- Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe.
- It has always been the prerogative of children and half-wits to point out that the emperor has no clothes. But the half-wit remains a half-wit, and the emperor remains an emperor.
- The Sandman
- Life — and I don't suppose I'm the first to make this comparison — is a disease: sexually transmitted, and invariably fatal.
- Death Talks About Life (January 1993)
- Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses. You build up a whole armor, for years, so nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life... You give them a piece of you. They didn't ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like 'maybe we should be just friends' or 'how very perceptive' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a body-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. Nothing should be able to do that. Especially not love. I hate love.
- The character "Rose Walker" in The Sandman #65
- Whatever happened to me in my life, happened to me as a writer of plays. I'd fall in love, or fall in lust. And at the height of my passion, I would think, "So this is how it feels," and I would tie it up in pretty words. I watched my life as if it were happening to someone else. My son died. And I was hurt, but I watched my hurt, and even relished it, a little, for now I could write a real death, a true loss. My heart was broken by my dark lady, and I wept, in my room, alone; but while I wept, somewhere inside I smiled. For I knew I could take my broken heart and place it on the stage of The Globe, and make the pit cry tears of their own.
- 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.
- "Where do you get your ideas?" (1997)
- I wanted to put a reference to masturbation in one of the scripts for the Sandman. It was immediately cut by the editor [Karen Berger]. She told me, "There's no masturbation in the DC Universe." To which my reaction was, "Well that explains a lot about the DC Universe."
- The Sandman Companion (1999)
- You can tell when a Hollywood historical film was made by looking at the eye makeup of their leading ladies, and you can tell the date of an old science fiction novel by every word on the page. Nothing dates harder and faster and more strangely than the future.
- "Of Time, and Gully Foyle", Foreword to a 1999 edition of The Stars My Destination (1956)
- Do not be jealous of your sister.
Know that diamonds and roses
are as uncomfortable when they tumble from
one's lips as toads and frogs:
colder, too, and sharper, and they cut.
- "Instructions", first published in A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales (2000) edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
- Last year, initially The Scotsman newspaper — being Scottish and J. K. Rowling being Scottish — and because of the English tendency to try and tear down their idols, they kept trying to build stories which said J. K. Rowling ripped off Neil Gaiman. They kept getting in touch with me and I kept declining to play because I thought it was silly. And then The Daily Mirror in England ran an article about that mad woman who was trying to sue J. K. Rowling over having stolen muggles from her. And they finished off with a line saying [something like]: And Neil Gaiman has accused her of stealing.
Luckily I found this online and I found it the night it came out by pure coincidence and the reporter's e-mail address was at the bottom of the thing so I fired off an e-mail saying: This is not true, I never said this. You are making this up. I got an apologetic e-mail back, but by the time I'd gotten the apologetic e-mail back it was already in The Daily Mail the following morning and it was very obvious that The Daily Mail‘s research [had] consisted of reading The Daily Mirror. And you're going: journalists are so lazy.
- Writers may be solitary but they also tend to flock together: they like being solitary together. I knew a lot of writers in London and many of them were award-winning writers and many of them were award-winning, respectable writers. And the trouble with being an award-winning, respectable writer is that you probably are not making a living.
If you write one well-reviewed, well-respected, not bad selling, but not a bestseller list book every three years, which you sell for a whopping 30,000 pounds, that's still going to average out to 10,000 pounds a year and you will make more managing a McDonald's. With overtime you'd probably make more working in a McDonald's. So there were incredibly well-respected, award-winning senior writers who, to make ends meet, were writing film novelizations and TV novelizations under pen names that they were desperately embarrassed about and didn't want anybody to know about.
- January magazine interview (2002)
- We are small but we are many, we are many we are small; we were here before you rose, we will be here when you fall.
- Coraline (2002)
- Fuck! I got a Hugo!
- Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.
- The world always seems brighter when you've just made something that wasn't there before.
- What most people don't know about love, sex, and relations with other human beings would fill a book. Strangers in Paradise is that book. I have long suspected that what people did in private was much funnier than it ever was erotic. Terry Moore obviously thinks so too. Strangers in Paradise is a delightful new comic, and Terry Moore is a fun writer and a fine cartoonist.
- Blurb on The Complete Strangers In Paradise (2004), Vol. 1
- Chesterton was important — as important to me in his way as C. S. Lewis had been.
You see, while I loved Tolkien and while I wished to have written his book, I had no desire at all to write like him. Tolkien’s words and sentences seemed like natural things, like rock formations or waterfalls, and wanting to write like Tolkien would have been, for me, like wanting to blossom like a cherry tree or climb a tree like a squirrel or rain like a thunderstorm. Chesterton was the complete opposite. I was always aware, reading Chesterton, that there was someone writing this who rejoiced in words, who deployed them on the page as an artist deploys his paints upon his palette. Behind every Chesterton sentence there was someone painting with words, and it seemed to me that at the end of any particularly good sentence or any perfectly-put paradox, you could hear the author, somewhere behind the scenes, giggling with delight.
