Saturday, March 31, 2007

An apology for May 2008

A few days ago someone wrote to me and asked about Moscow in May '08, and the Eurocon at which I would be a "Guest of Honour".

It was the first I'd heard of it.

Now, I don't have the greatest memory in the world, and I sometimes lose track of what I've said yes to, but I thought it was rather unlikely that I would lose a whole convention, especially one in a country I really wanted to visit and had not yet gone to.

So I emailled my agents and assistants and asked if any of them knew anything about a convention in Moscow in 2008. None of them did. I searched my hard disk for mentions of Moscow and Euroscon, and found nothing at all.

Still, there it was and is up at The first two Guests of Honour listed were George R. R. Martin and Neil Gaiman. Luckily, George is an old friend, so I wrote to him and asked if he could shed any light on this. He wrote back to say,
This is news to me.

My calendar for 2009 has been set for some time, and
Moscow is not on it.

Not that I wouldn't like to visit Russia some day,
mind you... but unless they plan to kidnap me, I won't be there.

I hope our clones have a good time at the convention.

I'd really like to go to Moscow, but many years ago, when a convention announced me as a guest, then asked me, then told me when I explained I couldn't go as I had a prior committment, that they'd because already announced me as a guest that they would announce now that I'd unexpectedly pulled out, and it was pretty much an act of blackmail, back then I decided that if a convention announced me as a guest before they asked me that I'd simply and automatically say no.

So when I do go to Moscow, it won't be for Euroscon, I'm afraid.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

back to sleep, back to reality

Woke up this morning and realised the tour is done. Went back to sleep.

I really like this "went back to sleep" thing. I could get used to it.

Thanks to all who came to the signing yesterday. Sorry about the rain.

I just phoned the hotel to ask about when check out time was and they told me it was an hour ago but they hadn't wanted to bother me. I like my hotel...

Dear Neil,

We just thought you would like to know that on this evenings Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, your mate Mr Jonathan Woss was under the impression that his WIFE wrote Stardust..
Maybe you should correct him before all BBC viewers get the wrong impression....oh but the trailer looked very good.
Kind Regards,
Clair and Jim

But his wife did write Stardust, at least in its upcoming incarnation, and she wrote it very well. Over at Friends of English Magic she answers a lot of questions about the Stardust movie what she wrote. for a lot of information straight from Jane Goldman.

The interview with Jane also contains fun bits like:

FoEM: I’ve been thinking about the various comparisons in the press (mainly from the preview audiences) that Stardust resembles The Princess Bride and The Pirates of the Carribean, who would win at a sword fight between Tristan Thorn, Inigo Montoya, and Captain Jack Sparrow if they were all up against each other?

Well, I’d have to say probably not Tristan. I can’t imagine him even wanting to get involved in a sword fight unless he really had to, for some reason he felt really passionate about.

Skill-wise, my money would probably be on Inigo, especially if Captain Jack had been drinking, but Jack seems to be one of those guys with luck on his side, so I imagine that perhaps a piece of heavy furniture might fall on Inigo at the last minute.

I wouldn’t like to see them fight, though. I’d hate any of them to get hurt. I like them all too much. Could they perhaps all wrestle each other instead? I’d definitely watch that.

Hey there,

I know you're a fan of Lemony Snicket and the 826 Valencia project. Would you mind pointing people to the 5th Annual Comedy Night fundraiser thingummy they're doing tomorrow night in San Francisco? (And I know his photo's not on the poster, but Daniel Handler is going to be there)

Details here:


Consider it done.

Hello, Mr. Gaiman. I picked up the most recent issue of my local alternative paper, and noticed the headline on the front page: "Sci-fi Geeks Battle Comics Dorks"

as someone who is both a comics writer and a sci-fi/fantasy author, I thought you might be interested. I think you may also know Harlan Ellison (I'm not sure about the Fantagraphics guys). What surprises me is not that Gary Groth and Harlan Ellison can't settle their differences, but how the article seems to indicate that this is indicative of a larger feud between fans of comics and speculative fiction. If such a feud exists, I've never heard of it: I read both avidly, and all of my friends that are either speculative fiction fans or comics fans also read a little from the other group. Did I miss something?
David Lev

It's a rather odd article -- it seems like someone wrote a real, informative piece of journalism about the Groth-Ellison problem, and someone else decided to come in and rewrite it as a really-not-very-good wacky humour piece. No, I've never encountered or heard of such a feud. I think you have a specific problem between the Fantagraphics principals and Harlan, going back over twenty years, with over twenty years of bad blood, which have nothing to do with anything other than the people in question. (My own opinion? I think the whole thing is unfortunate. As a long time friend and fan of Harlan's and a long time fan and supporter of Fantagraphics and Kim and Gary I recused myself from the process when Fantagraphics applied for support from the CBLDF, which the CBLDF board eventually turned down, and I think rightly, as being outside its remit, because it wasn't comics but prose journalism that was being sued, and there are other organisations that help with that. For the most part I simply wish the energies being expended here were being expended on more positive things.)

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Getting husky

So far today I've breakfasted nightmarishly early with Joe Hill (who is now on his way to Germany. Say hello from me if you see him), been interviewed by the BBC about Jamie Hewlett, interviewed for the Independent on Sunday (really enjoyable interview, but by the end of it I started losing my voice again argh), photographed by the Independent on Sunday ("You know dad," said Holly, who has turned up for the day to make sure I'm alive and get hugged. "Your hair is doing some really interesting things today." By which she means it looks like it's getting ready to escape from my head and go hunting for weasels.)

This afternoon is the Forbidden Planet in Shaftsbury Avenue signing. We'll figure out how many things I'll sign for people when we see how long the lines are, I think. (They may not be too long: it's a grey rainy day of the sort people don't want to queue up in...)

PS: So it's recorded for posterity. I was very pleased with myself when I realised I could buy new underwear and socks for half the cost of getting the laundry done in the hotel. So I did. And I told editor Jo Fletcher this, proudly, and she said, to my chagrin, "Can I point out you could have washed them in the sink for nothing, dear?" an option that had not actually previously occurred to me.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

How to Talk to Authors Without Voices

I learned from that the Hugo Award nominees have been announced. And (happy bounce) "How To Talk To Girls At Parties" is on the list of nominees. I'd already received one email from a friend telling me that if it was nominated I wasn't allowed to decline the nomination as I did with Anansi Boys. When the Hugo people asked last week if I was willing for the story to be nominated I said yes (and was thrilled to be nominated, and was happy to accept).

The story is in Fragile Things and was also in the January cover date Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. There's a worthy tradition (a recent tradition, but a tradition) of getting Hugo nominated short stories up on the web to help level the playing field and allow the voters to read as much as possible, and I'll get the story up somewhere here soonish.

Thanks to all who nominated it, and to the people who read the first draft and made sensible suggestions (especially Chip Delany), and to Jonathan Strahan who commissioned it and never got to publish it.

The list of nominees, as Cory says at Boing Boing, is really impressive and fine company. A good year to be on the list, whether one wins or not. (I tend to take my joy from nominations. What happens after that is just a horse-race.)

