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Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett at EosCon IV

Neil and Terry share their thoughts on their books, chat symbols and more at EosConIV, 2001.
EOSCON 4.0: Lighting Out for the Territory
Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

Moderator2: Neil, can you type to the screen?

Neil-Gaiman: Yes, lets begin.

Moderator2: Hi everyone, welcome to EOSCON 4.0. I'm your Moderator for SCIFI. This hour we're chatting with writers Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Moderator2: Neil Gaiman, author of the forthcoming American Gods (publication date: June 19, 2001), the creator and author of the acclaimed Sandman series of graphic novels, is the winner of four Eisner Awards and a World Fantasy Award. His previous books include Neverwhere (made into a BBC series), Stardust and Smoke and Mirrors. He is also co-author with Terry Pratchett of the longtime cult favorite, Good Omens and the author of a children's book, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish.

Moderator2: The topic is Lighting Out For The Territory

Moderator2: If you'd like to know more about our panelists visit our panelists page at:

Moderator2: Brief word about the drill - please send your questions for our panelists to me, Moderator2, as private messages. (To send a private message, either double-click on my name or type "/msg Moderator2" on the command line - only without the quotes.)


Moderator2: What was the transition like for you when you moved from Graphic novels to more conventional novels?

Neil-Gaiman: I started out writing prose books.

Neil-Gaiman: The first 3 books I wrote were prose.

Neil-Gaiman: And then, during the year that I wrote the beginning of the second year of Sandman and Books of Magic

Neil-Gaiman: I also wrote Good Omens with Terry Pratchett.

Neil-Gaiman: And that was in 1989.

Neil-Gaiman: However, there was certainly

Neil-Gaiman: a transition. American Gods, my new novel, is the first novel I've written that wasn't something else to begin with.

Neil-Gaiman: Good Omens was a collaboration. Neverwhere was based on the UK TV series I wrote.

Neil-Gaiman: And Stardust was originally illustrated.

Neil-Gaiman: So, American Gods felt very much like my first solo novel in some ways.

Neil-Gaiman: ga.

Moderator2: Several people have asked how long you and Terry and have known each other, and how you met?

Neil-Gaiman: Terry and I met in 1984, I think.

Neil-Gaiman: When a young journalist wearing a hat interviewed an author, and it was Terry's first interview as an author...

Neil-Gaiman: where somebody took him out to lunch and asked him questions. I was interviewing him for Space Voyager magazine.

Neil-Gaiman: A magazine so poor, I had to take the photos of Terry after thelunch.

Neil-Gaiman: And we met and we got along incredibly well. And we made each other laugh.

Neil-Gaiman: So that's, what, 17 years? It must be...I hadn't realized that.

Neil-Gaiman: ga.

Moderator2: to : i am interested to find out some of the actors both neil & terry would pick for the good omens movie Bouncer: terry is here

Neil-Gaiman: When Terry comes on he can give his answewrs. I am very very hesitant these days to cast actors in online chats.

Neil-Gaiman: Or even to go on the record online with actors.

Terry: Er...anyone there?

Terry: How about this?

Moderator2: Yes Terry. We can see you :)

Neil-Gaiman: Because if you go on record as saying "I would desparately like Peter Sellers to play Crowley and Aziraphale with different color hair," the next thing you know

Terry:'s been a long day...

Neil-Gaiman: the actor's agent sees that you are saying you want them online and their price goes way up.

Neil-Gaiman: And I figure that Terry Gilliam has enough to worry about without me saying I want SO AND SO or George Clooney to play Crowley. [to take it two extemes]

Terry: Neil knows the only one I've really wanted way Brian Denehey (sp?) for Aziraphael...

Terry: Are you in a cyber cafe, Neil?

Moderator2: Just a reminder..We're chatting with Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Moderator2: If you have a question for our panelists, please send it to me, Moderator, as a private message. . (To send a private message, either double-click on my name or type "/msg Moderator2" on the command line - only without the quotes.)

Neil-Gaiman: ga.

Moderator2: Next Questrion...

Moderator2: to : would like to know if neil and terry intend to ever do another novel together?

Terry: That's what the Future is all about...

Terry: You fitst, Neil...

Terry: Or indeed, you first...

Neil-Gaiman: We wrote Good Omens

Neil-Gaiman: for fun.

