Saturday, September 24, 2011

Not just procrastinating on proofreading...

Good morning.
It's a grey, quiet Saturday here. Everyone's off doing stuff: it's just me and the dogs.

On Thursday, Sharon and Bill Stiteler came over and we checked the hives and started to feed them. We have six hives right now - two Italians (doing brilliantly in comparison with everyone else after a late start and a lousy year - we even had a super full of honey), two Carniolans (doing okay) and two Russian hives (one may or may not survive even a mild winter, one has a solid chance). We came back to the house.

Sharon Stiteler started making noises. Normally when Sharon makes noises, it means that something exciting has been spotted, and it's generally to do with birds.

It was.

A merlin had taken a red-bellied woodpecker from one of my birdfeeders, and was eating it in front of the house.

Here's a photo I took of the merlin. Sharon tells the whole story, with many photos and explanation of, among other things, how she knew it was a lady merlin over at her blog:

Yesterday I decided to get some beeswax from the buckets of slumgullion in the garage. It took three tries to figure out how to do it correctly, but I now have a pie-dish filled with clean, perfect, butter-yellow beeswax, smelling faintly of honey, and know how to get it right for next time.

No idea what to do with the wax, mind. But at least it won't get thrown out.

Today I'm proofreading. The Little Gold Book Of Ghastly Stuff for Borderlands Press comes out very soon, and they emailed me over the pdfs last night. It's a really sweet little collection, almost entirely from the last decade: two poems, four stories (including, for the first time anywhere, the complete version of my first ever published short story, "Featherquest", published in 1984, cut by half on its first appearance and never reprinted. Do not get overly excited: it isn't very good), two oddments, four articles, a couple of speeches, a few book reviews and suchlike. I signed the 500 limitation pages last week. Then Borderlands discovered that too many people had ordered the signed edition and asked me if I would give my permission for them to overrun the print-run and sell some unsigned, un-numbered copies, to make the people who ordered copies they didn't have happy, and I said yes.

The unsigned copies have not yet sold out, although they will probably go very soon after I put this up. There's only ever going to be one printing of this, so, if you want a copy, head over to and order one now. Bizarrely, it costs more to mail it internationally than the book costs (four times as much if you want to internationally Fedex it).

I do not enjoy proofreading.

And I need to go back to it.

Before I do, here is a Bill Stiteler film of me shaking bees off a frame of honey or three on Thursday:

The Vanishing Bee Trick from Bill Stiteler on Vimeo.

And I need to close some tabs, so...

A link to the the Society of Authors website to explain a bit more about the short story tweet thingummy they are doing, and in which I am participating: I wrote something that should have been a blog entry here for the Guardian and felt guilty about it, but suspected I might be reaching more Radio 4 listeners. Here is the link to me talking about why I love short stories and why:

The CBLDF has started this year's membership drive with some amazing donation incentives. You should still get your $25 membership, which will get you in to CBLDF events and help fund Free Speech in comics, but this year they are offering things like lunch with famous and important comics people, portfolio reviews and suchlike. (Lunch with me in New York has already gone. Two lunches to go...) Details at

P Craig Russell has written a blog about the creation of Sandman 50 at

My favourite photos are these from the Atlantic showing New York in the 1940s. They are in colour, which somehow changes everything.

Amanda Palmer talks to USA Today about her Evelyn Evelyn graphic novel, while Cynthia Von Buhler explains and demonstrates her art methods.

I saw Tori last week in LA for a wonderful happy-sad evening of red wine and catching up, and she gave me a copy of Night of Hunters, her new CD. It's become my favourite thing of hers in the last decade - I am playing it much too much. It's haunting, and her daughter, my fairy goddaughter Tash sings on several tracks, something that could have gone so very wrong and didn't. Here's a link to a Tori Interview, with a video for one of the songs (in which you will see the house in which I wrote much of Anansi Boys and in which I finished American Gods, and in which you will see Tash).


