A Phone Call From Paul: Neil Gaiman, Part II
In Which Paul Holdengraber and Neil Gaiman Talk Bees, Fatherhood, and Magic
In part two of Paul’s conversation with Neil Gaiman, many subjects are covered, of note are: the pleasures of the apiary, the joys of fatherhood, magic as storytelling. To listen to the first part of the conversation, head over here.
Neil Gaiman on writing…
“As a storyteller I keep craving shape. I want to give things shape. I want to make things feel like they make sense. Which is, of course, the beautiful illusion of fiction, that everything makes sense and that there was a purpose, that there was a point to it all. And that’s the best possible lie because it may even be true.”
Neil Gaiman on beekeeping…
“There is nothing so dragging you into the present like being with bees, except for being with bees and accidentally dropping something with 10,000 bees on it, and suddenly having 10,000 angry bees swarming around you. It is the ‘I am a tree.’ You stand there, and you are completely still, and you go ‘why would you sting a tree?’”
Neil Gaiman on fatherhood…
“When I was first a father 30 years ago, the thing that really astonished me back then was suddenly feeling a connection to my own childhood. An immediate connection, which was as much of memory as it was of anything else. You know, that point where I was carrying my son up to bed because he wouldn’t go to bed and I throw him over my shoulder, and suddenly I remembered being thrown over my father’s shoulder and being carried up to bed, and my anger, and thinking, ‘If I had children, I would never do this to them.’ …it was that first moment, I said that, Oh my god, we become our parents! Who knew?
What I’m looking forward to is meeting somebody new. I’m looking forward to the part that you do not expect, the fact that whoever you get is their own person.”
Neil Gaiman on magic…
“I love magic. I love both sides of magic. I love the potential and ability to fool ourselves and fool each other. I love the complexity and the simplicity of magic. These huge, complex, brilliant things where you wouldn’t actually imagine that this is how somebody did things because it’s too crazy, it’s too complicated, it’s too weird… and then the other side of things, which is the simplicity. How could the guy read the number on your dollar? It wasn’t your dollar. He swapped it with a different dollar that he already knew the number of. How did this happen? He lied. He told a story.”
Neil Gaiman on bedtime stories…
“The thing I am most looking forward to, with the kid, is bedtimes stories. I’m looking forward to making up stories and I’m looking forward to revisiting the books that I read when young, to discovering new books. We have an obligation, as an adult, as a parent—you have an obligation to read to children. It was, for me, always sacred, it was sacred time. When I was away writing American Gods for a month and a half, I would still phone home and read to Maddie every night.
I’m looking forward to finding out what the kid likes. Finding the books that make the person happy is always an adventure, because each of us is different, and we like different stories.”
Neil Gaiman’s recommended children’s reading: The Chronicles of Narnia, Mary Poppins, Roald Dahl, Diana Wynne Jones, Daniel Pinkwater
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