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Ask Neil Gaiman 295

A very special "call for questions" today: Neil Gaiman, author of The Sandman, a series whose long-awaited resurrection was -- not coincidentally -- announced last week. Neil is also winner of the uncoveted Roblimo's favorite book of the 21st Century so far award for American Gods, and a free speech activist who has concentrated -- again, not coincidentally -- on comic book and graphic novel authors' and vendors' freedoms. Please read this interview, listen to this NPR interview, and check other material about Neil before you ask questions, in order to avoid triteness. We'll send 10 of the highest-moderated questions to Neil tomorrow, and post his answers when he gets them back to us.
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Ask Neil Gaiman

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  • by ephraim ( 192509 ) * on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:18PM (#7025936)

    I greatly enjoyed your chat last night with Art Spiegelman. After listening to both of you talk about the medium of comic books and graphic art, a question came to mind:

    Unlike music and video, most people still prefer to read books page-by-page. Copying and downloading books and pictures is easier than doing so for music and video, partially because text and individual pictures are so much smaller. Yet, as of this moment, I haven't heard about a single case of writers and book artists complaining about the copying of their work on the internet.

    Why do you think this is? Do you feel that this might change in the future as people become more accustomed to getting their information on a screen? Are you at all worried about the technology of copying in the same way that the music and movie industries are? Why or why not? How does your work as a free speech activist contribute to this debate? Is it a help or a hindrance to "creator's rights" that these copying technologies can allow individuals to control distribution and shake off the major media companies?

    Thanks for your time, /EJS
    • Yet, as of this moment, I haven't heard about a single case of writers and book artists complaining about the copying of their work on the internet.

      You forgot about Stephen King's little foray into the electronic publishing world. He gave it up because people would pay the $SMALLAMOUNT for each chapter.
    • Harlan Ellison is perhaps the most famous example of an author complaining about the copying of his work online.

      He sued AOL, Remarq, and several individuals, and has met with some success, too.

      Sadly, his RIAA-like draconian efforts have alienated a number of his fans, including myself.
      • Here's Mr. Ellison's POV [harlanellison.com]

        An excerpt that will no doubt leave Slashdotters hankering for more:

        "Why should any artist, of any kind, continue creating new work, eking out an existence in pursuit of a career, following the muse, when little Internet thieves, rodents without ethic or understanding, steal and steal and steal, conveniencing themselves and "screw the author"? What we're looking at is the death of the professional writer!"

        Love him or hate him, ya gotta admit, the man DO know how to turn a phr

        • On the other side of the book piracy debate stands Eric Flint [baen.com], who's artistic credentials don't nearly match up with Ellison's, but who has collected more hard data regarding the effects of piracy on artists than everyone else put together (books music and movies. He has also taken far more personal risk based on his conclusions than anyone else I can think of.
      • ...it's not Theft, so that makes it OK, right?

        I think this guy is SPOT ON! So now whenever someone tries to recover payment for their work, their efforts are called "draconian"? Whatever happened to the noble "pay the artists, not the industry" sentiment?

        And furthermore, I doubt your sincerity as a "fan", since you obviously don't believe his work of high enough quality to merit financial compensation.

        • Err what noble pay the artist not the industry sentiment. Throughout history the term STARVING ARTIST has met with great identification. This whole issue is NOT NEW, people have been screwing artists over since paint was first put to canvas and prose first composed to tickle the noble ear. The creations of idea's and then the controlling of said idea is never going to be successful. Now I DO beleive author's have a right to be payed, but as to how to ensure that I do not know....
  • New Gods? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Valar ( 167606 )
    I was wondering, if you had to go back and rewrite American Gods today, are there any new gods that you would add?
    • Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Galvatron ( 115029 ) *
      What is this about? American Gods is only 2 years old! I don't think 2 years would radically alter how Neil Gaiman would write his book.
      • Would Google qualify as a God? What would Google's role be?

    • Re:New Gods? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JoeBuck ( 7947 )

      The most puzzling god that was almost completely missing from American Gods was the big one ... you know, the guy that most midwesterners really worship. I'm not a Christian myself, but when reading the book I kept expecting this to be addressed somehow: what happened to Jehovah? Or, rather, what happened to Jehovah's worshippers?

