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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. TWO BABY PHOTOS! (And, oddly enough, some news too.)

posted by Neil Gaiman
I'm typing this in an airport lounge in Cleveland. It's a 'pay money or use a fancy credit card to get in' lounge, and I have a fancy credit card I never actually use in the back of my wallet, so hurrah, free internet and a cup of tea.

Last night was my first night away from the baby and Amanda since the birth. I spoke at an event at the University put on by the Cuyahoga County Public Library Foundation and Case Western Reserve University. I enjoyed talking, and managed not to get too wistful about missing the baby.

This morning felt very strange: I woke up in a kind of panic in a hotel bed, wondering how I had slept so long and why I hadn't changed the baby in the night and oh my god where was the baby oh right I'm in Cleveland.

This is what he looks like when he wakes up.

Now I'm flying back to them.

We've spent the last week in the sunshine seeing aged relatives and being on holiday. Real life (and chilly Autumn in the NorthEast) starts on Monday.

This is Anthony. We call him Ash for short. He wears a hat these days.

(I haven't received a full report on the Humble Bundle yet. Will post it here when I do.)


On November 9th, I'll be in Brooklyn, in conversation with Junot Diaz, talking about Sandman and such, and afterwards there will be the only Sandman Overture hardcover signing. (The book is officially released on November 10th.)

Tickets are free, but you must RSVP: https://neilgaiman.splashthat.com/

On Nov 7th I'll be in Conversation with Armistead Maupin at Bard. This is the fourth of the Bard talks I've been doing (Art Spiegelman, Audrey Niffenegger and Laurie Anderson were the first three).

Join a public conversation between Neil Gaiman, Bard’s Professor in the Arts, and Armistead Maupin, the best-selling writer and activist. Maupin is the author of 11 novels, including the nine-volume Tales of the City series, three of which were adapted for television with Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney. He and Gaiman will discuss their heroes Charles Dickens and Christopher Isherwood, the craft of storytelling, and many other subjects. Part of a regular series of conversations at the Fisher Center hosted by Professor Gaiman.
If you are in the area, you should come. Tickets and info at  http://fishercenter.bard.edu/calendar/event.php?eid=129331.

Me and Armistead in San Francisco in the summer. 

There are a handful of other appearances I'll be doing before I retire from the appearances and talks thing at the end of November and go back to being a full time writer for a while:

On Friday Oct 23rd, I'll be at the West Virginia Book Festival, in Charleston, WV.

On Friday the 13th of November I'll be in Texas. Will there be masked figures with machetes, or will it be a local chainsaw massacre? Probably neither, given that I'm talking in Austin, reading stories and answering questions and generally having too much fun on stage. It's a big Auditorium, and there are still a few hundred seats left, but they are going fast. http://thelongcenter.org/event/neil-gaiman/

On Saturday the 14th of November I'm doing the same thing, more or less, only with different words, in Long Beach, CA. (There are about 20 seats left, from what I can see: http://www.carpenterarts.org/2015-2016/neil-gaiman.html )

THE SLEEPER AND THE SPINDLE came out in the US and (much to my surprise) went in at #1 on the NYT YA bestseller list. It's now in its 3rd week on the list, and is a really pretty book.

Hayley Campbell's gorgeous book of everything you ever wanted to know about me is coming out in paperback soon, with a faux Victorian cover that doesn't have a picture of me on it. Too many people thought the hardback was just drawings of me or by me or something, so they gave it a title that clarifies what it is and why.

It's called The Art of Neil Gaiman: The Story of a Writer with Handwritten Notes, Drawings, Manuscripts, and Personal Photographs. (link.)

The UK gets a new hardback of GOOD OMENS, a beautiful new cover to THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, and also a (physically) tiny edition of HOW THE MARQUIS GOT HIS COAT BACK, to give people in the UK who have owned the author's preferred edition of Neverwhere for a decade parity with the US, where they only just got it but it had the Marquis story in the back.

