Saturday, June 30, 2007

guest post...

I feel -- this is Neil -- like I'm making a guest post on my own Blog. (I'm loving what Maddy's doing. Makes me feel quite inadequate as a blogger.) Anyway. Just nipping in to say that I'm going to be doing a semi-informal signing on my last night in Budapest.

I'll be at Sárkánytűz, 1092 Ferenc Krt. 40, on Wednesday July 4th at 7.00pm. I know it's not much warning, but it's really something we set up because I keep getting lots of wistful messages from Hungarian readers who have noticed I'm in Budapest and hope that I could be persuaded to do something. If you're around, turn up and I'll cheerfully scribble on things and answer questions and so on.

Store details at (And I was thrilled to discover that there's a Good Fantasy and Cool Literature website at

And while I'm here I'll quickly put up a link to which is Kate Keller's offer to match donations to the CBLDF (who need funds for the Gordon Lee case -- for details.)

Lisa Snellings is making little blue poppets and donating a dollar to the CBLDF for every one sold. (You can get them at this eBay address.)

(She also mentions that Hy Bender, whom you probably know best as the author of The Sandman Companion, will give you expert advice through his websites Hy On Your Book and Hy On your Script. He will analyze your project with humor and clarity to rival any Dummies Books (of which he's written five.) He tells me that the word "Poppet" in your email will get you an extremely reduced price for his services. Hy Bender tends to be partial to Poppets, which could work out well for writers who are too. Check it out, forward it to your writer groups. Thanks, Hy! I'm hoping we can also get the Sandman Companion updated in time for Sandman's 20th anniversary...)

Over at Black Phoenix they've launched more scents -- the Good Omens ones and the Stardust ones. Like the Neil Gaiman ones, the profits go to the CBLDF (and to the Orang Utan Foundation charity).

And a small, painful postscript to something I talked about already on the blog. This letter came in from Maureen Johnson.

Hi Neil,

A few weeks ago, you were kind enough to link to a post on my blog. My book had been banned in a school in Oklahoma, and I was fighting it. With your help, dozens (maybe even a hundred or more) letters were sent to the committee that did the deed. (The day you linked to me, the hits went through the roof.)

What happened next was ridiculous. I spent weeks on the inside track of this small town, getting calls from neighbors, newspaper reporters, and all kinds of people involved and around. We also (with the help of a local reporter) caught them violating policy by banning a book without notifying the public. At one point, they even claimed the whole thing never happened. The letters did have an impact, though. They had to reconsider, and do it publicly. They hated the spotlight.

Well, this committee of geniuses has finally come to a decision. They haven’t banned my book—but they’ve put it on a special reserve shelf. It can only be checked out “for classroom purposes” with a signed note from a parent.

This is arguably the most asinine thing I've ever heard.

This is a book that contains no graphic material at all. This is purely because it has homosexual characters. And from what I can tell, they plan on implementing a policy by which they have parents troop through the library once a year, just in case there are other books they want put on the naughty shelf.

On top of that, they demoted the librarian who was on the committee (Kim), the one who told us what really happened in the meeting where the book was banned. They also made life miserable for main school librarian involved (Susan), the one who came to me for help. Rather than suck up to these people, Susan decided to resign after 30 years at her job. She said she was happy to go down doing what she thought was right. So two librarians took a hit in this, simply because they tried to protect the books on their shelves.

It’s disgusting and insane, but that’s the outcome. In any case, it’s been amazing to see how many people are outraged by this, and willing to do something about it. Your post made a huge difference in terms of getting the word out. I’ll probably go on trying to needle these idiots for a while yet. I can at least try to shame them some more.

Thanks again,

-Maureen Johnson

(And here's Maureen's blogpost about the final decision.)

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Friday, June 29, 2007

I still haven't improved on this whole title thing.

Hi there! It’s Maddy again! I’m very sorry that I didn’t do an entry yesterday but I just didn’t feel like it. Apparently everyone was quite upset though because tons of people on the set came up to me today and they were like, “Hey, there was no blog post last night, what’s up with that?” Well now I am back and ready for action! Speaking of action, yesterday during this little photo shoot type thingie Guillermo wanted me to shout action like he does, but I was too embarrassed. Instead of his big “ACTION!” I was more like “Action”. Then at the end he said, “And that’s a…” but I wasn’t sure what to say so I said "wrap" but I was actually supposed to say "cut"!! Geez Maddy, that’s a no brainer!! So anyway nothing too exciting happened today but I saw some film tests from yesterday a little while ago and its sooooo super cool! I’m not allowed to give details though, so you better just go see Hellboy 2! There was also this one take that was hilarious and everyone was watching it. I saw it like 13 times but it never got old! Hopefully they use that one in the film!! Well, since I shouted out to my friends last week and I did a big thing for my sister three days ago, I would like to say hi to my mother dearest today. “Hi to my mother dearest today”. ☺☺ On Monday they are filming on a different set which is pretty exciting!! It is a change of scenery, which is good because I was pretty bored today. I’m not reading anything at the moment so instead of just sitting there reading my book in one of the chairs in front of the monitor, I actually watched the monitor! Crazy, I know! But then it gets super boring when they are like setting up the set, or when it’s in between takes. That part usually involves me going to the food table and eating a lot, or talking to some of my bestest buddies on the set, or playing a game on one of my bestest buddy’s cellular device, or just sitting there while the crew move around. Oh my good golly gosh I just realized something! I will only be in Budapest for five more days! That means I will only be blogging for five more days!!!!!! Ohhhh… the pain … the sorrow... I know you all are feeling it. I am also kind of glad to go home, because I have missed it! I will also miss it here too; for I have made lots of friends that I might not ever see again! OH NO!!! Well we have some pretty fun stuff planned for this weekend so I will tell you allllll about it in the days to come. Woot woot! I hope you all have a (looks online for an adjective that is a synonym for great) delightful day/morning/afternoon/evening/night.

