Bram Stoker – The man behind ‘Dracula’

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Abraham Stoker or Bram Stoker as most ‘Dracula’ fans know him, was born the 8th of November 1847. He died in 1912 at the age of 64. He Is an Irish author best known for the novel ‘Dracula.’  He published ‘Dracula’ at the age of 50. Bram spent the early part of his childhood confined to his bed because of a mysterious illness. Looking back on this part of his life Bram mentions that “I was naturally thoughtful, and the leisure of long illness gave opportunity for many thoughts which were fruitful according to their kind in later years.” Bram married Florence Balcome and they had only one child together. This child they named Irving.

Here are some interesting facts about Bram Stoker:

Bram Stoker was the third child of seven.

Even though bed-ridden for most of his childhood he later on excelled in athletics being named University Athlete at Trinity College in Dublin.

Before Florence Balcome married Bram Stoker she actually had another suitor interested in her. His name was Oscar Wilde. Florence chose to be with Bram instead of Oscar. This left Oscar upset enough that he left the country.

Henry Irving and Bram Stoker became close friends. This happened when Bram wrote a review of Hamlet that impressed Henry. A few years later Bram ended up managing Henry Irving’s theatre and career.

‘Dracula’ was inspired by an essay written by Emily Gerard called ‘Transylvania Superstitions.’ Stoker himself had never visited Eastern Europe so he spent a lot of time on research, 7 years in fact.

‘Dracula’ was originally titled ‘The Un-dead’ and ‘Count Dracula’ was originally going to be called ‘Count Wampyr.’

‘Dracula’ wasn’t the first story ever written about vampires. The story ‘Camilla’ written by Sheridan Le Fanu was about a lesbian vampire who stalked young women in 1871. There also happened to be a horror series by James Malcolm Rymer called ‘Varney the Vampire,’ that also came before ‘Dracula.’

Walt Whitman was one of his favourite authors.

Bram’s death didn’t attract much attention in 1912 because it was around the same time as the Titanic hit an iceberg. The Titanic was big news at the time.

There are many different opinions on what the final cause of Bram’s death was. Daniel Farson, Bram Stoker’s grandnephew says in his biography the cause of death was Locomotor Ataxy – know in those days as general paralysis of the insane.

Check out some of Bram Stokers other writing:

The Snakes Pass

Seven Golden Buttons

The Watter’s Mou

The Lair of the White Worm

The Lady of the Shroud

The Jewel of the Seven Stars

The Shoulder of Shasta

The Man (A.K.A The Gates of Life)

Lady Athlyne

The Mystery of the Sea

 

Short Stories:

Under the Sunset (Eight fairy tales for children)

Snowbound: The Record of a Theatrical Touring Party

Dracula’s Guests and Other Weird Stories

 

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Bell Night is back from the dead!

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After a long period of no blogging, Bell Night is back up and running. Due to a number of personal reasons the site hasn’t been operating for a while. I hope that you will forgive me for being absent! I am truly sorry.  Hopefully in the coming weeks I will see a lot of old faces and hopefully some new ones. Stay posted and watch this space because there will be a new author review up in a few days! Looking forward to hearing form everyone and writing some new articles!

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Fem Fatale Fantasy Fictionist: Robin Hobb

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Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden has taken on two successful pseudonyms during her writing career. The first being Megan Lindholm and the second being Robin Hobb. Margaret was born in California 1952, but spent majority of her life in Alaska before moving to Washington. At the young age of eighteen Margaret was married and from here on she started her writing career. She first wrote for children’s magazines and progressed into bigger works of fantasy fiction.

Some interesting facts that you may not of known about Margaret:

Although she has experienced a small taste of what adventures are in her books, she mostly writes from doing a lot of research. “I like primary documents when I can get them, diaries, journals and things of that sort. Then I like to find well researched and foot-noted books written on whatever topic I am covering.”

Margaret has four children, three of them are adults.

She has no television in her lounge room only a lot of tall bookcases.

Some of Margaret’s favourite authors: George R R Martin, Jane Johnson, Michael Marshall, Robert Parker and Janet Evanovich.

