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40. Neil Gaiman

Author of screenwriter

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"Writing is, like death, a lonely business," according to Neil Gaiman. But the prolific wordsmith has made it a bit less so, building a global community of fans of all ages and in many media, including comic books (Sandman), novels (American Gods), TV (the BBC's Neverwhere), and a children's novella turned 3-D movie (Coraline). In January, Gaiman won the Newbery Medal, kiddie lit's top honor, for The Graveyard Book, the enchanting, daringly dark tale of an orphan protected by the long-dead residents of a cemetery. Gaiman also blogs at neilgaiman.com, discussing everything from his computer setup to his success. "I liked the idea of a world in which I could feed my family by making things up and writing them down," he wrote recently. "[But] I'm not quite sure how it happened." — by Danielle Sacks

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