Monday, December 31, 2012

My New Year's Wish...

It's a New Year and with it comes a fresh opportunity to shape our world. 

So this is my wish, a wish for me as much as it is a wish for you: in the world to come, let us be brave – let us walk into the dark without fear, and step into the unknown with smiles on our faces, even if we're faking them. 

And whatever happens to us, whatever we make, whatever we learn, let us take joy in it. We can find joy in the world if it's joy we're looking for, we can take joy in the act of creation. 

So that is my wish for you, and for me. Bravery and joy.


Fifteen minutes ago I was terrified, having just written this, and about to walk up onto the stage to perform the Fireball XL5 theme song with Amanda and the Grand Theft Orchestra. And I thought "You just wrote a New Year's wish. Listen to yourself. Put it into practice." I went out bravely. I sang in front of a thousand or so people with joy. 

And you know, it was wonderful.

(for a collection of the previous New Year's Wishes:

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Being Green

I'm back in New York, got in late last night, in time to rehearse my song (the Fireball XL5 song) for tonight's New Year's Eve gig. Waiting for me in New York was a remarkable coat, made by Kambriel. I wore it out into the world last night: it's wonderful, but it makes me feel fictional when I wear it.

Had a late night dinner in the hotel with Amanda, and did something we do not do often, viz., communicate only in writing. Passing notes back and forth across the table. It's a nice break from routine, and sometimes we doodle or cartoon as well.

Then sleep. I woke up in a good mood. "I love you more than anything," I said.

"No you don't," she said, not even bothering to properly wake up. "You don't love me more than breathing. If the choice was breathing or me, you'd pick breathing."

"Not necessarily. Is the choice breathing or death, or breathing or some other option, like photosynthesis?"

"Death," she said, without opening her eyes. "You'd love photosynthesis. You'd be green like the Hulk and you'd stand in the sun with your arms and fingers spread and a big smile on your face. Now shush, I'm asleep."

And she went back to sleep while I lay next to her pondering the pros and cons of photosynthesis.

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Several Lomo photographs

The best thing about the Lomo camera, in my opinion, is not the glorious semi-accidental pictures it takes. It's the way I mislay the rolls of film and then find them months later with no idea what's on them, and get them developed, and wind up looking at forgotten slices of the past. The first photos were all taken about a year ago, when it was as snowy here in the Midwest as it now.


This is from the Summer, I think. A double or triple exposure of the kind I love (made in the camera, no  photoshop). Dogs.

And a small self-portrait from September, backstage at a New York fashion house... 

Right now I'm at home in the Midwest, spending quality time with my daughters and my dogs. 

Cabal's back legs are getting wobblier and wobblier, which is harder on my heart than it is on him. Lola's trying to figure out how I can figure out where she is all the time when she runs off and hides, a white dog against the snow in the moonlight, and I have not explained the significance to her of the glowing red collar flashing about her neck.

I'm also learning all the lyrics to the Fireball XL5 theme song, which I am going to be singing very nervously in New York at Amanda's New Years Eve Party, as a thank you to the late Gerry Anderson, a man who had a lot to do with the shape of my childhood. (For the record: My favourites were Thunderbird 4 and Gordon Tracy, Captain Black, Melody Angel, Joe 90 when he had an enemy agent downloaded into his head, and the ladies on the moon in purple wigs.)

Talking about purple: Amanda is going to be doing a more or less normal New Year's Eve gig, followed by a complete cover of Prince's Purple Rain. I am hoping that if this is a success that next year she may decide to do The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

On the Glorious Last US Booksigning Tour, with digressions onto Concorde and Australia


I've been all over the place. I went back to the midwest and spent two days with my dogs, and I helped wrap the beehives for winter.

(I discovered my zombie arm had been yarnbombed when I got home.)

Now I'm back in Cambridge MA, missing the dogs, but starting to feel more at home in this rambling high house. The at-homeness has more to do with furniture than anything else, I think.  For example, a desk-chair was just delivered. There's nothing like a comfy chair for making you want to sit and write, if you are me.

I've handed in the latest draft of the HBO AMERICAN GODS pilot, and a short film I've written for another project, and I'm writing a bunch of different things right now.

I'm also proof-reading and copy-editing a bunch of books. Today I got to read through the UK edition of Fortunately, The Milk*, profusely illustrated by Chris Riddell. I laughed a lot at Chris's rough sketches. Can't wait to see it finished. (Skottie Young's illustrating the US edition. I've only seen two pages of his work. It's just as funny in a different, more manic, way.  I love them both and am so glad that each publisher went its own way on this.) Fortunately The Milk will be published in September in the US and October in the UK. I just wrote a description of it for the US edition. I explained:

This is quite possibly the most exciting adventure ever to be written about milk since Tolstoy's epic novel War and Milk. Also it has aliens, pirates, dinosaurs and wumpires in it (but not the handsome, misunderstood kind), not to mention a Volcano God.

