Saturday, September 30, 2006

red suede shoes

Yesterday went by in a sort of a blur of jetlag and subsequent lack of sleep, and at some point I found myself, faintly surprised to be there, on a lectern in front of about 600 people reading the whole of "A Study In Emerald" from FRAGILE THINGS. And then I signed until midnight. (The only unusual thing I remember signing yesterday night was a lady's red suede shoe.) I'm now at the airport in DC, on my way across the continent.

The first official review of Fragile Things has turned up, in the Washington Post --
It's by author Graham Joyce (and I have a great photo of Graham I took at Fantasycon I want to put up here when I get it off the camera).

oops. they just called us to board. got to go.

Friday, September 29, 2006

New York New York um

Up and awake and about to stumble out of the hotel and off to the airport, wondering suddenly why I'm not going to Washington by train as I could sleep on the train rather than negotiate more airport hell, but ours is not to wonder why, ours is just to blink uncomprehendingly at the daylight and do what the schedule says.

The 500 seats were full last night and we were into standing room. John Hodgman was an amazing Master of Ceremonies and hilarious interviewer, and even limiting it to Fragile Things plus one item per person I didn't get out of there until gone midnight, which on the UK time I'm still on was five in the morning.

Holly came up from Bryn Mawr to keep me company. At one point she passed me a note asking me to drink the tea beside me that I had forgotten about. I did. It was now cold. She walked eight blocks to find an open Starbucks, and brought back another cup of tea for me. I have the best family.

Signed a little over 500 copies of FRAGILE THINGS, two boxes of ANANSI BOYS paperbacks and sundry other things (books, comics, a pair of breasts [female] and a bottletop [initials only]).

Right. Airport awaits.

Then it's Washington. Politics and Prose ( who have just posted this from last year) and do not forget, if you are coming, that the venue has been changed to a bigger one.


PS -- a review of FRAGILE THINGS at

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

quick one

Yesterday I signed at Forbidden Planet (and signed, and signed). Tomorrow is the event in New York. (You may want to get there early.)

Several people have asked whether I want to stop the tour because of Mike Ford's death, and I don't. He wouldn't have wanted it, and work is an excellent distraction.

I was looking at this post,
and realised that there was some garble in the pre-last year incarnnation of this blog. I'll find out about ways to fix it, but for now, I thought I'd just repost Mike's "with apologies to Jim Henson" song as it should be. It's too damn appropriate.


Why are there so many songs about hearses?
The way to the uttermost side,
Hearses go fast, and traffic parts for them,
But who's in a hurry to ride?
Wagons and roads are an eloquent metaphor,
Gentling and straightening the way,
Everyone takes that last exit to Brooklyn,
Home at the end of the day

Remember the start of Magnificent Seven?
Steve and Yul drove to Boot Hill,
Just a small fable of folks being equal,
And going to sleep where you will.
Tickets and transfers and waiting for answers
At something so common yet strange,
Someday you'll ride it, the last train to Clarksville,
All classes, all stations . . . all change.

Look out the window and wave to the strangers
What do they see in the glass?
Up ahead, can you see, we've stopped for Emily,
There will be more as we pass.
Savor the journey, however you're going,
It's been your whole life to get there,
Someday I'll travel, without reservations,
I hope I've two coins for my fare.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Ten Years Ago.

This was the introduction I wrote to Mike Ford's book From the End of the Twentieth Century, ten years ago.


Concerning Speculative Engineering, with notes on Exploration, the Scattered Oevre of John M. Ford, and an Unreliable and Vaguely Scatalogical Anecdote about Freud or Someone Like That.

...and here we gather to celebrate John M. Ford (b. 1957 and still very much alive) -- not the Elizabethan playwright John Ford (1586-1639), nor the film director John Ford (real name Sean O'Feeney) (1895-1973), although they frame him as they framed several of his early novels, but the late twentieth century writer of that name -- and the immediate metaphor that keeps coming to mind, embarrassingly, is entirely defecatory.

It's a half-remembered anecdote about Freud or Jung or one of those brainy big-bearded German bods who was, at least in the anecdote, asked by some aspiring young man how he (the aspiring young man that is, not the big-brained German bod,) could become famous in his field.

And Freud or Jung, said, "You shit all in the same place."

Which is something that comes to mind when we stop to puzzle why Mike Ford (the John is silent, as in M. John Harrison) is not as well-known as lots of other writers who are a damn sight less able and thousands of times less good.

This is a man who has written a World Fantasy Award-winning novel of alternate history, The Dragon Waiting; who wrote the best hard sf juvenile since Heinlein stopped doing juveniles, Growing Up Weightless; who wrote my favourite modern spying and intrigue and Christopher Marlowe too novel, The Scholars of Night; who wrote not one but two astonishingly brilliant Star Trek novels -- one, The Final Reflection, a first contact novel from the Klingon perspective, the other, How Much For Just The Planet? a genuinely funny musical farce -- each book responsible for setting new parameters to the Star Trek Franchise, mostly consisting of "He got away with it because we hadn't thought to make rules against it, and now he's done it no-one else is going to do it again"; who has written award-winning poems -- one of his Christmas cards won a World Fantasy Award as Best Short Story; who published a cyberspace novel, prefiguring Neuromancer, Web of Angels, when he was 23, in 1980.

You begin, I trust, to see what one of those beardy German bods I mentioned earlier would probably refer to as 'zer problem'.

And if you don't, read this book.

It's like dipping into a kaleidescope, or receiving mailings from far-flung departments of the Library of Babel -- or talking to Mike Ford.

Mike Ford in person has been my friend for over a decade: he is a warm, brilliant man, with an habitually slightly quizzical expression which dissolves into a delighted, almost schoolboyish grin when he makes a connnection no-one has made before, which is pretty often. He is one of the few people who genuinely has no snobbish considerations about high and junk culture: he speaks both languages, and can translate between them. (He once took a typo on an invitation to my annual bonfire party as the starting point for a short (and, incredibly, performed) musical drama -- somewhere between Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Sellers and Yeatman.)

