Thursday, July 31, 2008

The roof of all evil

I'll be working with Amanda Palmer on the WHO KILLED AMANDA PALMER Book for the next couple of days. It's a book of photos of her with occasional words by me, which are currently being written. Some photos were taken over a decade ago, most are more recent and most of them are by photographer Kyle Cassidy, who in between taking proper important shots of Amanda doing book things on the roof this evening, took this photo of Amanda and me. I am wearing socks because I have incredibly painful blisters on my feet because I can be an idiot sometimes. Possibly more information than you wanted to know, but there you go.

(A much fuller description of the late evening and more photos from Kyle at

Went to CBLDF booth. Got T-shirt. It smells like your basement. Can I wash this thing without your signature coming off?

Also, my Fiance got the New wave hookers shirt. Seriously Neil? A porno? There's gotta be a good story there.

You rule,

You should certainly be able to wash it -- the thick fabric paint I used to sign it says it's washable, anyway. If it's any consolation, that smell is attic, not basement. And more than half of the tee shirts were originally gifts, and many of them were mysteries swallowed by time or never explained even to me: where I got the "New Wave Hookers" tee shirt is anybody's guess. But I wore it happily anyway.

I hope this reaches neil himself. Never have i ever known of anyone as full of himself as well as shit, than you. Now another milestone in your over-hyped career, Writing Batman. Not only are you under the impression you can write, but write batman? Fuck You. You Tried before and it sucked. It was just gaiman... With Batman in it. Fuck You.

If I'd known that Secret Origins of Batman Villains #1 had made that much of an impression on people, I would have... actually, probably not done anything different, really. I was rather fond of it.

If you think you won't like the Batman comic I'll write, probably you'd be best off not reading it. It'll just be a two part Batman comic, you can save your money. Although if you'd bother to write me a letter like that you might buy it just to prove to yourself that you hate it as much as you know you're going to...

Dear Neil,

I just wanted to drop a line to pass on this article on the relevance of comics in academia, which you might find of some interest, despite the fact that the author places a line break between every sentence. Some of the facts are old news, but there are some interesting tidbits to be gleaned. Here's the link:


That took me back. I thought that newspapers had finally given up on variants of WHAM SMASH POW! COMICS HAVE GROWN UP! in headlines...

Hi Neil.

When you talk about "places where you can be arrested for drawing cartoons", surely you don't mean to imply that in the USA you can't be arrested for drawing a cartoon? You can, just as you can for any other art form.

The First Amendment doesn't provide protection for (among other things) incitement to commit a crime, threats, or so-called "fighting words" intended to provoke violence. Any of these things is possible in a cartoon, and could constitute a criminal offence depending on the details and applicable State law.

I'd suggest that cartoons which are indiscriminately hostile to members of a particular race or religion could, depending again on the exact content, constitute any of those three things, and that the police were probably right to at least investigate once a complaint was made.

Whether Nekschot actually did any of them, whether his cartoons would be criminal in the US, and whether they are in the Netherlands, I'm not equipped to say.

Obviously I'm not suggesting that you can't be arrested in the USA for drawing a cartoon, and not for the reasons you suggest: Mike Diana was convicted of obscenity, for example. Take a look at this blog post where I talk about the Mike Diana case and the time I came close to sending a publisher in Sweden down for a long jail term for depicting acts of violence against women by retelling a bible story. That's why I'm a member of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund -- because there are always worms nibbling away at the First Amendment, and because comics are particularly vulnerable.

Here's a summary of the "fighting words" history: I don't believe you could create a cartoon that would, however robust, actually fall into the category of "fighting words" unless it was "addressed to a particular individual" and presented "an actual threat of immediate violence, not merely offensive content".

Argh. Up too late. To bed, to bed.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Um. Tabalicious. Tabapocalypse. Taberrific.

Lots of catching up to do. In the meantime we have some advance warning on the dates of the UK tour. I don't have any locations yet, but according to a recent email from Bloomsbury,
Monday the 27th of October I'll be in Dublin
Tuesday the 28th of October I'll be in Scotland (at a guess Glasgow or Edinburgh or both)
Wednesday the 29th of October I'll be in Manchester (doing a talk or reading at Manchester University, and possibly a signing there as well, or a separate signing, not sure).
Thursday the 30th of October is the London Launch Day and
Friday the 31st of October is the London signing day.
I don't have any more information than that -- I'll post actual details as soon as I know them. Please don't write to tell me that I'm not signing in Cardiff or Bristol or Redruth or Bournemouth or Bognor Regis or Nantwich or somewhere near where you live. I'm sorry. I don't choose where I go; if you ever want to see me anywhere either ask your bookshop to pressure my publisher (or if it's a country I've not yet visited ask the local publisher to tell Writers House you need me).

And I'll ask the Web Goblin to put this on his Where's Neil page (along with the US tour info that we have right now, which I put up here a few weeks ago) as even in its rather formless state I'm sure that would be a help for people trying to plan things.

Also, Michael Chabon and I are "bookending" the Las Vegas literary festival in November. I'm talking on November the 6th. (What? You didn't know that Vegas had a literary festival? You didn't think it was the kind of place that had a literary festival? You were wrong.


I've got what seems like a few thousand tabs open right now, so in no particular order:

The stage play of Mister Punch gets a wonderful review in the LA Times, which describes it as a "near-faultless production, which, although definitely not for children, might well awaken any adult's traumatized inner child."

You can see some of the Coraline movie puppets at

I did an introduction for James Thurber's wonderful novel The Thirteen Clocks, which has just been reissued. Here's a lovely LA Times essay about the book by Sonja Bolle.

Margo Lanagan's astonishing novel Tender Morsels is reviewed by Gary Wolfe in Locus. You can read the review online at (The references to me in the article are more pertinent if you read the whole thing as printed, as Gary goes on to write about The Graveyard Book next.)

Those of us who love the work of Robert Aickman are often frustrated by how hard it is to find his books, and how expensive they are when you can find them. In the UK, Faber are now doing them print on demand as part of their Faber Finds line: I'm fascinated by Faber Finds -- a world in which it's easier to obtain a copy of a long out of print book by ordering it from the publisher than by hunting through second-hand book dealers is a different one from the one I grew up in. And one which sends money to authors they might otherwise never see. (Although it's also a world in which books would not go out of print, so the rights would never revert to the authors, and they would never be free to sell the books to a publisher who might be able to publish it better.)

From the Guardian, articles on Jamie Hewlett, and Crowley and Pessoa.

Dinosaur tourists shuttling from Wyoming to Skye. Honest. Dr Michael Brett-Surman, a dinosaur expert at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington DC, said the possibility of dinosaurs travelling between Skye and Wyoming could not be ruled out.

Alan Moore, interviewed about craft, tells you everything you need to know about writing comics.

A LUSH bath-product inspired by the book of Stardust (it's amazing the fall-out from the ladies in Bristol giving me stuff last year).

