Monday, June 29, 2009

Locus Award...

Arrived in LAX airport to find that the NorthWest lounge is closed for renovations, and cannot use the lounge or the Wifi. And the airport Tmobile Wifo connection is slow -- it's taken it ten minutes to give me a Blogger screen.

So I will keep this one very short. The Graveyard Book won the Locus Award for Best YA Novel this year. I wrote a speech for my Editor Jennifer Brehl (who was there) to deliver, and I thought I'd put it up here:

You have good years, and you have bad years. I'm having a really good year right now. The Graveyard Book won the Newbery Medal, which made me happy, and it has now won the Locus Award which makes me equally happy, in a completely different way. It's one thing to get approved of by the world out there, it's another thing to get approval from your family, and the vastness of Locus Readers and voters, comprising as it does SF and Fantasy readers and writers, editors and artists, is a family, even if it can be a quarrelsome and incestuous one, and its approval means something special. I suspect that I may be the luckiest boy in the world, and would not want you to think for one moment that I am not grateful or aware of this. The Graveyard Book took me a very long time to write, and I want to thank my son, Michael, who inspired it; my agent, Merrilee Heifetz, who supported me, my editors, Elise Howard and Sarah Odedina; my illustrators, Dave McKean and Chris Riddell; and the people at Harper Collins and Bloomsbury, who have worked so hard to make sure that people read it.

And then run for the plane. (Also, congratulations to P Craig Russell, who got a Locus Award for his beautiful graphic novel version of Coraline).


Friday, June 26, 2009

A Hollyday

So twenty-four years ago today, Holly Gaiman turned up in my life. At that point she didn't even have a name: we had thought she was going to be a Gemma, but she didn't look like a Gemma, so Mary and I went back to the drawing board, or rather the baby names book, and decided independently that Holly was the name we both liked. Her middle name is Miranda because I wanted her to have a bigger, posher name in case she needed one. She hasn't needed it yet, but you never know.

I miss her. She lives in London, now. I don't see her as much as I'd like, and I speak to her most days only because she's really good about phoning me.

She's my daughter, and I love her. That goes without saying. She has the most amazing smile in the world, a will of iron, a huge heart, and is, I'm proud to say, one of my very best friends in the whole world. That stuff is all a marvellous bonus.

I love you, Holly Miranda Gaiman. Happy Birthday.

(I'm in California now, and it's still her birthday here, but it's finished in London, and she'll be asleep by now, and I haven't spoken to her yet today. Sigh. Love you so much, girl.)


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What bears do.

Three years ago a bear showed up here. The first hint we had of its arrival was the metal birdfeeder poles beng bent and the emptying of said birdfeeders. So we took down the birdfeeders and, after a few months, the bear went away.

Last year Hans, who does useful things in the woods like building bridges and removing fallen trees, put up an electric fence around the bee hives, on the theory that it was just a matter of time until a bear returned; we had been told by local beekeepers that an electric fence would keep a bear out in the first place, but that if the bear had discovered an unprotected hive and raided it once, the bear would go through an electric fence to get back to it.

Yesterday, Hans told me, a black bear turned up: wandered out of the woods, was barked at by the dogs (Cabal and his playdate), and retreated.

I was on my way out -- I went into KNOW in Minneapolis to do some interviews for a Morning Edition Special I'm doing on Audio Books and then on to DreamHaven to sign several mountains of books for Greg. (A photo of about 3/4 of the book mountain.) -- and got home by firefly-filled dusk in time to walk the dog.

Walk. The dog. At night. By the woods. Right.

I didn't have a dog the last time there was a bear around.

Mostly I was just sensible -- didn't go through the woods that the bear had wandered out of, made enough noise and carried a light -- but I noticed that Cabal was behaving differently: sticking close to me, either protective or nervous, not nosing off after adventures as he usually does if we're out together in the evening.

I hope the bear simply moves on, leaving the hives unmolested. The last one left, after all.


Am now at airport. For the next few days other people will have to decide how to walk the dog through night-woods inhabited by the ghosts of a thousand imaginary bears.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009


The Edinburgh Literary Festival tickets went on sale this morning, and the event on the 20th of August, the conversation between Ian Rankin and me, is now sold out. So I thought I should post a reminder here to let people know there are still tickets available for the All Ages solo event (just me, reading from The Graveyard Book, talking about it, and writing, and comics as well) on the 19th, from 4.30 to 5.30 pm.

(On the 22nd of August in Edinburgh I'll be doing some sort of Signing with Amanda Palmer for the Who Killed Amanda Palmer book at Amanda's gig with the Indelicates at the Picture House.)

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Mourning Suit and Green Goddess

Decided not to fix yesterday's "Starberry" typo, as I rather like it, and wonder what they taste like.

Today's post brought volumes 3 and 4 of NESFA's COLLECTED STORIES OF ROGER ZELAZNY with introductions by me and Steve Brust respectively. This is the overview of the project on the NESFA website.

