Monday, June 30, 2008


Maddy and I are off to Brazil in a few minutes. Well, we're off to New York where we change planes. But basically, we're off to Brazil together. She has the disarming smile. I have the unlikely facial hair. We're like Green Arrow and Speedy, only without the boxing glove arrows, the costumes, the similarity of gender and... okay, not really a good analogy, but what the hell, we're hitting the road. Or we will if the car turns up.


It turned up. We're now in JFK in the airline lounge. Soon we will get on a plane that will take us to São Paulo. I have bought Maddy every possible magazine a 13 year old girl could want, not to mention a bunch of books. I will carry on writing stories in longhand on the plane. Or sleeping. I could sleep.


Want a badge made out of my thumbprint and signature? Or Tanith Lee's lip-print and initials? Details at although the eBay links don't seem to be active yet.

Also we are all very proud of the former web elf.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

post interrupted

Let's see...

A quiet sort of day. Took Maddy to get her eyebrows waxed. ("I can do that," I told her. "We have candles." She properly ignored me.)

I went down to say hullo to the bees -- the Olga hive is busily growing two new queens, and it's nice seeing the Olga bees happily bustling around the two queen cells. With luck, one of them will leave her cell, go off on a successful mating flight and return to repopulate the hive and lead it on to glory.

See the two things that look like peanuts? Queen cells. The first one to hatch will despatch the unhatched with her stinger...

Right now, as I type this, Maddy and I are rewatching the Bad Wolf and Parting of the Ways episodes of Doctor Who, because Maddy wanted to be reminded of them, due to the end of Turn Left. (And saying more would be spoilers.)

Hey Neil,

I'm not only a big fan of yours, but also Jennifer DeGuzeman's of Slave Labor Graphics fame. She posted this:

Also, it seems you left Holly out of her birthday post. Did you forget to say something about her?

Really, the best Holly Birthday post was

And it was very nice meeting Jennifer, who came across as utterly self-assured and said lots of sensible things she has undoubtedly forgotten. And besides, it did smell like onion rings.

Hi Neil,

I was reading Amanda (Palmer)'s blog, and she said you were working with her on her solo record, Who Killed Amanda Palmer. I'm a huge fan of Amanda, and your writing, and I was wondering what your involvement was in it.



So far I've written the words that will turn up on the back cover of the CD, Who Killed Amanda Palmer? And I'm going to write the words for a book of photographs of Amanda Palmer having been killed.

Hi, Neil!
A bunch of my geek-girl friends and I have pulled together a calendar celebrating being both female and geeky. You seem like this might be something you'd want to support--if you want to plug it on your blog, we'd be very grateful! The website is


Consider it posted -- mostly because I liked the outside knitting picture.

No question, Neil -- just a link that will point you to what happens when the muses take hold of an English department, and focus their will upon the lowly subject of an errant red hand truck. Enjoy!

Fun! Reminds me of some of the classic Making Light posts.

Bil Stiteler just pointed me at, a blog that collects blog posts from blogs that only have one entry.

Hi Neil!

I am a long time fan of your work, and I know I'm a bit behind, but I just finished reading Anansi Boys. It is an awesome read, and I found myself in awe of the subtlety of your literary skills.

I'm curious about the writing process of the characters in Anansi Boys, you being a Caucasian man and the majority of the characters are not. I am an African American woman, and in the majority of books I've read, you naturally assume the characters are Caucasian, as whenever a non-Caucasian comes into play, it is plainly stated, i.e. "He was a black guy... She was a Japanese woman," etc. I so admire how you wrote Anansi boys, because it was the exact reverse - the reader is to assume that all the characters are black, and the non-black people are pointed out. Even the minority authors I've read make a point of focusing on race, but Anansi Boys was so smooth and subtle, I was halfway through the book before I caught it. I just wanted to say thank you for telling a wonderful story, without getting caught up in the semantics of color. It has to be the first book where the main characters are black people, of different cultures, that is not placed in the "African American
Fiction" section of Borders.

Could you tell a bit about your writing process for Anansi Boys, or if you have already done so on your journal, could you direct me to the post?

Thank you, and many Blessings!


Honestly, I think you've pretty much summed it up as well as I ever could. You can hear me talk about it at or read what I had to say when the book came out at

Hello! I have a question I couldn't find the answer to on your site or hardly anywhere else online. I have completed the third draft of a novel and got a lot of feedback saying it was good. However, I am in need of editing. Do you know how I can find good editors for hire? The reason why I want an editor is because I am concerned about being turned down for needing too much editing. I make some plural, punctuation, and some structural mistakes. I have no idea what the publishing world is like--Will a publisher turn down a manuscript with a good story, good writing, and solid arc if it had too many little errors per page?

I suspect that "too many little errors per page" means that the work is not going to be seen as "good writing". Amazing storytelling will triumph over a lot -- there was one bestselling author who wrote all her manuscripts with the shift key down -- but you need amazing storytelling to get to that point.

And while I don't know a lot about freelance editors, I feel confident in pointing to this Miss Snark post and its links and comments:


I was reminded at Boing Boing, there is no law against taking photos or filming in public places in the US or the UK. Something that law enforcement wannabes really need to remember:

And here is Guillermo Del Toro talking about The Hobbit, Hellboy 2, and Death the High Cost of Living:


And that was as far as I got last night because it was then that I discovered a fully-gorged deer tick on the side of my face, and got to investigate what happens next (your doctor appears and gives you 200mg of doxycycline, which works in 87% of cases to stop Lyme Disease from happening, is what).

And I've forgotten what else was going to be in last night's post, except that I know it was going to finish with a link to this post --
and congratulations to Dave and Lisa.

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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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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The New Paranoia

I have friends who practice ultra-safe computing when crossing borders: examine their computers and you'll find yourself on something almost data-free, so you'd not be looking at encrypted files, you'd simply not be looking at files -- the same kinds of things that Cory Doctorow describes in Little Brother.

And I've always thought they were being, well, silly.