      • The most puzzling god that was almost completely missing from American Gods was the big one ...

        The way I see it, you've only got two options with that guy. I mean, we're talking about a book that was, among other things, about a bunch of different gods dealing with each other. When you introduce one whose motto is "There are no other gods", you can either make him a self-centered deluded sociopath xenophobe (which I'm guessing wasn't worth the controversy) or you can ignore Him outright.

        The Judeo-Chr

  • Shout Out (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PastaQueen ( 305883 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:21PM (#7025965)
    I noticed you gave slashdot.org a shout out in the Destruction story in Endless Nights. Do you visit here often?
  • My question. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Leffe ( 686621 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:24PM (#7025992)
    How did the actual comics medium affect how Sandman turned out, especially the Dreaming and the Endless?
    • Please read "The Sandman Companion," [amazon.com] which covers this Frequently Asked Question very, very nicely. It's a wonderful book for anyone who loved the series, containing interviews with Neil Gaiman, the artists who drew the books, and several others along with very insightful essays on the meaning and symbolism behind many of the events in the series.
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) ( 613870 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:24PM (#7025995) Journal
    ...how you tailor your writing to which side of the Atlantic your intended audience is on. When I read Neverwhere it was the US edition and clearly contained language and explanations that would seem a little inappropriate to readers in the UK. Do you carry out your own 'translations' of your books? What differences do you see between American and British audiences to which you need to adapt? And how involved are you in the translations to other languages and hence cultures?
  • Journal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by greenfield ( 226319 ) <samg+slashdot@unhinged.org> on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:24PM (#7025996) Homepage
    You have a journal online at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/journal.asp [neilgaiman.com]. What kind of an impact has your journal had on your interactions with the public? What thoughts do you have regarding online journals (aka weblogs) in general?
    • Re:Journal (Score:3, Informative)

      by glazik ( 124046 )

      I thought it was funny that there is an Ask Slashdot with Gaiman, since he is so open and responsive in his journal. I'm glad to see that somebody mentioned it.

      Also, Neil used to post a hell of a lot (and maybe still does) on inkwell.vue, the Well's [well.com] free, open-to-the-public conference. This kind of interaction with one's fans seems extremely rare.

      In any case, I'm sure he's tickled to have been asked.

    • Re:Journal (Score:5, Interesting)

      by burrows ( 112035 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:59PM (#7026771)
      William Gibson just stopped blogging [williamgibsonbooks.com], stating that informal blog/journal writing gets in the way of writing fiction.

      Is there a conflict for you between maintaining your journal [neilgaiman.com], and writing fiction? How do you manage your time / ideas / approach, in order to stay active in both?
  • by Bluetrust25 ( 647829 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:25PM (#7026007)

    Did you know that when you signed my girlfriend's lower back (at Vromans Book Store in Pasadena, 1999) that she went to a tattoo parlor right afterward to have the moment made permanent?

    How do you deal with this kind of (admittedly deserved) fan appreciation?

    Kind regards,

    Michael Judge

    P.S. American Gods and Coraline are fantastic!
  • Abandoned ideas (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:26PM (#7026013)

    I vaguely recall from the Neverwhere DVD that the germ of the idea was the homeless of London, but that you were wary of glamorizing something that really is not glamorous. In the Talk of the Nation interview last week, the serial-killer convention was brought up, and I got the feeling you were uncomfortable with something so dark being glamorized.

    I wonder if there have been any project ideas that you've left by the roadside because you felt the result would hold something unfortunate up for admiration.

  • Matrix 'Comic' (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Other White Boy ( 626206 ) <theotherwhiteboy.gmail@com> on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:28PM (#7026030)
    I really enjoyed your short story you wrote for the Matrix website when they had their series of 'comics' coinciding with the release of the second film. Are there any plans for you to be involved in any way in any future works in that series?
  • Terry Pratchett (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:28PM (#7026032) Homepage

    I enjoyed Good Omens tremendously. Is there any possibility of the two of you working on another book?


    • and movie...? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by klocwerk ( 48514 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:47PM (#7026183) Homepage
      what's the latest on the posibility of Good Omens coming to the screen?

