Monday, May 02, 2005

Maddy as Stephen Hawking etc...

Maddy has just discovered the speech function on the iMac. "Do you really want to hurt me? Ooh do you really want to make me cry?" it said (how on Earth does a ten-year-old discover Culture Club?) immediately followed by "Maddy Gaiman is awesome" and as a follow-up, "But Neil Gaiman is kind of weird".

Oh god, now she's using it for communication. "Would you like to watch some TV before it gets too late?" the computer just announced in a voice like a prepubescent Stephen Hawking. "Er. Sure," I said, a little nonplussed, "um. What would you like to watch?" "Whose Line Is It Anyway? Or are you bored of that? Ha. Ha. Ha. Dad. Answer me." "Er. Okay. "Are you sure? Why don't we see if there's anything else just for a change?" Now it's sounding like a female HAL 3000. "Maddy is laughing," it stated, which is both better and worse than the dead-sounding Ha. Ha. Ha. It's still doing it. "Daddy. We have to go. We have wasted seven, now eight minutes, doing this. Your fault I'm sure. Father, dear, please."

Now everyone (This is Maddy for your information) I suppose you think Dad's blog is wonderful and want to read it every day and wait for the marvelous things he says like that thingie up there. But, really I must tell you I am the inspiration for all this things! Plus, I can make computer cats and fish. Wanna see? Fish: ><)))"> and Cat" =^..^= Meow! Thank you, thank you, thank you very much.

There. I've got control of the computer back, by cleverly putting on a previously unwatched Bugs Bunny DVD. (Why does Maddy at age ten remind me of Holly at 15?)

About this point in the day, most of you are probably wondering what I look like in a bow-tie at the Nebulas . (Oddly enough, the previous time I wore a bow-tie was probably about the time of the very first Nebulas, forty years ago: see If you want to see Nebula photos, you should go to (The first photo with me in I'm chatting to Anne McCaffrey, who had been made a Grand Master, in the second we're being squirted with canned string, and in the third I'm signing something under the watchful eye of Janis Ian.)

when the anansi boys thing first came on the site i thought it had a tour listing on it. i have been back to it several times and ican't find it there or on the where's neil page or the link you posted. i even looked in your blog just in case. was there a list of tour cities or was i confusing something? thanks.(((_^))Y Leah Thorp

The Anansi Boys tour hasn't been announced yet. As soon as it is, I'll put it up. (The US tour will start on Sep 20th, and will include two or three Canadian signings. The UK one will start around November 5th, and might also include a few English Language signings in Scandinavia and Europe.)

Dear Neil,Over the weekend, I had the great honour of meeting my first agent at a writer's conference... and completely blowing my interview fifty words in. It left me with a much clearer picture of how poorly I understand the synopsis process. Pray tell, o great god of complex storytelling, how do you go about summarising your work when it comes to the business end of things? What do you do about dual major plot lines? I'm not after a hand-holding; I'm just a little lost as to the right direction to go. This is an area where I've got a fair amount of technical knowledge, but all my attempts turn out drier than the Nefud Desert in a drought.Thank you ever so much. Sincerely,S . E. Ward P.S., Holly is absolutely beautiful!

Well, I think so. She says she thinks she looks like a chipmonk in that picture and will I please post one of her that she likes.

Normally, I don't even try to summarize. If I have to explain a story, I'll tell someone the start, and then explain that stuff happens after that. Beyond that, I don't think that anyone listening wants to hear "And then John eats the magic muffin and turns into a zebra. Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, Chuck and Eric are having an existential crisis brought about by Eric's feelings of self-loathing, which gets really bad when Eric's clonal sister, Erica, is appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer..." You're probably better off saying "It's like The Wishing Chair meets Carrie. A contemporary magical thriller, with a horror twist," and then explaining the premise, and then stopping.

You want to tell someone enough about what you've written that they want to read it -- agent, editor, producer, whoever. Not try to tell them so much that they don't have to read it. (The same thing applies to cover letters to editors or to writing jacket copy for your book. Tell them enough of the set-up to make it sound interesting, then shut up.)