Last Monday I was lucky enough to have tickets for Neil Gaiman’s ‘last’ public appearance. Whether this is just his last talk in England or his last planned one, I don’t mind. Let the man write in peace. While it’s lovely to see famous writers, the travelling and time spent on these is time not at the desk. And apparently Neil has quite a few things planned.
- Sandman 0. Neil’s extremely successful series Sandman might be getting a prequel. The comic begins at a time when Dream, the godlike Sandman, is captured by accident rather than his sister Death. This only happens because he wore himself out, used too much power. So what was he doing? The nicknamed hypothetical book ‘Sandman 0’ will reveal all. Neil seems anxious about how fans will react to this book ‘every time I sit down to write I imagine my fans saying “we waited 16 years for that?”‘ It’s sure to be excellent.
- Neverwhere sequel, ‘How the Marquis got his Coat Back.’ Since the BBC radio adaptation of Neverwhere, a book about the magic and mystery of an alternate ‘London Below’, the characters have been on Neil’s mind. It is likely to be a short story of around 10,000 words, and will feature the scary Shepherds of Shepherd’s Bush, the Elephant of Elephant and Castle, and two more of the Seven sisters, as well as old favourites.
But the real reason I was in London was not to hear about what Neil has planned for the future, but to get my hands on a copy of his latest book ‘Ocean at the End of the Lane’…. or as I call it ‘The Short Story that Grew’. It began as a short story for Amanda Palmer, Neil’s awesome wife, and grew into a novel. It’s about an unnamed narrator who lives in books, but witnesses magical parts of his world thanks to his next door neighbour. Crossing between worlds, he accidentally brings something back, and his live becomes ruled by Ursula Monkton ‘the mary poppins from hell’.
It’s a short read, or rather, I raced through it. There are some gorgeous phrases, it almost feels mythic. There are some excellent lessons in there, and yet it is not a children’s book, but a book about a child’s life, for adults.
I learnt a lot from that talk, and even felt brave enough to restart my novel. It’s now grown several thousand words, and I hope that it will take a more interesting turn soon. I need to let the characters act on their own a little more perhaps. Any way…
Thank you Mr Gaiman, looking forward to the next.