From the desk of Maddy Gaiman

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Photos!!! Yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Howdy! It is Madeleine the Great!! Okay, well nothing very exciting happened today so it will just be several pictures with captions.

Today I pretty much ran the entire set.

Here is me supervising everyone.
I was talking to Doug Jones, and giving him advice on playing Abe, ("You're looking a little blue today, maybe you should get some cheering up before going on camera" ), when someone took this picture.

Now I am telling Guillermo del Toro and Guillermo Navarro what to do. GDT might be the director and Navarro may have won an Academy Award, but as you can see they do whatever I say.

Here is Doug Jones and some strange man. We got the strange man kicked off the set because he was scaring little children. :)

Tomorrow we are back in the studio, and I hear some pretty fun stuff is going to be happening! I shall report back in the days to come...

My best regards,
The Official Web Maddy

P.S. Sorry for stealing your saying, Official Web Elf.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Holly the Happening!

Hello! This is Maddy once again, in case you happened to somehow forget I was guest-blogging. Well, if you thought the highlight of the day was the nice breeze that cooled everything down, or that I got to see some stuff that I saw filmed being edited together, or the fact that I got to go up on the hill today so it wasn’t as dull, you would be wrong. The highlight is that it is my sister, Holly Miranda Gaiman’s birthday today!!!!! She turned 22 which is 10 years older then me, but don’t worry I will be 13 in August and then she will only be 9 years older than me. Joy! She is actually on the plane to Africa. Great way to spend a birthday, I know! Holly is very wonderful and a fabulous sister. She is always optimistic and is always there for me! All in all she is just a great person. Okay enough of the mushy stuff. Whenever Holly comes home she leaves everything a total and complete mess. I swear, I don’t think she could keep a place clean for a day, at the most. Also she is kind of weird sometimes but I guess it runs in the family. Except for me. I’m not weird at all…

Well I looked through my laptop and found all the beautiful pictures of Holly that I could see! Don’t mind the people in the pictures with her. They are of no importance. Don’t mind the strange expressions they are making either.


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Monday, June 25, 2007

Addy-May's fun tales.

Greetings! Maddy here!

Today we went on location to film Hellboy 2 and it definitely was not as fun for me. The temperature was about 100° F and 38° C, meaning it was quite hot! I got a little tan on my arms though! Anyway, they were filming up on a hill and I wasn't allowed to go up there so I just had to sit down by myself and read my book, and occasionally people would tell me to move because I was in the camera shot. They are building a whole troll town in a quarry for the movie, and we got to go visit it today. The air felt really good down there because it was quite cold!! We had to wear hard-hats. Tee hee hee! Apparently where we were filming on location there were many ticks, and I was just wearing white flip-flops. Guillermo wanted me to wear socks so my feetsies wouldn't be exposed to the ticks. We went to costumes to see if they had any socks, and they did. Unfortunately it was a pair of men's long black socks. I think I might have looked a little funny walking around in pink shorts, black socks, and white flip-flops. Talk about embarrassing.

Dad would also like me to put this link up. It's a Stardust review. I am very excited about Stardust by the way! I am going to the premiere in Hollywood! Woot woot!!! A lot of people at my school have made up secret gestures for me to do if I happen to be on TV that will send secret messages to them. You're not allowed to know those secret gestures because they are secret. Did I mention that the secret gestures are secret?

Tomorrow is my sister's birthday so you should expect a post all about her her her! Go Holly.. go Holly's your birthday...

Okay, well I want to get an early night tonight because I only got 4 hours of sleep last night! CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT!?!? Well, you should. It's true.

--Addy-May (That's Pig Latin.)

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Maddy is so cool!

Hello everyone! You haven't heard from me for a day or so and I'm sure you were all very sad. But never fear, I am back and ready to report about the good time we have been having. Yesterday we ate dinner at a restaurant here in Budapest called Fatal (it's pronounced fah-tahl). The food was good, but the portions were literally twice the size of my head if not bigger. That is no exaggeration!! Dad and I were reading about it online afterwards and it said that if someone manages to finish a whole appetizer and a whole main course they will get dessert free. Yeah, right. If anyone could finish those two things I think the English pronunciation of the name of the restaurant would be involved.

Today we mostly hung out at the venue that Tori was playing at. There were some pretty cool people there! And some very delicious banana bread... :) I watched Tori play for a while but then I got bored of just sitting there so I pulled out the book I was reading. It's called Stardust. I doubt you have heard of it. It's written by some person who goes under the name of Neil Gaiman. Strange name.

We took a lot of good pictures on the real camera and not just dad's cell phone, but we discovered later that dad actually had not brought any cords to transfer the pictures to the computer. A little while ago I asked him to see if he had any good ones on his phone, but I doubt he has checked. Okay, nevermind, actually he has. All we have found is one from the day we first got here, but I guess it will do for now.

I recorded a little thing of me reading my blog entry "Ice cream is not a food group" out loud. We might put it on Youtube possibly if you guys want to know what I sound like, and what the blog was supposed to sound like. I'm not sure though because it would be very embarrassing.

Okey dokey! I will be back tomorrow because I hear we are going off set and onto a location for the filming! How excitinggggg!!

The one and only Madeleine R. E. Gaiman

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ice cream is a food group.

