Monday, January 30, 2006

This is just to say...

Just a reminder that
the blog is now being
transferred over
to the new incarnation of,
which should go live on February 1st.
Fingers crossed that
everything works.

See you then.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Beowulf Bollocks the third

I don't know what it is about Beowulf that causes journalists to write utter bollocks, but I'll continue to try and keep track of the odder articles on this blog and correct them, at least until the official Beowulf site opens. Anthony Hopkins tries to explain to a journalist that he didn't wear a costume for his role as King Hrothgar in Beowulf but instead looked more like this (okay, it's Angelina Jolie not him, but it's the same clothes) and this is reported as

SIR ANTHONY HOPKINS' new role as mythical BEOWULF required the Oscar winner to be completely naked throughout the entire filming process.

Hopkins stars as the Scandinavian warrior in a new computer-generated animated epic and had to film many of his scenes naked

So, for the record, Sir Ant plays Hrothgar not Beowulf, and did nothing naked at all. That I know of.

Neil, I'm hoping you'll post this offer in your journal for the community. In a state of delirium after seeing Mirrormask, I ran directly out and purchased the domain name On later reflection, I realized that I have nothing appropriate to put there, nor any time in which to develop it. I'd like to pass on the domain to someone who would do something interesting with it. My price is "something neat". A story, a bit of art, a poem written out nicely, a really cool piece of polished metal you found,something of that sort. For you Neil, as you are a Famous Author, the price would be slightly higher, "something neat" and "lunch next time you are in Boston". Interested parties can email me at and describe briefly what you'd like to do with it. First idea that sounds nifty gets to buy the domain. Please don't send me descriptions of your "something neat", I'm sure it will be fine.
Unrelated, you might enjoy checking out a couple of my side projects. Images from a line of silk scarves I design , and the Thanks-Alex-

I have too many websites I'm not doing anything with as it is. But I bet there's someone out there with some cool ideas...

Dear Neil,
I know a year or so ago there was some ueber super special limited edition version of American Gods with parts that had been edited out, heavy awesome gold-lined paper, and some huge unnecessary book cover. I was wondering if you had any idea where I could obtain this. I totally forgot the name of the people who made it. ;_;

Thanks a bunch,

It's who have all sorts of amazing special deals on their books until February 15th, so if you're looking for, say Neil Stephenson limited editions, or Terry Pratchett facsimile editions, go and take a look. Good people.

Mr Gaiman,

Do you sometimes wish you still lived in the UK?
I am curious as to why so many British writers feel the need to move to the US. It seems ironic (or sarcastic, if you are American) as most writers - I reluctantly add, not yourself - tend towards writing as to how crappy America is, and how shortsighted the American 'Joe-Public' is, yet they still live there.
I don't ask this to cast negative on you (god knows given a green card, I would happily live in the States) -- I just wonder how you came to choose the 'big move' - and even how it has changed your "writing style"?

You must be sick of seeing question marks on here I guess?

Oh, for a simple full stop to round off an ill-thought out question, no?
Matt ...?

Yes, I miss the UK. Less than I did, given that these days most of my newspapers, radio and TV (well, DVDs) are from the UK, but homesickness never quite goes away. As for why British writers feel the need to move -- I can't speak for anyone else. In my case, thirteen years ago, it was the combination of having an American wife with a mother and grandmother who were getting no younger, and having half-American children who hadn't really encountered that side of their family, combined with the fact that all my income was coming from the US and I liked the idea of going somewhere I could spend the dollars and know what they'd be worth from week to week which, under the economic leadership the former president George Bush, I never did, for the dollar careened up and down and I couldn't tell from one week to another how many pounds it would turn into once I'd taken it to the bank, and also because I realised that I could get an Addams Family house and 15 acres of woodland near Minneapolis for less than the cost of a 1 bedroom flat in London, which was a good thing to learn because I was running out of space for both people and books in the UK at the time.

Friday, January 27, 2006

A quick one from Bryn Mawr...

Last night's post never got posted, which is probably a good thing because it was written when I was too tired to think and was mostly about being too tired to think. But now it's the next morning, and I'm sitting next to Holly on a couch, making good use of Bryn Mawr wireless internet.

So, I drove and drove and drove, got to dinner with Chip Delany & friends (and Holly, who now has a lip-ring "It looks very... interesting," I said, thus proving myself a dad, but I'm getting used to it) about half an hour late because the Mini's GPS system didn't know about rush hour traffic, had a wonderful meal, then on to Temple, where I did a reading (a poem, "The Day The Saucers Came", and a short story, "How to Talk to Girls At Parties") for, Chip told me this morning, about seven hundred people, then answered questions, and then signed stuff for people (one thing per person, and I was still there until eleven thirty).

Then I stayed at the Chestnut Hill Hotel ( which was lovely, had a lovely breakfast with Michael, the manager and his wife Susan.

My wanderings are not yet over.

Driving the new Mini, a convertible Mini Cooper S, is really fun, and I feel like I'm getting to know it. (A brief review -- it handles well, is nippy and fun to drive, although the suspension isn't as good as my last Mini's, and I have to be a lot smarter about packing it as it it's harder to get things in and out. Limited rear visibility. I suspect that I'll keep the back seats permanently down unless I need them up. And if you try driving with the top down in this weather, even with the seat warmer on and the heat blasting, you freeze.)

Neil,I really like your little sketch of the seven-legged spider you did for Anansi Boys, and I think it would look lovely as a tattoo. I thought it might be good of me, however, to ask your permission first.Pretty please? Sarah

You don't have to ask, and of course.

Hey Neil I was trawling IMDB today, and saw attached to your name a "Books of Magic" movie announced for 2006. I was wondering if you could confirm/deny it, and expand upon the non-existent information listed there.Is it (assuming it is hapening) just the 4 part comic originally published, or will it also feature story arc(s) from the Reiber and Gross comics? And in the hopes of avoiding another Earthsea, have you or the other authors got creative control over the script?Thanks, Sam

The first few Books of Magic Film scripts I saw, by Matt Greenberg, back in 2000, were faithful to the spirit if not the letter of the comics, and I was involved in reading the scripts and giving feedback. The last script I saw, a year or two ago, by someone else, bore no resemblance to any of the comics, although it wasn't actually a bad script for what it was, and I found myself just hoping when I read it that they'd change the name of the film and rename their "Tim Hunter" character, so that it didn't upset people who actually wanted to see a Books of Magic film. I don't know if anything's happening on it at all at present -- it's been a long time since they sent me a script. But then, it's a film, and anything could happen. No, we don't have creative control -- DC Comics properties are owned by DC Comics, and the rights were sold to Warners. (But honestly, when you sell film rights you are always facing the possibility that someone is going to make something that's at best "loosely inspired by" what you wrote.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Useful information

The schedule for the next week of this blog is as follows...

Over the next couple of days I'll post in a spotty sort of way, because I have decided to drive to Philadelphia for the Temple Hall reading and do not know when I'll have an internet connection on the road. Then from about Sunday I won't be able to post anything at all to the blog for a few days, as the archives and data are migrated over to the new version of the website.

That new website should go live on Wednesday, February the First. At that point, please go and explore it and then let the new webmistress know about the bits that don't work, links that don't go where they're meant to, bits that need to be changed or that you find aesthetically problematic or whatever.

The main advantage of the new version of the website over the current one is that no-one can ever find anything on the current one -- sometimes because the link to it has somehow gone away, sometimes because the link to it is deeply counterintuitive (you need to go to the book entry on American Gods to find such things as the Original American Gods Website -- -- which tells you how many hours ago American Gods was published [-1681 days 10 hours and 18 minutes as I write this] or the still incomplete 5 years later bibliography at [incomplete now forever, because I could never reassemble the books on coin magic, prison or confidence tricks and comment on what I took from each -- but The Big Con by David Maurer was useful and J. B. Bobo's Modern Coin Magic was invaluable]). It should be much, much easier to find things with the new one, and it should make poking around and finding interesting things to read, listen to or look at much simpler.

With luck, you'll even be able to read the blog archives through. If that's your idea of a good time.

