Friday, February 29, 2008

The nature of free

I'm currently talking to Harpers about ways we can make the American Gods online reading experience a more pleasant one. And about ways to give American Gods away that would make Harper Collins happy while also making, say, Cory Doctorow happy too.

I was surprised by a few emails coming in from people accusing me of doing bad things for other authors by giving anything away -- the idea being, I think, that by handing out a bestselling book for nothing I'm devaluing what a book is and so forth, which I think is silly.

I like giving stuff away. I think it's sensible. I like that you can read Sandman #1 on the DC Comics site, for example. (It's at (Although for reasons known only to DC, they have put the last two pages of the story in the wrong order.) We've got five short stories up at, and I just realised on poking around that I've put more essays and things up over the years on this blog than have ever made it into the essays section, and a lot more audio than ever made it to the rather threadbare audio section (although there's lots of free audio now up at

During one of the interviews recently, a reporter said something like, "Of course, a real publisher wouldn't give away paper books," and I pointed out that 3,000 copies of The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy were given away by Douglas Adams' publisher, with a 'write in and get your free book' ad in Rolling Stone. They wanted copies of HHGTTG on campuses in the US, and they wanted people to read it and tell other people. Word of mouth is still the best tool for selling books.

This is how people found new authors for more than a century. Someone says, "I've read this. It's good. I think you'd like it. Here, you can borrow it." Someone takes the book away, reads it, and goes, Ah, I have a new author.

Libraries are good things: you shouldn't have to pay for every book you read.

I'm one of those authors who is fortunate enough to make my living from the things I've written. If I thought that giving books away would make it so that I could no longer make my living from writing and be forced to go out and get a real job -- or that other authors would be less likely to be able to make a living -- I wouldn't do it.

As I tried to explain in the Guardian interview, the problem isn't that books are given away or that people read books they haven't paid for. The problem is that the majority of people don't read for pleasure.


If a kid picks up a candy bar and runs, you give him a warning before you cuff him. Same with those mindless teenyboppers who go to the Hickory Farms store, and then take double samples of fruitcake and cheeselog, you warn them that they will be charged with a felony(grand theft), and that if they attempt to fight and run, they will be, unfortunately, first tazered, and if they continue to resist violently with intent to maim, then wounded. Fortunately, wounding fire to suppress teenage kleptomaniacs is relatively easy, they all run in straight lines, and a hit in the knee will be relatively simple from the second floor. But they all get a warning first, we do not simply shoot shoplifters unless they resist violently.

Ah, the joys of the Mall-Ninjas. Click on the link for context and much, much more of the same. Really wonderfully, dreadfully, unintentionally, funny...


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kids! Free! Book!

The good news is the link to the free online American Gods is up on the front page of the website. The bad news is that the link is wrong.

[Not any longer.]

For the next month, your free copy of American Gods is waiting for you at

Feel free to spread the link as widely as possible around the web. If it works, and people read it, then a) we may be able to put up another book and b) sooner or later they'll simply let us give away the book in electronic form....

[edit: The artist formerly known as the Web Elf came out of retirement and fixed it. Hurrah. Visit her at the Fabulist and give her toast.]


The Secret Master Of Science Fiction Responds....

Mark Askwith emailed after seeing the YouTube clip in the last post...

Dear Neil-

Thanks for posting the Youtube stuff. I had forgotten about this episode. It was never one of my favorites, but it is fascinating to look at it now. My gawd, Harlan’s clip is still relevant, and Garth looks like he’s a teenager. And you... dammit man, you must have a picture in your attic.

As I recall this interview almost didn’t happen.

You called me from Boston to say that a) you’d signed for a 180 people the night before and b) the flight had been delayed, so what should we do?

I suggested that I interview you in the limo because I knew… (although didn’t tell you) that the line at the Silver Snail was already over 180 people, and I knew if I delayed you the fans, the fine folks at the Silver Snail, and you, would not be happy.

So I came up with the plan to shoot you in the limo. This meant that I had to throw out all my carefully prepared questions, and replace them with questions about topics that would make sense visually. You just try coming up with questions where the back of a limo actually makes sense! As it turned out I got lucky- we got this stuff on fans, but my favorite part of the interview was all about The Quest and Sandman: Brief Lives, which you’d just started writing. Perhaps that episode will also surface.

BTW- The Mystery Person beside you in the limo is Silver Snail Manager Sherri Moyer who came along to ensure that I didn’t kidnap you.

I remember the moment when we all saw the line-up on Queen St.

A gasp from all of us… it was over 600 (mostly) black clad fans.

I interviewed some of the fans, shot the signing, and then wrapped the crew. A very well fed Dave Sim showed up later in the signing, torturing you with his description of his dinner (a story that he later chronicled in a story for your Chicago Guest of Honour Booklet).

At some point I succumbed and had dinner without you. I returned an hour later and the line seemed just as daunting. As I recall, you never did get dinner that night.

I think that this signing was the first time that I realized that you and Prisoners of Gravity were actually having a real impact, and it was a strange to have both revelations in the same moment. Countless fans thanked me for introducing them to your work, and that’s probably the best praise any ‘book person’ can hear. It was a sea change moment.

(Really, though, in retrospect I should not have been surprised, you’d won the ‘Favorite PoG Guest’ the year previously, somehow beating out Alan Moore, Anne Rice, Clive Barker and hundreds of other creators). Still, actually seeing the excitement in the fans as they met you was so much more palpable than a vote.



A note for booksellers -- there's a Children's Book Author Breakfast this year at Book Expo America, at which you'll hear from (and possibly meet) me, Judy Blume, Eoin Colfer and Sherman Alexie. It's hosted by Jon Scieszka.

FRIDAY, May 30, 2008 8:00AM - 9:30AM CHILDREN'S BOOK & AUTHOR BREAKFAST (Concourse Hall)

Tickets go on sale on Wednesday. (More details over at Lance's blog.)

Press release here.


Having initially pointed out on this blog that Steve Moffat's "Blink" would get the Hugo award for short form dramatic presentations, I then, following a mysterious email from a man I can only identify here by the initials P.C., shifted my support in this blog, superdelegate-like, to Paul Cornell's "Human Nature" two parter. No large sums of money have exchanged hands, yet.

I'm not sure that I can officially change my support again without seeming like some sort of strange human weathervane.

Luckily, you can nominate up to five things in each Hugo category. So here's an email from Marc Zicree, and here's me pointing out that Hugo voters should also nominate "World Enough and Time", by Marc and Michael Reaves, and that you can watch it on the web...

Wanted to let you know it's just been officially announced that STAR TREK NEW VOYAGES "World Enough and Time" starring George Takei and written by Michael Reaves and myself has been nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Script by the Science Fiction Writers of America, the first time an Internet production has been so honored.

I've also just been informed that March 1 is the deadline to nominate "World Enough" for the Hugo Award in Best Dramatic Presentation - Short Form. The Hugo is the other big science fiction award, bestowed by the World Science Fiction Convention -- in 1968 the classic STAR TREK episode "The City on the Edge of Forever" won it.