Subterranean Press gave away UK proofs of The Graveyard Book to the winners of their last competition. Now they have five US proof copies to give away:

Christopher Hitchens is waterboarded. Here is the most chilling way I can find of stating the matter. Until recently, “waterboarding” was something that Americans did to other Americans. It was inflicted, and endured, by those members of the Special Forces who underwent the advanced form of training known as sere (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape). In these harsh exercises, brave men and women were introduced to the sorts of barbarism that they might expect to meet at the hands of a lawless foe who disregarded the Geneva Conventions. But it was something that Americans were being trained to resist, not to inflict.


When people ask me about why I support the CBLDF and what it's for, I talk about the First Amendment, and the countries that don't have it -- places where, as you'll learn in in this Wall Street Journal article, you can be arrested for drawing cartoons...

On a sunny May morning, six plainclothes police officers, two uniformed policemen and a trio of functionaries from the state prosecutor's office closed in on a small apartment in Amsterdam. Their quarry: a skinny Dutch cartoonist with a rude sense of humor. Informed that he was suspected of sketching offensive drawings of Muslims and other minorities, the Dutchman surrendered without a struggle.

"I never expected the Spanish Inquisition," recalls the cartoonist, who goes by the nom de plume Gregorius Nekschot, quoting the British comedy team Monty Python. A fan of ribald gags, he's a caustic foe of religion, particularly Islam. The Quran, crucifixion, sexual organs and goats are among his favorite motifs.

Mr. Nekschot, whose cartoons had appeared mainly on his own Web site, spent the night in a jail cell. Police grabbed his computer, a hard drive and sketch pads. He's been summoned for further questioning later this month by prosecutors. He hasn't been charged with a crime, but the prosecutor's office says he's been under investigation for three years on suspicion that he violated a Dutch law that forbids discrimination on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation.

If you're offended by something, you talk about it. You make your own cartoons. You out-argue your opponents. You don't stop them talking, or cartooning. That's wrong. Because if you can do that to them, someone else can do that to you.

It's why supporting freedom of speech so often involves defending the indefensible, and is, often uncomfortably, the right thing to do.


Rantz Hoseley talks about Comic Book Tattoo and so does Tori.


I first heard about Fidra Books when they let me know they would be republishing the Victoria Walker books. Vanessa from Fidra just wrote about The Graveyard Book at and I learned from her blog that Roz De La Hey, who used to be at Bloomsbury and left to open a bookshop-and-more in St Boswells on the Scottish borders, has opened her shop (and it sounds marvellous).


And finally, for those of you in the UK: the Open Rights Group...

They need more members. They've been doing good things. They even have a widget. Give them a hand. And money. Give them money.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

After Clarion

I'm in the airport on my way home, very tired and very happy to be going home and sad to be leaving my 18 Clarion students (who will now have Geoff Ryman and Nalo Hopkinson for the last two weeks).

My mailbox is starting to fill up with questions from journalists about the announcement at San Diego that I'll be writing a two-part Batman story for Andy Kubert to draw, that will come out in January. They have lots and lots of questions.

So I don't have to write lots and lots of emails back to all the journalists:

1) Yes, I am writing a two part Batman story.

2) Yes, Andy Kubert will be drawing it.

3) Yes, it will be two oversized issues.

4) No, I don't plan to say anything else about it until it's all written and drawn.

(I just called my Visa card to fix something, and found myself being asked if I was the Neil Gaiman. I said yes, I was. "So," said the Visa person, "Are you going to be writing an episode of Dr Who?")

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Quick Newsy thing

A sneak preview of the Sandman 20th anniversary poster:

And Henry Selick told me that We will have our two top puppet fab people - Georgina and Martin - at the NECA toy booth with lots of Coraline puppets. Exhibit Hall - Booth 4345 (across from Warner Brother's 4329 booth)

So if you want to see what the puppets -- our actors from the film -- look like, now is your chance.

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One of the Clarion posts I wasn't going to do, but...

Several people wrote to ask why I wasn't doing a Coraline movie panel in San Diego on Saturday, as mentioned on this blog a few months ago. Laika had asked me to do it originally (and that was when I mentioned it here) but, as far as I know right now, all the Coraline people are madly beavering away trying to get the film finished in time, they've never mentioned it again and it's not on the Comic-Con schedule.

Dude-Sure La Jolla is ten miles away from downtown San Diego, it's also only ten minutes away! So why can't you stop by the con one day? After all how hard can teaching be? Aren't your
fan worth it? Late - Chip

They definitely are -- that's why I'll be doing a reading at Mysterious Galaxy tomorrow, and a signing (but I think all the signing numbers are already given out).

As for teaching not being that hard, I'm sure you're right. But whether it's hard or not isn't really the point. The work days start at 8:30am and go till about midnight. Clarion is boot camp for writers -- it's intensive story round table criticism in the morning. In the afternoon while the students write stories (they write at least six stories in six weeks, sometimes more), I'll be doing an hour of individual work with each student (there are 18 of them this year), and giving talks on specific subjects that students want to know stuff about (talks still to come: Writing Comics, Writing for Film and TV, and one on Story and Myth), introducing evening guest speakers (tonight we had author David Brin, with comics genius Scott McCloud and editors Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Liz Gorinsky coming in later in the week), while nights are spent reading the stories we'll be critiquing the following morning.

It's really a fun and fascinating experience for me as a visiting instructor: I'm over my initial terror and I think the students are learning lots -- probably more from each other than from any of the instructors. But it's not a schedule that's really made for nipping in to Comic-Con and doing an imprompu panel or signing. Depending on how many of the individual student conferences I have on Saturday, I might be able to get into the con for a few hours, but if I do I'd spend the time trying to say hello to old friends, or even try and catch some panels. Then I'll need to get back earlyish on Saturday to meet Geoff Ryman and Nalo Hopkinson, who together are teaching the last two weeks, and to fill them in on anything they could need to know.

(I was made very happy to learn that some of the Clarion students learned about it from this blog, by the way.)

Mr. Gaiman, my name is Bruno D'Alincourt, and my question is, how you draw up its dialogues?

If you speak alone, get you.
If you use your cats.
His family.
Your friends.
Or another case to let their texts flow as if they were called in real life.
I know that the dialogues that make the story (For more fícção or description that is) more 'family' possible, as had already been counted and so many can identify with it.
Since already thank you very much.
But unless we see more, having a good morning, good afternoon and a good night.
And you are truly happy.
What all you want God to give you twice.
And do not forget what happened to the man who has everything I wanted ...
... He had a happy life for all forever.
I hope that this humble reply fan.
Me sorry for my English badly written, promise better.
Anything we see in the future.

I don't really know what it is you're trying to find out, Bruno, but I think you ought to know that what the translator program turned it into was practically poetry, if it wasn't already.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Last post for a bit

I'm at Clarion. Which is in San Diego, about ten miles from where Comic-con will be. I don't have any plans to be at Comic-con, my plate is pretty full here. I also won't be blogging -- I want to give teaching my full attention; I haven't done this before.