    • Re:Terry Pratchett (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jspey ( 183976 )
      I don't think it will ever happen. From what I've heard, Terry Pratchett doesn't really want to work with Neil again. It's not that Neil wasn't enjoyable to work with, it's that everything kept talking about the book that Neil Gaiman wrote with that other guy. Terry doesn't like to be the other guy.


    • Amazing how many of these same questions come up again and again at Gaiman interviews and talks. In any case...

      At a signing, somebody asked this same question and Gaiman said that the two of them had worked on Good Omens together for fun. He didn't deny that they might ever do something like that again, but from his comments, I gathered that trying it again might not have the same excitement that the two of them were able to put into their first book together. /EJS
    • Re:Terry Pratchett (Score:4, Informative)

      by dopplex ( 242543 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:21PM (#7026455)
      He's been asked this a lot. The answer was that "Good Omens" was somethign that happened before either of them had really made it. To do a sequel now would involve really high expectations, probably a lot of much to wade through, and they'd both pretty much rather just leave the wonderful "Good Omens" as the result of their collaboration, rather than risk tainting the process in some way.
    • Alas, no. For all the reasons other folks cite. Personally, I love that book and I give copies to people who don't normally read SF or fantasy to introduce them to both Gaimen and Pratchett.

  • The end of Sandman (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Snowspinner ( 627098 ) <<philsand> <at> <ufl.edu>> on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:28PM (#7026033) Homepage
    Does Endless Nights mark, to your mind, the final volume of Sandman? Or are there more stories you intend to tell in that universe. Do you see yourself ever being truly done with Sandman, or is it something you think you'll come back to every few years to fill in another hole or story here and there?
  • Good Omens movie? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lina_inverse ( 699474 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:33PM (#7026081)
    I read in places that Good Omens was being considered for a movie release.
    Is this still happening, and what do you think of it being made into a film?
  • by Savatte ( 111615 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:34PM (#7026085) Homepage Journal
    What sort of challenges did you face when you wrote the script for the dub of Princess Mononoke?
    • by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) * on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:09PM (#7026917) Homepage Journal
      What sort of challenges did you face when you wrote the script for the dub of Princess Mononoke?
      I think your question is a bit too open-ended. I was wanting to ask a more specific question:

      Mr. Gaiman, after the time, effort, and research you put into the dub of Princess Mononoke [nausicaa.net] , were you disappointed by the film's performance at the US box office? Do you feel that the film was mishandled by Miramax, or were US audiences not quite ready to have their expectations of animation stretched that far?
  • by A Big Gnu Thrush ( 12795 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:36PM (#7026103)
    What led you to write the young adult novel Coraline?
    Was the writing process for Coraline fundamentally different than some of your other works?
    How did you control the prose to achieve a balance between richness of language and accessibility to your younger audience?
  • by brandonY ( 575282 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:38PM (#7026120)
    Neil, You and Terry Pratchett are two of my favorite authors, but asides from Good Omens, I never noticed much of a cross-over between any of your books. However, when American Gods came out, I couldn't help noticing that the portrayal of its gods and goddesses was very similar to Pratchett's portrayal of gods in Small Gods, another classic. Is this more than a coincidence?
  • by gamgee5273 ( 410326 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:39PM (#7026127) Homepage Journal

    Back in March of 1993, some friends and I met you at the Motor City Comic Con. I brought Good Omens with me for you to sign, and one of my friends asked when you were going to get back together with Terry Pratchett to write another book. You mumbled something about the book to her, and signed "Burn this book!" in my copy.

    So, for a decade, I've wondered on and off: What your true feelings are about Good Omens and Pratchett? Might we ever see another book from you two?

    BTW, you gave me the best piece of advice I ever got about writing: Finish it. Whatever you start, finish it.

    I appreciate that advice to this day.


