Thursday, October 30, 2003

The Saga of Fred

So today I got woken up by Lorraine staggering up to the attic (where I am currently sleeping/looking after Fred the Cat) carrying the Complete Far Side Two Volume Boxed Monster Book Thing, which I ordered after reading Michael Dirda's review in the Washington Post. A lovely example of bookmaking, and unbelievably heavy.

Fascinating conversation about lettering over at (One thing that we did on Sandman: The Wake, dealing with lettering whle printing from Michael Zulli's pencils, was drop all the lettering back to about 80% of black, because otherwise it would have been the only pure black thing on the page...)

I just heard that Wolves in the Walls is going to be a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year (they pick ten each year).

Lots and lots of people have written in to point out that:

Regarding the recent question about intellectual copyrights and Dante... it might be worth reminding people that while Dante's copyright may have expired long ago, many of his translators' copyrights have NOT expired.


Which is true, and is worth bearing in mind, (but not necessarily relevant for the original question asked -- someone wanting, like Niven and Pournelle once did, to set a story in the world of Dante's Inferno).

Hey. This is an author question. What sort of print run does a book like, say, American Gods have? I'm assuming that the initial print runs of your books have gone up since the success of Coraline and American Gods, or did Neverwhere get a big push out of the gate? I'm endlessly curious about the inner workings of the publishing industry, but it's sort of a sealed case. Hard for an outsider to crack it open and see the fiddly bits.

Tim Akers

American Gods had an initial printing of around 70,000 in hardback in the US, if I remember correctly, and then went back to press several times for around 100,000 hardbacks. It's sold well over half a million mass-market paperbacks, continues to sell steadily, and recently came out in trade paperback, and I have no idea what it's sold in that format, other than Harper Perennial were terribly surprised and pleased by the orders for it and for Neverwhere in trade paperback.

I seem to remember Neverwhere did around 50,000 hardbacks over around 8 printings, and has probably done 400,000 copies in mass market so far.

(Both books continue to sell steadily, which isn't always the pattern for books.)

Coraline did around 130,000 hardbacks over the last year. No idea what the trade paperbacks have done so far.

So far over 106,000 DC copies of Sandman: Endless Night have gone out to the bookshops/comic stores (there was a certain amount of juggling going on while extra copies were being bound, and I don't know if this means that all the orders for them have been filled or not. I suspect it doesn't.)

Those are off-the-top-of-my-head numbers -- one of the inner workings/fiddly bits one has to learn about when one deals with publishers is the strangeness of royalty statements and the length of time between things coming out and royalty statements telling you what's actually been sold. DC Comics are actually much better at royalty statements than most mainstream publishers -- they do them quarterly, for the quarter that's just passed.

Hello Neil!
Just a quick question. I got some tickets for your talk for Foyles on November 14th yesterday, and it doesn't say on the Foyles website that Dave McKean is going to be there. I wondered if this is because plans have changed, or because Foyles are being a bit daft, and don't realise how overexcited art students are liable to get by the idea of both of you in the same building!

Oh, it's definitely me and Dave, and Jonathan Ross interviewing us, being funny and, knowing Jonathan, driving the crowd into a frenzy with one of his celebrated ecdysiastic dances.

Dear Mr. Gaiman:
Like every browser of this website, I love your work. And, living in Milwaukee, WI, I keep a keen eye on your signing/reading schedule, hoping that one day you'll jump a little eastward and grace the dairy state with your presence. So, when I read in your October 30th blog that you were in Milwaukee today, I was shocked. You were in Milwaukee on Tuesday, October 29? Please tell me you weren't. I read your site everyday and constantly keep an eye on Locus' author signing list and I can't believe that I missed you. Where did you sign in Milwaukee? I guess I'm hoping you tell me you signed in Milwaukee, OR, not WI, that way I won't have to feel terribly disappointed. Thanks for your time. And please write us another huge, beautiful novel!

I was in Milwaukee, where I was talking to the Wisconsin Library Association Annual Conference. But there wasn't a public signing or anything you missed. Unless you're a librarian.


Not content with reviewing Endless Nights in the Guardian, Iain Emsley now tackles The Wolves in the Walls, for January Magazine.


pigeons - quick question: trafalgar square, london - paying fine of �50. your opinion???

I think fining pigeons is always a doomed enterprise. Most of them have no fixed abode, and very few of them even have bank accounts.


I'm sticking this up just because I was pleased and relieved:

Neil, this isn't so much a question than a comment -
I was just recently on the Hill House Publishing website, and I got myself registered for those limited editions of American Gods and Neverwhere. All I wanted to say is that I am so absolutely impressed with the style and courtesy that Peter Schneider showed me while I was inquiring about the limited editions. I'm not sure if Hill House is an incredibly small publishing house or not, but it seems that the Peter's definately care a great deal in their customers.
I just wanted to extend my thanks to you for all of the wonderful books you've written, your words have touched both my mind and heart.

All the best to you and your family,

Will Rowan

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Oh, Hill House is as small as these things get. It's just Pete Schneider, except where it's Pete Atkins. Who, incidentally, sent me a manuscript of AMERICAN GODS the other day that I now need to settle down and read, and decide what I think of it, and make any final corrections to. And, I suppose, write an introduction to, or something.


In re: the bit about sticking a gun in the drawer during the first half of a novel, only to have it come in handy later on.

When you're writing comics, you need to plan ahead to accommodate page counts and put scene changes on the page turns and stuff. How do you let a comic surprise you while you're writing it?

I'm not sure, but they always seem to.

You mentioned a few weeks ago, I believe (it seems I am no longer able to keep track of time) that you suggested that DC make a boxed set of the Sandman graphic novels. I don't own them myself and would LOVE if they made this, as I am addicted to any sort of boxed set. Is there any news on this? Thanks for any info!


No news yet. Last thing I heard they were going to "cost it out". When I hear something I'll put it up here.


So. Fred the cat.

Fred turned up in the summer, shortly after Coconut and Captain Morgan arrived. He was a wild just-a-bit-more-than-a-kitten, black with a white chest. He spent about a month circling the house nervously, running away if we put food out for him. Then he suddenly decided that we were safe, and came to live under the back stairs. We'd've called him The Black Cat, except that then we would have confused him with the cat who got to be the star of my short story "The Price". So I called him Fred.

The day I set off to go on tour, I noticed he was limping, and mentioned it to my-assistant-Lorraine. I thought no more of it, until I got an e-mail from Lorraine, who had found him, several days later, on the point of death. Something had bitten him in the leg, and the wound had festered -- it had opened up all the way to the bone. "He looked like an anatomy lesson," said Lorraine.

He spent five weeks at the vet's.

Then he came home. He's healed remarkably -- he has a raw patch of flesh, the size of a quarter, on his rear right leg, but the bone is no longer visible, the flesh is still regrowing, and in a year it'll just be a scar.

He'd also doubled in size while at the vet. He went off a skinny black cat, came back a sleek black machine of muscle. Who, until his leg heals, is not meant to go outside.

We discovered very quickly that he couldn't be given the run of the house. He's a male (although now neutered) fighting machine, when he wants to be, who needs to demonstrate that he is top cat, and promptly started beating up all the other cats. Which wasn't good. He needed to be kept in a space in which other cats weren't.

He's really friendly. He likes company. He ought to be outside hunting for things, and spends most of his nights prowling for smaller things to kill. Things like, well, people's toes.

First off he stayed with Lorraine. But she was getting no sleep. So I, who have done practically nothing but sleep since I got back from touring, volunteered to look after him. Fred's now got the whole attic to prowl, along with the attic-bedroom-office that's really my son Mike's but he doesn't mind me using. And I can sleep through earthquakes, so even a black cat on the prowl launching himself at my toes with intent to kill is unlikely to wake me.

So I'll keep looking after him until I head off for the UK, by which time he may or may not be able to move out of the attic. I'm not yet quite at the point of putting out a "Does anyone with a garden in the Twin Cities area need a Fred" appeal. But I suspect it may come.


You mentioned The Hunger Site in your blog today. There is another similar site which was put together by friends of mine to help provide food to Argentine children after the last economic collapse. There were articles written about them on the BBC website some time ago, but the number of hits they have had of late has slowed. If you (and Holly) are still feeling benevolent, perhaps you could plug them too.




Now I have to stop typing and go and help Maddy to try on her Halloween costume. I am not going to tell you what she is going to be, although I am permitted to go on record as saying that a (rubber, lightweight) ball-and-chain, a black mask, a black and white stripy costume, and, quite possibly a bag filled with loot will all be used to create the overall effect...

Concerning the small Scottish town of Gijon....

Asturias. I meant Asturias. Sigh.

Ignore any future posts that claim that Gijon is in Bosnia or Angola or somewhere, and just assume that I am geographically challenged.

So today I flew to Milwaukee, gave a talk, was given an award for Coraline, signed many books, gave another talk, and flew home. It was my first time out since I got sick, and now I'm home, and really I'm just ready for bed. So tomorrow I'll do some of the many questions and comments that have come in recently, and I'll tell you about Fred the cat. But not tonight.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Mark Twain -- a Pseudo-Dennis Thatcher?

