Personally, I think the German Smoke & Mirrors cover (the book is now called The Queen of Knives, I think, after the poem) -- visible at http://images-eu.amazon.com/images/P/3453177983.03.LZZZZZZZ.jpg is really fun. I suspect it'll disappoint a lot of German readers looking for something, um, spicy, though. (The Hungarian cover of Smoke & Mirrors made the content look pretty risque too.)
Had fun tonight doing an hour of live radio on Wisconsin's Spectrum West, talking mostly about writing, with the redoubtable Jack Beaver ("This is my fifth career," he said. "And I only got into it because I wrote a poem." But then volunteers Jessica and Katie needed to be taught how to answer the studio phones, and so I never found out just how the poem figured in Jack's career structure.) My favourite call-in question was from a lady who had just got out of prison and thought the prison stuff in American Gods rang truer to life than any movie she'd seen, and wanted to know about research.
Made a giant list of everything I was committed to doing over the next 6 months. Then made a list of all the books I want to write, trying to leave nothing out. I think Neverwhere 2 (It's a novel called The Seven Sisters) may have to wait a while before being written, as I realised I only knew a little bit of the story, which means that the novel after Coraline will probably be either WALL (The Jenny Kertin novel) or ANANSI BOYS.
posted by Neil Gaiman 1:02 AM
Wednesday, August 29, 2001
The relationship between authors and booksellers is a strange one. Especially from an author's point of view. (From a bookseller's point of view I am sure that mostly authors are just another kind of bookbuyer, only one more prone to find their books Spine Out and put them Face Out than the other kinds.) For an author, of course, it's a much more complicated relationship. It's more like a marriage. Although the booksellers never mind if the authors forget their birthdays. And they never grumble at you for leaving the toothpaste top off, or get you out of trouble by sliding over just as you're trying to remember whether the person at the funeral you're talking to is your wife's cousin or her dentist by saying "I'm pleased to see you've already run into Harry-who-runs-that-restaurant-you-like" so you can wrench the conversation off of the relative advantages of bridgework versus titanium tooth implants (which neither of you were doing very well at anyway) and head for the relative safety of aubergines. Which Americans call eggplants.
Come to think of it, it's not much like a marriage at all.
Which is a train of thought I wandered onto after getting two phone calls in close succession, one from a family member who went out to buy a copy of American Gods from their local bookshop, and who was told that They'd Sold Out Of All Their Copies Surprisingly Fast, so they Didn't Have Any. And on enquiring when they'd be getting more copies in, was told, disapprovingly, that It Was A Hardback. So they had No Plans to Order Any More, but the paperback would be Out Next Year.
And the other telling me that Booksense, which is an association of Independent Booksellers, has a list called the Booksense 76 -- books chosen by Independent Booksellers as books they like handselling, and feel need more attention -- go to booksense.com for more information -- and that American Gods is on the next Booksense 76 list, at #2.
posted by Neil Gaiman 7:17 AM
Monday, August 27, 2001
Let's see... for any of you who use the message board, yup, I'm aware that it's broken. and now Harper Collins is too, and I expect that tomorrow Authors on the Web will be too.
And, yes, if they ever get the FAQ journal up and running, the questions will be answered. Probably not all of them (right now there's 693 of them) but that is still the plan...
posted by Neil Gaiman 9:55 PM
Sunday, August 26, 2001
http://www.rambles.net/flash_playeach.html is the latest Flash Girls review for PLAY EACH MORNING. I have no idea why you can't seem to get the CD through Amazon etc. yet, but Dreamhaven always have things like this for sale.
Today I started signing my way through a large box of cards, which Yoshitaka Amano has already signed. Most of them have a signature in English, but there are occasional cards which he's also written messages on in Japanese. Knowing Mr Amano they probably just say his name in kanji and do not spell out some rude message about signing things. But I can't help wondering.
And I am currently reading -- again, doling out a story a night before sleep -- McAuslan Entire. You can find the publisher's blurb on it here. It's by George MacDonald Fraser, and is a delightful, sensible, world-affirming, beautifully crafted bunch of stories. (And it's the sort of thing you need to read after working your way through another chunk of the two volume Collected Strange Stories of Robert Aickman.)