    Geoffrey Sperl

    Detroit, MI

  • by rgoer ( 521471 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:39PM (#7026130)
    So I love every word I've read from your pen, but presently I'm in the middle of a dry spell--and the way I figure, if you're going to seek advice, seek advice from one you admire, right? So, are there any authors out there right now you can't get enough of? Anybody you're reading that you feel nobody should miss? Fiction, nonfiction, a decent biography you've read lately? Do you even have time to get a good read in with all the hustle and bustle of just being Neil Gaiman?
  • by psyconaut ( 228947 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:42PM (#7026144)
    If you and Terry Pratchett were to wresetle (in a WWE style tournament), who would win? And why? What would you choose as a your wrestling name and outfit?

  • by namespan ( 225296 ) <namespan&elitemail,org> on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:43PM (#7026152) Journal
    Do you have a set of religious beliefs or spiritual philosophy?
  • by Sandman1971 ( 516283 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:48PM (#7026189) Homepage Journal
    As you can probably tell by my name, I am a huge fan of yours. Sandman is what brought me back to comics.

    #1) Is there any chance of bringing back Sandman on a semi-regular basis (IE: Quarterly)?

    #2) Kudos on 1602. Your take on Marvel characters is interesting. I'm very curious as how this story will fit in the Marvel Universe timeline. How did this story come about?

    #3) Will we ever see MiracleMan?
  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:54PM (#7026226)
    This man needs to read more. I enjoyed American Gods but please, Neil Gaiman is not the James Joyce of the twenty-first century.
  • by Torinaga-Sama ( 189890 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:55PM (#7026231) Homepage
    Okay, this has been driving my wife and I CRAZY. The god in Ameican Gods that you can't remember after you talk to him. Was that modeled after an existing god or did you make that up yourself?

    I believe you even stumped the internet on that one.

    Excellent book. BTW.
  • by buckhead_buddy ( 186384 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @01:58PM (#7026257)
    Do you find solo work (such as American Gods) to be more productive or pleasant for you than collaborative work (such as Good Omens)?

    The graphic novel medium relies strongly on collaboration. Not only with artists and editors, but also to a limited extent with marketers, trademark lawyers, and even the "past continuity" of what others before you have written. Your persistence in this field seems like it could get to be almost hellish unless you drew very solid boundaries with your collaborators or you really enjoyed such chaos.

    As a freelance programmer I struggle trying to find the appropriate balance of collaboration to satisfy and motivate. While your work is in a completely different field, I'm curious what thoughts, anecdotes, or advice you might have on keeping collaboration in balance.
  • Religious Background (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Torinaga-Sama ( 189890 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:02PM (#7026281) Homepage
    It is obvious in your writings that you spend a fair amount of time thinking about Religion, and I see that at least one other person has asked you about your current belief set. I have a slighly different question, as asking someone to explain their Religous Beliefs is like asking someone to urinate in public.

    It is rumored (one doesn't believe everything one reads on the internet) that you come from a scientoligist (I can type that without gettin sued, right?) background, but you are no longer with the church. What are you feelings on Scientology now?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    After reading the entire Sandman run (1-75), I am certain that I'm not alone in this question.

    Do you do any kind of drugs?

    I mean... you *HAVE* to have to write that.

    Its too good... tooooo good. Couldnt possibly write that sober.
  • Hi Neil, Just a quick two part question for you. Two of my favorite characters in "The Sandman" are Delight and Merv Pumpkinhead. My question is this, will you ever write a story or let us know how Delight became Delirium and how did you ever come up with Merv? I read Hy Bender's Companion book and didn't see either question really answered. Thanks for your time and for all you have written. Shannon
  • by hcduvall ( 549304 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:13PM (#7026371)
    As one of the rock-style stars of the comics world (and more than a bit outside it), what do you think of the state of the industry as a whole?

    They've been pinning a lot on the sales of your Endless Nights and 1602 work to bump sales and get readers into shops, but as whole the direct market continues on a slow downward arc- and the great savior graphic novels are grow more in bookstores than comic shops- what can we do to keep comics vital an interesting? To encourage more genre bending work like your own (I'd be happy with more gneres though)?
  • by Creepy ( 93888 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:20PM (#7026439) Journal
    Ok, just curious on this one -

    Terry Gilliam was born in the Minneapolis area and moved to England.

    Neil (Gaiman) is from England and moved to the Minneapolis area.

    Neil would only work with Terry for making a Good Omens movie.

