Neil Gaiman was speaking in Toledo tonight and I was able to go. Another cool birthday present that can be considered to be priceless, the cost of the item has nothing to do with the value of it.
He was part of an author series put on by the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library and the local newspaper the Toledo Blade. If you don’t know who he is be sure to read some of my 18 earlier posts about Neil Gaiman; at least that’s who he is to me. Even though I’d read a few earlier things, it was The Sandman where I got hooked on him (thanks to Chad in college).
When we were looking for a place to eat I double-checked his Twitter feed to make sure he hadn’t mentioned where he was eating or doing something else beforehand. That might seem silly, but just hours before when he needed to be there he mentioned that he was looking for a cafe to write in* and a little while later that his phone was giving him problems and he was going to give it a factory reset* so he might not be reachable for a bit. That might seem a little silly, but I have got to eat somewhere, right? But no such luck.
There were a lot of people there tonight, it was at the Stranahan Theater in Toledo, Ohio, and I’d been there before; by strange coincidence I’d seen Tori Amos there. He was given a very nice introduction by someone at the newspaper who, I think most of the audience would agree, had no idea who he was; it’s too bad they couldn’t have had a big fan at the paper read something about him.
He then talked a bit, told us the story of how he heard he won the Newberry Award, did a delightful reading of the beginning of The Graveyard Book (the first 20 pages) and gave us the background of how he wrote the book. Then he did a really long question and answer session. He wasn’t doing autographs and he apologized for this (I knew this in advance so I wasn’t disappointed). It was a really nice evening and was glad I was able to attend.
When were leaving, there was a line-up of cars in front, so I tried to cut out around the back to avoid the traffic. And there he was leaving the building talking to a few fans! So I stopped the car and grabbed my envelope (this is where I stuck a few things to get autographed, I knew he wasn’t signing but I like to be prepared, I even had my own Sharpie!). So I ran over there and asked him for an autograph and shook his hand! He was super-nice and he actually commented on the non-typical item of his that I choose to have him autograph. Awesome!
I did only bother him for one autograph even thought I had a few things with me. But while I forgot all about getting a picture (of him or with him) since I was so excited, I did have the sense to introduce him to a friend (that I abandoned as I dashed from the car) to him as a recent fan; she’s thirteen and sometimes shy so I didn’t think she’d come over, I’m so glad she came over and that she even got to shake his hand. It wasn’t as big of a deal for her, but maybe she’ll tell all her friends at school tomorrow that she met the guy who wrote Coraline.
So it’s a few hours later and I’m still really really excited about it. Going somewhere when I knew he wasn’t giving autographs and getting the autograph and getting to meet him. What a great evening!