And finally, as anyone who has been on Google has noticed (have you puppetted the Google Doodle? No? Quick. Go and doodle with it) today would have been Jim Henson's Birthday.

(I've been given a lot of honours in my life, but I am not sure that there is anything I am prouder of than this one.


And here's a video about the Doodle in question...

Okay. Proofreading time. Wish me luck.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Picture of the Cat of Doom

It got cold. The air smells amazing, the mosquitoes have gone, the sky is a perfect blue and summer is over.

My friend Kyle Cassidy is out here for a few days to shoot photographs of Miss Maddy, and also shoot Lorraine's first ever Roller Derby Bout on Saturday with the Chippewa Valley Roller Girls. He and I went for a walk in the night and wore warm coats, and played Children of the Corn in the meadow, and you could smell the distant winter on the air.

Actually, I should clarify. The above things are what Kyle is officially here to shoot. Unofficially, he's here for the cats. This is his iphone picture of Princess looking like the Cat of Doom from a horror movie.


Tickets go on sale today, Friday the 16th, for the EVENING WITH NEIL AND AMANDA shows we're doing in November, for all the stops except San Francisco, which goes on sale on Sunday. Given the speed with which the tickets released for presale for Vancouver and San Francisco sold out today, you may want to get your orders in early - as near to ticket release time as you can. (10 am for everywhere except Portland, where it is 11 am because they like their mornings in Portland.)

October 31st

Wilshire Ebell Theatre
Tickets go on sale Friday, 9/16 at 10AM PDT.

(Costumes! It's Hallowe'en in Los Angeles. We'll suggest that people wear costumes.)

November 4th

Palace of Fine Arts
Tickets go on sale
Sunday 9/18 at 10AM PDT.

November 6th

Vogue Theatre
Tickets go on sale 9/16 at 10:00am.

November 8th

Aladdin Theatre
Tickets go on sale 9/16 at 11am PDT.

Moore Theatre

Tickets go on sale at 9/16 at 10 AM PDT


Let's see. My old friend and collaborator Dave McKean was made an honorary Doctor of Design in Wolverhampton. I do not think I have ever seen him look so uncomfortable as in these photos. Wish he'd kept the hat on, though.

Which is to say, congratulations Dave.

If you're in the UK, get to Foyles to see Dave's "Magic of Reality" exhibition the original art he made for the book he's just done with Richard Dawkins is on display.

I meant to link to the One Book One Chicago site. They had people make books, literally: reinvent and rebind the books that were One Book One Chicago choices over the years. Audrey Niffenegger was one of the judges. A Neverwhere won. Read all about it, and see many of the books at


Here's the World Book Night list of the Hundred Best Loved Books in the UK:

Books of mine got into the top hundred several times. Well, four and half times. (Good Omens being the half, shared with Terry Pratchett.) Which is really thrilling. The books, with links to each book, and the votes they got are at


Right. Sleep now. How on earth did it get this late?

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Monday, September 12, 2011

The Moon over the Corn Field

The moon is full.

There's a storm coming, with a cool breeze blowing across the warm evening, and the cornfield is alive with rustles and whispers. The white dogs in the moonlight slip in and out of the corn like ghosts, and I cannot stop my head building nightmarish scenarios no matter how hard I try.

I went for a longish bike ride with Maddy today and we watched Doctor Who (we're almost caught up). She put up with me feeding her interesting salads for dinner. ("How is it?" "Well... it's.. interesting, dad.")

Life is quiet right now. I'm home in the midwest, Amanda's in Boston, we won't see each other again for two weeks. I miss her, but I'm enjoying being on my own and getting work done without regard to anyone else's schedule or needs, and I would be willing to bet an enormous pie that she's having a wonderful time catching up on work without having any attention on me. I dunno. It works for us.