A photo from 1993's World Fantasy Convention in Minneapolis, taken by Beth Gwinn (a terrific photographer - this is her website: Four out of five of the Guests of Honour (I was Toastmaster) Basil Copper, me, Roger Zelazny and the late Poul Anderson. (John Crowley is not there.) I am wearing a morning suit I wore that day, and wore 15 years later for John M. (Mike) Ford's memorial service, and only those two times, because really, I don't go to that many things that need morning suits. I think my father had picked it up for me incredibly cheaply, and was so proud of himself for so doing that I resolved actually to wear it and let him know I had, but he never actually asked.

And today, by coincidence, also brought Steve Brust for lunch, so I showed him the books. We sat and read each other's introductions and shared memories of Roger.

Talking about good photographers:

Apparently there's an LJ advisory board.

Apparently people are elected to it via vote by LJ users.

Apparently this one pretty nifty dude who takes great photographs,
@kylecassidy, is running.

So, if you feel like clicking around to his post about it or the actual post
for voting, here are links:


Consider it plugged. Although it doesn't look like Kyle needs any help from me.

Greetings Neil,
I'm a big fan of yours (and now that I'm 5 months into my pregnancy, a slightly bigger fan every day).
Since we found out "It's A Girl!" I had really hoped to order a signed copy of Blueberry Girl off of the site and start reading it to her before she got here but after weeks of visiting and finding the site temporarily closed I am starting to wonder if I should give up and buy a copy elsewhere and hope that you will be doing a signing in my area (which is extremely rare) sometime in the distant future. Any idea if the site will be returning in the nearer future?
Thank you,

I'll be popping into DreamHaven over the next few days to sign a lot of books for Greg. It's surprising that he had to shut down the whole site in order to tell people he wasn't taking orders for signed books right now, but I guess its harder for him since DreamHaven became a one man operation.

Hi Neil,

Just reading your latest blog entry in which someone complained about your use of "British Isles", and went on to talk about how Ireland is not part of the British Isles anymore, and there was perhaps a mention of vikings, too.

I would just like to apologise on behalf of Ireland for this pointless correction. Of course, Ireland is not part of Great Britain, but as the British Isles are a geographical name for both Ireland and the UK, I highly doubt Ireland will be renouncing itself as being among them anytime soon - as doing so would involve actually moving to a different place on Earth.

I would also like to apologise for wasting your time with *this* comment, but I felt quite strongly about it.

Thank you. Actually, I liked learning that there are people who consider the term insulting. I don't think you should ever insult people unintentionally: if you're doing it, you ought to mean it.

(Apparently the term "Irish Sea" is offensive to the Welsh, who are completely surrounded by it. Edit to add, if you don't count things like England and the Bristol Channel. Which most of my Welsh friends don't.)


Over the years I have said good things on this blog about New Orleans Chef Chris DeBarr -- Chris was named “Best New Chef” by New Orleans magazine in 2006 for his work at the Delachaise. I first met Chris in about 1991 at a Dragoncon: he's married to author Poppy Z Brite and Poppy was too nervous to talk to me that first time for reasons I've never been able to figure out, so I chatted to Chris. I didn't know how good a cook he was until Poppy took me to the Delachaise, where he used to be chef, and the food was amazing -- and Chris was everything: chef, server, food advisor, the whole thing. I wrote about it here on the blog ("Why I Am Not A Restaurant Critic"), and took pleasure in letters from people who had amazing meals there writing to let me know.

Chris left the Delachaise and recently opened his own restaurant, The Green Goddess, at 307 Exchange Alley in the heart of the French Quarter. This is Chris's LiveJournal. (He's currently waiting for a liquor license.) It's a Vegetarian-friendly restaurant. (Having once been in New Orleans with a vegetarian, I know these are few and can be hard to find.)

This is the Green Goddess's website:

I was chatting to Chris about sending people from this website to the restaurant, and suggested that some kind of password might get people something nice and special they might not otherwise get from him. He said, remembering the Sandman book Brief Lives, that people should casually mention "the Mezze of Destruction" to their server, and something good and special will happen for them to eat or drink. Think of it as a restaurant Easter Egg.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Father's Day & Invisible Plane Post

Two of my children have grown up and gone away, and I have one left at home (here seen piloting her invisible plane, in a photo by Kyle Cassidy). And it's Father's Day, which seems like the best time to mention how much I enjoy, and appreciate, being a father. I've learned more from being a father than from anything else I've done, any books I've read, anything I've studied, anyone I've spoken to. It's a good thing being a father, if you enjoy it, which I do. So this is where I say thank you to Mike and to Holly and to Mads, for teaching me so much. And for being smart and loving and funny.

Last night Maddy told me she has Planned Things for today. I do not know what these things are. She and her friends have not yet woken from their sleepover. Last night I used them as guinea pigs to test out some BPAL prototype scents Beth had sent in my direction. Last year's Snow Glass Apples scent and booklet was a huge success when it was released at Comic-con, both as a scent and as a snapped-up CBLDF benefit unique thing (here's a CBLDF link to what appears to be the last few copies/bottles in the world). This year's scent is remarkable. I forgot it was meant to be a secret, and cheerfully unbagged the cat on Twitter, but will be slightly more circumspect here and say only that it is a scent that will accompany a short story that appears in Fragile Things and M is Magic, concerning the eating of things.

