Blog! I have one. I had forgotten.
A couple of weeks ago I emerged blinking from my author cave, having turned in the manuscript of my third novel. The book might be finished. It might not be. Only my editor will know for sure.
Since then I’ve given the commencement speech at my old high school, performed a wedding for a couple of very old friends, and attended my grandfather’s 90th birthday. In my travels I got to see the ocean. I don’t see oceans very often, living right smack in the middle of the continent as I do. My very small daughter seemed to enjoy the taste of salt. She smacked her lips together and grinned at the saltiness. Then she fell asleep in my arms, in the ocean.
Speaking of oceans, Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane just came out. It is astonishingly good. I reviewed it here. My review is Neil’s favorite, apparently—though he spelled “favorite” in the odd way that they do across the ocean:
This makes me extremely happy, but not in a squee-ish sort of way. Well, not only in a squee-ish sort of way. “It says nothing about the plot & everything about what the book is.” That’s important. Book reviews usually read like reluctant book reports. They follow a very specific format: a paragraph or two of inadequate plot summery (and all plot summaries are inadequate), followed by a single sentence of evaluation. That tiny smidgen of opinion at the end will tell you whether or not the reviewer liked the book, but it isn’t likely to tell you what the book is, or what it does, or whether it does so successfully. And it should.
So this a challenge. Read well, everybody! Prove that your reading of any given book is one worth reading about…
In honor of All Hallow’s Read, I give you Neil Gaiman‘s answer to my favorite question.
The very first bedtime stories I remember being told were by my father, who used to tell us stories about a couple of squirrels—small grey squirrels who lived in the trees near us and had adventures and who would fight evil foxes. They were called Squibby and Squirky. And I remembering the worst part of that was when we moved. “But they lived in our tree, outside our old house. We’re hundreds of miles away. How can you tell stories about them?”
Neil also practiced the “reading by the hallway light,” trick at a very young age. This is a close cousin to the “flashlight under the blankets” trick, but the advantage of the hallway light is that you are not actually breaking the the “lights out” rule within the confines of your own bedroom. The disadvantage, of course, is that the hallway light tends to be dim. It leaves you squinting at your book. This may or may not lead to perfect night vision in adulthood.
I was a really early reader, which was kind of useful. I would be in bed with the door open just enough to read by, after I’m not meant to be up at all, with these strange English comics. I don’t even remember the title. Whatever these things they were, these English comics for three year olds, they were about woodland animals having adventures with jam. Lot of woodland animals in England, in stories, lots of little little happy hedgehogs making jam. By the end of it there was jam everywhere. Could’ve been blood, I suppose.
You can hear him deliver this answer here, towards the very end of a rather long video. The whole thing is worth watching, of course. Dave McKean is in it. (I’ll post about his answer another time.)