Monday, June 02, 2008

Big catch up post

Home from the road. Today was quiet, all walks and bees. (While I was away Lorraine and Sharon had a Bee Adventure. Today I checked on the bees and they were all happy.)

Book Expo America was terrific but amazingly long -- my Friday began around 6.00am (getting ready for the author breakfast) and finished around 11:15pm (shortly before the end of the Audie awards, at which I was a presenter), with, on the way, a two and a half hour signing and an hour signing and a Graveyard Book meeting about how we're going to do the US tour in the autumn (the plan is to do a reading tour rather than a signing tour, closer than the Cody's event I did for Fragile Things which you can watch at Fora TV --

The first signing was a bit of a mess -- they'd scheduled it for the second the breakfast was meant to have ended, but it ran late and I was the last speaker and so didn't even get up to talk until after that, and they'd given out 350 tickets for an hour's signing (10.2 seconds per person ) with no real thought as to how they'd get those people through the line in that time. Which was why it was a two and a half hour signing instead of being an hour signing. The second signing, of The Dangerous Alphabet with Gris Grimly, was a lot less hectic (and we met Berkely Breathed, signing at a nearby table, and I got to be a fanboy).

I loved the breakfast -- Jon and Eoin and Judy and Sherman are the best and funniest people, and my only regret was that we didn't get any time together afterwards.

The breakfast. Left to Right: Me, Jon, Eoin, Sherman, Judy. Jon Sczieska is mostly hidden by a photographer. Also, it's pronounced Sheska.

At the end of the breakfast all 1200 people descended upon us (well, it felt like it). I signed one book before I was swept away to do my own signing...

Judy Blume and me. She was so funny and so nice and so very, very sharp.

Gris Grimly and I signed Dangerous Alphabets for people. He asked if we could trade the portraits we did of each other in the back of the book, and I had to admit that I suspected that I'd left the one I did of him in Dave McKean's studio, as I drew it there, and Dave scanned it for me and we sent it off. So I shall investigate.

Saying hello to (and exchanging Douglas Adams reminiscences with) Berkeley Breathed. I signed a book for him. He signed a book for me. I love my life

[Coincidentally, as I typed that, the phone rang. It was Berkeley Breathed trying to get an email address for me that worked, as he'd been given my old address, which I've stopped using as it worked, well, barely. I just got to tell him how the person buying Bloom County collections from Forbidden Planet in 1985, that was me!]

Saturday was less stressful but just as crammed. Entertainment Weekly had asked for a photo of me for an upcoming special issue, and they sent a stylist and some clothes along. I went into this very warily: this is the third EW shoot since the blog started. The first was at the House on the Rock in 2001, and was a bit of an endurance test: I stood beside the World's Largest Carousel for several hours unable to communicate with the photographer over the noise of the music; the next was in 2003, and was again something of an endurance test: I almost bit through my tongue and the resulting image was a very good photo of somebody who didn't look like me at all secretly sucking on an ice cube to stop the bleeding.

This time it was... pleasant. Christopher McLallen was the photographer, and he was great. No clenching of teeth or whirring fans, no eternal carousel music and huge automatic drums making it too loud to talk or think. They put me in a black jacket and a black on black stripy tee shirt, and then in a pin-stripe suit that felt so Gomez Addams I found myself humming the Vic Mizzy TV theme (not the song, but the bit of incidental music where people walk up the path to the house) while the photos were taken.

I don't really ever wear suits, but if I did, I'd wear that one.

The nice lady you can see in this picture (who has had to run out every few minutes to unrumple or uncrease me) is Joey Tierney, the stylist. Just behind me, Heather the assistant is moving a light. Make-up lady Lauren Cohen made me look like me only less spotty and rumpled.

From there to a PEN event, to a CAA event, to a Harper Collins event, and finally to dinner, which I found using my phone and the new magic (free!) version of Google Maps for phones that turns your phone into a GPS system and sushi locator.


Right. Lots of links and things to post, so I can close some tabs....

Claudia Gonson does a mix tape.

Harlan Ellison on Studio 360.

A 58 year old lady in Japan was arrested for secretly living in a someone's closet.

Thea Gilmore interviewed in the Guardian. (And I sigh, because though it's an article saying that she's one of the finest living singer-songwriters, it's in the women's lifestyle pages, rather than being the lead article in their music and arts pages.)

The end of the Endicott Studio.

Lisa Snellings Clark makes strange, magical art things out of the honey and bees that I sent her. (And then, being Lisa, she puts the things up on eBay for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Here's Bee, Honey, Drones and a Poppet

and here's the Queen bee in repose)

A miracle fruit that does strange things to the taste buds.

The Library Journal recommends books on fantastic cities and urban magic. Meanwhile the Guardian just recommends books that will take you to magical places.

Julian Gough stole Will Self's pig.

And finally,

Hi Neil,

I'm sure others have pointed this out already, but ... you should have said "the perils of therianthrophy". "Lycanthropy" refers specifically to werewolves; "therianthropy" refers to all breeds of animal shapeshifter. After discovering they're still active, I'd be careful about unwittingly insulting them ...Matt

I always wonder why people get most pedantic about things they've got a bit wrong. I've done it myself, often here on this very blog.

When I was about ten my favourite article in the huge and mouldering Encyclopedia Britannica we owned (the ninth edition) was the one on Lycanthropy. (Yes, I had a favourite 1890s Britannica article when I was ten. I am now aware this is not entirely usual.) I read it over and over and even wrote what I fancied was a highly original dramatic short story set in a police station in which a woman transformed herself into a cat (or possibly vice versa, time has fuzzed the details).

So when I was ten I was the kind of child who would have taken enormous pleasure in telling you that,

LYCANTHROPY is a term used comprehensively to indicate a belief, firmly rooted
among all savages, and lingering in the form of traditional superstition among
peoples comparatively civilized, that men are in certain circumstances
transformed temporarily or permanently into wolves and other inferior animals.
In the European history of this singular belief, wolf transformations appear as
by far the most prominent and most frequently recurring instances of alleged
metamorphosis, and consequently in most European languages the terms expressive
of the general doctrine have a special reference to the wolf. Examples of this
are found in the Greek lukanthropos, Russian volkodlák, English were-wolf,
German währwolf, French loup-garou. And yet general terms (e.g., Latin,
versipellis; Russian, óboretne; Scandinavian, hamrammr; English, turnskin,
) are sufficiently numerous to furnish some evidence that the class of animals into which metamorphosis was possible was not viewed as a restricted
one. It is simply because the old English general terms have been long diverted
from their original signification that the word "lycanthropy" has recently been
adopted in our language in the enlarged sense in which it has been defined

You can read the whole article I loved as a boy at

You can read the longer and different 1911 Britannica article, which states, "Although the term lycanthropy properly speaking refers to metamorphosis into a wolf (see Werwolf), it is in practice used of transformation into any animal" at --

And now I'm going to take the dog for a walk. The next few days will be spent in the KNOW studios in St Paul recording THE GRAVEYARD BOOK audio.

(All photos by the wonderful Cat Mihos.)

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