(Beth, Goddess of BPAL, sent me three different versions of the scent in question, and let me choose. I picked the version with Raisins and Smoke, but without Beer. For some reason the beer made it smell like coconuts, when applied to skin. Everything Beth does is alchemy and magic as far as I am concerned.)

Over on CBC's Definitely Not the Opera, the wonderful Sook-Yin Lee interviewed me about being a father and being a son, and that's now up in their Father's Day special. (It's a really good interview, much of it stuff I don't recall being asked in interviews before. It starts about 55 minutes in, and ignore the awkward link-edit at the beginning that makes it sound like I'm saying that my small son and I were newlyweds.) The MP3 file is at

This writer has a list of "Five Things Someone Else Should Do."

(Sorry about the awkward link). Among them is "Ideas in Abundance," taking Madoc's outpouring of ideas in "Calliope" and actually writing stories around them. Have you ever considered authorizing such an anthology?

The writer in question is the remarkably brilliant China Mieville, who is smart and prolific and a nice guy to boot.

And no, I don't think I could officially authorise such an anthology (given that the Sandman is owned by DC Comics.) If someone did it, however, on the web or on paper, I would be delighted.

Hi again
I was looking at my new-from-Amazon Crazy Hair book (pretty pictures, lovely rhymes), when something seemed a bit odd. Did you change the second line? I remember you reading it three years ago, and I remember something like "I am thirty, Bonnie's three".
Now I see it's "We were standing silently" or something like that.
Just out of curiosity, am I right, and why did you change it?


I changed it because, when Dave had finished the illustrations (and it took him many years to do Crazy Hair), Bonnie really did not look like she was three. Not even a little bit. And it seemed much easier, and quicker, for me to change the line than to ask Dave to repaint every page.

Hi Neil,
"The native dragons of the British Isles"
The term British Isles is a bit of a sore point.
I'm an Irish fan of yours. The term British Isles suggests Ireland as part of the Isles. We are no longer part of Britain and up to the point of the vikings you mentioned we were not part of Britain either. I know it might seem like a silly point to you but the term still strokes a lot of old wounds with people here. And I know it was not intentional, so I thought I would clarify for the future.

I hope the writing is flowing and all is well in your world,


Ah, there. I managed to give offense while just trying to figure out a way of talking about the places that these stamps were sold. If it's any comfort, I wasn't thinking about Ireland while writing that sentence. (And just read the Wikipedia discussion with fascination.)

Hi Neil -

you may want to let your readers know that in addition to the presentation pack you can also purchase postcards of the stamp designs - which will be absolutely perfect for filling the conspicuous Neil Gaiman bumpersticker void. (Seriously, please tell the Neverwear people to get some bumperstickers up - the 'How to talk to girls at parties' art or the 'lil Sandman would be fabulous... If I were creative enough, I'd make a black & white bumpersticker w/the silhouettes of the Endless on it, but alas - my skills are lacking.)

I just ordered both from the US with no problems, btw.

Thanks for the stories!

I'll get onto it. Any Neverwear suggestions should be directed at Kitty, at her blog:

Hey Neil,

Wayward young writer here.

I have a question concerning characters. Most of the writers I respect seem to create autonomous characters inside their own mind. This process sounds mad and delightful and impossible, at the moment.

I feel that my characters are glaring flaws in my stories. I want them to feel real and sovereign to my whims, instead of contrivances.

If you have any time to bestow some advice, I would greatly appreciate it. Just a revelatory aphorism or two.

Also, thank you for so many wonderful stories. Your stuff is guiltless pleasure reading.

Dan Kelly

When I was a young writer I would come up with stories, and then put characters into them. And each of the characters would often feel like, in Thurber's words, "a mere device".

I think the breakthrough for me came when I started writing comics -- because I believed in them. Because sometimes I would be using characters I hadn't created, but simply cared about. And over the next few years I learned that if you cared enough about your characters, what happened to them was interesting.

I'm not sure that's much of an aphorism, but it's important to care about them, about who they are and what they do. And (for me) for them to be people I would want to spend time with -- I don't really care whose side they are on, and they can be monstrous on the outside or, worse, on the inside, but you still have to want to spend time with them. If you met one of these characters socially would you talk to them, or make an excuse and flee?

(As a sidenote, I think the years I spent as a journalist doing interviews for magazines really helped as well. I learned a lot about speech patterns, and ways of describing people, and letting their words describe them. But more importantly, I learned that if you are actually interested, and not faking it, people will tell you anything, and you will take pleasure in their company. So my suggestion for any young writer is, talk to people, especially people you would normally avoid talking to. Find out their stories. Figure out how you would put them into stories, if you would, or just describe them with a few words.)

Hello Mr. Gaiman,

My question, or requested suggestion, is how to properly utilize personal tragedy to fuel writing. For reasons that do not bear explanation, someone that was unhealthily important to me has left, and I have continually tried to use it as inspiration, but it's having quite the contrary effect.

I have the kind of free time any writer would dream about, but none if it is productive, and I would like it to be.

So, again, any words of wisdom would be very appreciated. And if not, I understand given your busy schedule.

Thank you either way.

