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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. 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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2. 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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3. 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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4. 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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5. 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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6. 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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7. 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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8. 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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9. 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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10. 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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11. 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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12. 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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13. 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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14. 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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15. 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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16. 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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17. 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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18. Tonight Live Streaming, and, hitherto unseen, a poem (unfinished)

posted by Neil Gaiman

Very quick blog...

Billings, Montana was WONDERFUL: I talked to a bunch of young people in the wonderful new library, read a little and answered many questions. I talked to people that night in the Babcock theatre, read a lot and answered fewer questions than I would have liked.

I was impressed by the future: I landed in Montana to discover that mysteriously my iPad had become a spiderweb of glass cracks, and not something I wanted to read from (or swipe my finger over). Leslie, my host, took me to Best Buy, where I got a new iPad and an army-tough case. I got back to the hotel, told the new iPad who I was, it immediately restored itself from the old one's last cloud backup, and a few minutes later I was doing a reading in the library, from a brand new iPad, without any work, sweating, cables or grumbles. Oh, I like the future sometimes.


Today, I'm in Calgary. The event tonight sold out minutes after it went onsale, but they will be livestreaming it: http://ucalgary.ca/cdwp/gaiman is the website, and it starts at 7:00pm Mountain Time.

Now I really need to decide what I'm going to do tonight. (Probably read.)

...

Yesterday I went through many notebooks and boxes and papers, looking for poems, for a project that I'll talk about when it's ready. I read stuff I wrote as a teenager, stuff I wrote while I was meant to be writing other things, found some forgotten treasures (none of them written when I was sixteen, I'm afraid: sorry, sixteen-year-old Me) and some unfinished things that actually looked like I ought to finish them.

And then, in a  small tub from the attic, on three folded up Byerly's cafe place mats I found this, a doggerel thing vaguely inspired by Robert W. Service or Kipling's ballads or somebody else. And I don't remember what was going to happen next, or what it was for, so I am simply putting it up here, on my blog, to make you smile. And because it doesn't have a title I'll call it...


Found on a placemat in the attic



It's kind of dead at Davey's when the clock hits three a.m.
And I know I didn't come here for the food
For I'm sipping something coffee-like that tastes a bit like phlegm
While I pick at cake that something might have chewed.



There's a bill upon the table for my unappealing fare
And a bored cashier is waiting by the till.
Then she takes my twenty dollars with a cool intriguing stare
like a kidney-surgeon waiting for the kill.



You seem like much too nice a girl to work in such a dive.
It's the sort of place that turns your brain to rot.”
She just smiles and in a sullen voice more poisoned than alive
She tells a tale that turns my spine to snot.



I have a fearful tale to tell, a bloody tragic lay,
A narrative of horror and of fear.
A story that will make you weep and turn your guts to clay,
before your braincells dribble out your ear.



Mine is a dark biography, a thing of dread and fright,
A tale that reeks of terror and of woe.
There are not words,” she told me, “to do justice to my plight.
But what the hell,” she said, “I'll have a go.



Nobody could envision it, it's nasty weird and strange.
Nobody could have dreamed, or said, or thunk.
And none who sit to hear my life will stand again unchanged.
(Some kill themselves, while others just get drunk.)



I warn you now!” she raised her hand, “if you are faint of heart,
Leave now! Just flee! Get out! Go 'way! And shoo!
It's horrible and sordid. Stop me now, before I start,
for every loathsome word of it is true!”






(I honestly no longer remember what her story was, although elsewhere on the placemat is the couplet:



I can't get into Heaven, 'cos of all that I've done wrong
And I can't get into Hell because the lines are far too long.




Which may be a clue.)




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19. How does a Badger get to Carnegie Hall?

posted by Neil Gaiman

Last year I was asked if I wanted to be my favourite literary character for an exhibition at the Oxford Storytelling Museum. I chose Badger, from The Wind In The Willows, for my own reasons.

After I had had my photo taken as a Badger, by eminent photographer Cambridge Jones,  Philip Pullman stopped by for tea, and it wasn't until much later I realised that I was still made up as a badger when we spoke. (You can hear us talk about it, and many other things, on this "in conversation" at the Oxford Playhouse.)