But Charles Brownstein from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund asked me to get the word out on a couple of things:

1) Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab have done a limited edition of their amazing "Snow, Glass, Apples" scent. It smells like green apples and like sex and vampires, all at the same time. (Actually, it smells like sexy vampire apples.) It's coming out with a limited edition illustrated chapbook of the story, with art by Julie Dillon. There are going to be a few signed ones, and some unsigned. The donation for the unsigned ones will be $50. As they say:

The long-awaited Snow, Glass, Apples perfume will be making its debut at San Diego Comic Con! The SGA package includes Neil Gaiman’s short story in chapbook format, beautifully illustrated by Julie Dillon, and a 5ml bottle of perfume inspired by the tale. This set is a limited run of 1000. 250 will be sold by CBLDF at Comic Con 2008, and the remainder will go on sale July 30, 2008 on the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab web site and will be available as long as supplies last. All proceeds from this project go to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund!

(I just want to say that Beth at Black Phoenix has proved herself an amazingly staunch supporter of the CBLDF, and has been a complete joy to deal with in all this.)

2) You remember I signed a hundred tee shirts for the fund? (I signed them in thick fabric paint.) They will have some of them for sale at San Diego. Probably $50 each, with a few of the rarer tee shirts going for more.

3) and then there's the auction on Saturday night. As Charles said in his letter,

In our Saturday night auction, we have a number of tremendous items. The coolest is Ryan Graff's Endless Reflections, offered here to commemorate Sandman's 20th. Serious bidders should come by the CBLDF booth (1831) to learn more about this book, which is probably the rarest of all Sandman items. We also have some other cool items including:

1) Dave Sim, Neil Gaiman, "Lithograph 1: Neil Gaiman," signed by Sim, collage retouch by Gaiman (prints/original art)
2) Neil Gaiman, The Dangerous Alphabet #260/400 (prints)
3) Neil Gaiman, Murder Mysteries HC, #122/250 (book arts)
4) Neil Gaiman, The Sky At Night broadsheet #1/5 (prints)
5) Neil Gaiman, Stardust Movie Premiere ticket, signed (ephemera)
6) Cerebus #147, featuring Neil Gaiman's 24 Hour Comic, signed with sketch by Sim (comics)
The full list is terrific, and has some other great pieces, including work by Jack Kirby, Jeff Smith, Matt Wagner, and many more. Full list is here:

The auction is Saturday at 7:00 in Room 2 of the convention center

The Lithograph #1, is the third of these, and the second to go on sale. (The second one we did was lost by the post office between my house and the CBLDF, and despite being insured for $1000, the Post Office declined to pay. Sigh.)

Anyway, I took Dave's original multiple portrait of me, and then painted it, attacked it with a knife, and collaged strange machines onto it. It's one of a kind...

Hi Neil!

I greatly enjoyed the story and photos of all the signed black t-shirts, and of your first black t-shirt. But something's been bothering me ever since, and I only just managed to put it into words.

My brain can't quite cope with the thought of you having a *first* black t-shirt, in much the same it struggles to cope with the Big Bang. What came before?


Grey. But it didn't work, because, I discovered, there are brown greys and blue greys and greenish greys and they don't really match, and if you want to dress in grey you have to work at it. Black is so much easier...

Who do I have to approach to get you for a UK bookshop event? How small a shop are you willing to do?

You talk to the publisher. In the case of The Graveyard Book, you'd talk to Bloomsbury. And I go where I'm sent, but try and do shops that are big enough that the people who've come for a reading or a signing fit inside the shop and don't have to stand outside in the rain.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

public service announcements

Dave McKean, for too many years now a man without a website, wants me to tell you that things are finally stirring at the unusually-named (and that Allen Spiegel will be selling original art from The Graveyard Book at Comic-Con.)

Ah, the city with the most observant Jews (New York) gets you on Rosh Hashana. Alas.

Maybe next time. These events you just listed, including the Sep 30 event, aren't the official Graveyard Book Tour, right? Ordinarily I'd assume the Book Tour wouldn't be until the book has come out, but I know that this tour will be more of a reading/Q&A tour rather than a signing tour, and if it's not a signing, then the tour can start before the book is available.

It would be awesome if all publicity/scheduling people had a big calendar with every religion's holidays, along with demographic maps showing which places have a lot of which religion.

A few years ago Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket's ammanuensis) and I were grumbling together about the way that, probably thousands of years ago, it was decided that the Jewish High Holidays would fall in High Publishing Season, and how unfair this was to Jewish authors and their readers and, nu, what were you going to do about it?

To answer your question, No, the events I listed will be the US Graveyard Book Tour events. The US publication date is September the 30th. (The UK pub date is Hallowe'en, and I'll be signing and/or reading in Dublin and Scotland and elsewhere in the UK and London.)

But there is an event to make up for my being in New York on Rosh Hashana: On November the 9th, which is a Sunday, I'll be In Conversation With the amazing Chipp Kidd, at the 92nd St Y, talking about 20 years of Sandman. And I'll be signing stuff afterwards, if the last events I did at the Y are anything to go by.


I ran into this quote in the New Yorker, about reviewer Katherine White. The first paragraph is from the article, the second is a quote from White:

Then, as now, some of the best prose and poetry, not to mention the best
art, was to be found in books written for children—disciplined, inspired,
elevated, even, by the constraints of the form. Katharine White loved many books
for children; above all, she admired the beauty and lyricism of picture books
and readers for the under-twelve set. But she had her doubts about books aimed
at older kids:

It has always seemed to us that boys and girls who are worth their salt
begin at twelve or thirteen to read, with a brilliant indiscrimination, every
book they can lay their hands on. In the welter, they manage to read some good
ones. A girl of twelve may take up Jane Austen, a boy Dickens; and you wonder
how writers of juveniles have the brass to compete in this field, blithely
announcing their works as “suitable for the child of twelve to fourteen.” Their
implication is that everything else is distinctly unsuitable. Well, who knows?
Suitability isn’t so simple.

The full article -- the birth of Stuart Little compared and contrasted with the rise and fall of the first influential children's librarian -- is wonderful. It starts at

I was interviewed in Locus this month (the one with Garth Nix on the cover), and tried to say something very much the same about Young Adult fiction: that young adults (and older kids) should be reading everything, relentlessly. They should be reading outside their comfort zones, because the training wheels have come off, and that's the only way they'll find out where their comfort zones are, reading everything.

(Also learned from that Locus that Michael De Larrabeiti was dead. I interviewed him once, as a journalist, and loved his three Borrible books -- they were (especially the first two) hugely influential on Neverwhere.)


There's an article about the revised and retooled theatre production of Mister Punch in LA today at,0,4577290.story -- with a marvellous photo, which looks strangely McKeanish (see below). It's an interview done with me last week when I'd just got back from Brazil and was slightly under the weather, but the reporter has made it sound like I was still making sense.

WHERE: Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Fri., 4 and 8 p.m. Sat., 4 p.m. Sun.; ends Aug. 31. (no perf Aug 8-10).

PRICE: $25 ($50 opening night gala)

INFO: (800) 838-3006;


And, because all questions posed on this blog are eventually answered:

ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha did a run of 50 black on black Disaster Area t-shirts in the late 1980s. There were also yellow on black and white on black versions but the last was sold around 2001, and they have not done a reprint since then.

