Friday, November 30, 2007

Top 10 Best-Sellers as of 2007/11/25

From USA Today's best-seller list (you can find out their basis here):

  1. Double Cross by James Patterson
  2. You: Staying Young by Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz
  3. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet
  4. The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town by John Grisham
  5. I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert
  6. An Inconvenient Book by Glenn Beck
  7. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  8. Deceptive Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld
  9. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  10. The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fiction/Writing and Tabletop RPG Podcasts for 2007/11/29

Every Thursday, I post links to various podcasts that deal with the topic of fiction, writing, and tabletop RPGs.

Uh, Murph's Law seems to be at work. After going out of town and Internet-less for days, I come back to the office with my Mac Mini broken. So far haven't really been able to listen to all of the podcasts that I've linked to the last time and I'm currently busy transcribing Neil Gaiman talks but in the scant few (as in I can count them on one hand) podcasts that I've listened to, Theory from the Closet's interview with Ron Edwards and Vincent Baker seem to be interesting if only for their unconventional policy of forum moderation and while I haven't listened to it, Wandering Geek's all music show has always been good for a few laughs at the very least.

Fiction/WritingTabletop RPG (Mostly)

Read As Many Novels as You Can

JM McDermott is proposing that December be Read-As-Many-Novels-As-You-Can Month. Three novels a week! Well, now you know what to do with all that vacation time...

Call for Submissions: Growing Up Filipino II

From Panitikan

This is a call for submissions of short stories for an anthology tentatively titled, Growing Up Filipino II - Stories for Young Adults. The book will be edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard and will be published by both Anvil and PALH. Contributors will receive copies of the book as compensation for the use of their work.

The manuscript should be approximately 8-10 pages long, typed, double-spaced (approximately 1,800-2,300 words). This should be emailed to You may also send it by air mail to:

Cecilia Brainard
c/o PALH
PO Box 5099
Santa Monica, CA 90409

This book project is a follow-up of an earlier short story collection entitled Growing Up Filipino: Stories for Young Adults (published by PALH 2002, and Anvil). The following review describes the 2002 collection:

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up-These 29 short stories offer a highly textured portrait of Filipino youth and an excellent sampling of creative writing. Thematically arranged, most of the pieces have been written since the turn of the 21st century. Each story is introduced by a thumbnail sketch of the author and a paragraph or two about some element of Filipino culture or history that is relevant to the story. Authors include those born and continuing to live in the Philippines, emigres, and American-born Filipinos. Tough but relevant topics addressed include a gay youth's affection for his supportive mother, the role of religious didacticism in the formation of a childhood perception, consumer culture as it is experienced by modern teens in Manila, and coping with bullies of all ages and stations in life. … The high caliber and broad but wholly accessible range of this collection, however, makes this title a solid purchase for multiple reasons.

The 29 stories in the 2002 edition of Growing Up Filipino were written before 9/11 (September 11, 2001). The editor would now like to collect a second volume that continues to address the young adult audience. The stories in the collection will still be about the Filipino experience in the Philippines or any part of the world. But in this second volume, the editor is seeing contemporary stories, or post 9/11 stories. The editor is seeking the best stories about growing up Filipino. The editor is not looking for stories written by young adults, but about Filipino young adults. The editor envisions the stories dealing with relationships, family, falling in love perhaps, and other issues that the young adults deal with. Character-driven stories are encouraged. Those interested in submitting are encouraged to read the first volume of Growing Up Filipino: Stories for Young Adults, to get an idea of the kind of stories the editor is looking for.

Deadline for submission has been extended. Please send your bio (approx. 150 words) in people-friendly narrative form. Make sure your contact information is included with the story.

ABOUT THE EDITOR: Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is the author/editor of over a dozen books. She has a website at and a blog at

I originally heard about this from luckychan but there was no deadline mentioned so I sent a query. Here's the reply:

Hi, Charles, I'm accepting stories from men until Dec. 7, thank you.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Updates on Transcripts

Well, Even More Graphic/Fiction 2007 Updates has updated links and even videos. Do check them out.

Also, I noticed earlier today that I put in the wrong link for Neil Gaiman Philippines Compendium, mentioning that the one without a transcript had a transcript and vice versa. Anyway, just finished transcribing the talk from the Ad Congress proper. I'm just missing the Q&A. Once I'm done with the latter, I can probably go back to finishing transcribing Dean's talk on writing a novel.

Adopting a Nation

Every Wednesday, I have an essay on any topic that catches my fancy!

It's not uncommon for influential people to serve as mentors: a teacher might nurture a particular student, an entrepreneur scout for a promising employee. But what I find peculiar in the case of Neil Gaiman is that he took an entire country under his wing. Now it's not like Neil Gaiman hasn't been to other countries nor is the Philippines the only country blooming with potential. But the Philippines is a country in which he's using money out of his own pocket to sponsor an event--not just once and apparently not just twice. All to promote speculative fiction, comics, and soon, short film.

First I'll go to comics. I don't think anyone is denying that the "golden age" of Philippine comics has passed. Times have changed and comics aren't being produced in the quantities they were decades ago, whether here or abroad. Yet I think it's a testament to our nation's that we've made such a huge impact in the West when it comes to comics, thanks to the likes of Alfredo Alcala, Alex Nino, Nestor Redondo, etc. Of course having said that, that's not to say our current generation is deprived of such talented artists. Internationally, we have the likes of Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Wilson Tortosa, Lan Medina, etc. Locally, we have our mainstays like Pol Medina Jr., Lyndon Gregorio, Arnold Arre, Carlo Vergara, etc. in addition to budding artists like Marco Dimaano, Jonas Diego, Andrew Drilon, etc. Despite this huge pool of talent, we've never managed to reclaim the numbers comics enjoyed in the past and while there are a few individuals who are making names for themselves in the international scene, one can't help but wonder if there's more we can do. And then there is the dilemma I think of comic writers since comics isn't solely about the art.

When it comes to prose, speculative fiction is not totally absent but the academia obviously has a preference for social realism. Sure, we have the likes of Greg Brilliantes, but few others dare to dabble in genre--or at least get respected for it. When Neil Gaiman visited the Philippines in 2005, Dean Alfar had yet to release Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 1 (it was released later that year although it was planned way way before). I don't think speculative fiction is absent in Philippine literature but it's not huge or popular either. It honestly could have been better--at least several years ago. These days, it's a pleasure reading and meeting fellow speculative fiction authors although we can't remain complacent since there's still an entire world ahead of us.

I think the question that first comes to mind about next year's Graphic/Fiction awards is why short film? I mean comics, prose, and short film are all forms of media but why the last one? I think the Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards is easily a reflection of the personality sponsoring the event--Neil Gaiman himself. Most people recognize him for his comics work, to the point that most articles and blog entries will probably associate the words "Dream" and "Neil Gaiman" together, most likely somewhere in the title. Then he made his transition to prose, whether it be his short fiction or novels although by the time he did visit the Philippines, he wasn't a stranger to TV or film. Still, considering Neil Gaiman's latest (and future) repertoire, short film seems like a natural progression. I think the dream team would be Neil Gaiman and Quentin Tarantino teaming up together to sponsor and judge competitions here in the Philippines but fans will settle for one or the other.