As a young man I preferred Fraser's Flashman stories to his McAuslan/Dand MacNeill stories; now I'm not so sure. (Possibly because I'm still out of sorts with a story in the last Flashman collection. Dammit, Flashman can't meet Sherlock Holmes. There was a compact with the reader about Flashman, and that breaks it -- it says, unequivocably, that Flashman is a fictional character, not a historical one, whereas up until that point the only fictional characters were from Tom Brown's Schooldays. In Royal Flash Flashman doesn't meet Rupert of Hentzau, he meets the inspiration for Rupert of Hentzau, and so on.)
Sorry, I'm wittering.
And for those who do not need their lives - or anyone else's -- affirmed in any way, here's a page on the two volume Robert Aickman book I mentioned above. I'm not honestly sure whether or not it's still in print or back in print, but if you like to be unsettled by the best then try and find it. Yes, it's very expensive. Still, it's worth every penny and will save you several thousands on buying the original books that the stories appeared in, if you can find them all.
posted by Neil Gaiman 11:40 PM
Saturday, August 25, 2001
Not only has the Andrew Lloyd-Webber Amazon page vanished, but they've removed all the reviews from the system.
Poor old Amazon. I miss the days when you could write something in the "I am the author and I want to talk about my book" section. I was told that it had vanished following complaints from A Fantasy Author after someone impersonated him.
Now, I sent them a grumpy e-mail after an "I am the author" thing cropped up on the Good Omens site which said something along the lines of
I wrote this book with Terry Pratchett it was very funy we laughed a lot I hope it will be a film soon well thank you fans I will write another book one day Neil Gaimen
asking them to take it down, which they did. But I didn't demand they scrapped the whole thing because it was open to abuse, because it was too cool and sensible and useful a tool for that. Unfortunately one day someone with no sense of proportion did.
I'd love to put up an "I am the author" note for Amazon.com's entry for a book by me they list as coming out next year called Cordelia which explains that I've never heard of this book before, and are they sure they don't mean Coraline?
The suggestions for things to do with the site are being sent over to Harper Collins... thanks everyone for your patience and your ideas.
posted by Neil Gaiman 9:10 AM
Friday, August 24, 2001
Sixteen years ago I made much of my living reviewing books. Haven't done it in a long time (although I've recently seen a few quotes from seventeen-year-old reviews surfacing with my byline, as if they're current blurbs, proving, i suppose, that they are not entirely forgotten), but was recently asked to review a book for a major newspaper, and agreed. I suppose I thought that book reviewing was like riding a bicycle or kissing -- something you never forget how to do, no matter how long you don't. In reality, I'm finding, it's more like speaking a foreign language or playing a musical instrument: if you don't do it for a long time, you lose it. Not completely, and it comes back to you after a bit. But that easy, unthinking facility is gone.
So now I just have to turn a bunch of sentences into an article.
In the meantime, hurrah for Chris Ware, nominated for the Guardian First Book award. Read http://books.guardian.co.uk/firstbook2001/story/0,10486,541770,00.html
posted by Neil Gaiman 8:24 AM
Thursday, August 23, 2001
There really are links on this journal, you know. You can see them if you put your cursor on the text. It's one of the things we'll get fixed here one of these days.
In the meantime, a review of American Gods by Charles de Lint at http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/depts/cdl0109.htm -- and Charles neglects to mention, as he points out that other people have written stuff using similar themes to American Gods, that one of those people is Charles de Lint. But I can. He's a wonderful writer. Go and read him.
The review is from the September issue of F&SF. (You'll find a story by me in the Oct/Nov issue of F&SF, which should be on sale any week now -- the "all star 52nd anniversary issue" it says on the cover. It's a short-short story I wrote on a plane at the beginning of the year, just to get it out of my head, and I nearly threw it away, as I was sure that Fredric Brown had probably written it first, but after having shown it to a few people who said that he hadn't, I sent it to Gordon Van Gelder at Fantasy & Science Fiction. It's called OTHER PEOPLE, which is Gordon's title for it and a much better title than THE SKINNING KNIFE, THE CHOKE-PEAR AND THE SCREWS, which is what I would have called it.)
