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.


Reading, with voices for the different characters and all.


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?


About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

10 responses »

  1. Marcia says:

    Oh, I am SO pea-green with envy right now! This man is WAY HIGH UP on my list of favorites I’d love to see/meet/hear. I could just imagine him reading all the voices, too. He’s GREAT at reading!! I love his idea of the were-chair! *snort* What a great story he could write about something like that, and being who he is, he’d make you believe it, too. I drove four hours to see Kim Harrison once, with Nicki for company. I think 5 hours is doable for Neil. (I’d have to stay over, though, like we did for KH. I don’t want to do 10 in a day.)

    Thanks for sharing this. I enjoyed the vicarious experience. But I’m still green with envy…maybe fading into chartreuse. Because…Neil Gaiman!!! (And the only readings/signings I’ve been to lately have been my own. Not NEARLY so entertaining, trust me.) πŸ˜€

    • It was split over two days, with a rest between–ten hours in one day is a bit much, even for a Texan.

      • Marcia says:

        I’ve done it (every time I drive to Chimney Rock, NC) but not with any energy left to enjoy the day. But yes, a 5 hour drive would be doable, with a good night’s sleep afterward. Nicki & I drove 4 hours to south Florida, spent the night, got up the next day, and enjoyed a pretty full day at the event, then spent a second night, and drove 4 hours home. That worked well, but 2 nights at a motel makes it pricier. However, it was worth it. Lots to see, including local writers with booths everywhere. It was a Book Fair, and very enjoyable. I’d definitely do it again. Why don’t more writers come to Florida, I wonder?

  2. Sarah W says:

    Mr. Gaiman did a signing at the last American Library Association conference I attended. He had a rock star glow, but that could have been the camera flashes . . .

    The line was far too long (it wound around the entrie hall and overlapped itself at the end), so I went to the front to catch a glimpse and ended up literally backing into Eloisa James, who graciously allowed me to geek all over her–she said she’d been worried that no one would stand in her line, because she was opposite The Neil Gaiman. She gave me two books and signed them.

  3. Trying not to be jealous. Such a cool thing to attend though, even if he wasn’t signing! Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

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