Again, Neil Gaiman didn't have to do this yet here we are, celebrating the success of the second Graphic/Fiction Awards and preparing for the third. If I'll be honest with myself, there's a part of me that's disappointed at all this. I mean why must it take a foreigner to acknowledge local talent? And it's not like Filipinos don't have their respective "champions", be it for comics, prose, or film. Yet I'm also practical: Neil Gaiman draws in more fans and support than any local author, artist, or director could... at least for now. For example, in Book of Dreams, someone asks "What is the Expeditions book and what's Neil's contribution in it?" Now I'm not chiding the poster, merely pointing out at how this is an opportunity to feature local talent and make others more aware of them. I think the problem with the Philippines isn't necessarily a lack of talent but a lack of awareness. And at the end of the day, promoting literature and creativity and the imagination isn't a zero-sum game where there are clearly defined winners or losers. I think first and foremost, the competition is more about honing the craft. So we have Neil Gaiman along with other local champions helping promote the production of not just satisfactory but great comics, fiction, and film.

I think the most touching part about Neil Gaiman however is his sincerity. It can be seen in the way he addresses his fans, how he takes the time to sign stuff for them, how he bears at what's thrown at him (if I remember correctly, in 2005 there was a rally, while last Sunday there was a not-quite-typhoon). Sincerity for me is an important quality and I think that's one of the reasons why Neil Gaiman is respected very much. For example, this year's Graphic/Fiction Awards doesn't have a 1st place winner when it comes to comics. Now I don't know who made the decision, whether it was the judges, Neil Gaiman, the organizers (God bless Jaime Daez and the staff of Fully Booked), or some communal decision by all of them but honestly the easy way out would have been to declare a 1st place winner. But they didn't. Now I can certainly imagine some people taking this as a slap to the face--that we're not good enough. But I honestly think too much patting our backs leads to stagnancy and decay. Maybe we're good enough, maybe we're not. What I'm certain is that we can do more--there's always room for improvement. And what's great was that Neil Gaiman explained reasons for the decision, giving comments on each and every entry (that won an award). What's actually refreshing about last year's and this year's comics category is that there's lots of new and previously unheard of comic artists and writers (or it might just be my ignorance but either way, it's a good opportunity to spread awareness). For prose, I feel it's a 50/50 thing. On one hand, Yvette Uy Tan and Ian Casocot probably don't need the ego boost (although meeting Neil Gaiman himself is an opportunity of a lifetime for them I'm sure) and have proven themselves in the past but on the other hand, without this contest, we probably would have never have heard of Michael Co or Erin Chupeco (of course I'd like to make a disclaimer that I've always known the latter to be an excellent writer although she definitely needs to write more). It can't help but make me feel excited for what's in store next year, especially for the short film division.

Getting adopted--as a nation and not as an individual--by Neil Gaiman is a weird feeling and is reminiscent of the Bible. I don't doubt that we're worthy of it but I do hope we prove him right sooner rather than later and sometimes I wonder if it's not a question of talent but courage. And once that's over, the real challenge begins. But in the meantime, let's take it one step at a time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Retro Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman paid a visit to the Philippines in 2005 and here's some videos and recordings of his interviews and appearances. I wish I could take credit for these recordings but these were submitted by other Neil Gaiman fans. I forgot who specifically they were but they include Quark Henares, Neil Rizo, Erin Chupeco, Andre Quintos, Astrid, and Meann.

Writer's Forum (.wav, 17 MB) - Neil Gaiman addresses the press at the Music Museum.
Jam 88.3 (WMA, 3 MB) - Graphic/Fiction 2007 3rd place fiction winner Erin Chupeco interviews Neil Gaiman for the radio station.
MTV (WMV, 16 MB) - MTV hosts have a casual chat with Neil Gaiman.
NU107 (.wav, 14 MB) - Quark Henares, Ramon de Veyra, and Erwin Romulo give the most comprehensive Neil Gaiman interview yet.


Writer's Forum
Jam 88.3 Interview
MTV Hanging Out
NU 107

Also do check out my Neil Gaiman Philippines Compedium and Even More Graphic/Fiction 2007 Updates which I regularly update, the former with notices of the transcripts and new posts while the latter has new links to other sites that tackled his visit. For example, I just uploaded the A Gathering of Dreamlings and Nightmares transcript.

Manga Review: Eyeshield 21 Vol. 16 by Riichiro Inagaki and Yusuke Murata

Every Tuesday I'll post either an anime or manga review.

I'm a big fan of sports manga and Eyeshield 21 lives up to that exciting genre. Vol. 16 is easily one of my favorite volumes yet simply because of the excellent characterization of Musashi. There's a scene where he's in the hospital with his father, burdened with the duty of taking care of his parent as his friends begin to lose the football game. Despite the slapstick comedy present in the entire series, Eyeshield 21 is a serious sports story wherein the main characters don't always win. Anyway, if you've already been following the series, this volume won't disappoint. Those who haven't tried Eyeshield 21 should give the first volume a shot although because of its sports story nature, one can pick up this volume and understand the current story arc--but not necessarily appreciate it. Vol. 16 is a culmination of various character and story build-ups over the past fifteen volumes and while it's certainly far from the end, it is a vital turning point in the series.

Rating: 3.5/5.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Graphic/Fiction Awards 2007 Transcripts

I'm juggling too many transcripts currently but here's an abridged version (to be updated when they're finished) of the various speeches at the Graphic/Fiction Awards.

Many thanks to the hosts and --- are words I couldn't quite understand while ... are entire phrases which I couldn't comprehend.

Neil Gaiman's Introduction:

What did you think about your entrance?

The great thing about coming to the Philippines is that people always ask what was the strangest thing that has happened to me in the Philippines. Today when they were asking me upstairs as I was being interviewed was yesterday during the book signing that I did in Subic, somebody named Jason with him through my FAQ line on my website and said I want to propose marriage to my girlfriend, would you mind writing Maui would you marry Jason in my book? Of course I did it. I wrote Maui would you marry Jason and--I did a Sandman drawing first and handed it to her and she looked very baffled at first, possibly I was the one proposing. And then she looked at the word Jason attached to it and by that point she had Jason down on his knees pulling out a ring. That was yesterday's strangest thing.

I assume she said yes?

She did. I was worried if she said no. So that was yesterday's. Today's most peculiar thing was definitely coming on holding the word quintessential. In the middle of a not-quite-arrived typhoon.

Would you tell us Neil why you're so involved in these awards?

