Sunday, December 04, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like a Christmas Card out there

I went to Chicago on Friday and took part in the recording of the "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me... Royal Pain In The Year" 2011 Special. It airs on BBC America (TV) and on Public Radio on December the 23rd. I was the "Not my job" guest, and answered three questions. Whether or not I got any of them right, you will have to wait until the 23rd to find out.

There's a conversation between Shaun Tan and me in the Guardian right now, and it's fun. We talk about art and suchlike. In the photo above we were standing behind the Edinburgh Book Festival authors' yurt taking it in turns to point at imaginary interesting things.

ST: I don't know about you but when someone first mentions an adaptation, I have, probably a little bit inappropriately, a feeling of weariness at revisiting that work after I'd struggled with it for so many months or years. But then the second thought is "Wow, what a great opportunity to fix up all those dodgy bits."

NG: It's so nice to hear you say that. Somebody asked me recently if I plot ahead of time. I said yes I do, but there is always so much room for surprise and definitely points where I don't know what's going to happen. They quoted somebody who had said: "All writers who say that they do not know what's going to happen are liars, would you believe someone who started an anecdote without knowing where it was going?" I thought, but I don't start an anecdote to find out what I think about something, I start an anecdote to say this interesting thing happened to me. Whereas I'll start any piece of art to find out what I think about something.

ST: Exactly.

NG: I'm going to learn something I didn't know when I began. I'm going to discover how I feel and what I think about it during the process. I will break off little bits of my head and they will become characters and things will happen and they will talk to each other.

ST: Exactly, creating a character is like impersonating another being, so that you can find out what you think about something. You really find out what your style is when you diversify – setting something in a fictional landscape, the far future or distant past. A lot of people think of style or personality in terms of things you do often, but it's not really. It's what you do under duress, or outside of yourself. I don't feel I know myself really well because – again it's that emotional thing – sometimes I feel a little embarrassed by the amount of emotion that comes out in a story. I don't realise that there's so much of it locked up or in denial and then it comes out in the process of doing this conscious dreaming exercise.

Big thumbs up on that.

Baffled, however, by this article on Kurt Vonnegut at Guardian Books, which seems as wrongheaded as an article can be.

In it we learn that a new biography of Kurt Vonnegut "undermines his warm, grandfatherly image".

"A new biography of acclaimed American author Kurt Vonnegut, beloved by fans worldwide for his work's warm humour and homespun Midwestern wisdom, has shocked many with a portrayal of a bitter, angry man prone to depression and fits of temper.

The book on Vonnegut, who died in 2007, lifts the lid on the writer's private life, revealing a man far removed from the grandfather-like public figure his millions of devotees adored."

I read this and thought, I'm going mad. Who on Earth could read a Vonnegut book and think that he was a grandfatherly bundle of warm fuzzy happiness? I mean, I read Vonnegut first as a ten year old, and it was shocking because he could joke in the face of such blackness and bleakness, and I'd never seen an author do that before. Everything was pointless, except, possibly, a few moments of love snatched from the darkness, a few moments in which we connect, or fail to.

"Warm humour and homespun Midwestern wisdom"? Bizarre. I bet it was either written from a press release, or by someone who'd never read any Vonnegut.

Signed, the man who wrote the Introduction to Vonnegut's "God Bless You Dr Kevorkian"


It snowed yesterday night, and today the world looks like it only looks here once a year. Fresh snow, for the first time, makes the world look like a Christmas Card.

And I thought, Oh bugger. Holidays. Gifts. I should do a useful blog about that. So...

Tomorrow is the cut off-deadline for the CBLDF's "Spirit of Giving" campaign. If you want a signed book from any one of 25 creators, order quickly:

It's also the last day for Amanda Palmer signed Xmas card for orders from over $100, which I mention as they now have a page of stuff from the Evening With Neil and Amanda tour - a limited amount, as it's the leftover merchandise, and when it's gone it will be very gone.

It's at and consists of a T shirt, a poster, a beautiful huge arty high-end photograph, and a tote bag. All of them except the photo are the beautiful Cynthia von Buehler image above. If you buy over $100 worth Amanda will write a thank you card to you, but today is the last day of Cards. (If you missed the Xmas cards deadline, you can still buy the stuff.)


Over at Kitty's Neverwear site, the cool NEW thing she has for the holidays is this:

It's my Rhysling Award-nominated poem "Conjunctions", here illustrated by wonderful Finnish artist Jouni Koponen, who did the amazing "Day The Saucers Came" poster, and it is for sale at this page. (There's an article by Kitty there about the poem too.)

Lots of other amazing treasures, posters, t-shirts, prints, and suchlike, at Neverwear: will show you the prints that are currently available.


You can give Audiobooks as a gift. Honest, go and visit Neil Gaiman Presents. because you might know someone who wants to listen to Swordspoint, or Land of Laughs, or Pavane... It's the green "Give as a gift" button over on the right. And of course, they're also available in iTunes.


And, for person who has everything, I'm not sure that I've mentioned on this blog that Absolute Sandman Volume 5 is now out.

It contains Endless Nights, The Dream Hunters, the P. Craig Russell Dream Hunters, and strange small uncollected things that we'd forgotten about when we did the first four Absolutes that people then wrote here to remind me about.


On December 28th, I'll be doing An Evening With Neil Gaiman in Sydney, NSW. Special Guests, the FourPlay string quartet.

Date and venue and all information will be in the next blog. Keep the date free.


And finally, on Dec 31st in Melbourne, Amanda Palmer is having a mammoth musical New Year's Party and Masquerade. I'm hosting it with her, and I will be reading things, and there will be music and guests -- including The Danger Ensemble, Marieke Hardy, The Jane Austen Argument, The Bedroom Philosopher, Mikelangelo and Saint Clare, Lyndon 'Flaming Violin' Chester, Lance Horne "and another special guest so special we can't even announce her yet."

It's a limited ticket, one-off event, with regular tickets, VIP tickets (VIPs get STUFF) and all sorts of strangeness.

Tickets are at If you're in Melbourne and over 18, I hope I'll see you there. It should be unlike anything else.

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