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Author Neil Gaiman says being afraid of monsters under the bed can be a sign of creativity

It's fine for children to be scared of monsters as it could be a sign they will grow up to be creative, author Neil Gaiman said.

Gaiman, whose books include the dark children’s novella Coraline, said he used to view his overactive imagination as his ‘big weakness’ and did not realise it would become a ‘superpower’.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, the writer said he found lots of things frightening as a child. 

Asked what he was afraid of, he said: ‘You name it, definitely the dark, shadows, witches, anything that really did exist and anything that didn’t. 

It's fine for children to be scared of monsters as it could be a sign they will grow up to be creative, author Neil Gaiman said

'I couldn’t switch that off and I thought of that as my big weakness and did not realise that one day I would grow up and that would be my superpower.’

Gaiman added that the darker elements of some of his works, including Coraline, were ways of reassuring his younger self.

‘I just wanted to be able to tell myself as a seven-year-old, terrified of the dark, it’s OK to be scared. Being brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared. It means you’re scared and you do the right thing anyway.’

Gaiman also revealed his father used to pat him down for hidden books at family gatherings to stop him from reading constantly.

The second season of the Amazon Original fantasy comedy series is helmed by co-author Neil Gaiman and director Douglas Mackinnon

Recounting being frisked for contraband literature at family gatherings, he continued: ‘(It was) always my dad.

‘He would literally pat me down because I had been known to hide books under my jumper and he would lock them in the car.

‘It never really worked because wherever we were I could normally find something to read, it just wouldn’t have been what I wanted to read.

‘But I’d be at a family gathering and I’d be off in the corner reading The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten or something because it was the book I found.’

Desert Island Discs airs on BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 4 on Sundays at 11am.