mainly because Bob and I seem to be treating The Fermata as a voyage of discovery. I'll write a draft, give it to him, work with him on it, and his comments will always surprise me, and take the next draft off in another direction, one that I hadn't imagined -- and never what I'd imagine as Hollywood directions, either. Often they'll make it pricklier, stranger, more unlike other things that are out there. I really hope he makes the film, just because it has several of the oddest sequences I've ever written, along with some very funny dialogue and some really weird sex.

I can't think of anything to say about this, so go and read what Teresa Nielsen Hayden has to say.

Hi Neil,
This is not a question but a reaction to your Diogenes post, I believe, as quite every of my greece-talking professors over the years told me the same story, the Diogenes actually wandered around "looking for a man" not necessarilly an honest one, and is why he wandered around like that in Athenes and most of the country but never set foot in Sparta...
Even though every student here knows that the educational system in France is getting very bad, I'd like to know if you're sure about you're story or not.

Damien, Paris.

It sounds like your teachers were making, or repeating, a joke they'd heard, and possibly no longer realised was a joke, although the original quote is certainly open to interpretation. The way the story is told in English, he was looking for a honest man. Let's see -- instant web references would be, with a wonderful painting by Waterhouse of Diogenes in his tub, and at we find a really fascinating collection of Diogenes anecdotes. We learn that,

Belief that virtue was better in action than in theory made him plunged himself into a life of austerity and dedicated his time to protest against what he believed, a corrupt society. He is said to have gone about Athens carrying a blazing lantern in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man - but never finding one. He often claimed that the gods had given men an easy life but that it had been spoiled by their seeking after honey, cheese cakes and unguents.

(I love the idea of the gods sitting grumbling about men eating cheesecake) not to mention

At a banquet once the guests threw bones at him as if he were a dog. On his way out he cocked his leg against them. Instead of anointing his head with oil, he anointed his feet, explaining that the perfumes from his head were lost in the air but those from his feet mounted to his nose. When asked why people give money to beggars but not to philosophers, he replied that it is because they think they might well end up one day as beggars but will never become philosophers.

But if you go to the original quote, you learn that that he lit a candle/lantern in the daytime and said "I am looking for a man". He then goes on to chide lots of male humans for not being men. See

On the other hand, if you aren't interested in Diogenes or the ins and outs of Greek Philosophy, you could just click on this link to find out how to properly fold a cat for storage in a sweater drawer.

Right. Tea break's over. Back on my head.

Saturday, April 12, 2003
Dear Neil:

National Geographic also has an article on cannibalism.

PS - Our kitten, has Grown Up. He ate the fish out of my fish tank. I'm inexplicably proud, and am considering putting bigger fish in for him to eat.

You know, someone sent in a marvellous odd and funny obituary for their goldfish recently, which, like so many things that come in, didn't get posted because there isn't really the space to post everything, or the time. (It did get read though: everything gets read.) Ah well...

The National Geographic article sums up some of the pros and cons of the cannibalism case, but I found my interest yanked by this article which claims that Neanderthals looked too weird to interbreed with homo sapiens. It seemed a dodgy argument to me: I've seen much weirder-looking men than the photo reconstruction of a Neanderthal sitting opposite me on trains over the years. R. A. Lafferty would have gone for the "They didn't die out. They just shaved," theory, so I shall as well.

I think I may actually have a tan. It's been a very long time since I had a tan. Currently it's at no-longer-fish-belly-pale-but-not-actually-dark-enough-to-get-the-extra-frisking-at-airport-security level. I head back home in less than a week, so we'll see what colour I am by then.

Now reading Alan Moore's VOICE OF THE FIRE, which I've not read since 1996, to write an introduction. I'd forgotten how good it is. (I'd also forgotten Alan had sent me my copy -- I opened the book and laughed out loud, to discover that Alan had written "To Neil -- a friend, a massive talent and a classic beauty -- love Alan". With luck people will find the book and inscription after I'm dead, and fail to see the humour in it.

And while I'm away, Maddy and I have reversed roles: she's reading to me every night. Currently, Louis Sachar's SIDEWAYS STORIES FROM WAYSIDE SCHOOL, which are made to be read aloud, and are truly funny, especially read by an 8 year old.


Greetings and Salutations!

Regarding your short story in McSweeny's Thrilling Tales:

Diogenes Club? As in "The Greek Interpreter" and our introduction to Mycroft Holmes?

Or is it a reference to some place or piece of knowledge which you and Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle share, in which case would you tell us? Please?

I was startled to notice the name when I read the story, and was hoping someone else would ask about it, and that you'd mention it in your journal, but I haven't seen it, so I guess I have to ask, else it will gnaw at the back of my mind as only unfulfilled curiousity can.

Thank you!

P.S. Your journal is a delight, thank you so much for taking the time and making the effort, it is truly appreciated.

You're welcome. I'm pleased people enjoy it.

While the club in "Closing Time" shares a name with Mycroft's club (which was just there for people who noticed, but not as any key to the story) both clubs are named after Diogenes of Sinope -- there's a mini biography of him here although it omits the most commonly told story about him, that he went around with a lantern, "looking for an honest man". Hence Nora's comment, in the story.

Author Yellow Pages looks like a really good idea: a place to find out about the webpages of authors. And a place that the authors among you can submit their own websites. And they plug this one, which is nice.


Interesting article on cannibalism over at, at I would have thought the fact we have such a deep and basic cannibalism taboo could also be a hint that it was widespread and didn't work. I was about to plug The Ghost Disease: and 12 other stories of detective work in the literary field, by Howell and Ford, which has one of the most fascinating articles on Kuuru, the Ghost Disease, I've read, but it seems to be very out of print.

(There was a mysterious neurological disease that only seemed to affect women and children in a certain area. It was thought to be hereditary, but then they realised that women from other areas of the island who married in would also get it. Finally, they realised that there was ritual cannibalism at funeral feasts -- and that women and children were honoured by being given brain to eat. There.)


The odd thing about this week is that every time I've hit a deadline another one that I'd forgotten about leaps out, like Springheeled Jack from an alleyway, screaming "Hah! You thought you were so clever, but what about ME?" So I don't seem to be any further along than I was this time last week, despite having finished several introductions, a movie script and the first third of 1602 #5...

Friday, April 11, 2003
An image stolen from Patrick Nielsen Hayden's journal. For anyone who doubts that the M25 is truly the dark sigil Odegra...

(Er, that's a Good Omens reference.)

Over at the Bloomsbury website they have a preview of The Wolves In the Walls -- they've got the cover up, and a little description. And if you click on Coraline, over on the left-hand-side of the screen you can see the UK paperback Coraline cover.