Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Another Year

Let's see. The biggest and the best news of the day is that Terry Pratchett is now Sir Terrence of Pratchett. Hurrah. 

I shall doff my cap the next time I see him. It will be the best-doffed cap in the land.

I shall buy a cap first, specially.


I spent half an hour yesterday talking to a reporter who was working on the obituary of someone who is currently very much alive, even in good health, and it was, well, very odd. I'd always known that obituaries aren't just knocked up (or perhaps tossed off. Look, neither phrase sounds particularly wholesome) on the spur of the moment by some dusty but hard-working obituarist whenever someone kicks the bucket, but that they are written ahead of time, often rewritten many times over the years (The Daily Telegraph's are the best. I don't know why this is, but it's true. Here's their obituary for Eartha Kitt, and this is my favourite Telegraph obituary ever, because it contains the lines
Despite a brisk code of discipline, Singleton took a laissez-faire approach out of the classroom. Every November 5 the smallest boy in the school was sent down a tunnel to light the very core of the bonfire. None, so far as anyone can recall, was ever lost.)
But this was strange -- discussing a living person as if they were dead, talking about their influence with (I hoped) balance, such that, when they died, they quotes would paint a picture for people who knew nothing about the person of what they did and why it mattered.


I thought I ought to say thank you to everyone who bought a copy of The Graveyard Book this year. It's been on the New York Times bestseller list since it came out, at the end of September. I'm astonishingly grateful, and so, in this time of economic scariness, is my publisher. Thirteen weeks on the New York Times list is a very long time.


In Odd and the Frost Giants, a very small book I wrote, we meet a boy called Odd, in Norway, in Viking times.

I keep thinking that there are two more stories of similar length I want to tell, each with Odd in it. One where he goes to Jerusalem, on the same route they did in the Orkeyinga Saga, and set one a few years after that where he goes a great deal further East -- but I was never sure why any Vikings would go further East than Jerusalem. And then Cheryl Morgan linked to this article (and pointed out that the Vikings were smart enough to bury people with the rubbish swords), and I read:
The tests at the NPL have proved that the inferior swords were forged in northern Europe from locally worked iron. But the genuine ones were made from ingots of crucible steel, which the Vikings brought back from furnaces thousands of miles away in modern Afghanistan and Iran.
And suddenly I knew an awful lot more about Odd, and his travels, and, more particularly, what the third Odd book would be.


Having just read the judgment in the Fox v Warners Watchmen case over at
I find myself moving from "those grasping Fox people" to being puzzled that Warners are even fighting the case (well, I'm not really -- Warners gave Paramount the right to distribute the movie in the rest of the world when they got the Watchmen option back from Paramount. If they lose the US too, they've paid for a big expensive movie and don't keep, well, anything). Fox had exercised an option on Watchmen, then returned the rights to the producer, reserving for themselves the right to distribute the movie, but leaving the producer the option to buy Fox out. The producer didn't buy them out, so they still own the rights to distribute it.

The bit that leaves me most puzzled about this is that in the world of movies, people are obsessive about rights, because if they aren't, things like this happen. Read the judgment -- it's in readable English.


Dearest Author -

What with the new Christmas jumper and other assorted black clothing, how do you manage to keep them sparkly (or at least presentable) in the presence of assorted non-black petittude (most notably Dog)?
As the owner of similar clothing/pet colour combinations, and cupboards full of just-cleaned-and-yet-still-
furry garments, I'm intrigued. Are you spending an inordinate amount on laundry these days, or is there a small army of men&women-wot-do just out of shot in every photo standing ready to apply rolls of sticky-backed plastic and other anti-fluff devices to you after any pet contact? Mayhap a special fur-removing filter for the seemingly ever-present camera lenses? Hmmm. Anti-static personal force-field? Not so good for pet-snorgling that though.
Ah well, the winter nights are long and enquiring minds wander..

Karen L

I have family and an assistant who are very good about handing me those rolls of sticky stuff if they think I'm covered in too much white dog or cat hair.

That wasn't a very interesting answer, was it?

Trawling Youtube you can't fail to discover many interviews with writers usually on American TV. There's a positive dearth of such stuff in the UK. What does that tell us about the dumbing down of UK telly? I've yet to see an author of 'genre' fiction (sorry it's a hateful term) getting five minutes to promote a new novel. Doesn't it get you down?

Nope. I think that the US and the UK are equally bad at putting authors on TV, but then I'm not sure it does anyone any good to put authors on TV anyway. The UK occasionally comes up with a  decent South Bank Show or BBC Four "Worlds of Fantasy" series, which is more than you get in the US. The UK has Radio 4, which is always good to authors, and the US has NPR, ditto.

Anyway, the UK and the US both fall short when we remember that mystical kingdom known to us today only as "Canada", long since taken by the seas and the sands,  and that once there was Prisoners of Gravity.

(I cannot watch this. I just tried and I had to stop. The me in it is like a tadpole that's just shedding its tail. He seems really sweet; I just want to wait until he's cooked.)

Neil -
I'm know you get a ton of these requests, but I figured it was worth a shot.
Jason Webley is playing a free show in Philadelphia this Monday,1/5/09, at a small venue. Neither he nor the venue have any marketing it seems, and I don't think most of his Philly fans know about it. But they do know about you. So I was hopeful that you would link the info on your blog.
The Venue:

and of course the Artist:



Consider it posted. Jason is an amazing live performer.

Hi Neil, Can you offer any advice/thoughts or even threats to the would-be writers out here, who have a lot of ideas for stories, but can't decide which one to start? Thanks!

Sure. You pick one. If you're me these days you pick the one that's most overdue and causing the greatest number of people the most headaches by its lateness, but I don't advise doing that when you're just starting out. (I'm not sure that I'd advise that when you've been doing this for ages.)


Okay. I have to work now.

Thank you all for reading this, for writing to me, for being funny and sensible.

2008 was an odd year, with some great stuff in it, and some odd stuff in it. But I'm glad of all the fine things it brought into my life.

I'm lucky. I have good friends, and I have a fine family. I get to work with amazing people. 

And in addition to everything I said in

...I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be,  be wise, and that you will always be kind.

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