Mark Twain is quoted as having said that it was better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. (A quote that, bizarrely, I've also seen increasingly attributed to Dennis Thatcher.)

I didn't say anything about Claude Lalumi�re's unfortunate description (in his Locus Online review of Endless Nights) of Barron Storey as a Bill Sienkiewicz imitator (he actually used the phrase "pseudo-Bill Sienkiewicz"), because it's the kind of unthinking foolish comment that all of us make from time to time, especially me, and it's not nice to tease reviewers when they're doing their best. (Anyway, Claude has a very good track record of writing sensible and interesting reviews.)

It looks like other people weren't as kind, what with Barron Storey being the originator of a number of styles and techniques that many artists, including Dave McKean and Bill Sienkiewicz, have adopted with enthusiasm, so now Claude has gone back and added a paragraph to his original review. Unfortunately, it doesn't say "oops, sorry, I didn't know what I was talking about". Instead Claude seems to be trying to defend his original goof by, if I understand him rightly, explaining that it doesn't actually matter who learned what from who, because Barron, by doing Barron, is copying Bill because Bill did Barron Storey in comics before Barron did Barron in Endless Nights or the Marat-Sade Journals (neither of which are strictly comics, and both of which are pure and perfect Barron Storey). Which makes (to me) as much sense as accusing Neal Adams, Bob Peak or Bernie Fuchs of being pseudo-Bills because you saw Bill's stuff before you saw theirs, during the times that Bill was influenced by them. Or announcing that the Beatles were just another Oasis-rip-off band.

Lots of people have learned from Barron Storey: Bill Sienkiewicz, and Dave McKean, and Kent Williams and many others, and they're all very proud to admit it. He's a true original, and there aren't many of those around.

... is back up. (Hurray.) For those who've not been there, it's a big, meaty site, filled with things to read and look at, and is Darren McKeeman's labour of love. If you've been there, you know how much fun it is. Go and take a look at it.

And Holly has just discovered the Hunger site, where if you go, and you click, they donate food to the hungry internationally, and says that I should put up a plug here for it. I pointed out that most people must know about the Hunger site by now, and Holly pointed out in return that she hadn't known about it, and that if I put a link up and everyone who comes by this blog clicked on it than that would be almost 400,000 cups of food for hungry people. You can't argue with daughters, so click on the Hunger Site link.


Talking about typing stupid things, I thought I'd mentioned here that I thought Galicia and absent-mindedly typed Andalucia in the intro to Endless Nights, and it's meant to be being fixed in the second printing. But every now and again Spaniards still write me nice letters pointing out where Gijon isn't, and I thought I should probably mention here that yes, I do know, and it will be fixed.

-- and someone else points out another locationally challenged posting...


Have you been in America too long?

Thea Gilmore's new record is available in the rest of the UK as well, you know the other bits like Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales!

If it's only the people in England who buy Thea Gilmore's singles you won't see her on TOTP as the chart compilers legislate against any sales performance with a specific regional bias.

Oops. I meant UK of course. Mea culpa & a twit.


Over at we learn that The Wolves in the Walls is the Washington Post Kidpost Book of the Week.

And tomorrow I shall tell the story of Fred the Cat. Which may turn into an appeal, of sorts...

Saturday, October 25, 2003

No pigeons were actually harmed in the composition of this journal entry

For the curious, the only edition of Coraline that's been completely re-illustrated is the Japanese version. Coraline herself is obviously now Japanese, and the illustrations are amazingly sweet, if, possibly, more disturbing because they're so sweet.

The German cover is a bit odd -- they decided that the Dave McKean cover and illustrations were too scary, so came up with a subtle and sweet cover that looks like it belongs only on a book intended for girls between the ages of 12 and 15. I think I prefer the covers that stretch their reach a little wider. Still, I hope it works.


Like many people, I find Google's admissions of the real technology that underlies its search engine domination to be more than slightly disturbing. I expect we'll be hearing from PETA on the subject very soon. Expect blistering exposes. In the meantime, read Google's attempts to whitewash the truth -- much as pigeons whitewash statuary...


When I was signing in San Jose, Jim Vadeboncoeur handed me the copies of his "Images" magazine, the contents of which consist of reproductions of out of copyright illustrations and covers. And it's jaw-dropping stuff. They're sitting by the bed now, and I'm starting to think that subscriptions and back issues for a number of artists of my acquaintance might make very decent gifts. Go to and flip around -- clicking on one the issues gives you a slide-show trip through the magazine.


The most adventurous thing I did today was to read the Eddie Campbell EGOMANIA #2 that had arrived astonishingly late, with the Alan Moore interview in it. Great issue, great interview, which made me very nostalgic for those days when Eddie had a website and was a publisher. When I asked him about it in San Diego he fixed me with a dead steely look and said that he was now an artist, had burned out on the whole publishery thing and was glad it was over, which is a pity, because it means that a visit to just gives you an advert for fixing your credit or increasing your penis size or something. On the other hand, there's still the wayback machine, so you can see what a proper writer-artist-cum-publisher's website used to look like... I'd tell you you can get a copy of Egomania at Top Shelf's website, but you can't because they've sold out.

On the other hand you can get Alan Moore's Mirror of Love and his wonderful novel The Voice of the Fire (with an introduction by me), James Kochalka's Sketchbook Diaries, Craig Thompson's Blankets, and Scott Morse's Barefoot Serpent, and lots of other yummy things. So you may as well click on and take a look around.

In which I keep breathing...

You know, if I were a devout believer directing a film about Christ, and my lead actor got struck by lightning, such that smoke came out of his ears... struck by lightning not once, but twice, I might take it as a gentle suggestion of displeasure from the viewing public on high. Er...

A couple more Sandman: Endless Nights reviews, neither of which fall into either of the two camps described in the previous post:

One from the Guardian (which also talks about Alisa Kwitney's "King of Dreams" book):,12084,1069743,00.html

One from Green Man Review:

Lots of interesting things being discussed at Journalista! You've got Brian Hibbs debating Dirk on the comics direct market vs. the Bookstores, and a list of the recent Publishers Weekly articles on comics.

I finally got to see Constantine Valhouli's film Sex, Lies and Superheroes -- website at I enjoyed it, particularly the Frank Miller bits. (I wish that the hot studio lights hadn't been quite so hot in the club I was filmed in -- I look like I'm about to dissolve into a pool of sweat.)

The first of Diamond's 1602 figures is up at (And yesterday's mail brought me a Merv Pumpkinhead mini-bust, which may well be my favourite of all the statues for quite a while. It looks like this:

This is one of those books that just grew. And grew. And grew. I'm so pleased I did my strange story for it, with the aid of an elderly text program called Babble.

Sooner or later I'll write about the black cat named Fred, who is now back from the vet.

And Thea Gilmore's song "mainstream" has just been released as a single. So people in England should go and buy it. Sooner or later we'll get Thea on Top of the Pops. Dammit.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Two days of postings squidged together... (And thank you Lisa for the Titles secrets)

Hello Neil. :) How are you now? How's your throat? (Those two questions are my excuses for writing you a little note, since "submit a question" is written above this text box. I've always been a fan of your works, but I was too shy 'til now to send you something.) But really. I hope that you're doing alright. I can relate to your pain; I have tonsillitis myself, and my throat feels like it's been rubbed raw by a pinecone.

I really do hope you get better. It's horrid to undergo that sort of thing.

Best wishes,

I'm getting better, thanks. Still spending most of the time asleep. Had solid food yesterday, which made a happy change from chicken soup. Taking it very very easy on myself currently, which is a good thing, and was necessary. Sometimes your body tells you it's time to rest. If you ignore it, then sometimes your body whacks you over the back of the head with a hefty iron crowbar, kicks your feet from under you and then, while you're lying on the floor in agony, gets in really close and shouts "Now will you listen?" at you through a megaphone.

So I'm listening.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,

I was wondering whether you read and comment on manuscripts, provided you have the time, which I suspect you really don't. I am aware that popular/famous writers don't read mss because of the risk involved, e.g. owners of manuscripts accusing them (ludicrously) of stealing ideas.

So, do you read mss and if you do would you willing to take a look at something if I were to send it to you? I'm currently finishing off my first attempt at a novel and have a number of short stories lying around.

Thank you for your time. Always a fan. I just finished reading American Gods (strangely I only got around to it, now) and it was great. I am in awe.

Pierre Liebenberg

No, I don't, I'm afraid. And you're spot on as to why. 1) I don't have time. And 2) I don't like being accused of ripping things off from things I've been sent, which has happened a couple of times this year and more or less soured me on the idea of reading people's stories or letters.


There's a review of Endless Nights (and Little Lit #3) at Locus Online by Claude Lalumiere:

It's starting to seem like Endless Nights reviews fall into two camps. The ones that love the first three stories but go blank when Despair comes on, and the ones that put up with the first three stories but feel that the book is stolen by Despair and Delirium. Claude's is one of the former camp.

Over at there's an auction of Borges's library, which seems more like a Borgesian metafiction than it has any right to be in real life. I keep wondering whether there are any non-existent books listed.

