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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: book sculptures, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 7 of 7
1. Fusenews: If Henry James says it’s wrong I don’t wanna be right

I swear that every time my computer goes on the fritz I feel like I’m walking underwater for days on end while it’s in the shop.  I can’t do email effectively, I can’t update Goodreads, I can’t do anything without feeling like it’s all fake until that little laptop is returned to my knees where it belongs.  It’s a sickness, man.  Not healthy in the least.  But now that it’s back I can’t help but be thrilled!  Woot and woo-hoo and other “woo” related forms of cheering. Now on to the news . . .

  • First off, I’m pilfering this next link from the always amusing and informative Jennifer Schultz.  Because I am a member of PEN here in New York I’ve been vaguely aware of the efforts to help New Orleans rebuild post-Katrina (the Children’s/Young Adult Book Authors Committee helped move an elementary school library from St. Joseph’s School in Greenwich Village, New York City, to the Martin Luther King Jr. School in New Orleans and have continued to aid that school ever since).  The New Orleans public libraries themselves haven’t been on my radar as much.  Jennifer filled me in on the matter:

“Yesterday’s Times-Picayune (New Orleans’s newspaper) had an excellent article about the rebirth of the New Orleans Public Library system, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Ever since they started to rebuild the libraries, their motto has been “Building Back Better.” The NOPL libraries were okay—they’ve always had strong community programming, but there was a lot of room for improvement—but drastic improvements were never going to be in the city’s finances, until Katrina came and they had no choice but to literally start over with many of their libraries. They didn’t want to just rebuild what they had—they wanted to take this unusual and tragic opportunity to make a strong and community-oriented system for the city. They wanted to make them public transportation-friendly, since many residents rely on it, technologically savvy,  environmentally-friendly—you name it. This is their website: http://nutrias.org/ (The nutria is a pest —they are great at destroying wetlands-and a source of humor in Louisiana-Louisianians can have a dark sense of humor. They had a rather colorful governor  years ago who suggested that folks should hunt and eat the nutrias in order to cut down on their numbers, and they’ve been sort of a joke ever since. Nutria fur is marketed as “guilt free fur,” etc).”

Thank you, Jennifer!  Fantastic info.  I can’t wait for ALA to return and to get to see the city (and it’s libraries!) firsthand.

2. Fusenews: “whimsically apocalyptic”

As I’m sure many of you heard Jan Berenstain, half of The Berenstain Bears, passed away recently. The Gothamist called us up at NYPL and wondered if we had any Berenstain goodies in our collection. We don’t but we knew who did. You can read their obit here. The SLJ obit is also well worth seeing since they managed to work in that crazy What Dr. Freud Didn’t Tell You book the Berenstains worked on years ago and full credit to Leila at bookshelves of doom for discovering THAT gem. In fact, Leila has posted what may be the cutest picture of the Berenstain humans I’ve ever seen. A-dor-able.

  • Meanwhile the good folks at TimeOut Kids New York gave me an impossible challenge: Come up with the Top 50 Best Books for Kids. And while I’m at it, balance the classics with some contemporary stuff. Just to be cheeky I added some nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels and works by people of color. The result is a list you will enjoy but not entirely agree with. I think that that’s sort of the point, don’t you? Everyone has their own list. This one’s mine.
  • Let me just put it this way: If I were in the publishing business and I saw this (created by the hugely talented Kate Beaton of Hark, A Vagrant) I would run, not walk, to the nearest cell phone and put in a call with her agent. Stat.
  • I think we’ve all seen at least one dead-to-irony Lorax ad by this point, yes? Seems to me that about the time you have a Lorax shilling for SUVs it’s time to throw in the towel. Or, at the very least, to try to wrest the Seuss rights from the widow (fat chance). And we thought the Cat in the Hat movie was the low point! Ha! Rocco Staino translates his disgust into a Huffington Post piece that speculates on what other famous children’s book characters might want to get some lucrative corporate sponsorship going.
  • I like illustrator Scott Campbell anyway but when I saw him illustrate the cast of one of my favorite movies, that just clinched it. Check it out. The man does a darn good Elijah Wood.
  • Re: Hunger Games, I only advise you to look at Capitol Couture if you have a couple hours to kill. Darn thing sucked me in and was mighty reluctant to let me go. Had to break out the pruning shears to make my escape. True story. Thanks to Marci for the link.
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3. Religiously interrupting your being since February 2001