We had a long phone conversation today about the tour we're doing in Oct/November, during which we decided 1) How long the show would be and thus 2) how long we'd each take for solo bits. I've decided to read different stories at every venue. We also decided that the LA Hallowe'en Neil and Amanda show would have a costume competition of some kind. (Here's a video of me walking the line to get into the costume competiton last Hallowe'en at the House on the Rock. It will be a shorter, less formal affair than that was.)

Astonishingly, over $100,000 has now been pledged to the Kickstarter project, and we talked about what that lets us do for the CD package, for the "surprise" thank you gifts (we decided what they are going to be today - something special that Amanda had wanted to do for Who Killed Amanda Palmer, but which she couldn't afford), how we're going to keep people informed of what's happening and what we're doing and making with that.

I really like pre-selling things as a way of bringing them into the world - it means we're making enough for the people who want them, we can afford to make them as well as we want, and it means that people are getting something real. We aren't worrying about marketing costs. We don't have to get a record label, and then try and persuade them to make the thing we want. We just do it.

If you are thinking of doing a Kickstarter (or an Indiegogo or similar, for those outside the US), can I point you at former Web Elf Olga Nunes' excellent essay at Everything that Olga suggested, we put into practice. Garrett Gibbons's blog at is also really useful and wise.

And make your video interesting, watchable, and clear. A goofy song about baby hamsters and time machines may get your Kickstarter funded. I just watched a Kickstarter video from a good friend which was very beautiful and artistic, but didn't actually tell anyone what the project was or why it should be supported, and I do not think it will get its funding, which will be a shame.


I'm a huge fan of Public Radio International's "Selected Shorts". I subscribe to their podcast. I loved their Sherman Alexie show a couple of weeks ago, am looking forward to listening to this week's Stephen King story that my phone just downloaded.

So it is with pride that I cut and paste from an email from Jennifer Brennan at Symphony Space letting me know (and now letting you know) when the two shows that they made from the evening we did earlier this year will be broadcast:

Show 3. Love in Real Life

October 13 2011

“A Life in Fictions,” by Kat Howard, performed by Marin Ireland

“The Thing About Cassandra,” by Neil Gaiman, performed by Josh Hamilton

Show 12. The Magical Imagination of Neil Gaiman

December 15 2011

“Troll Bridge,” by Neil Gaiman, performed by Neil Gaiman

“The Circular Ruins,” by Jorge Luis Borges, performed by Boyd Gaines

(I was particularly happy about all this because Kat Howard's story was picked by the producers from the STORIES anthology I edited with Al Sarrantonio, and I had nothing to do with its selection - although I'd been smart enough to notice it was good when Kat (whom I had taught at Clarion) emailed it to me to read when she'd finished it, and I read it, loved it, and sent it to Al with the suggestion that that we bought it.)


I called Dave McKean a pornographer on Twitter. He asked me not to do it again, because, he said, he suddenly found himself followed on Twitter by some very shady bots. But I am proud to say that he has now added pornographer (or eroticist, perhaps) to his CV.

When I stayed at his place, two weeks ago, he gave me a book called Celluloid. It's his newest graphic novel, a wordless Dave Mckeany book-length sexual fantasia. It's being published all over the world - in the US it's out from Fantagraphics, in France by Delcourt. It's really human and beautiful and fantastic (in the literal sense of the word). A woman gets frustrated waiting for her man to come home, finds a projector and enters a world of sexual fantasies. (I think my favourite is when she has an encounter with someone who I assume was Diana of the Ephesians.) Lots of different art styles, all of them very much Dave Mckean.

You should buy it from your local comic shop. Or, if they're out (or if you're too embarrassed to ask them for it) get it online. Lots of places sell it. Here's an Amazon link if you want to check it out.


And finally, a mysterious mystery of great mysteriosity from Edinburgh. Paper book-sculptures that support libraries have been appearing. Ian Rankin has been drawn into their web. (Can book-sculptures make webs?)

It's been suggested that this artist might have had something to do with them. I have no idea whether she did or not, but her book sculptures are wonderful either way.

