"Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters."
Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre, and films. His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. He has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals. He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, The Graveyard Book (2008).
In 2013, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards.
Journalism, early writings, and literary influences
As a child and a teenager, Gaiman read the works of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, Mary Shelley, Rudyard Kipling, Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore, Ursula K. Le Guin, Harlan Ellison, Lord Dunsany and G. K. Chesterton.
When he was 19–20 years old, he contacted his favourite science fiction writer, R. A. Lafferty, whom he discovered when he was nine, and asked for advice on becoming an author along with a Lafferty pastiche he had written. The writer sent Gaiman an encouraging and informative letter back, along with literary advice.
In the early 1980s, Gaiman pursued journalism, conducting interviews and writing book reviews, as a means to learn about the world and to make connections that he hoped would later assist him in getting published. He wrote and reviewed extensively for the British Fantasy Society. His first professional short story publication was “Featherquest”, a fantasy story, in Imagine Magazine in May 1984.
When waiting for a train at London’s Victoria Station in 1984, Gaiman noticed a copy of Swamp Thing written by Alan Moore, and carefully read it. Moore’s fresh and vigorous approach to comics had such an impact on Gaiman that he would later write “that was the final straw, what was left of my resistance crumbled. I proceeded to make regular and frequent visits to London’s Forbidden Planet shop to buy comics”.
In 1984, he wrote his first book, a biography of the band Duran Duran, as well as Ghastly Beyond Belief, a book of quotations, with Kim Newman. Even though Gaiman thought he had done a terrible job, the book’s first edition sold out very quickly. When he went to relinquish his rights to the book, he discovered the publisher had gone bankrupt. After this, he was offered a job by Penthouse. He refused the offer.
He also wrote interviews and articles for many British magazines, including Knave. During this he sometimes wrote under pseudonyms, including Gerry Musgrave, Richard Grey, and “a couple of house names”. Gaiman has said he ended his journalism career in 1987 because British newspapers regularly publish untruths as fact.
In the late 1980s, he wrote Don’t Panic: The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion in what he calls a “classic English humour” style. Following this he wrote the opening of what would become his collaboration with fellow English author Terry Pratchett on the comic novel Good Omens, about the impending apocalypse.