Good news for readers Margaret has been quoted saying in an interview: “…I’m writing another book. And after that, I think I’ll probably write another book. And then another. Until my hands and eyes give out (They’re in a race to see what fails first.) I think that’s all I can say with certainty. I’ll be writing more books.”

Australian fans will be glad to here that they have the chance to meet Margaret in 2014 at Supernova and she is also going to be a guest at Worldcon, Loncon, London.

If you are a fan of Fantasy, then this is certainly the author for you!

Some writing by Margaret that you should check out:

Robin Hobb

The Farseer Trilogy

Assassins Apprentice                 Royal Assassin                 Assassins Quest

Liveship Traders Trilogy

Ship of Magic            The Mad Ship           Ship of Destiny

The Tawny Man Trilogy

Fools Errand               The Golden Fool             Fool’s Fate

The Rain Wild’s Chronicles:

Dragon Keeper          Dragon Haven             City of Dragons         Blood of Dragons

The Fitz and Fool Trilogy:

The Fool’s Assassin      

Other Elderling  Stories

The Willful Princess and the Piebald Prince

Soldier Son Trilogy:

Shaman’s Crossing             Forest Mage             Renegades Magic

Short Stories

The Inheritance              Homecoming           Words like Coins            Blue Boots

Cat’s Meat             The Triumph            Neighbours

Megan Lindholm

The Ki and Vandien Quartet

Harpy’s Flight        The Windsingers            The Limbreth Gate             Luck of the Wheels

Tillu and Kerlew

The Reindeer People                 Wolf’s Brother

Other Stories

Wizard of the Pigeons               Cloven Hooves             Alien Earth            The Gypsy

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Virginia Andrews: Gothic Fiction Writer

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Cleo Virginia Andrews was born in Portsmouth Virginia on June 6th, 1923 and died of breast cancer December 19th, 1986. She was 63 years old. Virginia’s area of writing was mainly in Gothic romance and family sagas. The novel that she is most known for is Flowers in the Attic. Virginia was the youngest child of her family with two older brothers. Her mother Lillian Andrews was a telephone operator and her father William Andrews was a tool and die maker.

As a teenager Virginia was in an accident at her high school. She fell down some stairs and sustained severe back injuries. For the rest of her life due to arthritis and a failed spinal surgical procedure Virginia had to rely on crutches and wheel chairs. After graduation Virginia completed a four year correspondence course art course while living at home. During this time she went through several more surgical attempts to fix the damage to her back and hips.

Later on after her father died, Virginia turned to writing feeling that art wasn’t giving her the creative satisfaction that she sought. The first manuscript that she wrote was too autobiographical; she ended up destroying it to protect her privacy.

In 1978 submitted her 98 page Flowers in the Attic manuscript to literary agent Anita Diamant. This novel reached the best-seller lists in two weeks. From this point forward Virginia had great success with her writing. By the time she died in 1986, Virginia had over 24 million books in print and a film version of her first novel Flowers in the Attic.

Here are some interesting facts that you might not have known:

The first novel that Virginia wrote was Gods of Green Mountain. It was never published during her lifetime, but was released as an e-book in 2004.

Virginia has also gone under the pen names of V.C. Andrews and Virginia C. Andrews.

Most of Virginia’s stories are based around a particular family.

There are many biographies and articles written claiming that Flowers in the Attic was originally a story called The Obsessed and that Virginia was told by publishers that it needed to be cut down and have a bit more excitement to it. This is untrue according to an interview with her Ann Patty. The Obsessed was a different novel altogether. “The two have nothing to do with one another.”

Supposedly she had written three Gothic romances under another pen name before she submitted Flowers in the Attic.

At one point Virginia had a disappointing interview with people magazine and was from then on reluctant to partake in interviews and other such publicity.

Virginia’s family decided to have a ghost writer take on her work after she died. The identity of the ghost writer was kept secret for many years until it was revealed that it was horror novelist Andrew Neiderman.

There have been many rumours about Flowers in the Attic being based on a true story.

