Sunday, March 28, 2004

Sleeping the weekend away

Sorry about the radio silence... not sure if I was sick or just tired (I think probably the latter) - I was working solidly from the moment my plane landed, and when the weekend happened I just sort of went to sleep for most of it. Yesterday afternoon I woke and went for a long walk across town, to check out the British Museum Great Court, and to see what they'd done to the Reading Room. I found myself very nostalgic for the Reading Room of old (remembering, among other things, the old Indian man with the purple woollen scarf, who would come in in the morning, order his books, then doze until closing time) but really appreciating the court, and glad they had kept the feeling of what the Reading Room was, except, of course, for the atmosphere of hush. (I like hush in reading rooms.) There's a wonderful bookshop in the courtyard as well.

Anyway, the Wolves in the Walls theatre work has been excellent, except that I'm going to be writing more of it than I'd planned on going in, when I'd assumed someone else was going to be doing all that. And now, after a week, it's become pretty obvious the someone is going to be me. But I really like my collaborators, and I think it will be a really cool project: an opera for children, that would do for children's opera what something like JERRY SPRINGER THE OPERA did for the adult breed.

I've seen more of the Mirrormask film. Each thing I see is more amazing than the last, but it's been very hard on Dave McKean, who had assumed he'd be working on it three days a week, and approving stuff done by other people, and who has instead been working on it five to seven days a week, until quite late each night. (The sphinxes, small winged cats with human faces, which I was worried would seem too cute and not menacing enough, are absolutely terrifying.)

The hardest part of Mirrormask is simply the budget. No-one will ever believe what Dave's done for the money, after seeing the film. On the other hand, if he'd had more money to do it, he would have got a lot more sleep over the last six months.

Let's see -- very behind in posting things: is the secret origin of Vertigo. And it's funny.

Hello Neil!
This is less of a question and more of a request-- I have a website about American Gods ( which attempts to list all of the gods and mythological beings in the book, and I get a lot of wonderful people emailing me with additions and corrections. (Lots more since you posted the link on your blog awhile back, so thank you for that!) I had been saving a bunch of these emails to reply to them when I had time to give a decent reply, i.e. Spring Break. Unfortunately, I use webmail, and some random server crash erased all my saved emails. I'm hoping that if you post this on your blog, these people will see this and email me again, rather than continue their lives believing that I have chosen to ignore their messages. Also, I did update the site rather a lot, including a section that I think is kinda neat, with maps that (attempt to) document Shadow's travels.
So anyway, thanks very much if you could pass that along! (And if not, well, I imagine they'll all get over their unanswered emails :) )
Have a lovely day/evening/whenever!


Consider it passed along: E-mail Renata with your annotatory information on Gods...

Not a question, but a link: is an amazing cell phone recycling program which takes cell phones of all ages and models from voulenteers. If the phone can be refurbished, it is given to women's shelters for battered women to make emergency phone calls on, or loaned to people on organ waiting lists. If the phone is so badly worn that it cannot be saved, it is recycled in the most environmentally friendly manner possible. Since I'm willing to bet a lot of your readers are techies like myself, they probably have a great many cell parts lying about. This would be a great opportunity to do some spring cleaning, and help a worthy cause.

Shalene Shimer


Is American Gods appropiate for 12 year olds? My son is 12 and he wants to read your book. What do you think?

I think that it's probably not appropriate for the generality of 12 year olds, but that it would also depend on the twelve year old in question. There may be some smart, literate 12 year olds for whom it would be the book they're desperately looking for.

I've always considered myself lucky in having parents who never minded what I read, which meant that I would sometimes get into trouble at school for reading things that the school considered inappropriate, but also meant that at the age of 12 I was perfectly happy to try and decode things like Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius or Karl Glogauer books, which are books that today I wouldn't hand to most 12 year olds.

Kids tend to be pretty good about dealing with books they aren't ready for yet. They start them, then decide they're boring, and put them down.

If I were the parent to a 12 year old who wanted to read all 600 pages of American Gods, I'd probably let him or her read it, but suggest that if there were bits he had questions about that he come to me and ask. And possibly suggest that he start with books like Stardust, or Neverwhere...


I just read a rather amusing column by Dwayne McDuffie at, where he describes his mortification on discovering that Justice Clarence Thomas was a major fan of one of his comic books. This is more of a testament to the quality of the comic than any sort of insult towards Justice Thomas, but I digress.

Have you ever been completely moritifed (or, if you're too much of a gentleman to essentially tell a fan you hate him/her, even just pleasantly surprised) to discover somebody reasonably famous was a fan of your work?

-- Ed

I'd heard Dwayne's Clarence Thomas story before, from Martha Thomases when she was DC's PR, but it's funnier from Dwayne...

I don't think I've ever been mortified, no. I've never assumed or wanted anyone reading my fiction to think the same as me, and tend to believe that the magic of fiction is the magic of getting to experience what it is to be human, and to share that with people with whom you have nothing in common, personally or politically or culturally.

I would probably be mortified if someone tried to use my fiction as a justification for doing something I regarded as monstrous. But then, lone gun nuts tend to be fans of The Catcher in the Rye and many serial killers were big readers of the Bible. And, to the best of my knowledge, no Supreme Court Justices have yet been caught indexing their Sandmans looking for quotes.

I get a huge thrill when I learn that people who I admire are fans of mine -- Philip Pullman coming up to me last year to tell me he liked my fiction made my week, but that's because I'm a fan of his. The famousness thing on the other hand, being told "Hey, famous person X is a huge fan of yours" tends to make me go "Oh, that's nice" and then forget all about it. Partly because it doesn't seem very real, and partly because readership is a democracy.

(Lenny got mentioned in the last post because he'd specifically mentioned a photo for the journal, he was dressed as Beyonce Knowles in a Guinness factory, and because we've been working together for well over a decade now -- Neverwhere was Lenny's baby. Mostly, famous people I just sort of know don't get mentioned here, for fear of this blog turning into Andy Warhol's diaries.)

Lots and lots of recent FAQs asking more or less the same thing, of which this is an example:

Hello Neil.Just wanted to ask(although I'm pretty sure lots of other people have already asked), is there a chance you'd read a story of mine(which i promise isn't about vampires ala anne rice or a fantasy rip-off) and tell me what you thinked about it(in a couple of words)?

I guess the short answer is no.

The long answer is:

1) I don't have time. I might have time to read your very short thing. I don't have time to read all the things I'd have to read for everyone else out there who also wants me to read their story or poem, if I said yes. I used to read things, and send back helpful postcards, but there was more time in the world in those days, and golden statues sang like men (or did I simply dream that bit?).

2) Last year I had someone accusing me of stealing story ideas for one of the DESPAIR stories from letters she'd written, and she only calmed down when I pointed out that the story in question was based on a true local story, and offered to send the newspaper clippings to prove it. Up until then I'd been kind of blase about this thing of people claiming you'd stolen their ideas for your stories. Now I've become much more wary. I realised that people really could get upset, thinking I'd stolen their ideas, and became much less willing to read things that people had written.

Right. I'm now awake... off into the day (well, evening).