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Spooky Coincidences
An Interview with Neil Gaiman and Tad Williams

conducted by Sandy Auden

Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is the author of one of the most critically acclaimed comic books of the decade, the Sandman series from DC Comics. He is also the author of a collection of short stories, Angels and Visitations, and the co-author (with Terry Pratchett) of Good Omens. His first anthology was The Sandman Book of Dreams, edited with Ed Kramer. He is the creator and author of the BBC series "Neverwhere," which inspired his novel of the same name. Born in England, he now lives in Minnesota.

Neil Gaiman Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Sandman: Endless Nights
SF Site Review: Coraline
SF Site Review: A Walking Tour of the Shambles
SF Site Review: American Gods
SF Site Interview: Neil Gaiman
SF Site Review: Stardust
SF Site Review: Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
SF Site Review: Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
SF Site Review: Neverwhere
SF Site Review: The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish
SF Site Review: The Sandman: Book of Dreams

Tad Williams
Tad Williams is the bestselling author of Tailchaser's Song and the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy. He is co-founder of an interactive television company, and is currently writing comic books and film and television scripts as well as novels.

Tad Williams Website
Tad Williams Other Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Shadowmarch
SF Site Review: The War of the Flowers
SF Site Review: Sea of Silver Light
SF Site Interview: Tad Williams
SF Site Review: Otherland, Vol. 3: Mountain of Black Glass
SF Site Review:Otherland Vol. 2: River of Blue Fire
SF Site Review:Otherland Vol. 1: City of Golden Shadow
Tad Williams' Shadowmarch
Tad Williams Fan Page
Interview with Tad Williams

© Sandy Auden
Neil Gaiman
If you want to discover what you're missing in the Fantasy arena, then grabbing a copy of the Legends II anthology is a quick and easy way of finding out. Edited by Robert Silverberg, this second Legends volume contains stories from most of Fantasy's foremost writers. There's a Song of Ice and Fire story from George R.R. Martin, a Pern story from Anne McCaffrey, a Raymond E. Feist Riftwar yarn, and a Robin Hobb Elderlings tale. And if that wasn't enough, there's also a Neil Gaiman and a Tad Williams too.

Gaiman's contribution is set in his American Gods world and catches up with quiet hero Shadow on his travels after the tumultuous events in the States. The story itself, called "Monarch of the Glen," has supernatural overtones as Shadow is hired as a security guard for a strange party in the far north of Scotland, but the spooky story happenings seemed to spill over into real-life from the very beginning.

"I kept finding myself thinking about Cape Wrath," said Gaiman. The Cape is the northern-most tip of Scotland, and a desolate and dangerous location. "Then I started buying archaeological books about the Vikings in northern Scotland. I actually thought I'd write a Neverwhere story, but I soon realised that I was about to write a story about Shadow."

The new Shadow story muscling-in was only the first of the unusual events. "I think that Cape Wrath has one of the best names in the world," Gaiman said. "So I decided my new story would be called 'Cape Wrath,' and have archaeologists in it. Then I discovered that Paul Finch had just written a novella called Cape Wrath, set in that part of the world, with archaeologists in it. So I had to let the title go, and the archaeologists, and just concentrate on Shadow instead."

"Then I wrote a scene in Monarch that was set in a bothy (a small hut) for walkers near Cape Wrath: Shadow met a young lady there and learned a lot about the Norwegian Huldra-women. The day after writing that, a newspaper arrived from the UK with a sad story in it about 'An artist who was found barely alive in an isolated walkers' bothy at Kearvaig, near Cape Wrath.' In many ways it felt as if the story was building itself."

© Tad Williams
Tad Williams
Gaiman isn't the only one who has had some strange coincidences. Tad Williams' story in Legends II, called "The Happiest Dead Boy in the World," is set in his high-tech virtual world Otherland, another area of strange activity.

"The Otherland books kept predicting the future," said Williams. "It seemed like every other day someone would send me a bit off the net or out of the newspaper that they said, 'Sounds just like an Otherland netfeed.' And they did. Some of them almost literally the same as the ideas I had come up with that I thought were science-fictional.

"One of them in particular has stuck with me, a big article in the newspaper that came out just as the last Otherland volume was going to print: 'Super-rich interested in life extension and eventual immortality,' an article about how all these new-rich guys were putting their money into really weird technologies, including the idea of the 'personality upload.' Which, of course, sounded pretty darn familiar..."

In "Happiest Dead Boy," Williams pops back to see how Orlando is doing, as head ranger of Otherland. There's some weird things going on with the virtual characters getting mysteriously pregnant, and Orlando's parents build him a surprise for his birthday. "I used a bit of the experience of being around my own parents, and those of friends, for Orlando's folks," said Williams. "I grew up in a suburb full of intelligent, well-meaning parents (some useless bastards, too, of course, but not many) and that's what I tried to bring to Conrad and Vivian. That 'bad things happening to good people' vibe. Beyond that, I just did my best to make them real people. One of the most important thing about epics, in my opinion, is strong supporting characters -- characters who seem real, even if they aren't centre stage most of the time."

Some of the other supporting cast have a huge boozy birthday celebration in Rivendell in the story, and the party's aftermath is vividly described by Williams. "I was in a rock and roll band for much of my youth," said Williams. "I had an approach to recreational substances through my early twenties that could be called, well, recreational. I have been extremely abstemious most of my adult life but I certainly haven't forgotten the joys of wretched excess."

(This interview first appeared on Sci Fi Channel Europe.)

Copyright © 2005 by Sandy Auden

Sandy Auden is currently working as an enthusiastic reviewer for SFX magazine; a tireless news hound for Starburst magazine; a diligent interviewer/reviewer for The Third Alternative and Interzone magazines and a combination of all the above for The Alien Online. She spends her spare time lying down with a cold flannel on her forehead. Visit her site at The Auden Interviews.


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