Neil-Gaiman: We didn't know if anyone would want ot publish it.

Terry: We thought it was a holiday job..

Neil-Gaiman: And it's success and popularity took us both by surprise.

Terry: We said: I wonder if this'll make any money?

Terry: At a signing, even today, if someone comes up to me

Neil-Gaiman: If we wanted to do a sequel, publishers all over the world would get into line to offer us enormous quanitities of money

Terry: with more than two books, one with be GO.

Neil-Gaiman: which immediately takes the fun out of the thing, so I'd rather just leave it the way it is.

Neil-Gaiman: ga.

Terry: Although I'd quite like the money...

Moderator2: Next Question

Moderator2: to : Where do you start when you write? With a character, a concept, a setting, a plot?

Neil-Gaiman: My reply could be any of the above. It depends on what the project is.

Terry: In my case, about one sentence.

Neil-Gaiman: You always start somewhere.

Neil-Gaiman: Sometimes all I know is how it ends.

Neil-Gaiman: With American Gods, all I knew was how it started.

Neil-Gaiman: ga.

Terry: You don't have to start at the beginning.

Neil-Gaiman: Very wise.

Neil-Gaiman: Very true.

Terry: Very trite. But that's how it goes..

Neil-Gaiman: (Sometimes all; you ahve is an image.)

Neil-Gaiman: ga

Terry: I do have one rule, though..

Terry: Write the cover copy by the time you've done 10,000 words

Terry: Because if you don't know what the book is about by then

Terry:'lll never know.

Moderator2: Next Question

Terry: So I write the blurb to tell myself what I'm writing.

Neil-Gaiman: {And if the book doesn't suprise you by the end, it's not a real book.)

Moderator2: Oops..

Neil-Gaiman: I'm ready for the next Q whenever Terry is.

Terry: Can I make a brief statement, please?

Moderator2: Please type GA at the end of an answer so I don't interrupt you. Sorry

Neil-Gaiman: Go for it, Terry.

Moderator2: Yes, Please do, Terry

Terry: I thought it was Neil throwing up...

Terry: Okay. Any way that works, when you're writing a book

Terry: is a way that works.

Terry: Start at the beginning, end or doesn't matter.

Terry: Sometimes I'm working on three areas of the story at the same time.


Moderator2: Question for Neil

Moderator2: to : question: my friends and i live near northampton and we were wondering which restaurant it was you sat outside being comforted by the friendly crazy person?

Neil-Gaiman: I assume you're not talking about the one in Mass. butin the English midlands.

Neil-Gaiman: Sooner or later you will see Alan Moore wandering the streets of Northampton like Santa Claus's demonic younger brother.

Neil-Gaiman: And you should go up to him and ask, and he will either tell you or put a curse on you.

Neil-Gaiman: And either way your day will become more interesting.

Neil-Gaiman: ga

Moderator2: Next Question...Several people have asked this one...

Moderator2: Neil and Terry, how log long does it take for you to write a book? In average?

Neil-Gaiman: Terry, you go first.

Terry: Er...being alive for 50 years, and then about five or six months

Terry: ...of actual writing.

Terry: ga

Neil-Gaiman: Good Omens took us nine weeks.

Neil-Gaiman: Neverwhere took about three months.

Neil-Gaiman: Stardust took six months.

Neil-Gaiman: And American Gods took a hair under two years.

Neil-Gaiman: And the novel that comes out next year, which is called Coraline, took about eight years.

Neil-Gaiman: So, I imagine the one after that will probably take about 20.

Neil-Gaiman: I'm obviously getting slower./

Neil-Gaiman: ga


Moderator2: Just a reminder..We're chatting with Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Moderator2: If you have a question for our panelists, please send it to me, Moderator, as a private message. . (To send a private message, either double-click on my name or type "/msg Moderator2" on the command line - only without the quotes.)

Moderator2: Next Question

Terry: Yeah, but GO also took us years of research that we didn't know we were doing...the time is takes to *write * the words is only one part of the whoe business, as Neil says.

Terry: ga

Moderator2: to : Question for both: You both write, and both travel how do you keep the travel from eating the writing? Or are you just both enormously energetic?

Neil-Gaiman: (yes)

Neil-Gaiman: Being places is really interesting.

