Thursday, November 29, 2007

Heading bookward

I'm writing The Graveyard Book right now. Or at least, trying to get back to the place where The Graveyard Book is. Yesterday I called in the colour and lettering corrections on Absolute Sandman Volume 3 -- finally, Dalmatians will be spelled correctly! -- and today I have to write an introduction to a script in it (for Sandman 50 -- the only Not Full Script in the whole 75 issue run) and an afterword to the volume as well. (Next year DC are bringing out Absolute Sandmans 3 and 4.) And today I'm also writing a foreword to a book of essays by the late Professor Frank McConnell, who wrote the introduction to THE KINDLY ONES and was a remarkable and fine man.

Hello! While I'm sure Mr. Gaiman himself won't read this, and from the look of a similar question in the FAQ section, he may not want to.

My friend and I are looking to write a short story and/or screenplay based off of the main plot elements in Sandman IV. We're not sure if if we need to go through any legal loopholes to do so, and thought you may be more helpful than emailing DC first.

Thank you very much,

Michael Garrity

Michael, it's a great big blog, filled with information. A quick site search shows that I first answered this question in October 2002, over five years ago. There's even an answer in the FAQ section, because it's a question that's frequently asked. (You comment on having read the answer in the FAQ at the beginning.) It's still the same answer, I'm afraid. If you want to do a Sandman thing, you would ask DC Comics or Warner Brothers, and they will almost certainly say no.

A question of nudity...

Almost every review of "Beowulf" has focused on the handling of Beowulf's nudity when he fights Grendel: many finding it unintentionally funny, one or two speculating that it was *intentionally* funny, but still, lots of people fixated on it. (By the way, I do like how Caitlin's novelization spells out that Grendel has no sex organs, so nothing to see there, literally...) It seems worth asking, how much was the treatment of Beowulf's nudity a decision you and Avary made, and how much was it a decision Zemeckis made? I wonder if there was a chat along the lines of "He's naked in the original poem, so how do we deal with that on film, where male nudity means an automatic R?"

(As a friend who saw and loved "Beowulf" said, "I was promised nudity! Angelina's naked, but she's covered! Beowulf's naked, but HE'S covered!")

Chris Walsh

P.S. To change the subject abruptly, thank you for mentioning Project Erin last month.

That sort of thing - how you shoot a naked fight, or indeed a clothed fight - is entirely a director's decision. (In a film like Beowulf, where every pixel is a decision, I think you can pretty much assume that everything is the director's decision).

If you're curious about what Roger and I had originally written in May 1997 (what I think of as the Jabberwocky Version) and then about what the final shooting script looked like (which was the Roger-and-Neil final draft as amended by Robert Zemeckis before he started shooting), with extensive amazingly honest introductory material by Roger on how it started and then how it came back to life, and why in the end Roger sold it to Steve Bing's company for Bob Zemeckis to direct rather than make it himself, then you might want to check out the Script Book --

Dear Neil,

I read your site everyday, and STILL I'm not a famous author, what am I doing wrong?


At a guess, either you aren't writing enough, you aren't finishing things, you aren't getting them published, or, if you're doing all of those, you're worrying about the wrong things. Anyway, famousness is probably about as useful for an author as a large, well-appointed hiking backpack would be for a prima ballerina. Honest.

Right. Back to work.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Over at BBC Radio 4's Afternoon Readings -- -- is a series of short stories inspired by the works of William Blake. I wrote a short story called Jerusalem for it, about the city and the syndrome and the song, which will be broadcast this coming Thursday, and you can listen to it again for a week after that. Truth to tell, I don't think it really works -- it sort of derailed half way through, and never got back on track. Maybe it wants to be something longer, or maybe it's the start of something else, or maybe it's just one of those times when the cake doesn't rise. I'm not sure, although I definitely want to revisit those people again. It was meant to have ghosts in, and they never quite made it, and I don't think the Blakean illumination I was going for really illuminated. But Sandy Morton does a lovely job reading it anyway.

Labels: , ,

Monday, November 26, 2007

so you know

You want to know what my favourite bit of the trip to the Philippines was?

It was this....

[Edit to add is Maui's version of events.]


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gallivant's travels

It was fun.

(I'll do a slightly dessicated version here, because I'm in the lounge at Narita and don't have long before my plane boards now...)

I was brought in for the Ad Congress -- I gave a talk about the imagination and why it is a good thing, and then, on Saturday morning, did a reading of the complete first chapter of The Graveyard Book, an interview and a signing for about 200 people (it was only meant to be for the first 100 in the line -- some of whom started lining up at midnight -- but I added in about an extra 45 minutes signing at the end). Then to Manila -- on the way I read the finalists for the Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards, and was really impressed by the quality of the prose stories. Fully Booked runs the awards, and on Saturday morning I found myself sitting in Fully Booked while stacks of copies of Expeditions were put in front of me to sign. These were the two collections (prose and comics) of winners and runners-up from the first Award, last year. Many interviews followed, and a mass press conference. And then, in the afternoon, I had the odd experience of being a magician's assistant (for local magician Erik Mana) and awards presenter, in front of a large crowd (and despite the rain), and I announced the thing we're adding to the awards for next year (a short films category), and at one point I dragged Mike up on stage with me (when I was asked about being a children's author and having children), and I sort of promised I'd come back for the third round, and that I'd do a signing if I did...

(I loved the whole trip but it was made much more fun by having a son with me.)

Then dinner with the winners and judges from this year and last year's competition.

Back to the hotel, and up at 5.00am to leave Manila. And now I'm here.

Expect postings to decrease between here and Xmas. I have a book to finish, and I'm done gallivanting, I hope...

Labels: , , , , , ,

leaving manila

Sorry I haven't updated -- The Philippines has been a bit hectic. Am still alive, all is good, and I'll try to write a longer blog entry than this on the plane tomorrow...


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanks from the future...

Happy Thanksgiving -- an odd thing to be writing on the morning of the Friday after Thanksgiving, but time is different here in the Philippines, where it is already the future and they probably have flying cars and personal jetpacks.

So let's see...