You should follow both links. They will do your heart good.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011


How to tell my dogs apart in the water. Cabal looks like this:

While Lola looks like this.

Or this.

Or this.


These were the blog posts I wrote here exactly ten years ago:

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

The phone lines to New York aren't doing anything, and the cell phone numbers I've been dialling are dead. I'm scared for my friends. Watching CNN, worrying.

posted by Neil Gaiman 9:12 AM

Now got BBC America on. Many e-mails from friends to say they are alive... Many more I'm waiting to hear from.

Was meant to be going to the UK in a couple of days for Douglas Adams' memorial service, and then to Trieste in Italy for a festival. Right now we'll see whether or not planes are going to be flying...

posted by Neil Gaiman 10:24 AM

This is what I did today.

I picked up lots of fallen sunflowers and propped them against the side of the house for no real reason other than they looked nice like that. I did some baking. I wrote some of a movie. I phoned friends I hadn't talked to in a while, just to say hello. I failed completely to get hold of anyone in New York by phone. I answered the phone a lot, because there were people calling in from New York. I decided not to fly to London on Saturday. I watched the documentary on The Wicker Man on the DVD (puzzled that the version I taped from the TV years ago is longer than the theatrical version, and shorter than the 99 minute 'extended' one). I read a book about the Lazzi (or comedy routines and business) of the commedia dell'arte, with a weird sort of theory that they might make a metaphor. Cleaned the catboxes. Worried about the last couple of friends of mine in New York I've not heard from yet. Read Maddy tonight's chapter of Howl's Moving Castle. Made a Red Cross donation at Taught Maddy several card tricks.

Trying to assert normality.

There are worse ways to spend a day.

posted by Neil Gaiman 1:16 AM

A few days later the servers for, where the blog was located, were in New York, and got some kind of virus, so the entry that was up at the top of the blog was the entry for June the 18th 2001, which finished,

See you at Borders World Trade Centre tomorrow, if you`re in the NY area. The Libretto is working fine but if the bloody thing has a real apostrophe I can`t find it. So I`m using these.

The American Gods tour began in the World Trade Centre, and then I got home from the tour and nobody would ever sign in that bookshop ever again.

It's weird reading some of the old posts, and remembering:

From Sept 14th 2001, two posts:

An e-mail arrived in the FAQ thing explaining, very reasonably, that AMERICAN GODS made the World Trade Centre Disaster happen. It began by quoting Jerry Falwell's recent comments, The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.' And then explained that the reader had read much of American Gods before realising that even reading it was an act of idolatrous demon-worship, and had burned his copy. (Or her copy, I suppose.) It wanted to know if I was happy now?

The implication, I guess, was that God was just about tolerating the pagans, Lesbians, ACLU etc., but then American Gods was published, and it tipped Him over the edge.

Insert picture of author here, sighing, shaking his head, getting back to work.


Lots of nice letters from religious people of all stripes and sects who like reading books, disavowing both Mr Falwell and the previous correspondent. S'okay. While I didn't take it any more seriously than the American Family Association "boycott" of Sandman (like Donald Wildmon and his people were buying Sandman to begin with) I did take it as a cautionary tale,and a reminder: as long as you know who God wants you to hate and to hurt then anything you do to them is justified.

Abbot Arnold's line in the Albigensian Crusades (around 1210 from memory) still turns up on Tee shirts. The Albigensian Crusade was an internal French Crusade to root out heresy. When Arnold was asked how the troops would know how to tell the heretics from the believers in the city of Beziers, he replied simply, "Kill them all. God will know his own."

and a few days later...

And an e-mail comes in on FAQ with a heartfelt request:

Will you try to use your status as a celebrity to protect against the violence done to Muslim Americans? I'm sure and other famous people speaking out against these acts would be great...

