Tuesday, May 16, 2006

my desktop and other animals

neil-I have a bone to pick with you! I live in the fair state of Arizona and would had loved to have seen you in your tux; why didn't you post that you were going to be at the con in Tempe, AZ in your "Where Neil" section ?

Cheesed off fan - kelly

Sorry about that, kelly. Why? Mostly because it wasn't a convention. It was the Nebula Awards Weekend of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, and I flew into Phoenix late that afternoon to attend the Nebula ceremony and present the Grand Master award to Harlan Ellison, and was back on the road to the airport in the morning before 8.00am. I didn't do any panels or signings, or anything. Promise.

(Something similar, although slightly less rushed, will occur in late June, when I go into New Orleans, to ALA -- I'll be there for a day or so, this time to accept an award or two, but I don't think there are going to be any events open to the public -- although I expect I will do a signing for Librarians.)

Hello.A simple one: what's your computer wallpaper?

Until a few days ago it was a Harry Bliss drawing, but then I drove past a barn that seemed to be in the process of being demolished, and it reminded me of a Dave McKean collage, so I stopped and took a cellphone picture of it, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it looked just as unlikely as it had in real life when I copied it over to the computer. It looks like this...

I have a friend much too shy to ask you this question, so I'm doing it for her. :)

She'd like to know how you reconcile the dichotomy of ordinary husband/father/family Neil with superstar screaming fanboys insanely popular writer Neil. How, she wonders, does one go from thousands of people standing in line to get your doodle on their book to, "Honey, the toilet's backed up?" with the equanimity you seem to?

I have a theory, but I'm being strong and hoping you'll offer your own answer instead of putting words in your mouth. :)


Truth is, it's getting harder right now, as there's more and more stuff to do, and time gets tighter, and it all becomes a bit more like juggling than it ever used to. One way of coping is by deciding what's important and trying to stick with it -- for example, reading every night with Maddy when she was younger, and watching some interesting TV thing with her every night now (we're on season 2 of The Mighty Boosh at present) is something that I try and do whether there's a screaming deadline or not. One other way is to sigh and decide that, for example, although it would have been nice to have spent the last week hanging out in Pinewood on a flying lightning-catching ship captained by Robert De Niro, I'm more use to the world if I'm spending my time at home, recharging my batteries, taking out the rubbish, and, for an hour today, wandering around deciding where we're going to plant the shipment of seaberries, cloudberries, cornelian cherry trees, black walnuts and unusual things like the mountain ash-pear cross that arrived today. (All from

I don't do the signing/people screaming stuff too often, though. It tends to happen in small, concentrated periods, and when it does mostly I get to blink and go "Oh yes, I'm him too, aren't I?" and then get on with doing my best to make it as pleasant as possible for everyone, while it's happening. And I get good people to help and that makes it easy too.

I've been doing this for a long time now. I started signing books nearly 20 years ago. And I figured out a long time ago that the fame thing is interesting, but it's more fun for other people than it is for me.

It's definitely an interesting dichotomy, though. I was amused to be described both as "tall, dark and handsome" and as an "embarrassing old fart with a bad haircut" in a very nice article in the Sydney Morning Herald today. ( You can be both. It happens.

And it's off to Australia in the morning...