Examine the goodies here assembled, from over 15 years of writing:

Essays include 'Rules of Engagement' -- a delightful study of how readers relate to texts (using Ford's own contentious How Much For Just The Planet? as a case in point); 'From the End of the Twentieth Century', in which he talks about The Naming of Trains and fantasy and the theatre, and also offers us a key to opening the fiction of John M. Ford:

"The artistic task is to present things clearly, approachably, while still leaving space for them to mean more than their literal existence," he tells us, exactly and wisely.

Of course it is. And like a slack-rope walker, a master-baker, or the original 'Mission: Impossible' team, he makes it look so easy.

Prose tales in this collection include the new story 'Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail', which turns out not to be a new story at all, but one of the oldest stories: 'Intersection' and 'Mandalay' two (of the four) Alternities stories which make one wish he would write the other three; 'Walkaway Clause', which is a love story; 'Waiting For the Morning Bird' which is, as the author points out, non-fiction, even the parts that are made up.

And there are songs -- proper lyrics, capable of being sung. One caveat though -- while most of Ford's anagrams and references are capable of being resolved by anyone with a Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, a good Dictionary and a little luck, I must confess myself still utterly baffled by the identity of Ilen the Magian, who sang 'Monochrome' in How Much For Just The Planet. Lord, but it's a fine song nonetheless.

When the weather gets colder and the nights get shortest, then, addressed in a fine and calligraphic hand, the postman brings me Speculative Engineering's latest production, part Christmas card, part chapbook, always limited (one is informed) to one hundred unnumbered copies. And one counts oneself fortunate, never quite knowing what one is going to receive. For example:

A prose-poem meditation on the dreams of satellites, moving and transcendentant, very high over Milk Wood.

A tour of Shakespeare's histories, presented by a number of dead playwrights, doing a Dick deBartolo with and to Gilbert and Sullivan and Frank Loesser, along with the odd villanelle.

A delving into mythic engineering -- the engineering of myth, and the engineers of myth, -- with Daedalus and his son, Lefty.

And what this next holiday season will bring, no man but one can say. Several of these pamphlets have been assembled here for your delight.

Clear evidence that John M. Ford is not an author who confines himself to one small area, piling it high in one place.

But then...

Reading the materials (and not just 'Mandalay') that comprise this book put me in mind of another writer whose output spanned short stories -- mainstream, SF, fantasy and adventure, novels, poetry, songs, parodies, and children's fiction -- the author of 'The Married Drives of Windsor', a Shakespearian caprice about cars, starring all of good Will's main characters, as the high point of 'The Muse Among the Motors', his collection of poems about motoring, written in the styles of great poets of history. For there is something of Kipling in John M. Ford: the restlessness, and the willingness to play, to explore formal verse and formal stories, the urge toward parody, and the ability to tug unashamedly on the heartstrings. Like Ford, he was all over the place, but his core subject was people, and what went on inside them -- inside all of us. Look at 'Walkaway Clause' or 'Waiting For the Morning Bird'.

And reflecting on what happened to Kipling, it is comforting to observe that sometimes the big-brained anecdotal German bods are, to put it bluntly, full of shit.

For John M. Ford is not just a writer, but a writer's writer. We are lucky to have him. And while some writers are content to sit in their own small rooms, repeating themselves for an audience who knows just what it wants (id est, whatever it heard and liked, last time), John M. Ford seeks out new lands, like an Elizabethan sea captain, or a Western pioneer, or the man in Kipling's poem 'The Explorer' who heard 'a voice as bad as Conscience'...

On one everlasting Whisper day and night repeated --so:
"Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges-
"Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!"

And who went to see.

Neil Gaiman. Winter 1996.

Mostly Politics and Prose

I think that the London event went very well -- the organisers were very happy that 700 people showed up, and I was happy that a lot of them decided against gettting into the signing line, and instead bought pre-signed books, or just went off.

I haven't yet really coped with Mike Ford's death. It was unexpected and knocked me for a loop. He was my friend and the world feels emptier and meaner right now. I'll see if I can find my introduction to his book of short stories...

Here's a Making Light post about Mike.

This came in from Seale at HarperCollins about the Washington DC event on Friday:

I spoke with Cleve Corner today and because they have had a huge response to their upcoming event with you, POLITICS & PROSE is moving the event off site to a larger venue just down the street. The new location is:

Wesley United Methodist Church
5312 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008

The store will send out two additional email blasts to their customer base, as well as follow up with everyone who has contacted the store about the event. There will be a sign at the store as well telling people to come just down the street to the larger venue (store is at 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW).

Cleve is very excited about the response to the event and just wants to make sure that everyone is as comfortable as possible, and the evening is a huge success.

John M. Ford

I got an email from my friend Mike Ford -- author John M. Ford -- a couple of days ago.

Emails from Mike were always wonderful things. This one was called Speaking of closing tabs and went...

. . . some of the literoid crap from Making Light. The reason I sent you the first one will be apparent enough. The others, heck if I know.

1. And it came to pass after a decent interval of shoveling much dung, and the creatures that did eat of the fishes of the sea departing with rejoicing to do the same for the first time in an month, that they piled out of the boat, and smelt air that did not smell.

2. Whereupon the mighty lizards, those that had not already been skinned to maketh luggage and upholsterings, and who had early in the voyage eaten all the creepy-looking Precambrian thingies, went forth to find them places zoned for extinction.

3. And Noah looked about at the world, which was vast and empty and damp, and thought, well, we hadst best get around to it. An good thing the world is the Tigris and the Euphrates and the land between and that is it, or I would be one tired patriarch.

4. And he looked upon his wife, who went off in haste to gather something or other.

5. And he looked upon his daughters, and up at the heaven, and it did not darken.

6. Okay, he did say, and unto the maidens, Yoo Hoo.

7. And as he approached them, there came an hurtling stone, that struck him on the head, and he looked up again, wondering.

8. And there came a voice behind him, saying, "Sorry, friend. I wasn't looking. Name's Deukalion. This is the marina, right?"

9. Noah looked in the direction of the voice, and saw another boat, and it was big, and it had a promenade deck and a lapstrake hull.

