Hi! I'm a little confused: the other day, you told us that Henry Selick was not going to adapt "The Graveyard Book" but today, SCiFiNow told something different ("Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book to be adapted by Disney"). So really no "Graveyard Book" by Selick? Or was it only because "The Graveyard Book" is going to be his NEXT movie (as opposed to his current one)?
I didn’t say that Henry was never going to adapt The Graveyard Book. I said that his current, secret movie is not the Graveyard Book. Why is that confusing?
Also I'd like to reply about the kids and sexual content hting- it depends on the kid. There was sexual stuff in American Gods that I would have understood at 12- but it would have made me extremely uncomfortable. On the other hand, my little sister is just about 12 and she is in no way mentally or emotionally ready for the kind of sexual content in American Gods. Kids develop and learn at different rates, that's important to keep in mind.
When Guillermo Del Toro arranged a screening of Pan’s Labyrinth for me, I asked him if it would be okay for Maddy, who was 12. And Guillermo said, “When I was 12, I would have loved it”. But Maddy was not ready for Pan’s Labyrinth.
Given what I was reading and enjoying at 12, I can’t imagine that I would have been rattled for a moment by American Gods. But I am not every twelve year old, and neither is Guillermo. (My biggest concern with kids and American Gods would be boredom, not a tiny handful of pages with problematic content. I want people to read that book when they are ready for it, and in many cases that may be never.)
How do you feel about the exposure of kids to sex? My little brother (who's 12, but very bright; he's reading Hamlet in his free time right now) has always read all my books right after I read them, but I've always been hesitant about loaning him some of them because of the sexual content (for example, he's been wanting to borrow American Gods for a while now), which I don't think he'll understand outside the context of just porn. How do you judge readiness for that kind of thing?
I don’t think it’s a matter of how ready he is, but of how comfortable you are with him reading your copy. It’s like watching something sexy on TV with your parent, sibling or child sitting beside you. It can be excruciating for all concerned. Possibly even the television itself is embarrassed for you.
When I named my daughter Coraline, I did not factor in her British-ness. Because dealing with Social Security AND birth certificate (brought to you by Vital Records Department) on her misspelled first name is quite a bother. What bureaucracy DID Coraline's parents have to go through to keep her name? Or was her name blundered from Caroline and her parents pretend that they intended to name her Coraline (it's French)???
You have all my sympathies.
If it’s any consolation, there are certainly more Coralines now than there were ten years ago.
Dealing with bureaucracy is never fun, at the best of times. But your daughter will probably thank you, later. Or sigh, give up, and allow herself to be called Caroline.
Is the new Henry Selick stop-motion film THE GRAVEYARD BOOK? I'm pretty sure you cannot answer this but I thought there'd be no harm.
I’ve been around Henry’s stop motion studio studio in San Francisco, and although I signed a piece of paper swearing to reveal nothing of what I saw inside to the world, I can confidently state that the film Henry is making now is definitely not The Graveyard Book.
I have acquired a poster from The Last Angel tour with Craig Thompson and yourself but the internet can't seem to tell me what The Last Angel was. My friend was hoping it was a sign that you two collaborated on a book, so if that's true would you enlighten us please?
From about 1993 to 2000, I did reading tours to benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. We called them Guardian Angel Tours. They raised about $175,000 for the fund over the years, and were a very good thing for Freedom of Speech.
The last one was in 2000. We called it The Last Angel Tour, and Craig Thompson did a beautiful hand-printed poster for it. The posters were mostly put on walls, a few were sold, and they were thought long gone until recently, when a very small cache was found.
Would it be rude to ask you what's particularly "mindboggling" about Good Omens slash fiction? Is it just a general weirdness over knowing erotic fiction derived from your own works exists, or something else entirely? It just seemed like an odd adjective to use, but maybe not so odd to you.
That was written on my journal in 2002, when the idea that people on the web had taken a book Terry and I had written and together created several hundred times as many words as we had written, mostly detailing the erotic adventures of two characters who are described in the text as sexless, seemed very peculiar indeed.
These days, ten years later, I do not think of it as mindboggling. Compared to many things on the web it seems relatively normal. I don’t have any interest in reading it, though, and learned my lesson about bumping into it accidentally the time I searched Tumblr with a Crowley or Aziraphale tag to find a picture to illustrate a post here, and found myself looking at things I hadn’t expected to be looking at.
