I was lucky enough to see Neil Gaiman on his book-tour stop in Toronto last night. I’d been looking forward to it for months so my expectations were a bit high. But Neil did not disappoint.
He was charming and witty, and he told great stories about his previous life as a journalist (before he went to “author school”) and about his crazy hair. He also read from The Ocean at the End of the Lane and from his next book out in September called Fortunately, The Milk. He answered questions from the audience about the books he liked to read as a child (Mary Poppins, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings), his wardrobe (basic black never goes out of style), and how to avoid feeling lonely (“Talk to people”).
When it came time for the book signing, I was lucky once again because I was in the front row, which meant I was one of the first in line to meet Neil. There’s this funny thing that happens right before you meet one of your favourite writers. You get a little nervous and forget everything you wanted to say. I had interesting stories and clever questions thought up, but when I got in front of him and he said “How are you?”, I just stood there with a goofy grin on my face. But as he signed my copies of The Ocean at the End of the Lane (“To Florence, Dream Dangerously.”) and Make Good Art, I remembered something that I wanted to tell him.
And that’s when Neil Gaiman and I had an actual conversation.
We talked about the Isle of Skye in Scotland (I drew a blank on the name of the town I stayed in, but it’s NEIL GAIMAN so I’m surprised I remembered my own name) and about what a magical place it is.
And then it was over.
He had about a thousand other moments like that last night, and every person went home with their own “I met Neil Gaiman” story. This was mine, and I feel lucky to have it.