Someone asked what sizes the various tee shirts are. They range from xxl down to the ones where I'm not sure how I used to get them on and am certain either the shirts have shrunk or I used to be a lot smaller. So from Too Huge For Me To Wear down to Really Bloody Small.


My friend Kelli Bickman has a mother named Connie. Last time I saw Connie she came over and gathered up all the accumulated bags I'd got from planes over the years, the ones with the mini toothbrush and the eye-shade in, that had built up into a small mound at the back of a cupboard, and she took them away to do something good and worthwhile with them for kids. Kelli wrote the other day to say,

My Mom is the volunteer creative director for Children's Culture Connection (CCC), a non-profit organization working with 12 international charities to help children in America, Haiti, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Guatemala, India, Peru, Kenya, Nigeria, China, Bulgaria and Russia. CCC has raised thousands of dollars to help empower and connect the children of the world, built houses in Vietnam, installed water pipelines in Sri Lanka to bring clean water to orphanages, sent kids to school, helped with medical supplies in the Amazon jungles, organized art projects with children in seven countries. and is really amazing.

Feeling very inspired by the lessons learned from my mother and her spirit of giving, I am working to help Children's Culture Connection raise awareness, as well as send art supplies to the children of the world. I've just re-developed my website ( and will donate 20% of the sale of any works of art to buy art supplies for these children and help them to expand their imaginations and their world.

Can you put this link on your blog? It would be greatly appreciated...I am eager to spread the good news. Of course, if anyone is interested in getting involved or donating directly to the CCC, that is most welcome.


And everything in this whole post pales into insignificance when placed beside...

Mr Toast as Sandman

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Black on Black

All the CBLDF black tee shirts are signed ( about a hundred, plus another dozen or so in order that Lorraine has something to send to charity auctions when I'm on the road).

How does one tell "the first black tee
shirt I ever owned" apart from a hundred other black tee shirts?

It's an odd tee shirt, not very pretty, with a square and a pattern on it, bought in Brighton walking from the train station to the Metropole hotel in 1987. It's actually a misprint. I bought it because it was a little odd, and very cheap, and I felt sorry for it, little knowing that I was soon going to have to start writing comics to fund my newfound black tee shirt addiction.

Hello Mr. Gaiman--

Where did you get your Disaster Area T-shirt? How might one obtain one of these shirts after the one you have signed is immediately bought by someone with class and taste who is not me, as I will not be near San Diego? Google is not helpful, as the shirts available are not black-on-black.

Actually, my one is one of the very few black tee shirts I kept. (I kept back a handful of beloved ones and ones that had obviously never been worn.) (And will still have Too Many Black Tee Shirts when all this is over.)

I don't remember where I bought it, alas, or where I got it (a science fiction book shop or a convention at a guess, or might have been a gift from a friend or from ZZ9Plural Z Alpha, an organisation of which I have the honour to be a life member, or...). Probably someone reading this will go "You don't remember where you were when you got your black on black Disaster Area Sundive Tour tee shirt? How can you have forgotten?" and tell me.

I saw that the National Book Festival was added to "Where's Neil." Any chance you'll be checking out SPX the following weekend or maybe doing a reading at "Politics and Prose" like you've done in the past? I mean you got a new book coming out, sounds like a great excuse for a reading. PLEASE do a reading!!! You're one of the few authors who's reading voice is just as hypnotizing as their writing voice.

That's very kind of you. The Book Festival will be what I'll do in Washington this year, and there will be a reading in the tent for The Graveyard Book. There will also be a signing.

Tuesday the 30th of September I'll be doing an event in New York.

Weds Oct 1st, I'll be in Philadelphia.

Thurs Oct 2nd, Chicago

Friday Oct 3rd, Seattle

Saturday Oct 4th, San Francisco

(Sunday is an Oakland event just for booksellers)

Monday Oct 6th Los Angeles

Tuesday Oct 7th, Boulder, Colorado

Weds Oct 8th, Minneapolis.

I don't yet know where the events will be (proabably theatres or churches. Probably not graveyards). I do know that I'll be reading a whole story from The Graveyard Book at each stop (except for Chapter 7, which I'll split between LA and Boulder), and the current plan is to webcast each event, which will be long -- lots of reading, Q&A, all that, like the CBLDF Guardian Angel tour "Evening With Neil Gaiman" events we used to do. But while there will be piles of freshly-signed books for sale at each event, I probably won't be doing a signing per se.

We're basing each event on the ones I did for the much-missed Cody's in 2003 and 2006 (you can watch the 2006 event here).

Hi Neil,

"The Price" is one of my all time favorite stories. In fact, I always think of my black Morpheus as the house protector because of it. You've mentioned a cat update, though I haven't seen any update on your very interesting cats. What's going on with them? Have you added any new members to your clowder?

I keep meaning to do a cat update.

This is Princess. You can see a photo of her eleven years ago in the back of the Charles Vess illustrated Stardust. She's called Snowflake in "The Price". We think she's about sixteen -- she turned up on Holly's ninth birthday, but we'd seen her in the woods for almost a year before that. She's a blue-eyed white cat and is not deaf, although her two white blue-eyed kittens were. She was feral before she came to us, and is still never to be taken for granted.

She will follow -- or lead -- anyone into the family bathroom upstairs, where they are expected to turn on the tap for her to drink, and wait while she drinks, then turn the tap off.

Also, she can read the Fortean Times with her bottom.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

For a Good Cause

I got a new camera to replace the one that got battered in Brazil. It is much cleverer than the old one, with a touch screen at the back, as a result of which I can't work out how to do easy things like turn the flash on and off. I tried it out on the dog and some cherries...

So far today I've signed fifty-something tee shirts for the CBLDF. All black, except for a mystery dark blue one, and a few that have greyed with time or cheap dyes. I've returned to the "I cannot part with it" pile the first black tee shirt I ever owned, and my black on black Disaster Area Sundive Tour shirt, but have steeled myself to part with others -- lots of beloved black tee shirts from the dawn of time. It feels a bit odd signing an early Frank Miller Sin City tee shirt, or a Dave Sim Cerebus UK Tour shirt, or an original Hellraiser movie crew tee shirt...

Anyway, I've stopped now because all surfaces that could be covered by tee shirts have been, and now the signing stuff has to dry. I'll sign another fifty tomorrow...


Monday, July 14, 2008

how to tell your friend you really, really hate his book and other ethical problems of today

I just read over the galleys of the acknowledgements for The Graveyard Book, written late one night a few weeks ago, and I realised that I'd left people out. Important people. Like, people who helped me type the manuscript and people who sold the film rights. So I've now scribbled all over it, and am hoping that there's still time to fix it. I always forget on acknowledgements and leave people out, but seldom so enormously...


I'm going to be at the Library of Congress National Book Festival this year, on September the 27th, for the first time since 2005, this time in the Teens and Children Tent. Harper Collins have kindly agreed to bend the rules and let copies of The Graveyard Book be sold there, because it's the National Book Festival, even though it takes place a couple of days before the official release date.

I'm looking forward to it, but am a little apprehensive, remembering the previous times I was there.