10. And Noah's spirit was troubled.

11. But before he could cry unto the Lord something about bad jests, there came another voice, and he turned to see a modest multitude.

12. And they had no beards, and did carry their young upon their backs, and had their goods on wooden draggy things.

13. One of them raised his hand, saying, "Hi. Boy howdy, that was an long landbridge."

14. And as if there were not enough weirdness thereof, a great beast, with as it were an hangover, came up from the sea, and said, "Have you seen my mom?"

15. But another man, mighty in thews and all that, came up from yet another way, and did tear off the beast's arm and did beat him silly with it. And the warrior said his name was Bee-Wulf, which is being translated, Lupus and Wild Honey.

16. And Noah went unto his sons, Ham, Spam, and Jay-Z, and he rent their garments, because his own was the only warm thing on the boat.

II Crossovers, 1:1-16

This one, well, will likely be self-explanatory in light of Recent Literary Events.

"So, Poirot, this Betjeman chap is some sort of a poet, eh?"
"Yes, 'Astings. Somewhat."
"Good thing there's only a couple of suspects in the case, then."
" 'Astings, for a man who spends his leisure time with the world's greatest detective, your mysterious mind is perpetually stuck in what you call the neutral gear. It is exactly because there were only two Betjeman biographers of note at the time of the affaire d'acronyme that the mystery is so fascinating. What if this obviousness hides an inobviousness within its -- never mind. Suppose that it were someone not in the -- what was the fellow's word?"
"'Fetid swamps.'"
"Yes, what if he were not of the standards of the bog? Suppose it were, in fact, Michael Moorcock?"
"Uhm, I don't --"
"Your supposer is broken, 'Astings. Rub your two little gray cells together in their nourishing mix of gin and IPA. Could it not have been John Clute?"
"Wasn't he in that movie with Jane Fonda?"
"There are days when I only wish you were played by Donald Sutherland."
"Well, if anyone could have written it, then, well, I could have."
"'Astings, I have seen you Googling upon the 'peotry,' and being satsified with the result. In my suspect list, you are between le Voldemort and la V. C. Andrews."
"I say, at least one of them is dead."
"I only 'ope to sell so well when I am dead. Voici, this log of the web. Could not this literary rudite-crudite have been produced by the evil master-mind of the Langford? Or his evil but much shorter and if possible narrower American time-twin?"
"I'm afraid you're in Doctor Who country now, Poirot. And anyway, wasn't the American clockwork fiend's evil twin the Mike Harrison bloke?"
"You 'ave 'idden 'epths, 'Astings. And you will never again be invited to a First Thursday meeting."

And this one I can blame (politely) on Jo Walton, who said something about the BBC running a pome of mine in their readings of 9/11 pomes. I offered this as an audition piece.

Hail, thou Bridge on the northerly Forth!
Twixt Queensferry South and Queensferry North
Bearing high traffic loads on an over-Firth courth.
And after the Tay, which was quite blown away
On a terrible, horrible, rather wet day
And the train out of Scotland was dunked in the bay
Still the builders did say, in their style gravely gay,
That double cantilevering pointed the way.
And so no further locals should fall in the drink,
They brought iron and steel and the oxide of zinc;
And thanks to the girder, the bolt, and the pin
Since the day it was built, it has not fallen in.

. . . but you know, you can't really parody the poor bloke, in the same way that attempts to simulate Really Bad Slush by good writers never quite get it right.

And I mentioned that I was thinking about doing a Short Story once I was done typing in the mass of handwritten Novel. Just on the moment, Graham Sleight and Farah Mendelsohn reminded me that I promised them just such an outpouring for Foundation #100. (I had not forgotten this, but I thought I had long ago missed the deadline.) It is, as you would expect, humblingly fine company to be in -- Nalo, Margo Lanagan, Eileen Gunn, Andy Duncan, and so on.

Yes, spellchecker, "humblingly" is a word. Now, anyway.

So I had best go off and Get a Few Things Done.
Best as,

I hadn't replied, although I meant to, and Mike never seemed to mind if I did or I didn't.

And now I never shall, because I just heard that Mike passed away this morning. And I miss my friend already...

Sunday, September 24, 2006


My favourite moments of today were Clive Barker's impromptu Guest of Honour Speech at Fantasycon, in which he declared war on the idea that Fantasy was a genre, and the rather astonishing moment half an hour later when I finally realised that the reason that my name was being read out was because ANANSI BOYS had just won the August Derleth Award as Best Novel. I've never won a British Fantasy Award before, and was chuffed and astonished.

(Edited to add, here's the full list --

Right. Bed now. Reading and Q&A and signing tomorrow.

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...)

Friday, September 22, 2006

voice recognition systems and stuff

Leaving in a few minutes for Fantasycon in Nottingham, after a lovely couple of days in the Peak District with Colin and Susanna. I wasn't meant to be working while here, but I did a small chunk of Eternals, and yesterday at Nick Powell's request I wrote some new lyrics for the opening song in the Wolves in the Walls stage play. (Websites here and more specifically at It'll be at

Platform at the Bridge, Glasgow
13th - 14th October

Northern Stage, Newcastle
17th - 21st October

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
25th October - 4th November

Liverpool Playhouse
7th -11th November

Malvern Theatres
15th - 18th November

Oxford Playhouse
21st - 25th November

I heard that it now is going to the US early in 2008. Slightly disappointed that the US tour so far just looks very East Coast and Chicago, and hoping it'll travel a bit more, at least to San Francisco.

An early review of Fragile Things up at

We're trying to get away in the next ten minutes, although a very frustrated Susanna is trying to pay her TV license over the phone, or rather to persuade it that she already has a TV license, but she's dealing with a voice recognition system at the other end that doesn't recognise hers as actually being a voice, while she and Colin are also trying to arrange a pick-up for 500 signed and slipcased copies of Ladies of Grace Adieu. (Which are only on-sale at Or will be, once they've been picked up and taken away. And Susanna won't be doing signing tours and things, so if you want a signed copy, with lovely Charles Vess illustrations, that's probably your best bet.)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Where I am

In case you were wondering, I've slipped off for a couple of days before the start of Fantasycon. I'm staying with Colin Greenland (who is so much less impressed than I am that I've known him for 23 years now) and Susanna Clarke (who gave me a beautiful, Charles Vess-illustrated, advance copy of THE LADIES OF GRACE ADIEU), and they've taken me on lots of very nice long walks of the kind that normally end in a large meal in a cosy pub, thus adding back all the calories I'd burned on the walk and a few more for good measure.

