Gaiman Talks Race, Dr. Who and American Gods

Gaiman Talks Race, Dr. Who and American Gods

On tour promoting the 10th anniversary edition of his monumental novel American Gods, Neil Gaiman addresses the problems faced with bringing his works to the screen.

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"One of the things I'm concerned about is that I really want to make sure the races of all the characters are kept," Gaiman says, speaking to collider.com. "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."

Gaiman says concern over changing the race of his characters is what sidelined plans to bring his novel Anansi Boys to the big screen.

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.

Gaiman also says that he's surprised at how well the 10 year old novel holds up, historically, singling out travel agents and his depiction of airports as rare anachronisms. Asked what deities he would include in the tale were he writing it today, he muses on the gods of social networking.

"How sorry does one feel for the God of MySpace?" he says. "It happens fast. Twitter is great and it's glorious and it's easy, but if somebody comes up with something kind of like Twitter tomorrow, that's better or smarter or more useful, in three weeks time, Twitter could more or less be history because that's how fast things go now."

On the subject of the multi-talented writer's other projects, he says the greatest moments in his life were writing the Batman graphic novel Black Orchid and penning a recent episode of Dr. Who, both because he was a fan himself.

"There have been two times in my life where I know how God feels, and only two," he says. "The first was in 1988, writing Black Orchid, ... 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."

Gaiman says he knew as soon as writer and producer Stephen Moffatt took over the series he would be writing an episode, and he asked the producer to preserve a TARDIS set that was scheduled to be dismantled purely so that he could include it in his episode. "People walking past, every day, would ask why it was still there," says Gaiman, "and they would be lied to."

As for one of the hardest gigs he's had as a writer, Gaiman points to the challenge of getting his children's books published in China, since most don't pass the notoriously strict Chinese censors because they "question authority." After his visit to China, Gaiman set himself the task of writing a children's book that Chinese publishers couldn't resist, settling on the tale of a baby panda who sneezes.

"There is no way that anyone can resist a baby panda who sneezes," he says. "This is the single cutest book I've ever written. The only words on page one are, 'When Chu sneezed, bad things happened.'"

The HBO adaptation of American Gods is expected to air "no sooner" than 2013. Hopefully we'll have more Game of Thrones to tide us over until then.

(Source: Collider)

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"And, of course, the characters won't be black in the movie because black people don't like fantasy."

Oh, Hollywood.

Fronzel:

"And, of course, the characters won't be black in the movie because black people don't like fantasy."

Oh, Hollywood.

No kidding. I mean, when there are no black people in there to begin with, they toss a handful in to (presumably?) dodge the race card. But when the characters are black they have to be made white? Wat?

I'm sorry I may be out of the social scene and all but who is this Gaiman person? Or rather what is he known for? I'm guessing he's an author?

Harbinger_:
I'm sorry I may be out of the social scene and all but who is this Gaiman person? Or rather what is he known for? I'm guessing he's an author?

O.O how do you not know Neil Gaiman? Go pick up Good Omens or American Gods right now! A thank you note for introducing you to some kick ass humor and fantasy is optional, but certainly appreciated.

Harbinger_:
I'm sorry I may be out of the social scene and all but who is this Gaiman person? Or rather what is he known for? I'm guessing he's an author?

At first I was shocked by your comment, now I feel jealous. You have the joy of discovering one of the best writers in the world still ahead.
Go read American Gods, Good Omens and The Graveyard Book, to start. If you like comics, pick up Sandman. More of a movie kind of guy? Stardust, Coraline and Mirrormask are written by him.
If you enjoy audiobooks, he reads most of his novels himself, and he has a great voice.
You have so much joy ahead of you.

Harbinger_:
I'm sorry I may be out of the social scene and all but who is this Gaiman person? Or rather what is he known for? I'm guessing he's an author?

He's the biggest rock star of the literary world. Also, he's married to a rock star (well... not rock, per se). Ever hear of Sandman, the amazing horror comic series from the late '80s through the mid '90s? Neverwhere, Stardust, Good Omens, American Gods? Disregard the awful movie adaptation of Stardust...

