Neil Gaiman was appearing in conversation with Charles Fernyhough.
On one level, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a story about childhood memories. Memory is like seeing things in the mist, the further into your memories you go the more you detail you get. Originally was not planning on writing a novel, this was meant to be a short story for Neil’s wife. It was going to be a dialled down fantasy with the protagonist being a 7 year old Neil. In some ways the story went fractal on me. The story kept walking through the mist. At times memory can be very specific and as you get older you realise that people have died and you are the only person left with a specific memory.
The process of writing a novel is a lot like a game of what if? As you get older you realise that you are never quite sure what memories are the important ones. Any mistakes that you do make are important as long as you learn from them. Neil would hate to lose any of his memories as the define who he is as a person.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane has been reviewed in a variety of ways. It has been described as magical realism, horror, fantasy and a novel about memories that cover other memories.
Children can be extremely powerless in situations but something’s are built into the human condition. Everyday children are born into the world without an instruction manual. They have to face a world with an already occupied force and are forced to learn our language.
This most recent novel has been described as a fairy tale and Neil feels that as humans we have not forgotten the need for fairy tales. Good fairy tales just feel right. The best thing people can tell you when you are a writer is that they didn’t like reading, then they picked up your book, finished it and know they read all the time. The second best thing people can tell you is that is feel like your book will always be a part of me, even long after I am finished it.
Normally when writing a book, Neil has a specific target audience in mind. However at the start of the process it wasn’t clear if it was going to be a children’s book or an adult book. It is primarily an adult book, with adult books you can leave the boring bits in. It is a book that says sometimes the dragons are huge and they win the battle or there is always a price for winning.
With that final thought a very interesting hour was brought to a close.