Meanwhile, I promised Headline, who already do the very fun website, that I would mention here that they have a new competition-sort-of FRAGILE THINGS WEBSITE.

It's and you can claim your place there and win a prize.

And I think this was first out of the hat with the Youtube mastermind information...

Hello, mister G.

The Sandman Mastermind clips are up on YouTube:

Quite funny, and some of the questions would be pretty difficult even
for a Sandman fan (but not the hardcore ones, I'm afraid). The whole
"metatextual" speech was ended in this sweet "oh, that's really
interesting" way that you end a conversation with a mortician.

Cheers, Izydor Ingwar I.


And for those of you who wrote to me concerned about what had happened to Hill House Publishers, there's an explanation and apology up on the Hill House website, along with a current update --

Monday, September 18, 2006


Hello Neil,

You'll probably know this by the time you read my note, but what the hell.

Mastermind tonight (which we flicked over to half way through) featured the most wonderful contestant whose specialist subject was Sandman. When quizzed by John Humphreys, "so, graphic novels, they're just comics really aren't they?", he used great words such as "meta-contextual" and was generally funny and upbeat about being a bit of a comics geek. Brought the whole subculture into repute.

If there's a watch-again that you can find, I'd highly recommend you have a gander.


PS At risk of ruining this whole message by sounding like an awful fan-girl, I loved your reading of Coraline... Please record more audio books!

Well, this year I've recorded audio books of Stardust and Fragile Things for Morrow (Stardust came out a few weeks ago, Fragile Things -- with, I suspect some very dodgy accents in a couple of stories on the part of the narrator, although I've not actually heard it -- should be out in a few weeks. I think they're both coming out from Headline in the UK...

Of course, the very best audio of any of my books is Lenny Henry's recording of ANANSI BOYS.

The Mastermind clip isn't up on Youtube yet, but this was -- -- and I trust it will help explain to the world what kind of show Mastermind is. Also, it's funny...

Just in case it has escaped your notice, I've done a column about the
"Stardust" panel at this year's San Diego Con: "Comics in Context" #144:
"Stardust Memories" ( at my new
location at Kevin Smith's Quick Stop Entertainment.--Peter Sanderson

It had, but no longer.


I have just read your post about the screening of Pan's Labyrinth and the dificulty your daughter had with the subtitles. I must say that I find that highly amusing. Where I live almost every foreign film is subtitled (only the children´s films can have a dubbed version) and even now that I understand english fairly well I can´t seem to take my eyes from the subtitles, even on ocasions when my native language is subtitled my eyes seem drawn by an unresistable force to the bottom of the screen. Also I would never pay to see a dubed version of a film, it just seems wrong to take such an integral part of a film out just because someone is too lazy to read the subtitles.
Since you have worked in the dubing of Princess Mononke what is your opinion in this matter?

Not a lot, really. I've seen badly subtitled films that were much worse than watching well-dubbed films, and badly dubbed films that made me pray for subtitles. What made Pan's Labyrinth so good, I think, was that Guillermo (who wrote the script) also wrote the subtitles. (In self-defense, as he felt his last Spanish language movie was really badly subtitled.)

Beyond that I don't have much of an opinion -- though I've never quite understood the point of view that only the original language version of a cartoon is valid. I suppose it's faintly possible that all non-English speaking people who were denied Bugs Bunny Cartoons with Mel Blanc and Arthur Q. Bryan, or saw Donald Duck cartoons with Donald voiced by foreign people who weren't Clarence Nash, saw such manifestly inferior versions of the cartoons that they should have either seen subtitled versions or learned English. But if that had happened neither Bugs nor Donald would have attained the level of popularity they did around the world. And lots of voice actors around the world would have had a lot less fun...

Right. I'm going to get on a plane in a few minutes. Not sure how much I'll be able to get onto the Internet over the next 5 days.

If you're in the UK, try and get to the Blackwells event next Monday evening*, and then it's on to New York, Washington DC, Bay Area and Minneapolis.

Blackwell present: An Evening with Neil Gaiman

Monday 25th of September, 7pm
Logan Hall
Institue of Education
20 Bedford Way

Tickets cost £7, £5 concessions, and are available from our dedicated booking line 0845 456 9876 (Mon-Fri, 9.30 - 6.00), or in-store at Blackwell, 100 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0JG (as soon as we get them in).

If anyone has any questions or wants to be put on the Event mailing list, email If anyone wants to reserve a signed copy or be put on the Signed First Edition Mailing list, email .

Sunday Morning Cinema

Guillermo del Toro wanted me to see his film Pan's Labyrinth (, and arranged a Sunday morning screening at the local cinema. So yesterday morning I discovered,

a) the the local cinema is also a church on Sunday mornings. Who knew?

b) that Pan's Labyrinth is an astonishing film. It's an uncompromisingly adult film, with a child and her fairy tale inset into it as a contrast and echo. You start the film believing it to be Ofelia's film, and you gradually discover that the adult story is not background but the story as well, and they move in tandem.

c) Despite gorgeous imagery (oh the faun! and oh the thing at the table!) and magical fairy-tale stuff, it deserves its R rating for real moments of extreme and bloody Spanish Civil War violence. I took all my adult children and a few of their friends to the screening, with Maddy (12) as the youngest, and there were bits she was much happier watching with her eyes shut.

d) It has subtitles. You don't notice this after a moment, mostly because the subtitles are so well written. Hoever, whenever Maddy had to avert her eyes she also discovered that she no longer knew what was being said, so I had to read the subtitles to her, grateful that we had that screening room to ourselves.