If you want to know what my reasons for being a Badger were, or who Mr Pullman was dressed as in his photograph, you will need to visit the 26 Characters Exhibition at the Storytelling Museum, in Oxford, between the 5th of April and the 2nd of November, where you can learn about all of us, and see me as Badger, Terry Pratchett as William Brown (from Just William) and the rest of us. All the information you could need about it is at http://www.storymuseum.org.uk/26Characters



...

Today the Audie Award nominations for Best Audiobook were announced: I was thrilled to see that my reading of The Ocean at the End of the Lane is nominated for two awards (Fiction and Narration by the Author or Authors), delighted that Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman's The Fall of the Kings, in which I perform, and which is part of the Neil Gaiman Presents line was nominated for two awards (Audio Drama and Multi-Voiced Performance) and I was cock-a-hoop when I saw that John Hodgman was nominated for Solo Narration - Male for Robert Sheckley's Dimension of Miracles, another of the Neil Gaiman Presents books, and one I'm really proud of having brought into the world...

But, oddly, the one that put the biggest smile on my face was learning that I was nominated for an Audie Award as the narrator of someone else's book: The Dark, by Lemony Snicket is nominated for best children's book up to the age 8. I don't read other people's audio books, and I always say no when asked, but, unfortunately, Mister Snicket knows exactly where the bodies are buried, and he has photographs and mummified hands for souvenirs. Also, the book was very short: six minutes, altogether.



I have won Audie Awards over the years, and been nominated for more, so I do not mind whether I win or lose, but hell, it's fun to be nominated.

...

Just a reminder: I'm really not doing Social Media currently. Even the little blitz of posts of links to ticket info on performances of THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS this morning was automated -- I plugged them into WhoSay the night before, which then sent them to Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Google + as the tickets went on sale.

You can find out where I'll be and what I'm doing at Where's Neil: http://www.neilgaiman.com/where/ and it's worth checking back on it, as things get added.

For those of you who missed it:

June 25th, I'm onstage with THE TRUTH IS A CAVE at the Warfield - with the amazing FourPlay string quartet, and pictures by (and, in person) Eddie Campbell.

Location: San Francisco, CA
Wednesday, 8:00-10:00pm

Showtime: 8:00 PM
Doors open: 7:00 PM
Ages: All Ages

TICKETS:
http://www.axs.com/events/248155/neil-gaiman-tickets
Advanced Ticket Prices*: $40.00
Day of Show*: $42.00
* Service and handling fees are added to the price of each ticket

WHERE:
The Warfield
982 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94102


While on June 27th we do it again onstage at the Carnegie Hall in New York:

Location: New York, NY
Friday, 8:00-10:00pm

WHERE:
Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Carnegie Hall
881 7th Ave
New York, NY 10019


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

Ticket prices from $39-$129.

Then we go to London and do it there on July 4th and 5th... http://www.barbican.org.uk/music/event-detail.asp?id=16044

Let's see. I should answer a question. It's been ages:

hey!
our name is Ina and Simen we go on Gausel skole.Her school Harvi a literacy project and we have been asked to ask a writer about this: what did you read when you were 11-12 years old?
please reply instantly.

With Kind Regards Ina and Simen :-)


I read anything I could get my hands on. At that age I was particularly obsessed with Michael Moorcock and Harlan Ellison, Ursula K. LeGuin, Roger Zelazny and Samuel R Delany, but I would read anything, and I did.



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20. EARLY WARNING USA... (and an exclusive cover reveal)

posted by Neil Gaiman
You may have noticed that I'm going to be reading THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS, accompanied by the FourPlay String Quartet and the paintings of Eddie Campbell, this summer. I've already announced the London dates here, at the Barbican, on the 4th and 5th of July: http://www.barbican.org.uk/music/event-detail.asp?ID=16044. (UK people: there are still tickets, although they are going fast.)

You can see some extracts from the original performance of it, commissioned by and performed at the Sydney Opera House, at this link: http://play.sydneyoperahouse.com/index.php/media/1152-neil-gaiman-the-truth-is-a-cave-in-the-black-mountains.html

Tomorrow, the US dates, in New York and San Francisco venues will be announced and go on sale. They will be at the end of June. The concert halls have asked us not to announce anything much ahead of time, but I'll put it up here tomorrow morning, and I'll do a timed announcement or two that'll go out to everyone on Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook and even Google+, for 11 am New York time and 10 am San Francisco time.

