Thursday, June 26, 2008

Holly's Birthday Post

Have you ever had the odd feeling that a headline writer exists in an entirely different universe to the one that you live in? For example, you would expect an article headlined I create gods all the time - now I think one might exist, says fantasy author Terry Pratchett to be, perhaps, about how Terry Pratchett now thinks there is a god. The subtitle, The best-selling fantasy author grew up not believing in a supreme deity - until the day the universe opened up to him as he was preparing for another spell on a chat-show would also lead you to the same conclusion, demonstrating that the headline writer simply didn't bother to read the article, which begins
There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.
Very odd, but also very Daily Mail.

I'm sure you've been asked this quite a bit, but since you're going to be in San Diego for the Clarion workshop, are you planning on doing any outside signings or even anything Comic-Con-related (since it's the same weeks you're teaching)?

Also, are there any campus related events revolving around the workshop, like bookstore signings or the like? I ask because I'm a poor grad student at UCSD and couldn't justify taking the time from my thesis research (and money I don't have) to even think about applying to Clarion, though now I'm thinking I should have at least tried.

Good luck with the workshop!

There may well be a signing at Mysterious Galaxy. Probably a couple of days before Comic Con gets going, just to keep the numbers at the signing to manageable levels. No plans at all to go to the con, although it's not impossible that I'll find myself doing a Coraline panel on the Saturday.

Dear Mr, Gaiman,

I've been happily buying up the Absolute Sandman volumes as they've been coming out. It's been a joy to re-read through the series. I used to have the series in trade form, but was always a little disappointed not only that they weren't in sequential order, but also the incredibly small Vol.3 trade. I digress.

My question to you is regarding the afterwords found in the Absolutes. I think, as a fan, I've been a little spoiled by some of the personal retrospects on your previous work, either from 1602 or Smoke & Mirrors. I was expecting more reflection on your run on Sandman, talking about why you wrote this or how you came up with that or who inspired this. I guess I found the final afterwords in the Absolutes to be a little disappointing, especially after so much material is in the books already.

Also, a part of me had hoped that the introductions in many of the TPB's would have made their way into the Absolutes, but that's a minor point.

Will always be a big fan,

Nick Piers

I didn't really think that the world needed me pontificating on Sandman. I think the work stands on its own (or I hope it does), and given that the very first afterword of all -- on The Doll's House, nineteen years ago -- said that the policy on Sandman afterwords was going to be "Never apologise, never explain" I think that either apologising or explaining would have been equally inappropriate.

If you want that kind of thing, though, The Sandman Companion, by Hy Bender, was filled with apologies and explanations both, along with lots of other things -- much of it consisted of interviews with me about just the stuff you were hoping for.

The idea of The Absolute Sandman volumes was to bring out the 2000 pages of the work as best we could, with the colours of the first 49 issues corrected and brought up to modern times, with any text corrections that had evaded us in the past corrected, with, in each volume, about a hundred pages of hitherto unpublished scripts and pencils and extra material, including never-reprinted short stories. It was never planned that I'd do an exegesis or annotation.

There are of course annotations to Sandman up at, although reading them I always find myself going "That's true... that's accurate... that's perceptive... that's complete and utter bollocks and factually inaccurate to boot... that's well-spotted... hmm, they missed all the rest of the references there...". So perhaps I should try to persuade DC Comics to let Les Klinger do an Annotated Sandman for the 25th Anniversary...


You mentioned in the blog recently about doing Graveyard Book movie meetings.

Since you are at the point in your career where you are essentially ensured that the film option will be purchased on anything you choose to write, do you think you have started, either consciously or unconsciously, writing with that eventuality in mind?

Do you find yourself stopping and going "Well, how would that translate to visual" or "Too much inner dialog in this scene"?

Curiously yours, and missing Cody's already. I found out while attending Rory Root's memorial at Flying Colors, so it was a bit of a double whammy.

I don't think so -- novels are novels and films are films and I suspect that if you tried to write a novel going, with each bit you wrote, "this scene needs to work as a film" you'd just wind up writing a book that read like, and was as unsatisfying as, a novelisation.

Hi Neil

Many years ago, more or less when it was made clear to me that the character of Fiddler's Green had based his appearance on that of G.K. Chesterton, I started reading Chesterton's books whenever I could find them. Needless to say, I think he is the closest a fairly obscure writer (to modern readers) can get to a National Treasure, and it's a shame that virtually all of his work is out of print. But then imagine my delight when I came across the following recently published volume:

An incredible bargain, and one that I'd urge any of your fans to get hold of if they want to read some of the best work ever written in the English language. And no, I don't work for Wordsworth Editions.



