- See also:
- 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
- Look, I'm sorry it's over too. But good things have to end, stories have to end. It's what gives them meaning.
- Author's note at the end of Sandman #75
- 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
- Actually, my favorite treatment of bad reviews is James Branch Cabell who, in the back of the 18 volume beautiful, huge collection of all of his works the Biography of Manuel, did a final section detailing what the reviewers said for each of his books. The book reviews go like this. The first 5 or 6 books, the reviews he quotes say something like: "Beautiful illustrations by the artist; such a pity about the words." Then you get to the reviews of Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice and the reviews say: "This a terrible book. It has no redeeming features; it's simply awful; a major misstep." And then every single review for every book he wrote after Jurgen begins, "Well, this isn't Jurgen. Apparently the author has lost the facility with which he wrote that delightful book." So he did put this wonderful parade of the ridiculous things that the reviewers said over time. As I mentioned in the blog, the only final thing that you can say about the reviewers, is this. The same day that the Publisher's Weekly review came in which said, "The road trip plot was completely aimless, but I liked the stuff in Lakeside," the Summer Book Forum book review came in which said, "The roadside stuff is amazing — the novel only loses focus when you get to the stuff in Lakeside." ... If you actually pay any credence to it, it does make you crazy. So you just kind of smile and think, "Maybe someday I'll review all the reviewers someday." But you probably won't.
- "Interview With Neil Gaiman" by Claire E. White, at Writers Write (2001)
- 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)
- 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.
- I was pleased to get a copy of Roger Zelazny's novel Lord of Light the other day. It's one of my favourite books (I think the first thing author Steve Brust ever said to me was "Let's have an argument. Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light is the best book anyone's ever written." "Ah," I said, "If you make it best SF book of the 1960s, I'll go along with it." "Oh. Fair enough." It was the first of a long line of failed arguments.) It's got a blurb from me on it, which I hope sells many copies.
- I think that unless a reviewer gets their facts completely wrong, the author should shut up (and even then, the author should probably let it go — although I'm a big fan of a letter that James Branch Cabell wrote to the New York Times pointing out that their review of Figures of Earth was bollocks. ... For most authors, not being James Branch Cabell, it's probably wisest after reading a particularly stupid or vicious or bad review to mentally compose your letter to the editor, fill it with your sharpest and most cutting and brilliant bon mots, and then, having made it up, to successfully resist the urge to put it to paper, and to return cheerfully to work.
- Cabell's far and away my favourite forgotten American writer — he wrote about 25 books, most of them very different from each other. The only ones to have remained more or less in print over the last forty years are the fantasies Figures of Earth, Jurgen and The Silver Stallion.
- 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)
- Because if you don't stand up for the stuff you don't like, when they come for the stuff you do like, you've already lost.
- Neil Gaiman's Journal (01 December 2008)
- 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)
- Some years ago, I was lucky enough invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things. And I felt that at any moment they would realise that I didn't qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things. On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, "I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent." And I said, "Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something." And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did.
- "Her words are always with us. Some of them are written on my soul. I miss her as a glorious funny prickly person, & I miss her as the deepest and smartest of the writers, too."
Signal to Noise (1992)
- 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
Smoke and Mirrors (1998)
- All page numbers are from the mass market paperback edition published by Avon Books ISBN 978-0-380-78902-3 in September 2005, 10th printing
- For original publication details see Neil Gaiman bibliography
- This is the kind of thing you wonder about when you make up things for a living.
- An Introduction (p. 2)
- It was also, they added, Very Now, which was important in a town in which an hour ago was Ancient History.
- The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories (p. 107)
- Even the better protected files corrupt,
and the best protected corrupt absolutely.
- Cold Colors (p. 239)
- And our latest project was Death. It's one of the hard ones—one of the big ones, too, I suspect. Possibly it may even become the attribute that's going to define the Creation for the Created: If not for Death, they'd be content to simply exist, but with Death, well, their lives will have meaning—a boundary beyond which the living cannot cross...
- Murder Mysteries (p. 312)
- “‘He should not have been destroyed like that. That was wrong.’
“‘It was His will.’
“Lucifer stood. ‘Then perhaps His will is unjust. Perhaps the voices in the Darkness speak truly, after all. How can this be right?’