- Chesterton and Tolkien and Lewis were, as I’ve said, not the only writers I read between the ages of six and thirteen, but they were the authors I read over and over again; each of them played a part in building me. Without them, I cannot imagine that I would have become a writer, and certainly not a writer of fantastic fiction. I would not have understood that the best way to show people true things is from a direction that they had not imagined the truth coming, nor that the majesty and the magic of belief and dreams could be a vital part of life and of writing.
And without those three writers, I would not be here today. And nor, of course, would any of you. I thank you.
- "Mythcon 35 Guest of Honor Speech", in Mythprint (October 2004)
- I'm not sure it's entirely a good thing... I've always loved the gutter.
- Response to a question about the increasing critical acceptance of fantasy writing, in a Radio interview, Studio 360 show 640, originally broadcast (1 October 2005)
- American Gods is about 200,000 words long, and I'm sure there are words that are simply in there 'cause I like them. I know I couldn't justify each and every one of them.
- In response to a question about whether he writes differently for different audiences, in an Inteview at HarperCollins.com
- I wish I had an origin story for you. When I was four, I was bitten by a radioactive myth.
- On how his interest in mythology started, in an interview with Bookslut (October 2006)
- Travers's Mary Poppins was a natural phenomena, ancient as mountain ranges, on first-name terms with the primal powers of the universe, adored and respected by everything that saw the world as it was. And she was a mystery. … philosophically, I suspect now, the universe of Mary Poppins underpins all my writing …
- In his Foreword to Myth, Symbol, and Meaning in Mary Poppins: The Governess as Provocateur (2007) by Giorgia Grilli, p. xiii
- The best thing about writing fiction is that moment where the story catches fire and comes to life on the page, and suddenly it all makes sense and you know what it's about and why you're doing it and what these people are saying and doing, and you get to feel like both the creator and the audience. Everything is suddenly both obvious and surprising ("but of course that's why he was doing that, and that means that...") and it's magic and wonderful and strange.
- Neil Gaiman's Journal (15 October 2007)
- Why do I have this imagination? It's the only one I've got!
- San Diego Comicon (2007)
- I tweet, therefore my entire life has shrunk to 140 character chunks of instant event and predigested gnomic wisdom. And swearing.
- Honestly, if you're given the choice between Armageddon or tea, you don't say "what kind of tea?"
- Off to bed. If squirrels take over in the night, I, for one, welcome our new bushy-tailed scampering overlords, & I know where the nuts are.
- I don't know what it's like to be God — obviously …until that very first moment when you get to sit down and type the words in your script: INTERIOR. TARDIS. … Suddenly I got a very good idea of what it must feel like. I went: "I'm writing it now this scene in the Tardis. I'm writing it!" And that was amazing, it was wonderful.
- On writing the script for the episode of Doctor Who, "The Doctor's Wife" (originally titled "House of Nothing"), as quoted in "Neil Gaiman reveals power of writing Doctor Who" by Tim Masters at BBC News (24 May 2010)
- Doctor Who has never pretended to be hard science fiction … At best Doctor Who is a fairytale, with fairytale logic about this wonderful man in this big blue box who at the beginning of every story lands somewhere where there is a problem.
- As quoted in "Neil Gaiman reveals power of writing Doctor Who" by Tim Masters at BBC News (24 May 2010)
Signal to Noise (1992)Edit
- In Hollywood the man who cleans your pool is an actor. The man who sells you your copy of Variety is an actor. I don't think there's a real person left in the place.
- We live in a world in which the only utopian visions arrive in commercial breaks: magical visions of an impossibly hospitable world, peopled by bright-eyed attractive men, women, children... Where nobody dies... In my worlds people died. And I thought that was honest. I thought I was being honest.
- The world is always ending, for someone.
- I don't believe in Apocalypses. I believe in Apocatastases. I think it may be the title for The Film. It's a bitch to pronounce, and no-one knows what it means, but otherwise it's a great title.
- Apocatastasis. What it means:
1) Restoration, re-establishment, renovation
2) Return to a previous condition
3) (Astronomy) Return to the same apparent position, completion of a period of revolution.
Think about it.
- We are always living in the final days. What have you got? A hundred years or much, much less until the end of your world.
- “You’ve a good heart,” she told him. “Sometimes that’s enough to see you safe wherever you go.” Then she shook her head. “But mostly, it’s not.”
- Unimpressed was his default state.
- Chapter 4
- “I have always felt,” he said, “that violence was the last refuge of the incompetent, and empty threats the final sanctuary of the terminally inept.”
