Few authors elicit screams of "We are not worthy!" from their fans, but Neil Gaiman proved that in the literary world, there are still rock stars.
Kicking off a month-long publicity tour for his latest novel, The Graveyard Book, Gaiman addressed an audience of about 300 people packed into the Cowin Center at Teachers College on Tuesday evening. He offered glimpses into his current and future projects and answered audience questions.
Gaiman, known for his prolific science fiction and fantasy writing, spent just under an hour reading the first chapter of The Graveyard Book, a children's novel about a boy brought up in a graveyard following the murder of his parents.
"I thought I could write a book like The Jungle Book, which is about a boy who wanders into the jungle and is raised by animals," he said. "Only, maybe I could write about a boy who wanders into a graveyard and is raised by dead people."
But Gaiman proved his broad appeal while answering audience questions, which addressed a body of work that includes graphic novels, adult fiction, screenplays—such as the one he wrote for the 2007 flick Beowulf—as well as poetry and drama. "I'm hard-core crossover," he said, "and I love it."
He described a recent month-long trip across China, where he researched "obscure Chinese mythology," broke his finger and received a haircut "that only existed in the '70s on people in TV."
Besides his current work, Gaiman also talked about his writing process. "I don't really have any idea where they start," he said about the origins of his work. "I suppose you just kick it around a bit in your head."
He said writing "is all about putting one word after another until you're done," and noted that he used to write "late at night, and then I hit 35 and I'd given up coffee and cigarettes and everything changed."
Audience members, most of whom came from outside the University, praised his ability to connect with the crowd. "He was amazing," Elizabeth Jackman, Fordham '11, said. "Especially for the first time I'd heard an author speak, and I religiously check his work."
"He was very charismatic," Nina Baculinao, CC '12, said, "and possibly even appealed more in real life than in his books."