I don't think immediate tragedy is a very good source of art. It can be, but too often it's raw and painful and un-dealt-with. Sometimes art can be a really good escape from the intolerable, and a good place to go when things are bad, but that doesn't mean you have to write directly about the bad thing; sometimes you need to let time pass, and allow the thing that hurts to get covered with layers, and then you take it out, like a pearl, and you make art out of it.

When my father died, on the plane from his funeral in the UK back to New York, still in shock, I got out my notebook and wrote a script. It was a good place to go, the place that script was, and I went there so deeply and so far that when we landed Maddy had to tap me on the arm to remind me that I had to get off the plane now. (She says I looked up at her, puzzled, and said "But I want to find out what happens next.") It was where I went and what I did to cope, and I was amazed, some weeks later when I pulled out that notebook to start typing, to find that I'd written pretty much the entire script in that six hour journey.

So my suggestion is, stop trying to use it and do something else. (Which sounds a bit dim and simple when I put it like that. "Doctor. It hurts when I do this. What should I do?' "Stop doing this." But you know what I mean.)

Right. Girls are stirring in rooms above. I shall make them pancakes with sliced strawberries in them.*

*When I am king I shall make out of season non-local strawberries illegal. They don't taste like strawberries. Every year in June I have to remind myself that actually, I like these things, and that sun-warmed strawberries fresh-picked in season are one of the heavenly delights of the world. It's those big red faintly starberry-flavoured things called strawberries that turn up the rest of the year I dislike.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

the lightning and the lightning bug

I know there are lots of things I should be blogging about, like the Oracular Orb Android App and being taken kayaking by my trainer and the poor bee who got stuck in my hair, and the strangeness of spending days with a New Yorker writer, and potato salad recipes, but they can all wait.

I took the dog out for a walk tonight, and together we wandered across the meadow next door. It was a warm summer's night, dark, and moonless. There were a handful of fireflies flickering intermittently, some so close to me I could see they were burning green as they flew, and some further away, who seemed to be flashing white.

And in the sky above them a continual roil of distant summer lightning (the storm distant enough that it was silent) burned and flashed and illuminated the clouds. It seemed as if the lightning bugs were talking to the lightning, in a perfect call and response of flash and counterflash. I watched the sky and the meadow flash and flash while the dog walked ahead of me, and realised that I was perfectly happy...


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More on Stamps and Bookburning

Just a short follow-up on last night's post:

More UK media on the stamps: a really good article on the Fantasy Stamps (with stories) in The Times:

“She is so scary,” says Gaiman, examining the stamp. “But, of course, mermaids were always terrifying. With the exception of the Little Mermaid of the Hans Christian Andersen tradition, they would take your soul. And fairies were never things that people embraced — they were unknowable, dangerous, capricious. They could cause real trouble for you.”

Even if Gaiman were making all this up, you would be inclined to believe him. But all his stamp stories, which are published here for the first time, start with long-held British folk beliefs as their original source.

“I felt that, if I was going to do this, I had to get my mythology right,” he says. “Days of research went into the unicorn story and the history of the ‘unicorn horn’ in the Tower of London. Plus there is that relationship throughout Britain between geography and mythology, which is why I loved doing the giants story. When you’re walking on English hills, you may actually be walking on them.”

(And before anyone from the West Country grumbles, it was piskies not pixies in my original draft.)

There's also a delightfully dim blog over at the Telegraph from someone who read, but seemed to miss the point of, my Mab story. (And to have also failed to notice that a 500 year old tradition is, well, by now, a tradition.) (But for whatever it's worth, as the person blogging dimly is the Obituaries editor, I do love the Daily Telegraph Obituaries.)

And I noticed this morning Dave McKean grumbled that he didn't say the innocuous things the BBC attribute to him in this one.


And these two follow up from the Wisconsin would-be librarybookburners who feel that the existence of Francesa Lia Block books threatens their health and safety...

Hi Neil,

Just wanted to thank you for bringing attention to the latest censorship situation at the West Bend Community Library. I'm not sure if you (and your readers) are aware, but the librarians in West Bend have been dealing with a similar issue for the last several months, regarding a request for the removal of some - for lack of a better way to put it - not-anti-gay material in the young adult section of the library. Two weeks ago, the issue was finally resolved in favor of library policies, leaving the challenged books in the young adult section of the library. (A very brief overview of the ordeal is here: ) A victory for sure, but this new challenge suggests that a pocket of the West Bend community is hell-bent on removing homosexual material from the public library - an action which would be a major loss for the community.

Thank you for bringing attention to the issue, for always being a voice against censorship, and for your continued support of librarians in situations like this (I know you know we adore you, but really, you're a hero).

- A Wisconsin librarian


Hello Neil, I recently read in your blog about the group of "Christians in Wisconsin" who are taking legal action for the right to burn a book (and payment for the "damages" it did to them).

Speaking as a Christian (and a Wisconsin resident), I am appalled that any Christian would assume they have the right to publicly deface/destroy another's ideas (in this case in the form of literature). Although throughout history all sorts of atrocities have been committed in the name of Christianity, I naively like to think we have learned from that past. There's also a part of me that imagines things like this only happen in some faraway land, but I guess they happen right in your backyard just the same.