I'm really glad I saw it, and more glad that Guillermo made it. It feels like it opens up the vocabulary of fantasy on film. And it made me so happy in its interleaving of the fantastic and the mundane without privileging either.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Charles L. Grant

I just got an email from Doug Winter telling me that Charles L. Grant -- Charlie Grant -- had passed away. He said,

Charlie Grant died last night at home of a heart attack. It happened very quickly, around 11pm. He had been watching a baseball game on television with Kathy and his brother, Jack. Kathy and Jack went to the kitchen for some food, and when they returned a few minutes later, he was gone.

Ten days ago, Charlie had been able, at long last, to return home. That had been his hope -- to die at home, and not in the hospital. Particularly after all he had been through, the end was merciful, and what he wanted.

This is who Charlie Grant was:

The last time I saw him he was grey (hair, skin and beard) and gaunt and sick. Now he's dead, I find I'm thinking of him as I first knew him, meeting him at a British Fantasycon in about 1984, smart and funny and sharp, with a dark beard and dark hair and dark eyes, and I was in awe of him because he'd written some of the most gently evocative horror short stories I'd ever read and he had a Nebula Award and had written books and he had pseudonyms and everything.

And now I'm just thinking about Time, and what it gives us, and what it takes away.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The closing of tabs...

Stayed up much too late last night trying to figure out why the new version of Itunes and Quicktime won't run on one computer. Itunes runs fine on all the other computers in the house, PCs and Macs, but if I try and open it on my little Panasonic nothing happens, then it lets me know that it needs to send a crash report. Having now done everything recommended in the various Apple advice pages (uninstall it, Windows Install Clean Up it, delete hidden folders aplenty, use msconfig to prevent anything else starting up etc) with no success, I have officially given up, and I suppose I'll just see if I have an old version of iTunes knocking around I can install on the Panasonic. Sigh.

Right. It's time to close lots of tabs, so without ado...

I've known John Coulthart for about 20 years, and loved his work, but this amazed me with its elegance. The ultimate Tarot --

In contrast, I've only known Stephen Merritt for about eight years and Lemony Snicket (who is a mensch) for about five. I have been a fan of the Gothic Archies since the HELLO CD OF THE MONTH Gothic Archies CD came through my door, back in around '96. I was fan enough that when the HELLO CD OF THE MONTH people called to let me know that they'd stopped doing CDs and they still had money of mine and what would I like to do with it, I had them send me the balance in Gothic Archies CDs, which I gave to friends.

More recently, The Gothic Archies has become the entity through which Stephin Merritt does Lemony Snicket songs (and also did the songs on the CORALINE spoken word CD I did a few years ago) and the Guardian has a delightful interview -- Mr Snicket and Mr Merritt in conversation.,,1872355,00.html
(And there are two songs at the bottom of the article.)

A few people have asked if I knew that Beowulf proved the existence of dinosaurs, and that Grendel really was a T-Rex, as some Fundamentalist Christians maintain. I think I actually linked to the Grendel Was a T-Rex page a few years ago, but here's a page on Beowulf Fact or Fiction for home schooled children --

I answered ten questions for Politics and Prose in Washington DC... (Reading and signing there Friday, September 29th at 7 p.m.)

(Incidentally, when I said "I love collaborating. And I love being in control too. As long as I get both I'm fine." I meant that I like the mixture, going back and forth from collaborating to doing things that were mine, and I did not mean that I only like collaborating if I'm in charge, which is how it reads.)

I don't get much reading time these days, and it takes a lot to impress me, but Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill was quite amazing, and I just gave it a blurb. Images of the UK cover are up at

Did I already post this essay and video by Hungry Lucy for their song "We Won't Go" from Where's Wossname When You Need Him? Apologies if I did, but I think I forgot to...

If you are the kind of person who stays awake at night wondering about the nature of Peter Straub's tattoos, finally relief is at hand. Read this and learn, and wonder.

Someone, reminded of Sandman 1, kindly sent me a link to this Guardian article on bringing people back from vegetative states, using a sleeping pill --,,1870279,00.html

And this article is posted without comment because there is nothing I can add to it...,,1869992,00.html

A long interview with Yoshitaka Amano --

And 200 New York public school children singing Tori Amos



Not a question, but a comment: I lived in Bend up until a few months ago and I think it's awesome that you linked to the Bend Shire development.

I wish more developers and builders would take as much time planning their subdivisions as the folks behind the Shire obviously have.

They seem to have had a lot of delays in getting the project out of the ground. I'm not sure why that is, but it's not in the most desirable part of Bend and the homes are definitely more expensive than most people can afford--not that price seems to matter much in Bend.

The whole thing might be a little campy with Bilbo's house and the community auditorium, but the materials and design elements that the builders are using are quite forward thinking.

Perhaps you should follow their lead and participate in the design of a planned urban development based on the fantasy world of some of your novels...I would want to live there. :-)

I think a planned urban development based on Neverwhere would be the most fun for the planners. They'd have to figure out how people could live in sewers and on rooftops without violating Planning Codes and while still having two car garages.

Then again, the housing development based on the Dreaming might be quite unusual. The houses would have to be designed in such a way that the door to each room is never where you left it....


And lastly, over at the Green Man Press Blog, Charles Vess unveils the new cover painting for the upcoming oversized DC Comics hardcover of STARDUST.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

From the department of that nice Mr Tolkien revolving in his grave

Your question for today is,

Is the twee and nightmarish horribleness of this cancelled out by the fact it might actually be a prettier place to live than most new American housing developments?


And this just in from DreamHaven...

Thursday, October 5th, 7:00PM

Riverview Theater
3800 42nd Avenue South, Minneapolis
Hosted by DreamHaven Books

Admission will be $5.00 per person, with all profits from the admission
price going to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. The theater doors will
open at 6pm. (No advance sales.)

Books will be available for purchase at the event. (Think about paying
cash - it'll speed things up!)

We will have pre-signed copies of many of Neil's books at the event, so
you can avoid the autographing line. Want a personalized copy without
going through the line? Preorder the book(s) you want at - you can have them shipped, or pick them up at
DreamHaven beginning October 7th.