1 search = "The Biography of Manuel by James Branch Cabel, The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe, Lud in the Mist by Hope Mirrlees, The Manuscript Found in Saragossa by Jan Potock, Viriconium by M John Harrison, Codex Seraphinianus by Luigo Serafini, A Humument by Tom Phillips, Archer's Goon by Diana Wynne Jones, Nine Hundred Grandmothers by R.A. Lafferty & The Complete Newgate Calenda" for favourite books. Close?
Do you ever cry over your own work? IS it when you write it, or when you read it, or when you think about it? And what kind of crying is it? (That is, are you sympathizing with a character, or transcendent 'oh my god I just made this' crying, or 'oh god, that's rubbish' crying). Just curious. If thats too personal, no need to answer.
I don’t think I’ve ever cried while writing, except at the end of the The Graveyard Book, and then I got a little sniffly. But then, most people seem to get a little sniffly at the end of The Graveyard Book. I just got there first.
Dear Neil.. HELP. I used to be a really good writer and deeply loved the whole process, the wonderful labour of writing stories and poetry. But for the past.. three to four years, maybe? I have been suffering from the worst form of writers' block I ever imagined possible. No matter what I do, when I try to start writing something, I feel like I'm a first-time high-diver on the edge of the board. I just freeze up. I don't know what to do. Do you have any advice that might help?
Do something else, and stop worrying. Go and live life, and experience things that one day perhaps you’ll get to write about.
I like having the ask box on the tumblr. On a good day I’ll probably answer two or three asks. On a bad week I probably won’t get time to answer any. And every day about fifty or sixty asks come in. More, if I just answered a cluster.
Most of them are really nice. And most of the people sending them in know that the odds are against me ever answering them, and that’s just the way it is.
(The odds are especially low if you are asking something I’ve answered already, and even lower than that if I answered it yesterday.)
But some of the people sending in asks are starting to get pushy, or whiny, or grumbly about me not answering, or they are taking it personally, or flooding the ask box, or writing really long messages split over a dozen boxes. And lots of them are starting to ask for things: will I read your book, or conduct your wedding, or call your beloved and tell her you want to marry her, or draw you something to be tattooed, or be interviewed, or do your homework because you have to get a reply from a living author or you’ll fail the course and please reply privately before 6 pm…
Which is of course your right.
I like things as they are right now. I like that Tumblr doesn’t feel like work, and it’s relatively guilt free. I treat the asks like I treat my Twitter feed - hundreds of them flow past, and here and there I answer, depending on auctorial whim, and what I happen to be doing at that moment.
You’re more likely to get a question answered if it’s relatively short, easily answerable, and you can’t simply find the reply by googling. I’ve probably answered every possible variant of what to do if you have writer’s block, or have lost interest in what you’re writing, or you want to be a writer, or you don’t want to be a writer, here or on the blog at neilgaiman.com already. If that’s your question, I’m not ignoring you. I just hate repeating myself.
You’re less likely to get a reply if you ask something like “People say that a good writer should hate everything they’ve done but I like what I write is there something wrong with me?” because I don’t know how to answer a lot of these kind of things without sounding impatient and grumpy (In this case, “Don’t be an idiot,” would be the best possible reply, and it’s not one that will make the person getting it happier).
I quite like having an ask box. I do not want to make it go away.
I don't know is anyone has asked this before, but I've been in the book business for a few years, and I know that many authors have publicists answer fan questions and organize social networking for them. Is this tumblr an example of that or do you maintain it yourself? (I ask because you're so good at being in touch with your fanbase thru this blog, and since you're a well-known author it's probably a haul to keep it up alone. You don't have to answer this publicly-I'm just curious.) Thanks!
Trying to figure out whether to be offended here, or just puzzled. I think I’ll be puzzled. Have you read this Tumblr? Do you really think that I hire someone to post about my wife and my dogs? Or my beehives? Or to make up the kind of thing that they think Neil Gaiman would say? No, it’s just me. And that’s why I haven’t updated my proper blog at neilgaiman.com in ages, and feel guilty about it.
(Trying to get my head around the idea that someone else would post any of the stuff about Amanda I’ve put up here. “Er, Mister Gaiman. Everything’s fine on your Tumblr - it’s one of those social media things you don’t do, like Twitter. We’ve organised a bunch of people in Melbourrne to go and kiss your wife on Valentine’s Day for you...”)