Harbinger_:
I'm sorry I may be out of the social scene and all but who is this Gaiman person? Or rather what is he known for? I'm guessing he's an author?

Possibly the greatest writer ever.

Have a look at Sandman, American Gods, Anansi Boys, Neverwhere, Good Omens, The Doctor's Wife, Stardust...

Saw him on Craig Ferguson. He really still enjoys being around fans.

JdaS:

Fronzel:

"And, of course, the characters won't be black in the movie because black people don't like fantasy."

Oh, Hollywood.

No kidding. I mean, when there are no black people in there to begin with, they toss a handful in to (presumably?) dodge the race card. But when the characters are black they have to be made white? Wat?

Didn't they do that with Avatar?

I can't possibly wait for this to happen. I know they will of course change things, but the once over they give stuff for their shows is usually pretty fantastic. He is my favorite living author for good reason. As a side, he is uber smart, and is all for piracy as a method of increasing sales, haha. Great writer, everyone should read his work.

Varya:

Harbinger_:
I'm sorry I may be out of the social scene and all but who is this Gaiman person? Or rather what is he known for? I'm guessing he's an author?

At first I was shocked by your comment, now I feel jealous. You have the joy of discovering one of the best writers in the world still ahead.
Go read American Gods, Good Omens and The Graveyard Book, to start. If you like comics, pick up Sandman. More of a movie kind of guy? Stardust, Coraline and Mirrormask are written by him.
If you enjoy audiobooks, he reads most of his novels himself, and he has a great voice.
You have so much joy ahead of you.

I couldn't possibly agree more, he can't write fast enough, IMO.

I have no clue who this guy is...

TO THE LIBRARY!!!!

Russ Pitts:
They were suddenly very surprised that we were no longer interested in selling them the book.

And that's why Neil Gaiman rocks.

And he's married to Amanda Palmer, who absolutely rocks my socks.

... And I liked the Stardust movie. :(

Good. Anansi Boys without Black guys would make no sense. How the hell would Mr Nancy be a white guy? It makes no sense. The mannerisms, dialect, traditions, knowledge, and structure of the character are all distinct. Applying the same to American Gods is exactly what I want. You want them to be reflective of where they are from, of who they are. Do it right.

You know, I've been meaning to read him for a long time now, but this increases my interest and respect in him tenfold. Awesome, and way to stand up for diversity.

Favorite author, ever. I can't wait to watch the show.

If you've never heard of him or if you've never read his stories you need to.

I've heard this guy's name a few times, but I've never read any of his stuff.

I get the vague feeling that I should be.

WanderingFool:
I have no clue who this guy is...

TO THE LIBRARY!!!!

This is as close to the Sokka gif i can find but I guess it sort of fits since I am somewhat bowing to you for a Last Airbender reference.

image

Hollywood has taught me a valuable lesson: I am Black therefore I don't like fantasy. So all 212 of those books I read throughout my life were just really bad sci-fi huh? @[email protected]

Honestly I didn't like American Gods that much. I don't know why, I mean I thought the whole subtle nod to Norse mythology (Among others) and how they interacted with the world today was fascinating but for some reason the book just never clicked with me.

Neverwhere however, I bloody love that book. I really do, and I'd love to read more books in that fantastic setting about Richard and Door. Probably read it a half dozen times now at the least and yet I still enjoy reading it anew each and every time.

Sandman was also fantastic. The only actual series of comics I own aside from Watchmen, which is just in book for so that doesn't count anyway. Not all the individual 'issues' were fantastic, there were a few stinkers in there and a few characters I didn't like, but overall the tale of Morpheus and the Endless was amazing. Apparently Death had a few spinoff series of her own, but I've never read em.

JdaS:

Fronzel:

"And, of course, the characters won't be black in the movie because black people don't like fantasy."

Oh, Hollywood.