And then I read, in the LA Times, an article that began:

Authorities need a search warrant to get at a computer in your home, and reasonable suspicion that you're up to no good to search your laptop in other places (like if you're surfing bomb-making sites while using WiFi at a coffee shop).

But the rules change when you're crossing the border back into the United States. And that has raised concerns from business travelers, privacy advocates and some lawmakers about the vulnerability of the huge amounts of information people carry on their laptops and other digital devices.

The legality of the practice hinges around whether searching a laptop is the equivalent of looking in your luggage, or more like a strip search.

U.S. Courts have ruled, as recently as this spring in a case stemming from a search at LAX, that there's no need for warrants or suspicions when a person is seeking to enter the country because any "routine search" is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. In effect, it's like luggage: anything and everything in your laptop, cellphone, BlackBerry or digital camera can be examined and copied by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

And also copy any songs or films from my iPod, I assume...

Which leaves me going "Yes. And customs has the right to inspect a book I'm reading, but not the right to make a copy of the book. Why would they have the right to copy my data?" It seems deeply wrong. Or like I may, at least in the world of computing, find myself joining the ranks of the friends I always thought were maybe just an eensy weensy little bit paranoid.

Hi Neil! I see you answered this person's question if you're going anywhere else here in Brazil other then Paraty.

And you also said that you have to wait and see if you will be able to do a book signing or not. Well I called Casa Azul (the institution that is organizing the FLIP event) and they said that it is up to each author if they want to have a book signig section or not after they lecture, and a book signing booth will be set up and ready for the authors who agree.

So the main thing is, since it is up to you I would like to know if you will agree on having a book signing/meet and greet, for it will be the only reason for me to travel so far, so I can meet one of my idols.

Hope to see you there!



If it's up to me, then I'm sure I'll be doing a signing.

A few weeks ago I bought tickets for your night in Tulsa, OK. Today, as I went to search again for dates, I'm seeing rumors that the event has been cancelled. All traces of this event have been removed from Mammoth comic's website and Am I missing something here? Is the FBI reprogramming my memory? Or, quite simply, is the event cancelled. Why am I the last to know these things? Anyway, hope you're having a lovely day and I will have to send my copy of American Gods to you to be signed. It is a very special copy you know, belonged to my late best friend, Adam. Goodness, I'm rambling...good evening.

Jaclyn Long

It was definitely cancelled, I'm afraid. I'm astonished that Mammoth Comics have simply vanished any mention of it, rather than putting up information to let people know that it was cancelled, and to make it easy for any tickets to be refunded. When I was told that the event had been cancelled I was also told that they'd make sure that people knew and that it would be made easy for people to refund their tickets... [Edit to add -- Shawn from Mammoth Comics got in touch and it looks like it's a bit messier than that, and some of the mess seems to have come from the people representing me. But now I know that there's a communications breakdown, it'll get sorted.]

Sorry that it's not up as a cancelled event at the Where's Neil address, it was meant to have been. (I really, really miss the old blog system of Where's Neil. It drove everyone else mad, especially the folk running the website, but it meant that events didn't simply vanish once they'd happened, and it was easy for information to go up and hang around.)

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Not cute

Today I had, emergencies, houseguests, strawberries and a yellow fever vaccination, more or less in that order. (For the concerned, the baby raccoons were gone by yesterday afternoon, and I think it's a good bet that they went off with their mum. Today's cuteness quotient was filled by The Chipmunk In The Drainpipe, but I didn't take photos.)

Hey, Neil!

You're coming to Rio de Janeiro for an event in July, yeah? Is there any chance you'll do signings anywhere other than Paraty? Tickets for your lecture sold out a couple hours after they became available; you have a bazillion fans here!

I don't think so; I was asked if I'd like to do a small, invitation-only event for perhaps a hundred people in Sao Paulo after the Flip Paraty festival, and I said no -- mostly because an event for a hundred people seemed like a good way to upset a few thousand people who wouldn't be able to be there (given what happened last time I signed in Brazil -- I said I'd love to do a big enough event that many people would be made happy, but I don't think anyone wanted to do that. So unless something changes in the next two weeks -- and I promise I'll post it here if it does -- no, it'll just be the FLIP event. (And the Desert Island Books event -- I'm reading at that as well).

And a few people have written to ask about signings at FLIP and whether I'll be signing and suchlike, and the truth is I have no idea -- I'll find out and post here what I find.


I've been a fan and supporter of the Guys Read website and project, which encourages young male humans to read books. I was pleased when I recently discovered that the UK has its own project - Boys into Books, which despite sounding like a ghastly attempt to transform our surplus young into reading matter, is a very sensible thing:

They have a list of recommended books for boys at and tell us that:
From mid May until mid September 2007, state schools in England having at least 20 boys of this age group were able to order 20 titles from the list, which were delivered, ready jacketed, free of charge, and also two sets of three Boys into Books posters and 450 postcards.
Which is the kind of thing that I wish would spread beyond the UK, and which should be revived every few years in the UK. So I thought I'd mention that here.


With the help of the webgoblin, I recently upgraded my Panasonic W7 from Windows Vista to Windows XP, and it now runs like a dream. It's nice not to have to wait for words to appear once more.

Let's see... The Rogue Artists Ensemble have reworked their Mr Punch performance and will be bringing it back on the stage -- hope I can catch it this time. Lots of information up at -- although I suspect their previews are in July and not, as posted, in April.

Today I did the proofread on the back matter of Absolute Sandman Volume 4 (which will be out in November). The script in Absolute Sandman Volume 3 is for Sandman 50, which is (in my opinion) the least interesting Sandman script -- although Craig Russell's amazing pencils make up for it a bit. So to make up for it in Absolute Sandman Volume 4 we have the first script for The Kindly Ones and the last script of all, the one for Sandman 75, along with lots of pencils and breakdowns. (You can see a lot of the original pencils for the work that Bryan Talbot and John Ridgway did on Sandman 75, to Charles Vess' breakdowns.)

