On Thursday, March 8, myself and a friend were lucky to see Neil Gaiman speak live at the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. This talk sold out extremely fast, so I didn’t initially get tickets. However, on the event page on Facebook, I noticed that someone was selling a ticket; it was only one though, and I really wanted to bring my friend Kate, who is a huge Neil Gaiman fan. The site where she was selling had another seller for the Cincinnati show that had two tickets and I immediately snatched those up!
We had such amazing seats. I wish I had a photo to show, but alas, I do not. You’ll just have to take my word for it. Neil was a fascinating speaker and I loved hearing him answer questions and read aloud from various works. Instead of boring you all with paragraphs of information, I thought I’d do some bullet points. These are all things I immediately wrote down after I got back from the talk, so I’m sorry for anything that feels a bit out of order! It’s kind of a mind dump of the night!
- He started out by reading a lecture he had given once all about reading, libraries, etc. and I believe he said this was only the second time that he’d given this particular speech. Then he answered questions people had written on cards. Then he read a short story about a genie and a girl who didn’t want any wishes. Then answered more questions. Then read a short story from Norse Mythology. Then read a few more questions, and that was it!
- Neil and Terry Pratchett said they would do a cameo in Good Omens if they could sit in a restaurant near the characters and just eat sushi. But then Terry died, and one of the last things he asked of Neil was to make Good Omens. Neil wrote that restaurant scene, but he couldn’t do a cameo there without Terry – but in the bookstore in the film, the only modern books there are Terry’s and they put his hat and scarf (I think) there, and that’s Terry’s cameo. Neil’s is a guy sleeping/drunk in a movie theater in a different scene.
- He really loved the film version of Coraline
- If he could have any other career, he wouldn’t. He’d always want to be a writer…this writer.
- What gives him hope is children.
- He believes in libraries and librarians and the power of books. He thinks writers have a responsibility to write good books that don’t preach. He thinks parents have a responsibility to make books available and read aloud to their kids…even after they’ve learned to read on their own. He talked about being a kid and going to the public library and how the librarians treated him with respect – he was just another reader, not a little kid.
- He never wanted to be pigeon holed as an author. Before becoming an author, he interviewed all these authors who said that when they became famous, they were kind of “stuck” writing the same type of story. He never allowed himself to write a certain type of book – so nobody ever knew what to expect from him.
- He didn’t expect Norse Mythology to do so well, but his wife did. He joked that if he knew it was going to be a bestseller, he would have written it 8 years ago (it took him years of thinking about it, writing here and there, etc.)
- He would never want to just travel and give speeches. He likes doing a certain amount a year and then going home and writing.
- He told a story about Douglas Adams and how his publisher had to lock him a hotel suite to make him finish a book. And he joked that Terry Pratchett was the opposite – you’d have to lock him in a suite WITHOUT a computer to keep him from writing.
- He talked about working on the graphic novels Sandman and how the comic might be 10 pages, but he’d give the illustrator 50-60 pages with the “script” so the illustrator had an idea of how to draw the scene. Neil said if you can’t collaborate with someone or you wouldn’t be okay letting the illustrator take your notes and then do their thing, you shouldn’t work on comics.
- Someone asked a question about how they should develop their style. He said that you really can’t. What you do is write, and write, and write, and then someday, people will read all of your work and recognize your writing. He joked that someday a person will be like “I love your style” and you’ll say “Thanks, I didn’t realize I had one.”
- He said there is nothing wrong with escapist fiction.
- He considered Ray Bradbury a friend of sorts (they’d meet on panels, etc.) but it wasn’t until after he passed, when other friends and Ray’s family told Neil that Ray really loved his writing – Neil didn’t realize.
I’m so glad I was able to see Neil speak and that I could take a friend who loved his writing so much. This definitely made me even more eager to read more of Neil’s work – I love what I have read!
Do you have a favorite Neil Gaiman work? Is there an author you’ve seen speak that just left you in awe?A Recap of Seeing Neil Gaiman Live in Cincinnati #ontheblog #cincinnnati #neilgaiman Click To Tweet