10 Things We Gleaned About Neil Gaiman From His Latest Interview

10 Things We Gleaned About Neil Gaiman From His Latest Interview

The Master Of Dreams

♦ Neil Gaiman is a writer whose work has been brought to the small screen a lot recently, first with Starz’ American Gods and now Good Omens, which he wrote with the late Terry Pratchett. His latest prose work, Norse Mythology, is out in paperback now and the Sunday Times Magazine just chatted to him. So here’s 10 things we found out from him in that interview…

1. He wrote Coraline for his older daughter, Holly: “When she was four or five, she would climb up on my lap and dictate nightmarish stories to me – about a little girl called Holly who would find that her mother had been exchanged for an evil witch who would lock her in the basement with the ghost children.”

2. He sees ideas as ephemeral things: “I feel that ideas are balloons. If I don’t catch them someone else will.”

3. He has always had a unique voice as a writer: “I’m always surprised that everyone doesn’t think the same way I do. Amanda [Palmer, his wife] is convinced I have a very strange relationship with dreams. Maybe I just bring things back with me.”

4. His books are always quite different to each other, he realises: “I do nobody any favours because each book is different. You could read American Gods and hate it and not know that you’d love Stardust.”

5. He does seem obsessed with death but he admits that it doesn’t bother him: “It ought to but it doesn’t. Although I’m wussier than I was. I’m definitely not as enthusiastic to murder characters. I often twist things around to keep them alive.”

6. He does feel like he has left a legacy as a writer in his career now: “I feel I’ve written my name on the wall. Still, you never know what you’ll be remembered for, if anything. There is nothing like looking at the bestseller lists of yesteryear for teaching humility.”

7. He sees the Norse myths as being an analogy for the current state of world affairs in 2018: “We’re in a strange place right now; they’ve advanced the doomsday clock. The number of minutes to midnight has been moving up and I worry about the world I’m leaving my children. Most people I know just have their fingers crossed that we can make it through the next four years without starting a nuclear war over penis size.”

8. Even though his father was a high-ranking Scientologist, his childhood in terms of religion was very odd: “I had a gloriously religiously mixed-up childhood. I was a scholarship kid at a high Church of England school, studying for my bar mitzvah, with Scientologists as parents. I wound up feeling like an outsider all the time.”

9. He has lived in the US for many years now but he still misses England. He was planning to come back last decade but it didn’t happen: “I was counting down the minutes, then somewhere in 2008 I fell in love with Amanda and the whole plan fell apart. England still makes me happy in a way that nowhere else does. I love the enormous pudding of England and I love the mythology of London.”

10. His work on bringing Good Omens to television was a request from his late friend and collaborator Terry Pratchett, who wrote on his deathbed asking him to ‘write this so I can see it before the darkness’, he reveals: “The bastard, there must be easier last requests.” He is showrunner on the show and sees this in a very particular way: “It’s the nearest thing I’ve had to a real job and I can’t wait to retire.”

The whole interview is online here although it is behind the paywall

Sunday Times Magazine Neil Gaiman interview


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