Martha Soukup (soukup) Mon 24 Oct 05 10:56
I think the first time you know not to expect these characters to be white is right when you read that Mr. Nancy is looking sharp in lemon-yellow gloves. Nobody who's pasty-pink is likely to look sharp in lemon-yellow gloves. Crashing a stranger's funeral! What was that like? Did you stick out among the attendees? The question I came here to ask, though, is, do you know the tune to "It's Nice Out (But Put It Away)"?
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Mon 24 Oct 05 12:43
I'm just starting ANANSI BOYS, and it's looking very interesting. Neil, I've always wondered with big name authors/auteurs such as yourself (authors that have a following) What's the editing process like? Do the editors/publishers try to tell you "What will sell/won't sell" and try to influence your content/the size of the book/ the general direction of the book? Have there been disputes about characters/subplots/themes/front covers? Or at this point, do publishers basically lay their hands off, saying "hey, neil knows what he's doing, let's not mess around with his work now."
Melanie Hamilton (hamilton) Mon 24 Oct 05 13:16
<Neil said: What I mostly did for research was to go places -- I stole lots of places from real life, and then put imaginary people in them.> Well, duh! (Leaving a mark) Now that you mention it, it's obvious. Your characters are so very connected to their landscapes. Perhaps that's why I can't *think* about them but feel very attracted to them or feel that I know *them* rather than know people *like* them. The landscapes of children are their houses and the immediate surroundings (Coraline, Wolves in the Walls), as well as the landscapes of imagination (Mirrormask). And stories like _Neverwhere_ and _American Gods_ acknowledge (for me and maybe Feynman) a populated universe in a frequency range just at the edge of intuition. (OK. That last might be a little over the top, but it's still true.) <Martha: Nobody who's pasty-pink is likely to look sharp in lemon-yellow gloves.> I was going to disagree with you, but now that I think about it, it would be cuddly (like a bunny rabbit at Easter) rather than sharp. Although, given the full range of "color" available, better make sure there's not a speck of green in that lemon! For me there was no doubt as to Anansi being dark skinned and African or Afro-carribean. It was Shadow who surprised me. I fell for it and considering myself to be a good little feminist-semiotician, I ducked.
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Mon 24 Oct 05 15:01
ckridge -- I'm not sure. That was one of the things that grew out of the book, rather than being imposed on it. Personally I suspect that there are Anansi Stories and there are Tiger stories and then there are a host of other kinds of stories as well. (Sandman doesn't seem to fit into either category, after all.) But it feels true on some deep level. Martha, I'm sure I did, although I slunk around at the back. But I spent much more time wandering the grounds of the Garden of Rest -- BabyLand was every bit as depressing as I painted it, if not a little more so. And, yes, I do. It's halfway between a Benny Hill song sort of tune and a Morecombe and Wise end of show tune, although I think that Morris sang-spoke the verses. kafclown -- well, the publisher wants something they can sell copies of to people, but I don't remember any real differences of opinion on ANANSI BOYS, except for the cover, which I felt looked too much like American Gods and would set up the wrong kind of expectations in the reader, and that was an argument I lost. (And it is a very striking cover.) I just got sent a sketch for the paperback cover, and it's much more happy-go-lucky, and is much more in keeping with the book between the covers, but that has less to do with me winning an argument than with Morrow realising when the reviews came in that people were responding to the book as a screwball comedy, and that they didn't have to sell it as a thriller or as a sequel. Apart from that, I love editors. They make me look good. Between the first and the second drafts of ANANSI BOYS there was only a few thousand words, but the additions really gave the book its heart. hamilton -- which is odd, because there's that whole conversation about Shadow's race early in chapter one; in my head at least he's one of those people whose race doesn't read easily -- in the celebrity world, Vin Deisel's an example of the same kind of look. But it seemed appropriate in a book about America that the hero was of mixed race.
Melanie Hamilton (hamilton) Mon 24 Oct 05 17:38
<which is odd, because there's that whole conversation about Shadow's race early in chapter one;> Maybe if I had read the book rather than heard the book it would have been more obvious. George Guidall is good, and he sets up an entirely different aural environment. I keep hearing Live at Lincoln Center. The "Vin Diesel" aspect comes across, though. I'm waiting to read Anansi Boys rather than taking the opportunity to hear it because I particularly don't want the extra aural information going in. How much input do you have in the choice of reader for your stories? Do you get to talk with the performers about your intent in the work?