How many of you were here at the Rockwell event? So I recognized that-- So I came up around two and a half years ago and one of the first things I had to do, more or less getting off the plane was judge an art competition and I was astonished by how good the art was and then I kept going around and talking to people and meeting people. And I got a sense of how smart everybody was, how good they were, how really cleaned up on science fiction and fantasy and how much science fiction and fantasy and horror was part of the walk of the --- of society here. How well they understood it and nobody seemed to be writing it. There wasn't really a tradition of Filipino fantasy and Filipino horror despite the fact that you got the coolest and richest folklore in the world. And you do! And you have such amazing, intelligent people. When I grew up, when I was around fourteen, the best artists in American comics were Filipinos. They were Alex Nino, they were Alfredo Alcala, they were Tony de Zuniga, Nestor Rodondo. There were lots of them and they were amazing. And then these days you don't seem to be playing very much, just started at it again. There are a few people who are playing on a global stage. But I wanted to encourage them so I phoned up Jaime Daez from Fully Booked and I said okay, I would be with you. We talked about it a bit and I would put up the prize money personally if you run the competition. So that's the way it turned up. I put up the prize money. Putting up the prize money is the easy bit. Jaime Daez, they really have the hard bit because they have to organize it and then to run it. About a year ago, the first round of winners were announced. And then a year later, I've written the introduction and we have two collections of the winners so you can actually read them. It has the winners and has a lot of good stuff in there, but if you're can't be good enough to be runner up or worse, what we'll be doing later today is announce the winners of this year's competition and we'll always talk, I think I'll mention it now. We're going into year three, we're going to do the competition for year three and the quality of the prose entries I actually thought was excellent in year one. You have better writers, better writing than we did in year one. The comics entries weren't actually as good. I should warn you ahead of time that when we talked this evening, we have no first prize. We have two second prizes and a third prizes but no first which we thought was good enough. And we got the --- that we're not giving you long enough so so you have about a year. This year. We are announcing right now, there will be a third year.

Will you be back for the third year?

Depends on the quality of the entries. If they're good enough I'll come back. The other thing we want to do is add an extra category. Up until now we got prose and we got comics. This year we will add short film.

How would you describe or define Filipino Realism?

Filipino on Realism is really, it began as a comment by me out of reading about why are the things coming out of the Philippines is if you come to the Philippines, people give you things. And they give you really cool things you've never encountered before if you're me like Calamansi juice and strange little wooden carvings with enormous penises. Even Chocnut. One of the things I was given in quantity were books of the literature of the Philippines including short story collections and great Filipino short stories and I've been reading this stuff and loving it and wondering why do you have an amazing tradition here of Filipino realistic literature. There's great realism but there doesn't seem to be any unrealism. There's no tradition of great fantastic literature, of great horror, of great science fiction. That's really what I'm looking to pick up the --- tube to use an English expression and see if we can put on Filipino unrealism.

Neil Gaiman's Q&A:

When will we be seeing the Endless on the big screen and who would you want to play Dream, yourself not included?

I'm not tall enough anyway. Or white enough. I don't know. Probably because we're going to see them in the Death movie if that happens. I vote out early this year with Guillermo del Torro as executive producer on the Death movie. And --- will be directing. And Guillermo to be the one offered to me because he's out on ---, He's .... He's filming Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. And so I could shadow him and learn everything, critique me about directing techniques. I can ask him any question I want to. So do. And I follow him around and I think it's marvelous. And we had the marvelous time and what brought me off course is I'm on strike. As a writer's guild member, I'm on strike which means I can't do anything to the script until the strike is over. But once it's over I'm really looking forward to working on the Death movie. As for who would play Dream or who would play Death, that's for me to know or hope and you guys to find out when it gets made.

I would tell you but somebody might post it at Ain't It Cool News.

What is the most important ingredient in making an effective dark plot or dark character?

Most important ingredient in making an effective dark plot or dark character is believing in it yourself. If you want to write something scary, you're going to be scaring yourself. If you're going to write something troubling, you better go find something that actually troubles you. If it doesn't scare you then it probably does not scare anybody else at all. So that's for me is the most effective thing, finding--Coraline, with ---, with nightmares, ---. The thing with --- is that kind of thing that I scare myself when I was a kid. I'd sit there at school, thinking what would happen if while I'm at school, my parents forget me and move out and there's nobody there when I get home. What if my parents move house completely look exactly like my parents move in. And I wouldn't know. I'd sit there absolutely terrified, wonderfully terrified about this. So that for me, and that was the beginning of Coraline. You got to find something that scares you.

I'd like to know your thoughts on the Amazon Kindle or Ebooks in general.

I was very lucky, I was given a Kindle in June. I got to play with it through September when they worried there might be a security leak and made me give it back. It was wonderful. It was not a substitute for a book. A book--a paper object book is always going to be preferable. But if like me you travel too much and you really don't have room in your bag to put for twenty or thirty books, the electronic version is --- and just being able to --- on Kindle was going to be the best with Maddie and sitting on the plane before it took off and she looked at me really worried and said I don't have anything to read and I put out the Kindle and just bought her five --- books to .... and she has books to read all her way through, she has books to read while sitting on the film set. Then when she got bored of ---, she started reading things like Stephen King's The Cell, and Dracula. Which I can't imagine she would have ever read except as a --- on the Kindle...

I'm sure you wouldn't have a problem with your works being sold on the Kindle.

No, I don't have a problem with eBooks. They are not a substitute, they are something else.

How can writers of fiction, especially speculative fiction, engage themselves in social causes? How can writers be agents of change?

Which is a really good question because I think that sometimes people think that you cannot talk about something real when you're talking about something unreal. Whereas I think it's the other way around. I think it's very very hard sometimes to talk about things that people are very very familiar with. Why did I ---? I could have written a novel about homelessness in London and nobody would have ever read it except those people who are interested in homelessness in London. And instead I wrote a novel called Neverwhere. And somewhere you get --- taken away from him about the people who fall through the cracks and I get to write about the dispossessed, I get to write about the people whose lives fall through the cracks, I get to write about the homeless and the land in a way which makes people read the book and look at the homeless encounter possibly for the first time because it's talking about the way that all the people who've become invisible to the people who have jobs working income. But you can do that better sometimes when you sort of go around the prom.... talk about these feelings that you had when you were a kid about --- whether you're gay, whether you're sloppy, whether you're weird, whether you were a nerd, whether you were lonely. And suddenly you're a --- and you could have helped that in a way...

How has being a father to Maddy especially influenced or changed the content of your work? Has any of them shown any writer's inclinations?

That's a good question... Mike come up on stage. Okay, this is my son Michael.... because he works for Google. And I think being a father is great because I've been stealing stuff from my kids now for over twenty years. How many books have I stolen from you?

Michael: Many. I would say you steal from me, you stole from me ---

Goldfish book? That was you? I put him one day and he was really grumpy because I thought he was much taller. I told him something terrible like go to bed or clean his room and he looked up at me and do you know what it was he said?

Michael: I assume it had something to do with, I don't know.

It was. You looked up at me and were very grumpy and said I wish I didn't have a dad. I wish I had, and then you stopped and thought because what else did you have? And then you said I wish I had goldfish. And I thought that's brilliant, I'll steal it. And I did and I wrote a novel.

Michael: And I went to college so it all works out.

And I stole some more from Maddie who woke up and she said dad, she was in bed and crying, and I said what's the matter? She said there were wolves, there were wolves in the house and they came out and they took the house over. I said I think you have a bad dream. She said no, I can show you the place in the wall where they came out from. And I thought there you go. And one day we'll put her through college.

I don't think, I mean my children's books, without any children, I probably would have written all the other books but the children's books, including The Graveyard Book. The Graveyard Book is which is what I'm writing currently began about two years ago. We didn't have a garden so we would drive around in his little tricycle, his little tricycle in the graveyard next door. And sit on the bench and watch this little girl puttering next to gravestones thinking I'm going to use that one, ay? And I did.