And I got a call from Vertigo editor-queen Karen Berger asking how I'd feel about another volume of Absolute Sandman, one with Endless Nights and Dream Hunters, and perhaps the Sandman Midnight Theatre story, and the story at the beginning of Dust Covers in it.... I'm not sure. I like that Sandman is one four volume book. Having said that, lots of you have written and asked about it, and Endless Nights and Mr Amano's lovely Dream Hunters are both out of print as hardbacks, and it would be nice to see that art that huge. I suppose I'd feel fine about it if we called it something other than Absolute Sandman Volume 5. Absolute Sandman Supplemental maybe?


And for all the people doing the SFX hundred favourite authors meme, it's Samuel R Delany, not Delaney. Just saying...

And I tried to find the SFX list on the SFX site, and couldn't. But I found a terrific little Q&A with Paul Cornell on writing short stories at


Oops. Nearly forgot -- over at the Subterranean Press website, you can win a UK Advanced Reading Copy of The Graveyard Book:

You write your own epitaph to win. And from the ones people have posted, I am extremely glad I am not judging.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Cuteness overload

The dog startled sleeping raccoons this morning. The mother scampered off leaving two small grumble-whistly balls of cuteness.

So I took my camera, found the telephoto lens (by asking Lorraine where it was) and headed down into the woods to sit patiently while being eaten by mosquitoes, hoping for a few photos.

Lots of bad photos of the baby raccoons being blurred beneath leaves. Then I made the mistake of whistling back at them. They went "Whee-tweetle-thirrp!" and tumbled out of the leaves towards me...

..and I discovered the problem with taking photos of baby raccoons with a telephoto lens is that a telephoto lens is the last thing you want when they're snuffling around your feet trying to figure out why you sound so much like their mother.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

looking at you sideways

I don't know. You turn your (still extremely jet-lagged, just in the opposite direction) back for one moment and the tabs to be closed are already breeding...

First, the big sadness: Cody's Bookshop has closed completely.
I've loved doing signings and events with Cody's over the years, thought they were special and will miss them very much. It makes me glad that Kepler's is still in business,

I'm a Hachette author in the UK and much of the Commonwealth. I see that, from an Amazon-selling point of view, this might not be a good thing to be.
I guess I'll start finding other places to link to when I want to point to books. Amazon is always the easiest way to link, so it tends to be the place I default to.

I got a bit puzzled last year when my name got left off the National Theatre of Scotland production of "The Wolves In The Walls" at the New Victory (it was there as writer of the book the thing was based on, but not as co-adapter or as writer of most of the extra lyrics). Still, I felt that things had swung a bit far the other way when I saw this article from Variety on The New Victory winning the National Award for Excellence...

Here's the second part of a two part interview with Alan Moore at the Forbidden Planet blog (where you can learn what he thinks about Gordon Brown being petitioned by the public for an honour on Alan's behalf ):

The door to Hell. It's in Darvaz in Uzbekistan.

Weird Tales is blogging an entry a day on its 85 weirdest storytellers of the last 85 years.

I was thrilled by Sandman, the whole thing, being on the Entertainment Weekly top 50 new classics of the last 25 years, and baffled why, when they did the entry on what the longest work on their list was, they only listed the first volume of Absolute Sandman, rather than the whole thing. And googled to make sure that my friend Marc Bernardin was still working there to ask him (not that it's anything to do with him of course) and found myself reading this:

I met Miriam Berkley on a plane in-- I think -- December 1987, on my first professional trip to the US, I think. She's a photographer who photographs authors -- here's an interview with her, along with some of her great author photos:

Hi, Mr. Neil!

Thought you might enjoy this:


That's cool: Turning wordclouds into art. I have to go and play with Wordle, don't I?

why do the characters in your children's book "The Dangerous Alphabet" look so very similar in appearance (hair color, eyes, clothing - even, somewhat, the shapes of their faces) to Al Columbia's beloved underground cartoon characters, "Pim and Francie"? The similarities are pretty uncanny. Are you and your illustrator very big fans of Al Columbia, or is it simply a very big co-incidence?

thank you for your time.


brent higgins

I'm not sure I've ever seen anything Al Columbia's drawn, apart from a promo piece for Big Numbers about 18 years ago, but I googled Pim and Francie, found a picture, and can't figure out what they have in common with the brother and sister in The Dangerous Alphabet apart from being male and female children, and his hair being lighter than hers. So it's a mystery to me too.

Sent some pictures of me taken for Time Out Sydney...

And here's a scan of the Entertainment Weekly photo page with my top ten on it. A photo almost unique in the history of pictures of me in magazines, for actually looking like me...

In my head Eddie Campbell whispers, "Ah. Righht. Another picture from the Neil Gaiman School of Looking at You Sideways.")

STOP PRESS: "The Witch's Headstone" (which will, later this year, be Chapter 4 of The Graveyard Book) won the Locus Award for best novelette. Thank you to all who voted for it, and to Gardner Dozois who accepted the award on my behalf. It's a really terrific list of winners, too.

From Locus:

Locus Awards Winners

Winners of this year's Locus Awards, voted by readers of Locus Magazine in the annual Locus Poll, were were announced this afternoon at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Seattle, at an event led by Master of Ceremonies Connie Willis.

The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Michael Chabon (HarperCollins)
Making Money, Terry Pratchett (Doubleday UK; HarperCollins)
Un Lun Dun, China Miéville (Ballantine Del Rey; Macmillan UK)
Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill (Morrow; Gollancz)
"After the Siege", Cory Doctorow (The Infinite Matrix Jan 2007)
"The Witch's Headstone", Neil Gaiman (Wizards)
"A Small Room in Koboldtown", Michael Swanwick (Asimov's Apr/May 2007)
The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories, Connie Willis (Subterranean)
The New Space Opera, Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan, eds. (Eos)
Breakfast in the Ruins, Barry N. Malzberg (Baen)
The Arrival, Shaun Tan (Lothian 2006; Scholastic)
Ellen Datlow
Charles Vess

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On the table when I got home was a neatly stacked pile of books that had arrived while I was away, most of them things I'd bought from across the wide internet. (These make me happy. Books people send to me hoping for a blurb make me feel guilty, as the pile of stuff-people-would-like-me-to-blurb is taller than I am.) The book that made me happiest was a copy of Jules Feiffer's Explainers, published by Fantagraphics, which I actually bought rather than obtained by asking Fantagraphics for it because sometimes it's more fun that way. It's a $28.99 hardback collection of all of Feiffer's strips from 1956-1966, and should not be confused with the 1962 collection The Explainers. I was going to write about it here, and then I remembered that I'd done an introduction to Feiffer's book Tantrum, and that it was worth excavating...