I'm slightly brain-dead right now -- yesterday I flew to LA, had a late-afternoon meeting about a movie I'm going to be writing based on one of my books (I don't think I can be more specific until all the contracts are signed or at least I know that I've got an okay to talk about it) which was really good. My producer is a writer, and he and I sat and agreed with each other about what I was going to be doing. The worst thing in writing something for someone else, and I've found this several times over the years, especially in movies, is where you talk to an editor or an executive and you think that you're talking about the same thing. Then you go away and do what you thought you were talking about and hand it in and find that you were quite wrong, and while you were describing (say) a romantic comedy with ghosts in they were buying a scary ghost story with perhaps some love in, and nobody is happy and the project is doomed. Anyway, this one will I think be just fine -- I felt like we were talking about the same book and the same movie.

Then my cell phone rang, and I found myself heading out to an Emergency Room at a hospital to see an embarrassed friend who had just had been admitted to the ER and had no desire to be there. On the whole it wasn't as intense as ER nor as funny as Scrubs but I definitely felt like I had wandered into American TV Fiction Land. Back to the hotel late, and worked on an overdue article on Crossover Fiction for the UK Writers and Artists Yearbook, because they had asked me to write something for them, and because the 1983 edition of the yearbook was the single most important and useful thing I owned when I set out to become a journalist.

A five in the morning wake-up call and off to the airport to fly home. Finished the Yearbook article in the Northwest Lounge. Sent it off. I slept a bit on the plane. I'd heard that "crippling" snow was expected in Minneapolis, but it was actually rain and didn't turn into snow until I had got home safely. And it was vital that I made it back in time because I had to get back home for...

The Sleepover. At which I was going to be The Adult. Starring Maddy and five of her thirteen/fourteen year old friends, at which I get to serve as chauffeur (to cinema and back) adviser ("you could probably put more cheese on those nachos"), placer-of-things-into-oven, and most importantly, because they had all just seen Prom Night and were a bit skittish, offerer of helpful advice ("You'll all want to stick together this evening. It's a big old house after all, and given the people who've died here over the years... well, I've said too much already..."). It's going on as I type this.


An article on writers blogging from The Age, in which we learn that this blog has jumped the shark, and is no longer as good as once it was. Probably true, although over seven years I've noticed it tends to go through phases. Still, if I do go on these research expeditions this summer I'll probably take a break from blogging while I'm doing it, and put it all into notebooks.

Lovely article on fantasy in the Daily Telegraph by Mark Chadbourne. For whose book The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke, I once wrote an introduction. I'll see if I can find it and put it up here. It's mostly about Richard Dadd, another of my obsessions.


Hi Neil,

I thought you might find this interesting: http://www.thedesignfiles.net/2008/04/interview-nicholas-jones.html

The idea of making such amazing sculptures out of books fascinates me (and makes me cringe a little bit--"no, not the books!"--but still, it's beautiful :)).

They are beautiful, aren't they?

You write great books. In fact, at one time you were my favorite writer, but then I picked up Viriconium by M. John Harrison only because in small black letters, near the bottom of the cover it says "With a Foreword by Neil Gaiman".

Now M. John Harrison is my favorite writer, and Viriconium is my bible. You knocked yourself out of the top spot. Introductions are like small bridges from author to author. Thank you for building so many.

Ironically yours,


P.S. The introduction is quite good.

You're very welcome. Mike Harrison is one of my favourite writers -- I'm delighted that he's now yours.

just wanted to tell you that your work religiously interrupts my being!!!!!

I hope that's good.

I'm a little forlorn at the moment. I had a wonderful talk with one of my professors today about how much we admire and enjoy your books. But that was following a very tough talk about how I have to rewrite my fiction piece for him. Again. Reason? Because he didn't believe character--due to the profession I labeled her with (Police officer)--think certain thoughts or be worried about things or would ever wish upon a star.