Jaime Daez Speech:

Good afternoon everyone. I'm honestly very, very honored, flattered and out of words because this is our first publication ever. For anyone in my position, it is a dream come true that the guy who's launching this book together with me is one of the greatest writers in the world right now. So Neil, once again, I can't thank you enough for all the support, for coming over two and a half years ago, and going through all the hell lines just to satisfy everyone. And for coming back and for keeping on supporting this by already telling everyone that we will be doing this again next year. Having said that, there are a lot of people as well involved, people who don't get acknowledged and I want to acknowledge these people right now who worked very hard to make this happen. These are the people who had to go through the hundreds of entries and basically go through and judge which are the winners. So I would like to acknowledge them right now. Ramon de Veyra, I'm sure he's here right now. Ramon is the guy who really helped sort through the whole comics list and Erwin Romulo, I see you right there. Erwin Romulo was the one who sorted through the whole prose list. And then I have three of my staff. Vivian Chuaseco, and Tals Diaz who really helped as well in sorting everything out and deciding who the final cut was going to be. I would like to make special mention to one of my staff as well, I see her right now. Rhea Llamas. Rhea was the one who really did the work. This was the, this was what Neil was saying when he said this was the hell part. Of compiling everything, going through the printing, going through the editing, checking every word so that everything was done correctly. Again, Rhea, thank you very much. Last but not least, aside from the judges who will be presented anyway later, I would like to thank the guy who did the cover: Leinil Yu, please. For all of you who do not know, Leinil Yu is one of the most sought out comic book artist in the world. Currently drawing the best-selling comic right now in the US, the New Avengers. If you do not know him, by next year you will because anyone of you who has read Civil War, the biggest comic book next year is going to be Secret Invasion and he is the guy drawing it. So he probably makes some people very very proud, we have one of the best right here. Thank you all for coming, I believe that you already know that the books are available but unfortunately, Neil cannot sign for everyone. If you do buy the set, you are guaranteed one book signed by him.

Once again, a big round of applause for Neil.

On This Year's Winners:

"Absolution" is a wonderful little comic. Beautifully drawn, doesn't really have enough of a story to be a first prize winner. And with your story it would have been probably the best drawn I think.

"Afterlife" was beautifully drawn, too wordy and felt too compressed as if it had just a little room to breathe it would have given you a few more pages, it would have worked out better. Nice art though.

"Juan Perez's Corpse" really funny, nasty story. And I loved both the funniness and the nastiness of a corpse of a man killed in a plane crash, wakes up in bed in a particularly nasty condition and goes down for breakfast and the reaction of the neighbors and everybody else to what's going on and it actually manages to be moving as well which I thought was lovely.

The other thing that managed to be moving was "Lines and Spaces", our second place for comics which was basically a tribute to Alex Nino and which I thought was particularly apt since Alex Nino was one of the huge inspirations behind comics and it's a lovely little story.

Second place winner "The Bridge" very spooky. One of the things I loved about all the stories is that they all feel uniquely Filipino. And "The Bridge" which is a story about a psychic little girl and her encounter with a political leader of a country a lot like the Philippines is very, very creepy and really nicely done.

"The Sugilanon of Epifania's Heartbreak" which Ian, who also won 1st place in last year's competition is a lovely little fable and felt it should have been illustrated. If you get it published, maybe in the book next year we can get a few illustrations.

The first place winner is science fiction and fantasy and uniquely Filipino and very, very, very odd in all of the nicest possible ways. And it's a story called "Logovore" about somebody who eats words and their encounters with the people--it's almost indescribable and I've never read anything like it before and was absolutely ready to go on the world stage. I looked at that story and--it could have been fantasy or science fiction and it ought to be picked up by the best of the year anthologies.

So honestly you guys, especially in prose, nothing to be ashamed of. So absolutely terrific showing. What I'm hoping for next year is that we not only get absolutely world class prose but we also get absolutely world class comics as well. Not to mention of course short films. We have strange plans for the short films, quite possibly our own YouTube channel. Maybe having to do the DVD. And I guess I'll have to do the introduction to the DVD.

The Lit Critters 2007/11/17

I would have uploaded this sooner but well, here it is:
We tackled "The Empire of Ice Cream" by Jeffrey Ford, "Legions in Time" by Michael Swanwick, and "Lord Peter Midnight and the Goblin King" by Chris Roberson.

This weekend's Lit Critters session, December 1, 2007, will be the last session for the year. It'll be at 4 pm at A Different Bookstore, Serendra. For more information, visit The Lit Critters Google Group.

Stories This Week:

"Firebird" by R. Robertson y Garcia
"'Tis the Season" by China Mieville
"John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner" by Susanna Clarke

Expeditions Table of Contents

I encourage everyone to grab a copy of Expeditions by Fully Booked. It's P500 and P600 for the prose and comic paperbacks respectively, and P800 and P900 for the hardcovers. If you buy a set, one of them has a signature by Neil Gaiman and you get a discount. Leinil Yu also contributes art for the cover.

"The God Equation" by Michael A.R. Co
"Strange Map of Time" by Ian Casocot
"The Great Philippine Space Mission" by Philbert Ortiz Dy
"Atha" by Michaela Atienza
"The Omega Project" by Kim Marquez
"Monstrous Star" by Cecilia Estrada
"Stella for Star" by Yvette Natalie Tan
"Divesting Doloris: In the Antechamber of the Heart" by Ma. Ana Micaela G. Chua
"Marty" by Wincy Ong

"The Sad Mad Incredible But True Adventures of Hika Girl" by Clara Lala Gallardo and Maria Gallardo
"Splat!" by Manual Abrera
"Dusk" by Rommel Jason
"Defiant: The Battle of Mactan" by Juan Paolo Ferrer and Chester Ocampo
"The Guilty" by Vergel Nino A. Vergara
"Karnabal" by Benjor Catindig and Jonee Garcia
"The Moondancer" by Anna Pallon and Adele Raya
"The Prophet" by Frances Alcaraz and Alvin B. Yapan
"Where Eagles Fly" by Leonard John C. Banaag
"Why I Wake Up Late" by Avid Liongoren

Book Review: Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free book reviews.

It's been more than seventeen years since Chiang's first short story won the Nebula yet all he has to show for are ten stories. For me, that's fine since Chiang is really that good and mind-blowing. Of the ten stories, eight are included in this collection and they are all very superior in my opinion, keeping my mind alert late in the evening. Chiang is labeled as a science fiction writer although it's not always readily apparent that his stories are the stuff of science fiction because some are set in fantastical settings. Still, the stories here have massive philosophical underpinnings even if they're not always the optimistic sort. "Tower of Babylon" puts a unique twist to the fabled story, "Division by Zero" revolves around the inconsistency of mathematics, "Understand" this Borgesian evolution of man, "Story of Your Life" a story that juxtaposes a linguist's encounter with non-linear aliens and her daughter, "The Evolution of Human Science" a seemingly essay story about coping in a society with metahumans, "Seventy-Two Letters" a unique twist to the golem myth, "Hell is the Absence of God" a story which is Chiang's own take on religion, and "Liking What You See: A Documentary" a challenging social piece. Obviously I've fallen in love with Chiang and this collection is a must-read for any SF fan. For the rest, be prepared to bring along your thinking cap!

