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Neil Gaiman is the winner of 3 Hugos, 2 Nebulas, 1 World Fantasy Award, 4 Bram Stoker Awards, 6 Locus Awards, 2 British SF Awards, 1 British Fantasy Award, 3 Geffens, 1 International Horror Guild Award and 1 Mythopoeic.
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1. After the Pause

posted by Neil Gaiman
And now, the exhale. Then quiet: only birdsong and the wind in the leaves.










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2. Existing in the pause

posted by Neil Gaiman
I was meant to be in the UK for another ten days. It was the ten days I was most looking forward to: a long-overdue trip to Scotland, to St Andrews (where I would be receiving a doctorate) and to Edinburgh and on to Skye. My friend Polly's 21st birthday party. A Masterclass in story writing I was going to teach.

I was walking in to a meeting with TV execs from around the world, along with my American Gods TV posse (the people from Fremantle Media, and Bryan Fuller and Michael Green) when Amanda texted to tell me she was on a train into London from Hornchurch, our friend Anthony was dying, and we were on a plane that was leaving in three hours from Heathrow. I explained what American Gods was to the TV people, and then I ran for it.

Somehow (well, with the aid of Clara Benn) we were packed and on that plane, in the last two seats in the back. (I am not pregnant: I took the middle seat.)

We made it to the hospital while Anthony was still conscious and more or less able to communicate. I told him about the umbrella cane I had discovered for him (I get him canes, with stories, from all over the world). He put his hand on Amanda's baby-bulge, and we talked to him about the baby's name, and he smiled.




We were in the hospital with him for two days and it seemed like a lifetime. On the third day the doctors said he could go home: he would get no better, and he was slipping away.

Amanda and I have moved next door to Laura and Anthony, moved to Amanda's old family home, as we wait.

It's the morning of day four now, a beautiful sunny fresh day. It rained in the night, and the grass was covered with webs that held the raindrops, and the morning sunlight slanted in at an angle that made everything look clean and magical and whole.

Anthony's dying fast. He communicates sometimes, if he's thirsty, or hungry, or needs to pee. He groans, and rolls, and does not want to be in his bed and does not have the strength to be anywhere else. There's nothing more. He hurts, his body is failing, and the leukemia and all that goes with it is draining him away. His wife, Laura, is being remarkable: saintly and brave and helpful and a rock for all the people around. His family and his friends are here sometimes. People are around the bed, and then they move away and talk, and then they are around the bed once more.

I keep making food, and feeding people. It helps.

Amanda is here, with me, with Anthony. So pregnant,  a beam of life and light in the darkness of the dying.

We won't be waiting long.

It doesn't feel like real time. Normally, we breathe in and we breathe out, and we never notice the beat between the breath. Right now we are living in the place between the inhalation and the exhalation, existing in the pause.

Do you want to know who Anthony is? Read this:  http://www.neilgaiman.com/Cool_Stuff/Essays/Introductions/Eight_Views_of_Mount_Fuji
It's the introduction I wrote to Anthony's book Beloved Demons, in November 2013, when his cancer was in remission. It stayed in remission for a long time, but not long enough.

It starts:


I had known Amanda Palmer for six months, and we were going on our first date. Our first date was four days long, because it was all the free time we had at the beginning of 2009 and we were giving it to each other. I had not yet met her family. I barely knew her friends.
"I want you to meet Anthony," she said.
It was January. If I'd really known who Anthony was in her life then, if I'd known how much he'd played his part in raising her, I think I would have been nervous. I wasn't nervous. I was just pleased that she wanted to introduce me to someone that she knew.
Anthony, she told me, was her next door neighbour. He had known her since she was a child.
He turned up in the restaurant: a tall, good-looking man who looked a decade younger than his age. He had a walking cane, an easy comfortable manner, and we talked all that evening. Anthony told me about the nine-year-old Amanda who had thrown snowballs at his window, and about the teenage Amanda who had come next door when she needed to vent, and about the college-age Amanda who had called him from Germany when she was lonely and knew nobody, and about rockstar Amanda (it was Anthony who had named the Dresden Dolls). He asked me about me, and I answered him as honestly as I could.
Later, Amanda told me that Anthony liked me, and had told her he thought I would make a good boyfriend for her.
I had no idea how important this was, or what Anthony's approval meant at the time...
And here is a song Amanda played for him at the end of a tour, three years ago, before she ended the tour early to help get him through that first round of chemo.






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3. Drawing the Undrawable: An Explanation from Neil and Amanda.

posted by Neil Gaiman

So that, as they say, was a thing.

The Neil and Amanda guest-edited New Statesman came out a couple of days ago. It's what we wanted it to be – an issue about saying the unsayable, filled with writers saying stuff. We are in it too. Everything is perfect...

Except the cover isn't the Art Spiegelman cover it was meant to be, the one that went up online at the New Statesman site and then vanished again. It's an Allan Amato photo of Neil and Amanda instead. A beautiful photo, with text over it. But it's not the cover we told people we were putting out, the cover that people have been asking us about.

This is what it looks like with the flap covering the left of it:







We owe you an explanation for why this is, especially as it gets into strangely self-reflexive territory: an issue about saying the unsayable that loses its cover for reasons of, among other things, freedom of speech, human error, and whether or not you can say the unsayable. Or show the unshowable.


Amanda:

Of all the things we were excited to attack with this "Saying the Unsayable" issue, the cover was at the top of the list, because it posed such a great braintwister: how do you draw what can't be said? Neil and I spent a few weeks chatting through all the various options - one of the nice things about being a musician and graphic novelist who have both been collaborating with artists for years is that we had a list of art-geniuses a mile long. Art Spiegelman won, in the end, because he was perfect for the theme. I remember seeing, in a newstand the week after Sept. 11, 2001, the cover of the New Yorker - thinking, at first, that it was a solid black image. And then, as the issue caught the light and revealed two magically disappearing towers, painted in ghostly gloss with a single antenna thrusting through The New Yoker masthead, I knew I was looking at the work of artistic emotional genius.

Art's been a fighter for visual free speech for ages: his seminal graphic novel "Maus", a profound commentary on family and nazism, has recently been banned from sale in Russia because it featured a swastika on the cover (though one could argue it was hardly "nazi memorablia - not to mention Art has already won the argument in Germany that Maus was culturally significant enough material to allow it onto shelves). Art's also let us crash at his apartment. So we were gleeful when Art agreed to do the cover, even though he had his grumpy doubts about the British press (we'll get to that in a second), and I traipsed over to Soho to have a long chat with him about what we might do for an image.

For three hours, over two walks and three locations (one cafe, Art's studio, and we stopped by to visit the artist JR: you'll note that that gave accidental birth to the use of JR and Art's Ellis Island graffitti/drawing collaboration in the issue), we discussed the potential for the cover, and I told Art about the fantastic writers we had on board, writing about the unsayable. I wound up getting a three hour crash-course in banned comic history, including the life and times of Fredric Wertham, Comics-burning, and the Comics Code.

In his studio, Art showed me some of his recent covers and comics following the Charlie Hebdo massacre. We batted some ideas around. An image of Me and Neil? Only if it was a really strong idea, I said. I didn't want this being about our egos - and we had balked at the idea of just using a nice photo of us on the cover. There's certainly nothing Unsayable about that.

Art showed me a comic he'd drawn about what you can and cannot say as a cartoonist, which I found smart and hilarious, and hardly controversial: Notes from a First Amendment Fundamentalist. It pictured Art, shown as the mouse-headed narrator, explaining what images were for, and why editors were scared of them, preferring to show smiley faces with “Have a Nice Day” on them instead. The comic had run in The Nation in the US, in many European countries and on the cover of a german paper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine. It hadn't been run in the UK, Art said, so we could have it as an exclusive. Brilliant, I said. Art told me the New Statesman had already passed on running it, back when Charlie Hedbo happened, not - they'd told him - on the grounds that it was controversial, but on the grounds that they'd felt they had enough Charlie Hebdo coverage. Art had been in China when the massacre happened and didn't get cracking on this drawing until a few weeks after the main news explosion. The London Review of Books had passed on it because “they disagreed with what Art said in it”.

It was something he felt really strongly about, and he was disappointed that it hadn't been seen in the UK. Would we run the comic as part of the issue? Neil and I both loved it -- it was a comic about saying the unsayable. We let the New Statesman know, Art sent over the image of the comic, and we got to work on what we thought was the hard part, the cover itself.


(Click on it to read it at full size.)

...

NEIL:

The phone buzzed and Art and Amanda were together in New York. We talked ideas for covers.

Art is a cartoonist: he writes beautifully and well, but his medium is pictoral, or that combination of words and pictures that become more than either alone.

“I don't think you need me,” he said. “They could do it with just a photo of you guys on the cover.”

“We need you,” we told him.

We wanted an image as powerful as some of his iconic New Yorker covers. Art retired from New Yorker covers, mostly because he didn't like having to negotiate or deal with magazine people, but he was willing to do it for us.

“The problem is,” he warned us, “that you can write about the unsayable, and nobody will mind. But if you draw the undrawable, you're in trouble.”

We tell him we are game for trouble.

Ideas are discussed: Me and Amanda as Paper Dolls surrounded by the costumes we could wear, all of them evoking things different groups would find offensive. Amanda and me about to be burned at the stake, with other burnable things. The see-no-evil monkeys.

