When my friend posted about Neil Gaiman coming to town, I was instantly taken back to the first time I met him. It was 2005 and I was newly skinny and looking for luurve. I was assured that a convention with Neil Gaiman as a guest was guaranteed a large turnout so there would be more opportunity of meeting new people. I didn’t know much about Gaiman then, I had only read one of his books, a collaboration with Terry Pratchett.
Good Omens was one of those books you chortle your way through from start to finish and it is one of those I have kept on my shelf since I bought it in the early nineties. Therefore, armed with only the knowledge that Gaiman knew Pratchett, and I knew that I wanted to meet people, I scurried off to the convention.
When I met and chatted with Gaiman he made me an instant convert. He was witty, handsome and charming. He participated happily in all the geeky things you do at conventions, he was like a rock star amongst back yard guitarists. I joined the hypnotised masses. I now follow him on both facebook and twitter and I sigh at the little love notes he and Amanda pass between themselves on twitter.
When my friend mentioned he was coming to town I had a little squee moment. I immediately went to the Wheeler Centre Homepage http://wheelercentre.com and signed up for both the Neil Gaiman talk and the Tom Stoppard talk. (For those of you who don’t know about the Wheeler Centre – if you are at all interested in writing or reading you should definitely check them out. I have been to four events this year put on by them and they were all superlative)
Where was I? Oh yes. Tom Stoppard. I hadn’t ever heard of him. I knew that if the Wheeler Centre were featuring him I would be guaranteed something special but I had to look him up. Imagine my surprise when I saw all the films that I loved had been written or adapted by him! He was a gracious guest, coping with, quite frankly, boring questions and steering them around to something interesting we might like to hear. I think Allison Croggan was a little starstruck personally and she is very into the theatre so most of her questions were fairly limited to the understanding of someone also with those interests. I thought Mr Stoppard did a very good job of redirecting his answers to suit the varied tastes of the audience. It didn’t hurt when he throws in the occasional reference to Lucas and Spielberg as well 🙂
Tom was a gracious guest and I found him very interesting to listen to.
During the intermission between Tom and Neil we repaired to the foyer to wait in anticipation for Neil. Because we had had such good seats for Tom, we wanted something better for Neil so we hung around the door for around 45 minutes. Mostly the time flew with conversing and drinking, and then something special happened.
Amanda Palmer had tweeted that she was crashing the party and sure enough there she was. Extremely entertaining and just the way to amuse a crowd that was waiting impatiently for the man to arrive.
We hurried in once the doors were open, I barely escaped with my life people behind me were pushing forward so hard. We ended up in the second row so it was worth it. My faith in Neil was justified with what followed being an hour of terribly humourous repartee and lots of fun stories. Neil mentioned he would be starting a sequel to American Gods which sent the audience into raptures. He finished off the evening with a poem he wrote for Australia Day and it was something special to hear. I didn’t get a recording of him reading it but did take a photo. He has confirmed my faith as a Neil groupie, and I can’t wait for him to write that book so I can read it.