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Even Neil Gaiman Was Surprised by the Reaction to ‘American Gods’

Variety logo Variety 6/12/2017 Ben Croll
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For nearly 30 years, Neil Gaiman has found success as a comic-book writer, novelist and screenwriter. Now, he can add another credit to his long CV, as the executive producer of the Starz series “American Gods,” which was adapted from his 2001 novel.

What is your relationship with showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green?

I wrote a few tiny bits here and there, but mostly … I tried to steer them off the shoals, having a really good idea where the shoals were because I’d lived with these characters for much, much longer. It was like, “No, Shadow wouldn’t do that. You might think you want to go here, but trust me, you really don’t…”

Starz renewed the show for a second season. But what happens when you run out of text to adapt?

By that time, one of two things will have happened. Either President Trump will have destroyed the world, or I will have written or be solidly into the “American Gods” sequel.

The show went into production before the election, but since it began its run in April, it has seized the cultural moment.

I did not consider the book contentious, controversial or anything fancy. It was a book that was fundamentally about the Statue of Liberty and the poem on her base, about what immigrants took to America and what they left behind, and it seemed like an absolutely and utterly uncontentious thing. Writing a story with a diverse cast seemed like an important thing.

What has been the most surprising reaction?

Weirdly, it was the fact that the Bilquis scene caused as many ripples as it did. I remember making it up 20 years ago. I threw it at the end of chapter one, figuring if people wanted to leave they could leave there.  I was quite genuinely as excited by Yetide’s [Badaki] glorious performance and then by watching that set the world on fire the next day.

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