“‘It is right. It is His will. I merely performed my function.’
“He wiped away the tears with the back of his hand. ‘No,’ he said flatly.”
- Murder Mysteries (p. 325)
- "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)
- 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.
- "Mr. Wednesday" to Shadow, in Ch. 9
- Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
- Often misattributed to but inspired by GK Chesterton:
- Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.
- 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.
- I don't want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted just like that, and it didn't mean anything? What then?
- "Because," she said, "when you're scared but you still do it anyway, that's brave."
- "What's your name," Coraline asked the cat. "Look, I'm Coraline. Okay?"
- "Cats don't have names," it said.
- "No?" said Coraline.
- "No," said the cat. "Now you people have names. That's because you don't know who you are. We know who we are, so we don't need names."
- But how can you walk away from something and still come back to it?
- The names are the first things to go, after the breath has gone, and the beating of the heart. We keep our memories longer than our names.
- Coraline shivered. She preferred her other mother to have a location: if she were nowhere, then she could be anywhere. And, after all, it is always easier to be afraid of something you cannot see.
Anansi Boys (2005)
- 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)
- All page numbers are from the mass market paperback edition published by Harper ISBN 978-0-06-051523-2 in February 2010, 4th printing
- For original publication details see Neil Gaiman bibliography
- I think...I would rather recollect a life misspent on fragile things than spent avoiding moral debt.
- Introduction (p. xiii)
- The map was gone, and the mapmaker, but the land lives on.
- Introduction (p. xxii)
- I believe we owe it to each other to tell stories. It’s as close to a credo as I have or will, I suspect, ever get.
- Introduction (p. xxiv)
- “It can’t make things any worse.”
“If there’s one thing that a study of history has taught us, it is that things can always get worse,” said my friend.
- A Study in Emerald (p. 5)
- 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.
- Bitter Grounds (p. 82)
- 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.
- Bitter Grounds (p. 82)
- New Orleans is a real place, which is more than I can say about most of the cities I’ve lived in, but it’s not a safe place, not a friendly one.
- Bitter Grounds (pp. 88-89)
- 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.
- Bitter Grounds (p. 102)
- The average daytime speed of a vehicle through the streets of central London has not changed in four hundred years. It’s still under ten miles an hour.
- Keepsakes and Treasures (p. 116)
- But where does contagion end and art begin?
- How to Talk to Girls at Parties (p. 251)
- 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's bought another clutch of days.
We save our lives in such unlikely ways.
- Inventing Aladdin (p. 283)
- “So you were in the nick?” said Smith suddenly.
“Prison. Pokey. Porridge. Other words beginning with a P, indicating poor food, no nightlife, inadequate toilet facilities, and limited opportunities for travel.”
“You’re not very chatty, are you?”
“I thought that was a virtue.”
- The Monarch of the Glen (p. 308)
- It was cold, in a way that Shadow was starting to become familiar with: colder inside the building than out. He wondered how they did that, if it was a British building secret.
- The Monarch of the Glen (p. 310)
- 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.
- The Monarch of the Glen (p. 319)
- 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?
- The Monarch of the Glen (p. 321)
The Graveyard Book (2008)
- 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
Oral quotation about Google and librarians
- "Neil Gaiman, author and Honorary Chair of National Library Week, speaks about the value of libraries, librarians and librarianship before his lecture at the annual McFadden Memorial Lecture Series hosted by Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library on April 16, 2010." 
- Google can bring you back, you know, a hundred thousand answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane (2013)
- All page numbers are from the first mass market edition published by William Morrow ISBN 978-0-06-245936-7, July 2016, 7th printing
- I knew enough about adults to know that if I did tell them what had happened, I would not be believed. Adults rarely seemed to believe me when I told the truth anyway. Why would they believe me about something so unlikely?
- Chapter 3 (p. 37)
- I liked myths. They weren't adult stories and they weren't children's stories. They were better than that. They just were.
- Chapter 6 (p. 69)
- Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences. I was a child, which meant that I knew a dozen different ways of getting out of our property and into the lane, ways that would not involve walking down our drive.
- Chapter 6 (p. 74)
- I went away in my head, into a book. That was where I went whenever real life was too hard or too inflexible.
- Chapter 6 (p. 77)
- Children, as I have said, use back ways and hidden paths, while adults take roads and official paths.