Neil will be reading for about 90 minutes, then answering questions from
the audience. After that, we're hoping to show MirrorMask (not confirmed
yet) in the theater, while Neil is autographing in the lobby.

Autographing will be limited to no more than two items purchased at the
event and one outside item. (In case of an unexpectedly large crowd, this
will be reduced.) You will receive your ticket for the autographing line
when you make your purchases at the event. Not purchasing anything? You
can still get a ticket for the autographing line at the book sales table.

The Riverview Theater has comfortable high-back seating for over 700
people. And their concession stand will be open - they serve great popcorn
(with real butter) as well as a variety of other movie-theater type
snacks. And tea!

DreamHaven Books
912 W Lake St
Minneapolis MN 55408 USA
Contact: Elizabeth LaVelle
Phone 612-823-6161

where am I and small publishers

Neil: I thought you were attending a CON in England this month why isn't it listed on your Where's Neil sight? Not a stalker just like knowing where your handsome face is appearing. luv- Linda

Er, thanks. It was on the WHERE'S NEIL blog, a couple of entries down, but I've just gone and done an entry laying out all appearances from now until October the 22nd. You can read it at

Neil,Thought you might want to know this. I wandered into my local comic shop today on a spontaneous shopping spree and casually inquired about "Lost Girls" still not being out in the UK (it was meant to ship the week before last, and then last week). Apparently now it's not going to be available in the UK at all, due to the licensing issues with Peter Pan.Ah well, I guess eBay it is for us poor souls on this side of the Atlantic. Unless there's anything we can actually do about it - do you have any thoughts or ideas on the subject? Mili

According to Chris Staros, publisher of Lost Girls,

The first printing of Lost Girls (10,000 copies) completely sold out on Wed Aug 31st when it hit stores. So, that's why it's not available anywhere, itjust vanished (it actually hit #19 on em> on that day). Also, the back orders in the system as of Friday the 1st have already sold out the 2nd printing (another 10,000 copies), which will hit stores in early October. So, we've ordered a larger 3rd printing (20,000 copies), which will hit stores around Xmas/January.

The Great Ormond Street Hospital's rather debatable claim on the characters in the UK only goes until the end of 2007, so I imagine that from January 2008 you should be able to get copies in the UK. (In the meantime, you could probably buy them from more cheaply than from eBay.)

As a private customer you can always order books from the US directly -- and you may want to order directly from Top Shelf -- more expensive than Amazon, but you're helping support a small publisher...

Hi Neil;

I don't know if you'd know anything about this, but not sure who else to ask.

I ordered the Authors Preferred edition of Anansi Boys from Hill House a while back, and have been trying to get in touch with them to find out what's happened to it.

There's been no answer at any of their email addresses and their last newsletter was April '06.

I'm worried that maybe they've gone out of business or something...I don't suppose you know what's happening?

Oh - as always, big fan of your work...see you in London on 25th September :)

I finally heard from Pete Schneider at Hill House, and he's extremely shamefaced and apologetic -- I think that they mostly didn't want to make an announcement until they were certain of being able to deliver on the dates they were promising. But apparently their Dagmara Matuszak illustrated (and designed) ANANSI BOYS will be getting printed very soon, and they're now getting help with their Neverwhere volume (I sent them a rather overwhelming amount of extra Neverwhere material for their supplementary volume, and I think that knocking it into a book has proved a bit much for just the two of them.) Pete tells me a newsletter will go out to subscribers and up on the website Real Soon Now. Let us keep our fingers crossed.

Hi Neil,

Hope I am the first one to let you know, next Monday at 20:00 on Mastermind on BBC2 one of the specialist topics is

"The Sandman graphic novels of Neil Gaiman"

All the best

Paul in Brussels

I hope someone can send in a Youtube link once it's been broadcast. (And I hope whoever's got Sandman as a specialist subject wins.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

mi god you should have seen us

I fell off the world for a couple of days, and finished up a bunch of incomplete things. The most overdue was the H. G. Wells introduction for a Penguin Modern Classics collection of his SF short stories, and that, along with a couple of other things, is now on the done side of the ledger, and I am so much happier. I'm going to fall back onto the world tonight, but in the meantime...

It's been a long time since I raved about a CD here, but ROGUE'S GALLERY is perfectly wonderful -- a sort of side Johnny Depp-Gore Verbinski spin-off project generated during the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean. A Hall Willner double CD of sea shanties... you can read about it at
and it's brilliant. Much better than I had even hoped on reading the good review. (Don't buy it if you're easily offended, as the Loudon Wainright III version of Good Ship Venus is filthier than any I've ever encountered before. And it's not that there are any clean versions of that song.) I like the way it trashes genres. It's a folk album and a rock album and a punk album. The songs are, for the most part, amazing. And everyone sounds like they're having fun. Even Lou Reed.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Stardust news...

The bad news is that Stardust lost Noel Fielding to illness. The good news is that Adam Buxton, who came in to replace him, actually has a blog, so for the first time I can point you to the inside story of what it's like for one of the actors.

(The ghosts are filming their parts now against green screen. I've seen some pictures and it looks very cool indeed. Adam has an axe in his head. David Walliams is chargrilled. Mark Heap is poisoned. And Rupert Everett.. well, you'll see.)

Anyway, Adam Buxton's STARDUST report, along with a toy-based parody of SNATCH, is at

Friday, September 08, 2006

dear your name here

The First Amendment Project auction is now rolling.

This sort of began when I was writing Anansi Boys, and I needed to name a Cruise Ship. So I threw the naming rights to the ship up for auction, to benefit the freedom of speech via the CBLDF (over at, and an eBay auction raised over $3,000. A week or so later I got a letter from Michael Chabon, telling me that the First Amendment Project really needed money to operate.

Now, I am a big fan of the First Amendment, and of Freedom of Speech. It's without doubt my favourite thing about America. I happen to believe that the remedy for speech and ideas you don't like is not stopping the offending speech and punishing the speaker, but replying to it and creating your own speech. (And there's always the off-switch and the market place.)