And there is a review of the Flash Girls album up at http://www.greenmanreview.com/wildqueen.html.
posted by Neil Gaiman 7:52 PM
And of course one of the things that we need to overhaul on the site is the links area. There are more fan sites than the Dreaming of course. There's one called the Gaiman Archive over at http://home.bip.net/rivieran.
Meanwhile, I'm not quite sure what's happening with the official UK site at http://authorpages.hoddersystems.com/NeilGaiman/ it seems to run through an opening screen sequence and then give me an error message.
And I hear that Rambles.net is going to be reviewing the Flash Girls CD any day now. (Just what I need, thinks author wryly -- an assistant on Tenterhooks.)
And I was fascinated to see that Lord Lloyd Webber has started reviewing books... wonder how long it will be before Amazon.com take it down.
posted by Neil Gaiman 1:06 PM
Wednesday, August 22, 2001
Hullo. Bet you thought I was dead.
Nope. Recovering from an intense bout of food poisoning (during the course of which I got to learn firsthand just how much vomit can come out of an adult male author. Try and guess. Nope, more than that.... nope, much more than that. Honest. It surprised me, too.) Several hundred e-mails behind, not to mention days and days of blogger entries, but starting to catch up again.
So, today I watched my son head off across the country for his first semester at college, both of us suddenly feeling odder and older as we hugged goodbye. (And, as if to balance that, I took a small daughter to school to meet her second grade teacher, only to be taken by surprise when her principal told me how much she liked this website.)
Currently Jennifer Hershey from Harper Collins and I are starting to figure out things to fix or redo with this website. We're writing notes back and forth about the various COMING SOON bits and what we're doing with them. I want the AUDIO section to be the next thing up -- somewhere you can listen to some of George Guidall's wonderful reading of American Gods, and listen to some of my readings on Warning: Contains Language, and where there are links to some of the scifi.com audio productions.
And I have to write a Coraline page, while I think of it...
If any of you have suggestions for things you'd particularly like to see on the site, or really want to see changed, send then off as an FAQ.
Lucy Anne and Puck are posting lots of (mostly American Gods) interviews and reviews over at the Dreaming website (it's http://www.holycow.com/dreaming ) and you may want to go and look at them. Lots of fun ones, of which my favourite is http://www.nationalpost.com/search/story.html?f=/stories/20010804/637258.html&qs=Gaiman - something I barely remember writing as an e-mail from a hotel room when on the road.
(There have been several interviews I've read in the last few weeks, done with me on tour, that I have no memory of saying the stuff I'm quoted as saying at all. I read them and go "well, it certainly sounds like me, and nobody else would have said that, so I suppose I must have done...")
My before-bed reading recently has been Kelly Link's Stranger Things Happen . I'd read many of the stories in earlier incarnations, and read the book as a proof, so now am reading half a short story a night purely as a treat for me. Kelly Link is absolutely brilliant. She writes the kind of short stories that make you want to marry the author. (Oddly enough Gavin Grant must have thought the exact same thing, because he is marrying her in a week or so, and this journal would like to extend all felicities in their general direction.)
posted by Neil Gaiman 8:24 PM
Saturday, August 18, 2001
"A miracle, even if it is a lousy miracle, is still a miracle." And if American Gods was about anything, it was about that, I think.
It's a quote from Teller. Teller is very wise. http://www.deceptionsunlimited.com/v2i2p2.html is an interview with Teller.
I love looking at stage magic, reading about it, thinking about it,mostly because all the things I think about magic and magicians are applicable to writing, to genre, to comics, to prose and to film. It's about thinking outside the box, and about craft, and about skill, and about the willingness to surprise yourself and, maybe, sometimes, to make miracles. Because even lousy miracles are still miracles.
posted by Neil Gaiman 12:18 AM
Friday, August 17, 2001
Sooner or later I'll figure out who to talk to to get things happening on this website, and we'll get some of the cool weird stuff up that I keep promising, like the bibliography, and all the scans of all the foreign book covers that we did several months ago, and all the places that say "Coming Soon" will actually come soon...
