Here is a past interview that I was lucky enough to get. I heard Neil Gaiman speak at the BEA authors' breakfast in 2008. He was paneled with Jon Scieszka, Judy Blume, Sherman Alexie and Eoin Colfer. Anyone who was there will tell you that it was one of the most hilarious mornings of BEA. It is also where I picked up an advance copy of The Graveyard Book. I adore this book and I was so happy that the Newbery committee thought it was worthy of their award. I contacted Mr. Gaiman soon after The Graveyard Book won the Newbery, and he was gracious enough to grant me an interview. I am thrilled to have this year's Newbery winner, author and screenwriter Neil Gaiman, give us his insights for the blog.
When and why did you start writing for children?
My first book was for children. I was 21, and when it was finished I sent it to a publisher and it came back with an encouraging rejection slip. 23 years later, after CORALINE and WOLVES IN THE WALLS, I found the ms. in a tub in the attic, and read it, at bedtime, to my daughter Maddy.
There was a single page about 2/3 of the way through that sounded like me, and might have been written by me, but the rest of it was a sad mash-up of J.P.Martin and Noel Langley and others, and it wasn't very good, so I put it back in the attic.
What is the most valuable advice you can give to a newly published writer?
Don't stop now. And listen to advice, but go your own way. (Also, make a point of ignoring any advice that comes prefaced with the phrase "This is for your own good." It never is.)
What is one of your favorite children's books that you'd like to recommend?
The 1967 edition of Noel Langley's The Land of Green Ginger. I don't know why the 1971 edition happened (it is half a chapter shorter, regularises the capital letters and removes a great deal of the wit) nor why the 1971 edition is the one that occasionally gets reprinted. And you can skip the 1933 edition too, although the pictures are nice. But the 1967 edition was a children's classic.
What are you working on now?
In all of the Newbery/Coraline movie madness I'm now late on 2 short stories, a comic, a film script and a TV script. And I don't know which one of them I'm going to get on with when I stop doing email.
What is your favorite dessert and why?
I love strange fruit -- when you're in a foreign country and someone brings you some fruit you've never seen before because it doesn't travel.
And ice cream. You can't go wrong with ice cream. Well, unless you go to those places that start mashing cake and sweets and whatnot into it.
Bestselling author Neil Gaiman has long been one of the top writers in modern comics, as well as writing books for readers of all ages. He is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers, and is a prolific creator of works of prose, poetry, film, journalism, comics, song lyrics, and drama.
His New York Times bestselling 2001 novel for adults, American Gods, was awarded the Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker, SFX, and Locus awards, was nominated for many other awards, including the World Fantasy Award and the Minnesota Book Award, and appeared on many best-of-year lists.
Gaiman's eagerly awaited new novel for adults, Anansi Boys, debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list in September, 2005. About Anansi Boys Gaiman says: "It's a scary, funny sort of a story, which isn't exactly a thriller, and isn't really horror, and doesn't quite qualify as a ghost story (although it has at least one ghost in it), or a romantic comedy (although there are several romances in there, and it's certainly a comedy, except for the scary bits).” An audio version of the entire text of Anansi Boys, as read by UK comedian Lenny Henry, has also been published by HarperAudio in both regular CD and MP3-CD formats.
The Sundance Film Festival premiere of Mirrormask, a Jim Henson Company Production written by Neil Gaiman and directed by Dave McKean, took place in January 2005. The film was released from Goldwyn/Sony on September 30, 2005. Mirrormask, a lavishly designed book containing the complete script, black and white storyboards, full-color art from the film, and augmented by notes and observations by the creators is published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Mirrormask, a picture book for younger readers, also written by Gaiman and illustrated with art from the movie, was published by HarperCollins Children's Books in October 2005, and The Alchemy of Mirrormask was published by CollinsDesign that same month.
With Roger Avary, Neil Gaiman wrote the script for Beowulf, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie.
Gaiman is co-author, with Terry Pratchett, of Good Omens, a very funny novel about how the world is going to end and we're all going to die, which spent 17 consecutive weeks on the Sunday Times (London) bestseller list in 1990 and has gone on to become an international bestseller. In March 2006, Morrow published a new hardcover edition of the book, including an introduction and other ancillary material from the authors.
