Author and icon of the cool internet nerds movement Neil Gaiman has released a new, part-crowdsourced, online-only short story collection. The thirty-one pages of A Calendar of Tales contain twelve new stories, one for each month of the year, written over the past few weeks after Gaiman tweeted various questions related to the months and took inspiration from the responses garnered.
Gaiman’s questions were, for the most part, presumably purposefully banal, generic and open-ended, the better to bring out the weirder side of his fans (which, given the average Gaiman fan, probably doesn’t take much prodding).
May’s question, for example – ‘what’s the weirdest gift you’ve ever been given in May?’ – met with the response ‘an anonymous Mother’s Day gift. Think about that for a moment.’
‘If August could speak, what would it say?’ resulted in a story based on the reply ‘August would speak of its empire lasting forever whilst glancing, warily, at the leaves cooking on the trees.’
‘What Historical figure does March remind you of?’, meanwhile, was answered with the studiously quirky ‘Anne Bonny and her rapscallion heart, dreaming for a ship of her very own.’
That initial crowdsourcing taken care of, Gaiman (and corporate sponsor Blackberry) is now taking it a step further for an eventual digital and print edition of the short book, soliciting illustrations from readers to accompany the text: ‘a sketch, photo or doodle, using paint, ink or collage’. There’s no word yet on whether or not artists will be financially compensated for their efforts, or if the thrill of contributing to a Neil Gaiman book is expected by Blackberry to be reward enough. As the A.V. Club points out, you’d think Gaiman of all people would be aware of the pitfalls of that approach following the toxic response last year to requests from Gaiman’s wife Amanda Palmer that fans play in her live band in exchange for beer, hugs and high fives.