First thing in the morning I gave a speech yesterday to about 3,500 people, who seemed to like it ("I haven't prepared anything," I said at the beginning. "So nothing can possibly go wrong." And then I burbled, hopefully helpfully. Later that afternoon another speaker learned he had the wrong powerpoint presentation on the CD he had brought, so didn't give his speech at all and flew back to England instead. Hah. Not-preparation wins again.) Then I did lots of press interviews. Then lunch, then I signed 1000 copies of the Beowulf script book that are going to be given to people on Saturday morning, and while signing the jet-lag started to hit. Then dinner. Then I was falling asleep between sentences, so fled to bed.

Mike is enjoying himself, I think. I love having him here.

I'm looking forward to the event on the 25th -- -- and while I'm not going to do a signing I'm going to pre-sign copies of the EXPEDITIONS books, with the prize winners from the last competition in it.


(A couple of people wrote to say they don't think that that PDFs are currently supported by the Kindle. The version I used supported them, although not terribly well -- it was one of the things I told them about, many of which they fixed -- so they may have pulled it until they get the bugs out.)

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Me in Manila

Let's see... I'm in the Philippines. Lots of travelling yesterday, and the international date line erased my Tuesday. Just woke up with Mike asleep in the next room. He got here a few hours after me, around 5.00am (on a different plane), and I'm letting him sleep.

An email from Penn Jillette (subject line of email: You Whore) let me know that Amazon have released the Kindle, which was, as a few of you have guessed, the mysterious device I was playing with earlier this year.

Yes, I was sincere (and unpaid) in my enthusiasm for it. They made me send the one I was test driving back a couple of months ago and I still miss it (especially on the planes last night, when I had to grit my teeth and only bring what I could easily carry -- so I read the latest two Russell Hoban books with pleasure then I wrote, but missed having a few dozen books to choose from).

I think it's a bit overpriced at $400. It's a delivery system, after all. Interestingly, they're not yet really pushing some of the things that sold me on it (how easy it is to put your own content onto it, for example, whether Documents or PDFs or downloaded Dr Who novels). But when I was in Hungary, Maddy read a bunch of books on it as she sat in the film studio, and I watched it sell itself to whoever went by, and I watched her treating it as a library or a bookshelf (so when she had finished the Meg Cabot books I'd downloaded as we were leaving, she read Stephen King's Cell, some P.G. Wodehouse and then Dracula, because they were on there). I imagine it's going to get prettier as it goes on, much as the iPod did.

Hi Neil,I see that you're featured on Amazon's Kindle page, providing a favorable review of the technology. Criticism (regarding DRM) is popping up: and What's your take? DRM aside, I feel the device is too expensive. They're competing with tradition, here -- and to do so, they need to offer a compelling product. (I liken digital books to screw-cap wine bottles vs. corks.) People love the feel of paper as they read, and an expensive, proprietary device isn't the answer, is it? Better to sell the device for next to nothing -- if they're going to charge for books, or build a year subscription into the price of the device and charge little or nothing for the books. I also like John Gruber's idea of giving away a Kindle digital book with every print book bought from Amazon.With the current pricing structure (and the DRM issue), I fear the device is destined to flop. There's no compelling reason (that I can see) to own a Kindle device. I'd rather just buy an actual book.

For me it's closer to CDs and iPods. If I'm at home, my iPod tends to sit, half-forgotten, in a pocket or a bag. It's easier to grab a CD and put it on, and I like looking at the packaging, the audio quality is (or feels) better, and the listening experience is different and probably closer to what the artist hoped for. The iPod is, for me, for the road, and I couldn't survive without it.

I don't see that there's a DRM problem -- there's nothing stopping you either reading books on someone else's Kindle or putting non-rights-managed stuff on your own. I don't think everyone has a right to digitally copy and distribute books they bought to others, any more than I think they have a right to, say, photocopy and distribute my books, or to print their own copies and sell or give them away. I'm all for authors giving stuff away if they want to, but authors are at least currently, allowed to decide in what way they want their books made available in the marketplace (Cory Doctorow isn't releasing the individual issues of the comics adaptations he's currently doing under Creative Commons, because the publisher feared it would upset retailers but will be releasing the graphic novel collection as Creative Commons. Fair enough).


Dear Mr. Gaiman,I'm the member of an online baby names group, which is rather beside the point except that someone brought up your middle name. Kindred? And then there was a lot of posting on whether people like it or think it's dumb or whatever, but I was curious whether (1) your middle name IS Kindred, and (2) there's a story behind that?

1) I'm afraid not
2) I think the story is that they were thinking of Phillip K Dick's middle name


I recently saw “Beowulf 3-D,” which having worked on CGI projects, I still have problems grasping what a mammoth undertaking the finished film represents. However, I had a problem with the storyline, so being a long time fan I concluded “Why not just email Neil.”

So here it is having seen the film only once, I was unclear on what we where supposed to take away from it. By which I mean: “The Hero-Beowulf” the last of the great heroes ends up being as weak and flawed as all common men are nature. “The Demon-Grendal’s Mother” the last of the pagan deities is denied and destroyed at the end. The Christian religion, which offers an alternative to pagan beliefs is championed by a cowardly murderer whose faith doesn’t protect from the power of the pagan dragon.

So is the point that “all men are weak by nature and doomed by there flaws.” The pagan gods are gone (which is good) since the Christian faith offered no man protection against them. So, in the end we are left with no heroes, no demons, no pagan gods, left only to chose between an impotent faith like Christian or the inherent flawed power of mankind. This seems different from many of your others works which seem to always offer some kind of alternative “meta-physical / supernatural” notion outside our common understanding.

That’s pretty much it. By the way thanks in advance, for taking the time to read this and I look forward to a reply if you get a chance (even if the reply is “it’s just a bloody movie not a belief system).


Bryce Southard

I think one of the most interesting things about creating art is that once it's out there, people are free to make their minds up about what you did, which means that your take on the plot is as valid as mine (particularly because I have all the other drafts and the cut scenes still in my head). But no, that wasn't my take on the people or the events at all, or even on the religions of the time.

Of the reviews I've been sent so far I guess that Henry Gee's over at NATURE Roz Kaveney's at Strange Horizons would both be closer to my own thoughts about what Roger and I were trying to do in the script, although I don't think that either Roger or I could speak for what Bob Zemeckis intended.