(This is what happened in 2004 in the SF and Fantasy Tent: When I went back in 2005 I was on a book signing tour, in the Fiction and Fantasy Tent, and the blog entry is a bit dazed:

The list of authors (and tents) is at:

Hi Neil, a friend has written a book and has asked what I think of it. The trouble is that this book is one of the worst I have ever read. It's terrible in so many ways, but I don't want to hurt my friend's feelings because he's so proud of his work. I know that people love books others dislike but this book is really bad. Any tips on how to deal with such a delicate situation? Thanks!

Ow. Yes, I know that one. It depends on whether your friend wants to be a real author one day and learn his craft, or whether he's just proud of having made something. When it's the latter, I just try and find something positive I can say that I mean. If it's the former, I try and tell people how they can make something they've done into something publishable, or fix it, which is going to involve pointing out it's not publishable yet.

It's also possible to find ways to say you hated something that won't crush the spirit of the person in question. Phrases like, "It's not my kind of thing, but I bet it's great if it's the kind of thing you like," can be deployed. "I don't really have anything much to say, but I'm looking forward to your next one," are phrases that Miss Manuscript Manners would probably approve of. You can probably come up with better ones on your own.

Or you can take the approach that my friend the wondrous Jane Yolen takes when people ask her to read their manuscripts, which is to say up front, "I'll read it, but I have to warn you that if I do I will be honest, and you probably won't like what I have to say." Which gives them the opportunity to back off, and at least tells them that you are not there to tell them they are very clever for having written a whole book.

And if you do decide to tell them what's wrong with their book then you don't have to tell them everything that's wrong with it. Pick the biggest thing -- "I hated all your characters and kept hoping that they would die and that we would get nothing but a description of the landscape for the rest of the book" or "It reads like you're recounting a D&D game, not a novel" or "All of your characters sound like you" or "Nothing actually happens until Chapter Four by which point anyone who isn't a personal friend of yours would have stopped reading" -- and talk about that. Don't do a laundry list...

I was happy to see your signing event listed on the Mysterious Galaxy site - though saddened to read that "While readers are welcome to attend Tuesday's event and listen to Neil speak, please note that we have reached capacity for our signing line and no more numbers are being issued. Attendees without a number will be unable to get books signed at this event. Thank you for your enthusiastic support of one of our favorite authors."

Since I seem to have missed the boat on getting something signed at this event, I was wondering if you had any other plans for signings in the San Diego area?

Thank you!

Sorry about that. No, no other signings planned on this trip -- I'm there because it's the tradition that the Clarion Writer In Residence does a Mysterious Galaxy signing, and I love the Mysterious Galaxy people, but I also am in San Diego as an instructor for Clarion. (I'm grateful Mysterious Galaxy have limited the line numbers, as I won't be much good to any of the Clarion students on Wednesday if I've had to sign until midnight on Tuesday.)

Technically I am meant to be reading from The Dangerous Alphabet, and I will, but it won't take long, so I may do a bit of The Graveyard Book or something in progress as well.

And while I won't be doing any signings... about ten years ago I realised I had accumulated more black tee shirts than I could really wear, and I was running out of room for them, and I signed about a hundred black tee shirts with fabric paint and gave them to the CBLDF, who sold them at conventions.

Lorraine has just picked out a hundred black tee shirts from the teetering piles of shirts I don't get to wear as often, and I'm going to sign them all before San Diego.So you could always wander over to the CBLDF booth and see if they have any signed tee shirts or prints or things...

Hello Neil!

You may very well have seen this, or might have even posted it already and I had missed it, but I couldn’t discover this without thinking it would be something you would love. It’s a collection of old Scary Stories read by Vincent Price and Boris Karloff among other classy scary soundtracks. Beautifully written, read and witty to boot. I recommend “The Water Ghost of Harrowby Hall” as a perfect cheer-inducing scary story.

Also I thought you might be interested to know that you have some very interesting people appearing on a book that you are in.

Dave Palumbo, the artist, was hanging with us at the first ever Illustration Master Class and used a bunch of people you may know as Zombies. Irene Gallo of Tor is off to the right, Gregory Manchess (of Conan fame) is in a tie and that’s me in the tank top.

Hopefully someday that will be ME illustrating a book with you in!


Kristina Carroll

It doesn't just have "The Water Ghost Of Harrowby Hall" -- a story I've loved since I was a small boy and read it in, I'm pretty sure, one of the Armada Book of Ghost Stories, and had not encountered in almost forty years -- it also has Vincent Price reading "Thus I Refute Beelzy", by John Collier, who may have been the finest writer of classical twisty short stories of the last century -- the kind of short stories that people put down by describing them as "clever", but they are clever, and the style of each story is perfect for the content it contains.


I think we're approaching a blog holiday.

I've been posting more or less daily since 2001 -- 2,741 blog posts so far, according to Blogger and 1,158,002 words -- with only occasional enforced breaks when I was away from a computer, and I'm starting to feel like it's time to stop blogging for a bit and recharge my batteries. (Historically, on this blog, announcements like that are normally followed by a spate of twice a day blogging and a few long essays.) At this point, I think I'll definitely take Clarion off, and possibly longer.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

misc. stuff

Several people wrote from Brazil to point out that you can watch the whole half hour Globo interview (in English, with Portuguese subtitles) at,,,GIM853222-7823-AS+FANTASIAS+DE+NEIL+GAIMAN,00.html

No question, just a comment. I saw the Jornal da Globo newscast and thought that you looked like the young, homeless lovechild of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Or maybe the facial hair just threw me off. It's like the extra hair that you cut off your head had to go somewhere. Sorry for heckling, but I promise it's affectionate in a strange, you-don't-even-know-me way.

Not a problem. But... homeless?

I wanted to let you know about a cosplay group that costumed as Sandman characters, and it looks pretty cool!


I wouldn't normally post it, but you're right, it looks so cool...


Peter S. Beagle wrote a wonderful travel book called I See By My Outfit, back in about 1963.

Now, forty-something years on...

Red Eft Gallery presents.

I See By My Outfit - The Book, The Music, The Experience!

Special live music show for two nights only! On July 18th & 19th, PETER S.
BEAGLE and His Band of Merry Men ( aka PHIL SIGUNICK ) will be performing
together in public for the first time in 44 years. Doors open at 7 pm for
ticketed guests.

Peter's and Phil's last gig as a duo was all the way back in 1964, when they
opened for Tom Paxton at a club in Berkeley. Fans of Peter's classic travel
memoir, I See By My Outfit, will absolutely not want to miss this chance to
be there when Phil and Peter pick up their guitars and recapture the magic
that helped make their long-ago cross-country journey so extraordinary.
There are only 83 seats available for each night. Tickets are $20. If you
want to be there for this rare musical treat, make sure you get your
reservation in ASAP for details...

there's an early review of The Graveyard Book at --

a book about which Ms. Audrey Niffenegger said,
"It takes a graveyard to raise a child. The infant Bod (short for Nobody) escapes a grisly death and finds himself being raised by a graveyard full of lovely, irascible ghosts. Who knew dead people made such excellent parents? Bod has scads of adventures with ghouls and werewolves, but my favorite thing about this book was watching Bod grow up in his fine crumbly graveyard with his dead and living friends. The Graveyard Book is another surprising and terrific book from Neil Gaiman."

and Diana Wynne Jones said,
'This is, quite frankly, the best book Neil Gaiman has ever written. How he has managed to combine fascinating, friendly, frightening and fearsome in one fantasy I shall never know, but he has pulled it off magnificently - perfect for Halloween and any other time of the year.'
and Laurell K Hamilton said,
"The Graveyard Book is a fairy tale, peopled with ghosts, vampires, werewolves, ghouls, and witches. It's a world where being dead doesn't make you less of a person, and the living can be more dangerous than the dead. After finishing The Graveyard Book, I had only one thought -- I hope there's more. I want to see more of the adventures of Nobody Owens, and there is no higher praise for a book."
and that's really enough blurbs for today.