I got to see the new UK covers for OCEAN and MARQUIS on Twitter this morning and take joy in posting them here:

And on a final note, the last part of Sandman Overture came out, and people have read it, and the reviews are very kind. I've seen https://comicspectrum.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/sandman-overture-6-dcvertigo/ and http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/09/30/the-sandman-overture-6-review
http://www.comicosity.com/review-sandman-overture-6/ and http://www.comicbookresources.com/comic-review/the-sandman-overture-6-vertigo and when I read them I felt like people actually understood what JHW3 and I were trying to do, and that we'd pulled it off.

It's a strange feeling, revisiting a story and characters you created almost thirty years earlier, and trying to add layers, so that if someone rereads the original story they will see events and characters they thought they knew as well as they knew themselves, in a different light.

I made it back by sunset.

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2. A huge thank you, and some life and some death...

posted by Neil Gaiman
Thank you all for taking part in the Humble Bundle, or just for putting up with me blogging, tweeting and facebooking about it. It's been over for a couple of days now: We just got a letter from the guys at Humble letting us know it was:
#1 on the Humble Book Tab
#1 Highest Overall Average for any Bundle.
#1 Media Coverage for a Book Bundle 
And they went on to say:
This bundle was particularly special since it elicited such a beautiful and positive reaction from both our fans and Humble newbies alike.   I talked with our Customer Service Manager yesterday and he reported that there wasn't a single negative comment.  (Except new customers not understanding how to redeem their bundles.  A very common complaint.)   This has never happened before either!
There was a tremendous amount of delighted energy at Humble HQ since the launch.    Everyone here was stoked to be involved.   Dare I say that it was almost in the realm of The Magical. 
 I was so happy how many friends, acquaintances and people I do not even know gave it a push.

John Scalzi went further -- he reviewed my 1985 Duran Duran book, and let the review become a gentle meditation on who we are and who we were and who we become. It's at http://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/09/22/duran-duran-neil-gaiman-and-beginnings/ and you might enjoy it.
Here are the final results for your interest:
Humble Book Bundle: Neil Gaiman Rarities
https://www.humblebundle.com/books?view=pPpiWRbzesK-Launch Date:  September 9th 2015
End Date: September 23rd 2015
Avg. price per bundle: $19.63
32,294 bundles purchased
Total Revenue: $633,787.98
(Note the numbers might change ever so slightly over the next few weeks.)  
I'll post the actual numbers here, and how much money that actually makes and how much is going where, when I get the information from Humble.  Hurrah for transparency.

(Also, I commend to you the Banned Comics Humble Bundle that's going on right now: $231 of forbidden comics for Pay What You Like https://www.humblebundle.com/books )


Meanwhile, so many things. For example The Sleeper and the Spindle came out in the US on Tuesday. So did the new Sleeper and the Spindle Full Cast Audio. You can listen to it at https://soundcloud.com/harperaudio_us/sleeperandthespindle_gaiman or

And read a great interview with Chris Riddell (and see pictures from the book) at http://epicreads.tumblr.com/post/129147915806/books-for-keeps-window-into-illustration-with

The Moth put up a new radio show and weirdly, in a week a son is born, it includes me talking about my father and my son: http://themoth.org/posts/episodes/1520 (This was actually recorded somewhere on the Unchained Bus Tour of 2012.)

I recorded a documentary for the BBC  Radio -- I'm presenting it -- on Orpheus: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06cw171  I'm really proud of it, and it has wonderful people, like Margaret Atwood and Jonathan Carroll and Peter Blegvad in it. (And this is the poem I wrote for Kathy Acker that's extracted in it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/5gmSz0PkBn6G81cdsySP8mJ/orphee-a-poem-by-neil-gaiman)

Miracleman, The Golden Age stories by me and Mark Buckingham is coming out right now on a weekly schedule. You really want to go to a comic shop and buy it. It's thrilling for me rereading it now, and really strange starting the process with Mark Buckingham of finishing the story we began so many years ago.


