Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite writers. I started reading him when a co-worker suggested that I’d like either Smoke and Mirrors or American Gods. Actually, come to think of it, that’s completely untrue. The first thing I know that I read by Gaiman was his late 1980’s biography of Douglas Adams, another favorite author of mine. That book was written back when he was a journalist who later realized his dream of writing comics. I picked him up again when my friend Kathleen suggested I’d like him and I realized, “Oh. I know him. It really is the same Neil Gaiman.” I liked it very much, so I’ve read lots, although not all, of his writing. I’m one of those people who prefer the books to the comics. Although I like the comics, I have only read two or three. One day, I’ll read more of them.
It’s strange that I have actually met Gaiman at three different events. If I say that to people, I think they think I must be what you could call a sad anorak. You know, someone who would stand out in the rain for hours just to be one of the first to buy whatever the object of their obsession has created. I’ve been a sad anorak about things in the past, but not about Gaiman. I do read his books, I read his blog mostly regularly, but an anorak I am not. Anyway, the first time I met him was a complete coincidence. I was wandering around the exhibits at ALA one year, and I saw a free paperback of American Gods sitting on a table. I asked if I could have one, and was told that yes, I could, but I would have to wait in line if I wanted it signed. He was right there signing them. So I took a book and stood in line. I later found out that he was signing for maybe two hours total. And in all of that huge place, I happened to be there the one day at the one time he was signing. I put a lot of stock in major coincidences. I don’t usually have good luck, so when something that pleasant happens by chance, it makes a serious impression on me. So I’ve been to see him at events twice since then, and I read his blog regularly.
Running into the signing at ALA like that made me remember very powerfully that once, I too had a dream. I wanted to be a writer. I must have not wanted it badly enough for long enough, since I’m a librarian right now who writes a blog with bad grammar and nearly no readership, and that’s mostly okay with me. If I ever could achieve that goal, though, I’d want to write just like him. I don’t mean the plots, exactly, or themes, or the genre, or even his level of success. I mean that there is something very warm and pleasant for me about his writing that was there even when he was writing that Douglas Adams biography, too. I’ve never been able to define it for myself, so I’m glad to see that Charles de Lint has managed to do it for me in his review of Anansi Boys at SF Site. Thanks, Charles! (I love his books, too, but that’s another post for another time…)