Sunday, October 31, 2004

"On Hallowe'en the Old Ghosts Come..."

Happy Hallowe'en.

Let's see. Just got an e-mail from Thea Gilmore in Poughkeepsie, letting me know that she's now on tour on the US East Coast, supporting Joan Baez. If you can, go see her at:

Monday November 1st
Support to Joan Baez University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Wednesday November 3rd
Support to Joan Baez Performing Arts Centre, Charlottesville, VA
Thursday November 4th Philadelphia Tin Angel 215 928 0770
Saturday November 6th Support to Joan Baez Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY

The Philadelphia gig is Thea Gilmore headlining, not supporting anyone. Thea's probably the smartest, sharpest UK singer-songwriter since Elvis Costello. She's also an amazing performer. I've been plugging her stuff on this blog for years and years (which is how we met -- she e-mailed to say thanks). If you can, if you're in the area, go and see her. (On her last US tour, anyone who told her that they'd come because of learning about it here got a cool freebie. I'm not sure if she has any freebies with her on this tour, but tell her I sent you anyway.)

(And yes, the NY gigs are 21+, so if you're in NY and under 21 you should go on an expedition to Philadelphia anyway. Lovely place. City of brotherly love. Er.)

Go and listen. You're probably not doing anything on Thursday night anyway.

I was amused and irritated in equal parts to see a local Republican Party (in Howell, New Jersey) accusing their opponent in a mayoral race of being "satanic" because he writes horror.

Norine Kelly, chairwoman of the municipal GOP club, said the site Farkas uses to promote his writing is "rather disturbing" and has "Satanic tones." ...

"I had no idea he even wrote a book until someone sent me an e-mail about his Web site," Kelly said yesterday. "It's very gory-looking to me. As a grandmother and a mother, I opened that page and said, 'What the hell is going on?' I don't like the messages. Some people have said Stephen King has become popular with horror stories, but in my opinion Stephen King writes a lot of Satanic books."

Doesn't she know about Goths For Bush?

As I type this the all-day Hollowe'en Marathon is already going on on Fox Movie Channel, with alternate versions of the me-and-Malena intros and outros. Seeing that we're on the last day, I don't feel like I'm giving anything away if I reveal what most of you have probably figured out already, which is that you can watch the secret interviews at

(replace with .mov for the Quicktime versions, and .rm for the Real Audio).


Hi, Neil.I'm an Apple employee and it always drives me bonkers when people insist on perpetuating the iPod battery myth. So thanks for your reply to that guy who seemed to have a chip on his shoulder about it. I myself have a 10GB that's two years old and still going strong (and alas, shall be replaced shortly by the kick-ass U2 iPod as soon as it starts shipping). Another thing you might want to mention is that Apple also has AppleCare for iPod - it's $60 and well worth it, because it doesn't just cover the battery but all the iPod components. So when those little ear-buds die (and they do, and far more often than the batteries do, to be certain), you can just take 'em to an Apple Store and they'll replace 'em for free. And if you're already spending $300-600 on the suckers, another $60 to keep it healthy is well worth it. But so long as people remember to keep their iPod's software updated, and to run the battery all the way out before recharging it, and to turn it off when it's not in use, they shouldn't have any problems with the battery life. Anyway, thanks for the defence (and the plug!).- A.

You're welcome. And I should have mentioned the AppleCare -- I got it on the last iPod (the one that is now Holly's).


Two Fiddler's Green questions:

Neil: Any chance of getting the items up for auction at Fiddler's Green to be auctioned off online as well? Sometimes I've been to auctions where there's dual bidding; you can bid in person OR online. I only ask because those Death Docs are a STUNNING work of art (as are they all) Sax in Ohio

The people at Fiddler's Green are Actively Looking Into It. For now, if you want something -- and I'll try and post a link to the auction list here -- your best bet is to contact someone who's going to be there and ask them to bid on your behalf, or to e-mail one of the Fiddler's Green people and ask them to do your bidding. If you see what I mean.

Neil, I'm a poor aspiring writer from Maryland who's about to come into enough money to attend Fiddler's Green, but won't get it until it's just about time for the con, and my question is this: What are the chances that, should I make it out to Minneapolis by hook or crook or maybe even aeroplane, I'll be admitted (assuming, too, that I have money enough)?

I'd say the chances are 100%. I asked the Queen of Fiddler's Green, Davey Snyder, and she said:

People arriving on Friday and wanting full-convention memberships are about certain to get them.

Davey also mentioned that they will be doing day-memberships for locals and that "day memberships also include a copy of the Souvenir Book, as do supporting memberships. (They all want a copy. They really do. And yes, any extra copies will likely be for sale after the convention is over, but members get them first and for certain.)"


I expect you've already been alerted by somebody with less snailmail lag, but in case you haven't: I have just become possibly the first, and probably the last, person to receive a *second* free signed Cerebus issue from Dave Sim under the current offer. Dave Sim's account of the circumstances will soon be available, punchline-destroying typo and all, on the Sim/Gaiman Project letters archive at - and as Dave Sim tells the story better than I would (which, I suppose, is why he's a famous writer and I'm not), I shall leave it at that. Paul A.Kalgoorlie, Western Australia

Alas, the letter in question isn't up at the letters website yet, so I don't yet know how you got your second signed Cerebus. (I'm happy that people are still writing for their free signed Cerebus, though, and that Dave is still sending them out.)

If you look through those letters -- particularly this one: -- you'll see mention is made of Phase II "Good Things For the CBLDF".

Now, I am in pretty much as much mystery about what "Phase II" has transmuted into as you are (I know what Dave's initial proposal was, and it may well tie into that).

The other day an e-mail arrived from Gerhard, Dave's collaborator, containing the "first Quarto" of Phase 2, which Joe Fulgham has kindly put up over at The Dreaming.

So for any of you who are wondering about it (or even if you just want to see what I looked like as a 25 year old journalist, wearing a suit and grey sneakers, in Dave's Savoy hotel suite), you'll want to click on And there will be another installment in a few days' time.

(I didn't usually wear suits back then, but I'd long previously learned my lesson about going to things at the Savoy: if you didn't wear a suit, and you wanted to be in a public area, they would find you a blazer, and make you wear it.)

(The most frustrating thing about the interview I did with Dave Sim was that it was for the article the UK Sunday Times Magazine had commissioned me to write on comics. I interviewed Alan Moore and Frank Miller as well, and other critics and creators and such, and wrote the biggest and best article on comics that I'd ever written, and sent it in to the editor who had commissioned it. I'd got unpublished art from Dave Gibbons and Brian Bolland and others. It was going to be the first, biggest article on this cool new thing that was happening. I was really proud of it and excited. When, after some days of silence, I phoned to find out why I hadn't heard anything from the editor, he explained that he had a serious problem with it. "It's not that it's not a good article. But it lacks balance," he said. I was very puzzled: I'd written a really comprehensive article about the world of comics, the budding world of graphic novels, circa 1986. "Lacks balance how?" I asked. "Well, these comics..." he said. "You seem to think they're a good thing." And I realised that I wasn't going to be able to provide the sort of balance that he wanted (the kind where you need to give equal time to the people who think that Stephen King is working for satan, who don't read comics and want to tell you why you shouldn't either), and so did he. So he paid me a larger kill fee for the article than I'd ever been paid for anything I'd ever had printed, and even though I was young and hungry, I would still have had the article published than the money.)

Friday, October 29, 2004

"Whatever happened to... Sancho Panza?"

Hey Neil, I was just curious if you know the little fact about iPods (The battery goes kaput after 11 months) then why do you still buy them? (I ask because Apple admits that the iPod does this and the only way they will fix it is if you sent your iPod to them and dish out the cash (I'm sure if people stopped buying iPods because of this, then they wouldn't have this kaput money-making battery). So all in all it just makes me curious why you don't just buy another mp3 player and avoid the whole sharade to begin with.)~Az

Well, as long as it's under warranty Apple seem quite happy to repair or replace the iPod for nothing (which is why I quite like the fact that the iPods in question all went in about 11 months; they have a 12 month warranty automatically). It was only battery problems for one of them -- the other two were both hard disk failures, and given that I haul these things all over the world, treat them roughly and make them work extremely hard, I couldn't blame either of them for dying on me.

It's quite possible to change the battery on the iPod yourself (although you void your warranty, if it's still under warranty -- but then, if it's still under warranty, Apple will do it free). Lots of sites sell iPod batteries for less than $30, with pretty simple installation instructions. And I'm afraid all rechargeable batteries will need replacing eventually: the ones on your laptop, the ones on your phone, the ones on your mp3 player: I'd hardly call that a "charade", or even a money-making scheme -- it's more to do with the physical properties of matter.

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to the new 60G iPod having 15 hours of battery life.

