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BowieNet Live Chat Transcription - 14/6/01
with Neil Gaiman

Session Start: Thursday June 14th 6:00 pm 2001

*** Topic is 'Chat with Neil Gaiman, Thursday, June 14th 2001 at 6:00 p.m. EST'

Saint Alphonzo says: Hello everyone, and welcome to our first chat with Neil Gaiman! Neil is here and we're ready to go!

Saint Alphonzo says: Okay, we're ready to take questions - get your fingers a-wigglin'!

Saint Alphonzo says: Again, Neil can see all the questions you type in. However, you will only see the ones he answers.

ysengrin asks: "Hullo Neil! First of all, let me thank you. Without you, I would never have discovered G.K. Chesterton"

Neil Gaiman answers: Hello everybody, what would you like to know?

msauers asks: "Will you be touring for this book and will it include a return visit to the Tattered Cover here in Denver?"

Neil Gaiman answers: Good news and bad news. There is a tour of the US, UK and Canada. You can find the details at www.americangods.com. If you go to the journal, on the top of the page there is a link to the tour dates. I wish they were sending me to the Tattered Cover, because it was one of my favorite signings on the Stardust tour. But they're not. The nearest I get to Denver will probably be Seattle, I'm afraid.

Janarchy asks: "Neil, you mentioned something about good news re: the Death movie on the American Gods journal. Care to let us in on the secret?!"

Neil Gaiman answers: Sure. I handed in the first draft script of Death to Warner Brothers. They loved it, and the production company they were doing it with were expecting something with a lot more special effects and "bangs." They read the script which was pretty faithful to the novel, so they pulled out. But a new production company has read the script and come in, so we're in very good shape right now.

lilith asks: "Whose idea was it to portrait Lucifer as Bowie in Preludes and Nocturnes?"

Neil Gaiman answers: Mine. Compltely mine. I wanted somebody who looked like they used to be an angel. And Bowie in his curly haired "folky" days - like Memory of a Free Festival time seemed so perfect for that kind of look.

Neil Gaiman says: If they ever make a Lucifer movie, I hope we can David to play it! \;)

marcks asks: "Has Bowie seen the early sketches of Dream by Leigh Baulch?"

Neil Gaiman answers: I don't know whether David's ever seen the Bowie sketches. There were definitely more of those cool sketches than were ever actually printed. It wasn't the direction that we wound up going in, but David Bowie as Dream was a very good place to start.

IrmaVep asks: "How did you get involved in writing comics?"

Neil Gaiman answers: I had always wanted to write comics. I love writing, had always wanted to write professionally. I was working as a journalist, and when I saw the work that Alan Moore was doing, it really crystallized for me the desire to see if I could write comics that were as powerful and as interesting as anything I could have written as a novel or a play or a film.

lilith asks: "Why did Delight have to become Delirium? I always found that so sad..."

Neil Gaiman answers: That's a story for another day....

hazed asks: "Are you a big fan of modern media or are you more of a classic person?"

Neil Gaiman answers: Interesting question! Can you define modern media, please? As a general rule, I find content more interesting than delivery systems. Too often when people talk about media, they are talking about delivery systems.

breed028 asks: "Aren't you inclined to do any comicwork anymore?"

Neil Gaiman answers: At the time I finished Sandman, I had won every award it was possible to win for writing comics, and I felt like I'd learned my craft. I also felt like there were a lot of things I still didn't know how to do. So I've been spending the last few years working on those things.

Neil Gaiman continues: American Gods is the first novel I've written where I really felt like I was getting the idea. I know there are people who love Neverwhere and Stardust and the Books won more than their share of awards, but American Gods for me feels like the first one.

spidey asks: "Neil, how is Furball doing now??? =\^..\^="

Neil Gaiman answers: Completely untraumatized. We actually got out the dreadlocks without shaving her. As cats go, this one seems pretty difficult to upset.

breed028 asks: "Mr. Gaiman, how is the new Tori Amos album?"