So if you know anyone who's voting or nominating for the Hugo (and it only takes $50 for a supporting membership), send out the word. It only took 22 votes to get on the ballot last year in this category (and just 187 votes to win).

(For those who want to see it, you can watch "World Enough and Time" in its entirety in real-time streaming at And they also have a section on the NEW VOYAGES' homepage where one can click through to sign up for a supporting membership to Worldcon, to make the process that much easier.)

Also, I don't know if you heard, but Michael Reaves just had brain surgery relating to his advanced Parkinson's and is scheduled for another brain surgery immediately. At this stage, he can't type (though hopefully he will be able to soon, with the equipment many of us helped buy him at Christmas) and he's having great difficulty speaking. So a big part of my laboring so hard regarding the Nebula and Hugo is to help give him a boost right now. Even after 500 script sales and 30 books, he's feeling pretty isolated and down; these badges of recognition help him know how appreciated he and his work are, and go a long way toward making a hard time just a bit better.

(And good luck, Michael...)


The snow started in November. It's still on the ground. I crave Spring, dammit...

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Fans Part Two

One thing that Canadian TV had that nobody else ever did was Prisoners of Gravity which was, under the brilliant eye of Mark Askwith, not just a show about comics and science fiction and fantasy, but an astonishing collection of interviews with pretty much a Who's Who of SF/Fantasy/Comics in the early 1990s. I keep hoping the whole thing will come out on DVD one day. In the meantime, a few episodes have started to sneak out onto YouTube, in sections...

This is from the Fans episode, 1992. It was 16 years ago, and my plane to Toronto was so late that Mark interviewed me in the car between the airport and the Silver Snail, where I would go on to sign copies of Season of Mists for the next seven hours, would be presented with a Barbie Whistle Torch*, would finish signing long after the local restaurants had closed, and would, that night, sit in the hotel bath trying to get my hand to uncramp, while eating all the cookies in the minibar as a very late night dinner and reflecting on the downside of the glamourous life.

This part of the episode includes Lois McMaster Bujold, Harlan Ellison, me, Dave Gibbons and Garth Ennis... (Part 1 has Douglas Adams, Julie Schwartz and Forrie Ackerman.)

(It's at if you can't see the embedded video.)

*I did not, as stated in this clip, treasure it always. After treasuring it for some time I gave it to Colleen Doran, who assured me that she would treasure it always for me.

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Something I'm proud of

This arrived recently and is rather wonderful...

Here's me and the award,

and here's one where you can read what it says. Which is (if you can't read it) THE JIM HENSON HONORS... to make the world a better place by inspiring people to celebrate life.

You can learn about the Henson honors here at
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Monday, February 25, 2008

mailbagggery and links

American Gods will be going live to read on the 28th of February.

Some interesting auditory illusions over at

although I didn't quite understand the opening of the article. Apparently the bit on Lady Madonna where it sounds like the Beatles are singing into their hands is not a saxophone, but I don't know anyone who thought it was.

And all the various and sundry comments I've made in this blog about the writing of The Graveyard Book are gathered together at


A few weeks back you posted that you were thinking about going to Tulsa this summer. Are you going to do any public appearances there? And if so, when? I am excited to hear that you finished The Graveyard Book. Looking forward to reading it!


I'll be in Tulsa on June the 28th 2008, and I'll be doing a public event there -- details to follow.

I'll also going to be teaching a week at Clarion -- more properly The Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers' Workshop at UCSD -- this July (rather nervously, I suspect, as I've never taught before, and have no idea if I'll be any good at it). But you've got people like Geoff Ryman and Kelly Link and Nalo Hopkinson who know what they're doing teaching as well, so even if I'm rubbish it'll be okay.(You have four days left to apply for Clarion, if you've been putting it off.)

Hey Mr. Gaiman!

The University East Anglia have this fairly-famous and pretty reputable Creative Writing course, which was set up by Malcolm Bradbury. I have the option of attending this course, but being not being a British citizen, it requires obscene amounts of money. So my question to you is whether or not you think a workshop of that sort would be worth the investment in time and money. And please, this isn't an 'oh-my-god-if-neil-gaiman-says-it's-good-then-i-must-go-come-hell-or-herpes' (or vice versa) situation, it's just that, other than Malcolm Bradbury, I haven't read the work of any of the authors that came out of that sort of course (a similar one is taught at Warwick). And you're apparently rather big in the whole 'writing' business, so perhaps you might have an opinion or two to share.

So is a course like that, or lack thereof, going to make-or-break an aspiring writer?

Wishing you well,

Liam Kruger

No, of course not. (For proof, look at the careers of the many writers who have not attended Creative Writing Courses at the University of East Anglia. It's most of the writers you can think of. Statistically, it's pretty much all of them. They did fine, didn't they?)

I've never done any Creative Writing courses, but someone who had wrote in back in and talked about them.

I thought you might like this interview with the God of Fountain Pens:

I'm probably not the only one to send you this link, but I couldn't take that chance ;-)

How cool! Here in the US we have Richard Binder of My Christmas present from Henry Selick was a Pelikan pen which Richard had turned into a flexinib, and which I'm waiting for the right thing to come along so i can write a story with it.

Dear Neil, I read with interest that there is a character called Silas in your latest book. I named my son Silas at almost exactly the moment the Da Vinci code came out, and found upon reading it that my son now shared a name with a hulking, blond, albino assassin monk. I am hoping your Silas is of a more child friendly persuasion? I was going to read the Graveyard Book to my Silas if so! Gaby

Silas is our hero's guardian and I'm a huge fan of his.

Hi Neil;

I was wondering, now that The Graveyard Book is done and you have some noodling and minor fine tuning to do, is it smooth sailing to the printers? Or does a book at this stage of it's life have to go through a painful publishing bureaucracy where everyone gives their two cents? Looking forward to the new book.


I've given it to my editors at Harpers in the US and Bloomsbury in the UK and I'm looking forward to finding out what they have to say. I've sent it to friends and I'm looking forward to finding out what they have to say. Any comments that strike me as wise or sensible get acted on, any that don't, don't.

Mostly I want it to be the best book it can possibly be. There isn't any bureaucracy. I think there's a general feeling that we're not going to go with the cover of The Graveyard Book that I posted in
though, because it looks too much like a book that's intended only for young readers, and now it's finished I think we're all realising that this is as much a book for adults as it's a book for younger readers, so I think Dave is going to play around with some different cover ideas...

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

At the end of a book...

Over the last few months people have written in and asked what kind of a book The Graveyard Book is, whether it's for kids or adults, all that sort of thing. And I haven't answered because it wasn't actually finished, and I figured I'd find out when it was done. And it's done now.

I think The Graveyard Book is a book for pretty much all ages, although I'm not sure how far down that actually starts. I think I would have loved it when I was eight, but I don't think that all eight-year olds were like me.

It has a protagonist who is about eighteen months old in the first chapter, four in the second chapter, six in the third, and so on, until, by chapter eight, he is all of sixteen years old. There's no sex in it and no swearing. There is some really scary stuff in there, and a few of the people (all adults) who have read it have written to tell me they cried in the last chapter.