Here are some of Virginia Andrew’s books that you should check out:

(Please note some are completely written, or in part written by ghost writer Andrew Neiderman.)

The Dollanganger series

Flowers in the Attic             Petals on the Wind             If There Be Thorns    

Seeds of Yesterday             Garden of Shadows

The Casteel Series

Heaven              Dark Angel             Fallen Hearts             Gates of Paradise

Web of Dreams

The Cutler Series

Dawn              Secrets of the Morning               Twilight’s Child              

  Midnight Whispers                   Darkest Hour

The Landry Series

Ruby                  Pearl in the Mist              All that Glitters          Hidden Jewel

Tarnished Gold

The Logan Series

Melody                   Heart Song                 Unfinished Symphony            

Music in the Night                 Olivia         

The Orphans Series

Butterfly               Crystal                Brooke              Raven             Runaways

The Wildflowers series

Misty                   Star                Jade                  Cat                 Into the Garden

The Hudson Series

Rain                           Lightening Strikes              Eye of the Storm

The End of the Rainbow                        Gathering Clouds

The Shooting Star Series

Cinnamon                 Ice                 Rose              Honey                   Falling Stars

The DeBeers Series

Willow               Wicked Forest               Twisted Roots          Into the Woods

Hidden Leaves                 Dark Seed

The Broken Wings Series

Broken Wings                 Midnight Flight

The Gemini Series

Celeste                         Black Cat                           Child of Darkness

The Shadow Series

April Shadows                        Girl in the Shadows

The Early Spring Series

Broken Flower                   Scattered Leaves

Secrets Series

Secrets in the Attic                      Secrets in the Shadows

The Delia Series

Delia’s Crossing                           Delia’s Heart                        Delia’s Gift

The Heavenstone Series

Heavenstone Secrets                                    Secret Whispers

The Kindred Series

Daughter of Darkness                        Daughter of Light

The March Family Series

Family Storms                              Cloudburst

The Forbidden Series

The Forbidden Sister                 The Forbidden Heart                    Roxy’s Story

Stand alone novels

Gods of Green Mountain             My Sweet Audrina                     Into the Darkness

Capturing Angels               The Unwelcomed Child

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Suzanne Collins: Readers Hunger for More!

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Suzanne Marie Collins was born in Hartford, Connecticut on August 10th, 1962. She is best known for having written The Hunger Games trilogy. The Hunger Games has also been made into a movie.  Suzanne is married to actor Cap Pryor and has two children together.

In 1985 Suzanne graduated in a double major of theater and telecommunications at Indiana University. She then went on to do a master’s degree in dramatic writing from New York University. Suzanne’s writing career started out as a scriptwriter for televisions shows. Some of these shows were: Clarissa Explains It All, Little Bear, Oswald and the Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. It wasn’t until she met children’s author James Proimos that she decided to try writing children’s books herself.

In 2003 Suzanne published her first book in The Underland Chronicles called Gregor the Overlander. These books are what first brought her to the attention of many readers. In 2008 Suzanne’s first book of The Hunger Games trilogy was released. Since then readers have not been able to get enough of her books.

Here are some interesting facts that you might not have known:

Suzanne is the best selling kindle author in history so far.

Channel-surfing between reality television shows like Survivor and news coverage of the Iraq war gave Suzanne the inspiration for The Hunger Games.

Because of her screenwriting background Suzanne finds dialogue easier to write than descriptive passages.

Suzanne has a lot of family that has been in war. Her father was in the Vietnam War, her grandfather was gassed in World War I and her uncle was injured in World War II.

Some reviewers have compared The Hunger Games to a Japanese novel called Battle Royale saying that it is very similar.

She usually writes for 3 to 5 hours a day, stopping in the early afternoon.

Stephen King read The Hunger Games and has called the book addictive. He also compared the book to “…shoot-it-if-it-moves video games in the lobby of the local eightplex; you know it’s not real, but you keep plugging in quarters anyway.”

Suzanne Collins was 38 when she began to write Gregor the Overlander.