We settled on me and Amanda drowning in our own word balloons, and got Art photoreference of us.

He called the next week. The word bubbles cover wasn't working. But he had an idea: a man drowning in shit, unable to talk about what he was drowning in.

The man would be calling out baby names for shit, loudly...

Art sent us a rough of the image.



It was great, except, it wasn't right. I showed it to Amanda.

It was a powerful image. And some days it feels like we are drowning in shit.

But...

I talked to Art after the Pen Gala, and explained my problem.

“It doesn't say Saying the Unsayable to me,” I told him. “It says, We Are Drowning in Shit. It's the cover to the Drowning in Shit issue.”

Art had already had another idea. He showed it to me. I took a photo of it and sent it to Amanda. She said “YES!” and we had our cover.

A week later, Art sent us this:



And it was perfect. Amanda was concerned people would look at it and see only a disempowered woman, not an angry woman. The New Statesmen people liked it (some of them loved it) but they were also concerned it might be misinterpreted.

We wrote a piece that was meant to go into the New Statesman talking about it:

We actually can discuss the unsayable. We are doing it here, in this issue. In that sense, “unsayable” is almost an oxymoron.

We can talk about something without actually showing it. We can discuss “drawing Mohammed”, we can write entire books if we wish about the traditions involved in representing Mohammed, the problems inherent in it, the issues of power, offense and violence involved, and nobody will try to kill us for writing it.

Once you draw the picture, it’s a different story: when you “draw the undrawable”. The moment that you draw a picture that shows something transgressive, even if you are simply commenting on it, you have drawn it. (In 2010 Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris attempted to satirise and comment on the issues involved in representing the prophet in a humourous way, by drawing a cotton reel, a cup, a domino, a purse, a cherry and a pasta box, each claiming to be an image of Mohammed. She was placed on an Al-Quaida deathlist, and has been in hiding for four years.)

Images that shock or repulse us have power, in a way that words will not.

 Amanda walked with artist Art Spiegelman through downtown New York for an afternoon, getting schooled in the long history of banned drawings, comics and the wake of the Charlie Hebdo assassinations.  She and Art got Neil on the phone and for an hour discussed "see no evil” monkeys, people and stereotypes being burned at the stake, and how to represent offensive images without actually offending people. We wound up with the idea of Neil and Amanda trapped and drowning in their own speech bubbles. But Art wasn't happy with it.

The first cover design he actually showed us was a glorious depiction of a man drowning in a sea of shit, unable to say the word. It almost worked, but not quite. (We worried that people would think, not unreasonably, that this was the “we are all drowning in a sea of shit” issue.)

When he sent over the sketch of an angry woman bound, “see no evil” blindfolded, but still trying to swear through the happy-face on her ball gag, we knew we had our cover.

And we stopped worrying about the cover.

….


Amanda:

Putting together the contents of the issue was a blast, and a tsumani of emails flooded between me, neil, the new statesman folks, and the various writers we were hoping would write for the issues. Some people got their pieces in within days of being asked, some people wrote thousand-word pieces only to spill tea on their computers at the last minute, missing the deadline. Some interview questions went unanswered, some people called in sick.

Some incoming material led to new inspirations, which was where we really felt the beautiful synchonicity of concocting a magazine in realtime, on a deadline. JR's haunting Ellis Island graffiti images seemed to hunger for context about today's heated immigration issues; we pondered who could write about that, and the new statesman suggested we bring in Khaled Hosseini (whose work I'd read, but it would have never occured to me). We ran into Laurie Penny in a cambridge coffee shop and she offered to work with a writer of a piece we liked but felt wasn't there yet. We emailed with our friend Stoya to see what her take was on the unsayable issues in her workplace, porn. I happened to be talking with two different friends on the phone when it occured to me that they should write about what were were chatting about: both of those moments found their way into the "Vox Populi" sections. It was a lot of fun. The New Statesman folks were incredible - they caught the balls as fast as we were batting them and worked tirelessly on laying out the perfect issues. Everybody was really excited.

Two nights before the launch of the issue - the night before the final pieces of the magazine were to go to the printer so the magazine could hit the stands on time - we got a distressed email from Art. He was going to have to pull his cover, because he'd gotten an email from the magazine saying they they wouldn't run his comic.

Because of timing, or because of the content? Timing, probably. My brain did a few frantic calculations. Had we sent it over? Had we missed it in the master list? Oh shit. Maybe. I admitted to Art that we hadn't been the most organized editors - but we'd call the magazine right away. The worst thing that would happen was that it would miss the print deadline, but it would make it into the online version, which was, hopefully, going to see even more traffic than the printed issue, anyway. Art sighed and said he'd be happy enough with that, but he needed a promise from The New Statesman. It was 7 pm, We phoned the New Statesman. It was too late for the comic to get into print, they said. Could we run it online? They froze. Apparently, there had been a New Statesman-wide meeting and consensus that the magazine wouldn't print any images of the prophet mohammed. But Art's comic didn't depict the prophet, it depicted Art tearing off his mouse mask and revealing a smily-faced, turban-wearing.... Neil and I sighed. We hung up the phone. We looked at each other, glumly. This sucked.

"Okay. What if...." I said, "you write about the evolution of the cover for the online version of the magazine, and in there, just put a thumbnail of the comic which linkes to the full-size version of the comic which is already up online? You could interview Art about censorship. That way the comic gets the attention it needs, the new statesman doesn't have to actually run it, Art will get his way, and we won't have to lose our beautiful cover. Because honestly, the heavy irony of the fact that we're sitting around here discussing losing the cover of our 'Saying the Unsayable' issue because we can't run a smiley face with a turban on it..."

Neil furrowed.

"We can try."

We called The New Statesman. They said they could live with that.

We called Art. He said he'd go for that.

We breathed a massive sigh of relief. Neil called Art and did an interview with him about pictures and art and censorship and why artists need to be able to do art to communicate, for the blog. Neil couldn't work out why the Skype calls kept failing. (I was in bed on the internet, downloading things.)

But after three calls, he came to bed. We were saved.

The next morning, at 10 am, I had voicemails and texts to call the New Statesman. I gulped. We called. The peace treaty had broken down overnight. Art's agent had put The New Statesman's promise to run the thumbnail, with the link, in a blog written by Neil, into a contract and sent it over. They wouldn't sign it, as they explained, if they failed to do as Art requested, he could have the whole issue pulped. They said they'd rather pull the cover. It was 11 am, and Neil and I were on a train to go and visit his family in the countryside, with phone service coming and going. We spent the train ride on the phone convinced that we could re-assemble the agreement we'd managed to put together the night before. The absolute deadline for printing the cover was 12pm.

We couldn't do it.

By 11:45pm, it became clear that Art's cover was going to be pulled. We started disucssing, reluctantly, what could possibly replace it. The New Statesman mocked up a simple cover using the press photo by Allan Amato that was taken four years ago, with the words "Saying the Unsayable" printed across our faces. We sat in a cafe in the English Countryside that happened to have wireless and downloaded it.

"This is fucked. This is an issue about censorship, and it looks like the cover of GQ." I said.

"We could just go all black...." said Neil. (Of course).

We sent some half-hearted remarks to The New Statesman to improve the size and placement of the text, but we didn't have any further time to discuss it. The cover went to press.


Neil:

It was a complete cock-up. Art's ironic prediction of a photograph of me and Amanda on the cover proved correct.

Art's real frustration is that the British press can write about freedom of speech while at the same time having blanket policies which mean that an image like this one becomes unshowable. (In context: the Art Spiegelman self-image Maus character has removed his mouse face to reveal a smiley face with a turban, telling you to have a nice day. You can interpret this in a number of ways. The New Statesman took it as showing an image of the Prophet, something that they had agreed amongst themselves they would never do. I take it as Art's logical conclusion to a comic on Pictures and the power of pictures, even the simplest, in a post Charlie-Hebdo massacre environment.)

I suspect that if the New Statesman had had longer to talk amongst themselves and to think about the Art's comic it would have made it in, but I could be wrong.

The night before the New Statesman went to press, when the agreement was that I would blog about it on the New Statesman site, I interviewed Art for the blog. He said a number of cogent things about image and cartoons, about why the UK press wouldn't show images, like his comic, which had been on the front covers of newspapers in Germany and prominently published elsewhere in Europe. On why, in a secular society, it is vital not to bait, but to debate – and that people who use pictures to communicate needed to be able to use their pictures, as those of us who use words use their words. That there cannot be a Kalashnikov veto on what is published.

(The blog didn't run, and as Art says, he gave the interview being still kindly disposed to the New Statesman, and he doesn't feel that way any longer, so I'm not going to quote from it.)

Art feels angry: angry for the wasted work, and because he wants people in the UK to see his comic.

The New Statesman editors felt aggrieved, trapped between the rock of having to show an image that might, conceivably, have been interpreted as showing Mohammed in order not to lose their cover, and the hard place of their discomfort with the Wylie Agency.

Amanda and I are sad and disappointed. I'm mostly disappointed because I thought that the proposed solution (of blogging about it on the NS site, with a thumbnail of the comic that you could click on to take you to a larger image, so the comic could be seen, and in the blog Art and I could talk about the issues involved) was something that worked. I'm still sad that the New Statesman backed away from it, when it was put in writing.