    Is this some kind of weird symbiotic connection or am I drawing conclusions? :P
  • Sandman the Movie (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs AT ajs DOT com> on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:24PM (#7026478) Homepage Journal
    You commented at MIT (BTW: wonderful reading of a great short-story) that you didn't want to see Sandman the Movie made at this point because of the horrible treatment it had been given (I think the last draft script you had read contained, "Puny humans, your bullets cannot harm me!")

    With the change in attitude toward comics in Hollywood, have you considered pressing the issue again? Also, have you considered talking to Hollywood's most successful comic book geek (Jess Whedon) about his getting behind the project? I would be stunned if he wasn't interested, though I'm sure the Firefly movie is sucking down a good chunk of his time....
  • Religion (Score:2, Interesting)

    by YAN3D ( 552691 )

    In your body of work, you borrow legends, myths, Gods and stories from many different mythos, and you usually bend and mold them to fit into your own tales.

    My question is this, do you follow any religion or religious ideal in particular?
  • by cmpalmer ( 234347 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:32PM (#7026535) Homepage
    What an amazing coincidence -- I just bought and read (for the first of many times) Endless Nights today at lunch and now there is a Q&A with Gaiman on Slashdot. Also coincidentally, Slashdot features prominently in the Destruction story in Endless Nights.

    My question relates to another coincidence. The first Sandman comic I read was Ramadan and it still one of my favorites. The thing that really clicked for me was the fact that, on the same day I read Ramadan, I read an essay by Jorge Luis Borges on the Arabian Nights tales (in the collection Seven Nights) and was, and still am, convinced that the Borges essay inspired the Ramadan issue of Sandman.

    Is this true, or was the writing of Ramadan just an interesting synchronicity I made up by reading the two at the same time?

    I know Mr. Gaiman is an admirer of Borges. The Destiny story in Endless Nights is a great tribute to The Garden of Forking Paths and The Library of Babel.
  • Dream Collaborations (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nova Express ( 100383 ) <lawrenceperson.gmail@com> on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:39PM (#7026610) Homepage Journal
    Howdy Neil. Me again. (Because three hours of asking you questions for Nova Express [io.com] just wasn't enough.) You've collaborated with a wide range extremely talented people, including Terry Prachett (Good Omens), Gene Wolfe (A Walking Tour of the Shambles), numerous illustrated projects with David McKean, and, of course, an ever-rotating cast of artists on your many graphic novels. If you could collaborate on a future project with any living writer/artist/etc., that you haven't already collaborated with, who would it be and why?
  • by RCVinson ( 582018 ) <RCVinson@gci. n e t> on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:49PM (#7026675)
    Mr Gaiman,

    I absolutely loved The Dream Hunters. It was actually my first introduction to your work, and has stuck with me ever since. The final conversation between Dream and Matthew (or their equivalents) still fascinates me.

    I'll resist the temptation to trail that comment with the obvious question ("When will you collaborate again?"), though, and move right along to the following:

    Do you have any particular thoughts on the stories of modern computer & console games? Is the medium in any way interesting to you? What would you expect to be the potential & notable challenges and/or rewards in working in the medium?

    Also, if you don't mind, I'd like to ask what you think your ideal "game" project might be, and what sort of style you'd like to work with (or create), if given the opportunity.

    By style, I mean do you imagine that it would be a sit-back-and-watch-the-occasional-cutscene affair (as is Final Fantasy X, or Xenogears, to give examples), a detailed backdrop in which to set gameplay (like, say, Mario Bros., Zelda, or Street Fighter), a more environmental story experience (Half-Life, Halo), or something else entirely?

    Apologies for my wordiness in this question; I mainly would just love to hear your musings on the subject, especially if you find the field or medium at all compelling.

    (And I would, predictably, very much like to thank you for all of the great work you've produced and shared with us all.)

    Thank you.
  • Trading characters (Score:5, Interesting)

    by InfoVore ( 98438 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:51PM (#7026694) Homepage

    You have worked with a number artists and authors over the years. Do you have any favorites? Anyone you haven't worked with that you would like to collaborate with on a story?

    Bonus questions: If you could pick up someone elses character and do a story, who's would it be? What kind of story would you do?