What an enormous -- and astoundingly cheap -- book.

I was just reading an interview you did with Raintaxi in which you said that you didn't think much about your audience when writing, except for age. I found this interesting because my high school English teacher drilled into my head that the audience was the most important thing to keep in mind when writing. (I once said that the audience for something I'd written was "anyone who wants to read it," and he said that was a lazy answer.) Is it still true that you don't consider the particulars of your audience? How important do you think it is for most writers to do so?

(The Raintaxi interview is here.)

I suppose if pushed I'd have to admit that the audience I'm mostly writing for, when I'm writing, is, er, me. Or someone a lot like me, who's read a lot and likes the same kinds of thing in a story that I do.

If I'm writing a book intended for children it probably won't have any swearing or sex in it, although Anansi Boys doesn't have any swearing or sex in it, and it's an adult novel.

I think it's a good thing to decide that you want to write for an audience of nice, smart people who, if they reread a book or comic will enjoy making connections they didn't see the first time, for example, or who will work for something and take pleasure from working for it if there's something there to get (my ideal audience, I think). I think it's useful to use yourself as a sample of your audience -- I did when I was writing Sandman.

But beyond that I don't envision an audience, and I definitely don't write for an audience, or I might start second-guessing myself and writing to please an imaginary audience and not to please myself. And the only person whose taste I'm really familiar with is me.

(The truth is, even the imaginary reader of this blog, is me. I put up links that interest me. I don't think most people want to know what's in a Magic 8 Ball, or even that the blue liquid inside a Magic 8 Ball might be toxic, but it makes me happy.

Also this blog officially supports Saving the Cryptozoological Museum.)

Dear Mr. Gaiman,

I'm currently tutoring two young boys, ages 9 and 7, who are very reluctant readers. I've spent the past few months happily ploughing through all of your work, so I thought I'd spread the Gaimany goodness in hopes of raising interest. I've started the 9-year-old on Coraline, and read The Wolves in the Walls with the 7-year-old. After I read him the final pages today, he shut the book and flipped it over to look at the cover. He sighed a deep sigh of satisfaction.

"That's probably the second-best book I've ever read," he said quietly.

Pleased and surprised, I asked him with the first-best book he'd ever read was. After looking wistfully out the window for several moments, he shrugged and replied "I don't remember. So I guess this is pretty much the best book I've ever read."

High praise from a 7-year-old boy, so I thought I'd pass it on. He has since decided to write his own (unauthorized) sequel called The Tigers in the Walls. ("The man who wrote this book has a good imagination," he explained, "but I want to know what happens when other animals come out of the walls." I later learned that apparently tigers play bingo and order pizza while disguised in long coats and wigs.)

Thanks for the stories and for your time,

~Mia Hrabosky

You're welcome! It made me smile.

And someone has a useful correction...

Hi Neil!

Just a correction, the 'Doorway to Hell' is in Darvaza, Turkmenistan. Not as 'Darvaza Uzbekistan' as reported on the various interweb memes mentioning it.

You can also see the fire pit on Google Earth/Maps.

The Google Earth Map link

But more interesting than that, while looking this up I found a quite different door to hell...

Thanks for the blogging,

- Jay Blanc

Thanks for the extra information.

Mr Neil,

Back in 2006 you mentioned that you were working on a project with Penn Jillette that would be a film adaptation of "The Road to Endor". Since I couldn't find any more recent mentions of it, (and I'm really hoping I'm not going to be one of those people who somehow misuse the search function and miss that in reality there is a clear and straight forward answer that would pop up immediately if only one could use search engines properly) I was wondering if this project is still happening or if it died along the way somehow.

Nicole Cannon

No, it didn't die. We wrote the script, had a reading, did a rewrite based on that, and then had another reading of the script (with Bill Nighy as one of the leads, along with Andrew Scott and Dan Bittner, which was magic). Then we waited. Hilary Bevan Jones, who is producing it, has been producing Richard Curtis's new film, The Boat That Rocked, and that's just wrapped. I saw her in England last week, and she's about to start talking to potential directors. When there's news I'll put it up here.

And finally,

Hey Neil! You finally got the attention of Cute Overload! They totally rolled all over you talking about how their raccoon pics are way better than yours. Are you going to take that lying down?

Well, the person who originally linked from this blog to Cute Overload was the Web Elf (retired), not me.

But yes, I'm definitely going to take that one lying down. They described me as snorglable, after all, so they win. And anyway, I hope that cute overload will always beat this blog for cute furry animal photos and clips, even if I may edge ahead of them from time to time in, say, links to Todd Klein's blog or to the Birdchick's latest updates on our bees.

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