inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #26 of 87: 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)"?
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #27 of 87: 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."
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #28 of 87: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #29 of 87: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #30 of 87: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #31 of 87: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #32 of 87: 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
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #33 of 87: Martha Soukup (soukup) Mon 24 Oct 05 23:51
    
(How is Lenny with the girl voices?)
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #34 of 87: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #35 of 87: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #36 of 87: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #37 of 87: 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? 
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #38 of 87: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #39 of 87: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #40 of 87: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #41 of 87: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #42 of 87: 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
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #43 of 87: 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.)
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #44 of 87: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #45 of 87: It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Fri 28 Oct 05 19:14
    
I always assumed it was pronounced A-non-see.
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #46 of 87: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #47 of 87: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #48 of 87: 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... 
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #49 of 87: 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.)
  
inkwell.vue.257 : Neil Gaiman, "Anansi Boys"
permalink #50 of 87: 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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