Hey everyone! It's Maddy again!! Today was a pretty action-packed day. A lot of stuff was filmed on the set and I sat through it all (except I slept in a trailer for a little bit because the jet lag was catching up to me). Guillermo took his personal assistant Russell, Dad, and me out for ice cream so we didn’t end up eating the not so tasty lunch they have on set!! (That’s a good thing.) None of us had any real lunch actually but that’s okay because GDT (I’ve noticed that that’s one of his nicknames ‘round here) claims that ice cream is a food group. It was kind of funny because while we were eating my father dearest said I should put the whole ice cream thing on this blog, and then Guillermo insisted that we go back and try the lemon sorbet because then I’d really have something to blog about. It was delicious by the way. ☺ I met more of the cast members today including Doug Jones who plays Abe. He is very nice but his costume is kind of smelly. I think it’s the leather. Oh, and I have some simply brilliant news!! Selma Blair thinks I’m cute, Claire Danes thinks I’m funny, Doug Jones thinks I’m gorgeous, and Guillermo del Toro thinks I should eat more ice cream. Pretty mind-blowing, I know! Anyway… today’s picture is one that my dad took of me with his phone when I was standing there unaware. (That rhymes. I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it.)

Apparently my padre is learning a lot about directing from Mr. del Toro and I think that he is also helping with the dialogue in the script. Oh Madeleine, Oh Madeleine how lovely are your branches… tee hee, sorry that is in my head. I replaced the words Christmas and Tree with Madeleine though because I think it gives it a nice little jingle. Plus Madeleine is my first name. Anyhoo, we won’t be going back to the studio until Monday, but on Sunday we are going to see Tori Amos who just happens to be here the same time we are. Also Selma’s birthday is tomorrow so today they had cake for her at the end of the day. It was very appetizing. Someone gave me bubbles to blow when the cake came out and everyone was going to blow kazoos and stuff, so I set the bubbles on my chair but when I came back they were gone. Tear. Ah, well it was still fun. Dad also took a really good picture of me and Selma but I’m not allowed to put it on here for reasons I am not allowed to mention on here but don’t get curious because it’s nothing big. Also curiosity killed the cat. Alrighty, well I best be finishing up! I’m not promising that there will be an entry tomorrow but we shall see. Fare thee well!

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

I'm not very good at this whole title thing.

Good evening everyone! This is marvelous Maddy here and as I promised today was much more exciting than yesterday meaning I have lots to report.

1. Guillermo del Toro can shout "action" very loudly and I do not recommend standing next to him as this event happens. I'm pretty sure that I might be deaf in my right ear.
2. I learned a lot about Hungary from what Julian, our driver, was telling dad on the way onto set this morning except for I wasn't exactly listening that much on account of the fact I was reading a book by Meg Cabot. Eventually I had to stop though because I have troubles reading in the car and I felt a little bit woozy (cool word).
3. Guillermo's daughters, Mariana, age, 11, and Marisol, age 6, (not sure if I spelled those names right) are quite awesome. I hung out with them most of the day today except for when they ditched me and then I had to follow my weird dad around. (Just kidding! In no way is he weird no not at all in a million years.....)
4. Selma Blair is really, really super nice and did anyone else realize that she was in Legally Blonde because I sure didn't. She also has a cool doggie named Wink.
5. As fun as Budapest is I miss my friends back home... not that any of them told me to mention that *cough* LEXI *cough*! P.S. now that I said Lexi's name I should probably mention Akansha and Anna Rose, too. I'm sure you three feel very special now. :)
6. There was a really cool storm-ish type thing while we were driving back to the hotel and that was the first time that I have actually seen the full on lightning bolt thing so close to me. It was pretty wonderful!
7. It is really weird/cool seeing Hellboy up close with all the make-up and everything!
8. I like how they bring you watermelon, red currants, and raspberries when you are just sitting there on set and getting a little bit hungry. (Hungry in Hungary HAHAHA GET IT?!)
9. I am running out of exciting things to tell you. Plus it is 11:40 and I am getting a bit tired and I think dad wants the Internet plug. :)

Hope you enjoyed it. I shall be back tomorrow!!! Have a brilliant day.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Meet your guest blogger

Why hello there Neil Gaiman blog readers! This is the wonderful Maddy Gaiman, and I have some simply fabulous news. For the next two weeks, while my father and I are in Budapest I shall be guest blogging! Dad might add in some stuff here and there but I’m sure you are all simply jumping out of your seats in excitement knowing that you shall be reading things written by me. :P We are on the plane at the moment and have just finished eating a delicious breakfast. I had a blueberry scone, strawberry yogurt, fresh fruit, and orange juice. Tasty, tasty. Soon we shall arrive in the Amsterdam airport, where we will either go into Holland or just hang out in the Airline Lounge for our several hour stopover (I’ll report back on which was chosen), and from there proceed on to Budapest, Hungary. Why are we going to Budapest you ask yourself? Ahh... I shall tell you. It is because we are going to be hanging out on the film set of Hellboy 2, I believe. You see, my dearest father is friends with the director, (not sure how to spell his very long Mexican name), and the next thing I know we are jetting off to Europe only a week after I have gotten out of school for the summer! Crazy talk! So as I’ve said you will be hearing all (or most of at least) the updates from Budapest from yours truly. Have a magnificent day. ☺

UPDATE: Now, being in the hotel I have Internet access and can report that my father and I sat in the KLM lounge in Amsterdam airport for about 3 hours.

We just had dinner in a good sushi restaurant but I wasn’t very hungry so I didn’t eat that much... I am fully stuffed now though. Oh, and I am pretty darn tired because of the fact that I didn’t sleep on the plane and therefore my only sleep in the last 29 hours was 40 minutes in the lounge (see photo above where I am wearing dad's leather jacket because it was chilly in there), 60 minutes on the plane from Amsterdam to Budapest, and 3 hours in the hotel room before my dad woke me up to go for a little walk outside the hotel. Okay so maybe I’m not lacking sleep THAT much but I am still quite sleepy. I’m sorry this was a rather uneventful entry but it will be better tomorrow. I promise.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A hundred thousand tumpty tumpties

You know, the best bit of having wound up with a dog, apart from the dog of course, is the walking. There are whole worlds out there I hadn't known about until I started walking them.