The baby is nine days old, happy and healthy and, slightly to my surprise, he makes amazing noises: squeaks like mice and gentle burbling like mourning doves and little chirrupping grunts like guinea pigs. I adore him. And his mother's doing really well too. In case you were wondering. 

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3. Our Not-So-Humble Bundle.

posted by Neil Gaiman

He was born at 8:37 in the morning on September the 16th, which is, I am told, the commonest birthday in the US.  It was a long but rewarding labour. The name on his birth registration is Anthony, but mostly I call him Squeaker. He makes the best noises in the world, mostly squeaks and peeps and snuffles.

Amanda is an amazing mother. I am changing nappies (or diapers, if you are not English) and enjoying it much too much. This is wonderful.

Labels:  Baby

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4. Holy Thundering Sludgebuckets! THANK YOU!

posted by Neil Gaiman
The Humble Bundle went live almost ten hours ago.

It's broken all the previous Humble Bundle records for Books.  As I type this, about 7000 people have already bought the  Bundle. It's raised $133,000. And it's done something really peculiar...

The average donation (right now $18.88) is actually higher than the level we had set as our top level ($15). This means that the books we thought were going to be mid-level books are actually, much to our surprise, the top level books.

This means a few things, including some changes of plans in the week ahead to make sure that as many people as possible get as much stuff as possible...

There's a great interview with me over at The Nerdist where I talk about embarrassment and age and why I'm willing to let some of the embarrassing stuff from the basement and the attic out. (Well, out for the next 13 days, anyway.) It's at http://nerdist.com/exclusive-neil-gaiman-discusses-uncovering-rarities-for-humble-bundle/

One of the best unexpected side-effects of this has been an ask me anything on Reddit with my daughters, Holly and Maddy Gaiman. You get a great sense of their personalities. They are both very funny in very different ways. For anyone wondering, this is what they look like now.

Maddy is the author of this book. Or she was, in 2002. It's letters and poems we sent each other while I was off writing American Gods, and she was Very Young. Only 100 copies were published, and given to close friends. And now it's part of the Humble Bundle too...

So thank you, and thank you again.

If you haven't bought it yet, you can still get your rare and collectible eBooks, eComics and eWhatnots at https://www.humblebundle.com/books for the next 13 days and 14 hours. 1249 pages of  stuff. All the money goes to good causes, and you can control how much of it goes to charities, to the creators, to Humble Bundle...

(There will be more stuff in the bundle released midweek. If you've already bought the bundle you will get it all without having to pay any more.)


Also, things I should mention:

Miracleman #1 is out! The art by Mark Buckingham has never looked better. The story by me is, well, I'm still proud of it, after all these years. If you've wondered what the fuss was about, it's a great place to start and should be at your local comic shop.


The Global Goals: On the 25th of September, the UN will officially adopt the new Global Goals. Head over to http://www.globalgoals.org and learn what they are, and what you can do to change the world for the better...

Before that, Penguin are going to be releasing the world's first Post-It Note book, to draw awareness to the global goals: I helped, a little, in making it happen: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/richard-curtis-and-neil-gaiman-michael-joseph-global-goals-curate-worlds-first-post-it-note-book-311417  Richard Curtis did all the heavy lifting.

And, in case you were wondering...

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5. Do YOU want save THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS while DOING GOOD? Er, and also get some interesting things to read.

posted by Neil Gaiman

The thing about having a writing career that spans more than thirty years is that that you write things – books, comics, all sorts of things – that for one reason or another become rare. They go out of print. Often because you are embarrassed by them, or do not want to see them in print. Or because circumstances are against you. Or because something was only ever published in a limited edition.

