Thursday, July 29, 2004

no distinguishing marks or features

Most of today was spent on the phone, talking to people about things that needed talking about, which was mostly good, if frustrating in terms of getting any writing done. Finally I went off and did most of the work on the talk I'm giving at Mythcon, which made me happier.

I was amused to read in the Guardian about this parody site, and equally as amused to read the UK government order to take it down:   This is a very is [sic] serious campaign that should not be trivialised. In the interests of helping people to cope in the event of a crisis or a disaster we would ask that you to take down the site, immediately, and not put it up again in another guise, says the person from the non-parodic government version of the site, convinced that maybe people will believe that there really is a "Department of Vague Paranoia", and that they really are being advised about what to do in case of zombie attack.

Mirrormask is mentioned in the TV Guide:   Biggest Headtrip: Do you miss the days when the Jim Henson Company made trippy movies like Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal? Then you'll be happy to know that they're returning to the well with Mirrormask, a truly bizarre-looking movie about a young girl who enters a mysterious dreamworld populated by strange creatures. Written by comic-book guru Neil Gaiman and directed by master artist Dave McKean, this already looks like one of 2005's coolest movies.

I was delighted to learn that Vicky Featherstone has been appointed director of the National Theatre of Scotland. Vicky's co-directing the Wolves in the Walls children's-opera-thing, and is what P.G. Wodehouse would probably have described as a Good Egg. It couldn't happen to a nicer, etc.  Cheers, jubilations, hats flung into the air, popping of champagne corks.

Sorry for an entirely trivial question, Neil, but I'm wondering about something... how many free copies of your books do you get when they are published?  I figure you must have a list of friends and family to whom you send stuff and it would seem kind of weird if you had to buy all those copies of your book.  Thanks!  -peter
It's something that is normally agreed in the contract. Let's see -- DC Comics are probably the best, with 25 of everything. Then it goes down to ten or fifteen copies of most books, and then one or two copies of new anthologies with short stories in (because you're normally being sent them by the editor, and they come from his or her allocation).  And then sometimes you wind up buying a book because you notice you've got a story in it and no-one sent you a copy, and it's probably easier to just buy it than to spend the time dogging the publisher. (I bought a book yesterday with a reprint of a story by me and Dave McKean in it for just that reason.)

With luck I'll get a couple of copies of foreign editions (today brought a two copies each of the Serbian editions of American Gods and Coraline). (Today's mail also brought copies of Amazing Stories, in which I write an 800-word intro to a 200 word Harlan Ellison story, for a 1000 word feature that Harlan had mistakenly believed to be a 100 word feature.)

Other recent arrivals include the very spiffy Locus Awards: 30 Years of the Best in SF and Fantasy edited by Charles Brown and Jonathan Strahan, a book which no library or school library should be without...

Hi Neil,I was wondering if you saw this  and if it was the inspiration for the sleep sickness in Sandman.I love your work, thanks for the many hours of enjoyment.Paolo
Oh yes -- the sleeping sickness in Sandman #1 was a real disease that swept the world. And I hadn't seen that article - thanks.

Mr. Gaiman, I was wondering how I could go about obtaining your permission to feature the Kindly Ones in a student short film about time and graduating history. I feel that the Kindly Ones, by their very nature of being an aspect of one another, would best exempliphy the fundemental concepts of time this short seeks to illustrate. My fellow filmmakers and I concur that there would be little point in even trying to complete the assigment without the inclusion of these mythological figures.  Thank you for your time in reading this. Joshua
Well, you can always put the Kindly Ones into things; I didn't make them up, after all.  I'm sure that, on a fair use basis, you could show pages from the comics if you wanted to do that. If you wanted actually to dramatise bits of the comics for your film, then you'd have to ask DC Comics, and they'll say no, because the Sandman dramatic rights are with Warner brothers.


Several years ago I was given a Gemstar eBook reader to try out, by my publisher. I was unimpressed -- it sort of worked, but they'd taken a great deal of time and trouble to stop you being able to just put books  on it to read, and to make it only usable if you bought books from them.  Once the format was effectively dead and no longer supported, and my own eBook had vanished off into the darkness of some closet or other, they made it so you could put your personal content on your eBook, but I could never be bothered to go and find it again.  And I was reminded of that by this article on tethering.


It's odd when you read two stories that seem to be commenting on each other. So first: the problem. Then the cure...?


Finally, something that came in a while ago that I meant to post, but mislaid.

Hey Neil,   
I've noticed you put up a lot of links from your dedicated blog readers. I thought you might find this of interest.
Seems like a good cause, be you for or against the war.
"Books For Soldiers is a soldier support site that ships books, DVDs and supplies to deployed soliders and soldiers in VA hospitals, via our large volunteer network. If you have old, but usuable paperback books sitting around, collecting dust, why not send them to a solider for a big morale boost?"~Maeve McEneny

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

morning things mostly

Harper Collins wrote to tell me that The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish section of is now up and running.  My favourite moment is when Galveston the Rabbit swims past, using his ears.  There are desktop backgrounds for download there, bits of audio you can listen to, and so forth.

And back in March I posted the story of how I didn't get my photo taken with Lenny Henry dressed as Beyonce Knowles (him, not me. I was wearing a black tee shirt and a black leather jacket). Lenny now has his own website -- the deeply wonderful, where he plugs comics wherever he can. Lenny's on tour right now Down Under and is blogging about it.  I noticed he linked to the BBC press office site, where they have a small clip of Lenny as Beyonce, for anyone wondering what I was talking about back in March. (Yes, I know this is old news to anyone in the UK. Sorry.)

Hi Neil.Is that Johnny Theremin story "real"... or, something to make me giggle and cheer me up.. seeing that I've got a bit of a flu bug right now... and, don't find many things giggle-worthy..??If it is not... would you care if I wrote it..??I'd of course give you credit for creating the characters you mentioned... as long as I could make the dinosaurs have flourescent coloured skin.My head hurts... must sleep.-]@/\/\!3
Nope, it was just something I wrote to make people smile.  Feel free to write it if you wish (that applies to any of you.  Personally, I think Johnny Theremin should have his own website, where neon signs flash on and off in the background spelling out the names of seedy bars, and people share stories.).  And someone wanted to know if he or she could call a band "The Men Without Tents" and of course you can.

Hi Neil,In case you or your readers are interested, I've just completed annotations to the first issue of Books of Magick: Life During Wartime (Si was kind enough to drop by and offer a few clarifications as well).

I'm already having a great rip with the new book, and can't wait to see what you two have in store for us.Best wishes,Matt
Thanks Matt. I think Si is doing an excellent job. And I've loved Dean's art since he filled in on half an issue of The Kindly Ones many years ago. I'm just reading Si's script for Issue 5 right now, and it's terrific.
This came in, which will puzzle anyone who wasn't at the San Diego MirrorMask panel:
Neil, I believe that you were supposed to post the current fish count.I'm simply curious at this point.And just in case enough people don't tell you this: you rule, and youre a really swell guy, which makes us all love you even more. Hugs!Noelle
I promised that as soon as I found out how many fish were in MirrorMask, I'd post the count on the journal. I have not yet found out.

Hi Neil! Is there a site (to your knowledge) that has a run-down of the copyright laws specific to writers, and an explanation of what things like 'first movie rights' and 'first serial rights' and all that rather scary looking jargon-type stuff actually means? Can you also get 'second movie rights' and third ones? And once the writer has sold a story-- short or otherwise-- to a magazine/anthology/whatnot, are there any rights that they automatically retain?Sorry for the barrage of questions, but is being singularly unhelpful (I think it can smell fear) and you seemed like a good alternative. Thanks!~Rae
The trick with Google is to know how to ask it. It also helps if you know what you're looking for.  I googled "first serial rights" and found this incredibly helpful page on writers' rights from Writerswrite: .

To answer your question, first serial rights are the right to publish something first in a serialised format (like a magazine). That's all they are buying. There's no such thing as "first movie rights", if someone buys the movie rights, they buy (or more commonly, option to buy) the movie rights. And all rights to something written remain with the author, except for those that someone specifically buys -- so if you sell the rights to your short story to Amazing, that's all they bought: the right to publish it. They didn't buy the right to sell your story as a theme park attraction unless you gave away or sold those rights. (Which is why you as a writer want to be very wary of someone buying "All Rights".)


I was fascinated to learn that in Florida, this legal judgment appears to make it explicit that two American people with male birth certificates and passports, or two American people with female birth certificates and passports, can legally marry each other, at least in Florida, as long as one of them was classified as a member of the other gender at birth, and has gone through some gender reassignment in the meantime. I doubt that that was what the court was trying to establish, though.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Shatner's Bassoon

Let's see...