Tonight we walked under a sky hung with a million billion trillion stars, and a perfect crescent moon, and watched the constellations of fireflies blinking greenly and magically in the trees and hedgerows like a tiny magical cityscape. Other fireflies would fly up, and arch across the sky and come down like falling stars.

I sang Stephin Merritt's song "100, 000 fireflies" as we walked, or all of it that I could remember. Dogs don't mind if you forget bits, and the fireflies were too busy flashing and floating and glowing and dreaming to care.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Locus Winners

This year's Locus poll winners have been announced at

I wasn't at the ceremony, alas. (I thought I wasn't going to be there because I was going to be in Budapest, but actually I don't go to Budapest until Tuesday.)

Locus Awards Winners

Winners of this year's Locus Awards, voted by readers of Locus Magazine in the annual Locus Poll, were were announced this afternoon at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Seattle.

Best Science Fiction Novel

Rainbows End, Vernor Vinge (Tor)

Best Fantasy Novel

The Privilege of the Sword, Ellen Kushner (Bantam Spectra)

Best First Novel

Temeraire: His Majesty's Dragon/Throne of Jade/Black Powder, Naomi Novik (Del Rey; Voyager); as Temeraire: In the Service of the King (SFBC)

Best Young Adult Book

Wintersmith, Terry Pratchett (Doubleday UK; HarperTempest)

Best Novella

"Missile Gap", Charles Stross (One Million A.D.)

Best Novelette

"When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth", Cory Doctorow (Baen's Universe 8/06)

Best Short Story

"How to Talk to Girls at Parties", Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things)

Best Magazine

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

Best Publisher


Best Anthology

The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Third Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois, ed. (St. Martin's)

Best Collection

Fragile Things, Neil Gaiman (Morrow; Headline Review)

Best Editor

Ellen Datlow

Best Artist

John Picacio

Best Non-Fiction

James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, Julie Phillips (St. Martin's)

Best Art Book

Cathy & Arnie Fenner, eds. Spectrum 13: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art (Underwood)

They told me ahead of time that I'd won for "How To Talk to Girls At Parties", and I wrote an acceptance speech for it, to be read out by Gene Wolfe. But they only told me right at the end that I'd also won for "Fragile Things".

So I wrote a speech in a hurry and this is what I said (also read out by, I hope, Gene Wolfe):

"I'm thrilled and surprised to receive this award.

Short story collections were always, for me, the heart of it all, when I was a boy and a young man and learning about what science fiction and fantasy had to offer. I discovered Bradbury and Lafferty and Tiptree, Ellison and Delany and Wolfe (please make sure they understand that I am talking about Gene Wolfe here and not, say, Bernard or Virginia). William Tenn and Henry Kuttner and Ursula K. LeGuin. John Collier. Roger Zelazny. Brian Aldiss. Theodore Sturgeon. I could keep the list going indefinitely.

They were books that made me happy, made up of stories.

If it wasn't for the ones who showed me how cool it was to make these things I wouldn't be doing it now. I want to thank them. Most of what I did right in these stories I stole from them anyway.

And Jennifer Brehl edited my book and made the cover so pretty. So I want to thank her too."


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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Saturday, June 16, 2007

News and musing

Things -- particularly things to do with movies -- happen oddly, when they happen, and they never happen in the way you expect.

For example, back in 1996 Michael Reaves was working doing adventure cartoon serials at Dreamworks Animation. He started talking to me about an idea for something that could be a potential animated story, and we began knocking ideas back and forth about what we'd want to see animated and why, and that became an idea about a boy who finds himself in the middle of a war between two equally powerful forces, who joins a super-team consisting of versions of himself from different alternate realities to try and maintain the consmic balance.

We called it Interworld. (It was one of those placeholder names that stuck.)

We pitched it to executives, first at Dreamworks and then elsewhere, and watched them get increasingly confused and grumpy.

Somewhere in the winter of 1998 or 1999, Michael came up to my place, and we wrote it as a novel, doing our best impression of a Heinlein juvenile, because the treatments we did simply confused people and we were sure that if they read the novel they'd understand.

And then we discovered the novel seemed to confuse them too, and we sighed and we put it away and got on with our lives.

Last year, Michael reminded me of the book, and we took it out, dusted it off, sent it out to publishers and were happy when Harper Childrens wanted to publish it. They commissioned a lovely cover for it by James Jean.

The early reviews were very positive. Film and TV people started contacting my agent about it. And now, a decade later, I'm delighted and slightly bemused to report that it's just been optioned by Dreamworks Animation, who want to make it into a movie...

There's a moral there somewhere, you know, but I have no idea what it is.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Come to Dance the Macabray

Just a few things....

Lucy Anne pointed out that there was a tiny promotional film up for Wolves in the Walls at the New Victory site. I just popped it up on YouTube, suspecting that they won't mind at the New Victory, especially if a few of you watching it are impelled to order tickets when they go on sale in August... (

[If you're on a feed that cuts off here, click to see the original post, as there is much stuff.]

YouTube embiggened it slightly, I'm afraid.

I was both saddened and sort of glad he was properly remembered when I saw that Melvin McCosh had died and had a nice obituary and photo in the Star Tribune. I loved going to McCosh's house of books (his motto, You Need Them More Than I Do) as long as it, and he, were there. I bought my favourite book in the whole world there (it's a huge 150 year old 500 page leather-bound blank accounts book. Either I will write a novel in it, or I will want to write a novel in it until I die. Either's fine). The obituary is up at -- you may have to log in to read it.

