Neverwhere was the first thing by Neil Gaiman I ever read. I was in high school I think. It came into the house via one of the massive raids my Dad did on the library for anything science fiction or fantasy related. I picked it out because it looked interesting and loved every minutes of it. The world building, the amazing creativity of it, just blew me away. I read Good Omens and Sandman not long after that and for me Neil became an author to watch. I loved Coraline and Wolves in the Walls particularly because they could be read by younger audiences but were in no way dumbed down or less scary because of it. Anansi Boys came out while I was in college, and The Graveyard Book while I was struggling to learn how to not be in college.
The man my sister ended up marrying gave me a copy of Fragile Things for Christmas one year. To this day it lives in my backpack for those times when I'm in waiting rooms or airports and just need something good to re-read.
Over the last year I have been getting caught up on reading through Neil Gaiman's blog starting at the beginning with the American Gods tour and working my way up to the present. I find it incredibly soothing to, as I begin to publish my own work, read about his dogs, bees and what he's cooked for breakfast lately.
I think for me, like for so many, Neil Gaiman is definitely one of the writers I aspire to be like. Not because I want to write his books because I don't, I want to write mine, or because of the money and fame he's achieved through writing but because of the large amount of creativity I see reflected in his work. I want my stories to speak of raw creativity, even if it is in an unpolished and messy way sometimes (especially in a messy way sometimes). I always want to be the author who can write stories that are blatant homages to Sherlock Holmes or the Cthulhu Mythos and have that be okay. I want to be a good enough author to craft it in such a way where it is close enough to the original source for people know immediately that's what you're doing but not so close it feels stale.
Most of all though I want to be the kind of person who does what I love and what makes me happy everyday, and be able to survive that way.
So here's to many more years of doing what makes you happy Neil Gaiman, whatever that might be, and inspiring me to do the same.