Neil Gaiman

  • Aug. 8th, 2016 at 8:06 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: open book rose)
It would be a poor sort of world if one were only able to read authors who expressed points of view that one agreed with entirely. It would be a bland sort of world if we could not spend time with people who thought differently, and who saw the world from a different place. Kipling was many things that I am not, and I like that in my authors.

Neil Gaiman

  • Jun. 10th, 2014 at 9:49 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: open book rose)
...It occurs to me that the peculiarity of most things we think of as fragile is how tough they truly are. There were tricks we did with eggs, as children, to show who they were, in reality, tiny load-bearing marble halls; while the beat of the wings of a butterfly in the right place, we are told, can create a hurricane across an ocean. Hearts may break, but hearts are the toughest of muscles, able to pump for a lifetime, seventy times a minute, and scarcely falter along the way. Even dreams, the most delicate and intangible of things, can prove remarkable to kill...

Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds’ eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on air, composed of sounds and ideas—abstract, invisible, gone once they’ve been spoken—and what could be more frail than that? But some stories, small, simple ones about setting out on adventures or people doing wonders, tales of miracles and monsters, have outlasted all the people who told them, and some of them have outlasted the lands in which they were created.

Neil Gaiman

  • May. 13th, 2013 at 11:18 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: open book rose)
I like to imagine things... It's the power of concretizing a metaphor. Taking something and making it real and making it happen and seeing where it goes. It's a special kind of magic.

Neil Gaiman

  • Feb. 14th, 2013 at 11:00 PM
beth_shulman: (stock: open book rose)
Be wise, because the world needs more wisdom. And if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise, and then just behave like they would.

Neil Gaiman

  • Jun. 4th, 2012 at 12:02 AM
beth_shulman: (book: wizard heir)
The urge starting out is to copy. And that's not a bad thing. Most of us only find our voices after we've sounded like a lot of other people... The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you're walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself - that's the moment you may be starting to get it right.


Neil Gaiman

  • May. 13th, 2012 at 9:07 PM
beth_shulman: (Default)
People want to forget the impossible. It makes their world safer.

(The Graveyard Book)

Neil Gaiman

  • Jun. 19th, 2011 at 2:07 AM
beth_shulman: (book: wizard heir)

I thought I’d talk about authors, and about three authors in particular, and the circumstances in which I met them.

There are authors with whom one has a personal relationship and authors with whom one does not. There are the ones who change your life and the ones who don’t. That’s just the way of it.

I was six years old when I saw an episode of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe in black and white on television at my grandmother’s house in Portsmouth... I went home to Sussex and saved my meagre pocket money until I was able to buy a copy of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe of my own. I read it, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the other book I could find, over and over, and when my seventh birthday arrived I had dropped enough hints that my birthday present was a boxed set of the complete Narnia books. And I remember what I did on my seventh birthday — I lay on my bed and I read the books all through, from the first to the last.

For the next four or five years I continued to read them. I would read other books, of course, but in my heart I knew that I read them only because there wasn’t an infinite number of Narnia books to read.

For good or ill the religious allegory, such as it was, went entirely over my head, and it was not until I was about twelve that I found myself realising that there were Certain Parallels. Most people get it at the Stone Table; I got it when it suddenly occurred to me that the story of the events that occurred to Saint Paul on the road to Damascus was the dragoning of Eustace Scrubb all over again. I was personally offended: I felt that an author, whom I had trusted, had had a hidden agenda. I had nothing against religion, or religion in fiction — I had bought (in the school bookshop) and loved The Screwtape Letters, and was already dedicated to G.K. Chesterton. My upset was, I think, that it made less of Narnia for me, it made it less interesting a thing, less interesting a place. Still, the lessons of Narnia sank deep...

C.S. Lewis was the first person to make me want to be a writer. He made me aware of the writer, that there was someone standing behind the words, that there was someone telling the story. I fell in love with the way he used parentheses — the auctorial asides that were both wise and chatty, and I rejoiced in using such brackets in my own essays and compositions through the rest of my childhood.

I think, perhaps, the genius of Lewis was that he made a world that was more real to me than the one I lived in; and if authors got to write the tales of Narnia, then I wanted to be an author.

