Known by his colleague, co-author and regular illustrative collaborator Chris Riddell as the ‘wise wizard’, Neil Gaiman is amongst Britain’s foremost writers of fantasy and graphic novels; blending mythologies, folklore and urban legend in a diverse portfolio that embraces the ground-breaking graphic novel series The Sandman, contemporary children’s classics, The Graveyard Book and Coraline and adult fiction including Stardust, Neverwhere and the masterpiece that is American Gods.
After three years in prison, Shadow has served his time. But as the days and hours until his release tick away, he can feel a storm brewing. Two days before his release date, his wife Laura dies in a mysterious car crash, in adulterous circumstances. Dazed, Shadow travels home, only to encounter the bizarre Mr Wednesday. Together they embark on a very strange journey across the States.
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The Waterstones Podcast
From page to stage or screen (or beyond); we look at the art of adaptation with Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood and R.J. Palacio.
A self-confessed "feral child who was raised in libraries", Neil Gaiman’s career began in England as a journalist and biographer (his first works were biographies of Duran Duran and Douglas Adams). Discovering a talent for creative pastiche, he moved into penning graphic novels, collaborating with David McKean on the DC series Black Orchid.
Gaiman paired up with McKean again for the series which made his name. Beginning, famously, with the words "wake up", the first issue of The Sandman quickly became a cult phenomenon. Headily imaginative and visually arresting, the original comic spawned a further 75 issues, involving collaboration with artists including Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Jill Thompson, Shawn McManus, Marc Hempel, and Michael Zulli.
The Old Gods and the New
Moving into prose fiction in the early Nineties, Gaiman’s first novel, the anarchically funny Good Omens, was written in collaboration with Terry Pratchett for his Discworld series. He followed this with his first solo novel, Neverwhere (described in one review as ‘the sort of book Terry Pratchett might produce if he spent a month locked in a cellar with Franz Kafka’). Gaiman’s lifelong love of post-modern metamorphosed mythology undoubtedly achieved full-flight in his sprawling contemporary satirical epic, American Gods. Now a major television series, the novel was praised by The Times for its ‘wit and sense of the marvellous’, imagining ancient deities forced into conflict with a host of new and powerful gods reflecting a new America entranced by media, celebrity, technology, and drugs.
Worlds within Worlds
Gaiman’s fiction has steadily encompassed ever more creative territory, with the author turning his hand to an elaborate collection of fantasy novels and short stories including Stardust, Anansi Boys, The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Smoke and Mirrors as well as a recent return to gods behaving badly for his reimagining of Norse Mythology. This has come alongside popular books for children ranging from gothic delights The Graveyard Book (for which he won the prestigious Carnegie Medal) and Coraline to illustrated fairy tales Odd and the Frost Giants and The Sleeper and The Spindle.
Ever on the lookout for stories ripe for reinvention, it’s difficult to predict where Gaiman’s eye will fall next, he says: "There’s a real joy in passing these things on. It’s like being given something that belongs to humanity and polishing it and cleaning it up and putting it back out there."
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