Thank you for, in the very least, reminding your readers that there are "sane" Christians (if any of us humans really are sane at all), and not to let one group's actions speak for the whole. Just as the actions of Muslim terrorists should not allow us to judge any Muslim a terrorist, or genocide in Africa shouldn't lead us to deem Africans as savage.

Anyway... I digress. Thank you for bringing attention to this.

You're welcome. Right. Back to work.

Oh, and last night I saw the first firefly of the year last night. So you know, and in case you were wondering.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Stamps, Bookburning and Depth of Field

Just a quick one to let everyone know (particularly people in the UK) that, as the Telegraph just reminded me, the Dave McKean mythical creature stamps go on sale on Tuesday the 16th. So they are on sale now.

If you go to

It will take you to the page where you can learn about the stamps, the various things the royal mail has for sale (presentation packs, postcards etc) and where you can try to buy them. You may succeed. (I didn't, and have, grumpily, given up trying for the night.) The secret of putting in phone numbers it will recognise is at

You can read the little stories (or sketches or vignettes) that I wrote to go with the stamps online for now at

They are printed in the "presentation packet", very beautifully.

Here's the one that goes with the stamp above:

The native dragons of the British Isles, called wyrms, had poisonous breath and coiled snakelike around hills. They could not fly or breathe fire. They demanded oxen or maidens. They grew slowly, ate rarely and slept much.

Local species can be fragile: the new dragons, the firedrakes, came south with the Norsemen, crossed the stormy seas with the Saxons, accompanied the Crusaders back from the hot lands in the centre of the world. Nature can be cruel, and soon the wyrms were gone, their bones turned to stone.

The new ones spread, alien and invasive, until the time came for them to lay their eggs. Dragons nest on golden treasure, but British gold was hard to find, and soon they slipped away, another species that came and flourished and dwindled once again. A handful of dragons hung on, half-starved in the Welsh wilderness, until time and the wet winters extinguished their fires. They went, like the wolf or the beaver; and they exit from the pages of history, pursued by a cave bear.

Meanwhile, I learned in the Guardian today that

... a group of Christians in Wisconsin has launched a legal claim demanding the right to publicly burn a copy of a book for teenagers which they deem to be "explicitly vulgar, racial [sic], and anti-Christian".

The offending book is Francesca Lia Block's Baby Be-Bop, a young adult novel in which a boy, struggling with his homosexuality, is beaten up by a homophobic gang. The complaint, which according to the American Library Association also demands $120,000 (£72,000) in compensatory damages for being exposed to the book in a display at West Bend Community Memorial Library, was lodged by four men from the Christian Civil Liberties Union.

Their suit says that "the plaintiffs, all of whom are elderly, claim their mental and emotional well-being was damaged by this book at the library," and that it contains derogatory language that could "put one's life in possible jeopardy, adults and children alike."
The sad thing is that these twerps are wasting the time and money of a town and its librarians with a nuisance suit. Well, that and giving sane Christians a bad name while doing their best to widdle all over the first amendment. You don't burn books. And, well, you don't sue for your right to burn a library book you don't like. (And that's not just because if you win, that means that people you don't like now have the right to burn your books.)

(I'm not just saying this because if their mental and emotional well-being was that damaged by the proximity of a Francesca Lia Block book, I'm just happy they didn't pick up and read the library's copy of American Gods; their eyes would have been fried and their lives put so far in jeopardy that their nearest and dearest would have been ordering caskets before the end of Chapter One.) (Other books it is good that they didn't read would include Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn and the Reverend Jen's Live Nude Elf.)

Glad to see PEN America responding. (Pen deserves your support. You don't have to be an author or an essayist or editor or playwright or translator to join: you can get an associate membership:

As I said on twitter, whatever side the "Christian Civil Liberties Union" is on, I'm now on the other one.


Finally, for those who would like to learn about taking better photographs while at the same time seeing pictures of my awesome dog, here's Kyle Cassidy to tell you about depth of field.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

One Ordinary Sunday, With Bees

A quiet Sunday. My trainer, Todd, arrived this morning, took me for a walk and a bike ride.

Bill and Sharon Stiteler came over, along with my assistant Lorraine, and the four of us went down to the beehives: all the bees are doing well. They're "Minnesota Hygienic" bees, a variety of Italian Bee. On Thursday (we think) the three packages of Russian Bees arrive, and we will install them in waiting hives. (The differences between Russian and Italian Bees are explained in this PDF document. Simply put, the Russians are more resistant to Varroa mites, keep queen cells on the go at all times so if something happens to their queen they have another ready to go, and they do better over winters than Italians because they don't overpopulate.)

Then I cooked and wrote and wrote some more. Now watching old episodes of 30 Rock with Maddy on the sofa...

I was just feeling like I was just starting to get back on top of everything today when I saw this:

I thought I would let you know that, while your Contact Neil page refers anybody looking for information to your About Neil page and Biography, a lot of the information there is shockingly out of date.

For instance, the Biography mentions nothing beyond 2004 - no Coraline movie, or Detective Comics, or Graveyard Book, and subsequently, no Newbery - and talks about 2005 events such as the release of Beowulf in the future tense.

Will this be remedied?