Just realised that I'm meant to give a speech on Sunday at Mythcon, so now have to figure out what it'll be about, and write it first.  The advantage to speeches I've written down is that I can stick them up here if I think they're interesting, or collect them in things like the CBLDF's Gods and Tulips and Free Speeches or the NESFA Press Adventures in the Dream Trade. The very best speeches tend to be the ones where I don't know that I'm meant to give a speech until someone says "Right, now, while we're all eating, can you get up there and make a speech?" and I get up, terrified I'll have nothing to say, and then burble extemporaneously for half an hour or so; for some reason those ones are always the ones that people ask me if they can reprint in magazines, and which nobody was taping (which may be to the good: often the stuff that makes you happiest to hear does not read anywhere nearly as well).

Which means that mini-book reviews and Cerebus move to later in the week.

In the meantime, just a couple of short ones. Last time I put something musical up here it was Fredo Viola's beautiful "Sad Song". This time, for balance, you probably need to hear William Shatner, aided and abetted by Ben Folds, singing Pulp's "Common People". You may not think you need to hear it, but I'm afraid you do.

Why can't I find American gods in  the links are there, but the book ain't
It was there for a while, but it vanished.  I asked about this when people first alerted me to the vanishing of American Gods and Coraline. The way it was explained to me, there's some kind of contractual problems, in that the publishers are contractually forbidden by to tell their authors how much they get from licensing the downloads and how the income is apportioned, which means that there's no way that an author can check the publisher's figures (essentially, I was told, the author gets a percentage of the publisher's net profits, but the publisher is forbidden by to reveal how that net is calculated or what it consists of).  The publishers are trying to get this changed, for until it is there are a number of authors' agents who won't let the publishers license their authors' audiobooks to audible.

If you want the audiobook, right now your best bet might be to get it from your local library.


I didn't answer the phone yesterday afternoon, so I missed a call from CBLDF Director Charles Brownstein asking whether I'd be willing to pay $1000 to have Peter David tattooed in a good cause. By the time I heard the message this morning, Peter already had a Wendy Pini elf on his arm. Read all about it here. With photos...


Neil. I have seen the face on the dollar bill. Looks familiar. I know what you and Mr. Moore know. I have deciphered your books...very clever. I bet I'm the first, aren't I? Still, I have to ask, would you do nothing? Election day is almost upon us. Who has your heart????!!! I live in Brooklyn, a stone throw from the Statue of Liberty, the original Promethea(?), and I wonder if you can see me? Am I to be like poor little Frodo carrying the ring back into Mordor by myself, unseen by the great big bad eye. So be it. Tell Alan there are others that watch those who watch watchmen. All said and done, I think you guys are great. I simply don't understand your motive. In the end it all comes back to pride, right? Is it possible you don't know what I'm talking about?????? Ask Alan.  He knows!!!!
He doesn't, you know. Honest.

And no, I can't see you.


Neil,I just wanted to call your attention to my review of 1602 (, up this week at Green Man Review. It got me an Excellence in Writing Award, so I thought it only appropriate to share. And brag. Did I mention the bragging?Thanks for the great story.All best,Matej
I'm glad you enjoyed it,  and congratulations on the award.


This one puzzled me when it came in. Short, to the point, but a little opaque.

Can i have a short summary of each chapter please?, I need it because it is for my journal I will thank you so much.
But when that was immediately followed by the equally desperate, 

I really need it if you do not mind, thank you, I will give the credit that you need.
How could I say no? So: A short summary of each chapter. Er. Right.

In Chapter One we meet Johnny Theremin.
In Chapter Two we learn all about the Men Without Tents and why they claim to need an original 78 rpm recording of Raymond Scott's "Dinner Music For A Pack Of Hungry Cannibals" so badly.
In Chapter Three Johnny Theremin is locked out of his office by the landlord, and Morris Glanz buys (but does not eat) a bar of chocolate.
In Chapter Four Millicent loses her glove, and the dinosaurs attack. Tap-dancing occurs. Johnny Theremin is beaten over the head with a blunt instrument. (Later revealed to be a bassoon.)
In Chapter Five Johnny learns to snorkel, and The Faceless Chickens make their first move.
In Chapter Six Johnny meets Belladonna (who advertises herself professionally as "Slippery When Wet") and loses her again, in tragical circumstances.
In Chapter Seven we discover a cache of Raymond Scott Quintette records, and finally understand why the aliens are so scared of trellises.  
In Chapter Eight the secret of Millicent's glove is finally revealed, as are Miss Belladonna's unusual physical characteristics. Once more Johnny Theremin is beaten over the head with a blunt instrument. This time it's a harpsichord.
In Chapter Nine The Men Without Tents return, bearing omelettes. Terrible things are proposed. Omelettes are regurgitated.
In Chapter Ten, Johnny pays the rent, and is finally allowed back into his office, where Millicent discovers her true self, behind the sofa. The aliens ascend with the Other Glove, but not before persuading the Faceless Chickens to leave humanity alone. Probably. For this week.
And at the last, in the Epilogue, Belladonna eats the late Morris Glanz's bar of chocolate.

You're welcome.


While I was waiting for Dave McKean to get the not-actually-a-trailer working, at San Diego, I told the people waiting about Death being at New Line.

I also told them that "A Short Film About John Bolton", the short film I directed, will be coming out on DVD, with an awful lot of cool extras (and some quite long extras, to make up for the fact that the film is half an hour long).  You can read the details about that at


And finally,  the Fiddler's Green post I said I'd do. Pamela Basham, one of the brave & noble & not even slightly dangerously crazed people running the con sent me a list of cool Fiddler's Green things she thinks I ought to mention. These would include:

The latest Guest of Honour to be announced is Jill Thompson. Jill's funny. She's an amazing artist, a gifted comedian, and she really is the Scary Godmother. She's currently at work on a Vertigo manga book, following up the success of last year's At Death's Door with The Dead Boy Detectives, in which Rowland and Paine wind up at an expensive Chicago girls' school, and are embarrassed a lot.

There will be some Mirrormasky stuff happening at Fiddler's Green. It's unlikely (but not impossible) that we'll be able to show the whole film, but we'll show whatever we can, and there will be lots of Mirrormask cool freebies and wonders.

If you register for the con prior to August the 14th you're eligible to win a dinner with a Guest of Honour on Friday Night. If you don't like Sushi you should probably pick someone who isn't me or Jill Thompson to eat with. 

Pam also thinks that I should mention that they've got some jawdropping things for the auction, and that there are "special benefits" at the convention for CBLDF members who mention that they are CBLDF members when they register. She has not told me what the "special benefits" are. This reticence is most unlike Pam, and is very mysterious. Probably it will involve lime jelly.

The best thing about Fiddler's Green is the size: it's limited to 500 people, which means that anyone who turns up is guaranteed to get their stuff signed, to get a real opportunity to chat to me, to Jill, Karen and the other guests. To get the kind of personal interaction that you'd never get at a larger con, let alone a San Diego Comic-Con...  It'll also, pretty definitely, be the only one of its kind.

(Incidentally, while I was looking at the CBLDF site earlier to find the Gods and Tulips link, I noticed that they have the gorgeous Craig "Blankets" Thompson silkscreen poster, signed by me and Craig, on sale for $30, along with some unsigned for $10.  Click on the links to see the image.)

Saturday, July 24, 2004

From San Diego. Still Alive.

Let's see...

Well, on Thursday night we showed the Sony Execs what there is of Mirrormask. 200 shots still haven't been fully rendered by the render farm so you'd move from real shot to blue screen shot back to real shot, but there wasn't anywhere where there wasn't enough of it finished and rendered at cut in to see exactly what was going on, and a number of sequences were completely finished.

"That was like Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast... on acid... for kids..." said one slightly stunned exec at the end of it. My heart was warmed by the DVD extra-material ladies in the row in front of me, who didn't know what to expect, laughing at all the funny stuff.

Yesterday I went to San Diego on the train. Waiting in line, I realised that pretty much everyone else getting on the train was also going to the convention.

"Boy, last year I tried everything I could to get your autograph," said the gentleman behind me, to me. "I never got it though. I never made it into one of the signing lines. I even tried getting round the back, the no admittance area, to get you to sign something, but they stopped me."

"Oh," I said, apologetically. "Er, well, would you like it now?"

"Nah," he said. "It wasn't for me anyway."

The train journey to San Diego was spent on the cellphone, listening to the CBLDF directors' meeting, with the mute button off (as otherwise the train noise cut out the line for me and for anyone else calling in). The meeting started as I got onto the train, and ended as I stepped off the train into the San Diego sunlight.

