And there he was.
Messy black hair, crooked smile with matching crooked nose. Below – way below me at the Athenaeum Theatre the rock-star writer titled and greeted the cheering crowd. Could he pull off humble? Of course he can, he’s British. I refrained from squealing and throwing my undies at him as he sat down for a bit of a casual chat with a couple of hundred fans, a sold out show.
Neil Gaiman is, like his books, incredibly interesting. At fifty-one he has more than just an air of cool about him, he has marinated in the stuff and wafts of charm in his black threads and gothic humour. Also helps that he’s married to a crazy, bitchy, tattoo-eyebrowed singer Amanda Palmer. Gemma bemused he was lucky at his age to have a full-set of hair, let alone looks and write like a crazed genius. Neil talked a bit about his upcoming projects – yes an American Gods 2! (But no mention of the movie) and why he loves writing children books especially a new picture book about a very cute panda coming out soon. Much of the night was taken up by questions which he answers in a fine art. Neil must be sick of the question “where do you get your ideas from?” But he answered it calmly and humourously:
“I get monthly emails from the ideas club. A new idea every month.”
“Well, here’s what you do to get ideas.. OK, after having a snack at about midnight you go down to the cellar and then a tiny parcel will appear. Take the parcel and unwrap it…”
He also spoke about the loneliness of writing and how spending too much time with one’s own characters can make you go ga-ga, “I met a writer who had spent too many years alone with characters like ten years and he just wasn’t socially right.” Are many writers socially right though? Perhaps not. Seeing Neil speak about his work and be reminded of his accomplishments was inspiring, he’s not stuck in one line of work and spreads himself across all forms but he does have a distinct style about him in all of his writing.
When I told family and friends that I was seeing Neil Gaiman many had no idea who he was, “is he a singer?” I could have gone all maniac on them yelling, “HE’S MY FAVOURITE WRITER! HE’S A BIG DEAL!” But I decided to just nod and smile, “he’s a great singer,” and keep him all to myself.