But it's not a children's book. It's a book that I think children will enjoy, but there's also stuff that's there for adults too. It's a book about life and death and making families. It has ghouls in it, and the Hounds of God, and the Sleer, and the Indigo Man, and a lot of very dead people.

It's not that easy to describe. I'm reminded of Kim Newman's review of Anansi Boys, which began "Anansi Boys is one of Neil Gaiman's books for grown-ups, which means that it's a lot less ruthless than the material he produces for children", and it's a very true observation. From that perspective, it's definitely one of my children's books.

I finished writing it a few nights ago -- although I'm currently obsessively reading it and fiddling with it, cleaning up typos and places where what's written simply isn't what I meant, or where sentences are clunky, or where it needs help, or where I contradict myself, or where continuity goes a bit odd (the graveyard's Egyptian Walk was the Egyptian Alley the first time we visited it; I just noticed a character who doesn't smile grinning widely, and I am painfully aware that I start too many sentences with "And then" so I'm searching for them and leaving the ones I like and rewriting the rest (or, more usually, just deleting 'And then' from the start of the sentence.)

This came in yesterday and made me smile...

Dear Neil,

I was completely captivated by your short story, "The Witch's Headstone." Is this a one-off, or is there a full-length book about Bod and Co. upcoming at some point? I really hope so, as the premise and characters are wonderful!


'The Witch's Headstone' is actually chapter four of The Graveyard Book. So yes, the full length book about Bod and Silas and the rest of them is definitely on the way. 30 Sept 2008 in the US, a few weeks later in the UK.

And the next one was,

I was thinking the other day about the novel writing process. When you write a novel, do you start with chapter 1 and write all the way until the last chapter chronologically, or do you skip around. For instance, you're writing chapter 7, but you have a great idea for chapter 11, do you then go on and write your idea for chapter 11, eventually ending up in chapter 12 with the plan to eventually come back to chapter 7 and try to steer events toward that end?

Mostly I start at the beginning and keep going until the end, because it makes it easier to find out what happens next. Also I come from a comics tradition in which I can't skip ahead and write the last part because someone's waiting for me to write the first part right now so they can draw it.

The Graveyard Book, though, had a few false starts over the years, and didn't work. So I wrote Chapter Four first, to get a sense of what was happening in the middle (easier because each chapter is a self-contained story) and what Bod was like when he could talk, and what the voice of the book was (again, a bit odd, as each chapter has a slightly different voice, but it gave me a feeling for what I was doing that made starting at Chapter 1 easier).

If I have an idea for Chapter 11 while I'm writing Chapter 4 I'm likely to scribble down the idea (because I forget things) but less likely to write the whole scene. Some writers do. I don't.

The truth is, as the truth about so much is in writing, that there are no rules, and even a writer who normally does things one way doesn't have to be consistent. You do what produces pages. You keep moving forward. If I'm really stuck on a scene I'll sometimes skip to the next scene I DO know how to write, and often by the end, the solution to the one I was stuck on is obvious, or I can't even remember why it was a problem.


I'm glad to KNOW for SURE that you are working on a new novel. But I have just one question. Is it going to be scary, funny, action, or drama?

Write me back,

Joseph Deane - #1 Fan

All of the above.

Lots of scary. Some funny (some of the funniest stuff is also the scariest, though). A fair amount of action. Some drama. No kissing. Late nights. Fish and chips. A werewolf, a vampire, an Assyrian mummy and a small pig. A knife in the dark.


I just learned that my old friend Steve Whitaker is dead. Steve was a terrific artist and a good guy, kind, helpful, generous, all that -- he's best known in the US for his work colouring V for Vendetta.

He would have been the colourist on Sandman but he never turned in the sample pages he was given to colour, because they weren't quite perfect yet, and by the time he was nearly satisfied with them someone else already had the job. I learned a lot from that. I learned a lot about comics, about the history of comics, about strip cartoons, from Steve. I wish he'd been willing to draw more, to let it go, to feel more comfortable making mistakes in public. Mostly I wish he'd done more comics.

Here's a bio and tribute. He was 52. Too young.


Lots of you wrote to say,

Hey Neil,

John Kovalic's "Dork Tower" web strip features an appearance by a familiar pale fellow. I laughed my head off.

Oh, and frequenters of Amazon with purchase histories including your books should keep an eye on their Gold Box personalized section. Random stuff keeps popping up there at 10% off Amazon's normal price (5% off Gold Box discount + 5% off for pre-order), including Absolute Sandman Vol 3, The Dangerous Alphabet, and The Graveyard Book.



And although it doesn't officially come out for another ten days, Odd and the Frost Giants is now out there in the UK, as I learned from this:

Hi Neil,

I just finished reading "Odd and the Frost Giants" and find it a nice little piece. Clearly structured for the younger readers and I am already looking forward to reading it to my 7 year old daughter. I just wanted to tell you that I did thoroughly enjoy it.

Greetings from Edinburgh

Here's the Amazon Uk link. (The Amazon US listing is a mistake. It won't be out in the US this year.)

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Coraline Trailer

The 3D trailer for CORALINE was leaked on the web over the last couple of days. Laika were not very impressed... so they gave us a nice clean, pristine version.

You want to watch the Quicktime version if you can [Edit to add, actually you want to watch the DivX version, now at the top of the page, which is really lovely and actually allows you too see textures and such], but the web goblin put up a YouTube version for those who can't.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,

I was wondering if you have come across this:

yet. I'm curious about your take on the whole issue. Do you think that something as important as the Holocaust can be depicted through a comic book? If it can be, then do you think its all a matter of people's misconception of comics as an inadequate source of serious story-telling?

A comic book aficionado,


Given that art spiegelman's Maus won the 1992 Pulitzer prize, and is a, oddly enough, comic book about the Holocaust, I think that argument was settled 16 years ago. (Dave Sim's upcoming Secret Project is Holocaust-related, and is one of the most emotionally affecting things I've read in comic-book form.) I think any argument that states that comics (or radio or film or a musical or the novel or insert your favourite medium here...) by its nature trivialises its subject matter is foolish, shortsighted, dim, lazy and wrong. You can say "This is a bad comic." You can't say "This is bad because it's a comic."

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

small news things

The Graveyard Book is so close to being finished I can taste it. All the writing's been done and now it's a matter of typing it and reading it and fixing it. (Interestingly, and rather to my surprise, The Graveyard Book looks like it's going to come in at about 67,000 words. Which is a nice meaty read, and about 12,000 words longer than Stardust.)

I wasn't going to blog at all as right now the web is problematic and I am on deadline, but just as I put up the thing yesterday about free ebooks being better than soup I thought these two news items were worth mentioning...

Stardust the movie is nominated for three Saturn Awards, Beowulf is nominated for two (and I'm co-nominated with Roger Avary for one of those). (Full list in easilt readable form at

David Fincher is confirmed as the director
of the film of the Charles Burns graphic novel Black Hole, which Roger Avary and I are co-writing. Hurrah.

