Monday, April 03, 2006

question and answer

I'm currently mostly out at my writing cabin trying to finish some very late things off. Home for a few minutes to pick some papers up. And seeing I'm here...

The VARIETY Wolves in the Walls review is up at (It may not be up for long).

It begins,

They call it a "musical pandemonium," which is stretching a point. But if this through-composed adaptation of the children's picture book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, "The Wolves in the Walls," doesn't have quite the anarchic spirit of helmer-designer Julian Crouch's best-known creation, "Shockheaded Peter," it does have a fertile energy of its own. As a junior introduction to the dark side of musical theater, it's a lot of grisly fun and will be welcomed by younger Stateside audiences when it crosses the pond to tour in 2007.

(Not sure why it keeps comparing it to Shockheaded Peter -- they're not the same kind of thing at all. And of course it has its own energy.)

Peter Murphy's interview with me (in the lounge of the Clarence Hotel, which is far and away my favourite hotel in Dublin) last November is up at

I said I'd post the complete Guardian Q&A here. (The one they printed is at,,1742887,00.html)

Please answer a minimum of thirty-five questions, including the first two and last two. Where the question demands a yes or no answer, perhaps you would be kind enough to expand on your response.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Reading a book I enjoy under a tree on a perfect Summer's day.

2. What is your greatest fear?
Something dreadful but unspecified happening to my children.

3. Which living person do you most admire and why?
Alan Moore, I think, the Sage of Northampton. He taught me that a writer should be able to write anything well, and he ploughs his own furrow.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I'm utterly disorganised and I wish I wasn't.

5. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
The conviction that they're right - and the way that justifies their treatment of others.

6. What has been your most embarrassing moment?
School. It was a long moment, but an embarrassing one.

7. What vehicles do you own?

A small grey Mini convertible that I drive, and a Toyota Prius that my assistant drives.

8. What is your greatest extravagance?
Buying books I'll never read, in the vague hope that if ever I'm stranded on a desert island I'll have remembered to have packed a steamer trunk filled with unread books.

9. What is your most treasured possession?
My iPod -- the idea of it, having all my music when I need it, rather than the rather battered object.

10. Where would you like to live?
Somewhere near the sea. Currently I'm living about a thousand miles from the sea in any direction.

11. What makes you depressed?
Not writing. I get moody and broody and irritable if I'm not making stuff up.

12. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My hair. It doesn't behave.

13. Who would play you in a movie of your life?
Dylan Moran. He has messy hair too.

14. What is your most unappealing habit?
According to my kids, it's trailing off in the middle of a...

15. What is your favourite smell?
November evenings -- frost and leaf-mould and woodsmoke. The smell of coming winter.

16. What is your favourite word?
"Claptrap" -- ever since I discovered that it didn't just mean Nonsense, but the things that politicians and others say that mean little or nothing but get automatic, unthinking applause.

17. What is your favourite book?
A huge leather-bound 150 year old accounts book, with 500 numbered pages all perfectly blank. I keep promising myself I'll write a story in it one day.

18. What is your fancy dress costume of choice?


19. Radiator or air conditioning?
I'd rather be too warm than too cold.

20. Cat or dog?
Cats. They turn up and I take them in. I'd love a dog, but I travel too much, signing books or doing film things, and it wouldn't be fair.

21. Is it better to give or to receive?

Giving, any time. I never know what to do with all the things I've received.

22. What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Wasting time.

24. To whom would you most like to say sorry and why?

I doubt she'd even remember my name.

25. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Imaginary things and people.

26. Which living person do you most despise and why?
I've never made it as far as despising anyone. It takes work for me to get as far as "dislike".

27. Have you ever said "I love you" without meaning it?

Occasionally at the end of long business phone calls, I'll put down the phone and realise that I just said "I love you" to my agent or someone. It's like the moment where you realise you just called a schoolteacher "Mum".

28. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Lovely. Puzzling. Delightful. Finally.

29. What has been your biggest disappointment?
Getting a book published with my name on the spine. I'd assumed that I would live thereafter in a state of perfect bliss, but it doesn't quite work like that.

30. What is your greatest regret?
I wish I'd enjoyed the journey more, rather than worried about it.

31. When and where were you happiest?
Writing a book called AMERICAN GODS in Florida in 2000. I was alternately at my happiest (when it worked) and at my most despondent (when it didn't), but there was very little room in my head for anything else.

32. When did you last cry, and why?
Almost twenty years ago, a week after my grandmother died, was the last time I cried like a child. I'm sure I've cried since, but that's the one I remember.

33. How do you relax?
I go somewhere quiet and make stuff up and write it down. It's very relaxing as long as it's working.

36. What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Time. I'd like lots and lot more time. Ten day weeks. Six week months. Twenty month years. Things like that.

37. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My children.

38. What keeps you awake at night?

39. What song would you like played at your funeral?

Wreckless Eric's "The Final Taxi"

40. How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who made things up that people are still reading.

41. What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

That the whole "following your dreams" thing may be a cliche but it's also an excellent way to live a life.


And here is the last of the Glasgow photos....