Now I have to ponder whether I can make the time to get to Japan for Worldcon this summer...

PS: Just noticed that Girl In the Fireplace was nominated. Having predicted it would get a Hugo back in this blog almost a year ago, I'm pleased we got this far.

PPS to add -- here's the comnplete list of nominees from Locus Magazine:
and not from the official site at

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

be vewwy vewwy quiet...

I think, after doing readings and doing interviews and suchlike for two weeks, talking the whole time, I've just lost my voice. So I shall spend tomorrow being as quiet as possible, and saying as little as possible, because, since I am being interviewed and have a signing on Friday, and it would behoove me to have a voice back.

I finished the short story (a fictional love letter) today, at least in first draft. I think it needs some tweaking before it works, so I shall try not to read it until tomorrow, and then when I read it, I will pretend that I have never read it before...

(The Forbidden Planet signing on Friday is -- according to -- from 5.00 pm tp 6.30. Lots of signing. If you're in London, come and say hullo, and I trust I'll have a voice to say hullo back...)

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Monday, March 26, 2007

trailer talk

A couple of people have written in to ask about the Stardust trailer, including someone who had seen footage from Stardust at San Diego and wrote to ask if the film would be more like the footage he saw or more like the trailer. (Answer: More like the footage, of course.) Somebody wrote asking if I dared explain why Tristran's hair gets longer in the trailer and then mysteriously shorter again at the end of the trailer. (Answer:....Er, do I really have to explain that scenes from a trailer aren't always in the order they appear in in the film?)

I like the trailer. I've been shown a lot of other trailers for Stardust in the last six months, and was astonished to see how much they varied and the impression they seemed to give, and I realised how close the recut trailers for The Shining and The Parent Trap and Mary Poppins were to the truth. Trailers and films only bear a tangential relationship to each other. (Take a look at the three links above if you doubt this.)

In November I saw, for example, one trailer for Stardust that gave the impression it was a film about three witches on their quest to become young again. I saw one trailer that didn't seem to be about anything, but still left you feeling like you'd seen (and not enjoyed) the whole movie, which wasn't any movie that had ever been made. There was even a trailer that gave the impression that this was a film all about Tristran's quest to discover the riddle of his birth, which he solved by becoming a sky-pirate.

The current trailer, the one you can see right now on yahoo movies, is aimed at people who have never heard of Stardust, and it gives you the set-up (he's going to cross the wall to bring back a fallen star for the girl he's in love with) and what happens next (the star is actually a girl) and a sense that After That Lots of Stuff Happens. That the trailer-makers constructed the trailer in question by assembling and juxtaposing footage from one place and putting it beside another (at one point a scene that you think you're seeing is made by splicing together two events almost twenty years apart), editorially creating dialogue (including actually changing words or putting different dialogue on scenes) and so on, is perfectly par for the course in trailer-building. That they went with the sword-fightingy bits and a lot of running around rather than the love story for the Stuff Happens is fair enough -- you only have two minutes, after all.

What I hope we'll get soon is some actual scenes over at and that will give more of a sense of how the story feels and is actually edited.

(I should mention that there's a different, and slightly longer Stardust trailer, with more footage, including some of our ghostly princes, at anyone who wants to compare the two... It should pop up if you click


There's a rabbit caper movie pledge up at All I can say is I'm sorry.

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Win a Very Battered Keyboard With a Key Missing And Everything!

I nearly forgot -- I took the keyboard I wrote most of Sandman on, not to mention many other things, and I signed it, and drew on it, and donated it to the Open Rights Group for their raffle. I find it difficult to imagine a world in which anyone would really want a battered old pre-Windows keyboard, even one signed and suchlike. But we may live in that world, and even if we don't, it's for a good cause...

Posted by Picasa

(And I'd also point artists and writers and musicians with opinions about UK copyright to

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The best thing about the end of a tour, that point where you come to rest, where -- finally -- you sleep until you wake, where for a day or so your mind gets to be a complete and utter blank, except possibly for the content of a fictional love-letter you have to finish for an anthology by the end of the month...

The best thing is that, instead of writing anything, you can point to things other people have written -- this interview with Jonathan Lethem over at (you have to watch an ad, I'm afraid) talks about copyright.

I get the distinct feeling that someone at the Guardian has been reading Wired Magazine, because the Guardian just got a bunch of writers to do... six word short stories. I thought the Wired ones from last November were mostly better and more imaginative.

John Scalzi warns of a scam (sort of) over at

Barbara Bauer (last mentioned on this blog over at has now sued the SFWA, among other people (details at As far as I know, she hasn't sued me. (She's the one who got Absolute Write taken down, and tried to get Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden fired.) Despite the legal suits, she is still one of the SFWA's Twenty Worst Agents.

The Ticking was one of my favourite books of last year. Renee French's new comic, Micrographica, is available online. Read about it at . Read it at

And if you want to get to the New York Town Hall reading on April 25th, buy tickets. When: Wednesday, April 25 Where: The Town Hall: 123 West 43rd St. What time: 8 p.m.–9:30 p.m.With Don DeLillo, Kiran Desai, Neil Gaiman, Nadine Gordimer, Alain Mabanckou, Steve Martin, Salman Rushdie, Pia Tafdrup, Tatyana Tolstaya, Saadi Youssef.

Dear Mr Gaiman,I would like to know whether your New York visits will involve signings. Hope to see you there. ~Marie

I don't know. I'll try to find out.

Hi,Is there something in your contract that says, that you can't really tell anyone if something adapted from your work (like a movie) is going to be crap, and if there is, what would you do if an adaptation was crap? Would you still tell everyone to go see it, or would you just not mention it at all - or would you tell us that it's bad and we shouldn't watch it?I'm asking, because sometime in the future, maybe there will be a really bad adaptation. And then you'll just be very quiet about it and your readers, having read your answer to this, will collectively tap their noses and go "A-ha!".

I'm pretty sure that, contractually, I can say what I like about Stardust and Coraline. I think there's a clause in the Beowulf contract that says I can't denigrate the film, but I don't believe it says that I have to be faux-enthusiastic about it either.

I think if I didn't like something I'd probably take the Thumper (from Bambi) option and not say anything, unless I felt the world needed to be warned, and then I'd have to choose my words carefully, unless I really really felt the world needed to be warned, in which case I'd warn everyone as best I could, probably standing out by the entrance to the freeway shouting "Don't go and see the Anansi Boys film! They've made them all rabbits! It's now a caper movie set in a chocolate factory!" at the uncaring people driving past.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Eh bien...

Two days in Paris, ten days on the road, and today I've been interviewed and photographed, I've signed and signed and sketched and signed, and all I can think right now is how much I really really need a lie-in and a day off.

This morning I had my photograph taken in (among other places) a graveyard by photographer Phillipe Matsas, and I flashed back to GOOD OMENS, when Terry and I had our author photos taken in Kensal Green Cemetery, which meant that every second American newspaper that photographed us had arranged a trip to the local graveyard. And I thought "My next book is The Graveyard Book," and realised with a sinking feeling that too much of 2008 will be spent in graveyards trying to find an appropriate facial expression...

