Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On banning books and escaping from the attic...

Another not-quite-back-on-top-of-things-yet day. Awake at 5.00am expecting to drift back to sleep, and I didn't. Ah well. Wandering around the house unshaven, in my oldest dressing gown, feeling vaguely scary, like a crazed uncle who has escaped from the attic.

Frost is predicted for tomorrow, so lots of frantic apple-picking and tomato-gathering is happening right now. But I am not doing it. I am wearing a ratty dressing gown and blogging.

Hi Neil,
I know you're a wonderfully self assured and present writer who may not need more Positive Thoughts, but what the heck, here's one.
I wanted to say in response to the "tired of hearing about Amanda" reader that I'm on the other side. Not that I want every post to contain Amanda, but I always smile when you do mention her and what fun you all have been having. You do the same when talking about Holly, or Maddy, or Mike, or Bees, and that's cool. Maybe people don't want to hear about them either, but whatever. :)
I think they're all great and I love to hear your stories. It makes us feel a little part of your life (for those of us who know you're a Real Life Person and not just an Award Winning Writer.) I will sometimes tell my husband, "Guess what Neil and Amanda did!" Or, "Maddy's going to meet the Jonas Brothers!" or "Amanda just auctioned off a date with Holly!" or "Mike works at GOOGLE!" (My husband is a computer programmer so he was very excited about that.)
Anyway, if that makes me weird, so be it, but the internet has a way of forming a community that we're all still figuring out, and is wonderful, and intertwined, and sometimes fantastically small. Just the way I like it.

Love and Laughter,

Oh. Good. That makes me happy. I don't think I like being an Award Winning Author very much -- it seems to carry with it an awful lot of respectability and such that I know I didn't sign up for, but I love being a Real Life Person, and delight in being Maddy and Holly and Mike's dad, or being the person who comes up with the plan to unite Zoe, the blind cat in the attic with Hermione, the deaf cat in the basement. (NB. This plan may not work.)

And the most interesting thing to me about this internet thing is that we all are sort of making it up as we go along.

Hey Neil,

Just wanted to let you know that I, personally, have no issue with you talking about Amanda. On the contrary, it let's me (and the other fans) know that you're happy. And that makes me happy to know it.

My question for you is, with Halloween coming up, do you have any favorite traditions? I'm trying to think of some good ways to celebrate the spookiest night of the year, so any ideas would be welcome!

By the way, congrats on staying on the bestsellers' list for so long! The Graveyard Book is amazing!

- Samantha

Hallowe'en traditions? Not really. For the last few years I've gone to my assistant Lorraine's house (she's been away) and scared children with a rather sweet looking rabbit that opens to reveal huge teeth and tongue... and a small bar of chocolate, sitting on the tongue.

And there are poems I like to read to Maddy on Hallowe'en.

(This year, however, I will be in Singapore on Hallowe'en. So I will read Maddy her poems when I get home.) (


It's Banned Books Week. There's a rather mad Wall Street Journal Editorial explaining how silly a Banned Book Week is (after all, if you're a kid and a book that somebody's parents didn't want any of you to read is removed from your school library, it's not really banned: you have the freedom to save up your pocket money and go out to the well-stocked bookshops you can somehow find in every American small town and buy a copy for yourself). The editorial doesn't quite go as far as claiming that libraries are UnAmerican, but it strongly implies that all librarians and people who work in libraries are, along with people who support the First Amendment -- unless they're trying, reasonably, like Good Americans, to stop other people's children from reading things they don't like. There's a cartoon of Good Americans being intimidated by a Scary Librarian too, for anyone who missed the point.

There's a ( from my perspective) sane reply to it over at the Huffington Post although I was more interested in the pie charts over at the ALA site, showing what books get challenged and who challenges them.

I've got a few letters from librarians over the last few months copying me on conversations about middle school libraries getting nervous about The Graveyard Book (the saddest bit of which was one worried middle school librarian explaining that she had no intention of reading it, but wanting to find out from other librarians if it was the kind of book that might get her into trouble) but on the whole my books seem to be relatively unbanned and unchallenged. I'm always aware that the next book I write might tip things over the edge. Or that some twerp might decide to challenge Coraline or The Graveyard Book, or Blueberry Girl...


According the the Guardian,
After winning a trio of major literary awards in the US, Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book has landed a nomination for the Booktrust teenage prize on a shortlist which is being described as the award's most subversive yet.
Hurrah for subversive award nominees.

The nominees are
Auslander by Paul Dowswell
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray
The Ant Colony by Jenny Valentine
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant
The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

Details and a photo at

Jonathan Carroll on Twitter pointed me at the photos of Australian criminals at from which I wandered to Haunting photographs. Much more fun than mug shots at the Smoking Gun.

Right. I better post this and start signing sheets for the limited edition of Neverwhere that Harper Collins are bringing out this year. (And that reminds me: Subterranean Press are doing an edition of Smoke and Mirrors, illustrated by and designed by Dave McKean. It's not cheap, but it gets more expensive on Friday. (If you liked Dave's very sold-out Subterranean edition of The Graveyard Book, this will be like that, only more so, because all the illustrations are original.)

And finally, we have a Magical Hallowe'en Party Map. It's at Five independent bookshops have listed their parties. I know -- from things booksellers have said to me -- that there are more to come. So, if you have a shop and a party planned, let the webgoblin know and he will make sure that your store is on the list.

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