So this is just to alert those of you who want good seats to know that you may want to be by your computers or phones tomorrow morning.

In June, Harper Collins will also be releasing THE TRUTH IS A CAVE as a book in its own right: Eddie has done many, many more illustrations to accompany it turning it into something that's almost a graphic novel. And the cover will look like this.




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21. Remembering Maggie Estep

posted by Neil Gaiman
I ought to be writing, and instead I'm heading to the blog, because I just learned that Maggie Estep is dead. She died of a heart attack. She was 50.

I'd known about Maggie, poet and writer and performer, for years, because the amazing Kelly Sue De Connick worked for her, and Kelly Sue was my friend and she used to tell me that I would like Maggie, and that Maggie would like me; but nothing ever happened until this year, when I started visiting Hudson, in upstate New York, and Maggie and I got to meet. (I think she wanted to meet Lola my dog even more than she wanted to meet me. The first time, she brough Lola a dog treat.) Kelly Sue was right -- we really, really liked each other. We were old friends from the moment we met. One of the things I was really looking forward to about moving to that part of the world was spending real time getting to know Maggie properly. On her blog in September, the night we finally got to talk, she said,

After discovering that Neil Gaiman is married to that gorgeous force-of-nature Amanda Palmer, I FINALLY (after Kelly Sue had urged me to do so for twelve years) read some of Neil’s books. 
Neil bleeds.  Which is to say, he is my kind of writer.   Also, I discovered, he is my kind of human.   The kind of person you feel you’ve known since the beginning of time — and hope to know till its end.


And that was exactly how I felt too. I just didn't expect that the end would be so soon.

...

I haven't mentioned that on March 9th I'll be in San Jose, CA at the Cinequest Film Festival. They will give me their Maverick Spirit Award, and there will be conversation and Q&A, and probably I'll read something too. It's 90 minutes on the afternoon of the 9th, at the San Jose theatre, and you can read all about it, and get ticket info here.


There. Now I have mentioned it. If you are in the Bay Area, or going to Cinequest, I may see you there...





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22. Why you should see WINTER'S TALE and other deep thoughts about stuff

posted by Neil Gaiman
Last night, I went to see WINTER'S TALE, Mark Helprin's remarkable novel, made into a film by writer (and now director) Akiva Goldsman.

Firstly: I really, really enjoyed it. Akiva took a huge, sprawling novel that spans over a hundred years and took the elements he needed from it to tell the story he had to tell. He made it small, of necessity. It's a fantasy movie, with demons and angels and a flying horse: it contains a noble burglar, a beautiful dying pianist, an absolutely terrifying Russell Crowe,  Will Smith stealing scenes as Lucifer, and New York, New York all the way.

Secondly, I'd seen a trailer or two before I went to see it. And the trailer is, well it's wrong. It tells you it's going to be a specific kind of movie and it isn't that. It's not really a love story, small l about the love between two attractive people who want to do kissing, although it may be a Love story (capital L about Love, and who and what we love, and why, and what it means for those we love to die).

If you like fantasy, or New York, or magical realism, you should see it. You really should. (You should also read the book. And John Crowley's novel Little, Big, which was published about the same time.) The screening audience loved it.

My only qualm, cavil or beef is this...

There's a thing that happens in Hollywood, when you hand in a script with magic in it, and the people at the studio who read it say "We don't quite understand... can you explain the rules? What are the rules here? The magic must have rules" and sometimes when they say that to me I explain that I am sure it does, just as life has rules, but they didn't give me a rule book to life when I was born, and I've been trying to figure it out as I go along, and I am sure it is the same thing for magic; and sometimes I explain that, yes, the magic has rules, and if they read again carefully they can figure out what they are; and sometimes I sigh and put in a line here and a line there that spells things out, says, YES THESE ARE THE RULES YOU DON'T ACTUALLY HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION and then everyone is very happy.

And there were places in the film where it felt like Akiva was, either because he'd been asked, or preemptively, explaining the magical rules. And I trusted him and the film and would rather have just figured it out for myself.

There.  It's a real film -- it reminded me most of all of Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King...


...

Which reminds me, I don't think I ever blogged (although I Twittered, back in those halcyon twittery days) about Tim's Vermeer, a documentary directed by Teller (of Penn and Teller) about a man who thinks he has figured out the optical principle by which Vermeer did his paintings, and sets out to reproduce it, and one of them.

