Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Gremlin rules

Trying to get caught up, to get back onto a US-relevant sleep schedule, to get some writing done, and I just discovered that tomorrow is the day that they do the every-five-years-you're-middle-aged-stop-whining-about-it-complete-medical-checkover and find out if my heart is beating, what my cholesterol is, whether I have strange things growing inside me etc. My assistant has already left a prominent note in the kitchen pointing out that I must not eat after midnight.

A groundhog tunneled under the floor beneath the house's elderly garage, which meant that the concrete floor broke and fell in, and thus I was woken this morning by the gentle sounds of a small yellow bulldozer demolishing the garage, and now I keep looking out of the window and seeing the place that the garage isn't.

Dear Neil,

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for attending Balticon this past weekend. I can't even begin to imagine how exhausted you must have been, but at every panel you attended, you were very (to me at least) sweet, charming, and down to earth. Not that I expected you to grow three heads and swallow us whole, of course.

I do have a few questions for you. At the reading you did, what was the title of the second story you read, and where/when will it be published?

Again, thank you for attending Balticon, and I look forward to your future projects!


Thanks to everyone who wrote from Sydney and from Balticon to say they had a good time. So did I (even if, at Balticon, I was a bit frazzled from all the flying). The stories I read at Balticon were "Orange" (which will, I hope, be in Jonathan Strahan's anthology THE STARRY RIFT) "The Day The Saucers Came" and "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" (which will be in the upcoming collection of my short fiction, FRAGILE THINGS).

Ok Neil-I was a good fan girl and I checked the archives, FAQ section, and did a blog search and still nothing satisfied my need for knowledge. Can you give a quick rundown of all the stuff you're working on right now? I know about Wolves in the Walls, Coraline, Stardust, Beowulf, Fragile Things, The Eternals and anything else? (you must be so bored). What I don't know is what is happening with all those things, your involvement in each of them and what exactly they all are. If it isn't too much to ask, I'd love to have more info on what it is you're up to. Thanks!

your rabid fan- Lisa

...and the ABSOLUTE SANDMAN and THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, and three very different semisecret TV projects in various stages of existence... You know, what I probably need to do is get the various essays on the site about things like Films up to date ( to see what I mean). My work on the WOLVES IN THE WALLS play is done unless we add or change something -- it tours the UK this autumn and the US next spring. (Details at -- and I'm fairly sure that the Daily Telegraph review quoted on the site actually spoke, not of "highly humble songs" which conjures up pictures of little grey theadbare songs shuffling along trying not to disturb anyone, but of "highly hummable songs", which is something else entirely.)

Coraline the film's being written and directed by Henry Selick, with some very talented people (music by They Might Be Giants, design work by many talented people including Vera Brosgol)...

(There's also a Coraline graphic novel adaptation in the works, from the pen of P. Craig Russell. The pages I've seen so far have been stunning. But then, I would say that, wouldn't I? Let me find out if I can get hold of something to put up here.)

You can see a few unlettered pages from the first issue of Eternals up at


To close the book on the MCI posts of a few weeks ago (this and this), a nice man named Rob Moffett from my former Long Distance Carrier Verizon/MCI wrote to me after reading about the mysteries and frustrations of not being able to call Holly's UK phone, when I talked about it here in the blog and he asked if he could investigate. I wrote back and said sure, and said that all I'd I wanted was for someone to go "Whoa, that's weird. Sorry about that. We'll go and figure it out." Instead I kept dealing with increasingly irritating Indian people who all seemed convinced, no matter what I told them, that I just wanted someone to explain to me how to dial long distance.

Rob wrote to say


I finally managed to track down the problem in our network. Since it’s not really my area, it took a while. Suffice to say that other MCI customers will soon be able to call Holly without a problem. For some reason there was no routing for that number in our system. I suspect it’s a recent turn up in the UK and we didn’t route those calls previously because they were not working numbers. Sorry it took so long to get an answer but thanks for helping me solve this problem for our other customers.

Rob Moffett
Verizon Business

Which made me happy that I have a blog, and that people read it, and that it changes things that I couldn't do as a person-on-the-end-of-a-phone.

A couple of slightly edited letters (because this is becoming a very long post):

hi neil,

also, just one last curious question, i promise: do you write all your own blogs, faq responses, etc. or does HC provide ghostwriter-minions to do some of that for you?

warm regards,


for some reason i dont have much faith that you'll be the one who answers my question.. I always feel that i'll either receive an automated "thank you for your interest in me" message, or that one of the editors will reply pretending to be you..
Anyway, here is the thing, i would diiiiie to attend a book signing of yours.. why dont you come to Egypt?
and coming to think about it, how can i make it to your journal? what do i have to do so that you mention me in your journal?