In the meantime, here's something cute, from Bryan Talbot's lovely website:
Which is of significance only insofar as it contains my first published piece of fiction that anyone paid me for. It's a story named Featherquest. A sort of Arabian Knights sort of thing. If memory serves I had to cut about 2000 words from it to get them to fit the space they had. I didn't think it was ever good enough to bother restoring the missing words and putting into a collection. Imagine published my next short story as well, about six months' later -- How to Sell the Ponti Bridge. It had a good bit or two in it, but it, too, is happier uncollected. (There's also a story from Knave from that period, Mss. Found in a Milkbottle, which also remains uncollected. The last time Mike Ashley asked me for a story for his Comic Fantasy books I pulled that last one out, and reread it, and winced a lot and put it away again.)
Everything else has been published, or will be, in the next collection...
posted by Neil Gaiman 9:34 PM
Thursday, August 16, 2001
Who was it who said that a lie can be half way around the world while the truth is still blinking up at the bedroom ceiling blearily wondering whether to clean its teeth before or after having an early morning cup of tea and then starting to think very seriously about rolling over in bed and trying to get just another ten minutes of sleep before starting the day?
Anyway, whoever said it, I hear from the Well that the Terry Gilliam quote I posted the other day has now started showing up on the Inside Movie News kind of sites as the inside skinny on Good Omens -- the film.
It was a joke. Terry Gilliam was joking. It was funny. I posted it because it made me laugh out loud, and I thought it might make some of you laugh too. I figured the stuff about the cattle drives might have been a dead giveaway if the bit about the Bollywood song and dance numbers wasn’t, and that, if anyone was still in any doubt, the final line about taking out all the jokes would have set their mind at rest. We won’t even go into the bit about Mel Brooks or Woody Allen playing the Metatron.
So. I’ve now read a draft of the script for Good Omens, by Terry Gilliam and Tony Grisoni, and yes, it's very funny. It’s a Terry Gilliam film, and it’s closer to the book that Terry Pratchett and I wrote than I would have thought possible given the different shapes and dynamics of books and films. Yes, some beloved bits are gone. An astonishing number of beloved bits and characters are still there.
The baby is there, and so is 90% of the bathwater. So please stop worrying.
Now we just have to hope that Mel and Woody will read this and stop calling Terry Gilliam. (Note for Internet movie rumour places: The last line was simply not true. Mel Brooks and Woody Allen have not been calling Terry Gilliam as far as I know, except possibly to complain about the noise.)
posted by Neil Gaiman 7:29 PM
Monday, August 13, 2001
There's an elegantly written, erudite and delightful GUARDIAN article at http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/sciencefiction/0,6121,535420,00.html -- it's about Douglas Adams, and his love and admiration for Lewis Carroll.
Carroll, it tells us along with Wodehouse, was one of Adams's comic heroes, and his affection for him tinges his writing. Like Carroll's fabulous mock-epic poem, The Hunting of the Snark (1876), the Hitchhiker series is a brilliant skit on quests for ultimate meaning of any kind. Carroll's crew fruitlessly pursues the Snark, while Adams portrays the Earth as a miscued mega-computer vainly dedicated to calculating the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. That it eventually spits out '42' is a nod to Carroll, who was obsessed with the number.
Adams also shared with Carroll a love of pataphysical nonsense, as in the Vogon Captain's lovelorn ode, which causes Arthur Dent such unimaginable suffering early in Hitchhiker : 'Oh freddled gruntbuggly!/ Thy micturations are to me/ As plurdled gabbleblotchits in a lurgid bee/ Groop I implore thee my foonting turlingdomes/ And hopptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewerdles'. This is, in its deranged and glorious musicality, a clear homage to Carroll's 'Jabberwocky' poem - "Twas brillig, and the slithy toves/ Did gyre and gimble in the wabe'.
Where Lewis Carroll, an academic mathematician, insinuated Victorian abstract algebraic thought into the Alice books, so Adams, a techno-zealot, quickly incorporated late twentieth-century science into his writing. and so on.
