92nd St. Y

Well, it was worth videorecording, but an audio would do nicely. Either would be better than relying on my notes and my memory. Unfortunately we only have those to rely on at this point so do not take all of what is here as absolutely accurate.

But regardless, Neil’s interview at the 92nd St. Y, done with Wired’s charming Adam Rogers, was a lot of fun – at least for the audience, although Himself was not without the occasional smile as well.

After reading the bit in Anansi Boys where Spider is introduced, the conversation rambled from what makes a reading good or not, to radio plays and how they act as the intersection between real time storytelling and the story being told within the listener’s mind, to how motion capture technology is getting around the problem of recreating eye movements by monitoring brainwaves, to how when one no longer smokes cigarettes, they are more liable to fall asleep at their keyboard and wake up to 350 pages of the letter M.

In between there was discussion of Neil’s writing process which apparently involves borrowing houses at the beginnings and ends of books, making sure he’s out of the house before anyone in California starts business hours, and having access to a cabin where he can either write or do nothing – which after 3 1/2 minutes means that writing gets started as a self defence tactic. (Apparently it’s a rather boring sort of place).

The Q&A brought up a few stories about projects that had unfortunately not seen the light of day, like a Superman storyline that would have been drawn by Matt Wagner based on the Fleisher model, that would tell a different Superman story for each of the seasons, with him dying in the winter, and coming back, like a sun god, in the spring. Another story, which would also have been drawn by Matt Wagner and inked by P.Craig Russell, would have been a hopeful, “Right Stuff”-like superhero story set in the 1960s, as a counter to the darker superhero images on the market. Neil described his take on the Eternals as a weird Kirby-ish thing, that will be somewhat of a reboot but still work within the “net” of the Marvel Universe’s continuity.

Neil also talked a little about the development of the Graveyard Book, which is to be the next young adult novel. It was inspired by having a house next to a graveyard, where, because the house didn’t have a garden, he would watch his young son outside, bicycling between the gravestones. From there it was not a large step to start wondering what The Jungle Book would be like if instead of animals, a child is brought up by dead people. The rules, which may change, that are within the book’s structure are that dead people, and werewolves, and vampires and such aren’t scary. Live people, on the other hand, can be very, very dangerous. Which is obviously a worthwhile life lesson to teach young people. We will see how the book changes as it gets closer to publication…and as a short story which contains some of the material becomes published in an anthology.

There was also talk about blogging (a “wonderfully democratizing thing”), how following your obsessions really *is* doing research (which I am sure will comfort any of a number of my friends), the power of installment fiction, and things that made Adam turn the most glorious shade of fushia. But I will not repeat those, nor what Neil is doing in New York as well as this event – but it is a *very* cool thing.