Monday, November 06, 2006

born to trouble

Had a very small bonfire last night, and watched the sparks fly upwards.

A few people asked about prints of the Charles Addams Boiling Oil cartoon -- they still sell them on the New Yorker cartoonbank site, currently at this link.

Hello Neil,

I hope to get something published one day. Due to some rather unfortunate events in my life, I am extremely protective of my family's privacy (as well as my own). Any work I release would (hopefully) not have my real name associated with it (I'd use a pen name). How possible is it to be a well known author, say, like yourself, and remain completely anonymous? I am talking anonymity to the extreme-- no photos, appearances, chances at being photographed, no information anywhere about my children, etc.


Anonymous Australian

It's not impossible, but to be successful you'd have to plan it out well ahead of time, depending on how anonymous you want to be. It's probably easiest to do if nobody cares who you are. The more successful you become, the more you would need to plan ahead (where does the money from the publisher go? Who do they make the cheque to? What name and address is on the copyright registration forms?).

Can you get away with not having an author photograph, signings etc? Yes, although you may have to write better to make up for what publishers could perceive as a problem. (If the book is good, though, they won't mind, although you might have to write answers to interview questions and so on...)

You might want to study the careers and secret identities of such people as Thomas Pynchon, Richard Bachman, James Tiptree Jr. and J.T. Leroy (who I tend to confuse with British Western writer J.T. Edson, rather embarrassingly), not to mention Lemony Snicket, and remember that, in the words of Ben Franklin, three can keep a secret if two of them are dead.

Hi, Neil! I've wanted to ask this for awhile: how do you like the convertible? How does it compare to the old Mini? You're the only person I know who has owned both, and I'm toying with the idea of buying a convertible, so I want to hear your review.
Mary Roane (missing Chicago after that last post)

There are a couple of real downsides to the Mini convertible -- a lack of trunk/boot space, and limited rear visibility. The upsides mainly consist of pressing the button that opens the roof and then pretending you're in a Japanese Robot movie, and of driving round in a Mini with the top down. I've definitely started toying with the idea of getting something bigger for getting groceries or driving to Chicago in, while keeping the Mini, which was not something I thought about with the old Mini. I wonder how soon until we see the Mini Traveller (or indeed the Mini Hearse).

Mr. Gaimain, I've heard a story that you once (accidently) launched a firework at Gene Wolfe's head on Guy Fawkes day. Considering today is November 5th, I thought it would be appropriate to ask if this is indeed true. So is it?~Kat

Yup. (Well, at a Guy Fawkes party about 13 years ago a firework shot rather close to Gene's head, although I don't remember now whether or not I was actually the one who lit the blue touchpaper. Astonishingly, Gene's come back to every Guy Fawkes party I've had since, though -- they happen every now and again, not annually -- and he seemed to relish the excitement and not to mind his escape from sudden death, which proved, to my mind, that Gene Wolfe is the last of the gentlemen adventurers.)

(Edit to add that although Gene was first menaced by Fireworks after World Fantasycon in 1993, my friend Medge points out he and Justin Ackroyd came all the way from Australia to fire the Infamous Firework of Death at Gene's head at the Guy Fawkes Party after World Fantasycon in 2002.)


And finally, a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly, for the STARDUST AUDIOBOOK, recorded back in

Tristran Thorn falls in love with the prettiest girl in town and makes her a foolish promise: he says that he'll go find the falling star they both watched streak across the night sky. She says she'll marry him if he finds it, so he sets off, leaving his home of Wall, and heads out into the perilous land of faerie, where not everything is what it appears. Gaiman is known for his fanciful wit, sterling prose and wildly imaginative plots, and Stardust is no exception. Gaiman's silver-tongued narration vividly brings this production to life. Like the bards of old, Gaiman is equally as proficient at telling tales as he is at writing them, and his pleasant British accent feels like a perfect match to the material. Gaiman's performance is an extraordinary achievement -- if only all authors could read their own work so well. The audiobook also includes a brief, informative and enjoyable interview with Gaiman about the writing of the novel and his work in the audiobook studio.