The afternoon was a blur of interviews, a signing at the Dark Horse panel (I never got to see the prototypes of the Mirromask toys they're doing) and then the Mirrormask panel -- Dave had made a "this is not really a trailer" selection of footage, which we showed, and at the end we showed the whole of the "Close to You" sequence with singing musical box dolls transforming Helena into a glass-eyed princess of darkness, which was pretty awesome though I say it myself.

(Right now, the release plans for Mirrormask are that it'll go on theatrical release in January 2005.)

Then more interviews and then the Eisner Awards, which I went to because I was to present the Defender of Liberty Award. Rather to my surprise and delight I also walked away with two Eisner Awards -- best Anthology (for Sandman: Endless Nights) and Best Short Story ("Death and Venice",  drawn by the amazing P. Craig Russell, in Sandman: Endless Nights). It remains as much of an honour to go up, shake Will Eisner's hand and receive the award that bears his name as it was in 1991, the first time it happened to me. And now the awards are gorgeous heavy objects, and not just plaques it's even cooler...

And then, at the end of the evening, I presented the Defender of Liberty award. I talked about how the person getting it was a powerhouse for the fund, and about how he was, while someone who was one of the busiest people in comics, someone who still made the time to do stuff to help the fund.

And then Jim Lee came up, and received a standing ovation, and made a speech. You can read all about it at Newsarama:

Saw many old friends -- John Totleben, Eddie Campbell, Heidi MacDonald, Colleen Doran, Jeff Smith, Michael Chabon (who gave a killer Keynote Speech, calling for comics for kids), Will and Anne Eisner, Dave Gibbons (who I've been a fan of, personally and professionally for almost twenty years, and who proved himself a real gentleman) and on, and on, and on...

Then, eventually, stumbled back to the hotel with Charles Brownstein from the CBLDF and give him the "Dangerous Alphabet" Xmas cards, and a signed 1996 San Diego "STARDUST" print by Charles Vess for the auction tonight, and I signed a bunch of Auction stuff that he had brought (including an essay I wrote in 1987 and thought lost, with Rick Veitch still had a copy of, called 'Notes Toward a Vegetable Theology' which contained apart from anything else the plans for what I planned to do in my run-on-Swamp-Thing-which-never-happened).

I met Dirk Deppey and told just how much I missed the Journalista! blog -- he seems to be enjoying editing the Comics Journal though. And I doubt you can really do both...

New Line has announced that the Death film will be happening there -- Warners have been very gracious, and have let it go to another branch of the Time Warner tree (no, the announced title won't be the actual title: it was placeholder title someone put on the script, which stuck).

As I confirmed here a little while ago, NEVERWHERE is coming to DC comics. Want to see who's doing it? Or what it looks like? Details at:

And now I fly home. My plans mostly include Sleeping a Lot.

Next post I'll try and remember to talk about Fiddler's Green (all sorts of cool stuff coming up. Buy your membership now and make the committee happy) and some of the books I've read on planes over the last few days, including a new Diana Wynne Jones Chrestomanci novel, Conrad's Fate, and  the new Gene Wolfe novel, The Wizard, which makes the first part, The Knight, look like an overture.

And Cerebus. I want to talk about Cerebus.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

En route -- San Diego info

Quickly, in an aiport, wirelessly. A couple of practical sort of posts about tomorrow (Friday) in San Diego.

There will be a signing. It'll be me and Dave McKean, and will go from 2:00pm to 3:00pm, at the Dark Horse booth. On the not unreasonable assumption that there will be a lot more people who will want to come to the signing than Dave and I can actually do in an hour, there will be 100 tickets for the signing.

Raffle tickets for the signing will be available from the Dark Horse booth and from the CBLDF booth (4504) today (Thursday) and Friday morning. Donations to the CBLDF are appreciated but not required (nor, alas do they increase your chances of getting into line. On the other hand, I bet if you write a large enough cheque to Charles Brownstein at the CBLDF he'll move heaven and earth to get you into that line somehow.)  They'll call out the winners at the Dark Horse booth at midday.

There won't be a signing after the Mirrormask Panel.

I'll be at the Eisner Awards on Friday Night to present the CBLDF Defender of Liberty Award...

In addition to the many amazing things that the CBLDF have for auction on Saturday Night, I'm bringing with me two of the "Dangerous Alphabet" Xmas poems from a couple of years ago, which were returned to us as undeliverable, and have been sitting in the basement in their little cardboard tubes ever since.

Here's the auction information:


Okay. They're boarding my plane. Gotta go.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

21 on the 21st


...and, just like that, twenty one years went by in a proud sort of blur.

                                     Happy Birthday Mike.

Did I ever tell you how much I enjoy being your Dad?

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Gahan Merritt?

Peter Straub sent me an e-mail this morning letting me know about his website, the mysteriously named and I've just started wandering around it. It's hard not to fall in love with a website that comes with a photo on the front page that demonstrates not only that Stephin Merritt and Gahan Wilson were separated at birth, but that they are also both avatars of Stan Laurel...

Questions are answered, such as:

What�s it like to be a world-famous celebrity author?

Well, you�d never believe the anguish, the hardships, the sheer pain of being one of the most famous people in America. First of all, I can never leave the house without wearing a wig, a hat, and sunglasses. This is extremely tiresome, especially when I go to the movies. The people behind me keep punching me in the shoulders and yelling at me to take my hat off, so I am often compelled to turn around and whisper to them �Mind your manners, bub, I�m a world-famous celebrity author!� Besides that, there�s that incessant horde that gathers each and every day in front of my charming little palace on the Rhine and throws pebbles up at my windows. There are days when I truly wish I were an anonymous hack, but they are few in number.

It also contains interviews, articles, scrapbook things, introductions, stuff, and a recipe for hibiscus vodka. It's one of the best author sites I can remember running into: pure Peter Straub from beginning to end, which means it's very smart, and very funny, and written by a man who comes across as deceptively and utterly normal until you see the peculiar glint in his eye or ponder just how many serial killers he has running around in his head...

Don Murphy's official website has a small graphic of Death, which you can click, that pops-up a window stating a major announcement at Comic-Con... Is this a hint? Can you elaborate in the slightest, confirm or deny or anything?

Well, things are getting closer, and there may well be something that we can announce at San Diego. Or not. (Blinks innocently.)

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Cucking claptrap

I've long known that Claptrap means rubbish or nonsense. I was browsing in a dictionary the other day, as one does, and learned that it came from things one could say on a stage or to an audience that meant very little, but were automatic applause-getters. (Things that literally trap, well, clapping.) And it's also the name of a machine they had once in old theatres that simulated the sound of applause. It's such a good word: anything declaimed from the stage that gets people clapping without thinking. Claptrap. And just as applicable to any side in a political debate...

The other word I've been pondering recently is cucking-stool, the original form of what later became called a ducking stool. Cuck is a word that remains on the fringes of colloquial English as cack (as in such phrases as "when the headmaster said 'now, empty out your pockets' I thought I was going to cack myself"). The OED seems to think that it was probably a cucking stool because people thus punished were tied to a privy seat and ducked into a pond. Knowing the robustness of old English, it's quite possible that the people so ducked were considered cuck, or, even more likely that they might soil themselves in the ducking...

(Which sounds much more like the sort of thing that scaryduck would post than I would really. Only he'd put it so much more robustly.)

Of course, E. Cobham Brewer thinks it was just a "chucking" stool (ie it was chucked into the water); while an 1897 account suggests, unconvincingly, it was a toilet seat used to display the ladies' posteriors in public, and that nobody got dipped in a pond at all.

I love language. It's such fun.

(Which reminds me, another reason to beware ducks. Thank you Maure.)


You answered a question about your home life asked by someone who had also recently read one of your short storys called "The Problem of Susan". Is it online anywhere, or published in any available book? Susan was one of my favorite characters, so I must read it!


The Problem of Susan is in Al Sarrantonio's impressive new anthology FLIGHTS (here's the Green Man review of the book). I'll be reading it at the Mythopoeic Society's Mythcon, in Ann Arbor, in a week or so.

Hi Neil,

I've been reading your blog for about a year now, been reading your work for, oh, let's see...15 years? Since Sandman 1. Anyway, my first book will be out in October, and I am attempting to line up some travelling dates to support it. After reading the question about the family, which I found enlightening, I was wondering how your family feels about your frequent absences. My wife seems extremely apprehensive about the three trips I have tentatively planned and total about three weeks together. As the the other gent's post stipulates, I have no wish to pry into your personal affairs, so aliases and generalities are AOK. Anyway, though I know it is not a lack of trust but separation anxiety,(though since I am absolutely incorrigible about acknowledging ANYBODY'S existance when I am writing, she should be well used to it)I do wish to know if other famous people also have such mundane concerns.

