Sunday, June 17, 2007

Why I am not much of a prophet really

Following on from yesterday's post, I was looking for a link, and wound up on a five year old post from this blog. And on rereading it it made me smile, enough that I thought I'd repost some bits of it here. All of my guesses were interestingly wrong.

(The unnamed Zemeckis project I refer to is The Fermata; the unnamed Dave McKean thing would have been the as-yet unwritten and untitled MirrorMask.)

Last night's e-mail brought Henry ("Nightmare Before Christmas") Selick's second draft script for CORALINE. Henry's first draft of the script was utterly faithful to the text of the book -- if anything, too faithful. This version was both looser and truer to the spirit of the book -- he'd added a character, made the beats in the first act slightly different, but the changes were the all kind of changes that need to exist when translating a book into a film, and the core characters -- Coraline, her parents, the Cat, the Other Mother -- and the story are still just the same. Very creepy and a great deal of fun. Apparently it was very well received by the studio.

It's weird -- there are so many movie projects out there based on stories or books of mine that I (a) lose track and (b) assume as a general rule for peace of mind that none of them will happen. But i think we're getting to the point where the probabilities are starting to suggest that something has to happen.

Really we need a tote board, with Coraline, Good Omens, Murder Mysteries, Stardust, Books of Magic, Neverwhere, Death, and (trailing way behind) Sandman on it, along with anything I've forgotten or intentionally not mentioned (like the Robert Zemeckis project, or the Dave McKean film), not to mention various of the odd projects I've collaborated on over the years, like Beowulf, or Interworld, which, just as I'm certain they're utterly dead, stir in their graves and yawn and blink and sit up and ask for coffee. I think Good Omens will probably come in first, but an outsider like Books of Magic or Murder Mysteries might come in and pip it at the post....

Proving that I was a very bad guesser. And five years later, Henry's Coraline is in production. (If you read this very technical blog entry you'll know a few things that haven't yet been widely announced.) Dave McKean's MirrorMask was the first film to come out. Stardust will be second, in August in the US, and Beowulf (which I'd assumed was dead back then) is third, in November.

Coraline will be fourth, around Hallowe'en 2008.

Books of Magic is currently in suspended animation -- as is, I guess, Good Omens, unless someone wants to give T. Gilliam 70 million dollars. Neverwhere, having been pretty much dead for years has recently pushed its way out of the grave and is currently lurching enthusiastically around the village terrorising villagers, or at least, I've just been asked to do a rewrite on a draft of the script I did in early 2000. And then, of course, there's still Death.


While this is a question that pertains to my "homework" (my Master's thesis, to be precise), I'm not asking you to do it for me. :) Mostly, I wanted to know, in your personal opinion (mostly for a quotable quote and another person besides Ursula K. Le Guin to cite on the subject, though she's wonderful in and of herself) whether you've noticed a difference in the reception of Fantasy in Britain and in America. Le Guin thinks there is (or was; that essay was written in the 70s), but you share your time with Britain and America enough that I figured you'd have a perception of the difference--if there is one.Thanks so much! Shiloh C.

I'm not sure which essay you're referring to, and I'm not really certain what you're asking. Are there differences between critics writing about fantasy in the US and the UK, or fans, or educated readers? Perhaps, but I don't really see enormous differences between them these days -- I suspect that the differences have been eroded somewhat in the last 30 years. I don't know if you surveyed Americans and got their favourite books, you'd get quite as much fantasy as you did when the BBC did it to the British( (I counted 37 fantasy titles. Your numbers may differ) but you might.

Hi Neil ; I purchased the audio collection from itunes a while back. My son just loves listening to it. His favorite is the Wolves in the Walls. The interview Maddy did was very cute. I was wondering if you plan on continuing to publish audio books, both children's stories as well as novels ? I completely agree with you that there is something special about an author reading their stories. Take care and best wishes ~ william

Definitely. Actually today I got CDs of both M is for Magic (read by me) and Interworld (read by Christopher Evan Welch and I'm listening to it as I type this. He does a lovely job). Later this year the full audio of Neverwhere should come out.

Here's a taster for the Interworld audio. It's tracks 1 (which is the title and copyright), 2 3 and 4 of the audio CD, in MP3 format. It's the first couple of chapters...


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