(The photos from this morning are © Ph. Matsas / Opale -

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Friday, March 23, 2007


The first trailer is now up at

I'm in Paris, it's much too late at night and I'm still doing email. Bugger.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Leipzig (more or less rhymes with My Pig, incidentally)

I've spent most of this tour saying "What do the locals eat here? I'll have that," which has on one occasion resulted in the arrival of a two-foot-long sausage, but has mostly been a very successful way to dine. Tonight, though, I noticed that the hotel in Leipzig contained a Japanese restaurant, and wistfully asked if anyone would mind if we had sushi. So my publishers and Gerd and I went to the Japanese restaurant, and I ordered some sushi from the menu, and soon the waitress came back and explained that the exotic things I had ordered, like yellowtail, weren't actually available. I asked for some different fish from the menu. She came back and said that she didn't actually think they had those, either. We asked if she could find out what they did have, and she said she couldn't really ask because the Sushi chef was Korean and she didn't speak his language, she would just give him the menu numbers and he would tell her if he could do it or not. So I went and peered into the sushi chef's glass case, and ordered some rather sad tuna and salmon, which was all he had in there, and I wondered whether it might not actually have been wiser to have gone to a restaurant the locals ate in after all.

Anyway. Germany's over. I had fun today at the Leipzig bookfair (and I keep mispronouncing Leipzig). Tonight was odd, but very pleasant -- a reading in the jazz-club basement of a local pub, for about fifty people at the most.

At the fair I met the delightful Meg Cabot, which I was hoping I might do ever since I noticed from her blog that she and I were more or less doing the same European tour, although she actually was the one who came and found me because she'd noticed the same thing. When I mentioned that my daughter Maddy loves Meg's books with an intense passion, Meg handed me the book she'd been reading from and signed it for Maddy, thus making me a really cool dad. I wanted to give her a book of mine, but all the nearby ones were in German, which she did not read, so I didn't. She and her husband will be in Paris of course tomorrow, at the book Salon, and so will I, and I'll try and find something by me to pass on to her as a thankyou.


Dave McKean wrote to tell me about an exhibition he's doing, with a lot of art for sale, and I (this is the editorial I, in this case meaning that I forwarded Dave's email to the Web Elf, who did her usual bang-up job of making things happen) have posted it all at so whether you want to look online, browse, buy art over the web, or if you plan to go and see the stuff in the flesh (you'll need to be able to go to Rye though), you can click on it and decide.


According to SFX, the London Forbidden Planet signing starts at 5.00pm on Friday the 30th of March.


Someone sent me a link to a Russian fake Stardust poster (not even a good fake, either). I'm just glad Paramount will have a real trailer up tomorrow at and a real poster up very very soon.

There's an article on a visit to the Edit Suite (with spoilers) up at


Nick Sweeting from Improbable wrote to let me know that the National Theatre of Scotland's production of THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS is going to open the New Victory's Autumn season in 2007, performances from the beginning of October. (That's in New York.) Tickets probably won't go on sale for three or four months, but I thought I'd mention it anyway. It doesn't seem to be going anywhere else in the US at this point, but I'll post the info as I get it. (And it's been years since I pointed out that you can get WOLVES screensavers and ecards and things at


Why am I still up and writing this? Why aren't I in bed. Anybody sensible would be in bed. It's almost two in the morning.

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I am writing this on my phone in snowy leipzig to say the stardust trailer will go live at yahoo movies at midday us pacific time on friday. Hope this posts. Also if you want to come to the new york town hall reading buy your ticket now.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"...and I am a doggerel bard..."

PEN WORLD VOICES NEW YORK has announced its schedule. You can find the stuff with me in it at

On April the 25th is the event that gives me butterflies...

April 25 | Town Hall Readings: Writing Home When: Wednesday, April 25
Where: The Town Hall: 123 West 43rd St.
What time: 8 p.m.–9:30 p.m.

With Don DeLillo, Kiran Desai, Neil Gaiman, Nadine Gordimer, Alain Mabanckou, Steve Martin, Salman Rushdie, Pia Tafdrup, Tatyana Tolstaya, Saadi Youssef

Tickets: $15/$10 PEN Members
Purchase tickets from The Town Hall, (212) 840-2824 or Ticketmaster, (212) 307-4100

Which is preceded by

April 25 | Leaving Home as a Rite of Passage
When: Wednesday, April 25
Where: Small Press Center: 20 West 44th St.
What time: 6–7:30 p.m.

With Neil Gaiman, Isabel Hoving, Janne Teller, Markus Zusak; moderated by Robert Lipsyte

Free and open to the public. No reservations.

And then on April the 26th there are a couple of events

April 26 | Conversation: Neil Gaiman & Marguerite Abouet, with Sean Wilsey
April 26 | Conversation: Neil Gaiman & Marguerite Abouet, with Sean Wilsey When: Thursday, April 26
Where: 37 Arts: 450 West 37th St.
What time: 6–7 p.m.

>> More information & buy tickets


April 26 | An Evening with The Moth
When: Thursday, April 26
Where: 37 Arts: 450 West 37th St.
What time: 8–10 p.m.

With Neil Gaiman, Pico Iyer, Laila Lalami; and John Hodgman as your MC

>> More information & buy tickets

(Was thrilled that my daughter Holly is taking time off from school to come up to New York and make sure I don't embarrass myself too badly, or that, at the least, if I do there will a member of the family to remember it and never let me forget.) ("Hey Dad. Do you remember that time you made a complete idiot of yourself in front of Don Delillo, Salman Rushdie, Steve Martin, Nadine Gordimer...")

If you want to go to any of the New York events, buy your ticket now. They famously sell out really fast.

And then on the Saturday, April the 28th, I shall be in Montana, talking first to librarians at an author lunch and then to and probably signing for the public...

Details -- along with downloadable bookmarks and things -- at...


Several people have written in to point out that the excellent Gerd Köster is the Tom Waits of Cologne. I know this, but he still doesn't have those wonderful barking mad qualities that Martin Semmelrogge had, that made him such a joy to write about. Or to put it as a sort of a doggerel Clerihew...

Martin Semmelrogge
Is a gift to a blogger
While Gerd Köster
Is a disöster.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Reminder and a lack of poems

Just a reminder that tomorrow, Wednesday, at 8:15 I'm doing a reading and signing in Hamburg at the Thalia Buchhandlung, Europapassage, Ballindam 40

Then I'm in Leipzig on Thursday at 1:00-2:00 pm at the book fair, signing at the Panini booth, and then a reading and a signing at SPIZZ Jazz and Music Club at 9:00 pm.

Friday and Saturday I'll be signing in Paris. And on Friday week (March 30th) in the afternoon I believe I'll be surprise signing at Forbidden Planet in London.

(Details of all of them are at except for the London signing, as I don't have the time yet.)