  • by EXTomar ( 78739 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:55PM (#7026715)
    One theme that seems to popup in multiple places is that magic is all around us yet most of us are too engrossed in our day to day existence to notice.

    Mr. Giaman, have you ever considered doing a set of stories or a full novel about the magic in the every day cubical farm? So many of us are highly "deterministic" (there is a logical, objective soultion to any problem presented) but fail to realize how wide and unexplainable and unsolvable the world really is. It would be a double whammy theme!
  • Miracleman (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bitchx ( 322767 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @02:58PM (#7026753)
    What's the current status of Miracleman? When can those of us with human incomes actually get to read Miracleman? There's a huge market! Please, get those rights! Publish Miracleman!
    • great that nobody on /. has a clue what you are talking about - and its quite possibly the most annoying IP war in the history of copyrights.

      Then again, these are Gaiman fans, not Moore fans.

      somebody moderate the parent up, I'm fairly sure Neil has plenty to say on this topy.
  • But that's not what I'm asking. I'm asking "Do you believe in weird shit?"

    Like synchronity, magic, gods, ghosts, butterflies, things like that?

    Do you believe that future for humans on this planet is likely to be negative or positive?
  • by LuxFX ( 220822 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:00PM (#7026785) Homepage Journal

    As a designer, I love comics as a medium because they so intricately combine visual style and compelling storylines. Thank you for your efforts to brings comics to an adult audience! But does 'adult audience' necessarily mean kid-unfriendly? Your (wonderful) comics contain violence, nudity, etc. When writing, were these elements considered necessary to appeal to adults, or were they simply side-effects of the storyline?

    Do you think that the connection between comics and children/teens is so strong that some kind of shock value must be added as a "this really is for adults" label? Do you think adults would react to comics with an adult-level story, that is kid-friendly as well?

    Thanks, and don't stop working to get Good Omens on the big screen! (I vote for David Hyde Pierce as Aziraphale)

  • by BadDoggie ( 145310 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:05PM (#7026858) Homepage Journal

    Comics can be hard to find. They're a lot harder to find in non-target countries -- countries where the primary language is something other than English. So are TV shows that I would love to watch, but can't receive and even if I could, only overdubbed. But that's straying from the point, that being, that there was only one way I could see Sandman or Neverwhere or Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters: downloading.

    They were great. And I've since bought Neverwhere and Wyrd Sisters when I was able to. But I didn't buy them first, and I didn't have to. I could probably find The Wolves in the Walls on USENET and download it tomorrow if I were so inclined.

    I won't use Amazon for privacy reasons and getting bookstores here to order English books can be a tortuous process. Had I not downloaded, I might never have known known the films even existed. I also couldn't have read Sandman.

    Regardless of whether or not I later bought the works, did I steal from you when I downloaded the Neverwhere series? I'm interested in your answer, not your publishers', whose opinions are terribly clear.

    Does it change anything if you know that I've bought an awful lot of your books, from Hitchhiker's Companion to Smoke & Mirrors? Does it change anything that I may have bought the works only after having seen them, making you somewhat a virtual busker?

    Waiting until the end of time, if necessary, for a Neverwhere sequel,

  • by ktlyst ( 517231 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:10PM (#7026933)
    Ursula LeGuin posits that there is a "language of the night," a way of storytelling that creates a psychological landscape similar to dreamland, distinct from 'what if' of sci-fi or simple escapism of standard dragon-wizard fantasy.

    When I read works you've written, I am immediately transported to this dreamland that is fantastic literature, that creates its own world in mind, but seems to use mythic archetypes.

    My question: do your words just naturally flow from your mind into this kind of writing, or do you have to work at it? If it just flows, how would you say you view the world such that it just flows? If you have to work at it, what are tricks you use to get into this mindspace?
  • by bernz ( 181095 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @03:10PM (#7026934) Homepage
    This is sort of the question I should have asked Warren Ellis, but I forgot to and asked something inane that he laughed at me for. Anyhow...