There's only one thing wrong with it.
Douglas Adams hadn't read any Carroll. He didn't like Carroll. When I was writing DON'T PANIC! I asked Douglas about Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (and the Rule 42 line) and he said he'd started to read it as a kid and hated it, and stopped, and he'd started to reread it as an adult, and hated it in the same way, and had stopped.
But it's not the kind of thing a fact checker is ever going to check, is it? It's too big and too basic.
Worried e-mails have started trickling in about yesterday's post. Should I point out that this is from Terry Gilliam again?
posted by Neil Gaiman 11:55 PM
I asked Terry Gilliam how the Good Omens movie was going. His reply?
I'll warn you in advance that we created a very different climax.
And we dropped favorite characters. We added some scenes involving
cattle drives in the Old West and song and dance sequences from our
favorite Bollywood films. We also tried to make the Metratron more
Jewish for the sake of the financiers. Woody Allen would be
perfect...or maybe Mel Brooks. Then there is the snuff movie that
Crowley is producing which we get to see in utterly graphic detail...we
thought it would make him more active in believable evil. And we
eliminated most of the comedy. I felt it held the book back from being
the "great and profound work" which we hope the film will be.
So I don't think we're going to have anything to worry about....
posted by Neil Gaiman 1:02 AM
Saturday, August 11, 2001
You know, I really do owe the world a wrap-up of the whole book tour thing. It would give us all closure and allow us all to feel that We'd been Through Something Together.
But seeing that I've got to write a history of Harlequins and the commedia del arte today, here's a link to Zadie Smith's wrap up of her book tour instead. I enjoyed it a lot; it wasn't my book tour, but there are several moments I recognised. And anyway, it's funny.
posted by Neil Gaiman 1:59 PM
Finished the second draft of the whatever-it-is-I'm-doing-with-Avalon. Not quite ready to write the review of STRANGE LITTLE GIRLS I thought I'd write, having just got the whole thing, all 12 tracks in a final mixed version. Fascinating how the whole shape of the album changes with HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN on there; it's an eleven minute monster I want to hear a lot more times before I say anything sensible. But Raining Blood works much better now, following it. (It was never happy following I don't Like Mondays.)
Meanwhile, something I should have said something about here in this journal weeks ago -- http://www.harpercollins.com/hc/perfectbound/ is the website of Harper Collins e-books. All formats of e-book are supported here (although, confusingly, the 'chapter to go' facility, which turns up with any format you click on, is only for palm pilots), and it's where you'll find out all about the e-book versions of Stardust, Neverwhere, Smoke and Mirrors and American Gods. Although I couldn't find anything on the site about the various nifty add-ons and things they've done for each of the books. (American Gods, for example, has edited highlights of this journal pre-june on it, Neverwhere has a few interviews, while Smoke and Mirrors has a few extra stories in, just to drive bibliographers mad. I have no memory of what cool electronic extra Stardust has.)
Talking about electronic futures, there is a wonderful article on Salon at http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2001/08/09/comics/index.html in which we learn that Scott McCloud's polemic about comics and the internet, Reinventing Comics is, according to Gary Groth (publisher of Fantagraphics) not just wrong, but dangerous agitprop. Gary read it late at night, and, then, in the morning...
Groth shared his grumbling with Spiegelman and Crumb, both of whom agreed that McCloud's predictions amounted to little more than half-baked evangelism masquerading as insight.
It doesn't say whether they'd read it or not, though. The implication from the article is that, over breakfast the next morning, Gary said "I read Reinventing Comics last night. This is dangerous agitprop," and Art Spiegelman said "Yeah?" and R. Crumb said "Is there any coffee over that end of the table?" and Gary said, "It's half-baked evangelism masquerading as insight, you know," and Messrs. Speigelman and Crumb said "Sure sounds like it, Gary," and "Yup. Can you pass the toast?"
