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14 Things You Didn't Know About Neil Gaiman

You probably know that Neil Gaiman is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 20 books for adults and children, including American Gods, Coraline, The Graveyard Book, and his latest novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. But you probably didn't know...

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2. He believes that books have genders.

"Books have sexes; or to be more precise, books have genders. They do in my head, anyway. Or at least, the ones that I write do. And these are genders that have something, but not everything, to do with the gender of the main character of the story."

"Stardust, on the other hand, is a girl's book, even though it also has an everyman hero, young Tristran Thorne, not to mention seven Lords bent on assassinating each other."

"The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish is a boy's book. Coraline . . . is a girl's book."

And American Gods? "The book had a gender now, and it was most definitely male."

3. His favorite Filipino mythological character is the manananggal.


"I think it's got to be those wonderful, witchy vampire ladies who leave their bottom half behind and fly off trailing entrails and suck your life out with their incredibly long tongues. I don't dare say their name (manananggal) because I will always get it wrong but it's them."


7. He had a talking cat.

"And Fred the cat talks.

I've never had a talking cat before.

He wanders round the attic saying things like 'Hullo...' and 'Mimi'. Well, the 'hullo' is more like 'hurro', but it's still quite off-putting if you aren't used to it."


9. When he was 16, he started a magazine called Metro with three friends.


"We started a zine. It was called Metro (a name I think I came up with, mostly because it sounded like a magazine people might vaguely have heard of) got a few local stores to pay for enough advertising to print the thing (very cheaply) and did interviews with anyone we could get (Michael Moorcock and artist Roger Dean are the only ones I remember) (and they were rather surprised when their interviewers turned out to be sixteen year old boys in school uniforms). It was sold in local record and bookstores (this was Croydon in about 1976)."


"Rats. Well, rat figurines anyway. Five rats in all, a demon rat, a wizard rat, an angel rat, a vampire rat, and... a Neil rat -- well, he's wearing dark glasses and a leather jacket, and is sitting on a copy of the Arabian Nights, and he looks sort of scruffy, so I'm pretty sure that he's me. They were a gift from Lisa Snellings, who tells me that she's doing the me-rat as a CBLDF benefit, in a limited edition of 500."


13. When he was a kid, he alphabetized all the books on his bookshelf.


"Gaiman began the novel as a short story to explain himself to his new wife, musician Amanda Palmer, who was away recording an album. But as he wrote, the story took on a life of its own.

'I'd get up every day and go, "Well, it's got to be finished by the end of the week, hasn't it?" And then the end of the week would happen and I was going, "Well, it's not a short story, it's obviously a novelette," and then I thought, "Well, it's not a novelette, it must be a novella," and I did a word count and I went, "Bloody hell, this thing's 56,000 words, that's a novel. Not a long novel, but it's a novel."'"