Sunday, September 24, 2006

from fantasycon

I am, in no particular order, at Fantasycon and still alive.

I've signed lots of advance copies of FRAGILE THINGS for people, been on several panels, talked to lots of people, made some new friends, caught up with many many old friends (some of whom had obviously done that amateur dramatics thing of making their hair go white to indicate passage of time) (and a glance in the mirror suggests that I've started doing the same thing).

I'm way behind on the FAQs, but I've noticed lots of people have started asking about getting signed books, or if they can get a loved one's books to me to sign. Your best bet for signed stuff right now is contacting any of the bookshops at which I'll be signing over the next ten days. DreamHaven (who also have the website) have the most experience at this, but any of the bookshops on the UK or US leg of the tour should be able to take credit card orders for personalised copies and ship them out.

Hi Neil,
I hope the UK presentations go well this coming weekend i was thinking about going to the Monday 25th in London but am completely skint having spent my last few pounds on Alan Moores Watchmen (my first of his work and hopefully not my last depending on how this one goes). I thought I'd ask if you have any major rivalries with other authors such as Alan Moore, be they playful rivalries or bitter ones? Also with whom if you don't mind saying?
Thanks a lot and good luck,

I suddenly feel very boring. No, I'm afraid not. Most of the people I suppose I could potentially have had a rivalry with (Grant Morrison? Clive Barker? Alan Moore?) are good friends and have been for twenty years or more, but more honestly I can't think of any bitter rivalries -- or even playful ones -- in any of the writing fields I've worked in, be it comics or SF or Fantasy. Writers tend to be helpful to each other, and make each other's lives easier. Not always, but mostly.

Feeling a bit nostalgic, I walked down Meat Street the other day longing to stop in to the House of Clocks to spy for looming adventure. I was horrified to see that the HOC has been taken over by aggressive spam pirates. I notified the web mistress and was told that she would be very pleased if someone, anyone, could send her information and/or instructions on how to filter the guestbook entries without cost to prevent further nefarious intrusion and mutiny. If you, your superhuman assistant, or any of your concerned readers know of any such guestbook software and have the inclination to save this national treasure, could you/she/they please go to the House of Clocks guestbook and email the archivist link (the web mistress) with the key to salvation and remedy for the overwhelming spam? Everyone knows Meat Street is a dingy, spooky place, but with all of those vagabonds pouring out of the HOC, it's become downright uninhabitable. Please help us or put the wo rd out, and you will again be hailed with revelry from non-corporeal beings.

Bless you my child,
Saint Marie of the Declining Order
The Shabby Abbey, Chicago, Illinois

And I nipped over to
where I learned that, yes, the guestbook, which used to be filled with magical fictions, is now sadly clogged with spamposts by the hundred. Can anyone help Joanna out?

Dear Neil,

You've written in the past that, as far as you're concerned, there really aren't any inviolable Rules Of Writing, never to be broken.

Even so, I'd like to ask your opinion of the oft-repeated advice to writers that they ought, as a general rule, to 'show, not tell'.

Do you think this is good advice? Or do you think a writer ought to feel free to do showing or telling in whatever quantities they like?

Is this something you think about when reviewing early drafts of your own work?

Thank you.

It depends what you're writing and what kind of effect you want to have on the reader. "Show don't tell" is a useful rule of thumb, but lots of fine books and stories tell (Borges, for example, does almost nothing else, and we love him for it), and so do storytellers.

There was once a princess who, although she was perhaps a little on the thin side and extremely short-tempered, was very beautiful...

could often get you further than a page in which you see her short temper and learn about her beauty (although, if they have anything to do with the story, you'll do that anyway).

It's whatever works for the story. Show what you need to show, tell what you need to tell. It's your story.

So, I went to and I found your square on my 5th try. Did I just get incredibly lucky or are there multiple winning squares? Or do you know? You might not have any idea. But, if you do, I'm curious :)

~ Robin

I think it's just one. (I've not found it yet, although I've found lots of small postings that people have done in other squares, and I think that if we ever do something like this again you should be able to put up a photo of yourself on your square...)