An Evening With

On sunday I was lucky enough to attend an Evening with Neil Gaiman. I’m a big fan of his writing, in fact he’s written 2 of my favourite books of all time in American Gods and Good Omens. I never read Sandman (yes, I know), as I was only about 10 when it started and was more interested in X-men and the Steve Jackson/Ian Livingstone’s Fighting Fantasy books.


This is one of the first books in the series that I got. I managed to find in in Oxfam for about 10p. Bargain.

There’s not a thing about this book I don’t love. It’s utterly fantastic.

Anyway, Neil was an excellent host and spoke about his life growing up in Portsmouth, alongside his writing and working on Doctor Who. He read from his book, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”, which sounded very good (I won’t be reading it for a while as I’m under orders to read The Stand, which I’ve also never read).


I’m looking forward to reading it. 

It was an excellent evening all round, and then came the Q&A bit. At the end a woman in the audience asked Neil what he’d sacrificed to become a writer. His answer was the first time I’d heard another writer say what I’d always thought. That writers are somewhat detached from the rest of the world.


Now what I mean by that, is that when a non-writer watches the news or sees something good or bad happen in front of them, or to them, they respond in the normal way; anger, happiness, sadness, whatever that emotion might be. A writer’s brain will do this with 75% of them, but that remaining 25% is thinking, “how can I use this in a book?” or “that’s interesting information, I must file it away for future keeping.”


As I said, I’d never heard another writer talk about it in such a candied way, and it’s nice to know that I’m not the only crazy person out there. From talking to other writers, it appears that actually this is a common theme. So I’ve gone from thinking I’m slightly nuts, to actually being normal. Albeit, normal within my peer group of writers.


Which in some ways, is actually more concerning than it was to begin with.

Posted on August 21, 2013, in Personal, Writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I love his answer to that woman’s question, and so relieved I’m not the only one who does that. Who knew? We writers tend to live in our heads so much, we can easily become disconnected with how the ‘others’ process information. 😉 I haven’t read any of his work, sad to say, but I’m going to have to look into it.

  2. Hi Steve,

    Interesting post.

    You missed out on Sandman, it was an excellent series of comics – atmospheric artwork and haunting stories. I really got into it.

    As for fighting fantasy style books, don’t get me started. The number of times I was told to follow a link, and I died. No warning, no skill. Just dead. So I left my thumb in the page of the next one – and died again. BUT, when I doubled back and tried the alternate option – guess what? – that one killed you too. Either that or the page link was wrong so the story made no sense, or the page didn’t exist because it had failed to survive the cheap binding process. The books were a nightmare, I tried three or four because I loved the idea, but vowed never to do so again.

    Writer’s detachment? Yes, at times, but it depends on the situation. Sure, watching news the fires up a story idea can produce some detachment, but writing a scene where you have to draw on some powerful memory or experience can pull me back into life, connecting me with my emotions. Writers have to be part journalist, and part actor. It’s another aspect of the craft that makes it interesting.

    • I will pick up Sandman at some point, when I have time to read it all.

      I did like the FF games, but a few of them were incredibly difficult. One in particular, which I can’t remember the name of, tasked you with getting an army. At a point, you had to pick to go one way or the other and both ways killed you. Never figured out what I was meant to do.

      That’s very true about the detachment. I wouldn’t change it.

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