It's obvious, going back in the email chains, to see the breakdowns in communication between Art and the New Statesman and vice versa, while Amanda and I were riding the magazine guest-editor whirlwind (writers dropping out and coming back in, pieces coming to us or going directly to the NS, people we waited on for articles or think pieces or interviews until the last moment, while still trying to keep our lives and our real, paying work going). It was our cock-up as much as anyone's: we knew he wanted the comic in and had sent it over, and didn't actually think of it again until the end.


Neil and Amanda:

So that's what happened, and why Art's cover isn't there on the cover of the New Statesman.

Running a magazine is insanely hard work, and having to deal with the crisis at the last minute was no fun for the New Statesman team, who have been supportive of us all the way, and who wound up, at the end, face to face with, and having to deal with, what is and isn't unsayable. (And from their perspective, as they expressed it to us, it was also a freedom of speech issue: they didn't want to run the comic, and couldn't be pushed into it.)

But...

This is how we get into this mess in the first place. "We would, but...." "We should, but...." "We believe in freedom of the press, but...." It's death by a thousand buts. We wanted to say the unsayable, and draw the undrawable. We ended up feeling like we'd tried, and, due to human error on our parts and on the magazine's, failed.

We're really, really proud of this issue, and we're honored that the New Statesman gave us a chance to gather all these artists and writers together. We have the former Archbishop of Canterbury writing about why religion needs blasphemy and Stoya on porn, and Michael Sheen and Hayley Campbell and Kazuo Ishiguro and Roz Kaveney and Nick Cave and...

We just wish we were as proud of the cover as we were of the content.

Have a nice day.

Neil and Amanda



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4. Ursula at 85

posted by Neil Gaiman
I was thrilled to be interviewed for a documentary on Ursula K. Le Guin on BBC Radio -- who are also going to be broadcasting their adaptations of The Left Hand of Darkness and the Earthsea Trilogy. I was even more thrilled to hear the finished programme -- not because it has me in it, and David Mitchell, and Karen Joy Fowler, and lovely Naomi Alderman asking the questions and doing the talking, but because it has so much Ursula K Le Guin in it. She reads from an essay. She answers questions. She explains how you balance a writing life with having a family. She talks about gender and about writing and about humanity.

For the next few weeks you can listen to it here, wherever you are in the world:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05pkmyg

(If you are on a phone or tablet you'll need an app like TuneIn Radio to listen.)

Allegra, the producer, told me that the success on BBC Radio of Neverwhere and Good Omens were what gave the people who wanted to make Earthsea and The Left Hand of Darkness the clout they needed to get Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra to agree to make them. I've never been happier for an unintended consequence.

Here's a great recent interview with Ursula: http://www.denofgeek.us/books-comics/ursula-le-guin/245224/ursula-le-guin-talks-sci-fi-snobbery-adaptations-troublemaking
And here's a clip:

...

To honour Terry Pratchett, the BBC is rebroadcasting their adaptation of GOOD OMENS, too:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04knt4h is the BBC's Good Omens site, with lots of goodies, and links to the programs. If you are in the UK, it's going out at about 11:30pm each night, and the final episode will be on Saturday at 2:30 pm.

There's a new book by me out, with pictures by the amazing Mr Adam Rex: Chu's Day at the Beach


It's intended for readers a little older than the first Chu books (who are mostly 1-3). This one is for 4 and 5 year olds. It has a plot. It even has merpandas.





I'm really proud of it. It's my favourite of the Chu books, and once you look at it, you'll know why.






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5. The Facts of Death

posted by Neil Gaiman


It is not a wise or a sensible thing to do, to fly from the US to the UK, getting in late on the Tuesday night, and flying back early on the Thursday morning, in order to go to a funeral on the Wednesday, but sometimes you do the wrong thing because it's the only right thing you can do, and because you have to say goodbye to a friend properly, and that was true this week.

We didn't always look like this. 24 years ago, on tour for Good Omens, we looked more like this:



It's a bookshop signing photo, which is a nice change. Back then, every newspaper interview we did they'd drive us to a graveyard. I'm not 100% certain why. But in ancient crumbling newspaper picture archives, there should be a host of photos of Terry and me holding Good Omens and looking not very scary at all.

It accompanies this:  http://www.locusmag.com/2006/Issues/1991_Gaiman_Pratchett.html --  an interview with us both from 1991, in Locus Magazine, from back when we were very young and prone to finishing each other's sentences.

BBC Radio 4 is going to repeat GOOD OMENS as a tribute to Terry: it starts Monday the 6th, at 22:30 UK time. Details at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04knt4h If you missed it, you can listen to it from anywhere in the world, using the internet, or an app (if you have only a phone/tablet).



And Terry's death makes me think of Douglas Adams' death (I missed the memorial: it was the first day that planes were flying again after 9/11, and I gave my seat on the plane up so that someone could get home). 

On March 3rd I was in the UK to deliver the Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture, to help Save the Rhinos. You can watch the talk I gave here:





(The blog title is borrowed from a poem Terry wrote for an anthology called NOW WE ARE SICK, which I edited with Steve Jones in 1985. His poem began...


They don’t teach you the facts of death,

Your Mum and Dad. They give you pets.

We had a dog which went astray.

Got laminated to the motorway.

I cried. We had to post him to the vet’s.



You have to work it out yourself,

This dying thing. Death’s always due.

A goldfish swimming on a stall,

Two weeks later: cotton wool,

And sent to meet its Maker down the loo.)


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6. Terry Pratchett

posted by Neil Gaiman
I woke up and my email was all condolences from friends, and requests for statements from journalists, and I knew it had happened. I'd been warned.

Thirty years and a month ago, a beginning author met a young journalist in a Chinese Restaurant, and the two men became friends, and they wrote a book, and they managed to stay friends despite everything. Last night, the author died.

There was nobody like him. I was fortunate to have written a book with him, when we were younger, which taught me so much.

This was the last thing I wrote about Terry. I knew his death was coming and it made it no easier:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/sep/24/terry-pratchett-angry-not-jolly-neil-gaiman

I'll miss you, Terry.

I'm not up to writing anything yet. Maybe one day.




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7. Edging back to blogging

posted by Neil Gaiman
I really am out of the habit of blogging, aren't I? Some of it's from travelling too much, and most of it is probably from using Twitter and Facebook in places and ways that I would have blogged in the past.

Last year's social media sabbatical was really pleasant and rewarding, though, and I'm thinking about doing another, longer one, at the end of this year. Which will probably mean I'll return to blogging again then.

I'm writing this from a hotel in Dublin, where I was today receiving the James Joyce Award. Now off to the UK, where I'll be delivering the Douglas Adams memorial lecture, as a benefit for Save the Rhinos. (Almost all tickets are gone. A few VIP tickets are up on ebay.) The Lecture is called Immortality and Douglas Adams. I know that. Now I just have to write it.

A new book is out: it's called Trigger Warning: Short Stories and Disturbances.

I learned when Smoke and Mirrors came out what people say in reviews of short story collections, and learned it again when Fragile Things came out, a decade later. The reviews say "A good collection of stories, let down by (the weak stories) and redeemed by (the strong stories)" But nobody ever seems to agree on what the weak and the strong stories are, so I never feel I have learned very much from the reviews, but am always happy that people found stories that they did like in there.

So that's what most of the reviews say.

Then there's Frank Cottrell Boyce writing in the New Statesman, about Trigger Warning, short stories, what they are and how we read them, and it's an essay I'd love even if I weren't in there:

It is interesting that Saint Columba makes an appearance. Columba began his exile on Iona in penance for his part in the 6th-century Battle of the Book, a conflict that had its origin in his secret copying of Saint Finnian’s psalter: a kind of medieval illegal download. The subsequent ruling – “To every cow its calf, to every book its copy” – marks an important moment in the history of books. Were they beautiful, magical objects, to be carried into battle as charms (as the psalter was)? Or were they a means to disseminate information? Should their magic stay locked inside or should it be shared? Trigger Warning seems to grow out of a similar rift – the alternating currents of struggle and synergy that flow between the page and the electronic media.

I'm pleased that most readers seem to enjoy most of Trigger Warning, especially pleased and relieved that "Black Dog", the second of the American Gods stories of Shadow in the UK, seems to be well-received. I'm nervously caracoling towards the next novel, and suspect I'll start it in a few months, when the current giant jobs are done...

Amanda and I went to Sarasota to see my 97 year old cousin Helen, and seeing we were there and it was Valentine's Day, we did an event at the beautiful historic Tampa Theatre. This, at the end of a VERY long evening, is me singing "I Google You".



And the beautiful P. Craig Russell limited edition print we did for it is up for sale at Neverwear:

Ah. That was my return to blogging and it wasn't funny at all, was it? Bugger.





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8. New Year's Wishes and gifts

posted by Neil Gaiman
An old year ends, and takes with it people and sorrows and joys and memories, and a new one is on it way.

A New Year's Gift, for anyone who missed it:

The BBC Radio 4 GOOD OMENS Website, with all six episodes of the Radio Series available to listened to over the next 2-3 weeks.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04knt4h

And a reminder, over at http://acalendaroftales.com/ you can read and listen to all the stories I wrote for the  A Calendar of Tales. January's Tale takes place in the moments between the first and the last chime of twelve midnight, when the Old Year is over and the New Year not yet begun.