It's not a dry documentary about art. It's a glorious, challenging, funny film about being human. Here's a link to the website, which tells you where it's showing. GO AND SEE IT. You'll thank me later.

...

For some years now, P. Craig Russell and some of the finest artists in comics have been beavering away on a two volume adaptation of THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. And it's coming out this year: Volume 1 comes out on July the 29th, Volume 2 on September the 30th. Different artists each take a chapter.


Here's a couple of pages of Chapter Two...





Volume 1 artists
Kevin Nowlan
P. Craig Russell
Tony Harris
Scott Hampton
Galen Showman
Jill Thompson
Stephen B. Scott


The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Volume 2 – on sale 9/30/2014
Volume 2 artists
David Lafuente
Scott Hampton
P. Craig Russell
Kevin Nowlan
Galen Showman

It will be on sale in bookshops, and also, I hope, in your local comic shops. It's an amazingly beautiful two books.

...

I see from the BBC that Penguin India has agreed to recall and pulp all copies of Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus: An Alternative History. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-26133291 (Here was the NYT review of the book when it came out:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/books/review/Mishra-t.html.)  It's sad not to see a publisher defend its book.  

The solution to a book you don't like is to explain why you don't like it, point out its flaws, write your own book. It's not to get the book pulped because it offends you. even if you think it's bad. Especially if you think it's bad.

(And I note that the book is now tearing its way up the Amazon charts. Which may not have been the outcome that the people who tried to get it suppressed had hoped for. It's called The Streisand Effect.)







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23. A short note from the Web Goblin in regards to the blogiversary challenge and the nature of completion.

posted by Dan Guy

You will know when you have completed the challenge.

You will know because you will be told that you have completed the challenge.

At no point are you expected to contact Mr. G to verify your completion. You may contact me via the Site Inquiry line if you wish, but I will likely simply reiterate the above two lines.

(Mr. G already gave you a big hint, which I was not anticipating.)

Happy blogthday, and happy hunting!

UPDATE: We now have our nine winners! They will be notified later today. Thank you to everyone for playing.

FURTHER UPDATE: I have been asked, via Twitter, to explain the solution. Once you had all thirteen clock images, you put them in order by time displayed (with the repeats being AM vs PM following the file name - vs _). There were three characters stacked vertically on each clock face. (I have no idea how people teased them out; I hope/expected some manipulation rather than squinting.) Read in order left to right it was a URL written across three lines. Once you went to that URL it told you that you had finished and instructed you to email me some info and a unique code.



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24. The Thirteen Clocks and the wonderful birthday

posted by Neil Gaiman

It was the 9th of February 2001. I'd spent most of the previous two years writing a novel (oddly enough, a lot of it in the house I'm currently borrowing), and now I was finally going to start writing a blog. (Which for obscure reasons mostly having to do with my agent Merrilee, I tended to call my blogger, perhaps because it was, and oddly enough still is, hosted by Blogger.) It wasn't NeilGaiman.com yet - we started the journal at Americangods.com when all it contained was a countdown and a blog.

I wrote:

I first suggested we do something like this to my editor, the redoubtable Jennifer Hershey, about a year ago, while the book was still being written (a process that continued until about 3 weeks ago). She preferred to wait until the book was on the conveyor belt to actual publication, thus sparing the reading world lots of entries like "Feb 13th: wrote some stuff. It was crap." and "Feb 14th: wrote some brilliant stuff. This is going to be such a good novel. Honest it is." followed by "Feb 15th. no, it's crap" and so on. It was a bit like wrestling a bear. Some days I was on top. Most days, the bear was on top. So you missed watching an author staring in bafflement as the manuscript got longer and longer, and the deadlines flew about like dry leaves in a gale, and the book remained unfinished.

And then one day about three weeks ago it was done. And after that I spent a week cutting and trimming it. (I'd read Stephen King's On Writing on the plane home from Ireland, where I'd gone to do final rewrites and reworkings, and was fired up enough by his war on adverbs that I did a search through the manuscript for -----ly, and peered at each adverb suspiciously before letting it live or zapping it into oblivion. A lot of them survived. Still, according to the old proverb, God is better pleased with adverbs than with nouns...)