I've had my share of arguments with Scott about Reinventing Comics and his passion for the web ("...of course, the downside is I can't sell original art any more, as there isn't any." "Well, why can't you republish the online Zot on paper?" "Ah, Neil, not only can I not republish online Zot on paper, but the resolution was poor enough that it won't even go to a better monitor...") and will undoubtedly have many more, but I can't imagine a world in which his ideas would actually be dangerous. (To whom? You try publishing comics on the web. Either you starve or you don't, or you do something else for money and you do the web comics for fun. You make good art or you make bad art. And your readership may well eventually wind up bigger than the paper equivalent. Inevitably, like a hundred million other people, you'll need to try and figure out whether and how to make money from the web, or whether what you do for money subsidises what you do on the web... But that's not dangerous. That's just life in 2001.)
And good evangelism -- which means, of course, spreading the good news -- should never be fully-baked, anyway, otherwise it gets stale quickly. It should be like those loaves of half-baked bread that you finish off in your oven at home. Half-baked evangelism is the best kind.
& so to bed.
posted by Neil Gaiman 2:53 AM
Friday, August 10, 2001
mark Askwith e-mails me to tell me that any Canadians who get SPACE - THE IMAGINATION STATION! can watch the SHELFSPACE on American Gods at on... Sat. Aug. 11 at 12:54 am
Aug 13 at 10:57 am and 2:08 am...
And I have to stop typing now to be interviewed by Smeg Radio in Sydney, Australia. Honest.
posted by Neil Gaiman 4:09 PM
Wednesday, August 08, 2001
Today brought a strange review: http://news.mysanantonio.com/story.cfm?xla=saen&xlb=640&xlc=271163&xld=100
If I hadn't known better I'd've probably thought it was a parody. You don't expect real reviews to complain that the book was too difficult for the reviewer.
I think my favourite paragraph is:
For the casual reader, "American Gods" comes under the heading of sensory overload. Perhaps there is such a thing as too much detail; this novel has that. Some of the sequences are almost Kubrickian in their complexity; and knowledge of other religions is required.
All this, I think we are meant to infer, is a very bad thing. (Wonders briefly if we should put a sticker on all copies sold in San Antonio: San Antonio Express-News WARNING -- Knowledge of Other Religions is Required.)
Have agreed to do a book review for the Washington Post, mainly because I've been on the receiving end of so many reviews recently it'll be fun to exercise those muscles myself.
Signed some posters today for RAINN auctions... And my assistant, the Fabulous Lorraine has pointed out to me it's time to start thinking about this year's Christmas Card. She's also pointed out to me it's probably time to stop doing AMERICAN GODS interviews and to concentrate on writing... and she is, of course, right.
posted by Neil Gaiman 3:25 PM
Tuesday, August 07, 2001
Last year, at a reading in Chicago, I read a poem called Blueberry Girl, as a favour to a very nice couple who had paid a ridiculous amount of money to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in order to have dinner with me.
I was surprised the following morning to find that helpful people had forwarded to me lots of web correspondence from other people who were very disgruntled that this hadn't been taped for their benefit and wasn't available on the Web.
Now, for my own reasons, I didn't want the poem out on the web: I wrote it for a friend at her request, it was hers, and I liked the idea that if I read it at a reading it would be, in some way, special.
So, since then, before I've read it, on those occasions I have, I've made a request: would people bootlegging the reading please mind turning off their tape recorders for this bit. And each time I've heard the satisfying chunk-chunk-chunk across the hall of tape recorders being switched off. And then I've read the poem.
Which may be either trusting or foolish of me, or both. But so far no-one's e-mailed me to tell me that copies of Blueberry Girl are wandering around. And my personal belief that, on the whole, if you treat people like grown-ups they will, on the whole, act like grown-ups, and nice grown-ups at that, has been upheld.
Something I was reminded of this morning, as I learned that the person responsible for posting the stuff I was grousing about yesterday sent in an incredibly grown-up apology about it, and promised not to do it again. So thanks for that, Luciano. Apology accepted. (And taking a hint from my own posting on curiosity I have decided not to try and find out who he is or how he got the stories, and to let it all lie.)
With luck the FAQ thing should be working by the end of the week. Or so I am assured.
