Monday, July 12, 2004

catching up...

Good Evening... currently watching A Chump at Oxford with Maddy (I think her favourite Laurel and Hardy film is probably Way Out West) and I am silently celebrating having got the house working wirelessly.

Lots and lots of waiting messages. I'll try and answer a few of them...

HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE TRAILER - downloadable here:

Love your work. And your nose.

Thanks. And my nose says thanks as well.

For those not paying attention, HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE is a marvellous book by Diana Wynne Jones, one of my favourite authors (and favourite people), and it's Mr Miyazaki's next film. The clip looks like it's going to be a very faithful adaptation, which are mostly the best kind.

Hello, I saw some weeks ago in your journal that you just finished a new book. Any information you can give us?

No, I didn't. Honestly I didn't. What I did was type up everything to date that I've written (by hand) for the current novel. I've got somewhere between 20,000 words and 50,000 words more novel to write before I reach that point where everything's done and said.

Today I sat and listed all the characters in the book, and what each character needs by the end of the book. (Some need lots of things. Some don't.) I think it helped.

Have you and Marvel either decided or had productive discussions on what your second project with Marvel will be? (Obviously if Marvel has announced nothing you can't reveal what the project will be.)

John Phamlore

Marvel (normally manifesting itself in the person of Joe Quesada) and I have had several discussions. Nothing's been decided yet -- we like a number of possibilities, but in the end it seemed much fairer to everyone for me just to postpone the whole thing until I'm done with ANANSI BOYS, and could give it my full attention, and then start writing it.

(Everything that's been announced as the next Marvel Project on the various comics gossip sites so far hasn't been true.)

Neil, this is an important question. I just lost a notebook I was writing my story in. The way I work is, I've got these voices of characters in my head yelling at me whenever I'm not writing, and now that it's gone, I can't make them be quiet. And I was just getting through the beginning and to the parts I didn't know. I met the bartender and learned that he could use the lighter, but not in the way it was meant to be used. I had to write tonight, but it's gone. Any suggestions?

Ow. Well, on the one hand I'm always convinced that precious wonderful things that get written once can never be reproduced. And on the other hand, most of the times I've mislaid something and have had to rewrite it, it was, I learned when I ran across the mislaid original, better the second time. All I can suggest is a) find the lost notebook or b) start again. Good luck either way.


Lots of people wrote to tell me that Minis and iPods now interface with each other, but honestly I can't see that what I'd be getting (the ability to skip to the next or previous track) would be worth putting in a whole unit for: the iPod already plays through the sound system's aux jack, and sits happily in a cradle in the cup-holder.


I need to close a bunch of windows. So...

Pop quiz. Is the probability that we are now living in a science fictional world indicated most by the British Police Car Zapper that can bring speeding cars to a halt without the need of exciting high-speed car chases, the general arrival of odour-eating titanium lightbulbs, or glowing jellyfish-like art-objects made from lab-cultured artifial skin?


I think I've mentioned before that I'm the Master of Ceremonies for the Hugo Awards on Saturday September 4th at Noreascon -- something I agreed to last year, secure in the knowledge that now Coraline and American Gods had won their Hugos, I wouldn't have to worry about being nominated for an award in 2004. (This was, obviously, before "A Study In Emerald" wandered onto the ballot.) But in case I forgot, I'm mentioning it here.


And I am currently given to understand that the San Diego Mirrormask signing on Friday the 23rd of July will be immediately before the panel, at the Dark Horse booth. This is all subject to change. If you're at San Diego and you want to get to the signing, talk to the people on the Dark Horse booth -- I don't know if they'll be giving out numbers or what, but they should know by the time the convention starts. (They've got the limited, San Diego only, Mirrormask tee shirts.)

I'll miss the Sean of the Dead screening at San Diego on Thursday night, due to not yet having got to San Diego, but if you're there, you'll want to go.


I've started hearing good things from people who have managed to get early copies of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and are pleased I told them about it: here's a small interview with Susanna.


I found this article on the Voynich Manuscript rather convincing, which is, in some ways, rather a pity. There is (possibly) one less mystery in the world.


What does the name Coraline mean?

It means like coral.


Hello Neil,

I have a rather odd question. Will there be man-eating-vaginas in Anansi Boys?

I loved American Gods and recommended it to everyone I know. I even lent my copy to my mother. However I always felt a little uncomfortable about giving her a book with a man-eating-vagina in it. Please tell me that I can loan my mother Anansi Boys to my mom without fear of her reading about some monsterous sex organ.

Thank you,
Douglas Hahner

Well, I'm only half-way through it (or thereabouts) but it seems to be a very PG sort of story so far. Well, there's some hungover nudity and a particularly vicious murder, but so far it boasts an astonishing lack of full-bodied swearing and a complete and utter failure to describe any reproductive organs, lethal or otherwise.

Hey, Mr. Neil! Not sure if I'm sending this to the right place, but I just read the Bizarre article on mystery writer Harry Stephen Keeler and it mentioned that you were a big fan of his. Any place you can get his stuff cheap? I found one site that made custom reprints of his books, but it looked expensive. Help!
Your pal, Mike.

I wonder if the Bizarre article is online. For now, the curious could go and read this article for an explanation of the joy of Keeler.

Well, the place that prints Keeler books to order is and the main reason they started reprinting Keeler is because the books cost so much from book dealers.

It is certainly possible to get cheap Harry Stephen Keeler books -- they turn up in estate sales, in second-hand bookshops where the person who prices the book has never heard of him and doesn't check online, in jumble-sales. You could keep an eye out on or And looking around on both sites, there are some battered or ex-library Keelers out there pretty cheaply.

But you may as well grit your teeth and get Keeelers from Ramble House. They're really nice people, for a start. And they give you the first chapter free..

(Alan Moore told me recently that he sometimes has friends over and they play the Harry Stephen Keeler game, where each has a Keeler book, and they sit in a ring and take turns in reading alternate sentences from the Keeler books they're holding. "The strange thing is," he said, "that what gets read often makes more sense than the original.")