Washington Post: Literati, Twitterati: Neil Gaiman’s multitasking successes

September 27th, 2012

Washington Post
By Michael Cavna
Published: September 27



A little trick of the trade among 21st-century journalists: Shortly before calling your interview subjects, check for any new doings on their social media accounts.

In this case, Neil Gaiman is tweeting about his wife’s bum.

Just seconds before our appointed interview time, Gaiman, the “rock star” fantasy/sci-fi/horror author and comics writer, is sharing with his 1.7 million Twitter followers the embarrassment of having just sent a digital image of his real-rock-star wife’s rump to an in-law. The intimate photo of Amanda Palmer, Gaiman tells me, “was not intended to go to her mum,” who was quite a good sport about the whole slip.

The big reveal here, however, is not about Palmer’s dorsal curves but rather entirely about Gaiman’s prefrontal cortex. As the author and I begin our interview, he is able, with total acuity and eloquence, to track twin conversations: one with me, and one with those 1.7 million followers, whose own stories of intimate familial embarrassment he is now merrily reading and re-tweeting.

Is it any wonder that the British-born Gaiman can so often seem like the busiest literary man in America? The best-selling author might have Hugo and Newbery and Carnegie and Nebula and Bram Stoker medals, but this is impressive in its own right: He is a world-class mental multitasker.

To that groaning shelf of honors, Gaiman will officially add the Mason Award, to be presented at a George Mason University ceremony Friday night as part of the 14th annual Fall for the Book Festival running across the region through Sunday (the event, co-hosted by the City of Fairfax, is a mix of workshops, meet-and-greets and presentations). Amid his wall-to-wall schedule, geared toward a raft of creative projects coming next year, Gaiman is taking time to come to Virginia largely because of a previous Mason honoree.

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