Did I post this Reuters story about the Paraty festival?

If you're at San Diego Comic Con this year, and you want a chance at getting one of the signed prints Todd did with Alan Moore and with me, there's details over at Todd's Blog.

Dear Neil,
When your children were very young, did you get much writing done?
Best, Tony.

Lots and lots and lots. But I had to become nocturnal to make it happen...


And I enjoyed this interview with Salman Rushdie in the Guardian.

Does he agree there should be discrimination against Muslims? "I don't think there should be discrimination against anyone. Nor do I think Martin was advocating that. The point is this: I don't have to agree with what you or anybody says to defend their right to say it. To have Martin articulating a public fear in this rather knockabout way was justified. If we don't say what we think or articulate what is being generally thought, then we are self-censoring, which is wimpish.

"I thought the attack on Martin in the Guardian by Ronan Bennett... was out of order. To say he is racist because of that is wrong. I may not like the things you believe and, by the way, the fact that you believe them makes me think less of you as a person. I may despise you personally for what you believe, but I should be able to say it. Everybody needs to get thicker skins. There is this culture of offence, as though offending someone is the worst thing anyone can do. Again, there is an assumption that our first duty is to be respectful. But what would a respectful cartoon look like? Really boring! You wouldn't publish it. The nature of the form is irreverence and disrespect."

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The results of Free

Dave McKean writes to let me know that,

Here's a poster for my show at The Merry Karnowsky Gallery.
The opening is on the evening of the 19th, it's open to public,
anyone can come, I'll be there.

The Gallery is in LA. If you click on the picture you can see it large enough to get the address and time details from it. (You could do it from the gallery link too, but it's less pretty.)

Liz Hand wrote to say "elevator" was, of course, a typo, and I searched and discovered that the complete text of Tom Disch's short story "Descending" is actually online at:

You should read it. Really, you should. It's a short story that begins,

Catsup, mustard, pickle, relish, mayonnaise, two kinds of salad dressing, bacon grease, and a lemon. Oh yes, two trays of ice cubes. In the cupboard it wasn't much better: jars and boxes of spices, flour, sugar, salt—and a box of raisins!

An empty box of raisins.

and continues inexorably from there. I think of that short story every time I look in the fridge and can't see anything to eat.

Over at Teresa Nielsen Hayden says, in one of the comments,
One of the things he did extremely well was write from the POV of characters who aren't terribly bright, or who have limited worldviews. They're never aware they're in a story; and while the story may do terrible things to them, it never sides with the reader against them.
Which did that thing of making me realise something I had observed a hundred times and never seen.


I got an email from Harper Collins this morning, giving some final statistics and information about the free American Gods online read thing we did to mark the blog's seventh anniversary. (If you're interested in the back story, read the entries at up to here.)

The Browse Inside Full Access promotion of American Gods drove 85 thousand visitors to our site to view 3.8 Million pages of the book (an average of 46 pages per person). On average, visitors spent over 15 minutes reading the book.

The Indies [ie. independent booksellers -- Neil] are the only sales channel where we have confidence that incremental sales were driven by this promotion. In the Bookscan data reported for Independents we see a marked increase in weekly sales across all of Neil’s books, not just American Gods during the time of the contest and promotion. Following the promotion, sales returned to pre-promotion levels.

Through an online survey, we know that 44% of fans enjoyed this browsing experience and 56% did not. Some of Neil’s fans expressed frustration with the Browse Inside tool for reading through a whole book. (This poor result is partially due to two problems which were fixed soon after the initial launch – mistaken redirect to the Flash-based reader and slow image load time)

(The reason that independent booksellers were the only places they could see it having an effect was that some of the chain stores were doing a promotion that my books were also in, which fogged the results for them.)

We also received some valuable insight from the 1k people who responded to the User Survey that Neil posted to his blog.
The vast majority of respondents had already read one of Neil’s books, but 20% of them had not previously read American Gods

41% were new to the e-reading format

Response to our Browse Inside Online Reader was mixed – with 44% saying they enjoyed the experience at 56% saying they did not. The chief complaints were that you had to have an internet connection to read the book, you had to scroll to see the whole page and that the load time was sometimes slow. 69% of respondents said that they would like to be able to download. Some people complained that since they couldn’t bookmark where they left off, they got lost between reading sessions.

Back to the 44% who enjoyed the experience….9% of respondents said that they read through 100% of the book and 30% of respondents said that they would use this tool to read the whole book.

In the comments section of the survey many people requested that more of Neil’s books be made available.
As I said back when were doing it, to a bookshop owner worried that I was taking his livelihood away from him,

Anyway (it probably bears reiterating) this is an experiment. Harper Collins are going to be looking at the figures over the next month and longer. If sales of American Gods crash in bookshops -- or if sales of all my other books crash -- they won't be doing it again. If American Gods sells more, if my other titles sell more, on actual Bookscan sales, then I think we'll all agree that you and your fellow booksellers will be selling more books, and will thus have nothing to worry about.

Remember, publishers aren't making their money from free downloads or from free online books. Like you (and like me), they make their money from books sold.
Given that Harper Collins sold a lot more of all my books while the free American Gods was out there, with sales of all my titles up 40% through independent bookshops, I think I can safely say that we'll be doing it -- or rather, something similar -- again. And that the 56% of people who didn't enjoy the online reading experience may be a lot happier with how we do it next time out.

And thank you -- to everyone who initially voted, and everyone who read (or failed to read) American Gods online and everyone who filled out a survey.

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Return I will to Old Brazil.

(This was yesterday's blogpost.) Spent most of today asleep. Now awake at 4.00 am.

Tom Disch killed himself while I was in Brazil. I wanted to love his novels, and mostly failed -- they were astonishingly smart, brilliant but also cold. (I thought I'd read all Disch's novels, and only realised I'd never read On Wings of Song when I started reading the reviews of it in the obituaries. Sigh.) But when I met him, at ICFA, I got to tell him that his story, "Descending" was perfect, which it is, and that his novel "Echo Round His Bones" was the first adult SF book I bought with my own money, which it was. Few authors resemble their work, but I had imagined Tom Disch would be an icy, intelligently scary, tall sort of person, smart like a cyborg, and was pleasantly surprised to find my mental picture replaced by the reality of a big, ambling, gentleman with a high voice and an endearing awkwardness around other people.