I have a basement library filled with mysterious copies of things. Some I only have one copy of. One book, the hardback of my Duran Duran biography, I paid $800 for, about eight years ago, astonished that anyone would ask that much, but aware that I'd only ever seen one other copy. (I saw another one for sale last week for over $4000.)

Many years ago, I sued a publisher for non-payment of royalties, registering copyright in his own name on things I'd written, and various other things. And, because it felt right, I decided that any money I made from the case would go to charity. Long after the case was won, when the finances were eventually settled, I found myself with a large chunk of money.  I didn't want to give it all to one charity, and instead formed the Gaiman Foundation which has, for several years, been using that money to Do Good Things. The Gaiman Foundation has funded the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's Education program, various Freedom of Speech initiatives, the Moth's High School programwhich teaches kids the power of telling their own stories, along with helping to fund good causes like the Lava Mae charity, which gives showers and cleaning facilities to the homeless around San Francisco.

Giving money away to good causes has been a fine thing to do, especially when the results were immediate and obvious.

The only downside is that the initial chunk of money from the lawsuit is almost used up. I've been putting money into it as well, but last year Holly Gaiman (who is not only my daughter and an ace hat maker, but is studying running non-profit organisations and has been invaluable on the professional side of things of the Foundation) pointed out to me that if the Gaiman Foundation was to continue, it would need me to put in a big chunk of money as an endowment. And I started thinking...

Some years ago I took part in one of the earliest book-based Humble Bundles, and was really impressed with how the Humble Bundle thing worked.  E-books (back then,  of out of print or unavailable work,) would be put up DRM free: some of them would be available to anyone who paid anything at all, some only for those who paid above the average, some available to anyone who paid more than a specific amount. Artists and writers got paid, and money also went to support good causes -- when you paid for your books, you could choose how much of the money going to charity went to which charity. 

Hmm. I had the beginning of an idea.

Charles Brownstein at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is always willing to listen to my strange ideas. He liked this one.

This was the idea:

I'd put into the Humble Bundle all the rare things we could find. 

Books that were long out of print, stories and such that collectors would pay hundreds of dollars for, obscure and uncollected comics and pamphlets and magazine articles. Even the things I am still vaguely embarrassed by (like the Duran Duran biography, a hardcover copy of which, as I said, can set you back thousands of dollars these days, if you can find one). 

Books which have been out of print for 30 years, like GHASTLY BEYOND BELIEF, a collection of quotations from the strangest SF and Fantasy books and movies that Kim Newman and I made when we were 23 and 24 respectively. Things that were absolutely private and never before sold, like LOVE FISHIE, a book of poems and letters from my daughter Maddy (aged 8) to me, and from me back to Maddy, that was made into a book (with help from my assistant the Fabulous Lorraine) as a gift for my 42nd birthday. 

Two long out-of-print books from Knockabout Comics: OUTRAGEOUS TALES FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT and SEVEN DEADLY SINS, with stories written and or drawn by me, Alan Moore, Hunt Emerson, Dave Gibbons, Dave McKean and a host of others. 

Rare out-of-print comics stories by me and Bryan Talbot, by me and Mark Buckingham, even by me and Bryan Talbot and Mark Buckingham.

There would be small-press short story & suchlike collections like ANGELS AND VISITATIONS and the LITTLE GOLD BOOK OF GHASTLY STUFF containing stories that went on to win awards and be collected in the more big, official collections (Smoke and Mirrors, etc), and stories no-one has seen since, not to mention non-fiction articles, like the one about the effects of alcohol on a writer, or the one where I stayed out for 24 hours on the streets of Soho, that are now only whispered in rumours.

There would even be a short story of mine, “Manuscript Found in a Milk Bottle”, published in 1985, that is so bad I've never let it be reprinted. Not even to give young writers hope that if I was that awful once, there is hope for all of them.

Charles from the CBLDF liked the idea.

It was a good thing Charles liked the idea. He had to do so much of the work, coordinating, finding, talking to people, getting contracts with artists and publishers and everyone signed, all that. Which he did, cheerfully and helpfully and uncomplainingly.