Do you read any fanfiction? I’ve noticed your somewhat-professed interest in anime, and fanfiction is a pretty prevalent subset of anime fandom, and fiction = writing, so it kind of all connects upon itself, leading back to you. If so, what are some of your favorites?
Also, do you think writing fanfiction is useful for honing writing skills(as your characters are already established and you’re given somewhat rigid specifications), or not useful(because of the previous parenthetical aside, and because that gives you less room to be truly creative)?
Er, no, I don’t read fanfiction.
I think that all writing is useful for honing writing skills. I think you get better as a writer by writing, and whether that means that you’re writing a singularly deep and moving novel about the pain or pleasure of modern existence or you’re writing Smeagol-Gollum slash you’re still putting one damn word after another and learning as a writer.
(I just made that up. I imagine it would go something like: “Oh, the preciouss, we takes it our handssses and we rubs it and touchess it, gollum….no, Smeagol musst not touch the preciousss, the master said only he can touch the precioussss…. bad masster, he doess not know the precious like we does, no, gollum, and we wants it, we wants it hard in our handses, yesss…” etc etc)
To be honest, I don’t really have much of an opinion on fan fiction. I don’t actually have much of an opinion on people using my characters in fan fiction. For that matter I barely have an opinion on “slash” fiction (although I still find the idea of Good Omens slash fiction fairly mindboggling) (er, and Knight Riderslash fiction. I think that Knight Riderslash fiction is pretty weird, to be honest).
As long as people aren’t commercially exploiting characters I’ve created, and are doing it for each other, I don’t see that there’s any harm in it, and given how much people enjoy it, it’s obviously doing some good. It doesn’t bother me. (I can imagine a time and circumstances in which it might. But it doesn’t.)
Either way, it’s a good place to write while you’ve still got training wheels on - someone else’s character or worlds. I remember, as a nine-year-old, writing a Conan-meets-some-Ken-Bulmer-sword-and-sorcery-characters. And it’s fun to head over into someone else’s playground: I’ve written several stories over the years set in other people’s worlds (including an episode of Babylon 5); and if I don’t miss the deadline, I’m meant to be writing a Sherlock-Holmes-meets-the-Chulhu-mythos story very soon.
I do understand that there are grey areas, and I think of fan fiction as existing in them. I know authors who love fan fiction based on their stuff. I know authors who have formally attempted to stamp it out. I’m just sort of [shrug] about it.
I don’t honestly mind if you stick (for example) Shadow or the Marquis De Carabas into a story intended for your friends, and not for commercial exploitation. I’d rather you put a note at the end saying who the characters belonged to, which most fan fiction people seem pretty good about doing anyway. But I’d hope you’d see it as a privilege and not a right.
(On a similar subject: Every now and then someone wins a local short story competition using a story or plot of mine, and I hear about it (often when they send me embarrassed notes, years later) and I try not to grin, and to look angry, but I haven’t managed it yet. I keep meaning to tell Marv Wolfman that I won a school essay competition when I was twelve with a horror-comic plot of his….)
What are your thoughts about fan fiction? Based on your work or in general? Written solely for one’s own personal pleasure or posted on the internet? Would you say that an established author who writes something based on another author’s work (such as your own visit to H.P. Lovecraft’s world) is participating in “fan fiction”, or is it a different phenomenon? -Joanna
I don’t have much of an opinion about fan fiction. And I’m not sure where the line gets drawn — you could say that any Batman fan writing a Batman comic is writing fan fiction.
As long as nobody’s making money from it that should be an author or creator’s, I don’t mind it. And I think it does a lot of good.
I’ve read that you allow fan fiction of your works, and I was curious as to why? Most authors don’t allow fanfic because of concern for losing their rights.
Why? Because fan fiction is fan fiction. I don’t believe I’ll lose my rights to my characters and books if I allow/fail to prevent/turn a blind eye to people writing say Neverwhere fiction, as long as those people aren’t, say, trying to sell books with my characters in. I don’t read it (and that way no-one has to wonder whether I stole the plot of something from their fanfic).
I don’t think my attitude on this is particularly uncommon among authors — I noticed the other day that JK Rowling doesn’t mind Harry Potter fan fiction. Except for the x-rated kind. (I’m sure there are people out there writing Harry Potter fan fiction that isn’t x-rated). On the other hand I consider it an author’s right to not want fan fiction and do everything the author can to stamp it out, if that’s what he or she wants. It’s one of those “your mileage may vary” things.
