In April, I found it that not only was Neil Gaiman publishing a new adult novel, but he would be embarking on his last signing tour. I've seen him twice, once in New York City when Endless Nights came out and again in Boston when Anansi Boys was released. I contemplated, momentarily, not going. After all, I've seen him read and sign twice. Then I realized that if it really was his last tour, I'd kick myself in the butt for not going. So tickets were bought. I picked Felicity up and we had sushi. Then we proceeded to sweat for a while.
There were easily, 1000 people there. I knew the event was sold out, but damn! That photo only shows about 1/4 the amount of people who were patiently waiting to be let in the blessedly air conditioned auditorium. One thing I love about Neil Gaiman fans is that they are patient and passive.
Inside and in our surprisingly decent seats, we waited. He was introduced by someone from the Changing Hands Book Store (the organizers). This would be Neil's first signing in Arizona. His fans were thrilled. He came out to a standing ovation. And proceeded to read chapter two from The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
The brief but informative Q&A proceeded. It was wonderful to learn that while attending a convention in Tucson in 1991, he was invited to a party. He was chastised for wearing a black leather jacket in the desert until he was the only warm person after the sun set. He continued and said that he stepped outside for air after dark and saw a shooting star. Not like one seen from the streets of London. He said that he could see where it landed. (The night sky in southern Arizona can do that to you). He told the woman he was standing next to that he bet he could walk to where it landed and hoped to find a giant diamond, or a beautifully grumpy girl with a broken leg. The following day, Neil sought out Charles Vess and Stardust happened.
It was nice to learn that he auctioned off the artwork fans had sent to him to benefit the CBLDF. And how he will regift or trade out other gifts given to him: a fan gave him a piece of amber in one city and he traded a fan in Dallas for a piece of quartz. Or how some stay special, the current being a silver Liberty dollar that he fiddles with during talks, channelling Shadow.
Due to the abundance of cranky children in the audience, he also read an excerpt from Fortunately the Milk (not yet published). An hour and a half flew by. And then a final standing ovation.
Then the signing line began. The organizers were smart enough to label each ticket with a letter and call people in groups to sign. Felicity and I were in group L. The groups went past group Z into double letter territory.
We talked and talked and talked while the hours past. Finally our group was called and we made it on stage. And I froze. Like a total idiot. I stupidly asked him how he was enjoying the heat. Har Har Har. I just didn't put any thought into what I would say. I'm not sure who sounded more stupid, me or Felicity for her "It's a shame no one came out for the signing" comment. Oh well.
No, I have no idea what weird face girl is doing behind him. Sorry. Anyway, crazy hair, dressed casually in black, cool and collected: Neil Gaiman. He's successfully delved into most types of media and continues to surprise his fans with new things to enjoy.
At 11 PM, Felicity and I walked off the stage after having two books each signed. I now have two copies of American Gods signed. I couldn't help myself, I had to have the 10th anniversary, authors preferred text signed too. Neil was barely halfway through the signing, and I knew from past experience that he would stay until the last book was signed. I wouldn't fault the guy if this really is his last tour, its got to be grueling.
The night complete, we headed home with our bounty, ready to get reading.