The Hunger Games was at first 50 000 words and then was pushed up to 200 000 words. It has also been translated into 26 different languages.

She was named by Time Magazine as being one of the most influential people of 2010.

The American Library Association ranked The Hunger Games at the 5th most banned book in 2010 due to its violence and sexually inappropriate content.

Allegedly Suzanne is extremely afraid of rats.

Suzanne got the name ‘Katniss’ for the main character in The Hunger Games from a plant. The plant is an aquatic plant. In Latin this plant means ‘belonging to an arrow.’

Scenes from The Hunger games movie: District 12, the Capitol, and the arena were all shot in North Carolina.

Here are some of Suzanne Collins other books to check out:

The Underland Chronicles

Gregor the Overlander                  Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane

Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods                Gregor and the Marks of Secret

Gregor and the Code of Claw

The Hunger Games Trilogy

The Hunger Games                      Catching Fire                         Mockingjay

Others

When Charlie McButton Lost Power                    When Charlie McButton Gained Power

Fire Proof: Shelby Woo #11

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Richard Matheson – We Will Remember You!

 

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Richard Burton Matheson passed away June 23 this year (2013) at the age of 87. It is always sad to hear when a great author dies. For those of you who didn’t have the pleasure of knowing much about Richard Matheson here is an article dedicated to him:

Richard Burton Matheson was born in Allendale, New Jersey, USA on February 20th 1926. He was a writer best known in the genres of horror, fantasy and science fiction. His most well-known novels also turned into films would be I Am Legend, The Twilight Zone, The Shrinking Man and Hell House.

Richard was the third child of Norwegian immigrants of Bertolf Matheson and Fanny Matheson. Richard published his first short story in The Brooklyn Eagle when he was 8 years old. After graduating high school in 1943, Richard went on to join the military. He served as an infantry soldier during World War II. Then he studied a Bachelor of Journalism at Missouri University. The first story he made money from was Born of Man and Woman. This was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Richard then went on in the years after to write many popular novels and screenplays.

“He is one of the most important writers of the 20th Century” – Ray Bradbury

Here are some facts that you may not have known about Richard Matheson:

His novel The Beardless Warriors described some of his experiences from war.

Something that Richard said in an interview about George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead: “… I watched it one night on television and thought to myself, gee, that’s awfully close to I am Legend. He I guess prefers to believe that it’s just derivation, but it seems pretty close to me.”

He married his wife Ruth Ann Woodson in 1952

The story Duel was inspired from an incident in 1963 after Richard was tailgated by a truck. It started when he was playing a game of golf and heard the news of President J.F.Kennedy being assassinated. He stopped playing his game and began to return home. On his journey home a truck tailgated him for a long period of time. Duel was then later adapted for a television-movie by Spielberg. This was the beginning of Spielberg’s career.

He nearly wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Richard didn’t agree with Hitchcock about the actual birds. Richard believed that the audience shouldn’t see the birds very often. Where as Hitchcock wanted them seen a lot.

Richard came up with the idea for I Am Legend when he was 16 after seeing Dracula. He didn’t write the book until 1952.

Something that Richard said about screen-writing once: “One of my pet peeves is the fact that when people win awards – Academy Awards, notably – if it’s based on a novel, they never mention it. It’s as if the novel never existed. The screenwriter acts as if he’s made it up out of his own head. Sometimes even the director acts as if he’s made it up out of his own head. It’s an ego problem, of course, but it’s tremendously unfair as well.

Richard had four children and three of them have become writers.

Richard Matheson has left a great mark on the world. He will always be remembered.

