My name's Neil Gaiman. I wrote the words in the book you are holding.
First of all, the publishers would like me to point out that the words in this book are straight off the disk I sent them. This is no elegant bound-galleys book-proof. This is a quick-and-dirty, un-copy-edited, straight-from-the-author's fingers manuscript, which pretty much means that between these covers anything can happen.
For example, being English, I was brought up to spell colour with a U and emphasise without a Z (which I still persist in calling Zed, when I say it aloud.) Once a copyeditor has straightened that all out and I've had a chance to give it one last polish, that's the book that will be published on June the 19th. This isn't.
Secondly, the publisher wanted me to say a few words about the book itself, by way of introduction.
When I finish a project, I sometimes like to go back and look at the original outline - see how far the project came from my first thoughts. When I finished American Gods, in January 2001, I looked, for the very first time in two and a half years, at the letter I wrote to the publisher describing the book I planned to write next. (I wrote it in a hotel room in Iceland in June 1998.) The outline ended like this:
If Neverwhere was about the London underneath, this would be about the America between, and on-top-of, and around. It's an America with strange mythic depths. Ones that can hurt you. Or kill you. Or make you mad. And, oddly enough, that seemed to describe the book I'd written pretty well.
American Gods will be a big book, I hope. A sort of weird, sprawling picaresque epic, which starts out relatively small and gets larger. Not horror, although I plan a few moments that are up there with anything I did in Sandman, and not strictly fantasy either. I see it as a distorting mirror; a book of danger and secrets, of romance and magic.
It's about the soul of America, really. What people brought to America; what found them when they came; and the things that lie sleeping beneath it all.
I hope you enjoy it.
February 9, 2001