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Old 01-04-2008, 11:59 AM   #1
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Neil Gaiman

I love the idea of a book being so powerful that simply being near it gives one nightmares-that's the book I hope to write one day.
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Old 01-04-2008, 12:02 PM   #2
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On writing new work

Will Christopher Baer: I know some writers who feel like each new novel is really just the next chapter in the great, endless novel in their heads-and others seem to be retelling the same story over and over again, as if they're just trying to get it right. Do you ever feel you're in one of those camps?

Gaiman: In my head, everything is different. But when you look back, they do all sort of line up… It would be very easy to drive yourself nuts-the thing is, you don't write for the audience, you can't. Because what the audience tends to want is something familiar. They want the same book they liked last time, with just enough things different that it feels fresh, which is why serials are so successful. The danger for an author is you may turn into MacDonald's.

WCB: Billions of satisfied customers…

Gaiman: But the artists I most admire - take musicians. I tend most admire those musicians who don't give you the same record every time. Elvis Costello, for example. The album he did with Burt Bacharach might leave you completely cold, and you just wish he would do My Aim is True again, that stripped down rock. Or you could be someone who loves the Juliet Letters and never much liked anything else he's done. And that's when you realize that Elvis isn't doing those for you, he's doing them for himself. And I think that I'd rather be an Elvis Costello… As a writer, I've got to keep myself interested, and it's like the Neverwhere II questions. I'm not in a big hurry to do that because there are so many other things I've never done… At the same time, that was the joy of doing Sandman - I knew these characters, I knew this world. I could always go back there… And when I went back a few years ago and did Endless Nights, it was the author's equivalent of comfort food - it was meatloaf with two veg, and mashed potatoes. And gravy. But most of the time I'd rather build something new, and go somewhere I've never been before, something no one is expecting. Because doing that makes me happy and makes me feel like I'm learning something. And for me it may be a matter of a short attention span. But Neverwhere II isn't a decision I've got to make for a couple of years, because I've got a new children's novel I'll be working on next…
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Old 01-04-2008, 12:04 PM   #3
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On writing habits

Will Christopher Baer: Sure... But you've been prolific as hell, by anybody's standards. You're the sort of writer that makes other writers wonder if you've got a clone down in the basement, typing away, while you're having a cup of tea and talking to me on the phone. But you must keep a fairly strict work schedule. What's a typical writing day like for you, if there is such a thing?

Gaiman: It depends on the day, honestly… if I'm writing a novel, the morning is spent dealing with telephone calls, email and that sort of thing. I might make a blog post as sort of a five-finger exercise to loosen up. And then by one o'clock or so, I'm off to work on the novel. I try to write a thousand words a day, at least, and typically I do around fifteen hundred, or two thousand, and I get home around six. This is when I'm in the middle of the novel, the bulk of it.. If I'm in the process of trying to start a novel, or finish one-then I've probably gone away somewhere to sort that out. With short stories, they most often get written when people start calling me and shouting, 'Hey, that short story you promised is due in about now." And everything else just gets fitted in, in the cracks somewhere.

WCB: Those 'cracks' are what people wonder about most. Really, it's the mundane questions that people-- especially the hardcore fans and young writers never tire of. For instance, do you write on a laptop or by hand?

Gaiman: It depends, as well. If I'm writing a screenplay, I work on the laptop because I appreciate the screenwriting software-it does a lot of the work for me. If I'm on a novel, I'll normally write in a notebook and stay in the notebook because there's nothing, and nobody, in the notebook to distract me. Nobody's trying to pop up an urgent message. I'm not going to suddenly decide to check the origin of a particular word, and Google it-and look up four hours later in the middle of some eBay auction. If I'm in the notebook, I stay there. I don't want the machine that I'm using for writing to be an entertainment machine as well. If I want to know the capital of Hungary, and look it up in a book or on the map, I won't later find myself at some fascinatingly obscure Budapest travel site-and yes, I am someone who does that.
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