This is cool: Beelzebufo, the frog that eats dinosaurs and challenges our current theories of continental drift...

And Steve Bissette posts the Dave McKean cover to the Golden/Wagner/Bissette book about stuff I've done, now retitled Prince of Stories, at his blog. (Which is a Sandman reference and was me doing a little Velvet Underground reference to a song that seemed to have the whole plot of Sandman in it...)

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

The votes are in...


tells us that 26,500 of you voted. (Or at least, 26,551 votes from 26,551 individual computers came in.)

And, with 28% of the vote -- as it had from the first hour the voting went up (well, it had 29% of the vote on the first day, a lead that was whittled away as the next 26,400 votes came in) is American Gods.

So that's what we'll put up. Details and links to follow....

It was really interesting. I don't think I would have put up American Gods as a first choice for free book myself -- mostly because a) it's really long and b) it divides people. As far as I can tell, for every five people who read it, one loves it utterly, two or three like it to varying degrees, and one hates it, cannot see the point to it and needs convincing that it's a novel at all. (Quite often the last person really likes some of the other books I've written, if they ever pick up anything else by me ever again.) But that's the fun of democracy, and American Gods has won more awards than any other single thing I've written.

Thank you to everyone who voted. It was fun. (And a special thank you to the web-goblin, who did all the heavy lifting.)

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string them up by their beautiful hair

Today I've been playing Amanda Palmer's song Oasis and the Bonzo Dogs' new song Beautiful People, more or less over and over, like some kind of weird A and B side. (That's a reference for the very old.)


I was wondering where I might be able to find a copy of the "Snow Glass Apples" which appeared on's "Seeing Eye Theatre" as SET has been removed from the scifi website.



Interesting... and a bit mysterious. I figured I'd be able to point you to lots of places that had it up, as I did the last time someone asked. But no. It's vanished from the site, it's vanished from iTunes, it's vanished from, and even the stuff you used to be able to listen to here on this site has vanished as well.

The Audie-award winning CD of Two Plays For Voices (which contains Bebe Neuwirth starring in Snow Glass Apples, Brian Dennehy starring in Murder Mysteries) is still available for as long as it stays in print (here's the Amazon link) (here's the DreamHaven link). Right now that's the only way to legitimately listen to it.

(Look, Dreamhaven have Mirrormask toys on sale.)

I'm not quite sure who the rights owner is for the online versions of Snow Glass Apples or Murder Mysteries, to be honest. Probably the SciFi channel. And if they're no longer hosting the marvellous Seeing Ear Theatre material they did I wish they'd put it up somewhere like Last FM, or at Audible, so that people could hear it...

(In a box in my basement are a hundred or so cassette copies of Two Plays for Voices that Harpers remaindered and that I bought thinking they were CDs.)

Greetings Neil,

I noticed that Amazon has put up a page for "Odd and the Frost Giants":

I just wanted to make sure that this wasn't a mistake before I cancel my order from Amazon UK.



According to Harper Collins, it's a mistake on Amazon's part. It won't be coming out in the US until at least 2009.

Back in 1993 I got a book called The Essential Dracula: The Definitive Annotated Edition, with annotations by Leonard Wolf. Are you familiar with this book? How is the book that you introduced different?



This one is better. It's been annotated by Les Klinger, who did the amazing Annotated Sherlock Holmes collections a few years back. I've read it, and have seen a few designed pages, and it's a remarkable piece of work.


Oh, and the "nothing rhymes with Neil Gaiman" thing. Alan Moore said that. I didn't.

But those of you who are writing in to point out that "simon" or "rhymin'" or "hymen" rhyme with Gaiman are simply wrong. Honest.

Among the ones that came in and did rhyme (and there have been about a dozen so far) this one, by Anna Lawrence, stood out...

In re 'rhymes':

There was a young author named Gaiman
Whose books were beloved of the layman
But the story turned horrider
On a trip down to Florida
When his leg was bit off by a cayman.

... I'm sorry about that, but it had to be done.

Not a problem. If we gave no-prizes, you could have one. Would you like a cassette of Two Plays for Voices? (Anna only omitted "stamen" and "daemon", two other words popular with today's poetic correspondents.)


I wrote the end of Chapter 8 today. Then I went back and started writing a couple of scenes from Chapter 7 I skipped while I was writing it, so the book isn't quite finished. But it sort of almost is.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Alan Moore knows the Score (as of half-time, anyway),

The Annotated Dracula introduction is finished and delivered, as is The 13 Clocks introduction. (Still to do: an introduction to Cabell's Jurgen and to Brian Aldiss's Hothouse, and then no more introductions for a long time.) Meanwhile, The Graveyard Book is in its very last pages. I might finish today or tomorrow. There's still revising and fixing to do, but it's so close to the end I can taste it.

Dear Mr. Neil,

In your last post, you said:

I went back to writing it all in UK English as it's set in the UK, and we'll fix things in the copyedit.

Wait wait wait wait! Don't fix things! It's fun to read UK English. American brains need the work, and we need to know that we're not the only English speakers in the world. UK English came first!

Point taken, and I didn't mean to come across quite that glibly. The truth is that more than ninety percent of the changes that will get made are copyediting changes that are pretty much invisible to the reader, and are things I think of as House Style anyway. Whether you have double or single speech marks, for example. In the US edition colour will, I have no doubt be spelled without a u and towards will probably become toward. And I doubt that anybody will notice. Sometimes, if I have a sympathetic copy-editor, I'll go in and fight for specific UK spellings and usages when things are set in England (you may have noticed that grey is spelled like that, and not gray, in the US edition of Stardust).

Overall, I suspect that The Graveyard Book will stay pretty English in terms of vocabulary -- nothing as huge as changing the title of the book. Some words may change like nappie to diaper and cot to crib -- possibly the rubbish bins in the alleyway on the other side of the graveyard might become garbage cans, but really, it's a graveyard on a hill in an old English town. Nobody gets into elevators, and the fish and chip shop at the bottom of the hill will resolutely remain a fish and chip shop.

It's normally not about insulting the intelligence of the reader. With something like Coraline or The Graveyard Book which is going to be given to kids in schools, it's often about making it easier on their teachers by not giving the American children the extra Us in Honor or Honour, and not taking them away from British children. (The Canadian children will, I'm afraid, continue to cope as best they can, and some of them will probably sensibly wait for the French edition anyway.)

Help! I'm in need of legal advice regarding ownership rights in collaborations, particularly an artist and writer. Is there a trustworthy online resource about such matters, either for free advice or to locate reputable counsel? Thank you.


Not that I know of, but I'll post this in case someone has any suggestions. (The Scrivener's Error blog, over at is very useful and smart. But it is a blog.)

O.K I've looked it up in about four online American dictionarys and pavement seems to have pretty much the same definition as it does in Britain! Whats the definition that you have heard?