Some of Richard Matheson’s writing that you should check out:

Novels

I Am Legend                               A Stir of Echoes                     Someone is Bleeding                    Fury on Sunday             7 Steps to Midnight

The Shrinking Man              Hell House                    Hunger and Thirst                              The Gunfight                   What Dreams May Come

The Beardless Warriors               Earthbound                Woman                Shadow on the Sun              Passion Play            Camp Pleasant     

Other Kingdoms                 Generations               Hunted Past Reason               Now You See It…          Abu and the 7 Marvels         

Come Fygures Come Shadowes

 

Short Stories

Born of Man and Woman                   The Test                   Blood Son                 Miss Stardust               Interest                  The Thing      

The Last Day              Deadline                Slaughter House              Wet Straw                Death Ship               The Edge            A Drink of Water

One for the Books            Pattern for Survival               The Holiday Man               The Doll                Getting Together         Shoo Fly

 

Films

Tales of Terror                 The Box               Real Steel               The Devil Rides Out            The Incredible Shrinking Man             House of Usher

The Young Warriors           Master of the World                 The Raven                   The Last Man on Earth               The Pit and the Pendulum

De Sade              Loose Cannons                 Fanatic            The Legend of Hell House             What Dreams May Come          Burn Witch Burn

The Comedy of Terrors       

 

Bell Night

 

The Shine on Award… Thank you Serenity!

I have just recently been awarded the Shine on Award by a great friend of mine Serenity! 

I was really flattered.

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Here are 7 random questions that I am suppose to answer that come with this award:

1.  Rank these kinds of weather from best to worst: Sunny and hot, misty and cold, rain and cool, snow, ice, windy.

Misty and cool, rain and cool, sunny and hot, windy, snow, ice. – I haven’t seen snow before.

2.  Do you like outdoor music festivals?

Depends what it is. I would like a book festival more!

3.  Do you like drinking water?

Yes I love water!

4.  My favorite alcoholic beverage.

Hmm. It has changed a few times over the years, but I seem to like Cider at the moment.

5.  Best drug experience.

I really can’t say that I have had a best drug experience to tell.

6.  Most fun when not taking anything?

Reading! Of course.

7.  Greatest sorrow

The death of loved ones is always sad.

As for giving this award to someone I choose Kelli Beck

There are many that deserve the award, but I am only going to give it one person. Kelli Beck writes a blog called Wordsmithing Ain’t Easy – This is an amazing blog with regularly updated posts. Covered on this blog are book releases, books, book trailers, writing, daily prompts and much much more! All writers and readers should definitely check out this blog!!!

Thank you again Serenity for giving me this great award! Happy blogging everyone!

Roald Dahl: The Orignal Charlie Bucket

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Roald Dahl was born in Cardiff, Wales on the 13th September 1916. He came from a strong Norwegian heritage with both his parents being Norwegian. When he was young both his sister and his father died only weeks apart. Roald Dahl’s mother could have taken him and his two other sisters back to Norway to live with relatives, but decided to keep them in Wales. This was because his father had the belief that British schools were the best in the world.

While attending school in derbyshire, there was a Cadbury chocolate factory not far away that used to provide sweets for the children to sample. There was also another company in the area that was in direct competition with Cadbury. It seems there was some corporate espionage going on. This later on gave Roald Dahl the idea for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Roald Dahl only began writing when he met author C.S. Forrester. His first short story was published in 1942. Roald Dahl thought his career as a writer came about as a ‘fluke.’ Something that a lot of people don’t know about Roald Dahl is that he wrote macabre adult stories before he started writing children’s stories. As Roald Dahl wrote more and more stories they started to become less realistic and more fantasy.

Roald Dahl died the 23rd of November 1990 from a blood disease. He was 74 years of age. It is said that he had a sort of ‘Viking’ funeral where he was buried with some items that he cherished in life. These items were pencils, chocolates and snooker cues.

Here are some interesting facts about Roald Dahl:

Roald Dahl was named after a famous Norwegian explorer.

When Roald Dahl’s son Theo was four months old he was hit by a taxi and therefore afterwards suffered from hydrocephalus also known as ‘water on the brain.’

In 1962 his seven year old daughter Olivia died from measles. He later dedicated the ‘BFG’ to Olivia.

Roald Dahl married actor Patricia Neal in 1953. During birth of their fifth child, she suffered from cerebral aneurysms. Patricia had to re-learn how to walk and talk. Roald Dahl divorced Patricia Neal in 1983. He then became re-married to Felicity Crosland.