And thought, oh god. And yes, the biography needs updating. Probably, really it needs throwing out and writing a new one: it tended to be updated as I went, which meant that fairly small things and great huge things sat side by side. And for some reason it's always last on the list of things to do. So yes. I'll get on it, or find someone who will. Or I'll just keep meaning to do it...

Err... hello (blinks once or twice)

So... I was wondering... this wonderful Thow a Party win a Reading Thing-a-bobber... is it open to libraries?

I have a group of teen volunteers who slave for me here at my library, who are very excited about the possibiltiy that the contest may indeed be open to libraries.

Acting as the voice of reason, I said we needed to check the rules. I am not a very good voice of reason, because I am pretty excited about the possibility too.

So, is it? We'll probably have a Graveyard book themed party anyway, but it would be a lot easier to sell it to the Higher Ups if we could possibly get an author visit out of it.



Hmm. Good question.

No, I don't think the win-a-December-signing event is open to libraries. It's to encourage, and show support for Independent Bookshops. But I'm going to ALA in July to collect my Newbery, and there will be many librarians out there whose brains I can pick, and I bet we can come up with a library-friendly idea: there might possibly be some secret Library-related things in 2010 on the horizon, after all.

Is your piece about the '87 Worldcon going to be available anywhere except the Anticipation programme booklet?

'87 was also my first Worldcon. My own recollections, as a 22-year old student gopher include the moment when I somehow collected two entire TV news crews and was leading them round while completely failing to find anyone who knew where they were supposed to be, or why, or had any credible claim to be important enough to talk to them. Also the "we hate the hotel manager" Chinese wall, filk session, gopher party and (in hindsight blessedly) failed lynchmob.


Right now the only place it's going to be published is the Anticipation book. But I do tell, in abbreviated form, the story of why my hatred for the Metropole Hotel and its manager is peculiarly undiminished, 22 years on.

See this link
where the Web Goblin proposes the following:

WHEREAS Mr. G has a lot of trophies already and
WHEREAS Mr. G's house is of finite space and
WHEREAS Mr. G's mantle is already full and
WHEREAS the Web Goblin's mantle is quite bare and
WHEREAS the Web Goblin did write the blog much of last summer and
WHEREAS the Web Goblin keeps the blog running merrily
THEREFORE Mr. G should totally give the trophy to the Web Goblin should his blog win the British Fantasy Award for "Non-Fiction".

I think this merits consideration. :-)

Oh. Good idea. Sure, if the blog wins, the award is Dan's.

Good evening, Neil.

Sorry to burden you with this; over the past year I've been reading as much R.A. Lafferty as I could lay my hands on, but it seems that not much (particularly in second hand books) have sifted through to Southern Africa. So I decided it was time to buy another short collection like "Lafferty in Orbit" or "Iron Tears", only they were all gone. Most pages for Wildside Press editions were gone or are simple "out of stock" and have been that way for weeks. And this is, not some local on-line retailer. Likewise, Wildside Press has no longer individual volumes of Lafferty's work on sale.

I know you're not the executor of his estate, but I know you're one of the biggest Lafferty aficionados out there, second only to Michael Swanwick, and it was your generous mentioning of him on your journal that made interested in Lafferty. So I'm asking; has Lafferty's been dropped by Wildside Press due to the current world economic climate, or is this just temporary?

If he's been dropped, then the world has grown a great deal colder, and not because it's winter here.

Kindest Regards and yours sincerely


I don't know whether or not the Lafferty books from Wildside Press are still in print (it doesn't look like it). But there's an awful lot of Lafferty out there right now -- look at the Lafferty entries on . And there are many hungry dealers in second-hand books who will be only too delighted to take your money in exchange for books. Trust me.

Right. Bed.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Edinburgh in August

I'll be doing a couple of events in Edinburgh in August for the Book Festival.

There will be an "all ages" event Wednesday the 19th of August from 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM, and a "Teens and Adults" event in conversation with Ian Rankin, on Thursday the 20th from 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM. Details are up at this website.

The first event will be more Children's Authory, the second a bit more Graphic Novelly.

Tickets don't actually go on sale for either of the events until Monday the 22nd of June, but the last time I went to Edinburgh Literary Festival, for Coraline, the events sold out (and the Guardian, who heard that I did the biggest signing of the festival but weren't actually there, wrote a very silly article about the literary Festival being overrun by goths, which it wasn't, of course, and which I wrote about, amused, here on the journal when it happened). So this is a heads up: Edinburgh isn't Toronto, and there are two events, not one, so I don't expect we're likely to have any of the "event sold out in three minutes" problems the Luminato festival had here. But if you want to get to either or both of those events you still might want to buy your tickets early.

(Booking information is here.)

Amanda Palmer is playing in Edinburgh on the 22nd in the 2009 Edge Festival, which means I will definitely stick around for a few extra days (Details are at (Or at the HMV site.) I may sign copies of Who Killed Amanda Palmer. I will not, I am relieved to say, play tambourine.*

She's being supported by the Indelicates, I think mostly because I kept playing them when she was out here. I must use this power only for good.

(This, from their site, is a demo of the first Indelicates song I heard, and I was hooked in one, as they took apart, with bitter grace, the media /academic obsession with and delight in the downfall of stars and idols.)