Well, sure, for whatever good it will do. The people who would do violence to Muslims, or to Americans of Arab descent, are probably not reading this blogger. (And considering the first death in 'retaliation' of an American was some people in Arizona shooting a Sikh (from the Punjab, and, as a Sikh, obviously not a follower of Islam), I don't even think that, for example, explaining that the Taliban no more represents Islam than Torquemada and his thugs represented Christianity or the Nazi Party represented neo-paganism would do much good. The Arizonans who killed the Sikh spotted the guy with the beard in the turban and figured that the gentleman had committed the crime of being brown-skinned and foreign, and that was enough for them.)

(And me, I wish people would reread Sandman # 50, RAMADAN, and the ifrit chapter in American Gods.)
posted by Neil Gaiman 12:33 AM

and finally, from Trieste, on September the 23rd 2001..

It rained all day today -- grey, and misty. Yesterday, also in the rain, we walked across the Square of Unity, and found ourselves watching jugglers and suchlike, in unconvincing costumes, and a parade of re-enactors from nearby towns, wearing things people didn't wear, carrying weapons they didn't have. It's all going renfest, I think. The whole bloody world. Not that I minded; there's nothing to cheer you up like other people wearing wet chainmail.

En route today to the home of Maximilian, the rain forced us into a dry space which happened to be holding an exhibition of Robert Capa photographs: astonishing stuff, of the Spanish Civil War, of the Second World War, of the Japanese-Chinese War of 1938, and I found myself looking at the photos of combat, of wounded civilians, of people whose worlds had crumbled and fallen, without any sense of irony. These people were us. Whatever side they were on. They were us, and the images had a truth and an immediacy I couldn't have imagined until recently.


I'm typing up Fortunately, The Milk, a very silly children's book that Dave McKean will draw (and he made me promise that after this, the next thing we do will be very dark and very adult). I finished writing it yesterday, and called Dave and read it to him. It was meant to be about the length of The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish, but it's actually about four or five times as long.

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Friday, September 09, 2011

Actually Quite Glad to be Gaiman.

I'm home. Got off the plane last night.
Today was a dead day. The most exciting things I did were 1) have a long soaky bath - my first in many weeks, it's been showers all the way for over a month - and 2) not put shoes on.

Looking for a card reader for my camera (I took lots of walking-the-dogs pictures, but can't get them off the camera tonight) I discovered my ancient Atari Portfolio notebook. I put new batteries in and was amazed to discover that it worked - I can't have turned it on for about 14 years. And I thought about Moore's law. It has a handmade memory card I bought specially, filled with tiny text files.

It's a 2 megabyte memory card, covered in warnings, which replaced the 256K card that came with the computer. I don't have anything that can read Portfolio cards any longer, although (I just checked) I pulled everything off it back in 1997, when I did have something that could read it.

And the Portfolio made me think about this essay/speech by Ben Hammersley which I read last night, and am still pondering.

I wrote short stories on the Portfolio in chunks - "Murder Mysteries" was about five files, as I'd start a new file on it when the old ones would fill. Clicking around on it I found forgotten poems and story ideas (some very good ideas and less good poems, mostly). And it was cutting edge for portability in -when did I get it? 1988, I suspect. Perhaps 1989. (Also, it ran on 3 AA batteries that I'd change a couple of times a year.)

So the Portfolio works perfectly, and I suppose that when/if I actually get around to giving my papers and stuff to a library, I'll put it in too.


Still digesting the last six weeks. There was some really good stuff, and some hard real-life stuff too. I'll fill in a few of the gaps over the next few days - I'm waiting for some photos to come in.

The last couple of days were exhausting - I travelled with Amanda and her band to Vienna and from there on to Amsterdam, mostly because I wanted to see Jonathan Carroll in Vienna. Amanda had warned it would be rough, and it was. I'm so glad I'm not a touring musician. But I'm happy I spent time with Jonathan Carroll. That was worth any amount of time in airports and sleeping sitting up on planes.

Actually I got one of the most fun evenings in recent memory out of almost being a touring musician. This is a photo of me singing "The Problem With Saints" at Amanda's gig at Heaven in London. I love it because of Amanda, laughing behind me, and because the whole evening was remarkable.