Cheers sir,

Nathan Howell

Well, I know of quite a few authors who make a point of dragging a husband, wife or person on the road to help keep them sane and to have someone to talk to. Do it if it works for you. It's never really worked for me, although I took enormous pleasure in bringing Mike and Maddy out to the CORALINE reading I did in San Francisco a couple of years ago (although there was, at least, something that wasn't a signing going on), and Holly came out to see the LA American Gods signing the year before that. Mostly I'd not inflict a signing tour on a dog, let alone someone I care about: the little ones are probably okay when you're starting off (although the first signing tour I ever did was a UK one for Sandman #1 and Black Orchid, with Dave McKean, and it was pretty huge and exhausting even then) but the bigger they get the less fun they are, the less sleep and food you get, and the more you just keep going, grateful that someone's remained at home and is making sure the kids get to school and the house isn't burning down in your absence. If you're curious about my last proper signing tour, go and look at the original American Gods blog -- the signing tour starts on June the 19th 2001:

(As for the absences, well, it works out. Sometimes I'm gone, but when I'm home, I'm very home and pretty much always available to wander around with, read books with, watch Spaced or Laurel and Hardy DVDs with, depending on the age of the child in question, put the Archie Andrews radio show onto someone's iPod or whatever else it is parents do.)

Dear Mr. Gaiman,

How is Diana Wynne Jones's middle name pronounced? I want to be sure before I recommend her to everyone I know.

Thank you,

It's pronounced Win, as in what people do in playing Monopoly with their daughters, on the odd occasion when they don't lose.

Hello Neil,I've a small, odd question. (I hope you can settle a bet between a friend and me.) We've been trying to find this online everywhere: how do you pronounce Michael Chabon's name? I know you two are friends, and I know you're good at transcribing names--you've said your name is pronounced "GAY-m'n" and Coraline sounds like "Horror-wine."Keep up the excellent work. I've been reading you since 1992, and you've got me for a long time to come.Nicholas.

He pronounces it Shaybon. Pretty much equal stress on both syllables.

Dear Neil:My six-year-old son and I have been fans of Anansi the Spider for some time, having first encountered him in Gerald McDermott's _Anansi the Spider_. His teacher sent home an Anansi story for Garrett to read as homework yesterday, but he was puzzled because she pronounced Anansi's name so differently. He wants to know how it should be said. I can't find anything definitive, and a friend pointed out that you'd probably know. How do you pronounce Anansi?Angela

I've heard it pronounced A-nancy and uh-nunsi. (It tells you a little how it's pronounced that in some parts of the West Indies, Anansi stories became "Aunt Nancy" stories.)

Incidentally, according to a newspaper story I ran across a few years ago, there's a push in the Caribbean to stop teaching Anansi stories in schools, because he's such a poor role-model. There is currently a debate taking place among the teaching profession in the Caribbean who have expressed a concern that Anansi the Spiderman (a cultural folk hero) should be banned and no longer taught in Caribbean classrooms because Anansi, apparently represents a role model for "out smarting" people. Anansi has been used for generations as a vehicle to communicate morals and principles.

There are lots of great Anansi sites. Here's one, for example...


A question: We're going to be parents! What do we do?

A request: More children's books, please.

Another question: How did Shadow come to be a Foreign Service Brat? I grew up as one myself, and don't think I've ever run across another FSB in all the fiction I've read, so of course I'm interested. Obviously it was useful for the plot, as it facilitates his parentage. But I also think there's an outsider-ness to Shadow that may stem in part from that background (among other things, of course) that makes him a great point of view for this American road story.

Thanks very much

Ian Ireland
(with Julie looking over my shoulder)

What do you do? Well, mostly, I suggest you enjoy it. As far as I can tell, having now done it three times now, without an instruction manual, if you love your kids and don't actively work to screw them up, they seem to come out remarkably well, so I recommend not worrying and just enjoying it. They learn all the difficult stuff, like walking and talking, without you having much to do with it. And it all happens much quicker than you'd believe. (One moment they're secretly selling their toys to passers-by to raise money for sweets, the next they're telling you why Microsoft is The Great Beast.) Listening to them's good too; you learn an awful lot.

There's the new edition of THE DAY I SWAPPED MY DAD FOR TWO GOLDFISH coming out next month. Next year may well bring THE DANGEROUS ALPHABET, a sort of Goreyish poem I wrote as an Xmas card a few years back, as an illustrated book (my publisher was so taken with the card that she asked if I'd mind if it became a book, and I don't), and when Dave McKean has recovered from making Mirrormask he'll do CRAZY HAIR. And then once I've finished ANANSI BOYS (a novel for adults) I'll write THE GRAVEYARD BOOK (a novel for kids).

The strange thing is that I suspect that THE GRAVEYARD BOOK (a kids book) will have much more sex, more death, and be deeply scarier on most levels than ANANSI BOYS (an adult book). ANANSI BOYS is, at least so far, a huge big funny enthusiastic puppy of a book that just wants to be loved, and will probably be pressed on kids by librarians. THE GRAVEYARD BOOK will be something else -- something really creepy and cool, I hope. The first few pages of THE GRAVEYARD BOOK (more or less all that exists) follows a serial killer called Jack around the empty house in which he's just killed everyone in the family but the baby. He's looking for the baby.

Shadow was a FSB because I wanted him to be American, but for America to be alien enough to him that he'd notice things that people who were born and bred in America tend to take for granted. So that seemed like a good way to keep him rootless.

Hello, Neil, I was wanted to ask about the protrayl of the Judeo-Christian God in Season of Mists. What was otherwise one of the best Story-Arcs in comic book history seemed to be a little doused by it; he is protrayed as somewhat all-powerful but we never get to see who or what he is. I read in an interview that you viewed all religions as mythology, so why was the Judeo-Christian God so much more powerful than all the other Gods, who may lack belief but do not lack in numbers, and even the Endless?Or maybe it's just me being a tetchy Neo-Pagan :)

Well, no you don't get to see him.

Mostly, Lucifer's Creator gets to be on top because it's the DC universe (or it was at the time, this was way pre-Vertigo); it had a Hell, and in whatever form he/she/it existed, it had a Creator. And for the story to work I wanted a God much older and wiser and deeper and perhaps crueller than any of the other gods, fairies etc wandering around the story.

I wrote Murder Mysteries more or less at the same time as Season of Mists, and although one is in the DC universe and one isn't it's probably fair to say that in my head they share a cosmology of sorts, which may answer some of your questions. Or not. You never know.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

In which the author is briefly impersonated

For reasons that are probably just coincidence, but are odd and cool anyway, I've received about a dozen e-mails over the last week from friends of mine who wanted to let me know that I had turned up in the middle of their dreams (normally described as "particularly vivid") and wanting to know if I'm fine. Yes, I'm fine....

Hi Neil,

First of all, I just read "The Problem of Susan". I loved it! The Narnia Chronicles have always held a special place in my heart, so it was particularly cool to see you go back to that and write such a smashing story.

If it's alright, I'd like to ask a few questions. I'm curious about the "family life" aspect of a writer, and since you're married with kids, I thought you might be the person to ask.

In your estimation, how important is it for a writer to have an understanding, supportive spouse who believes in the writer?

In terms of children, I'm aware that writing isn't usually a 9-5 job. I know if one wants, they can make it that way, but that's not necessarily in the job description. How does being a writer, in your experience, affect your children and the time you spend with them? How about your spouse? How about responsibilities around the house?

I know that these can be quite personal questions. I'm happy if you answer them just generally, based on your experience and the experience of other writers you know.

Thanks a lot. I appreciate your time.

I don't think that an understanding supportive spouse is important. I do think not having a spouse (or significant other) who doesn't believe in you is probably very important: you're already fighting a small war just to get published and to write, there's no reason to fight it on two fronts. But I can't recall ever having met a writer who said that their Person didn't like them writing. Mostly, we marry people who believe in our dreams.

When I was first married I was practically nocturnal, and my wife was diurnal, which made splitting the baby-work fairly easy (if Holly cried in the night, she was mine to look after). Over the last few years there's been the occasional trade-off of me going away on a book signing tour for a month here or a month there, or going off to write somewhere for a bit, but then, when I come back, I'm at home all the time. It works out.