Many years ago I put a character based on Melvin McCosh into an SF TV series I never made (it was called Back of Beyond), because I had never before met anyone so transparently fictional in real life. And my love for John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester's poetry goes back to buying some books from McCosh, and when he looked at the pile he wandered off into a back room and put a book of Rochester's poetry on top of the books I was buying. "If you like all that, you'll like this," he said.

Hey Neil,
I picked up American Gods this weekend and have been really enjoying the book. What's been bugging me, however, is the chili recipe you describe in Chapter 2. It sounded delicious and I'm pretty curious to try it. Is it a personal chili recipe you use? And if so, are you willing to share it?


It was my variant on the Silver Palate Chili for a Crowd recipe (which I just googled and found at I could never be bothered with the olives or sausage meat, and everything else was a sort of generalised "adjust quantities to taste", which is how chili works best anyway. I still don't think the dill ought to work in a chili, but it does, magnificently.


Today is the World's End Message Board's 6th Birthday, and I just wanted to thank you for providing a place for all these lovely people to get together.

Thank you :)


Which is one of those unexpected side effects of something like this. You turn around and there's a whole community there, and I tend to forget they exist until they turn up at signings bearing red balloons and alcoholic beverages and chocolate and suchlike. Happy Birthday... (They can be found at for anyone not using the website as a way to read this.)

Just a short one ... did you know that there is a book out there, written by some Miss Laurell K. Hamilton, (fantasy and quite different from your writing) that is called DANSE MACABRE?

(It's not one of my faves by her, I admit, but I remembered the title and wondered how it comes that both of you got to it ... have to check my French and see whether it is some saying or ...)


There are many, many things called Danse Macabre out there. Stephen King's excellent non-fiction book about horror, for a start, not to mention a very wonderful piece of music by Saint-Saëns. It refers to the Dance either of the dead, or of the dead with the living, to remind people that they are mortal. It goes back to the Fourteenth Century, to the plague times. Lots of interesting stuff in this Wikipedia article. Did you know that our word Macabre comes from the dance, and was a reference to the Maccabees? S'true. And it was originally pronounced macabray. (More details at

Rich and poor dance in the same way, said poet John Lydgate in The Dance of Death, and that squashed together in my head with Shelley's "I met murder on the way..." and instead of thinking "He had a mask like Castlereagh" I thought "I met murder on the way, come to dance the macabray..." and suddenly there was a story in my head where there wasn't one before.

Which is too much information, and won't make much sense until you've read the story, but there are probably a few word-buffs out there who will take as much joy in it as I did.

Hey Neil,

Its not so much as a question as shameless self promotion. I did an interview with Barron Storey today. It was for my radio show Inkstuds. The show is all about interviewing alternative and underground creators. I thought your fans would be interested in this interview. We talk a little bit about the 15 portraits of Despair.

Here is a link directly to the posting.


Of course. (And if you don't know what Barron Storey's work looks like you can find some of it at

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Still testing

Trying again with Safari for Windows, because I like playing with things. This time it took 3 minutes for the upload pictures screen to turn up (just when I'd given up on it).

Here's the tattoo. It's one of the only ones I've ever designed, and my brief from Cat was it had to be Deliriumy. Cat also has a chain of forget-me-nots tattooed around one wrist, and one of the cutest children in the world.

And this is here because it has given everyone who knows me enormous pleasure -- half a school photo from when I was seven. I'm not hard to identify. Look for the slightly creepy kid with enormous ears...

You'll need to click on it to make it larger. Unless you're using Safari for Windows in which case whatever you do to try and open it in a new tab or window it'll download the picture and open an empty window or tab. (Now fixed. It seems Safari doesn't automatically save jpgs with a jpg extension.)


Testing Safari for Windows...

I'm typing this on the Windows version of Safari. It seems fast and friendly so far, and much like the Mac version (which truth to tell I rarely use, preferring Camino), although it seems to play better with Blogger.

Let me try a couple of things...

Hi Neil,
Being a man in the know, I am am sure you are aware of McSweeney's distributor going bankrupt and McSweeney's auction and book sale effort to pull themselves up by their boot straps.

As soon as the news hit my in-box I set off on a shopping trip to show my support and of course add to my beloved book stacks. Would you give the whole business a mention?

:) Your most humble "Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish" fiend, niki

Of course. First of all, anyone interested should go and read It tells you what's happening at McSweeney's.
Then go and visit the McSweeney's Store --
And if you don't know what to buy, you could get one of these for $5 (amazingly cheap! amazingly wonderful!)
And for the cost of a new paperback, you could own your own copy of The Riddle of the Traveling Skull, Harry Stephen Keeler's sort of masterpiece.

I wonder why the fonts have got all screwy. (NB -- it actually wasn't readable around there, once it was posted, with lines going off the edge of the page and vanishing, so I had to go into Blogger in Explorer and fix it.) (And then go back in and fix it again because that Safari formatting was really squonky.)

I should post a picture, shouldn't I? (Looks at desktop to see what's sitting there and postable.)

Well, I tried to post a photo of a Deliriumish tattoo I drew a few years ago for a lady named Cat (not my assistant Cat, a different one), because it's been sitting on my desktop for ages and I keep meaning to put it up. And no window to upload pictures appeared, nothing happened except the fonts seemed to get odder. Not sure if the fault is Blogger's or Safari's, but there isn't a picture in this post.


(NB: to add, fifteen minutes after this was posted, a Blogger "Upload picture" window appeared.)

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Thursday, June 14, 2007


I have almost -- almost, so close I can taste it -- finished the "Danse Macabre" story, which means I'm over half way through the Graveyard Book. Now the plot starts...