May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.


...I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.


And for this year, my wish for each of us is small and very simple.

And it's this.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.


And here, from 2012 the last wish I posted, terrified but trying to be brave, from backstage at a concert:

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.

...

I meant, and mean them all. I wasn't going to write a new one this year. But...

Be kind to yourself in the year ahead. 

Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It's too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand.

Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.

Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them. 

Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.



Labels:  Happy New Year


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9. Radio shows are like Buses...

posted by Neil Gaiman
Radio shows in which I answer quiz questions, sing, and tell the story of how I wrote OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE for Amanda are like buses.  You wait for such a long time, and then two come along at once.

I love that two shows, recorded many weeks apart, went out at the same time. Quite literally. And many Public Radio stations put them out back to back. So it must have seemed to listeners that this writer they had never heard of had just taken over their radios. Probably they were disappointed when I wasn't then to be heard singing something on the News from Washington.

The first one I recorded was ASK ME ANOTHER, at the 92nd st Y. Ophira Eisenberg and Jonathan Coulton tormented me with their evil questions and singing tests. It was amazing.



You can listen to selected bits and to the whole of it at http://www.npr.org/programs/ask-me-another/

And you can watch this bit. I had told their interviewer that I won tickets to see Patience from the local paper's Gilbert & Sullivan competition when I was 9. So they did a Gilbert & Sullivan competition for me, with the assistance of Jonathan Coulton playing things on guitar that were never meant to be played on guitar.




Then last week I flew to Minneapolis to be on WITS, with musical guest Shara Worden AKA My Brightest Diamond (whoa, can that lady sing). 

I found myself in comedic sketches, including one where I show people around an extremely unusual house. And I read out people's Bad Gaiman submissions. And I sang a verse of FEVER.

They recorded enough material to make two shows, and you can listen to the first of them here:


I cannot find a photo from that night, so here is a video clip from the last time I was in WITS, in 2011. It features Adam Savage's performance of "I Will Survive" in the character of Gollum...


...

And Hachette and Amazon have finally buried the, um, small axe-like thing, and are friends again. So in a gesture of celebration I will put up an Amazon link here for the first time in a long time. Heck, I will put up two:




and (out on Feb 3rd 2015)






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10. The Most Important Publishing Event In Our House

posted by Neil Gaiman
I went to Germany and Austria, and did book events and signings for Der Ozean am Ende der Straße.
I went to Paris and did book events and signings for L'océan au Bout du Chemin.
I came back to America and went to New York, where I talked at the New York Public Library about life, the universe and Hansel and Gretel, while dressed as dead Charles Dickens.

(You can watch or listen to the whole of that evening's interview with NYPL's own Paul Holdengraber at http://www.nypl.org/events/programs/2014/10/31/neil-gaiman-paul-holdengr%C3%A4ber).

They gave me a magical backstage library tour of creepy things, first. (It is chronicled here.)

Hansel and Gretel came out in the USA and is getting wonderful reviews. Here's the New York Times:




Written with a devastating spareness by Neil Gaiman and fearsomely illustrated in shades of black by Lorenzo Mattotti, the newest version of “Hansel and Gretel” astonishes from start to finish. It doesn’t hurt that the book itself is a gorgeous and carefully made object, with a black floral motif on its pages’ decorated borders, along with abundant red drop caps and tall, round gray page numbers. ...All the well-chosen detail provides an ideal backdrop for what Gaiman and Mattotti have done with the Grimm Brothers’ familiar story of the two siblings who, after being abandoned by desperate parents, outwit their witchy captor. Their rendition brings a freshness and even a feeling of majesty to the little tale. Some great, roiling essence of the human condition — our fate of shuttling between the darkness and the light — seems to inhabit its pages.
Which is really rather wonderful.

The Sleeper and the Spindle came out in the UK, and is also getting great reviews. This Chris Riddell illustration raised some eyebrows:


When the picture was first seen we were criticised for writing a lesbian version of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, and now people have read the story I've seen us criticised for not writing a lesbian version of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. 

What it is, I hope is a story about strong, smart women making their own stories. The Guardian's Amanda Craig said,

Neil Gaiman’s striking novella, The Sleeper and the Spindle, out this month, conflates and subverts Snow White and Sleeping Beauty into a tale of female courage and choice.
and I'd take that.

So two beautifully illustrated fairy tales came out on each side of the Atlantic.

I was honoured by the National Coalition Against Censorship at its 40th anniversary Gala dinner. (This is a video we made for them explaining why I love the First Amendment.)



But that wasn't the big book excitement in the household.

Nope. The big excitement was yesterday, when my wife, Amanda, became a published author with her first book.


This is the cover. She spent the year writing it, following on from her TED talk of the same name, and it's just been published, on 11/11, by Grand Central. It's a remarkable book -- it's partly a memoir, partly a manifesto on crowdfunding and music and art, partly the story of our marriage and her friend Anthony's struggle with cancer and what that meant to Amanda's life and career. It's the story of how she did the most popular musical Kickstarter ever, and the weird and improbable shapes and twists her world has taken. It's about how we ask for things. It's about being vulnerable.

I think it's a fantastic book, but then, I'm biased, being in love with the author. (I'm also all through the book, not always flatteringly. It's a very honest book.)

Cory Doctorow writes a fantastic essay about Amanda, the book, asking and the shape of music and information in this decade over at the New Statesman

First books are strange beasts. They are rougher than the books that follow (usually), but they are also full of literally everything that the author ever, over the course of her entire life, thought worthy of inclusion in a book. All subsequent books will be full of the things the writer came up with after she started publishing. The first one, that's got everything from the other side of the divide.

Palmer is a good writer, and in places she's great. She has a loose and at times meandering structure that usually works, except when it doesn't. As a literary work The Art of Asking is pretty good. But as a manifesto and a confessional of an artist uniquely suited to her time and place, it is without parallel.

What Palmer's story tells us is that asking, trusting, and giving are hard and terrifying, and you face real risk every time you do them.

Palmer receives death threats, is stalked and sexually assaulted by fans, is terrorised by fans who threaten suicide to command her attention.

Palmer doesn't make it look easy, this business of being public and naked. She makes it look hard. The Art of Asking is an inspiration because Palmer never tries to hide the scuffed duct-tape holding her life together. Instead, she takes us by the hand and insists that we look at this 21st century artistic business model with open eyes and realistic expectations.
Which is the truth. It's also a very funny book. As Cory says, she's put everything in here.

She's also having to deal with the very real problem of Amazon in the US not stocking the book, due to their ongoing contract-battle with her publisher, Hachette. You can buy it from Barnes and Noble, with free shipping from Powells, or you could use Indiebound to find it or buy it from a local independent bookshop. But if you think you may want it, or if you know anyone who will want it for as a holiday gift... BUY IT THIS WEEK. Get it now. The bestseller rankings matter, and without the Amazon sales (they tend to be about half of a book's sales in the US) it's going to be much harder for her.

...

I was on WITS last week. I believe it will go out in podcast form on Friday Afternoon.

This is not to be confused with ASK ME ANOTHER, recorded many weeks ago, which also goes out in podcast form on Friday Afternoon.

For one week only, I will be semi-ubiquitous on public radio...

And finally... It was my birthday on Monday. I flew from Minneapolis to Boston, and gathered with Amanda in Harvard Square, to walk up to Porter Square Bookshop, with a crowd of late night bookbuyers, where she was going to do a midnight signing... And this happened:




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11. In Which I am About to go to Germany, Austria and France. Also, notPorn.

posted by Neil Gaiman


It's autumn in this part of the world, and the trees are amazingly beautiful. A few weeks ago they were red and green, now they're mostly shades of brown, orange and gold, and every now and again a tree decides to simply shed itself of leaves, like someone taking off their overcoat and dropping it on the floor where they stand, and the leaves drop or spin and it's all so gloriously autumnal and pre-Hallowe'eny it feels like there's a set designer arranging it all.

And I'm leaving it all.

I'm headed off to Hamburg on Monday Night http://www.literaturhaus-hamburg.de/), Cologne on Tuesday, (http://www.literaturhaus-koeln.de/showtermine.php?id=931). These are sold out. Vienna on Wednesday, at 7:30 pm at Buchhandlung Morawa in Vienna Wollzeile 11, 1010 Wien (I can't see anywhere online to get tickets, so assume it's a just turn up event).

From there I go to Paris. On Thursday night (its the 23rd), around 7 pm, Dave McKean and I will be at the gallery opening for Dave's beautiful red and black and white SMOKE AND MIRRORS drawings at Galerie Martel, 17 Rue Martel, Paris.  http://www.galeriemartel.comhttps://www.facebook.com/events/282927571907816/

On Friday the 24th, at 6pm I'll be doing a SIGNING in Paris. Well, technically in Vincennes, at the Millepages. Librairie 91, rue de Fontenay Vincennes. The page is here. No tickets or anything needed, just turn up and I will sign your books or comics or arm.

(There was a 3:00 on Saturday signing mistakenly announced for me and Dave McKean at Galerie Martel, but that's ONLY DAVE as I'm off being interviewed then. So if you are in France and you want something signed, come to the Vincennes signing.)