- Chapter 10 (p. 151)
- We picked some pea pods, opened them and ate the peas inside. Peas baffled me. I could not understand why grown-ups would take things that tasted so good when they were freshly-picked and raw, and put them in tin cans, and make them revolting.
- Chapter 10 (p. 152)
- “Just go with it. It won’t hurt.”
I stared at him. Adults only ever said that when it, whatever it happened to be, was going to hurt so much.
- Chapter 12 (p. 175)
- I was a normal child. Which is to say, I was selfish and I was not entirely convinced of the existence of things that were not me, and I was certain, rock-solid unshakably certain, that I was the most important thing in creation. There was nothing that was more important to me than I was.
- Chapter 14 (p. 207)
- “Will she be the same?”
The old woman guffawed, as if I had said the funniest thing in the universe. “Nothing’s ever the same,” she said. “Be it a second later or a hundred years. It’s always churning and roiling. And people change as much as oceans.”
- Chapter 14 (p. 218)
- I wondered where the illusion of the second moon had come from, but I only wondered for a moment, and then I dismissed it from my thoughts. Perhaps it was an afterimage, I decided, or a ghost: something that had stirred in my mind, for a moment, so powerfully that I believed it to be real, but now was gone, and faded into the past like a memory forgotten, or a shadow into the dusk.
- Epilogue (pp. 236-237; closing words)
Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming (2013)
- "Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming", The Guardian (15 October 2013); an edited version of Gaiman’s lecture for the Reading Agency, delivered on Monday October 14 at the Barbican in London.
- 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 have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves.
- 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 all – adults and children, writers and readers – have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.
- 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)
- 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)
- "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.
Trigger Warning (2015)
- All page numbers are from the mass market paperback edition published by William Morrow ISBN 978-0-06-305204-8 in January 2021, 3rd printing
- For original publication details see Neil Gaiman bibliography
- Italics and ellipses as in the book. Bold face added for emphasis
- There are things that upset us. That’s not quite what we’re talking about here, though. I’m thinking rather about those images or words or ideas that drop like trapdoors beneath us, throwing us out of our safe, sane world into a place much more dark and less welcoming. Our hearts skip a ratatat drumbeat in our chests, and we fight for breath. Blood retreats from our faces and our fingers, leaving us pale and gasping and shocked.
And what we learn about ourselves in those moments, where the trigger has been squeezed, is this: the past is not dead. There are things that wait for us, patiently, in the dark corridors of our lives. We think we have moved on, put them out of mind, left them to desiccate and shrivel and blow away; but we are wrong. They have been waiting there in the darkness, working out, practicing their most vicious blows, their sharp hard thoughtless punches into the gut, killing time until we came back that way.
The monsters in our cupboards and our minds are always there in the darkness, like mold beneath the floorboards and behind the wallpaper, and there is so much darkness, an inexhaustible supply of darkness. The universe is amply supplied with night.
What do we need to be warned about? We each have our little triggers.
- Introduction, Section 1, Little Triggers (pp. xi-xii)
- We are mature, we decide what we read or do not read.
- Introduction, Section 1, Little Triggers (p. xii)
- What we read as adults should be read, I think, with no warnings or alerts beyond, perhaps: enter at your own risk.
- Introduction, Section 1, Little Triggers (pp. xii-xiii)
- We build the stories in our heads. We take words, and we give them power, and we look out through other eyes, and we see, and experience, what others see. I wonder, Are fictions safe places? And then I ask myself, Should they be safe places?
- Introduction, Section 1, Little Triggers (p. xiii)
- I grew up loving and respecting short stories. They seemed to me to be the purest and most perfect things people could make: not a word wasted, in the best of them.
- Introduction, Section 3, The Luck of the Draw (p. xv)
- He was demonstrating to the world the writing was a craft, that it was not an act of magic.
- Introduction to A Calendar of Tales (p. xxiv)
- He was kind, and gentle, with that midwestern niceness that’s a positive thing rather than an absence of character.
- Introduction to The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury (p. xxx)
- Writers live in houses other people built.
- Introduction to An Invocation of Incuriosity (p. xxxii)
- Life imitates art, but clumsily, copying its movements when it thinks it isn’t looking.