Sure many have asked this, but which book are you reading in the photo with you by the tree?~Andrea the Satanic Ice Cube Diva

I am sitting under a tree reading a most wonderful bunch of essays by Sue Hubbell called Shrinking the Cat. (Here's a review I found. The book is better than the review.)


Many, many people wrote to tell me about this new thing called Firefox and why I should use it instead of Explorer. Truth to tell, I've been using Firefox since it was Firebird, and happily plugging it. But sometimes I use Explorer. It's ever so slightly easier to blog with Explorer -- there are few bells and whistles that Firefox doesn't get from Blogger; if you have more than one Gmail account open at the same time, you're going to need two different web browsers anyway; and (this one tends to be the biggest one that stopped me becoming exclusively Firefox based, at least on the laptops) sometimes Firefox is a memory hog. I'll notice that a computer has slowed way down, go and check the CPU and find out that Firefox is using it all. I used to simply kill Firefox with a Ctrl-Alt-Delete and then reopen it later with sessions saver, but I started worrying that I was doing something wrong, so I did a search over at Firefox help, and discovered that if it's being a memory hog they suggest you kill it with a ctrl-alt-delete...

I still use both, unashamed...


I was excited when I read

to learn that Wolves in the Walls is going to Los Angeles as well as New York, and disappointed to learn that it's not -- as The Stage says, right now Wolves is only going to the New Victory -- details of the New York run are at

I meant to post some of the Day I Spent Being Interviewed about Stardust links, but Lucy Anne has them all up at -- still, there's a long one at Ain't it Cool that's fun

And you can hear me being interviewed at Hay on Wye here...


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Two photographs...

I keep meaning to close some tabs, and then discovering that Explorer has crashed and taken them with it. And then there are the ones no-one would be interested in but me (a symphonic version of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music anyone? Or Lou Reed being interviewed in a Yoga magazine about Tai Chi?)

The H. P. Lovecraft documentary on Radio 3 will be up for a week from today --

So here are a two photos Holly took a couple of weeks ago at Mike's graduation. One of me reading contentedly, one of me and Maddy (which looks rather like I've grown a second, significantly cuter, head)...

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Another quick one...

Most of today's mail was about tomato juice, and how I should have covered the dog in it.

There were two reasons I didn't:

1) I didn't want a pinkish-coloured dog,

and more importantly,

2) I watched the Mythbusters episode where they tried a bunch of different things to get rid of Skunk smells, including Tomato Juice and Beer and Skunk Odour Removal Liquid... and they concluded that the most effective thiol remedy was a mixture of Peroxide, Baking Soda and liquid soap.

So I googled last night, with an odorous dog beside me, found the page of the discoverer of this miracle mixture and read about it...

Then I put it into practice. (It sounds so simple, put like that. It sounds like the dog cooperated. Hah. There was half an inch of water on the bathroom floor by the end of it...) It worked.

The bees were in a foul temper this morning, which is also probably skunk-related. Apparently, skunks do what they can to upset bees so they'll come out of the hive, looking for trouble... whereupon the skunks eat them like peanuts.

Hey Neil --Wasn't sure that you'd seen the news yet, but the McClouds' car was recently broken into on their tour. Fortunately, not much was lost; unfortunately, what *was* lost included Sky's extensive software and DVD book, to the tune of thousands of dollars. Sky is looking for donations of any extra copies of the items lost -- can you pass the word if you know anyone? The list is at and mail goes to:
Sky McCloudP.O. Box 115Newbury Park CA, 91319Thanks. Shawn

Happy to post it. Send Sky stuff.

[Edit to add Tom Galloway's note to me: Could I request that you post a blog followup to the bit about SkyMcCloud's DVDs? Namely that people 1) read the comments to the previously linked to post by Sky to see which DVDs might have been already taken care of 2) if they do decide to get one, to post that they're doing so and which one(s) as a comment to the post. 3) And just as a sidenote, I checked with Scott and they get the widescreen versions of movie DVDs when possible. Basically, don't see any reason to have massive DVD duplication. I've already arranged with the McClouds to provide the Arrested Developmentand Buffy discs for example, and don't want folk getting those unnecessarily. Thanks, tyg]

Fortunately, not a question! Just something I thought you might like to know about. Sherman Alexie mentions you in an interview at, in which he mentions how glad he was to run into someone he knew in Sydney. Loved his description of the two of you recognizing each other. Just thought you might like to see the interview. Thanks for all the information on Stardust. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie this summer. Congratulations on the new dog. He's gorgeous and looks so happy, just the way a dog should look.

That's so true, and it was just like that. He's an amazing author. I loved his upcoming YA novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and over at you can see the cover and learn about it from the perspective of the illustrator....

An edited version of my H. G. Wells The Country of the Blind intro is up for the curious at

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scents and sensibility

It's just after three in the morning and my dog has been sprayed by a skunk.

This is not a dog who likes being washed at the best of times, and three in the morning is not the best of times.

So here's a link to the Moth event: I'm the last one. They're all fun and interesting, all unwritten, unmemorised, spoken narratives performed before an audience. And if you only listen to one other, you should listen to Edgar's.

Now I'm going to wash a dog now, with peroxide and baking soda and soap...

Pray for me.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007


I'm planning on writing my own happy Stardust review for here -- or at least, my delighted reaction to seeing the almost finished version -- but right now I thought I'd put up a link to the extremely puzzling Stardust TV spots. You can watch them at -- click on video. I mean, I appreciate that Charlie Cox isn't famous, but he is the hero and the person who the film is about and the person who's on screen all the time. You'd think he'd be in there somewhere... one of the TV spots somehow managed to give the vague impression that this film is a romance between Claire Danes and Robert DeNiro, which is just wrong on so many levels.