Hello Mr. Gaiman!
I was a bit dismayed with the Hill House book descriptions of your definitive editions. They are going to be gorgeous--But extremely expensive and limited. The impression I thought and am sure your great hordes of fans were thinking--ah, nice leather editions, maybe like Easton Press. But these are to be $200 books, limited to 750 copies, with all the extras, and for everybody else--too darn bad. I hope this is not going to be true--the extra 40 pages of American Gods, the extra chapters in Neverwhere--never to be read by your fans? Somehow this doesn't seem right. Will there be other editions of these books so that we *all* can have a shot at reading the definitive editions? Thanks, Dave G

I doubt it. All of the work on the Hill House American Gods edition is being done by Pete and Pete at Hill House -- I gave them the various manuscripts, and I'll get something back to go through, approve, or fix, at the end; but I don't have time to compare the various mss versions with the various printed versions, and figure out what all the alternatives were, and what got lost due to space and what got lost because it was better lost, and so on. They're doing that, and doing everything else.

I like and trust the Petes, and I respect their commitment to making top-quality books. The stuff they've showed me is gorgeous -- amazing quality paper, binding, astonishing book-holding slipcase design, the whole thing.

(And I just did an Abebooks check for the Hill House edition of Al Sarrantonio's 999 collection: prices start at $250, and go up, so it looks like their books hold their value.)

Anyway I'm much better value-for-money than Neal Stephenson (small grin). You'll pay $600 for the three books in the Baroque cycle from Hill House, whereas you get American Gods and Neverwhere for $400, along with a free book.

On the other hand, it's possible that the Petes of Hill House may have other plans of some kind, or be willing to be negotiated with or something. Their contact details are at: Let me know what they say.

Hullo Mr. Gaiman, I've a question. The Faery Reel, which you read at the Charlotte Evening. I've looked around and it's coming out in an anthology in 2004? Do you know when in 2004 or who I might contact to find out when? I loved that little piece. Thanks, Miriam.

I don't know any more than that, I'm afraid. I checked on I know it has a beautiful Charles Vess cover, because he sent me a copy, but as to when in 2004 it'll come out, I cannot say.

(Incidentally, someone else wanted to know where the "Inventing Aladdin" story-poem appeared. It's in the Datlow-Windling "Swan Sister" collection.)

Fascinating article in the Guardian on America and the environment.

Meanwhile, an amusing apology from the Star Tribune for muddling up profligate and prolific.

Quick question before class. :-)
I was talking to a literary agent today, and he was asking me what I was planning on doing after I got my MFA in creative writing, because no one is a professional writer he said, even his clients who are aren't really, as they do something else in the world away from their desks that pay the bills. I stumbled and came up with something, I said I'd teach, which while it's a great thing to do isn't for me. I would be an awful teacher, and honestly, I'd be an awful anything else other than a writer, that's one of the big reasons I decided I'd be a writer, and I definitely wouldn't be spending so much money on school if it was just a hobby or whim. So my question is how impossible is it to be a writer that doesn't teach or edit, or write boring freelance articles about how to choose a computer? Is it more possible than this agent wanted me to believe? Or are you and people like you one in a couple of hundred million?

Well, when I set out to be a writer, that was what I set out to be. To make the money to live, I was a freelance journalist, and I didn't write any boring articles on choosing computers, but instead reviewed books I wanted to read and interviewed people I wanted to talk to. Having said that, I cheerfully wrote whatever people would pay me for through my first five years as a writer, and learned a lot about writing, even from things I wouldn't have wanted to read. (What I learned from that: don't write things you wouldn't want to read.) (And there were a couple of times when I cheerfully sub-edited or even ghost-edited magazines as diverse as Penthouse and Fitness to pay the rent.)

So the agent was being quite sensible. But if you want to be a writer, then write. If you want to write novels, start writing novels, finish them, then get on with the next book. If you want to write short stories, then write them, and sell them, and keep writing. (Selling them is very useful. All the mistakes and infelicities you missed on the page as you wrote them will be magically revealed to you as soon as you read them in published form.)

(And I was just about to go into a burble about how you should write if you want to be a writer, when I realised I'd already said it, a year ago, in answer to a few questions about the first National Novel Writing Month. So you might want to go and look at me burbling at

Has 1602 #3 come out yet? I know you've been travelling a lot and been sick besides, so it may not have made it into an update. Seems like it's been more than a month since the last one, but I pretty much count on your blog to tell me when it's worth a trek to the comic shop. Thanks!

Yup, it came out while I was in Europe, I'm afraid.

... has just made the contents of the books they sell searchable. Not all of them yet, although I'm sure that will come, and the optical recognition software means that it may be a while before you can find what you need reliably. I think it's probably a good thing -- mostly because after ten minutes of playing with it I found I'd ordered three or four books.

But I suspect it changes everything.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003


From Bloomsbury's Website:

Neil Gaiman Borders, Oxford
Date: 10 November 2003 Time: 19:00
Neil Gaiman will be talking about and reading from 'The Wolves in the Walls', and 'Coraline' at Borders, 9 Magdalen Street, Oxford, OX1 3AD. Tel: 01865 203901.

Neil Gaiman Waterstone's, Bath
Date: 11 November 2003 Time: 11:00
Neil Gaiman will be holding a book signing at Waterstone's in Bath.

Neil Gaiman Waterstone's, Bristol
Date: 11 November 2003 Time: 19:00
Neil Gaiman will be talking about and reading from 'The Wolves in the Walls', and 'Coraline' at Waterstone's, 11A Union Galleries, Broadmead, Bristol, BS1 3XD. Tickets: �3 Tel: 0117 925 2274.

Neil Gaiman Waterstone's, Leeds
Date: 12 November 2003 Time: 19:00
Neil Gaiman will be talking about and reading from 'The Wolves in the Walls', and 'Coraline' at Waterstone's, 93-97 Albion Street, Leeds, LS1 5AP. Tel: 0113 244 4588.

Neil Gaiman Foyles, London
Date: 14 November 2003 Time: 19:00
Bloomsbury and Foyles present Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean in conversation with Jonathan Ross at The Congress Centre, 28 Great Russell Street, London, WC1 3LS. Tickets: �5 / �4 concs Call Foyles on 0870 420 2777 (Lines are open 8:30am - 6pm, Monday to Friday), or book online at

I think there may also be a Dublin signing as well....

My guess is that the Bristol one will refund the three quid if you buy a book -- that's how they mostly do it, but you should probably check.

Which reminds me: here's a review of Wolves I thought was really interesting.

Bloomsbury also has its own Wolves int he Walls site at It has an astonishing screensaver, made of Dave Mckean art. I've already put it up on my computer.

There are also some gorgeous ecards up at:

In which I make a slow start on the mailbox...

The lost journal and its owner (from yesterday) have been reunited.

Let's see.... Hill House Press now has a website: Hill House Press is Pete Schneider and Pete Atkins, and these are the gentlemen who have been driving themselves slowly mad by going through several drafts of American Gods at the same time to try and put together the definitive draft for the most gorgeous edition of the book ever. Then we roll up our sleeves and try to figure out what the definitive text of Neverwhere is going to be. (At least the text ofStardust will remain exactly the same.)

Dear Mister Gaiman,

This may be a stupid question, but please forgive my ignorance. I'm getting ready to attempt writing my first novel, but there's some research I'd like to do, and I'm not exactly sure if it'd be legal to use the source material. The only objects of my research are The Bible and The Divine Comedy. I'll take libertires, of course. I don't think there'd be a problem with using The Bible; but, you see, I'd very much like to use the description of Hell from The Divine Comedy (whilst applying my own spin on it, of course). The reason I question this is because I'm not sure whether it would be a violation of intellectual property. Your thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.

Sorry to bother you with such a rudimentary question. Even if you delete this without even reading it, that takes time, and for your time, I thank you.

Robert Lee Emigh III

It's not such a stupid question. The simplest of answers is if it was published before 1923 it's public domain, and Dante wrote his Divine Comedy a very long time before 1923.

I'm sorry if this is already addressed somewhere and I missed it. In Charlotte you read the Crazy Hair poem. Is that text available somewhere? My wife and I thought it was terribly funny and my son would probably enjoy it.
I'm glad your feeling slightly better. I wish we could have waited through the line to see you personally but there wasn't enough time.
-shad collins

Crazy Hair should be out as a book, late in 2004 or early in 2005. Depends a lot how long it takes Dave McKean to do the illustrations...

Hi Neil,

looking at the journal I was delighted to see your reply to Midge K. Manlapig that he could use some of your work as a set text. This is mainly because i've just become an adult education Creative Writing tutor and I wondered if it would also be alright for me to use your wonderful short story 'Chivalry' from 'Smoke And Mirrors' (which I of course recommend they all read)?

Hope you feel better soon,



I could swear there was a section with all the foreign covers of your works..where did it go? Oh, and ...any chance you can post a picture of the Croatian cover of american gods? heh


I think the foreign covers migrated over to the pages of the books in question. For the American Gods in Croatian cover, here's the Croatian American Gods page.
Click on veca slika and it should pop up a window with the cover in it for you.