So I called Michael Chabon and told him about the cruise-ship-name auction and suggested that if we could mobilise a few writers and get them to take part in a character-name auction, we could raise the money they needed. Michael went off and contacted a bunch of writers and set the wheels in motion, and the plan worked (I auctioned a name on a gravestone in the upcoming Graveyard Book, which went to the magnificently named Miss Liberty Roach, bid for on her behalf by a parental unit) and we raised over $150,000.

Now this year's auction has begun -- like last year's it will run in three stages.

If you've ever had a yearning to be in a book, or if you've ever wanted to give someone a gift that is about as unique as unique comes, now is your chance. You could be a stuffed rat in a Carl Hiassen book or a character in a Chris Ware comic or... well, go and look at the complete list yourself: . And pass it on, mention it in your blog. Tell your friends. It's for a good cause...

You've probably already seen this but a good resource for finding non-liquid

That's brilliant -- thanks.

ok i tried to make sure you haven't been asked this before but at some point my eyes started to blur, sooo, would you ever consider collaborating with Clive Barker on a movie or series? I'm a fan of the series Strange and keep thinking how much scarier and strnager it would be with you two involved.

I'd love to work with Clive, and we've talked about doing something together from time to time over the last two decades. Having said that, SFX magazine recently asked us for a joint interview and we've also spent the last month trying to coordinate our schedules, and finding half an hour that we both have free has been proving really hard, so both of us finding time to do something bigger would undoubtedly be even harder. I'd not hold your breath.


This year there will only be a very few US events for FRAGILE THINGS -- last year's ANANSI BOYS tour was punishing enough that I decided that it was time to start seriously cutting back on signing tours, possibly even for good, and I also decided that wherever possible on FRAGILE THINGS I'd read stories (it's the good thing about having a book of 31 stories -- plenty to read aloud) and talk, rather than sign (and have pre-signed books available. It won't be that way at every stop, but it will be at some of them).

A few people have contacted me a bit worried about the September 28th New York reading/interview with Daily Show Correspondent, Personal Computer, and Author John Hodgman, as they'd been told that the hall would only fit about 300 people, and they wanted to know whether they should start lining up at dawn.

I just got a reassuring email to let me know that the hall at FIT seats 750 people, which is about what we had at the last New York signing event. If you want a good seat you may want to get there early, but you'll probably be all right either way.

7:00 PM Thursday, September 28, 2006 – New York, NY


Hosted by John Hodgman
The Great Hall at FIT
Fashion Institute of Technology
227 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001

Contact for the event:
Carla Oliver Bowens

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Ol' Blue Eyes is Back

Look left! I just returned! Like people do in sequels! It's a FRAGILE THINGS ad that will come out in a few days.

While on your right, the latest Bunny of the Month from Morbid Tendencies and Cat Grey. (After the first year or so we actually took the bunny frequency way down so now they arrive every few months and are always a delightful surprise when they do.) This is the bunny equivalent of the Eyeball Kid.

Dear Neil
Did you know you look like Disraeli?
See here for proof.
Dell Strum

Okay. That's scary.

rapid morning post with grumpy cat photo

Woke up this morning from an extremely strange dream (why did nobody think it odd that I was in the convent anyway?) to find these waiting....

These is not really a question. I am a regular over on the Brian Michael Bendis webboard.
Gail Simone (writer of Birds of Prey at DC comics) posted this today:

As you can read in the link, Lea Thompson's house burned down. The Bendis Board is rallying behind Gail and Lea to help out and is trying to get the word out to help Lea.

We are starting an Ebay auction to raise some money to help her. The deatails are in:
So if you can mention it on your blog it could be a big help.

Thank you!
Roberto Accinelli


Hi Neil,
I was scanning my Live Journal friend's page and came across an entry from Lea Hernandez:
There was a house fire and they lost almost everything to fire, water and smoke damage--including most of their beloved pets. Since Lea is a comic book artist, I was wondering if you might consider posting this to let folks know. They need everything. She has posted her Paypal address for donations, which is

Thanks in advance,
A longtime fan,

That's horrible. I'm happy to post it and to encourage anyone reading this to help if they can. Lea's a good person, and needs to get back to her drawing board. Probably right now, she needs a drawing board, too.


I'm -- reluctantly -- giving a thumbs down to the clever Nokia N80 phone I bought in Europe. There are many things it does really well, but nothing really makes up for the way that it jogs or slips open in pockets or bags, turning its locking system off, and calls people on its own, or for the way it grabs and yanks out beard and sideburn hairs when you put it next to your face. I like the insides of the thing but the casing and the design leaves such a lot to be desired.


The saga of Fred the cat continues. He's actually looking very well and happy right now, on two kinds of liquid medicine that need to be squirted down his throat twice a day. Now that he's actually digesting (and most importantly, eliminating) food he's got his appetite back -- he's put on weight, his coat looks good, he looks happy, and is becoming a master of pretending to make you think he's swallowed the medicines before drooling them out all over your shirt.

This is a photo of Fred just before he started putting on weight and cheering up.


Lots of people writing to tell me that there are solid shampoos and toothpowders out there, and that Lush (among other people) make the shampoos, which I knew. (I don't think I put it very well, in summarising a lost post.)

My point was that what I'd love to be able to get is a ready-assembled toiletries kit with everything I'd usually use already assembled in dry form, rather than hunting for each item individually. I don't like checking luggage unless I have to because it slows everything down and Northwest lost the only suit I have ever loved -- it's especially silly if I'm only going somewhere for a day or so. And yes, I've started to assemble one, and will report back.


And finally, yesterday my advance copies of the Morrow FRAGILE THINGS arrived. They look beautiful -- the idea of putting some of the art beneath the translucent cover was a good one. And, with their translucent covers, they look rather fragile themselves. I hope people like them. I'll try and post a picture here soon.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Terrorism and my toothpaste

I have just read the TSA list of permitted and prohibited items in full.

Toothpaste is out.
Hairgel is out.
"Topical or rash creams" are out.
Lip gels are out.
Shampoos and conditioners are out.
Personal lubricants are... just fine.

