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I stumbled upon America Gods several years ago.  I had a lot of driving to do, and chose to grab an audiobook, rather than just listening to music.  I had run across a reference to Neil Gaiman in a web comic that I read (www.sluggy.com),  and decided to give American Gods a try.

What I found intrigued me.  Putting mythological Gods in a modern setting is hardly ground-breaking.  Rick Riordin also does this well (America Gods predates his work, of course).  What caught my attention was how he wrote it.  The characters had a vitality and gritty realism (even the fantastic ones) that many authors fail to capture.

What was most striking was his ability to write creepy without being scary.  This quality is really his trademark.  I’ve since read several of his books, and all share this.  The one that made my skin crawl the most was actually Coraline, which is for a younger audience.  

The effect that his works have had on me, and my writing is simple.  Although I enjoy many genres, the books I’ve mostly read have been traditional fantasy, either for young adults or adults.  This was a strong reminder of how much a genre can stretch.  To use an analogy: you can build a better car without getting more mileage per gallon.  Build an electric car, or hydrogen powered, or solar!

As a caveat – some of Gaiman’s work, including American Gods, is not for younger readers.

I like to think that Gaiman’s influence will be seen in my next book, which I hope to have completed before the end of the year.

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