Neil Gaiman is a gentleman. I had always suspected as much, but after my recent Q&A conference call with him, it was confirmed.
Let me back up a bit. I have long been an admirer of Neil’s work. My first introduction was his magnificent opus, The Sandman graphic novel series. I was entranced with how he combined humor, pathos and allusions from pop culture to Greek mythology to reinvigorate the graphical novel format. I was so inspired that my musician friend Paul and I used it as the starting point for a gothic opera, Veil & Subdue.
After that, I couldn’t get enough. Neverwhere was a particular favorite, then Coraline, then American Gods and Anansi Boys and so on. In brief, he was on my short list of writers who transcended simple fantasy into the fantastical. Thus, when the opportunity to do a Q&A on behalf of Blogcritics showed up, I nearly broke my laptop’s touchpad in my haste to claim it.
It was my first official Q&A and I was so nervous. I had fewer than 20 hours to prepare a question for someone whom I considered not only extremely talented, but supportive to other writers and readers (more on that later).
Naturally, I slept not a wink. Questions floated through my head; I plucked haplessly at them like dandelion seeds: some were too obvious, some too pandering and a few too cutesy.
The hour of the conference call arrived. I dialed in early and listened to the hold music. The instructions came on: Press *1 if you have a question. “Oh, do I,” thought I. Done, I pressed the keypad.
And then Neil Gaiman came on the line. He was as witty and self-effacing as I had imagined, with a wonderful speaking voice – sonorous, yet gentle. His answers were humorous and diplomatic. One reporter asked him if he felt there was something missing in the current glut of vampire, werewolf and zombie books. His response went straight to the point, which is about diminishing literary returns with the loss of passion: