Feature – New York Daily News

From the October 2nd Daily News:

It’s an event of mythical proportions.
This month, best-selling author Neil Gaiman delivers two fantastical stories steeped in the sacred and surreal.

Mirrormask,, a film written by Gaiman and directed by his long-time collaborator Dave McKean, arrived in theaters Friday. Made for just $4 million by the visually visceral Jim Henson Company, the trippy tale (live action tweaked with digital animation) follows Helena, a 15-year-old who flees the circus and takes up residence in the Dark Lands – a world of floating giants, quizzical sphinxes and schools of fish who swim through the air.

Also out is Anansi Boys, a humorous novel about the human son of Anansi, the West African spider-god and trickster. Best known for the epic gothic (and graphic) novel The Sandman, about the King of Dreams, Gaiman, 44, refuses to be pigeonholed into one writing genre.

“That would be like being told you can only eat one thing forever,” he says, dressed in his customary black and grabbing fistfuls of his hair.

Instead, his award-winning best sellers take the form of comics, novels, screenplays and children’s books. “People consider him a visionary who has his finger on the zeitgeist,” says Charlotte Abbott, senior editor at Publishers Weekly. “He is a cult figure who speaks to everyone from sci-fi fantasy fans to children to the middle aged.”

Speaking with Gaiman is like chatting up a librarian – references spanning centuries and cultures drop from his lips like conjunctions.

“He’s very well read and goes through six books at once,” says McKean, who has worked with Gaiman on projects like Coraline, a children’s book currently being adapted for film. “The references come thick and fast, and I believe that’s where he gets his mechanics on writing narratives.”

Gaiman’s love of lore began early in his childhood in England. When he was just 7, he read Norse adventures until the books split at the seams. By the time he dove into “Tales of Ancient Egypt” he took precautions, covering the tome in plastic.

“Looking back, that’s weird for a 7-year-old,” he says, adding that his nightmares came not from these lurid tales but from the “sheer hell of being at school.”

“But I had the advantage in England, where being a bright boy with no interest in sports was not considered a bad thing.”

Now, he lives just outside Minneapolis, in a large home that holds both his family and a vast collection of books, comics and magazines. He draws inspiration from both.

“The process of writing is like Wile E. Coyote running across the canyon,” says Gaiman, who admits to ugly bouts of both self-doubt and writer’s block. “The trouble with authors is that you run so slow you look down, knowing there is actually nothing underneath you, that you’ve built this whole thing out of words that you made up.
–Rebecca Louie