Tag Archives: Neil Gaiman

Bibliophiliacs Presents 12 Bookish Days of Christmas (Day 8)

On the eighth day of Christmas a great friend gave to me…

Eight Milks a-made-ing (cookies, pies, cakes…mmm…)

Seven (silent) swans a-swimming…

Six Geese A-Slaying…

Five Lord of The Riiiiiiiiings…

Four Colin Firths,

Three Trench Pens,

Two Harry Turtledoves,

And a copy of The Giving Tree.

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Trilogies, We Have To Talk…

Anyone else notice that it seems to be impossible for a story to be contained in just one book, these days?  I love a good series, and more writing from authors I enjoy is always a good thing.  It is, however, becoming more and more difficult to read a story from beginning to end without buying at least three books, sometimes more ( a lot more if it’s Robert Jordan).

I’m not sure if it’s authors or publishers who are pushing for the three book arcs, but it is resulting in a lot of book series that start off great, but leave you less than satisfied.  The Hunger Games trilogy is one that I was disappointed with – I loved the first two, but it seemed like Collins couldn’t figure out how to finish it, and eventually said “whatever, stuff happened, the end.”  Poison Study, by Maria V. Snyder, was fantastic, but I was not as thrilled with the books that followed, and gave up on the series.  I love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, but I think part of the reason it works so well is it isn’t tied to a single storyline.  Also, he’s Terry Pratchett.  Ender’s Game was great, the rest of the books, meh. Also, don’t get me started on Orson Scott Card.

If you are getting series fatigue, here are a few great books that can be read on their own:

David & Leigh Eddings’ The Redemption of Althalus was written in their classic style, epic fantasy with sly humour and cutting satire.  One of my all time favorites, and completely re-readable.

Most of Neil Gaiman’s work is standalone, Stardust is a lovely fairytale, magical and gorgeous.

Always amazing, the hardcover illustrated edition of The Princess Bride is coming out in November (on the fifth!).  I’ll be ordering my own copy of William Goldman’s book, re-watching the movie, and saying “As you wish” a lot.

Guy Gavriel Kay is my favorite author, and this is one of my favorite books by him.  It was this book that convinced my dad that he liked fantasy.  If I had to make everyone read one book, Tigana might be it.

Go forth and read with no pressure!  The only next book you need to read is one you choose.  If you have any books that are standalone to recommend, I’d love to hear about them.

On a completely unrelated (snort) note, apparently the paperback edition of Dance With Dragons will actually finally come out this month, since we checked store inventory, and it is in fact in the process of shipping.  See you in a few days!

Happy (stress-free) reading.


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All Hallow’s Read – A Neil Gaiman Tradition

Once again, it’s time for All Hallows Read, a wonderful idea thought up by Neil Gaiman where we give each other scary stories for Halloween.  Here’s Neil himself, explaining it:

(if you want a giggle, turn on the auto closed captioning)

I will try to, throughout October, post some of my favorite Halloween reads, for young and old.  Personally, I think it should involve sharing creepy stories all month, with book exchanges on the day.

Halloween is my favorite holiday even before this, it being the one day a year I can gleefully scare the hell out of small children, and their parents are fine with it.

A great place to start is my Coraline post, which is also an excellent way to scare your own children.

Happy Hallowed Reading!



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Coraline Reading by Neil Gaiman and Friends…

Here’s a free reading of Coraline, possibly one of the best and creepiest children’s books out there (closely followed by The Witches, by Roald Dahl).  It’s in multiple pieces.  Enjoy it by yourself, with your kids, or borrow someone else’s children to terrify and delight.

It’s neatly divided up into chapters, so you can enjoy it in pieces, when there is time.  Traumatize your children over weeks, even.  Seriously, some of my favorite childhood moments were telling ghost stories, watching scary movies… that lovely shivery feeling.

The readers include Neil Gaiman, R.L. Stine, Lemony Snicket, and Cassandra Clare.

Particularly enjoyable during a thunderstorm, or with a storm soundtrack playing in the background.  Lights down low, imaginations on full…  a flickering fire, perhaps?

Happy (scary) reading.


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Neil Gaiman does Gaming? I’m In.

It’s called Wayward Manor.  It’s being put together by The Odd Gentlemen, and currently has a Kickstarter-like site to get it going.  You can contribute a little to have your name on the site, or a lot and have dinner with Neil Gaiman in L.A.   Any snarkiness on why he isn’t bankrolling it himself should result in you Googling just how much money it takes to make a quality game, with gorgeous art and storyline.