Heigh ho. (Shakes head and is glad he doesn't do film marketing for a living.)

I just spent a few hours doing website interviews for Stardust. Am now taking daughters and going shopping for food, since the tornado sirens have stopped going off and the next line of thunderstorms isn't due in for a few more hours.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Catching up

So, I'm home and writing this in bed before the day starts and the phone begins to ring. Am expecting the jet lag this week to be pretty hellacious, as it was last time I did one of these "nip across the Atlantic for a few days" jaunts.

Let's see...

The screening for 50 People on Sunday night was nerve-wracking (these were not people chosen for their diplomatic abilities -- if they'd disliked it, I would have known) not least because this was the first time I'd seen something close to a finished cut.

I put up some links to reviews in the last entry. I've noticed a few more: Here's big hairy Mitch Benn on his myspace blog, for example.

Monday morning I had breakfast with Michael Chabon, who had also been to Hay and was staying in my hotel, and then it was interviews, from early in the morning -- mostly magazine pieces with long lead times, but also some TV and radio, most of which will come out in the UK in October when the film does. Lunch was on Rotten Tomatoes UK, and was recorded in a Japanese restaurant for a podcast which will mostly consist of chewing noises I expect.

The oddest moment of the day was being interviewed by the BBC for a BBC4 documentary on Fantasy. They did the interview in an old church in Paddington, in the crypt, and as the car pulled up I had one of those feelings of deja vu that you only get when you really have been somewhere before. And as I went down into the crypt, I knew. "We filmed Neverwhere here!" I told the interviewer. "This was the Black Friars' place." I was being interviewed where Richard Mayhew was given his nice cup of tea, before the ordeal.

Then back to Soho for food -- Ten Ten Tai in Brewer Street, which is my favourite unpretentious little Japanese restaurant in London, and is also the nearest eating establishment to Paramount London, so when I'd eaten I walked around the corner and went downstairs and was interviewed by The Man at the Crossroads, Paul Gravett, and answered questions for people who'd just seen Stardust.

Dear Neil,

I was lucky enough to be at the Stardust screening in London on Monday where you also talked about the process of writing the original story, and about your involvement in the film.

I wanted to ask you how it feels to see your original idea filtered through so many different people - going from you, through (in some regards at least) Charles Vess illustrating it, and then through Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn in production of the film's script. How does this process change your feelings about & connection to that original idea - if at all?

You see, I really did want to be intelligent and to ask this on Monday. But I was so excited at seeing the film that my brain went a little bit gloopy and wouldn't work properly. So instead I asked about your dog.....

Lou M

The expression on Paul Gravett's face when he realised that the first audience question was "How's your dog" was a wonderful one.

You always fall short of the original idea. Sometimes you make something else on the way. But I feel like Stardust, especially the illustrated one, is very similar to the thing I set out to make in the first place.

The film is a film (and a really good one) which squeezes and pushes and slides in order to tell the story as a movie, and, I think, succeeds beyond my dreams. I think I must like collaborating.

Anyway yesterday Holly and flew home. My dog was happy to see me. Maddy and Holly and Holly's friend Sarah and I watched the first part of the Dr Who two parter (how could I not like an episode which begins on my minus forty-seventh birthday? And has a little girl holding a red balloon?). I had a fight (well, a difference of opinion) with Holly and Sarah about them not watching the next episode without us, of the dammit this is a communal family TV watching experience variety, which I suspect in retrospect I only won because they didn't know where the second half DVD was, so we'll all watch that today. Lovely stuff, Paul Cornell should be justly proud. And an enormous relief after the last couple of episodes.

And then bed and, with my sleep schedule all mixed up, not much sleep at all. Oh well.

Hi Neil,

BBC Radio 3 is repeating the documentary on HP Lovecraft you contributed to -- Sunday 10th June at 20:00 BST.

Best wishes


Particularly good news as I missed it the first time.

Also, this coming Saturday the Times (the UK newspaper, which is just called the Times) will be publishing an article of me talking about H. G. Wells's short stories.

Which reminds me...

Why is your voice different when you're talking to some anonymous interviewer about Lovecraft from when you're talking to a con audience about Fragile Things? Your "I can't tell you why that is, other than that Lovecraft is Rock and Roll" voice is much lower than your "They're buying my books, just waiting to get sued" voice. Do you deliberately modulate the pitch of your voice to match the situation, or did you get your soul eaten along the way, rendering your voice higher for some unfathomable reason?

which just left me shaking my head in puzzlement. (Does your voice always sound the same, and not change with what you're talking about?)

I met Lynn Hacking from Final Draft at a trade show this weekend, and he told a very funny story about being caught between you and Roger Avery in an argument. So I have to ask: one space or two after the period?

You can actually tell from a script Roger and I have collaborated on who wrote what, because I always put one space after a full stop, and he puts two. The reason you can tell now is because he has finally sighed and stopped carefully going through anything I write and inserting that extra space, having given it up as a lost cause.


Friends of Amacker's (and those who worry) can follow her medical progress as they put her back together over at, which is the blog her brother is keeping.


And I feel guilty I didn't mention this before, as some of the events have already happened, but go to to learn about the exhibition of Charles Vess Stardusty stuff at the William King Regional Arts Center "serving far Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee". They have amazing Charles Vess original art, along with the books I handwrote the story in and lots of other cool things.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007


This was meant to be a post about how I got to see an (almost) complete version of STARDUST with lots of friends today, and how wonderful it was, but I just got an email letting me know that my friend Amacker Bullwinkle, who was out at our place for the last couple of weeks while I was mostly on the road, to do a bit of dog training not to mention design ziplines to take us to the bees, was in a serious motorbike accident and is in critical condition, and honestly I don't think I could put a blog entry together right now if my life depended on it.

