Naomi and I toodled up to Saratoga and were part of about 1500 people in the City Center to hear Neil Gaiman.
Joe Donahue, host of The Book Show and The Roundtable on WAMC, came out and explained how the radio show part of it was going to work. He gave the lead in for the show and told us we could go all out when he announced Neil but that he wasn’t going to really be coming out quite yet.
So we did that recorded bit for the beginning of the radio show.
There were introductions from the owner of Northshire Books, the folks who brought it all together. Neil described these as telling someone in the desert, “there is just out of view, seriously just over the top of this next hill, a most wonderful oasis. Now before we go, let me tell you all about the history of the oasis.”
And then – an hour of Neil talking about his career and about writing and about how this particular book came about. One of the things I most love about Joe D. is, ok two things: first, he always has read the book and knows his stuff about the author and the book and second, he is more than willing to ask a question and then let the other person talk. This is not about him. He doesn’t interject himself into the conversation endlessly.
It’s amazing how fast the hour went by. Then there was a ceremonial recording of the end of the radio show followed by a reading from The Ocean at the End of the Lane, some questions and then a really funny reading from Neil’s upcoming children’s book, Fortunately, the Milk. The questions were quite funny. He said that the opening question at the last signing was: what is your favorite cheese? Yup someone seized this opportunity to ask Neil Gaiman anything and asked about his fav cheese…
Naomi and I took lots of mental notes about things we’ll need to have lined up as a famous author. The bookstore people were so organized and helpful. They told us the “rules” for signing, helped us have our books opened to the right places and wrote our name on a sticky note to make it readable for the signing author. Brilliant!
Neil had been asked why was this his last signing tour. Well he said – look around, there are 1500 people here. That’s a lot of signing and goes on a long time even if you’re really really fast. And it turns out that what most people want isn’t the signature. It’s to get up to the top of the line, stand in front of the author and say thank you. Or, you saved me in some dark times. Or, you changed my life.
So when I got to the top of the line, I looked up close at Neil Gaiman and said ‘you were right. I do want to say thank you and it’s a pleasure to meet you in person.’ And he was exquisitely nice while carefully signing my two books and said nice things back.
So if it feels sometimes like I’m stalking Neil Gaiman, (and I’m not, honest!) it’s because I enjoy his humor and his slant on life and because I can learn some things from him (and from his wife) and because his books make me laugh and gasp, sometimes in rapid progression.