Gerd Köster, who is reading along with me on the Germanic bit of the tour, doing the German translation of Anansi Boys while I read the English version, is really good. He's also nice, funny and quite sane. This has been an enormous disappointment, as I was hoping for a new series of poems to rival the ones I wrote about Martin Semmelrogge. (You can read them, if you're interested, at


A Quick One

In a Polish airport right now, and they're going to board the plane to Hamburg soon, so no time to write about the deeply-tanned TV presenter yesterday who whipped out the tarot cards on air ("I see from the cards that you travel too much and you miss your family..."), or about the giant Warsaw signing, but just enough time to post that is now up with cool stuff on it. And that more stuff (including real trailer) should be up very soon indeed.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

From Krakow, city of trout and dragon

I'm in Krakow, in a hotel room that is much too posh for the likes of me.

Had a lovely, but very long day. Was interviewed three times on the train coming down here from Warsaw, also did a TV and a radio interview when here. Signed for about 400-500 people. (I gulped when I saw the line stretching across the town square. Then I realised it went all the way into the shop. Then I realised it went up two floors...) I talked to a couple of hundred local readers for an hour or so. Then dinner. (Trout.) Then bed.

Outside my hotel window the very drunk people are telling each other things that are only funny if you're very drunk. I know this without speaking Polish.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

a miscellany

The last time I was in Poland, four years ago, I had a day where food never happened and I got grumpy about it. Everyone is so concerned about making sure this doesn't happen again that I suspect I'm going to leave Poland a rotund and cherubic figure, astonishingly well-fed and pink.

Dinner tonight included, as a starter, a small caviar and rice thing at the centre of the plate, with strangely spermatic tadpoles drawn in purple and brown sauce heading towards it, probably to fertilise it.

And seeing that no-one would believe me without photographic evidence...

Off to Krakow tomorrow morning.

I just got this in from Hera...

Live concert in about two and a half hours.. (8.15pm in Austin Texas..)
the timing has been changed and will start half an hour earlier than first advertised..

You can also contact directly during the concert... send an email to for requests or questions..

8.15PM start- Iceland's Hera -
10:00 PM - L.A.'s Genevieve -

Do not miss this anywhere in the world. Log onto and view the show that will begin at 7:30 PM (Central Time) (U.S.) We will re-broadcast the edited show the following weeks on our web site

and I learned from Lisa Snellings that her poppet planet is open (and that she's going to do a new set of the Neil Rats... I hope she'll make them in brass and glass and all sorts of strange things) and that the details are up at

Just a quick question - what happened to your tags? Reading them used to be one of the best parts of the post, but now they actually and accurately identify what you talked about. Creativity is always greater than organization!

I liked them too.

I was Given a Good Talking To About Them, because apparently people had been complaining that they weren't useful enough, and I was told that I couldn't just put tags up that only applied to the post in question. But hah! it only takes one message like yours and I'm ready to go back to my bad old ways. With, frankly, joy.

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Mystery Russian Leaks

I'm in Poland.

Lots of you have written in this morning to let me know that there's a Stardust sort-of-trailer up on a Russian site.

I just looked at it -- it's not an actual trailer, and it seems to be a bunch of shots cobbled together from unfinished CGI footage and has some Pirates of the Caribbean music on it, and I'm not sure who did it or for what, and it honestly isn't something I'd feel good about linking to and saying "This is a Stardust Trailer". So I won't. It should take you a second or two to find it with a google if you go looking for it. It's possible this might encourage Paramount to bring the real trailer out a week or two earlier than they were going to, but I believe the trailer will be out in the next three weeks anyway.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

National Characteristics

It was one of those moments when you know you're in another country. Specifically Germany.

10:53 am – I'm in my hotel room answering a written interview questions when the phone rings. A woman's voice says,

"Hello. Mister Gaiman. This is reception. You must come down right now. There is someone here to interview you."

I say, "Er. He's actually a bit early, and I'm doing something..."

"Very good," she interrupts, firmly. "Then you will be down here in exactly seven minutes."

And she puts down the phone, leaving me bemused and leaving the interviewer, standing in front of her downstairs, fairly mortified.

I took nine minutes to get downstairs, thinking "Hah. That'll show her," as I did so, which really wasn't very fair on the interviewer.

The day's interviews were fun, the reading (in a Toyota Showroom, of all places) was very enjoyable, and I got to see the outrageously talented Dagmara Matuszak briefly and to learn what's going on with the Hill House Anansi Boys she's designed.

(While I can't tell you when Hill House will actually publish it, I'm happy to be able to say that I just learned from Peter Schneider at Hill House that he's set up a gmail account, with a person who will reply to all emails checking it, at If you've had problems getting hold of him or anyone at Hill House, send an email there. If there's still problems, feel free to drop me a line.)

Dear Mr. Gaiman,
I had been thinking about the Subterranean(sp?) Press version of "M is for Magic" and it got me wondering. Does it ever bother you that sometimes these beautiful editions of your work are released and a great deal of your number one fans will never get to hold them, let alone own them because of the price tag? I am in no way saying these editions aren't worth the asking price, just wondering if you ever
wished they were more accessible. Hope your trip, family, and cats(especially Fred) are all well.

Not really. It would bother me if the expensive edition was the only edition of something that there was, that I wanted lots of people to read, but normally the expensive edition is expensive because it's a smaller print run, of a much higher quality, with special illustrations or similar, and they cost money. The Harper Childrens edition of M Is For Magic will be in a loverly affordable hardcover edition, priced for school libraries, and the first printing will be somewhere between 70,000 and 150,000 copies. The Subterranean edition will be in a comparatively tiny edition, and made for people who love books. I quite like the limited editions of things, mostly because I like beautiful books.

In your recent post you mentioned wanting a catapult as a child. In jest I am sure, but it reminded me of a time I was traveling through Europe and happened to be stranded at Heathrow for quite some time. In my boredom I happened upon a funny sign that listed among the things you most certianly could not bring on a plane, a hand catapult. I am not British, and was curious if that is what us Yanks refer to as a slingshot, or if it is something entirely different and much more destructive. =)

An English catapult (or hand catapult) is an American slingshot, yes.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,There is a description for this contraption which says that it was made by an eccentric millionaire living in Utah. Seeing as you are eccentric, and at least assumably well-to-do, and living in my state, I was wondering if you could make one? And if you do, could you invite me over? I would bring deviled eggs, and curried chicken salad.
Much love,Rain

I don't have anywhere to set it up that wouldn't send her crashing into a tree, though...

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Beware the March of Ideas

I'm in Cologne, in Germany, in a hotel that seems to have been built
inside a giant water tower, and am paying an astonishing amount for
internet access. I don't have flu so far, and have had no travel

There's a reading and a signing tomorrow -- details at:

Dear Neil,Today I wandered into an EMPiK bookstore and picked
up a paper informing about you booksigning in Kraków and Warsaw. (for
wchich I can't wait, by the way.)There was an article about you, and
it said that you're "linked to Poland" because your grandparents came
from Lodz. It that true, or did they completely make it up?I live in
Lodz, so you can pretty much imagine my amazement.Love from,Sylwia

My paternal great-grandfather was thrown out of Lodz, where the family
owned a department store, for being the black sheep of the family. I'm
not certain whether my grandfather was born there or born in Belgium
on the way to England. (I do know my grandfather never had a passport,
and was, until he died, considered a "stateless person", which is the
kind of thing I would have put into Mr Punch if I'd known it

Hey Neil:After some investigative work, I determined that (1) a while
ago, you said that the reason you don't have a LibraryThing account is
that you don't have the time and (2) recently, you have been blogging
about how you are entering your book collection into a database. So I
said to myself, wouldn't it be sweet if Neil were to put his library
on LibraryThing? Because even if he doesn't have time to tag most of
those books, we could still see what he owns. Which would be beyond

That's definitely the plan. Tim offered me a LibraryThing account or two
ages ago, and when everything's on a database I'm looking forward to
importing it to LibraryThing and getting it up there.