When I get a moment, I'll try and post a sort of wrap-up retrospective of the tour. I realised that most of the strangest, oddest, most fun or most interesting moments went unrecorded on the blogger because I was writing the entries on the run. Like the strange moment in Vancouver Airport where I looked at shelf after shelf of recently published bestsellers in mass market paperback, and realised they were all, without exception, black, red and gold, and, in an effort to stand out, they all looked identical.
One answer, by the way to a number of Frequently Asked Questions, which all begin with "Where can I get a copy of..." is DreamHaven Books in Minneapolis. On the web at www.dreamhavenbooks.com -- they are very good people who always try to have more or less everything of mine in stock, if it's in print, and often if it's not.
(On the other hand, currently, the only answer to where to get a legitimate copy of the BBC Neverwhere seems to order it from Amazon.co.uk -- it's at http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00004CSV2 and then, if you're in the US, get a PAL to NTSC transfer made so you can watch it.)
Spoke to my editor at Harper Collins. (Interested to hear that American Gods has started creeping back up the New York Times list again...) We spoke about the mass market paperback of American Gods -- one of those easy short conversations that worlds probably hinge upon.
Me: So what are we doing for the cover of the mass market paperback of American Gods?
Jennifer: Well, we like the hardcover, so it'll be the same image, just reconfigured a bit for paperback.
Me: Should we make the lightning stand out a bit more?
Jennifer: Maybe. I'll see what the design people say.
So there you go. You now know as much as I do. As long as it's not black, red and gold, I'll be happy.
posted by Neil Gaiman 7:19 PM
Monday, August 06, 2001
Surprised this morning to discover that what looks like more or less random paragraphs extracted from the first couple of the stories I'd written for Tori's STRANGE LITTLE GIRLS have started floating around the net, and suddenly got a real insight into how artists must feel, having worked themselves into an exhausted frenzy, gone without sleep and and racked up a bill of hundreds of thousands of dollars recording a new album, mixing it, getting it into a form they are proud of, only to have everyone's first exposure to it be a badly compressed 56K mp3 of a premixed version released to a couple of journalists...
If that's how the artist wants it released, fine. But if not, I dunno -- it's like a strange sort of race between curiosity and respect, and, knowing human nature, curiosity will always win, and always be disappointed.
Not, I should add, that I spent thousands of dollars or went without sleep to write the SLG stories. But I had always thought that people's first exposure to them would be as a sequence of 12, in the correct order, to be read or heard in combination with the photos they refer to, and in context of the songs.
posted by Neil Gaiman 10:37 AM
Sunday, August 05, 2001
The weather continues much the same ie nightmarishly hot, and the garden continues much the same too, ie weird: things are either growing with nightmarish fecundity or not growing at all with neither rhyme nor reason splitting the two camps, and strange green plants get bigger and stranger, and several exotic pumpkins are ripening which seems rather early in the season if you ask me. The corn is high, the sunflowers are higher, and down in the garden things sway and shift and slip and shuffle even when the wind's not blowing. If you were to tell me that some of those plants ate small animals I'm not sure I'd entirely disbelieve you...
Reading Black House today. It's odd finding oneself, whether one wants to or not, playing the game of 'spot the author' -- and knowing that, the way things work, whenever I'm sure who wrote what I'll be guessing wrong, like the people who "know" just who wrote what in Good Omens (a book I wrote with Terry Pratchett) always seem to have guessed wrong. Which means if I ever hit a passage in Black House that HAS to be written by King, I bet it's by Peter, and if ever I get to a section about obscure Jazz greats, I bet it's been written by Steve, just to confuse me.
Strange, though. It's set about 60 miles away from where I live, at just this time of year, in the heat, with the orange tiger-lilies blooming and blowing by the side of every road, just as they are right now. And it's as much as sequel to Low Men in Yellow Coats as it is to The Talisman. The whole book is written in the present tense, and I felt proud of myself for noticing that the mood and opening were in a weird way reminiscent of the similarly titled Bleak House but then they actually had someone read aloud and quote from the opening of Bleak House...