Rating: 5/5.

It's Been A Busy But Grateful Week

The Ad Congress not only hijacked my regular routine but my blogging and writing habits as well. And then, for a brief moment, I experienced what several podcasters undergo: going to an event, recording the event, editing the event, writing the shownotes, uploading it, and then finally promoting it. Actually, it's been a goal of mine to hold a podcast one day (while waiting in line at Subic for Neil Gaiman to arrive and sign books, I was sorely tempted to introduce myself to all of those waiting and interview them). Hopefully soon (I've given up the hope of acquiring a laptop anytime soon and acquire "perfect" audio quality), especially if anyone's willing to co-host with me (either that or I hijack Anansi Girl's podcast).

Second, as I mentioned before, I love Neil Gaiman's work, but I'm not a die-hard fan. I think the greatest thing for me during the entire "stalking Neil Gaiman" thing was that not only did I get to make new friends (I hope) but I also got to meet people I haven't seen in a long time: Budjette Tan, Quark Henares, Luis Katigbak, -batchmate from Ateneo whose name I keep on forgetting-, various blockmates, a batchmate from Xavier/Ateneo, Don "Fuhrer", Joey "Banzai Cat" Nacino, [Identity Protected], Elbert Or, Panch, Ramon de Veyra, Erwin Romulo, Michael Co, various Comicol members, Leinil Yu, The Core Lit Critters, Erin Chupeco (if you're wondering who she is, you can check my defunct fanzine for some of her nonfiction work), etc. (in case I missed anyone because you know, it's past midnight, sorry!). It was also great finally meeting Ian Casocot and the other winners involved in the Graphic/Fiction competition. I do hope to see more of your writing and/or comic work. Pssst, Philippine Genre Stories is looking for talent!

Third I think is the service that I'm providing. I feel useful. =) Not really getting an increase in blog visits but at least word about Philippine Speculative Fiction is getting out. Oh, and Neil Gaiman too! But you know what, I'd like to take this time to plug Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 3 on Dec. 8, 2007 at Fully Booked, Bonifacio High Street. A lot of those who participated in the Graphic/Fiction competition (both winners and short-listed) are part of the anthology and you know what, it's great that Neil is supporting us Filipinos by sponsoring a competition that promotes writing and creativity but he's not the only one who's doing so. And I've been listening and transcribing to both Dean Alfar and Neil Gaiman's talks and it's eerily similar what their views are on the subject of speculative fiction and writing...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Neil Gaiman Graphic/Fiction 2007 Recordings

The Q&A begins with Eric Mana's magic trick that incorporated Neil Gaiman's entrance. Forgive the baby's voice, that's Dean's daughter Sage. The Q&A ends with the previous year's winners.

Bonifacio Q&A (32:34, 15 MB)

Then there's the Awarding Ceremony in which Neil Gaiman and Jaime Daez names and awards the winners but at the end, Neil Gaiman gives his comments on the winners's works. Again, please ignore the voice of me and my companions.

Awarding Ceremony (13:58, 7 MB)

Here's a bonus: the fabled Wall of Sound (sounds like a Magic: The Gathering Card) minus the thousands of Filipinos at the Rockwell Tent. Neil gives some feedback on our enthusiasm.

Wall of Sound (0:52, 1 MB)

Even More Graphic/Fiction 2007 Updates

First things first: there will be a 3rd Graphic/Fiction Awards next year. So start writing/drawing! Actually, there is no first place winner for comics this year and so for next year, the writers/artists can hone their comics better by starting to work on their comic as early as now. Oh, and the page count gets boosted to 20 pages! (But just because you can do 20 pages doesn't mean you have to!)

There is also a new category in the Graphic/Fiction Awards: short film.

Second, let's move on to the winners:


1st place - Joseph Nacino ("Logovore")
2nd place - Yvette Natalie Tan ("The Bridge") and Ian Casocot ("Sugilanon of Epifania's Heartbreak")
3rd place - Erin Chupeco ("Juan Perez's Corpse")

Judges: Dean Alfar, Peque Gallaga, Tony Perez


2nd place - Andrew Drilon ("Lines and Spaces")
3rd place - Heubert Khan Michael ("Absolution") and Gerald Doraldo ("Afterlife").

Judges: Leinil Yu, Arnold Arre, Jaime Daez.

Related Links:
Commentary: Several of the winners got to kiss Neil Gaiman.

Signed Materials: If you buy a set of the Expeditions (prose + comics), you get both at a discount and one of them has a signature by Neil Gaiman (the books are at the cashier). There's also a surplus of signed Beowulf script books so you can get them at Fully Booked as well (it's in the New Arrivals section). Several signed accessories (bookmarks, notebooks, posters, etc.) were also raffled out that day.

More Neil Gaiman: There was a press-con before the event but unfortunately I wasn't invited (tell Fully Booked to count me as media the next time!). There was also a series of one-on-one interviews conducted afterwards so stay tuned on programs like MTV and NU107 for their Neil Gaiman coverage. After the event there was also a dinner with Neil Gaiman for various VIPs (mostly the winners both last year and present) and there were some interesting questions that Neil Gaiman answered but again, I'm no VIP so I wasn't present.


Neil and Michael Gaiman
Last year's winners (fiction top, comics bottom)
Fiction: Philbert Dy, Ian Casocot, Neil Gaiman, Michael Co, Michaela Atienza, Jaime Daez
Comics: Manuel Abrera, ---, Clara Gallardo, Neil Gaiman, Maria Gallardo, Jaime Daez, ---
The fiction short-list
The comic short-list
Heubert,Gerald (I don't know which of the two is which), Jaime Daez and Neil Gaiman
Erin Chupeco (center)
Andrew Drilon (center)
Yvette Uy Tan (center)
Ian Casocot (center)
Joey Nacino


This video was shown at the event but it was created in 2006.

Part 1 of Azrael's Coverage

Neil's Most Memorable Moment... The Proposal

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fiction/Writing and Tabletop RPG Podcasts for 2007/11/24

Every Thursday, I post links to various podcasts that deal with the topic of fiction, writing, and tabletop RPGs. Regular programming resumes next Thursday.

If you're reading this on the blog or on the message board, well, it's late for reasons I already told you last week. Anyway, regarding last week's "best hits", on the gaming side, be sure to check out Imaginary Worlds's latest world-building podcast: Using Image Systems. On the fiction side, I'm a comic geek deep down so it has to go to the World Balloon interview with Geoff Johns.


Tabletop RPG (Mostly)

Neil Gaiman Philippines Compendium (Updated)

Here's a compilation of my links to Neil Gaiman's visit:

November 22, 2007:

Neil Gaiman: Imagination and Creativity in the Contemporary World (Audio Recording + Transcript, Q&A Transcript Missing)

November 24, 2007:

Neil Gaiman: A Gathering of Dreamlings and Nightmares (Audio Recording + Abridged Transcript Finished!)

November 25, 2007:

Even More Graphic/Fiction Updates
(Reporting + Photos + Links)
Neil Gaiman: Graphic/Fiction 2007 Recordings (Audio Recording)
Graphic/Fiction Awards 2007 Transcripts (Abridged Transcript Finished!)