Today I wrote a letter to go in the front of a Quick and Dirty reading edition Harper will put out -- taken from the file I sent them, so it'll be filled with transatlantic spelling, odd formatting errors and the rest, but it'll be something to give to the buyers from bookstores and to people who get advance manuscripts so they can see what kind of book this is.

I have no idea what kind of book this is. Or rather, there's nothing quite like it out there that I can point to. Sooner or later some reviewer will say something silly but quotable like "If JRR Tolkien had written The Bonfire of the Vanities..." and it'll go on the paperback cover and thus put off everyone who might have enjoyed it...

The Website soon became Neilgaiman.com and looked a lot like this.

The blog looked like this.

And then by late 2002 it looked more like this:

and inside the blog looked like this:

And then in January 2006 it started looking like it does now. Which means that, really, the website these days needs a from-the-ground-up overhaul...

But you know, creaky interface and lost links and all, this blog is thirteen years old today. In Internet Years, that means it is a huge slow thing, covered in cobwebs, with a deep rumbly voice like a mountain that is trying to remember how to talk. In person years it means it has acne and has just been barmitvahed, and is dreading writing all the thank you letters to the grown-ups who slipped it envelopes with cheques in.

Probably you haven't gone looking around this website. It's been a long time since I have...

So I thought we'd give you a reason to go poking around. The webgoblin went to work, and now there are, er, clues hidden all through Neilgaiman.com. The prize will be a Google Hangout with me. (Second prize, the snappy comedian in the back of my head announces, TWO Google hangouts with me.)

Happy blogthday.



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25. NEWS: Watchmen, Sandman, Chu, Russia and the Clown-Shoes of Cthulhu

posted by Neil Gaiman

I just wrote to Amanda confessing myself the most boring man in the world. My life right now seems to consist of writing and, once a day, jogging. The new iPod nano has decided to do the same thing that the one it replaced did, viz. reboot itself 2 minutes before the end of a timed run, which I've decided to outwit by not telling it how long I am going to run for, which works.

Pages of SANDMAN: Overture are coming in drawn from J.H. Williams, and different pages of Sandman are being written and going out from me to J.H. Williams. The ones coming in are the most beautiful mainstream comics I think I've ever seen. The ones going out are... well, all the characters feel like themselves. And, when we've met them before, they sound like themselves. And it's really strange when a character I've not written since 1995 turns up and all I seem to do for the dialogue is listen and write down what they say. I needed a story within the story at one point, so am telling a story I'd vaguely thought might one day be a giant miniseries as a three page story...

All the introductions I've agreed to write in the last 3 years are all needed now, so I am writing them. It's partly fun, because I get to tell people about things I love, and tell them why I love those books, but because they have all come together it feels a little like homework.

The most fun thing I did today was look at a rough sketch for the cover of the third book with Chu, the little Panda in it, and make a suggestion, and then, much later in the day, see Adam Rex's version of the sketch incorporating my suggestion, which headed straight into cuteness overload territory.

The second CHU book, which comes out in June, is going to be CHU'S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL in America but CHU'S FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL in the UK, because that's how the same thing is described in the different countries.

You can find out more about it via the Amazon US link at http://j.mp/Chus1st which is the only place I can find anything about it so far...


(The US cover via Amazon)



(The UK cover, courtesy of Bloomsbury)

And ironically, while I'm taking my social media sabbatical, I've been nominated for a SHORTY award.

Let's see...

...

Locus Magazine, the newspaper of the Science Fiction and Fantasy World, has put up its 2013 poll and survey online:

http://www.locusmag.com/Magazine/2014/PollAndSurvey.html

You can vote for the books and stories you read in 2013, and more, and you should. And fill out the survey: it tells them (and everyone) who reads SF. As long as you include your name, email and survey information, your votes will get counted.

And if you do not feel like filling out a survey it's also an excellent round up of the best of the year in novels and shorter work, art and non-fiction.

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For the last 5 years I've been doing annual doodles for the National Doodle Day -- now Doodle 4 NF -- an annual fundraiser for the Neurofibromatosis Network. I've done two doodles. So far this year, I've only done one, "The Clown-Shoes of Cthulhu", which is up on their website, and which I drew in in an OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE signing tour book:

They do not get auctioned until May, by which time there will be another doodle to join it...