*but she likes me anyway.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

The Graveyard Book Halloween Party Indie Signing Plan and other stories

There. I was in Boston and now I am home (This is a Kyle Cassidy picture of me at home, although it is from last month. I put it up on a family website recently to let the extended family know, subtly, that I now had a girlfriend. None of the aunts or cousins noticed that bit. "You have a wonderful fridge," they all said in the comments. "We wish there were fridges like that in England."). (Lots of people who read the link to the SPIN article have been writing nice letters congratulating me on dating the wonderful Amanda Palmer. Many of you add that you've known it since last year, back in August when pictures of me on the roof with Amanda were posted here, which is very nice of you, and demonstrates that you are all much smarter than we are, because we didn't start this, rather nervously, until earlier this year. So far it's working like a charm.)

Right. I said I'd expand upon my Independent Bookshop Plan, didn't I? The one I announced at Book Expo America when I won the Indiebound award for The Graveyard Book (which, if you will forgive a deeply baffled but happy exclamation, went back to #1 last week, and is this week at #2 on the NYT list, and has been there for an amazing eight and a half months so far), slightly to the shock (but immediate approval) of my publishers.

This is the plan.

(It's a North America plan, I'm afraid, open to the USA and Canada, but not to anywhere else in the world. If it works out perhaps we'll repeat it next year and open it up to the entire world, which might be fun.)

It's open to independent bookshops. I'm not going to try and define indies for this. Big chains (Borders, B&N, Chapters etc) are out, because you're much more likely to get me anyway when a book comes out. But this one goes from tiny one-person independent bookshops a long way from anywhere up to huge monstrous shops that occupy city blocks. What counts is Independence (and, for the competition, enthusiasm).

Independent bookshop owners look at me wistfully and ask "How can I get you to come to my bookstore in Vermont/New Orleans/Florida/New Brunswick/Nevada/Alaska etc?" and I tell them I don't know, because really I'm not going to take a couple of days off work (once you count the going and the coming back) to go and sign somewhere, no matter how nice the store and the people.

This is how.

You have a party. In your bookshop.

Better still. You have a Hallowe'en Party in your bookshop. You can have the Hallowe'en party anywhere in the month of October.

And you theme it around The Graveyard Book.

(How you do that is entirely up to you. Decorate with headstones, or give awards to people who come as characters from the book, or have competitions for making epitaphs, or make graves of cake, or... well, honestly, this is your call. It's your Graveyard Book party.)

Document the party. Photos, or video footage will, I suspect, prove more popular and useful than watercolour paintings or stream of consciousness poetry, when it comes to proving that you had a party and what it was like.

Then you get your documentation off to Harper Collins fast (I'll post who and how as we get closer), and they will decide who threw the best party and whose customers were the most imaginative and enthusiastic, and what was the most in the spirit of The Graveyard Book, and judging the merits of the store that had the Silas lookalike competition against the store that made all of its staff Jacks and ghouls against the store that hired a real werewolf to play Miss Lupescu...

And a winner will be announced, no later than November 15th.

Then, in December 2009, I'll turn up on a mutually-agreed day, pens at the ready, to do a reading and an Odd and the Frost Giants signing for the winning store.

The ten runners-up will get signed posters and books and Stuff.

And that's the plan.

I'll ask HarperChildrens to do a slightly more officially approved version of this, but that's the plan. 

If you are the customer of an independent bookshop and you've always wanted to see me signing there then tell the people who run the store about this blog entry. They may not read this blog. It's possible. And feel very free to spread this information around.


And now I get to turn the blog over to Cat Mihos. Cat (AKA Kitty) is my assistant when I am in LA, and the recipient of mail, and the person who asks me to please answer letters, especially ones from schools. She also runs the website, with the various t-shirts, posters, and such on it.

And for a while I've been suggesting that she makes it better -- easier to navigate, prettier, all that. And she did. Over to you, Miss Kitty:

Kitty here, with a report from the frontlines.

My patient Boss has been pulling at my shirtsleeves for almost two years now, telling me to please improve the website...
Olga Nunes and Dan Guy spent the first half of this year shining up this gem of a site.
I believe the end result is both beautiful and easily navigated. I am grateful to them all.

At Wondercon SF earlier this year, while volunteering for CBLDF, I met Camilla d'Errico and fell starry-eyed in love with her artwork.
When I asked her if she might like to collaborate on a Neil print, she got a little weak in the knees...

Just look at what she came up with for HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS AT PARTIES...

To celebrate the new site, we are offering a discount on this new print, $10 off if you order in the next 24 hours (midnight June 13th to midnight June 14th).
Just enter this code when you order:

If you twitter, you know that Neil's Twitter army is half a million strong, and announcement of the new print brought the site to the ground.
We had to find a new server to handle our bandwidth needs; call it a case of #neilwebfail, but, really, it is not a bad problem to have.

We here at Neverwear are interested to hear what you have to say about the new site.
Follow us on @neverwear for giveaways every week, truly unpredictable what may happen...

