I bought my tickets a few days after they went on sale. I mean, let’s face it. In the writing world, Neil Gaiman is pretty much a rock star. And not just because of his books. He’s made movies, written music, he’s a prolific blogger and Twitterer — the man’s all over the place.
“I have planned nothing, so nothing can go wrong.” We laughed at his first words and pretty much spent the rest of the evening enjoying his wit. I was looking forward to hearing about writing process and stories behind the story and he did offer some of that. But truly, he could have read us his grocery list and most of the people in that auditorium would have left happy.
He talked about finding the best voice, the best way to tell a story. He recalled taking a bubble bath at midnight in a suite that someone else was paying for and being awakened hours later by a phone call to tell him he’d won the Newberry. He told us about the joy of recording audiobooks, knowing “there will always come a point where you start cussing the idiot who wrote the book.” He explained why he enjoys book signings: “The numbers turn back into people.”
But mostly he read in his mesmerizing voice, stories that haven’t been released yet, one that he called “a bit poemy around the edges.” And he answered questions.
Someone asked him if he received a lot of criticism after winning the Newberry for opening a book for children with a murder. “No,” he said. “Because I was diabolically clever about it. Words like murder, blood and kill are never mentioned. So if any vicious murders happened…you did them.”
Another person asked him if he felt limited when he created screenplays based on his books. “Every mode has its limitations. But I find that the limitations are normally where the most interesting things occur.”
And when a question came up from a person who is working on a PhD in Superherology, he just smiled. “I love living in a world where someone can get a degree in Superherology.”
I couldn’t agree more.