Why don't I come to Egypt? Mostly because nobody's ever asked me to -- and as far as I know, none of my books are translated into Arabic. I don't know how easy or otherwise travel between the countries is in that part of the world, but I'm Guest of Honour this year at ICON in Israel. (If I could find a website with things like a date and a location, I'd link to it.)

Anyway, the blog's all me. There are essays on the site by me, and also ones not by me -- but it should always be clearly marked which is which. If something looks like press release or something it probably is. If it looks like I wrote it I expect that I did -- no-one's allowed to pretend they're me here, anyway. The FAQs are a bit of a hodgepodge -- they're extracted from answers I gave on the FAQ blog, but sometimes aren't really relevant because the context has been removed. Really I need to get a couple of days, roll up my sleeves and do a whole new FAQ section for the board, that's relevant, well organised and covers the whole run of the Frequently Asked Questions. I'll try and get it done by 2007. 2008 at the latest.

Hi Neil

Just seen an ad in Forbidden Planet London for a Fragile Things signing in September - any idea if you'll do any other signings whilst your over here - or a reading somewhere?

Thanks as always


Possibly. Mostly I'm over in the UK then for Fantasycon, and I'll get a day signing -- and perhaps reading, I don't know -- in London at the end of the trip, then I'll fly to New York for the US launch of Fragile Things. (I notice from the Fantasycon website that membership is limited to 400 people, so if you're thinking of going to Nottingham, it may be wise to book early).

Hi Neil,

I just thought your readers might like to know that an mp3 of your Triple J breakfast radio interview with Jay and The Doctor is now available for download off the Triple J website -

I haven't had the chance to listen to it yet (my computer is suffering from progressive hard drive senility at the moment), but my wife heard you on the radio and says you have a lovely voice :)

(Canberra, Australia)

and also,

G'day Neil.

Loved the photo of the cake shop in The Rocks - it caught my eye too when I wandered past it on Saturday before my better half quickly steered me away:-)

Thought you might like to know that two of your SWF presentations have appeared on the web. The "Graphic Books" presentation with Audrey Niffenegger is at

and your "Meet the Writers" presentation with Jonathan Stroud is at


Given that these are video presentations, they *are* bandwidth hogs - not for those on dial-up connections.


Thanks, Steve.

Mirrormask, I watched it at the Edinburgh Film Festival last year and enjoyed it a lot. Then seemingly all but buried. Screened at it's peak in the US on a whopping 42 screens. UK distribution i have no idea, one poster in a then UGC(i think) cinema sometime since which probably had a release date on it but it seems to have passed by. Do you feel it has been treated a bit shabbily?

Nope. It was commissioned by Sony from Hensons as a straight to DVD film, like "Kermit's Swamp Years"; everything it did after it was made -- getting into Sundance, the Edinburgh Festival, and managing to get a limited art house release -- was on its own merits. It's now out on DVD, selling even better than was expected, and gathering an audience.

Not to repeat or even echo the latest question you answered in your blog, but how the fuck does one play the published/agent game and stay sane (or, like, not crying, for that matter)? I swear--I could heat my home for a year if I burned all the form rejections I've gotten.

Do you know of any agencies off the top of your head that are especially friendly to unpublished authors? I just graduated college and completed my first book, a nonfiction thingamajic which is circularly about Tori Amos. It's really about her fans and all that drama (I saw thirty shows last tour in several different countries and came to some pretty weird conclusions), a specific sort of niche book that would probably be a hard sell for even an established author.

Blah. Sorry for the rambling. I think I'm still drunk.


If I had a book like that, I don't think I'd be sending it to agents at all. The group of publishers who might be interested in it is small enough that I'd just do my research, make a list of potential publishers, and send a letter explaining what the book is to each of them, and find out if anyone wants to read it and go further.

Once I'd got a publisher for it, I'd probably get an agent.

That's me, though. (And I'd written and sold at least three non-fiction books before I found an agent, and that was more or less accidentally.)

I doubt there are any agencies who are "especially friendly to unpublished authors", except for the weirdo leech-agencies who plan to make lots of money from unpublished authors from reading fees, "editing" fees and so on, and never actually sell any real publishers any books. But agents take on unpublished and unproven authors every day.

Miss Snark has the best agent telling-it-like-it-is site out there, at

Teresa Nielsen Hayden wrote an amazing essay and collection of resources about getting an agent and a publisher, here on this very blog at and if I ever get around to doing a proper FAQ for the site, I'd put that in there. Essential reading for any would-be-published-author.