(There's an interview with Feiffer himself about the book and his career at: and, because Chris McLaren was wondering, I've had this signed Feiffer four colour print for about twenty years now. And they just lowered the price on the ones they had left.)

Feiffer: Tantrum Introduction

There was a Jules Feiffer cartoon in the mid-sixties in which a baby, hardly old enough to walk, catalogues the grievances inflicted upon it by its parents, each indignity accompanied by a soothing "Mommy loves baby. Daddy loves baby."

"Whatever that word 'love' means --" says the baby, essaying its first steps, "I can hardly wait till I'm big enough to do it to them."

When I first discovered Jules Feiffer I was... what? Four years old? Five, maybe. This was in England, in 1964 or 1965, and the book was a hardback blue-covered edition of The Explainers, Feiffer's 1962 collection, and I read it as only a child can read a favourite book: over and over and over. I had little or no context for the assortment of losers and dreamers and lovers and dancers and bosses and mothers and children and company men, but I kept reading and rereading, trying to understand, happy with whatever comprehension I could pull from the pages, from what Feiffer described as "an endless babble of self-interest, self-loathing, self-searching and evasion.” I read and reread it, certain that if I understood it, I would have some kind of key to the adult world.

It was the first place I had ever encountered the character of Superman: there was a strip in which he "pulled a chick out of a river" and eventually married her. I'd never encountered that use of the word 'chick' before, and assumed that Superman had married a small fluffy yellow baby chicken. It made as much sense as anything else in the adult world. And it didn't matter: I understood the fundamental story -- of compromise and insecurity -- as well as I understood any of them. I read them again and again, a few drawings to a page, a few pages to each strip. And I decided that when I grew up, I wanted to do that. I wanted to tell those stories and do those drawings and have that perfect sense of pacing and the killer undercut last line.

(I never did, and I never will. But any successes I've had as a writer in the field of words-and-pictures have their roots in poring over the drawings in The Explainers, and reading the dialogue, and trying to understand the mysteries of economy and timing that were peculiarly Jules Feiffer's.)

That was over thirty years ago. In the intervening years the strips that I read back then, in The Explainers, and, later, in discovered copies of Sick, Sick, Sick and Hold Me!, have waited patiently in the back of my head, commenting on the events around me. ("Why is she doing that?" "To lose weight."/ "You're not perfection... but you do have an interesting off-beat color... and besides, it's getting dark."/ "What I wouldn't give to be a non-conformist like all those others."/ "Nobody knows it but I'm a complete work of fiction")

So. Time passed. I learned how to do joined-up writing. Feiffer continued cartooning, becoming one of the sharpest political commentators there has ever been in that form, and writing plays, and films, and prose books.

In 1980, I got a call from my friend Dave Dickson, who was working in a local bookshop. There was a new Jules Feiffer book coming out, called Tantrum. He had ordered an extra copy for me.

I had stopped reading most comics a few years earlier, limiting my comics-buying to occasional reprints of Will Eisner's 'The Spirit'. (I had no idea that Feiffer had once been Eisner's assistant.) I was no longer sure that comics could be, as I had previously supposed, a real, grown-up, medium. But it was Feiffer, and I was just about able to afford it. So I bought Tantrum and I took it home and read it.

I remember, mostly, puzzlement. There was the certainty that I was in the presence of a real story, true, but beyond that there was just perplexity. It was a real 'cartoon novel'. But it made little sense: the story of a man who willed himself back to two-years of age. I didn't really understand any of the whys or whats of the thing, and I certainly didn't understand the ending.

(Nineteen is a difficult age, and nineteen year-olds know much less than they think they do. Less than five year olds, anyway.)

I was at least bright enough to know that any gaps were mine, not Feiffer's, for every few years I went back and re-read Tantrum. I still have that copy, battered but beloved. And each time I re-read it, it made a little more sense, felt a little more right.

But with whatever perplexity I might have originally brought to Tantrum, it was still one of the few works that made me understand that comics were simply a vessel, as good or bad as the material that went into them.

And the material that goes into Tantrum is very good indeed.

I re-read Tantrum a month ago.

Now, as I write this, I'm in spitting distance of Leo's age, with two children rampaging into their teens: I know what that place is. And I have a two-year old daughter -- a single-minded, self-centred creature of utter simplicity and implacable will.

And as I read it I found myself understanding it -- even recognising it -- on a rather strange and personal level. I was understanding just why Leo stopped being 42 and began being two, appreciating the strengths that a two year old has that a 42 year old has, more or less, lost.

Leo's drives are utterly straightforward, once he's two again. He wants a piggy back. He wants to be bathed and diapered and fussed over. As a 42 year old he lived an enervated life of blandness and routine. Now he wants adventure -- but a two year old's adventure. He wants what the old folk-tale claimed women want: to have his own way.

Along the way we meet his parents, his family, and the other men-who-have-become-two-year-olds. We watch him not burn down his parents' home. We watch him save a life. We watch his quest for a piggy-back and where it leads him. The story is sexy, surreal, irresponsible and utterly plausible.

Everyone, everything in Tantrum is drawn, lettered, created, at white hot speed: one gets the impression of impatience with the world at the moment of creation -- that it would have been hard for Feiffer to have done it any faster. As if he were trying to keep up with ideas and images tumbling out of his head, trying to capture them before they escaped and were gone.

Feiffer had explored the relationship between the child and the man before, most notably in Munro, his cautionary tale of a four-year old drafted into the US army (later filmed as an Academy Award-winning short). Children populated his Feiffer strip, too -- not too-smart, little adult Peanuts children, but real kids appearing as commentators or counterpoints to the adult world. Even the kids in Clifford, Feiffer's first strip, a one-page back-up to the Spirit newspaper sections, feel like real kids (except perhaps for Seymour, who, like Leo, is young enough still to be a force of nature).