How to Talk to Girls at Parties: PRINT FOR SALE


Today I typed up and sent off an odd piece of memories about the 1987 Worldcon, my first, for the Anticipation program booklet. As I wrote it, it seemed more and more unlikely. Was I really at that room party where the jewellery was reported stolen, and the police were called, and then Iain M. Banks (who had been climbing the side of the hotel in the small hours but was not a cat-burglar) clambered in through an open window...? Of course I was. It just doesn't seem very likely. I left out as many strange incidents as I included.

There is something very odd and special about your first Worldcon, especially when you are 26 and are determined not to miss a minute of it (most of which I achieved by not sleeping, until finally I did). It's strangely comforting to think that I will have a quieter con at Anticipation as Guest of Honour than I had back then, but that other people will be having mad and wonderful Worldcons.

(PS this was posted and written by me, Neil, but the Webgoblin put together the Kitty stuff in the middle.)

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Taking stock...

Good morning world.

If you want to watch selected highlights of the me-and-Amanda HousingWorks gig last week (which raised 10K for HousingWorks, hurrah), Spin has them up at (I read "Feminine Endings" aloud for the first time, and I think it works aloud, which makes me happy.)(Also one of my favourite "I Google You"s)

So the last two weeks of madness is over and I am starting to look around and hoping one day to catch up.

Chicago was fun, in a strange, sleepless sort of a way. I got in on an early in the morning plane, sleepily left my garment-bag behind on the plane (my assistant and Maure Luke made this better), had planned to spend several hours working in my hotel room on the speech. But the hotel room, when I got there, was already occupied, and the morning got stranger from there, which meant that my acceptance speech was rather more impromptu than I had hoped, but people liked it.

It had been Decided that I wasn't doing a signing afterwards, something I thought was a bit disappointing when I learned about it. But I crashed shortly after, slept through both the Chip Kidd and Ivan Brunetti panel and the Chris Ware and Lynda Barry one that followed it, woke in time to have dinner with Jill Thompson and her husband, Brian Azzarello, at Katsu.

Breakfast with Chip Kidd, who got to look at the first copy of Who Killed Amanda Palmer, and said nice things, and then to the airport and off to Toronto.

I dined with Mark Askwith, who I have known for 22 years. We met in Gotham City -- literally, on the set of the first Tim Burton Batman movie -- and I would like to say that we have not changed, but we're both mellower and more contented and less spiky than we were then. We were both journalist-explainer-connectory people who loved comics and wanted to write them, and although he would write some comics he went one way, into television production, and I went the other.

Next morning I went off to CBC to record The Hour. In the car on the way I was told that they'd decided the night before not to do an interview but instead to have me read off a list of 5 Crap Superheroes. I looked them over. They weren't funny. I asked the producer about it, when I got there, and wound up rewriting them, very fast, so they weren't quite as not-funny as they had been, but I'm not sure they ever made it all the way to funny. Then up from the deep basement to a radio studio where Sook-Yin Lee interviewed me for Definitely Not The Opera about fathers and sons, and it wound up being one of the most real and personal interviews I've ever done.

The downside of being interviewed a lot is that people ask you the same questions a lot, and you wind up saying the same things over and over. Sook-Yin wanted to know things nobody had ever asked, and that I was happy to talk about. It goes out on the 20th of June.

The Luminato event was really fun and fine. Mark Askwith introduced me. (A quick google found a review of the event here , another with more photos here, and Mark Askwith's blog, with his introduction, here.)

My favourite event was the next morning: I went to Nelson Mandela Park school. I read to the kids and answered their questions, then I was shown around the school and finally was taken to a room where thirteen small actors portrayed scenes from the first chapter of The Graveyard Book. It was delightful.

In other news: Duncan Jones's film MOON opens tonight in LA and New York. I saw a preview back in February and loved it. Really good SF movie of the kind nobody makes any longer.

I have been nagging Mitch Benn to set up an internetty sort of place to sell his songs directly for a year or so, and he now has it at Please buy music from him, so he does not feel it has been a waste of time.

The Graveyard Book -- and this Blog! -- have been nominated for British Fantasy Society Awards:

Here's a New York Times article about the CORALINE musical and the way it uses diferent kinds of pianos.

This came in from Mike Berry:

Neil -- Congratulations on the "Coraline" musical. Thought you might be interested in this video of Schuyler Rummel-Hudson retelling the story of "Coraline." Schuyler has a brain malformation that inhibits her ability to speak, as recounted in her father Robert's excellent memoir, "Schuyler's Monster." Still, she's a remarkable storyteller in her own right.

Here's the link:

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Monday, June 08, 2009

The unblogged life...

The trouble with the last week was that every day was filled with remarkable things, and I would think, "Right. That's a good blog entry there," but I'd grab sleep instead, and the next day would be just as remarkable and just as long. So I need to do, at the minimum, a round up of the Coraline Musical First Night; being interviewed in the bath; the Amanda & Me HousingWorks event.... (which the last question in the Q&A section in the middle turned into something a bit more newsworthy than I had expected); the Printers Row Book festival; how unimpressed I am with Delta Airlines (given their lack of interest in finding my lost garment-bag); and Crazy Hair coming out and going onto the NYT bestseller list...

But it is nearly two in the morning, and I am in a hotel in Toronto and I need to sleep. So instead, here is a Magnetic Fields song arranged for voice and Gameboy...

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