Hey Neil, I saw "Beowulf" on Sunday and noticed a few things.1) You wrote the lyrics to "Olaf's Drinking Song", which I got a kick out of. 2) Even Lorraine's name is featured in the credits.and 3) The monster form of Grendel's mother is seen in the reflections of the water and once (wholly) on the ceiling of the underwater cave camouflaging with the gold treasure cluttered up there with it. Am I correct? Or was I just seeing things that weren't there? Thanks, Ken

You're perfectly correct.

Labels: , ,

Monday, November 19, 2007

Flying Away Now

Hi Neil,Are you aware that Beowulf has got a paticularly outraged review from the CAP movie ministry guy, ( and is summed up as "quite probably the most heinous culprit for stealing childhood from children ever made". You didn't quite do well enough in the scoring system to get a perfect zero (not enough impudence/hate - please try harder next time), but this does mean that Beowulf is rated worse than Natural Born Killers, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, et al.Chris Reynolds

There you go. Then again, this is probably the first animated movie aimed at adults to go on broad release in the US for a very long time, and the idea that it's not actually intended for children is a hard one for some people to cope with. Interestingly, the Christian reviews I've seen so far -- Christianity Today and the Catholic News Service -- both liked the film, and were very sensible.

(It's one of those pleasantly surprising things that the Google News thingummy threw up, like the articles from local papers where they have English teachers and professors explaining that this Beowulf is rather more faithful to the original material than they had expected.)

Dear Mr. Gaiman;Firstly, I would like to say that I have just seen "Beowulf" and it was indeed a great movie. I read the poem many years ago and your story was one of the more interesting interpretations of the original poem.That aside I read up on the long process it took to get this film off the ground. As with what typically happens in Hollywood, there was a rewrite. As I'm sure you know, the final confrontation with the Dragon was rewritten. This discovery did not surprise me because the final confrontation just did not seem to be your style. Just what was your version like?
Robert M. Sharples

Ah, that one's easy. There's a script book, which contains our original 1997 script, two long essays by Roger intended mostly for film students about the realities of Hollywood (one on how he went into it in the first place, and then how I got involved and how we wrote the script together, and one on how he was persuaded to sell the script to Steve Bing and Bob Zemeckis), some of the storyboards for Roger's original version, the shooting script we wrote with Bob Zemeckis that they went into the 2005 shooting with (which is of course different to what they wound up actually making) and an afterword from me about how and what a film script is and isn't.

So you can read the original script or even the shooting script and make a film in your head and see how it differed from what made it to the screen. (I found a review of the book at -- for some reason, none of the Amazon or Harper Collins sites make it clear what kind of thing the script book is.)


Right. Lots of people in the Philippines writing to ask how long I'll be there (until Sunday) and what I'll be doing. So I googled, and found a blog which seems to have all the information on it.

And the car to take me to the airport is outside, and I'm not yet dressed, so I will take my leave, vaguely regretful that I haven't done a big post on the writers' strike yet. Or even linked to the David Letterman show writers strike blog at or Matt Selman's TIME Nerd bloggery at

Labels: , ,

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The view from Bissette

Over at Steve Bissette's blog, at
you will get a Steve's eye view of our last three days, including the Fantasy Matters conference I spoke at. (It was fun -- I spent time with Jack Zipes, and got to meet a bunch of authors, including Pat Rothfuss and Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu.)

It's been great having Bissette and Hank here. I'm not sure I had much of a brain though...

On Friday last you wrote about Steve Bissette and Hank Wagner interviewing you for an unauthorised book, and said "I'm happy to help, although am also happier that it's unauthorised --"If you are helping, isn't that a sign of authorization? Have I misunderstood what an "unathorised biography" was all these years?I love learning new things.

I suppose that if it was authorised I'd have to read it and sign off on it and approve of any opinions or inferences and so on. As it is, I'm happy for them to write their book and, because I like Chris Golden and Hank Wagner (and Steve Bissette, but he only got involved recently) I was willing to be interviewed for it, but it's nothing to do with me, and thus I don't have to think about whether or not I'm comfortable with people writing books about me (I'm not really, but that's just me).


And I leave in about 18 hours for the Philippines.

Labels: ,

Friday, November 16, 2007

still brainless after all these years

Steve Bissette and Hank Wagner are out here until Sunday interviewing me for an unauthorised book about me that Hank and Chris Golden are writing (Steve's writing a few of the movie chapters, and is here because Chris can't be. It's a pleasure to see Steve here again, and amazing to think we've known each other for 22 years.) I'm happy to help, although am also happier that it's unauthorised -- biographies and things are like lifetime achievement awards, and they make me uncomfortable. After all the travel and suchlike I do not yet have anything resembling a brain, so the interview mostly consists of me going "Ummmmm." They are very patient.

When I go online right now I compulsively and automatically check the Beowulf rating over at (73% fresh as of time of writing.)
My favourite review so far today -- in terms of feeling that it reviews the film we wrote -- is Ty Burr's at the Boston Globe.

I expect I'll stop checking in a couple of days.

And I just picked up Maddy and her friends from a screening of Beowulf. Maddy found it just as scary as last time, and I am unconvinced that an audience of 13 year old girls is entirely what Beowulf is aimed at. "What did they think?" I asked Maddy.
"They think you're weird," she said.
"Oh. Sorry."
"But don't worry. I explained that you wrote it with Roger Avary, and that all the bits they didn't like, Roger wrote."

I trust that when she is old enough, Miss Gala Avary will adopt the same tactic.

Two new art blogs -- Mia Wolff's at and Jill Thompson's at (go down until you find the page from Magic Trixie).