Interestingly, the first iPod in my house (a first generation 5G, which was my assistant Lorraine's, and is now my daughter Maddy's) is four years old, is in continual use, and still works like a charm -- no battery-life problems or anything.

As to why buy an iPod, I like the size, the shape -- the satisfying thingness of the object, a solid little hard disk in a box with an intuitively easy interface -- and, I'm very much looking forward to having 60 gigs of room to play with. (Interestingly, reading this interview with Jef Raskin, I was reminded of why the iPod works so well as an appliance, as well as why I still puzzle my Mac friends by owning two Macs and two PCs and not ever Making The Switch.)


we are Dario, Gabriele and Federico, three 23 years old italian movie design students. We're trying to contact you because we would really appreciate your opinion about a recent project of us regarding Coraline, a book we simply loved. it's a "book-trailer", a short video intended to convey the atmosphere of a book and to attract the curiosity of the viewer (and future reader, hopefully).
This work doesn't have ANY commercial purpose: it started out as an university project, but at the end of the semester it has been awarded the "ciak si legge" prize by the 2004 Grinzane Cinema committee (Luis Sep�lveda, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Masolino D'amico, Peter Lilienthal, Carlo Lizzani, Lidia Ravera, Maurizio Scaparro, Senel Paz and Vassilis Vassilikos).
We put so much effort in this project that we thought it was a pity not to show it to author himself! We would have liked to send you a copy of the DVD, but, since we don't know where to, we put it online and you can watch it here:

We hope you will like it


Dario, Gabriele e Federico

I think that's really cool, and spooky. Thanks so much.


Maureen McCarty decided to make a pair of Doc Martens boots for each of the Endless, and to auction them off at the Fiddlers Green Convention next month. She even got models to model them (I put on the Dream boots for her after the DreamHaven signing in September). Check them out at


Neil, Ive been cominmg to your site for quite a while now, I try to read everything you write as soon as its available or as soon as I find out it exists. I suppose you could say you're one of my heroes. However, I hope i dont offend you when i say this but no matter how much time I spend reading your BLOG, I still find it a little creepy and intrusive that I can keep up with some aspects of your day to day life. Maybe you find the term "hero" creepy, I dont know, but has anyone else brought this up? Has anybody else said that this is kind of like seeing your teacher at the mall. I want to imagine you not having a life other than writing novels and comics and short stories and films! Have you ever had this feeling about someone you consider to be your hero?

Well, one reason I've kept this blog up is that, in a lot of ways, it helps undercut all the Cult Of Personality stuff. While it's probably much easier if you want to be a hero just existing in people's heads, being whatever they want you to be, it's also more than a little odd, and probably very unhealthy. I'd rather, at least as long as I keep up this journal, try and remain as accessible as I can while still being able to get the work done and have some privacy; I have no desire to be anyone's hero. I'm a writer, and a very lucky one in that I've mostly been able write what I wanted to, and enough people like to read what I write that, unlike the great majority of writers, I can make my living writing (I'm a Beowulf, rather than a Dante, in Neal Stephenson's brilliant analogy). And that's enough.

I didn't sign up for this to be a hero, or any of that nonsense: I'm here to tell stories. And the stories aren't me.

When I was sixteen, The Stranglers released their song "No More Heroes" at the same time that Bowie released "Heroes" ("We can be heroes/just for one day") and I remember pondering what heroes were and whether we needed them, and whether we could be them. I wasn't sure that we did need them: when everyone's a hero then no-one's a hero, and I'd rather live in a world in which everyone's a hero.

I think I was lucky, when I was a young journalist, in meeting and talking to a lot of the people I admired, and I found them all, uniformly and unsurprisingly, people. And I also got to realise that the talent (or the craft) and the person are not the same thing. And that liking the work and liking the person weren't the same at all, and when that did occur, you were lucky. I'd much rather think of a writer, or an actor, or a musician, as someone who works hard at the craft and then goes back to life, rather than as someone who has no existence, as it were, offstage. And part of growing up is running into your teacher at the mall, and realising that his or her life carries on beyond the school, just as yours does.

Will the Dvd version of Neverwhere be out in the UK where u r from, U need to start to think about ur british public as well as ur American ones. And have u started to write the second book to it yet if not do u have any plans to when u will write it.

In the UK all rights to Neverwhere are controlled by the BBC, who licensed the DVD to New Video in the US. While I'm happy to "think about my british public", it has nothing at all to do with me, and everything to do with the BBC. Your best bet is to write to the BBC and request it. (You might want to spell things out in full when you do. It may make more of an impression on them.)

And I'll write another Neverwhere novel in two or three books' time, I expect.


Now listening to the Dittybops jukebox at And back to work...

A Short Film About John Bolton

New Video just sent me the cover of "A Short Film About John Bolton", which they'll be releasing later this year, and which you can pre-order with any of the usual suspects. I suspect that, like their release of the BBC Neverwhere on DVD, it will be Region Free, but won't know it for sure until it comes out.

It has on it:

"A Short Film About John Bolton", the short film I wrote and directed (it's half an hour long) in late 2002, starring John O' Mahoney, Marcus Brigstocke, Carolyn Backhouse, Jonathan Ross, and of course, artist John Bolton.

(It's an investigation into where artists get their ideas from.)

"Live at the Aladdin", the hour-long film of the "Last Angel Tour" reading/event at the Aladdin Theatre in Portland in October 2000, only previously available on video through the CBLDF.

"Drawn in Darkness", an audio track, of me reading the story that inspired the film.

Many lovely John Bolton paintings.

Marcus Brigstocke and I doing a commentary on the film, and Marcus interviewing me about it.

As I said, you can preorder it from anywhere that sells DVDs (although, as I think I mentioned last week, the cheapest I've found it is $16.17 at

It was shown at Angouleme in 2003, and at San Diego in the Summer of 2003, and will be shown at Fiddler's Green in a couple of weeks. But this is its first chance to get out into the world.

There. End of commercial.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Once in a blue moon, or a red one

Right. I'm back in the US, the place I'm staying is now livable (although the builders are still here, beavering away in the next room), and I've just solved the internet connectivity issue (although I barely have a phone connection, which is probably a good thing really).

If I'd solved the connection issue last night I would have posted about the blood-red lunar eclipse... But I watched it, and it made me very happy...

So now I'm back just in time to write like a mad thing.

I've ordered a new iPod, so Holly gets my old one, which makes her happy. This means that I've got a new iPod as my birthday present for myself the last two years (and got one from Mary the year before that). It also means that they've none of the three of them lasted longer than 11 months before being sent off to Apple to be replaced (which is why I now get the extended warranty) which isn't a very good percentage. And I have no desire at all to have pictures on the iPod. But I do want 60G of space...


Bill Liebowitz owned and founded Golden Apple on Melrose, a comics-and-entertainment store. I've known Bill and his wife Sharon since I did my first signing in one of their stores in 1989. He was a good man, he really enjoyed what he did and loved the medium of comics as much as he loved yo-yos. (He gave my son his first yo-yo.) He did good things for the CBLDF, and long after I'd pretty much stopped doing signings in Comic Shops I kept on doing signings and events for Bill, because he was unique and so was Golden Apple.

He died yesterday, and is already much-missed, not least by me.

Mark Evanier has an appreciation of Bill, and a photo. (In the photo, Bill is the one who isn't blonde.)

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about learning that there really were hobbit-sized members of the human family (and of course they rode ponies and fought dragons. Or ran away from them). It's like someone discovering fossil remains of a one-horned horse: something suddenly slips from idea-space into the world.

I like the quote in the BBC article from Dr Henry Gee at Nature, where he says "The whole idea that you need a particular brain size to do anything intelligent is completely blown away by this find." Henry manages to give an interview about hobbit-sized people, and then write a whole article about it for the Guardian, without ever once plugging his book The Science of Middle Earth, which is more than I would have been able to do.

(More on the little people at the Washington Post.)


Hello Mr. Gaiman,So I looked online and found data about each state and calculated the geographic centre of the USA. So drum roll please, the Geographic Centre of the 48 Continuous States is 98� 54.8' W and 38� 39.1' N (Between Galatia and Millard, Kansas). The Geographic Centre of the 50 States is108� 21.8' W and 43� 7.2' N (Near Delfelder, Utah. Obviously the answer is only as accurate as the data I started with. I admit it is possible that I have made a mistake. When I first entered the coordinated into MathQuest I got the GC to be in Nepal! I forgot that W = negative.You can see more information on my website. Karen Collins

So Karen has the centre of America in something that Microsoft Streets and Trips tells me is on NW 200 Rd Hoisington, KS. Any other contenders?


If you search for "Blue Moon" on this journal, you'll find several discussions of Blue Moon Ice Cream....