Monday, January 23, 2006

No Cats Allowed

A quick one -- there's a podcast now up of the reading I did (and the intro that preceded it, and the Q&A that followed it) on the ANANSI BOYS tour at The Tattered Cover in Denver, about nine days into the tour. It's the only reading I did where I did a couple of bits -- I was doing a request from my agent, Merrilee, who wanted to hear a specific bit. It's about 60 megs long, in all. (I'm afraid the funniest bit of the "Biggles" story is mimed, so you'll just have to imagine it.) I don't half go on a bit, I'm afraid.

The story of a scam agent that's as odd as any movie begins, continues and concludes at Read, enjoy, avoid crooked agents.

Someone recently sent me a link to which I loved and passed straight on to the Fabulist --

I enjoyed Michael Dirda writing in the Washington Post about Conan the Barbarian and Robert E. Howard....

Right. Maddy and I are about to experimentally watch some old Dr Who DVDs. Tonight, she encounters Jon Pertwee for the first time, because he is the only Doctor of whom I can say "I met him at a launch party for something once..."

more on cats, and our author wins an ALEX.

Hi Neil,Thanks so much for the updated picture of the gorgeous Misty! However, this begs the is Fred the Unlucky Black Cat doing these days? According to a quick search of this journal, he hasn't been mentioned since August of updated picture would be lovely, as well. And I often wonder, how do Misty and Fred get along? Thanks! Cathy

For the last two days I've been exiled from my bed to my son Mike's empty bedroom off the attic, due to painting work currently going on in my bedroom, so Fred is, as I write this, sleeping near the foot of the attic bed and is incredibly happy. When we first let him into the house he was badly injured, and I slept up here to keep him company. And I did the same thing months later, the next time it happened. So Fred believes that the natural order of things is for me to be sleeping up here and for him to be at the foot of the bed, guarding against dust-balls. He continues to be Unlucky, and several enormous vet bills following other-animal-inflicted injuries have gone unreported on this blog.

Misty's arrival mucked up the precarious balance of cat-power in the house -- as she turned from a kitten into a young lady the two male cats, Coconut and Fred, both realised they adored her despite being fixed, and needed desperately to impress her, while the two female cats, Princess and Zoe, both disapproved of all this, and all four of them suddenly needed to start urinating everywhere in order to make sure that their feelings were known and territories were marked and so on. Our vet suggested Feliway diffusers, and three weeks later there's a noticeable improvement.

Congrats! Just saw that "Anansi Boys" was given an Alex Award from the ALA (one of the 10 best adult books that appeal to teens). Here's the link--although I'm sure it's been forwarded to you already by other librarians! It's towards the bottom. Misty is a gorgeous kitty!! How's Fred doing these days? Congrats again-Michele

That's terrific news, and you were the first to tell me. And it's Anansi's first award. Fred still talks (he says "Hurrow," which is a bit odd) and is still a cat who walks by himself and all places are the same to him (but he likes it if someone's sleeping in the attic).

(This is Fred walking by himself.)

Neil, First of all, thanks. Just a general thanks. :) Secondly- I think you (and Maddy) may have yourselves a fairy cat. No, really- a Norwegian Forest Cat, or, more commonly, a Fairy Cat. - Heidi PB

Well, Misty definitely seems to have some Norwegian Forest/Maine Coon blood in her, yes, judging by the coat and mane and the fluffy tail. We'll find out how much as she continues to grow, I expect.

Mr. Gaiman... I'm curious why your creative focus has shifted to novels as opposed to comic books. Is it a desire to be more mainstream (perhaps financial considerations) or something else? You've worked with great artists, but it's an aspect of the finished product of which you do not have complete control. Perhaps that too is a factor. (Having read a number of your scripts, I've noted how the artists have at times ignored certain subtleties which the Sims and Millers of the world would have been sure to include since they are the writer and the artist.) I think the perception in some circles is that you've "graduated" from your work in comics to a more legitimate medium. Personally, I think you've always wanted to be a novelist (it has a great tradition after all) and your infamy in the comic book world allowed it to happen. There's no denying the amount of control it gives you. I guess I'm only asking this because I wish you'd do a monthly comic book again, because I love the comic book medium and wish you were back in it on a regular basis. I imagine this question has been asked 50,387 times already and apologize for asking it again.

And I, for my part, am curious why you think my creative focus has shifted exclusively to novels. I don't think it has. (Then again, this website is run by Harper Collins, who publish the novels and short story collections, so it has a tendency to drift that way in terms of content emphasis.)

I don't do a monthly comic any longer because I'm not the fastest writer on the block and if I did a monthly comic I'd never do anything else and I'd still miss deadlines. But having said that, since the start of this blog I've written 1602 (a series of 8 monthly comics), Endless Nights (about the length of six and a bit monthly comics), several short comics stories (including the recent Deadman story in Teddy Kristiansen's SOLO), and some work for children, like the Gahan Wilson story in Little Lit, and of course The Wolves In the Walls. This year I'll do The Eternals for Marvel as a 6 issue monthly comic. And I've only written one novel.

But I like writing novels, and they take time. I like writing films, and still feel like I have so much to learn there, and they take time. I'd love to write a stage play, and that takes time as well. Then there's directing things, which seems to be necessary if I want to see anything like what I've written turn up on the screen, but which also takes, you guessed it, time.

So it's not money or control keeping me from writing a monthly comic. It's that I did that every month for nine years, and towards the end I didn't do anything else, because there simply wasn't time. And I like being able to tell stories in all the media that people will let me play with.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

warning contains feline

Those of you who remember the arrival of the scraggly kitten in and the naming of it as Misty by Maddy in and who remember what it looked like in those two pictures are probably thinking "Isn't it about time for him to post a kitten picture? September was a long time ago. And she probably doesn't look like that or that any longer."

So for you, if you were wondering, this is what she looks like today:

Posted by Picasa


As I write this Maddy is diligently sitting next to me removing TV programs she doesn't want on the TIVO any longer. The first three seasons of AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL have already been zapped into oblivion (she's kept season 4, though). Now, because she knows what she likes, she's carefully, one by one, deleting all the Dick Sargent episodes of BEWITCHED.

I grumbled to Claudia Gonson about the lack of Magnetic Fields live albums, and she sent me a link to where you can listen to an hour-long Magnetic Fields at the Carnegie Hall gig.

Hello, I just finished reading Anansi Boys some time ago, and when I was flipping through it recently one line caught my eye. When Spider fetches Fat Charlie from the prison cell and they briefly visit in Italy, Spider calls the waiter by saying "Gar�on". If I'm not mistaken, it's very rude to call a waitress like that (it's usually used when addressing relatives or close friends). So, uh, any comment on this?

They weren't actually in Italy. They were actually in the Republic of Macedonia, although Spider was barely aware of that, and I don't think I spell it out for the reader. I'm happy to say that the waiter spoke no French. "Dos Chocolatos, dude," incidentally, is not actually Italian. Nor is it Macedonian. It's not even Spanglish. But it worked for Spider, as such things tend to.

As far as I can tell, the only people who shout "gar�on" to summon waiters in France are tourists with an old phrase book, who then can't work out why the service is so bad for the rest of the evening.

... is a marvellous idea -- the purpose of which is to take a photograph of every map grid square in the UK (which is a lot like the one they don't have in America yet --

& so to bed. As long as I can get this to post, of course.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Midnight Hour

I see that the people at Google have declined the White House's information request --
The White House argues that a list of all requests entered into its search engine over a single week - which could span tens of millions of queries - will help it build up a profile of internet use it needs to defend an online pornography law.
It also wants a million randomly selected addresses from the index of websites that Google searches. (,,1691274,00.html)
Good luck to them on the coming lawsuit. (Please note that this is for research for "an online pornography law", and don't send me emails about this being necessary otherwise we'll all be blown up in our beds tomorrow.)