Police officers are humans too, right? They can still be disturbed by a rape case despite the fact that they're a seasoned officer? They still feel emotions?

[sigh] This rant was inspired by the fact that I read on your page that about 95% of what you write in your first draft ends up in your final product. Has that always been the case for you? Was there a time when someone refused your work because they point blank believed what you wrote is unrealistic? Or because you typically write in a magical fantasy world, do they give you certain allowances?

A student who knows her professor reads this page, and therefore remains nameless,

(despite the fact that she gave enough details that her professor will recognize her anyway...)


Let's see. To answer the obvious questions first, was there a time someone turned down something I wrote because it was unrealistic? Probably, although nothing comes to mind. Normally they'd turn things down for just not being good enough.

You never have to convince a reader that Police Officers would wish on a star. You have to convince your readers that that police officer would wish on a star. You have to make someone rounded enough that the reader would half-expect the police officer in question to wish on a star.

Nobody gives you allowances for fantasy, just as nobody gives you allowances for romance or history or even non-fiction. It's called suspension of disbelief, and when you're writing it's what you're doing and what you're building, and it's soap-bubble thin. It pops easily. (I remember once being taken to task by Rachel Pollack for something in a short story I'd written. "But that's the only bit in the story that's true!" I told her. "It doesn't matter if it's true," she said. "What matters is if, in the context of the story, it's believable." And I knew that she was right.)

Incidentally, I've always found the police, in the US and the UK, tremendously helpful to writers, or at least to me. There's nothing like spending a day riding along with a cop, or being walked through a police station and getting to ask nosy questions for giving a writer confidence in what they're writing. And confidence is most of the battle.

The other day I was shopping in a used book store and suddenly realized that I don't know how authors get paid. I understand advances and royalties, etc. (at least well enough) but:

1. Do authors get royalties on new books and used? Sales numbers are only on new books, so...

2. And book clubs - anything from there?

I make enough to buy my books new, but haven't always - I'm not trying to disparage used books shops and libraries. If buying books new means more money for the writers (& illustrators), which leads to more books, then, well, I'll buy them new.

Thanks, looking forward to "The Graveyard Book" (although I wish it were out now to coincide with the dreary spring weather in the upper midwest)


No, authors don't get paid anything for books in used bookstores -- but then, we've already been paid for them. Someone bought them once, and I'm happy for them to be resold. (As I said in Wired (full reply by me here) and repeated in this journal,

If you buy one of my books (or are sent it to review) it's yours. You bought it (or were given it). You can sell it on. I don't have any more of a problem with Amazon listing the used copies than I do bookstores having used book sections. It's their store.

You can buy a book new, buy it in hardback or wait for the paperback, find it used or as a collectible. I don't mind. What I care about most is that people are reading.

As I said when I discussed this at length in the piece I put up on this journal that was quoted in Wired last month, books don't come with single-end-user licenses, and I think that's a good thing.
And six years on, I've not changed my mind.

Writers do fine from book clubs, too -- the book club isn't paying a royalty on each book. Usually they'll pay a fee to the publisher, which is split with the author, for permission to publish a book (often at a smaller size or on cheaper paper than the original) or they will contract with the publisher to overprint copies for them as part of the original print run (so the Book Club editions of the original Stardust hardcover are just like the DC edition, identical in size and binding and paper, they just ran off a few thousand at the end of the print run with the Book Club logo on).

Hi Neil!

I just read a book by a German author who borrowed some stuff from your novels, especially Neverwhere. The story takes place in (a) London Below and Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemaar show up as well (with different names), and some other details were terribly familiar.

I was just wondering what you think of somebody else using "your" ideas & characters. Is it something that annoys you? Do you feel honoured? Do you even care?

I hope you haven't answered this question already - if yes, I couldn't find it and would love a hint in the right direction.

Thanks in advance!


There's a saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the truth is that mostly I feel flattered when I hear about things like this. It's classier when the people doing it list you as an influence in interviews or thank you in the acknowledgments or whatever, but it doesn't bother me either way.