***



The Sleeper and the Spindle, illustrated by Chris Riddell, is coming out this week in the UK. I've been fascinated by the articles that have come out centering around this illustration, of the queen waking the sleeper. It's been applauded for things it is and things it isn't, decried as pornographic, and pretty much everything in between.  I think it's beautiful, but then, I think everything about this book is beautiful, from the transparent cover and the gold ink details on.  (Here's a restrained piece from The Guardian, from whose website I stole the above picture.)

(It's only for sale soon in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. If you are anywhere else and want it before the end of the year, you should probably order it. Here's the Book Depository Link (with Free worldwide delivery), the  Amazon.co.uk link and here is the UK Local Bookshop link. I should warn you also that the paperback edition you can preorder on Amazon won't be out for a year. But you will want to get the hardback, because it is an object of pure beauty.)

...


Are you an author? Are you someone who owns an independent bookshop who knows authors? Amanda and I wrote a letter to authors and bookshops, about the Saturday after US Thanksgiving. 

Last year, Sherman Alexie came up with an idea so audacious and imaginative it could only have been conceived by an author who wanted to be allowed behind the counter in a bookshop.  The idea, “Indies First,” is this: authors get to spend a day hand-selling books and helping out in their local independent bookshop. 
Good, right? You, an author, will experience the joys and frustrations of being a bookseller. Mostly the joys — it’s one of the busiest days of the year for small businesses, especially in bookshops. The day in question is the Saturday after Thanksgiving, “Small Business Saturday.” People are beginning to buy gifts for the holidays (now is your chance to persuade people that they need your books — especially if you’ve signed them — and your friends’ books, and books you’ve always loved that, if widely read would make the world a better place). It will be, we promise you, a much more sociable day than the ones you spend staring at a blank screen or a white sheet of paper, communing with imaginary people and suchlike.

(You can read the whole letter at the link. We plan to work at three different local bookshops that day.We have a plan.)




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12. In which you and I go to Tasmania together.

posted by Neil Gaiman


I have a small gold owl on the lapel of my jacket, with the letters B and e underneath it, and people often ask me what it represents. I tell them it's from the Bookend Trust, and then explain that, despite the name, it's not a reading organization. It's an environmental charity, and I'm one of its patrons. (The owl is a Tasmanian Masked Owl, an endangered species.)




I love Tasmania. Really love it, and I first visited it, along with George R R Martin, as guests of honour when the Australian National Science Fiction Convention was held in Hobart, long before Tasmania had become a cool place to go. 
During that first visit I met some of the people who would go on to found the Bookend Trust. When they asked me to become part of it, I was more than happy to agree. 

Since being a part of Bookend, I have, with Amanda, hand-fed Tasmanian Devils and echidnas. (The echidnas were both called Eric. Baby echidnas are called Puggles. THIS IS TRUE.) 



Because of the Bookend Trust, I've sailed under some of the tallest and sheerest sea cliffs in the southern hemisphere.  And I've had close encounters with rescued Kangaroos.

Bookend grew from a small education support program funded by the people involved in it, to, as they explain,  "a major initiative assisting students and teachers at all ages within the education system. From high achievers to disadvantaged students, Bookend has developed clever interactive and online projects that engage students with scientists and explorers on the ground. It's also provided students with opportunities to directly visit and learn from these experts in the deep wildernesses of south-west Tasmania, Antarctica, Lord Howe Island, Thailand and other fascinating locations." You can see a great snapshot of their projects here: http://www.bookendtrust.com/about-bookend-trust
When I visited Tasmania in January 2013, we had plans to run a Bookend fundraiser to help support this work, but the nightmarish wildfires broke out just before I got there.  (Bookend helped me and my publishers at Hachette Australia and Bloomsbury to deliver materials to rebuild the libraries for the wonderful Dunalley School and community.) You can read about it and see photos here

Here's me and Polly Adams presenting a copy of Chu's Day to Dunalley.


Since then, Bookend has continued to grow. The people who are growing it need help to expand their work to more schools across the world. 

And they are making a film...   

Here's the trailer.

It's a creepily fantastic natural history story called SIXTEEN LEGS (www.sixteenlegs.com). It's yer normal run-of-the-mill never-before-filmed story of still-living, giant prehistoric spiders the size of dinner-plates trying to find love in the dark.

This project is gloriously mad: they've just launched a touring public exhibition, complete with Izzy von Lichtan's giant replica spiders 18 feet across.  Although the main documentary won't be finished until next year, a shorter 'making-of' piece on the filming to date (called 16 LEGS: SPIDER LOVE) will have its world premiere on November 9 at both the Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) Film Festival in Australia and the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in Canada.

On top of all of that, I am pleased to announce publicly that Australian singing star Kate Miller-Heidke  (I once compared her voice to having sex with butterflies) (and two weeks ago I sang a chorus on her cover of Pogues song for Christmas) will be singing on the soundtrack, in collaboration with the superb spidery music of composer Dean Stevenson.

And SIXTEEN LEGS really needs your help.
Public support for this project will allow Bookend to complete filming, editing and distribution of the documentary and allow them to expand and tour the SIXTEEN LEGS exhibition to other locations around Australia and off around the globe. (It will also help support scholarships and research throughout all of Bookend's educational and environmental work.)
Rewards for donors include postcards, posters, and books of production art and photos. There's a book with the dark fantasy storyline that weaves through the documentary, with Production Art by Jodee Taylah. There's also a photographic collection on the science behind the project.  The books are available as standard, or signed Limited Deluxe Editions with your name in them. For donors with more money or time, there are expert-guided tours of Tasmania and visits from the film-makers, as well as the option to simply donate. 

Whatever size contribution you make, you not only get the items you purchase, but (provided the total fundraising exceeds AUD$100,000) then with every dollar you contribute (excluding postage) you get a a chance to win a trip to Tasmania with me, from anywhere around the globe, when I return there to film for the project next year. You'll get to see the Tasmanian Devils, wilderness landscapes and tourist attractions of Tasmania (which is about the coolest place there is).

You can order fundraising items and find out more about the project at http://www.sixteenlegs.com, and there are photos and video links to some of the Tasmanian places http://www.bookendtrust.com/caves/win

Fundraising will be running until late November. And you should do it. Because there is nothing like handfeeding echidna. Or being the catering department for a bunch of hungry young Tasmanian Devils...



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13. Seminudity of the daughter-embarrassing kind.

posted by Neil Gaiman
It's been ages, and I kept promising myself I'd do a blog update, and then other stuff would happen, and somehow in there the blog never got updated.

So. Right. Lots of stuff has happened since the last time I posted. (OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE came out in paperback in the UK and US. It's still on the US bestseller lists. Please read it. I'm very proud of it. I did a tour for THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS, with Eddie Campbell and the FourPlay string quartet, and we sold out The Warfield and Carnegie Hall and the Barbican and we very nearly sold out Usher Hall in Edinburgh. CHU'S FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL came out for little kids. I helped Amanda edit in the last three days before she handed in her book, which was wonderful, and I handed in the manuscript for my next short story collection, TRIGGER WARNING... although I'm still finishing the last story in the book.)

(Backstage at Carnegie Hall, with Maddy.)

On Wednesday I went to LA for a few days of meetings and such. I learned what's happening with the AMERICAN GODS TV series (all good and on-track), with the John Cameron Mitchell movie of my story "How To Talk to Girls At Parties" (it's all looking wonderful. Elle Fanning will play Zan, the second of the girls that Enn meets at the party. The story continues after the short story is done, and is still set in 1977, in Croydon). Other things, just as good. I saw a preview of my old friend Cindy Shapiro's rock opera Psyche (http://www.psycherockopera.com/), and was really impressed by how powerful the music and staging of the myth were.

While I was talking to people, my wife Amanda (rock star, just wrote a book out in November) was working at Bard College with a director and some young actors.

Amanda's step brother Karl, a few years older than her, whom she idolised, died when he was in his mid-twenties, of ALS, so when Chris Anderson of TED challenged Amanda to do the ice-bucket challenge, she did. In a wonderful video.


And then she challenged me.

I thought about it. I was in LA (where the Californian water shortage is a very real thing. It's a drought). I wanted to be informative (because people sent me icebucket challenge videos to watch, and I had to go and google to figure out what was going on). I wanted to make it clear you could donate AND challenge. And I wanted it to me memorable.

Amanda gave me the key. She pointed out that she had done her challenge fully dressed. And not, as people might have imagined, naked or semi-naked.

I called Allan Amato and Olga Nunes, fresh off the Temple of Art Kickstarter, and they agreed to come and film me on the beach that afternoon.

And to bring Death. Because ALS is a fatal condition. So I packed my novelty bowtie, and headed out...



Please watch it. If you like it, share it...

(All of us post-bucketing, except for Best Boy Cat Mihos, who took the photo.)

I embarassed my daughters. So far, Karen accepted the challenge but hasn't posted a video (https://twitter.com/KarenGillan2/status/503101560814321664) and George has done it -- and called me a bastard, into the bargain. (http://youtu.be/mJYx2UtPTWc)





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14. Why I am Smiling In This Picture

posted by Neil Gaiman

One of the reasons I'm smiling so widely in this picture is I'd just been talking to the people in Azraq camp who run the child friendly space it was taken in. They were mostly from UNICEF.

