Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Unsorted Mailbag

Okay. Nothing exciting happening -- I'm writing lots of little things right now. A small host of overdue introductions, speeches and the like. Truly, it doesn't feel very creative -- more like work -- but it's good to get out of the way, and then I can get back to making things up.

And I quite enjoyed the thing of simply picking a bunch of questions in order without trying to select them to be interesting or informative or typical or whatever. So I am going to do it again. Let's see what happens.

Neil, I was listening to the Moth podcast the other day and remembering that you recommended it on your blog. After first wondering if you had been on the Moth (have you?), I was wondering if you would find it difficult to retell a entirely truthful autobiographical story in the fashion of the stories on the Moth? I ask this as I would guess that the creative instinct would perhaps want to take over and embellish or adapt the story to make it 'better', possibly particularly writers who write 'fantasy' or something of a smilarly inventive genre.

Actually, I find it pretty easy to write what happened. I have a blog, on which many of the interesting things that have happened over the last eight years are recounted, unembellished.

Being a writer of fiction isn't like being a compulsive liar, honestly. It takes craft and care, and it's much easier not to do it.

You can support The Moth by buying the CD with my story on it here, or a quick Google found it at this site, currently second from bottom on the first page.

I'll make this as straight forward as i can. Is there going to be a sequel to "The Graveyard Book"?

I'll make this as straightforward as I can back: that would be nice, wouldn't it?


What's going on with those bees of yours? You haven't said much about them. Are you still bee-keeping?

I am still beekeeping, but I haven't been doing a lot of bee-blogging. Luckily my assistant Lorraine has a big honey blog up, about extracting honey with Jason Webley: I got a follow-up email from her to say that they had extracted four and a half gallons of honey, slightly to their surprise, while Sharon "Birdchick" Stiteler tirelessly documents the bees at

Right now, we have no hives - the last two succumbed to winter. But this year we will have seven hives -- four Italian and three Russian hives...

Every so often, the tv show Criminal Minds will quote certain authors and works of literature during the course of an episode when it pertains to the story they are telling. In the most recent episode, they shocked me by quoting Terry Pratchett, specifically a line from Reaper Man: "Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it."

My question to you, Mr. Neil (and please forgive me if it seems deeply stupid), is: What do you think would be the most unlikely place to find yourself being referenced? Newspaper reviews and Newbery-related outbursts on the Colbert Report are one thing, but would you be very weirded out if, for instance, Hugh Laurie was spotted with a copy of Odd and the Frost Giants in a future episode of House?

Actually I got very used to it a long time ago, when a young Joss Whedon was working on Roseanne, and made sure that Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and her boyfriend always had Sandman posters and teeshirts...

It happens, from time to time. People write in to tell me that there was a mention of me or something I've written on some show, but it's all in one head and out the other where I am concerned, and I do not remember it for longer than it takes to go "Oh, that's nice."

Dear Neil,

You've probably answered this question, but why are acknowledged at the beginning of the "Watchmen"? I tried looking for a cameo of some sorts of you in there, but could you explain. I'm a new fan, so cut me some slack.

Best regards,


I'm not cutting you any slack for being a new fan, but there are probably other people who haven't noticed the SEARCH function at, and it's probably good to remind people it exists. If you used it you'd find an immediate link to:
and half-way down the page your question will be answered.

Hi there Neil,

I'm a huge fan. I'm sixteen, and my career aspirations are basically to do what you do. I'm interested in doing a whole bunch of creative writing; but I'd also love to work on screenplays, or perhaps in television. Looking back as a successful writer of all sorts of lovely things, if you could give your younger self any advice - or just advice to anyone in my situation - what would it be?


Enjoy it. Don't worry. Enjoy it.

And at the start of your career, you don't have much money, and you don't have any work, but you have an awful lot of time. Use it. Because if you're successful, you will have lots of everything except time.

Dear Mr Gaiman,

I hope someone already let you know how really cool the German edition of the Graveyard book looks, in a tombstone-shaped metal case? (The flickr album is not mine; I googled it. Don't have the German edition to photograph it myself, as I don't like reading translations.)

The publisher probably has notified you of this; if not, they should have.

Wibke Sawatzki

They have, and I love it. I've never had a book sold in a tin box before.

Hi Neil,

My Dad needs new black jeans and he was wondering what brand you like best. Any preferences?


I wear R.M.Williams black jeans. Have done for about eight years now. Love them. They're an Australian company, but have shops in New York and London, and probably other places as well.

Sorry to bother you.
I would love to buy a signed first edition of Coraline from a seller on
My problem is I can't figure out whether it's the english or american that is the true first.
Can you help please?

Thank you for your time.


Acording to the bibliography at the true first is the US Audio Book. Followed by the US printed book.

What do you think is the best way to start writing a novel?

I think the best way to start writing a novel is to start writing a novel.

Hi Neil,
I have been following you (a bit) on-line and have noticed that you are very generous in terms of freebies. (i.e. readings of the entire Graveyard Book, of Blueberry Girl, of "Chivalry," etc.) It seems to me that you more willing to share these types of things more so than other popular authors. Why are you able to do so? Is it because you are a more prolific writer, more generous than others, or perhaps you have nicer publishers and agents. . .?

I love the freebies (I buy your books, too.) They give one the feeling that you are more interested in having people listening to and enjoying your work than you are in maximizing profits. Thank you and keep 'em coming.

Well, if you put it like that, I am more interested in people listening to or enjoying the work than I am in "maximising profits". I do just fine, and I sell lots of books around the world, and, as a friend of mine used to like saying, "It's all good". And there are lots of writers who do it as much as I do, or more -- Cory Doctorow, or John Scalzi, for example.

And I do have nice publishers and agents, and they do indulge me on this stuff, as much as they can, anyway.

(Also, as I have said many times, the enemy of writers is not piracy or letting your stuff out for nothing, it's obscurity.) 

There. That was fun. Okay, back to work...

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