This isn't a question, I just thought I'd let you know that on
one of [adult swim]'s commercials last night, in which they bemoaned
the death of Captain America and exclaimed how Stan Lee would never do
something so stupid an attempt to be "deep and meaningful", they
attached a "P.S. Neil Gaiman already has deep and meaningful covered".
Or it said something like that. All right, hope you have a lovely

And they show Futurama. (People have asked if I'm jealous of
Alan Moore for being on The Simpsons, and I'm not. If he were
a head in a jar in Futurama, on the other hand...)

Hi Neil,I read this blog nearly daily and have no idea how I
missed info on "M is for Magic" and "Interworld." What are these
books? Are the stories in "...Magic" found in your other collections
or are they new?And have no clue about "Interworld." Please help out a
longtime fan. Cheers,Greg Trax

Interworld is a novel I wrote with Michael Reaves in about
1998. We wrote it because we had an idea for an animated series, and
we kept explaining it to TV people who got confused, so we wrote a
treatment, which seemed to confuse them even more, so we wrote a novel
-- a sort of transdimensional romp. (First mentioned on this blog at

You can see the cover up at

M is for Magic is for school libraries and such. Most of the
stories in it have been collected, although some of them aren't easy
to find (like
and there's one story that's never been collected ("How to Sell the
Ponti Bridge" from 1984) and a new one, "The Witch's Headstone" that
will appear first in the Dann/ Dozois WIZARDS collection.


I now have a corporate website! I've always wanted a corporate
website. When I was a small boy and adults would ask what I'd like for
my birthday I would sigh and say "Can I have a corporate website?" and
they would explain, in that irritating way that adults had, that I
wasn't a corporation and the interwebs had not yet been invented and
frankly they were still reeling from culture shock from the arrival of
transistor radios and what the hell was wrong with a tub of silly
putty and a Whizzer and Chips Annual anyway, and no, I couldn't have a
catapult either, you can put someone's eye out with one of those.

Most of the content isn't there yet, but it's evolving
for the curious. And it wasn't written by me either, but is just the
sort of thing I wanted it to be.


Hello-- Sue Hubbell's book is a wonderful first book for new
beekeepers -- or for people who think they might want to keep bees.
Sue has a deep empathy for bees and approaches relating to them with
such grace, She therefore often does things differently from the bee
textbooks or procedures of the commercial bee keepers. She
demonstrates a humane and bee-centric approach to beekeeping.

As new beekeepers, Sue's perspective was the most valuable thing we
gleaned from all the books we read on keeping bees. Her love and deep
appreciation for bees left a lasting impression on us and in how we
relate to our bees. And it is a fun read for "arm chair" beekeepers as

Our local bee club ( has
"beginner" bee keeping classes before each meeting. The instructor
looks out at the room with a few beginners amid scores of veteran
beekeepers and dutifully asks "Are there any beginners here tonight?"
and invariably the entire assembly raises their hands.
Good luck -- it is so much fun!

I read the Hubbell book on the plane, and loved it.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

chicken with its head cut off...

I just realised that I haven't posted in four days -- and now I'm in a world of madness and trying to get everything done before I leave this evening... and sort of looking around balefully in the certainty that I'm not going to get it all done.

Lots of really nasty 'flu around here, but so far it has missed me. I'm hoping to avoid it, but am bringing some Tamiflu with, just in case it doesn't.

There are rumours of a Forbidden Planet London signing on March 30th.

Good morning Neil
You haven't posted for a while (I am addicted so it feels like forever)
and I hope that everything is fine with you, despite the threat of
contagion from Maddy and your morbid attempt at chopping off bits of
I want to fly in to Paris next week to attend Le Salon du Livre, to get
a solid fix of ink and paper and hoping to get to see you.
Would you know if the booksellers who are hosting you will also have
some of your works in English ? It seems a shame to get something
Greetings from sunny Rome.

My guess is that my French publisher will only be selling French books at the Salon, which would make sense. If you want an English language (or Italian, Serbian, Chinese or Turkish or any other language but French book) then bring it along. has the details of me in Germany, Poland and France.

I was really disappointed by the speed with which the news story about the man who claimed a unicorn was driving was explained as being nothing of the kind, but I do love the idea of the "unicorn defense".

And Beowulf will be in 3D...



Saturday, March 10, 2007

"I see no point in living if I can't be beautiful..."

Lots of nice messages from people letting me know about today's New York Times, of which this is an example:

Hi Neil,
Just in case no-one has made you aware of this or you haven't seen it yourself, your son is quoted in an article about Google's bus service. You can find it here:
Sounds like he's found himself an awesome place to work! Christopher

It does, doesn't it? (And the people at Google fixed the gmail bug for me, and did stuff to make up for it.) I have rather wonderful children.

Maddy, mind you, while still wonderful, has gone down with influenza, something that we've sort of been waiting for since her two best friends went down with it earlier this week. So we're watching Howl's Moving Castle on the sofa together right now, which is a sensible sort of thing to do when someone is sick and feverish.

Not really a question - I just saw your cuecat/readerware comment. I find for the older books that using the library of congress number works very well. You have to change from just the default amazon service, and you often have to muck with the edition more, but it's a great shortcut for getting author names and titles and whatnot in.Failing an LC number, Amazon also has a surprising number of old editions through their bookseller associates, as does ABE. I find trolling those sites a lot more productive (not to mention interesting) than hand-cataloging.

Good suggestion, and I was thrilled to discover it worked.

I'm finding entering books curiously addictive. I'll pick up a few books and nip into the library to scan them between doing other things.

I've got a sort of a theory about the library -- there are so many books downstairs and scattered around the house that the upstairs library won't really make much of a dent in them. So I've decided that the books I want in the upstairs library are simply ones that I (or someone else a lot like me) might want on shelves if I was just going to pick something up from the shelves and sit down somwhere comfortable and read for an hour. So right now I'm very aware that half the books we've brought up and scanned or entered will go back downstairs again.

Hello Neil, I was wondering if you knew the for sure, official release dates for "Interworld" and "M is for Magic". Amazon is showing July 1st, while Barnes & Noble's website is showing last week of June. Both are listed in the current Diamond Previews which would suggest more like May.Thanks, Cal

I had no idea, but I asked Clarissa Hutton at HarperChildrens, and she said,

The PUBLICATION date for both is 7/1, while the on-sale date is 6/26. So both Amazon & B&N are sort of right, they're just using different bases. Our official pub dates are always the beginning of the month, while release (when the books ship from the warehouse) and on-sale (when the stores need to have the books on-shelf) vary depending on print dates.