I found this in the food section of the Sacramento Bee. It's a site that lets you order custom ice creams, with flavors that include avocado, blue moon, hot pepper, pandan and rose water, with toppings the likes of dill weed, cheddar cheese pieces, black sesame seeds and Pop Rocks. Obviously I've emphasized the weird ones, but the whole site just looked like something you might enjoy.

Have a safe trip home,

Diana Foss

Thanks. There are some faintly mind-boggling flavours of ice-cream on there...


And yesterday's question asking about references for comics scholarship got a slew of replies:

Neil,For Justin and his graphic novel paper an article from Library Journal Also he could use the journal's search function to find more information. Susan Kosenka


Dear Neil, For anyone looking for scholarly articles on comics I've found the annoted bibliography at to be extremely helpful. Take care, Remco


Anyone doing comic research should start with - comics scholarship annotated bibliographies. Karon Flage


You'd be looking for the journal ImageTexT, published out of the University of Florida. Website is


And now, a Fiddler's Green suggestion:

Yet another odd possibility for Fiddler's Green: Wedding(s). I'm coming from out of state, but I checked with the county office. If I bring my ordination certificate (and $5.50), I can stop by a county service center on my way from the airport and register myself to perform marriages in Minnesota.Being universalist (in that I don't know that anyone has the right answer), I can do just about any kind of ceremony. There's an email link here for anyone interested.Important point: Minnesota has a statutory *five day* waiting period between obtaining the license and the ceremony, so this might not work for people coming from out of state. It could be fun to have a wedding after the auction, adding further celebration to the Masque. Or it could be too much.

By the way, tomorrow is the last day for getting the cheap-rate Hotel Rooms for Fiddler's Green -- which is, for those coming in late, a Sandman-themed convention, in Minneapolis in a couple of weeks' time, with me, Karen Berger, Charles Vess, Jill Thompson, Todd Klein and Caitlin Kiernan as Guests of Honour. All profits are going to the CBLDF.... for more info.


Hi Neil,I read in your journal about the school Halloween celebration being cancelled because of witches being offended. I wanted to let you know that the majority of us aren't really all that offended by Halloween and so far, no evidence has shown up that a witch actually complained. If anyone wants to know how actual witches feel about it, they can check out the section called "Wren's Nest" at and look up the various articles and comments about it. Thanks! Amanda

FWIW, I don't actually believe that the school in question ever thought that Wiccans would be offended, or cared. I think they're idiots who were looking for an excuse to ban something fun and magical with chocolate in it.


Neil, Do you have any suggestions where one might find the Hebrew editions of your books on-line? I tried looking on a couple Israeli bookseller websites, but am a little unsure of how to spell your name in Hebrew, so I'm not sure if they don't carry your books or if I was just searching for the wrong name.Todah Rabbah, John W. Leys

Well, most of the book covers are up at so you could start there.


Right. Back to work.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

When you wish upon a fruit bat.

Had a wonderful day in St Lucia. Wonderful scenery wound with roller-coaster roads. I visited the "drive-in volcano", stood under a waterfall and got magnificently wet, and I left with a general sense that a day was not nearly enough time to spend in St Lucia. Also big chunks of the last bit of Anansi Boys sort of sorted themselves out in my head, the way they do when you're not trying. A more or less perfect day. (On the little prop-plane back from St Lucia I wrote more of my story about the frogs in Central Park, which is a story for kids that I write in my little notebook whenever I have a quiet half hour. It'll probably be finished in a few years at this rate. It's started getting funnier, anyway, which made me happy. I mention this because, if one day I finish it, it will no longer take everyone by surprise.)

Someone queried my comments about the unreliability of the Johnny Grib's Hog Farm Calculations:

The method you mention is actually a very valid method. In statistics (and sometimes physics I believe) instead of calculating an integral for the area under a curve and dividing the area by two and solving for the center, if a 3-D model can be made of the given graph the point where it balances has exactly half of the mass on one side, and half on the other. Expanding this into three dimensions the same holds true. I was just hoping to instill some validity into the situation.

Well, sure. What I meant (but singularly failed to say) was that we were discussing the accuracy of a hundred-year-old cardboard-cut-out of the US coastline. I don't know how truly accurate it could possibly have been; I don't even know the size of the ultimate cardboard cut-out, or the size of the pin. These days, with satellite measurements of coastline and size, you could probably get a great deal more accurate -- I can't see that the "Johnny Grib" result back then could have been anything more than a very rough approximation, with a great deal of room for error. I could, of course, be wrong, and often am. If anyone feels like replicating the experiment and letting us know where the centre of America really is, I'll be happy to post it, or a link to it, here.

And while we're on the subject:

Hello I'm sure lots of people already sent you this, but you never know.... Here's a link to the actual page for the center of the land you linked through the wayback machine in your last journal entry: (this one has pictures! ;-) )Best wishes, and I love reading your books.


*sigh* Are you as bummed about John Peel as the rest of us?Paul Griggs

Very much so. When I was fifteen going on sixteen, John Peel actually played punk bands on the radio, back when it didn't seem like anyone else did. That was when I'd start listening, and apart from discovering bands like the Undertones, I'd also hear things like "Sir Henry and Rawlinson's End" and songs by Tom Lehrer or John Cooper Clarke reading "Beasley Street". Definitely broadened my horizons. But mostly I'm sad because he was the kind of broadcaster who treated the listener as a friend, so you felt that you knew him.

Note to not-English people: you can read about John Peel's death at
And I'm pretty sure that Radio 1 and Radio 4 will both be doing the sort of tributes to him that will give you a good idea why he was that loved. (Although you needed him to be part of your life for most of it to really get it.)

I'm new here, so I don't know if I missed this being mentioned, but I came across the following at the Dark Horse Comics site:
Mirror Mask PVC Set #1
Mirror Mask PVC Set #2 -Fred

Well, I've been here since the beginning and I can't remember if I've linked to them or not either.

Hi Neil, This isn't really a question I just wanted to share a picture of the doll I'm in the process of making for auction at Fiddler's Green. He's not completely finished yet but I'm just so excited about how it's turning out I wanted to share it with you. I'll be taking a slightly more finished picture tonight to send off to the folks running the auction so they can put it up on their website. His hair's only oily looking because I'd just rinsed it, dry it looks much more authenticly flyaway. Thanks for the encouragement!
Amanda P.S. I get to come to the convention after all! Some friends of mine decided it was just wrong for me to send the doll off alone and helped me get plane tickets.

You're welcome. And you just made me think of something that I could donate to the auction. Hmmm...

Mr. Gaiman,At my college I am working on a Departmental Honors Project. For my project I decided to write a 30-60 page paper on the importance of Graphic Novels. I was wondering if you happen to know of any great scholarly journal articles or just articles in general that you could suggest? Thanks for any kind of help you can give.P.S. Over the summer my girlfriend and I went to The House on The Rock for the first time and we absolutely FELL IN LOVE with it!~Justin

Well, I've linked to lots of papers, theses, articles and resources in this journal over the years (you could use the search function to find them). But I don't know of any central repository of this stuff, so I'm posting this in case anyone has any brilliant suggestions.

Thanks to whoever it was that sent me the link to the story on how Hallowe'en is being banned at a Washington school because it's disrespectful to witches.

Right. I was up at 6:00am this morning, and I have to be up at 5:00am tomorrow, and I am not a morning person (in much the same way that the stars are not fruit-bats) so I think it best if I simply stop writing just like

Monday, October 25, 2004

Because it's raining, the journal.

This is one of those where you lot do all the work...

Greetings Neil!Now, I know you don't participate in National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo), but I know a lot of people write to you and ask "How do you start writing?" and you always tell them to "Write." (Which I've always thought is sound advice.) With that in mind, would you mind letting everyone know that there is this (really fun) thing called Nanowrimo where you write a novel in a month, and that it starts November first, and that it's a fantastic way to get over all the hurdles and just write? Information is available at! Ceri

I'm always happy to plug NaNoWriMo each year, and wish all those taking part the best of luck. Make your word counts (and make your words count). Write cool things. Have fun.

