Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Vote for E.L. Wisty, or else invisible nudists will come along and smash you round the face

(Photo taken on Monday afternoon, just before the studio recording of THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS with FourPlay String Quartet. I am the one not holding a stringed instrument.)

I should be writing the thing that I'm going to read tonight at Sydney Opera House.

(You can, of course, point out, that I should have finished it before now. I will undoubtedly agree.)

So, because I am not yet posting anything, here is an account of what I did a week ago, with photos, from someone else's blog.

And here's Amanda's blog entry on her last Wednesday in Tasmania:

(No, the title of the blog doesn't actually have anything to do with anything. Although you can listen to the original here, and understand all.)

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Feeling oddly ghostly

I've let the blog do that thing where I keep promising myself that as soon as strange and wonderful things stop happening for a day I'll update it. And meanwhile so many things keep happening.

I'm blogging now, not as a report on what I've been doing but because I wanted to remember this:

I'm in Sydney right now. Tomorrow, Amanda and friends and I are taking over Australia Day at the Opera House. I was sitting in the little apartment room the Festival gave us working on the thing I hope to finish and read tomorrow night, when my computer screen turned off. I realised the computer was unplugged, and that Amanda (who was back at the Opera House doing press) had borrowed the Australian adapter plug (we had more, but left them behind us as we travelled).

So I went out to buy a couple of new adapters, so I'd have one, and so I could leave her another spare one when I left.

I wandered past sushi shops and backpacker places and Thai takeways and tobacconists in the hot Sydney summer evening sun. Last night Amanda (who is vastly amused by my complete lack of hooker recognition skills) had pointed out the hookers to me, and I saw a couple of the ladies she had pointed out to me coming on duty, looking wary in the daylight.

There were a couple - a man and a woman, both in their twenties at a guess, both shorter than I am and dark-haired, looking into a shop window, with their backs to me. The woman had a tattoo on her shoulderblade - writing - and because I cannot pass writing without reading it, I glanced at it. Part of the writing was covered by a strap.

But I could still read it. And I knew what the words covered by the strap were.

The tattoo was a lot like this (which is to say, the same content, and similar typeface, but probably not the same person. I'm already trying to remember if it was the left or the right shoulderblade):

(I took that photo from here.)(Thank you Google Image Search)

I read the tattoo, read words I had written to try and exorcise my own small demons eighteen years ago, and I felt like a ghost. As if, for a moment, under the hot Sydney sun, I was only an idea of a person and not a real person at all.

I didn't introduce myself to her or say anything (it didn't even occur to me to say hello, in all honesty). I just walked home, through a world that felt flimsier and infinitely stranger than it had that morning.

I don't know why it affected me like that. But it did.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

I took my love to Hobart in the rain

Arrived in Hobart yesterday afternoon, and shortly after was reunited with Amanda.

We saw Amanda's Lexington friend (and, these days, my friend) Ron Nordin, and my Tasmanian friends (and, these days, Amanda's friends) Dianna and Mark for a drink.

They all drank wonderful things like honey martinis with honeycomb in them while I drank English Breakfast tea in the hope that it might keep me awake. Then Amanda and I went off and had the first meal together we'd had since we've been married, while I tried to stay awake and enjoy it all properly.

I woke at 6 am to the patter of rain on the hotel roof with a new wife fast asleep beside me, and I was amazingly happy. I let her sleep until I decided, a couple of hours later, that unless I had breakfast the world would end, and then I woke her.

Went for a walk together. I love Hobart. First came here in '98, for an Australian National Convention, and decided it was one of the fine, secret places of the Earth. And I'm still convinced that this is true. I came back in 2008, and loved it again. We got back to the hotel to hear Amanda being interviewed on Triple-J, and dedicating The Magnetic Fields song "The Book of Love" to me, because it was played, by Daniel Handler, at our wedding.

I know. It's all sort of sweet and a bit melty over here in my blog-land right now. It'll go back to normal soon enough, I expect.

Tonight Amanda plays a secret midnight practice gig as a rehearsal for her new Australian band (it's at the Brisbane Hotel. You didn't hear it from me), and she's invited me along to do something onstage, but I suspect that if I've been up since 6 am, I may not feel like performing or even feel like being awake at midnight. We'll see.

Tomorrow both Amanda and I play at the Mona Foma Main Stage (it's on the other side of the white building in the photo). I go on at 8 pm to read THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS, with FourPlay accompanying me, and Eddie Campbell paintings (and, I hope, Eddie Campbell there too, but am not yet certain about Eddie: he's coming from flooded Brisbane, after all).

Amanda goes on at 9:30pm.

We get to grab a couple of days of honeymoon, then to Melbourne for a couple of days to see friends, and then on to Sydney for a concert.

Amanda's playing Sydney Opera House Main Stage on the 26th of January, and she's decided she wants other people up on the stage, for guest spots, and, because I loved playing the Opera House last year, I've agreed to be one of them.

Not sure what I'll do yet -- either some "Best Of..." moments, or something completely new.

Either way, it's bound to be an extremely unlikely evening. Details and ticket info at

Then I go home to the snow and to the dogs.

