The Illusionist

In his new novel, Neil Gaiman conjures up dark magic for adults

Ryan Pfluger for TIME

Author Neil Gaiman at his home in Cambridge, Mass.

Neil Gaiman Remembers being punished. "I could run down a list of my teachers for you when I was 9 or 10 by the physical punishments they liked inflicting on us," he says. He has a whimsical, wistful, mannered way of speaking that along with his light English accent serves up each sentence like an expertly bowled cricket ball. You immediately get why he's among the few authors who are allowed to do their own audiobooks. "From the spotty young man, Mr. Cook, who made us--and we were wearing short trousers--stand on a desk while hitting the backs of our knees...

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