ןמייג לינ םע טא'צ

**neilgaiman has arrived**
Moderator: Good Evening, Mr. Gaiman
 Moderator: Welcome to fantasy.con 2001 and thank you for joining us here
Moderator: Tonight we're pleased to welcome writer Neil Gaiman, author of the classic comics The Sandman, and author of Neverwhere, Stardust, Good Omens, and of the upcoming American Gods
Moderator: Our host is Didi Chanoch, editor of the Opus Press SF & Fantasy series, which has published several of Mr. Gaiman's books in Hebrew
Moderator: We're Irit and Joe of the Israeli Society of Sci-fi and Fantasy, and with us are more participants of the con, and we all happy to welcome our guest
Moderator: I want also to thank Opus Press for arranging this special chat room in it's web site
Moderator: Some words about the drill - pls send your questions for our guest to me - the moderator - as private message. Just double-click on my name. Please send your questions in English, and keep them short and clear.
Moderator: Good evening, Mr. Gaiman
neilgaiman: Good evening -- Thanks for inviting me.
Moderator: you're more than welcome
Moderator: With us tonight are some great fans of yours, but for the sake of other readers, can you introduce yourself to our audience, and tell a bit about your writing and how you began to write
neilgaiman: Sure. I started out as a young journalist in london who wanted to write fiction. i wrote (with Kim Newman) a book called GHASTLY BEYOND BELIEF -- quotes from bad SF books and movies -- and then went on to write a few nonfiction books.
Moderator: And how did that lead to Sandman and DC Comics?
neilgaiman: Then I wrote SANDMAN for DC Comics, colaborated with Terry {Pratchett on GOOD OMENS; and once Sandman was done I wrote Neverwhere (a sort of urban fantasy in London) and STARDUST (a fairy story). I've spent the last few years writing the new novel, AMERICAN GODS which is a stonking great dark mythic thriller about America.
Moderator: Can you tell us a bit about your latest book - American Gods?
neilgaiman: I'd always wanted to write comics, and I'd always wanted to try and demonstrate that you could write a comic with as much depth as any other medium -- so that was where Sandman Came from. AMERICAN GODS...
neilgaiman: ... is the longest and deepest work of prose I've done so far. It's partly a murder mystery, partly a war story, partly an american Road Trip book. It's about the gods people brought with them to America, and the gods that they abandoned when they did.
Moderator: Has someone already bought the rights to the Hebrew translation of Amrican Gods?
Didi: Someone is waiting for his review copy...
neilgaiman: Tim Powers just sent us a blurb where he compared it to HUCKLEBERRY FINN, which I was thrilled by.
Moderator: Impressive
neilgaiman: I don't think they've gone up for sale -- my agent has been holding off until we had copies to go out to all the foreign publishers. I think they go out this week or next.
Didi: I've been reading the blurbs you've quoted in the journal, they're ALL impressive.
neilgaiman: Yes, and there are more blurbs now than were in the journal.
Moderator: A question from the crowd: How & Why did you start writing in that dark style?
neilgaiman: I'm not sure what 'that dark style' would be. I try to fit the writing style to the story, so dark stories get dark styles -- STARDUST, as a fairy story (even one with flashes of dark, like reversed lightning) is written in a fairly gentle style. I don't think...
neilgaiman: ... I ever expected to be a horror writer (and I'm not, not really) but I've always been willing to follow a story into dark places, if that's where the story was going to go. I wrote American Gods...
neilgaiman: ...in a very 'clean' style, for the most part, very stripped down and almost invisible, and only let myself write prettily when it came to some of the short stories that I put in the text (just as there were short stories in SANDMAN).
Didi: You're involved in quite a few film projects - Good Omens, The Confessions of William Henry Ireland, the Death film. And I seem to remember talk of an American production of Neverwhere. Can you tell us a bit about where all of these projects are right now, and particularly about what drew you to write and direct the William Henry Ireland film.
neilgaiman: WiLLIAM HENRY IRELAND is the next thing I have to do. Last week I handed in the script for DEATH, so I'm slowly catching up. GOOD OMENS is just a film that Terry Pratchett and I have sold the rights to, neither of us are involved in it...
neilgaiman: ...although with Terry Gilliam writing and directing it, neither Terry P. nor I are worried. Neverwhere...
neilgaiman: has now been through two directors and may be just about to lose its third. I just watch, and shrug, and wait. THE CONFESSIONS OF WILLIAM HENRY IRELAND was brought to me by a producer named Kevin Messick -- it's a true story from the 18th century, of a young man who set out to impress his father by giving him a book signed by shakespeare, and wound up having to forge a shakespeare play, which was booed offstage before the final curtain.