- He had gone beyond the world of metaphor and simile into the place of things that are, and it was changing him.
- Chapter 16
- "The little folk dare anything", said his friend. "And they talk a lot of nonsense. But they talks an awful lot of sense, as well. You listen to 'em at your peril, and you ignore 'em at your peril, too."
- When I was very young, somebody — maybe it was a squirrel, they talk so much, or a magpie, or maybe a fishie — told me that Pan owned all this forest. Well, not owned owned. Not like he would sell the forest to someone else, or put a wall all around it … It's not hard to own something. Or everything. You just have to know that it's yours, and then be willing to let it go.
American Gods (2001)Edit
- Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end.
- Ch. 3
- All we have to believe with is our senses, the tools we use to perceive the world: our sight, our touch, our memory. If they lie to us, then nothing can be trusted. And even if we do not believe, then still we cannot travel in any other way than the road our senses show us; and we must walk that road to the end.
- Ch. 6
- There's never been a true war that wasn't fought between two sets of people who were certain they were in the right. The really dangerous people believe they are doing whatever they are doing solely and only because it is without question the right thing to do. And that is what makes them dangerous.
- "Mr. Wednesday" to Shadow, in Ch. 9
Anansi Boys (2005)Edit
- There was reality and there was reality; and some things were more real than others.
- Ch. 9
- It was England in the autumn; the sun was, by definition, something that only happened when it wasn't cloudy or raining.
- Ch. 9
- "You're no help," he told the lime. This was unfair. It was only a lime; there was nothing special about it at all. It was doing the best it could.
- Ch. 12
- … the beast made the noise of a cat being shampooed, a lonely wail of horror and outrage, of shame and defeat.
- Ch. 13
Fragile Things (2006)Edit
- I think... I would rather recollect a life misspent on fragile things than spent avoiding moral debt.
- In every way that counted, I was dead. Inside somewhere maybe I was screaming and weeping and howling like an animal, but that was another person deep inside, another person who had no access to the face and lips and mouth and head, so on the surface I just shrugged and smiled and kept moving.
- From Bitter Grounds
- I had to go to the store, I had decided, to bring back some apples — and I went past the store that sold apples and I kept driving, and driving. I was going south, and west, because if I went north or east I would run out of world too soon.
- From Bitter Grounds
- And he still thinks, in the little bit of his head that's still him, that he's not a zombie. That he's not dead, that there's a threshold he hasn't stepped over. But he crossed it long time ago.
- From Bitter Grounds
- She does not know where any tale waits before it's told. (No more do I.) But forty thieves sounds good, so forty thieves it is. She prays she has bought another clutch of days. We save our lives in such unlikely ways.
- From Inventing Aladdin
- My grandpa sells condoms to sailors, He punctures the tips with a pin, My grandma does back-street abortions, My god how the money rolls in.
- From the Monarch in the Glenn
- If they think you're a hero, they're wrong. After you die, you don't get to be Beowulf or Perseus or Rama any more. Whole different set of rules. Chess, not checkers. Go, not chess. You understand?
- From the Monarch in the Glenn
The Graveyard Book (2008)Edit
- At the best of times his face was unreadable. Now his face was a book written in a language long forgotten, in an alphabet unimagined. Silas wrapped the shadows around him like a blanket, and stared after the way the boy had gone, and did not move to follow.
- Ch. 6
- People want to forget the impossible. It makes their world safer.
- Ch. 7
- Bod walked back into the graveyard and up the hill, until he reached the Frobisher mausoleum. He did not enter it. He climbed up the side of the building, using the thick ivy root as a foothold, and he pulled himself up onto the stone roof, where he sat and thought looking out at the world of moving things beyond the graveyard, and he remembered the way Scarlett had held him and how safe he felt, if only for a moment, and how fine it would be to walk safely in the lands beyond the graveyard, and how good it was to be master of his own small world.
- Ch. 7
- Bod said, "I want to see life. I want to hold it in my hands. I want to leave a footprint on the sand of a desert island. I want to play football with people. I want," he said, and then he paused, and thought. "I want everything."
- Ch. 8
Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming (2013)Edit
- Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming (October 15, 2013)
- Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it's a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it's hard, because someone's in trouble and you have to know how it's all going to end … that's a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you're on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a post-literate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading. People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far.
- The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them. I don't think there is such a thing as a bad book for children.
Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of children's books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading...It's tosh. It's snobbery and it's foolishness. There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories. A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn't hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you.
Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child's love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian "improving" literature. You'll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant.
- And the second thing fiction does is to build empathy. When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You're being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you're going to be slightly changed. Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.
- You're also finding out something as you read vitally important for making your way in the world. And it's this: The world doesn't have to be like this. Things can be different.
- Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you've never been. Once you've visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.
- But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information. I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally.
