Neil Gaiman, co-author of the Good Omens book and showrunner of Amazon’s live-action series, has weighed in on fans shipping two of the leading characters: “fast-living demon” Crowley and the “somewhat fussy angel” Aziraphale. While he never confirms what some readers have long suspected — that Crowley could be gay or bisexual — Gaiman has some advice for those taking the fan fiction game a bit too seriously: “Make fun fan fiction. Enjoy yourself. Make things up. Share them. That’s the point.”
Gaiman, who also authored American Gods and Anansi Boys, wrote this in response to a fan inquiry directed to his official Tumblr page. The fan noticed “quite a lot of nastiness floating around Tumblr aimed at people who wish to write fan fic about Crowley having [a] romantic interest in people other than Aziraphale.”
“Canonically, which is to say using the text in the book, you don’t get any description of Crowley’s sex life. The only thing the book says is ‘angels are sexless unless they specifically make an effort,'” Gaiman wrote. “You can infer, and (more to the point) you can imagine, and lots of people have chosen, not unreasonably, to ship him with Aziraphale, but you are still Making Stuff Up. It could be Making Stuff Up that happens between paragraphs, or Making Stuff Up that isn’t mentioned at all, but it’s still Making Stuff Up.”
The showrunner noted it’s the same principle when he made up stuff in adapting the book for the screen — or “when I needed to take the story into places the book hadn’t covered,” as he put it.
“Which is the fun of fanfiction, and part of the tradition of fanfiction,” Gaiman added. “As is, I’m afraid, grumbling at people who do not see that your ship is the only true ship, and choose to ship anyone else with anyone else. If anyone decides that The Relationships in Their Fanfiction Are the Only True Fanfiction, it seems to me they are missing the point. The point is Fanfiction exists so that you can imagine, enjoy and fill in the gaps. The point is that you can change things and have fun with them. And the stories are absolutely true… for you.”
Former Doctor Who star David Tennant plays Crowley in Amazon’s Good Omens, while Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex) plays Aziraphale. Gaiman teased, “The TV series gets deeper into Crowley and Aziraphale’s relationship. It’ll be canonical for the TV series, and not canonical for the book.”
In a footnote, he further explained, “They don’t contradict each other, but there is territory covered by the TV series that isn’t covered by the book, particularly about Crowley and Aziraphale in bygone years. Also the Present Day in the book is probably the early 1990s, and the Present Day in the TV series is 2019ish, although 11 years ago in the book wasn’t particularly 1978, and 11 years ago on TV is post-ubiquitous cellphones but pre-smartphones.”
Gaiman co-wrote Good Omens with Terry Pratchett, who’s onboard the series as an executive producer. Tennant and Sheen lead a cast that includes Jon Hamm as the angel Gabriel, Sir Derek Jacobi as Metatron (a.k.a. the voice of God), Anna Maxwell Martin as the demon Beelzebub, and Mireille Enos, Yusuf Gatewood, and Lourdes Faberes as three out of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
“If I were to Pronounce on things that are not explicitly stated in the book, I still wouldn’t be telling you if Crowley was Canonically Gay,” Gaiman concluded. “I would be telling you what I think, because it’s not canon unless it’s in the book. It won’t be TV canon unless it’s on the screen.”
The six-part Good Omens will premiere on Amazon Prime in 2018.