Gaiman was the creator/writer of the monthly cult DC Comics horror-weird series, Sandman, which won nine Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, including the award for best writer four times, and three Harvey Awards. Sandman #19 took the 1991 World Fantasy Award for best short story, making it the first comic ever to be awarded a literary award. Norman Mailer said of Sandman: "Along with all else, Sandman is a comic strip for intellectuals, and I say it's about time."
His six-part fantastical TV series for the BBC, Neverwhere, aired in 1996. His novel, also called Neverwhere, set in the same strange underground world as the television series, was released in 1997. It appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Locus. Film rights to Neverwhere were bought by Jim Henson Productions; Gaiman has written a draft of the script for the film.
Gaiman's first book for children, The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish, illustrated by Dave McKean, came out in May 1997, was listed by Newsweek as one of the best children's books of the year, and was reissued to acclaim by HarperCollins in 2003.
Stardust, a prose novel in four parts, began to appear from DC Comics in October 1997. Illustrated by Charles Vess, it is a fairy story for adults. The collected DC version appeared in late 1998, and in January 1999 Morrow/Avon released the all-prose unillustrated version of Stardust; it received starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, appeared on a number of American bestseller lists, was listed by Publishers Weekly as one of the best books of the year, and was awarded the prestigious Mythopoeic Award as best novel for adults in August 1999.
His most recent collection of short fiction, Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions, was published in 1998. It was nominated in the UK for a MacMillan Silver Pen award as the best short story collection of the year.
Gaiman's 1999 return to Sandman, the prose book The Dream Hunters, with art by Yoshitaka Amano, won the Bram Stoker award for best illustrated work by the Horror Writers Association, and was nominated for a Hugo award.
Two Plays For Voices (2002), an audio adaptation of two of Gaiman's short stories, and starring Brian Dennehy and Bebe Neuwirth, was awarded a 2002 Audie Award by the Audio Publishers Association.
At the end of 2002 Gaiman wrote and directed his first film, in association with Ska Films: a short, dark, funny work called A Short Film about John Bolton, which is available on DVD. In 2006, Gaiman directed his first feature length film, based on his graphic novel Death: The High Cost of Living for New Line Films.
His children's novel Coraline, published in 2002, was also a New York Times and international bestseller and an enormous critical success; it won the Elizabeth Burr/ Worzalla, the BSFA, the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Bram Stoker awards. Henry Selick directed the film Coraline, in theaters now, with music provided by the band They Might Be Giants.
In 2003 The Wolves in the Walls, illustrated by Gaiman's longtime collaborator Dave McKean, was published, and it was named by the New York Times as one of the best illustrated books of the year. It is currently being made into an opera by the Scottish National Theatre. 2003 also saw the appearance of the first Sandman graphic novel in seven years, Endless Nights, which was published by DC Comics and was the first graphic novel to make the New York Times bestseller list.
In 2004, Gaiman published the first volume of a serialized story for Marvel called 1602, which was the bestselling comic of the year, and is currently a Quills Award finalist in the graphic novel category.
Gaiman's work has appeared in translation in dozens of countries around the world. His journalism has appeared in Wired, Time Out London, The London Sunday Times, Punch, The Observer Colour Supplement, and he has reviewed books for the New York Times Book Review and the Washington Post Bookworld.
Tori Amos sings about Neil on her albums Little Earthquakes, Under the Pink, Boys for Pele, and Scarlet's Walk; and Neil has written songs for the Minneapolis band The Flash Girls ("the find of the year and perhaps beyond" -- Utne Reader), for Chris Ewen's The Hidden Variable, and for the band One Ring Zero.
In August 1997 the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a First Amendment organization, awarded Gaiman their Defender of Liberty Award. In 2000 he did the final series of "Guardian Angel" readings, which he began doing for the CBLDF in 1993, and replaced the retiring Frank Miller on the CBLDF Board of Directors. In September 2005 he was one of 17 bestselling authors who, in support of the First Amendment Project, auctioned off the chance to name a character in an upcoming book.
Gaiman's official website, www.neilgaiman.com, now has more than one million unique visitors each month, and his online journal is syndicated to thousands of blog readers every day. Currently, more than 2,500 websites link to his website.
Born and raised in England, Neil Gaiman now lives near Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has somehow reached his forties and still tends to need a haircut.