Konnichiwa! So to start with the oft-heard refrain: "I'm sure someone has already e-mailed you about this, but..." The Japanese translations of Sandman on are listed using the katakana spelling of Sandman, which would be why if you just searched "Sandman" they didn't come up. Searching on your name ("Neil Gaiman") will bring up five volumes of Sandman and the Japanese translation of Neverwhere. However, if you use the katakana translation of your name, you'll get those titles and also Dream Hunters and Death:HCoL. In any case, the following link will take you to the first Sandman volume, after which you can just click the first link under the title to bring up the rest.
Hope that helps! K. Schroeder

Thanks so much, K. I hope it helps the people who were looking for them. (Incidentally, the Japanese edition of Sandman: Dream Hunters is an astonishingly beautiful object, whether you read Japanese or not.) And this one tells you how to contact the publishers if it's out of print:

RE: Japanese Sandman editionsDear Neil,Wasn't planning on writing at this point, and so i have a lot to say, but am not let's just say i've been a fan of your work since seeing the ad for Sandman #1 and picking it up when it showed up at Atlantis Fantasyworld A Long Time Ago. But anyway.I'm in Japan as well (in Chiba, next door to Tokyo), and own the first four Japanese editions of Sandman. They are beautiful books, reasonably priced at Y1860. (I recall seeing subsequent numbers, but don't own them and can't verify that.) I'm not sure if they're still in print, but the publisher can be contacted at <> and click on "Contact us." Or if he wants to try a local bookstore first, the title is "Sandoman" by "Niiru Geiman," both in katakana (Japanese syllabary), and the ISBN for the first book is ISBN4-924914-06-1.Hope that helps, and good luck on getting lots more words down on "Anansi Boys."Take care,Brian Lewin

Dear Neil,You have taught my son the word, "rat." Not that you'd remember, but at the DC book festival, you kindly drew a picture of a rat in "Coraline" for my son Jake. He's 1 & 1/2. Upon seeing the picture, he pointed with his thumb and said "Raaaa!!" (He's not a fan of last letters, just yet.) So thanks for taking the time to draw the picture, and furthering my child's mental development. You truly seem to be the kind, genuine man I'd imagined you to be. And if I may, a silly question: Are you wearing black while writing on the beach? I'd imagine that without a big, poofy, multi-colored umbrella, you'd be toasty. Many thanks, and wishes of continued niceness, Jason

Glad to have played my part in Jake's language skills.

Right now I'm wearing black shorts, and a black-with-a-few-white-doodles-on-it shirt. Sometimes I wear an old black t-shirt instead. Or not. And no umbrella, although I've tended to write in the shade of a palm tree.

I'm putting this next one up, not to have a go at Borders (with whom, on the whole, I've always had a fairly good relationship; I still wear the Borders t-shirts I was given as part of their Stardust promotion, the ones that my son Mike didn't take anyway) but because it made me realise that the level of frustration that the author and the customers go through on this shelving stuff is as nothing compared to what it must be for the people who work there:

Dear Neil, This is in response to the Borders/ Graphic Novel commentary on the 23rd. I've been working for Borders for over three years now, first as a Bookseller, now I am Inventory. As I believe I know the company's logic well, I think I can safely say the reason is: They really are just MORONS. I'm really sorry. If it will make you feel better, I have lead many a Parent/ Customer over to the Graphic Novels section to see your books when they have asked me for a Picture Book recommendation. Not a week goes by without someone I work with, be it Manager or Bookseller, who looks where a book is located and says "What the hell is THIS doing here?" There is nothing that we at the store level, can really do. We have no control. They like to pretend we have control. There is even a form that we can fill out, which I have, many, many times to tell corporate that they need to change a book's section. I tried to use the forms, I swear. I used them for stupid things, like when they put travel books on Morocco in Britain Travel. Or, when they put a book on Scottish history in the Irish History section. It simply doesn't work. However, you may be able to do something about it. They just might listen to you. You're only the author of the book, after all. I mean, for Pete's sake - they put Anne Rice in the prestigious Fiction Section. But where is Tolkien? Over in Science Fiction, of course. Morons, I'm telling you. We should all be thankful and amazed that they put Coraline with the Independent Readers, which is where she belongs. All that said, I love your work and maybe I'll see you in San Diego next year. J.

It would be very interesting if Morocco was secretly in Britain, probably just outside of Birmingham, and nobody knew it except Borders.

Hi! Re: the person who is looking for a CD or downloadable unabridged version of American Gods, you can rent or buy it from Recorded Books: Jodi

Thanks so much.

Harper Collins have also been talking about releasing it as an MP3 CD (it's the fact it would be a 20 CD set that's deterred them from releasing it as an audio thing), and I'll announce that when it happens.

Neil- I was wondering if you happen to know if your intros for the 13 Nights of Fright will be available someplace once everything is send and done and November 1st has come. I have been able to see most of them but alas I have missed one or two done to getting distracted at the wrong time. Any way keep up the good writings.


Just thought others might find this interesting. John Mooney

I certainly hope they do as well, John. Interesting, and very cool-looking. Randy showed the work-in-progress to me, and I ran it past Mark Buckingham and Garry Leach, who both made suggestions. He's done a great job.

I'll find out about the intros. I do know that they are still all up, right now, and that smart people can hack their way in to watch them, but I sort of feel bound to play by the rules and not announce that here, at least until Hallowe'en.

(The intros on FMC start to get odder around now, by the way, as Malena and I start to feel comfortable enough to start making bits up.)

Hi Neil, Today's interview segment from the Fox Movie Channel website reminded me of a question I've been meaning to ask you for years. I read American Gods shortly after a cross-country drive that included a (very long) detour from the highway so that my husband and I could see the geographic center of the continguous United States in Lebanon, Kansas. I was disappointed to read you write that the spot where we stood and took our pictures wasn't the actual center.Was that one of those things, like the house on the rock, that is true and no one believes you? Did I really drive that far to not stand in the right spot? I did get to see the world's largest ball of twine though, which is nearby. So I guess it wasn't a total loss. Abigail

Well, if you're asking if the anecdote from American Gods (about how it was determined that the location of the centre of the United States was actually on Johnny Grib's Hog Farm, and then they made a park a couple of miles north of that so as not to upset the hogs) is true, I'm afraid it is. Or at least, I've certainly read it as true in a couple of places. But seeing that the method of determining the exact centre was fairly arbitrary and rife with room for mistakes (remember, they made a cut-up cardboard shape of the US, then found out where it balanced on a pin) you might just as well have stood at the exact centre as anywhere else. If you see what I mean.

(It looks like the 1998-99 sites that I found all this on are now defunct, but here's a wayback machine link to one of them.)

Right. The rain's almost stopped. I'm going back outside to write. Tomorrow, with luck, I go to St. Lucia. Wednesday I'm back in the US again.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Why I love being a writer by Neil Gaiman.

I love being a writer because it is something you can do anywhere. Some jobs like for example being an astronaut you can only do in special places like in for example space rockets or outer space or somewhere like that eg the moon. If you were trying to be an astronaut in the supermarket people would just laugh at you and say What Is He Doing Is He Absolutely Barking Mad Or What? The same thing goes for people who pick grapes and the people who show you to your seat in theatres after the light is all gone down. They can only do it in their special place.

But I can write anywhere.

And on the day when the book that I stopped writing several months ago decided that it's all done with just being lots of notes and ponderings and so on and suddenly turned back into the book I'm writing, because today I wrote a couple of thousand usable words, and I have a pretty good idea of what I'll be writing tomorrow, then it's all good, and it's made doubleplusgood by the fact that I was doing it on the beach.

Although I'd feel just as happy if I'd done it in a coffee house, or the corner of an office, or anywhere really; and probably slightly less guilty. Oh well, only two more days of accidental paradise, and then I'm back to civilisation.


I noticed today that Lucy Anne has started posting again over at The Dreaming website -- it's an invaluable resource of links to and extracts from articles and news and reviews and so on about books and comics by me and my various collaborators, about Sandman, and all that stuff. Oodles of good information.


You can download a virtual theremin for the Mac here: And one for Mac or PC here:'ve played with the Mac only version and it's nifty. Oh, there's also a theremin at the BBC's site:
Sheila Addison, Denver

Thanks, Sheila. I've never managed to make a theremin -- real or virtual -- do anything more than make that "oohweeooh" noise that used to indicate that problems of an alien nature were about to manifest themselves on Star Trek, and normally not even that.

Dear Neil, HUGE FAN of your stuff. Now that that's out of the way, I'm living in Japan for the next year or so, teaching English in three jr. high schools. One day, I brought in my (cherished) copy of Endless Nights HC book to show the kids what American comics look like as opposed to the Manga they're used to reading. One of the boys just fell in love with the art style, character designs, and brief plot description that the Japanese Teacher translated for me. He would love to read some Sandman comics. Unfortunetly, his English isn't that good and I was wondering if there are Japanese versions of the Sandman books available, and if so, where can I buy some? Thank you very much. Keep up the great work. Sincerely, Jonathan Abrams Nishigo, Fukushima Prefecture Japan

You used to be able to get them from -- there are certainly Japanese editions of the first couple of Sandman books (broken into two books to a graphic novel), of Death" The High Cost of Living, and Sandman: Dream Hunters. There may have been more. That's where I'd start looking, anyway.

I found the link to the Coraline site at but found no links to the Sandman books.

Dear mr Gaiman.My name is Emelie and I'm in the International Baccalaureate program in a swedish school. We are writing an Extended Essay, and I'm going to write one in the subject english. Now, I was thinking about writing it about one of your books, perhaps "Neverwhere" or "American Gods", and I just wonder what you thought about that idea.with love.Emelie

I think it's a great idea, as long as you don't try to get me to write the essays for you.