Hope this helps.

And this came in recently too:

Hi Neil,

Hope all's well with you. You might be interested to know that The House Called Hadlows will be out next month and that we've added an excerpt from the first chapter to the website - there's a link on this page: I know this is cheeky, but we have had lots of interest via your support for the books and if you were to mention it on your blog that would be fantastic. And you never know - if we sell enough I might be able to wrestle the unpublished third book from Victoria's grasp!!

Best wishes


Consider it posted. (I talked about The House Called Hadlows at

Several people wrote to alert me to this -- , and its consequences for various internet radio stations.

Hello, Mr. Neil Gaiman sir.
There are some rumors that on the 17th of March you will be at the 7th Warszawskie Spotkania Komiksowe (which translates to Warsaw Comics Festival or something similar) in, lo and behold, Warsaw. It's not listed in the "Where's Neil" section but it's been reported by some Polish comic book news portals. Any luck it's true? Izydor Ingwar I.

It's true -- and it should be up on Where's Neil soon -- I'll be there from 5-7 pm, I believe.

Hi Neil, I've seen you mention the new third-floor library in several posts. As someone who is slowly infiltrating every corner of his house with books, I'm always interested in seeing other people's libraries, bookcases and the like. Any chance we'll get a peek at the new library? Blu

Good idea. I'll take some pictures when I get a spare minute.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

the how of blogging

I read Neil Gaiman's blog nearly every day, and usually there's a few different topics addressed in each blog (with each topic being seperated by an ellipsis). I was wondering.. does Mr. Gaiman just write his almost-daily blog all at once, or does he leave some kind of blog-program running in the background and write to it when he comes across something he thinks is worth writing down? I suppose, in my mind, I have this idea of Neil being done with writing that day, and then he goes and writes a blog. But sometimes his blogs are almost schizophrenic, meaning there's (sometimes) many different subjects he addresses in each of them. So I was just wondering is all. :-) Keep up the good work on the site,-Paul.

It all depends. There's no real pattern -- sometimes I keep a blog entry going until it seems long enough. Sometimes I write them in the morning before work starts, sometimes at night on the couch, and sometimes, like right now, I just go onto blogger to post in order to let anyone who's likely to read this and also send me email know that due to gmail being tooth-grindingly irritating right now, anyone who's sending email to my gmail account is getting it bounced back.

But then I think "I can't just post that. There are lots of people out there who don't give a toss about my gmail. I should at least put something else up."

So then I put up a link to "Dylan Hears a Who" -- -- where you can hear what sounds astonishingly like a mid 60s incarnation of Bob Dylan singing his way through the Dr Seuss catalogue, and it will probably make you happier.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Cat scans

Lots of people wrote to let us know that yesterday's mystery Russian alien was... a guitarfish (although there was healthy disagreement on exactly which kind).

Hi Neil,

I'm a big fan of your work, and I am a big fan of ampersands, so when I decided to get a tattoo of the latter, I wanted the one from the softcover editions of "Preludes & Nocturnes" and "Fables & Reflections". The only problem is, I don't know which font they're in. So, instead of feverishly searching (actually, I already did that), I decided to go right to the source. Do you know what font it's in?

While I didn't know, I figured Dave McKean would, so I asked him, and he said,

The answer to your blogger question about the ampersands:
Which PB editions? Since DC have released 57 versions, I'm not sure which one you mean. If you mean the recent SANDMAN LIBRARY editions, I have a copy of Fables... and this lovely scrolly fancy ampersand is set in MISSIONARY, a font available from Emigre designed by the brilliant Miles Newlyn (if memory serves me correctly). If you don't mean this edition, then can i recommend this empersand anyway, it's the best one.


Seeing the Village Voice has just leaked it, and a few of you have written to ask about it, yes, I will be a Guest at the PEN World Voices Festival at the end of April. I can't give you any other details right now, but the curious should go to and sign up for the Festival mailing list for more information.

I just finished Peter Beagle's I See By My Outfit, a book I've wanted to read since I was a teenage Beagle boy and learned of its existence in the back of A Fine and Private Place, and I loved it. It's the true story of a two man road trip across America on motor scooters, and it's as much a journey across time now as it is across space: funny, heartwarming and wise. The kind of book you feel a better person for having read.

Too much fun is being had with Readerware ( and a cuecat scanner, as books are brought up to the new library upstairs and scanned in or ISBNd or entered by hand before being put on the shelves. Mostly I wish, given the number of old books here, that someone had thought of ISBNs before 1966... And then I wish that the library upstairs was three times the size, as I don't think it's going to make the dent in the basement library that I hoped it was going to.

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From Neil the nine-fingered...

In addition to my having what I suspect must be the only doctor left in the western world who cheerfully makes house calls if he hears I'm poorly, I also have the kind of doctor who, when I call him to ask if I should head down to the emergency room, says "Why don't you come up to my office and I'll see if you need stitches." So I did, and I didn't need stitches, just a superglue patch-up on a finger that had had too close an encounter with a kitchen knife.

So instead of posting anything interesting, I'm going to put something up that doesn't need much typing:

Russian fishermen catch squeaking alien and eat it...

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

small poetry ponder

An odd moment of things that bounce off each other: This morning I read this New York Times article on the genetic make-up of the UK and Ireland, and thought, Sure, but I know that already... why do I know that? and then smiled, as I realised I was remembering a Kipling poem that said much the same thing to me as the article did, only it said it as poetry and as story.

The Kipling poem, The Land, is at

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"I am the emperor, and I want dumplings"

Lorenzo di Bonaventura, producer extraordinaire, is interviewed about Transformers over at, and they ask him about Stardust. His answers are informative and interesting,

Q: I’d like to go into Stardust for a second if you don’t mind.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Okay, sure.

Q: I heard that they’re test screening out in Pasadena and it had very, very high test scores.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: It did, which I was surprised by actually.

Q: How has it been going on that as well?

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Exceedingly well. It’s a weird thing to say. I don’t think everybody’s going to love the movie because it’s not a movie that’s designed to be that and yet when we went and tested it, they really flipped for it so it caught me off guard. It was a movie where I expected to have a larger portion of the audience go ‘well, that’s sort of out there. I’m not sure it’s for us.’ And what happened was that we delivered I think the romance so spectacularly well – Matthew (Vaughn) did such a good job with it – that it caught a segment of the audience in that I wasn’t expecting.

Q: I’ve heard an anecdote along those lines saying that the studio was afraid to call it a fairy tale similar to like a Princess Bride and that Matthew really wants to call it but that it’s sort of being discouraged.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: That’s not true. We all have the same fear which is when you use the word fairy tale… It’s interesting. We learned this from the focus groups. When we asked them to describe the movie to us and then they would give us a description and then we’d say to them, ‘What do you think if we describe it as a fairytale?,’ they’d say ‘NOOOOO!’ like that and we’d go, ‘Whoa! Okay, alright! We’re not going to call it that!’ It was really sort of an interesting thing. Because it’s not a movie that fits into any simple genre -- it is an adventure movie, it is a romance, it is a fantasy, it is Neil Gaiman’s bizarre world view -- there’s going to be some struggle for us to find the way to voice this thing, so we’re really going to need you guys to help us actually. (Laughs) It’s true. We’re going to be a very print-driven movie.