    In ENDLESS NIGHTS, you make a reference to slashdot (the Destruction story. It's used as a threat. It's pretty funny for those of us who have been using this site for too long). That being said, you're aware of the tech/geek movement as you seem to get a great sum of cash from us. So you read slashdot. Cool. BUT what other sources of tech, science, etc do you read on a regular basis. Any cool magazines we don't know about? Any cool websites, links, etc, that Neil Gaiman checks to see where science is right now?

  • Have you ever heard of the indy-RPG Nobilis [chancel.org] by Rebecca Sean Borgstrom? It's very heavily influenced by some of your works and in many ways seems to tap the same poetic themes of "Sandman," "American Gods," and "Harlequin Valentine." I'm curious to know what you think of it. What other works of fiction (conventional and otherwise) has your writing influenced?
  • James Branch Cabell (Score:2, Interesting)

    by monk ( 1958 )

    Several articles I've read have listed both you and Robert Heinlein as fans of James Branch Cabell. Since Mr. Heinlein is dead, I was wondering if you have my copy of "Beyond Life" and if so, could I have it back?

    Seriously, what do you think of the current state of the language? Are we going to see nothing but Hemingway's curt, journalistic style for everything? Or is there still room in the lexicon for Cabell's florid shibboleths and six dimensional sentence structure?

  • Neil,
    A friend of ours mentioned this to you at a book signing in California for "American Gods" when it came out but I doubt you'll remember.

    I met my fiancee on a Yahoo Group about your work. So really I owe something very special to you. Expect your publicist to be forwarding you an invitation for our wedding next summer!

    I just wanted to say thank you for writing some wonderful stuff that in its own twisted way brought two people together.

    By the way, the new Sandman material is GREAT. It's good to get a
  • that J.K. Rowling basically stole the 'Books of Magic' story, took it from an urban dystopia into bloody Enid Blytonesque posh-kids land, made a bloody fortune and still hasn't included anyone as cool or edgy as John Constantine in any her books...???
    • I'm glad I'm not the only person who thought this. First time I heard about Harry Potter, I could have sworn I read the story before ;)
    • Re:Are you pissed... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Sandman1971 ( 516283 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @04:04PM (#7027568) Homepage Journal
      I guess you guys don't RTFA:
      http://www.januarymagazine.com/profiles/gaiman.htm l [januarymagazine.com]

      Linda Richards: There's been a lot of muttering in the UK press about J.K. Rowling "borrowing" ideas for her Harry Potter books from you. Would you care to comment on that?

      Neil Gaiman: Last year, initially The Scotsman newspaper -- being Scottish and J.K. Rowling being Scottish -- and because of the English tendency to try and tear down their idols, they kept trying to build stories which said J.K. Rowling ripped off Neil Gaiman. They kept getting in touch with me and I kept declining to play because I thought it was silly. And then The Daily Mirror in England ran an article about that mad woman who was trying to sue J.K. Rowling over having stolen muggles from her. And they finished off with a line saying [something like]: And Neil Gaiman has accused her of stealing.

      Luckily I found this online and I found it the night it came out by pure coincidence and the reporter's e-mail address was at the bottom of the thing so I fired off an e-mail saying: This is not true, I never said this. You are making this up. I got an apologetic e-mail back, but by the time I'd gotten the apologetic e-mail back it was already in The Daily Mail the following morning and it was very obvious that The Daily Mail's research [had] consisted of reading The Daily Mirror. And you're going: journalists are so lazy.

      What was it of yours they were accusing her of stealing from you?

      Neil Gaiman:My character Tim Hunter from Books of Magic who came out in 1990 was a small dark-haired boy with big round spectacles -- a 12-year-old English boy -- who has the potential to be the most powerful wizard in the world and has a little barn owl.

      So there were commonalties, for sure.

      Neil Gaiman:Well, yes and as I finally, pissed off, pointed out to an English reviewer who tried to start this again, I said: Look, all of the things that they actually have in common are such incredibly obvious, surface things that, had she actually been stealing, they were the things that would be first to be changed. Change hair color from brown to fair, you lose the glasses, you know: that kind of thing.

      Change the owl to a gecko.

      Neil Gaiman:Yes. Or to a peregrine falcon. And I said to her that I thought we were both just stealing from T.H. White: very straightforward. But then I saw an online interview with the mad muggles lady where they were asking her about me and they said: what about Neil Gaiman? And she said: Well, he's been gotten to. [Laughs]

      By the Harry Potter conspiracy? [Laughs]

      Neil Gaiman:I guess, yes.
  • Dear Neil.