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Mon 24 Oct 05 20:59
That was one reason for getting Lenny Henry to do the reading of ANANSI BOYS. In all honesty, I think of the audio version as being even more the real version of the story than the book is, but that's because I wrote the book with Lenny's voice(s) in the back of my head; it all started one day when I was over at his house, and we were talking about horror and humour, after all. Mostly, I'd rather do the reading myself, as with Coraline, or the short stories on the various DreamHaven CDs or the kids stories on the Neil Gaiman audio collection, unless I'm not confident of my ability to get all the accents right, at which point I'll defer to a Lenny Henry or to a George Guidall.
from DIANA FOSS (tnf) Mon 24 Oct 05 22:59
Diana Foss writes: Neil, I read Anansi Boys today, and I enjoyed it very much. The narrator's voice, and often Fat Charlie's voice, are like your journal voice, which is a very comfortable voice to read. (Do you really say "Er" that often in real life?" But my question is something much more trivial. Is "manky" really something that anyone besides Nobby ever says? Thanks, Diana
Martha Soukup (soukup) Mon 24 Oct 05 23:51
(How is Lenny with the girl voices?)
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Mon 24 Oct 05 23:57
Er. Yes, I probably do. There's a webcast of me talking over at the Library of Congress site at http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/gaiman.html and you can judge for yourself. I'd been trying to figure out a voice for ANANSI BOYS when I realised that the voice of the blog would do perfectly well. And yes, lots of people say "manky". A quick google reveals that there are over 200,000 uses of "manky" waiting for you to discover them. Martha -- his Daisy is perfect. His Rosie is pretty good. His older women are amazing.
Dodge (clotilde) Tue 25 Oct 05 07:44
I use manky. It confuses the people I'm talking to. But it's such a perfect word for what it describes. I read most of the book in one night until my eyes closed by themselves and I woke up with it by my head on the pillow. The second night I finished it. Must make a note never to start your books on a weeknight. Now I have to read it again to figure out what I want to ask you. Be back in a couple days.
Melanie Hamilton (hamilton) Tue 25 Oct 05 07:59
Thanks for the insight. I don't feel so guilty for listening rather than reading first. Do you still draw? When you're writing stories or novels do you work out some of the parts as pictures or is writing a separate process? I know you've sketched out pages for the comics, and since you write so visually, I was wondering if drawing is part of your storymaking process. Or do you just hear your voice and write what you hear?
Coleman K. Ridge (ckridge) Tue 25 Oct 05 11:58
One of the better-known Anansi stories is about his six sons, each with his own power, each with a name describing his power. Given Anansi's habits, six seems conservative, and two stone impossible. Did you ever consider having more than two sons in the story?
from DANA VRAJITORU (tnf) Tue 25 Oct 05 12:23
Dana Vrajitoru writes: I finished Anansi Boys a few days ago and I enjoyed it very much. I'm still pondering about Bird and how her case is solved in the book, the only bit that my logic expected something else for. Of course, there's no reason for the book to follow *my* logic. But hence the question. Since Anansi did something wrong to Bird, my feeling was that either him or the boys should have made it up to her somehow. She does seem better in the end. Was she satisfied with how much she hurt Spider and was that enough revenge? Or was it the feather that Anansi smoothes before Charlie takes it back to her? Or is it Charlie's song that heals her? Or is it any of these as the reader wants to interpret it?
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Wed 26 Oct 05 09:16
hamilton -- I tend to draw when I'm writing comics. I doodle less when I'm writing a novel, and almost not at all during short stories. ckridge -- no. It had to be a story about two people. (I think we can assume that Anansi has had many families over the years.) Dana -- I think the latter, or all of the above; or at least, it's not explicit in the text. But I'm glad that Mr Nancy tidied her feather.
Martha Soukup (soukup) Wed 26 Oct 05 12:22
Were there any characters you would have particularly liked to spend more time with, if the book had had room for that?