I just went off to answer the phone. This was on my screen when I returned:

Sometimes my family gets annoyed because I'm the kind of writer that is very interested with other writer's books. If they need my attention they'll have to say something good like, "Hey Neil, (Or dad) I made a wheat free strawberry pie; it's in the kitchen" then I drop the book and start running( If I'm hungry that is). But if that doesn't work...... Go get the cold water and pour it on my face( Just kidding)!!! Sorry that I didn't mention it before, but this is actually Maddy typing in dad's point of view. That's why everything is so whacko. Now, Back to dad. : )

I should probably point out that she's never yet poured water on my face to get me out of whatever I was reading. (She just asked, "Do you think they'll be able to tell it's me writing the last bit and not just you making an excuse?" "Yes, I think they'll be able to tell, Maddy. Go to bed.") I wish I were nearly-ten years old and up for multiple exclamation points...

Also, I'm not a big strawberry pie fan.

Anyway, I don't think writing means you don't do your share of the house stuff (it never got me out of anything significant). Does that help?


My friend, artist Kelli Bickman just sent me a link to a video and piece of music done by Fredo Viola, and I keep playing it, over and over, so I think I should probably put a link up here: The video was made with 15 second chunks from a still camera, reconstructed in Aftereffects. You can also follow the links to download an MP3 version.

Dear Neil:

Not sure if you've seen this before - It's an online (non-religious) confessional. (On an unrelated note, it could use a dollar in the collection plate)


I've seen it, and was fascinated by it. It's like driving down a road, passing car crash after car crash, and always having to slow down and watch.

Hello Neil,

Something I thought would perhaps amuse you for a bit. From my blog:
All that glitters

In a surprising turn of events, today was warm and sunny. So I took a dirty, grimy garden chair out behind the house and sat down to read Neil Gaiman's The Dream Hunters (with lovely illustrations by Yoshitaka Amano).

Halfway through, I put the book down on the ground, front cover up. I ventured down to eat some strawberries right off the plants, and to fetch something to drink. Revelling in the sweet strawberries, I looked up towards the house and saw a magpie hopping around the book, showing a great deal of interest in it. For every lap around the book, it dared closer to it, until it eventually stopped right next to it. It stood there for a while, looking at the book. Tentatively, the magpie then started pecking at the book, before nabbing at it and trying to drag it away.

I intervened at this point, and the magpie retreated back into the woods.

Judging from these events, there are two possibilities.

(1) The magpie had excellent taste in literature, but had unfortunately lost its library card.
(2) Many of the world's mysterious disappearances of books with silver lettering on their covers could be solved just by getting search warrants for the local magpie nests.


How odd. I've heard of many copies of Dream of a Thousand Cats destroyed by people's kitties -- I've signed quite a lot of cat-mangled copies -- but didn't know that magpies had any special fondness for Dream Hunters. Probably they're getting tired of waiting for me to write a book called WALL, which is a sort of a romance, and comes in time about a hundred and fifty years after STARDUST, and is about a writer named Jenny Curtin going home, and is filled with magpies. (I wrote the prologue long ago, before writing Stardust even, and it was printed in Charles Vess's lovely FALL OF STARDUST portfolio, along with Susanna Clarke's story of how the Duke of Wellington mislaid his horse.) I went looking for the link to it on Charles Vess's site, but all I could find was this link to the gorgeous Stardust Portfolio Charles has been doing.

In regards to your appearance at the San Diego comic-con: are you familiar with the site They are a 'computer-game-geek' duo who have maintained the most well-known & influencial online webcomic to date. Gabe & Tycho will also be appearing at the Comic-con (all three dates of the convention). While you're down there on the 23rd (& since you're pretty sure you won't go back) why don't you hop over to the PA booth and get a free portrait from the comic's artist, Gabe? That'd be just sweet.

I really like Penny Arcade, but can guarantee that there won't be any time to hop over to any booths, alas. (And if anyone was hoping to grab me for five minutes at San Diego, I'm afraid I've run out of five minuteses.) I'll be doing the Mirrormask panel, there will, I believe, be a Dark Horse signing before the panel, and I'll be at the Eisners to present this year's CBLDF "DEFENDER OF LIBERTY" award to a very worthy winner, and to hear Michael Chabon's keynote speech.

The Fox Movie Channel's 13 Nights of Fright are printing some postcards to give to people at the con. I expect they'll give them out after the Mirrormask Panel, if Hensons don't mind, but I'll also suggest to them that they give some to the CBLDF booth, for people to pick up. (Charles Brownstein was sighing that the booth is located slightly out of the comics mainstream, so it may give some of you a reason to go and find it.) Not sure what'll be on the postcard -- me in a coffin, or me and Malena my undead assistant I expect. Either way it'll be something to send to a friend...

Can you actually DO any of the coin tricks of Shadow's? How far do you actually go into researching that kind of stuff, anyway?

Well, by the end of American Gods I was on very close, intimate and familiar terms with Bobo's Modern Coin Magic. I still couldn't back-palm a dollar coin to save my life, but according to Weird Tales I managed to impress Darrell Schweitzer by vanishing a coin during an interview., making a point about American Gods. I ran all the coin magic in the book past Jamy Ian Swiss -- I think I talk about it somewhere in the original American Gods blog. (A quick search shows that I did -- it was here.) On the whole I just follow the story along, often running along behind it making phone calls to people asking frantically how much flamingoes weigh and whether they can injure you if they peck you or not. I discovered in the first paragraph of American Gods that Shadow did coin tricks, and spent the next two years running along behind, learning how.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

From the (Other) Mailbag...

