Saturday, January 18, 2014

Secrets, a quiet life, and several random books by other people

Life is quiet. I'm jogging daily, enjoying juicing fruits and vegetables, playing with my new phone, writing, being proud that Amanda is getting all the five star reviews in Sydney but have got quite used to not being in Sydney myself.  I'm shifting the weight I put on during the May to October signing & promotional tour, and, I hope, getting back into the kind of shape I stopped being in when the tour started in May.

I love toys that help and encourage me: I just got a heart-rate monitor that talks to my ipod Nano while I run. I'm just getting to the point where I need a whole slew of new music to jog to, though, as my exercise playlist, which is about 20 years old, is starting to feel too familiar. (But it will always start with Sondheim's Something About a War. And it must always have Elvis Costello's Waiting For the End of the World on it. Otherwise the pillars of the universe might collapse.)

My not being currently on Twitter meant that you did not have to endure any grumbles from me about Federal Express leaving packages at houses they were not addressed to, or, alternately, handing over packages to the US Mail service, who then stoutly maintain that the house I'm in does not actually exist and returned said packages to the sender.

Lots of long phone calls happening, each of them about something really interesting I can't officially announce yet. I think there must be about half a dozen of these, now. I'm looking forward to being able to talk about them all.

Normally, the reason I don't talk about them is simply that the deal to make the thing isn't quite done. Although sometimes it's because the wait between the thing being announced and the time it's going to be available is so long as to be silly.

Still, in case you were wondering whether or not Fortunately the Milk artist Chris Riddell was quietly and secretively working away on a secret sort of thing by me that I'm not even going to even allude to, why, yes, he is.  There are many clues as to what it is in this picture, from Chris's tumblr blog.

Lots of book-related things out there. Let's see...

Headline Books have just found that the links to allow you to buy their ultra-deluxe signed edition of THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE had all been taken down over the last six months, which explains why they still have a handful left. They've remedied that, and put up new web pages. It's only for sale to UK addresses and is an astonishingly expensive, very limited, beautiful object. They only did 260 of them, and have a few for sale: will tell you all about them. (All the other limited editions, which were less limited than this, have long since sold out.)


Polish artist Dagmara Matuszak illustrated a poem I wrote once, called Melinda, and made it into one of the most beautiful of my books. (Also one of the rarest: the few copies out there that book dealers have for sale are very VERY expensive.) 

I'm writing another poem for her, but not writing it as fast as I should.


Brad Meltzer just sent me some books he's ridiculously proud of, illustrated by Chris Eliopoulos.

He told me, "This series was born because I was tired of my daughter thinking that reality TV stars and loud-mouthed sports players were heroes.  I tell my kids all the time:  That’s fame.  Fame is different than being a hero.  I wanted my kids to see real heroes...and real people no different than themselves. For that reason, each book tells the story of the hero when THEY were a kid.  We see them as children.  So it's not just Amelia Earhart and Abraham Lincoln being famous--but them being just like us." 

They are funny, and readable and, yes, probably inspiring. For small kids, about real people.


I learned from Cory Doctorow that Michael De Larabeiti's Borribles are back in print as ebooks, with a China Mieville introduction. And Cory's article also included an astonishingly patronising and cowardly letter from Collins Publishers to Michael's agent, explaining why they had decided to renege on publishing the third Borrible Book, Across the Dark Metropolis. (It was published by Pan Books, and it was in a cafe over the road from Pan, shortly after this, that Michael and I met and had coffee, long ago, and I told him how much I loved the books.)

The Borribles -- pointy eared street children, battling the police and evil rodents in the alleys and underground of a mythic London -- were remarkable, and definitely were one of the streams that fed into Neverwhere.

Go and read Cory's article, if only for the Collins letter.


Talking about the delay between things being mentioned and them happening, Hayley Campbell came out to my house over 3 years ago, and rummaged around in the attic and the basement, found things written on things, and drawings, and all sorts of stuff. She even took objects away with her, and left post-it-notes in their place. (You can read about it here: .

Then she interviewed me and other people, and she wrote a book. It's about the art and the stories. In some ways it's a lot like the book I wrote, long ago, about Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

I read a draft of the book a couple of months ago. Hayley is a smart and funny writer. She's also honest and opinionated. I liked it....

Today I saw a cover. Apparently, it's not the final cover. But, look! Hayley's book is coming into existence.

PS: Stop press - Amanda has become an Agony Aunt for the Guardian in Australia. I suppose it's fair exchange for the Australians sending the UK Guardian Pamela Stephenson.

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