Moderator: Sorry about the directors. Another one from the crowd: how many cats do you really have, and how many of them are black?
neilgaiman: Only one truly black black cat. She's calle Nocturne, but everyone calls her Pod. Apart from her, there's Hermione, Princess, Zoe, Furball and Buddy. It's a big house, and the snow melted this week, so they've finally started going outside again.
Moderator: The fallen angel appears in many of your writings, but never as a main character. Do you think that you'll ever write a book about him as a main character?
neilgaiman: I don't know. Every time I write an angel, I think "that was probably my last angel". But then, sooner or later, another one creeps in. (There are NO angels in American Gods. Although there are hundreds of gods, several demons, a genie, a golem, and people who live inside televisions.)
Moderator: In your books and comics you use a lot of different mythologies. Why haven't you used Jewish mythology?
Red Fish: who said he hasn't?!
neilgaiman: I thought I had. Did I miss something?
Moderator: Someone missed it, apparently (shame on the moderator). And, of course, when do you plan on visiting Israel?
neilgaiman: There was quite a bit of Jewish mythology in Sandman.
Didi: When we can afford to bring him over here...
Moderator: Women and Death - why is Death a woman? and what do you have against black women - you keep on killing them off?
neilgaiman: I'd love to visit Israel. I'm waiting for an invitation at a time when I can do it.
Trill: I'd like to know which fantasy writers were your favourites as a kid, your first encounters with fantasy.
Moderator: The Israeli Society for Sci-Fi and Fantasy holds (basically) two conventions a year, and you are more than welcome to come and participate in any one of them.
neilgaiman: I don't have anything against black women. The black women who were burned to death in Sandman were echoes of what happened to Nada in Sandman 9; Gwen's appearance in Sandman 73 was meant to indicate that, with the death of the Morpheus Sandman, that cycle had been broken.
Moderator: And Hunter?
Didi: Sandman can't time out, he's Endless for goodness' sake!
neilgaiman: Hunter was black on the TV series because the actress who aced the audition was black; she beat several white actresses and one chinese-english actress for the part. The role wasn't written for any skin colour.
neilgaiman: Fanatsy writers as a kid...
Moderator: that was asked - how come the hair color and length was changed from TV to book form...
Red Fish: You once said that you know the answers to most of the questions left unanswered at the end of the Sandman, such as what caused Delirium's change. Do you plan to reveal those someday?
neilgaiman: C.S. Lewis, P.L. Travers, Margaret Storey, Harlan Ellison, Michael Moorcock, Roger Zelazny, R.A. lafferty, Noel Langley, Hope Mirrlees, and probably a dozen others made a huge impression on me. As a teenager I discovered james Branch Cabell and Ernest Bramah. I loved Tolkein, of course.
neilgaiman: Red Fish; Maybe. We'll see.
Moderator: If you could redo Sandman - would you keep it in comic book form? what changes would you make?
neilgaiman: I'm not sure why I'd want to redo it. It was what it was, and it was the first thing like that (a 75 issue story with beginnings, middles and ends). It wouldn't have been the same thing if I'd taken 8 years and done it in a book, or whatever (it was hard enough taking two years off and doing AMERICAN GODS).
Moderator: How do you feel about spin-offs of your work, such as the Dreaming?
neilgaiman: Of the ones currently being published, I'm enjoying Lucifer a great deal.
Moderator: Question from the crowd: how do you overcome Writer's Block?
neilgaiman: mostly, I write. There;s no such thing as Writers Block on everything -- there's just stories or scripts or whatever that you get stuck on. Sometimes you can get out of it by doing something else entirely. Sometimes you just write whatever you can -- and when you look at it tomorrow or next week you'll find it wasn't that bad, and with a little editing, it's just fine.
Moderator: Just a little piece of gossip, in Israel sci-fi&fantasy forums, you are called "Neil Ha-Elil", i.e. Neil the Idol.
Moderator: Do you plan on returning to the comic book medium?
neilgaiman: I'm going to do some Endless short stories for DC very soon, and lots of other people are asking me for stuff. I love comics, so we'll have to see what happens -- it'll depend on time. Right now I need another nine or ten months in the year to get things done.
