Last night I went to Neil Gaiman's first event on his American Gods, 10th Anniversary edition tour at the 92nd Street Y in NYC. Lev Grossman was the interviewer for the night and he did a splendid job directing a conversation that went off into many tangents. Very interesting tangents though. The interview last over an hour and a half and if you get the chance do go see Neil speak.
Outside the event was The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, which is the official ice cream truck for the American Gods tour. Already a big crowd was gathered. Quite a varied crowd with Goths, punks, comic nerds, and the more unassuming folk as well, which is a testament to Neil that he can bring such a diverse cacophony of people together. While in line for ice cream (you know I couldn't pass it up) I spotted Neil saying hello to the owner of the truck and than he quickly went inside to gird himself for the evening.
Big Gay Ice Cream had two special flavors for the event that everyone was clamoring for. I went with the very delicious American Globs which was vanilla ice cream with sourdough pretzel on top and than dipped in chocolate with a bit of sea salt sprinkled on top. Yes, ladies and gentlemen I can attest it was certainly an epically good tasting ice cream cone. The other flavor du jour was Loki Lime Pie, which had key lime curd and graham cracker in it. Either way you went I doubt you'd be disappointed.
By some act of fate from the ticket gods I ended up in the first row just off center from the stage with a perfect view of everything on and even off stage. A couple minutes before the interview started I spied Neil just off stage with his wife Amanda Palmer. A minute later I nearly had Amanda in my lap as she was running in front of me in search of something. I hope she found whatever she was looking for. The house was completely packed with no empty seats and they even opened up the balcony for the event, which apparently they rarely do.
The interview started with Lev Grossman doing a wonderful job introducing Neil. Soon after Neil did a reading from American Gods, which included him doing an American accent. This than turned into Neil doing his impression of a very irate Harlan Ellison, which was quite hilarious.
Loads of interesting facts came out of the interview. First and foremost Neil mentioned that the first season of the HBO adaptation of American Gods will be comprised of the whole of the novel. Given that it has been discussed that there are plans for 6 seasons Neil will be providing a lot more information. The idea that the "Monarch of the Glen" being made part of the series seems likely as well. Plus Neil said there are at least two more stories about Shadow's time in Europe that take place after Monarch and before the events of the planned sequel to American Gods. Neil briefly discussed the shorts and seemed interested in getting to them sooner than later. He also brought up what he calls "The American Gods Sequel Box," which includes Bigfoot, a possible appearance by Jesus, and a tiny town in Florida founded by Spiritualist in the 20s comprised of lots of tarot reading shops. It is apparently a real thing.
A few other interesting facts:
American Gods was never Neil's intended title, but merely a placeholder. He pitched the book while traveling abroad for a few weeks and when he returned the cover had already been publicly released so he decided to stay with it. Also, the first draft of chapter one of American Gods was little changed from the published version, except for the fact it was told in the first person from Shadow's view point. That was a wow moment. To think this story could be told from Shadow's perspective is mind boggling since Shadow is himself such a quite and closed off character. His quietness is what made Neil change the story to third person. The first chapter was actually written on a long train ride to the San Diego Comic Con.
Some of his favorite Gods to write include Chernabog, Anansi, and Eostre.
The idea for American Gods started while in Iceland after a bout of non-setting sun sleep deprivation after seeing a map of Leif Ericson's travels. He pondered whether the Vikings brought their gods with them and thus the seed for American Gods was born. The story was also heavily influenced by Neil's immigrant experience in America plus the "Isn't that Odd" factor such as people parking a car on an iced over lake to see when it would fall through..
In response to an audience question Neil Gaiman proclaimed that we should have no fear of a robot uprising. So there you have it.
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