Sunday, March 30, 2014

Happiness in a new old house

Tonight I can think
of nothing more perfect
than to read a new book,
as the log fire burns
and the rain beats down


Sunday, March 09, 2014

Look! A quick one with bargains in it.

A Quick One -- over at Amazon they have a Gold Box Special on for Books that Inspired Our Passion For Reading. It's only for today.

They have American Gods in it, and Coraline, but I'm plugging this as they have 36 books altogether, all for under $2.99 and most for $1.99, which are pretty much all books that you'd want on your virtual shelves. Click here to see the full list.

Right. Off to be interviewed.

While I'm gone, enjoy learning what the most popular book is in each of the 50 American States, and ponder what it tells us about the state in question...

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In Which It Is Demonstrated that I have become a Woodland Creature

Yesterday I got up early, left the new house I'd barely settled into, and hit the road with the kind of overstuffed suitcase you pack when you'll be on the road for a couple of weeks and you aren't quite sure what you'll need to wear, and you'll be in three completely different climates during that time.

I flew to Philadelphia and went to Rowan University in southern New Jersey, where I met photographer Kyle Cassidy (aka my friend Kyle Cassidy). We did a Master Class together, answering questions, talking about what we do and how we do it, and, at one point, reading stories and showing photographs from Who Killed Amanda Palmer. Then I gave a talk that was also a reading as part of the Rowan University Presidents' Lecture Series, that was as much fun as the talk/readings I did in Billings and Calgary, and the audience seemed to like it, and I loved how comfortable I'm starting to feel on stages in universities and such. I no longer feel, when I'm out on the stage, like I'm faking it, or that I'm there under false pretenses.

As Kyle and I were walking through the campus he pulled out a camera and took these photos...

It was windy. My hair does not normally try to escape.

I look like I was living out in the frozen wilderness, where I was panning for adjectives or something else that wild writers do.

If you go to and read about the day from the Dean's point of view, you'll see a photo she took of Kyle taking the bottom photograph. How unusually recursive.

(The first question to be asked at the talk was "What's up with the beard?" and I expained it was my hiding out and being anonymous beard, but has survived because Amanda wanted to see it when she returns from Australia.)

Then I flew to San Francisco (I finished Monica Byrne's lovely THE GIRL IN THE ROAD on the plane and also proofread the second GRAVEYARD BOOK graphic novel, and went over J. H. Williams' breakdowns for the third part of SANDMAN: OVERTURE.) It was a mostly quiet flight, although it was also the first time I've ever seen the pilot of a plane come out and explain to drunk and unpleasant passengers that if they didn't stop being unpleasant he would have them arrested.

Let's see. Important things... apologies to Detcon 1, I'd wanted to post about their nomination process for their YA and Middle Grade Fiction Award, but I missed the deadline.

I very nearly missed the deadline to tell you that the Coraline ebook is an Amazon US GoldBox special tomorrow (Sunday), and it will be Very Cheap Indeed. (I think the link is but that might possibly be the wrong ebook edition.)(Here is the correct link to get the GoldBox price. -- web goblin)

The folk making the Wayward Manor video game have let me know that the pre-order site,, is coming down in a week. So if you want to pre-order the game, the t-shirt, or even attend the pricy and exclusive but incredibly cool haunted Magic Castle dinner with me, you should click over to and buy all the things with alacrity.

Wayward Manor has just gone up on the Humble Store, where you can also preorder it, and it will remain there for the couple of months until its actual release.

The Guardian has a photoset of the 26 Characters for the Story Museum. You've already seen me as Badger here on the blog, but this is your chance to see Hanuman and Till Eulenspiegel and the Wicked Witch of the West...

and finally...

On April 4th, cartoonist, designer, artist, writer and teacher Art Spiegelman and I will be in conversation at Bard College, NY state. We will talk about comics and MAUS and music and art and being Jewish and life and everything I have ever wanted to ask Art. (Or he will ask anything he's ever wanted to ask me.) Tickets are available now. Please come: It's a big hall and we will be lonely if it echoes.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Storms and how they start

It's been a strange week, filled with odd things happening. Oddest of all, I've bought a house (it is not as this quote might lead you believe, in Sacramento California: that quote was taken from a longer interview with me about my fondness for backing things on Kickstarter:

The new house is something that's been in the works for a few months now: I saw somewhere in the Autumn, fell in love with it, convinced Amanda that I was in love, and we finally closed on it yesterday afternoon.

It's a lot like my old Addams Family house in the woods, only it's not an Addams Family house, more of little cluster of stone cottages in the woods. (The woman I bought it from had lived here fifty years exactly; the man whose family she and her husband had bought it from in January 1964 drew newspaper comics back in the Golden Age.)

