Neil Gaiman, fully Neil Richard Gaiman

Gaiman, fully Neil Richard Gaiman

English Author of Short Fiction, Novels, Comic Books, Graphic Novels, Audio Theatre and Films. Notable works include the comic book series, 'The Sandman' and novels including 'Stardust', 'American Gods', 'Coraline' and 'The Graveyard Book'. Winner of the Newbery Medal and Carnegie Medal in Literature

Author Quotes

Why do we need the things in books? The poems, the essays, the stories? Authors disagree. Authors are human and fallible and foolish. Stories are lies after all, tales of people who never existed and the things that never actually happened to them. Why should we read them? Why should we care? The teller and the tale are very different. We must not forget that. Ideas, written ideas, are special. They are the way we transmit our stories and our ideas from one generation to the next. If we lose them, we lose our shared history. We lose much of what makes us human. And fiction gives us empathy: it puts us inside the minds of other people, gives us the gift of seeing the world through their eyes. Fiction is a lie that tells us true things, over and over.

An author?s opinions of what a story is about are always valid and are always true: the author was there, after all, when the book was written. She came up with each word and knows why she used that word instead of another. But an author is a creature of her time, and even she cannot see everything that her book is about.

I believe that it is difficult to kill an idea because ideas are invisible and contagious, and they move fast. I believe that you can set your own ideas against ideas you dislike. That you should be free to argue, explain, clarify, debate, offend, insult, rage, mock, sing, dramatize, and deny.

I believe that repressing ideas spreads ideas.

I do not believe that burning, murdering, exploding people, smashing their heads with rocks (to let the bad ideas out), drowning them or even defeating them will work to contain ideas you do not like. Ideas spring up where you do not expect them, like weeds, and are as difficult to control.

I read Fahrenheit 451 as a boy: I did not understand Guy Montag, did not understand why he did what he did, but I understood the love of books that drove him. Books were the most important things in my life. The huge wall-screen televisions were as futuristic and implausible as the idea that people on the television would talk to me, that I could take part, if I had a script. It was never a favorite book: it was too dark, too bleak for that. But when I read a story called ?Usher II? in The Silver Locusts (the UK title for The Martian Chronicles), I recognized the world of outlawed authors and imagination with a fierce sort of familiar joy.

Listen. If someone tells you what a story is about, they are probably right. If they tell you that that is all the story is about, they are very definitely wrong. Any story is about a host of things. It is about the author; it is about the world the author sees and deals with and lives in; it is about the words chosen and the way those words are deployed; it is about the story itself and what happens in the story; it is about the people in the story; it is polemic; it is opinion.

One day, somebody slipped her a Polish translation of Margaret Mitchell's novel Gone with the Wind. And Helen stayed up ? she blacked out her window so she could stay up an extra hour, she read a chapter of Gone with the Wind. And when the girls came in the next day, instead of teaching them, she told them what happened in the book. And each night, she'd stay up; and each day, she'd tell them the story. And I said, "Why? Why would you risk death ? for a story?" And she said, "Because for an hour every day, those girls weren't in the ghetto ? they were in the American South; they were having adventures; they got away. I think four out of those twenty girls survived the war. And she told me how, when she was an old woman, she found one of them, who was also an old woman. And they got together and called each other by names from Gone with the Wind...

One of the things that fiction can give us is just the realization that behind every pair of eyes, there's somebody like us. And, perhaps, looking out through animal eyes, there's somebody like us; looking out through alien eyes, there's somebody like us.

Pictures, I think, may have been a way of transmitting stories. The drawings on cave walls that we assume are acts of worship or of sympathetic magic, intended to bring hunters luck and good kills. I keep wondering if, actually, they're just ways of telling stories: "We came over that bridge and we saw a herd of wooly bisons." And I wonder that because people tell stories ? it's an enormous part of what makes us human.

A few years ago, she started telling me this story of how, in the ghetto, they were not allowed books. If you had a book ... the Nazis could put a gun to your head and pull the trigger ? books were forbidden. And she used to teach under the pretense of having a sewing class... a class of about twenty little girls, and they would come in for about an hour a day, and she would teach them maths, she'd teach them Polish, she'd teach them grammar...

Stories should change you ? good stories should change you.

A lot more writing is happening because of the internet, and I think that bit is great ? I just love the fact that more people are writing.

The most important thing that I think fiction does [is that] it lets us look out through other eyes ... but it also gives us empathy. The act of looking out through other eyes tells us something huge and important, which is that other people exist.

A lot of stories do appear to begin as intrinsic to religions and belief systems ? a lot of the ones we have have gods or goddesses in them; they teach us how the world exists; they teach us the rules of living in the world. But they also have to come in an attractive enough package that we take pleasure from them and we want to help them propagate.

The reason why story is so important to us is because it's actually this thing that we have been using since the dawn of humanity to become more than just one person... Stories are ways that we communicateimportant things, but ... stories maybe really aregenuinely symbiotic organisms that we live with, that allow human beings to advance.

Animals in fiction ... are your first attempt to put your head into the "other" and to experience the other, the idea of another...

Tom Sebeok concluded you couldn't actually create a story that would last 10,000 years; you could only create a story that would last for three generations ? for ourselves, for our children, and for their children.

As individuals, we are cut off from humanity; as individuals, we are naked ? we do not even know which plants will kills us. Without the mass of human knowledge accumulated over millennia to buoy us up, we are in big trouble; with it, we are warm, fed, we have popcorn, we are sitting in comfortable seats, and we are capable of arguing with each other about really stupid things on the internet.

We [writers] decry too easily what we do, as being kind of trivial ? the creation of stories as being a trivial thing. But the magic of escapist fiction ... is that it can actually offer you a genuine escape from a bad place and, in the process of escaping, it can furnish you with armor, with knowledge, with weapons, with tools you can take back into your life to help make it better... It's a real escape ? and when you come back, you come back better-armed than when you left.

But stories aren't books ? books are just one of the many storage mechanisms in which stories can be kept. And, obviously, people are one of the other storage mechanisms.

We will do an awful lot for stories ? we will endure an awful lot for stories. And stories, in their turn ? like some kind of symbiote ? help us endure and make sense of our lives.

But what we can do, I think, is try and create stories that are interesting enough and important enough that our grandchildren might want to tell those stories to their grandchildren ? because that's the purpose of stories, that's what they're for: They make live worth living and, sometimes, they keep us alive.

You can just view people as this peculiar byproduct that stories use to breed. Really, it's the stories that are the life-form ? they are older than us, they are smarter than us, they keep going. But they need human beings to reproduce, much as we need food... we need things to keep ourselves alive. Maybe stories really are like viruses... Functionally, they are symbiotic ? they give and give back...

Do stories grow? Pretty obviously ? anybody who has ever heard a joke being passed on from one person to another knows that they can grow, they can change. Can stories reproduce? Well, yes. Not spontaneously, obviously ? they tend to need people as vectors. We are the media in which they reproduce; we are their petri dishes... Stories grow, sometimes they shrink. And they reproduce ? they inspire other stories. And, of course, if they do not change, stories die.

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Gaiman, fully Neil Richard Gaiman
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English Author of Short Fiction, Novels, Comic Books, Graphic Novels, Audio Theatre and Films. Notable works include the comic book series, 'The Sandman' and novels including 'Stardust', 'American Gods', 'Coraline' and 'The Graveyard Book'. Winner of the Newbery Medal and Carnegie Medal in Literature