Keep up the good work!



pave·ment (pāv'mənt) pronunciation
    1. A hard smooth surface, especially of a public area or thoroughfare, that will bear travel.
    2. The material with which such a surface is made.
  1. Chiefly British. A sidewalk.
I mean definition one, as opposed to definition two.

Dear Neil,

I'm not sure if you've heard of FAWM (February Album Writing Month), but it's the musical equivalent of NaNoWriMo. This year over 1400 people have signed up to the challenge of writing 14 songs in 28 days... well, 14 1/2 in 29 days, this being a leap year and all...

One MJ Hibbet has written a song that caught my attention, and I thought you might enjoy it while you rest your writing hand and have a cuppa. It's called "Alan Moore" and you can find it at:

Incidentally I also penned a little piece yesterday that I called "The Mouse Circus" ( because that's what it made me think of. It was then pointed out to me that you have links with Mr Bobo's Remarkable Mouse Circus. I'm not sure that they are the same circus. Maybe we've visited separate ones? I wonder how many there are in the world?

Best wishes


And now there is a video of the Alan Moore song. (Alan
has always maintained that it is a wise thing to have a name that rhymes. As he once said, "'Alan Moore knows the score'. It's because it rhymes. What else were they going to say... 'Jamie Delano plays with Meccano'? Neil Gaiman... doesn't really rhyme with anything, does it?")

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Friday, February 15, 2008

permanently defiled

Lots and lots of you are sending me messages saying things like

I'm sure loads of people are sending you this link:

about Alan Moore.

It made me smile!


And it made me smile too.

We'll close the polls on the Which Free Book Vote tomorrow, but the final results of the vote are, I think, at this stage, predictable, considering they took on this pattern by the time the first hundred people had voted, and have only wavered by a percentage point here and there since. As you can see here, we're now pushing 26,000 votes, and the pattern hasn't changed. American Gods sits in the lead with 28% of the vote, Neverwhere has 21% of the vote, the three short story collections have about 28% of the vote between them, trailed by Stardust at 9% and Anansi Boys and Coraline at 7% each.

(Interesting, as Harper Collins would have gone for Stardust, and I really didn't know which to put up but would have expected Smoke and Mirrors to be very high on the list.)

I am enjoying the author's preferred text version of Neverwhere on my iPod. Here it is surrounded by British words and British accents from various BBC podcasts (including the Archers) so any Americanisms stand out, such as Richard Mayhew's use of the word "hooker". You are too good with words for this to be a mistake so what was the thinking in using Americanisms in a book that is otherwise very English, and proud of it?

You're too kind, but, honestly, after 16 years out here, as Sherlock Holmes said when chided by Watson for an Americanism, "my well of English seems to be permanently defiled".

On Neverwhere (which I'd started writing before ever I came to America) I suspect the words that are a problem are either:

a) used mostly because they're words used in London too. Take "hooker". A quick google of the Guardian website threw up the following passage from The Guardian,

Thus encouraged, the media have followed suit. Everywhere in the past week, reporters referred to "working girls" - that is, when they were not describing the women as simply "girls" or "vice girls" or "hookers", as in the Mirror's "Hooker No 2 Found Dead", or "tarts", courtesy of the Telegraph's Simon Heffer.

along with about 3000 other uses of the word "hooker" or "hookers" by Guardian writers, many of which were talking about Rugby players, some of which were talking about people named Hooker, and the rest of which were all using the word to describe sex workers (often foreign or at least exotic). It may be an Americanism, but it's one that successfully crossed the Atlantic.

or sometimes it may be that,

b) the Neverwhere audio edition was recorded by Harper Collins from the edition of their text, which contains "sidewalks" rather than "pavements" (a pavement in the US means something else, not the thing on the side of the road you walk along) and a few things like that. If you read the Hodder Headline UK edition of Neverwhere while listening to the audio recording you may well find a word here or there that's different, and they may, in some cases, be the words that trouble you.

(Oddly enough, I wrote Chapter One of The Graveyard Book using American idioms -- "cribs" and "diapers" rather than "cots" and "nappies" -- as it was going to be read by my US publisher first, and then felt weird, so in the following chapters I went back to writing it all in UK English as it's set in the UK, and we'll fix things in the copyedit.)

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Thursday, February 14, 2008


For today, I put "Harlequin Valentine" up at last FM for free. (The reading from Telling Tales, not the one from Fragile Things.) I'll keep it downloadable for a few more days.


It is time for the closing of tabs:

Cat Mihos sent me this LA Times tale of striking writers.

How do you pronounce writers' names? How do they pronounce them?

A cautionary tale about dealing with Hollywood studios, (Disney, in this case, bt it could be any of them) and a lesson that needs repeating over and again. There will be no net profit. Ever. A movie could have cost two million to make and grossed two hundred million and it will still never show a profit.

Why did someone send me a link to Barry the Beaver? Why is it in an open tab? Perhaps it is like the Hello Kitty Shoulder Massager.

A few people wrote in sceptically telling me that my pseudonymous technothriller has been leaked online.

as we learn,

Got this from a friend of mine and supposedly it's the leak of a draft or outline (or whatever they call it) of a nerd thriller by Neil Gaiman, written under the pen name 'Rian Sato', as he wanted to take this into a direction somewhat different from his other writing (kind of like the Stephen King - Richard Bachmann deal).

Some intern at Gaiman's agency (Writer's something, forgot the name friend told me) was tasked to read through the text again for any obviously British English diction conflicting with Rian Sato's assumed American persona (guess they were well stocked with coffee at the moment and nothing needed to be xeroxed), but instead nabbed the file, took it home and then bragged about it online on some messageboard. Of course nobody believed him, intern threw a fit, board responded "POST PROOF OR STFU" and then the dude really posted the file. When everybody started ridiculing him for the danger he put himself in and serious screw-up he committed, he got scared and pulled the file again while begging everyone not to share it, but...

...well, here it is.

Which is kind of funny in a dozen different that's-not-how-the-world-works ways, but mostly seems a rather sad and desperate attempt by someone to get their book read. ("Haha! You liked it when you thought it was by Neil Gaiman, but really it is by me!")

Mark Evanier offers some philosophical conundrums relating to Gaiman's Law of Typos.

Neil GaimanHarlequin Valentine

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Nearly there

I've uploaded much of the DreamHaven audio CDs to Last.FM, at Some of the tracks are downloadable, others are playable but not downloadable, and of course you can buy the actual CDs from DreamHaven's online shop at . (Currently trying to figure out why Telling Tales keeps coming up as Unknown Album, but I'm sure it'll get fixed, sooner or later.)

Chapter 8 of The Graveyard Book is nearly written. He's got about 20 feet left to walk.

Normally when I finish a book, it's over. Maybe there are more stories, but it's done. I get letters from kids asking why I don't do another Coraline book, and maybe she's at school and the Other Mother could be pretending to be her teacher and... but I can't really imagine writing another Coraline book. It's done.

The Graveyard Book on the other hand, seems to be generating other stories in my head. I guess I'm really interested in what happens to Bod next. Interesting. I suppose it's understandable -- my model was The Jungle Book, and there was The Second Jungle Book. (Although The Graveyard Book also reminds me in odd ways of Kim. And I always wanted to know what happened to Kim next.)