The Humble Bundle people liked the idea too.

Humble Bundle money is divided between the creators and the charities, with the person buying the Humble Bundle deciding how the percentage that goes to the charities is divided.

I'm giving my entire portion of Humble Bundle creator-money directly back to the Gaiman Foundation. (My agent Merrilee has donated her fee, too, so 100% of what comes in to me goes to the Foundation.)

There are, obviously, other authors and artists and publishers involved. Some have asked for their money to go to charities, and some are, perfectly sensibly, paying the rent and buying food with it.

(Originally, we'd hoped to split the charity money between the CBLDF and the Gaiman Foundation as well, but in the very last couple of days of putting things together we discovered that was impractical, so we made the other charity the Moth's Educational Program instead: it's the Moth storytelling in High Schools, it's done some really good things, and I'm proud to be helping it.)

Normally Humble Bundle likes to explain that you are paying what you like for perhaps $100 worth of games or books or comics. It's hard to price this stuff – buying Duran Duran and Ghastly Beyond Belief together could set you back thousands of dollars. Here, you'll get some ebooks if you pay what you like, more ebooks if you pay over the average, and some choice plums (like Duran Duran, and “Manuscript Found in a Milk Bottle”) if you pay over $15. 

There's a total of about 1,300 pages of DRM-free ebooks and comics, fiction and non fiction. There's even a Babylon 5 Script I wrote.

These books and comics and suchlike are going to be available during the two week on-sale life of the Humble Bundle. After that, they are going away again. This really is your chance to read them.

Click on the link: https://www.humblebundle.com/books. It will take you somewhere that will look a bit like this, where many pages of ebooks will be waiting for you:

And remember, it's pay what you want. (If you want to pay the thousands of dollars it would have cost you to buy all this stuff as collectibles, you can do that too. I'll be grateful, and so will the various charities, not to mention the artists, other writers and so on.)

Thank you to Charles Brownstein; to Mary Edgeberg, Holly Gaiman, Cat Mihos, and Christine DiCrocco, on my team; thank you to my agent Merrilee Heifetz; to everyone who drew or wrote or published or in other way gave us permission to put things up; to Mike Maher and the team at Scribe for mastering the eBooks;  and above all thank you to everyone at Humble Bundle for relentlessly doing good for wonderful causes.

I hope you enjoy all 1,289 rare and collectible pages. Even “Manuscript Found In a Milk Bottle”.

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6. How to help your family and save lives.

posted by Neil Gaiman
It's very safe here: we're in Tennessee, in a perfect little house we are borrowing from a midwife who has gone out west to her son's wedding. We are cooking, eating,  catching up on our sleep. Amanda's due in a week and her Nesting Instinct seems to be manifesting chiefly in trying to clean out her email inbox. She's also cleaning, washing and folding baby clothes and clean towels. I'm writing a lot, enjoying the lack of cell-phone connection, and the lack of internet connection, and getting things written without distraction. (I wrapped the first draft of a script on Thursday, wrote a preface to SANDMAN:OVERTURE on Friday.) We've felt like a couple for a long time. We're starting to feel like a family.

And the safety feels very fragile, and like something to be treasured.

There's a photo I'm not going to post. You've probably seen it already: it shows Aylan Kurdi, a three year old Syrian refugee, dead on a beach in Greece. It made me cry, but I know I'm overly sensitive to bad things happening to small children right now. I'm reacting as if he's family.

In May of last year I was in a refugee camp in Jordan. I was talking to a 26 year old woman who had miscarried her babies in Syria when the bombs started falling. She had made it out of Syria, but her husband had left her for another woman he hoped would give him babies. We spoke to women eight months' pregnant who had just walked through the desert for days, past the dead and dismembered bodies of people fleeing the war, like themselves, who had been betrayed by the smugglers who had promised them a way to freedom.