You know, there's this blog you're reading of course, and then there's the FAQ and Where's Neil and the real FAQ unedited blog, and people know about those.
And then there's the FAQ line, and not many people know about that. To get there, click on MEET NEIL GAIMAN from the main mousecircus page, then click on FAQ. Then click on the down arrow a lot. (No, I'm not sure why it's a Flash site, but it is, and it's very pretty.)
Anyway, mousecircus has its own FAQ section, which I tend to forget about, because the messages don't come in directly to me from it -- they go to Harper Collins, and every now and again I get an email from my editor Clare at Harperchildrens, with a large number of questions in it. And I settle down and answer some of them, and send them back to her, and then they magically appear on the site at some point.
Because the questions come in in huge batches, the answers tend to be much shorter, but they're kind of fun.
Most of the questions are from kids.
Another batch just arrived, and I've not answered them yet. But they have a strange sort of rhythm to them anyway, so I'm just going to cut and paste them in here from the HarperCollins e-mail. Read them. Ponder what your own answers to them would be...
Hi! I was just wondering: at what age did you begin your witing career and at what age did you begin writing Coraline? Thanks for your time! By the way, I LOVED Coraline; I thought it had a brilliant plot and it inspired me to write another story, hopefully I might finish it this time! Bye for now! From, Gaia
how old are you?
How do you compare people in your own life to the characters in Coraline?  Are the settings in Coraline like any places you've been before?  Were you adopted or did you live with a different family than your natural family?
what do you think about Coraline
I am doing a book review on Coraline and I am cant think how to but it in may on words can you help me
how did you arrive with Death's character?
Will there be a coraline two?What gave you the idia of Coraline?
How old were you when you started writing?
P.S.  I love Coraline.  It's an awesome book!
is the cat in Coraline supposed to be the fairy?
Where can I buy a copy of Coraline in it's original british language? I live in Provo Utah, U.S.A. by the way.
i�d Like to know if you are doing any presentation in May 20,21,or 22. I�m Portuguese, and i perhaps go to London in those dates and i like very much to see any presentation of yours.
Thanks for your atention, Sandra Adonis
 i read your book for a book report i really liked it and my teacher loved it too. how did u come up with such a good book and what is your favourite book that you've written so far?
how would u describe your book?
Please forgive me, but how do YOU pronounce your name?  As a "long-time" fan (Sandman #1 and before), I Have often wondered.  Thank you for your consideration.
Hve you been to ? It is a real mouse circus operating in Australia and currently on tour in south east - slightly western Queensland ! The mice are gorgeous coloured charcters and they have all sorts of things to work. The Circus consists of things that mice like to do. They do what they want to do and have a great time to the amusement of the public - young and old  - to the accompaniment of music and lights. Only female mice are used as male mice stink, fight and hang around the "pub" !!! :)
Do you believe that two people can be in the same dream together?
gain from your Utterly Incompetent Lord and Master (Wade Redfearn), I recognized the cover art from your own book "I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldish" as the cover for the Counting Crows album "This Desert Life", and would like to ask if you are a fan of the Counting Crows or you just like their cover art. I found it sorta creepy. They Are  a good band. Saw them in concert once. Bought one of those damn overpriced bumper stickers to put on my binder. Lost the cursed thing in my locker.....
                           YOUR DEAR DEPARTED FRIEND, (Wade Redfearn)
God, if I keep writing I may become an FAQ diet staple. I probably don't taste good, though. Hmmm. Anyways, what in the name of Jesus' Mother was the old palm-reader woman in the "Neverwhere" prologue about... And why did you develop so many extra characters that weren't necessary like that woman and Iliaster and Lear and "The Fop With No Name" and on and so forth... and how did you develop the mediocrely-important characters like Old Bailey...and how do you come up with their freaky personality quirks?
How did you get to know Lemony Snicket? Why do authors know so many other authors?And Your Question to me, I'm Sure, is "WHY MUST I SUFFER THIS INHUMANITY OF INTERROGATION?"~ QUESTIONING YOU LIKE THE FBI, Wade Redfearn~
Where is the place where you feel better?
Did people ever tell you when you were growing up that you were creepy, and that maybe you should get some professional help? What would you say to somebody who said that thinking differently (the way you do) isn't good to expose people to?
The most frightening parts of your book are when the rats sing, or chant, ot whatever they do... But whatever it is it is TERRIFYING. I'm 16 years old and I was extremely scared. Can you tell me what they mean? By the way, your daughter was right, you're never too old for this book. For a long time I wondered if you had meant to write it as a children's book...
where were you born
Do you like bacon?
how do you come up with all these ideas for great books?
I think you're really hott can I have your phone number and/or address?
Does the song the rats sing have anything to do with the "my name is Legion, for we are many" passage from the Bible?
What is your new book called?
How long have you been writing stories.
how many books have you written?   In the wolves in the walls how old is  lucy? In one part  it  says  that her brother goes to school. Why dosent lucy?
when and what made you start out writing?
Some of these people analyze your book too much... I am here to apologize on their behalf. It is a wonderful book! Stop dissecting it! Thats what we do to intensely boring books in AP English class.
I am doing a report on you for school.  Could you please tell me if you went to college, and if so where?  Also what would you say are your hobbies and interests other than scary stuff and writing?  Thank you very much.  NY Fan.
can you tell me about your childhood?
is neil married?
Will Coraline ever be made into a movie? And if so is there anyway to keep it really close to the book!?
Hi Neil, Our class just finished reading Coraline and we were very please with the story....we wanted to know if there was a movie in the future? thanks Trsh Duffy
What are you reading currently ?
What is your favorite short story?
is there going to be a sequel to Coraline?
How come you write so many scary stories I mean, are you trying to scare people Im not saying there bad I like the books I think there are awsome but some people might read the books and be actully hiding under there bed for the next fue weeks so thanks for the great oppritunity of reading your books
Black eyed girl $
I am currently reading this book with a student of mine and he keeps asking me Why the other mother has buttons for eyes? 
Hello Mr. Gaiman. You got Odin everywhere. Why didn't you mention any Greek Gods in American Gods (or in the Sandman books, as a matter of fact-except for Hades i think)? just asking.
Will there ever be a sequel book to "American Gods"? If so, when can we expect to see it? (No Pressure!)
how old were u when u became popular
Hullo, Neil! I just finished reading Coraline, and I picked quite a bad time to. It was late night, almost two in the morning when I finished. I was afraid to turn off my lamp. Anyway, I wanted to ask about Miss Prick and Miss Forcible; they amused me and I wondered if they were based off of anyone, or just sprouted from your imagination?
Hey, Neil. I just read Coraline, and I thought it was AMAZING. I was wondering what you thought Coraline's I.Q. was, though, since she is clever and witty, but if you look at that poem about the girl named Apple...yeesh.
-Sibbie, Tarrytown, NY
Do you purposfully write your books for a particular age group?
When is Coraline the movie coming out to theatres?
Is Coraline just a story?  because when I was reading it,  I kept thinking that it was deeper than that. By the way,  I loved the cat in it.
Why did Coraline accept all the strange things in the book as reality, but she never believed that the the man upstairs really had a mouse circus?
Hey Neil, A friend recomended your work to me and it is amazing. I read it when I need to be inspired for my own little attempts at fiction. But I'm curious, what do you do for inspiration when you are writing?
When is teatime?
I was rereading "American Gods" during a trip through the former East Germany, and one town - Spreewald - had not only storks, but anthropormorphized giant pickles.  The pickles smile and offer themselves for sacrifice to holiday tourists.
  Clearly something sinister is afoot in Spreewald, could you please send Shadow?
I have a door that doesn't open in my apartment.  It should go into the apartment next door, but now I'm not sure....and I don't want to open it to find out (except sometimes I do want to).  The Other Mother keeps showing up in my drawings (especially her hand).    Do you ever read stuff and have parts of it show up in your work? 
My grandfather always based his sotries somewhat near real people in his life, like his wife or .. um, lady friend. Do you ever base stories from experiences with your own children? Are any of your characters LIKE your children? I know that's a big personal question, so I won't be completely a prat if you don't answer.
hi. just wondering if there was a way to send you a letter because I missed out on the opportunity with sandman.... I was a bit young and comics were rare in South Africa
Have you ever thougth about a Caroline 2?

I think my favourite of them is probably how old were u when u became popular.
I got an e-mail from Henry Selick yesterday which was filled with cool Coraline movie news -- apparently several very good things have happened this week, after nothing much had happened for a couple of years. Of course, I'm not actualy allowed to announce any of the cool things until they come out on official channels, but as soon as I am, I will. And they are cool.
Hi Neil,
In answer to I�igo de Paula's question about an 'international publishing house' I'd recommend he contact Asia 2000, base in Hong Kong and run by an old friend of mine:
And there's a much better quality version of the Howl's Moving Castle trailer at      
Though you need DivX codecs to view it.
Thanks. (I see that Blogger has completely redone its front end, which is great, and may mean I can finally put IExplorer to sleep and go over to Firefox all the time. Which will be nice.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The Stardom of Lorraine...

So here's a small start on the post-bag...

You said that your teacher said "Please remember that before you can be properly eccentric, you must know where the circle is." I would like to use this quote as a basis for a short story. Is this OK? Sorry, I'm a bit dim as regards copyright.

Rebecca Billings

It's fine. It's always nice to be asked, but it would come under the heading of "fair use" (here's a bit from the copyright office about what fair use is).

Hullo, my friend keeps telling me you live in the old Addams Family House from the movies, is it true? Tell your cats I say hi.


It's not the Addams Family house from the movies, no (and I think the one in the movies is simply a set anyway; the one on the TV show is, of course, a drawing). But that's certainly the house's architectural style. You can see it on the cover of Patti Perret's book of photographs, Faces of Fantasy, just behind a photo of me about a decade ago, looking faintly grumpy.

Someone named Tyler sent me a link to the following CNN story, with a comment that Well, at least they can SYMBOLICALLY burn the books. Sigh.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) -- A church's plan for an old-fashioned book-burning has been thwarted by city and county fire codes.

Preachers and congregations throughout American history have built bonfires and tossed in books and other materials they believed offended God.

The Rev. Scott Breedlove, pastor of The Jesus Church, wanted to rekindle that tradition in a July 28 ceremony where books, CDs, videos and clothing would have been thrown into the flames.

Not so fast, city officials said.

"We don't want a situation where people are burning rubbish as a recreational fire," said Brad Brenneman, the fire department's district chief.

Ah, it warms the cockles of your heart, doesn't it? Not to mention my favourite sentence,

Breedlove said a city fire inspector suggested shredding the offending material, but Breedlove said that wouldn't seem biblical.

Obviously not. I'm sure this is the kind of pastor who would assure you that in the bible, Jesus always made a point of burning his novels, tee-shirts and CDs on proper bonfires. None of that new-fangled shredding nonsense for him.

Re: Harry Stephen Keeler, a few of his books are available in electronic form from Blackmask. (

I always forget about the wonderful, despite having plugged it here a few times. They have four Keeler novels and a short story up there.

Hi Neil, thanks for all the lovely stories.

Is it possible for an writer living in Asia to get published by an international publishing house?

I'm a struggling writer from the Philippines, and I have little hope of having my works read by anybody outside my small circle of lit fiends. Please say there's hope beyond my monthly paycheck!


I�igo de Paula

I'm not sure there are any international publishing houses, really. You're probably better off initially at aiming specifically at the UK, or the US, if you're writing in English. But yes, it should be practical, especially given the nature of the world these days. I'd suggest using the internet a lot, and getting published online first, wherever possible. Good luck.