The BBC World Service Anansi Boys radio adaptation goes out Saturday 20.00pm GMT ( and then for a week should be at

Labels: , ,

catching up

I'm not sure how I missed The Privilege of the Sword. It's a sequel to Swordspoint, which is one of my favourite of Ellen Kushner's novels, and thus one of my favourite books. (Ellen Kushner would be my evil twin, only she's a girl, we're not related, and I strongly suspect that if either of the two of us is evil, then it's me.) When I was in LA last week, Harlan Ellison brought out a pile of books and said "Take something to read on the plane," and when I saw there was an Ellen Kushner book I hadn't read, I grabbed it with enthusiasm. I read the first half of the book on the way to the UK, the second half just now on the way back. It's lovely -- disconcertingly it moves from a first person to third person and back, and just as disconcertingly it feels at times like a YA novel for really smart YAs, only with lashings of hot sex. Everything happens in it just as it ought. Katherine is fifteen, a well-brought-up country girl, whose mad Uncle, the Duke, is going to make her a swordsman. And he does... It's elegant and fun and delightful.

So. A report on the last few days. Right.

I had an impromptu birthday party of great wonderfulness held in the hotel and organised ("Dad, I didn't organise it, the hotel did it all, I keep telling you,") by my daughter Holly. A wonderfully random assortment of friends came out, all on no notice -- including some, like Geoff Ryman and John and Liliana Bolton, who I have not seen in years. Champagne was quaffed. (Quaffing is like drinking only you spill more towards the end.) Mitch Benn showed up at half past twelve (by which time it was no longer my birthday and it was now his daughter Greta's) and sang "Be My Doctor Who Girl" while accompanying himself on his guitar until the hotel made him stop.

The 11th was the Beowulf premiere. It was huge -- an event that dwarfed the LA version. Flames gusted from the side of the building, there was a thirty foot high TV with Vikings and drums in front of it, thousands of people, and the whole thing was enormous. I tried to sign as many autographs as I could, and was yanked away to do interviews, but did the last part of the red carpet with Holly. I knew I had finally made it when I saw myself identified as "unidentified cast member" in the online premiere photos.

[Edit to add; I have been identified. I am Crispin Glover.]

Occasionally I get rather odd letters in on the FAQ line shouting at me for SELLING OUT TO MAMMON and WHY DON'T YOU WRITE NOVELS ANYMORE YOU HOLLYWOOD MOVIE SELLOUT, all the kinds of things that make me wonder why the people didn't send the letters in back in 1997 when I went off with Roger and we actually wrote Beowulf (or at least in March 2005 when we did the rewrite) and I find them as strange as I do the people asking why I no longer write comics ("But I do," I tell them. "In the last five years I wrote more comics than anything else.") It's weird being told you've sold out or gone Hollywood for work you did many years ago. Even so I found myself feeling peculiarly Hollywood at the London premiere, wearing my flash jacket and marching with Roger, Bob Zemeckis and the stars from cinema to cinema as Ray Winstone thanked people for coming and then added, cheerfully, "And I WILL kill your monstah."

(Relieved to see Beowulf's been certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Some people really like it and some people really don't, but the former outnumber the latter.)

And then up really early on the 12th, flew a couple of hours, had a business meeting, then drove into the more or less webless wilds for a day, had a day off, slept mostly, then got up at 2:30am to drive back to civilisation.

I often grumble about cell phones, but anything you can use to bring help when your car shreds a tyre on a mountain road at 6.00 am is all right in my book. Somehow I didn't even miss my plane back to London or my plane to the US.

And now I am home after 26 hours travelling. A busy three days, then off to the Philippines with Mike, then I finish The Graveyard Book...


Thursday, November 15, 2007


Still alive. Long update to write -- but have to get on plane now so here is a photo of me and my lovely daughter at the London BEOWULF premiere on the 11th.

Photo by Elliott Franks.


Saturday, November 10, 2007


Just did the Second Life press conference. Just before it started the nice lady from Warners excused herself to give my privacy to be interviewed. "Before you go," I said, very aware that whatever can go wrong on these things will always go very wrong, "give the dial-in info, in case I get cut off."

Because whatever can go wrong will on these things, Roger Avary, half-way across London, was the one who got cut off, without the call in number, and I was the one who wound up talk-talk-talking to make up for it.

Other than that, a nice birthday so far. Lots of interviews, and then, as I had a couple of hours down time, I had tea with my friend Derren Brown for the first time since this post, which was astonishingly pleasant (and we were surprised to discover that we both went to the same school).

norman mailer has died.


or no thoughts?

Just a bit saddened. I had a lovely dinner with Norman and Norris back in about 1990, at the house of Martha and John Thomases. Norman was ferociously smart, and surprised me at one point when he went off on a rant about the English and quinine and tonic water by interrupting himself when he realised I was English and being desperately keen to make sure I hadn't taken offense -- the opposite of the pugnacious image he'd acquired. I liked Harlot's Ghost and Ancient Evenings, wasn't a huge fan of a the early books that got him his reputation, and owed an enormous amount of why-Sandman-was-taken-seriously-in-the-early-years to Norman's quote on the cover of Season of Mists, for which I shall be forever grateful.

(Edit to add -- Martha talks about it at

Ok, I have to ask - why did you decline to interview Nico? I'm a sorta fan of VU, and I think I'd be as interested in talking to her as I would be in talking to Lou Reed (who I think is one of the most interesting figures in modern music.) And I'd think that at that point you'd not really be in a position to decline an interview without a pretty good reason... So SPILL good sir!

Because at that point -- 1984ish -- she was a drug burnout who couldn't manage more than a sentence, and wasn't actually interviewable. And after she had wandered off into the crowd her manager looked at me and said "You aren't going to interview her then, are you?" and I said, "I'm afraid not". There's a great book called THE END aka SONGS THEY NEVER PLAY ON THE RADIO (I think) by (if memory serves) James Young about Nico at that time.



Later. Mr Gaiman has drunk too much champagne to continue this blog entry.

& so to bed.


Friday, November 09, 2007

Just above the Bible, but just below Black Beauty

This morning in the Guardian I noticed that, just above the Bible on the list of the top twenty most re-read books in the UK, they listed Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Which is odd, because in the UK it is Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. But I was happy to see it there. (The full list.) And this on a day when a quote from me was on the front page of Google. (Beams foolishly.)