It looks like video gaming as done by… well, Neil Gaiman, and maybe some Tim Burton.  Dark, morbid, amazing.

The official site is http://whohauntsneil.com and seems to hint at a (hopefully) 2014 release.  My inner (and outer) nerd is jumping for joy.  Neil Gaiman!  And Gaming! Neil Gaiming!

Ok, I’m done.

Happy Gaming!


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Fanpires – Don’t Be One

What do we have the right to expect from an artist whose work we love?

My article on being Neil Gaiman’s femme de plume (sounds better than pen woman) the other day seems to have struck a chord with a lot (and I mean a lot) of you guys.  There was an outpouring of stories about meeting Neil, either at the event in Toronto or elsewhere.  Many wrote of their concern for his wellbeing being compromised for the sake of a signature.   I’m amazed at how kind and considerate they are, considering some of the stories of rabid fans and paparazzi you hear about.

We have strange expectations of celebrities, public figures, people who make their living through art especially.  In general the fandom is one-sided, since it is unlikely that Neil Gaiman knows who you are married to, or that Wil Wheaton knows what your first job was.

It can make an encounter with one of these guys feel very strange, like my very brief meeting with Guy Gavriel Kay a few months ago at a signing (from the fan side of the table, this time).  He is hugely important to me, I am one of millions who read him.  Not that he feels disdain or disinterest, but his relationship to me is not mine to him.   Truthfully, it’s not even a relationship.

What is reasonable, in terms of meeting someone like this?  Or our demands of them?

What about Wil Wheaton’s recent revelations on his blog, where he was ambushed by fans while with his child?  I can only imagine how scared and angry I would have been in that situation, where they were actually between him and his son.

And despite the funny memes about Starks dying, George R. R, Martin doesn’t have to care that we are impatient for the next book to come out.  To quote Neil, “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.”

What do we have the right to expect from an artist whose work we love?

Honestly, nothing.  There’s no contract there.  They don’t even have to be polite.  Which makes those who do take the time precious, but them doing that also doesn’t mean they have to ever do it again.

So thank you to the artists who put themselves out there.  Who know that the brief meeting is so important to those fans.  The comments on the link to my article on Neil Gaiman’s facebook page are very touching, and thank you to everyone who shared their own experiences and thoughts.  One of my favorite things that has come out of all this is the true joy of fandom – getting to share what you love with other people who love it too.

Happy reading!


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Dear Daily Mail, Sincerely Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer is pretty damned awesome.  She  shaves her eyebrows, but not her underarms, and has no problem being as much herself in public as she is in private.  This is not a woman who is going to change herself because the media says so.  Or anyone else, for that matter.

If you don’t know her, she is a singer and songwriter, who is married to author Neil Gaiman.  How’s that for a power couple?  I came to knowledge of her through my love of her husband’s books, but she has permanently won her own place in my heart with her recent (possibly only) performance of a piece called “Dear Daily Mail.”  She wrote the song after the Daily Mail, a UK newspaper, reviewed the fact that her breast was exposed at a recent concert, instead of mentioning anything else that remotely referred to her singing, music, performance…

Her sung response is… perfect.  This is the kind of gutsy confidence I hope my daughters grow up to have.  Bravo, Amanda.

The video below may not be appropriate for all environments.

Happy reading (and listening, and singing).


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Why Neil Gaiman needs a pen woman.


I met Neil Gaiman.  He is, in fact, very awesome in person.  He is witty, and smart, and nice.

And it’s a good thing he’s nice, because having never helped with a signing event of this magnitude, I had no idea what I was in for.  Or what he was in for.  But I now understand why it is his last signing tour.

Before the signing event.  There is a team of people, both from Indigo and Neil’s assistants and editor, helping him sign more than a thousand books which will be for sale in the lobby of the theatre.  So nobody’s here yet, and he’s already signing.  Before anyone had arrived, he had signed more than a thousand books.

There were 1200 people at the event.  The rule was they could have as many copies of The Ocean at the End of the Lane signed as they wanted, and one other item of their choice.  They could also have one signed item personalized.  This meant, that at bare minimum, he would be signing at least 2400 more books.  It was probably upwards of 3000, at a guess.

Neil’s presentation started at 7 pm.  He had already done interviews for local and national news earlier, by the way.  The presentation was fantastic, with readings, and some excellent questions from the audience, which resulted in an amazing anecdote about Shirley Maclaine asking to touch his hair, and the information that the maximum number of cats you should ever own is eight.

He then took a minimal break, and started signing.

And signing.