This made me smile:

Dear Neil,

I am just wondering if the Birthday Thing voting will include superdelegates? Perhaps other famous authors, some bigwigs at Harper Collins, etc. I mean, you wouldn't want to leave voting to the people, would you?


I'm happy to watch democracy in action here. It's one person-who-clicks, one vote.


Hi Neil,

I hope all is going well with the new book, I am looking forward to reading it immensely when it is published.

I would be interested to know if you have kept any of the original art from The Sandman over the years. I know that the artists sell their work on after DC have finished with it and wondered if you requested certain pages or covers or were gifted them by artists, if so which page or pages do you cherish most.

Best Regards


I don't have much -- off the top of my head (and I'm sure to leave something important out) a couple of Dave McKean covers, a page from Colleen Doran's lovely Facade, a Shawn MacManus page from Three Septembers and a January, a Jill Thompson Brief Lives page, the double page of the amazing Michael Zulli sea serpent, the final Death and Dream spread from the Kindly Ones, and the first page of the last issue. I have a lovely Mike Dringenberg Sandman painting he did as an advert for a signing at Night Flight in Utah. A Jay Muth Dream pin-up. A Moebius Death I bought from a gallery. And, apart from an amazing page by Michael Zulli that was a test for the pencils effect of The Wake (which I should talk to DC about reproducing in the last of the Absolute Sandman volumes) I think that's about it.

And I treasure them all.


It's Valentine's Day tomorrow. If you're stuck for a present, you could always get this for the object of your affection...


What kind of book is The Graveyard Book? What type of audience is it for? Older? Younger? I know you're not finished with it yet, but will it be a novella a la Stardust or a novel a la American Gods?

It will be about twice the length of Coraline -- a novel, not a novella.

It's eight stories, each more or less complete in itself, each different in tone, each story set about two years after the one that precedes it, that placed side by side make one big story. Or I hope they do.

I think it's "all ages", whatever that means. It's a book I wish I'd had as a kid, and had always imagined as a children's book, but the reaction from the adults who've read it so far is scarily enthusiastic, and I'm not making any compromises in it. (Having said that, nobody has read any further than chapter six, except me, and Lorraine when she was typing it.)

Here's a youTube video of me reading Chapter Four in San Jose last year. You can make up your own mind.

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the view from Chapter 8

A little over 22,000 people have voted so far. If you haven't, go to and click on the cover of the book you think should be available online for free.

And I can now, following a long phone call with Harper Childrens, answer yesterday's When Will The Graveyard Book Be Coming Out? question.

There will actually be a "One Day Laydown" in the US, which means that the book won't just wander into the shops over a couple of weeks. Instead there will be one day when it goes on sale everywhere. Probably bookshops doing on-sale-at-midnight, graveyard-themed, kick-off-Hallowe'en-month parties. All that sort of stuff.

And that on-sale date in the US will be SEPTEMBER 30th 2008.

Now I go back to finishing writing the book, 'cos if I don't finish it, those graveyardy bookshop parties are going to be pretty sad affairs.

(Also discussed, the reinvention and redesign of so it's no longer a giant flash animation thing, but is something that I could link to and that's really a resource for teachers, librarians and kids.)

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

pens, bubble wrap and bookends

I was born and spent the first 2/3rds of my life in the UK, in a world in which health care was simply a human right. You got it, like an education, by virtue of being alive. And then I came to America and simply it isn't that way here, and, even after 16 years, that still keeps surprising me. (Every now and again I've told people who can't understand why from time to time I write movies, who say things like "You don't need to, you're a best-selling writer, you get paid more for a novel than for a film script," that it keeps my Writers Guild health insurance current, and I'm at least half serious.)

It's always hard to put up medical appeals, but Caitlín R. Kiernan needs financial help -- you can read about it at her journal, over at

Here's the "Absolute Sandman Not Included" ad that DC will be running for the Mark Buckingham bookends.

Neil, I am getting impatient with you! I read part of The Graveyard Book in the "M book" and now I would like to read the whole story. Now.

When is "The Graveyard Book" coming out? A tentative date would be kind....thanks!

You can't get impatient with me until the book is finished. I still have to finish writing Chapter Eight (which will happen in the next few days), then do the second draft of Chapter Seven, then read the whole thing through and make sure that it's all the same book and that Mr Pennyworth doesn't become Mr Pennyweather somewhere in the middle.

But the book will be out by Hallowe'en. Come high water or Hell. Probably in the shops end of September.


I'm playing with Last FM whenever I'm in front of the computer. I love having Radio Me -- the idea of a radio station that magically plays only stuff I like when I'm away from home or away from the iPod. And I was surprised to discover there are people out there with musical tastes so scarily close to mine (which is, in my head, so all-over-the-place as to be uncategorisable) that I've started checking out things they like too. Gave in on the friending people thing, because, as someone pointed out, it made it easier for people than just bookmarking my page.

(The music it hasn't been scrobbling is an advance copy of Who Killed Amanda Palmer which arrived as a gift from Amanda Palmer, all wrapped in ancient lace, along with DVDs. It's amazing stuff. It was a great day for things-to-listen-to swag, as it also brought Hera's Feels So Good, on CD and also on DVD. I'd somehow assumed the song was about sex, but I learned from the video that it is actually about chocolate, bubble wrap, being covered in puppies, and destroying televisions.)

And I just went looking for the query someone sent me about Mr Croup's use of the word "Scrobble" in Neverwhere, used to mean "get at" or "kidnap" and couldn't find it. But for the record, I got it from John Masefield's wonderful book The Box of Delights... (Now out in the US, curiously published before the book it followed, The Midnight Folk. I suppose you don't need to have read The Midnight Folk first, but still.)

And talking about classic children's fiction,

Dear Mr Gaiman,

I read with interest your recent advice on fountain pens and ink.

Personally, I use a pen that was designed for me by, Cowgill, my engineer. It is superbly engineered and I have only ever had to fill it twice.

I use a special concoction of Wizard Blenkisop's - his Black as Night Everlasting Ink. Suffice to say that the refill was only necessary when the pen was used to counteract an attack by Beaver Hateman.

If your readers desire to improve their penmanship may I recommend the services of the writing master Benskin. I know that he is always on the look out for new students.

Yours Faithfully


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Monday, February 11, 2008

Steve Gerber

I never really knew Steve Gerber -- I don't think we ever met in the flesh. I sent him a fan letter when we were both on Compuserve, back in the very early 90s, telling him how much I'd loved a joke in the deadline doom issue of Howard the Duck about a Showgirl and her Ostrich battling an Evil Lava-lamp, and that I always hoped it would be a real comic and he wrote back to say that, actually, it might make a comic at that, and went and pitched it to Vertigo. (It was called Nevada, and was a fine comic which never found its audience.) Outside of a handful of friendly emails over the years, that was the extent of the crossing of our paths...