If there is a wrong way to find Tolkein, I found Tolkein entirely the wrong way. )

Neil Gaiman

  • Feb. 1st, 2011 at 1:56 PM
beth_shulman: (book: wizard heir)
"He stared up at the stars: and it seemed to him then that they were dancers, stately and graceful, performing a dance almost infinite in its complexity. He imagined he could see the very faces of the stars; pale, they were, and smiling gently, as if they had spent so much time above the world, watching the scrambling and the joy and the pain of the people below them, that they could not help being amused every time another little human believed itself the center of its world, as each of us does." (Stardust)

Neil Gaiman

  • Oct. 24th, 2010 at 8:34 PM
beth_shulman: (black and white tree scene)
I don't know any creators of fictions who start writing with nothing but a blank page. (They may exist. I just haven't met any.) Mostly you have something. An image, or a character. And mostly you also have either a beginning, a middle or an end. Middles are good to have, because by the time you reach the middle you have a pretty good head of steam up; and ends are great. If you know how it ends, you can just start somewhere, aim, and begin to write (and, if you're lucky, it may even end where you were hoping to go)...

So there I was, four years ago, with only a beginning. And you need more than a beginning if you're going to start a book. If all you have is a beginning, then once you've written that beginning, you have nowhere to go...

And one day I looked up, and it was January 2001, and I was sitting in an ancient and empty house in Ireland with a peat fire making no impression at all on the stark cold of the room. I saved the document on the computer, and I realized I'd finished writing a book.

I wondered what I'd learned, and found myself remembering something Gene Wolfe had told me, six months earlier. "You never learn how to write a novel," he said. "You just learn how to write the novel that you're writing."


From Neil Gaiman's Newbery Acceptance Speech

  • Sep. 21st, 2010 at 12:31 AM
beth_shulman: (book: meg powers)
In case you were wondering what I'm doing up here--and I think it's a safe bet that right now I am, so that makes at least two of us--I'm here because I wrote a book, called The Graveyard Book, that was awarded the 2009 Newbery Medal.

This means that I have impressed my daughters by having been awarded the Newbery Medal, and I impressed my son even more by defending the fact that I had won the Newbery Medal from the hilarious attacks of Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report, so the Newbery Medal made me cool to my children. This is as good as it gets.

You are almost never cool to your children...

It was 5:45 in the morning. No one had died, though, I was fairly certain of that. My cell phone rang.

"Hello. This is Rose Trevino. I'm chair of the ALA Newbery committee ..." Oh, I thought, blearily. Newbery. Right. Cool. I may be an honor book or something. That would be nice. "And I have the voting members of the Newbery committee here, and we want to tell you that your book ..."

"THE GRAVEYARD BOOK," said fourteen loud voices, and I thought, I may be still asleep right now, but they probably don't do this, probably don't call people and sound so amazingly excited, for honor books ...

"... just won ..."

"THE NEWBERY MEDAL," they chorused. They sounded really happy. I checked the hotel room because it seemed very likely that I was still fast asleep. It all looked reassuringly solid.

You are on a speaker-phone with at least fifteen teachers and librarians and suchlike great, wise, and good people, I thought. Do not start swearing like you did when you got the Hugo Award. This was a wise thing to think because otherwise huge, mighty, and four-letter swears were gathering. I mean, that's what they're for. I think I said, You mean it's Monday? And I fumfed and mumbled and said something of a thank you thank you thank you okay this was worth being woken up for nature.

And then the world went mad... )

Neil Gaiman

  • Sep. 7th, 2010 at 8:17 PM
beth_shulman: (book: wizard heir)
"People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes."

Neil Gaiman

  • Aug. 2nd, 2010 at 12:44 AM
beth_shulman: (Default)
“Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and adventures are the shadow truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes and forgotten."

Neil Gaiman

  • Jun. 29th, 2010 at 3:46 PM
beth_shulman: (books)
"You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it."

Neil Gaiman

  • May. 25th, 2010 at 4:51 PM
beth_shulman: (black and white tree scene)
"I've been making a list of the things they don't teach you at school. They don't teach you how to love somebody. They don't teach you how to be famous. They don't teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don't teach you how to walk away from someone you don't love any longer. They don't teach you how to know what's going on in someone else's mind. They don't teach you what to say to someone who's dying. They don't teach you anything worth knowing." (The Kindly Ones)

Neil Gaiman

  • May. 25th, 2010 at 4:46 PM
beth_shulman: (Default)
“We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things…”


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