Sunday, May 1, 2011

Neil Gaiman!

Guys. I saw Neil Gaiman. THE Neil Gaiman. In Person. It was awesome.

If you don't know who he is, get in your car, drive to the nearest bookstore, and pick up Neverwhere. Read it. I'll wait. Done yet? Good.

Or check out The Graveyard Book, one of his other wonderful works:

Also, check out his story, "Bitter Grounds." It's one of about a thousand short stories he's written. I know, approximations and such.

And look! He's in Arthur!


I saw him at the Chicago Public Library for a talk on his book, Neverwhere, which was chosen for this year's One Book One Chicago selection. Pretty sweet. Met some awesome people, including a British physics know-how (or some other intense science. I get them confused), and two amazing NU students intent on figuring out what Neil Gaiman was doing in their falafal (watch the Arthur episode. Just do it). Anyways, this was on April 12, and as you can see, it's May. What happened? you may ask. Why did it take so long to write this?

Add one part lazy and two parts senior year. You'll have an excuse cocktail, straight from me to you. Drink it down.

Anyways, he had a lot to say, and once I'd calmed down after shaking his hand, I figured that I should try to share a few gems.

First of all, here are some Instructions, just in case you ever need them:

Now that you know what to do, let's do some quotes:

"Good fantasy novels always begin with a map." In the beginning of Neverwhere, there's a cool map of the London Underground, complete with tunnels that have been shut down for years.

When asked about having his books taught in college classes:

"You should have safely been dead a long time before people start teaching you in University."

On Writing:

"Collaboration creates a palpable audience." He was talking about Good Omens, which he co-authored with Terry Pratchett. It's about the apocalypse.

"I see things in my head and try to describe the things I'm seeing." I think this really helps to explain the wide range of art he's done. Neil Gaiman has written movies, music, episodes of TV shows, books, graphic novels, and picture books. It's pretty inspiring to see the different mediums other writers have delved into.

"Embrace your typos." This was probably the most interesting writing-related thing he said. Apparently, he was writing a letter to his friend, Caroline, and he accidentally wrote Coraline. This name sparked the idea for his book (and the movie adaption, of course), Coraline. If you haven't seen it- well, you know the drill.

Neil Gaiman also doesn't believe in writers block. "Writers claim writers block, but mostly we're just stuck, which is different from writers block." He says to stop writing when this happens, put it away for a while (like a week), then print it out. One important aspect of writing is being able to read your work like a reader. There are bad writing days for every writer, though. Days when you sit down to write, but "the little gods of writing hate you." Neil says to trudge onwards. It's easy to fix the bad stuff.

The conversation eventually took a turn towards American Gods:

"In England, you can find whatever you're looking for. You just need to go back far enough. In America, you can find whatever you're looking for. You just have to drive long enough."

He's wise. No joke, I'm heading to House on the Rock in a few weeks (google it. It's a riot), which as you fans out there, is the core location for another famous novel of his, American Gods.

He went into further detail about House on the Rock, saying, "it's like being handed a giant crosswaord puzzle, with all the clues in a foreign language." It's a pretty trippy place, from what I've seen thus far. He said he asked, "Dear God Why?" And that's where the book started, trying to answer that question.

Be warned, though. American Gods is not a book for kids. "Maybe the extreme violence and peculiar sex will keep kids reading, but mostly I think it'll bore them." Ha.

Anyways, I was floored by the whole talk. I got to shake his hand, and (through hours of slave labor on his part) I bought one of the many signed books sold outside. I got The Graveyard Book, in case you're curious. Haven't been able to read it yet, though. Senior year and all. But come summer, I am going to finish each and every book in my... three to-be-read piles. Don't judge, guys.

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