They had explained that when the kids arrived in the camp, only the previous week, they didn't talk or make noise. They were subdued. When they drew pictures, the pictures were of explosions, of severed body parts, of weapons and dead people.

The camp had only been open two weeks. The kids I saw and spoke to were kids – noisy, happy, curious, hilarious, and they showed us their drawings, of butterflies and children and mountains and animals and hearts.

That's what I'm smiling about. That room full of noisy kids was the best place in the world.

I spoke to some of these children, who told me about their lives in Syria during the troubles, about their escape (“there were rocks in the desert, and we had to turn on the headlights to see, but when they turned on the headlights of the car people would shoot at us, and my parents were frightened, but I wasn't...”). For some of them it had been three years since they last went to school.


I made the mistake of reading some of the comments in the Guardian article, and on Twitter, who seemed convinced that me talking about the kids in the camps was a sentimental attempt to take their attention from the real business at hand, which was supporting whichever side in the conflict you already supported loudly and vocally. Obviously, a political crisis that's bad enough to produce refugees is only going to be sorted out politically. But pretending that people hurt, displaced and fleeing are just a vague sort of irritant, that lives wasted or destroyed don't matter, in order to prove your ideological point, whatever it happens to be, is, to my mind, both lazy and foolish and very, very wrong.

(The Guardian article is at http://rfg.ee/x6Kon and the pictures and some extra material at http://rfg.ee/x6Kef. And there is video and more at http://donate.unhcr.org/neilandgeorgina)


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15. How I discovered I had slipped into a parallel universe

posted by Neil Gaiman

Here's things that people would probably like to know...

This is the poster for TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS Reading Event at the Carnegie Hall (and it lists the other gigs too. I think there may still be a handful of Barbican tickets available on July 4th and 5th, I'm pretty sure the Warfield is Sold Out, although they may release a few closer to the date, and right now Usher Hall in Edinburgh, which was the last concert to go on sale, still has plenty of seats, and even has some in the Stalls).


Please feel free to spread it around...

If you can't afford to come, or feel like chancing your luck, there is a Facebook competition where you can win tickets, at the William Morrow Facebook page:


Enter for your chance to win one of five pairs of tickets to see Neil Gaiman live at Carnegie Hall with FourPlay String Quartet on June 27th! Prize package includes a meet & greet and photo opp with Neil himself.
More details, and to enter: http://a.pgtb.me/5W9dcb


(And, of course, you can order tickets for the Carnegie Hall on June 27th via http://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2014/6/27/0800/PM/Neil-Gaiman-The-Truth-is-a-Cave-in-the-Black-Mountains/ - click through and you can decide where you would like to sit.)
...

The biggest publication news of recent weeks is that Hayley Campbell's book THE ART OF NEIL GAIMAN is out. You can learn who Hayley Campbell is, and all about the book and how it came to be, in this delicious Comic Beat interview. It's filled with glorious details. I like the bit about me and kids and Alan Moore and kids and Custard Creams vs. Bourbon biscuits best. Here she explains the interviewing process:

He would give me all the answers I wanted plus loads of things that were entirely irrelevant because it was just me and him talking in a room and we do that all the time. It was a weird interview to do. I only noticed this was happening when I had to transcribe 17 hours of it back in London, and sat there listening to us trying to save a bumblebee who’d got caught in the fireplace. For half an hour. ‘Ooh he’s got soot on him. Look at his giant cardigan. Shall we put him outside on a flower?
Honestly I think I have to burn the tapes.
(Useful Warning. DO NOT CLICK ON THELINK AND READ HAYLEY'S INTERVIEW IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED BY SWEARING OR BY ANY DISCUSSION OF THE GREAT WALL OF VAGINA.)

I read the book a few months ago, and really liked it, as much as it's possible to like something where one is too embarrassed properly to relax and enjoy it. I was reading it to approve the text, but I loved the text and spent most of my time trying to fix the dates on the picture captions.

Hayley is a really funny writer. She's observant and interested. I'm really looking forward to her novel, when she writes it, and am also a little bit scared.



Salon has some hitherto unseen drawings by me (and a couple by Jill Thompson) up at http://www.salon.com/2014/05/20/the_fantastic_world_of_neil_gaiman_take_a_peek_into_the_authors_personal_archive/

And you can go and check it out at Amazon.com, where the poor guy whose entire reason for living seems to be giving everything on Amazon a one star review has already given it one star review. http://amzn.to/1vxTAYK

Hayley's going to be taking over the role of interviewer from her father, ace illustrator Eddie Campbell, for the Barbican and Edinburgh TRUTH IS A CAVE gigs on July 4th and 5th.






Quite when I slipped into this parallel dimension in which I can be described as “stylish” without anyone in earshot actually sniggering, I do not know. But I am going to make the most of it while I'm here.








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16. Important. Please read this now.

posted by Neil Gaiman

I haven't blogged for a while. I suspect that's partly because I'm back on Twitter, and I seem either to blog or to tweet, and partly because I've been exhausted. Tweeting time comes out of dead time, usually – time in taxis, or waiting in corridors. Blogging time usually comes out of sleeping time.

I should be writing, now, writing things people are waiting for. But I need to blog as well...

It's foggy where I am today, and I can't tell where the sky ends and the sea begins. In a few days I go to Norway, to Sweden and to Spain, for a slew of appearances and interviews. Looking over the schedule, I suspect that some of the signings may be hard, as very limited amounts of time are scheduled for them, and immediately afterwards I'm due at the next event or interview or thing.

Last week I was in Jordan, and then landed, still shaken up, and went straight to the British Library, where I talked about Sandman and Art and Life with Tori Amos, then got up on the stage and read some stories to an audience, then collapsed.



I went to Jordan, as I reported here, for the UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, to visit the Syrian Refugee Camps and report on what I found.

Last year I wrote a short film for Georgina Chapman to direct, and we really liked each other, and she said yes when I asked if she'd like to come with me to Jordan. We had both planned to bring our spouses – I had expected that Amanda would be there but that Harvey Weinstein (to whom Georgina is married) would just get too busy, because Harvey is always busy. Instead, Amanda found herself dealing with a perfect storm of things, including health issues and, most importantly, an unfinished book, and could not come, and Harvey was there, showing a side I've not seen in the 20-odd years I've known him.

No Amanda made the Jordan trip easier, as I didn't have any attention on anyone else at any time I was in the camps, and much harder, as I really would have given the earth for a hand to squeeze at some points in the camps, or for someone to hold.

I would write about the Jordan trip here, but I wrote what would have been my blog already.

This is the link to the main article, which I wrote for the Guardian http://rfg.ee/x6Kon.

This is the link to the Guardian pictures – I wrote captions to the images, or UNHCR took them from my end of day video diary http://rfg.ee/x6Kef .



Here's a Buzzfeed article, following refugees into Azraq camp. http://www.buzzfeed.com/richardhjames/neil-gaiman-in-jordan(Yes, the headline is clickbait, but it's a good article nonetheless.)

And here's an interview I did with the BBC World Service, while I was out there. If I sound a little shaken, I am.




Everything is going to be collected at http://donate.unhcr.org/neilandgeorgina, which also gives information on the project and also on how to donate to UNHCR.

I came away from Jordan ashamed to be part of a race that treats its members so very badly, and simultaneously proud to be part of the same human race as it does its best to help the people who are hurt, who need refuge, safety and dignity. We are all part of a huge family, the family of humanity, and we look after our family.

Please share the links, especially the link to the main Guardian article at http://rfg.ee/x6Kon. Share them aggressively. Make people read them. It's important, and I'll be grateful. Thank you.






Labels:  Refugees, Jordan, UNHCR


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17. In Jordan

posted by Neil Gaiman
I landed in Jordan late this afternoon. I'm in my hotel right now. I'll be up for a 6 am pick-up -- I need to be at the camp for bread distribution, first thing in the morning.

Since the start of the Syrian warfare, over two and a half million people have fled the fighting and gone somewhere else. Half a million of them have come to Jordan. The population of Jordan is a little over 6 million. By percentage of the population, that's what would happen if twenty five million people arrived as refugees in the US over a couple of years, or five million people sought refuge in the UK. It means lots and lots of people here have Syrian families living with them. It means that there are refugee camps -- small cities built in the desert, all temporary structures.

I was invited to come out here by UNHCR - the United Nations Refugee Agency - with the purpose of making one or more short films, telling stories and writing articles that draw attention to what's going on in refugee camps.

They've created a web page at http://donate.unhcr.org/neilgaiman so that people can follow on and see what's happening.

I packed for myself on this trip and, for various reasons, did a terrible job of packing and remembering what to bring. And every time I start getting grumpy for not having something, it occurs to me that the people I'm seeing tomorrow brought with only what they could carry for often hundreds of miles - and that included carrying children...






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18. What are you doing on June the 27th and other vital questions

posted by Neil Gaiman

I'm back on social media from today. And my last class at Bard until Autumn is tomorrow night. I owe the world a big post on life and the things that go with it.

But first, this one is important:

There are many peculiar places in the world, places that can hold your mind and your soul tightly and will not let them go. Some of those places are exotic and unusual, some are mundane. The strangest of all of them, at least for me, is the Isle of Skye, off the west coast of Scotland. I know I am not alone in this. There are people who discover Skye and will not leave, and even for those of us who do leave, the misty island haunts us and holds us in its own way. It is where I am happiest and where I am most alone.