And signing.

He signed books, he signed posters.  He signed a violin.  He signed dolls.  He signed e-readers.

I gave him a band-aid out of my purse, to hold his thumbnail on.  It was falling off from signing so many things.  And apparently his previous tour had been worse.

My job was to keep the ink for his fountain pen available, and to hand him various coloured Sharpies.  This does not sound like a difficult job, right?  Unless you’ve been holding your hand in the same position for so long that it cramps, and the stage lights are making your hands sweaty, and after a while markers are flying everywhere and it’s incredibly embarrassing that Neil Gaiman is witnessing your inability to simply hand someone markers.  Sigh.  Which he was very nice about.

Despite the fact that he was signing books for so very many people, he made a concerted effort to make a personal connection with each one.  He seems very aware of the fact that he is, for some people, very important to them, despite being a perfect stranger.   One of the other women there and I were discussing how you could do an amazing series of photos, just capturing the expressions of the people meeting Neil.  These weren’t just squealing fans, these were people whose lives had been touched and transformed by him.

Despite being in excruciating pain, how could he leave before he saw everyone?  Before the woman who he hugged as she broke down, saying that his work was the only thing that got her through high school?  Before he was handed beautiful art, paintings and sketches and crafts?  Musicians and writers who brought their newly published first book, first cd, and credited him with inspiring them?  Before the couple who had FLOWN IN FROM AUSTRALIA? And he truly was happy to see them all.  So he couldn’t say no partway through the process, and so he has to say no to the process.  Before his hand falls off.  Or worse, it becomes something he no longer enjoys.

Edit: Since so many of you have asked, the signing finally finished after two in the morning, and we were all a little loopy.  There was a big bowl of ice waiting for Neil’s hand, and we all sighed with relief when he plunged his hand in.

I am so glad I got to meet him (and get my own books signed!), and I learned a lot.  Neil Gaiman is a pretty amazing person, aside from being a pretty amazing author (the two things don’t always go hand in hand, sadly) and his legions of fans are lucky to have him.

Oh, and although The Ocean at the End of the Lane is an amazing, amazing book (and I highly recommend picking it up, I guarantee you’ll love it, it’s so beautiful), what was even better was him reading it aloud.  So go get a copy of the audio book as read by him, in preparation for which he apparently stayed up nights listening to Sussex farmers speak so he would get the accents right.

Happy, happy reading/listening.

Be inspired.



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Neil Gaiman’s 8/10 Rules of Writing

The Guardian, inspired by Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing, reached out to some other authors and asked what their ten rules of writing would be.  Being authors, most of them didn’t write ten.   I am starting with Neil Gaiman’s, because I love him.

  1. Write
  2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
  3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
  4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
  5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
  6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
  7. Laugh at your own jokes.
  8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

By the way, did I tell you I’m going to Guy Gavriel Kay’s book launch Thursday?  Because I am.




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Don’t Panic!

Happy 61st birthday to Douglas Adams.  He is best known as the writer of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, A Trilogy in Five Parts, one of my favorite sci-fi series.   If you haven’t read it yet, I’m not speaking to you until you have.  So there.

Adams died young, at the age of 49 of a heart attack.  He is well known enough that today’s Google doodle is in his honour.   He is, to sci-fi, what Terry Pratchett is to fantasy: a comic genius.   Sci-fi and fantasy tend to have a dedicated reading community, and most people who aren’t sf/f readers don’t tend to read its authors.  Douglas Adams was one of the few, among them Neil Gaiman, Aasimov, and Bradbury, who managed to gather readers among the mainstream book audience.

If you love Douglas Adams, and are looking for writers in a similar vein, I have a few suggestions.  My criteria are as follows: excellent wordsmiths and a love of language, beautifully done satire that you don’t have to be a member of the sf/f in-crowd to understand, and great stories that make you want to share the books with others.  My candidates are as follows:

Terry Pratchett, particularly his Discworld series.  Start with Guards, Guards!  Then Men at Arms.  Don’t limit yourself only to his adult titles, because his writing for children and young adults is equally adept, and well worth a read.   Nation is one of my favorite books, still, and probably always will be.

Neil Gaiman.  Stardust was… perfect.  Anansi Boys, I loved.  And the paragon of funny books, written by Gaiman and Pratchett together is Good Omens.

Jasper Fforde for a fine sense of the ridiculous, and nods to lovers of literature like Austen and Bronte – read his Thursday Next series.

Christopher Moore.  I think my favorite was You Suck: A Love Story.

Go forth, and snicker.



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