Let’s cut to the chase: The world has a long, long while to wait before American Gods 2.
It was almost six years ago that Neil Gaiman tweeted his intention, somewhere in that beautiful ether of sincerity and speculation, to write a sequel to American Gods, his 2001 fantasy novel which will premiere its first television adaptation April 30 on Starz. The prolific author told MTV in 2011, “I’ve been [planning] to do a second American Gods book since the first American Gods book.” (Follow-ups like Anansi Boys and a book of short stories were released, but neither are considered full sequels.)
Now that all eyes are on the TV series — which posits a world where old religious gods and new consumer-driven gods are fighting for the heart of the heartland — it’s an appropriate time to wonder when American Gods 2 will hit the publishing circuit. The short answer: Soon. The long answer: Not soon enough.
“The big problem I have is having a maximum of one body and one set of typing fingers at any time,” jokes the author. “Mostly what’s happening is, in the last couple of years, I finished the six-hour-long adaptation of Good Omens for the BBC. I’m wrapping up the Norse mythology book, and right now I’m about a third of the way through the next Neverwhere novel, which is what has to be finished next because it’s the next thing in my head. And then after that, I will probably write a children’s book because there are at least two in my head right now that are jumping up and down, looking rather like small kids desperate to use a toilet, waving their hands going, ‘Me! Me! Look, me, now, please!’ And then I’ll probably start American Gods 2, if there is still a will to write.”
But hark! Even though the sequel’s timeline sounds far off, its presence was still very much felt during production on the TV series. Gaiman collaborated with the show’s co-creators, Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, throughout the entire adaptation process, and while he largely gave the pair adaptive freedom (“They’ve started building new toys, and the new toys are really good,” he says), the author still made it a point to ensure that the Starz series didn’t preemptively botch any threads of plot or character that he’s planning to weave into the sequel.
“There were moments, which they were very good about listening to, when I would say, ‘Okay, nobody but you two knows anything at all about the plot of American Gods 2, but I need to tell you that this line, which seems like a bit of dialogue that you could lose, will become important. Or this little scene — an indigenous scene — which seems trivial will become important one day and if we get to season 5, we’ll need it then, so let’s put it here now.'”
It’s a similar situation to the warnings J. K. Rowling would give filmmakers on the early Harry Potter movies, or the notes proffered by George R. R. Martin at the beginning of Game of Thrones (whether or not producers listened to him, meanwhile, is an entirely different story). Save for these precautionary measures, however, Gaiman stresses that he tried not to remain too precious about the adaptation, which bumps up certain characters and shuffles around others. “I don’t know that I went the full Rowling on this,” he jokes. “I was there putting it all together, working with Bryan and Michael, bailing them out when they’d get in trouble. I would get occasional phone calls — not a lot — but a phone call every now and then saying, ‘Okay, we’re stuck. We’re trying to do this, but it’s not working. We don’t know how this thing happens. What do we do?’ And I’d say something, and they’d say, ‘Oh my God, that solves everything!’ And I would feel like my day was made.”