Neil Gaiman answers: Wonderful! It's playing in the background right now. I've been playing it over and over since it arrived earlier today. What's fun about it is my kids, who have completely different musical tastes, also love it.

spaceface asks: ".Hi Neil! I am interested in the music that turned you on as a teenager? and now?"

Neil Gaiman answers: Well, as a teenager, I remember discovering Bowie, which was rather like an asteroid hitting my head. I could have gone to the last Ziggy Stardust gig, but my dad wouldn't let me go because it was a school night, and I was 13. I never forgave him! Well....maybe eventually. I've been through Bowie, discovering Lou Reed, and everything Lou did with Velvet Underground. By the time I was 16, punk happened.

Neil Gaiman continues: ...which was, you know, a wonderful thing to happen when you're 16. For a movement to come along that essentially says you can pick up a guitar, and you can just do it and figure it out as you go. These days, while writing American Gods I tended to play a lot of Magnetic Fields and a singer/songwriter called Greg Brown, partly because I wanted something that was very "American" going on in the background, and Greg Brown felt like the kind of thing I was talking about.

Saint Alphonzo asks: So you listen to music while you write?

Neil Gaiman answers: I can't listen to spoken word, books on tapes or anything like that, but yes I have to have music.

breed028 asks: "How did you get to know so much about life in American prisons?"

Neil Gaiman answers: The same way that most writers get to find out about things they haven't done, which is, first of all, you talk to people. Second you read books, and third, you try and find those parts of your own life that things map onto. And while I was never in an American prison, I went to British minor public schools. Which gives you the same kind of experience.

wlrook asks: "I actually met you twice in San Francisco at book signings, both time you had bowie playing in the background"

Neil Gaiman answers: I think that's just good fortune!

Neil Gaiman says: Someone once asked me when the last time I remember being star struck was. It doesn't happen often. But I remember reading a transcript of a chat with Bowie when someone asked him about Neil Gaiman. He said something like "I love Neil Gaiman." That REALLY floored me!

jaredscott asks: "What was your background with classic mythology?"

Neil Gaiman answers: I'm a fan! I'm a mythology junkie...

Janarchy asks: "Neil, when did you know you wanted to be a writer - I mean as a vocation - and what do you think motivated you to do it?"

Neil Gaiman answers: I wanted to be a writer as far back as I can remember. I remember when I was 3, getting my mom and dictating poetry to her, and scarily enough, I can still remember the poetry! But I think I was in my late teens or early 20s when it really came into focus for me. I was lying in bed one night, and I thought I could be 80 years old and on my deathbed, and I would say to myself, "I could have been a writer." And I wouldn't know if I was lying. So, I thought it was better to try and to succeed or fail than spend the rest of my life wondering.

manicboy asks: "speaking of Moore, do you read his ABC line?"

Neil Gaiman answers: Yes, and I enjoy it.

lilith asks: "Harry Potter - Timothy Hunter... what do you think?"

Neil Gaiman answers: Coincidence.

Janarchy asks: "There's a rumour out that you're working on a project for DC regarding the Endless. Any truth to it?"

Neil Gaiman answers: Yes, although I'm trying not to think about it until the book tour is done, and I can take stock of everything in my life, deadlines and so forth. But certainly, I plan to do probably a hard cover.

spidey asks: "do you prefer writing comics or novels Neil?"

Neil Gaiman answers: I prefer telling stories. Each medium has advantages and disadvantages. My very favorite idiom of all of them is probably audio plays. There is currently one up that I wrote on the Sci-Fi channel. That's my favorite medium of all. Just because it happens so much inside your head. If anyone wants to hear a very, very creepy fairy tale, they can go to www.scifi.com/set and they Snow Glass Apples.

lilith asks: "What is Dave McKean doing these days?"

Neil Gaiman answers: For me, Dave is illustrating a childrens' book called "The Wolves in the Walls." And he has just done the book cover and is doing interior illustrations for my book Coraline.

ysengrin asks: "And what about Good Omens?"