I just went to a small pre-birthday dinner tonight with friends, and it was one of the nicest evenings I've had in ages. Roger Avary saw Jonathan Ross's comics and original art collection and hungered for it, David Walliams apologised for telling me I looked like Lou Reed at the Stardust premiere ("I took it as a compliment," I said, and I did, and I told him the story of how I declined to interview Nico), the food was lovely, Matthew Vaughn told me that Stardust has now made about $118 million worldwide (over $20 million so far in the UK alone) and promised me one of the chandeliers from the witches' lair if I ever have anywhere to put it, and Holly hugged me a lot and told me I was a pretty good dad all things considered, which is as good as it gets.

Was just sent my avatar for the Second Life press conference thingie tomorrow. It looks exactly what I would look like if I was a lantern-jawed enforcer for a motorbike gang. Hurrah.

Sleep beckons. Also waves. Also makes threatening gestures and hops up and down until I notice.

Labels: , ,

Maddy would like to say a little thing about the premiere

I reminded Maddy about blogging the premiere. She sent me back the following, along with a note apologising for it not being very long ('just say like "maddy would like to say a little thing about the premiere" she instructed).


The day of the premiere was buckets of fun! Dad got a whole new outfit for the premiere. There was this fabulous jacket and can you believe it: he even got a charcoal grey t-shirt in the process!!! ISN'T THAT CRAZY?!?! It was a pretty big deal seeing as the shirt wasn't black. We really had a fun time at the premiere, I thought it was more fun than both of the Stardust premieres! The movie is good too although a little scary for me, but everyone else thinks it's amazing so apparently I'm just a wuss. :P I can't wait for everyone to see it though!


(And here is Roger and Gretchen Avary, Maddy, my agent Jon Levin and me at the premiere. And because people have actually asked what I am wearing, possibly a first in my life, I checked, and I am wearing a two button Yohji Yamamoto jacket with a t shirt by Rick Owens , supplied by a wonderful shop in LA called Maxfields.)

Labels: ,

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Quick reminder that you have a few hours to vote for this blog at Currently we're in second place to Sam Pepys diary.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

late night thoughts

Everyone else is at the official Beowulf Junket London hotel, but I'm not. I'm in the hotel I was in when I was in London for Stardust stuff, because in a year when you've travelled too much it's sort of nice to be able to walk through a familiar door and have someone say, "Hullo Mr Gaiman. Back again?"

Let's see. Dinner with daughter, scary goddaughter and the webelf (retired) in Kikuchi's in Hanway Street, which I've meant to try for ages and which is every bit as good as I'd heard it was. (Over at Mark Evanier's blog you can see a photo from a couple of nights ago's dinner of two comics icons and a bloke in a leather jacket who needs a shave.)

Flew over on British Airways and it was brilliant. Much more impressive than Virgin Upper Class. (Ah well. Soon the movie world will be done and it'll be back to travelling NorthWest as per usual.)

So, Neil...when a lovely person like yourself, who has adapted a story into a screenplay, shows up at red carpet events...what's that like? Meaning, do all the A-listers like Angelina say, "oh, hey! Neil Gaiman - script writer!" or do they go, "oh, hey! Who are you again?" I can't imagine what that would be like. I don't know what would be more nerve-racking: people like John Malkovich saying, "hey, I know you!" or people like him saying, "hmm...not sure I know you, but hello." I think probably the former is a bit scarier, but that's just me.

Stay well,

Andrea the Demonic Ice Cube

I think this may be a redundant thing to say, but it depends on whether they know who I am or not, and they would know who I am either because we've physically worked together and met before or some other way. (The some other way can be anything from reading Sandman to reading this blog, or just being the parent of someone who does -- something that I was reminded of at the premiere when I was introduced to Kathlyn Beatty's mum and dad.)

The people who know who I am know who I am. The ones that don't, don't. But I think that's true for whoever you are or whatever you do in life, and it isn't just about red carpets.

This isn't really a question, but didn't see any other contact info -- I ran across this item tonight for people who play Second Life: a free Beowulf avatar that looks pretty cool. Info here: Also available is a free (virtual) movie t-shirt.

There's also a Second Life press conference for Roger and me on Saturday -- details at

It'll be my first time on Second Life.

The webgoblin is going to be moving us from the ancient version of Blogger we're on to something newer, which should avoid some of the problems of recent days. It may create some new problems, so bear with us in the week to come, but we are hopeful that all will be well.


Since you are now on strike and cannot write or rewrite anything for movies or television, would it not be a wonderful time to write some comics?

Be a better time to finish a 5/8ths finished novel.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pretty much a test post

Hi, Neil,

I was trying to read your last post at your Journal (the one titled "Roger and me"), or what my RSS agregator points like your last post, but I'm redirected to an Error Message page (404 - page not found).

Well, uh... Thanks,


Apparently Blogger is having problems right now and things aren't posting. Why they are happily appearing on the various feeds but appearing late or not at all on the journal is a mystery, but one that shall I have no doubt be resolved in time...

So this is more or less a placeholder blog entry to see if publishing it is likely to make it or any previous entries show up.

This photo from last night is possibly the only photo ever taken with me in it in which someone else is wearing a leather jacket and I am not.

As I said the other day, I'm happy about the Beowulf early reviews that are coming in, because I had got really tired of the amount of on-line silliness I'd been reading by people who were exercising the ancient internet privilege of writing confidently about things they didn't know anything about.

I don't think everyone will love the film, no more than everyone loves any film, but I think it's a lot more of a movie than people might have been expecting, and am taking possibly too much pleasure in the tone of "I thought it was going to be rubbish but then I saw it..." early reviews that have started to trickle out. This one in animation magazine -- -- says things like

...It’s a thoroughly engrossing and thrilling achievement, and everyone who worked on it should be very proud.

From the monster Grendel’s first attack on King Hrothgar’s mead hall, it’s clear that this is not The Polar Express. Beowulf is bloody, bawdy, cheeky, sexy and generally cool. The year is 518 A.D. and the title character has come to the Danish kingdom of Herot to rid it of its demon. Boastful, cocksure and overly macho, he comes off at first like a close cousin of the Gerard Butler character in 300, but eventually proves to be a deeply flawed hero more akin to the subjects of Greek tragedies. The screenplay by Neil Gaiman (Coraline, MirrorMask) and Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction) takes some liberties with the original tale and weaves a smart and tangled web that suggests that the epic poem passed down through the oral tradition was only half of the story.

