Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Now up! Read a Calendar of Tales. And make ART.


Here's a video that the people at BlackBerry (who are the patrons of this project) made of me ten days ago, on the two days between the tweeting out the questions and the writing of the stories.

If you go to you will be able to read or download a free PDF of all twelve of the stories I wrote in three days of madness last week: over 9000 words of tales, each one very different, each one inspired by a reply to a question I'd twittered to the world.

The next stage is art. I made stories inspired by replies, now I want the stories to inspire art. Something we can make a calendar out of -- an online one, perhaps a paper one as well... Go to the website to find out how.

I tried to write stories that would make pictures in people's heads. I hope I succeeded.

Yours nervously,


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Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Calendar of Tales Update, and Two Covers.

I got up early this morning and went into a recording studio, and recorded audio versions of each of the twelve stories in the Calendar of Tales I'm doing, under the patronage of BlackBerry (you can read about it here).

Which means, the hard bit is now done. 

I chose the twelve tweets (actually -- with one exception, March, which I fell in love with, and never had any competition -- I chose three tweets for each month, as the people whose tweets were chosen had to be okay with me having chosen them, and they had to tell BlackBerry it was okay for me to use them, and some people never got back to them, so it was good to have fallbacks). 

And then I spent a couple of days when I thought I was going to be writing, being filmed and interviewed for the project. There was an entire film crew based in my garage. (It is a big garage, but it took me by surprise to see it transformed into an ops room.) 

And then the film crew left, and I grabbed a pen and a blue book of blank pages, and I started scribbling: March first, (that was the one I fell in love with, as I said, and is piratical) then April (which is funny) and November (which is sad), then January (sort of exciting and things go bang), October (funnyish) July (heartbreaking and hopeful, my favourite of all of them, but different people have different favourites), September (magic), June (funny), May (WEIRD), February (strange), August (short and very hot), December (sad, but I ended it on a less sad note than I had planned when I remembered  that it would be the last one in the sequence).

Logan Airport in Boston had closed because of a Blizzard. I flew home in the few hours between it opening and Minneapolis St Paul airport closing in an ice storm.

Then I typed the stories out, and sent them off to BlackBerry, and waited nervously to find out if they liked them (they did, which was nice, as there was no fallback plan for what we'd do if they didn't).  I dashed into a recording studio, recorded them, even did some of the voices I shouldn't have had to have done. 


And that was as far as I got blogging two days ago, and then life grabbed me and I haven't looked up until now. I'm not really even looking up now -- I have my head down and should be working. There are not one, not two, but four drop dead argh now now now deadlines in my life this week, so whenever I write anything I feel guilty for not writing something else.

("Always scribble, scribble, scribble, eh Mr Gaiman?" whispers an imaginary Duke of Gloucester in the back of my head.)

My excuse for getting back to this incomplete blog entry is, Headline books has released the UK cover to THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE. It looks like this:

Like the US edition, it will be released on June the 18th.

(Here's the US edition for those of you who need your memories jogged)

and yes, a boy on the cover of the UK edition, a girl on the cover of the US one, and both of them are accurate. 

June 18th. In the US you can preorder a signed first edition books from Porter Square Books in Cambridge or now through Barnes and Noble. It's a While Supplies Last sort of thing -- the window to order will close in a few weeks, then I will be sent a lot of sheets of paper to sign, which will got to the printers and be bound in to the relevant copies of the first edition. (Oops. I got that wrong. It looks like you can pre-order signed copies up to publication date.)

(Also, there are people who have read advance copies now talking about it on GoodReads. No spoilers, so I do not mind linking to the page in question.)

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I am VERY BUSY writing the last of the Keep Moving stories. They embiggened. It's been amazing.

More tomorrow.

Here, let me give you something fun for today.

This is the cover of the American Edition of FORTUNATELY, THE MILK, which is being illustrated as we speak by Mr Skottie Young, and will be published in September.

It is the silliest book I have ever written, and is quite funny also.

And I love that I have the cover up before they even have it shown on the Amazon entry for the book.

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Monday, February 04, 2013

A VERY late Blog, about trying to make art with a lot of people, including you...

I had planned to write this blog early this morning. And then I planned to write it while the day went on. And now the day is half over and the blog is not even begun.