Hi Neil,
First many thanks for the Charlotte reading and signing, it was great. During the Q&A session in answering a question, you mentioned a follow up stroy to "American Gods" about Shadow being a bouncer. Could you refresh my memory as to witch collection you said that was in/for? Thanks so much and good to hear you're feeling much better!

It's called THE MONARCH OF THE GLEN, which will be (or has been, depending on where you live) published in LEGENDS II, edited by Robert Silverberg. (Here's a review.)

These just arrived in a clump. And I suspect it might be wisest to post them all:

My class wrote letters to you will recieve them soon.We want to know what address we can send it to you? Yours truly,
Sarah Szabdkai

dear mr gaiman i liked your book coraline alot. our teacher read it to us in our class.i would like to know if the the the wolves in the walls include coraline in it

your fan kimbelry desaulniers

My class wrote letters to you.You will recive them soon but do you have an address we can send the letters to you?
When you get the letters look in each letter for two similes and/or two metaphors.

Alex Age 11

can you write another book that is kkind of like coraline?

hello mr. gaiman!!!!! how are you? im fine. i really liked your book coraline. i hope i will get tu read the book wolves on the walls. well something like that!!


Hi, my name is Karyann Dziedzic. I am a student from Golden Valley school in Val D'or Quebec. My class wrote letters to you. You might get them soon oh!! and also my teacher read your book Coraline to the class it was sooooo scary and very intresting. Please write back to me!!

Hi! Me and my class have been writing you leters. In the second paragraph there is sopose to be two similei or metafor. We send them to you because we read your book "Coraline". Its supper!

Karyann Dziedzic Age:10 Grade 5

The best address for your teacher to send your letters to is DreamHaven Books in Minneapolis -- 912 West Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55408

Coraline isn't in "The Wolves in the Walls", I'm afraid.

I will write another book a bit like Coraline only very different, after I write my next book for grown-ups.

And I shall keep an eye out for similes and metaphors.

I was surfing around the net and ended up on the Douglas Adams page, where they were touting a documentary, for which you served as narrator.

Is this fairly new or kind of old? Did you have anything to do with it other than the narration?

Just curious, as this is something I would definitely want to get (especiall having recently watched all the bonus material on the HHGTTG DVD).

Let's see. Here's a review of the film at: The film was made by Joel Greengrass and Rick Mueller, and my main function was kibbitzing on the script and then recording the narration.

I don't know if you know this or not but November is National Novel Writing Month, durring which hundreds of people all over the world will be working towards the goal of writing a 50,000 word (or 175 page) novel in 30 days. I was wondering if you would be partaking in this slaphappy experiment?

The Nanowrimo website is at


I won't, no -- I won't get to work on my own novel until around the 20th of November, and I think it will take me rather longer than a month to write. But a lot of readers of this journal took part in NANOWRIMO last year, many of them successfully, and I'm sure the same will be true this year.

And a final one:

A few years back I saw you do a reading at the Bottom Line in NYC before a Magnetic Fields show and I enjoyed both the show and the atmosphere of the venue. But apparently the Bottom Line is in danger of being closed for good due to money owed to NYU for rent. There is more info on the website:

and also a petition has been formed on this site:

I'd hate to see such a place be gone for good. It was at that show that I first was introduced to the Magnetic Fields (I payed for the ticket to see you do your reading) and first saw you in person. For those experiences alone I'd like to see them stay around.

I didn't see a PayPal account of anything for donations, so I'm not sure what else can be done to support aside from going to shows and signing the petition.


I loved doing the Bottom Line gig with the Magnetic Fields, and was thrilled to be on the same stage that Lou Reed was on when he recorded "Live: Take Not Prisoners". I hope that it survives...

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Artists are bizarre...

So, I'm recovering. And yes, I am recovering, thank you. The lovecraftian whiteness that covered most of my throat has been replaced by a vicious pink, and the feeling that invisible people were randomly stabbing my tonsils and throat with tiny, but extremely sharp steak-knives, has also gone away, replaced by a sort of dull deep ache, as if from one large invisible person with one large bread-knife.

I also look like I've lost about 15lb, now the swollen neck has gone down, and my head is on a normal-sized neck again.

This is what I've done since I got home: I've slept.

Sometimes I've growled at poor Lorraine.

Her: "What you do want to drink?"
Me (in the saintly tones of the soon-expiring): "Anything".
Her: "How about a lemon, ginger and honey drink?"
Me (even more saintly and further from this world): "Anything."
She goes off and makes a hot drink, carefully adds ice cubes to stop it being too hot, brings it upstairs.
Me (on the point of death, like a perfect Victorian child): "Thank... you..." (Takes one sip. Stops sounding saintly.) "Ow! That hurt! What the hell did you put in here? Lemons? Are you trying to kill me? Why didn't you warn me you were putting lemon in this nightmarish concoction? Oh you claim you did, you, you Lucrezia Borgia of assistants! Ow!" and so on.

For some reason, she hasn't murdered me yet.

The most exciting thing I've done since I've got home is -- because I wasn't up to reading aloud yesterday evening -- I found the video of Sunday in the Park With George. It's currently Maddy's favourite CD, and she knows much of it by heart, and walks around singing "artists are bizarre, fixed, cold, that's you George you're bizarre, fixed, cold, I like that in a man, fixed, cold..." which can be a bit disconcerting from a nine year old, although will be useful knowledge for her in case she ever meets any French pointillists when she grows up. So I put it on for us to watch. I ate some lukewarm tapioca and drank some lukewarm chicken soup, cuddled Maddy, and stayed awake for the next ten minutes, while Maddy explained who everyone was and what they were going to do next.

"Hang on," I said, thinking through cloudy layers. "You've only ever heard the CD. How do you know this stuff?"

"Daddy," she said, in that infinitely patient dealing-with-idiots tone of voice that children only use around their own parents, "the CD does have notes, you know."

"Right," I said, and fell asleep.


There are dozens, if not hundreds, of links and things I'm meant to put up, but it may take a while for me to catch up (particularly because, when I've finished posting this, I'm going back to bed). The only one that can't wait -- a huge congratulations to Brian, Tzipi and Ben at Comix Experience.

And for the people worried that the LiveJournal feed at is down, LiveJournal, in a burst of "it's not a bug, it's a feature" seem to now be checking syndicated feeds once a day.

On the other hand the unofficial feed (without the titles of these feeds) at does seem to be having problems.

Sooner or later I have to fix things so the titles of these posts show up on the journal itself. They contain extra information, or something, after all (there was even one of them which contained some "Snow Cherries" lyrics).


And this came in from Rita Rouse (, who ran the Charlotte event, and was passed on to me:

Hi, Lorraine. I have an odd problem that I 'm not even sure you can help me with, but I thought I'd ask. After Neil's presentation on Saturday (he was FANTASTIC, by the way), we found a beautiful leather-bound journal that belongs to an unnamed owner. There is writing in it but no name. Do you know of a Neil Gaiman chat room or message board where I might post that we found this? Or some other way to let folks know that we found this? So far, no one has contacted me, the library or the venue about it, But it's a beautiful book (with some very personal writings) so I know the owner would like to have it back. Any suggestions are very welcome. Thanks for any help you can give.


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Sunday, October 19, 2003


Magically, the Charlotte reading sounded just fine, and I enjoyed it, and I think the audience did, and I signed for around 500 terrifically nice people afterward, mostly with the aid of's Ginger Tincture mixed with Mimi Ko's Chinese Throat Magic Slippery Elm Bark Stuff which I added to the water I was drinking.

Now I'm home.

I saw my doctor shortly after landing (he was concerned, and had wanted to check me out).

"It's got worse," he said, after I opened my mouth and he'd looked down my throat at the mess that's currently lurking back there. And he's right, it has. It's now painful to eat hot things, solid things, and cold things. Which leaves lukewarm liquids. Hmph.

Still, I'm at home. I have painkillers, and water, and, courtesy of the FAQ line, the longest list of things to help throats ever compiled. Not to mention about 900 Jack Benny Shows in MP3 format.

Time to get better, and rest, and recover.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

throat thoughts

Just woke up in a sweat-soaked bed in Charlotte NC to find that the fever had broken in the night, and I can more or less think again, which is a relief. The back of my throat still looks pretty scary, though, and normally straightforward things like talking and swallowing are not as easy or as comfortable as they usually are. Still, if I refrain from talking a lot during the day I should be able to do the reading tonight, using lots of ginger and lemon and honey and things. I hope.

(I suppose the alternative, if it doesn't fix, is they could cross out "reading" and put "pained whispering" instead. As in "Oh yes, I attended the Neil Gaiman Charlotte Novello Festival pained whispering. It was... interesting...")

Hi, Neil.

I'm currently teaching Animation Scriptwriting at the Mapua Institute of Technology's IT Centre in the Philippines. I am not sure how you'll react to this but here goes: I am currently using "The Sandman Library" and "The Sandman: Endless Nights" as REQUIRED reading material for my students. (Hey, it makes my life easier: my students think it's a lot better than having to go through whole tomes of Shakespeare.)

The question here is: you don't mind now, do you?