The new house is a couple of hours from New York, and in order to close on it and take possession I unexpectedly (don't ask) found myself driving from Florida to New York State this weekend, via North Carolina (to see Maddy at college), vaguely worried that the snowstorms that have been circumscribing my movements for the last 2 months would have one final go at mucking up my travel plans. A storm was forecast, but it never happened.

I listened to the Best of Nick Lowe, David Bowie's The Next Day, and Simon Vance's Audiobook of Mervyn Peake's Titus Groan as I drove.

Driving meant that I missed a small storm which started on Twitter.

Back in January I got a request from the co-chair of the upcoming Worldcon in London (I don't know him, but he'd been given my email by a friend) asking me to forward an invitation to Jonathan Ross to host the Hugo Awards.

Jonathan is a UK TV and radio presenter, and, these days, a writer of comics. He's also one of the most highly regarded UK awards hosts. He's also become a friend of mine, has been for over 25 years. You can see us here together in the Search for Steve Ditko documentary.  (Here's the last few minutes of the documentary. Keep watching, and you'll see me with a smile big enough to break my face.) He was also the person who talked me onto Twitter in the first place.

I forwarded the invitation, along with a note telling him that hosting the Hugo awards is a really enjoyable thing to do, and got a note back from the chair saying that Jonathan had said yes, and could I put something up welcoming him when they announced it.

Jonathan said yes because he's a huge SF and Comics fan  -- in many ways, one of the most fannish people I know: he also writes SF comics. There's also a family connection: his wife, Jane Goldman, won a Hugo award (for best Screenplay).

It was announced that he would be hosting the Hugos. There was a storm on Twitter. I missed it, but people sent me the link, and it's summarised here:

I was really glad I was a) on a Twitter sabbatical and b) driving while all this was going on.

The weirdest bit was, I understood some of the worry; I'd had it myself, 25 years ago, when Jonathan and I had first met, and he asked me and Dave McKean to be on his chat show to talk about VIOLENT CASES. I said "No, you make fun of people. This is comics. It matters to me. I don't want you making fun of it."

To convince me that he a) didn't make fun of people on his show and b) that he would never ever under any circumstances mock the comics and comics creators he loved, Jonathan asked Dave McKean and me to come to the recording of the show: he was interviewing writer/artist Charles Burns that night. The interview was respectful and incredibly nice.

We never did that interview, although he's interviewed me a few times since over the years, in various different contexts. (When The Wolves in the Walls came out, Jonathan interviewed me and Dave McKean in front of a crowd of adults and kids. His interview was perfectly appropriate for the audience...)  He's embarrassed me gloriously presenting the Eisner Awards.

I wasn't surprised that some people were upset by the choice of Jonathan as a host: as the convention says in their apology for their handling of this, and their apology to Jonathan and his family, at, they should have consulted better within their ranks, talked to their committees and so on, and made sure that that everyone was agreed that they wanted Jonathan as their host before they wrote to me and asked me to invite him.

If they'd known ahead of time that some people were going to have a problem with him as a choice of presenter (and I strongly suspect they did, given that one of their number had apparently resigned), they should have warned him and given him the option to withdraw, and at least prepared him. As it was, he and his family didn't know what hit them.

Twitterstorms are no fun when people are making up things about you or insulting you for things you didn't do or think or say. When scores of people from a group that you consider yourself a part of are shouting at you, it's incredibly upsetting, no matter who you are. And these things spill over and get bigger -- I was saddened to learn that Jane Goldman, Jonathan's wife, one of the gentlest, kindest people I know (and the person who, with Jonathan, got me onto Twitter, back in December 2009) had deleted her Twitter account because of all this.

I was seriously disappointed in the people, some of whom I know and respect, who stirred other people up to send invective, obscenities and hatred Jonathan's way over Twitter (and the moment you put someone's @name into a tweet, you are sending it directly to that person), much of it the kind of stuff that they seemed to be worried that he might possibly say at the Hugos, unaware of the ironies involved.

I sympathise with anyone who felt that Jonathan wasn't going to make an appropriate Hugos host, and with anyone who spoke about it to the convention committee, but do not believe a campaign aimed at vilifying Jonathan personally was wise or kind. And for those who thought that making this happen was a way to avoid SF and the Hugos appearing in the tabloids, I'd point to the Streisand effect, with a shake of the head.

I have won Hugo Awards, and I am incredibly proud of all of them; I've hosted the Hugo Awards ceremony, and I was honoured to have been permitted to be part of that tradition; I know that SF is a family, and like all families, has disagreements, fallings out. I've been going to Worldcons since 1987. And I know that these things heal in time.

But I've taken off the Hugo nominee pin that I've worn proudly on my lapel since my Doctor Who episode, The Doctor's Wife, won the Hugo in September 2012, and, for now, I've put it away.

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