As a fledgling writer, I really wouldn’t spend too much time worrying that people will write fan fiction with your characters in. If they ever do, take it as a sign that you probably did something right and made some characters that people liked and believed in and wanted to write about. Or wanted to imagine in the nude. Or something.
Hello my name is Andrea bucy I have seen the moviestardustand I intend to read the book by you I was wondering if I could possible write a spinoff book that has some of the same characters and setting. But I wanted to get you permission first because if i were to get it published i don’t want someone coming after me cause i stole their ideas. I am prepared to offer you a deal if the book does sell i will offer you royalties of 60/40 50/50 or 40/60 i don’t write just for money but i realize that for some people like Jane Austen do and did go along in life and pay for many things by the money they make from their books. So i am asking you if we can maybe make a contract that says you have given me permission, only if you do give me permission, to use your ideas and work in my story and you will get credit for it.Pleas get back to me.
I’m not really sure where to start on this one. If you want to write fan fiction, you can. I don’t mind. Sequels and prequels and meetings and pairings and what have you. You can put it up on the web. But you can’t publish it commercially. You need to stay on the non-commercial side of the street, which means you can’t sell it, not even if, like Jane Austen, you’re in it for the big bucks. Otherwise bad things would happen, involving lawyers from publishers and lawyers from movie studios, and your week would be ruined. Trust me on this.
Dear Mr. Neil Gaiman: I wrote you once before (about what I cannot remember) and you are possibly the only author I’ve ever seen to actually take such a personal level with his/her readers. Thank you for that—now, to my M.O.: I am writing about a short story I plan on writing for my AP English course, and I know I want to expand upon that idea if it fleshes out the way I hope it will—however, it is (most grotesquely) a metafiction loosely based on AMERICAN GODS. I suppose I am asking for your blessing, and wanting to know if I get it published in my school’s literary arts magazine—is this plagiarism? Would it upset you to know a girl somewhere in the Midwest is taking characters you slaved over and gleefully bending them to her will? (I would, of course, give you credit for the original work.)
Considering your possible response to the previous question, I also wanted to know, in general, how do you feel about metafiction and its lesser appreciated (and usually for good reason—usually) cousin, fanfiction? Giggling teenaged writers aside, do you believe books like GRENDEL and ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDERSTERN ARE DEAD, ect. are as valid as totally new ideas? Or is it more intellectual to delve into the facets of existing work to find something new-ish? Do you think it fair for Anne Rice to become upset by her fans continuing the stories of Louis and Lestat where she left off in their own, amateur fictions? And how would you feel if you stumbled across a hypertext morass of misplaced modifiers and conjecture, detailing parts of characterization you did not state in your works? (I’ll have you know there are currently 220 fanfictions on “fanfiction.net” devoted to the SANDMAN series alone—Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes only beats you by two works.)I wanted your opinion as you are the inspiration for my work-in-mind (tenetively taken from Sam or Jaquel’s point of view—not directly detailing Shadow’s journey, but occuring within and around it, I suppose). Thank you for your time. Well, here goes nothing—I’m hitting SEND now.
No, I don’t mind. Have fun with it.
The last time I was foolish enough to say anything at all about fanfiction, a paragraph, taken out of context, was widely quoted on websites, and I got several hundred e-mails taking me to task for not understanding, appreciating or acknowledging that writing fanfiction was the highest and noblest aspiration of mankind. (I think I told someone who asked if writing fanfiction would be good for “honing writing skills” that of course it was, but if that was what he was writing for, he’d have to start writing his own stuff eventually. This was, I was told at length and by many many people, a terrible thing to say.)
So… yes, I think that playing with other people’s ideas and work is a perfectly valid way to make art. I also think it’s much wiser and safer to do it with ideas and work that are comfortably in the public domain if you want your work to be seen professionally.
Beyond that, go and read http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2003/02/long-occasionally-frustrating.asp and http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2003/02/you-know-i-should-know-better-than-to.asp . Which taken together are pretty much all I have to say on the subject, and include a paragraph of Gollum/Smeagol slash.
I bet it's been asked before, but what's your opinion on fanfiction?
Daily. It’s been asked daily.
And if you even suspect it’s been asked before… why not find out?