I gained a new appreciation for the civilisation I usually take for granted. The idea that you could wake in the morning to a world in which nobody was trying to hurt you or kill you, in which there would be food for your children and a safe place for your baby to be born became something unusual.

I wrote about my time in the Syrian refugee camps here, in the Guardian. (You can read it here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/21/many-ways-die-syria-neil-gaiman-refugee-camp-syria and you should, if you have time. I'll be here when you get back. And here are some photos from my time there: http://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2014/may/21/neil-gaiman-syria-refugees-jordan-in-pictures)

Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon have, between them, taken in millions of Syrian refugees. People who fled, as you or I would flee, when remaining in the places they loved was no longer possible or safe.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has made a plea to Europe that you should read (and insist that whoever represents you also read)  at http://www.unhcr.org/55e9459f6.html
The only ones who benefit from the lack of a common European response are the smugglers and traffickers who are making profit from people's desperation to reach safety. More effective international cooperation is required to crack down on smugglers, including those operating inside the EU, but in ways that allow for the victims to be protected. But none of these efforts will be effective without opening up more opportunities for people to come legally to Europe and find safety upon arrival. Thousands of refugee parents are risking the lives of their children on unsafe smuggling boats primarily because they have no other choice. 
The UN Refugees Agency wrote about words, and how they matter. In this case, the word migrants and refugees: they don't mean the same thing, and have very different meanings in terms of what a government's obligations are to them.  http://www.unhcr.org/55df0e556.html
 One of the most fundamental principles laid down in international law is that refugees should not be expelled or returned to situations where their life and freedom would be under threat...
Politics has a way of intervening in such debates. Conflating refugees and migrants can have serious consequences for the lives and safety of refugees. Blurring the two terms takes attention away from the specific legal protections refugees require. It can undermine public support for refugees and the institution of asylum at a time when more refugees need such protection than ever before. We need to treat all human beings with respect and dignity. We need to ensure that the human rights of migrants are respected. At the same time, we also need to provide an appropriate legal response for refugees, because of their particular predicament.

It's worth making sure that people are using the right words. A lot of the time they don't realise there's a difference between the two things, or that refugees have real rights -- the rights you would want, if you were forced to leave home.

A lot of people have been asking me about ways that we as individuals can change things for the better for refugees: there's an excellent article in the Independent about practical things you can do to help or make a difference.


UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is feeding and housing and housing and helping literally millions of refugees around the world, always with the eventual goal of getting them safely home one day. Their funding comes from governments and private individuals all over the world. But this crisis has stretched them thin. You can help.

Donate to them at http://rfg.ee/RN3uy​ -- and please, share the donation link:
With your support, UNHCR will provide assistance such as:
  • Deliver rescue kits containing a thermal blanket, towel, water, high nutrient energy bar, dry clothes and shoes, to every survivor;
  • Set up reception centres where refugees can be registered and receive vital medical care;
  • Provide temporary emergency shelter to especially vulnerable refugees;
  • Help children travelling alone by providing specialist support and care.
As I said on this blog when I came back from visiting the camps:

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.  

(I'd love it you would spread this post around, and spread the links inside it. People who know that I'm involved in Refugee issues have been asking me about places to donate and what to do and what to read, so I put this together for them, and now, for you. http://rfg.ee/RN3uy​ was the donation link.)

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7. Have I Actually Been Eaten By A Bear?

posted by Neil Gaiman
Amanda is now 8 and a bit months' pregnant, and she wanted to have our baby off the grid, in the middle of the woods with nothing and nobody around but midwives, a doula, and me.

Which seemed like an odd idea when she first floated it by me, but has come to strike me as more and more sensible in the last few months, especially when I would look at my deadlines. It's been a mad year anyway, and more and more things have crept onto my schedule: the idea of going off to a cabin in the woods and writing, away from phones or emails or any distractions seemed increasingly attractive. So I get the best of all worlds: undistracted time with Amanda, undistracted time with Amanda and the baby (when he appears), and relatively undistracted time to write.