His friend John Clute writes his obituary for him in the Independent, while Liz Hand writes about him at Salon (I'm pretty sure that it's an escalator, not an elevator, in "Descending").

Hi, Neil!
I'm sending you a link with your interview in the most viewed late night's newscast here in Brazil.,19125,VTJ0-2742-20080704-325022,00.html

The story is more in the likes of "who is this Gaiman guy" than something like "the hows and whys of Neil Gaiman prose", but, you know, not everyone here in Brazil knows who Neil Gaiman is (shamefully, I must say).

Good luck in your panel and signing session today.
Greetings from Rio de Janeiro,

JP Cruz

I like the little shots of me talking to a sunbathing Maddy, where I obviously didn't know I was still being filmed.

Hi, Neil,

Just want to say I loved THE WOLVES IN THE WALLS and most recently, THE DANGEROUS ALPHABET. I was wondering if you have plans to write a picture book more catered to younger children like, say, 5-10 years old, which are less sinister?

Thanks for reading.

Jeremy Cai (from Singapore)

Crazy Hair will be out in 2009. It's a poem, illustrated by Dave McKean, and I think that young children will like it. It's not even slightly sinister, anyway. Well, maybe a bit.


I can see that The Complete Death is available for pre-order on (and other places) but I cannot discern whether this is an "Absolute Death" style/quality product or whether that is being saved for the future. Can you clarify?



It's not an "Absolute Death" - it won't be in a slipcase, and while it will be oversized it won't be Absolute sized. But it will be a beautiful book. (The cover up on Amazon is, I am assured, just a placeholder.)


There's an "agent" named Barbara Bauer -- she's on the SFWA 20 Worst Agents list -- who has sued people who have pointed out that she's not really an agent-who-sells-books, but is instead an agent-who-makes-her-money-from-ripping-off-would-be-writers. Her suit against Wikipedia has been dismissed Her suit against a number of places and organisations that have warned against her (including the SFWA and the Neilsen Haydens, but not against me) continues.

If you want to donate to the legal fees of the people she's trying to gag:

Hello Neil...I know this is rather random but I just found a copy of Enchanter from Eclipse Comics and I was curious if you would know...What ever happened to Mike Dringenberg? He is still my fav Sandman artist...And his work in Enchanter is amazing...Do you know if he still draws or has a website or...? All I can seem to find is a wikipedia stub...The two of you should definately work on a book together again one day...Thanks...Joe

Mike's still drawing and painting. He has a story in the upcoming Tori Amos Comic Book Tattoo comic, for example, and he did Death on the Sandman 20th Anniversary poster.


If you're at Comic-Con this year, on the Thursday night, The San Diego Symphony are doing Video Games Live.

Tickets are available at:

There's a new Harvey Pekar comic drawn by Rick Veitch at

And finally, a small mystery -- according to Phillip Pullman and Celia Rees (among others) had a meeting with the UK publishers who want to impose age-banding on books, led by Philippa Dickinson from Random House:

The discussion continued with the publishers' saying that they had had a very supportive response from "most" of their authors, with no problems being expressed. In support of that claim they produced a pile of books with age-banding figures on the covers. We didn't examine them closely, but one of them, as Celia Rees and I agreed afterwards when we were talking about it, was a copy of Neil Gaiman's 'Coraline'. This was a surprise to us, because Neil Gaiman is a signatory to this statement. Philippa Dickinson has since admitted to me that they were American editions, "which all carry age-guidance information".

And I think, they have to be desperate, to try to claim I'm on their side in the UK by finding editions from around the world with age-guidance information on.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

It's like any other day. Gotta act like nothing happened.

Webgoblin here, daring to intrude just long enough to say that I am about to migrate the Journal from a Blogger Classic template to a Blogger no-longer-so-Beta layout. During that time it will go through some drastic design changes before returning to the familiar look-and-feel.

Hopefully no one will notice.

Pay it no mind.

I was not here. We never had this conversation.

UPDATE: Everything appears to have worked. If you discover any problems or issues with the Journal, please report them to me.

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Hellboy 2 - The Golden Army...

Back from Brazil -- a bit under the weather, with a blogpost from 4.00am still unfinished -- so here, to celebrate the release of Hellboy 2 (, are a few photos from my trips to Budapest that never got posted...

Selma Blair asleep by a rock.

Selma awake and pretending to be a book cover.

Guillermo Del Toro, probably over a hasty Hungarian lunch.

And finally, me, in need of a haircut, hanging out with an elf-prince and an elf-princess (Luke Goss and Anna Walton)...

Now, go and see the film... (there's a ticket-buying widget on the Hellboy site, but when I tried it, it seemed convinced that I could only see the film between 1:30 am and 9:30 am. Which actually corresponds to my waking hours right now, but isn't much good for seeing films round here.)

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Then, tomorrow was another day...

Yesterday I did a panel with Richard Price, and then I signed for (according to the newspapers)about six hundred people for five and a half hours. Normally I try very hard to be as nice to the people who've been waiting for hours as I was to the people at the beginning, but I think I may have been ordering the people at the back of the line around a bit just to make sure I finished before the Tom Stoppard talk started at seven. (I finished with 25 minutes to spare.)

The crowd was lovely, and all amazingly good-humoured given how long they were standing around.

Anyway. Five and half hours, which is about five hours and ten minutes longer than anyone else here, which meant that I was suddenly peered at suspiciously, as if revealed as some kind of odd alien being, by other writers with whom only that morning I was sharing jokes and food. I think they have now forgiven me.

[Edit to add, that was a joke, and the other authors were remarkably nice about it all. Tom Stoppard, who stopped in during the signing, thought it hilarious.]

After the Stoppard panel, which was marvellous, like a master class, (I'm typing this on the computer in the hotel lobby, and was just tapped on the shoulder by a Newspaper photographer who wanted me to come and pose for some shots, and seemed a bit baffled when I pointed out that I was working) -- one of my favourite moments was when asked how he would direct a Hamlet, and he took the (odd) question and talked about what he wants from actors, "Clarity of utterance." Then I went to dinner with one of my Brazilian publishers. I hadn't really eaten since breakfast over twelve hours earlier, and I discovered that when you are given a very large passionfruit caipirinha after a five and a half hour signing and on an empty stomach, you know it's working because your feet go numb. Possibly the feet simply went away. Luckily, my feet returned before I had to walk back to the hotel, but it was extremely odd.

Today it's the end of FLIP and the Desert Island Books panel, and I will read a bit from James Thurber's The Thirteen Clocks.

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Friday, July 04, 2008

With still a million things to say...

Today the Arcadian idyll turned into something an awful lot more like work. TV interviews all morning, press conference all afternoon. Oh well.

