Friday, July 29, 2005

Jet lag city

Actually slept through the night last night, instead of through the morning and into the early afternoon, which gives me hope that I'm slowly returning to US time.

Let's see. Lots of people have written asking if Fred the Unlucky Black Cat was the inspiration for either the Black Cat from "The Price" or the cat in Coraline. I'm afraid not - Fred didn't turn up until the summer of 2003, long long after both stories were written. The cat in Coraline came out of my head -- we weren't allowed pets in the flat in Nutley, and I wanted a cat badly -- while The Black Cat was real (and about twice the size of Fred) and was around in about 1997. We found a good home for him eventually.

Yesterday's mail brought a proof of the US cover of ANANSI BOYS. I hadn't expected to like it as much as I do -- it's printed in metallic inks which make it look more otherworldly than I had expected, while the words are embossed in white, and it looks, well, a lot classier than I'd thought it would. I also got samples of the material they'll be using to make the book with -- the first printing of the book will have black boards (the hardcover material under the paper cover) all around and a sort of light violet endpapers, while later printings will have a black spine and indigo front and back boards, and greyish endpapers -- and there will be a small drawing of a seven-legged spider done (by me) in light blue foil on the front of the book, beneath the cover.

At some point on the last tour I remember explaining to some audience that you have to write, if you're going to be a writer, because elves won't do the work for you. Which is true, but, it seems, only up to a point. A few nights ago I was trying to finish up the work for the Headline uniform editions of my books, and, with no time left on the deadline, having wrapped up everything else I knew I still had to write introductions to their editions of American Gods and Neverwhere. I wrote the Neverwhere introduction while fighting to stay awake, then opened the American Gods folder, wondering how I was going to write an American Gods introduction in an hour with a head like a wobbly blancmange, and promptly discovered a file called something like "New Introduction to Headline Edition of American Gods", which I opened, slightly bemused. It was a complete introduction that, according to the line at the bottom, I'd written while on the plane from London to Singapore, and which, in all the madness of the tour, I suppose I must have completely forgotten about having written. This is slightly more likely than elves leaving it on the computer to get me out of a deadline jam, but only just.

Lots of people sending in links to me reading bits of Anansi Boys on the tour, and I'll round them up over the next couple of days, I think. (I don't know if Brisbane is up anywhere, which was my favourite reading and Q&A of the tour, mostly because I had a microphone, decent acoustics, and it was the last one.)

There's all this stuff I didn't have to think about on the last tour (American Gods 2001): people putting up audio feeds of each reading for example -- I tend to do readings in different ways. I think I did different bits of American Gods and Stardust, but the same bit of Neverwhere, while I only read from Coraline twice but each time I read the whole book, on their respective tours. For Anansi Boys I have to assume there are people who will be listening to each stop on the tour, so I need to decide which I'm going to do. The other thing that's changed is everyone has a digital camera or phone, and everyone wants a picture. On the last tour it was maybe one person in ten. Now it's nine out of ten, and I need to figure out how to make it so a) people get their pictures, b) it doesn't add a minute to each person (it may not seem much, but 500 people in the signing line would add 500 minutes to the signing, or a little over 8 hours...) and c) it doesn't blind me -- after 90 minutes in Manila on the first night we had to call a halt to flash photography because I was getting blinded, with one flash every few seconds, and it was starting to hurt, just behind my eyes...

Ah well. I'll figure it out, and I'm glad I had the recent tour to notice these things and to try out various solutions.

(One solution I've begun in advance, as of today, is start working out with a trainer three times a week, on the basis that that is the only way I shall actually survive a 20 day signing tour without a day off in pretty much a new city every day. Today was, well, it was a beginning.)

Lots of questions to answer and things to post, but that'll have to wait a few days while I catch up. Oh, and I opened the two boxes from Singapore today, of everything people gave me while I was there. Maddy seems to have snaffled the snake, the pig, the two goldfish and the stuffed shark, but left me with pretty much everything else. Lots of cool books in there that people gave me, including a few I wish I'd had when I was writing American Gods.