An Interview With Neil Gaiman.

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E-Mail Interview October 1999.

I was extremely lucky to be given the chance to interview one of the most refreshing fantasy writers of the modern age. What was cool about this interview was I sent the questions via e-mail and had the answers roughly four hours later. I hope you find the answers as interesting as I have.

Q1: What inspired you to write?
I don't know: I can't really imagine doing anything else. I can't remember a time when I wanted to do anything else: at the age of 11, when other kids dreamed of being astronauts or cowboys, I dreamed about slipping into a parallel dimension where they didn't have Lord of the Rings with the only copy of the book, and typing it out and sending it off to a publisher and thus Being The Person Who Wrote Lord Of The Rings. As I got older I realised it was easier just to write the books.

Q2: You have written everything from short stories graphic novels, to TV and novels which medium do you prefer?
Which ever one is appropriate for the story being told. My Babylon 5 episode, Day of the Dead, wouldn't have worked very well as a comic; Sandman would not have been as good as a series of novels. Neverwhere was conceived of and created as a TV series, then became a novel in self defense, in order to go "THIS is what I had in mind". Now it looks set to become a film.

Q3: How did you come with the idea of Stardust?
Two things came together -- the idea of the town of Wall (which I had in 1988, on a holiday in Ireland, passing a half-broken wall with a meadow behind it, and thinking "that's fairyland, on the other side of that wall") and the idea of a boy who promises his beloved he'll bring her a fallen star (which I had in the desert near Tucson, Arizona, where the falling stars are like tumbling diamonds). And after that I just had to write it.

Q4: Would you want Stardust turned into a feature film?
It might be fun -- I'd love to see an actress play the Qitch Queen for example. Miramax have paid a lot of money for the privilege, so we'll see how they do.

Q5: Will you write another story set in the land of Faerie?
Eventually. There are so many places to go back to.

Q6: How did the B5 episode Day of the Dead come about ? Were you a fan?
In a lazy way -- Joe asked me to write him an episode back when all they'd done was the pilot episode, in early 1992, and I said I would if he'd wait until I had the time. Which he did. I'd catch Babylon 5 when I could, but they seemed to randomly change the station, day and time of airing with every episode, which made catching it something I only ever did by accident. It was only when I settled down to write my episode that I got to watch LOTS of Babylon 5 in one stretch and realised what a remarkable accomplishment it was.

Q7: Did you have fun working with Terry Patchett on Good Omens Any plans for another team up Goods Omens 2?
Yes, it was a lot of fun. Nine weeks of madness, and making the other one laugh. I can't imagine ever doing it again. Good Omens was written for fun by two writers who didn't even know if they would be able to sell the book they'd written when it was done. It's gone on to be an international bestseller, and Terry and I have gone on to fame and fortune. We couldn't do the sequel for fun.

Q8: About Neverwhere what was it like to conspire with respected fantasy person Lenny Henry. Any plans for a Neverwhere sequel?
Definitely plans for a sequel or two, yes. (See above: there are so many places to go back to.) The trouble is I've spent so long rewriting the first story -- as a TV series, a novel (UK version) a novel (US version) and for the last few years, as a movie. Lenny was great -- he came to me and said "I want to make a fantasy series for the 1990s, and I have an idea: tribes of homeless people in London." And I thought for a minute, and said that I didn't really want to write a 'tribes of homeless people" story, but would happily make it a metaphor -- and created London Below.

Q9: To my eternal shame I have yet to read any Sandman What are they about Is there a catch up comic (graphic novel)?
You haven't? How on earth can you hold your head up in civilised society? Well, Sandman is a ten volume (plus one) story about the nature of stories. It's the story of the King of Dreams, sometimes called Morphius, and of his family, his life, his loves, and those whose lives he affects. There's an awful lot of stuff in it --the territory ranges from What Cats Dream About to the Arabian Nights, from horror to high fantasy to dark fantasy to historical to magical realism to mainstream fiction. There's a lot of stuff in there. PRELUDES AND NOCTURNES is the first (although by no means the best) of the Sandman books. The most recent -- the plus one of the preceding paragraph -- is the illustrated narrative called THE DREAM HUNTERS: it's a Sandman story set in Old Japan, and people keep telling me that it would be a very good book to give to someone who doesn't know if they'd like Sandman or not. Which is odd, as it was the last to be written (it was a sort of tenth anniversary thank you story.)

Q10: What is like living in the U. S. Odd. Very odd.

Q11: Have you come across any cultural differences?
Yes. There are many things I miss.

Q12: Is it possible to know what your next project will be?
A big novel called AMERICAN GODS. Mostly about America, but with gods in.

Q13: Will you be back in New Zealand anytime soon?
I don't know. I'd like to. I've already been a Guest of Honour at the NZ national convention, so we'll need to come up with another excuse to come out.

Neil I would like this chance to thank you for writing Stardust. I found it such a spell-binding read. The best book I've read this year. You're very welcome. I loved writing it, and am thrilled that it keeps winning awards and so on.