Neil Gaiman's panel at SXSW 2019

SXSW 2019: Neil Gaiman Talks ‘Good Omens,’ ‘American Gods’

English author and TV showrunner Neil Gaiman was one of many guests who came to the annual South By Southwest (SXSW) festival and conferences. His panel took place at the Austin Convention Center on Saturday March 9.

Official SXSW image of Neil Gaiman
Graphic credit: SXSW

Neil Gaiman is the showrunner for the drama series American Gods on Starz and for Good Omens, the comedic fantasy limited series coming to Amazon Prime on May 31. Before he started his career in television, Gaiman was best known for his novels Sandman and Coraline. His work, as the moderator put it, “appeals to goth bands and elementary school teachers,” which I wholeheartedly agree. I read Neil Gaiman’s young adult novel Coraline in high school and fell in love with his work. His book Stardust was also adapted into a film and I loved that film. My words alone won’t do any justice to the work Gaiman’s done.

American Gods

Cast of Neil Gaiman's book-to-tv series adaptation "American Gods"
“American Gods” cast / Photo credit: Starz

We kicked off Gaiman’s panel with a reminder about American Gods coming back.

They presented the official trailer for season 2 of American Gods to get the audience hyped. I actually have yet to see American Gods, so I tried not to pay attention to the trailer so I would not take in spoilers.

Writing for Television

The moderator segued the conversation to ask Gaiman about writing for television versus writing for print. Gaiman does both and he talks about the extent of control the writer has in both mediums.

Because writing for television comes with its limitations, Gaiman decided he wanted to become a showrunner. For Good Omens, he did just that.

Rewind the clock on Good Omens

Michael Sheen and David Tennant in "Good Omens"
Michael Sheen and David Tennant star as the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley in Neil Gaiman’s upcoming book-to-TV series “Good Omens.” / Photo credit: Amazon Prime Video

We learned a little bit about the background of Gaiman writing the novel Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter. He wrote the draft and had shared it with trusted friends, including Terry Pratchett. Gaiman later got busy with working on Sandman, so Good Omens was set aside… until Pratchett called him up…

Gaiman and Pratchett ended up co-writing the novel together and the story came to fruition. The co-authors published the comedic fantasy novel in 1990–nearly 30 years ago!!

Gaiman continued to tell us the story: Pratchett a few years ago, become he sadly passed away, called him up and insisted that he work on the show adaptation too.

And the rest is history. Gaiman knew exactly who he wanted to cast and it was a matter of asking.

Good Omens trailer

They presented the official trailer for Good Omens, which Amazon Prime actually released on March 6, just in time for SXSW.

Chattering Nuns!

I could not tell if the moderator was acting this out or if she and Gaiman both knew this, but a group of women chorus members burst into the ballroom where the panel took place and started chanting about Satan and the End of Times. Turns out the group is called the Chattering Order Of St. Beryl! They went around SXSW to sing this a cappella song to promote the show.

Q&A

What’s next?

How do you curate your ideas?

Piece of literature you wish you had written yourself?

Last but not least: Writing advice!

Conclusion

Neil Gaiman’s panel was one of my favorites to attend. I cannot wait until Good Omens releases on Amazon Prime on May 31. I even purchased the audiobook on Audible so I can start familiarizing myself with the story. If you love fantasy and spins on the heaven-and-hell dichotomies in storytelling, mark down the date on your calendar. The end is nigh… And I’m ready. 😉

Featured image credit: ChinLin Pan/Geek Gals

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