But Steve Gerber and Archie Goodwin and Len Wein were the three people who made me want to write comics. And of the three of them, Steve's comics were the quirkiest, the most personal, the coolest. When I grow up, I thought, if I'm lucky, I'll write comics like that.

Almost ten years ago I went to Archie Goodwin's memorial service. Now Steve's gone, too.

(And, superstitiously, I just went and checked Len's blog. He looks fine...)

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M is for Mirrors you'll stare in forever/ N is for Night and for Nothing and Never

I just opened the mail, to find an advance copy of The Dangerous Alphabet, a picture book written by me and drawn by Gris Grimly. It began as a Christmas Card I sent out to friends, and one of them, Elise Howard, my editor at Harper Children's, phoned one day to say that she had it framed on her wall, and kept reading it, and what would I think about turning my Christmas Card into a book.

Many phone calls with Gris Grimly later, it's a book... (it won't be in bookshops in the US until the end of April, though).

If it works, it'll be a sort of interactive book. The pictures tell a story, the words amplify it, but really, what actually happens in the book will be something for each reader to decide. I hope.

Hi Neil,

I've been curious about this for a bit, and the recent event of your blog's birthday prompted me to actually ask it...

Do you maintain this blog purely for pleasure, or is it part of some sort of contractual obligation with your publisher? (Or are you compelled to blog for some altogether different reason?)

Please note: Your answer won't stop me from reading it obsessively either way-- the "why" really doesn't affect my interest in the output at all-- I'm just curious!


I do it because I like it. There's no contract with anyone. Nobody pays me to do it. Nobody made me start, nobody but me gets to decide when I'm done. It's all owned by me. (The whole website, is paid for by Harper Collins, which is good, because the bandwidth is huge, but it keeps it all ad free, and gives them bragging rights over the kind of traffic the site gets.)

There are tangible things it's good for, obviously -- not doing signings to empty rooms, books going in at number one on bestseller lists, that sort of thing. I like that it can demystify the writing or the publishing process, sometimes, or that I can get questions about the most obscure things usefully answered in minutes. But that's all a sort of side-effect.

The bit that I find puzzling (as puzzling as the people who assume that I have People Who Write The Blog For Me) is the idea that I'd do this because I'm contracted to do it. There's not enough money in the world to make me do this for seven years unless I wanted to, trust me.

I do it because it's fun. I do it because writing is, like death, a lonely business. I do it because I've never managed to keep a diary, and because it's amazingly useful being able to search the blog and find out when I was last in Finland (say).

I really don't know how much longer it'll go on for, though. Mostly because I keep feeling that I'm starting to repeat myself. It's amazing how many of the things that come in on the FAQ line have been answered one way or another.

I'm definitely tempted by the publishers who've asked to do books collecting stuff from the blog. (So far the only one that exists is Adventures In The Dreamtrade, which contains, among other things, the whole of the "American Gods" blog, February to September 2001.) But don't, right now, have the time to spend thinking about what kind of book it would be.

It'll wait.


The poll is fascinating - partly, for me in the way that the results have held steady and consistent for the last 18,000 votes. Vote if you haven't...

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

“I didn’t grow up buying every book I read," says 47 year old author...

That was fun, the blog's seventh birthday. I enjoyed making the inspirational poster, and also enjoyed watching the webgoblin do all the hard work on making the survey. I also tried personally to answer all the FAQ line questions that came in yesterday -- I think I missed a couple, and two or three replies came back informing me that they'd been got by spam filters or people who didn't put in their email addresses correctly -- but I did reply to pretty much all of them.

Don't forget to vote (at I'm enjoying watching the results so far -- not actually what I would have predicted. But there's a week to go and a lot of votes still to come in.

There's an article about Harper Collins and putting Free Books up in the New York Times -- and it says:

Neil Gaiman, the fantasy novelist, short story and comics writer, is asking readers of his blog to vote on the title they would most like to give as a gift. An electronic scan of the winning title will be offered free on the HarperCollins site later this month. Mr. Gaiman said the online effort was not so different from what has been going on for generations.

“I didn’t grow up buying every book I read,” said the English born Mr. Gaiman, 47. “I read books at libraries, I read books at friend’s houses, I read books that I found on people’s window sills.” Eventually, he said, he bought his own books and he believes other readers will, too.

I think the point I was making wasn't so much that eventually you buy your own books, as that there's not and there has never been a simple one-to-one relationship between the books you read and way you find authors and the books you buy. It's more complicated than that, and more interesting. It's about the way that it's assumed that books have a pass-along rate, that a book will be read by more than one person. If the people who read the book like it, they might buy their own copy, or, more likely, just put the author in that place in their heads of Authors I Like. And that's a good place for an author to be.

And for those of you who are wandering in from linkage, or who read this on an RSS feed and haven't gone exploring, there's a fair amount of free stuff up there already, much of it at -- for example, has five short stories up, (one from M is for Magic, two from Fragile Things, and two that are only up online). And there's free audio stuff as well -- a downloadable version of A Study In Emerald from Fragile Things, and the first chapter of the Stardust audiobook.

Over at Locus magazine, at, you can take the Locus Poll and Survey. You're taking part in the biggest vote for SF and Fantasy there is. More people vote for Locus Awards than for the Hugos or the Nebulas... You can be one of them.


Hola Neil,Quick question about Absolute Sandman Vol. 3. Vertigo now has the info for it up at: I was wondering what the "Desire story from VERTIGO: WINTER'S EDGE #3" is (different from the Bolton Desire story in Vol. 2?) and if the 10-page "Fear of Falling" is missing from this volume?

Also, if that really is the cover art, it seems to be missing out on some great Mckean artwork. Both Vols 1 and 2 featured iconic cover images from the softcover of a major story arc contained in the volume. It seems a shame not to use the striking "Brief Lives" softcover image of the portrait made from all the photographs. Thought you might know what the final version looks like.

And the Dave McKean Shorts DVD has disappeared indefinitely with no further mention. Thought you or one of your readers might know what happened, for those of us who are anxiously awaiting it.

Thanks for your time - can't wait to experience "The Graveyard Book".

Actually, the Brief Lives image was the first suggestion from the DC Comics art department, and I vetoed it, mostly because that image, which we were so proud of at the time, has been repeated by so many people ever since. Even Dave McKean's been hired to do versions of it by art departments around the world, and I've spoken to artists who were handed that cover and told to reproduce it for movie posters or CD covers. Whereas I thought that Dave's painting of Morpheus from the cover of Sandman 50 might be really beautiful if taken out of context.

No, the Desire story is the Michael Zulli-illustrated "How They Met Themselves" story, with the Rosettis and Mr Swinburne going for a winter picnic. "Fear of Falling" is in there (and Danny Vozzo fixed some colouring errors on the hair).

The last time I checked with Dave McKean on what was happening with the DVD, he said:

We had several technical problems converting all this very differently
formatted films from PAL to NTSC, and framerate changes, and editorial changes
and other pernikity changes, and we decided since we will only be doing this
once, we'd take the time to get it right, rather than rush to our initial
release date. I've just taken delivery of what I hope is the final beta version,
which means it should start to reappear on websites/Amazon/distributors lists
etc. Don't fret, it will be out in a few months.