Also be sure to check out my transcripts during Neil's previous visit in 2005 (of course special thanks to all those that did the actual interviews and provided a recording of them):

Writer's Forum
Jam 88.3 Interview
MTV Hanging Out
NU 107

If you can't get more of Neil, also check out my Retro Neil Gaiman entry for links to the old transcripts and recordings in 2005.

Neil Gaiman: Imagination and Creativity in the Contemporary World

Last Thursday, Neil Gaiman showed up at the Ad Congress and gave a talk on Imagination and Creativity in the Contemporary World. It was followed by a brief Q&A portion. Unfortunately, the audio quality isn't as good as I'd hope making a transcript of the event a bit difficult.

Audio Recording:

Imagination and Creativity in the Contemporary World (50:27, 24 MB)
Q&A (26:59 13 MB)


Good morning!

I was telling the Ad Congress that I haven’t prepared anything so nothing can possibly go wrong...

This is my second visit to the Philippines and one of the main reasons why I came back was I was so impressed on my first visit to the Philippines. I was really impressed with the quality of the minds out here, the incredible creativity, the artists, the young writers are ---, just how smart and literate people are. And I love that. By the same token I found myself very frustrated with how cut off the young writers and artists I was meeting seemed to be from the world, from the giant global things out there and it bugged me. So while at London, I thought about it and contacted Jaime Diaz of Fully Booked and I said look, we must do something about this. I wanted to do something to encourage these guys, I want to do something to get them involved, I want to get them to raise their sights. All of this ---. And together we cooked up a plan. It was a competition. We have science fiction or old science fiction, ..., we have science fiction and fantasy writers, the creators of comics, and I will put up the prize money while you organize the competition. And this weekend the first collection is being published of the winners of the finalists of last year's competition and they're inaugurating this year's and really the reason why I awoke in this, the reason why I came back here at all, was I was fascinated by the incredible potential that we have here. And the talent and the smarts. And frustrated by seeing people who don't seem to be doing anything. In Africa, in ---, they used to go fishing using shirts. And they would get rods and stretch out the rods. And the sun would be down. They would go fishing on the right time of day. They would use the rods to herd the fish and the fish thought something solid was approaching and they eventually encircled. It was all space. And the fish never seemed to realize that they could swim though the shadows, that there wasn't anything solid there. And in circuses, elephant trainers know that a fully grown elephant can very very easily pull up its chains. What they do is that they chain baby elephants and stake them to the ground and they chain them up and the baby elephant is grown up unable to break its chains. And they ... and they pay off and they don't try again. So as they get bigger, as they get stronger, they don't actually pull on their chains, they don't --- and they don't find everything very very easily to pull up. You wind up with people restricted like shadows, like elephant chains, like imaginary wanderers. And that was why I started to worry about out here in the Philippines. I wanted to try to push people if I could through imaginary barriers. A lot about caged from being a --- reading comic books, because comics that I was reading, the American comics were drawn by Filipinos. And all these amazing talent, people like Alex Nino, Alfredo Alcala, Redondo, Tony de Zuniga--these people whose loads more. I'm pretty sure.

This week, I have a peculiar experience. For the first time in my life and possibly the last time in my life, of having the number one film in both America and the world. And my love and fascination with Beowulf began as reading the Beowulf comic. Drawn--terrible comic--but it definitely inspired me to find to g out the original material Very badly written by --- and drawn by ---. So I got frustrated that the Filipinos I talked to, people were seeing the Philippines as a backwater. And it's not. Nowhere is it anymore. Everything is global and I'm an English writer living mostly in the US, with my work read all over the world and every thing so, write so. That's my little speech on the competition. And any of you who fancies yourself writers or artists should take the gauntlet.

Before I start talking about the imagination, a little bit of background on me for any of you who have no idea who this person is standing in front of you all you like, talking ---, you're so lonely over there. Hello. I'm Neil Gaiman, I am 47 and I think I must be on my 3rd or 4th career. Often more or less accidental. And all of them united by the fact that what I like doing and I liked doing ever since I was a kid is making stuff up. I love it. When you're kids, when I was little i would make stuff up and people would tell me off. They would say don't make stuff up or you're making stuff up again. Or how many times do I have to tell you don't make stuff up? And sometimes they even say do you know what happens to people who make things up? And I didn't and they wouldn't tell me. You get lots and lots of money, you'll fly all over the world, you'll win awards, and unless you agree to give a talk first thing in the morning you don't even have to get up early. I started out, I started out --- to write so I started up writing, I sent short stories, even children's books out to publishers. They all came back. I thought either I have no talent which I do not choose to believe or I'm doing this all wrong. So I got up one morning and decided I was a journalist which was getting up and going I'm a journalist. I didn't even know if there were lots of rules to becoming a journalist and because I didn't know that I --- it. So I got up and I was a journalist and I bought a copy of the English People Writer/Artist Yearbook and I started phoning editors and pitching them stories. And some of them bought and I had to write. This was back in the day when there were typewriters, I had a manual typewriter at the time and I wound up typing up a quote from Muddy Waters and ---, taking it to my typewriter. It said don't let your mouth write no check that your tail can't cash. Which seemed very important to me at the point when I realized that i just sold two books and have never written a book and now I had to find out if I could write two nonfiction books by writing them. And I did and I quite enjoyed it and I spent up four fine years being a journalist that got really wanting to be a journalist. I loved meeting people, I loved finding out how the world worked. That was really cool, that was really important and it's a great thing about being a journalist is that no one minds if you ask stupid questions. Because they kind of expect it from journalists so you get to ask things and you get to meet all kinds of people and in my case, particularly go to find out how the world of publishing worked. And then I stumbled almost accidentally into the world of comics. I always wanted to do comics, as a kid I always wanted to do comics. So I was at fifteen when I met the school outside Korea's consultant. They brought, Korean had this test coming out and then I went in and we met with Korea's people and Korea's guy, I waited in the long line to show me to the end where I sat down looked at my test results and he said what do you want to do? And I said I wanted to write American comics. There was a very very long pause and then he said have you ever thought about accountancy? I said no. I was honest that night and then we stared at each other for awhile and then eventually I said shall I show the next person in and he said you may as well and that was my careers advice which left me with the big question that you couldn't get there from here which was wrong. I wound up stumbling happily into comics. I wound up stumbling into more happily into writing Sandman. And I wrote Sandman for about nine years.

