Sunday, October 09, 2011

One Ordinary Day with autumn leaves

I am home, after ten days of working on a Grand Guignol theatre piece with Stephin Merritt and director Steven Bogart, and some wonderful and enthusiastic young actors.

This is how enthusiastic they were: when we had a ten minute break, and they had been working all day, and I asked if anyone would mind being zombies and or murdering each other while I talked about All Hallow's Read, none of them did, and they murdered each other with enthusiasm.

Right. I am at home with a Maddy who has lost her voice. It is very sweet. She whispers everything, and I make her cups of lemon and honey. As I am typing this, I am listening to her play the violin. It's a perfect Indian Summer - a sunny, warm autumn, and the leaves are beautiful, and October is most definitely in the chair.

Lots of things going on. Cat Mihos is ebaying a lot of rarities for Trevor Valle -- friend, fan and the reason why I have the website. Trevor's going through some horrible medical stuff right now. Kitty and Trevor explain what's going on at, tells you about some of the rarities and cool things at and the actual auction is on eBay at

Lots of cool, rare stuff - including three pages of Marc Hempel art from Sandman: The Kindly Ones.

Kitty also learned that, back in 2000, Trevor had bought from the CBLDF a box of the original Craig Thompson screenprint/posters for the Last Angel Tour. These have long since sold out on the CBLDF website, and aren't simply available anywhere anymore. She bought them from Trevor outright, and is going to be putting them up on Neverwear soon. (There's a picture of Trevor holding one on the front page of the website, although they aren't for sale yet.)

I found an image on the web of one of them. They look like this, were silkscreened onto heavy card stock, and have to be signed with a paint-pen.


In the UK, the Society of Authors wants to draw attention to the BBC's cutbacks to short stories.

This is what I wrote in The Guardian Blog about it;

I love short stories. I grew up on them, and the stories that had an effect on me are now encoded into my DNA. Shirley Jackson's "One Ordinary Day With Peanuts" and "The Lottery". Saki's "Sredni Vashtar". WW Jacobs's "The Monkey's Paw". Kipling's "The Gardener". There are heaps of them, and it's love all the way.

For a working writer, this is a silly sort of love. You should write novels. Short stories sell for the price of a good dinner, if you're lucky (and the magazines and anthologies that used to buy them are themselves fading away or gone completely). When they get reprinted they won't cover the taxi fare to get to the dinner. I'm lucky, and have collected my short stories into books that sell well for short-story ­collections, but still only a fraction of the number that my novels sell.

But short stories are the best place for young writers to learn their craft: to try out different voices and techniques, to experiment, to learn. And they're a wonderful place for old writers, when you have an idea that wouldn't make it to novel length, one simple, elegant thing that needs to be said. People like reading short stories. And they like ­listening to short stories.

For years, Radio 4 has supported the short story. Ten-minute stories, professionally read, give writers young and old a chance to make a ­professional sale. Full disclosure: I wrote a short story, "Jerusalem", for them a few years ago, and grew up listening to short stories on Radio 4 and dreaming that one day I'd have a story on there.

Now the station's support for the short story is waning. The Tweetathon we're doing to bring attention to this (each Wednesday for the next five weeks, in association with the Society of Authors, a writer will tweet the first line of a story and tweeters will add the next four sentences to create a short story in 670 characters) may or may not produce great stories: hive minds are excellent news-gatherers and commentators but tend not to produce great art.

All I'm hoping is that it reminds people how much pleasure readers, and listeners, get from short stories, and how much we learn from writing them. If we produce another "The Monkey's Paw" that'll be a bonus.

In Wednesday, at 11 in the morning UK time, and at 6 in the evening UK time, the Society of Authors will put up the first line of a short story by me on their twitter account, @Soc_of_Authors, and they want you to continue it. There will be two different stories. (I don't even know which ones they will use -- I gave them a choice of several.)


You can hear my This American Life talk on Adventures at from tomorrow, or all over the US on various Public Radio stations from Friday Night. Er, the night before last.


When last seen, I was proofreading A LITTLE GOLD BOOK OF GHASTLY STUFF. It was proofread, and has gone off to press. Because too many people had ordered copies, more than expected, while I had only signed enough limitation sheets for the limited edition, publishers Tom and Elizabeth Monteleone asked me if they could print more books to satisfy the people who had ordered...

So I said yes.

Which means right now you can STILL order an unsigned edition of A LITTLE GOLD BOOK OF GHASTLY STUFF. It's an assemblage of stories, essays, poems, reviews, speeches and introductions by me, about 25,000 words in all, with a Gahan Wilson cover showing me being attacked by uglies.

Ordering details are at: Yes, the shipping abroad fees are either twice or four times the cost of the book. Scary. Sorry.

If you think you may want one, order fast. The books are now being printed, and they won't go back to press when they've sold out.


Lastly, it seems that Barnes and Nobles across the US are removing 100 DC Comics Graphic Novels from their shelves (literally removing them and sending them back to the warehouses for the next four months) in response to DC's deal with to make these 100 Graphic Novels available as digital exclusives to the Kindle Fire.

I mentioned this on Twitter, and wound up getting a strange deluge of hate mail. Here's a polite one:

I never thought I would have to tell you that myself, my children and several of my friends are extremely disappointed with you. I can't believe that you would let your Sandman fans down by letting DC/Warner Bros release your books on the Kindle and not all e-readers.

I was very excited when I heard that Sandman was coming out as an e-book but was heartbroken when it was announced that *I* and my kids won't have it on our readers.


And I wonder why on earth people assume that I, or Alan Moore, or Frank Miller, have any say at all in DC Comics's marketing decisions. Do they think that someone at DC calls us up and gets our permission before they do such deals, or that we have any ability to stop it? The first I heard about the exclusive, was hearing that Barnes and Noble staff were having to take their graphic novels off the shelves.

I think that Barnes and Noble's reasons for doing this are pretty obvious. It's to intimidate other publishers and make it clear that exclusives with Amazon will not be tolerated. But, following the death of Borders, Barnes and Noble's position as the US's sole huge bricks and mortar shop chain is something that it's very easy to abuse. I hope that this is a negotiating tactic, because otherwise it does bad things for customer choice all around, digitally and otherwise. (It's also publicised the upcoming Fire, publicised that DC's basic graphic novels are available there, and publicised that they are no longer in Barnes and Nobles, in a way that must make Amazon the happiest company on the block this morning.)

There's a beautiful leatherbound edition of American Gods and Anansi Boys that's only available from Barnes and Noble. I'd hate to see this considered justification by Amazon for removing those books from the Kindle.

On the good side, I hope that it means that local comic shops ( for your nearest) will stock and sell more copies of that basic 100 Graphic novel list.

If there's any more news on this, I'll post it. Otherwise, I'm just waiting, and remembering how long and how much effort it took to get the books into bookstores, and being sad that they aren't there, and knowing that it's not the fault of the people who work there and had to take them off the shelves (or explain to customers that they don't sell them any longer, but you can still order them from Barnes and Noble's website).


Right. Off to work.

I've been experimenting with a Tumblr recently. It's fun.

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