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From Coraline to The Sandman and American Gods to Doctor Who, Neil Gaiman has made his mark by bringing fantasy and sci-fi from the fringe and into the spotlight. Gaiman joins Clem Bastow onstage to talk about his varied work, the tyranny of genre, sneezing baby pandas and red daleks.

Gaiman’s conversation is lively and wide-ranging; he moves quickly from describing why he feels like a fraud to discussing why he’s not published in mainland China (and how a sneezing panda named Chu might change that). When Bastow asks him if he’s bothered by the effect genre prejudices may have on whether all of his work is read or not, he says that beginning as a comic writer, “every single possible prejudice that can be levelled at an area of the arts is levelled at you.”

The breadth of his output is one of Gaiman’s most distinctive features. Speaking about his reluctance to be pigeonholed as a writer, he reveals that his restlessness stems from what he learned during early days as a journalist interviewing other writers. He also describes how he tries to enter the storytelling process as openly as possible.

Questions are invited early in the session, prefaced by Gaiman’s explanation of what he considers a question. Gaiman engages playfully with his audience, who ask questions about his inspiration for Neverwhere, his creative approach, his resistance to his work appearing in school curriculums, plot outlines and his knowledge of his characters.

He’s queried on where his ideas originate — “the question that must not be asked of writers” — and elucidates the experience of writing for Doctor Who (“um… it was awesome!”).

On weightier topics, Gaiman talks about the ideas behind his unconventional characterisation of death and the kind of death he’d prefer to meet. He offers his thoughts on love and vulnerability and confesses that as a social creature, “writing is peculiarly lonely”.

To close the evening, Gaiman slips his iPad onto his lap and reads a poem he wrote for an Australia Day event earlier in 2011. “There are so few places in the world that I could possibly read this poem,” he explains.

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Posted:

22 Dec 2011

Filmed on:

16 Dec 2011

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3 comments so far:

This was so great. Loved it. Clem Bastow was the perfect choice for interviewer too... I found her frustrating in the past, but she was great here. What a charming guy Neil seems to be, and brimming with bright energy.


22 December at 08:15PM

Thanks for posting this, my wife and daughter went, and I now I can share in the fascinating goodness - especially since my daughter asked the Dr Who question at 24m57s ;)

Fraser
22 December at 09:36PM

It's impossible not to enjoy Neil Gaiman :)


21 February at 02:05PM

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