Which reminds me (in the way these things do) that it's time for me to give a shout-out to the Open Rights Group -- This is a bunch of good and smart people who have come together to try and
...raise awareness in the media of digital rights abuses
to provide a media clearinghouse, connecting journalists with experts and activists
to preserve and extend traditional civil liberties in the digital world
to collaborate with other digital rights and related organisations
to nurture a community of campaigning volunteers, from grassroots activists to technical and legal experts

It's the pledge group that I mentioned here -- but the pledge has matured and now it's all real.

It's primarily a UK/European group, although, as ED Suw Charman explained to me "digital issues are notorious for failing to respect national borders so some of the issues that come up in, say, the States have a knock-on effect on European/British legislation (for example, escalation in copyright term extension). We'll be keeping an eye on the worldwide digital rights agenda, and will be working together with organisations such as the EFF, Online Rights Canada and Digital RightsIreland, amongst others, to play our part when and were we can."

Suw assures me that the first 1000 people to sign up as members will get special privileges, including use of the ORG billiards room on Thursdays, a secret handshake, their own unique verse of the ORG boating song and special "first thousand people only" desserts at all ORG dinners. Also, in strict rotation, they will get to take Herman the ORG pet spidermonkey home at weekends.

(Actually over at which is where you need to go if you're reading this in the UK, all Suw actually says about the first thousand is In the long term, we�ll provide special goodies for you and try to find whatever other perks we can as we go along. Which is, frankly, not good enough. I like mine better, anyway.)


Hey Neil,There's a British Film Festival here in Tel Aviv and "Mirror Mask" will be shown on Monday 1/23/06, at Nine thirty. For details dial (In Israel) 03-6060800. The movie place is on 2 Shprinsak St.Cheers on behalf of your many Israeli fans and hope to see you in TA soon!:)Hagay Hacohen

Lucy Anne's updated The Dreaming over at, and she says
You might also want to remind your readers that alongwith the Golden Groundhog and Powell's Puddly honors,the SF Site is still taking votes for the Reader's Choice for the Best Read of 2005, but *only* untilFebruary 10th. The full details are here:

Truth to tell, I feel foolish sending people to the Golden Groundhogs. It doesn't have any mechanism to stop each click counting as a vote, which means all it measures is how many people are willing to sit and click over and over (or get a macro to do it for them, I suppose).

But the others are real awards, and I'm happy to push traffic their way.

Hello Neil, I am currently reading Neverwhere and noticed something upon reaching chapter 16. I reached the word cyclopean (and after a short chuckle, as I am a Lovecraft fan) I noticed you had it capitalised? Maybe I am overlooking something simple, but just wondering in any case. Although I realise you're very busy and probably won't be able to reply, I had to ask nonetheless. -Phillip Miller

I never know what to do when I get messages like this. If you send them, you must have a computer. If you have a computer, you must have access to Google. If you type "cyclopean" in to Google and you click on the underlined version of the word at the top it'll take you to a dictionary page, in which definition one is:

1. often 'Cyclopean'. Relating to or suggestive of a Cyclops: a great Cyclopean monocle. Further down the page you learn
Cyclopean, name often applied to a primitive method of prehistoric masonry construction, found throughout Greece, Italy, and the Middle East. The term is derived from Cyclopes, the mythological beings who were supposed to have built walls in this manner. The Cyclopean technique involves the use of huge, irregular boulders, carefully fitted together without the use of mortar, thereby creating a massive wall with an uneven face. These walls were characteristic of Mycenaean civilization. Remaining examples are found at Knossos, Mycenae, Tiryns, and Athens. There are many Cyclopean walls in Etruscan and Anatolian architecture. Somewhat similar examples are seen in China, Japan, and Peru.

and the moral is, Google it. Google is your friend.


Will Entrekin, who has been contributing to the Well and sending in helpful things on the FAQ line as long as there's been one, asked me to do something to help a friend of his -- here's his blog entry.


hi Neil -I had the chance to see the 'other' Beowulf project, Beowulf and Grendel, at the Vancouver Film Festival last fall, and want to let you know not to be dismayed by the filmmakers' approach to Grendel, as he's more than just a 'big hairy guy.' To be sure, this film is less fantastic and more grounded in realism, but it maintains an eerie, magical quality that is enhanced by the otherworldly Icelandic backdrop. Fantastic performances, too, by all the actors. Even Grendel. Blaine

Oh good.


Hi Neil,

I'm an author with my first fantasy novel-The Tower of Shadows-due in stores this June, and I first want to thank you for your storytelling gift. I've found each of your novels to be an inspiration and an enchanting foray into the realms of the imagination; Stardust remains one of my favorite books.

Last night, I drove into Baltimore and joined a small group of romantics and thrill-seekers who gather each year on January 19th, in the early hours of the morning, to surround the cemetery in which Edgar Allan Poe is buried and watch the Poe Toaster-a darkly clad mystery man who walks with a silver-tipped cane-place three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac on the writer's tombstone in celebration of his birthday ( I was fortunate enough to see him, and found the whole night to be wonderfully surreal. Have you heard of the tradition? It sounds like something you'd enjoy. The event got me wondering: how has Poe influenced you and your work, Shadow's brief but hilarious exchange with a raven in American Gods notwithstanding?

-Drew Bowling

Good luck with the book.

I love Poe. I got to write an appreciation of and essay about him for the 2004 oversized hardback Barnes and Noble SELECTED TALES AND STORIES, which was one of those things that simply made me happy to do, and happy to be given the opportunity to read some of Poe out loud again, which I firmly believe is how he should be read (or listened to).

I just checked and B&N have the Poe book in their Holiday sale right now for less than $5, which makes it a perfect steal for the Mark Summers illustrations alone. At that price I may pick up some extra copies for my basement as well.

And a final clarification about next week's reading and talk in Philadelphia...

Hey Neil, I called Sharon Logan, who is organizing the reading at Temple. The original location was very small, so fans needed reservations. No reservations are needed at the new location, because it will hold all 500 of your fans.

I suspect she might be incorrect on that bit, so I now plan on getting there very early. - Glen

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

the mysteries of herot

From the Department of Mysteries, Beowulf division, an interview with John Malkovich at he says I play Aeschere, the adviser to King Hrothgar, played by Anthony Hopkins. It involves motion-capture (special effects), so it`s a long process. I finished my part about a week ago.

Which is odd, as he doesn't play Aeschere (which we don't spell like that in the script anyway). He's Unferth all the way. How odd. I wonder if the interviewer added that in to be helpful.

There's a trailer for the other Beowulf movie -- Beowulf and Grendel -- up at, which rather lowered my expectations for the movie as I realised that they've made Grendel just a Big Hairy Guy whose father was killed by Hrothgar and now seeks revenge. Still, it means the whole thing is very different to ours. (The Icelandic landscapes look amazing, though.)


There's an extract from a terrific-looking Eddie Campbell interview up at The Comics Journal website


My agent Merrilee recently made a brilliant suggestion. She wondered whether I had ever thought of collecting together the YA and younger-reader stories in one collection, just as Ray Bradbury did years ago (with his R is for Rocket and S is for Space) collections. And I hadn't, but I think it's a lovely idea -- I can weed out the many stories not intended for kids, and I might also go and collect a few stories like "The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds" and even something like "How to Sell the Ponti Bridge" which just never fitted in my head into anything I've collected, but might sit very happily in a collection that's aimed at school libraries and kids shelves.

Hello Neil,

I have been looking everywhere for a clear picture of the key from Mirrormask, and alas, it is nowhere to be found. While this is not an emergency by any stretch of the imagination, I am itching to get some new ink soon.
If I have missed it because it was in too obvious of a place please tell me so. :)
All the best, Arvin Clay

If it's not in The Alchemy of MirrorMask (which I don't seem to have received a copy of yet, so can't check, but I suspect it's the obvious place) I don't know of one, but the film comes out on DVD in Region 1 on February the 14th (according to or perhaps on Feb 7th (according to if it's not in Alchemy, I suppose your best bet is to freeze frame and capture the DVD image...