Otta F. Swire wrote books about the Hebrides and about Skye in particular, and she filled her books with strange and arcane knowledge. (Did you know May the 3rdwas the day that the Devil was cast out of Heaven, and thus the day on which it is unpardonable to commit a crime? I learned that in her book on the myths of the Hebrides.) And in one of her books, she mentioned the cave in the black Cuillins, where you could go, if you were brave, and get gold, with no cost, but each visit you paid to the cave would make you more evil, would eat your soul.

And that cave, and its promise, began to haunt me.

I took several true stories (or stories that are said to be true, which is almost the same thing), and set them in a world that was almost, but not quite, ours, and told a story of revenge and of travel, of desire for gold and of secrets. Two men, one very small, are travelling west to find a cave said to be filled with gold.

 I wrote most of the tale on the Isle of Skye. When it was done it was published in an anthology called STORIES, and it won the Shirley Jackson Award for best Novelette, and the Locus Award for Best Novelette, and I was very proud of it, my story.

Before it was published, I was set to appear on the stage of the Sydney Opera House, and was asked if I could do something with Australian string quartet FourPlay (they are the rock band of string quartets, an amazing, versatile bunch with a cult following): perhaps something with art that could be projected onto the stage. I listened to FourPlay's music, and, possibly once I heard their take on the Doctor Who theme and the Simpsons Theme, and a cover of Cry Me A River I liked nearly as much as Julie London's (and I like that so very much), I knew wanted to work with them.







I thought about “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains”: it would take about seventy minutes to read. I wondered what it would would happen if a string quartet created a moody and glorious soundtrack, as I told the story, as if it were a movie? And what if Scottish artist Eddie Campbell, the man who drew Alan Moore's FROM HELL, writer and artist of ALEC, my favourite comic, created illustrations for this most Scottish of my stories and projected them above me while I read?

I was scared, going out onto the stage of the Sydney Opera House, but the experience was amazing: the story was received with a standing ovation, and we followed it with an interview (artist Eddie Campbell was the interviewer) and a poem, also with FourPlay.

Six months later, we performed it again, with more paintings by Eddie, in Hobart, Tasmania, in front of 3,000 people, in a huge shed at a Festival, and again, they loved it; again, a standing ovation.

Now, we had a problem. The only people who had ever seen the show were in Australia. It seemed unfair, somehow. We needed an excuse to travel, to bring the FourPlay string quartet across the world (pop culture literate and brilliant musicians, they are: I fell in love with their work before I ever knew them). 

Fortunately, Eddie Campbell had taken his paintings, and done many more, and then laid out the text into something halfway between an illustrated story and a graphic novel, and Harper Collins were publishing it in the US and Headline publishing it in the UK. 

http://www.amazon.com/The-Truth-Cave-Black-Mountains/dp/006228214X/ref=as_li_ss_til?tag=ws_1178-20&linkCode=w01&linkId=DZM5IJNXJ3V7CAQN&creativeASIN=006228214X



Mysterious promoter Jordan Verzar, who had put me and FourPlay together in the first place, saw his chance and struck, rather like and amiable Australian cobra, and before we knew it, everything was happening.

So we are doing the smallest tour in the world for this. 

If you want to see me performing THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS, with the amazing FourPlay string quartet, and see Eddie Campbell's art projected, the words and the music and the images combining in your head to make a movie that only you will ever experience in that way, a night with special guests, I wouldn't be surprised, and also surprises (including things nobody has every heard read), then the only places you can see it are San Francisco, at the Warfield, New York's Carnegie Hall on June 27th, then in London at The Barbican (two nights) and it ends in Edinburgh, in Usher Hall on July 6th. And then we'll be done.

Right now, the Warfield on June 25th is already SOLD OUT.

BUT the Carnegie Hall is by far the biggest venue we are doing, and there are still many seats available at the Carnegie Hall on June 27. (The Dress Circle's just sold out, though.)

If you've read down this far and you're interested in seeing a unique and amazing evening, and you are anywhere in the US, the Carnegie Hall is the one to come to (unless you want to fly to the UK). New York is nice in June.

The Carnegie Hall night will have special guests. It will be the only place I'm also going to read the whole of the new HANSEL AND GRETEL before it's published. There will be a LOT of signed books there, even if we can't work out a signing (we're trying to but logistics are hard). And it's going to be a night to remember...

The two Barbican concerts on July 4th and 5th are almost sold out (they have just released some seats, so there are a few seats left).

Usher Hall in Edinburgh was only just added, and tickets only just went on sale. There are lots of seats there, and  very much hope the Scots are kind to my Scottish tale.

Do come. I know it may seem odd, an author and a string quartet. But trust me, you do not want to miss it.

...

I wanted to put in a huge plug here for the anti-bullying website, Bystander Revolution. They've done some amazing interviews with people, and have advice. Here are their films talking to me.


..........

On Saturday, if you are in the UK, you can get a free copy of STARDUST with your Guardian newspaper, if you buy it from Sainsbury's. This is a good thing if you like Stardust and read the Guardian. More info at this link, along with a way to win one of the limited edition beautiful special copies of OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE. http://www.theguardian.com/books/competition/2014/apr/26/neil-gaiman-competition





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19. Storms and how they start

posted by Neil Gaiman
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: https://www.kickstarter.com/blog/meet-a-backer-neil-gaiman).

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: http://www.bleedingcool.com/2014/03/01/when-jonathan-ross-was-presenting-the-hugo-awards-until-he-wasnt

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 https://www.facebook.com/londonin2014/posts/804454159569536, 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.

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

posted by Neil Gaiman
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 http://thedeanblog.com/kyle-cassidy-and-neil-gaiman-bring-the-creative-to-ccca/ 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 http://amzn.to/1fO9R5X but that might possibly be the wrong ebook edition.)

The folk making the Wayward Manor video game have let me know that the pre-order site, http://whohauntsneil.com, 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 http://whohauntsneil.com/welcome/#shop 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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21. Look! A quick one with bargains in it.

posted by Neil Gaiman
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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22. Happiness in a new old house

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





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23. House thoughts, and some unanswered questions on art and commerce

posted by Neil Gaiman
It's a very strange process, moving into a new house. In my case, the worst of the moving in has been done. Now all that remains is details, hundreds upon hundreds of details. Details and details and details and, occasionally, small disasters. Yesterday, the heating stopped working. The heating stopped working because there was two inches of water in the cellar, because a water treatment pump could not keep up with the combination of rain and snowmelt that was already filling all the drains, and so backed up. I have good friends and they made everything okay, with pumps and knowledge of fixing things.

(I do not really have a lot of fixing things knowledge. And while you may want to read a book by me, you do not want me to put up your shelves. Trust me on this.)

I went into New York overnight, finished writing a very much overdue introduction in my hotel room, emailed it off moments before I fell asleep, had a Really Cool Secret Meeting this morning, and am typing this on the train back, the Hudson river grey and, on the far bank, distant leafless hills and cliffs. I want Spring to begin.

I'm currently pondering whether or not to write a short story for a company. They've asked me to write one. I can write whatever I like, as long as I put their product in it and do not show their product killing people horribly, or even nicely. It would be a fun, interesting project that would pay well.  To make things more interesting, I've already mentioned their product in a novel, I like their product, and I can see where the story would go.

But I'm not sure. I'm going back and forth on it.

I loved doing last year's project for BlackBerry, mostly because it felt like they were a patron of the arts. They gave me a very open brief ("What would you like to do on social media?") and let me go off and do it. They gave me a BlackBerry, and I promised I'd use it for a year. They made short films which I loved, about writing and inspiration and creation.

(And I just noticed that the BlackBerry Keep Moving videos have become unlisted on YouTube, so here they all are, for in case anyone needs them. The fourth is my favourite.)



(As a note here: when the year was up, I wanted to stay with BlackBerry as a phone platform. I really liked it, and kept finding myself frustrated when I'd use iPhones or Android phones, but I was grumpy about the lack of apps. They gave me a Z30. It's a wonderful phone (here's the USA Today write up.) But y'know, like they said in the USA Today review, no Yelp and no Netflix.

But then, a couple of weeks after I got the Z30, they released the latest operating system, 10.2.1, which also now natively runs Android apps. I archives on my old Android phone any Android apps I wanted on the Z30, bluetoothed them over to the BlackBerry, installed them, and now use Yelp and Netflix and Audible and such with abandon.)

But the BlackBerry project, while it was done for and with the assistance of BlackBerry, never meant I had to put a BlackBerry into a story. Which made me happy. Now I'm trying to figure out why that would have felt like crossing a line in the way that the Nokia phone (which, if I were writing it today, would be an iPhone) in the first chapter of American Gods does not. And what that line is. And why it troubles me.

...

Getting ready for the Art Speigelman conversation at Bard on Friday. We plan to talk a whole lot.

The Symphony Space "Selected Shorts" night on May 7th has now sold out. The only other event I'll be doing in New York this year is the Big One -- the Carnegie Hall event on June 27th. (You do not want to miss this: it's the same thing that sold out Sydney Opera House, with FourPlay String Quartet and me).