Midge K. Manlapig
Makati, Philippines

Not even a little bit.


I have been a writer of short stories and poetry for years now. A few months ago, I began work on my first novel.

To say the least, I am suffering from a horrible case of impatience. I have come to what seemed like an appropriate stopping point, slightly past the middle of my story. My plan was to revise the half that I've already written, so that everything was down and organized before I proceeded to the climax and the wrapup.

However, as I continue to revise and revise and reVISE this portion, my impatience grows increasingly worse. Each time I look at it, I see more inadequate descriptions, more quotes that seem inconsistent with my characterization, etc, etc.

Needless to say, it's feeling like a neverending task, but I am determined not to give it up. I am thrilled by my idea and the potential of the plot. I do NOT want it to go unfinished and untold.

I was just hoping that you could offer some form of reassurance...
How long does it usually take you to finish a novel?
Have you ever felt the way I'm feeling? (And, if so, how the hell did you overcome it?)

Thanks for any advice you can give.

Sure. Finish it first in rough draft, then fix it. Don't stop half-way through to get it right. That way lays madness. And you'll only discover that you needed the gun in the desk drawer (or why you'd put that gun in the desk drawer) once you're close to finishing the whole thing anyway.

I often stop half-way through a book or a big story and draw little lines and list out characters and all the things that may be happening to them and all that kind of thing, so that I don't overlook anyone or forget anything enormous, and so I'm sure that I have the shape of the whole thing in my mind. But the only way you'll finish a novel is by forward motion (like a cartoon character running across empty space across a canyon), and stopping to fix everything you've done so far generally isn't forward motion...

Get to the end. Then fix it.

This is a sort of random question that will probably prove interesting only to a specific number of people but I had to ask, if only to satisfy my curiosity. I am a huge fan of Roger Zelazny and I know that you had were friends with him as well as an admirer of his work and I was just wondering if the galleries that the Endless used to communicate amongst themselves were in anyway derived from the tarot card system that the royal family of Amber from Roger's Amber Chronicles used? Like I said, it's a rather odd and obscure question but I just wanted to know.


That definitely fed into it, yes. The Endless in many ways came from thinking about Roger's marvellous novel "Lord of Light" in which he tells of people who have made themselves gods, and wondering whether I could make that work inside out and upside down.

For those who haven't yet heard Dawn French reading Coraline, it's being broadcast on the Oneword digital radio station on AFZ (Adult-Free Zone), starting Monday 20th October 2003 at 16:30 to 17:30 BST. The first part of that programme will be finishing off Michael Morpurgo's take on Robin Hood, but then it's Dawn, continuing each weekday at the same time until the 27th. It's repeated in bigger chunks at 7am on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th.


Tony Quinlan
Chief Storyteller

It's a marvellous reading, and I highly recommend it. Oneword is at

Just another heads up on awards hogs, Fritz Leiber managed to snag the grand slam of book awards as well. I think he kind of gets lost in the shuffle since he was never a curmudgeon like Ellison and well now he is dead (Leiber), so someone has to stick up for him!

A great list of his works at:


And Fritz's story "Space-time for Springers" gave me the feeling I wanted for "A Dream of a Thousand Cats". And he read it, and told me he liked it, which made me very happy indeed.

Leiber was one of the greats.


There's a lovely Philip Pullman review of Maus in the Guardian over at


Interesting, if dim, essay at, that makes me wonder if some people have simply got the wrong end of the term graphic novel. No-one ever grumbled that Smoke and Mirrors would have benefitted from my experience as a novelist by, er, not being a collection of short stories. It was a collection of short stories published in book form. And that's what Endless Nights is. That's what it began as, what it was always meant to be. Seven stories for seven artists. It says so on the back of the book. Complaining because it's not a homogenous work seems a lot like buying a pizza and then complaining because it's flat and round and covered in red stuff and melted cheese.

And over at Dirk Deppey comments on the low numbers of books going out through Diamond. It's worth pointing out to Dirk something that many retailers have pointed out to me, which is they no longer order all of (or even most of) their copies of graphic novels from Diamond. They put in for their initial orders, and then place other orders through the book trade distributors -- so while the Diamond numbers are invisible to the book trade betseller lists, there are also book trade numbers that are invisible to Diamond and to the comics world, often as many books again.

Friday, October 17, 2003

now with added tonsils

In San Jose, with a swollen throat that feels like it was gently rubbed down with barbed wire in the night. Still waiting for the fever to stop, but am still feeling a lot better than I was a couple of days ago. Hoping that everything sorts itself out by tomorrow night in Charlotte.

Dear Neil,

We came and heard you read last night in San Jose. Fifteen Portraits of Despair -- the story about the farmhand and the cats -- was devastating. I thought about it all night long, and first thing this morning. It's the most horrible thing I've ever heard or read that you've written. And of course that is what Despair is all about. This is the sixth time we've heard you read and the first time I wish I hadn't. But then I would have missed Forbidden Brides, and I did enjoy that tremendously. Thank you for flying to San Jose when you are sick.

I know how you feel. If it's any consolation (and I'm sure it won't be), the story of the cats is one of those things that really happened; I ran into in a local newspaper, and I couldn't get it out of my head, so I wrote it as fiction, to see if that made it any better, and it didn't really.

Dear Neil,

I hope this reaches well you and isn't lost in traveling hullabaloo :
You won, once again, the Israeli Gefen award, awarded by the visitors to Isreal's Sci-Fi Convention, Icon.
You won for American Gods, for best fantasy novel (for which Coraline was also nominated).
The Gefen award is given every year at Icon, to books in SF&F published in hebrew during the last year (in translated, and -for the first time this year- original, categories.

We had a WONDERful con! We had this year a distinguished guest - Author Orson Scott Card, who so kindly honored us with his presence. Mr. Card proved to be kind, interesting, funny and a perfect Gentleman.

Just wanted to let you know (and hoping to see you here as well!)


Thanks, Avri. What great news.

Hi Neil,

I attended your reading at SJSU this evening. I had to dash before the signing because I have at 15 month old son, who I suspected would not be sleeping. (I was right, he wasn't.) Last time I saw you read (In Berkeley in 2001), I stood in line for an hour at the signing and couldn't think of a thing to say. It figures that this time I had something to say, but I didn't have an hour - or more - to wait to say it.

Without further ado, here's my comment and question. Thank you for writing children's books! I am looking forward to sharing your books with my son when he gets older. I would have had to wait much longer to share your work with him before Coraline and now Wolves in the Walls! I am looking forward to the Crazy Hair book. My question: you mentioned that you read your daughter the very first children's book that you wrote, and that you thought it was awful. What did she think of it?

I hope you feel better soon. You didn't look so well when you came out for the reading, and now I see in your journal why that is.



I think Maddy quite liked it -- she made me read her the whole book to the end, after all. But she was a lot more forgiving than the author.

Hi Neil.

Not a question...

Once upon a time I read a comic - SANDMAN #34. I had subscribed that series along with the other pre-Vertigo mature readers comics from DC, without knowing what most were about, and that subtle story about werewolves hooked me. Since then, I've been following your work (almost) faithfully.

I finnaly got ENDLESS NIGHTS and wrote a review for Bizarro (, a portuguese site about comics (and related stuff) I participate on. I thought it might be nice to let other portuguese-speaking Gaiman fans, from Portugal, Brazil and other countries, know about the review and meet the (nice, i hope) site.

Here is the direct link to ENDLESS NIGHTS review - People can also find texts on the portuguese versions of THE DAY I SWAPPED MY DAD FOR TWO GOLDFISH and HARLEQUIN VALENTINE on the reviews ("cr�ticas") section, by the way.

Bye bye, keep up the fine writing and this *very* nice blog.

Pedro Arag�o

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Zithromax and Me

Off to San Jose in a couple of minutes, while Compuserve downloads hundreds and hundreds of e-mails I haven't read...

From there to Charlotte NC, for the Saturday night NOVELLO reading and signing. (Already sold out, I'm afraid.)

Not in the best shape I've ever been in -- a bit feverish, and on antibiotics for a sore throat, although I got my Doctor's blessing (or at least his permission) for the trip; and I spent most of the last 36 hours asleep, which is a wonderful sort of a thing to admit...

Home again on Sunday. Will probably post on the road.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Now Sleep.

For a very long time I had a Compuserve account. And then, after doing a signing on behalf of Compuserve in Las Vegas, I was given a sponsored "free" compuserve account. Looks like it's just expired, and the notification came in a few days ago while I was otherwise occupied with stumbling across Germany, and I got home to find it dead. So if you're one of the people who has written to me at Compuserve in the last few days and hasn't got any kind of reply, it remains to be seen whether or not I'll be able to get my account back, access the e-mail, etc,. so it may be gone for good...


(Next day edit. The good people at Compuserve are sorting it all out for me. I should have my Compuserve e-mail again by Thursday, hurrah.)

Seeing you asked for them, a sampling...

I'm on the plane home.

I'm typing this on the plane home, although I won't send it until I get back tonight, by which time I'll already be home, and it'll be out of date...

