Neil has to go!
Thank you so much to Neil for giving us his time today - and thank you all for your questions!
And yes, he has an answer for the very popular baboon versus badger question:
You seemed to have been heavily involved in the Good Omens adaptation, what was your role exactly and how did that differ to your role on the American Gods adaptation?
Your Nordic Myths book is fantastic. I grew up reading these stories, but I don’t think I’ve ever read them so alive and powerfully told, except in their original versions, but those can be terse and difficult, being written in Nordic 1000 years ago. I’m curious what books you relied upon when you wrote these stories, and what methodology you used to retell these myths in such a strong, simple and human way?
And furthermore, did you enjoy writing this book? What did it do for you?
I loved the work you did on Sandman and Mr Punch in particular. Does knowing which artists you will be collaborating with on an issue ever inform the way you write the story e.g. would you craft the tale differently if Sam Keith was illustrating than you would if say Dave McKean was?
'There's something VERY Doctor Who-ish about Good Omens'
StumblingHome has a question about Neil’s episode of Doctor Who, The Doctor’s Wife:
Have there been any talks about doing another episode? My daughter (10) is just discovering both Doctor Who and the Graveyard book, so combining the two again would blow her mind.
Neil Gaiman's writing tips
I’m taking your Masterclass right now, generously gifted by a nice person on Twitter who raised more than she needed to to take it herself. What was it like recording something like this? How did you plan out your lessons? And what’s the most important piece of advice you’d want to pass on for people who simply can’t afford it?
MissLupescu has a question on behalf of their 10-year-old son:
Have you any plans to write any more children’s books?
He loves that you narrate your audio books and his pronunciation of Norse words far surpasses mine now, thanks to your storytelling skills.
I’m currently reading Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey by Mark Dery and was delighted to find you and Amanda Palmer mentioned in the introduction. Did you ever collaborate with Gorey? Have you read the book?
'George Saunders told me The Graveyard Book helped him write Lincoln in the Bardo'
Peter Macqueen asks:
Have you read Lincoln in the Bardo? If so, how does it feel to see another story using concepts that seem so original to your work in a story?
I’ve often heard you say that the famous ‘dragons’ quote isn’t actually Chesterton… Were you paraphrasing, or did you make it up entirely? I quote it often and would like to know who to attribute it to. Thanks!
(The quote is: “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”)
Would you ever consider touring for high schools in America, and teaching students about writing, or creating stories?
A little preview of Neil’s MasterClass:
'My favourite writer of children's fiction is Diana Wynne Jones. She's marvellous, and I still miss her'
Hi! I can’t make it to the webchat as it will be 3AM, Tassie time, but I’d love to ask Neil for his favourite book recommendations by children’s authors, women authors and people of colour, and if he’d like to share any little-known authors he adores - ones who haven’t made the big time, but who he considers worthy of great things. Thank you for taking the time, Neil!
KatyaB, who is writing their dissertation on Gaiman’s books, asks:
Do you think fantasy is important for helping people understand themselves?
'Budding writers are fragile. Say the wrong thing and they may go off and become trombone players or meteorologists'
A friend asked my opinion of their manuscript. It isn’t great. I’m too nervous of upsetting them to be completely honest with my feedback. How do you deal with providing criticism, especially if it’s somebody you know?
Kevin Chiat has a Sandman question:
Why did you decide to have Lucifer end Seasons of Mists on a beach in Perth?
Yii-Jen Deng says:
When you write a story with someone, how does it change your perception of them? Are people very different once you write together?
'I know that I'd probably be more commercially successful if I wrote the same kind of book in the same voice over and over again. But I would get bored by book two'
Have seen Coraline in our local theatre, have read the Graveyard book and have read Good Omens (even if not along with the Reading Group but decades ago) - all very different in style. The difference to Good Omens is easy to explain, as that is a book you wrote in collaboration (you do not even know by half how much I envy you for having not only met Sir Terry but also to have been able to work with him).
But how come your other stuff is varying so much? When I write stories (no, they are not worth publishing - I just write for my own fun), the tone is mainly the same. How do you develop so many different voices? Is it part of the writing process? Do you sometimes start out in a different style and then rewrite parts later on?
'There have been rumours of a Sandman movie for 28 years'
There’s always talk about a Sandman series or movie and I have learned to take it with a pinch of salt unless it comes from you yourself. So, is there anything productive happening on that front?
'I love the idea of having tea with Peter Ramsey and talking Ziggies Stardust and Thin White Dukes and Aladdins Sane...'
Duncan Jones recently tweeted that he would grant permission for his dad’s music to be used in a film project based on Bowie’s characters if it were created by yourself and Peter Ramsey. What were your initial thoughts? Is this something you would want to do or not?
WillC95 has a question about the upcoming adaptation of Good Omens:
Do you think the humour of the show is different in any way to the books? I imagine it would be difficult to adapt the funny notes at the bottoms of pages to the screen.
Is it true that when you sit down to write you like to trash the space you are writing in first? If so do you do any structural damage or just damage the furnishings?
'These days I don't begrudge the stories and projects that are like fireworks that don't go off'
I’m interested on your thoughts of failure, the process of it and how to do it magnificently.
I’d like to ask, if he had to pick, who would he like to meet him upon his death, his Death or Terry’s?
'I – reluctantly – put down the novel I was working on in April 2017'
Hello Neil - hope you are well. It’s been a while since you gave us a big, fat, engrossing novel for us to dive into... any plans? An American Gods or Neverwhere sequel would be super; thanks.
We need taking away from this bloody horrible real-life we are all going through at the moment.
GrowlyProff starts us off:
My favorite question for anyone I adore and respect: what are you reading right now?
Neil Gaiman is with us now!
Post your question now, or simply lurk for the next hour if you want to read his answers.
Join us for a webchat with Neil Gaiman on 8 February
I’m overjoyed to tell you that Neil Gaiman will be joining us for a webchat on 8 February at 4pm GMT.
Gaiman needs no introduction. Except, it’s fun to introduce him anyway because he’s done so much fantastic work. Starting his writing career as a journalist in the 1980s, his first published book was about the band Duran Duran. (Sadly, it is now out of print, in accord with his wishes.) He also wrote Don’t Panic: The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion, and Ghastly Beyond Belief, a book of quotations co-authored with horror buff and critic Kim Newman. By the end of the decade, he began writing comics, including the hugely influential Sandman series, and made friends with one Terry Pratchett, with whom he wrote his first novel in 1991 – the beloved classic Good Omens.
Since then, he has written more than a dozen books for adults and children, many of them genre-defining bestsellers such as Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods and Coraline. He was the first (and only) author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, The Graveyard Book, and last year he was shortlisted for the alternative Nobel prize for literature.
Many of his books have been adapted for film, radio and TV, and he has written screenplays for Doctor Who, Babylon 5 and the English version of Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke. He’s even appeared on The Simpsons.
As if that isn’t already more than enough fuel for conversation, you might also like to know that a TV adaptation of Good Omens is on the way later in 2019, starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen. He has also recently written Art Matters, “a call to arms” in defence of imagination and creativity illustrated by Chris Riddell.
I’m sure he has additional projects in the pipeline, but I’ll get out of the way so you can ask Neil himself. He will be answering questions from 4pm GMT on 8 February – but do feel free to get yours in early in the comments below.