Which reminds me. One final TRUTH IS A CAVE.. night has been added to the world. Edinburgh, Sunday July 6th. As they say on their website:

Created for Sydney's renowned Graphic festival, this haunting tale of adventure, revenge and treasure, told as a hybrid between a storyteller, an artists and an Australian string quartet is playing five performances only - Carnegie Hall in New York, the Warfield in San Francisco, two sold-out shows at London's Barbican, all leading up to this very special night at Usher Hall.

Here's the Usher Hall tickets link.


Ayelet Waldman asked me if I could mention that she has a new book out, and I will, and not just because I have not yet written my speech for her daughter Rosie's Bat-Mitzvah: It is called Love and Treasure. That's the Amazon link, and here's the Indiebound.

...

oops. This sat on my computer for 36 hours. In the meantime, Spring has definitely sprung. Deer are frisking through the woods and platoons of wild turkeys are self-importantly strutwaddling up and down the drive. I hope Spring heard me grumbling, and decided it was time to turn up.






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24. Two New UK Book Covers, and a Small Philosophical Thought

posted by Neil Gaiman
Bloomsbury just sent me the cover for their paperback of FORTUNATELY, THE MILK. It is coming out in the UK on June 5th, 2014. I love the cover, and was impressed by the Children's Book of the Year tag, as I had forgotten. (It's been a mad year. There are too many things to remember.)




And seeing I am posting that, I also thought I should post this:


...which is a photo I stole from Sam Eades's Twitter Feed. (I think we can safely assume the aquamarine nail-varnished thumbnail is Sam's.)  Sam was the publicist at Headline all though Ocean. She's amazing -- cheerful, sensible, a delight to be around, and the kind of person who can come up with a mad idea like getting a road named after a book and just make it happen while being on a signing tour like no other and getting the author fed.

She's just left Headline for Pan MacMillan, and she will make authors there very happy and I miss her already.)

It's the UK paperback cover of THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE. The paperback comes out in a week. 

And it was only when I looked at them both, I realised I've got two books coming out in the UK with, actually and honestly, "Book of the Year" on the cover. And I thought, I'll probably never have that again. It's really unusual for me to have two books out, one for adults and one for all ages, in the same span of time. And lightning doesn't strike twice. For a moment I started feeling glum, finding myself worrying about backlashes and things that probably don't ever happen again and the nature of time and life...

And then I thought, I should remember what Stephen King told me, something I put into the Make Good Art talk and book. I should enjoy this.

So, contrary to my vaguely worried nature, I am doing my very best to enjoy it.  Book of the Year, twice, for two books. That's pretty good, isn't it?

...

It's Art Spiegelman Week. Not only will Art and I find ourselves in conversation at Bard tomorrow night, but there is more Spiegelmanny wonderfulness in New York this weekend, some of it accompanied by Ditch artist Joost Swarte. You can read all about it here, at the Drawn and Quarterly blog: http://drawnandquarterly.blogspot.com/2014/03/its-art-spiegelman-week-in-new-york.html

The coolest bit of all might be this Sunday Morning, when you get to see a stained glass mural...

Sunday, April 6th: PRIVATE VIEWING & BREAKFAST WITH ART SPIEGELMAN
Manhattan, NY: A rare chance to join Art Spiegelman (class of '65) for coffee, carbs, and juice as he gives a personal guided tour of the 50' x 8' two-sided glass mural he designed for the school. Secrets-literally-behind the window will be revealed!

And he'll have special guest Joost Swarte on hand, showing slides of his own stained glass windows in the Netherlands!

The tour begins Sunday, April 6th, at 10:30 am, at the High School of Art and Design cafeteria, 5th floor. That's 245 East 56th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues.Get your tickets here now! Tickets are $20, but $15 for those of you with a MoCCA pass, and free for current A&D students! Proceeds go to the Alumni Association to benefit the students of Art and Design. 

...

St Mark's Bookshop has slowly become one of my favourite bookshops around, I think because it's so well curated. I never walk in there and think "So many books are being published. Why don't people just stop and read the ones that are already out there?" which I sometimes find myself thinking on walking into huge chain bookshops. Instead I just walk around going "I didn't know that existed. I'll have that, and that, and that, and I'll get that for a friend...".

They are doing an Indiegogo fundraiser to help crowdfund their move. Support it, if you can. (I'm going to donate a hand-annotated book or two to their rewards.) https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/st-mark-s-bookshop-on-the-move

...

Reminder: the Symphony Space "Selected Shorts" evening has sold out.

The only remaining event on the East Coast this year is the Carnegie Hall TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS reading, with the FourPlay String Quartet and Eddie Campbell paintings and all, on June 27th. It's happening at the same time that THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is coming out in the US in paperback.  (Amazing things will be happening on that that night: trust me. This is the big one...)

Tickets at http://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2014/6/27/0800/PM/Neil-Gaiman-The-Truth-is-a-Cave-in-the-Black-Mountains/


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25. gal·li·mau·fry (noun) 1. a confused jumble or medley of things.

posted by Neil Gaiman
I taught my first class at Bard on Tuesday night. It was slightly nerve wracking, but the 14 people who are listening to me burble about writing and fantasy seem very nice and relatively forgiving, and I'm looking forward to doing it again tomorrow night. Only, I hope, saying different things.

The Evening With Art Spiegelman and Me at Bard was wonderful. It was sold out, and became mostly an interview, with me asking Art things, although I read the first few pages of the version of Hansel and Gretel I've written that Lorenzo Mattotti has illustrated, which was rather wonderful. (You can see one of the marvelous Mattotti illustrations on the screen behind us in this photo by Gideon Lester.)


There aren't any more events in New York this year that there are tickets for, except for THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS at Carnegie Hall. (At which I think I will also do the first reading of the whole of Hansel and Gretel as well.) Lots of people are asking if there will be a signing there... and I'm definitely considering it. The Ocean at the End of the Lane will have just come out in paperback, and The Truth is a Cave In The Black Mountains graphic novel will just have come out.... It's definitely possible.

Tickets and information at http://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2014/6/27/0800/PM/Neil-Gaiman-The-Truth-is-a-Cave-in-the-Black-Mountains/

(And Where's Neil will tell you everywhere else I'll be until July, including San Francisco, London, Edinburgh, Barcelona and Madrid: http://www.neilgaiman.com/where/.)

Right now I'm in San Diego, just for the day, in order to see Amanda, who is out here where it is warm and she is working on her book. I'm not sure that spending a whole day flying out, and a day flying back, in order to spend a day together, makes the best sense, but I missed her and she missed me and I quite enjoy writing on planes...

The new house in the woods is wonderful, and I'm enjoying getting to know the whole new world of  the Hudson Valley. And the old house back in the Midwest is still there, and it still has my books on the shelves and my art on the walls and my bed, and I suspect I'm going to wind up dividing my time between both places, as much as I succeed in living in any one place. I have a wife who also seems determined to have a bi-locational existence, only with Melbourne, Australia and New York City as her two places that she spends her life. We'll figure it out. As long as I get a desk to write at, and a view of trees, I'm happy.

Today, The Ocean at the End of the Lane came out in paperback in the UK. There's a moving version of the poster, which you can see here (needs Flash):  http://www.teainteractive.com/clients/ocean/

And here are the Ocean posters that do not move, and I am extremely happy because I don't think I've ever had books that were posters before. They leave me faintly nervous: I hope that the kind of people who would like the book will find it, and that people who would simply not enjoy it do not succumb to the blandishments of advertising. (Goes and checks Amazon.co.uk to see if people are still enjoying it now it's out in paperback...) (And then puts up the Waterstones link, on noticing their name on the poster. Hello Waterstones!)





Let's see. I'll probably forget a few things I meant to mention here. I interviewed Stoya  in the Oyster Magazine (she is seen here being Death at a Dr Sketchy's).


Biting Dog Press are releasing a limited print in June of 500 copies of my "8 Rules For Writing".




You can't buy them retail -- they will be going directly to bookshops -- but Dave of Biting Dog is releasing 50 of them to the public directly as incentives to fund his daughter Kayla's Elephant Sanctuary Volunteer Trip: details at http://www.bitingdogpress.com/Merchandise/orderpage.html.

I'm speaking in Syracuse, NY on April the 29th, as part of the Rosamund Gifford Lecture series. I will talk, and I will read, and it will be interesting. Details at http://www.dailyorange.com/2014/04/author-of-coraline-to-speak-at-crouse-hinds-theater-this-month/

I was thrilled to see that James Herbert will have a horror writing prize named after him. Jim is much missed, and this can only help to make sure that his name remains in people's minds.

Locus, the Magazine of the Science Fiction and Fantasy field, does an annual poll and survey: you have another five days to make your votes heard, and to tell them who you are. The poll closes on April 15th: http://www.locusmag.com/Magazine/2014/PollAndSurvey.html

A photo Amanda took of me last night. She calls it "Schrödinger's Door."



This blog post, forwarded to me by artist-genius Lisa Snellings, about the knock-on effects that my story "Harlequin Valentine" had, broke my heart and opened it wide: http://www.grinsekatz.com/harlequin-valentine

Finally, congratulations to Stephen Colbert on becoming the next David Letterman.  I loved my time on the Colbert Report, rumpled funeral suit attire and all, but liked the man Colbert much more than the persona Colbert (and loved that he broke character while interviewing me). I'm really hoping that the Late Night show will be hosted by the man. (In case you missed it, here's the video of the interview from 2009.)



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