One of our favourite books (from two of our favourite authors) is GOOD OMENS, by Terry Gaiman and Neil Pratchett (or something like that), originally published by Gollancz in 1990. We recently republished it as a gorgeous small hardback, to tie in with our Terry Pratchett collection, and we have exciting news coming in the New Year for those who would prefer to have a copy which sits neatly on the shelves with their Neil Gaiman books.
If you have read the book, you’ll know why we love it – and if you haven’t, you totally should give it a go. But whichever camp you sit in, this Christmas BBC Radio 4 is putting on an all-star dramatization which we can’t wait for, and which you should definitely all listen to.
The first episode is at 11pm on Monday 22nd December, with another 5 to follow, which you can then hear online for 30 days. Personally, I’m most looking forward to hearing the answerphone scenes – what’s your favourite moment from the book, and which scene or character are you most looking forward to hearing?
We also have an exclusive extract featuring Terry Pratchett discussing going on tour with Neil Gaiman. You can read the first part of this extract on the BBC Radio 4 website here.
And there we were, ten years on, travelling across Sweden and talking about the plot of American Gods (him) and The Amazing Maurice (me). Probably both of us at the same time. It was just like the old days. One of us says, ‘I don’t know how to deal with this tricky bit of plot’; the other one listens and says, ‘The solution, Grasshopper, is in the way you state the problem. Fancy a coffee?’
A lot had happened in those ten years. He’d left the comics world shaken, and it’ll never be quite the same. The effect was akin to that of Tolkien on the fantasy novel – everything afterwards is in some way influenced. I remember on one US Good Omens tour walking round a comics shop. We’d been signing for a lot of comics fans, some of whom were clearly puzzled at the concept of ‘dis story wid no pitchers in it’, and I wandered around the shelves looking at the opposition.
That’s when I realized he was good. There’s a delicacy of touch, a subtle scalpel, which is the hallmark of his work. And when I heard the premise of American Gods I wanted to write it so much I could taste it . . .
When I read Coraline, I saw it as an exquisitely drawn animation; if I close my eyes I can see how the house looks, or the special dolls’ picnic. No wonder he writes scripts now. When I read the book I remembered that children’s stories are, indeed, where true horror lives. My childhood nightmares would have been quite featureless without the imaginings of Walt Disney, and there’s a few little details concerning black button eyes in that book that make a small part of the adult brain want to go and hide behind the sofa. But the purpose of the book is not the horror, it is horror’s defeat.
It might come as a surprise to many to learn that Neil is either a very nice, approachable guy or an incredible actor. He sometimes takes those shades off. The leather jacket I’m not sure about; I think I once saw him in a tux, or it may have been someone else. He takes the view that mornings happen to other people. I think I once saw him at breakfast, although possibly it was just someone who looked a bit like him who was lying with his head in the plate of baked beans. He likes good sushi and quite likes people, too, although not raw; he is kind to
fans who are not total jerks, and enjoys talking to people who know how to talk. He doesn’t look as though he’s in his forties; that may have happened to someone else, too. Or perhaps there’s a special picture locked in his attic.
Have fun. We did. We never thought about the money until it went for auction and the big numbers started to get phoned in. Guess which one of us was amazingly cool about that.
Hint: It wasn’t me.
PS: He really, really likes it if you ask him to sign your battered, treasured copy of Good Omens that has been dropped in the tub at least once and is now held together with very old, yellowing transparent tape. You know the one.