Neil-Gaiman: Traveling can be immensely boring and is a great time to write. I write a lot on planes and trains, and sometiems boats.

Neil-Gaiman: Also, travel give you stuff that you can write about later.

Terry: You can make time expand. But it is quite stressfu;

Neil-Gaiman: Terry wouldn't have written The Last Continent if he hadn't been in the habit of visiting Australia.

Neil-Gaiman: I did a lot of American travel which fed into American Gods.

Terry: However, airport strips look pretty much the same wherever you go...

Neil-Gaiman: Yes.

Terry: I've been to lots of places without every really seeing them...

Neil-Gaiman: ga

Terry: ga

Moderator2: Next Question

Moderator2: to : What writer or kind of writing to you find now draws you the most?

Terry: These days, I am mostly reading history.

Terry: I find I read less and less fiction every year.

Neil-Gaiman: I spent 2 years on American Gods reading no fiction at all, just books of myth and books of history.

Neil-Gaiman: So I'm trying to catch up on my fiction reading currently.

Neil-Gaiman: But, for a writer, fiction gives you very little you can steal from.

Terry: Whereas you can open an old history book and bingo!

Neil-Gaiman: Whereas reference books give you huge huge unmined fields to go and explore.

Terry: And no one else reads them now, except us...

Neil-Gaiman: ga

Terry: ga

Moderator2: Next Question

Moderator2: to : Terry, what do you think about the American covers to your books? I for one would rather have the UK covers......

Terry: Yeah, me to. However, the sales have shot up at around the same time that the covers changed.

Terry: Go figure. It might be coincidence, but do I want to find out?

Terry: I gues that's

Moderator2: Our time is about up, so this is the final question. Thanks for being such great guests! ...What was it like working on Snow Glass Apples, a Seeing Ear Theater piece for SCIFI

Neil-Gaiman: I love doing the SCIFI.COM Seeing Ear Theatre plays.

Neil-Gaiman: (

Neil-Gaiman: Brian Smith is a great director and we got Brian Dennehy for Murder Mysteries, but I was even more thrilled to have

Neil-Gaiman: Bebe Neuwirth play the Queen in Snow Glass Apples which I'm told will go online in May

Neil-Gaiman: It was quite chillling and all of the actors came up to me and seemed rather scared, actcually.

Neil-Gaiman: They assured me I was a very sick man.

Neil-Gaiman: To which I told them it was just a retelling of a famous fairy story.

Neil-Gaiman: I'm looking forward to hearing it when it goes online.

Neil-Gaiman: I think we have time for one more question.

Terry: He *is* a very nice man...

Moderator: We have switched moderators in mid-stream...

Moderator: So please send your FINAL question to me now!

Moderator: Aha!

Moderator: to : How much do you keep in touch nowadays? Do you for example give each other christmas presents?

Moderator: And the all-important follow-up:

Neil-Gaiman: (Some slightly more coherent thoughts of mine can be found on the journal page.)

Moderator: WHAT do you give each other for Christmas???

Terry: No, we tell one another about interesting books...

Terry: ...although I recently gave neil a bonsai mountain and he sent me a skeletal Elvis...

Neil-Gaiman: He lies. I gave him 69 Love Songs by the Magnetic Fields last Christmas.

Terry: A great album...influenced both of us, I think.

Neil-Gaiman: Yep.

Neil-Gaiman: And I think that's it for both of us.

Terry: Seems like it...

Moderator: I'm sure the skeletal Elvis exerted its own strange influence as well!

Neil-Gaiman: I send best Jet Lag wished to the world and I'm going off to see Dawn French's Bottom.

Neil-Gaiman: Thanks to Terry and everyone for joining in.

Moderator: Terry, Neil -- thank you so VERY much for joining us here today.

Terry: Yes, they say in the paper it's a good Bottom...


Moderator: Dawn French's bottom leads to thought's of the crack of dawn...

Moderator: Everyone in the audience -- thanks for your wonderful questions!

Moderator: We're sorry wwe didn't have time to submit them all.

Moderator: Please stay with us because we have a wonderful chat event for you in this next hour where Kristine Smith and Susan Matthews talk about non-tradional military forms as viewed through the SF lens.

Moderator: I'm going to make the room UNmoderated for five minutes.

Moderator: Hold on to yr hats...