Hi Neil,
I always thought it would be cool to see Death's quote about life from the AIDS special on a T-shirt or coffee mug or something and I just don't know if that is fair game or not for the new store? You said Sandman is off limits but what about some other characters in Sandman you created: the Endless, Fiddler's green, or Merv? Do you own the rights to those charaters or does D.C.? And what about art from your comics and graphic novels? Could I ask for a panel from Sandman, Stardust or Violent Cases, if the store got permission from the artist as well? The store is a wonderful idea, I can't wait to see what come out of it!
Thanks and hope all is well.
Ned Reid

All the Sandman and Sandman-related characters would be off-limits. Stardust and Violent Cases would be fine (assuming that Messrs Vess and McKean said okay). is waiting for ideas (I suspect that the first things we'll go with are the kind of things that lots of people want. Me, I want a tee shirt with a lime on it).

Just wanted to remind you that while Dreamhaven is a great store for all things you and otherwise, your B5 script "Day of the Dead" is also available as a Comic Book Legal Defense Fund "Premium" at

-Jonathan Petersen

Good point -- and people can get directly into the CBLDF store at -- the out of print LIVE AT THE ALADDIN video, by the way, is now available as an "extra" on the DVD of A SHORT FILM ABOUT JOHN BOLTON , and the CBLDF gets its cut of that.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

vanishing hotchiwitchis

There are five choices for the name of the website for the BEOWULF movie. Not sure that any of them set the Earth aflame, but you can pick the one you like best at When the site goes live there should be some good stuff -- a video diary was kept of the shooting, and you'll get to see some amazing backstage (not to mention Onstage, which technically should be "in the Volume") footage.

More UK Festival screenings of MirrorMask coming up --


Mirrormask is being shown next month as part of the Animex International Festival of Animation, at the Arc Stockton cinema, Saturday 11th of February at 8:00pm. The relevant festival page is at:

With the full schedule here:


Hi Neil,

Hadn't seen it mentioned in the journal so I thought I'd point out to you and your West Midlands readers that Mirrormask is showing as part of the Flatpack Festival in Birmingham on the 21st January, details can be found here


Articles I'd meant to point people to (and which people have now started sending in to me) include a fascinating one on the disappearance of the hotchiwitchi --,13369,1687999,00.html and a news article on the perils of mailing hamsters for purposes of drunken revenge, filled with more strange quotes than I've seen in one place for many months --,12891,1688415,00.html.

Interesting to hear you're fascinated by placebos. I've recently been researching into their inventor, Dr Placebo, who made a great many people feel a great deal better until it was discovered that he wasn't a real doctor at all - just a bloke in a white coat.

I'm sorry. I'd better go.

Tom W

Which is probably a good time to point out that this blog is now being translated into Swedish --

Dear Mr. Gaiman,

I'd like to invite you to a tour of the underside of Manila via my new horror-crime comic book TRESE.

Thank you!

--mr. budjette tan
alamat comics

I hope people check it out.

Dover Books are mostly public domain texts, beautifully made and bound and printed. Their Winter Sale is now on --

Meanwhile the article on Sharon Osborne's autobiography in the Guardian (,6109,1686294,00.html) tells us it's the bestselling autobiography in the UK "since records began"... and you marvel at the idea that this autobiography has outsold every autobiography since the days of Caxton. You have to get all the way to the very end of the article to learn that "Records began January 1998."


My apologies if this has been asked (and answered) before; I tried a number of different Google searches of your site and it brought up some interesting stuff, but not the answer I had in mind:-)

J. Michael Straczynski has recently started selling volumes of his "Babylon 5" scripts [] (more power to him) which I've been enjoying reading.

>From your bibliography I note that your B5 script "Day of the Dead" was published in 1998. I'm interested in gettng hold of a copy, but Amazon [] are listing it as "This title usually ships within 4 to 6 weeks" and a number of other on-line booksellers I checked don't even have it listed.

It looks suspiciously like an out-of-print title to me; is this the case? If so, is there any likelihood it will be back in print in the foreseeable future (I imagine the JMS volumes might increase demand, but then maybe everyone else buying them already has a copy of your book).

It was great to see you in Canberra last July; hopefully we can put on some better weather for you next time :-)

The simplest rule for "where can I get hold of X by you?" is still always, or almost always, DreamHaven Books' site -- where a quick search showed that The Day of the Dead book is for sale there, in stock and on sale (and for stuff not by me, look around on

Monday, January 16, 2006

Selling Out. At last.

I met John Witherspoon about 12 years ago, in a hotel lobby in Sweden. He was working as Tori Amos's tour manager, and we've been friends ever since. He and Chelsea Laird are now the working part of The Bridge Entertainment Group -- -- and the last time I was in LA he and Chelsea approached me with an intriguing idea: could they do an online store of stuff connected with me? I thought about it, and about all the things I've seen people who wanted merchandise that doesn't exist make for themselves over the years (Cafe press T-shirts and mousepads with Sam's I BELIEVE speech from American Gods, home-made Coraline lunchboxes, Neverwhere mugs and so on), and I said Yes -- it might be fun, and if nothing else I'll probably get some free mugs out of it.

So I'm delighted to announce that I've finally sold out, albeit to people I like. Right now, as you'll see if you go there, exists as a sort of combination of placeholder and solicitation for ideas. I don't know what people out there in the world would like to see on t-shirts or whatever, and it's not as if I'm going to be able to go out on the road and see what sells, so really Chelsea's trying to find out what you all think would be good to wear, drink out of, hang on your wall, take to bed with you or be buried in. What images, what quotes, what things. A calendar? Socks? (If, of course, you don't think there should be anything at all you should tell Chelsea that as well, and then this can be the shortest and least successful attempt at marketing since Samuel Pepys lost an entire consignement of "Kiss Me -- I survived the Plague" novelty hats, in a Pudding Lane warehouse fire.)

(Don't suggest Sandman things though. Suggest those to DC Comics.)


Dear Neil,I read your latest entry which mentioned Captain Confederacy. I went to the CC blog, read all that was in it, and I agree that it is horribly offensive and racist. I am not a reactionary liberal; I am a Black woman who has to deal with inaccurate descriptions of Black people and other people of colour on a daily basis.Will Shetterly does have the right to use his art as he sees fit. But, it is most definitely NOT silliness to view it as racist and offensive. I am a huge fan of yours* but I absolutely don't think this reaction is a joke, and I hope you don't see it as such.Thank you for your time.Bonnie RichardsonChicago, IL

* Why can't we use an apostrophe with that?? If yours is posessive, wouldn't it be correct as your's??

Actually, I think the biggest problem with Will republishing Captain Confederacy online at a page a day, rather than an issue at a time, is that it's a lot easier to take it out of context (because, at a page a day, it's just the page you're given) and for it at this point to, say, just read page 9, get to the final panel, and read it as unpleasantly racist, sexist nonsense. Which Captain Confederacy wasn't -- to put it simplistically, the racists were the bad guys, and it was pretty good science fiction set in a world in which the South had won and in which many people -- including the first Captain Confederacy (the second was black, female and, if memory serves, although it's been a long time, pregnant) -- were struggling to fix things that were fixed or different in our version of history.

You may want to use the comments on Will's blog if there are specific things you have issues with. He'll certainly reply.

As for yours and you'rs, like its and it's, it is mostly usage. Because we use it's to represent a contracted "it is" and you're to represent a contracted "you are" it avoids confusion if we don't even attempt to put an apostrophe in the possessive forms of "its" and "your/yours". It's faintly counterintuitive, though, which is why googling "your's" gives us over five million examples of places where people have tried. (Who's and whose is a similar one, although only a google only gave me 87,000 examples of who'se.)

Or as a quick-on-the-mark correspondent explains, "its" is the possessive form of "it" just like "his" is the possessive form of "he". Pronouns get there own special possessive words in English and don't follow the Proper Noun convention of adding "'s" or "s'". (I'd not even realised the finished version of this post had been published yet.)


About half of the stuff that comes in on the FAQ line is from people telling me they liked things, and it doesn't get posted on the blog because that's not what it's here for. But this one made me happy, and it's going up...

