Wild Things: YA Grown-Up discussion

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Goodreads' Authors @ WT > Q & A With Neil Gaiman: Thanks for being here, Neil.

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message 1: by Karey (last edited Jun 19, 2009 11:03AM) (new)

Karey (kareyshane) | 77 comments Newbery award winning author Neil Gaiman joins Wild Things today for an hour-long Q & A. Thanks to Neil for being here! Thanks to those who submitted questions.

It's up to Neil what questions he answers, and the nature of the Goodreads beast is that conversations end up being quirky since Goodreads isn't set up to auto-refresh after a comment. In other words, oddly perfect for a chat with Neil.

NOTE TO ALL: Remember to hit the refresh button frequently to follow the stream of conversation. (For PC users F5 should do the trick. I'm not sure about a Mac).

And now . . . Hi Neil. Welcome. Why don't you just dive in? Let us know where you want to go from here. Let the Wild Rumpus begin.




message 2: by Neil (new)

Neil | 20 comments Hullo everyone.... I'll start by just grabbing a few of the already-asked questions and let's see where that takes us.



message 3: by Karey (last edited Jul 02, 2009 02:41PM) (new)

Karey (kareyshane) | 77 comments Sounds good. Wyatt is whining to go play. He'll just have to wait this time.


message 4: by Neil (new)

Neil | 20 comments This is not about GY but I'm dieing to know how he and Prachette colaborated on Good Omen's who did what? Were there any disagreements...how did they settle things?

I don't remember any disagreements, no: the best rule with collaborations is the person who cares the most wins.

And it was done by talking a lot on the phone, and writing, and mailing 5 inch floppy disks back and forth. Terry wrote more of Adam and his friends, I wrote more of the FOur Horsemen, and everything else was both of us. I'd rewrite him, he'd rewrite me.


message 5: by Misty (new)

Misty | 1505 comments I didn't know anyone still used floppys... ;P


message 6: by Neil (new)

Neil | 20 comments Let's mark up the questions. (I suppose I could just do this over in the original thread, but it's neater here, isn't it?)

Coraline is the type of book I would have loved as a child, and my mom would have worried about my loving. I read it with my little sister (and am encouraging her to read The Graveyard Book), but I know my neighbor would never let her daughter read either book. I'm wondering if you often get negative reactions from parents due to the darker elements in your books?

I think the parents who would disapprove of their offspring reading my books are not the kind of people who talk to authors.



message 7: by Neil (new)

Neil | 20 comments Misty wrote: "I didn't know anyone still used floppys... ;P"

This was in 1988. We used floppy discs and rode dinosaurs.



message 8: by Karey (last edited Jun 19, 2009 11:09AM) (new)

Karey (kareyshane) | 77 comments Which is easier? Do you want to hop over to the original thread so you can hit "reply" on a question?


message 9: by Neil (new)

Neil | 20 comments What are you reading right now and how do you like it?
The Best American Comics of the Year, edited by Lynda Barry. And her introduction to that book (itself a comic) is one of the most beautiful things I've read in years.)


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Wherever you go, we will follow...


message 11: by Misty (new)

Misty | 1505 comments Thing was, she encourages reading so very much. But I read a lot of dark stuff, and a neighbor told her I was going to end up morbid...


message 12: by Kathy (new)

Kathy  (readr4ever) | 342 comments It sounds like your neighbor controls reading rather than encourages it. She needs a good dose of you, Neil.


message 13: by Neil (new)

Neil | 20 comments Oops. Just answered one in the wrong place. Let's try again:
Kathy wrote: "Your opening line in The Graveyard Book is such a singularly great line, "There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife." Was this line something that you reworked some, paring it down to ..."

It was there more or less from the beginning. (I only know that because I ran into an interview with me in about 2005 where I talk about that being the first line. I think I liked it as it had a kind of "Get Out Now" quality to it. If you may not like this book, stop now.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

I loved that line! And I loved that book!! :)


message 15: by Kathy (new)

Kathy  (readr4ever) | 342 comments Well, I for one couldn't put the book down after that opening line.


message 16: by Neil (new)

Neil | 20 comments Karey wrote: "Which is easier? Do you want to hop over to the original thread so you can hit "reply" on a question?"

I may as well stick here.




message 17: by Neil (new)

Neil | 20 comments Mockingbird wrote: "We saw you on the Colbert Report. We liked your conversation w/ Colbert. Question: Many people come away from conversations wondering or wishing someting could have been slightly different. Is ..."