No kidding. I mean, when there are no black people in there to begin with, they toss a handful in to (presumably?) dodge the race card. But when the characters are black they have to be made white? Wat?

Well, it gives the editors something to do, I guess. But otherwise, yeah, WTF?

I too was late to the party discovering Gaiman, and started reading/watching his stuff only 3 years ago. But I'm definately looking forward to the American God's adaptation.

And I should try and find Black Orchid, I've planning to read that since I first saw an add for that somewhere around 1990 I think...

The Madman:
Sandman was also fantastic. The only actual series of comics I own aside from Watchmen, which is just in book for so that doesn't count anyway. Not all the individual 'issues' were fantastic, there were a few stinkers in there and a few characters I didn't like, but overall the tale of Morpheus and the Endless was amazing. Apparently Death had a few spinoff series of her own, but I've never read em.

They're definitly worth a shot. Death: The High Cost of living is a nice little tale that has a lot going for it. The main problem with it is it's all set on Earth with very few crazy fantasy moments but at the end of the day it's a story about Death. You can't really go wrong with a character that good.

Agree about American Gods. I'm looking forward to the TV show but it took me several goes to get though the book, unlike Neverwhere which I pretty much devoured. One of my favourite books.

I know I won't be the first to say this...but...Anansi Boys....with whitewashed characters...how do you....what? That was my favourite of his novels, too. I liked American Gods all right but I prefer character studies to sweeping epics. As for Good Omens....it's a great book. It's miles better than most of the stuff I read. But it's not as good as either Neil Gaiman's or Terry Pratchett's solo work.

Game of Thrones kicked so much ass. In my opinion the best television show ever made. That makes me totally psyched for American Gods.

Can you imagine if GoT kicked off a fantasy revival? But instead of Conan(the movie) inspired oiled muscly guy camp of the 80's it was based competing with the production value, acting, writing, and general polish of GoT?

I'm having a nerdgasm just thinking about it.

I really hope the adaptation to American Gods is accurate... then again, American Gods had a fair amount of sex in it, so I'm not certain how they're going to do that... they'll probably want to make it PG-13, after all. e.e That will also ruin some of the better violent bits.

I'm more concerned with the plot and characters, but making changes like those always irk me.

Ya really, all y'all who don't know him go pick up anything...they read fast, they're amazing and there's nothing by him I wouldn't recommend. Maybe it's just cause it was the most recent one I've read, but The Graveyard Book is incredible.

Krion_Vark:

WanderingFool:
I have no clue who this guy is...

TO THE LIBRARY!!!!

This is as close to the Sokka gif i can find but I guess it sort of fits since I am somewhat bowing to you for a Last Airbender reference.

image

Oh... wow...

Ummm... I didnt actu...

YES!!! Yes!

That was my whole intention... yeah... lets go with that...

Never heard of the guy. Hm, might pick up a book by him in a while, when I'm done with the stack of books on my to-read-list...

IAmTheVoid:
And he's married to Amanda Palmer, who absolutely rocks my socks.

... And I liked the Stardust movie. :(

You mean Dresden Dolls' Amanda Fucking Palmer? *gasp!* He just became even cooler.

JdaS:

IAmTheVoid:
And he's married to Amanda Palmer, who absolutely rocks my socks.

... And I liked the Stardust movie. :(

You mean Dresden Dolls' Amanda Fucking Palmer? *gasp!* He just became even cooler.

The very same! Neil even wrote a song for her and she performed it- it's quite bittersweet, but awesome. Just YouTube "I Google You". :D

rembrandtqeinstein:
Game of Thrones kicked so much ass. In my opinion the best television show ever made. That makes me totally psyched for American Gods.

Can you imagine if GoT kicked off a fantasy revival? But instead of Conan(the movie) inspired oiled muscly guy camp of the 80's it was based competing with the production value, acting, writing, and general polish of GoT?

I'm having a nerdgasm just thinking about it.

One can only hope Paradox and CPI are looking at this and thinking of a Conan TV series that doesn't suck.

 

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