Why did you write Coraline and what was your purpose in writing it?

Look at the various Coraline links and interviews and answers to questions over at, which is the Coraline website. You should be able to find an answer or two over there.

Hi Neil! A friend of mine and I are presently having an argument we'd like for you to settle: After having lived so many years in the United States, do you consider yourself to be American, British, or both? I'm arguing for British, my friend insists you've been assimilated. We're both ardent American fans of yours who enjoy obsessing over minute and insignificant details. Please satisfy our curiosity and let us know just who you think you are now. =) Thank you!Fryda Wolff San Diego, CA (aka Comicon Funland)

I'm English. (If I was American, I'd be telling everyone who to vote for -- or at least, who to vote against.) At least, in my head I'm English. Although some English people hear my accent as American.

And for those wanting to access the 13 Nights Interview Material a) the secret words are incredibly easy to guess -- it's always a word from the title of the film, or it's the title of the film. (The list of films, in order, is at tonight it's Edward Scissorhands -- a film, I should say, I find somewhat less baffling than my script would seem to indicate. But the script is pretty funny -- so the word is EDWARD.)

I am trying to find a downloadable audio for 'American Gods' ('cause it's not in CD format) and have failed miserably in the attempt. HarperCollins keeps referring me to the sales department who say they can't help and the only place that shows up when I google no longer carry it. Do you know of any place where I can get a CD copy or downloadable version? And, are there any plans to do an unabridged audio for 'Neverwhere' or 'Good Omens'?
As an answer to the person who wanted to know why Borders Books puts your childrens books with your graphic novels... the buyers at Borders (any book store really) try to keep all of an authors books together so that a fan can easily find all that authors books. Not a great system for someone who writes across genres but it beat finding the hardcover in one section the paperback in another and the sequel in yet another section as happens at Barnes & Nobles. (I've put in time at both places and helped to create many a fan for you.)

I believe that the various Kafkan contractual differences between Harpers, its authors, and have now been resolved, and it ought to be back on Audible, along with Coraline, very soon. (It was there for a little while.) There are plans to do a US and a UK unabridged Good Omens, but no-one's ever said anything about an unabridged Neverwhere (although I'd love one. I like the first 2/3 of the abridgement, which is the first half of the book, but the last third of the abridgement is rather, well, abridged).

I'd be more convinced that the Borders method had some validity if they also shelved Coraline and my adult novels in "graphic novels", which they don't. It's just the two childrens' picture books with Dave McKean. And thank you so much for helping make fans (and, more importantly, readers). I appreciate it.

Saturday, October 23, 2004


The sun shines. The sea is blue. Palm-fronds sway in a gentle breeze. There is nothing to be heard as I type this but the hushed roar of the surf, and the piping of some small island bird. It's peaceful and quiet, and I've been researching and writing, and both have been going very well.

For some reason, though, all my dreams out here seem to be filled with murders. Yesterday I dreamed I was reading a long and rather tragic confession by a sound engineer who had gone home after I had failed to arrive at his studio in time, and had shot his wife and child, in order to teach me a lesson about punctuality. Last night's dreams had me investigating a murder as part of a crime-investigating duo (the other member of the duo was a more-or-less English version of Carolyn Jones as Morticia Addams). There was background music in my dream too ("All the Umbrellas in London" by the Magnetic Fields) and a small black and white cat with one normal eye and one cartoon eye whose main function was to register astonishment at things. I woke up before we found out whodunit, though.

Anyway. I said I'd try and make a start on the hundreds of FAQ things...

For the "13 Nights of Fright" thing, I just thought I'd point out that the special word only serves to unlock your exclusive interviews. One only needs to go to the site and enter (no more than once a day) for the sweepstakes. No secret word necessary for the contest part.

Good point.

Dear Mr. Giaman:

I finished the "1602" hardcover this weekend. I found it to be amazing and filled with the essence of the early Marvel comics. Moreover, I loved the way you mixed this with the historical setting and people.

After reading the book, I was reminded of a question I had a long time ago. How much was Sandman influenced by those early "Strange Tales" adventures of Dr. Strange. Morpheus' physical traits and vocation as Lord of the Dream Realm have always seemed to me to be based on Strange's nemesis, Nightmare. At the same time, Dream is much more of a Byronic character and the antithesis of Nightmare, almost a 1930's serial villian. Any thoughts?


Mark Vassilakis

It's hard to say how much influence there was. I do remember finishing the Sandman proposal and sending it off, and thinking, "Well, if they say no, I suppose I could always see if Marvel would be interested in me redoing Nightmare..." But the Lord of the DreamRealm vocation came from the DC Comics' Simon and Kirby Sandman, and the look was a sort of coming together of a number of things, mostly my wanting a lead character who'd look more like a rock star than a square-jawed hero.

Still, the arrival of Nightmare in that first Strange Tales Dr Strange story, where the man turns up unable to sleep and asks Sr Strange to find out why was one of the first comics I ever remember reading, in a UK reprint, when I was but seven or eight. So I'm sure it was in there somewhere; everything's in there somewhere.

Ugh, I should have written you earlier. I was going to suggest coming to Richmond, VA to check out the Cabell library at Virginia Commonwealth University. One day as a student I was just wondering around in the library (a very modern building) and suddenly entered a 1920's study. Hidden on one floor is Cabell's actual library transported there with his books and furniture. It's an amazing time traveling feat.
The VCU library also has collection of Art Spiegleman correspondence with a member of the faculty. Oh well,
gives you a reason to visit again. Even though I'm sure you already have seen the Jefferson's alligators and the suitably gothic Hollywood Cemetery. But if you do come again, stop by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and say hi.

Actually, over the years, a few helpful people have written in and suggested I check out the Cabell library. And if I'd had time to be more of a tourist, I would happily have done so. Cabell's far and away my favourite forgotten American writer -- he wrote about 25 books, most of them very different from each other. The only ones to have remained more or less in print over the last forty years are the fantasies Figures of Earth, Jurgen and the Silver Stallion. I think my favourites of his books are probably the short story collections Gallantry (I decided upon reading it, aged 20, that one I day I would one day, when I was a writer, steal the structure of Gallantry; then I read it again some years on and realised that the structure I'd imagined I'd perceived might have been to some degree accidental, but I was still going to steal it one day, even if it had been only in my imagination. One day...) and The Certain Hour -- if ever I were to edit a book of favourite horror tales, or favourite tales of faerie, I'd put the short story from Certain Hour about Herrick in it. I'll see if I can find a link to it. (Hasty google and...) -- it's called "Concerning Corinna". It begins:

The matter hinges entirely upon whether or not Robert Herrick was insane. Sir Thomas Browne always preferred to think that he was; whereas Philip Borsdale perversely considered the answer to be optional. Perversely, Sir Thomas protested, because he said that to believe in Herrick's sanity was not conducive to your own.

Surely you don't really prefer typed letters? What kind of a man are you, Gaiman? I thought a person who likes fancy pens would be a handwriting kind of guy.

The terrible truth is that I'm not even a fancy pens guy. Most of the fountain pens I like are workhorse pens -- the sort that were pretty cheap and worked just fine eighty or ninety years ago, and now are still pretty cheap, if you can get someone to repair them, or don't actually cost that much if you're buying their modern equivalents. (I was given a Mont Blanc by my parents, as a "you just won two Hugo Awards" present. It's a very pretty object, but I'd never want to write a novel with it, or even sign a few hundred books with it. It's not that comfortable, and the way the nib moves doesn't do it for me at all. I like the slightly sensual scratch of nib against paper...)

Anyway, that list was Lorraine's. Unlike Lorraine I can't be bribed with mangos (or mangoes), and have never been as grumbly about people sending things with sand in as she is (probably because I don't have to clean it up). I don't mind handwritten letters. But looking at her list over again, what she says is pretty sensible. If you want your letter to be read, make it legible: if that means typing it, then type it. There are letteres that arrive written in spidery ballpoint which never get replies or what they need, because nobody at my end can read them, or has the time to decipher them.

And legibility is important: although I write books in longhand, I wouldn't presume to hand them in to a publisher like that. I can read my handwriting, but I'd never expect anyone else to.

Mr. Gaiman,

My 10 year old daughter and I love reading your books. We recently found out that you were going to be in Washington, D.C. So, We went to Borders in Frederick, Md to purchase The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish, so my daughter can get it signed by you. I couldn't find any of your children's book at the children's section so when I went to customer service the guy told me the book is at the graphic novel section. I'm aware you write graphic novels but most likely you are not aware that this bookstore keep all your book in that section.
I was questioned by my 10 year old daughter what is the graphic section? Which I explained. And to top it all the young guy that attended me aked me if I really wanted that book for my daughter and I I had to explain to him why the book was in the wrong place. Unfortunately we were not able to attend the activity at D.C. Just wanted let you know where those wonderful children's books are located. We all enjoyed the story.