No. I loved the conversation with Stephen Colbert. But I had just flown in from the UK, where I had been attending my dad's funeral, and I was wearing the rumpled funeral suit as I didn't have much else (or any inclination or time to go shopping for clothes). And I wish I'd been wearing something that didn't remind me of the funeral every time I saw clips or stills of it.


message 18: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 13 comments Linda Grace wrote: "I loved that line! And I loved that book!! :)"
now, see, that line did scare me off for a couple of weeks until I got the book home (was reading it at the school library where I work).



message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Lisa wrote: "Linda Grace wrote: "I loved that line! And I loved that book!! :)"
now, see, that line did scare me off for a couple of weeks until I got the book home (was reading it at the school library where..."


It intrigued me!




message 20: by Karey (new)

Karey (kareyshane) | 77 comments As for me, I felt like I was back at camp listening to stories around the edge of the fire full of anticipation combined with a pit in my stomach.


message 21: by Neil (new)

Neil | 20 comments Kathy wrote: "Do you keep a notebook in which you jot down interesting ideas or thoughts whenever or wherever they come to you? "

I do. And I lose them. And then I find them again, and read things I've written and go "What a great idea. I have no memory of coming up with that at all. Brilliant."


message 22: by Kathy (new)

Kathy  (readr4ever) | 342 comments If it's not my favorite opening line, it's in the top two.


message 23: by Karey (last edited Jun 19, 2009 11:23AM) (new)

Karey (kareyshane) | 77 comments Neil wrote: "Kathy wrote: "Do you keep a notebook in which you jot down interesting ideas or thoughts whenever or wherever they come to you? "

I do. And I lose them. And then I find them again, and read things I've written and go "What a great idea. I have no memory of coming up with that at all. Brilliant."


I'm having a good laugh right now.


message 24: by Kathy (new)

Kathy  (readr4ever) | 342 comments Me, too. LOL!


message 25: by Neil (new)

Neil | 20 comments Laura wrote: "I personally find your work, as well as Diana Wynne Jones' novels, to inspire the writer lurking somewhere inside of me. Do you set out to inspire others with your writing?"

I think some of that is simply the way the story is told. There are writers who make it look like they enjoyed it, and that it's something you should do too. C.S. Lewis was the first of those for me. Roger Zelazny may have been the most important. Diana always does it.

And if I make people want to write, then I'm proud of myself and happy.


message 26: by Luann (new)

Luann (azbookgal) | 274 comments Neil wrote: "I do. And I lose them. And then I find them again, and read things I've written and go "What a great idea. I have no memory of coming up with that at all. Brilliant.""

LOL. Love that!


message 27: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) Well consider yourself proud and happy!


message 28: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 13 comments Linda Grace wrote: "Lisa wrote: "Linda Grace wrote: "I loved that line! And I loved that book!! :)"
now, see, that line did scare me off for a couple of weeks until I got the book home (was reading it at the school ..."

(timid soul, weak heart).....I do love the story and the line is a real grabber!




message 29: by Kathy (last edited Jun 19, 2009 11:27AM) (new)

Kathy  (readr4ever) | 342 comments Speaking of beautiful introductions, Neil, your introduction to The New Annotated Dracula ain't too shabby, and I love that you first read Dracula at about age seven.


message 30: by Neil (new)

Neil | 20 comments Kathy wrote: "Last chapter in The Graveyard Book--absolutely perfect! While it was a real tearjerker with Mistress Owens and the ending lullaby song, there was humor with Liza (one of my favorite characters), and hope with that great final line, "But between now and then, there was Life; and Bod walked into it with his eyes and his heart wide open." Question: how long did this last chapter take to write to achieve this state of perfection? "

It's not an easy question to answer. I got the idea for the Graveyard Book in 1985 or 1986. I wrote it for three years, a story here and a story there. The last chapter was written up against the deadline of the book, so much so that I was handwriting it down at the bottom of the garden, coming back and photocopying it, and my assistant was typing it out, and sniffling, and I'd go back to writing, and...

I doubt it took me more than a week to handwrite that chapter. Maybe less. It half-wrote itself. So, how long did the last chapter take...? Under a week, or three years, or twenty-two years. Each answer's right.


message 31: by Neil (new)

Neil | 20 comments Kathy wrote: "Speaking of beautiful introductions, Neil, your introduction to The New Annotated Dracula ain't too shabby, and I love that you first read Dracula at about age seven."

I'm glad you liked it. I think if there had been lots of vampire fiction for kids around I wouldn't have attempted Dracula, but there wasn't (it was 1968) so I did.


message 32: by Kathy (new)

Kathy  (readr4ever) | 342 comments Well, the last chapter fits very nicely with the perfection of the rest of the book, too.


message 33: by Kathy (new)

Kathy  (readr4ever) | 342 comments Neil wrote: "Kathy wrote: "Speaking of beautiful introductions, Neil, your introduction to The New Annotated Dracula ain't too shabby, and I love that you first read Dracula at about age seven."

I'm glad you l..."