Tantrum was different. The term ‘inner child’ had scarcely been coined, when it was written, yet alone debased into the currency of stand-up, but it stands as an exploration of, and wary paean to the child inside.

When the history of the Graphic Novel (or whatever they wind up calling long stories created in words and pictures for adults, in the time when the histories are appropriate) is written, there will be a whole chapter about Tantrum, one of the first and still one of the wisest and sharpest things created in this strange publishing category, and one of the books that, along with Will Eisner's A Contract With God, began the movement that brought us such works as Maus, as Love and Rockets, as From Hell -- the works that stretch the envelope of what words and pictures were capable of, and could not have been anything but what they were, pictures and words adding up to something that could not have been a film or a novel or a play: that were intrinsically comics, with all a comics' strengths.

I am delighted that Fantagraphics have brought it back into print, and, after reading it, I have no doubt that you will be too...

Neil Gaiman. March 1997.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

weakly entertaining

Home. Very very tired. The dog is glad to see me, but the house is otherwise empty, making me half-wish I'd taken the thousand dollars and no change fee to take tomorrow's plane instead, and spent more time with family over there (Maddy comes home in a few days).

Thanks to all of you who wrote in about last night's post...

This is just a quick one to say that you can see Entertainment Weekly's list of the 100 most important books since 1983 at,,20207076_20207387_20207349,00.html
and my list of ten of my favourite monsters since 1983 at,,20207076_20207387_20207511,00.html. But you have to buy the magazine to see the photo they used of me in the end.


This is the third year of the Philippine Graphic/Fiction awards, sponsored by me and Fully Booked, and run by Fully Booked... and in addition to prose and comics, we've added a new category: short films.

Details at


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Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Journey to Headcorn

I've left Maddy with Holly and have wandered down to Kent to see Dave McKean and family. Dave asked me to let anyone in Paris, or in France, or within easy commuting distance of Paris (these days that probably includes people in Belgium and Estonia...) know that he has a show coming up in Paris. Dave will be signing at the gallery on Wednesday... (This is where it is and how to get there)

Here's a French article on Dave and the show...

and here's the gallery website.

I wound up strangely out of sorts today, after my journey down to Dave's. The toilets on many trains in the UK have ridiculously unintuitive ways to open and close doors, with mystery buttons inside the toilet to close and lock the door that are hard to find, even for the sighted. I watched a blind man head into the train toilet. He couldn't find the door to close it, said "excuse me, can some help me?" until a fat man in a suit sitting next to the toilet stopped pretending he wasn't there and pressed the close door button for him. Then I watched the fat man hurry down the aisle and past me and back into the next compartment for all the world as if he was embarrassed by what had just happened. Soon enough there came a frantic knocking on the toilet door as, obviously, the blind man couldn't get out (secret, randomly placed buttons would do it, but you have to find them first). And there was a carriage full of people between me and the toilet, so I waited for someone to get up, press the outside button and let him out. And nobody did. now the knocking started again, louder, and more panicked, and I looked out at a carriage filled with people who were pretending very hard they hadn't heard, and were all now gazing intently at their books or papers. So I got up and walked down to the toilet and let the man out, and showed him back to his seat, because it's the least I'd want if I was blind, and it's how you treat a fellow human being, and for heaven's sake. And then I went back to my seat, and everyone looked up at me and stared and smiled with relieved "thank god someone did that" smiles, and I sat down grumpy and puzzled and remain grumpy and puzzled about it still. I'm still trying to work out what on earth was going on there -- I don't think I did anything good or clever or nice. I just did what I would have thought anyone would do. Except a train filled with people didn't, and in one case actively appeared to be running away in order not to. And I puzzle over, was this a carriage filled with particularly self-centred or embarrassed people, has something fundamental changed in the years I've been away from the UK (unlikely, and I don't believe in lost Golden Ages), did those other people really somehow blindly fail to notice that there was a blind man trapped in the toilet...? I have no idea and I write it down because, as I said, it puzzles and irritates me, and if it ever turns up in a short story you'll know why.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

actually by Neil this time

If you're on an RSS feed and missed it, you may enjoy Maddy's label for the last post. It made me laugh, anyway.

And here are two photos I would have posted...

I think I now technically qualify as a greybeard.

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Maddy might have blogged this but who knows...

Oh hello there. Neil Gaiman here. These are my two beauteous daughters. They are loads and loads of fun to hang out with. They make me smile. Have a nice day! :) :)

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I am not a number...

Still in England. Had a day where I managed to see a lot of the people I needed to, mostly by throwing all the social meetings I wanted to make with friends under a bus. Plans for the Ireland/Scotland/England bit of the Graveyard Book tour are now in place, for a start. Not sure whether I talk about the other three things, but they were fun.

Todd Klein has announced the on sale date for the prints he did -- he points out that the Alan Moore ones sold out in three days, so if you're interested, it's there for you --

I was sent a link to the list of SFX Magazine's compiled-from-lists-sent-in-by-the-public top 100 SF writers. I spent most of it with my eye running down from 100 going "He's better than me. He's a lot better than me. She's much better than me. What's he doing down there, he's better than that..." but it was nice to come in at #3 anyway -- and when they let me know SFX assured me that I was already at #3 by a good margin when I linked to the survey on this blog, so I hadn't skewed it, which always my fear.

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still lagging

Not a big fan of the whole jet lag thing, which I normally avoid but didn't on this trip. Spent too much of yesterday making a complete mess of organising today -- at one point I'd triple-booked my today's late afternoon, and even now, having tried to sort it out, I think it'll run like a french farce. Wanted to go and see Jason Webley yesterday evening, but instead I had fish and chips with daughters and a very early night.

Signed up for Good Reads ( -- had planned to simply accept friend requests, as I do at Last FM ( but it takes too long. Apologies.

Maddy says I have to stop typing and go to breakfast. Then we get shown around a studio....