I’ve often questioned the logic of going through the trouble of making realistic CG humans when you can simply photograph real actors, but it makes sense with this particular project because it’s important that the humans and the monsters look like they belong in the same world....

...It’s a shame the film probably won’t be qualified to compete for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Academy Awards because most people will see it as animation. On the other hand, it might not be fair to lump it in with films involving performances that are completely animator-driven. As it stands, Beowulf is in a category of its own and the Academy doesn’t know what to do with it. But it may be forced to come up with something, especially if it proves to be a major box-office hit.

Beowulf succeeds in delivering where most of the summer “event” films have failed this year. It’s solid entertainment with a gripping story and complex characters that aren’t off-the-shelf clich├ęs. It’s not a perfect movie, and one that is sure to have its critics, but I think it’s one of the year’s biggest surprises and deserves to be seen by a lot of people. I’m sure it holds up in standard projection, but do yourself a favor and drive the extra distance to an IMAX theater and see it in 3D.

Anne Thompson's Variety Blog entry on Beowulf -- -- quotes Stephen Schaefer's review, which begins
Seeing is believing with Robert Zemeckis’ mighty, monumental “Beowulf,” which opens Nov. 16. This extravagant adaptation of the epic poem about a cursed kingdom invents a 6th century A.D. Denmark that is so richly detailed, romantic and engrossing it’s like seeing the Prince Valiant comic strip brought to blazing, 3-D life, a childhood fantasy realized in such a complete way you’re stupefied with delight.
and ends
Big Oscar Question: Is this in the running for Best Picture or Best Animated Feature?
And my favourite quote came from the LJ of someone who was at the premiere last night --
It's always fun to go into a movie with no expectations and then realize, as the credits roll and the final moments sink in and the exhilaration of powerful storytelling lights up the crowd -- the applause, the dropped comments and overheard conversation as we work our way up the aisles -- that you were one of the first to experience what will be a major hit, and you came to it fresh, without buzz or hyped-up expectations or knowledge of the story's main revelations, which will soon be impossible for audiences everywhere except for those who might be emerging from under logs and rocks. And that it will be a hit not because it was a manufactured hyped-up corporate Event (and the sequel of a sequel of a sequel), but because it's just good, right down to its well-structured story bones, and people will just like it and tell other people how much they liked it. Like I'm telling you now. How positively quaint and old-fashioned.


(Here's more or less the complete transcript of the Beowulf Press Conference from which the Angelina Quotes were taken out of context, all around the world.)

Incidentally, I think the educational pack done for Beowulf is simply wrong. Part of the point of the Beowulf movie that Roger and I wrote is the places it diverges from the story of Beowulf, and the ways it explores the relationship between a person and a story about a person. I don't think they should be putting the stuff we made up on material intended for schools -- it seems like a way of justifiably irritating teachers, who have enough to put up with when they try to teach Beowulf without us making their lives harder. It would have been much more interesting to have put up either the original, or one that talked about the differences -- I'd absolutely encourage high schoolers to see our version and talk about what changed and why.

Labels: , , ,

Roger and Me

What was the red carpet like? It was like this...

And here's Roger Avary and me on the Red Carpet line.

Maddy has promised to write me a blog entry about this evening. She is now on a Red Eye home in order not to miss any school -- her insistence, not mine, bless her.

It was a lovely night.

Labels: , ,

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Fifth of November

Happy Guy Fawkes Day!


there's never a better day to attempt to blow up your government. Especially disguised as a barrel of herrings.

I won't be having a bonfire tonight. I'll be walking the red carpet. Argh.


Spot the typo?

Angelina Jolie has admitted she was got a little shy when she saw her nude scenes in her latest film “Beowulf.” The actress says although the nude scenes were stimulated, she was still a little embarrassed. “I was a little shy,” she says. “I was really surprised that I felt that exposed. There were certain moments where I actually felt shy – and called home, just to explain that the fun movie that I had done that was digital animation was, in fact, a little different than we expected.” -- from


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Failing to sleep in

There's nothing like a day when you can sleep in, especially when you are in a hotel a long way from home and you don't have to take anyone to school or take anyone for a walk. It almost never happens -- normally if I'm in a hotel I have to set alarm clocks. And the whole sleeping in bit is made even better when the day before was long and exhausting, and made better than that by the fact the clocks have gone back an hour so I can really sleep as long as I want to plus an hour...

But the front desk phoned at seven a.m. to let me know I had a driver I didn't want or need or order waiting to take me nowhere at all. And that was that on sleeping in for the morning. So I shall write a slightly sleepy morning blogpost instead.

It's weird. They call these things junkets. It's a word that means either "a sweet dessert", "a party" or "a trip made for pleasure at someone else's expense". And the pleasure trip aspect is certainly there for the journalists, who get flown to somewhere nice by the film company, put up in hotels, see the film and then spend a day or a few hours talking to the people who made it. When I was a journalist, getting on a junket was always considered a good thing -- a small amount of work for a fair amount of pleasure and adventure.

Having done a few of them now on the other side of the press conference table I think it's worth mentioning that they aren't really junkets for the people organising them or for the people being interviewed. They are work.

We assembled yesterday morning early in a hotel back room. A lady did hair and make up for the cameras (which means, in my case, a bit of powder, and then her looking at my hair and asking "Is it meant to be like that?" and me saying, um, yes, sorry). Then into a back room to be led onto the stage for a press conference. Ray Winstone and Crispin Glover had just seen the film and loved it (Crispin: "And mostly I don't like films I'm in,"), John Malkovitch, Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie haven't yet seen it. Bob Zemeckis was there but decided some years ago not to do things like interviews and junkets and press conferences (very wise, and I rather wish I could do likewise).

I like Angelina. She's nice, very professional, and has a slightly goofy sense of humour. Last time I met her was November 2005, when she was doing the acting bit of Beowulf. Even then, it had already been reported in the papers that she had closed down production on Beowulf by walking off the set after a fight with Ray Winstone -- two weeks before her first day on set. I realised that where she was concerned the press were happy to simply make up stuff that sounded credible. It didn't need have to have any basis at all in reality.

