I drove a 10-hour round trip to see Neil Gaiman. (Because… Texas!) He was at the lovely Noel Wagner Center, as part of One Book Odessa–where a good part of the town read Coraline, put on a play, and had other book events. He read from Ocean at the End of the Lane, and Trigger Warning, and answered some questions from the audience and the host, Randy Hamm.
Randy was very enthusiastic about the event–he’d collected questions in that little book for months.
Some highlights of the evening:
Writers take something everybody knows, and follow it to a weird place, Neil said. What if, he said, a werewolf got very bored and bit a chair? And there were bodies found, throats ripped out, with marks of chair feet in the mud… and the police detective was in the library, thinking, when the moon shone down through the window, and he suddenly noticed his chair was getting very hairy…
Neil told the story of how The Ocean at the End of the Lane came to be–he missed his wife, and decided to write her a short story. In it, he put things his wife is fond of, such as “she likes me, so I put me in it.” He kept writing it, and read it to her piece by piece after she returned. When he had it all typed up, he realized it was a novel, which he likened to trying to make a sandwich, and finding you’ve made a four-course meal.
One of the audience questions was whether he had made up the cats in his books, or if they were based on real cats. He responded, very seriously, that he didn’t believe he’d made up any cats, except for the cat in Coraline. Because they were living somewhere they couldn’t have cats, and he missed them, so he combined all the cats he’d known into an ubercat.
Another question was whether writing was stressful. He answered yes. After a short pause, he also said that it “wasn’t as stressful as being a cop, a nurse, or a librarian, you know, the hard jobs.”
It’s so wonderful to see–and even better to meet–a favorite author. Sadly, he didn’t do a signing, but authors have to be allowed some personal time, too. Have you been to any readings or signings lately?