I've known Lorenzo for a decade now, since he ran Warner Brothers, and he is a very wise man. Although I probably think my worldview is more normal than he does....

Hi Neil,

This isn't a question, but some information: At dinner on Friday evening, my friend's mother was telling us a that a man in Wal-Mart told her the Russians are stealing our bee technology, which would be the reason for all the vanishing bees (re: the article in your journal for 3/5/07). He seemed pretty sure of it, so I figured I'd pass along the warning just in case. Watch out for all those new bees in your garden.

Stephanie H.

It could be Russians with apian transporter beams stealing our bees, I suppose. ("Locked onto the hive co-ordinates, tovarisch." "Good. Bring them in.") God knows, if we don't listen to friends' mothers telling us what men in Wal-Mart said, we'll never learn anything...

My own theory about the disappearing bees is that some bright bee in each of the now-empty hives said, "'ere, why are we eating this appalling corn syrup muck out of container tankers when we've spent all year making lovely honey? Why are we being driven around the country on the back of trucks? Why do we put up with this? We're bees for god's sake. We can fly. Let's go somewhere else." And then the rest of the bees went "She's got a point, you know," and then they went elsewhere.

Is there any plans to do an unabridged production of Neverwhere? Your stories
have always been best when read aloud, they lend to such wonderful story telling.
I'd read most of your books once, and recently listened to Anasi Boys,
and Stardust. I felt like a kid again, telling and listening to stories around
the camp fires with my friends when reading out loud was the fashion. Thanks for your good works. ~Chad

Yup. I recorded it already. The existence of the extremely abridged version of Neverwhere with the astoundingly truncated ending has always irked me, despite the Brian Eno music and the really solid Gary Bakewell reading, but the license for it has now expired, and I am happy to say that it will vanish from the world.

The new version will be out later this year, probably in the Autumn. I actually recorded it from the "author's preferred text" version, so it's the longest version of the text. I loved recording the audiobook, and doing all the voices, and found myself remembering how much I liked all those people, and wanting to write The Seven Sisters all over again.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Absolute Mondays

Today was spent doing Absolute stuff. For the Absolute Stardust (which is technically not an Absolute Stardust but an oversized hardback Stardust with stuff in) I proofread all the extra material, added a postscript to the reprinting of the original "pitch document" to publishers from 1993 (did I really think that Croup and Vandemar belonged in Stardust?), and for the next volume of Absolute Sandman we dug out dozens of little thumbnail comics I'd drawn for Sandman over the years, found the still-unopened First Sandman Statue (#1 of 1800) in order to photograph the box for the book (which will also have the short story on the back of the box in it) and even found photocopies of the pencils of the first 8 pages of Sandman 23, which will probably be the script that gets published in the book.

Also mysterious boxes of stuff to do with beekeeping have arrived. I've always wanted bees in the garden, and it turned out that the birdchick has always wanted to be a beekeeper but didn't think that it would work, keeping bees in an apartment in Minneapolis, and anyway her rabbit would object, so we've agreed to join forces: she gets to keep bees in my garden, I get to help, and all our friends and loved ones get to keep their distance nervously and eat honey. What could possibly go wrong? In this way we shall make up for the vanishing of bees across America.

I've just heard that there will be a limited edition of M is for Magic, the story collection for young readers, from Subterranean Press. The copies in the bookshops will be illustrated by Teddy Kristiansen. The Subterranean edition will have illustrations by Gahan Wilson: one thousand numbered copies and 26 lettered copies -- details up at


Hi Neil, random question. So does Lorraine live there? Because she seems to be around all the time.

No, she has her own house, and she's goes there in the afternoon when she finishes work, and at weekends. It's a very nice house, filled with paintings, dead things and even a small Hallowe'en village. (As Lorraine was off in LA Hallowe'en week last year I got to go to her house to feed the trick-or-treaters -- because nobody ever comes to my house on Hallowe'en, possibly because it's too far from everything or too spooky or something -- and the kids all looked around when they came to the door and were impressed that someone had made that much effort for Hallowe'en, and I didn't have the heart to tell them that Lorraine's house was like that the rest of the year as well.)

Lorraine will not, however, be there next Sunday night, March the 11th. This is because Hera is going to be coming in from New Zealand and the two of them will be playing together in Stillwater, MN. (Details at Lorraine has been learning lots of Hera songs in preparation. Lorraine says that I should make a point of plugging the gig on this blog because that way the whole of Minneapolis will turn out to see them.

This is a photograph of Hera. Lorraine is certain that if I post it, the gig will be completely full. If you're in this part of the world, you should go. After all, it's Sunday Night in Winter in Minnesota; you have perhaps something else are you going to be doing?

I recall that a while ago you mentioned your daughters' fascination with a web site where photos of models and celebrities were retouched, often substantially. Here's a consumer software package that offers to do the same. It's been on Boing Boing so a hundred other fans have probably also sent you this link, but here it is in the unlikely event you haven't seen it yet.

But, but that's horrible. I mean, I looked at their gallery, and it seems to be software that turns photos of human beings into photos of soulless androids, and they are proud of it. All of their befores have interesting human faces. Their afters just look wrong...


Lots and lots of emails coming in each day from people with lists of questions for me to answer for their papers or magazines or websites -- normally five questions, for some reason. I explain why I don't do them here and here, and it's still true. I suppose it's probably time to amend the FAQ line thing to explain that not only do I not do homework for people, but alas, I don't answer lists of interview questions either. I might do if people would send in the time to answer them with the questions, mind you.

Were your high school english classes helpful to you as a writer, or were they a waste of time?Thanks, Amy

Probably more much helpful than a waste of time. I remember enjoying them, for the most part, although I sometimes suspect that if I'd come to Thomas Hardy on my own, when I was ready, I would have really enjoyed him, and instead I found English to be a sort of Thomas Hardy aversion therapy.

Truth to tell, when I became a writer I realised that a lot of stuff I had thought pointless at school was now desperately important, and I had to teach myself piles of history and geography and science that I hadn't bothered with, and which were now really interesting subjects because I had a use for them. Writing and English I always had a use for, and some fairly decent teachers so they were never boring.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

No longer the blog without giraffes

Today the snow stopped falling, the sun came out, and it's almost blinding. A picture postcard day. I took another photo from the guest bedroom (it used to be Holly's bedroom, but she's now going to be sleeping in the new upstairs library when she's here, as soon as it's finished) just to compare with yesterday's photo, to show the sunlight and the even-more-snow of it all...

So I'm taking this short story class this quarter; well, it's almost over actually. Anyway, my teacher's response to the entire class about our final drafts was one of "they could still use a lot of work." She emphasized how Annie Proulx, the writer of the story "Brokeback Mountain," revised the story sixty times before finally being finished with it.