- Introduction to Feminine Endings (p. xxxvi)
- I am not scared of bad people, of wicked evildoers, of monsters and creatures of the night.
The people who scare me are the ones who are certain of their own rightness. The ones who know how to behave, and what their neighbors need to do to be on the side of the good.
- Introduction to Observing the Formalities (pp. xxxvi-xxxvii)
- She said she would tell our fortunes from the lines in our palms, if we had coins to cross her palm. I gave the old biddy a clipped lowland groat, and she looked at the palm of my right hand.
She said, “I see death in your past and death in your future.”
“Death waits in all our futures,” I said.
- “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains…” (p. 45)
- I thought about it. “Sometimes I think that truth is a place. In my mind, it is like a city; there can be a hundred roads, a thousands paths, that will all take you, eventually, to the same place. It does not matter where you come from. If you walk toward the truth, you will reach it, whatever path you take.”
Calum MacInnes looked down at me and said nothing. Then, “You are wrong. The truth is a cave in the black mountains. There is one way there, and one only, and that way is treacherous and hard, and if you choose the wrong path you will die alone, on the mountainside.”
- “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains…” (p. 50)
- I am old now, or at least, I am no longer young, and everything I see reminds me of something else I’ve seen, such that I see nothing for the first time. A bonny girl, her hair fiery red, reminds me only of another hundred such lasses, and their mothers, and what they were as they grew, and what they looked like when they died. It is the curse of age, that all things are reflections of other things.
- “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains…” (pp. 52-53)
- In my family “adventure” tends to be used to mean “any minor disaster we survived” or even “any break from routine.” Except by my mother, who still uses it to mean “what she did that morning.” Going to the wrong part of a supermarket car park and, while looking for her car, getting into a conversation with someone whose sister, it turns out, she knew in the 1970s would qualify, for my mother, as a full-blown adventure.
- Adventure Story (p. 78)
- In May I received an anonymous Mother’s Day card. This puzzled me. I would have noticed if I had ever had children, surely?
- A Calendar of Tales (p. 105)
- I remember Icarus. He flew too close to the sun. In the stories, though, it’s worth it. Always worth it to have tried, even if you fail, even if you fall like a meteor forever. Better to have flamed in the darkness, to have inspired others, to have lived, than to have sat in the darkness, cursing the people who borrowed, but did not return, your candle.
- The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury (p. 151)
- Jerusalem, thought Morrison, was like a deep pool, where time had settled too thickly.
- Jerusalem (p. 156)
- “Come to Jerusalem and go mad,” said Morrison. “Not much of an advertising slogan.”
- Jerusalem (p. 158)
- “I suppose you must be looking forward to them sorting all this out,” he said. “Er. The Palestinian situation. The politics.”
She shrugged. “It doesn’t matter to Jerusalem,” she said. “The people come. The people believe. Then they kill each other, to prove that God loves them.”
“Well,” he said. “How would you fix it?”
She smiled her whitest smile. “Sometimes,” she said, “I think it would be best if it was bombed. If it was bombed back to a radioactive desert. Then who would want it? But then I think, they would come here and collect the radioactive dust that might contain atoms of the Dome of the Rock, or of the Temple, or a wall that Christ leaned against on his way to the Cross. People would fight over who owns a poisonous desert, if that desert was Jerusalem.
- Jerusalem (pp. 160-161)
- “See?” said the boy. There was that precocious amusement again; but all kids can be insufferable sometimes, when they think they know something you don’t. It’s probably good for them.
- Click-Clack the Rattlebag (p. 168)
- Life is life, and it is infinitely better than the alternative, or so we presume, for nobody returns to dispute it. Such is my motto.
- An Invocation of Incuriosity (pp. 176-177)
- Still, no use crying over unspilt milk, and you can’t mend an omelette without unbreaking a few eggs.
- “And Weep, Like Alexander” (pp. 187-188)
- “Were you always like this?”
“A madman. With a time machine.”
“Oh, no. It took ages until I got the time machine.”
- Nothing O’Clock (p. 205)
- Learning how to be strong, to feel her own emotions and not another’s, had been hard; but once you learned the trick of it, you did not forget.
- The Sleeper and the Spindle (p. 278)
- There’s no Hell to spite the sinners.
There’s no Heaven for the blessed. God is not what you imagine.