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4. Fusenews: Haggis and Hash Browns

Happy Labor Day!  I’ve no special post of my own but I know someone who has created the ultimate list of Labor Songs. That would be Professor Phil Nel and at this point I’ve only seen the first of three posts but it is truly fantastic.  For one thing, he includes Moxy Früvous on his round-up, and they were a band I adored back in the days of my youth.  I’d forgotten all about “I Love My Boss” until now.  Go!  Look!  It’s worth your time.

Now I’ve been amiss in not mentioning the speaking engagement I have at the upcoming Kidlitosphere Conference.  I won’t be there in person, but through the magic of technology I’ll be Skyping alongside the hugely talented Mary Ann Scheuer of Great Kid Books and the simply marvelous Paula Wiley of Pink Me.  Our topic?  Mary Ann came up with the notion of covering book app features.  What we like, what we don’t, what to look for, etc.  And if you cannot attend, we may be able to put something on our blogs afterwards.  Stay tuned or read more about the talk here.

New Blog Alert: Speaking of apps, ever wonder why there isn’t a children’s literature blog dedicated to the digital realm?  Turns out, there is and it’s called dot.Momming.  Children’s author and founder of the Hyde Park/South Side Network for SCBWI-Illinois, Kate Hannigan, provides reviews as well as multiple interviews with folks working in the field.  I’m a fan, and not least because an app I helped advise (Hildegard Sings) shows up as number one on her Top Picture Book Apps list.

I like to see good work rewarded.  And Kate Messner’s efforts to bring attention to the libraries devastated after Hurricane Irene certainly qualifies as more than simply “good”.  The fact that School Library Journal highlighted her work in the piece Author Kate Messner Helps to Rebuild Local NY Library Devastated By Hurricane Irene is just icing on the cake.  And much to my astonishment it include a photograph of a Paddington book that I apparently read as a child but had entirely forgotten about until I saw it in the article.  Wow!  It’s been a long time since that happened.

Need a good website for writing exercises?  Have you seen the delightful They Fight Crime?  Try it.  Then try again and again.  My current favorite is, “He’s a globe-trotting drug-addicted hairdresser on the edge. She’s a tortured belly-dancing vampire operating on the wrong side of the law. They fight crime!”  Hours of time wasting fun to be had there.

Every other day an adult author gets it into their head that writing for children is a snap (sometimes with horrific results).  Children’s authors rarely go the other way around.  Now Eoin Colfer has decided to change all that.  A comedic crime thriller called Plugged is 5 Comments on Fusenews: Haggis and Hash Browns, last added: 9/5/2011

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5. Fusenews: Zap! Pow! Zam! (Zam?)

Ruh-roh.  I’ve been having too much fun earning a living to leave enough time for blogging.  Time yet again for a super quickie point-by-point-without-the-details Fusenews!  Hold onto your hats . . .

Who are the artists overlooked by the Caldecott?  Elizabeth Bluemle has the scoop.

An East Harlem bookstore needs your help! Thanks to Heather Scott for the link.

  • Everything in this Horn Book article Board-book-a-palooza by Cynthia K. Ritter I agree with.  Everything.
  • Speaking of HB, Roger’s blog has a new format.  Love that bow-tied avatar of his.  Who drew it, I wonder?
  • Don Tate has a fun piece about his time at the Highlights first illustrators intensive Founders workshop. He happened to stay in the same cabin that I did when I visited last summer.  I had no idea I’d stayed where Floyd Cooper had.  Fabulous!
  • Don’t get me wrong.  I love Where’s Waldo but how dedicated am I?  Not this dedicated.  Yeesh!  Thanks to Molly O’Neill for the link.
  • Dunno. If I were to find a title for this story of the 1500 pound Mo Willems sculpture of a pachyderm I think I would have gone with “Elephant and Piggie Iron”.  But that’s me.
  • Who knew that random stills of that old Spider-Man cartoon could be this fun?  Particularly when they involve librarians.

Kseniya Yarosh, I tip my hat to thee.