Let's see. Yesterday I was photographed in the morning, then tumbled off to Gottingen by train. Actually walked around Gottingen for a little bit with Doris-from-Heyne-my-publisher, and bought Maddy some small toys, and bought myself a notebook that looked like it wanted to have a book written in it.

I'll write of Martin Semmelrogge
And talk about him in my blog
As he would do, had he the blog
And were I Martin Semmelrogge

Then we went back to the hotel that Martin Semmelrogge was staying in, and waited for him to arrive. He has a wife, called Sonja, and a dog who travels with them, a polish sheepdog called Crazy, and a fast car, but no driving license any more, so he only drives late at night. It being daytime, Sonja was driving, and there were traffic jams. So he was a bit late.

Martin is a German actor, famed for his bad-boy roles, along with his occasional brushes with the law from moments of Hunter Thompsonian excess. He is an engaging man, with a rattish, raffish grin.

I tell of Martin Semmelrogge
Who travels with his wife and dog.
They call him Crazy. That's the dog.
And, maybe, Martin Semmelrogge.

He's very funny. Our first meeting, over a lunch a few days ago, he explained how to get out of trouble driving fast across America. You need a radar detector, and you have to tell the police that because you are German that you misread the speedometer and thought it was in Kilometers, not Miles, per Hour. Of course, he told me and Gaby-from-Heyne-my-publisher, occasionally the police call each other to say that there's a man in a red mustang doing 120 mph, or you get shopped by a trucker, and then you spend the night in jail.

He thought Gaby and I should drive back with him from Hamburg to Frankfurt, instead of taking the plane.

Zooming through the Rain and Fog
There goes Martin Semmelrogge
In his car his wife, his dog,
but not me or Gaby.

He certainly upped the entertainment quotient for the tour. And when I got too bored or stressed I would make up Martin Semmelrogge poems to amuse myself...

Now in the end I'll pettifog
I've rhymed it "Martin Semmelrogge"
It should be "Martin Semmelrog-ge"

Anyway, the Gottingen reading was enormously fun -- I did the best reading I've ever done of Sam's "I believe" speech. Then train back to Frankfurt, and by 1:00am I was settled down for a night in the airline hotel, where nothing worked properly and I couldn't get online. A previous guest in the room had set the TV alarm for 6:00am, and it worked perfectly, and I cursed him and his ancestors, not to mention his progeny and his camels.

Then the plane.

Alisa Kwitney (who is, in no particular order, a former editor of mine and my friend since about 1990, author of the Chronicle "Sandman: King of Dreams" book [the mysterious Sandman coffee table book that either has or hasn't been published recently, depending on where you look for it], and a very smart and funny novelist) got me a copy of her new book "Does She Or Doesn't She?" and I've been carrying it around for a while now. Somehow the plane seemed a good place to read it. It has a quote from me about Alisa (with an added editorial exclamation mark) on page one and she thanks me in the acknowledgements because every now and again when she was writing it she'd ring me up and chat about her plot, and I'd say "Well, why don't you do something like this...?" without much idea of what I was talking about, given that I hadn't read the book she was writing.

Anyway, apart from the fact that the book's title is not as good as the book, and that all Alisa's books have been lumbered with those identikit Chick Lit covers which show cartoons of sassy women strutting coolly off the page while toting Accessories, it's a terrific book. The heroine has a fantasy at the start of most chapters, each fantasy in a different genre. My favourites were the hilarious Bewitched pastiche, and the Vampire sequence, which showed that Alisa could do the Laurel Hamilton thing brilliantly if she wanted to. And meanwhile the story is something that starts out more or less normally, and then dissolves into a lunatic farce of FBI men, Russian aphrodisiacs, TV Soap Opera, hot water pipes, identity, infidelity and attempted murder. And sex. Lots of sex. Lots and lots of sex. Lots and lots of sex, written by an old friend, which is marginally more embarrassing to read, even when you're really enjoying the book in question, than you might think. Anyway, it's the kind of book that fans of genres (except cowboy fiction. She didn't do cowboy fiction in there...) would really like if it wasn't for the way the cover tells them not to pick the book up.

Which reminds me...

Saw the entertainment weekly photo. Very nice.

I was wondering how many books per year you're requested to write blurbs for. In the past two weeks, I've seen a note by you written for Craig Thompson's Good-Bye, Chunky Rice and Robin McKinley's Sunshine. If things continue at this pace, I'll see 48 blurbs by you in one year.

And I wonder, if you read something you don't like, do you simply refuse to write the blurb?

Sure. Or if I don't have the time or the inclination to read something. And I'm actually on a sabbatical from doing blurbs, because it makes it easier to just say no to everyone. But people still send me advance manuscripts or proofs of books, and lots of the blurbs that have come out on book covers in recent months � Robin McKinley's, Nick Sagan's and the latest Greg McDonald Flynn novel, for example, have just been my comments on what I'm reading, taken from this blog. I'm not sure if the Craig Thompson blurb (it was for Blankets, by the way, not for Goodbye Chunky Rice) was from this blog or not.

I keep running into the problem of not knowing whether to say nice things about books here or not. Mostly I still do, because it's fun to recommend books to people. But if I put something up here on the journal I tend to qualify statements, and write something like"If he'd paid more attention to details this would have been a perfect book. As it is, it's only unmissable if you have nothing else to read. Still, the description of the Assassins Anonymous meeting is absolutely gripping and if the rest of the book were this good it would have been magnificent," which publishers then leave out the qualifying bits of, and I find myself saying "a perfect book... unmissable... absolutely gripping and... magnificent!" on the back of someone's book.

Whereas something that's meant to be a blurb normally stays a blurb.

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Sunday, October 12, 2003

Frankfurt Bookfair: Day 112.

I think I'm very done on interviews at the fair. They seem to be turning into a hellish blur, during which I've run out of nice, and polite, and cheerful. Today's penultimate interview, for example, from a radio site, done by someone who explained at the beginning that he had read my all comics but not my books, contained bits that went more or less like this:

--I have read your comics, and Sandman, and the theme of them is Personal Failure. What is the theme of your new book?

--Personal Failure.

--This failure. Is it yours?

--No, the readers.

--And your other books? What is their theme?

--Personal Failure. It's all I write about... actually, I can't ever remember writing about Personal Failure as a theme. What exactly were you thinking of?


--Is there a specific story you're thinking about? That I wrote?

--Uh. The story, well, the one with the magician who gets the tattoo on his chest, a scorpion, to stop him doing bad magic...

--That's John Ney Reiber's Books of Magic. I didn't write that.... Look, have you actually read anything I've written?

I think we established that he hadn't -- he owned Death: The High Cost of Living, but admitted he didn't know what it was about, as he had only looked at the pictures and not tried to understand the story. It's not that I mind if an interviewer hasn't read anything, but I can't see why you'd do an interview trying desperately to give the impression that you have. Surely it just sets you up for trouble. It was certainly a lively interview after that.

Normally I'm very good at saying things like "Well, that's a very interesting question. Let's look at it another way..." when an interviewer says something dim. I was an interviewer once, after all. But I'm getting grumpy and impatient, and it's time to go home...

("What do you think of the Frankfurt Bookfair?" asked another interviewer.

"I think if I am a very evil man while I live, when I die I will be sent to a Frankfurt Bookfair that will go on forever in every direction, and will never end, and the interviews will never stop," I told him, honestly. I don't think that a multiple choice exam of possible correct answers to give journalists in answer to that question would have had that one listed.)

Ah well. The main lesson I'll take from this is to insist I actually get the occasional day off on tours like this. I've not had one, unless you count travel days, since I left for Washington some weeks ago, and I suspect that even if I'd just had one day of sleeping in, wandering a foreign city, buying presents and writing postcards home, in all this, I'd be a lot more chipper and less stressed. After all, you know that you're getting desperate when your main source of amusement is writing four-line poems about Martin Semmelrogge.

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"You were Peter Pan/Now You're Dorian Grey..."

I woke up, talking on the phone (which I had just answered) to someone about an appointment, and unable to figure out who I was talking to or what the appointment was.

Then, after I put down the phone and figured out the conversation and deduced where I currently am (Frankfurt) I realised that tonight I would be in the same hotel room, and not in a different one, or a different city, I was amazingly happy. Two nights in the same hotel room. Wow...

That's when you realise you've been on the road too long.

Only two more days (and two more hotel rooms) to go...

Saturday, October 11, 2003

No Sleep Till Minneapolis

I am very, very tired. Up at 6:30 am to fly to Frankfurt, which wouldn't have been so bad if the "late dinner" last night in Hamburg scheduled for 10:00pm had happened at 10:00pm, but I was still signing then, so I didn't get to the restaurant until midnight, and got precious little sleep.

Did a lot of interviews today. Most were okay, but one interviewer asked such strange questions it started feeling like some kind of weird wind-up. And I was very tired. But that's still no excuse... (The real answer to "Did you ever meet or interview Douglas Adams when you wrote the book about him?" should actually have been "Of course I did. I interviewed him extensively between 1983 and 1987", and not, as I heard my mouth saying, "No, we never met. I think he was scared of me. I spoke to someone through a closed door at one point who claimed to be Douglas, but I think it was really one of his friends pretending to be him. It was all extremely disturbing.")