It was obvious during the press conference that a large contingent of the press just wanted to talk to her and talk about her private life, something she declined to do and handled with grace and aplomb. Overall, the press conference went well (I think my favourite bit was the way Ray Winstone, answering questions, always refers to me and Roger Avary as "The Boys", as if we're a couple of writing hardcases who will come over to your house and beat you up with our typewriters.)

And then on to interviews. Round tables: a dozen journalists in each room, and Roger and I go in, talk for half an hour and are then moved to the next room, where another dozen journalists are waiting to ask the same questions, while Anthony Hopkins, always one room behind, is moved into the room we were in.

And then it was off to hotel rooms for individual interviews, and telephone interviews with journalists in Kansas and suchlike places. And then, brain dead, we were done.

The reaction to the film from the journalists and interviewers, who had seen it the previous night, seemed overwhelmingly positive, which was a relief.

It's nice that people have started to see the film, and are now actually talking about the thing they've seen. (I got a bit tired of reading online "reviews" of the film, which were always mash-ups of what people thought they'd seen in the trailers with what they imagined we were doing to the story, along with complaints about visuals they hadn't properly seen yet, which then normally concluded with the loud and proud announcement that as they knew they wouldn't like it, they wouldn't be seeing it, and it certainly wouldn't be Beowulf. Several of them were written by people who should, I thought, know better. I've never minded getting bad reviews, but in the past they've always come from people who had at least read or seen the thing they were complaining about.)

Anyway, now we've started screening it, real reactions are coming in.

Here's a letter Jeff Wells that he put up at his blog in advance of his review appearing, which he's posted I think partly because he was embarrassed by having said nasty things about Beowulf last week before seeing it
Here's someone who saw a preview screening at UCLA -
and another early screening blog
Moriarty reviewed it over at aintitcool -- -- and I'm sure that lots of other reviews are going to start surfacing now that people are seeing it. (It's not that we were playing the completed film close to our chest. It's just that it wasn't completed -- the film, in its final form, was only emitted from the computers this week. And the Imax 3D print people started seeing on Friday afternoon was only completed on Friday morning.)


Dear Neil,

About two or three months ago I was found a book in the New Release section by you and Micheal Reaves. Being a fan of yours, I bought the book, presuming it would be good. It was good.

However, it didn't seem to be your style exactly so I checked the release date: 2007.

I was surprised that I hadn't heard anything about this book on your blog since I have been reading it for about a year, maybe more.

I thought that maybe, albeit doubtfully, there was someone else in the world named Neil Gaiman.


The book is called Interworld.

Just asking why you havent mentioned it at all on your blog.


I'm posting this to remind people that there is a SEARCH function on the pages. They take you to If you typed in Interworld it would give you about 15 hits from the website, first among them which is all the times I've labelled a blog entry Interworld since I've been doing labelling on this blog (basically this year). And which would answer all your questions...

Hello, Neil!

Sorry if this is old news, but your journal has been nominated for Best Literature Blog on the 2007 Weblog Awards.

The voting closes November 8 and you're currently in the lead!

Best of luck,


Thank you! What fun. (Which left me suddenly wondering what happened to the "Bloggers Choice" awards -- looks like they get handed out next week in Las Vegas.)


Lots of people asking what's happening in the Philippines in a couple of weeks. I'm talking to an ad congress -- I don't think the event is open to the public -- and doing something with Fully Booked (I googled but only found

Anyway. Maddy is here -- I've told her she has to blog the Premiere please -- and I am going off to be a dad now. (In the interests of fairness, I should add that an apologetic fruit basket has just arrived from the people who sent the 7.00 am car and driver, putting me in mind of the Elvis Costello bit on the old Larry Sanders Show. And that Maddy has been eating the gummi bears out of it.)

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, November 03, 2007

words, words

Hi Neil,
I was considering your new book Odd and the Frost Giants. Before I started working in my current job I would have thought 'Odd' an amusing name for a character because of its meaning in the English language.

However, I now work for a company that employs a lot of Norwegians and there is many a person named Odd amongst them, including the wonderfully named Odd Erik Stangeland.

What made you choose 'Odd' for your character? (Incidently I did a quick search for Odd and found that its etymological meaning could be from Old Norse {oddr}, meaning 'point of a sword (weapon)' - I wonder how it came to mean what it does in modern english...)
Aberdeen, Scotland

As you say. Actually the book begins,

There was a boy called Odd, and there was nothing strange or unusual about that, not in that time or place. Odd meant the tip of a blade, and it was a lucky name.

He was odd though. At least, the other villagers thought so. But if there was one thing that he wasn't, it was lucky.

His father had been killed during a sea-raid, two years before, when Odd was ten. It was not unknown for people to get killed in sea-raids, but his father wasn't killed by a Scotsman, dying in glory in the heat of battle as a Viking should. He had jumped overboard to rescue one of the stocky little ponies that they took with them on their raids as pack animals.

and how I found it? Before I started writing, I called my favourite Norwegian, Iselin Evensen (last seen on this blog taking me to a tomb in Oslo I think), and she put several lists of old Norse names and nicknames and what they meant and suchlike together for me, and Odd jumped out from the list and started waving.

According to points of weapons were triangles, and the three-sided-ness gave us the concept of odd versus even, and from there we probably got odd versus normal...

Squirrel billingsgate? From whence cometh the reference, please an thank you? (I Googled it, and know that Billingsgate is a section of London, and there is or was a fishmarket there. But, I'm not sure what that has to do with Squirrels being 1)so greedy they'll eat anything put anywhere, and 2) Squirrels being unjustly detained in woodchuck traps.)

Regards, Siri

The fish market of Billingsgate was famous for the salty and interesting language of the people who worked there, who all swore like, um, fishwives. According to the 1811 Grose Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue,

billingsgate language

Foul language, or abuse. Billingsgate is the market where the fishwomen assemble to purchase fish; and where, in their dealings and disputes, they are somewhat apt to leave decency and good manners a little on the left hand.