Mr. Gaiman,
I just wanted to say thank you for Anansi Boys. I had been given a copy for Christmas, but as a medical student leisure reading time had not been exactly forthcoming and it remained a very pretty addition to my bookshelf for several weeks. I came home yesterday afternoon following a long night on call at the VA hospital feeling that the entire world consisted of people who would die no matter what I or anyone else did, that compassion would be driven from my heart by the same cynicism displayed by the residents I work under, and that in addition to being a poor, rather dim excuse for a medical student I was also a poor, rather absent excuse for a father to my 6 month old daughter.
And so, once my daughter was laid down to rest last night I decided that I needed escape more than another dreary chapter on acute tubular necrosis. I had two options for escape: the two bottles of wine in the cabinet or Anansi Boys. Fearing the precedent the former would set I chose Anansi Boys. This book provided everything I needed last night. Escape. Reassurance. Optimism. Joy. I felt the need to say thank you for that.

You are very welcome. I'm just glad that it helped.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

the day the saucer landed...

I woke up this morning to discover that I couldn't get onto the internet, and that, once I'd packed everything (including the tuxedo) I still had forty minutes before the car was due. I'd promised two poems to a poetry website recently, and I had something sort of niggling in my head, and so I started to write a poem. Forty minutes later it was all done. It was solid and funny and cool and real and I bet it'll work a treat at readings. "That was easy," I thought. "I'll do the other poem on the plane." And several hours later, I sat down on the plane, opened a notebook, and wrote a sonnet. It was, I am sorry to report, absolute rubbish.

In between the two poems I had a wonderful breakfast in a Pakistani restaurant in Queens with Claudia Gonson, and was briefed on what's happening with Stephin Merritt's adaptation of Coraline. I can't wait to hear some of the songs he's written.

Lots of stuff I've meant to post in the last week or so. Let's see... not sure if I mentioned that the Playaway is now available. It's a compact audio book player -- you buy it with the book preloaded (current titles at and it's a rather impressive little thing. I think the price-point may be a bit high for something that you have to get suggestions for what to do with it when you've listened to it (, but I can imagine it working really well as something to grab at airports and as a gift.

I'm fascinated by placebos -- the article in New Scientist about placebo painkilling being blocked by drugs that prevent morphine working ( for example, or (a hasty google threw up this as an example, from a Rogaine website) the effect that placebos have in hair restoration ("Almost two out of every three women in the Minoxidil group were evaluated by physicians to have regrown some hair: 13% had moderate regrowth and 50% had minimal regrowth. The rest (37%) had no regrowth. Thirty-nine percent of women in the placebo group also saw some regrowth.") So I thought this article on placebos in The Guardian genuinely interesting --,6761,1686011,00.html

Saw a nice review of MirrorMask at and it's up for a Golden Groundhog award -- you can vote for it at although it looks like the Green Street Hooligans have cornered the whole voting thing already. (The DVD release in the US is still set for February 7th, which means you can give it to someone as a Valentine's Day present, you know.)

My old friend Will Shetterly writes to say:

After this bit of silliness: Family finds comic book gift offensive:

I decided to create a Captain Confederacy comics blog and run the
comics as a free serial. To start with a bit of a bang, I've posted
nine pages, plus letters from the LOC from Walter Jon Williams and
you. From here on, the plan is five pages a week.

All here:

(Will was the first person ever to send me free comics, back in 1985, and I wrote him a thank-you letter, with some jokes that make more sense if you were reading Captain Confederacy.)


I think I liked it better in the olden days, when the voices raised against comics as a medium thundered out their loathing and disgust. There was an amazing Gershon Legman rant, in the middle of The Rationale of the Dirty Joke, about how "people who make horror comics should be put face-first into their own sausage-grinders". There were giant haters-of-comics in those days. These days, the voices don't thunder -- the best we seem to get are odd little grumbles, like, which leave me wanting to read the book it whines about.


I was sent a link to .

Hayley Campbell writes to let me know that Eddie Campbell is one of the bloggers at


There's a MirrorMask audiobook out on CD, read by Stephanie Leonidas.


Hi Neil,Seeing there's a kind-of Voice-Over Hell Thread at the mo'. Here you can find Tom Baker in full swing. It does contain naughty words though. Cheers,Mike Graney

Fun. And magnificently sweary, yes.

Hi Neil,The William Shatner "sabotage" clip can be heard here:
All the best,Shannon Patrick Sullivan

And it's even available commercially --

Here's a link to the Shatner quote (along with several other clips):


When is the Stardust audiobbok coming out? Since you've read it out already, it shouldn't take that long, should it? Or is there more to making an audiobook than just reading it out loud, recording it and mass producing it? Charles

Well, there's quite a bit still to do. Now, what I recorded needs to be cleaned up - they have to remove the sound of paper rustling every time I turn the page, for example, along with any rustles, gulps, audible swallows, fluffs or interesting stomach gurgles. They need to put some music behind me reading John Donne's "Song" I did at the beginning, and choose between all the various alternate takes of the bits I did in a couple of different ways and so on.

There are other things that will have to happen with the CD version -- it will need to be solicited to the booktrade, for example, and then the CDs need to be made and so on -- so those ones will get to the shops in the US in October.

Having said all that, we're now living in a magical world in which there's honestly very little reason why something like the Stardust audio shouldn't be available for download as soon as it's finished. And I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't available through, iTunes, and the other places that you can buy audiobooks, in a few months from now.

Neil, this has taken me a few days to get around to, and I'm sure you've recieved lots of similar notes, but I wanted to thank you again for the talk at the 92nd Street Y last Monday. I was the guy who told you that when Anansi Boys came out I was recovering from colon cancer surgery and the book was good medicine for me. I didn't get to say that I laughed so hard at certain portions of the book (including the section you read Monday night) that I thought my incision was going to tear. Not easy to give a full belly laugh when your belly has recently been stapled back together. I now tell people that my favorite punctuation mark is the semi-colon, because that's all I have in me.

Anyway, the question: since you're in New York recording the new cd, I got to wondering: how do you decide which stories to include? I know you mentioned not doing certain books because of the voices, but does that also have an effect on stories and poems you record?

Second question: is the appearance in Philly in a few weeks a private thing, or open to the public?

Mostly I record the stories that I think will be fun, or that have worked when read to an audience in the past.

Not quite certain about the Temple event -- I assume it's open to the public because they sent me the information in and asked that I put it on the blog. There's more info (but the old location) up at
this link on the Temple site.


And lastly, I had dinner with Peter and Susan Straub last night, and Susan gave me a copy of her DVD, Reading With Babies. I was impressed enough with it that I went and checked out the website You can see a clip from the DVD at And if you're wondering why anyone should read to babies, you can read the FAQ at

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Return of The Devil's Foot

So the big changeover date for is February 1st 2006. That's when the new-look website will roll out. I trust that things will be easier to find and make a bit more sense, and I know that we'll have a lot of things to fix as we get feedback from all of you. I've been told the blog will "go dark" for about 24 hours before the new site goes up, while they migrate the archives. How often do you get to say a phrase like "migrate the archives"?

The cover to Fragile Things, the next short story collection, is going to be lovely -- the designers at Harper Collins took a sort of idea from my editor and from me and made it magic. Just thought you would like to know. I'll put something up here as soon as I can.

In the meantime...

regarding the Orson Welles Frozen Peas Spot, everyone can enjoy it via the loverly 365 day project...

it is number 60, March 1st

there is an untold bounty of goodness on that site, a lot of it with commentary

Edgewood Smith



Your blog readers might want to share the enjoyment of hearing the Orson Welles voice-over out-takes. There are so many classic lines available for cleverly working into everyday conversation in there. The original 5-minute clip can be streamed here: while the following link takes you directly to--I kid you not--a dance remix:

This particular Welles voice session was brilliantly spoofed on the animated series Pinky and the Brain. I feel that I have to include a link to the webpage that explains clearly how Brain, from Pinky & The Brain, is based on Welles and lists all the major Welles spoofs and references included on the show:


and several others. Nobody wrote with a link to the William Shatner "You say Sabotaj. I say Sabotaaj," one, though, which is also much-beloved among voice-over people.

Hiya Neil,

I was wondering if you have a favourite Fritz Leiber book (and if so, which one).

