A Conversation With Neil Gaiman




I just returned from an event from the Living Writers series at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA called “A Conversation With Neil Gaiman.” Muhlenberg College is an excellent, small liberal arts college with a thriving English Department, and this event was featured in coordination with a class on Living Writers that is offered typically every 3 years.

I was delighted to find out about this event and to be able to attend it. I teach English Literature at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College, which is the adult degree program.

Mr. Gaiman, sat in conversation which the host, Professor Francesca Coppa, and he spoke at length about his career as a writer and about writing itself. This talk offered something for a wide variety of people, including scholars of literature, writers, and readers of Mr. Gaiman’s work. I include myself in all three categories.

I was especially interested in his view on not being branded as one kind of writer. He has written fantasy, horror, children’s novels, graphic novels, and short stories, among others. He deals with a wide variety of topics and ideas in his works, and that appeals to me greatly as a writer.

Mr. Gaiman discussed his treatment of mythology and his refusal to be put into one box in his writing. I think this is a huge problem for writers today, because we are encouraged to brand ourselves for marketing so that readers know what to expect. I certainly understand the need for marketing, but it can potentially damage writers to be viewed as writing just one kind of work or restricting themselves to one specific genre or type.

I am a writer of speculative fiction, which really can be applied to all fiction. I am a writer of  horror, YA fantasy, and will be writing a romance novel, several historical novels, and a thriller.  These ideas are in my head, and I will explore them all. I hope being a diverse writer will be my brand.

Mr. Gaiman is certainly a talented, skilled, and accomplished writer of a wide range of material.  If you have never read his work, you should. My favorite work of his is American Gods, which I have taught in several classes. Among his other work is–Coraline, the Sandman Series, and The Ocean at  the End of the Lane. Read his work!







28 thoughts on “A Conversation With Neil Gaiman

  1. PA was probably his last stop before his retirement as he was just in Long Beach, CA where I attended “An Evening with Neil Gaiman” and he said it was his penultimate appearance before retiring from public appearances to be a writer.

    So happy to read about his views about not wanting to be boxed in as a writer. It is a problem with branding, and one that I’m struggling with as an author, as branding is apparently synonymous with “consistency” according to someone on Twitter when I asked that question.

    American Gods is my favorite book of his, too, and the first book I read that I’ve never forgotten – though I am due for a reread.


      • That’s exactly what I plan to do, and I’m glad to see that I’m not alone. I didn’t know how ‘big’ a deal branding was till it was trending on Twitter with everyone saying how important it was to be a successful author. Like you, I want to write the stories I want to write and they usually straddle one or two categories.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Perhaps we can be at the front of a new movement, of being writers whose work cannot be categorized. Have you read anything by Mark Helprin? He is a brilliant writer, and his work spans many types of writing. Stay true to yourself!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. sportsattitudes

    Indeed for marketing purposes literary agents and publishers alike would likely prefer the “convenience” and “ease” of herding writers into promoting a specific brand or specialty of style to promote rather than take on the more intense challenge of marketing or promoting a versatile writer who refuses to be stereotyped or “marked” for one style. Love writers who are up for the challenge of writing for multiple audiences and being confident they can be successful at it.


  3. I own a few of Mr. Gaiman’s books and enjoyed each one.
    But each time I hear that you are an English teacher I have to gringe – how do read my posts – You must be dying to bring out the red pencil and edit every paragraph!!! 😉


    • I think it is necessary for authors to maintain the integrity of their writing, while always striving to improve. It is also crucial, therefore, for writers to engage in the marketing process. It we are going to maintain our writing focus, we must also embrace the business component.


  4. As always, you make me think after reading your posts. My teaching is clearly diverse, yet my writing about all those different areas is a very similar style. Hmmm… I feel so ‘driven’ to tell people what’s important. Perhaps I need more diversity myself. Dusting off the half written children’s book? Or finding a different style?
    Thanks for your words. And BTW, Muhlenberg is one great school. Please write your YA book, as it will inspire young readers and writers. It’s a hot market, too.


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