Guests onstage included Tom Robinson (singing "Glad to be Gay" with a whole bunch of us onstage joining in on the chorus, while the 16 year old Neil Gaiman who bought the original "Glad to be Gay" EP in a Croydon record shop 35 years ago was being all thrilled inside me) and the amazing Tim Minchin.

(Also, a huge thank you to Tom's partner Sue, who took pity of the most practical kind on an author on the road who had just run out of clean laundry.)


So. Things I've done recently...

I don't know if you're familiar with The Guild. (If you're not, you could do worse than wander over to and start at Season 1). It's a story told in ten minute long webisodes. They're up to Season 5, Episode 7. And the face on the video screen you click on is a bit of a giveaway as to who gets to play himself in it.

<a href='' target='_new' title='Season 5 - Episode 7 - Downturn' >Video: Season 5 - Episode 7 - Downturn</a>

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if the version of me I play in The Guild and the version of me I play in The Simpsons and the version of me I played in Arthur teamed up to fight crime and encourage people to read by hiding in their fast food.


I also get to play myself in this, a video of an advertising nature for Dark Horse's Evelyn Evelyn graphic novel, written by Jason Webley and Amanda Palmer and drawn by Cynthia Von Buhler. (This video, like the banana-on-the-beach one for the Kickstarter, was shot by Amanda's assistant Superkate on her iPhone.)


I actually am myself (and not playing anybody) in this, a mad, freewheeling conversation and interview from the Edinburgh Festival, where I get to answer all of Audrey Niffenegger's questions about fairytales and such.


My old friend Tom Monteleone asked if I would provide his Borderlands Press with the insides of their 14th "Little" book -- in this case a little Gold Book. I've found lots of rare, unpublished and uncollected stuff. The book will be limited to 500 signed copies, and they are going fast. Gahan Wilson draws me surrounded by ghastly wondrous things on the cover.

I've almost finished the introduction to it. (I was meant to finish it yesterday on the plane, but I fell asleep instead.)

And I think I'll stop blogging here for tonight. There's a huge blogging backlog, of links and such, of photos and accounts of adventures that I want to put up, and a lot of questions and comments to reply to.

Before I go, a thank you to everyone who supported the Evening With Neil and Amanda Kickstarter. We met our goal in the first couple of hours - we'll have a sound guy on the road, all the gigs will be professionally recorded and we can now afford to have them properly edited and mixed and put out, and to press CDs and suchlike. I'm ridiculously grateful. I'm also now seriously hoping we can film at least one of the concerts for posterity.)

(Every attempt in the past to do something like this on the cheap has failed. We tried recording the CBLDF "Guardian Angel" tours I did in the 90s and either failed or lost the recordings, except for one PBS-funded video. The attempt to film and record the Coraline complete reading in San Francisco in 2002 was even more disastrous, leaving us, in the end, with an unusable one-camera silent film of me reading all of Coraline. And I've seen Amanda pay people to record gigs that were done to be recorded, only to find a dead hard disk or empty file at the end. So this will be done properly.)

I also have to say, as a business model, having people buy things ahead of time with Kickstarter is terrific. I like that almost half of the people who've supported it so far simply pre-bought the $1 download, and so far another 800 people of the 2,000 supporters want the CD.

Right. Jet-lagged author stumbling to bed now. Good night.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The tour and the kickstarter

An Evening With Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer by Amanda Palmer — Kickstarter

Click on the link. It's our campaign to raise the money to record all the tour and make a record.

There are limited VIP packages, tickets onsale early, all that. Lots of lovely wonderful goofy stuff.

And a video of me eating a banana on the beach.

UPDATE: Thank you! It was fully funded a couple of hours after the Kickstarter went up. We can afford to bring a sound engineer to come with and record the tour, to make the CDs and Posters. You lot are wonderful.

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