Wednesday, May 11, 2005

About time

Let's see...

I'm home, and just mainly catching up on everything. Lots of introductions and suchlike things, about to start copyediting ANANSI BOYS. I squirted bee-lure on the plum and cherry blossoms, which was the official signal that it was time for thunderstorm season to start and render the squirting pointless. I moved my bedroom all around because it was Spring, and then decided that, seeing that the house's ancient wooden garages are seriously starting to crumble, it's finally time to bite the bullet and replace them. (This is the joy of owning an old house. I never go "Oh look, a large royalty cheque with nothing to spend it on". I just sigh and feed the cheques to the house, and it never even says thank you.)

Lots of tabs and windows open, that I think idly that other people might find as odd as I do -- for example, tells us about Osama Bin Laden as a metaphor in Indian love songs: This is not the first time bin Laden has figured in a Kannada film audio. He did so earlier in another song written by matinee idol Upendra for "Appu", in which Puneet Raj Kumar debuted. The song went: "Bin Laden alve allaa (Bin Laden shot through two huge buildings, I have shot through your heart)".

Michael Swanwick's introduction to Hope Mirrless' Lud-in-the-Mist is online at and the book is now more back in print around the world than it's ever been, in a variety of editions -- it's now out in a nice new US edition: Here's the amazon link to the new US edition. (Posted, I should add, because it has the most reviews and information, and not because I think you should buy it from Amazon.)

Have also been trying to take photos of the latest bunny-of-the-month, from the wonderful Cat Grey (, to post here. Ones that show what it can do...

And we're now using Skype as an intercom in the house.

Hi Neil, I'm a student on a Professional Writing course in Cornwall, and as part of our course we have to write an analysis of a section of the writing business. In a strange fit of madness (and having a particularly useful friend at a publishing company) I decided to focus on the business of promoting books. I was wondering if you could give a very brief insight into what the promotional hoopla is like at the author's end - how long you're likely to be promoting Anansi Boys (which I'm really looking forward to, by the way) and whether it's just the book tour, or also interviews. Cheers, Hannah Swithinbank

In truth, Hannah, the best thing you can do is to read the AMERICAN GODS part of this blog -- the first eight months or thereabouts. and they're arranged in monthly chunks. If you want to see what it's like promoting a book from the author's end, anyway. I was doing my best to take people behind the scenes.

It's a book tour. It's interviews. It's talking to reps and to the people from the book chains and everything else anyone can think of.

NG, Do you ever do any readings of your work in LA? If so when have you done them and what were they and who took part and set it up? Sorry for so many questions.

Yes -- I've done a couple of CBLDF "GUARDIAN ANGEL" tour readings, and one fun evening when the late (and much-missed) Bill Liebowitz took over The Stinking Rose restaurant's function room, and I did a reading there.

Most of the book-signings come with a reading as well, although it's normally much smaller. The problem that I've run into in the past in bookstore signings is they have strict fire laws, so 100 people get to sit inside the bookshop and hear the reading, and 400 people get to stand outside and get squirted by the lawn sprinkler system (well, that was what happened in Vroman's in Pasadena last time I was there. We'll see what happens next time around.)

Dear Mr Gaiman, I've tried to find the answer to this question on the FAQ and failed. Please excuse me if it has been asked before. In The Kindly Ones, Thessaly reads a "self improving book". But the text on the cover says "John Bauer" - a painter who was born in my home town in 1882. Is there a hint I should be getting? Did you or the artist decide that this was the book she's reading? I love his work, but I wouldn't call it exactly improving. Or is there another John Bauer? Thanks for all your work. Sorry if you feel I'm wasting your time.

Without going and checking, I thought the "improving" book she read was called something like "When Bad Things Happen To Fictional People" and that the John Bauer book was something she was reading for her art history course. Take another look...

Neil,>From the picture of you and Zemeckis and Avary I'd say you're one of those backward-handed watch wearers who put the watch on the writing hand. True?

Quite true, yes.

You can also see the photo, and Roger's comments about the day in question over at Roger's journal.

Neil I note the occasional reference to Jake Thackray in your journal. I am one of a number of people who try to keep Jake's songs alive by singing them. We do quite a few shows but each year since his death have tried to do at least one 'Jakefest'. The third of these is to be held in Edinburgh on September 17th this year and I'm one of the organisers. If you are at all interested details will be posted at in the near future.Regards Ian Burdon Edinburgh

Well, I'll be in New York about to start the ANANSI tour. But I'm happy to mention it here. Somewhere someone reading this, might either like Jake Thackray, or would like him if only they knew.

Hi Neil,the following is from Warren Ellis's mailing list... So I am wondering, what WOULD you have asked for? :)Michael I'm currently getting a lot of email asking when my next convention appearance is. In the hope of forestalling more, the answer is:there aren't any. I have no more convention invitations.It costs money to bring me to a convention: a business-class flight from Britain and a decent hotel room. Fly me into the States, andyou can't afford half-a-dozen more local guests.So I don't get brought into places like San Diego, because publishers don't want to blow their budgets on second- league creators. I don't fit into places like APE or SPX. Big shows spend their money on cross-media guests, small shows can't spend the money,and I'm not the box-office draw that middling shows need. I actually thought about attending San Diego a couple of years ago, andtalked to a publisher about it. I told them I'd need a business-class flight (better air filters -- otherwise I spend a day on an inhaler) and a decent-sized hotel room. They said: "But if we give you that, what will Neil Gaiman ask for?"So, you know, don't expect to see me at another convention for a couple of years. One comics show every six years is probably enoughfor everybody anyway.-- W

I'm with Warren on this. (And if the publisher who said that to him was one I've worked with, they were being disengenuous. It's always been business class flights and a decent room before I'll think about going anywhere, for I am officially too old and cranky to fly around the world in coach and be expected to function when I arrive, and if I'm going to sign for hours and hours I don't want to go back to a hotel room where the carpet makes sucking noises as you step on it and the remains of the last guest's pizza are still beneath the bed. The only real exception to the decent class air travel is the San Diego Comic Convention, which I go to as a guest about three times a decade, and where I tend to go by train, so I get lots of work done on the way out there, and sleep a lot and stare out of the window on the way back.)

But mostly it's about time and about whether I want to go somewhere and when I get asked and even then it's really about time.

Which reminds me: someone e-mailed me and mentioned the following to me. And now someone else just wrote in with the link, and asked me what I thought about it...

(The first time I posted this, blogger ate most of it. The second time I rewrote it and tried, blogger crashed in a spectacular way and gave me a whole array of glistening new error messages. Third time, possibly, lucky...)

So the link that may or may not have been problematic was to, where someone had come up with the idea of inviting me to dinner via the Greater Talent Agency, who handle my speaking engagements, and went so far as to get a price for it from the redoubtable Lisa.

And while I admire the ingenuity and imagination and initiative, it's not going to happen. Some things are for sale and some things just aren't.

Having said that, we've done something similar in the past for the CBLDF, and probably will again: on the last Guardian Angel tour we put dinner with me in each city up on eBay, and raised many thousands of dollars for a good cause. But mostly, the going-and-speaking-places thing is something I don't do, because (as I said) time is limited, and the best thing about Greater Talent Network is that they get to say no to 90% of the requests for me to speak that come in. And I get to stay home, and to write.