This afternoon I got to spend an afternoon in the lovely, but sweltering, Crystal Ballroom with Neil Gaiman and 900 other sweaty people. “Glare. Drink tea” was his answer to an audience member’s question of “Describe your writing process in one to three words.” Additionally, we also got to hear him read from chapter three of his new novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I am excited to read it. In fact, after seeing him, I’m looking forward to filling in some of my spotty reading history. I have read a lot of Gaiman’s work, but still have a Bildungslücke (it’s a thing, google it! You will never learn German if I just teach it to you..oh wait, maybe you will!) where short stories and graphic novel work is concerned. It was so hot (apparently dancers have no need for air conditioning), but so much fun to see him on what he says will be his final signing tour of this sort. (And I’m so glad he qualified with “of this sort”, because people who retire decades before retirement age, then mount a comeback tour a year later are tedious!)
In addition to being one of my all time favorite authors, the thing I love so much about Mr. Gaiman is that he seems like such a genuinely good guy. When I was in grad school studying literature, I got to meet quite a few authors. While most were quite lovely, there were a few who were less pleasant, which is so disappointing when you’ve been looking forward to meeting someone. No one wants to walk away thinking, “Wow, this guy whom I have loved forever writes well, but he is a total asshat!” It is always heartening to get the sense that someone you admire is a genuinely decent, nice person.
You can tell that his fans really adore him. It was one of those events where people were so admiring that it felt like they were waiting for each precious word with rapt attention. I seriously think he could have read from the phone book and be met with nothing but delight. In a Kardashian-filled reality t.v. world, it’s kind of exciting to see people get so worked up about a writer. Clearly, nerds are my people! The best thing about such events is that they always send me home wanting to create something. Bonus: I now have my own signed copy of a Neil Gaiman novel and can stop pretending that this one in a picture a friend found on the Internet was signed for me. I am sure the other Martina will be relieved.