Monday, May 31, 2004

In Which the author finally has The Conversation with his daughter...

Pretty good day.

Woke up, grabbed notebook before I got out of bed and wrote several lyrics for the Wolves in the Walls opera, including one that made me laugh called "Smash Something Breakable". Exercised, said hullo to the garden. Then spent the afternoon writing the novel, which went from completely despondent "this is awful the whole thing is unusable I have no idea what I'm doing" to, a thousand words later, "I suppose it's not that bad really and I think I know what happens next," and there are worse places to be.

This evening I had a very pleasant time with Holly, which began with her mentioning how much she liked the song "Across the Universe" and me playing her the version of the song by Laibach, which has always been my favourite. "Dad," she said, happily, "This was the version of the song I knew as a little girl. You used to play it. I always wondered why the Beatles one sounded different from the way I expected. I mean you could understand the words for a start." Then we sat in front of the computer for a few hours and I made her a playlist of more songs she had loved as a small girl, the ones she'd remembered and the ones she'd forgotten, which led to our having The Conversation. You know, the one I've known was coming for the last almost-nineteen years.

I dragged songs from her childhood over to the playlist -- "Barcelona" and "Nothing Compares 2 U" and "I Don't Like Mondays" and "These Foolish Things" and then came Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side". "You named me from this song, didn't you?" said Holly as the first bass notes sang. "Yup," I said.

Lou started singing.

Holly listened to the first verse, and for the first time, actually heard the words.

"Shaved her legs and then he was a she...? He?"

"That's right," I said, and bit the bullet. We were having The Conversation. "You were named after a drag queen in a Lou Reed song."

She grinned like a light going on. "Oh dad. I do love you," she said. Then she picked up an envelope and wrote what I'd just said down on the back, in case she forgot it.

I'm not sure that I'd ever expected The Conversation to go quite like that.


Ehrm, maybe it's me, but did you mean low gravity?

Nope, I meant high gravity. Like in the old SF books and comics where super-strength and giantism were a result of growing up on high gravity planets. Honest.

Hi Neil. So sorry to ask but a while ago you mentioned a book to be published (in the fall?) by a new british author about 2 wizards who are enemies and all I can remember is the word Mr. is in the title and that the book is quite long. Shameful considering I work in a bookstore and loathe questions like this. Anyhow if you remember, I would greatly appreciate the title again and I promise to write it down this time Thanks so much.
P.S. Love the pic of you in the coffin. It's creepy good!

Not a problem. The book is "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" (it rhymes with sorrel) by Susanna Clarke, which you can read a little about (including the blurb by me, which was a fancy of way of saying what I'd said here) at and you can learn a little about how it is being promoted at

Dear Neil,

Just to say that, of the five of us at the bookshop where I work, four of us are now Thea Gilmore fans. For this I blame you for your pernicious influence on the two of us who are Neil Gaiman fans & avid readers of your blog, and multiple playings of 'Avalanche' on the shop stereo.

Here's a link to a bizarre news item that I don't think can be genuine, except for the fact that it is from the Daily Telegraph, and surely they wouldn't want to make out that the pro-hunting lobby is rather nuts?

'Notices calling for people to join the new church are
being placed in shooting shops and distributed at country fairs. They
state: "The proposition is that field sports can and do qualify as a

"We have been going into the legal
requirements of having the Free Church of Country Sports registered as
a church. As a church, we could not be attacked by a government. There
would, of course, be a court case, which is what we want."

Mr Brammer, who runs a shooting school at Shillingford, Devon, said:
"There are so many parallels between country sports and established
religions: we also have regalias, we have our own language and our own

"Those in the Jewish faith blow a horn, the shofar, and so do we.

"Hunting is a form of ritualised killing - in our case the odds of actual killing are stacked in favour of the animal to escape.

"We baptise our children by blooding them with the blood of that which we
kill. Is this any more strange than dressing them in white and totally
submerging them in water?"'

Daily Telegraph: 23/05/04 - Hunt enthusiasts call faithful to Free Church of Country Sports
best wishes,

Maria Ng

For some reason my favourite line from the article was Mr Milne, an agronomist from Winchester, said: "Rod came up with the idea for the church. He is the thinker. We think it is valid. We have plenty of headed notepaper." I like the idea that headed notepaper confers validity on things.

And I never posted the NPR page on Thea Gilmore did I? It has an interview and several songs: and here's Avalanche -

Hi Neil,
American fan of yours writing from Germany here. Last year you posted so many great dates for events at which you would be present. Is the "Where's Neil" section simply not being updated, or is Neil just staying in the Midwest US for the rest of eternity?
Through my own fault, I missed you at every single event in Europe. I was in Germany while you were in England; then I was in England while you were on the continent. I had plans to come the Elf Fantasy Fair in Utrecht, but my car exploded (1 big explosion and 4 little ones, actually). I even bought tickets to the Novello: Festival of Reading, "An Evening with Neil Gaiman" in Charlotte, NC (Charlotte being my Alma Mater), but was forced to end my hometown leave a week early to come back to Germany for "business". I gave the ticket to my cousins, I don't know if they actually went or not. Needless to say I gave up on seeing you last year.
If you need the rest, I am sure that I understand, but I was so looking forward to seeing you sometime this Summer in Europe.
I realize that you can't respond to all of these, but I hold to the idea that you at least look at all of them.

Thanks much,

Claude V. Smith

I don't think you'll see me in Europe this summer, I'm afraid. (It doesn't even look as if I'll be doing the Edinburgh Festival now.) I spent over two months last year signing and talking my way across about fifteen European countries. That sort of used up my get-on-the-road-and-promote-things time.

This year is mostly being spent writing. I have to finish the novel, after all. Next year I'll go to Australia for a convention, and will probably spend a week or two doing the signings in countries I've never been to, but where publishers and people are patiently waiting. So it'll be a while, I'm afraid. Sorry.


Time to close a few windows: I snagged this from Mark Evanier -- it's a map of America arranged according to what the generic term for fizzy drinks in cans is in each county:

I've mislaid the news story about the county that collected over a hundred thousand dollars to fight the menace of goths having to give it all back because it couldn't find any and the ones it found weren't menacing, so instead here's an article about how the US Government is fighting flavoured cigarettes (except for menthol, of course).

[Tom Galloway just sent me the lost story: -- and remember, will give you a working log-in ID, if you don't feel like registering.]

Mark Bode is finishing his father's incomplete story The Lizard of Oz, according to the New York Times. It seems to be stretching the definition of "finishing" and "incomplete" a bit (Vaughn Bode drew a cover for it, and told 12 year old Mark the plot, but that's all) but it's good to see an article about Vaughn Bode (and Mark) in the Times. (You need to click on the bit of an illustration to actually see Cheech Wizard and the Oz kids.)

I discovered from the Scotsman that a couple of crap blogs out there mean that The Blog Is Now Dead, It Has Ceased To Be etc.: That's an enormous relief, of course.

This collection of parodic children's book covers and ads is in terrible taste, and is occasionally very funny.

And finally, presenting... the low carb potato.