Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Spiders all the way...

Home again, which is good. Lots of fun things waiting here in the mail for me, including Tori's new Beekeper CD and an advance DVD of the Animal Planet Dragons documentary, both of which I'm very much looking forward to.

William Gibson, noted author, was once a 19 year old draft-avoiding hippie in Yorkville, and he's seen being interviewed in this 1967 CBC documentary. I was delighted to discover that even a stoned 19 year old Bill Gibson still deployed words like, well, Bill Gibson.

Julian Crouch made sure I saw Shockheaded Peter when I was in New York, and I loved it. Had an enjoyable discussion with daughter Holly on the way out of the theatre, as she explained that it reminded her of Tim Burton, and I told her that things like Edward Scissorhands had, in their turn, reminded me of the Hoffman's ShockHeaded Peter poems I'd read as a boy. There are lots of little video clips on the website at

One Ring Zero did a make-a-video project recently of videos made by the general public -- you can see some clips and info at (I'm really looking forward to seeing the "On the Wall" video.)

I did an article on what it was like to go to Sundance with MirrorMask (and with Dave McKean) for the new incarnation of LOOK magazine. I think it's on the stands now -- I just got an e-mail from someone who'd read the magazine anyway. (If anyone finds a LOOK Magazine website, let me know.)

Which reminds me:

I realize that if there was Mirrormask news you'd tell us but we're getting impatient....

The current news is -- good news, MirrorMask will be getting a wider release than was originally envisioned; bad news, it's now going to be getting to the cinemas later in 2005 than was originally planned. I think it'll be released in early autumn. More news as I get it.

The big MirrorMask book will still be out on May 3rd, and will be the first thing available. (You can read about it at


How do you know when your book is done? When do you say, "Oh, that all fits then, I'm guaranteed no nightmares about adjectives, this book is the book I want it to be?" The cover for Anansi Boys is nice. Do you intend to have lightning featured on all of your novels? ;-)

No, but I don't mind the lightning on novels that have a connection to American Gods and although Anansi Boys is funny and odd and very different in tone to American Gods, it does share one character with that book, even if he dies on page one. (You can watch me in reading some of the first two chapters of Anansi Boys at the 2004 National Book Festival at You'll need RealPlayer, though.) I think Morrow like the idea of using the lightning bolt to somehow denote that the book is part of the American Gods family.

The part of the cover that I wanted, of course, was the web.

How do you know when your book is done? Hmm. I forget who it was that said that art is never finished, only abandoned, and that's true up to a point. I'm never satisfied, but normally there's a point that feels like you've reached the end of a story, that the journey begun is now over, and another point, somewhat later, where you feel like something's been fixed and changed and polished as much as it's going to be fixed and changed and polished -- not that nothing more can be done with it but that any more changes are going to make little difference to the end result and might just make it worse.

"It's good enough for jazz," I think. And besides, by that point I'm normally getting much more interested in the next project, which is another indication that the last one is probably done.

(Right now I'm at the point where I'm suddenly embarrassed that I sent the zeroth draft to anybody, wish that no-one had read it, and am really looking forward to trying to get the first draft done -- my deadline is April the 1st, which seems very appropriate for this book. Mostly at this point it's a matter of writing about six or seven more scenes, and making a few things clearer, polishing a couple of themes until they shine.)

Dear Neil, Love your books, but am horrified by the web on the cover of Anansi boys. You have expressed a distaste for spiders yourself, and even the intrepid Coraline had a thing about them. Of course, in American Gods, the guy turns into a spider- but why? Why do you subject your arachnophobe readers to spiders and to pictures of spider webs?I'll buy Anansi Boys as soon as it is released in New Zealand, but I'll be reading with my eyes closed.Cheers, Sarahjane PS. Please assure me that Anansi Boys won't be illustrated.

Why? Er, because Anansi (Mr Nancy in American Gods) is a spider, and because all stories belong to him. Because stories are like webs, or, at least, this one is. And because I'm perfectly happy with the idea that, while large spiders make me (and Coraline) uncomfortable, that's probably a failing in me rather than of the spiders which are inherently cool and charming creatures as long as they aren't both large and sitting on my pillow at the time.

You'll probably cope all right with the book, but you might want to close your eyes in Fat Charlie's dream on the plane to Florida, when Grahame Coats brings on the wedding cake.

There aren't any plans to illustrate it. And there almost definitely won't be a special New Zealand edition with extra spiders.


The CBLDF auction to name the Cruise Ship in Anansi Boys (or to have it named after you) starts on Friday and will run for a week. I'll post a link as soon as I get one.

And to correct something I said last week, it seems the e-book of Smoke and Mirrors only contains 3 out of the 5 stories that are in the UK edition.