- In Relig Odhráin (p. 287)
- But Shadow kept things on the inside. It was one of the things he liked about the British: even when they wanted to know what was happening on the inside, they did not ask. The world on the inside remained the world on the inside.
- Black Dog (p. 293)
- Local gossip travels faster than light.
- Black Dog (p. 308)
- “You’re very good. Are you a professional artist?”
“I dabble,” she said.
Shadow had spent enough time talking to the English to know that this meant either that she dabbled, or that her work was regularly hung in the National Gallery or the Tate Modern.
- Black Dog (p. 310)
- “The old religion.”
“Druids?” asked Shadow. He was uncertain what other old religions there were, in England.
“Could be. Definitely could be. But I think it predates the druids. Doesn’t have much of a name. It’s just what people in these parts practice, beneath whatever else they believe. Druids, Norse, Catholics, Protestants, doesn’t matter. That’s what people pay lip service to. The old religion is what gets the crops up and keeps your cock hard and makes sure that nobody builds a bloody great motorway through an area of outstanding natural beauty. The Gateway stands, and the hill stands, and the place stands. It’s well, well over two thousand years old. You don’t go mucking about with anything that powerful.
- Black Dog (pp. 321-322)
- “There are those who think it’s devil worship,” said Oliver. “And I think they are wrong. But then, one man’s god is another’s devil. Eh?”
- Black Dog (p. 323)
Norse Mythology (2017)
- All page numbers are from the hardcover first edition published by W. W. Norton & Company ISBN 978-0-393-60909-7
- The chapters in the book are not numbered. They are numbered here for ease of reference
- He said nothing: seldom do those who are silent make mistakes.
- Chapter 4, “Mimir’s Head and Odin’s Eye” (p. 45)
- I am grim of mind and wrathful of spirit and I have no desire to be nice to anyone.
- Chapter 13, “Hymir and Thor’s Fishing Expedition” (p. 216)
- Even the gods cannot change destiny.
- Chapter 14, “The Death of Balder” (p. 234)
- On the battlefield called Vigrid, the gods will fall in battle with the frost giants, and the frost giants will fall in battle with the gods.The undead troops from Hel will litter the ground in their final deaths, and the noble Einherjar will lie beside them on the frozen ground, all of the them dead for the last time, beneath the lifeless misty sky, never to rise again, never to wake and fight.
- Chapter 16, “Ragnarok: The Final Destiny of the Gods” (p. 276)
- It is not the end. There is no end. It is simply the end of the old times, Loki, and the beginning of the new times. Rebirth always follows death. You have failed.
- Chapter 16, “Ragnarok: The Final Destiny of the Gods” (p. 278)
- Nothing will remain of the armies of the living and of the dead, of the dreams of the gods and the bravery of their warriors, nothing but ash.
Soon after, the swollen ocean will swallow the ashes as it washes across all the land, and everything living will be forgotten under the sunless sky.
That is how the worlds will end, in ash and flood, in darkness and in ice. That is the final destiny of the gods.
- Chapter 16, “Ragnarok: The Final Destiny of the Gods” (p. 279)
Quotes about Gaiman
- I really like Neil a whole, whole, whole lot, and I really do not want to marry Kevin Smith, even a little. Do you remember the Trojan War, dude? I'm just saying. Can you imagine what a world war between a Neil Gaiman army and a Kevin Smith army would actually look like? Their fans are serious. I predict there would be lots of very high-fallutin', toilet-based name-calling, confusing many. And possibly foam swords swinging at hockey sticks. Actually, that's bullshit. There's no way anybody would leave their Twitter feeds for long enough to pull out a foam sword or a hockey stick. Maybe it'll be the world's first full-on digital war and people will just head over to Second Life to duke it out. I hope Neil's army wins.
- Amanda Palmer, on a humorous twitter courtship by Kevin Smith, after she and Gaiman announced their engagement, as quoted in "Amanda Palmer Freaks Out With Evelyn Evelyn" by Scott Thill in WIRED (29 March 2010)
- Singer Tori Amos makes regular references to Gaiman in her song lyrics; She is a fan of his, and they became friends before she herself gained fame and acclaim. He reciprocates by creating characters based on her in his books, crediting her as the source of some of Delirium's lines.
- 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