As of last night, I have checked off three people I rather admire from my "must someday see in person list". Actually, that's a lie, I don't really have a list. But when the opportunity presents itself to see a truly imaginative and inspiring author speak in an intimate sort of setting, I cannot resist. For a voracious bookworm, it is rather like attending a concert to see your favorite band.
Last year I was lucky enough to get to see Yann Martel, the author of Life of Pi, and Chris Elliott, star of one of my all time favorite movies, Cabin Boy (who was on tour for his book Into Hot Air). And now to the list I can add Neil Gaiman, who was in town promoting his newest, The Graveyard Book.
We bought a signed hardback copy, though I'm not sure how legitimate the signature looks, since Neil broke one of the fingers on his book signing hand while wandering in China last month. The copies were all pre-signed because of the way Neil's running this tour. Rather than talk for an hour and then sign books and meet fans all night, he's removed the fan line (which I honestly find to be sort of impersonal and awkward anyway) and instead spoke for nearly 3 hours. There were some complaints from people who wanted to meet him, but I'd much rather hear him speak than stand in line for hours on end for two minutes of small talk.
The University Cathedral's wooden pews have to be the most uncomfortable seats in existence, but the setting was really suited to the tone of his books. The medieval-style chandeliers lit the room with a cozy glow, and the purple stained glass windows were back lit from the street lamps outside. I'm not sure you could find a more perfect place to spend a rainy Friday night in Seattle.
He spent about the first hour or so reading an exert from the book. Afterward we got to see previews of the movie version of his graphic novel Coraline, which is supposed to be released February 6, 2009. Here's the teaser, which is currently the only video I think is available right now. The longer clips and trailers haven't been released yet because Neil wants to show them exclusively at the stops on his tour first.
According to Henry Selick, there's about two and a half minutes left of stop motion animation to film before Coraline is finished. It looks amazing; I'm super excited to see it. I wish I had the longer trailer to post.
The last hour or so was devoted to a Q&A session. I never know what to ask an author, so I always just listen. But the Q&A is easily my favorite portion. I love to hear their perspective and how they write. Neil is a genuinely nice person with a very charming sense of humor and a soothing sort of voice that's easy to listen to.
He made me question why I haven't committed to writing something myself. Not that I think it would be any good, as I'm terrible with coming up with any sort of plot. I also feel like I don't have much time to hole up alone, as planned reclusiveness is definitely a requirement if you hope to get anything productive done. But I do play with the idea, and hope that someday I'll manage to do something about it.
I suppose the point is that I don't have much excuse. I did find time to write this blog, after all.