Hey Neil,
I'm a first year teacher and I am compiling a "Wall of Amazing Storytellers" for my first classroom ( I teach High School English and Drama ) and was wondering how I could go about getting either a head shot or promotional poster of your magnificent mug for the wall. Please let me know, an entire generation of unenlightened 9-12th graders need something to stare at while ignoring my lecture notes :)
thanks a lot
Steve Shell
Asheville, NC

Well, the best poster is the American Library Association READ poster, which is for a good cause (the ALA) and has lots of useful recommendations for things as well. The hair's a bit odd, and I'm wearing the now-defunct beard, but it's a good picture (by the terrific Kimberly Butler), and it tells people to read.

So, I'm curious as all hell. How does it feel to be a sex symbol of the literary world?

I've absolutely no idea. However -- at least according to this week's edition of The Onion, on the front page no less -- my assistant, the Fabulous Lorraine, has achieved a certain notoriety in that direction, as you will see from the following story...

JACKSONVILLE, FL The unrequited nature of area nerd June Manzo's crush on actor Peter Tuddenham, who provides the voice of piloting computer Slave on Blake's 7, is only slightly more agonizing than the process of explanation she must put herself through every time her media obsession is discussed. "He has this slightly sinister but dynamic way of speaking on the show, particularly in the 'Headhunter' episode," Manzo said, painstakingly describing Tuddenham to fellow science-fiction fan Bradley Preakniss. "When I hear his voice congratulating Avon on his 'consummate skill,' I just get shivers... Doesn't that ring a bell? No? Not at all?" Manzo's crush is surpassed in geekiness and obscurity only by that of Denver's Demitri Ostrow, who has a long-harbored passion for author Neil Gaiman's "fabulous" assistant Lorraine.

And several thousand people have written to let me know about it (thank you all). Most of the messages read something like this one:

Hmm...did you know you were mentioned in this week's edition of "The Onion"?

Well. Not you, no. Not really. It was really more about Lorraine.

(Speaking of Lorraine, could you link to the Folk Underground website again, just so more people can bask in the glory that is The Fabulous Lorraine Garland?)

I certainly can. It's

(I wonder if June Manzo could have been named after Madison area lawyer, convention organiser, and CBLDF supporter John Manzo?)

Or this one:

Lorraine's famous!!
Personally I think that's a totally justifiable and probably not uncommon crush.

Well, if any of you are in the Minneapolis area this summer, you can head out to the Ren Fest, where Folk Underground will be supporting Puke & Snot on the ship stage, you can buy their new CD and nurture small crushes of your own (either on her, on the other other members of the band, on Puke, Snot, the ship, the people pulling the cabriolets, or just anybody, really.) (92,000 turkey legs. Good lord...)

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.")

Goldfish Ad...

This, just in from HarperCollins, is the print ad for the new edition of "The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish" (click on it for a larger version). And while it lists a free poster competition at , that hasn't happened yet (due to this being sneak preview) -- I'll mention it here when it does.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Mirrormask panel in San Diego...?

This just in...

Are you going to be at this? Comic Con? *hopes* I didn't think you were going to be there this year.

Friday July 23: 3:30-5:00 MirrorMask: Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean-Renowned modern comic book writer and best-selling novelist Neil Gaiman and critically acclaimed multimedia artist Dave McKean join to create MirrorMask, their first feature together. Produced by Jim Henson Pictures, this story of an unforgettable journey through a world filled with magic, fantastic creatures and illusion follows the tradition of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. Gaiman wrote the screenplay and McKean directed the film using a combination of live-action and CG animation. Room 20


Well, if they've announced it at the San Diego Comic Con site, then it looks pretty likely. I still haven't had final confirmation on it but had I had definitely heard that Hensons wanted to fly me and Dave McKean in to do a presentation on Mirrormask, and that it was looking likelier and likelier. This will probably be the only time we'll be there though. (There was also talk of a Mirrormask signing at the Dark Horse booth after the panel, which may well happen.)


I've finished the first draft of the Mr Punch Radio Play for BBC Radio 3, and e-mailed it off to the director.

I'm pretty sure that it's too long, but it's very odd, which makes me happy, and it can always be trimmed.

(Here's a review of the Mr Punch graphic novel, for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about.)


I loved Penn Jillette's novel SOCK, which is a murder mystery narrated by a police diver's atheist sock monkey, and written in a flowing stream of consciousness style in which every paragraph ends in a song reference. It's remarkably readable, quite different from anything you've ever read with a messy but satisfying ending, and a point of view. I would have given it a blurb, too, but I read it the week after the blurbs were needed, so there you go.

There's a Penn interview here. I'd point you to the website, but I just realised that Penn was signing in New York, Boston and Philadelphia last week, and I'm mentioning this too late to send any of you to the signings.


Well, don't miss the Penn & Teller show if you get to Las Vegas.

And the book's called SOCK.


The latest Angryalien production is ALIEN in 30 seconds performed by bunnies.

And my favourite commercial is this Japanese ad for open source software. Once you've watched it you can read an explanation at (and I got that one from Shanmonster.)

Ursula LeGuin's breakfast speech at Book Expo America is up at the Harcourt site.

And there's a long, solid New York Times Magazine article on graphic-novels-or-whatever-they're-called which is, in the main, excellent (although I felt that the final paragraph seemed to be more about the limitations of the article's writer than the limitations of the medium). (I'll replace the current link with one from the NYT link generator when it's had time to get up there.)

Maddy's molar

"Right, Dad. I'll be asleep soon, so you'll want to remember to take the tooth out from the envelope under my pillow and put the money in. Er, I mean, if you're talking to the Tooth Fairy you may want to make sure that she doesn't forget this time, right? Well, good night."

I treasure the way our children nurture our illusions. Or at least humour them.

Friday, July 09, 2004

In which an author goes on about a book in progress...


So I've transcribed all of Anansi Boys to date. I finished all the stuff I've already written, and I typed out all the scenes I've written that come after that point in the plot. The only thing I haven't yet typed is the scene where Fat Charlie goes to see his solicitor and is attacked by seagulls, which I may still use in some form. (This was the one I mentioned some weeks ago writing in order to realise I didn't need it.)

Normally when I'm a bit over half-way through a story I find myself stopping and working out everyone's route to the end of the story. I know the people a lot better than I did at the start and the infinite number of things that could have happened on the way to the end have normally reduced themselves down to a manageable number of possibilities.

On the basis that I've already written 60,000 words of the book, I know this is going to be longer than I thought it was when I started. I had wanted it to be Wodehouse-length or Thorne-Smith-length, say about 75,000 words, on the basis that comedies should not wear out their welcome. How much longer than that ANANSI will turn out to be I have no idea.

When I was writing Sandman there was always a point where I'd call Karen, my editor, and say that I thought a storyline was going to go a bit longer than I had expected, and she'd say that that was fine and not to worry (or, in the case of Stardust, that she supposed they could in fact make the last part 64 pages instead of 48).

Which is an odd way of saying that I have, really, no idea how far into this book I am. I know more or less what has to happen next, and then I have a pretty good idea of the various things that need to happen in the last couple of chapters, in terms of the ultimate disposition of the various characters. On the other hand, there are a couple of chapters coming up in which anything could happen, and probably will.

I was hoping to be done with the first draft by the end of August, and I suppose I still am.

(I've given the book so far to a few people to read, and have asked them all how far through the book they think they are. Replies have ranged from an optimistic 2/3rds to a panic-inducing 1/3.)

Seeing that the last few years have been about making lots of small things that have then appeared, I'd forgotten the weird experience of writing a long prose work that no-one gets to see until it's done. I'm in the sort of mood where I'd love to publish it as one of those serialised books, like "The Green Mile", although I treasure the ability to go back in the text and change things too much actually to give it up and do it.

And I'll try and answer some questions and so on next post.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

One last post before intermittent vanishing

Did an interview with Time Out New York about the upcoming new edition of my children's book with Dave McKean, The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish. It's a larger size than the original edition, and has a different (new) cover, mostly because (at the band's request and with our permission) Dave McKean redid the cover for a Counting Crows CD, and we wanted to minimise any possible confusion. I also did a new afterword for it. (It also, at least in its first printing, comes with a CD of me reading the story.)

The LA Times has done an article on Elena-who-doesn't-ride-her-motorbike-to-Chernobyl. It's here, and you'll need to register (or just go to bugmenot for a password. They quote this blog. I don't think the article will assuage the wounded feelings of the several people who wrote to me after I posted the original bit on how she didn't ride her motorbike to Chernobyl (nor, it turns out, did she take many of the photos from the original version of her site) telling me that I had become party to a Russian Government Plot to stop The Truth From Getting Out.