Love your work!
L Dunnie

I know this is going on, and wish there was something I could do about it. It's a Borders thing. Why they don't put my children's books in the children's section is a mystery and quite beyond me. Apparently it has something to do with the books being longer than usual picture books, and the only person at Borders who was willing to order them was the graphic novel buyer. Meanwhile, the books are published in the US by Harper Children; they are listed on the children's section of the New York Times Bestseller list, every other bookseller in the world racks them as children's books, and Borders keeps them in the graphic novels section. (If anyone reading this is part of Borders and wantst o explain the logic of this, or better still, can persuade the powers-that-be to change it, I'd be very grateful.) Quite what they're going to do with "Crazy Hair" and "The Dangerous Alphabet", which won't even be sort-of-graphic-novels, but will just be normal-length picture books, I have no idea.

Hi Neil,

I have a question and an amusing link to offer you. I regularly read your blog, and was just wondering how many staff you have working for you - there seems to be the wonderful Lorraine, plus editors (US and UK?), film people, book people, graphic novel people.

And the link - - Christmas presents for all the family.



Working for me is Lorraine. That's it. Now, working for Lorraine are a few part-time helping people who help out with things like filing and shelving and applying for copyrights, and moving large objects from place to place and finishing the inside of the gazebo -- that kind of stuff.
Most of the others people you mention are only working for me in the same way that, say, a train driver is working for me, which is to say that someone else is paying their wages, but they are still beavering away on my behalf: The editors work for the publishers, for example.
I've got two agents working on my behalf -- Merrilee Heifetz at Writers House is my literary agent, and Jon Levin at CAA is my film-and-TV-agent. But even they don't work for me (although the agencies get commissions from what I do): Merrilee's just as busy looking after the careers of Laurel K Hamilton and Octavia Butler and Bruce Sterling; while Jon seems to have an interest in the careers of everyone that CAA represents...

Dear Mr. Gaiman;

One of my evil pleasures is watching old movies on cable. I delightfully enjoy cheesy S.F. and Horror movies. If there is movie with a space ship, demonically posssessed zombies, atomically exposed tarantulas, misunderstood monsters and vampires in it,I've seen it. I've even seen those strange movies with the giant moths coming to the aid of tiny, screeching geishas. (And if you get that reference, you watch far too much T.V.)

Anyway; I caught you hosting Fright Night on the Fox Movie Channel and was thrilled.

One question though,(if you please). Why have you grown the beard? You have a lovely face. Was rather fond of that face because it reminded me of my ex-boyfriend's face. One of the few things of him I remember fondly.

He spoke with a thick German accent so that was the only features of him that reminded me of you. Now, your face is yours to do as you please but still I can't help but wonder, why cover up such a pleasing feature? Are you trying to show your more sinster, darkside?

Just a question.

If you wonder who this strange facial fan is. I'm also a fan of your books. (Well, book.) I greatly enjoyed American Gods. I'm a common female Southern Califorian stereo type. I'm thin with long hair, bad taste in dress. Who loves to hang out in bookstores, Starbucks, sports bars ( I love a good neighborhood bar!) and yoga studios. I'm a yoga fiend! Hope I haven't offended you sir. Beard or no beard you're a wonderful writer!


I grew the beard because I felt I ought to look like someone who was hosting a horror marathon, and, while think I have a sort of pleasant-enough, if unexceptional face (two eyes, nose, mouth, all that), I definitely don't look like my idea of a horror host. Mostly I just look sort of rumpled. But I thought about my favourite horror hosts, Cain and Abel, and realised that what both of them had in common was dodgy facial hair. And that seemed like a look I could pull off: a sinister beard. So I grew a rather boring looking beard, and Wendy-from-Hair-Police shaved it into the shape you see on "Thirteen Nights" and we both agreed it looked like the sort of thing that someone who climbed out of coffins might have on the lower half of his face. And for filming I wore my coat instead of a leather jacket and little serial-killer glasses, and felt like a horror host on the inside, and amazingly hot on the outside, this being in LA and under studio lights. Of course, luckily, we filmed it with Malena, so mostly nobody's looking at me anyway.

Dear Neil, I desperately want a copy of the Neverwhere DVD. Unfortunately, I'm hearing impaired, and while I've scoured the back of the box looking for a mention of closed captioning or subtitles, it seems that the DVD set is not, in fact, captioned or subtitled. Please tell me this isn't true. I'd be terribly disappointed if I purchased it and then found I couldn't tell what was going on, so I figured I'd ask first.


Hullo Christie, I'm sorry, it's not. It's frustrating, as the original BBC series was subtitled, but the BBC didn't hand over that information to New Video, who did the US DVD issue, and I didn't check in time to be able to fix anything. The only good news I can give you is that New Video have gone out of their way to get closed captioning done for their DVD of "A Short Film About John Bolton".

(Which reminds me, several people wrote to tell me that A Short Film About
John Bolton" is up for preorder at a few of the online DVD outlets,including DVD Empire
-- the bonus material includes lots of John Bolton paintings, an audio track of me reading a biography of John Bolton, and the whole of the "Live at the Aladdin" documentary, which the CBLDF has licensed to New Video, which is me, in 2000, doing a reading at the lovely Aladdin Theatre in Portland Oregon, as part of the Last Angel Tour.)

And the cheapest I've found it for sale is -- which also had the cover up, a lovely John Bolton vampire painting. Which looks like this:

Dear Neil, something you may have missed from radio 4 in conection with your Johnny Theremin synopsis, a programme by Bill Bailey about the history of the instrument, the Theremin - links to website
and to the listen again but it is only around for a week. I never realised what a wonderful sound they made and to find out that the KGB smashed his instruments so Westerners would not want to visit him and, of course, Russia. Most entertaining, all the best

There was a wonderful documentary about Theremin as well. And I once was sent a link online to a virtual theremin, but have long since lost it.

And now, Another Good Reason to Go To Fiddler's Green -- apart from The Souvenir Book ( :

Hi Neil! Good thoughts and tidings in your travels! This is just a plug re: Fiddler's Green. There'll be a performance of "10,000 Comic Books" by Tim Uren (a funny, fabulous, and insanely well written one-man show.. but I'm biased) at the Con! He's super excited, I'm super excited... and we'd love to see you there, but totally understand. (If you'd like to bring Jill Thompson... so you have someone to sit by... I think she'd really enjoy it too.. ;) ) Speaking of, last night we saw a copy of the Scary Godmother DVD at Cheapo Records on Lake Street in Minneapolis! The world is a good place.

Looking forward to the con, please take care!

I've heard excellent things about "10,000 Comic Books" and am really looking forward to seeing it. Right. Now I'm going to go on line, and post this. Then I'm getting out a pen, and will start writing fiction'...

Friday, October 22, 2004

"I'll have 120mb of yellowtail, please."

I threw money at the problem, and now have an internet connection. Not, as advertised, in the hotel room, but I can sit in the hotel "internet cafe" (that's what they call it anyway) and use my own computer. And after two hours I'm still not even caught up with e-mail emergencies. But it's time to stop and eat. So...

Thomas Ruffner at the Fox Movie Channel e-mailed to say: "...that we experienced technical difficulties with the timing of the 13 Nightsof Fright introductions and wrap-ups for the first two nights. The programming department has addressed the issues and I would like to reassure you that the rest of your 13 Nights of Fright will air properly with your introduction immediately preceeding the film and your wrap-up immediately following the film.Thank you very much for your support. The web response has been phenomenal. The contest featuring your books has smashed all previous records! Happy Halloween!"

So he probably won't mind me mentioning that tonight's secret word is the almost-impossible-to- guess "FLY". (And you can keep entering the signed books contest until Hallowe'en.)

I've got several hundred e-mails to go through tonight, not to mention days' worth of stuff from the FAQ line, and I'll try and answer at least some of them, but in the meantime, thanks to all of you who felt that I should mention here that you can get USB drives that look like sushi.

...or possibly you can now get sushi that you can also store information on.

I should eat something now, shouldn't I?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

grumbles from paradise

The seas are gentle and the colour of dark sapphires, the weather is balmy, and the writer would very much like to be able to get his computer online thank you very much. The best I can do is someone else's computer in a dollar-a-minute internet cafe, in which only one window can be open at a time, so I can't even cut and paste anything, which seems to rather defeat the point. If you think of me, it should be with a small thundercloud over my head, following me around...

