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Talk: Neil Gaiman *Anansi Boys*

Neil Gaiman-1"Dearly Beloved..."

Neil Gaiman addressed us from atop the pulpit in the First Congregation Church in Berkeley on National Geek Day, the day that both Mirromask and Serenity were released in theaters. He read from Anansi Boys, a book that has the tagline "God is dead. Meet the kids." As Gaiman noted, you write a "book with strange gods, and they send you to talk in churches."

Gaiman described Anansi Boys as American Gods' second cousiin, once removed. He had the idea for Anansi Boys before American Gods, so one way he thinks of Mr. Nancy and American Gods is that it had a special guest star... for a book that hadn't been written yet.

For Anansi Boys I've decided to do something I've never done before: buy the audiobook. My reason for this was is very simple: there's an mp3 version. I never saw much reason before in buying audiobooks. They're as expensive as the book and there's this giant stack of CDs that you either have to cart around or you have to spend an hour ripping to your computer. With an mp3 CD I can immediately place it on my iPod or PSP -- it's ready to consume.

The battle over DRM rarely gets very far as it is an ideological battle with strongly divided opinions, full of speculation but few actual examples proving either sides' case. It's great to see an author that's #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List take what the industry would consider a risk and move the debate over DRM forward. Gaiman had to fight with Harper Collins to have mp3 CDs made, so he encouraged me to encourage my friends to purchase the mp3 version. I wish more authors were iPod users like Gaiman so that they too would act as intelligently about technology.

Neil Gaiman-2 Neil Gaiman-6 Neil Gaiman-5 Neil Gaiman-4 Neil Gaiman-3 Gaiman Pratchett-1

WARNING: Notes in the extended. I did a really, really bad job with my notes. Much more here is paraphrased from memory than actual quotes. For whatever reason my note-taking skills were terrible tonight and much that was funny I cannot remember well enough to transcribe.

Possible upcoming books: * Neverwhere sequel Seven Sisters * Two Stardust sequels * Graveyard Book: a children's book like Jungle Book, but instead "is brought up by dead people." He's working on this now.

On Mirrormask

"Both of you go and see it."

Gaiman's message to those in the audeince who weren't planning on seeing *Mirrormask in the next week*

Dave McKean decided to hire 15 'kids' from a graduating class to make Mirrormask figuring that they would be up with the latest tools and that there would be less to unlearn. After showing a rough cut showing of the film, which featured about eighty minutes of actors in front of blue screen, the kids got together and elected one of their representatives to timidly ask, "We were just wondering just how many special effects shot there are in this film?" McKean answered,"Only one, but its eighty minutes long."

On writing

He started off as a journalist using typewriters. With typewriters you're 'dirtying paper,' immediately producing something that's real. He liked moving to computers because it wasn't real until it became physical, though he's starting to view the computer as being real as well. Stardust was the first time he started writing by hand, something that he didn't have the luxury doing as a journalist. He likes writing by hand now because no one can popup an e-mail.. Also, he can pull out a dictionary instead of doing a Google search and several hours later buying something on eBay.

On Good Omens/collaborations

When I saw Gaiman at Comic-Con his answer to another collaboration with Terry Pratchett was that it would be too difficult to get their publishing empires back together, that back in the day they were both nobody and it was all ver simple and that could no longer be the case.

When I saw Pratchett this month he answered that it hadn't been completely ruled out yet. This gave me hope.

When Gaiman was inevitably asked the question tonight, he mentioned that he had recently spoken with Pratchett, and now there was the possibility of considering of perhaps...

Other collaborations:

On collaborating with Neal Stephenson: "That might be fun actually."

I'm not sure this was a compliment, though, because in general Gaiman said that he finds collaborating with other authors difficult. "I enjoy reading Jonathan Carroll... I don't want to be going, 'oohhh I wrote that book.'"

"Why President Taft?" (read the first chapter of Anansi Boys)

"No one remembers what Warren Gamaliel Harding looked like... everyone remembers Taft was fat." Also, he saw a semi-pornographic biography of Taft in a National Lampoon and that's the "kind of thing you never forget."

Comments (1)

M Author Profile Page:

Neil Gaiman is a hard guy to take notes on. I last saw him when he was promoting "American Gods", and I hardly got anything out of it. I tried looking for the notes I took, because my own recollection is not that great. I think part of it is just how he interacts with the audience and how it's all very organic and just flows together. He tells some great stories (like going up to iceland and then realizing that the sun doesn't set) or about how he returned to Britain for a visit, and how all the natives recognized him as being an american at that point.

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