And I see from the Guardian that Microsoft have now patented using the human body as a network. Which, apart from anything, brings a whole new meaning to the concept of viruses.

And I keep meaning to mention that I just received from DC Comics a Sandman: Endless Nights 2005 wall calendar, which is really rather spiffy. It seems to be for sale now, and I checked the usual sort of places, from Amazon on up (or down) and it seems to be pretty widely available. This was a cheap commercial plug brought to you because people always write and tell me off for not mentioning these things.

Here's the Calendar's back cover:

Monday, July 05, 2004

rhubarb and cherries and fireworks, oh my...

I've been in the US long enough that I no longer find summer fireworks to be just odd (although late-autumn-nearly-winter fireworks still feel right.). Also been here long enough to find the July 4th fireworks display last night -- we drove down to the lake, and sat on blankets and stared up at the night -- kind of interminable. It went on for seventy or eighty minutes, and slowly shaded from "Coo, how wonderful, ahhh," over to "Ah. Another big green and purple thing in the sky with small sperm-like sparkly wigglers coming out of it, just like the previous twenty," and from there it was just a short hop to "Please, let it be over soon..."

I've got about a day's work left keyboarding previously-written Anansi Boys stuff. Then I have to finish the BBC Radio 3 adaptation of Mister Punch. Then it's back to writing new stuff for Anansi Boys, with a more or less clear idea of how it ends (although that may change when I get there) and a fairly clear idea of what happens next.

Neil! What are you thinking? You said recently, "I realised a couple of days ago that the rules of fiction mean you have to tread slightly warily as you go..."

You've been telling us all along that there are no rules. Write what comes next, don't worry about rules. If your comedy becomes frightening and less comical simply because it progressed that way, then in my humble opinion you are simply taking your own advice unless you change it.

Was The Sandman series always the same sort of book from beginning to end? You started it with a very discouraging tale about the Dream King trapped in a basement, and went on to several adventures (one of which ended with hope, I'll come back to that). After the first adventure was over and the character and maybe even the writer were left saying, "Ok, what now?" you gave us comedy, horror, drama, mystery, and education all in one. It was remarkable. As we came to the end, you gave us a bit more adventure followed by another discouraging tale that ended so many things we'd grown to love, yet somehow managing to make us smile anyway when it was all said and done. You left us with hope. Not the same hope as portrayed in the first story, or was it? Yes, perhaps it was. It was the reinforcement of that one word that you showed us can defeat Demons. We closed the last page knowing that maybe everything will be ok after all. It was an inversion on itself. In many ways we neared the end and it had similarities to the beginning, which is done often. But I do not think it is often that someone can mix so many genres into one storyline successfully.

You seem worried about the turns that Anansi Boys has taken. Is this just artistic uncertainty? Or am I reading these things entirely incorrectly?

As a loyal reader. I don't care what you do. You could write an Old West parody of Moby Dick (I don't know how, but if you could...) and I would read it and enjoy it because whenever you write a story or even a blurb, it is intelligant and thoughtful, funny, sometimes frightening, often moving. You put our minds to work and we love it. I think I can speak for most if not all of us loyal fans in this regard.

If anyone can make it work, it's you. Thanks for being an inspiration.


That's very kind of you.

I don't think I've ever said there were no rules. I've definitely said that you can do a lot of interesting things by breaking them, and also by not knowing them. But overall, I tend to believe something that my old elocution teacher, Miss Webster, used to say, whenever I'd done what I considered a particularly interesting reading of something, which was, "Neil dear, please remember that before you can be properly eccentric, you must know where the circle is."

Thus, if you're going to do damage to cowboy stories, you should probably at least know the tropes of cowboy stories. (Y'know, you could easily retell Moby Dick in the old west, in a couple of different ways. I once saw, in the West End, a musical retelling of Moby Dick as a sort of Saint Trinian's girls school adventure. It was crap, mind you.)

Sandman is, I suspect, much more classical than it looks. For example, Brief Lives is a Road Trip, or at least a picaresque, just as Worlds' End is a set of tales told in a pub (which is the oldest tradition there is of doing a short-story collection that doesn't look like one). Even individual short stories tend to follow the narrative rules of their class of thing (and I'm not sure that rules is the right word for what I'm talking about here -- axioms, or imperatives or something may be closer to what I'm talking about) -- the Prez story, "The Golden Boy" is a synoptic gospel.

There are things that you can do as an author in a narrative that are unfair to a reader. Ever read something really interesting that ended with a disappointing "And he woke up. It had all been a dream"? Normally it tends to be an incredibly irritating ending to a good book or short story, because it breaks part of the compact between reader and writer, that, in fiction, you're being told something that matters, and that you'll care about, and which will have consequences, and won't leave you feeling cheated. (I'm not saying that an author can't make "And then she woke up" work -- I loved using that as part of the ending of The Doll's House, and having it mean something very different. And it's the only way out of the Alice books that makes sense, but I've still not forgiven Masefield for the ending of the otherwise perfect The Box of Delights.)

In the case of Anansi Boys, I'm not actually grumbling about the subject matter, more talking out loud while I'm writing about something that I'm trying to figure out in the background while the book is going on, which has to do with flavour and approach and how to make something work for a reader (which includes me,'cos I get to be the first reader, after all).

I'm not saying you can't fuse or blend horror and humour (I've done it already, several times). I'm probably saying that in a novel (or at least, in this novel) I'm trying to make something that feels like a layer-cake, with different flavours and textures in the cake, but it's obviously all part of one thing, and in not making something that has a layer of chocolate cake and then a layer of sashimi and ends with a layer of barbecued ribs.

And it's always wise to ignore the daily maunderings of novelists while they're writing.

Hi Neil,
When can we expect a new collection of poems/short fiction?

Give or take a month, you can expect it exactly a year after publication of Anansi Boys. That's because of the way that publishing works: Anansi Boys will come out in hardback, and then, a year later, Anansi Boys will come out in paperback and the new short story collection will come out in hardback. And then a year after that, it'll come out in paperback, and a new novel will come out in hardback. (Although things may get a bit confused, because I'll be writing a children's book, with a working title of The Graveyard Book, after I've finished Anansi Boys.

There's probably enough short stories, poems and such for a new collection by now, although I don't mind putting it off for a little bit longer as many short story contracts specify that you won't allow a short story to be reprinted for a certain amount of time after the anthology is published. So that, say, the FLIGHTS anthology will be the only place you can read "The Problem of Susan" for a year. (Although often those contracts will permit "Best of Year" anthologies.) So by holding off, there will be more stories in there.

I have always appreciated your works, but have never really listened to an audio book. However, I am currently listening to Terry Pratchett's Mort via BBC Radio, and find it incredibly enjoyable. I know you have done audio books before, but I am not sure if you've ever published an audio version of any of your books in the old-time radio show format. If you have, just cane my naive knuckles and send me off again, but I had to ask--are any of your books (especially American Gods) recorded in this manner? With a cast, and sound effects and a proper narrator? I was curious, and felt I should go right to the source. Any information you provide out of your busy schedule would be delightful.

~ Best wishes, sir
J. Lauer

Well, "Signal to Noise" was a full cast adaptation done by the BBC, written by me, with music by Dave McKean, and is available on CD (normally from DreamHaven's site, if you can't find it anywhere else; but I can't see it on their list, and they don't have an index or a search function yet -- thought they may get one soon -- so you may want to go to the Allen Spiegel Fine Arts website, and go to the product page and then click on the little blue face five squares along and two down for information on the Signal to Noise CD, which tells you that this must be a very beautifully designed website and that its primary purpose is not actually in selling stuff, but in showcasing a number of very cool artists.)

"Two Plays For Voices" contains two full-cast and sound effect adaptations, written by me, for the Sci-Fi channel's website, for their late-lamented Seeing Ear Theatre. You can buy it on CD or cassette from bookshops, or listen to the two plays at the scifi website -- at for Murder Mysteriesand for Snow, Glass, Apples. It won an "Audie" award last year.

American Gods is a solo reading, although an incredibly well-performed one, by George Guidall. Anansi Boys will be read, not performed (and I know who I want to read it, but it'll depend on his schedule).

Years ago someone at Radio 4 asked about doing an adaptation of "Good Omens", and I believe Terry and I said Yes, but nothing more was ever heard from them. Maybe they decided it just was a bit too not-Radio 4, or something.


I picked the last rhubarb of the year today, and then I picked the first bitter-sweet cooking cherries and will make something interesting and desserty with both of them this evening.

It's nice being home, even if it's just for a few days.