Photo by Kyle Cassidy,  last Friday.

Except, the birth-month is September. And September is the month when everything is happening.

It's still ridiculously cheap on Amazon, for three books you could not previously get in these editions in the US.

The last issue of Sandman Overture will come out in September (although not the hardback collected edition of the whole thing. That comes out on November 10th -- my birthday, oddly enough: details at http://bit.ly/OvertureDeluxe )

And, more personal for me even than these, it's the month that the Humble Bundle happens.

You know what a Humble Bundle is, don't you…? It's a bundle of Digital Stuff (usually games, sometimes eBooks or Graphic Novels) that goes out to the world on a Pay What You Like basis. Sometimes you can get hundreds of dollars of stuff cheaply.

But I think it's fair to say there will never have been a Humble Bundle like this before. Why ever is that? you wonder. Ah,  you will have to be patient. It's going to be remarkable.


I'm going to be away. So I'm planning to learn how to use the various timed posting things on Twitter and Facebook and here on the Blog. People will think I am back from the woods, but no, I won't be. Magical timed postings will be going up to let people know what's happening.

(This may also result in a few tone deaf postings in September, as I apparently plug the Humble Bundle or Sleeper and the Spindle immediately after I hike into town to find internet to tell you that the baby has turned up. Forgive me if they happen.)  

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8. “Behind the Trees”

posted by Neil Gaiman

 I love my wife so much. This is an animation by animator Avi Ofer that uses a voice memo from Amanda's phone of a conversation she had with me while I was asleep. 

(I can have conversations while I am asleep, I am told). 

She found the message she had left on her phone for herself, whispered in a bathroom while I slept,  a year or so after she’d left it, and played it to me. I said it sounded like an animated film, and she agreed, and used her Patreon to make it happen…

Only watch it if you want to know what the inside of my head is probably like while I am asleep.

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9. After the Pause

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

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10. Existing in the pause

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We won't be waiting long.

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

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

It starts:

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

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

posted by Neil Gaiman

So that, as they say, was a thing.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

“We need you,” we told him.

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

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

We tell him we are game for trouble.

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

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

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

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

Art sent us a rough of the image.

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

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


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

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

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

A week later, Art sent us this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And we stopped worrying about the cover.



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

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

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

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

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

Neil furrowed.

"We can try."

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

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

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

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

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

We couldn't do it.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neil and Amanda:

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

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


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

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

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

Have a nice day.

Neil and Amanda

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12. Ursula at 85

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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13. The Facts of Death

posted by Neil Gaiman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They don’t teach you the facts of death,

Your Mum and Dad. They give you pets.

We had a dog which went astray.

Got laminated to the motorway.

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

You have to work it out yourself,

This dying thing. Death’s always due.

A goldfish swimming on a stall,

Two weeks later: cotton wool,

And sent to meet its Maker down the loo.)

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14. Terry Pratchett

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

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

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

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


I'll miss you, Terry.

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

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15. Edging back to blogging

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

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

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

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

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

So that's what most of the reviews say.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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16. New Year's Wishes and gifts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it's this.

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

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

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

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

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

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

It's a New Year and with it comes a fresh opportunity to shape our world. 

So this is my wish, a wish for me as much as it is a wish for you: in the world to come, let us be brave – let us walk into the dark without fear, and step into the unknown with smiles on our faces, even if we're faking them. 

And whatever happens to us, whatever we make, whatever we learn, let us take joy in it. We can find joy in the world if it's joy we're looking for, we can take joy in the act of creation. 

So that is my wish for you, and for me. Bravery and joy.


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

Be kind to yourself in the year ahead. 

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

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

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

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

Labels:  Happy New Year

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17. 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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18. 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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19. 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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20. 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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21. 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.

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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22. 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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23. 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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24. 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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25. 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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