Neil and Amanda are answering questions on reddit to bring attention to their various projects. The couple recorded some tour dates a couple of years ago and the collection is now available and is called “A Night with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer”. Neil is a writer. Amanda is a performer. DID YOU KNOW THAT?
1. Over the past few years you both have been accosted with questions, comments, and general bitterness from people who say not-so-nice things about your relationship. How do you cope with it at the end of the day, when you’ve been married for two years now and yet again someone has to say something spiteful or ignorant?
Neil Gaiman: “I had run into nasty people on the web before I married Amanda, but marrying her opened the door on a whole new level of unpleasantness. It was like lifting up a rock and seeing what squirms underneath. And then slowly I started to realise that an awful lot of the nastiest haters appeared to be one person cutting and pasting away, and industriously spending every evening googling my name and Amanda’s and posting strangely unpleasant dispatches from an alternate universe. And then I felt very sorry for that person, because it doesn’t seem like much of a life.”
Amanda Palmer: “this is a good question.
first off: neither neil nor were strangers to haters when we met each other. from the first outing of the dresden dolls in 2000 (my first band, which was just me and one other guy) in boston, i was confronted with the amazing phenomenon that is People Who Love To Spend Their Time Hating & Criticizing Artists. back in 2003 when the dresden dolls built a proper website, i even made sure our designer put in a section called “hate mail”. and this was pre-social network, pre-myspace. these were just plain old hate letters, via email. that site is still up, and the hate mail section lives on!!!: http://www.dresdendolls.com/hatemail.html
there was even, back in the heyday of livejournal, an entire community was dedicated to hating my band.
neil can chime in about his own pre-marrying-amanda-palmer experiences, but he certainly had his own field of trolls and neil-gaiman-haters before i showed up.
so it came as no surprise to both of us that our union ushered in a whole new exciting era of hatred for the trolls and critics.
on the upside, coping with it when you have a partner who TOTALLY UNDERSTANDS how it feels to read a load of bullshit comments is WAY easier, and i think it’s one of the big reasons neil and i are and were attracted to each other. our job is weird. we’re constantly in the public trying to communicate and make art and it’s impossible to do that nowadays without facing haters and trolls….and it can feel really lonely.
we also serve to edit one another. both of us try to protect each other from taking troll-bait. we’ve traded “DELETE THAT TWEET YOU’LL ONLY ENCOURAGE THEM” emails and phone calls with one another more than once. it’s nice to feel like we’re part of an engine room that way….we protect and help each other.
i WAS a bit shocked when i realized that there was a whole subculture of WOMEN who were basically grumbling “fuck that bitch amanda palmer for dating/marrying my favorite author. now i can’t like either of them”. it seemed to me emblematic of the entire problem with feminism…a bunch of women scratching their own (and each other’s) eyeballs out because they’ve been fed the cultural lie that there’s only one place at the table for a single power, instead of understanding that the more we support and encourage each other as women, the more powerful and happy we can be on this fucking planet.
and the truth is…it’s just part of the job. i have accepted that doing this job (especially as a woman, which generally means i’m more of a target) means that “learning to deal with the trolls” is part of my everyday to-do list. you get good at it.
and honestly….the more i do it and learn about this part of the universe, the more i approach the haters and yellers with compassion. the more i look, the more hurt i see, and the less i feel like yelling back. from where i’m standing, the ones screaming the loudest probably need the biggest hugs.”
2. Neil, when I was in college, several professors told me to read your work as they though it would inspire me. I did, and it did. I’ve been writing for some years now and put a few short stories out to float about in the world. People seem to like them, but here’s my struggle: I love writing novels. I’ve written quite a few, but every time I go to re-read and then send them out on their own, I find something else that needs fixing, something else that could use some tweaking. How do you decide that yours are done? Also, what is your go-to writer’s fuel? Do you have a special writer’s hat? And how much does your dog help you write? Because mine mostly walks on my chest when I’m trying to work.
Amanda, you are strong and awesome and powerful and “Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under” is my go-to album experience when the doldrums overwhelm. How do you be married and a artist all at once? My husband can get overwhelmed by my artistic rants and rages and I don’t want to bury the poor, lovely man.
NG: “There’s always a point where you have to let a story go. Art isn’t finished, as many people before me have pointed out, only abandoned. And eventually you abandon your new child and hope that you’ll get it right next time, or the time after that, and you never do.”