All the best,


I don't have a favourite book -- I tend to divide Leiber simply into The Good Books and The Others (books like The Silver Eggheads, say are Others, although there's always something interesting there). Short story...? A toss-up between "Four Ghosts in Hamlet", "The Winter Flies" and "Gonna Roll the Bones".

According to the Lulu Titlescorer, American Gods and Anansi Boys have much better odds of being bestsellers than Neverwhere or Stardust....

Friday, January 13, 2006

Temple info -- quick one

This just in on the talk/reading at Temple University on the 26th...

Neil Gaiman's reading at Temple University has been moved to
Main Campus, Mitten Hall 1913 North Broad Street(at Broad
and Berks), which is located one and a half blocks up Broad
Street from the Cecil B. Moore subway stop. The reading is
scheduled to begin at 8:00 P.M.

Is this thing on?

I finished reading STARDUST an hour and a half early, so I also did some poems and "A Study In Emerald". When I was done Rick Harris, my director, played me some of the high points in voice actors being irritated with directors -- a wonderful William Shatner noise and telling a poor director who had suggested he might want to greet Spock more enthusiastically "you disgust me", and some fine, fine Orson Welles being irritated about Findus Frozen Foods ad copy.

Over at is footage of the moving sculpture Lisa Snellings made for me, um, moving.

What was the best book you read last year...? wants to know.

From the afterword to Pam Noles's remarkable essay about race in fantasy at you can learn that The Carl Brandon Society has created two awards. Details at

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

blogging for ghosts..

This morning's post went straight to the beta-testing new version of this site, and I assume that whatever I write now will go there too and nobody will read it for a few days... I hope that things get sorted out soon, so that you can read this, and the last post. Still, it tells us that we're cruising down the road toward the NEW IMPROVED easy to navigate Neil with lots of cool stuff on it...


So I was reading Stardust aloud in a studio today and suddenly had one of those odd moments when you notice something utterly wrong in a book you've written and wonder why you've never noticed it before (and why apparently no-one else ever did either). There's a scene where I have the witch queen sharpening her obsidian knives with a whetstone. And I thought, "That wouldn't work, that's not how you sharpen a volcanic glass blade", and wondered how I'd comne to put that in -- I think the knives had started out as metal in one draft (it was ten years ago, and I've forgotten) and then I'd changed them to obsidian because it would be more fun for Charles Vess to draw, and not noticed the whetstone, and almost a decade had passed until I came to read the sequence aloud, and then it hit me.

There's a reissue of Stardust, with a new cover, coming in October from Harper Perennial. Now I have to decide whether to leave that scene as it is, or change it.

Just thought you might like to know that you're the 5th "Most Owned Author" on Directly ahead of J.R.R. Tolkien and William Shakespeare.

Which tells us lots of interesting things about mylibrary users. (Which I find, to be honest, an extremely attractive sort of website, and if I only had a month or so with nothing to do, I'd input my own books.) It's a fascinating site -- a couple of clicks and I was reading a discussion about race in Anansi Boys...

I thought you should know about this: It's a call for papers for a conference on your work. Will you be writing one, perhaps?

Not on your nelly. Be like helping out at your own autopsy (as I just wrote to a friend in academia, who invited me to cowrite a paper).

Stardust Audio

I'm recording the audio book of "STARDUST" right now. It's fun, although by the end of the day I am more exhausted than I would believe possible from something where I just sit in a studio and read something I've written.

What I learned yesterday: 1) Do not give a minor character a funny voice that's hard on the throat but fine for a couple of sentences when that minor character is going to come back and talk his way through an entire chapter in a hundred pages' time. 2) Take a break at the end of a chapter, whether I think I need it or not. I do.


Over at is an interview with me and Terry Pratchett from 1990, about Good Omens and other things. And (gulp) a photo...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

On balderdash, really...

Hi Neil,

I was reading an article in the paper this morning illustrating the changing face of publishing. The article detailed how Sir V.S. Naipaul's Booker prize winning masterpiece "In a Free State," when submitted to over a dozen different publishing houses under an assumed name, was rejected by each and every one.

Further in the article it explains that "according to [David Taylor], no more than 20 writers of literary novels earn enough to survive on without another source of income."

I was curious about your opinion on how the publishing game has changed, and (not to prod too much) if you personally earn enough off writing to support your family without an exterior source of income.

Thanks a lot,

Well, yes, the people the first chapters were sent said no. But we will never know how many of the editors looked at it and thought "Some berk's sent me the first chapters of In a Free State. What an idiot. That's one for the bin," nor how many thought "I'm an editor for a popular paperback fiction house looking for big budget bestsellers, what do I need with a fine literary short story?" (It's been a long time since I read "In a Free State", but I remember it as a set of short stories and novellas, and articles I've seen so far suggest that it was just the opening chapters that went out.)

I was amused by Naipaul's reaction, implying that the modern world is too degraded to recognise his genius, and I would respectfully suggest that if you sent out the first few chapters of a Dan Brown book, a J. K. Rowling, a Jane Austen, an Ian Fleming or a Clive Cussler book -- or a Neil Gaiman -- to 20 random publishers you'd probably get a rejection too, and not just from the ones who recognised the book and weren't going to embarass the loony who sent it in, but also from the ones who don't currently want or need a book or author like that on their list. Publishers reject things all the time. They have a limited number of slots open for a certain number of types of book. You need to find the right publisher, to find an editor or someone who will get behind the book in the right way, and then it's still a matter of luck. Many award-winning bestselling books get rejected by publishers before they find the one that's ready to take them (I remember Frank Herbert telling me that over twenty publishers rejected Dune) and they may have made the right decision for them on that book. (Just as authors sometimes find more than one publisher competing for their work, and have to decide which the best publisher for them will be.)

As for "no more than 20 writers of literary novels earn enough to survive on without another source of income." I think that's technically what statisticians call a "made-up number".

Most of the estimates I've seen from places like The Society of Authors suggest that between 2 and 6 percent of writers make a living such that they don't need another source of income. (And I'm fortunate enough to be one of them, yes.) That's a lot more than twenty people.

But you also have to think about the definition of "writers of literary novels" in that quote -- if you define "literary novels" as the opposite to "popular fiction" and then define "popular fiction" as anything that sells, then you could probably prove that no living "writers of literary fiction" earn enough from their books to survive on.

(On a thought I just went and checked Making Light, and found that Jim and Teresa and Patrick and the commenters have already said everything I've said, and better and at more length, so you should also go and read And while you're there, read, which isn't about writing at all.)

Neil - In your response to the recent question about Ms. Mirrlees, you noted that Swanwick's essay does not appear to be online. I thought I would let you know that the Wikipedia entry you linked to contains a link to this: which appears to be the essay in question.Regards - Kristin Necessary

No, that's Michael's introduction to, I think, the UK edition of Lud-in-the-Mist. The biographical essay I was talking about was about 20,000 words long.

Right. Goodnight.

Friday, January 06, 2006

flotsam and jetsam

Miss Olga wrote to let me know that she has brought back the Fabulist over at (NOTE FROM 2023: The domain is now a hive of villainy and viruses, so the link has been removed.), brighter, shinier and more faboo than ever. It may grow to become the for kitsch t-shirts and funky things you can listen to or hang on your wall or eat or just make you happy, or possibly it may not.

(The coolest thing I've bought recently, doing my own bit for the fabulist, is four CDs of girlsongs in a hatbox -- details at And given that every six months someone writes to the FAQ line and asks about region-free DVD players available in the US, I'll put in a plug for, which is a nice multi-region DVD player for $129.)

(And, because it makes me happy on a daily basis, and has caught and zapped 17 pieces of Spam while I've been writing this, let me add another plug for the Cloudmark spam filter .)

Is it a definite that you'll be signing after you speak at the 92nd St Y? If so, do you know how the line will work? Will it be by seating or will it work more like it did after the Symphony Space Susanna Clarke event, with everyone making their way toward the lobby to line up? I called and asked, but the woman on the phone wasn't very informative. She said she couldn't tell me which room the talk will be in (and therefore couldn't tell me how many tickets are available) and that there's no standard way of running signing there. Also, I was wondering if this talk is the only thing you're dragging yourself to New York for. I'm pleased whenever I see you'll be making an appearance, but at the same time I feel bad and think, "Aw, poor him, he has to leave his family and home again." Especially this soon after a brutal signing tour.