  • That’s it. I’m making my own Funny Book prize.  This time for American books.  Because, quite frankly, they’re hard to write and I’m jealous of the Brits for getting to have their Roald Dahl Funny Prize.<

    8 Comments on Fusenews: Zap! Pow! Zam! (Zam?), last added: 9/21/2011
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6. Fusenews: “Don’t Let the Pigeon Die Alone”

  • I hope you all took the time to notice the magnificent One Shot World Tour: City Living conducted by any number of our best bloggers in the biz.  I had every intention of participating and then lost my head.  Fortunately there are folks out there far more reliable than myself for this kind of thing.  From historical London to alternate London, from trees in Brooklyn to blackouts there, this thing was awesome.  Chasing Ray has the round-up.  Enjoy.
  • Well sir, the National Book Award was announced two days ago.  Once again a children’s book rather than a teen novel won.  Interestingly, that book was not Gary Schmidt’s fabulous Okay for Now but the rather awesome in its own right Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai(a title that to my mind win’s The 2011 When You Reach Me Award for Most Difficult Title to Remember).  Of course, Leila Roy called what would happen when someone won.  Doggone it.
  • Ah, Nancy Drew.  Folks just can’t stop talking about you, can they?  If they’re not speculating about what might be playing on your iPod then they’re sending you back in time to the Salem Witch Trials.  Buck up, kid.  It could be worse.  You could be Cherry Ames.
  • Re: Racism and colonialism in Pippi Longstocking, what she said.
  • Fun Fact: The American Folklore Society has an award.  It’s called The Aesop Prize and it’s awarded by the Children’s Folklore Section of the society.  This year the award went to Trickster: Native American Tales – A Graphic Collection, which I agree was extraordinary.  So naturally I was curious about what the previous winners had been.  Amusingly in 2010 the award went to Joha Makes a Wish by Eric A. Kimmel.  In 2009 it went to Dance, Nana, Dance (Baila, Nana, Baila) by Joe Hayes, and in 2008 it was Ain’t Nothing But a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry by Scott Reynolds Nelson.  You can see the full list, and the many honorable mentions, here if you’re curious.  For that matter, if you’ve a children’s work of folklore published in 2011 or 2012 and you want it to be considered for this prize, check out the Prize Review Criteria.
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7. rock legends

Two of the greatest and most prolific drummers in the history of rock and roll are also two of the biggest unsung heroes.
Hal Blaine and Jim Gordon played with some of the most famous performers in popular music and played on some of the most significant recordings in modern music history. Hal Blaine, a member of the famed LA session group The Wrecking Crew, holds a current Grammy record. He played on six consecutive Records of the Year: Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass in 1966, for A Taste of Honey, Frank Sinatra in 1967, for Strangers in the Night, 5th Dimension in 1968, for Up, Up and Away, Simon & Garfunkel in 1969, for Mrs. Robinson, 5th Dimension in 1970, for Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In and Simon & Garfunkel in 1971 for Bridge Over Troubled Water. In addition, he played on recordings by everyone from The Partridge Family, Elvis Presley, The Carpenters, The Mamas and Papas, Neil Diamond, Barbra Streisand, The Byrds and Paul Revere & The Raiders. He was heard on the majority of The Beach Boys recordings (except for Pet Sounds, which was Jim Gordon. Dennis Wilson, the Beach Boys drummer, only drummed in concert). When Dennis Wilson recorded his only solo album, he hired Blaine to play drums. Blaine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. He estimates that, in his career, he played on over 35,000 recordings.

Jim Gordon was one of the most sought-after session drummers throughout the 60s and 70s. He played alongside such artists as Donovan, Jackson Browne, Glen Campbell, Alice Cooper, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, George Harrison, The Monkees, Carly Simon, Steely Dan and Traffic. He played the famous drum break in the Incredible Bongo Band's "Apache", later sampled by The Sugarhill Gang in their hip-hop version of the song. Gordon was a member of Frank Zappa's Grand Wazoo band and he was the drummer for Eric Clapton's Derek and The Dominos. Gordon wrote and played the renowned piano outro on "Layla".
In 1983, after years of complaining of voices in his head, Gordon beat his mother with a hammer and stabbed her to death with a butcher knife. Gordon currently resides in a state medical corrections facility in Vacaville, CA

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