I blink. I find I'm suddenly unsure whether or not that means exactly what I'm certain it does mean, so I google "personal lubricants" and yes, it's talking about exactly what I think it's talking about. Up to 4 oz. of personal lubricants are just fine.... practically the only liquid you can take with you onto a plane.


I think I must be losing it.

For a moment there, I really planned to drive up to a drug store, buy a 4 oz container of personal lubricant, empty it out, wash it and refill it with toothpaste.

Charles Vess's new blog and other stories

I seem to have lost the post about forgetting I had my toiletries bag with me and having my toothpaste and shaving oil confiscated at the airport on my way home, and my suggestion that someone should put together a travelling kit with tooth powder, dry shaving stuff, a bar shampoo, a just-add-water mouthwash and the like in it, because I would buy one, and I bet other people who fly with just carry-on luggage would as well. It was a good post, too.

If you go to you will see Charles Vess' account of his journey to the Stardust set, and our journey on to Scotland, accompanied by lots of photos I gave him from my cellphone, including one of him posing beside a dummy of Sarah Alexander (as Empusa, one of the Lilim), one of the Witch's lair, and one of Charles being rained on in Scotland (and I am standing next to him, taking the photo and being rained on too). (Truth to tell, I'm not sure whether the picture of Tristran having his costume adjusted is of Charlie Cox or of his stunt double.)

And then if you go to
you will see some of Charles' amazing illustrations for The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories, Susanna Clarke's collection of short stories (all her uncollected short stories except for the one in The Sandman: Book of Dreams).

Neil and Webmistress,

Since Lisa didn't ask you herself, and I love her work, I thought I would ask you to post the fact she's selling some of her art with the usual 10% going to the CBLDF on Ebay right now.

She doesn't get nearly the web traffic you do and I would love to see all her pieces go to good homes. I can't afford most of her art, but I know you have readers that can and should. :-)

The auctions are ending in just a few hours so the sooner this could get posted, if that's even possible, the better.
-- Dr Molly Black

Easily done.

And the results from the UK Literary Baddie competition are in. I'm thrilled that Coraline's Other Mother made it to number seven (in the top ten she beat out The White Witch, Dracula and Artemis Fowl, but was beaten by Count Olaf, the Joker, Lex Luthor, Mrs Coulter, Sauron and Voldemort. Which sounds about right).

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Back to the mailbox

Hi Neil,I was wondering, since you seem to know about such things. Who do I need to bother to get some audio recordings of Gene Wolfe's work. I once read that he didn't even have a publisher in England. That is truly wrong.-Adam

It is indeed truly wrong, in that there are lots of Gene Wolfe books in print in England. His publisher is Gollancz, as it has been for over twenty years, and the Fantasy Masterworks have several of his books in print. (How do I know? I thought it sounded unlikely enough that I went to and looked.)

The only Gene Wolfe audio I know of is Gene himself reading "The Island of Dr Death and Other Stories" and "A Solar Labyrinth", available in cassette and as an download.

I own a small business (we produce and sell educational posters to schools.) By popular demand, we are designing a set which demonstrates LITERARY TERMS.
EXAMPLE (imagine interesting literary design)
"...and nothing very notable occurred in the Shire until Mr. Baggins began the preparations for the celebration of his hundred-and-eleventh birthday. At this point this History began." THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS, JRR Tolkien

Here is what I cannot find out. Does this break COPYRIGHT LAWS? One sentence, listing the book and the author? If I used a simile or metaphor from one of your poems, would I get into trouble because you are alive?

Thanks for any help or direction in finding more help.

ps. Please stop working so hard. A red eyeball can't be good. You know the burning the candle at both ends thing!

Let's see... well, I'm not a copyright lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. There's one over at if you need one.

In terms of the amount of content you're using, it probably counts as fair use -- it would in a textbook, anyway. But it's not a textbook, it's a poster, with a big quote from a book on it, which might be perceived (with a certain amount of justification) as merchandise. Which is to say, in the example you give you've just made and sold a Lord of the Rings poster. And the Tolkien estate might feel that you owe them a big chunk of your profits and a slap on the wrist for doing it without permission, and a judge might well agree with them.

You would probably be much safer if you made, say, a Simile poster with ten similes on it from everyone from Douglas Adams to Shakespeare. Because that's obviously about Similes and not about, say, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

(I also think you're better off asking for permission from the various people you're quoting. But that's mostly manners, and most authors are very happy to allow things to be quoted when they're asked nicely, or at least this one is, and the ones who aren't are best avoided anyway.)

You seem to have posted a few entries about how your busy scedule leaves you barely enough time to sleep. Have you done a cost/benefit annalysis of all of that invested time? Is it worth the stress? Have you ever considered becoming one of those reclusive writers who never makes public appearances?

Sure. I don't think the problem is too many public appearances, though -- if you check WHERE'S NEIL you'll see much less than last year. Mostly it's a tendency to say yes to things because they sound interesting or fun or because I want to do them, and then finding the time at the other end that it might have been wiser to say no. (And that's probably a hangover from all the years of freelance life: you say yes to interesting things, because most of them won't happen. The trouble I've found recently is that simply by my saying yes to things, they do happen.)

In the case of the current crunch, it's because I've been trying to get a film script written in time I don't have, in order to makie things work for Penn's schedule and mine, while still doing everything else at the same time.

But I think I'll make 2007 an easier year, somehow. That's definitely part of the plan.

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.

Friday, September 01, 2006

What my deadlines look like

Big Deadline is still a thing of madness. The other two little deadlines at its feet chivvy and squeak and grunt and bare their sharp little teeth. Several smaller deadlines howl impatiently from the bushes outside.


Holly came home from the UK for a day, and now leaves to go back to school. I leave tomorrow morning for a very short Penn Jillette work trip.

Here, go and see what's happening to Scott and Ivy and Sky and Winter McCloud as they start their tour of the US: or find out about Scaryduck's book at (it has an introduction by me). I'm going out to the cabin to write.