Those of you who read Kate’s interview with Neil Gaiman in honor of National Library Week will be happy to hear that we have some more information from the prolific author: background on his latest project, Instructions, a picture book for all ages.
Before you read Gaiman’s comments, you have to watch this book trailer—one of my favorites in recent memory. In it, Gaiman reads the whole book out loud, and illustrator Charles Vess’s illustrations come alive:
Kate Pritchard: How did Instructions come about? I know the poem was one you had written a while back, but how did it become a picture book?
Neil Gaiman: It became a picture book because Blueberry Girl came out, hit the New York Times bestseller list, much to everyone’s astonishment, and became a beloved book in no time flat. [Laughs]
Normally it takes a very long time for these things to happen, and Charles Vess and I are looking around and faintly reeling. And our editor, the lovely Elise Howard, said, you know, I would love another book from you guys. Now, bear in mind that Blueberry Girl had taken Charles Vess four or five years to draw and paint, he’d been working on it for years and years. So I thought, oh good, we’ve got another book for 2013 then. And Charles and I started talking and he suggested, I think, doing a book of my poetry. And I said, well, you know what, doing the book poetry, I’m not sure, and I’m not sure we’re ready for that yet. I’m sure one day we’ll do a collected poetry of Neil Gaiman, but why don’t we just take a poem that everybody loves, like “Instructions,” and do that? And Charles said OK, and Elise said, what a great idea, and I figured we had a book for 2013.
And, it was magic. Absolutely, absolutely magic. The pages just started flooding in. A few weeks later, there’s all the pencils, and I’m going, who is this man and what has he done with Charles Vess? And then he painted them, and then we had a book! And now it’s out, and it’s out a year after Blueberry Girl, which means it took Charles something ridiculous like four months to do. Which is only mad, when you know that it took Charles, working on Blueberry Girl, years and years and years and years and years. And it’s just . . . I kind of think of it as a strange bonus from the gods, you know, that Instructions shouldn’t be out for years, but it is. And Charles just got inspired, and did it. So that’s why it exists, and I’m so happy with it.
Also in BookPage: Like what you read? Browse our Neil Gaiman archives.
Will you read Instructions, now on sale?