Q: There's been a lot of muttering in the UK press about J.K. Rowling "borrowing" ideas for her Harry Potter books from you. Would you care to comment on that?
Neil Gaiman: Last year, initially The Scotsman newspaper -- being Scottish and J.K. Rowling being Scottish -- and because of the English tendency to try and tear down their idols, they kept trying to build stories which said J.K. Rowling ripped off Neil Gaiman. They kept getting in touch with me and I kept declining to play because I thought it was silly. And then The Daily Mirror in England ran an article about that mad woman who was trying to sue J.K. Rowling over having stolen muggles from her. And they finished off with a line saying [something like]: And Neil Gaiman has accused her of stealing.
Luckily I found this online and I found it the night it came out by pure coincidence and the reporter's e-mail address was at the bottom of the thing so I fired off an e-mail saying: This is not true, I never said this. You are making this up. I got an apologetic e-mail back, but by the time I'd gotten the apologetic e-mail back it was already in The Daily Mail the following morning and it was very obvious that The Daily Mail's research [had] consisted of reading The Daily Mirror. And you're going: journalists are so lazy.
Q: What was it of yours they were accusing her of stealing from you?
My character Tim Hunter from Books of Magic who came out in 1990 was a small dark-haired boy with big round spectacles -- a 12-year-old English boy -- who has the potential to be the most powerful wizard in the world and has a little barn owl.
Q: So there were commonalties, for sure.
Well, yes and as I finally, pissed off, pointed out to an English reviewer who tried to start this again, I said: Look, all of the things that they actually have in common are such incredibly obvious, surface things that, had she actually been stealing, they were the things that would be first to be changed. Change hair color from brown to fair, you lose the glasses, you know: that kind of thing.
Q: Change the owl to a gecko.
Yes. Or to a peregrine falcon. And I said to her that I thought we were both just stealing from T.H. White: very straightforward. But then I saw an online interview with the mad muggles lady where they were asking her about me and they said: what about Neil Gaiman? And she said: Well, he's been gotten to. [Laughs]
Q: By the Harry Potter conspiracy? [Laughs]
NG: I guess, yes.
(note : Link is now defunct)