I'll definitely be signing after the talk, but I don't know how it'll be organised. When I did it with Art Spiegelman a couple of years ago, it was a reasonably informal sort of thing.

Which reminds me, there's an interview up on the 92nd St Y site -- . I looked at the site and saw that I'm the first of the "Wired at the Y" talks -- WIRED magazine and the 92nd Street Y bring you a special series featuring leaders in business, technology, design, entertainment and science. Adam Rogers, WIRED's senior editor, moderates. The second speaker in April is Brian Greene, "one of the world's leading theoretical physicists, is a brilliant communicator of string theory, a concept that might be the key to a unified theory of the universe. He is the author of the bestseller The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time and the Texture of Reality. Greene is a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University and is co-director of Columbia's Institute for Strings, Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics."

Just what I need, I thought, with gloomy satisfaction. "The next speaker in this series will give you a key to a unified theory of the universe. But tonight, an English bloke who needs a haircut will talk about, er, making things up I expect."

And yes, there's something else I'll be doing. It's going to be fun, I think. And I'll tell you what it is next week.


Mr. Gaiman:I have just completed the first chapter of the newest edition of "Lud-In-The-Mist" as well as your own introduction to the text. These first nineteen pages appear to me to include the major themes of existential philosophy some seventeen years in advance of Satre's publication of "Being and Nothingness". I am neither a philosopher nor a literary critic, but I am interested in defending my thesis. I have searched the internet for additional critiques of Ms. Mirrlees work in vain. Do you have any references or suggestions that might be useful? Thank you in advance if you are able to reply. Joel Abrams

Well, it'll make a change from people pointing out that her poem "Paris" prefigured "The Waste Land". The only solid critical-biographical study I know of is Michael Swanwick's essay in FOUNDATION., which I believe he's going to publish as a chapbook sooner or later. It doesn't seem to be available on-line, though.

The Wikipedia article on her at isn't as bad as a lot of Wikipedia, and it has a link to a photo of young Mirrlees and Jane Harrison at

Neil, I read your journal daily, and yet, when you write a Deadman story for DC, I have to find out about it from bloody Ain't It Cool News? What's up with that? A little more shameless self-promotion, please.


(I just did a search on the site for Deadman, and found which at least proves I once mentioned it existed.)


I was intrigued by the review of Jay Lake's Rocket Science at Bookslut, and doubly so after a quick google took me to an intriguing essay by Matt Cheney at Strange Horizons about Rocket Science and Anansi Boys and the difficulties of writing about entertainments.


Maddy and I (and Mike and Holly and Holly's friend Rachel) watched the Christmas episode of Dr Who together, and although Maddy was not, as she would be the first to tell you, actually scared or anything, she did decide it might be sensible to sleep on the sofa in my room that night. Just, you know, because.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Mostly Books and Beards

Neil -- I was reading over your journal and saw your note about the special edition of Anansi Boys offered by Ottakar's. I don't suppose you would have a suggestion for how those of us who don't live in the UK could get ahold of that? Is there a US retailer or some online service that Ottakar's has?Thanks! P.S.: I read and loved the American version of Anansi Boys, just so you know!

I didn't know, so I emailed Jon Howells, Our Man at Ottakars, who said...

Hi Neil,

Of course. Any of our stores will be happy to take orders from overseas -fans should contact any of the stores (details of all of them are on our website -

Post to the USA is �10.00 airmail (quick - usually a week), or a fiver surface mail (Willie Lumpkin speed). If any of your readers want to get hold of a copy through one of our stores via the website, they are welcome to do that. If they want to do it throughme, that's fine - they should email me at Payment will have to be by credit card, I'm afraid (unless they want to send dollars, which is fine, but not very secure and not very quick). Sorry we don't sell through our site, which would make life a lot easier. Maybe one day...

Happy New Year, Jon


I don't know if I've mentioned it here before or not, but P�ca Puppets in Ireland are going to be doing a theatrical puppet version of Coraline. I'm really hoping I get to see it. Their newsletter says,

Development of �Coraline�, P�ca�s next show for older children and adults, continued throughout the year. A co-production with �igse, Carlow, and in association with Project Arts Centre, Dublin, it is based on Neil Gaiman�s dark contemporary fairytale of the same name. Plans are afoot to bring it to the World Puppet Art Festival, Prague, as well as an Irish tour Summer/Autumn 2006. Director Sue Mythen and performers Margot Jones, Niamh Lawlor and Joe Moylan, did a week�s exploration of the story in Dec �04 assisted by the Abbeyonehundred. This year artists, Fiona Dowling and Slavek Kwi joined the team for intensive development of script and design, including consultation with children and child psychologists. This was thanks to an Arts Council bursary, and a Dublin City Council Award.

(and in other Coraline news, an article in the Education Guardian tells how Coraline is used in schools, with help from Powerpoint --,,1677046,00.html).

Dear Neil, are you going to be in Pennsylvania anytime soon? Just wondering. When do you start writing? Thanks a lot, Faith

On January the 26th, when I go to Temple University and talk, because Chip Delany asked me to. (He was in hospital at the time, and had a nightmarish catheter incident while we were talking, so the conversation ended with him getting off the phone in a hurry, although with remarkable composure, because of all the blood and such.) (I just looked to see if Chip had a website, and of course he doesn't, but there's a marvellous interview with him by Jayme Lynn Blaschke at
Sample Q & A:
Do you feel your most significant contributions to the field have/will come from a university setting, or as an author of fiction?
Writers write what the world compels them to write; and the University nudges you strongly toward writing non-fiction. Significance is not a factor in that -- because it's the one thing the writer him- or herself has no access to. The eighteenth century playwright Thomas Ottway very probably died more or less sure he would go down in literary history as the greatest English playwright of all time. During his lifetime, his work was regularly compared to that of Shakespeare, and it was a critical given of the time that his play Venice Preserved was a better play than Hamlet.

But today how many people remember Ottway? Or have ever read a line by him? If he survives at all, it's as a canonical example of just how wrong-headed an era or a local and provisional set of literary opinions can be.

When do I start writing? Fiction is normally after lunch, once all the email and calls and interviews and letters are done, unless I'm in hiding working on a longer piece, in which case it's when I wake up.


Marcus at Blackwells wrote to let me know that I thought I'd let you know that Alan Moore has agreed to host the Moorcock event we have on the 18th January. Blackwell Charing Cross Road present an evening with Michael Moorcock, in conversation with Alan Moore. Wednesday 18 January at 7pm.

Tickets �6, concessions �4, from the shop during opening hours (9.30 - 8.00 Mon-Sat, 12.00 - 6.00 Sun) or 0845 456 9876 (Mon-Fri, 9.30 - 6.00)

I really wish I could be there. If you're in the UK, and have any desire to hear two brilliant bearded wild writing geniuses talk about fiction and magic and anarchy and music (just a wild stab in the dark, that, on the subjects) then you should be there. Trust me.


Neil - thanks for pointing out that Anansi Boys is 50 percent off at B&N right now (I'm an employee and didn't know). Faithful readers may be interested in knowing that Terry Pratchett's Thud! is part of the same promotion and is also 50 percent off. (So is Paris Hilton's "book" Your Heiress Diary, but I suspect that she and you don't have much crossover in fanbase.) - Seth Christenfeld

Books-A-Million also has Anansi Boys 50% off as part of their after holiday sale both online and in their store. Robert

Hey, Neil. First, thanks for the wonderful stories and the engaging blog! I just wanted to let you know that in the UK (not sure about Europe) Waterstone's is also offering Anansi Boys at 50% off. I'm not sure when the sale ends but I saw it over the weekend.


Hi Neil,

I read this on a website ( about literary agents. It said, "Most agents do not represent short stories unless they're in an anthology for publishing as a book. There simply isn't enough money paid for short stories so that an agent can earn a living. If you write short stories, plan on sending your work directly to publishers."