3. How did you guys meet?
NG: “We were introduced over email by Jason Webley, after I said something nice about one of the songs he and Amanda did together as Evelyn Evelyn on my blog. We met because Amanda asked me to write some stories to accompany photographs of her dead, to make a book called WHO KILLED AMANDA PALMER. We met in the green room of the NYC Comic Con, and we didn’t fancy each other at all. There are photographs of us and Stan Lee together there. Amanda did not know who he was. I found this refreshing.”
AP: “it’s true. i was also in a relationship at the time with no interest in falling in love with neil gaiman…and i barely knew his work. we’ve looked back at the photos from that day and had a good laugh. neil looks like hell and has a black eye (his dog gave it to him…..long story) and i looked (according to neil) pudgy and mannish and absolutely “not his type”. nor was he mine.
the reason we’re convinced this relationship has legs is that we fell in love with each other’s personalities and brains and then, later, with each others bodies and faces….from a deeper place.”
4. First question, does it surprise you when your works are challenged or censored? Is it a moment of pride when something impassions people so much that they attempt to ban it?
Second question, as a (fairly) young writer, I was hoping for words of advice when it comes to publishing a piece of work (poetry, short story, novella). Anything?
NG: “It’s mingled pride at being thought worthy of censorship and grumpiness at the people who think that the solution to ideas is to try and stop them.
Keep writing. Don’t be disheartened when stories don’t sell.”
5. Now for kind of a silly question: How would each of you describe the other in bed?
NG: “Amanda tends to sleep on the right and often sleeps naked. She’s cuddly, much less talky than I am, unless she decides that she wants to talk. She likes sex. She reads in bed before sleeping more than I do these days.”
AP: “i’m taking “in bed” literally here. neil is selling himself short: he’s an excellent cuddler. he also likes sex a lot.
we tend to use bed as our space to talk about our actual relationship and our sex life…we don’t do that shit over dinner. it’s the place where we can hold each other, be safe, away from work, phones and other people and let all of our feelings out.
we’ve recently been apart for about a month until a few days ago and this morning we’d planned to get up at 8:15 am and go to a yoga class and lunch together before hitting this reddit at 1 pm. instead, we woke up at 8 and had sex and airings-out and arguments and makings-out and generally caught up about all of our feelings and shit (it’s been a month, after all) until noon. when we’ve been apart for a while, that tends to be necessary when we get back together. and we prioritize it.
neil also sleeps strictly with a pillow made of beans and i sleep strictly with a squishy tempurpedic pillow that i also drag around on tour with me.
and we both grind our teeth, so we both use night guards. it’s really un-sexy and therefore sexy as hell.”
6. I always hear things about an American Gods HBO Series, pilots and greenlights and all sorts of things. Whats the truth?
NG: “There is an American Gods TV series in the works. It’s no longer with HBO. The moment that things are ready to be announced I am sure they will be, either legitimately or via a leak in a big Hollywood Agency mailroom.”
7. Being polyamorous I’m often curious how others arrive at opening their relationships. How did you two breach the subject of an open marriage and was it a result of rigorous tour schedules or have all your relationships been open?
NG: “We both came from closed relationships (although Amanda had tried all sorts of relationships before that one). We both wanted to be with each other, but also we wanted more than that. From the very beginning of the relationship, in early 2009, possibly even before we started actually going out, we knew we wanted to be free to be with other people when we were away, and that we wanted to build the kind of a relationship in which that would bring us closer. So far it’s working pretty well.
I don’t know. It works okay currently because we have people we can kiss all over the world. If we both lived in a small town and never left, we might decide it was easier to have a closed relationship. Or we might not.”
8. Between your two television episodes and the 50th anniversary short story, you’ve written a bit of the Eleventh Doctor (and quite enjoyably, I might add). If you were to write a story involving any other Doctor, who would it be and why?
NG: “The Doctor is the Doctor. Matt Smith wasn’t cast when I wrote the first draft of The Doctor’s Wife.”
9. I don’t really have a relevant question, so I’m just gonna ask how many toasters you have at home?
NG: “There is only one toaster and it is TERRIBLE. It eats toast, and then I have to turn it on its side and shake it to get the toast out. And toast crumbs come out too and go all over the kitchen.
Why do I have such a toaster? Surely I can afford to replace it. Sigh.”