Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Too long a post mostly about touring

I thought that in the month and a bit leading up to the release of ANANSI BOYS I would go and dig around the vaults and find things that it might be fun to put up on this website for a while.

So I've put up my third ever published short story -- it's about 23 years old. It's juvenilia, but I hope not entirely without interest, about a murder in NurseryLand, and is one of the very few hardboiled detective stories I've written. Presenting Little Jack Horner, private eye, in The Case of the Four And Twenty Blackbirds.

It was reprinted in ANGELS AND VISITATIONS, and in a handful of anthologies, but wasn't in Smoke and Mirrors, so it will probably be new to many of you.

And one of the bits that vanished into the ether last night was the link to the Endicott Studios site, which now has up four of my poems, each taking its cue from folk stories and fairy tales:

Girls and Boys Together
The White Road

There's a feature page section on Anansi Boys with sundry links over at the Harper Collins web site --

Dear Mr. Gaiman, My friend and I were wondering why you do not plan on visting Philadelphia on your upcoming tour. Philadelphia is the second largest city in the Northeast. It has a significantly larger population than most of the cities that you intend to vist including Boston, Washington D.C., San Fransico, San Diego Austin and others. There are loads of fans here in Philly just waiting for a visit from their favorite author and a chance to get an autograph. We're sure that a stop here would be alot of fun and a great sucess. I understand that you have said that everything is set in stone from here and that you only go where your people tell you to but surely you can try to do something to make to the wishes of your devoted fans here in Philadelphia come true. We won't hold it against you if can't make it but we couldn't help but be a little upset when we found that Philly wasn't on the list.Your hopeful fans,Christine and Noelia

Well, there's not much of an answer that I can give, other than the good people at Harper Collins get to decide where I go on a tour based on a number of factors, including but not limited to whether a store in the area actually asked for me to come and sign there; whether the store is large enough to handle the crowd or is willing to do an off-site event; how near the signing is to other ones; how well the stores have done at selling my stuff over the years; and a host of other reasons, like how long the tour is going to be, whether you can get here from there (there was a planned signing in one midwestern state that we had to scrap because I simply couldn't get there from the previous signing without getting up at 4:30 am, flying to Memphis and then flying on to the relevant city, with no real guarantee I could get there in time for the signing. So I now go to Boston instead) and probably other factors that they don't tell me about, like whether Ernesto the Magic HarperCollins Badger saw his shadow when he came out of his sett that morning. There's publisher politics involved too -- for example, I'm doing one Barnes and Noble signing, one Borders signing and a lot of smaller chains and independents.

I agree with you wholeheartedly about Philadelphia (I have a daughter at Bryn Mawr, after all), but I suspect it's probably fallen victim to its location -- it's near enough by train to New York to the north and to Washington DC to the south that it was probably felt that dedicated Philadelphians could travel, and it was better to get me on to somewhere further away.

Regarding your tour, why does the South always get stiffed? --Nikki in Nashville

See above. A lot of it is bookshops and enthusiasm.

Some of it is also probably where my stuff is sold and where the readers are -- in July 2005, for example, the top five US states sending people to this website (excluding Virginia which is number one but gets skewed by AOL) were

California, 62787
New Jersey, 32341
Massachusetts, 27703
Washington, 21908
Texas, 15387

as opposed to, say,

Louisiana, 354
Arkansas, 271
Alabama, 270

or even

Mississippi, 85

Which may be a good reason for sending me to Mississippi, but I can also see why Harper Collins decided to use its promotional budget to send me to places they know people are waiting.

(Having said that, I'm not doing a signing in Georgia this tour [and I did on the last tour, although the shop in question has alas gone out of business since and even then it was so small I had to do the reading and Q&A in the car park, and I did on the tour before that although that store has long since gone out of business] although Georgia's in the top ten (13753), and Florida's in the top fifteen (3787), and I'm not going there either -- probably because of a lack of good bookstore locations. And your home state of Tennessee, Nikki, ranked more or less in the middle with 1012 people.)

"It's definitely a good thing that online journalism is capable of revising itself to agree with reality"Interesting point, I'm not sure I agree. When a print journalist makes a mistake, if he wants to retract it he has to print a correction. His mistake and the correction remain in the permanent record. For the BBC to correct typos and minor factual errors in their articles is one thing, but I think that to change the editorial tone of an article and leave no record of having done so is worse than puzzling, it's dishonest.Of course, it's possible that the BBC felt that leaving the original article online would amount to continuing to publish it, and that they could not do this if it was incorrect. But they could have left some indication that a change had been made.If you realised you needed to correct or apologise for something you'd said in your blog (for example, if it turned out that Margaret Atwood was right all along. About everything), would you delete the original posts? I think that the ideal would be to leave them in place, but add a prominent link to the retraction. Steve.

Well, up to a point. But if you're a news site and you leave something up that's not true, people will continue to link to it and continue to get upset and confused. Real newspapers print corrections, but then, yesterday's erroneous news is tomorrow's fish and chip paper, except on the web, where it will run and run and not even can kill it.

My journal's not a news site, but when I've got something completely wrong and someone noticed or complained, while I'll normally just fix it in a later entry, I've several times just deleted the offending bit. (Normally with a note to let people know that something has gone away.) And I'd not blame any of the people who make stuff they wish they hadn't posted vanish. It's one of the good bits of the web, I think, not one of the bad ones.

Hi Neil,

I've been looking forward to this tour for some time now, quite happy that you're coming back to Vancouver (I was the one whose back you signed during American Gods, at the Virgin stop).

I'm curious. This time around I found it somewhat odd on the location. Did you know you're going to be in a high school, in a rather out of the way spot in the city? And that we have to buy tickets through TicketMaster? Does this happen often? It seems an unusual setup, and I wonder whose making the profit off this kind of arrangement (besides the corporate coffers of TicketMaster with their 5 different 'fees' added on).

Anyway, looking forward to it, Cheers!

Rhiannon Boyle
Vancouver, BC

No, it doesn't happen often -- this is the only time on the tour. But it's because the signing and talk are being held in association with the Vancouver International Writers Festival (which is "a registered non-profit charitable organization and relies on a combination of public sector funding, ticket sales, advertising revenue, corporate sponsorships and donations") -- the link to the festival site is John Irving and I both get to do early events before the festival proper.


Did you know that for $100 you can get the next 10 McSweeneys books? And that one of them is the Children's Anthology with the long name* that I did a story in, to raise money for Good Causes? And that another of them is a reprint of Harry Stephen Keeler's Riddle of the Travelling Skull, one of the greatest bad books in human history - brought back into print by this man, a fellow member of the Harry Stephen Keeler Society? (You don't have to buy ten books for $100 of course. You can buy them on their own. lists the upcoming books.)

And I just noticed that there's an interview with me from the HSK Journal up at Also interviewed is Ken Keeler, who wrote some of my favourite Futurama episodes.

* Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things That Aren't as Scary, Maybe, Depending on How You Feel About Lost Lands, Stray Cellphones, Creatures from the Sky, Parents Who Disappear in Peru, a Man Named Lars Farf, and One Other Story We Couldn't Quite Finish, So Maybe You Could Help Us Out