The last few years's turnout has seen many things that I really wanted to do so then I got to do a few of the things that I wanted to do but couldn't not including writing a script for Beowulf which the first draft was in 1997. Doing things like writing novels, Neverwhere, adapting a TV series for BBC which I wasn't terribly happy with. And Stardust, a fantasy tale which became recently a film. And I wrote a very good novel called American Gods which won a gazillion awards. That's a ---. Actually it's about nine.... Anansi Boys and then somewhere in there I turned around and discovered I shall become a children's author which was a book that I wrote for my children called Coraline, which had taken me about ten years to write but finally got finished and got published and books like The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish and Wolves in the Walls. So things that I was doing kept ticking and so far this year I have Stardust coming out as a movie which I co-produced and ---, and Beowulf which I technically produced and wrote several drafts of. Next year we got Coraline. And it's being made by Harry Selick and Henry is a marvelous film maker. He cctually directed--he was the person behind Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. Lots of people think that just because it has the words Tim Burton in the title that Tim directed it. It wasn't him but it was Harry. And Harry is shooting this in 3D which is what filmmakers are doing a lot these days and it's wonderful. It's gorgeous. Dakota Fanning, there's Teri Hatcher, all these people doing voices and these scary, squeaky wonderful little art. So that's what's going on right now with me and the horrible thing about it, I was trying to explain this recently to my daughter who was asking me about careers. She's 22, just starting out and she's going to London to start working as a film producer. She's doing production assistant stuff right now and she's saying how do you know if you're doing the right thing. You've got all of this stuff and your career has somehow built up into everything you ever wanted to do but there is no logic to it. How do you do that and I thought about it for a minute and I said I think probably it's because mostly I have a really clear idea of the kinds of things I want to make in the world. And I thought about it as if I was walking towards a mountain. The stuff I wanted to do was a mountain and then I got to walk towards them. And it was always a fairly little test whether or not it was in the right direction of... I was a journalist, knowing that I wanted to create fiction, knowing that I wanted to create fantasy, knowing that I wanted to do comics and films and that kind of thing. I got a phone call one day offering me a features editor job on a major English magazine with good money, much better than what I was getting as a young freelance journalist. I was a young man and I had two very small children and I thought about it and I remember at the time realizing that I couldn't do it because it would be walking away from the mountain. That you have to walk towards it. You know what you want and then you have to sort of keep your eye towards it and that idea that you can keep the hugeness of the things that you want to do and measure it all up and be gone.

So that's all right and I thought about when I talk about those things, there's a few things that I will read to you but mostly I just wanted to talk a bit. It's about the imagination. And this sort of started for me, I mean obviously my obsession with the imagination goes all the way back but it crystalized when I was in China. And I was in Chung-Doo (?) at a science fiction conference which was co-sponsored by SF World, a Chinese science fiction publication and very much approved of by the Chinese government. Now this is a huge turnabout because science fiction for years was not approved of by the Chinese. It was hugely disapproved of. Going back to now, it was disapproved of because they didn't really like things like fiction. I asked them about crime fiction and said no crime fiction was allowed to be published because officially there was no crime in China. Science fiction wasn't quite the same place, it was hugely, enormously disapproved of and very very recently, literally the last couple of years, the Chinese government changed their minds of us. I was fascinated talking with the government representatives and people whose --- understanding why and the reason why they changed was because they started to notice that what they were good at was putting stuff together for everyone else in the world. Taking things that had been invented everywhere else in the world and doing it cheaper and more efficiently and selling it back to them. What they weren't doing was making stuff up. What they weren't doing was inventing and creating. And they caught up and looked at some of the most successful places in America that --- and created and they looked at Google. They looked at Microsoft, they looked at Apple, places like that. And I've been to all these places and one of the things they had in common is that they are staffed by people who love and loved as kids and write science fiction and fantasy. And staffed by people who liked to imagine. Who thought that the world could be different. Who liked differences, who liked creating. Who can toy with themselves and those are the people who are either inspired by science fiction and fantasy or just inspired by the idea that things could be different and started to give us this new ---. And the Chinese government having realized this decided to start encouraging the literature of the imagination. And that fascinated me. And I thought you know everything that we have is important, is imagined and we forget that. I started to explain this to the Chinese and made a speech to them for I said look, it was actually complicated by the fact that I would say a line and then a very nice Chinese guy who really didn't understand what I was saying, would translate it and then the audience would attack I'd say I wrote a book called American Gods, he would translate it and they would shout at him. He would shout at them. Somebody would say gods not dogs you idiot! He'd shout back at them so it made it very very interesting. I said look, everything you see was imagined first. It's very very easy to think of the world and it's a world according to and accept that it always existed, as in having been created and imposed upon us. But the reality is that if there hasn't always been, if it's not a wave or a rock or a naturally bearing tree that was there before people turned up. It was imagined! Before there were magnetic chairs or --- or houses or fields or mp3 players or elephant counters, somebody had to imagine them. Somebody had to daydream, somebody had to ask the big question of fantasy which is what if. That's the most important question there is whether you're a science fiction/fantasy writer or a human being. What if it doesn't have to be like this. It can be different.

I write about what I know, that's something to tell young authors. They say write what you know. And mostly authors hate that line because when you're told write what you know, they think that means you need to write about your life, changing nothing. I wrote a story about people living underground in sort of semi-imagined London because I know that. I wrote what it's like to cross a magic wall looking for a falling star because I know that. Right now I'm writing a book about what it would be like to be a kid whose family has been killed and he's wandered into a graveyard and is being raised by dead people. And taught all the things that dead people know. Because I know that!

And fantasy and the imagination is a mirror and like all mirrors it shows you the world that you know just from an angle that you haven't seen before and like a mirror it can vanish things which can ... make you reappear, show you yourself or distort it or change things. --- the English writer once said that you can see something nine hundred ninety nine times and never see it. And if you look at it that thousandth time, you're in danger of seeing it for the first time and that's what troubles us. For me, it was the thousandth time at looking at Snow White having read the story of Snow White a thousand times, or at least nine hundred and ninety nine anyway and I never really thought about it, just accepted it. For the thousandth time I ran across it, you know what kind of prince rides past on a horse, sees a girl in her coffin, and goes whoa she's a bit alright I'm taking her back to my castle. And the girl and I thought that for that matter what kind of girl gets to lie in a coffin for 6 months or whatever and they'd get up just fine with skin as white as snow and lips as red as blood. That's weird too and somehow the story called Snow's Apple's, incredibly nasty variation of Snow White from which she realized that the wicked queen wasn't wicked, she just didn't go far enough. And it's that thing about allowing yourself to go the extra moment of seeing something for the nine hundred ninety ninth time and suddenly seeing it for the first time. It's not.

The moment I was in China and I started telling these people that I thought they should daydream more, I have never seen a bunch of people so shocked. Very excitedly shocked. I mean it was as if I had said to them you ought to get more sex or something... But it was telling them to daydream. Telling them that's important, telling them that, and you'd see some of them --- but you're talking about escapism and I said well escape is really good. The only people who grumble about escape are mostly jailers. The rest of us really like it. You get to go places you haven't been before, you get to breathe new air, eat new food, get out. You gain new skills, new points of view and when you get home, the best thing about any kind of holiday, any kind of escape is the return. Because the place you get back to is not the place you left. You get to look it at new eyes, you get to take things, see things that you've taken for granted freshly and that is incredibly important. That's half of what I think being creative is all about. Looking at things and seeing them a thousand times for the first time.