- Libraries really are the gates to the future. So it is unfortunate that, round the world, we observe local authorities seizing the opportunity to close libraries as an easy way to save money, without realising that they are stealing from the future to pay for today. They are closing the gates that should be open.
- Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have long outlasted the cultures and the buildings in which they were first told. I think we have responsibilities to the future. Responsibilities and obligations to children, to the adults those children will become, to the world they will find themselves inhabiting. All of us – as readers, as writers, as citizens – have obligations.
- We writers – and especially writers for children, but all writers – have an obligation to our readers: it's the obligation to write true things, especially important when we are creating tales of people who do not exist in places that never were – to understand that truth is not in what happens but what it tells us about who we are. Fiction is the lie that tells the truth, after all.
- We have an obligation to make things beautiful. Not to leave the world uglier than we found it, not to empty the oceans, not to leave our problems for the next generation. We have an obligation to clean up after ourselves, and not leave our children with a world we've shortsightedly messed up, shortchanged, and crippled.
The Kate Bush Story (2014)Edit
- Quotes of Gaiman from the BBC documentary The Kate Bush Story (2014)
- I'd never heard anything like it before. It was like banshee music. This absolutely otherworldly voice, singing about a book, and as a bookish kid, I was always fascinated by anything, any music that seems to be about or inspired by books.
- On the song "Wuthering Heights"
- One of the things I love about Kate Bush is her absolute ability to take things, to pluck things that you would never expect to see on a rock album, and put them there and make them work. James Joyce's Ulysses — one of the greatest passages in all of English or Anglo-Irish literature, is Molly Bloom's glorious soliloquy ending in a sequence of Yeses. It's about embracing the world of the senses, embracing yourself, embracing sex, embracing love, embracing the future, embracing all possibility, and it goes all the way back to me, to "Wuthering Heights" — this is somebody who is not afraid of books. This is somebody who is not afraid of reading, somebody who's not afraid of writers, and who's not afraid of translating, being an intermediary, being a door, between the world of books and the world of rock.
- Kate Bush makes a record, and you don’t hear from her. And you play the stuff she has made, and one day you are surprised, and she brings out something else, and she's been quietly working away on it, for however long she wanted to work on it, and I love that. I love the willingness to be quiet, until its time to speak — which is something that she does over and over.
Good Omens: How Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett wrote a book (2014)Edit
- "Good Omens: How Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett wrote a book" in BBC News Magazine (21 December 2014), an account by Gaiman of how he and Pratchett met and worked together.
- For the uninitiated, Good Omens is a story about how the world is going to end next Saturday. Just after tea. And how the only things standing between us and the inevitable Armageddon are a demon, Crowley, and an angel (and rare book dealer), Aziraphale, who are, rather uncomfortably, working together, not to mention a witch, a very small witchfinder army, the Antichrist (who is 11, and very nice) and his dog.
- Terry Pratchett and I met in February 1985, in a Chinese restaurant. I was a young journalist. He was a former journalist and Electricity Board PR, and a writer who had just published his second Discworld novel. I was the first journalist who had ever interviewed him.
I remember we made each other laugh a lot. We laughed at the same things. We became friends. It was easy.
- I wrote the first 5,000 words of William the Antichrist. It had a demon named Crawleigh. He drove a Citroen 2CV, and was ineffectual. Proper demons like Hastur and Ligur loathed him. It had a baby swap. I sent it to a few friends for feedback. Then my graphic novel Sandman happened, and it was almost a year later that the phone rang.
"It's Terry," said Terry. "'Ere. That thing you sent me. Are you doing anything with it?"
"Well, I think I know what happens next. Do you want to sell it to me? Or write it together?"
"Write it together," I said, because I was not stupid, and because that was the nearest I was ever going to get to Michaelangelo phoning to ask if I wanted to paint a ceiling with him.
- We wrote the first draft in about nine weeks. Nine weeks of gloriously long phone calls, in which we would read each other what we'd written, and try to make the other one laugh. We'd plot, delightedly, and then hurry off the phone, determined to get to the next good bit before the other one could. We'd rewrite each other, footnote each other's pages, sometimes even footnote each other's footnotes.
- Have a nice doomsday.
Quotes about GaimanEdit
- If you need me, me and Neil will be hanging out with the Dream King. Neil says 'hi', by the way...
- "Tear in Your Hand" on Little Earthquakes (1991); in 1994, Gaiman wrote the foreword for a concert program book, which was sold while Amos was on tour. He started the foreword with the sentence, "Hi, by the way."
- But will you find me if Neil makes me a tree?
- Seems I keep getting this story twisted so, where's Neil when you need him?
- "Space Dog"
- Get me Neil on the line. No, I can't hold. Have him read 'Snow, Glass, Apples' where nothing is what it seems.
- Where are the Velvets?
- "Hotel" in reference to the life-essence vampires of Neverwhere