Saturday, October 15, 2005

Just me and Eve

When I was a kid, as anyone who has read my Heliogabolus story knows, I loved Gilbert and Sullivan. (The Heliogabolus story is up at, and then click on the Next link at the bottom.) Like anyone else who has ever loved Gilbert and Sullivan I suspect, once in a while the urge to write a Gilbertian Patter Song wells up unbidden in the auctorial breast, and some years ago, I succumbed. I wrote the song for the Flash Girls, but Emma didn't like the subject matter, so it went back to a drawer and was forgotten. When Lorraine&Malena started making music I pulled it out of mothballs and handed it over to them (luckily Lorraine still had the back of the envelope on which I'd jotted down the chords all those years ago). It's over at and is called It's Just Me and Eve and you can listen to it for nothing.

Okay. I'll grab a few questions from the last week...

i want to read the kindly ones, but i havent read the previous volumes. if i read the kindly ones first, will i be able to understand the story without knowing what happened in volumes 1-8? thanks.

You may be able to understand it, but it won't mean the same if you haven't read the first eight volumes. I'd strongly suggest that The Kindly Ones and The Wake are read at the end -- but you can read the others out of sequence if you want.

I was flipping through a fantasy or sci-fi anthology that you had contributed to and found a story that touted itself as a prequel to American Gods. Not having read the novel yet, and being a college student with about $2.83 in my pocket, I didn't buy it and now the wily imp of a story is alluding me completely. Did I imagine this story? Where can I capture it?

It's a novella called The Monarch of the Glen, and it's a Shadow story. It's not a prequel to American Gods, it takes place a couple of years after the events in American Gods, and in it Shadow winds up in Northern Scotland, and was originally going to be called "Cape Wrath", but someone else got there first.

I have a fairly simple question, who is your designer, or in particular who designed the cover for American Gods? This question is for a class project at Grand Valley State University near Grand Rapids MIchigan.Thanks,Jenny EberleinGraphic Design student and a fan of your writing.

The American Gods cover was designed by Russell Gordon.

Who was the Earl quoting, in Neverwhere, with his "Brave the battling blade, flashes the furious fire" etc?Google is yielding nothing but people quoting you.

That's just me, I'm afraid.

Hi Neil!
It's Luca from Italy. Some questions.
Is there any possibility to have an Italian edition of Mirrormask (the movie, non the book)?
When will be released the Italian edition of Anansi Boys? Will you have a signing event in Italy for the occasion?
Finally, in a web search I've found an Italian translation of your blog. It's a pretty good site (specially for people like me - too lazy for translating on my own) but is non listed on your foreign partners page. Maybe you don't know it yet, so
You are one of my favourite writers and I have to thank you for let me dream for all these years.
That's all. Sorry for my English ;-)
PS Just forgot. Mondadori is rumored to reprint MrPunch in Italy. Is that true? Or it will be reprint by Magic Press, the same of the first (very good) edition? ..or there will be no reprint?!

Thanks for the link to the Italian translation. (And if anyone knows of any other blog translations not linked to on, let me or Kelly-the-webmistress know.)
Mr Punch is definitely coming out from Mondadori. (I believe they may be doing the MirrorMask children's book as well, but I'm not certain.)

Hi Neil! Congrats to you, Andy, Richard and Todd for 1602 winning the Best Graphic Novel Quill! Must say that, from reading your blog, you're very humble. Mostly you give indications that you don't expect to win. Is this usual practice for all your nominations or do you "feel good" about some of them? Are you usually wrong or right? Aloysius

I don't expect to win. Normally, I'm simply happy to be nominated (my theory is that if you're shortlisted for an award, that's cool and important. After that, it's a horse race).

Several years ago I had an extremely miserable day when I went to link to the website of a major award, the morning before the awards ceremony, only to discover that someone had got confused and posted the winners -- and I'd won Best Novel. I alerted the organisers and they took it down, and then I went through the day -- and in particular the evening awards ceremony -- feeling like a heel, because I knew I'd won, and had to pretend that I didn't. No fun.

Dear Neil,
I have burned my copy of Good Omens, as instructed. I await further instructions.