First of all, watch this:

...and not just for the beautiful footage of Cabal in it.

(The film was made in mid-December, and it makes me so happy-sad-happy-again to see it, and see my old dog lolloping through the snow with me.)

Over on Twitter today I've been initiating a strange and beautiful art project. It's about half way through the very first stage, which consists of throwing out questions to Twitter, and seeing what I get back.

Questions like "Why is January so Dangerous?"

or "Where would you spend a perfect June?" with the appropriate Hashtag - #JunTale in this case.

The answers have been amazing. Personal, honest, imaginative, glorious, surprising, strange, unexpected, familiar, magical, wise, funny... all of those things. They can be read over on the BlackBerry Hub for the project, and also on Twitter (just click on the relevant hashtag -- here's April's. Here's June's.)

I've been retweeting them like mad, because I loved them and wanted to spread them.

I'm also using the BlackBerry10 #KeepMoving hashtag, and because BlackBerry are the ones who are helping me do all this I'm also trying to remember to use both the #BlackBerry10 hashtag and to put the capital B in the middle of BlackBerry.

Seeing you are probably wondering: they showed me the phone in question, the Z10, for the first time in Autumn in the UK, I got to play with it, and I really liked it: the swiping the screen with your thumb "flow" things felt really natural, and it's the easiest onscreen keyboard to type with I've ever used. (I always hate onscreen keyboards and I do not hate this one. It is intelligent. I've used the first four of the five features NBC talk about here, and like them as much as they do.) (And no, nobody's asked me to say that last paragraph. If I hadn't have liked the phone I would have said no.)

So they said yes to my idea of using online communities to try and make something cool and special that brought a lot of people together, and I said yes to working with their patronage on the project.

The idea is: I'm going to make a Calendar of Tales. (Yes, I remain as obsessed with the months of the year as I have always been.) I would go to Twitter for story prompts. Then, over a handful of days, I'll write a story, one for each month. Once there are 12 stories we'll go back out to the world to get other people make art of various kinds using the stories as inspiration. One giant artistic ball of wax. Or ping pong game. Or cuddlepuddle. Or pick your own metaphor.

No, you do not have to use a BlackBerry for anything in this, although you might want to follow the @Blackberry twitter account as it would be useful for when they need to DM anyone whose tweets I do happen to use as a story prompt. (But if you don't follow them, I'll wave at you to remind you.)

In the end, we're hoping for a paper Calendar that will benefit charity, and an amazing app (or possibly a website) with all the stories, and all the art of various kinds up for everyone.

I'm enjoying this no end: it's wonderful just to throw questions out, and feel recharged and joyous.  (Actually, December did not leave me joyous. It left me wanting to hug people, and to remember how much we lose when we lose people, and animals, and ourselves from the past as we always do.)

I think I understand a lot more of how Amanda relates to Twitter, when suddenly she'll start retweeting people and use that to create a community, to link people, to make people feel less alone.

I didn't expect this bit of the project to feel like art, but watching the amount of connection it has made between people, I think perhaps it was. I felt like my heart was being broken and healed, all at the same time.

(I also do not know how recharged or joyous I will feel in a few days from now when I have finished writing 12 shortshort stories, mind you. I may be grumpy and glaring and muttering.)

If you go to they have all the info you could need up, along with more stuff. (Scroll down the page.)

As I said, you can still suggest things: use the month and the #KeepMoving hashtags.

Tomorrow, I have to choose 12 prompts which now seems to me to be a pretty impossible sort of a task given everything that's come in, but I set the rules so cannot grumble. And then on Wednesday I start to write.

There will be a film crew watching me write. This will be VERY interesting, and it is possible I may ask them to go away, or at least to film me from a great distance.

I always envied Harlan Ellison getting to write stories in bookshop windows. Maybe it will be like that.

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Saturday, February 02, 2013

The Best Advice

I was asked recently, on a stage in Sydney, what the best advice I'd ever received from another author was, and I told the Harlan Ellison shaving story I've told here. It is invaluable knowledge.

This morning I thought, I wonder what the best non-shaving advice I've actually got from another author was...? And then I knew.