Neil,I'm in Campinas-Brasil, and it's a 5-hours-car trip to Paraty. If I get there, most likely on Saturday, where can I find you since I don't have a ticket to Flip? I really, REALLY would love to have you sign one of books. I, like many in this sunny country am a major fan of yours. I REALLY love your books! And I'm dying to get my hands on Graveyard Book and Neverwhere...Thanks for the attention Livia

Let's see... first of all, you don't need a ticket for FLIP. You do need a ticket to get into the main tent where the authors are talking, or to sit down and watch the overflow screen -- but you can watch the interview without sitting down or listen from anywhere near where the big screen overflow place is. Richard Price and I will be talking at 11:45 am. As for signing, there will be a signing at about 1.00pm on Saturday in the signing area, which will undoubtedly go on for a while. We will probably have to limit the number of things I sign (so for heaven's sake don't hitchhike or drive carrying all the Sandman books plus another set for a dying friend -- they won't get signed. It will be two, maybe three things are most). I'll stop signing at 7.00pm when Tom Stoppard's talk starts, because I want to hear it.

I'll also be on on Sunday at the DESERT ISLAND BOOKS panel at 5.00pm -- there's no signing planned after that, though.

There may be more signing, there may not -- probably not, as the organisers haven't planned for it. I may sign stuff if you bump into me on the cobblestones or in the town square and ask nicely or just hold something out and smile (I have been so far, but it'll depend a bit on how many people try and whether I need to get from place to place) especially if you can do it without making it look like I've suddenly decided to do a signing in the street.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The morning found me miles away...

Still in Brazil. Still with Miss Maddy. Still having a lovely time.

Bought lots of books in the Paraty Festival bookshop today -- and saw many beautiful Brazilian editions of my stuff I hadn't seen before.

My favourite article read on the plane, incidentally, was the wonderful The Magic Olympics -- with tricks explained! by Alex Stone, in Harpers, which you can read online at: (my second favourite was the Gopnik article on Chesterton in the New Yorker, but it's not online, and I think he missed the boat about Chesterton politically). [My mistake. The Harpers article is only readable for subscribers.]

Hi Neil,You wrote a lovely story, told by Abel (I believe) about crows sitting in judgment on their storytellers. Somewhere along the way, this story became fact in my head. I was wondering if there is any truth to the myth, or if it's just myth. Maybe you could pass the question on to the Birdchick?Thanks!MRM

The description of corvids sitting around one of their number, cawing back and forth, and then sometimes killing it and sometimes flying off is something I've run into in old bird literature (and more recently as well -- since Sandman 40 came out I've read an eyewitness account of it in the Smithsonian Magazine). As to why it happens, I don't think you'll find any bird people who claim to know.

I should mention that the collective noun for rooks is not a parliament (which is actually the collective noun for owls) or it wasn't until I wrote Sandman 40, anyway. Mostly it's a building or a clamour of rooks. Sometimes it's a storytelling of rooks, which sounds like something I might have made up anyway...

Does Neil have an official myspace page? If so what is the adress?

No, I don't. There's an unofficial one, or more than one out there. I keep meaning to set up official myspaces and facebooks, but really tend to feel that keeping this place under control is more than enough for one author, and it never happens.

Hi Neil--Not really a question for you, just comment. You mentioned Tom Stoppard in your blog today. They say you should never meet your heroes, but they never say how cool it is when some of your heroes meet each other and get along so well. You seem to get along well with just about everyone. What just makes me smile is that so many of them are heroes of mine (Dave McKean, Roger Zelazny, Tom Stoppard, Philip Pullman,... ).Good luck growing up to be Mr. Stoppard. You seem well on your way.Have fun!

Actually, you should never meet your heroes if you want to keep them as heroes. They may wind up as friends or as disappointments or as pleasant surprises, but once you know them they immediately stop being heroes. (I've turned down several opportunities to meet Stephen Sondheim socially, because he's practically all I've got left. Even David Bowie, who I've never even met, has managed to transmute in my head most of the way from DAVID BOWIE ZOMG!!1!* to my friend Duncan's dad.)

But then, I'm not sure about heroes at the best of times. I wrote about it at
and still feel pretty much the same way now.

The most remarkable thing about Tom Stoppard (leaving aside the whole him-being-a-genius thing) is he's twenty years older than me, and he has my hair!

This gives me hope.


*correct !!1! punctuation assistance here by Maddy.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Now, when twilight dims the sky above...

Maddy and I are now in Brazil. We got to the airport in Sao Paulo where the driver and Tom Stoppard were waiting, and then we drove down to Paraty. (At no point did I say to Tom Stoppard, "Funny old world innit? You wrote a film called Brazil, and now we're here." Tom Stoppard is, I discovered, who I want to be when I grow up. I did, however, tell him how much I liked his Waterstones story card.)

Anyway. All is good. We went off on a boat to an island and had a very late lunch, or a very early dinner, and after dinner I lay down on the roof of the boat as it chuntered back to Paraty and watched the sun set and slept under the stars, waking just before we docked.

I have a plan for Saturday -- I spoke to the Festival organisers and they seem happy with it. After the programme item (starts at 11:45, finishes around 1.00pm) I'll sign for whoever's there for as long as it takes. I figure this may take a while, but basically anyone there who wants a signature, whether they made it to the official event or had to content themselves with the big screen overflow or are just wandering around Paraty clutching an ancient Portuguese translation of Sandman. So if you were wondering whether or not it was worth your while making the trip to Paraty, yes, if you're here then, I'll sign your book.

Not a question, just a post on a glorious clockwork tower I thought you might enjoy.

I was thinking the other day that it had been a while since I'd posted a link to cabinet of wonders - - as I've been enjoying the recent grand tour, so I took this as a reminder. (My favourite recent article was

dear neil,
did you know that people are selling the graveyard book on is that allowed??

i've entered the epitaph competion because well i just had too what with the desperation and the sweaty paws and whatnot! Even so it feels a little like cheating, and in the unlikely event of winning a copy, i do think i might miss out on the all hallows atmosphere!

just thought i'd do a little 'grassing' seeing as i was in the neighbourhood, the stink of spoilsports to me! they wouldnt allow that with that Potter boy so why Bod?!


Well, the publishers didn't send out advance reading copies with the Harry Potter books -- they were extremely strict about shops violating the on-sale date, though, which is a slightly different thing. Here you have books that people have been sent or given that they are putting up for sale on eBay or Abebooks.

The covers of the ARCs all say "Not for sale" on them, but most of the copies for sale are being sold by booksellers who got them at Book Expo America, and many of those booksellers use the sale of the various advanced copies of books they got there as a way to fund their trip to Book Expo. Which is my way of saying I can't get mad about it.

I'm most disappointed when copies proudly proclaim themselves to never have been read. The reason for the advanced reading copies is so that people can read them. So I hope the people who buy them on eBay or elsewhere read them and tell people about them, and don't just put them away in the dark as collectibles.

Is "bugger me sideways with a coracle" a real expression, or did you make it up?

You mean the two things are mutually exclusive? Everything has to be made up first... I mean, take the following as an example:

Hey Neil,

I found the most interesting thing today. I received a book order today including Creating Circles & Ceremonies by Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart. It's a Pagan ritual book. Anyway, I was looking through the appendices and they had a section listing Pantheons of different cultures and religions. Guess what was included in the list? THE ENDLESS. I was shocked! Apparently, people have created very successful rituals using the archetypes of The Endless. I guess your characters have taken on a life of their own! Just thought you might be interested in knowing that little tidbit.


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