Neil Gaiman talks AMERICAN GODS and DOCTOR WHO

TV Doctor Who by Jim Napier

Neil Gaiman is in the midst of a book signing tour to promote the release of a special 10th anniversary hardcover edition of American Gods. Earlier we reported that Tom Hanks’ Playtone Productions was producing a TV series of the award-winning novel for HBO. Gaiman is on board as an executive producer and the show is set to premiere in 2013 at the earliest. 

Here is the book synopsis:

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life. But, just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home – an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself. Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. It is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters, whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. Along the way, Shadow will learn that the past never dies’ that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, Shadow will discover that, beneath the placid surface of everyday life, a storm is brewing that is an epic war for the very soul of America, and he is standing squarely in its path.

The book tour is a different from most because Gaiman pre-signs the books and spends time at each stop talking with fans and answering questions. Here is what he had to say about his plans to make sure certain aspects do not get changed:

One of the things I’m concerned about is that I really want to make sure the races of all the characters are kept. I don’t like it when black characters become white in movies, or things like that. That was something I found deeply problematic with the attempt by some people who had a lot of money and a lot of clout, and who wanted the rights to Anansi Boys, at one point. Somewhere in there, they made the fatal mistake of saying to me, “And, of course, the characters won’t be black in the movie because black people don’t like fantasy.” They were suddenly very surprised that we were no longer interested in selling them the book. So, I want to keep the racial mix in American Gods the same. And, I want to make it faithful, but also would like it to have a few surprises for people who read the book. I hate that thing where people have read the books and they go, “Oh, I know everything that’s going to happen.” I want to be like, “Okay, no you don’t.” I want there to still be some surprises.

He also talks about possible supplemental materials that could be released in conjunction with the TV show:

Yeah. One thing that I get from a lot of people with American Gods is people saying that they would love some kind of glossary with a list of all the Gods and who they are, so that they can look them up. It’s one of those things that I thought about doing when I published the book the first time around, and then came down against. And then, I thought about it a little bit with this version, and then came down against. There is at least one website where somebody has done a very good first stab at listing everybody. But, that’s the kind of thing that it would be really fun to do, and actually give people background on these characters.

He also shared his extensive thoughts his experience writing an episode of Doctor Who:

Oh, god, it was fulfilling, yes. I’m English and Doctor Who was this thing that I’ve been watching since I was three. I loved Doctor Who. I had all the Doctor Who annuals. I didn’t just have the Doctor Who annuals, I had the Dalek World annual in 1965, which contained all this stuff about Daleks. I knew what Planet Skaro was, I knew what TARDIS stood for, and I knew that Daleks couldn’t see the color red, which worried me because there were red Daleks. I remember just worrying that they’d be shunned by other Daleks who would be going, “Did you see that? It was like a bunch of Dalek bumps in the air just went passed.” And, another Dalek would say, “Yeah, and a plunger. That’s spooky.” So, this was my first mythology and the one that I loved. I was incredibly lucky. I had a marvelous dinner with Stephen Moffatt, who has taken over the reins of Doctor Who. It was this weird dinner where we spent the first half of the dinner beating around the bush. I knew that he was probably going to be taking over, and he knew that I knew, but neither of us were saying it. And then, finally, he being Scottish just said, “Look, you know I’m taking over Doctor Who. I know that you know. I know you want to write one.” And I said, “Okay, what can you tell me?”

So, the lovely thing about plotting my episode back then was that there were things that I wanted to do, that we could set into motion, all the way back then. I wanted a TARDIS set to remain, so they kept up the old TARDIS set, which was incredibly damaged, but they kept it up for me, for an additional 18 months passed the point where it was meant to be taken down. People walking past, every day, would ask why it was still there, and they would be lied to. There were all sorts of imaginative answers about why they left that set up. A lot of people believed the thing about the cost of dismantling it. That was fun. But, mostly for me, it wasn’t about any of that kind of stuff. It was about the sheer, raw, naked power that I felt.

There have been two times in my life where I know how God feels, and only two. The first was in 1988, writing Black Orchid, the first time I brought Batman on and had him say words that I’d written. I was like, “Batman is saying words that I’ve written. If the world ends tomorrow, I will still have made Batman talk. It probably won’t, and this comic will be published, and Batman will be in it, and he will have said stuff that I wrote.” It was this incredible power. So, there was that, and then there was the first time I got to type the words, “Interior: TARDIS.”  There was the knowledge that I was creating something that was part of this mythology that I loved. It really wasn’t until it was broadcast and discovered that people really liked it that I went, “Okay.”

Are you excited to see American Gods? What are your thoughts on Gaiman's work?


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