    I'm a great fan of your books.. at least some of them, but I feel that it's a pity that the world created in them is short-lived and ends right after the book ends - unlike what happens in Asimov's books, for example (I really would love to see more of the world in Neverwhere, for example). So would you create some sequels for me?

    (People might refer me to Sandman, but they don't have this book in the library. Others might refer me to Pratchet's Discworld series.. but I tried reading it and could
  • Assuming you ever consented to a movie being produced from the Sandman series, would you see it being an animated film or a "live"-action like Spiderman?
  • Do you edit your writing so that it will be more easily penetrated by your audience? Do you have any opinions on your style in this regard? The style of other authors?

    (Sorry, I'm a crappy interviewer, but I'm curious. Your writing is very approachable and leaves no one behind.)
  • by Pxtl ( 151020 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @04:25PM (#7027753) Homepage
    As I udnerstand it, you were responsible for the english translation dialogue of Princess Mononoke. Now, at the risk of sounding like the cliche anime fan screaming "the sub was better" I wonder what made you make certain decisions. I watched an early fansub of the film that elected not to find translations for the names of the gods of the story - they were simply introduced as "a Tatagami" and "the Shishigiri". I found this a much more effective approach.

    By contrast, your dub directly called them "a Demon God" and suchlike. When watching this version of the film with friends who hadn't seen the traditional dub, I was surprised at how confused they were by the film. The general problem seemed to be that terms like "Deer god" and "Demon god" created confusing concepts in their head, particularly in the religious folks. The idea that a god becomes a demon when consumed by hate was not intuitive in the story.

    I wonder, did you consider the other approach? I found that, with simple untranslated names, there were no preconceptions to confuse the viewer.

    Is there anything you might have done differently with that work?
  • by Apuleius ( 6901 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @04:34PM (#7027837) Journal
    Given your documented ability to cause your female fans to swoon, have you considered adding to your income by teaching men how to do so?
  • What is your stance on high fantasy versus the more modern fantasy, the sort that you've depicted intruding on everyday life? I have noticed that many of your current fantasy novels (Good Omens, Neverwhere, American Gods) fall under the latter category, and I was wondering if you would ever be interested in creating a completely fictional universe as a setting for a novel or series?
  • How can you ever find lawyers who would write a C&D letter like this [transmission3000.com]

    Neil is on a whirlwind tour for his latest books (3!) both this month and next (1602, Endless Nights, and Wolves in the Wall); as you may know, I'm Neil's lawyer on the MiracleMan litigation, and he asked me if I could respond to your nice email. First, it needs saying that the passion of you and of so many others (including me) for the MiracleMan coda of material is the primary motivator for this litigation - as you know, Neil's avow

  • by xanderwilson ( 662093 ) on Monday September 22, 2003 @07:24PM (#7029237) Homepage
    What advice would you give for new writers to the comic book field? Do you recommend trying to break into the more mainstream field and then carve out a niche once influence and a bibliography have been established? Or should a writer do the work he or she wants to do from the beginning at the risk of never having enough influence to get his or her work seen or even realized? Along the same lines, what, from your vantage, is the state of underground and alternative comics, and what kind of practices can be implemented by newcomers to move comics as a medium in a direction you'd like to see it go? (probable answer: be less longwinded)

    Love your fiction and comics. Thanks.
  • by horizon192 ( 666814 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @01:31AM (#7031401)
    Neil, Your book American Gods has several "newer gods", such as the internet and media, that seem rather cold, cruel and calculating. A few also seem to reflect how Americans (or people from all over the world for that matter), in this day and age, react to wonder and amazement, as in the example of Mr. Town from "The Spook Show" suggesting that strange phenomenon of all sorts could be "explained" while conversing with the book's main character, Shadow, at the center of America. Do you believe in this day and age there is a dying interest in what could be referred to as "wonder and amazement", or perhaps a sense of apathy, that drowns out our natural curiostiy, and if so were these "newer gods" reflections of this?

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.