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PEN International (the writer and artist's organisation, of which I'm a member) sent out a letter to the Russian Government protesting the "gay propaganda" laws, the criminal blasphemy laws and the laws that criminalise defamation, and I was one of the signatories.

I noticed people on the Guardian website wondering why PEN wasn't protesting about other bad things elsewhere: it does. Lots of them. Look: http://www.pen-international.org/

Mostly because, as you'll probably know if you've been reading this blog for a while, I'm a Free Speech absolutist. (Here's me explaining why: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2008/12/why-defend-freedom-of-icky-speech.html). And because I found myself remembering 1986 and protesting Clause 28 (later Section 28) with a comic...

This was the comic I did, drawn by Bryan Talbot and Mark Buckingham. Not exactly subtle, but it was agitprop and I was much younger and less subtle then. (From Bryan's website.)

It was in a comic called AARGH! (Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia) edited by Alan Moore, who has wandered into my life in two different ways this week. Firstly, Jackie Estrada is doing a Kickstarter to make a book of the photos she's taken at San Diego Comic-Con over the years, and includes this picture, in which the strangeness of perspective makes Jack Kirby and Alan Moore look even more different in height than they actually were. Sometimes I think this photo makes it look like Alan is the size of Gort, the eight-foot tall robot from The Day The Earth Stood Still, while Jack is normal-sized Klaatu, and sometimes I think that it looks like Alan is normal-sized and Jack looks like something Alan would have brought along to snack upon, were he not a vegetarian.

(Check out Jackie's Kickstarter. It has many more amazing photos on the Kickstarter page, and I cannot imagine how many photos that will delight comics lovers there will be in the book.)

The other Alan Moore-related news came about because I ran into Dave Gibbons in Las Vegas in early December, and he told me about a book they were putting together showcasing Watchmen original art. I reminded Dave that he and Alan had given me a page as a thank you when we were all much younger, and he suggested I might put it in the book.

As Dave says on this interview page...

I was talking to Neil Gaiman a couple of weeks ago — managed to have a catch-up with him over a cup of tea, which was great — and I mentioned this project to him and he’s got one particularly prime page that Alan (Moore) and I gave him back in the day when he used to help us with sourcing quotations and so on. He’s got the dream sequence — the Nite Owl dream sequence where there are, I think, like 20 panels on the page. So that’s a real iconic and favorite page.

You can see the page itself (and others) much larger than it is below at http://13thdimension.com/exclusive-first-look-at-watchmen-artifact-edition-from-idw/

And I only discovered when it came out of its frame, that when I'd had framed in 1987 I wasn't thinking about acid-free mounts and museum-quality glass and the kinds of things I think about when people give me art these days, and I should have.

(The story of what I did to help on Watchmen and why they gave me the page is here on the blog: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2008/08/please-stop-my-assistant-becoming-mad.html -- and the link to the 1989 Brian Hibbs interview with a me whom I barely recognise is at http://thedreaming.holycow.com/2008/08/05/gaiman-interview-with-brian-hibbs/)

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So, signing the PEN Open Letter was something I did this week as a writer.

This video was something I did because it made me smile when I was asked. I suspect that Derren Brown, Stephen Fry, Rupert Everett and co. did it for the same reason. And they did it better than I did:

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You have six days left to listen to Mitch Benn is the 37th Beatle, a trimmed version of his Edinburgh Show, which I never saw, so I am glad I heard it on the radio. I've been listening to the Beatles while writing recently -- I'd call it comfort listening, except I've barely listened to them since I was in my early teens, so Mitch's history-rant-pontification-and-occasional-parodic-songs came along at just the right time:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03szxdh

(That'll work on a computer for the next six days. If you follow the link on a tablet or phone, it won't work outside the UK. So use an app like TuneIn Radio and search for Mitch Benn, and it will come up instantly...)

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And for Charles Dickens' Birthday (it's his 202nd Birthday today), I'm reposting the reading I did, in Dickensian beard and clobber, at the New York Public Library, just before Christmas: http://www.nypl.org/audiovideo/charles-dickens-christmas-carol-neil-gaiman-and-molly-oldfield

If you want to hear Molly Oldfield telling you interesting things about Dickens' reading tours and secret museums, followed by me reading the version of A Christmas Carol from Dickens' hand-annotated and edited prompt copy, now is your chance.



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