Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Waking up and catching up...

It's extremely early in the morning, and my time zones are all screwed up right now. I've been in too many countries and time zones in the last few weeks, and I wake up at 5.00 a.m. utterly awake, and fall asleep with my head on the table at nine at night, failing to answer email. I'm out west working on BEOWULF for a few days -- my daughter Holly has come out to join me: she's got school papers to write, while I'm off with Messrs Zemeckis and Avary. Her dreadlocks are now encased in small metal things, and she's acquired another nose ring since I last saw her.

Let's see -- lots of messages from people in the Philippines or Singapore (or people in Indonesia or Malaysia who are ready to travel and want to book planes) wanting to know if I have information yet on signings and talks and things.

I don't have exact information yet about where every signing will be, but I do now have some general dates, and will post these on condition that I'm not then deluged with requests for which bookshop I'll be in in each city. As soon soon as I know all of them, I'll post the whole thing, here and at Where's Neil.

Arrive Singapore July 3.
Events July 4-6.
Fly to Manila on July 8--arrive probably late afternoon, according to
the schedule on Philippine air.
Events July 9 to 11.
Fly out July 13th, arrive late that day or early 14th in Melbourne, via
7/15 to 7/17: Continuum 3
7/18: Events in Melbourne
7/19: events in Canberra
7/20: events in Sydney
7/21: events in Brisbane
7/22: DAY OFF with Eddie Campbell and family
7/23: Fly to Sydney to fly to Hawaii

and I believe that Harper Collins will be arranging a signing in Hawaii of some kind. And then I'll fly home.

Dear Neil,
Howdy. I'm a fantasy writer in California and I was wondering if you knew any sites that had lists of fantasy confrences by region/year. Any advice you could give would be helpful.
Thanks a ton, keep up the good work! Daniel

There are a few websites around with lists -- is an example. Locus Magazine keeps information on conventions up online --
If you're serious about writing fantasy (or SF) you should subscribe to the print edition of Locus ( It is incomparable.

(Some extracts from their Susanna Clarke interview up at

Which reminds me --'s Sci Fi Magazine is offering a free copy of the issue with the interview with me and Dave McKean being interviewed at Sundance about MirrorMask in it to readers of this blog who subscribe online. Details at

From The Beat -- -- I learned that USA Today did a feature on Jeff Smith and Comics into Schools and Libraries. It's an excellent piece -- it made me feel that I was there at a historic moment, which in a way I suppose I was, and I was fascinated by the little caveat:

Carol Jago, who teaches English at Santa Monica High School near Los Angeles, says anything "that gets kids reading rather than watching television and playing video games is good." But she stops short of assigning comic books in the classroom, saying that puts teachers on a slippery slope.

"If our mentality as teachers is how to make the text easier and easier, we're moving in the wrong direction," she says. "Our job as teachers is to help students read hard texts. When a student tells you the work is hard, you should say, 'Good; now I know it's the right book for you.' "

Jago is a fan of Spiegelman and Neil Gaiman, creator of the cult DC Comics series Sandman and a popular graphic novelist. She believes their works are "great, great pieces of literature."

But teachers should assign them for outside class, Jago says. "They're serious books. I am not denigrating their artistic merit. It's just not what we should be teaching."

for a list of comics and grade level. (I'm not convinced that comics can't be "hard" by the way. I remember talking to a class in Chicago about the Sandman "A Midsummer Night's Dream" [assigned because it contained no nudity or swearing, as I recall] for whom the marks in the word balloons might as well have been chicken scratchings.)

This just in from the ever-invaluable Lucy Anne (quick! Go and see what nuggets she has found for you at The Dreaming):

Hi Neil:

Something you might want to share with your readers.

"Shockheaded Peter" has posted a closing date.

If anyone is interested in catching it before it closes on the 29th
and wants discounted tickets, they should check with the Theatre
Development Fund, where students and such can get discounted tickets

Discounted tickets were also available at the TKTS booths in NYC last
week (


It's a pity -- I thought Shockheaded Peter was simply one of the best things I've seen on stage. People of the right temperament (ie people who like Hoffman, or Gorey, or Lemony Snicket,or Tim Burton, or gothic novels, or Coraline, or anything creepy and good) would like it too. I don't think it ever found its audience, though.


People ask me if I'm ever homesick for the UK, and what kinds of things make me homesick. I have a long list, and an odd list, but it only took one of tumulus's pinhole photographs, and suddenly bluebells went straight from nowhere at all to the top of the list. Possibly because the pinholeness of the images looks like it feels as a kid, when you look up, while reading in a bluebell wood in April.


1. You have stated that you were a punker in the days of yore. Do you feel that has had any overt influence on your writing? I ask as one who writes and still hops up and down at the fringes of the punk movment. Also, did you the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Buzzcocks, any groups like that?
2. Along with a group of youths in raggedy jeans, I am getting ready to help start a zine. Any ideas or advice for a start-up publication like us?

Did I what the Pistols etc?

I think that the punk ethos of you don't need anything, you just need to do it and figure out what you're doing as you go, has probably informed everything I've done since. It seemed a pretty sensible and refreshing idea at the time. Likewise the idea that you ought to be enjoying what you're doing and be doing it because you think it's cool and fun. The idea that mistakes are part of what make things interesting, and it's probably wisest to get it right and move on and not spend the rest of your life polishing it.

(It also left me with the idea that a black leather jacket was an appropriate sartorial item in any possible context.)

I think if I were doing a zine now, I'd do it on the web as well as in print. If you do an interview with anyone, make sure you have a charged recording device (fresh batteries or whatever) and a functioning tape/mike/etc -- when I was 15 I did a two hour interview with artist Roger Dean of which the first two minutes recorded, and I've never forgotten it.

Hi Neil,

Just wanted to make you and my fellow blog-readers aware of the impending, soon to be past, time-travel convention at the end of this week. Of course it doesn't actually matter if you aren't able to mention it until after the event, but I thought everyone might appreciate as much notice as possible until we do actually invent time-travel -

Thanks for all your stories. Tim.

Consider that it will have been mentioned.


I was wondering what time of the year The Sandman Special came out. I know it was 1991 but was it at the same time as the "Seasons of Mist" storyline or was it while the one shots were coming out. The latter would make more sense but as a reader who picked up the series in trade paperback format, I just wanted to know what the original order of the series would have been. Thanks for the stories.


If memory serves (he said, like Chairman Kaga) it came out around the point that A Game of You was wrapping up. "Thermidor" definitely came out first.