Neil Gaiman answers: Terry Gilliam has turned in a second draft of the script, and I believe, will start making it pretty soon.

spidey asks: "I love Neverwhere and Stardust so much, can't imagine why you're not prouder of 'em?"

Neil Gaiman answers: I suppose because I know what I was trying for and by how much they fell short of that. Whereas with American Gods, I felt like I hit what I was trying to do. I'm not embarrassed by Neverwhere and Stardust, I just think they could have both been better.

hazed asks: "Have you any recordings of your band and if so will you ever release them with a book as a funny thing to do?"

Neil Gaiman answers: In theory, Jeff my drummer still has tapes, so it's possible in theory if he announced he was going to release them, I would of course have to kill him. It would be a terrible thing to do because I like him very much. Most of the songs I have written have been recorded by a band called the Flash Girls.

Janarchy asks: "Is that why you're doing the gigs with Magnetic Fields in NYC?"

Neil Gaiman answers: No, the Magnetic Fields gig seemed like a good idea at the time. If either of us would have realized how fast the tickets would have sold, we probably would have picked somewhere much bigger than The Bottom Line to do it. The way it will work is I will do a mini-reading, poems and short stories and such, and then the Magnetic Fields will play a gig.

breed028 asks: "Do you read any comics at the moment? Which do you recommend?"

Neil Gaiman answers: The best thing I've read in ages is Eddie Campbell's "How to be an Artist."

lilith asks: "Who is your fave author?"

Neil Gaiman answers: Too many of them to count. My favorite living author is probably Gene Wolfe. Favorite dead author is probably John Wilmont, Earl of Rochester who died of an awful venereal disease in his early 30s.

firesong asks: "Where do you get your inspiration for your work?"

Neil Gaiman answers: I sometimes wish that there was an easy answer to that. You know, 50% of it is the world around me, and the other 50% is daydreaming. It's what's going on in my head. Stories come from the interface between those two places.

Janarchy asks: "Have you got any advice for aspiring writers out there?"

Neil Gaiman answers: Yes. My piece of advice number one: write. If you want to write, write. Two: finish what you write. Everything after that is details.

hazed asks: "Terry Pratchet is known as the most shop lifted writer in WH Smiths do you ever want that title?"

Neil Gaiman answers: I think Terry is irreplaceable in every way.

wlrook asks: "How involved were you in the Little Endless Storybook out this month?"

Neil Gaiman answers: Mainly, I was its biggest supporter. I love Jill Thompson's work. It's been something that's been close to her heart for years. It took us five years to convince DC comics that there would be an audience for it. It's very sweet, very funny, and really, it's a book for kids of all ages.

breed028 asks: "What is your purpose in storytelling? Bringing over a message or entertain people?"

Neil Gaiman answers: I don't think the two are mutually incompatible. I don't think I could write if I didn't have something to say. But if I wanted to write messages, I would just write messages. Having said that, a story for me has to be about something.

SaintAlphonzo says: We have an autographed copy of American Gods to give away! A quick trivia question:

Neil Gaiman asks: Who are the two main characters in American Gods?

debkrier says: "Shadow and Mr. Wednesday"

SaintAlphonzo says: Correct!

Saint Alphonzo says: Congrats, debkrier, you've won an autographed copy of American Gods!

lilith asks: "Which dark corner of your mind did Mr. Croup emerge from??"

Neil Gaiman answers: Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandermar who appeared in Neverwhere were the characters who were in my head the longest. When I was 18, I found myself walking past two very scary people on a narrow country road. They were coming one way, I was walking the other. Then I got past them, breathing a sigh of relief that I was still alive. And I thought, they were Mr. Croupe and Mr. Vandermar! After that, I just had to wait until I found the story they belonged in.

hazed asks: "Do you worry about being pigeon holed as a writer or dont you care?"