And thus began the dark side. *evil laugh*


message 34: by Allison (new)

Allison (inconceivably) Kathy wrote: "Well, the last chapter fits very nicely with the perfection of the rest of the book, too."

yeah...hopefully it will be a nice transition into the sequel...?? :)


message 35: by Kandice (new)

Kandice I actually listened to the audio of The Graveyard Book, and I feel, your reading it yourself lent a lot to it. I enjoyed it immensely.


message 36: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) You really are a standout in that your own readings of your books are terrific.


message 37: by Kathy (new)

Kathy  (readr4ever) | 342 comments Allison wrote: "Kathy wrote: "Well, the last chapter fits very nicely with the perfection of the rest of the book, too."

yeah...hopefully it will be a nice transition into the sequel...?? :)"


Yes, let's all push Neil for the sequel, which alludes to my "bitch" question.


message 38: by Kathy (new)

Kathy  (readr4ever) | 342 comments Laura wrote: "You really are a standout in that your own readings of your books are terrific."

I absolutely agree. You are such an engaging narrator of your books.


message 39: by Neil (new)

Neil | 20 comments Mary wrote: "Your books can get so scary, and yet they're so real. Do you ever scare yourself? Is there anything you're really afraid of?"

Oh yes. Sometimes there are things coming up in a book or story that I'm afraid to write. But then I get interested in the mechanics of the thing and that gets bigger and more interesting than the fear or revulsion. (For example the autopsy scene in AMERICAN GODS. I'd have no desire to attend an autopsy but knowing I was going to have to write one, I found myself on the phone with a former county coroner asking the most detailed questions.)


message 40: by Luann (new)

Luann (azbookgal) | 274 comments Laura wrote: "You really are a standout in that your own readings of your books are terrific."

I wholeheartedly agree! I recently listened to Neverwhere on audio, and your narration, Neil, was WONDERFUL!


message 41: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Harvey | 1046 comments *shivers* ugh, autopsies would be one thing I wouldn't be willing to witness either.


message 42: by Neil (new)

Neil | 20 comments Laura wrote: "How hard is it to switch gears between writing for younger and older children, young adults and adult audiences? It seems to me that no matter what your audience, your books always hit the mark.How do you do it?"

I don't know if they always hit the mark or not.

I used to hate books in which I felt patronised or talked down to. There are authors who show how smart they are by making you feel stupid, and authors who show you how smart they are by making you feel smart too. I wanted to be one of the latter, when I was writing for kids. And I wanted there to be stuff for adults when they read the books -- it's not like you write books for All Ages to exclude adults, but to include a reader who might not take a lot from Anansi Boys or Neverwhere or Sandman.


message 43: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) I think you do a really good job of that. And writing for all audiences can't be an easy thing to do, and do well.


message 44: by Luann (new)

Luann (azbookgal) | 274 comments Neil wrote: "And I wanted there to be stuff for adults when they read the books"

You've certainly hit the mark there. I've enjoyed all of your books for children and young adults.


message 45: by Laura (new)

Laura (apenandzen) Do you have a favorite novel that you've written?


Elizabeth (Miss Eliza) (strange_misseliza) | 31 comments If you could be any other writer whose life would you like to have? As classic or as modern as you'd like.


message 47: by Neil (new)

Neil | 20 comments Jackie wrote: "I've heard two of your audio books: Graveyard Book and Coraline. You have such a great reading voice. Does it take you long to record? "

A novel like NEVERWHERE took about 3 days to record. I think THE GRAVEYARD BOOK did too. CORALINE would have been about two days, and ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS will be a day.

I love doing the audio books, and was SO thrilled when THE GRAVEYARD BOOK won the AUDIE Award as BOOK OF THE YEAR, but they are amazingly exhausting, and the engineers and directors and editors do so much, cutting out the places where your stomach made an interesting noise, or catching you when your energy fades.

The hardest thing is when you had a voice for a character in chapter one, and then the character's not around for a couple of hundred pages and they turn up again, and you have to remember what they sounded like.


message 48: by Neil (new)

Neil | 20 comments Elizabeth wrote: "If you could be any other writer whose life would you like to have? As classic or as modern as you'd like."

Mine is pretty good. I know my Herodotus, and the whole "Call no man happy until he is dead" bit, but I like my life and I am glad I wrote my books and not someone else's. It would have been nice to be me as well, and to have written all the other things I wanted to write but did not have the time for.




message 49: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) I'm kind of new to listening to audio books but I think you did a wonderful job with the two I've heard so far. I think the voices you did for the characters just added to their personalities. How do you come up with character voices?


message 50: by Neil (new)

Neil | 20 comments Laura wrote: "Do you have a favorite novel that you've written?"

Not really. I am really proud of The Graveyard Book, because it has done so well in the world. But mostly my favourite is the next thing, unwritten, because it is pure potential.



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