Dear Neil,You've most likely received many such requests, but I thought I'd throw mine into the pile as well: in light of your celebratory blogday vote, I'd like to know which of your own "hideous progeny" you would most like to see distributed gratis to your (not yet, but soon to be expanded) adoring public?Of course, I don't expect you to give us an answer before the voting has finished, but I'm a curious thing and hope you're willing to share this with us all.By the way, it's a beautiful day in Southern California today. It's a breezy 73 degrees outside, and the not-so-smoggy skies as smiling down at me as I write to you. Diamond dust snow sounds lovely, but you may want to consider getting some vit. D, courtesy of the sun, soon! I think your pen-ink will thank you for it as well. :)Best,

Truth to tell, if I had a clear choice, I wouldn't have come up with the online survey. I would have just put up a free book.

Hi Neil!Just to let Jodi know, if she really wants to talk to other people about the posts, the officialgaiman RSS feed of this blog on livejournal ( has a fairly active comments section. Of course, you have to have a livejournal to comment, and they'll eventually disappear, but it's still fun.

Consider it plugged.

I've mislaid the most recent request to list a bunch of music I like, but here's a link to where everything's that been played on iTunes in the last few days is up. (No, I'm not doing Friends or Journalling at Last Fm.) It may be too much information.

And here's the link to the radio station Last FM has put together based on what I've been playing recently...

(Edited because the embedded wossname didn't seem very happy.)

And finally, is a marvellous little sequence of, er, historical comics.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Birthday Thing

As you may have deduced, it's the blog's 7th birthday today. On February the 9th 2001, I started writing this thing. And now, 1,071,213 words later, it is still going. (Until the wind changes, as Mary Poppins said.)

One thing we've decided to do, as a small celebratory birthday thing is, initially for a month, make a book of mine available online, free, gratis and for nothing.

Which book, though...? Ah, that's up to you.

What I want you to do is think -- not about which of the books below is your favourite, but if you were giving one away to a friend who had never read anything of mine, what would it be? Where would you want them to start?

Click below on the cover of the book you'd like to see out there, online, for free. We'll keep the voting up for a week, and then announce (and Harper Collins will post, to be read) the winning book.

American GodsAnansi BoysCoralineFragile Things
American GodsAnansi BoysCoralineFragile Things

M is for Magic - HardcoverNeverwhereSmoke & MirrorsStardust
M is for MagicNeverwhereSmoke & MirrorsStardust
[Display current results]

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Motivational Thoughts For An Author #1

An important blog anniversary thought, made with
(The photo is by Holly, taken at the Hay Festival.)

And I don't think I ever linked to This Nemi Cartoon, from Metro, and I should have done.

And now I'll do the post that contains The Birthday Thing.

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another birthday post...

Strange things keep turning up in the right hand side of the page. (If you're reading this on a feed, you might want to click over to and refresh a few times. I'm just saying...)

Hi Neil, I was just wondering, why don't you have comments turned on on the blog? I'm sure there would be tons everyday. Still, it would be fun to read other's comments and such. Just wondering. Love the new pics on the blog today. Oh and HAPPY BIRTHDAY BLOG! Hope your'e around for at least 7 more years.

Thanks and I love this blog (and you too!),


Because seven years ago, when it started, things like comments were unheard of, outside of a couple of the secret blogging laboratories on the Moon, and when, a few years back, Blogger introduced them, I was happy with the way things were - mostly because I knew the volume of stuff that comes in on the FAQ line, could only imagine the volume of comments we'd get, and knew how horribly interesting a good comment place can be. (Making Light is the best example, where the original post is the tip of an iceberg, and then things get really interesting or strange -- each comment thread can be a good day's reading, filled with interesting stuff.) Which meant, I suspected, that if I turned on the comments I'd ever get any actual work done again.

Hi, Neil.

I know you watch Boing Boing and that's where I found this, but I wasn't sure if you caught the post since you're been in "The Graveyard Book."

Some authors hoping to plan a sci-fi convention that focuses on young adult. :-) Makes me all warm and fuzzy, really.

Tina @ ALA

Good to know. I think it's a great idea. (Also, I was pleased to hear that Fourth Street is returning.)

If the snow effect you're talking about is the same one I saw at 3000m in the Haute Savoie (which makes it sound more impressive than "on a skiing holiday"), then it's called diamond dust. Single ice crystals formed in very low air temperatures, like being inside a frozen cloud.

It takes something special to make a dozen lads on a booze/wintersports holiday all shut up and gawp, but that did it. On a sunny, blue-sky day too, the air just sparkled.

It sounds like a local version of that. Right now we've got an "arctic front" with 45 mph winds gusting the just-fallen snow around in blinding howls, and I'm not looking forward to dogwalking...

Hey Neil! Any chance of getting a direct link to the original post for what comes out of the oracle?

We talked about it a while ago, and then forgot. I'll ask Da Goblin. In the meantime you can always cut and paste it into the site search engine at
and unless it's something unusual (I just tried it and it gave me a question mark) it should be easy to see where it came from.

[Edit to add, Da Webgoblin assures me that the link has been there for ages. You just have to find it. I asked the Oracular Orb if this was the right course of action, and it said "Lots of people think this is a stupid idea, including Lord Blackadder." The Webgoblin and I, however, will Stay The Course.]

Has the Oracle ever said anything other than "You have to actually shake it?"

I am starting to lose faith in its power.

You didn't read the instructions at, did you? I'd particularly refer you to the bit that says "don't just click on it. Shake it." If you click on it, it will say "You actually have to shake it". Only when shaken will the curtain between past and future be lifted, and only then will the oracle pronounce oracularly.

Mr. Gaiman,

First, thank you very much for your blog. It is a delight to read each day--particularly so when you describe just how much work you put into your writing.

I was wondering, though, about where you write. You have talked about your pens and paper and your ink, and I have seen many references to the small cabin in which you write, but I was wondering if your could (if you haven't already) describe the writing shack. I'm always curious about the conditions in which writing is produced, and the idea of a writing shack fascinates me. Do you always try to write in the same place? Before you had a writing shack, did you find similar places to write? Do you find that you grow attached to the place itself and that writing in other conditions (i.e. places, pens, papers) is difficult?

Thanks, again, for sharing all of this with us, and I apologize if my questions have been asked and answered elsewhere.



While I was typing this the sun came out. I may take a few photos of the gazebo at the bottom of the garden, which is where I'm currently doing a lot of writing, mostly because it's the easiest place to write with a large white dog, and post them. The rest of the writing is occurring in the small hours of the morning on a sofa.

I can write pretty much anywhere, in truth, although I like going places I've not been before. I like travelling, in moderation, and I like being in new places, and I especially like being in new places to write.

Meanwhile, here's a ten-year-old-photograph of me in the Patagonian town they named after my kind...


The Mysterious Thing Post will go up tonight.

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