Labels: ,

Friday, November 02, 2007

The past tense of looming

The chipmunk was still in my drainpipe. It made noises in the night. It threw wild chipmunk parties on the other side of the wall to the headboard of my bed. Something had to be done. There was a trail of birdseed leading in to the drainpipe, left by the chipmunk. I thought, right. Best thing to do is to catch him and then move him somewhere else, and while he was out to put something in the drainpipes like a metal grille or wire-wool or something a chimpunk cannot get through.

There's a live trap in the garage I've used over the years to relocate woodchucks. I got it and put it at the base of the drainpipe. I filled a bowl with sunflower seeds as bait and put it into the trap. I went inside to answer the phone.

"Any particular reason you're trapping squirrels?" asked my assistant Lorraine as she came in.

"You mean chipmunks," I said. And then, "Oh bugger."

I went out and freed the squirrel from the trap, who ran up into a tree and shouted rude things at me in Squirrel. Things so obviously rude and personally insulting that I was just relieved I don't speak squirrel.

The chipmunk is still, of course, in my drainpipe.

I do not care, because I am off for the Beowulf junket and premiere and will not sleep in my bed for a while. Maybe by the time I get home he'll have moved.


More information on the Dave McKean "Luna" origami crabs at

a "Nice Hair" Hallowe'en treat from Miss Em -- a three page story in which her Neil character becomes... ah, but that would be telling... (I liked the way he was lured out by a cup of tea most of all...)

Hi Neil.

I was wondering if the looming writer's strike has the potential to impact any of your projects.


Aurora, CO

More than looming. It has loomed, and I am now On Strike. I've never been On Strike before. (Mark Evanier's blog -- -- gives a lot of background and information on today's events, and adds to it.)

And yes, it impacts some of my projects. It means that the US TV network that wanted to option a book of mine to make into a TV series isn't going to be able to buy it (or anything else of mine) until the strike is done. It means that I'm not going to be able to do the rewrites and polishes on the 1999 NEVERWHERE movie script for Hensons and the Weinstein Company until the strike is done. It means that Roger Avary and I won't be able to rewrite or polish or work on BLACK HOLE. That I can't discuss or sign on to (MOVIE X) until the strike's done.

I also need to talk to the WGA and find out whether I can write a TV project for the BBC (I suspect the answer will be No, but I should ask).

It doesn't impact Beowulf, which was written in 1997 and rewritten in 2005, and Roger Avary and I will still be doing the press for it, because that's not a writing job. I don't know if it impacts Henry Selick's work (as a writer, not as a director) on Coraline or not -- probably not.

Truth to tell, I'm in a slightly better position than most WGA writers in that I can (and do) write books and things that aren't TV and films in addition to writing TV and films, so all it means is I'm now going to finish writing a book a would have finished writing anyway, and when that's done I'll raise my head above the parapet, blink, look around and figure out what I'm going to do next.


I was talking a few days ago about having somewhere to put photos of all the Hallowe'en costumes based on stuff I'd written, and Emily rose to the challenge:

Calling all Neil fans:

A Flickr site has been created so that you can share photos of any Neil-inspired costumes, crafts, or other creations that you have made. The photo album can be viewed here:

Instructions on how to submit your photos to the album are here:

We've already got a couple of submissions. Keep 'em coming!


Hi Neil,

Just curious, how do you see this journal of yours, especially in relation to the newly rising blog culture that we have here, as well as your growing fame-itude? It seems that when you first started, no one really knew what to write in these internet thingies, and now even dogs have blogs. Where do you see yourself on the blog spectrum? Related to this, I remember you mentioning at a talk several years ago that you wanted to limit your fame-itude by not getting your photo into books and suchlike (citing Stephen King as an example, I think). And yet I can "see" you every day in my rss feed aggregator, along with images of Maddy and odd videos here and there. So my question is, what has changed over the last few years? Your view on fame-itude? Your blogging habits? The internet?

Many thanks,


I've never minded author photos on books -- the Stephen King thing I would have mentioned was Steve telling me that he wished he had never done the American Express "Do You Know Me?" ad, when suddenly people knew what he looked like. It moved his face into public consciousness. (I'm glad to say I don't think I'm there yet -- and I hope I never will be.)

I guess I'm more famous than I'm comfortable with, but that's just something that is, and I don't think there's much that can be done about it. I don't think it has much to do with the blog, or with the fact that you can watch videos of me on YouTube. And I've managed to go many years without seeing myself on the blog spectrum, but if I have to be anywhere I'd like to be at the point where the indigo shades into the violet, please.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, November 01, 2007


I found this on the Fabulist and it made me happy. So I am posting it here...

According to The new Tullycraft album 'Every Scene Needs A Center' officially comes out tomorrow on Magic Marker Records. Today we have a video for the album track, Georgette Plays A Goth. It's about a waitress who occasionally shows up to her posh restaurant shift dressed as a goth. It was illustrated and animated by George Pfromm II.


Bone thoughts

I'm rereading Bone, still. Rereading the first episodes for the first time since I wrote the introduction to "The Great Cow Race" was really strange, in light of where the story went, but the most impressive, unexpected thing about that part of Bone is how very consistent it was from the start.

There's a G. K Chesterton quote about Dickens' The Pickwick Papers, where he says

... the fault of Pickwick (if it be a fault) is a change, not in the hero but in the whole atmosphere. The point is not that Pickwick turns into a different kind of man; it is that "The Pickwick Papers" turns into a different kind of book. And however artistic both parts may be, this combination must, in strict art, be called inartistic. A man is quite artistically justified in writing a tale in which a man as cowardly as Bob Acres becomes a man as brave as Hector. But a man is not artistically justified in writing a tale which begins in the style of "the Rivals" and ends in the style of the Iliad. In other words, we do not mind the hero changing in the course of a book; but we are not prepared for the author changing in the course of the book.
CHESTERTON -- Charles Dickens, The Last of Our Great Men

...which is, I think, the problem that many readers have with Cerebus (a narrative created over nearly 30 years), and would have certainly been the problem with Sandman if I'd kept writing it -- that I was no longer the person who had started it a decade before. And I think that, if asked, I would have put Bone there in my head, too, that it started like Walt Kelly and ended like Tolkien. But no, everything that made the last third of Bone what is was is absolutely laid out in the opening books.

Right. Back to reading and making notes.

Labels: , , ,