You can read what Martyn Drake at Friends of English Magic had to say about the Stardust preview at and what Roz Kaveney has to say at What I've got to say will wait a couple of days...

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jet-lag, and a disreputable beardlet

When last seen, our hero was putting down his computer and heading for the tent...

The tent was full. We explained to people that we couldn't technically show the whole film there yet (which I think was a good thing, given that it was a very hot tent and lots of people had small children and babies with them who would probably not have enjoyed a 2 hour film followed by a Q&A) and I showed about half-an-hour's worth of clips, and then did an audience Q&A -- excellently moderated by Paul Blezard -- that was enormously fun.

I'm now immortalised in The Guardian blog (not sure about the use of the word "sidled", which I always thought meant involved either walking sideways or at least looking like you ought to be, but Imogen's spot-on about the jet lag) (and I got off more lightly than Anne Fine did).

Then a signing and lots of interviews (the BBC Wales one should show up here), and onto the train back to London carrying a case of champagne, a "thank-you-for-coming" gift from the Hay festival. Given that I can't bring a case of champagne back into the US, nor can I drink a case of champagne between here and Tuesday morning, I'll need to figure out what to do with it.

Back to the London hotel on a train that got in late (you've been spared the saga of the Friday night journey down to Hay, on a train that also got in late which meant that we wound up eating in the staff tent as they closed for the night and then set off down windy narrow lanes hunting for a house that refused to be where our driver had been told it was). Holly went out to the pub with her boyfriend for a bit, while I, spoiled for choice on What to Do in the West End of London on a Saturday Night, communed with my jetlag and opted for a) a long bath, of the kind where you read the paper and it gets bubbles all over it and you don't care immediately followed by b) bed.

Slept for ten blessed hours. Am now more or less up and more or less human, although my hair looks like I had a long bath and then forgot to dry it before I went to sleep and is sticking out around my head like an Einstein fright-wig.

Today I will get to see an (almost) finished Stardust. Unless a couple of extra people show up, in which case I'll nobly give up my seat (it's not a big screening room).

Here's a TV spot -- having seen a lot of the TV spots last time I was in the UK, this isn't one I remember as being among my half-dozen favourites (I liked the ones that had Charlie Cox in them and looked like Stardust was a funny and exciting sort of romance with magic in it) but it's not one of the bad ones...

So the other day I caught this little rumor on Sci Fi Wire, saying you're getting ready to direct your own adaptation of Death: The High Cost of Living. (Said rumor here: I assumed at the time you'd be flooded with inquiries about it, and would post either a refutation or a sort of sly non-comment winkwink, but so far you haven't said anything. Can it be that no one's asked? I'd love to know!

- Rachel

Lots of people have asked, and as soon as I can say something a bit more definite I shall. For right now, I can probably say that Guillermo is still executive producing Death (as I mentioned here), I'll be directing, that it certainly appears to be on the way to happening, and that no, the actress who would be playing Didi has not been cast although I've met some of the possibles.

I have a dilemma. I am borrowing the Coraline audiobook from the library. I imported it to my computer to keep the discs safe while I listen. (My father borrows my computer and leaves my discs all over the room so they are hard to find.)

I know that I haven't paid for Coraline, and I should remove it from my computer when I return the discs to the library. But I'm very fond of Coraline, and I am going to buy it when I can- the book and the audiobook. (And the movie, when it's out.)

Would you mind if I kept Coraline on my computer until I buy it, or at least recieve it for some gift-giving occasion?

Thanks for making such a fantastic audiobook, by the way!

I'm glad you liked it!
The last time I was asked something like this (similar, but not quite the same) was here --

... you know, Blogger is weird sometimes. The last paragraph of this post just vanished completely, without me doing anything to it. Grr.

Anyway, I pointed to when I was asked a similar question.

I don't mind at all. The disks have to go back to the library because someone else may need them, but I can't see why you need to have the object in your possession in order to listen to it, whether it's an MP3 CD or an Audio CD version of the audio book -- you aren't stopping someone else from listening to it. Again, I'd rather that you didn't pass on your copy to anyone. And I'd like it if the US signed up for PLR. But listen away...

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Hay Hay Hay

At festival. With wireless (yay!). About to go up and show STARDUST clips and talk and then do a brief signing, before being interviewed by BBC Wales and then by the Guardian. I'll try and do a rather more interesting and long entry about yesterday's travels the next time I get a chance (probably tonight from the hotel in London).

For some reason the LiveJournal feed of the blog has stopped working, which is odd as the RSS is still going up.

They just came and told me I have to change tents...


Friday, June 01, 2007

A new pair of ears

In the UK. I was in the car on the way from Gatwick to the hotel when the phone call came in asking if I could stop off in Soho to listen to the Stardust dub, being a fresh pair of ears, so we changed course and I soon found myself in a large room in DeLane Lea, sitting on a sofa while the film rolled and the music played (on the same sofa where, oddly enough, I'd been sitting about a month ago, while David Yates played clips with amazing whooshy sounds on the next Harry Potter film). I ate some sushi, not sure if it was a very early breakfast or just some lunch, had a cup of tea, and then, very impressed, nipped out to check in to the hotel and to meet Holly-who-is-in-the-Uk-too-right-now. Where I am now.

I watched the clips I'll be introducing tomorrow at the Hay festival. Got an email from Paramount telling me that Stardust now has a myspace account at and they want lots of friends. Discovered that some sort of error meant that last night's blog entry hasn't gone out as a feed. (Oh well.)

Right. Now back to the dub for a bit, then down to Hay. (Waves cheerfully.)

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