Sunday, September 03, 2006

exploring the penumbra

I think I wrote most of Act 3 of the thing I'm doing with Penn Jillette in about two utterly mad days and nights. (I am very unshaven, and the white of one eye has gone bright red, so I look really scary and vaguely manic.)

"When we do Letterman," said Penn, today, "I'll tell him it took us eight years."

Of course, it sort of did. We had the idea for this shortly after we first met properly, on the Babylon 5 Episode I wrote, "Day of the Dead", in 1998. It then took us four years to track down who controlled the rights, and another four years to find the time to get together and do it. And our eventual solution was that we don't have time to do it so we may just as well put it on our calendars and do it anyway, which was what we did.

So today we took everything he wrote, everything I wrote and everything we wrote and we stitched it together, and were astounded that it came to about 128 pages of film script -- which is probably about 8 pages beyond where it should be, but I do no doubt that once it's been trimmed it'll run to about 120 pages.

Deadlines. One down. Five or six or seven to go.


Fragile Things news -- I'm as puzzled as Publisher's Weekly about why Harper Collins aren't trying to police eBay sales of the galleys, considering all the trouble they've gone to to number them and keep track of where each copy went. (It appears that the two that have been sold went for $102 and $198 respectively.)

It's started to show up on lists of fall books -- The Washington Post Fall Books list says, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders, by Neil Gaiman (Morrow, Oct.). The British fantasy superstar explores the penumbra between life and death, reality and illusion.

The Palm Beach Post Fall Reading List says, Fragile Things, by Neil Gaiman (October): A new collection of stories by the author of Anansi Boys, along with some poems. An announced first printing of 150,000 is enormous for short stories, but not impossible given Gaiman's loyalty among the fantasy and horror crowd.

(I think it has mostly to do with how many copies of Smoke and Mirrors Harpers have sold since 1998, which is now well into the hundreds of thousands, and their confidence that people who bought that will probably want to buy this.)

After braving the mad crowds to see you each of the last two years at the National Book Festival in DC, I'm saddened to see your name off this year's list of authors. What gives? They didn't ask you? Didn't think they could handle your crowds this year?What's more, you're actually in town the night before the festival for a signing at Politics & Prose. So seriously, they just didn't ask you back?

I didn't volunteer, either. I expect that the Book Festival would have been quite willing to take me for another year, but I don't think that one should do something like the National Book Festival every year -- it should be an event, like the Festival itself, and not the Usual Suspects. I'll be flying out that day to the Bay Area. (The last couple of signings at the National Book Festival I would up doing four or five times the hour they'd alotted me to sign in, in order to get everyone in the line done. I'm happy to trade that for a travel day, this time.)

In case no one else has mentioned it, the LibraryThing blog declares you the hardest-working author in publishing. Counting books tagged as "signed" in LT, Tim comes to the conclusion: "Neil Gaiman is a machine!"
Thought this might amuse you (and your family).
Here: Cheers.KB

That's very kind of them. The last time I linked in Tim offered me a free LibraryThing account or so that I really and truly plan to use one of these days maybe I hope when I get a moment. (There's a spare bedroom I plan to turn into an extra library room, and then I get to gather up books from their piles and find out what lurks unread, and begin the task of scanning them in.)

Hello Mr. Gaiman, do you have any mobile-pictures of Michelle Pfeiffer? Best wishes, Dennis Weber

Not one. It felt like it would have been wrong, somehow. But she looks amazing, in all of her various looks.

I've been studying a lot of american literature recently, and I was wondering what you thought of this Hubert Selby Jr quote: "The writer has no right to be there in the work. I don't have any right to impose myself between the people I'm creating on the page and the reader... and that, the responsibility of the artist is to transcend the human ego. "
Do you think the writer has no business being there?-adam

I think the writer has every business being there. (If you can't be there in your own books, as Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd might have said, whose books can you be there in?) How you're there, or the ways in which you manifest your existence beyond that, even if you're pretending that there's no-one telling the story at all, is just a stylistic choice.

Hey Neil -Is there any talk of a Good Omens audiobook? I adore the novel and would love to listen to it on my commute.Thanks! Karlee

There is an unabridged audiobook read by Stephen Briggs out in the UK already -- is the info.

I think there will be a different US audiobook. (Rumour had it that Martin Jarvis was going to do it, but that may just be rumour.)

Hey Neil I am currently reading Stardust to my 4-year-old son and 2.5-year-old daughter. We just finished the scene where limbus grass was fed to an unsuspecting witch. On page 120 of the trade paperback edition, a line reads, "A little basil, a little mountain thyme--my own receipt." My son is questioning where the gas station was because we always get receipts from the gas station. I am thinking it may be a typo. What should I tell my son? He tends to be a dweller...

Tell him that three hundred years ago, a receipt was a recipe. (Here's some OED information on the words --

I remember a few years back I heard an audio of an essay you made that you read yourself. I think it was about how drinking affected the creativity of writers/writing. And so as you typed that essay, you drank a shot of scotch every few sentences and started spewing works like "elephant spunk" and ants being ungrateful about eating that sort of thing. I really miss it and I want to hear it again.Now my question is that, where can I find that audio again? I tried looking in the site and in your audio section but it wasnt there. So please enlighten me if I'll ever hear that audio again. Thank you!- candice

It's the hidden track on the WARNING: CONTAINS LANGUAGE double CD. It's also (I think) on the Live at the Aladdin video, which is now a bonus on the DVD of A Short Film About John Bolton.

WARNING is (And it looks like you can download Nicholas Was... from there for free.)

Here's the info on A Short Film About John Bolton:


Right. Bed. Tomorrow, more Penn.