If this is true, should I stop writing short stories and focus on producing a novel or a childrens/YA book? I was hoping that my short stories would at least get the attention of a good agent. Now it seems I have may to change my plans.

Oh, by the way, I'm an aspiring author who has never been published.

Thanks, Neil!

First off, I want to refer anyone with writing questions to, a post on this journal mostly written by Teresa Nielsen Hayden which contains everything you need to know, pretty much. It's worth bookmarking as an astonishing collection of web resources and information, honestly.

To answer your question (although the information is really in the paragraph you quote), most agents don't sell individual short stories. That's the bad news. The good news is that editors of things -- anthologies and magazines and suchlike -- that publish short stories do read short stories. This cuts out the middle-man.

An agent might well read your short stories, with an eye to seeing if you might have a novel in you. An agent mostly wants a novel to sell. If you have a collection of brilliant short stories that the agent can sell as a book however, if you're the next Kelly Link or Margo Lanagan, then an agent might well be interested in representing you. But you're unlikely to sell an individual short story for more than a few hundred dollars, and few agents are going to send your story out for you to potential markets -- it would cost more in postage than the agent will ever make on commission.

It's good to write short stories, and a fine way to learn your craft and to get your name out in front of people. I highly recommend it. And if your stories are published I'm sure that it will make getting an agent easier. But you'll have to send them to market yourself.

Quick One

MirrorMask is getting its official cinema release in the UK during the first week of March. However, I just got a message letting me know that the Mancunians amongst you are in luck:

Just wanted to get the word out: Odeon Manchester, in the UK, are showing "Mirrormask" from Friday - I'm told only for one week, to make sure it qualifies for the BAFTAs, so I think it's the only place in the UK to see it right now.
(about 2/3 of the way down, under "March of the Penguins" and above "Polar Express IMAX")

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

January the 3rd

One month after the DreamHaven signing, I find myself feeling suddenly rather guilty -- it's the photographs of people lined up round the block in the snow.... Those of you who have wondered what Greg Ketter's marvellous purple store looks like, or what the people who do the work there look like, should take a gander at

Barnes and Noble has the Anansi Boys hardback as part of its After Holiday Sale, at 50% off, online and in its shops, for the next few weeks.

Will Eisner died a year ago today, and I have to type up the introduction to the Eisner New York stories book today. Sigh.

I saw your entry about the re-issue of "Good Omens" with two different covers. Please *please* tell me that they won't have different title pages as well! I'm a cataloger by profession, and you have no idea how difficult these cute marketing ploys make cataloging a book. At the very least, libraries that get both versions will have to make some kind of a note regarding the order of authors' names on the cover. And libraries that only get one and don't realize there is another version are going to be confused. I suppose I shouldn't be whining - after all, one could look at this sort of thing as job security - but anything that increases the difficulty of clearly identifying a work adds to information chaos and helps readers not at all.Thanks.Joan, a cataloger at The Dallas Public Library

I believe they'll have the same interiors; only the cover will change.

G'day Neil, I read your interview at the back of Anansi Boys and found myself agog at the fact that you said that you never have had a nickname. What universe did you come from? I mean, (and I sincerely mean no offense), but, your last name is Gaiman, translated as Gay-man!! Hint, hint. Assuming that this was your birthname, then I can't believe that you weren't hit with every scrap of homosexual innuendo and the connotations(?) that go with it. I'm from Australia and we always found excuses one way or the other to throw a nickname at someone, always in fun of course. I don't think that we're really any different than anybody else, so, what gives?
Anyway, I'm nearly ready to read your new book, and am looking forward to it.
Kindest Regards
David Nelson

I suppose I was fortunate in having most of my schooldays before the mid-Seventies, then, or just in not having been to school in Australia...

In the Crowley and Aziraphale's New Year's Resolutions, I'm a bit confused by Aziraphale's Resolution #4. He says, "I will try to be nicer to the customers. They want to buy books; I want to sell them." I thought in the novel Aziraphale DIDN'T want to sell his books, that that was one of the gags -- that he had this bookstore because he loved books, and he didn't want to part with any of them. Am I misremembering, or has Aziraphale softened in recent years?

Elizabeth S.

Not at all. He's had Resolution #4 on his New Year's Resolutions list since the early 1870s. It's a Resolution, and is thus always completely and perfectly forgotten by January the 3rd.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Meat Machines

A reminder for anyone in the New York area that I'll be doing a talk (and, I believe, probably signing afterwards) at the 92nd St Y, next week.

hi Neil,
a question about your show at the 92nd st Y: the student discount isn't mentioned on the website, so is there a way to buy discounted tickets in advance? or just at the door? (and will there definitely be tickets available there?)

and a more personal question that I've always wondered about: how do you feel about compliments? adoring fans? do they make you feel fuzzy inside or do they annoy you sometimes? do loving things fans say ever make you cry? it amazes me that you are so modest and kind despite the fact that millions of people love you (or love things you've created). I mean, how does that feel? what's it like? I wish you'd write a story or something about what it feels like to be a beautiful beloved storyteller.
with much adoration and even more curiosity,

The only information I have on the student discount was from Circus who said, --


Just a quick bit about prices for the 92Y event, specifically for the poor student types (myself included) among your readers. I called yesterday to inquire about the student price ($12.50) and was told that it is not possible to puchase tickets at the discounted rate in advance. The only way one can get the student rate is to go to the Y an hour before the show and buy them then. Thought your readers would appreciate the information.

See you in January,

...which seems fair enough. I'm doing an interview with someone from the 92nd St Y soon and will ask him if there's any more information.

As to the "How I feel about fans/being an author/etc" question... I'm not sure there's a short or an easy answer. A lot of the time, it doesn't feel like it has much to do with me, which may be one of the problems with being a writer, or may be one of the benefits of being a writer. It's probably more immediate being a singer, say, or an actor -- you go out there at night and do the thing you do for lots of people who cheer or clap or don't. But the thing I do, that's important when I do it well, is to write, and that's a pretty solitary sort of occupation. I like the privacy and whatever anonymity I still have.

As for the rest of it... I like it, but I don't take it personally. I'm pleased people like the stories, but consider that mostly to be my good fortune in that the stories I like to write seem to be stories that many people want to read -- I couldn't write "to suit popular taste" to save my life, so I'm just lucky there's an audience out there; I'm always very aware that most writers have real jobs, and that those of us who can give up our day jobs to write are few and far between and very lucky indeed; I'm pleased when the stories help people (something I had to come to terms with at first with Sandman, when I'd get letters from people for whom Death, as a character, had allowed them to cope with the death of a parent or a child) but I'm always aware that the stories weren't written to do that, they just did, and that it had as much to do with the people reading as it did to do with me.

I've been doing some of it too long for it to have a huge impact, I suspect: I've been signing people's books and comics for about 20 years now, which is long enough for any sense of "Wow, they want ME to sign something I WROTE for THEM!" to wear off, say about fifteen years ago, but it's still extraordinarily pleasant to meet the people, and to replace the numbers with faces.

Much of the time I forget about the stuff you listed completely. Having written something people liked doesn't make it any easier the next time you're staring at a half-filled page, convinced that it's all tripe, and badly-written tripe at that. There's a cabinet filled with awards, because they were getting all over the house, and I think I feel better about them being off where I can forget about their existence, for much the same reason. (Except for my Hugo for "A Study In Emerald" which is, for some reason lost in the mists of history, sitting on top of my chest of drawers in the bedroom, between my Mr Punch puppet and The Bride of Frankenstein, and is currently being straddled by a sock monkey I was given at a signing last month, thus increasing its resemblance to some kind of slightly dangerous futuristic silver sex toy.)

So I'm grateful, and I'm lucky. But every now and again I wonder whether it's just some sort of odd dream I'm having when I'm twelve in which I got to do everything I ever wanted, and sooner or later my Dad's going to wake me up with a cup of tea and tell me that I'm late for school, and I still won't have done my geography homework.


I suspect that there's a cover-up going on, as one of the new biotech iPods seems to have got out in Honolulu about twenty years ahead of schedule.