Friday, January 30, 2004

Diamonds, bottled dragon, the Queen of Sheba's hairy legs, et cetera.

The world is full of wonderful news: Jonathan Carroll sent me a link to this BBC news story about a cow that ate 2000 diamonds, and ...

The suspect cow was given a strict diet of dry fodder, and an all day vigil has been launched to see if the diamonds might appear from its' rear end.

It was not long before sparkling cow dung began to be seen.

The dung is now regularly diluted to make it easier and more hygienic for Mr Gohil and his workers to retrieve around 20 to 25 precious stones a day.

I suppose that the fact that we have 2000 diamonds, worth in all about $800, which is 40 cents each, means that these must be very small diamonds indeed...

Meanwhile several people wanted me to know about the pickled dragon found in an Oxfordshire garage:

Hey Neil,
thought you might get a kick out of this article

there's a better picture at this page
Imagine finding that in your garage. Good luck with the new book.

And I have almost nothing to say, except that it's very beautiful, and that if ever I saw a baby dragon, I'd want it to look like that. And that the idea of German Science Fraud to Make English Scientists Look Silly is an odd one -- as if the first thing an inquisitive biologist wouldn't do is open the jar. (Although it looks like the first thing they actually did was simply to make the embarrassing thing go away.)

yeah, i know it's a bit much to ask, but could you identify the gods in American Gods? I recognize a few, but...

You know, if you were Turkish, you'd be in luck, as the Turkish edition of American Gods has a 20 page glossary at the back, listing sundry American Things and most of the Gods. Which was something I thought about doing when I finished writing it, and then thought "no, people will have so much more fun finding all this stuff out on their own," thus proving that, as so often, I have no idea what I'm talking about.

In the meantime there's a good start over at It's not complete, but it gives you some basic information and places to look for more details. And, of course, Google is your friend, if you want to follow anything further. If you want to know more about Bilquis, and who she was, and why she had to keep shaving her legs, and why she recites the Song of Solomon on the streets, you could just google and find yourself on a page with a huge amount of lore on it, like, or a picture of her monument at

Other great god sites are

Pantheons at

And the Slavic Home Page

On this website -- for those of you with RSS feeds and LiveJournal thingies -- there are lots of oddities you have to really poke around to find, including the bibliography I started doing for American Gods. I got half way through, and never finished it, so the confidence trick, coin magic and prison entries remain unfinished to this day. But it gives you a number of good books and background and is at

Hello, Neil!

I had a quirky little question about novel-writing that I don't believe I've ever seen come up. Perhaps it's not something most people think of in-depth at all.

When you write (and if you know others' styles, perhaps you could offer that, too?), do you just write and let it take you, the characters, and the world wherever, only pausing to research something when the need arises? Or do you write out full dossiers on the characters, the world, religions, places, etc, along with plot points that you want to get to, research for those, etc?

In short: do you just write mostly, research when needed, or do a lot of research, then write?


Mostly what I do is research without knowing that's what I'm doing. I'll get obsessed with things and want to know all about them, without having much of a reason that I can articulate, then ten years later I'll realise that it's composted down into somewhere that a story is growing.

But I'll do both, often on the same project. I'll write until I need to find something out (how do you perform an autopsy?), then find it out. Or I'll go and find everything I can out ahead of time (I think my Egyptian gods will be in Cairo Il. -- I wonder it's like there?), and then forget it during the writing process. I never write out full dossiers on characters and so forth, because I'd rather put the time into writing them and find out that stuff that way, but I don't think there's anything wrong with doing the dossier method, it's just not for me. (I don't think there's anything wrong with any method of writing that gives you a book at the end of it.)

Hi, Neil. I was introduced to Sandman about six years ago, and since then have managed to get hold of pretty much all of them, not all that easy in South Africa :).
I had this sudden idea a while back, while I was reading through them, of documenting the characters and the relationships to each other. Who's who, and who's their father and their friend and the person who killed them etc etc.
So I sat down with preludes and nocturnes and started writing down the names of all characters I encountered, including people who only appear once, if they are named. I got distracted around the fifth or sixth book, but by that time the list had hit something like 300 distinct people. Quite scary.
I'm still keen to do this. I thought that it could include info on people who actually existed and all sorts of stuff. I do a lot of Flash actionscripting, and I thought that that might be an interesting way to do it.
What I'm wondering about now is if it'd be polite to ask for permission/blessing on this one. It'd need to include images from the books, which would be credited, and I'm not entirely sure how that all works.
Mm. Enough gabbling.

It's certainly polite to ask, and you have my full permission, for whatever that's worth. Basically you make sure that you tell the world that the images you're using are copyright DC Comics a lot.

Came across this site, and it seemed like the kind of thing you would find amusing!


You're right. I do.

Recently I'd seen an interview that you had done for a Seattle t.v. station for the comic book defense fund. You had eluded to doing a "higher" budget version of Neverwhere:The Movie with Jim Henson Productions and Dave McKean. What is the status of this project? Also, please do not allow Hollywood to make a Sandman Movie. It would be like redoing the Mona Lisa in crayon.

The Neverwhere movie project seems to have got new life recently -- the last thing I heard from Lisa Henson was that they had a financier and were working out some details. I'll make an announcement or link to a press release as soon as something's a bit more solid.

I'm afraid I can neither allow or prevent Hollywood from making a Sandman movie -- DC Comics owns it, not me, and they've sold the rights to Warner Brothers. Which does not, of course, mean that a movie, good or bad, is going actually to be made.

Dear Neil,
Is Johnny Depp going to be in Good Omens?
Or is that just too good to be true?
Hope you are feeling much better.

He was going to be playing Crowley, when Terry Gilliam was going to be directing it. These days Terry's gone on to things that he was able to get the finances for, although he has left behind a script, and I doubt that any of the casting he did for Good Omens will come into play. Unless he comes back to it one day, of course.


Fred the Unlucky Black Cat is now home from the vet. He has a comical and conical white plastic collar around his neck, to stop him licking his wound. His belly is pink, discoloured, knobbly, hacked and stitched, and looks rather like something from an 80s horror movie.

Fred's tumour has gone off to the university for testing.

Fred seems perfectly cheerful, although he looks baffled by the collar-cone, which will remain on until he gets the stitches out, in a couple of weeks.