Lovely review of Wolves in the Walls in the Guardian.

Finished Will Birch's book "No Sleep Till Canvey Island" on the plane back to Frankfurt, the history of the London Pub Rock scene of the early 70s, and played the first Stiff Records Boxed Set on the iPod, which seemed about right. Good book, filled with excellent anecdotes, including a wonderful lesson in how unrelated people and events can create unintended consequences (in this case, a hippie film-editor with a dream of making a "pleasure dome" on an abandoned Martello Tower who hooked up with a con-man...) although the doomed New York Brinsley Schwartz launch hype is the best set-piece.

The web-site's down right now, so I have no idea when this will go up.

And now I'm going to bed.

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Friday, October 10, 2003

Frankfurt signing for Saturday: a useful post...

A quick one -- we're trying to organise some real signings at Frankfurt for Saturday (today) -- if you're coming to the reading go the Heyne Stand in Hall 3 and see if there's any info posted. There may be one at 1:00pm, before the reading, there may be one at 3.00pm immediately after the reading. Or both.

On not signing for 15 people a minute...

My favourite sinking moment from last night was when I was told that I'd be signing for 20 minutes when the (2 hour) reading and Q and A was done. "But there are 300 of them," I said, feeling that this would be impossible in any other country, and that doing one person every 4 seconds is only possible if you're walking down the line with your pen out.

I was told that Germans only come for the readings and don't need things signed.

If anyone was wondering, Germans don't just come for the readings, and they do need things signed, and it all took quite a bit longer than 20 minutes...

Hamburg next.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

"It used to be Distance, Now it's Just Miles...

Look, I'm really not making fun of the article in question, which is overall an excellent story with a nice point of view. It's at :The Daily Northwestern - Comics evolution It's just that this paragraph made me blink:

Masters of the artistic and literary craft have always been conscious of the freedom and challenge that the comic style provides. It took a simple deconstruction of the comic industry for mainstream companies to provide extraordinarily talented creators with the opportunity to take their stab at comics. In the past three years alone, novelists such as New York Times bestseller Neil Gaiman ("American Gods") and Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon ("The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay") have been lured into comics to add a dash of proven literary talent.

It's like an article ten years from now announcing how recently even respected politicians like Arnold Schwarzenegger have been lured into appearing in action films.


Hi Neil -

As CEREBUS nears the end, how about some comments from you about Dave Sim and his book? Especially the Swoon character and the more recent MORPHEUS No 60 - "A Game Of Me" parody cover (issue 288).

Thanks for all your writings.


Which reminds me that it's probably time to start the What Were the Funniest Pages of Dave Sim's Sandman Parody? quiz. It's in Cerebus Book 8, "Women", and it features Swoon, Snuff, Sulk, Sleaze and the rest of the Clueless. There is a really good reason for asking, having to do with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. If you have a favourite page of Women, let me know what it was and why... (The Judge's decision is final, and probably inexplicable. All will be explained at a future date. This won't just be something like the two types of photographer explanation or the weird Alan Rickman moment on Finnish TV that I fully intend to put into a later blog entry then never get around to writing because I forget. This will get explained. I have my favourites, but would like to know what yours were...)


Dear Neil:

I know the answer to this question:

"Somewhere I read (that mysterious somewhere) that you are the only person who had won the Nebula, Hugo, World Fantasy and Stoker. I'm thought the source said that you had won all four for American Gods but that conflicts with the World Fantasy Awards site. Either my memory, the mysterious author or the WFA site is incorrect. Have you won the World Fantasy Award (for American Gods or any other work)?"

I made this incorrect announcement in AwardWeb a few months back. I was definitely wrong about including "World Fantasy" in my note, and I will correct that tonight. But American Gods is the first novel to win the Hugo, the Nebula and the Stoker.

Keep up the great work - congrats on winning the Hugo for "Coraline!"

Laurie Mann

Thanks, Laurie. Which reminds me,

Neil -

Regarding authors who've won the Hugo, Nebula, WFA, and Stoker awards, I'm sure with another hour's sleep you'd have realized that Harlan's won all of the above multiple times, along with just about every other major writing award you can think of.

Well, except for making Oprah's Book Club. And that elusive Oscar and Emmy.

And a plug for and, neither of which I have time to read properly on tour -- or rather, I can just about keep up with blogs, but not with the links, which is really frustrating.

And this is a Quiz you've probably already run into, but can you tell a serial killer from an inventor of computer languages...? Find out at

I'm in Koln for tonight's reading -- the first of the Me and Martin Semmelrogge Show. I'll let you all know how it goes...

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

small experimental post to see if it's working now or not

Dear Neil,
Neverwhere is out on DVD R1.
Will it appear soon on R2 for us not living in the US?
I know it is out on VHS, but DVD is nicer...
Thank you for all the good work in books and comix!
Are Flaten Oslo Norway

Whether accidentally or on purpose, according to reliable reports the Neverwhere DVD is valid for all DVD regions. So if you want it on DVD you should have no trouble playing the US one as long as you have a screen or TV that can cope with NTSC.


Lots of Brazilians have written in to say that Sandman:Endless Nights will be coming out soon in Brazil, and so will 1602...


Dear Mr. Gaiman,
I came to the Bloom-King controversy late and discovered that the link
to LA Times doesn't work anymore even with the fans password;
apparently the article was moved to paid archive. However, it has been reprinted
in many other newspapers which will probably keep it online
indefinitely. If you want to correct the link in earlier entries or at least
publish it now for the convenience of other future readers, try link here or
(in the worst case googling the identifying quote "My friend Philip
Roth, who will now share this" should help).

Best wishes,


And now I need to figure out if I can fix whatever's stopped the LiveJournal feed from working for the last few days...

Frankfurt Day One... Ys and Zs, or vice versa

I'm writing this standing at a public terminal at the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is the first time I have managed to be in front of a screen and awake at the same time for some days. The German keyboard is qwertz rather than qwerty, so I keep having to work not to type words like, well, tzpe. Forgive mz tzping mistakes as I go...

Croatia was fun. American Gods and Coraline were both being published by Algoritam, who publish, by their own admission, the best books in Croatia, and also own a chain of bookshops. I signed in Zagreb and did the two presentations or press conferences or whatever thez were, and I enjozed mzself. Lots of good conversation, and my publisher found it rather endearing that when he drove from Zagreb to Osijek at 120 miles per hour, I simply went to sleep, instead of screaming in terror and stamping my foot on an imaginary brake, or covering my head with my coat, as other foreign author-type passengers had done.

Thanks to all the Croatians, especially Neven (who drove, and is proud that the Croatian cover of American Gods has the first full frontal male nude to appear on the cover of any book in Croatia. It's a picture of Shadow hanging naked from the Tree, and he's very small, which means his full-frontal bits are also very small, but thez are quite definitely there) and Vladimir, who translated American Gods, and helped out with translating generally, and who endeared himself to me more than I can say by turning to me in Osijek, when a radio interviewer asked him to translate some questions to me, by saying "She wants to know the usual sort of stuff, what American Gods is about, why you wrote it, all that. Shall I just tell her?" and doing the whole interview himself, while I tried my best to look as if I was probablz giving him the answers by telepathy.

Let's see... arrived in Frankfurt late, got to hotel to find that they didn't have me listed as arriving until tomorrow. This combination of events had almost induced apoplexy in mz long-suffering agent Merrilee, who was convinced that I wasn't going to arrive in Frankfurt until tomorrow by some terrible clerical error, and that she would have to cope with the Writer's House Party For All Mz Foreign Publishers and Agents without me. But I turned up, and spent a pleasant evening seeing and meeting my publishers and agents from all over the world, and telling them that zes, I would very much like to come and sign books in Turkey, Russia, Japan, Taiwan, Iceland and so on, but that first of all I had to write some more books or thez wouldn't have anzthing to publish.

Stumbled back when everzone had gone and got the hotel to set me up on their wireless internet system. It's not the kind of Wireless internet system that works, though. It's the other kind. I managed to get some e-mail, failed to replz to it, realised that it was starting to hurt to stay awake, and went to sleep, having first arranged the Breakfast Alarm.

The Breakfast Alarm is what I do in nice hotels, when I reallz have to be up at a certain time. I order breakfast. Getting up to open the door, trzing to remember how to sign my name, and then forcing mzself to eat something before it all gets cold, is a pretty good effective method of getting me out of bed. When tired enough, and if the tour is long enough I'm capable of answering wake-up calls in my sleep, after all.

Someone was meant to bang on mz door with a hot breakfast at 8:20, but instead someone banged on my door at 8:50 with a fairly cold hot breakfast. It's an astonishingly good hotel, but I think they're a bit overstretched, what with the Book Fair and all.

Which reminds me...

Readings and signings (always English/German with actor Martin Semmelrogge):
> Thursday, Oct. 9. in Cologne: 20.30 (8.30 PM) at Mayersche Buchhandlung, Neumarkt-Galerie, Neumarkt 2 tel 0221 203070

> Friday, Oct. 10. in Hamburg: 20.00 (8.00 PM) at Abaton Kino, Allendeplatz 3/Ecke Grindelhof tel 040 41320320. (Fixed. thank you Jasper.)