I was able to get into the FAQ messages, though, and the mailbox is filled up with grumbles from people who cannot fathom (or have not fathomed) the inexplicable Fox Movie Channel tendency to show the 13 Nights of Fright intros about 20 minutes before they start the movie, at the end of the film before, not as a lead-in to the film I'm introducing. (It's nothing to do with me, guv, honest.) Yes, the intros are showing, but they're immediately followed by a 15 minute plug for "TAXI" or similar, instead of the film. No, I don't understand the logic of such programming either.

For those of you who missed the opening of the first one (the coffin one), on Hallowe'en Fox Movie Channel will be doing a marathon of seven of the films (with a few variant outros) and that'll be one of them. And last night's secret word was very probably ALLIGATOR.

Several other people mentioned that Neal Stephenson has done a wonderful interview over at Slashdot. But you'll have to go to and find it yourself.

(And apologies to anyone who's sent me an important and earthshaking e-mail over the last few days and hasn't got a reply.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

"An adventure is an inconvenience properly considered"

I appear to be having an adventure.

(And I'm now typing this in a library. Hurrah for local libraries.)

I got to the place I was going to be staying to find it wasn't actually habitable yet. I phoned my assistant, Lorraine, and told her the problems. "Well," she said, "you do keep talking about the research you need to do for Anansi Boys."

"Ye-es..." I agreed, doubtfully.

"So why don't you do it this week?"

"Because I'd have to fly out tomorrow and --"

She pointed out that this is why people have assistants, and phoned back a couple of hours later to tell me that I had a flight and a hotel, and would be going away -- this afternoon -- for a week.

So I am.

I tried valiantly to blog from my mobile phone, and failed, mostly because there's only about a square foot upstairs in which it works, and the rest of the house is No Service.

Bizarrely, in a house with nothing else currently working, the TV worked fine, and had (again bizarrely, cos I don't have it at home) Fox Movie Channel, so I saw the first of the 13 Nights of Fright openings. They start getting funnier and odder about number 4 or 5. Although tonight's is the Alligator People, and includes the line "I'm practising my spurious hypnotic skills..." Then I watched an episode of Johnny Staccato, which I'd never seen thought was wonderful, and a bit like Johnny Theremin, only without the aliens or chocolate bars, and went to bed. (There was a bed.)

Monday, October 18, 2004

Sage advice

Yesterday was fun -- lunch with Holly, dinner with Mike (two children in two cities in a day), and I spent the night in the lovely Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, and wondered if James Branch Cabell ever wrote about it. Then got up and did the final polish on a book review for the New York Times, and sent it off to them. Then went back to driving. Am now in a Best Western somewhere off an interstate, and am much too tired to write anything sensible or answer any questions.

(And yes, the 13 Nights of Fright thing starts today on Fox Movie Channel. The secret words that give you access to the extra material aren't hard to figure out.)

There was an e-mail waiting for me this evening from my assistant, the Fabulous Lorraine, which she had written to share with some friends, and which I think deserves wider distribution. It's pretty much all true, although she's forgotten that I did actually have to turn down a week at a Writer's Conference in Hawaii because there wasn't enough time, and I feel I should say that the Brazilians have got much better at not inviting-me-to-Brazil-next-week over the last decade.

Anyway, this is by Lorraine, and if you need to know more, or just send mangoes, write to her, not to me.

Top Ten Things Never to Send Your Favorite Writer

10. Food
Unless you are a proper Food Company, what you send will not arrive in anything like the condition you sent it out in. Writers, or anyone else for that matter, tend to become rather dubious upon viewing the crumpled remains of what once was no doubt (or a lot of doubt) cookies. Also, somewhere deep in our darkest recess of our past, all of us remember our Mother's Don't Take Candy From Strangers , I mean, sure, it's a million to one odds, that this is the final crazed fan who has coated the little goodies with arsenic, but hey, who wants to take chances?

Send wine. Or scotch. Single Malt. Old Single Malt.

9. Paw-paws.
Yes, I know, they are food. Well they might be food, I don't know. I do know they don't ship. Even Fed-ex. People have tried. There are reasons we don't have them in the North. For all I know, they are local to a three mile square field down South somewhere, available only to folk singers and local residents with a 1/2 mile radius of said field. I repeat, they don't ship.
Now mangoes do ship. Via Fed Ex. If you want something very badly from your favorite writer, a half dozen mangoes to his or her assistant will often move that request right to the top of the list. Trust me.

8. Invitations for things happening next month
Now, writers tend to be busy, based on my experience. Unless you are signing yourself HRH Elizabeth R. or including the words "Beach house " "Maui" and "business class airfare", next month is probably not going to work. Writers write. It doesn't matter how great your Convention is, they need to plan for it. In advance. It takes writers a very long time to write a book (no, I don't know why, it just DOES). If you are reading their Blog and find out they are in town for a signing next week, dinner is also not going to work. Especially if you have never met, nice idea, but sorry. They don't even want to see their friends when on signing tours. ( Actually the friends know all about writers on tour and tend to flee that weekend.)

Invitations coming in from Brazil are the exception to this. Brazilians only tend to send out invites for next month. Nothing deters them. They will set up an art show based on the writer's work, have an entire convention based on your writer's books, a conference and country wide media complete with signings, declare it a national holiday in the town, and get the mayor lined up to present the keys to the city making it permanently "The Poor Writer" Day from here on out AND this will all be scheduled Next Month. In one notable instance, Next Week.

7. Handwritten Letters.
Ok, we have a little lee-way here. Say it is a simple card saying, in nice, neat readable handwriting, "Darn your last book was great!" this is most likely ok. If you want your writer to read your letter it has to be readable. Yes, I know, one would think this was a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised at how many people take a lot of liberties with the word Legible. Typewritten is so much easier to read. You might even go all out and include your address at the top, along with a SASE.

Which brings us to another little point....

6. Letters more than ten pages long.
Whatever you have to say should not take that long. It might well be important, and if you have to, you have to. But consider keeping it short. Ten pages of your latest novel idea, film idea, dream you had last night, or just a newsy note bringing your writer up to date on your life is more than they want to know and they will not be with you much past page four. (All right, I lied, make that page two.)

Or rather the writer's assistant will not be with you that long. If your writer is very popular they get a LOT of mail. They can't read all of it, tho in their defense I must say they do try. You might consider something truly sneaky and start your letter "Hello, Oh great and wonderful Writer's Assistant, just bought your latest cd ( and ye gads! It is great!" Don't know why, but those sorts of letters do tend to get more attention paid to them.*

* Assistants are smart. Very smart. Make sure you actually buy the thing.

5. Letters written on black paper with a silver pen.
Silver pen on black paper is not nearly as cool as you think it is.

4. Your latest novel
Writers write. And they read. They have a backlog of reading bigger than most home libraries. They don't have time to read your novel/short story film idea. They don't have time to read the things they want to. It is also never a good idea to send them letters saying "Boy, I can't believe you used my idea I sent you last year in your latest novel/short story/film." They didn't. Again, trust me. They didn't.

Send your stories to agents, editors, magazines , family, and friends. They want them, and in some cases are paid to want them. In some cases they may even pay you for them.

4. Things with blood on them.
'Nuff said. I don't care what they write, they don't want it.

3. Anything you want back.
I am not talking about the odd book here, to be signed and sent back, particularly if you have written the assistant first explaining the situation (remember how we start those letters?) and sent the book with SASE (and mangoes). Most writers are happy to oblige. Even assistants don't mind, happy to help. I am talking about personal things you want back. Your one of a kind portfolio filled with the only copies of original art. The ten micro-cassettes-with-player you have recorded your dream journal on for the last year. Actually, any journal of any kind. This goes along with the only copy of your latest poems, the master copy of your cd or any family heirlooms.

Writers dread the sort of letter that starts out "I have sent you this, but please send it back when you are done". For some reason anything of the sort immediately sends the item off into some sort of alternate cosmic 5th dimension, and it will, I guarantee, never be seen again, no matter what good intentions the writer may have.

2. This is more of a Good Idea/ Bad Idea list of things you might send
Some Good Ideas: Small things, trinkets, cool jewelry, tiny statues, small things that squeak (not living), one of a kind toys, weird barbie Dolls dressed as the Endless (Sorry, I don't know why, but I have always liked those) cool old books, reference books , blank books for writing, cd's , black socks (don't care who they are, they'll need them) mittens (unless they live in Paw-paw country) wind up Sushi, muppet puppets of said writer, Day of the Dead things, fountain pens and perhaps some truly useful items like Sharpie Pens and post it notes . The better the writer the less pens and paper they are going to have around.
Some Bad Ideas: Art larger than 3 x 5 feet (I am being generous here), photo albums with more than 50 photos of one signing , things that squeak (living), anything fragile (it will get broken), live animals of any kind, anything weighing over 50 pounds, pictures of you and the writer blown up to poster size that your friend took at a signing, your ENTIRE collection of his/her work to be signed, anything you recorded while on drugs, open liqueur bottles with hand done labels in a foreign language, and anything you have to preface with "I found this in a graveyard...." (or your freezer).
Ok, I know what you are wondering. Yes, we have. All of them.