Neil Gaiman answers: I worry occasionally about that. When it came to American Gods, I had to make a choice whether to write American Gods, which was the book I wanted to write set in contemporary America, or another novel that I also wanted to write set in London. And I picked American Gods because Neverwhere and Stardust were both set in England. I thought with three Enlgish novels, I might get stuck in somebody's head as that guy who writes books set in England.

ysengrin asks: "Ever had any problems with editors (and if so, what did we miss!)"

Neil Gaiman answers: Overall, I've been very lucky with editors. At the journal at americangods.com, if you look in the archives, has some fun copy editor stories.

manicboy asks: "why won't some superheroes just die?"

Neil Gaiman answers: They do, but they always get better...\;)

manicboy asks: "why did the Endless have to end?"

Neil Gaiman answers: If stories don't finish they become soap operas...

sirshannon asks: "have you ever thought of making an animated feature length movie?"

Neil Gaiman answers: Occasionally, yes. In fact, I'm currently working on a treatment for an animated film for Dreamworks.

manicboy asks: "Sandman tarot cards...do you do tarot?"

Neil Gaiman answers: NO, but I have many friends who do. And it seems very appropriate.

Janarchy asks: "How do you feel about DC's merchandising based on your work - meaning Sandman action figures, the Sandman clothing line at Hot Topic, and other assorted tsotchkes. Do you have a say in what gets produced? Do you get any sort of quality control over things and what else do we have to look forward to? (still hoping for a real 12" Death fashion doll of her very own)"

Neil Gaiman answers: I wish I did have quality control. I don't have a say - I can make suggestions, but nobody is obliged to take them. My favorite are the little fuzzy toys, and I'm looking forward to the little stuffed Mervpumpkinhead...I'd love to see a 12" Death fashion doll also...

SaintAlphonzo says: Almost out of time...last few questions, please...

manicboy asks: "when you look back on Sandman, how do you feel?"

Neil Gaiman answers: Pretty satisfied. It took 8 years to write, and I feel like somebody who spent 8 years building a house, then gets to look at the house and go, "yes, that's solid." I think when I was talking earlier about Neverwhere and Stardust, my point really was that I felt that Sandman was much better than either of those books. Whereas I feel that American Gods can go head to head with Sandman for sheer territory covered.

manicboy asks: "will you ever do anything more with Violent Cases??"

Neil Gaiman answers: Dark Horse comics should be bringing Violent Cases back into print pretty soon.

marcks asks: "Where can one go to know of all the projects you have done or will be doing?".

Neil Gaiman answers: The best fan website is www.holycow.com/dreaming.

Right now you can read stuff on Americangods.com, but as of any moment now, www.neilgaiman.com is going to go live. Probably by Tuesday at the latest it will be live. It will probably be fairly skinny on content at first, but keep checking back because every time I get a moment I will send them something to put up.

hazed asks: "Do you think the sales of Sandman T-shirts was helped by professional wrestlers?"

Neil Gaiman answers: Yes, actually. I never cease to be astonished at how many professional wrestlers are huge Sandman fans. One of them, Raven, even told me that he had quoted lines from Sandman as he stood up there in the ring being interviewed. I think it's hilarious!

simoniff23 asks: "don't you find amerikan to be dull, boring"

Neil Gaiman answers: The answer is no. On the whole, I find America to be perfectly surreal, and very, very strange. I put a lot of real places into American Gods. And keep getting congratulated on my powers of invention for having made them up. American Gods for me was a way of trying to give America a mythology. Or rather, point to the mythologies that were already here. So while America does not have history in the same way that England or Rome or Egypt do, it has many things that are unique and kind of strange.

Neil Gaiman says: Thank you all so much for coming to the chat - it was fun!

SaintAlphonzo says: Thanks, everyone. Good questions! We still have two copies of American Gods to give away! I'll head over to the regular BowieChat room in a few minutes.... see you there!

Session Close: Thursday June 14 2001

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Created: June 2001 © P KinderLast Updated: 21/6/01