Monday, March 31, 2008

Airport Blogging

Sitting in an airport, getting really sick of Windows Vista on a laptop. It doesn't work -- I'm tired of waiting seconds for things to appear on the screen, of taking half a minute or more for something that ought to happen instantly to occur. The poor computer obviously can't run Vista, and shouldn't have been Vista certified, and the author isn't impressed with the way that a number of things that were easy in XP have got harder, nor with the fact it took most of a day for Vista to run a search on the hard disk to find a mislaid introduction I was working on, nor with its refusal to read or copy a bunch of files on a DVD Dave McKean burned for me (I wound up dragging them from the DVD to one of Dave's macbooks, from there to my iPod and from my iPod to the computer).

Have any of your readers suggested cures or workarounds for the Vista problem you describe in the 3-27 blog (sluggish text)? If so, please share -- many of us have the same problem.

A few people have written in to suggest I get extra memory, and I might, but I'm more likely to either a) say sod it and get an Airbook. It's heavier than the Panasonic W7 and doesn't have a disk drive, but it has a nice operating system that works or b) keep the computer and wander over to Linux Ubuntu.

My other solution is to warn the many people who read this blog that they may want to avoid Windows Vista.

Hi Neil

I have just finished reading "Odd and the Frost Giants" to my six year old son and I am thrilled that he enjoyed it so much. I bought it for myself initially but realised he would like to listen to it as a bedtime story. He spent most of the evenings wondering when Odd was going to meet the Frost Giants but now says his favourite part was how Odd grew after drinking from the well.

Now begins an internet hunt for some good children's books about Norse myths and legends - and I am definitely going to see if our library has "Eight Days of Luke" by Diana Wynne Jones, as I remember loving that as a child too.

Anyway, thank you very much for enhancing our bedtimes for the past week.


Roger Lancelyn Green's Myths of the Norsemen was the book that got me hooked when I was six or seven, and I saved up my money and bought a copy of Lancelyn Green's Tales of Ancient Egypt. Both of them are still in print.

For older readers who want a grounding in Norse myth, Kevin Crossley-Holland's Norse Myths is marvellous, and I see from his web site he's published a selection of it for younger readers called Viking!

Dear Neil,

I’m currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in creative writing. Shortly after I enrolled in a fiction writing course, I learned that my professor despises sci-fi and fantasy. I’m prohibited from writing them.

As an author of both, what are your thoughts on this? Does it get under your skin when academic circles dismiss sci-fi and fantasy as having “no merit”? Is there any hope for the genres to be more widely accepted? Can you leave me with any encouraging thoughts?

Thanks so much,


A number of possibilities suggest themselves. Learn what you can from your course, write what you want in your own time. Or write Magical Realism or the kind of mainstream/slipstream fiction that has the kind of content you like in it. Or take a different course.

Truthfully, it's been a long time since I've run into the kind of phenomenon you describe. Mostly academic circles seem to be really accepting of all kinds of fiction, including comics. I'm not entirely convinced this is a good thing -- I remember how much fun it was in St Louis about twelve years ago being told that the English Department was boycotting my visit because I wrote comics (I was brought in by the art department), and suspect that being frowned upon by academia is normally a sign of life.

The odd thing about writing is that nobody ever asks you for your credentials. You can have all the qualifications in the world and they still won't get your novel published by a real publisher -- nor, by the same token, will any qualifications count against you. What a publisher wants is a readable, interesting, well-told book. This came in recently in response to something from a few weeks ago, and it may help...


I just wanted to say a little something to Kathleen, who wrote to you asking for information on college writing classes. I don't know how you feel on the subject, but as someone who has written all my life and studied creative writing both in community college and, now, while earning my bachelor's degree I would just say to be careful what classes you take. If you are at a university known for its creative writing program, then go ahead and take the classes. However, if you're just at any old school that happens to have creative writing classes, be warned that it will be little more than being workshopped by your peers, who probably don't know much more than you. In a case like this, find a faculty member (or multiple faculty members) who know what they're talking about and work personally with them on your writing. I have yet to take a worthwhile creative writing class, and that saddens me. I'm studying at the University of East Anglia for a semester this fall, and i'm very
hopeful about the quality of their creative writing courses. But just write, and read, a lot, and find people you trust whose opinions you value and show them your work.


And then there's always things like and

Okay. I'm going to keep this short (so as not to take up too much of your time) and please try to read this in the spirit it is meant: could you please pull your finger out and write more books!!??

DOn't get me wrong. I'm sure you're busy and non-stop writing would be dull for you. But you create characters and worlds that are interesting, and they don't end in a way that could be considered final. The story ends, but the characters go on. It's the characters I want to read more about and so I put it to you (Mr. Gaiman) that youa re a slacker!! You get us (note how I'v promoted myself to spokesperson for everyone at this point) to engage with and enjoy reading your books, and then rarely continue the characters elsewhere! Yes I know shadow reappears in Fragile Things (the main reason why i bought the book), but it really is quite a short story and there's only the one. What about your sequel to Neverwhere?

Terry Practhett manages to produce three books before breakfast and he's quite old and sadly ill. You've no such excuse. Get on with it!

I suspect that you became a write / author because you're too slack to do a real job. Am I right?

I really, really hope you're trying to be funny because that Terry Pratchett comment made me feel a bit shuddery.

You don't seem to want more books, you seem to want more of the same book. If I'd written another Neverwhere novel instead of American Gods, you wouldn't have had American Gods.

I might well write another Neverwhere novel, or another American Gods novel. Right now, I really want to write more about the characters in The Graveyard Book. But I'm also very aware that when faced with two books I could write, one that covers stuff I've already written about and one that's something different, I'm more likely to try the something different.

If you'd like a long story about recurring characters, I'd point you to Sandman. It's about 2000 pages long, covers about 14 volumes (or four encyclopedia-sized ABSOLUTES and a couple of extra books)and should make you happy.

Second printing of Alphabets of Desire now available.

Mine hangs in the downstairs toilet. And I've promised Todd I'll write something for his next print.

I hate to ask you this but I can't think of what else to do... I ordered the Dave Mckean DVD from Amazon back in October. It's been delayed 3 times already and I've just been informed it's been delayed again, this time until June. Do you know if these are actually going to get reprinted so that I can watch it some day?



Dave says the Keanoshow DVDs are being printed now. The delays were about getting things right, and now they have.