Tuesday, March 04, 2008

the one with the Dave McKean Graveyard Book cover sketches in

Lots of people wrote to tell me that X-Rays were needed for TB tests, and some people suggested that they were in hand-baggage as they might be fogged by X-Rays in checked baggage, but no-one explained why there seemed no mechanism for anyone ever to look at the (quite expensive, and carried over in hand-baggage), x-rays until this arrived from Mr Petit...

Having been a commanding officer in the UK -- meaning I had to supervise
airmen and NCOs under my command when they wanted to bring their UK brides
back to the US -- I had to chuckle when I saw the note about the x-ray.

It's not required by the immigration folks (either Division 6, or anyone
else). Since it's a different federal agency, I'm not surprised that an INS
employee wouldn't know about it. It's required by the US Public Health
Service, for everyone, regardless of nationality, who is trying to immigrate.

And they do, on occasion, get checked, but only if there's advance reason to
believe there's "a substantial risk of exposure." For example, you can bet
that flights on foreign-flag carriers originating in, say, Nairobi get more
scrutiny than would a BA or AA flight from Heathrow.

The relevant statute was passed in 1938 (there may have been a predecessor,
but I doubt it) and hasn't been updated yet. What a surprise.

And this came in from my editor Jennifer Brehl at Harper Collins about the free American Gods -- I'm putting it up because she says it better than I could paraphrase it:

First of all, the online edition has been optimized and the embedded pages are moving much faster. I’ve asked that the widget confusion be fixed – i.e., open up widget to full book rather than older partial version.

We’re wondering if you might have some time tomorrow that we could call you and we could have a conference call to discuss things? We want your fans to know that we are responsive to their concerns and, although it’s painful getting the criticism, it’s also a good learning opportunity.

So there will be a conference call, and I'll report back on it.



Huge fan, metaphorically speaking, regular sized person.

Did you see this? You're creating favorites that stand the test of time:,,20181426_13,00.html.


Oh good.

(And I should mention, I loved this Michael Chabon New Yorker article about Superhero costumes.)

Hello Neil,
I am going to the Easter Con in Heathrow because I'd like to hear you. Could you recommend which day would have the most Neil-time or most Neil-events? I know I'm not made of the right stuff since I might have to be selective about the days at the con, and even though I'd love to build my own battle-ready space ship, I still would like to get two flies with one swat....being battle-ready an'all (Ahem!).

Thank you,


From the schedule, it looks like it's definitely Sunday.
-- and you get a Mitch Benn concert into the bargain.


Dave McKean says he doesn't mind me putting up his sketches for The Graveyard Book cover...

So to bring you up to speed...

Dave did a cover while I was writing the book. As the book continued, it became sort of obvious that the cover was younger than the book was, and we needed a cover that told adults that this was a book for them too.

So I finished the book and Dave read the book and did a bunch of sketches, all of which made me happy, and all of which felt a lot more like the book I'd written...

All of these are sketches, it's worth pointing out -- roughs for me and the various editors and art departments to look at and choose from. It's not finished art, nor is it meant to be.

(The actual typeface is something Dave plans to scan in and create from photos of old gravestones.)

And in the next post I'll tell you what the response was, and which one we wound up going with and why.

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