Saturday, October 09, 2004

Four Hours of Signing Later...

Yesterday, I got to the Mall at around 9:00am ish. Lisa-from-Harper-Collins and I were looking at the map upside down, so we walked from one end of the Book Festival to the other. Bumped into R.L. Stine at the far end of the Mall. "Did you see your signing line? They started lining up at 8:30," he told me cheerfully.

Got to the tent I was meant to have been at in the first place, just where the taxi had initially dropped us off, at 9:00am at 9:30ish, and did an interview with Green Man Review for half an hour, and then I went off to start the 10:00am signing. The line was very very long (about 500 people in the line, the Book Festival people told me). I learned that the first people for the signing had turned up at 5:30 am, but they hadn't got into line until 8:30. I signed until 11:00am, and the line wasn't noticeably shorter. I'd already agreed to do an extra hour after the signing by this point. "Can you do another hour here now?" they asked. The only thing I'd hoped to do was have a cup of tea with Neal Stephenson, so we put that off, and I kept signing until 12:00pm when I had to go to do a radio interview with Heloise. Then I had half an hour, so I grabbed some lunch, said hello to my old friend Doug Winter, who was there to introduce Peter Straub's presentation, and stumbled off to do my reading.

I read some chunks of Anansi Boys, and people laughed in all the right places. (For those people who've asked, assuming I finish it on time, Harper Collins are hoping to publish it in September 2005.) By this point I'd already agreed to do another signing once the reading and Q&A were done, which I felt a bit odd about because the people in the 2:00pm signing line (most of whom had arrived before 10:00am that morning) were going to have to miss the reading. But the reading was enormously fun, and the tent was packed. Michael Dirda introduced me. I had ten minutes off, during which I filled my pen and chatted to Neal Stephenson, then got back to signing for people, which went on until 4:00pm, when I signed for the last couple of people and it was all over. I went back to the author tent, said hullo to Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black (& their Others), went back to my hotel and realised that I was utterly exhausted.

Lisa-from-Harper-Collins gave me all the things I'd been given during the day (including four brand new pairs of black socks. Nice black socks. And do not think I'm not grateful. In fact I'm wearing a pair of them right now,) and she went back to New York.

I sat down on the bed, and woke up an hour or so later, not sure where I was, who I was, or what day it was. Once I'd figured all those things out, I went off and had dinner with Michael Dirda, my son Mike and friends.


I got a nice note from someone in the line, with a link to a blog. So for those of you who weren't there:

According to the Washington Post, I did the extra hours of signing because I am "a savvy businessman". I'm still trying to figure this one out. I thought I did it because there were about 500 people in that line at 10:00am, many of whom had come a very long way, and it seemed like the right thing to do.


Bloomsbury Books in the UK have just started a website for me and Dave McKean: -- some lovely e-cards, and screensavers. It really catches the feel of Dave's work. There's a new screensaver for The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish, which is simple and sweet, and is now the screensaver on my computer. It's worth exploring (the different books bring up different e-cards and screensavers and so on).


I came across the trailer for the movie MirrorMask and then that led me to Coraline (the movie) which led me to the book and now I find myself here. I have not read anything from you yet...and its a headache to keep up with everything so I just decided to ask you what book you would suggest I read first?

I don't know. They're all sort of different. The impression I get is that Neverwhere is a good starting place, but I wish someone would do one of those questionnaires where you tell it books and films you like, and it tells you you'd probably be best off starting with Stardust, or Sandman, or American Gods....

In the meantime, your best bet is to browse and see what catches your fancy.

Hi Neil, Just got back from your reading in DC--my girlfriend and I thought it was wonderful. We were wondering if there's any chance you'll do the audio version of Anansi Boys? We'd love to hear you read the whole thing. Michail Velichansky

I rather doubt it, only because I really want English actor and comedian Lenny Henry to do it. (And not because his wife, the multitalented Dawn French, did an amazing job reading the UK audio version of Coraline.) But I'll read bits of it here and there, I'm sure.


And they've got clips from the "13 Nights of Fright" stuff up on now. It's very silly, a lot of fun, and does not claim to be art. (Incidentally, the website of Jude Prest, who wrote all the things that I say, or most of them, is now back up at