Neil Gaiman was born in Hampshire, UK, and now lives in the United States near Minneapolis. As a child he discovered his love of books, reading, and stories, devouring the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, James Branch Cabell, Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Moorcock, Ursula K. LeGuin, Gene Wolfe, and G.K. Chesterton. A self-described “feral child who was raised in libraries,” Gaiman credits librarians with fostering a life-long love of reading: “I wouldn't be who I am without libraries. I was the sort of kid who devoured books, and my happiest times as a boy were when I persuaded my parents to drop me off in the local library on their way to work, and I spent the day there. I discovered that librarians actually want to help you: they taught me about interlibrary loans.”
Early Writing Career
Gaiman began his writing career in England as a journalist. His first book was a Duran Duran biography that took him three months to write, and his second was a biography of Douglas Adams, ‘Don’t Panic: The Official Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion.’ Gaiman describes his early writing: “I was very, very good at taking a voice that already existed and parodying or pastiching it.”‘Violent Cases’ was the first of many collaborations with artist Dave McKean. This early graphic novel led to their series ‘Black Orchid,’ published by DC Comics.
The groundbreaking series ‘Sandman’ followed, collecting a large number of US awards in its 75 issue run, including nine Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards and three Harvey Awards. In 1991, ‘Sandman’ became the first comic ever to receive a literary award, the 1991 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story.
Established Writer & Creator
Neil Gaiman is credited with being one of the creators of modern comics, as well as an author whose work crosses genres and reaches audiences of all ages. He is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers and is a prolific creator of works of prose, poetry, film, journalism, comics, song lyrics, and drama.
Gaiman has achieved cult status and attracted increased media attention, with recent profiles in The New Yorker magazine and by ‘CBS News Sunday Morning.’
Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Social Media
Audiences for science fiction and fantasy form a substantial part of Gaiman’s fan base, and he has continuously used social media to communicate with readers. In 2001, Gaiman became one of the first writers to establish a blog, which now has over a million regular readers.
In 2008, Gaiman joined Twitter as @neilhimself and now has over 1.5 million followers and counting on the micro-blogging site. He won the Twitter category in the inaugural Author Blog Awards, and his adult novel ‘American Gods’ was the first selection for the One Book, One Twitter (1b1t) book club.
Writing for Young Readers
Neil Gaiman writes books for readers of all ages, including the following collections and picture books for young readers: ‘M is for Magic’ (2007); ‘Interworld’ (2007), co-authored with Michael Reaves; ‘The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish’ (1997); ‘The Wolves in the Walls’ (2003); the Greenaway-shortlisted ‘Crazy Hair’ (2009), illustrated by Dave McKean; ‘The Dangerous Alphabet’ (2008), illustrated by Gris Grimly; ‘Blueberry Girl’ (2009); and ‘Instructions’ (2010), illustrated by Charles Vess.
Gaiman’s books are genre works that refuse to remain true to their genres. Gothic horror was out of fashion in the early 1990s when Gaiman started work on ‘Coraline’ (2002). Originally considered too frightening for children, ‘Coraline’ went on to win the British Science Fiction Award, the Hugo, the Nebula, the Bram Stoker, and the American Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla award. ‘Odd and the Frost Giants’, originally written for 2009’s World Book Day, has gone on to receive worldwide critical acclaim.
‘The Wolves in the Walls’ was made into an opera by the Scottish National Theatre in 2006, and ‘Coraline’ was adapted as a musical by Stephin Merritt in 2009.
Writing for Adults
Gaiman is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels ‘Neverwhere’ (1995), ‘Stardust’ (1999), the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning ‘American Gods’ (2001), ‘Anansi Boys’ (2005), and ‘Good Omens’ (with Terry Pratchett, 1990), as well as the short story collections ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ (1998) and ‘Fragile Things’ (2006).
His first collection of short fiction, ‘Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions,’ was nominated for the UK’s MacMillan Silver Pen Awards as the best short story collection of the year. Most recently, Gaiman was both a contributor to and co-editor with Al Sarrantonio of ‘Stories’ (2010), and his own story in the volume, ‘The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains,’ has been nominated for a number of awards.
‘American Gods’ has just been released in an expanded tenth anniversary edition, and there is an HBO series in the works.
Film and Television
Gaiman wrote the screenplay for the original BBC TV series of ‘Neverwhere’ (1996); Dave McKean’s first feature film, ‘Mirrormask’ (2005), for the Jim Henson Company; and cowrote the script to Robert Zemeckis’s ‘Beowulf.’ He produced ‘Stardust,’ Matthew Vaughn’s film based on Gaiman’s book by the same name.
He has written and directed two films: ‘A Short Film About John Bolton’ (2002) and Sky Television’s ‘Statuesque’ (2009) starring Bill Nighy and Amanda Palmer.
An animated feature film based on Gaiman’s ‘Coraline,’ directed by Henry Selick and released in early 2009, secured a BAFTA for Best Animated Film and was nominated for an Oscar in the same category.
Gaiman’s 2011 episode of Doctor Who, “The Doctor’s Wife,” caused the Times to describe him as “a hero.”
‘The Graveyard Book’
First published in the UK at the end of 2008, ‘The Graveyard Book’ has won the UK’s Booktrust Prize for Teenage Fiction and the Newbery Medal, the highest honor given in US children’s literature, as well as the Locus Young Adult Award and the Hugo Best Novel Prize. The awarding of the 2010 UK CILIP Carnegie Medal makes Gaiman the first author ever to win both the Newbery Medal and the Carnegie Medal with the same book. ‘The Graveyard Book,’ with its illustrations by Chris Riddell, was also shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration – the first time a book has made both Medal shortlists in 30 years.
“Twenty-three years ago, we lived in a little Sussex town in a tall house across the lane from a graveyard. We didn’t have a garden, and our 18-month-old son loved riding a tricycle. If he tried riding in the house he would have died because there were stairs everywhere, so every day I would take him down our precipitous stairs, and he would ride his little tricycle round and round the gravestones. As I watched him happily toddling I would think about how incredibly at home he looked. I thought that I could do something like ‘The Jungle Book’ with that same equation of boy, orphaned, growing up somewhere else, but I could do it in a graveyard. I had that idea when I was 24 years old. I sat down and tried writing it and thought, ‘This is a really good idea, and this isn’t very good writing. I’m not good enough for this yet, and I will put it off until I’m better.”
The film adaptation of ‘The Graveyard Book’ is in production.