> Saturday, Oct. 11. in Frankfurt: 14.00 (2.00 PM) at Frankfurt Book Fair, Hall 4.1/ forum. This is a reading by me and Martin. ).

(I'll also be hanging around the Heyne Stand in Hall 3 for much of Saturday, being interviewed. Feel free to come over and say hi, and I'll happily sign anzthing if I'm not actuallz mid-interview.
Sunday, Oct. 12. in Frankfurt: 11.00-12.00 AM at Frankfurt Book Fair, Hall 3.0 / J 807 (Comic-Zentrum) Book signing (and participation in the Guinness world record for the longest ever comic.
10/13: Gottingen Fall Literature Festival, Gottingen, Germany 19:00 Reading and signing.

The publisher has presented me with a program of reading from American Gods, between me and Martin Semmelrogge, with me reading in English and him reading in German, although fortunately not at the same time. I've said I'll try it the way they've suggested for the first one, and then if I want to read different bits, I shall. After the readings will be Q&A, and after the Q&A will be signings, and after the signings will be silence and darkness upon the face of the deep, I expect.

And Heyne have launched their own website -- (I notice that they've written something pretending to be me on the front page, which I think is a bit dodgy. If it's got my name on it, I'd rather like to have written it...) I've answered some questions for them, though, and the site contains a German translation of the short story 'October in the Chair'. And, at it has my signing and reading in German schedule...

I'm needed back on the Heyne stand in a few minutes for another interview.

The German edition of American Gods has no naked men on it at all, by the waz. It's covered with flames, and looks very elegant and very mainstream.

Okay -- one question before I go back, mostly because I want to test whether I can access the FAQ stuff coming in from here...

Will there be a paperback Wolves in The Walls? There's only one copy
left in the bookstore, and if there won't I'll need to grab it.

There won't be a paperback of Wolves available for at least a year. Maybe more. Children's books tend to work on a much longer publishing schedule than adult books.

Oh, and this just came in...

Hi, Neil,

I'm sorry if this question has been answered somewhere, but I can't
find it. I'm trying to decide whether to use all my accumulated brownie
points to get my husband to agree to drive three hours to meet you at
the Book Fair in Frankfurt. We can only go for one day, if we can swing
the gas money at all, and what I'm wondering is - will you be doing
both a signing and a reading on Saturday, or only a reading?

An answer would be so greatly appreciated! I'd even bake you cookies
for it....

If there isn't an official signing on Saturday, I'll be happy to sign stuff over at the Heyne stand during the downtimes. I'd chance it if I were you.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

From Zagreb to Book Fair.

Now I'm in Frankfurt, in a hotel. In Germany. Have spent the last hour trying to get a wireless LAN to work for long enough to get e-mail to happen, and it's not, but I may be able to get this to post before I fall asleep. Which won't be long from now...

I'll tell you all sorts of interesting stuff as soon as I'm blogging while awake. So in the meantime here's a lovely article on Peter Straub.

Somewhere I read (that mysterious somewhere) that you are the only person who had won the Nebula, Hugo, World Fantasy and Stoker. I'm thought the source said that you had won all four for American Gods but that conflicts with the World Fantasy Awards site. Either my memory, the mysterious author or the WFA site is incorrect. Have you won the World Fantasy Award (for American Gods or any other work)?

No idea if I'm the only person who's won all the awards or not, but I got the World Fantasy Award in 1991 for Sandman #19, for best short story.

No question. Just thought you might want to read this article I found at It's an open letter to condescending reviewers of comics and mentions your name a couple of times.

Ralph Gamelli

It's a good article. Personally I think we should just try and get equal time for the same method of reviewing from people not reviewing comics. "Personally, I think reading a novel is a waste of good drinking time. Novels are pretty dumb, after all. But I do enjoy novels by Joe Author..."

I should sleep. Being awake is sort of getting painful. Goodnight.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Not that most of you will care, most of you not being in Zagreb, but...

Am still alive in Croatia. Hasty post to let people know that the 12:00pm signing tomorrow that I put a post up here to say was really at 11:00am is really at 12:00pm. Just like it says on all the posters here. So no-one should be confused.

good night.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Putting off packing for another ten minutes...

Well, Sweden was fun. Lots of nice people, and an enjoyable (but long) signing -- and reading and answering questions -- to finish it off with.

Now back at the hotel and ready to sleep for a few hours, then off to the airport and Croatia. Although I have to pack first, of course.

You know, if I were more awake I could probably make the above sound much more interesting, and I'd answer questions, and propose my idea for remixing The Rocky Horror Picture Show with two japanese tourists with cameras wandering through every scene, and I'd talk about watching the rough-cut edit-without-special-effects DVD of MirrorMask last night, and what I thought worked and what I thought didn't, and all that sort of stuff, but I'm still a little punchy so I won't.

Oh all right. I'll do a couple of questions. And I'll wish Anneli good luck in her quest to save the world a bit at a time. And yay! for Nalo Hopkinson!

DUDE, you should put a web-shop in your site. some (most) of your fans live far away and some of your works may never reach them. for example, i'm a brazilian guy, and i have confirmed info that neither Endless Nights or 1602 will get here. plus, i'd like to have Neverwhere and lots of other stuff.
think about it. what's to lose?

I dunno. I suppose I quite like this site being a shopping-free zone. I figure you lot are smart enough to find online retailers by yourselves, and I try to remember to stick in links to DreamHaven's shopping place fairly often, because DreamHaven tend to order enough stuff when it's published or made, and they're all really helpful and funny, and so forth.

When you started selling your writing, I'll bet you never thought you'd be touring all over the world, performing and doing so much signing. In what ways is being Neil Gaiman like being (fer instance) David Byrne or Lou Reed, and in what ways is it not?

Well, when they tour they go from place to place doing the thing they do, which is making music. I don't. I get out and do interviews, and I sign stuff and meet people. Then I go home and do the thing I do, which is write.

Also, people don't shout "play Sweet Jane!" or "Road to Nowhere!" at me, when I stop to fill my pen during a signing. And I don't need to do encores, cos when I'm finished, everyone's gone home...

But the people do come out in crowds, sometimes. And every now and again (like the day before yesterday in the Kulturhuset) I find myself being led around a vast building, with crowds on the other sides of the walls, hoping eventually to wind up wherever I'm meant to be talking, and thinking that it's a lot like the trying to find the stage bit in the Spinal Tap movie...

Hi Neil. I was poking around on and and noticed that Sandman: King of Dreams was listed as "not available" and that it's being released in November. This evening, I was perusing my local Borders and there were lots of copies of King of Dreams lying about. If it were mid-to-late October, that would be understandable. But since it's only October 3rd, I have to wonder: is this a mistake that my Borders made or is it a mistake on the websites? Thanks.

All my best,
Dani (One of the crazies from Florida.)

According to the Chronicle website it came out in September and isn't available, so your guess is as good as mine...

Several LiveJournal people have asked how to sign up for the LiveJournal feed from this blog. There are several feeds, but is the one with the titles of each journal entry in (and yes, I really do need to find how to get themn to show up in the regular blog).

Okay. That put off packing as much as I could. Time to pack and sleep now. Goodnight.

Friday, October 03, 2003

A quick one...

Some schedule changes (and additional info) on Croatia just in:

5 pm: Signing, Algoritam Kings Cross trgovacki centar King Cross, Velimira Skorpika 34, Jankomir, Zagreb
6:50 pm: RADIO 101, radio interview with VLADIMIR BRLJAK
7:30 pm: Promotion-discussion about the book in Klub Knjizevnika (Author's Club)
NOVA TV -Goran Jovetic, a TV interviewer, will interview you during the promotion in Klub Knjizevnika
VJESNIK - Inteview for a big paper Vjesnik, after the promotion
8:15 AM: Good Morning Croatia at 8:15 in the morning. Neven (the publisher) and Neil. Two books each (Coraline and AG) will be given as prizes. Also they would like Neil to draw something
11 -12 pm Book signing at the bookstore in Gajeva Street.
After book signing, you will travel to Osijek.
7 pm: Franck cafe club --book presentation and signing. Trg slobode 7 (Osijek-Zagreb about 300 km/ 180 miles) Coraline will be presented, and you will chat with the editor, journalists, and fans.

Info also posted over at WHERE'S NEIL.

Are the UK dates up to date? I am about to book a flight, and it will be a shame to get there and get kicked out of a store after saying over and over "but Neil Gaiman should be here, really!"
Dana, Israel

I'm expecting more info on other signings-- but the dates that are up are correct, as far as I know, yes.


Today I was interviewed and I signed things for people, and then, in the evening, had a very very very long dinner, with my publishers, which mostly consisted of interminable stretches of no food at all, punctuated by small delicious nibbly bits being brought to the table, which would be gobbled down by a starving author and publishers and translator. Then we'd all wait for another 40 hungry minutes for another small-but-perfect course to come.

(Put this up late last night -- it may not have posted, though. )