Roald Dahl could speak three different languages: Norwegian, English and Swahili.

Roald Dahl was an aircraftman in the Royal Air Force and was also a fighter pilot during World War II.

Roald Dahl didn’t really get into children’s books until he had his own children. In the 1960’s he got a traditional Gypsy wagon and turned it into a playhouse for his children.

He dedicated the book ‘Matilda’ to his grand-daughter Sophie Dahl.

Roald Dahl stated once that if he hadn’t become a writer he would have become a doctor.

In 1965 he was accused of plagiarism. He published a short story in Playboy called ‘The Visitor’ which was a lot like a story from writer Dod Osbourne called ‘Master of the Girl Pat.’

He loved chocolate, but not chocolate cake or chocolate ice-cream.

His favourite way of writing was with pencil on yellow paper.

He had two steel hips and six operations on his spine.

Some of his favourite authors were Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling and Frederick Marryat.

Some of Roald Dahl’s stories that you should consider reading are:

Children’s Fiction:

The Gremlins          Charlie and the Chocolate Factory                  Charlie and the Glass Elevator

The BFG                 The Witches             The Twits               Fantastic Mr Fox          Esio Trot

The Minpins            The Vicar of Nibbleswicke             Danny, the Champion of the World

The Magic Finger              The Enormous Crocodile                George’s Marvellous Medicine

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me           James and the Giant Peach        Matilda        

Adult Fiction:

Switch Bitch                   Kiss Kiss             Twenty-Nine Kisses from Roald Dahl           Two Fables

Sometime Never: A Fable for Superman             Someone Like You          Skin and Other Stories

My Uncle Oswald             Lamb to the Slaughter             The Best of Roald Dahl        

Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories       Tales of the Unexpected     The Roald Dahl Treasury

More Tales of the Unexpected         Over To You: Ten Stories of Flyers and Flying

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More            The Roald Dahl Omnibus

The Great Automatic Gramatizator                       Roald Dahl Collected Stories

Ah: Sweet Mystery of Life: The Country Stories of Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was a great author with an even greater imagination. Hopefully he has inspired you to read and write more.

Bell Night

Neil Gaiman: An author that needs no introduction.

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Neil Richard Gaiman was born in England on the 10th of November 1960. He became intrigued by books as a small child. Some of the authors he liked to read were Edgar Allan Poe, Tolkien and C.S.Lewis. Libraries and his love of books fostered a deep seeded interest in writing. The starting point of Gaiman’s career began in Journalism. He wrote many articles and interviews under pseudonyms for the Sunday Times, the Observer, Knave and Time Out. In 1984 his first book was a biography on the band Duran Duran. Gaiman went on to write in many different genres across a range of mediums. Neil Gaiman is a writer who who keeps his fans constantly entertained. He was not only a writer but also a screen writer, a graphic novelist, producer and director. Some of the screen writing he has done that you may of heard of is: Beowulf, Coraline, Day of the Dead, Death and Me, Princess Mononoke, Stardust, MirrorMask and A Short Film About John Bolton.

Some interesting facts that you may not have known about Neil Gaiman:

His writing always seems to have a lot of metaphors, allusions and alliterations.

His dogs name Cabal, comes from the Hebrew word Kabbalah. The original meaning of this is an occult doctrine or secret.

Neil Gaiman is good friends with Tori Amos.

Currently he is married to Amanda Palmer who is his second wife. He has three children with his first wife Mary McGrath.

Gaiman never went to college.

Gaiman filed and won a lawsuit against Todd McFarlane. In 1991 Gaiman was asked by McFarlane to do some work for him on one issue of the Spawn series. During this time Gaiman introduced three supporting characters to the issue that he had created. McFarlane later claimed that he owned all of Gaimans creations. McFarlane also refused to pay Gaiman for work that was later republished and kept in print.

Neil Gaiman has his own blog. You can check it out here:

http://journal.neilgaiman.com/

Neil Gaiman is definitely an amazing writer and it was my pleasure to add him to the author review list. I hope you gained as much pleasure reading about him as I did writing about him.

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