Neil Gaiman is my biggest, living, literary hero. His writing voice is infectious in the sense that I can't read his stuff without wanting to sound exactly like him. It's a tempation I have to resist, because I'll never sound like Neil and trying to would lead to insanity. And not the good kind.
I also love how he hasn't let himself be bound by genre. He writes fantasy, horror, comedy, science fiction, and children's books all equally well. He said in an interview recently that when he first started doing book signings back in the Sandman days, he could always tell by looking at the line who his fans were and who was someone's mom, standing in line to get a signature for a fan who was away at college or something.
These days, he said, his audience is so varied that he can't tell anymore. Those old Sandman fans are now middle-aged and respectable, and there are also a new crop of young, goth readers as well as six-year old little girls who loved The Day I Swapped My Dad for 2 Goldfish. How cool is that?
Anyway, he turns 46 years old today. So, Happy Birthday, Neil!