Moderator: The Society's latest magazine, The 10th Dimension, featured artist Avi Katz's Snow Glass Apples painting, and recently an Israeli Stardust cover was produced. Have you seen them? What do you think of them?
Didi: You mentioned in the journal (www.americangods.com/journal.html) that bound galleys will be sent to publishers soon. Do you know when? (he asked, impatiently)
neilgaiman: Didi e-mailed me the Snow, Glass, Apples painting -- which i Loved. I thought the Stardust cover was solid. Mostly I just feel very proud to have books in Hebrew on my shelves -- and it makes me wish that I'd kept up my Hebrew after my 13th birthday.
Moderator: In both Stardust and Neverwhere, the protagonist returns to the fantasy world. Is this a recurring theme in your work?
neilgaiman: Probably this week, Didi -- the bound galleys came in on Monday, and a box of them has gone to my agents.
Didi: YES! I asked to review it quite a long time ago...
neilgaiman: Well, as a theme it recurrs in both of them, but they were being written or at least conceived around the same time -- 1991 -- and are in many ways of a piece. AMERICAN GODS is a whole 'nother kettle of snakes.
Moderator: How do you feel about translations? Have you ever tried reading a translated version of one of your books?
Didi: Were you still living in the UK when you wrote them, and do you think moving to the US has been a major influence on your work?
neilgaiman: After doing the PRINCESS MONONOKE script, my heart goes out to my translators. I can more or less navigate a french translation, and to a lesser extent German. With Sandman, could read it in portuguese, Spanish, Italian, greek... but I;d never really know how much of the spririt came across. I've been told, for example, that the German good Omens isn't Funny.
Didi: Well, that could just be the very different German sense of humor.
Moderator: Do you speak Japanese?
neilgaiman: I wrote the first episode of Neverwhere before moving to the US, but all the rest of the very English fiction I wrote in the 90s was probably more to do with being in the US and wanting to have an imaginary UK to go and live in. American Gods was nteresting as I wanted to write about the America I'd experienced since moving here, rather than the imaginary America of the movies and the TV.
Moderator: why did you move in the first place?
neilgaiman: Nope -- I speak no Japanese -- had to work from a literal translation prepared by Studio Ghibli.
Moderator: I hate too return you to the issue of women and death, but why is Death a woman, and why is it a woman without children?
neilgaiman: 3 reasons -- 1) my wife's american and her family wanted to see the kids 2) I'd always wanted to live in an Addams Family house 3) at the time I was very tired of the exchange rate fluctuations -- all my income came in in dollars, and I never knew from one month to the next what my income would be.
Didi: Isn't Dream the only Endless who DOES have a child? I think that's the exception, not his big sister.
Red Fish: Desire, also.
neilgaiman: Death was a woman because it made Sandman 8 much more fun if Death was a contrast with Dream -- given the inherent sexism of language readers were expecting a tall, gloomy older brother, and what they got was a sensible, well-adjusted older sister. The Endless have had children in the past. They live long but they die (Desire sired Rose Walker's mum, for example.)
Didi: Oh. I forgot about Desire.
Moderator: Which contemporary authors do you read?
neilgaiman: I love the idea of Death as a woman with children -- either taking them on the job or having to get a babysitter -- but I think that's more terry Pratchett's territory than mine.
Moderator: :-))
Moderator: BTW, yesterday the NEVERWHERE mini-series was shown, as part of the convention
Moderator: And the hall was packed
neilgaiman: Jonathan carroll, Gene Wolfe, Samuel R Delany, China Mieville, Harlan Ellison, kelly link, Martin Millar, David Quammen... too many to list.
neilgaiman: Oh good -- I hope they enjoyed it. I love Paterson's performance as the marquis.
Moderator: He almost recieved a standing ovation.
Didi: I've read a lot of comparisons between Mieville King Rat and Neverwhere. Haven't read it, though. Perdido Street Station is brilliant.
Moderator: Another question from the audience regards fandom: how do you deal with your widespread fandom (e.g. Neil Ha-Elil), and what do you think about fan-related phenomena, such as fan-fiction?
neilgaiman: I like fans, and I like readers, and I'm not very good at telling the two apart. mostly I'm someone who spends his days at home making stuff up, and it always comes as something of a surprise to discover that there are people out there reading what I'm doing. I'm enjoying keeping the journal at www.americangods.com for fans and readers and everyone else. On fan fiction...
neilgaiman: ... mostly I like the fact that people are doing it, remembering when I was 9 and i wrote Conan stories and Elric stories. Someone once sent me some Crowley/Aziraphale "slash" fiction, and I am still not sure what I think about that.
amber: well, some comment about fandom
amber: when i was asking ppl for questions for the chat, i got a regular answer
amber: "how can i ask God questions???"