I mentioned in the last entry that I don't usually use Entertainment Weekly as a guide to music. I do tend to use UNCUT though -- they have these wonderful CD compilations on the cover and I keep finding new favourites through them. Thea Gilmore, Hamell on Trial and Black box Recorder were all first encountered on UNCUT compilations. (So thank you Michael Bonner, who put me on their mailing list.)
posted by Neil Gaiman 5:23 PM
Saturday, August 04, 2001
So I'm reading Entertainment Weekly this morning, after breakfast, in a lazy sort of way, trying to decide whether I'm going to spend my Saturday writing the first notes on a strange sort of collaborative tale I'll be doing with Gene Wolfe, to be published at World Horror Con next year, or whether I'm going to read The Black House, the new King/Straub collaboration (as opposed to The Talisman, the old King/Straub collaboration), and I'm turning the pages the way one does at the back of EW, especially when one hits the music section (their tastes and mine usually failing to intersect) and I turn a page and notice a photo of Andy Dick and look up to the top left of the page and see a photo of Snoop Dogg, and stop to read the article, which is, it turns out, about blogging: keeping journals like this one.
And I'm in there, and they say some very nice things about this one (if you're coming in late, we're really at the tip of the tail here. Read the archives...). And finally, after reading the whole article, I notice there's also a photo on the page, immediately under the picture of Andy Dick, that I had singularly and utterly failed to notice the first time, and it's a photo of me.
Which left me really puzzled. I mean, I thought I'd be -- at least to me, if not to the rest of the world -- more recognisable than Andy Dick. Apparently not.
posted by Neil Gaiman 11:38 AM
Friday, August 03, 2001
Still home. Still writing. Still trying to catch up.
This Guardian Story made me astonishingly happy today, and I would be hard put to explain why.
I also promised the Usual Gang of Reprobates in the Compuserve SFMEDIA forum that I'd mention them sooner or later here on the journal. They're going to be discussing AMERICAN GODS in Section 12 of SFMEDIA in a week or so. So I'm letting any compuserve people know that that's the place to go and start to chat about it...
posted by Neil Gaiman 10:23 PM
Wednesday, August 01, 2001
Spent a small chunk of today working with Shelly Bond on the Sandman Calendar -- we assembled a bunch of useful birthdays for people who seemed somehow, to our fevered minds, Sandman-important, and some Sandman-related dates; and we found some pieces of artwork nicer and more relevant than some of the ones that they had already picked out, and I think overall we made something fun. I found a date for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and established that the date of the composition of Kublai Khan was both unknown and contentious.
I am sending the Mysterious Piece of Artwork to DC, with suggestions that it become a poster or something. And I spoke to Mr Zulli about it. "Oh yes," he said. "I remember it well. I did that in 1994. Sent it to you then, or maybe in 1995."
"But what did you think when I never mentioned it?"
"Oh, I thought you were busy or something. I guess I thought you didn't like it."
If it was me, I suspect I would have been on the phone every day, going "Hey, did you see it yet?"
Yesterday was so hot it was dangerous. Today was wetter than you would believe. I attribute both of these things to the overnight stay here of Ms. Claudia Gonson (and friend); the last time Claudia was here it was Xmas Day, and we had the coldest day on record for several years. Claudia says she's coming back to the minneapolis area for the renaissance festival (see Sandman # 73 for details) in September. I expect to see Shakopee washed away by floods, or carried off to Oz by a cyclone when she turns up there, or possibly witness to the first Minneapolitan volcanic eruption since the Silurian Age...
posted by Neil Gaiman 7:28 PM
I mostly wind up posting what I did in the way of media, so here's one posted before I did it: tomorrow (thursday the second of august) I'll be on NPR's Midmorning Edition, broadcasting from KNOW in Minneapolis/St Paul. Talking about American Gods, I guess. I'll be there on the 10:00am segment.
And now I have to go and finish reading THE WEREWOLF CLUB AND THE LUNCHROOM OF DOOM by Daniel Pinkwater to a young lady whose current vocabulary seems to consist of "We Come In Peace" "Greetings! Earthlings!" and, occasionally, for variety, "No! Says Alien Maddy!" Still, it makes a change from highlights from The Sound Of Music, so I suppose we must be thankful for small blessings.
posted by Neil Gaiman 6:09 PM