I just googled it. I found a Tumblr collection of everything I’ve ever said on the subject. I will repost it here, in rebloggable form in the vague hope that it will cut the flood of questions from people on what I think about fan fiction from a flood to at least a sort of a trickle.
Do you ever write drunk? Or intoxicated in any other way?
My wife describes me as a very bad drunk, and I am a very bad drunk. She says I have a drinking problem, and I suppose, if you put it like that, I do.
I did not always have a drinking problem. I drank enthusiastically all through my twenties. And then, round about my 30th birthday, everything changed.
My drinking problem is this: I drink alcohol, and I fall asleep. This makes me incredibly disappointing company.
I’m probably good for a glass of wine, or a cocktail, or a slow savoured single malt. But after that, and long before I’m reeling, talking loudly or even more amusing, I will probably lean against something and close my eyes.
So no, I’m afraid I don’t write drunk. I write best while awake, and it’s one or the other.
Hi Neil, It's my 24th birthday in two weeks and i've decided i'll be getting my first tattoo to mark the occasion. I have been scrawling through my favourite books to find a beautiful quote about love or passion or the general wonderment of life, but I just can't decide on one. So before I continue my search I thought I would ask you for a Neil Gaiman original if you're willing to write a short sentence or two. =)
That’s a kind offer.
I don’t know what will resonate with someone, and I don’t think I’ve ever written a sentence to inspire (except, perhaps, on New Year’s Eve, on my blog). People find their own jewels in the dusty junk-shop of my stories, and take them out and tattoo them or embroider them, and I find out what quotes people like afterwards, when I see them on their arms or walls.
Dear Mr. Neil, why do you not have a black beekeeper suit? I am always startled to see you in all that white. Is there a scientific reason for the white or have you not found a black suit?
Bees have a tendency to think that large things all in black are bears, or so I am assured, and to be more aggressive in their dealings with them.
So beekeeping suits tend to be white (or pastel. There are pastel beekeeper clothes out there. I do not wear them). Also the whiteness means that you can see the bees that are sitting on you and are less likely to accidentally hurt one or put it into a situation in which it might hurt you.
I'm curious as to what you and Amanda think should be in a kitchen.
I think kitchens should be filled with food, and with ingredients for other food, and am at my happiest when sort of grazing through the day.
Amanda thinks that the best possible kitchen has green tea, some water and perhaps a coconut water for after jogging or yoga in the fridge, and should not really have food in because otherwise you just eat it.
A lot of published authors are against fans taking their worlds and works and writing their own stories with the borrowed material. (known as fanfiction) I was wondering what you thought? Are you flattered, disgusted, concerned, confused?
Already extensively answered here and on my blog, I’m afraid.
I ship you and Amanda so hard, will you please just fucking live together already? your countdown posts kill me. Much love.
I don’t know that we ever will. We have sort of living together plans when she gets off the road in 2013, but we LOVE being apart almost as much as we love being together.
The three months thing was much too long. (I think anything over three weeks apart is too long.) But I’m loving being home alone right now, and not having to pay attention to anyone except the dogs. I got home this evening, I fixed the house wifi, and walked the dogs, and phoned a few people, and did things on my own, and am really looking forward to sleeping alone for the first time in ten days. I can read as long as I want to, or even write in bed until I fall asleep, which I can’t do if someone is trying to sleep beside me…
And Amanda’s back in Boston tonight for the first time in four months, and am not even expecting to hear from her until around Tuesday. And then I’ll see her on Friday, and we’ll get about five days together.
I cherish the time apart, and I cherish the time together.
I suspect that when we do actually get somewhere for both of us to live, it will have two wings, or rooms, or be two places next door to each other, or across the street. With some places in common, and some places we can be alone.
(We have completely different theories of what should be in a kitchen, for a start.)
There aren’t any rules to this thing, other than what we make up, anyway. I married someone fiercely independent, except when she wants to not be alone, and am myself rather happy to be on my own, except when I’m not.
Hello, Neil. I was wondering if you could find a way to convince Amanda to come to Chile? I've always wanted to see her live, especially listen to some of The Dresden Dolls songs.
Oddly enough, we were talking about her visiting Brazil and possibly Argentina and Chile in December, and how I’d like to go with her, and who she’d play some band shows and I’d, I dunno, do some public events of some kind, and possibly we could do An Evening With Neil And Amanda somewhere…
I’m not sure that it will happen — we need to find out a lot more. But we’re thinking about it.