Trill: If someone can write Crowley/Aziraphale slash, surely anything is possible.
Moderator: yes, Mr. Gaiman, some fans seem to take the "idol" thing a little far
amber: o.k. here is a questions, i know the moderator wanted to ask
Red Fish: Ok, here's a question then... What's the question you are most tired of being asked?
amber: In the first prelude, you used many D.C. Comics characters, but they don't appear later. Why did you make this change?
Red Fish: (Except maybe "Where do you get your ideas?")
neilgaiman: Well, that's flattering. But it's kind of silly (in a nice way). If I'd been to an Israeli con it would be "Oh, yeah, Neil, he was here last year, nice guy, bit shy, talks a lot when he gets going though"
Moderator: lol
neilgaiman: Mostly because I got irritated with the amount of editorial interference using a DC character seemed to involve. So I'd use the ones that no-one remembered instead, like Element Girl or Prez. And no-one made us rewrite or redraw things.
Moderator: Personally, I liked the insertion of Manhunter from Mars.
neilgaiman: I liked writing him.
Moderator: Do you prefer any characters over others (people here are waiting to hear Croup and Vandemar)
neilgaiman: it's hard to pick -- they're all my children, but I have an especial fondness for writing Delirium, Croup and Vandemar, Mister Wednesday (from American Gods), and the two drunks in the bar in a story called SHOGGOTH'S OLD PECULIAR.
Moderator: do you foresee any collaborations with other writers in the near future, Terry Pratchett included?
Moderator: Another 1 from the audience: What was the inspiration for Croup and Vandemar?
neilgaiman: Mostly, collaborations don't get planned -- they sort of happen out of nowhere and surprise the both of you (Good Omens was written in 9 weeks, and took Terry and I by surprise)... I'm half way through a story with harlan Ellison. We're meant to finish it in November.
Moderator: any spoilers?
Didi: You won the World Fantasy award for "A Midsummer Night's Dream." How did it feel winning such an elitist award for a story which was both a commercial success (something the WFA committee tends to frown upon) and comics, a genre commonly seen as "less literary"?
Didi: Wow, a collaboration with Ellison sounds both enticing and... difficult.
neilgaiman: Croup and Vandemar were inspired by two people I walked past, in a lonely place, when I was about 18. One was small and oily, one big and kind of vacant, and they stared at me as I walked past, and I felt lucky to have escaped with my life. And the thought popped into my head "They're Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar".
neilgaiman: The harlan story is called Shoot Day For Night.
Moderator: and content spoilers?
neilgaiman: It felt great to get the WORLD FANTASY AWARD -- the only thing that left me puzzled is that the following day they changed the rules to make sure that no other comics could win the award. Which seemed petty and silly.
neilgaiman: The Halran story is about a guy who lives for free, and movie he watches tha he wishes he hadn't.
Duke Galorin: I'm sorry if somone asked it befor i came in, but is there any way we can force you to tell us the meaning of the hint about loky being manipulated in the "Kindly ones"?
Moderator: quite often your minor characters bloom later on in the novel or series. Is it planned, or does it "just happen"?
Didi: Aren't the people who changed the rules and the people who voted you the award the same people? Or do they have a separate rules committee? In any case, and does sound VERY petty.
neilgaiman: Re; loki. You could offer huge quantities of money, i suppose. I'm not sure it would work, but you could try.
Didi: Wow. we've got a bit of a question overload
neilgaiman: Didi -- the World fantasy Award judges change every year, the committee of eminences grises behind the scenes stay the same.
Didi: Ah.
neilgaiman: Re: Minor characters -- sometimes one, sometimes the other. Occasionally -- I do it in American Gods, I took great delight in bringing on characters knowing that in 200 pages time they'd be very important. But on the other hand, sometimes (in Sandman and in American Gods) I'd like someone and want to know what happened to them later.
Moderator: Ok, people, time is almost over
Moderator: We would like to thank Mr. Gaiman for a great chat, and for being with us today (tonight)
neilgaiman: you're very welcome -- next time, I hope, in the flesh.
Didi: We'd also like to thanks the audience for being here and asking questions.
Didi: And we hope to have you here
Didi: And I hope you people run (not walk) and BUY NEIL'S BOOKS!
**neilgaiman has left (quit)**

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