It contains passages like this:

“You are charged with breaking into people’s planets and redecorating them,” said a noble and imposing-looking Tyrannosaurus Rex. “And then with running away and doing it again somewhere else, over and over. You have committed crimes against the inhabitants of eighteen planets, and crimes against good taste.”
 “What we did to Rigel Four was art!” argued a globby alien.
 “Art? There are people on Rigel Four,” said an Ankylosaurus, “who have to look up, every night, at a moon with three huge plaster ducks flying across it.”


I love that Fortunately the Milk is two different books -- one in the US, one in the UK: it allows them to be published a month apart, which is much easier on the author.

In the old days of publishing, books in the US were published up to a year before or after the same books in the UK, but that started changing about ten years ago, and the internet changed it, as it has changed so much. People who like authors will buy their books when the books come out, and if the book is published in the US, people in the UK will simply go to Amazon (or some such website) and buy it, and if the book is published later in the US then American readers will head off to (or similar).

When my new adult novel, THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE** is published, this summer, it will be coming out on June the 18th in the UK and the US too. This presents interesting challenges, mostly involving bi-location, and makes me miss Concorde, just a little.

No, I do not miss the sonic booms or the environmental damage, and, having been on one of the Concordes once, I do not miss the plane itself, which was small and dilapidated and chilly and old. But I miss the way one could fly to New York from London and feel like one had made a local hop and land three hours before one took off, and I miss the moment of looking out of Concorde's window and seeing the curvature of the Earth and feeling like all human problems were very small and far away.

(It was about 15 years ago. I had to get to Amsterdam to do a signing in high summer, and the UK trip I was meant to be doing was suddenly cancelled, leaving me without a flight.  When the person on Northwest airlines' phone said, "Honestly, I can't believe how many miles it will take to get you there during the blackout week. You could take Concorde for that," and I said, "Hang on, I can use airmiles to fly Concorde?" and she said, "Well, yes.")

Which is a bit of a wander off the subject, which is that it now looks like I'll do a few days in the UK before publication, then fly back to the US on publication day, and then sign like a fiend across America, then go back to the UK and sign some more and then probably come back and do a handful of Canadian signings, and then collapse.

This will be my first actual signing (as opposed to reading) tour since Anansi Boys in 2005. I’ll go places and in each place I’ll do a reading, a short Q&A, then I’ll sign books.

I think the OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE tour will be the last actual signing tour I ever do. They’re exhausting, on a level that’s hard to believe. I love meeting people, but the sixth hour of signing, for people who have been standing in a line for seven hours, is no fun for anybody. (The last proper US signing I did, it lasted over 7 hours and I signed for over 1000 people. I'd suspect a lot of the signings on this tour will be like that, or bigger.)

So I’m going to try and make this tour the glorious last US book signing tour, and then stop doing book signing tours for good.

I’ll do a bunch of American signings on the tour, including, I hope, places that I don’t normally get to, like the US South. I’ll go to the UK, and do a smaller, more manageable tour. (You can get on and off trains in the UK, to get to places.) I'll do some Canada.
That tour will probably finish at the beginning of September. And then, over the following 24 months, I’m going to do my best to go to places I don’t usually get to, or to which I haven’t gone in a long time, as THE OCEAN... is published around the world — places like Brazil and Poland, and I'll do whatever kinds of signings or events are appropriate there.
I may do events, and there may well be pre-signed books for sale there, and I might even sign books if I feel like it (I did a ninja book signing at St Mark’s Bookshop in New York a week ago, announcing it a couple of hours before I did it on Twitter. It was really fun. They may well have a few signed books left in stock, if you need holiday gifts) but once the Ocean at the End of the Lane tour is over, I do not think I will do any more book signing tours.


I was asked if I could go to Australia around publication time for OCEAN too, and I had to say no -- only one me, too many places to be. But I am going to be in Australia in January, and I'll be doing three events there. 

At 6 pm on January the 20th, I'll be at the Theatre Royal in Hobart, Tasmania. I'll be doing a few things including  reading an unpublished story - appropriate for all ages, although it'll probably mean more to adults. Jherek Bischoff is going to be there, making music happen while I read. Ticket details are at The event is close to sold out, I believe, so get tickets now. It'll be over in time for you to see David Byrne later that evening...

On the 24th of Jan I'll be in Melbourne, at the Atheneum Theatre, doing an event for the Wheeler Centre. It's going to be centred around Ocean at the End of the Lane, and for that and for the event in Sydney, Hachette, my Australian publisher, will be giving each attendee a special preview of the book, in the shape of the first three chapters. Tickets and details at

On the 25th, I'll be in Sydney. The event will be similar to, but probably completely different from, Melbourne's, although people who come will also get the special limited Hachette novel preview. It's under the aegis of the Sydney Writers Festival, which is one of my favourite Festivals in the world. Tickets and details at

(Last year I did an evening in Sydney and one in Melbourne. They both sold out fast, so please, get tickets if you want to go. Do not wait and be sad and send me sad messages asking if I can squeeze you in somehow.)


Right. I am going to go and sit in my writing chair some more now and make stuff up and write it down.

*very silly. Funny. For readers of all ages. Contains milk.

** not very silly at all. Sometimes funny but mostly personal and even scary and disturbing. Not for children, even though it's about a child. Contains a small amount of milk; was manufactured in a facility that processes nuts.

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