In this interview, Neil Gaiman discusses book publicity, his new book Chu's First Day of School and the American Gods television show. Enjoy!
The interview happened because the sifu at my kung fu school happens to be friends with a director of book trailers. He sent me a Twitter message that Neal Stephenson was going to be filming one at the school and if I happened to be there at the same time I might be able to meet him. I showed up, Neal Stephenson novel in hand to be signed, only to discover Sifu had gotten the writer wrong. "It'd be really funny if you got him to sign that," said the director when he saw my well-worn copy of The Diamond Age.
I've met Neil Gaiman before, briefly and even more briefly interviewed him, but he's one of my favorite writers so I rushed out to a local bookstore, picked up a copy of a book I hadn't read yet for him to sign (The Ocean at the End of the Lane) and rushed back.
Behind the camera and in front of a green screen, Neil answered questions about his new children's book Chu's First Day at School, the sequel to the popular Chu's Day, about an adorable, sneezy, anthropomorphic panda. Every once and a while a clomp or a thump would interrupt him from upstairs, where a kung fu seminar was taking place. The first time this happened, Neil got an annoyed look on his face and said, "What should I do, should I start over?" The director assured him the mic probably wouldn't pick it up, but just in case they worked out a system where when a loud thump happened, Neil would just repeat the last sentence and continue. Every time I pictured him thinking, alá Marvin the Paranoid Android, 'Here I am, noted writer Neil Gaiman, brain the size of a planet, and I have to put up with clomping and thumping during my book trailer'.
Afterwards, after explaining the Neal Stephenson mix-up ("Oh," he said, "Neal and I get mistaken for each other all the time"), I asked him if it was okay to ask him some questions for the Internet, and whipped out my video camera. Apparently, this actually freaked out the director and Neil's assistent a bit, and you can actually see in the video the director holding up a sign telling me I had only one more minute. It was a miscalculation on my part— I'm used to encountering people I want to interview at cons or parties or similar events where they're specificially interacting with the public. I should have at least asked the director beforehand if it was okay, since I might have been making him or the school look bad by mobbing his client with a camera like some papparazzi. Neil, as always, was incredibly kind and polite about the whole thing and said he didn't mind, furthering his reputation as the nicest person in publishing.