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

memo from jet lag town

Maddy and Holly and I had dinner last night with The Graveyard Book producer. Maddy and I were both a bit jet-lagged -- still are. Holly now has honey-coloured hair which would render her immune to jet lag. (Well, that and the fact she now lives in England and didn't actually have to fly anywhere.)

I'm reading Samuel R. Delany's About Writing right now, because I have a very short list of books I really learned about writing from when I was a young thing who wanted to be a writer, and Delany's The Jewel-Hinged Jaw was about half of them (the other half was probably the Reginald Bretnor-edited book of essays by diverse hands, The Craft of Science Fiction). About Writing is a wonderful book that should be read by anyone who wants to be, or is already, a writer. It contains seven essays, four letters and five interviews.

I was just struck by this paragraph from one of the letters -- to someone who wishes he or she was a writer, but probably isn't. And I thought, I should put it up here for all the people who write to me convinced that they would be happy if only they were writers.
Writers are people who write. By and large, they are not happy people. They're not good at relationships. Often they're drunks. And writing -- good writing -- does not get easier and easier with practice. It gets harder and harder -- so eventually the writer must stall out into silence.The silence that waits for every writer and that, inevitably, if only with death (if we're lucky the two may happen at the same time: but they are still two, and their coincidence is rare), the writer must fall into is angst-ridden and terrifying - and often drives us mad. (In a letter to Allen Tate, the poet Hart Crane once described writing as "dancing on dynamite.") So if you're not a writer, consider yourself fortunate.
(Hey, I thought when I read that, at least I'm not a drunk.)

Over at Waterstones there's an interview that I did with Terry Pratchett, filled with the kind of odd little edits and rewrites that remind me why I left journalism, but which won't be visible to anyone else.

Hi Neil,

I just saw a press release from D3Publisher announcing that they've got the publishing rights to...Coraline (The Game)! I've only seen the press release on a trade only site currently, but it implies it will be multiformat (including handheld) and that,

"Coraline (The Game) is a surrealistic adventure game that will enthrall gamers of all ages with its moody atmosphere, engaging narrative and cast of colorful characters. The console products are being developed by Papaya Studios, and the handheld products are being developed by ART."

From that it sounds like it could be in the same kind of style as American McGee's Alice (which was superb).

I can't find anything else about it (on the publisher's or either developer's sites), so is there anything else you can tell us about this please? When we can expect to see it released? And on what platforms? Any and all information gratefully received! Thanks in advance.

I saw an early proposal for the game, which looked intriguing, but that was the last thing I heard or saw. If and when I get more I'll happily post about it on the blog. There's a few quotes about it here.

Subterranean Press wanted me to mention that they're putting the names of anyone who preorders a copy of their edition of The Graveyard Book directly from them in the back of their book.

Hi Neil,

I followed the link to the UK Graveyard Book site and eagerly clicked on the signed hardcover slipcase thingy-whatsit preorder button, because I'm like that and get excited by people scribbling on my books. Unfortunately the Bloomsbury page for the book doesn't seem to have a preorder button. Do you know if it's sold out already, or if somebody at Bloomsbury just dropped the ball?


I went over to section on the books, and the preorder buttons were there -- you had to linger on the book cover for a moment for the preorder button to appear. The limited one brought up:

Which seems to be a way to have Bloomsbury email you when it's ready to preorder. I'm not sure. If you're in the UK you could also just head down to your local bookshop and give them the ISBN and have them pre-order it for you... (I'll check with Bloomsbury and see if I'm not missing something.)

Remember when the e-petition to have Alan Moore honoured went up? The Prime Minister's office has responded -- although not with the proper response, which would have been "YES! WHAT A FINE IDEA! WE SHALL MAKE HIM OFFICIAL WIZARD OF ALL ENGLAND AND SET HIM TO TURNING LEAD INTO GOLD! WITH AN OFFICIAL POINTY HAT!" But at least they don't actually rule it out.

Right. Back to the day. Too many people to see, or at least, look at blearily...

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Maddy and I are going to the UK for a few days, on Graveyard Book movie matters. We just went for a father's day walk in the woods, where we were bitten by special father's day mosquitoes.

I'm confronting the hard facts of being the father of a thirteen-nearly-fourteen-year-old-daughter. For example, I learned today that we can no longer travel using carry-on luggage. We have to check luggage, something I don't like to do and avoid whenever I can, but that has become unavoidable. This is, I was told, because Maddy has liquid Hair Care products that have to come with us.

"We're going to England," I told her. "It's a country flowing with milk and honey and hair-care products. There's a Boots on every corner, or nearly, and there's definitely one in any airport we'll be flying into. Before we leave the airport I can buy you more haircare products than you can easily carry, all of them guaranteed to be just as hair-care-producty as anything you could get in WalMart."

"That's nice of you," she said firmly. "And you can get me them too if you like. But I'll have to bring my own haircare products as well."

"It's ENGLAND," I said. "Not Antarctica. Sixty million people! They wash their hair there. They put goopy stuff on it after they've washed it. There are more weird hair-care things that I don't know what they are on the shelves of Boots than there in the whole of the US. We wouldn't have to check luggage..."

I lost the argument. Everyone else seems to think I'm missing the point. Maddy's sister on the phone from the UK told me I'd lost. Even Maddy's mother does nothing more than smile. Sigh. I wish that the dog could talk. He's male. I bet he'd back me up. (Actually, if he could talk he'd just say, "You're going away? When there might be thunderstorms? You know no-one else can protect me from thunderstorms. Whoa...I forgot what we were just talking about. Can we go for a walk now?" because he's a dog.)

We'll be checking luggage. Did I mention that already?

Happy Father's Day. Did you know there's a Win A Copy Of The Dangerous Alphabet Competition going on? 50 copies to be won...

And did you know it's the World's End message board's Seventh Birthday? (I didn't, but the lovely Amy AKA Aitapata just told me.) Congratulations to all the board people and moderators!

Dear Neil,
I recently finished reading your (and John Romita Jr.'s) version of Eternals for the second time, and I was wondering (because I've already researched it and I can't find anything about it) if you'll continue it? It's an amazing comic, and I would like to know whether to expect more of it...Thank you, Jessica.