In the meantime, I was wondering how you feel about the degree of impersonality that seems to have crept into book signings with your increased popularity. I saw you in Boston (1992?) and while the line stretched around the block, there wasn't the same sense of an assembly line. While it's great that you get to see fans, and we see you, that interaction becomes a little lessened. I guess it can't be helped. Or maybe I'm just frustraqted because I tried to get my picture taken with you instead of just introducing myself, as I'd originally thought, so I could at least say I'd met you.

Oh, and kidding about the book. I both love it and need it for the next book club reading. Glenn Portland, OR

How do I feel about it? Not entirely comfortable. I think this was probably the last US signing tour as such -- it doesn't really work when you've got 600+ people in a signing line, unless you're willing to do the "no personalisation, don't talk to anyone, sign your name and move on to the next" thing which I'm really not. The next US tour is much more likely to be something like the Guardian Angel tours I did for the CBLDF, or the Cody's Coraline event, I suspect.

I've been following the letters about your Waterman fountain pens in the blog recently and decided to try one out. I ended up getting a chance to try one and now it pains me to write with a cheap ballpoint. So my question is, where do you get a Waterman for $50? The cheapest ones I can find (ebay included) that are in decent shape are about $120 which, needless to say, are a bit over my budget. Where do you get your pens?-Tessa p.s. I Love Anansi Boys.

Some I get from Kathy Li, and some from eBay. I just checked eBay for completed auctions for Waterman 52s, and they ranged from $16 to $450, with things that you could write with but that pen collectors wouldn't want coming in around $50. Kathy Li assures me that if I'd just take the time and trouble to learn how to fix up old pens I could pick them up for nothing, or almost...

Hey, Neil.

This is probably an embarassing sort of question, but then again maybe not. At any rate, it's a question I've wnated to ask somebody, and you're pretty much the only person I can think of.

How do you write a sex scene?

Where do you get the ... necessary inspiration, and how do you keep it understandably ... sex, without resorting to the painfully obvious? I'm just sort of stuck on this whole question, and the only thing I can do when I contemplate this question is turn an embarassing shade of pink.

Pointers, advice, or sugar cookies would be appreciated.


You're asking the wrong person, I'm afraid. One short story in Smoke and Mirrors, "Tastings", took about four years to write, because whenever I got too embarassed I'd stop writing. And while I once wrote an extremely filthy Cherry Poptart story, I left the mechanics of what the people were doing in the panels up to the imagination of the artist...

One thing I'd suggest, whether it's writing sex scenes, writing partings, writing anything really, is look at how writers whose work you like did it.

I would say that it's astonishing how much people's imaginations will do for you, which is to say, ever since I was accused of writing explicitly pornographic sex in Stardust, I realised that people can always fill in the blanks with far more detail than you think you've provided. So you can probably do more by writing less than you imagine. Does that help?

Neil, I have an ongoing dispute between myself and several lady friends. They think that you are attractive, that you have an "older British man appeal." On the other hand, while I love your books, I think you're rather not. Would you mind clearing this up for us? Are you attractive?

I don't think so, but then, I'm not actually my type.

Your blog comment about having not shaved and looking a bit like a werewolf prompted me to create this bit of Photoshopped nonsense:
Just thought I'd share. Teehee.-Ashiikankwe

Nope. Definitely not my type...

This made me smile:

Hi Neil,
I know you're a very busy man, so this is very short, I've just finished reading Ananasi Boys and I thought it was brilliant. What impressed me even more than the deft interweaving of comedy and horror was the book's voice. I've recently got wed to a very fine lady of mixed-race descent; which means I have also married into an extended West Indian family ( - and have learnt, amongst other things, that while Brian Lara is an exceptional cricketeer, he is a lousy chemistry student).
Seemingly without effort you have managed to evoke that network of family, where cousins and aunts and uncles live in the US and half-a-dozen European countries, and where 'home' is still somewhere in the Caribean. And I can't quite work out how you did it!
I'm now raiding my wife's collection of West Indian fairy tales/childhood stories/myths to catch-up on all the Anansi stories that I've been missing.Please keep up the good work! James


The first two parts of Peter Sanderson's piece about ANANSI BOYS are up at -- the first at and the second at