Sunday, June 12, 2005

pronunciation and how to get your questions answered (or not)

Tom Abba has read ANANSI BOYS and talks about it at

Which reminds me, several questions in recently asking the same question. For example,

...I'm always paranoid about pronouncing things correctly and my husband and I are in a bit of a disagreement - though not a major one - about how "Anansi" should be pronounced. Its a silly word to not quite get, really, but if you could clear it up, it would be really great. Thank you so much!~Christie

It's pronounced "A-Nancy." (Or sometimes, "Uhn-unsi".) I googled "Pronounce Anansi" to see what it gave me, and I found myself back at this journal, at (A list of alternate names for Anansi can be found at

Some people get Anansi the Spider confused with the Anasazi Indians. (Which is pronounced Ana-sahzi. Go to and click on the loudspeaker symbol to hear it pronounced.) But they are nothing at all alike.

Remind me again...What is it I have to do to get my question answered in your journal....I wonder...

Well, I suppose more than anything it comes down to luck. But having said that, there are types of letters that get answered more than others. Fan letters, which is to say, nice letters telling me how much something I wrote meant to the person writing it, tend not to get put up on the journal, although they're very much appreciated. Questions that wouldn't mean anything to anyone except the person writing it and me tend not to get put up (by which I mean, I have to assume that someone else out there reading the journal would find the question and the answer interesting in order to post it). Shorter questions tend to get picked over longer ones: I don't like editing letters for length, so I'm more likely to simply go for a shorter version of something. Questions that would take an essay and some thought may not get answered, only because I'll put it off and almost never get to it.

Once those things are covered, overall, it's luck. Questions (or sometimes helpful answers) come in. I read them over. I put red flags next to ones that I really ought to answer (maybe half or a third of what comes in). Then the next time I feel like doing the blog, I grab a few of those red flagged questions and answer them, and it's whim and it's luck and it's whatever I happen to put in at the time. Lots of really good questions never get answered.

It's currently running about 10,000 questions a year. I could probably answer them all, if I did nothing else, but I'd not get anything at all else done if I did, and I suspect it would be incredibly boring for all of you. As I said, I don't even answer all the ones I want to answer.

Given that, I'm not sure there's any sure fire way of getting a question in. Patience, adopting a zen-like attitude, and assuming that even if I didn't reply I saw it is probably the best way.

I keep meaning, as an experiment and to give people an idea of what the FAQ line is like, to, one day, post and possibly even answer an entire day's worth of messages. Sooner or later.


Ace correspondent Kelly Sue DeConnick wrote to tell me that

Laurenn McCubbin and I are training together for the Pacific Grove Olympic-length Triathlon. On September 10th, 2005 we'll swim a mile, bike 25 miles and run 6 miles -- IN A ROW. We're participating in support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and we've committed to raising over THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS each to improve the lives of blood cancer patients and their families and to accelerate the search for a cure. As of right now, we're just about half way to our goal.

Laurenn and I train well together -- I'm a strong swimmer, but I look like Benny Hill on my bike. She's terrified to put her face in the water, but she's like Lance Armstrong's pissed off little punk rock sister on two wheels. It works. We both post training updates to our websites. Laurenn's at and I'm at

I just posted pictures of my bruises from yesterday's wipeout. It's very sexy indeed.

Kelly Sue DeConnick's donation site:

Laurenn McCubbin's donation site:

If anyone cares about celebrity endorsements, we're supported by Reno 911's Dave Holmes (the triathlon was his idea, actually, and he'll be there with us at the event), Mike Doughty, Maggie Estep, Warren Ellis and Kieron Dwyer, among others. Oh, duh -- and you!


Finally, congratulations to Brian Aldiss and Jonathan Ross, who were both just awarded OBEs (or possibly OsBE), for services to literature and broadcasting respectively. (An OBE, for those of you in places that aren't British, is the Order of the British Empire, which seems rather sweet, considering there isn't a British Empire any longer. It's like being made a lord of the manor of a village that was long ago taken by the sea.)