1. Sand
It gets Everywhere. Can I repeat that ? It Gets EVERYWHERE. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have sat sadly in my just-this-day-cleaned office, looking at my sand-covered desk, which now resembles something very like a Zen garden gone bad. This may be a fairly one-writer-specific problem, but if you listen to one thing I have said here, Do not send Sand. Ever. You can't pack it so it stays in whatever container you have deemed appropriate. Send the container, include a note saying "Fill this with Sand". I will do it for you, no mangoes, no cd buying, I'll nip outside and get you some of the best sand going. Just don't try and send it yourself.

I know what I am talking about here. Trust me.


Sunday, October 17, 2004

On leaving a fairytale cottage.

There now. And I'm leaving the rather wonderful place I've been staying, on and off, for the last two weeks.

You know, the ability to find things on the internet is a very cool thing. I love the way you can start by knowing you need somewhere not too far a drive from Washington DC and Bryn Mawr, and a day or two later, be arriving somewhere like this. (Taken with my camera phone when I got back here on Tuesday.)

It was quite possibly the perfect place to take a few days out of life and just work (although I haven't decided whether the lack of high speed internet here was a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, I intentionally spent much less time online. On the other hand, I'd often wind up stuck online for ages while the antivirus definitions would update, or someone would attempt to send me an e-mail with an enormous attachment) (and anyway, Guy, the owner, tells me he'll be putting in a high-speed connection). (Here's the link if you ever want to stay here yourself.)

So I shall set out on another long drive today, and while I drive I shall ponder the general unhelpfulness of inanimate things. Like, why does an iPod wait until a couple of hours before I get on the road to have what is, according to the diagnostics, a total and utter Hard Disk Failure?

Had lunch yesterday with Joe Quesada, who drove down here, and we talked about Marvel Project 2. Joe had a few ideas, and I had a few ideas, and together we came up with a sort of idea that may work, but I need to think about it some more.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Why I am a Tool of the Capitalist Machine And Other Stories

Bill Gibson has started blogging again. Hurrah.

Meanwhile, call me foolish and naive, but I would have thought that when an autobiographical adult book about molestation, drugs and such, is checked out of a library by an 11 year old, the correct response by the library should be to look at their policies for allowing 11 year olds to check out age-appropriate material, not for a committee of librarians to agree to permanently remove the book in question from their shelves. This might be true of prose, but it doesn't seem to be true of graphic novels, at least not for Phoebe Gloeckner's harrowing A Child's Life and Other Stories and not in the Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library.

Hi Neil, I have nothing but respect for you, so please don't take offense at my question. While I certainly would never begrudge someone the chance to get paid (particularly someone who's finally managed to scrape the last bits of MacFarlane off the bottom of his shoe), I wonder if you feel any sort of ambivalence about being associated with Rupert Murdoch's notoriously partisan Fox Channel so near to the end of this divisive election cycle. While Murdoch may not be as sticky as Macfarlane, his stink is a lot bigger.

Well, I find Fox News unwatchable. Beyond that, I'm willing to work with News International/Fox -- I enjoy some Twentieth Century Fox movies, think that some of the smartest American TV shows of the last couple of decade (including The Simpsons, Futurama and Buffy) have come out of Fox TV; and have never seen any evidence of any ideological bias, other than that of wanting to publish books that they were proud of and which made money, at Harper Collins (which is ultimately owned by Rupert Murdoch, and which bought Avon, my previous publisher).

I should also say that I saw no evidence of partisanship on the Fox Movie Channel, other than an occasional need to mention Twentieth Century Fox movies where a sane person with no corporate ties would normally mention other movies (the script for the "Edward Scissorhands" intro had me proudly mentioning that Tim Burton made Fox's "Planet of the Apes", rather than, well, any other Tim Burton film). (And I don't think a partisan Movie Channel would be proudly showing that cool wise and extremely pacifist film, "The Day The Earth Stood Still" in its Halloween line-up.)

(Incidentally, for whatever it's worth, the Fox people only paid to fly me in to LA and for the very nice hotel. I did the 13 Nights of Fright because it was goofy and fun, and I'd always wanted to climb out of a coffin, not for any financial inducements.)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

ups and downs on a puddly day

Good morning. It's a sort of a grey, puddly day outside, and I am blinking muzzily at the world. Sent off the third (and I hope last) draft of the BBC Radio 3 play version of "Mister Punch" to Lu Kemp, my producer, yesterday night. Am still trying to finish the Mirrormask script book -- I've written all the extra material for it, and right now just need to talk to Dave McKean about script and formatting. A sample five-page scene that Dave had done was waiting for me when I got back to this wonderful retreat (I took a couple of photos of the place with my camera yesterday, and will post them before I leave on Sunday), and I was astonished at how well it reads, with script and storyboards running down the page together -- like a new kind of graphic novel, really.

Getting onto the internet is not impossible, but it's not quick or easy right now. (It may be next week.)

Hi Neil, I have request regarding your journal that would make it a lot more accessible to people. Could you ask your webmaster if they can syndicate it on A lot of people have online journals up on livejournal, and myself and many others would be grateful to have access to your wonderful journal while looking over our other friends journal entries.thanks! and please keep writing! your books are my bread!- cynthia silvestri graphic designer, would-be writer

Some helpful person started syndicating it a while ago, and, according to it's now More Popular Than Garfield (but nowhere near as popular as Calvin and Hobbes).

It's at And I should really put this one into the FAQs, shouldn't I?

Neil-So the general consensus among the Tori community is that the album is coming out mid-February, which would mean that SOMETHING should leak by now?Have you heard any of it? Anything about it? At all? Is there anything Tori would let you tell us? Because neither the music press nor Epic is spilling anything, and you know how much we love reading your reviews. :)

I'm like everyone else outside of that Cornwall house, including all the people at Epic Records. None of us have heard anything of the actual album yet -- Tori's playing this one really mysterious and extremely close to her chest. She played me seven unfinished songs, last Winter solstice, when I stayed over in Cornwall, and I thought they were very fierce and beautiful; then she called me a couple of months ago to check a few things about Melusine, and sang me the song in which she appears (but has also just told me that that song won't be on this album, and actually is for the one after). She seems to be enjoying having a really intimate relationship with the music. ("We're still dating," she told me. "Going out for coffee together. Just the two of us.") But she's promised that I'll hear it before the next Winter solstice, and I'm very happy to wait and see.


I've just deleted the thing about how I phoned Dave and heard all about the technical meltdown on Mirrormask, and how they hadn't slept for 3 days trying to find the bug, because just as I finished creating a gmail account, for people to offer help at, Dave phoned me back and told me they'd just isolated the mystery bug and fixed it. Which was actually why I went online in the first place. So not to worry. (And I only had to worry for 15 minutes.)


Instead, an exercise in "what if...":

Hi, Neil.I don't know if you've seen this, you haven't mentioned it, but I know I found Patrick Nielsen Hayden's blogger through yours, so you might have. It's a fascinating little exercise by Will Shetterly, and the comments extend the idea even further.It's like alternate history in reverse, and I thought you might enjoy it. Cheers,Will

which reminds me that novelist Will Shetterly is currently auctioning off all sorts of things in his current novel. Have you ever wanted to be a fictional character? Ever wanted someone to dedicate a novel to you, or your loved one? Check out Will Shetterly's journal -- he's eBaying off the dedications and a character role. As Will explains in the eBay auction site...

Now I'm under contract to Tor Books to deliver a sequel to Dogland titled The Secret Academy. I've decided that what's good enough for Shakespeare is good enough for me. (Yes, by winning this auction, you may also feel like Queen Elizabeth or the Earl of Southampton for no extra charge.) What do you get besides the chance to say that you're my patron? You get to have The Secret Academy dedicated to you, or to anyone or anything that's acceptable to both of us. You get a signed copy of the manuscript and a signed copy of the first edition of the novel. You get to know that you helped support literature in North America. You may even buy me dinner sometime.

Fox Movie Channel is (are?) beginning to put up stuff, including a trailer, for the shortly up-coming "13 Nights of Fright" hosting you're doing. The above page has a photo on it of your silent assistant about to bite you in the neck; she is wearing what I assume is The Dress, alhtough you can't see much of it.

It's a bit surreal to hear the narrator in the trailer say "author of 'The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish" to swelling music and lightning in the same tone of voice that's sometimes used for things like "but Jason didn't really die--he now haunts the lake killing innocent campers with a candle stick and a pizza cutter---bwahahahaha!". Can't wait to see it! Craig Steffen

Yup. That's The Dress. Or a very small bit of it, anyway.