On that note, firstly, what's your revision record (i.e. the most
revisions of any body of work you've done)? And second, what's your
stance on the amount of revision that should be necessary? -Malinda

I think Murder Mysteries went through about twelve revisions of the basic text, which is far and away the most I've ever done, but a lot of that was because I wanted the murder mysteries in question to work and be satisfying, for all the clues to be there for the reader, and I'm not really a natural mystery writer.

Most short stories go through a couple of drafts and a polish -- I'll write a first draft, then (if it wasn't typed) I'll type it up, and then I'll email it to friends and find out what didn't work, or puzzled them. (I miss Mike Ford. He was the sharpest of all of them -- saved me from making a fool of myself half a dozen times.) And then, if I can, I'll put it away for a week or two. Not look at it. Try to forget about it. Then take it out and read it as if I've never seen it before and had nothing to do with its creation. Things that are broken become very obvious suddenly. I'll go in and polish it up, and possibly keep playing with it a little -- it's on the computer: everything's malleable until it's printed. I'll try and read it aloud the next time I do a reading, in order to find out what I can about it, including places where what I wrote was not what I meant, and I'll fix what I find. And then I'll go on to the next thing.

Personally, I think you learn more from finishing things, from seeing them in print, wincing, and then figuring out what you did wrong, than you could ever do from eternally rewriting the same thing. But that's me, and I came from comics where I simply didn't have the liberty of rewriting a story until I was happy with it, because it needed to be out that month, so I needed to get it more or less right first time. Once I disliked a Sandman story on proofreading it so much that I asked if it could be pulled and buried and was told no, it couldn't, which is why the world got to read the Emperor Norton story, "Three Septembers and a January", although I no longer have any idea why I thought it was a bad story, and I'm pleased that Tom Peyer ignored my yelps.

When I was younger and people handed me unfinished things to read, I'd have lots of comments. At least once I realised later that I'd killed a fledgling book for someone by pointing out an abrupt viewpoint shift at a point where the book was barely hatched. These days my comments tend to consist of variants on "That's really interesting. What happens next? Where's the rest of it?"

Hey, Neil. I was just browsing next to a coworker of mine, when he looked over to my station and asked, "More weird stuff about giraffes?" as I had previously found myself at the giraffe haters monthly website ( I said, "No, but there's probably something on giraffes on here." Imagine my surprise when the site search listed no hits for either 'giraffe' or 'giraffes'. I feel this is an error
which must be corrected, if only by posting this request.
Yrs trly, Jeff

Consider it fixed.

Hi Neil,

I read through your FAQ and yes, I am another one of those film students wishing to make a short film from one of your stories, either "Chivalry" or "We Can Get Them for You Wholesale" from the novel "Smoke and Mirrors".

In the FAQ it says that you don't own the rights to anything but "Mr. Punch" and "Stardust". Does this mean that I have to go to the book publisher to ask to make it, and if so, is that Avon Books or Headline Book Publishing? or are they the same thing?

I'm sorry if you are sick of people asking you these questions. And if by great luck and good chance I am allowed to make it do you mind?
Much Love, Jen.

Actually, what it says in the FAQ (which has its own problems, alas, I just realised on looking at it, and really needs a big overhaul) is, in response to questions about adapting Sandman mostly,

No, I don't control any of the rights to any of the stuff I did for DC Comics -- Sandman, Hellblazer, or anything (except Mr Punch and Stardust). DC Comics does.

If you try and get the rights to do a student film, they will say no. This is because all those rights are already tied up, and DC Comics no longer has those rights to grant, not because they are being mean.

I'm not sure how you got from that I don't own any of my short stories or novels. I do, don't worry. I was talking about stuff published by DC Comics -- Sandman, Black Orchid, the short stories. If you want the rights to any of that, you go and talk to DC.

My agents can't grant permission for you to make a film of "Chivalry" because Miramax bought it some years ago (I think it's something Harvey Weinstein took with him when he left). But apart from that, you just contact my agents.

As for student films of We Can Get Them For You Wholesale, you should read
and then read (more importantly, for all Student Films including that one) which explains why we're pretty strict about making sure that the free rights for student films stay just that.


I've not been a huge fan of my German book covers up to now -- you can see some at -- but was thrilled to see the Heyne Anansi Boys cover...

And finally, now playing: Barbara Kooyman's Undercover. I loved Timbuk 3 -- one of the best gigs I ever went to was a tiny Timbuk 3 concert in a basement under a flyover in Westbourne Grove -- and here Barbara K, who was half of the 3 before they broke up, does acoustic covers of ten of their best songs, a decade later, as a benefit for Public Radio. It's marvellous. I learned about it when someone sent me a link to You can hear a track and find out about it at and buy it at

I wish she'd covered "Standard White Jesus", though...

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Friday, March 02, 2007

In which your correspondent admits to not knowing very much at all

For years people have been writing from the UK to ask when a Region 2 version of Neverwhere would be out, and I've pointed out that actually the US one is Region Zero, so they can just buy that.

I recently got a query on the FAQ line about the new BBC reissue of Neverwhere on DVD, and whether there would be anything new and cool on there. Since this was the first I'd heard of it, I asked Lenny Henry. It was the first he'd heard about it. I checked, and it's coming out at the end of April. I was sort of hoping that if the BBC ever released it then we could put extra footage back into it, fix a few things that still really bothered me, do a commentary track with some of the actors and the producer that was more than just me in a room eight years after I'd last seen it, sort of busking desperately...

...but given that it's coming out in seven weeks, I think all those things are now pipe dreams. (Not even sure if it'll be my commentary track from the US DVD on there, or nothing at all).

Still, it will be out in the UK, legitimately. Here's the cover that's up on Amazon -- I don't know if it's a real cover or a placeholder.

[Edit to add, I thought I'd put up a Neverwhere DVD cover that I actually like here as well. Interestingly, it uses some of the same stills. It's the Japanese cover, and it's a bit small:]

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Gene wolves

LOOK AT Gene: a genial smile (the one they named for him), pixie-twinkle in his eyes, a reassuring mustache. Listen to that chuckle. Do not be lulled. He holds all the cards: he has five aces in his hand, and several more up his sleeve.

I once read him an account of a baffling murder, committed ninety years ago. "Oh," he said, "well, that's obvious," and proceeded off-handedly to offer a simple and likely explanation for both the murder and the clues the police were at a loss to explain. He has an engineer's mind that takes things apart to see how they work and then puts them back together...

My essay on How to Read Gene Wolfe (of which those are the first two paragraphs) is up at the F&SF website. And so is Michael Swanwick's essay. And so is Michael Andre-Driussi's. I recommend getting the magazine in question, of course. Meanwhile, I just got sent a proof of Gene's next book, called, I think, Pirate Freedom. (Gene Wolfe and Pirates. Two tastes that go great together.)

(It was the matches on the ground, by the railway tracks, that Gene pointed to, in the old press clipping murder case, that cracked it; but of course by then the tramp was ninety years dead...)

Here's the cover of A Walking Tour of the Shambles, which I post because it has a Gahan Wilson caricature of me and Gene on it. Gene is the one with the moustache. I am the one looking troubled.

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