Monday, February 11, 2008

M is for Mirrors you'll stare in forever/ N is for Night and for Nothing and Never

I just opened the mail, to find an advance copy of The Dangerous Alphabet, a picture book written by me and drawn by Gris Grimly. It began as a Christmas Card I sent out to friends, and one of them, Elise Howard, my editor at Harper Children's, phoned one day to say that she had it framed on her wall, and kept reading it, and what would I think about turning my Christmas Card into a book.

Many phone calls with Gris Grimly later, it's a book... (it won't be in bookshops in the US until the end of April, though).

If it works, it'll be a sort of interactive book. The pictures tell a story, the words amplify it, but really, what actually happens in the book will be something for each reader to decide. I hope.

Hi Neil,

I've been curious about this for a bit, and the recent event of your blog's birthday prompted me to actually ask it...

Do you maintain this blog purely for pleasure, or is it part of some sort of contractual obligation with your publisher? (Or are you compelled to blog for some altogether different reason?)

Please note: Your answer won't stop me from reading it obsessively either way-- the "why" really doesn't affect my interest in the output at all-- I'm just curious!


I do it because I like it. There's no contract with anyone. Nobody pays me to do it. Nobody made me start, nobody but me gets to decide when I'm done. It's all owned by me. (The whole website, is paid for by Harper Collins, which is good, because the bandwidth is huge, but it keeps it all ad free, and gives them bragging rights over the kind of traffic the site gets.)

There are tangible things it's good for, obviously -- not doing signings to empty rooms, books going in at number one on bestseller lists, that sort of thing. I like that it can demystify the writing or the publishing process, sometimes, or that I can get questions about the most obscure things usefully answered in minutes. But that's all a sort of side-effect.

The bit that I find puzzling (as puzzling as the people who assume that I have People Who Write The Blog For Me) is the idea that I'd do this because I'm contracted to do it. There's not enough money in the world to make me do this for seven years unless I wanted to, trust me.

I do it because it's fun. I do it because writing is, like death, a lonely business. I do it because I've never managed to keep a diary, and because it's amazingly useful being able to search the blog and find out when I was last in Finland (say).

I really don't know how much longer it'll go on for, though. Mostly because I keep feeling that I'm starting to repeat myself. It's amazing how many of the things that come in on the FAQ line have been answered one way or another.

I'm definitely tempted by the publishers who've asked to do books collecting stuff from the blog. (So far the only one that exists is Adventures In The Dreamtrade, which contains, among other things, the whole of the "American Gods" blog, February to September 2001.) But don't, right now, have the time to spend thinking about what kind of book it would be.

It'll wait.


The poll is fascinating - partly, for me in the way that the results have held steady and consistent for the last 18,000 votes. Vote if you haven't...

Labels: , , ,