I'm glad you liked it. No, my brief on the Eternals was to get them working again in the Marvel Universe, so that other people could tell stories with them. The good news is that the whole of Jack Kirby's original Eternals series is coming out in two trade paperbacks, and that Marvel are releasing an ongoing Eternals series. (Available right now in your local comic shop.)

Dear Neil, I am sure you have probably answered this question before and are probably, therefore, very sick of it. But, I still must ask. I am an aspiring writer and am wondering how you stayed motivated during times of great failure. I understand what many writers mean when they say the love of the art drives them. What I am concerned with is how to deal with the inevitable denial of a piece of literature that you have invested everything in?

Write the next thing.

Maybe the world will catch up with your brilliance eventually, or maybe you'll look back in ten years and decide it wasn't that great really after all. Doesn't really matter. Times of great failure or times of great success, the problem is the same (how do you keep going?) and the solution is the same: You write the next thing.

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Friday, June 13, 2008


An apologetic note to say that I've just learned that for various reasons (none of which was really anyone's fault) the Tulsa Oklahoma event on June the 28th has had to be cancelled. (And, I am assured, all tickets will be refunded.)

I definitely want to come to Tulsa -- there are Lafferty archives to see, after all, and old friends to eat with -- so I think its been more postponed than cancelled, although it'll probably be in a slightly different form when next it happens.


Thursday, June 12, 2008


Got up this morning, went in to Minneapolis and recorded introductions for the recordings of the Fritz Leiber Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories. Then I did the alternate bits for the UK version of The Graveyard Book, and came home.

I took some photos the other day of a pileated woodpecker on our birdfeeder, and was chuffed when the birdchick put them up on her blog:

Over at the Onion AV club: Cory Doctorow interviewed, and also (in two parts) Harlan Ellison interviewed (part 1 and part 2). Both terrific reads, even if Mr Ellison does mock my accent. (Actually mocks my me-pretending-to be-Harlan-Ellison-accent.)

Everyone I know is either sending me this gizmodo link or this New York Times link to the story of an apartment that was also a puzzle box...

There's Clarion and Clarion West. This is a fundraiser looking for sponsors for the one I'm not teaching at.

I've forgotten whether or not I posted the link to Anne K.G. Murphy's interview with Dave McKean at

I know I haven't posted a link to the UK Graveyard Book site -- because it only went live today. It has spooky music, a Chris Riddell gallery and a Dave McKean gallery. What more does anybody need?

Algis Budrys is dead, alas. I didn't really know him -- we had dinner once and spoke on the phone once -- and while I admired and respected his books I never loved them. But as he says in this interview, his enduring legacy is the teaching.

My scary godcreature, the remarkable Hayley Campbell, is now writing for the Fabulist. (

Louis Leterrier wants to make a movie of 1602. (Might be really fun. We could fix the plot hiccups at the end for a start. The main problem would be the different companies that still have film rights to characters that Marvel doesn't have, who are needed for the story. On the other hand, as long as you've got Nick Fury and Dr Strange, you can't go too far wrong.)

And, from the Guardian, here are some better images from the Hammer and Carry On Stamps. My old friend and occasional collaborator Kim Newman did the text from the presentation pack. (You know you've finally arrived when you get to write the words for the stamps.)

i just wanted to tell you that up on the First Tuesday Bookclub website ( there's an interview with you.

maybe you can post the link up for others to watch.

where were you sitting, it sounded like as though they had you in the middle of a busy waiting room.

here's the full link:

The interview was done in the restaurant at the Sydney hotel I was staying at. And I thought I'd already linked to this, but obviously wasn't paying attention or forgot or something. Sorry...

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The End of the Auction

The Waterstones auction happened. The J.K. Rowling Harry Potter un-prequel card went for a bit less than the $10 million that some newspapers were predicting (about $9,951,000 less), but I don't think the auction was really being run to raise money as much as to raise awareness -- of the charities and PEN and of (most importantly) the existence of the upcoming all-profits-to-charity-and-PEN 5 pound-a-pop postcard book, and I think it did that and did it well...

Read the stories at

(You can pre-order the postcard book here -- limit of 2 per person.)

And the answer to my puzzled wondering of how on earth did Ms Rowling squeeze a reported 800 words onto that card? I was pushing to write a legible short story in about 300 words... was revealed. She turned it over. Fair enough. (Richard Ford also cheated and used two cards.)

There's a full report over at The Guardian:,,2284857,00.html

As I said, you can read all the stories at I've not read them all yet, but my favourite of the ones I've read so far was the Tom Stoppard "Idiomatic Farm" one. I was interested in the Atwood one when I read that,
Margaret Atwood appeared at the ceremony via videolink from Paris, wielding her celebrated LongPen - which reproduces handwriting remotely via sophisticated electronics - to handwrite her card "live". Her story, which she said she had struggled to condense into a form barely more capacious than a simple joke, provides a fresh spin on the Canute story, working in both domestic and ecological politics.
Which it may well do, but I found it more or less unreadable and cannot tell if this is because of her handwriting or the way the LongPen reproduces it.

Mine went for about $2500 to someone who really wanted it and was thrilled to get it, so I am happy, and most of all I like the idea of people actually sending the stories to each other through the post. (Using, I hope, classic Hammer Horror stamps. Or better still, the Carry on Screaming stamp...)

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Feed the Pidgen

Finished proofreading. Added a brood box to three of the beehives. Put together an overdue short story in my head and now have to start writing it.

Supermarkets in the UK are also now age-banding Barbecue Sauce:

A Tesco store refused to sell barbecue sauce to a customer because it contained
a tiny amount of alcohol and she couldn't prove her age.
Claire Birchell, 25, was told she could not buy the Jack Daniel's barbecue sauce which has an alcohol content of 2 per cent.
Staff at the store in in Flitwick, near Bedford also refused to sell the bottle to her brother-in-law, Philip Dover, 27, who did have ID, because they believed he would just give the bottle to Miss Birchell.