It was in 1988, at the World Fantasy Convention in London, in the bar. I was with a bunch of people around a table, and had been interviewing Clive Barker about comics for a book on Clive that would be coming out. After the interview a conversational free-for-all developed -- I remember getting frustrated with Clive's view that comics were lacking something that prose had, because a novel could make him cry while a comic never had. (This was 26 years ago, remember. I have no idea at all if Clive still thinks that way, or if a comic has made him cry in the years between. I hope it has.)

And after the conversation was over, Clive took me aside. He said, "When we were talking,  you were getting louder and louder."

I had been. It was a noisy bar. And I'd had important things to say and huge opinions and dammit, I was determined to be heard.

He said, "Neil, don't do that. If you get loud, everyone else gets louder to top you. And then everyone's shouting and nobody's listening. If you want everyone to listen to you, get quieter. People will listen."

It seemed like the strangest advice I'd ever received. But I loved and respected Clive, so the next time I was in a bar argument/conversation, I lowered my voice. And the more I wanted to be heard the quieter I forced myself to get. I lowered my voice...

And people lowered theirs. They leaned in. They listened. I didn't have to raise my voice.

I felt like I'd been given one of the keys to the universe.

And so I pass it on to you.

Clive's been having some health issues recently, and I hope they are soon over and he's back to full strength. He was an inspiration in every way when I was in my early twenties, and I've learned so much from him over the years. Here's a photo of us from 1989 on the Nightbreed set stolen from his Facebook page.


Monday at midday Eastern Time, the first part of the mad make good art project I'm doing with the assistance of Blackberry will begin.  It'll be happening (to begin with) on Twitter. I'm @Neilhimself there (some people might not know this). I'll keep you updated with links and such on here, too.


Right. I'm at home. The home in the midwest.  Lots of cool things waiting for me here, including a bunch of books, one of which is the new edition of American Gods -- for the first time, the US edition of the Author's Preferred Text is out in paperback. (It's also the first of the New Uniform US Paperback covers to come out and will be released in a few days.) It's in the bottom second from the right...

(Also shown, two foreign editions of Sandman, three books that include short stories by me, a book I love with an afterword by me, and my copy of a great guide to where you start reading an author -- I got it because I backed the Kickstarter, not because there is a chapter on where to start reading me written by the outrageously talented Erin Morgenstern.)

It's cold here. But I'm wearing long underwear and will dress warmly and am about to take Lola for a walk down to the lamppost in the woods. Will post a photo if I get a good one.

Yes, the house feels empty and strange. But Lola is a sweet and loving dog. And I am writing things.

(The little flashlight around her neck is not really so that she can see better in the dark. It's so I can see her in the night.)

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Pre-signed copies of OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE available now (USA only)

Just a quick post (for the USA only right now I'm afraid) to say...

When I am in Cambridge MA, my local bookshop tends to be Porter Square Books. It's definitely Amanda's favourite local bookshop, because when she is done with Yoga she goes in there and orders their fresh rolls* and is made happy. Sometimes she buys books too. Sometimes I wander in and out unspotted, and sometimes they notice me and I sign whatever they have of mine on the shelves that day.

So when Harper Collins asked how I felt about pre-signing some copies of The Ocean at the End of the Lane for a local store to sell, I said sure. I like keeping a good local bookshop in business and guaranteeing that there will always be fresh rolls for Amanda when she gets out of yoga.

I'll pre-sign the books at the end of March or beginning of April. I'll actually pre-sign stacks of  sheets of paper to be bound in when the books are printed, as the books won't yet actually be printed when I have to sign them.

Right now, they are available from:

(There will undoubtedly be more places offering pre-signed copies. I'll list more of them as they turn up. Some of them will undoubtedly offer international shipping, which Porter Square Books does not. And the bookshops I sign at on tour will have spare signed copies left over. And I have no doubt that Hachette-Headline are plotting their own ways to make signed books happen.)

The picture of the book above is from this Harper Collins post, which also contains many links to desktop wallpaper you can download. It looks like this.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane desktop wallpaper in six versions:
  • A 3-D image of The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Download)
  • A 3-D image of Make Good Art (Download)

*Fresh rolls, also known as summer rolls, salad rolls, fresh spring rolls, soft rolls, crystal rolls. These.

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