Amanda goes to work, once I've gone, and will play gigs in Brisbane, Melbourne, Byron Bay, Adelaide (at the Fringe, as herself and, with Jason Webley, an Evelyn Evelyn show), Perth, Canberra, Newcastle and, in New Zealand, Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland.

Hang on. I'll cut & Paste from an interview at The Vine.

01-26 Sydney, Australia - Sydney Opera House [w/Neil Gaiman]
02-01 Canberra, Australia - James O. Fairfax Theatre
02-04 Perth, Australia - Fly By Night
02-10 Byron Bay, Australia - Great Northern
02-12 Brisbane, Australia - The Old Museum
02-17-18 Wellington, New Zealand - Webstock
02-19 Wellington, New Zealand - Bodega
02-22 Christchurch, New Zealand - Al's Bar
02-23 Auckland, New Zealand - Kings Arms Tavern
02-26 Melbourne, Australia - The Forum Theatre
03-02-03 Adelaide, Australia - Adelaide Fringe Festival

(If you are in Australia and you are sad that I am not with her, your best bet is to make her feel very happy and loved. Then she will decide to come to Australia to live whenever it gets cold in the USA, and I'll come here with her.)


Interesting article over at Locus Online by Graham Sleight, and an extract from an interview they did with me about ebooks at

And there is a huge backlog of questions to answer on the FAQ line. I'll try and do some of them next blog.

Also, I'm writing a story about Lettie Hempstock. Who may be distantly related to Daisy Hempstock in Stardust and Liza Hempstock in The Graveyard Book.

Right. Off to rehearse with a string quartet. (You can buy their version of The Doctor Who theme over at

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I will be animated (yellow).

I'm in a corner in Sydney Domestic Airport Terminal 2, trying to stay awake. I've already signed a copy of The Graveyard Book, for someone who'd figured out where I was from Twitter. My plane takes off for Tasmania in 2 hours. I just have to keep going until then.

I'll be appearing on Saturday Night at the Mona Foma festival in Hobart, accompanied by the amazing Four Play String Quartet, and MORE paintings by Eddie Campbell, reading The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains. And perhaps other things.

I meant to write a proper blog about the wedding, and I shall.

Until then, a quick recap. I went home. it was cold.

I went to San Diego and spoke to Nancy Pearl in front of an audience of librarians.

I went to LA, and recorded my part in an episode called "The Book Job". It was written by Dan Vebber (and the many Simpsons writers, some of whom I met, and one of whom stage-whispered "So that was Banksy!" as I left) and masterminded by Matt Selman, who is the most nervous person I know. Matt was my director, and was terrific and reassuring (Him: "Can you do an American accent that would sound to Americans like Dick Van Dyke's English accent sounded to you?" Me: "Er...")

Matt and I can be seen looking terrified in the studio at

Me and Topiary...

The view from the recording studio...

I play myself. I play a very different version of myself to the me I played in Arthur, though. For a start, I do not appear in anyone's falafel. Also, I expect I will be yellow.

Probably this is all I shall be remembered for.

It'll be out in about a year. I still hope to be a head in a jar on Futurama one day.

I did a charity photo project for photographer Allan Amato, that you will find out about one day, said hello to Amber Benson in a coffee place where I was meant to be meeting my agent (but didn't).

We met. We were extremely serious, and planned a prison break and world domination together. (See photo for proof.)

And then I flew here. Bought a SIM card for my phone.

Couldn't have survived the trip without Cat Mihos making my life work and getting me from place to place. (Go to and tell her she is wonderful, because she is.)

We'll board soon. I should buy a neck pillow.

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Monday, January 03, 2011


At the end of the wedding ceremony last night, our friend Jason Webley (who got ordained on the internet, and wrote a wonderful ceremony and married us) read this poem by e.e. cummings:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginably You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
I found myself mouthing along with it, like a prayer: I'd closed the last issue of Black Orchid with it, over twenty years ago, and it was still there in my head, saying yes in the best possible way.

Amanda and I married on Sunday night (actually and legally, this time) almost on the spur of the moment. The handful of people who were at the wedding were the people we were going to have dinner with on the Second of January anyway. They just got a little more than they were expecting.

The evening was hosted and improvised with love and gusto by our friends the Chabon-Waldmans, and Daniel Handler played the accordion when Amanda came down the stairs wearing the dress she had worn as a human statue, so long ago. Rosie Chabon, cutest creature on earth, was our flower girl. Mexican food was eaten, and pie, pie in enormous quantities.

Probably getting married in a friend's parlour, with a dozen friends around who weren't really expecting this but who threw themselves into making a wedding for us out of nothing, and a daughter and a son lending their support and love, isn't how everyone would plan a wedding. But we'd been engaged exactly a year, and it felt incredibly right to improvise a wedding as we went along. So we did it. And were as happy as any two people had ever been.

And then today, after a night together, Amanda went to Australia, and I went home to the cold. We won't see each other for ten days, until we meet in Tasmania; and while everything else just happened and wasn't organized, but just fell perfectly into place, I've decided there's a lot to be said for organised honeymoons that immediately follow weddings. Losing your bride immediately smacks of carelessness.

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