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Thu 27 Oct 05 08:48
I often wonder about that as well. When you create the characters of the book, you create them in a specific place, in a specific time, for a specific reason (to move your story forward) But in some sense they exist only in the scenes that they are in the book. Your characters always seem very well realized, Neal. How much of a backstory do you create ahead of time, and how much do you invent as you go? I mean, Rosie's trip to the Mediterranean (page 5) is a defining characteristic of her on some level, and it's a remarkable little detail. Did she start as The girl who'd only been to the Club 18-30 holiday once, or was that a detail that gets added later in the mix?
from MIKE LEGEDZA (tnf) Thu 27 Oct 05 09:32
Mike Legedza writes: Hi Neil, My question is about a small paragraph you wrote on your blog from when you first started writing Anansi Boys. It was something you wrote on March 21st, 2003: "It seems that my own response to the war is to start writing a novel. I opened the large-sized Moleskin notebook today, pulled out my pen and Fat Charlie came puffing up over the hill to push his way to the front of the wrong funeral party. He is about to open his mouth and embarrass himself very badly." This paragraph always intrigued me, and it was something I'd always hoped you'd expand upon. I guess I'm just curious about how the Iraq war actually influenced your decision to write this novel, because I take away from that paragraph that the two things are somehow linked, even though you came up with the story for Anansi Boys years before any of this. What sort of political dimension do you see in Anansi Boys, if any? Thanks a bunch! I was at the Toronto signing and had a marvellous time (although Nalo Hopkinson stole the question I had written on my Q&A form!!!) -Mike
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Thu 27 Oct 05 19:49
Martha -- I don't know. So much of what I wanted to do was write a book that read fast and easily and was funny -- a dessert as compared to American Gods' main meal -- that I didn't think in those kind of terms while I was writing it. I loved spending time with all of them. Kafclown -- I think I found it all as I wrote it. I mean, I knew that Fat Charlie had a fiancee when I started writing the book, and I knew that at some point he would wake up in a bed, with a hangover, next to a young lady, and I knew about Spider and the swimming pool, and who Mrs Higgler was and what she told Fat Charlie at the funeral. And I knew a lot about Mr Nancy (because he had been in American Gods). But most of the rest of it I found out just as everyone else did, only many months earlier. Mike -- I don't see it as political book (except in the ways that the personal is political), but it's definitely true that when I feel that it's difficult or impossible to control events in the world outside, I'll go to a place where I *can* control events. (During the last US election, I wrote the story SUNBIRD, which has just come out in NOISY OUTLAWS etc, the McSweeney's childrens' anthology.)
Dodge (clotilde) Fri 28 Oct 05 08:35
Was at an SF book club meeting last night and it gave rise to a question that was hotly debated. How do you pronouce Anansi? I assumed that it was pronounced like the name Nancy except with an 'a' in front but others at the meeting said the god's name was pronounced differently. Alas, they had none of them read it but I put out for circulation my lend copy (the one not signed by you) and others said they'd buy it. So maybe next meeting we can talk about it.
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Fri 28 Oct 05 19:14
I always assumed it was pronounced A-non-see.
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Sat 29 Oct 05 00:29
Anansi's normally pronounced either a-NAN-see or uh-NUN-see, depending on where the person pronouncing it is from. It hobson-jobsoned over to "Aunt Nancy" in Jamaica as well.
Martha Soukup (soukup) Sat 29 Oct 05 13:37
Okay, I finally can't stop myself from asking: Are the penguin candles black and white or black and yellow? I imagine vaguely like this, but more cartoony: http://candles.genwax.com/candles/___0___P0527183.htm That one does have a little yellow in it, but this one has none at all: http://store1.yimg.com/I/rarecandles_1861_2714199 And these are cartoonier, and awfully shiny: <http://www.bocajava.com/showProductDetail.do;jsessionid=0A19FCC6FBA553121867EF 46B5BB7F97.wwwbj_tomcat1?catalogId=94&productId=3113> But this eBay candlemaker is the closest, I guess, to my mind's eye: <http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=4412669185&category=161 12> Actually, given all the data, it's hard to believe it's black and yellow. Now you'd have to convince me.
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Sat 29 Oct 05 16:11
I assumed they were black and white wax, but with some yellow paint on the white bits (which is why the yellow isn't mentioned and the white is by the time they've mostly melted). Should I do a footnote to this effect in later editions? I hate to think of people worrying...
Martha Soukup (soukup) Sun 30 Oct 05 01:32
P. 139: "The other three were in the shape of a cartoon black-and-yellow penguin, with a wick coming out of his head." I'll blame the copyeditor. Is this as ridiculous as the questions can get? No, better not make it a contest. (But: how do we know the penguin's a he? That hadn't troubled me until just this moment.)
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Sun 30 Oct 05 04:29
If the generic penguin was feminine, they'd be wearing gowns, not tuxes! Back to a question: Neil--will Anansi Boys be turned into a movie? Any thoughts on casting?
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