A reminder that I'll be in Tulsa, OK, on the 28th of June: details at
It seems to be an evening containing a signing, a Q&A and a screening of Beowulf into the bargain. I'm excited to go to Tulsa, because of the R.A. Lafferty connections. And Oklahoma is a state I've never visited.

Hi Neil,

Absolute Sandman Volume 3 will be out in a few hours. Since this volume will include stories from books 5-7 of the Sandman library, I was wondering if volume 4 will include "Endless Nights." I was also hoping that “Dream Hunters” will be part of the final volume but that’s just me wishful thinking.


I have volume 3 here, and it's as lovely and as heavy as the first two, and I've just been proofreading Volume 4, which comes out in November, for the 20th anniversary of Sandman. (The only way I can make that work in my head is by telling myself that it's the equivalent of a comic I read in 1975, when I was 14 and discovering fanzines and the history of comics, that had a first issue in 1955 and stopped publishing in 1963... it would have been something from a bygone age. Instead we're in this strange world where each year more Sandman graphic novels are sold than the year before, as new generations discover them.)

My main obsession right now is to make sure that the sign in the park finally says Do Not Feed the Pigeons in Hungarian, rather than, um, pidgen-Hungarian. No, Absolute Sandman 4 doesn't contain Endless Nights or Dream Hunters -- it's already over 600 pages and will weigh over seven pounds. The four Absolute Sandmans when released will be over 2400 pages long and will contain all 76 issues of Sandman (including the special) and the four or five other stories from various specials, samplers and Winters' Edges -- all except the Jeff Jones Death short story, which will need to wait until DC does The Compleat Death...

Chris Ewen, of Future Bible Heroes fame, has a personal side project called Hidden Variable (this is their MySpace site -- you can hear the complete versions of lots of the songs here, including Unresolving, by me), of songs with music by him and words by authors, all sung by Malena except for one sung by Claudia Gonson.

Here's a rather lovely video of Kindermarchen, the Hidden Variable song by Gregory Maguire, directed by Kimberly Butler and Elberta Gaither. (You know, if you have a record company, you should release Chris's Hidden Variable CD on it... )

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Soon enough a cat post, I promise...

I'm proofreading the galleys of the UK edition of The Graveyard Book right now. Last night, at the exact moment I started to become convinced that these were amazingly clean galleys, there were no typos after the number of times we'd all been through the manuscript, and I should simply sign off on them and get on with my life, one character turns to another and says "Neil, I've broken the next para into five paras for clarity but if you want we can turn it back." Which was a comment from the copyeditor to me that had been written on the previous draft. After that I started squinting at the text and reading verrry slowly....

Philip Pullman in the Guardian, talking about why age banding books is such a magnificently wrongheaded idea, but also talking about what he knows when he starts a book:

When I sit down to write a book, I know several things about it: I know
roughly how long it will be, I know some of the events in the story, I know a
little about some of the characters, I know - without knowing quite how I'll get
to it - what tone of voice I want the narrative to be cast in.

But there are several things I don't know, and one of those is who will read it. You simply can't decide who your readership will be. Nor do I want to, because declaring that it's for any group in particular means excluding every other group, and I don't want to exclude anybody. Every reader is welcome, and I want my books to say so.

Which is pretty much true for me too, and sometimes all you need to know that it'll work is the tone of voice. When that works, everything works, and when you don't have it it's the intangible that stops the thing from being magic.

(On the age banding, from what I can figure out, the subtext of all this seems to be, in the UK more and more books are being sold through supermarkets. People in supermarkets don't have to know anything about what they're selling. They just need to know where to put it on the shelves. If publishers put colour-coded age bands on the books, indicating which books are for 7+ and which for 9+ and which for 11+, then supermarkets will order more books because they won't have to think about putting them out. And after all, the shelf-stackers don't need to know anything about dish-soap to sell that, so what makes books special?)

And now some good news:

Hi Neil,
I think you're already aware of this, but I wondered if you'd mind posting a follow-up to the story of Emru Townsend. I wrote to you back in April about Emru's search for a bone marrow donor and the desperate need for more people (especially non-caucasians) to get on their country's bone marrow registry. Here's the link to your original post for those who missed it:

Emru and his sister Tamu have been campaigning like crazy to raise awareness for the bone marrow registry. Last week, we got some excellent news:

A donor match has finally been found for Emru! Here's a CBC News article on the story:

I should remind you that there was no match in the registry for Emru when he was originally diagnosed with leukemia. I believe that this match is a direct result of Emru and Tamu's tireless awareness campaign, and of people like you helping to get the word out to as many people as possible. Thank you. And thank you to your readers, many of whom passed on the word and got themselves registered.

Emru is still a long way from being healed. He must get into remission, stay in remission, be prepared for surgery, have the surgery, resist or fight off infection, risk the donation attacking his body or his body attacking the donation, and get through the first 100 days. Plus, his anonymous donor has the option of backing out at any point and there is currently no backup.

Still, this is a crucial first step. Our friend now has a good, fighting chance.

To your readers: Don't see this as the end of the story. There are still massive shortages in the registry and many, many people are still waiting to find matching donors. Emru and Tamu have already committed themselves to continuing their awareness campaign.

Emru's story shows that this isn't a lost cause; it's a solvable problem. You can save lives just by registering and getting others to do the same.

For more information, visit

Thank you so much!
--Jeff LeBlanc
and several other well-wishers...
Pasley Preston
Beverly Preston
Driss Zouak
Ceri Young
Arin Murphy Hiscock

I talked about the NPR interview I did during the Graveyard Book Audio recording a few days ago; is the Anansi Boys Bryant Park Book Club radio interview.

(I have to go back into the studio on Thursday -- we only realised this morning that there were no alternate takes for the UK of sentences with words like crib, diaper and flashlight in them, so I will go and replace them with sentences containing cots and nappies and torches.)

Just got an email to tell me that a pre-eminent banjo player would really like to play the Danse Macabre, which left my jaw on the floor with delight.

And here, for the people who asked, is a photo of a dog in the woods, yesterday. He's come a long way in a little over a year. I suppose I have as well...

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