The whole point for me of getting out and talking to people about the imagination, talking about creativity, is I worry that people think it's something special. I worry that people think it's something magical only a tiny number of people can do whether you're writing, whether you're advertising, whether you're in the arts, whether you're writing things or creating or whatever. A lot of people think that the magical created stuff is something that only the blessed can achieve. And I don't think that's true. I don't even think that's slightly true. I think the point is, one of the things, I heard somebody talking about the whole don't make things up thing, is always do it, always day dream. Writers are probably better at it, and creative people are probably better at noticing that we're doing it and noticing that has some kind of importance or value but we all do it, we all drift off. Just let our minds follow strange old paths. If you're a writer or any creative person, people are going to ask you where you get your ideas from. And if you're a writer of any kind of ---, when people ask you where do you get your ideas from, you make fun of them. And you don't answer. Not so long as you can do any number of funny or not very funny quips with writers block. Like Harlan Ellison says he get them from an idea shop in Kitsu. I know somebody who says he gets them from the idea of the month club. I have very quirky tactics, many years ago we decided that if we get asked where we get our ideas from, I would cycle off --- Atkins and he'd say he got them from me. And then the reason why writers in particular tend to come up with lots and lots of funny, lots of very silly answers when people ask us where we get our ideas from is because we don't know. It terrifies us. And when we answer is we get scared. So we come up with funny answers.

Some years ago I wound up having to go to my daughter's school. It's one of those things if you're a writer, they'll say oh can you come in and talk to the kids? And you say yes. And then it's terrifying. I don't know why this is. I don't know why I'm completely comfortable talking to 3,000 people, I think it's three or four thousand, early in the morning... Going in to talk to 11 7-year olds, absolutely terrifying. I thought I was alone in this until I started talking one day to David Gilmore of Pink Floyd who plays stadiums of 100,000 people, 150,000 people. I said man do you ever get stage fright and he said no, no, never. And his wife --- what about when you went to Joe's school to greet him a happy birthday. Well there was that. So I'm not the only person. And talking and I talk to a school and there's always 7 year olds looking up at me and I wrote about this on my website. You can read it and I'm paraphrasing. One of these kids asked me where do I get my ideas and I realized I owe them an answer. They're weren't old enough to know me any better and it's a perfectly reasonable question to ask. This is what I told them. You get ideas from day dreaming. You get your ideas from being bored. You do this all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we do it. We get ideas when we ask ourselves simple questions. The most important question is what if. What if you woke up with wings. What if your sister turned into a house. What if you all found out one of your teachers was planning to eat one of you at the end of the term and you didn't know which. I said another important question is if only. If only we all lived in Hollywood musics, if only I could shrink myself small as a button, if only elves would do my homework. And then there will be others. I wonder. I wonder what she does when she's alone. And if this goes on, if this goes on so focused, they start talking to each other and cut out them all. And wouldn't it be interesting, wouldn't it be interesting if the world used to be ruled by cats? And those of us who's not --- questions they later impose. If cats used to rule the world, why don't they anymore and how do they feel about that. And one of the places where ideas come from. An idea doesn't have to be a plot notion, just a place to begin where plots often generate themselves as we start asking ourselves questions and are prepared to discover what it is. Sometimes an idea could be a person. There's a boy who wants to know about magic. Sometimes it's a place. There's a castle at the end of time which is the only place there is. Sometimes it's an image--a woman in a dark robe cold... with empty faces. Often ideas come from two things coming together happening together at all. If a person bitten by a werewolf turns into a wolf when the moon is full, what would happen if a goldfish is bitten by a werewolf? What would happen to a chair who is bitten by a werewolf? What would happen? What if somebody is sitting there, leaning back on his chair, and the full moon is at its --- and then the leather starts getting furrier. All fiction is supposed imagining. Whether you want ... or Illiad or classic or making things up menacingly, and interestingly and new and when you get an idea which is after all something you hold on to when you begin, and then what then, what then. You have to write. One went after another until it's finished, whatever it is. And sometimes it won't work but not in the way you first imagined. And sometimes it doesn't work at all, sometimes you throw it out and start out again and sometimes it works. And that's magic.

I don't believe in writers block. Most writers believe in writers block. Most writers love believing in writers block. Writers block is really good when you're a writer. Nobody else has blocks. Gardeners, they don't have gardeners block. Shoe salesmen do not have shoe salesmen block.... I do not believe that politicians have ever had politicians block. Definitely not here. But writers have writers block and writers tell you that they have writers block and writers will write 20,000 word letters telling you how awful their writers block is. And they'd say ..., they'd write all these long blog entries talking about writers block. And I don't believe in it but I believe in such a thing as getting stuck. I absolutely believe in getting stuck. But I don't believe in writers block and writers block is a lovely way, a really fancy way of saying I'm stuck and I don't know what happens next so I'm going to go off and have a bath or a cup of tea and do things that aren't writing. I think this is evident in most creative people. It's very easy to get stuck. The best thing to do is notice getting stuff. One of the things I love doing is having more than one thing that I'll be writing at any one time. Which is something I recommend to any of you who are creative, who need to imagine. It's just do more than one thing. If there really was writers block, you couldn't even write those blog entries explaining how stuck you are. I actually met somebody who said look I have writers block. I can't write. It's gone. I forgotten my alphabet. Who would believe it? But they don't. Mostly you get stuck and anyone can get stuck. So it's nice to have something else when you're stuck on and get off and do a bit of that and sometimes the thing you got stuck on will unstick when you realize where you want. It's a forking path. All fiction, all creative process is consistent hitting forking paths and either this will work or you go left or the path on the right. You don't always make the right choice and occasionally you take the path on the right, you go downhill and it peters out. You start and you go I have writers block. You don't. You have to go off for awhile and at that point sometimes it takes as little while for you to figure out but for me I put it away for a little bit and do some things and it'll work out and I'll read it through again and very often when I --- the story will show itself. I think people should be more creative by which I think I mean, people should care to imagine. I think they should day dream, they should take joy in imagining. I think you should follow the hearts in your head that nobody's followed before and I think you should enjoy that. To think that you should think huge. When I was a kid, I remember about 15, I made a list of everything I wanted to do. It wasn't a list of things I wanted to do but a list of what I wanted to make. I want to make books, I want tot make poems... I want to make films, I want to make TV, I want to make cartoons. I made a list. I have everything on there except the book of poems which is probably a good thing. It's really good. Just make it, plan and then create it and then go for it. Like I said earlier, just head for the mountain.

The best bit about creating is the sheer joy that you get when it goes right. It is magic, it is something out of nothing. One moment you know nothing at all, the next thing you do. You have a bunch of ideas. You have something really special. And that, that makes up... And I thought I would read a poem with you because one of the reasons is for me partly because I had so much fun writing it and partly it's exactly what I'm talking about, the joy of creation, that moment when something isn't there and then suddenly it's there and you see it and you sit there and it's magic. I was in a hotel in New York, I was waiting for a car to pick me up and take me to for the air port. I checked out, I had no Internet, I couldn't view my email, I couldn't even blog. Blogs are cool. I wrote in my blog. I've been blogging now since 2001 which is back before anybody knew what blogs meant. I said I'm blogging. They'd say I'm very sorry to hear that... It's this thing on your computer. It was great. There was no one blogging in 2001. We're dinosaurs. Tyrannosauruses of the world. And I was blogging for six, almost seven years. I keep promising myself one day I'd stop but it's an incredibly useful tool for just keeping in touch with the world and the world keeping in touch with me. I couldn't do it at all. I'll start so I sat down and decided to write. And this is what came out.

-reads The Day the Saucers Came-

Q&A: To follow