British author and screenwriter Neil Gaiman has apologized after being reprimanded by Scottish police for traveling from New Zealand to the Scottish island of Skye — a journey that has rattled residents of the 10,000-strong community who have been trying to self-isolate.
Police Scotland confirmed to Variety that the “American Gods” author had been approached by local officers on Sunday after Gaiman detailed his late April trip from Auckland to the Scottish island — which included two flights and a lengthy drive — in a May 14 blog post. Gaiman wrote of flying “masked and gloved” halfway around the world: “Both flights were surreal, especially the flight to London. Empty airports, mostly empty planes. It reminded me of flying a week after 9/11: everything’s changed.”
Inspector Linda Allan said of Police Scotland’s visit to Gaiman’s Skye residence: “Officers have visited Neil Gaiman and spoken to him about his actions. He has been given suitable advice about essential travel and reminded about the current guidelines in Scotland.”
Early Tuesday, Gaiman published a post apologizing for defying travel warnings. “So. I did something stupid. I’m really sorry. The last blog I wrote, about how I had been here for almost three weeks, turned into news — and not in a good way. ‘Man Flies 12,000 Miles to Defy Lockdown’ sort of news. And I’ve managed to mess things up in Skye, which is the place I love most in the world.
“I want to apologize to everyone on the island for creating such a fuss,” he wrote. “I also want to thank and apologize to the local police, who had better things to do than check up on me. I’m sure I’ve done sillier things in my life, but this is the most foolish thing I’ve done in quite a while.”
Gaiman explained that his home and work life had been “turned upside down” by the coronavirus lockdowns. The writer had been in New Zealand with wife, singer Amanda Palmer, and their young son Ash, after traveling there in March from Australia, where Palmer was touring. Gaiman said he needed “some space” from his partner after a turbulent period.
“I was panicked, more than a little overwhelmed and stuck in New Zealand,” wrote Gaiman, who explained he then sought government advice for foreign nationals online. “I’ve been living in the U.K. since 2017, and all of my upcoming work is here — so ‘you are strongly advised to return now’ looked like (the) most important message. I waited until New Zealand was done with its strict lockdown, and took the first flight out.”
The writer also noted that Skye has had a COVID-19 outbreak at a local care home in the time he has been back on the island. “It’s not set up to handle things like this, and all the local resources are needed to look after the local community,” he said. “So, yes. I made a mistake. Don’t do what I did. Don’t come to the Highlands and Islands unless you have to.”
Scotland has reported just over 2,000 deaths related to coronavirus. Lockdown measures are to be eased only on May 28.
Gaiman struck an overall deal with Amazon Studios in late 2018. The streaming giant premiered his adaptation of “Good Omens” last year. Most recently, he adapted his series “The Sandman” for Netflix — a long-gestating project currently listed as in pre-production.
A film adaptation of his novel “The Graveyard Book” is also in production.