In Charlotte with Neil (Again)

Interrupting the interrupted description of Hugo for a moment for an update on current events. It’s two things today. First, it is the sixteenth anniversary of Hurricane Hugo. In another few minutes, definitely before I finish this post, my lights would have gone out and stayed out for 17 days. Big freaking woo in light of current events, right? But anyway, here’s to the 16 years I have lived Aprés Hugo.

Thing number two that today is: the third time I’ve been to have something signed by Neil Gaiman. The first time he signed something for me was by complete coincidence. I happened to go to ALA on the day where he happened to be there signing things for HarperCollins a month before Coraline came out, and I happened to walk down the row of vendors when he happened to be sitting there. I didn’t even see him at first. He was really there to discuss Graphic Novels with 30 librarians the day before, which makes me quite ill that I didn’t know about that before hand. Not that my employer would have paid to send a part time person to talk about something that at the time, they didn’t want to collect, but still, I could have bloody paid for it. Anyway, I got Coraline signed for me and the American Gods paperback signed for my friend Kathleen, who had opened a bookstore / new age shop a few weeks before.

So time goes by, and I thought, how nice I got to meet him. Then two years ago, he was invited to do a reading and signing at the Novello Book Festival in Charlotte, a few hours’ drive from my home. I made The Husband, back when he was The Boyfriend, go with me. He proposed during the week before, thus when we got to Charlotte, he was The Fiancé. Anyway, I was sick as a freaking dog. Of course, when Neil came out he confessed that he was quite sick himself, which was funny to me, since we were both braving travel instead of doing the easy thing, which was just to lay in bed. Of course, his presence was a bit more critical than mine, but still. We waited for over three hours afterwards to get some things signed. He was most gracious, as always.

Of course, what you really want to know about it the reading and signing of Anansi Boys that happened this evening at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Charlotte. We got to the store about an hour and a half before hand, and we promptly ran into people from home. Small world. We picked up our copies and were directed upstairs, where to my shock were some chairs which were mostly empty. We sat and damn, it was great. About 10 minutes later,the chairs were all gone.

The crowd was about what I expected for essentially the only reading in the Southeast. Plenty of people my age, some college students, some older people, lots of black t-shirts, but not everyone was a huge fanboy. Near us, sitting on the floor, were a group of young women who caught my eye. They looked like me and my friends in college. They might have been art majors; I saw two of them drawing nice cartoons of the Marquis. I was spying on them a bit, glancing and looking upside-down, admittedly, but they were quite good drawings! Anyway, someone’s purse had key rings attached to it that I definitely recognized, the cat from Trigun and Ed from Fullmetal Alchemist, which are two of my most favorite things ever. Anyhow, I hope they weren’t creeped out by the lady with the tall guy staring at them. If so–sorry!

Neil was delayed a few minutes, while he signed back stock and ate some sort of sushi salad, according to one of the employees that I overheard talking to other people in line afterwards. Anyhow, Neil came out, and confessed that he’d done a signing in New York for over 700 people until 1-something-AM and he said he was extremely happy to not see that many faces looking back at him today. He also said that by the time he gets to Toronto, he will be organized enough to have things on him like copies of what he’d like to read. He simply borrowed a book from someone in the front row who I am dead sure won’t be parting with her copy of Anansi Boys anytime soon. He said that he read right from the start yesterday, so chose to pick up from where he left off, and by the time he’s done, well, he’d have read the whole thing. He stopped reading right where Fat Charlie found out that his father had died, which is about where the chapter he posted on his website stopped.

The questions were all very good. He was asked many things, everything from what is the “it” is in “it’s all over” in The Wolves in the Walls, which was asked by a little girl sitting behind me (answer: Very good question indeed, unfortunately, I’ve no idea.) to what happened to Crazy Hair (answer: Dave McKean is an incredibly lazy soul and said it would take him 8 months to film Mirrormask, which actually, took many months more of daily labor to finish. He said something about no one being willing to ask, and that when he called and said, “Hi, Dave, how’s it going?” Dave would make the Uuuruguguggghhh sound that Lurch would make on The Addams Family and that would be that.) One of the people I knew asked what he was reading, and he says that he’s reading The Alan Coren Omnibus, which is easiest to get from Alan Coren was an editor of Punch, and he wrote 3000 word stories that have the sort of writing that a Neil, a Pterry, or a DNA would have appreciated (yep, Neil, Terry Pratchett, and Douglas Adams. I think my acquaintance will be interested in reading that one!) He talked about Beowulf, and told an amusing story about when he knew that Constantine would be a dud. Here’s the thing. It was being announced to a couple thousand of industry people: We will make….Constantine! (Yeah!!! went the audience.) It will star….Keanu Reeves! (“Urm!!” went the audience “Let’s see, John Constantine is blonde, nope. British….nope, and well, nope. Sod it.”) And thus he knew it was To Be A Dud.

In short, Neil was Neil and we had a great time!

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