Wednesday, June 01, 2005

author sensitivity...

Over at the Dreaming website, Lucy Anne the Librarian has gathered together all the reviews of Stardust the Stage Play, including a number that haven't been posted here. It only runs for another three weeks, so if you're in the Chicago area, and you were thinking of going, you probably should.

Dear Neil,I'm disturbed that you posted the Christopher Hitchens exchange in amusement. Normally I find your treatment of fans (and pretty much everyone else) unimpeachable -- which is why it's hard to see you apparently sympathizing with Hitchens's derisive and arrogant treatment of a fan. I have to agree, it would be terrible if everyone were like him. Glenn Peters,Portland, OR

I just reread it to see if I still thought it was funny or if I was failing somehow in sensitivity, and I'm afraid I still think it was a funny exchange, possibly because it was such a strange interlude in the middle of the Guardian's Two Hitchens Brothers Finally On Stage event.

It seems very much par for the course where Hitchens is concerned in terms of his relationship with the world, and I didn't really see it as him being specifically nasty to the woman in that tent who simply wanted to know if, seeing that he was smoking, could she smoke too; when she said that they all ought to be allowed to smoke, he said that he wouldn't stop her, but pointed out that he was in a privileged position, and there wasn't a lot anyone could do to stop him.

Having been up on stage a few times over the years with The Only Person Allowed To Smoke In The Room (and art spiegelman is always much better behaved than Hitchens), I've often wondered whether something like that would ever happen, and thus I was amused when it did.

(This post should not be seen as in any way condoning smoking, smoking on stage, appearing on panels, using the phrase "If anyone doesn't like it they can kiss my ass," Christopher Hitchens, behaving like Christopher Hitchens, literary festivals, the Guardian, or rudeness to people in the audience who are dying for a ciggie.)

(Oddly enough, the last time I mentioned Hitchens on this blog by linking to my friend Roz's Live Journal article about him a few years back I was roundly told off for not agreeing with his politics and implicitly condoning the view that he was a "drunken fop". So for the record, I think Christopher Hitchens explaining just why he believed Mother Theresa of Calcutta was an evil woman, while smoking and drinking his way through his interview, during Penn and Teller's "Let's see how many people we can piss off this week" episode of BULLSHIT, was a remarkable piece of television.)

Ultra-basic question: How should a non-published writer approach a comic artist with a script he hopes to get the artist to draw?

"Hullo, would you like a drink?" is a good sort of a start. Best bet is to go somewhere that artists are and go and meet them. Once they like and trust you, spring the script on them.

how do you come up with all your ideas like for Coraline

You probably need to read this: which explains, I hope, everything you will ever need to know about where I get ideas from.

hi neil! i was just wondering, when it comes to reviews I can't imagine how absolutely nerve-wracking that sequence of being published must be. so what do you do to take bad reviews (as if you've ever received one) and put them behind you? do you read them alone late at night and scoff silently and mumble condecending things like "you fool, you'll never understand" or "one day, when i'm ruling the world you'll regret those words" or even "how about I tie my literary awards around your neck and drown you at sea?". or do you really just wait until your fans accept the book and must be a tough and grueling process...trevor,toronto canada

I took my very first review very seriously. It said the book was too expensive, so Dave McKean and I persuaded the publisher to make it cheaper. Nobody ever noticed.

Reviews are opinions. That's all. And I've had so many of them over the years that they tend not to stay in my head longer than it takes to read them. When I was much younger I'd walk around the house and put together long letters in my head to the reviewers I'd never send. These days if I think anything about bad reviews I think that maybe they'll like the next book, or maybe they won't, and then I get on with whatever I'm doing. It takes less energy.


Over the years I've said no many times to doing readings from comics. Dave Sim's come up with a way to do it...