Meeting Neil Gaiman (and trying not to faint)

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I went to see Neil Gaiman today! After waiting over four hours for tickets, you can bet I was excited as heck to see the man himself! With me was Seriously Sarah, Nerwen, Joelyn Alexandra (formerly Raven Azure, who is moving sites) and Justin from Nanowrimo.

They had to move the venue from the Chamber inside the Arts House (200 seats) to the Victoria Theatre (900 seats) because demand was so high. I learnt a lot of things about the area today, including that it’s very easy to walk from Cavenagh Bridge to Victoria Theatre and cut through to the Arts House. I’ve been going to that area for four years now, and only this year I find out… Sigh.

I was in the ticket-holders line, of course, but there was also this – and the organiser’s sense of humor really shines through…

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Heh. People did try, though! Nevermind that all the tickets were gone. It’s Neil Gaiman, man. And some of them got really lucky! I saw a few people in the ticket-holders line give their extra tickets to the ticketless, largely because their friends couldn’t make it at the last minute.

The talk was 2pm, but we joined the line before 1pm. I’m not entirely sure, but we were very early. There was already a queue outside the entrance, and we were lucky enough to be standing inside the foyer, where there was shade. The line grew quickly, and the organisers were good enough to let us in early so people would be out of the sun.

Joelyn, Justin, Sarah and Nerwen

Joelyn, Justin, Sarah and Nerwen

We got seats in the fourth or fifth row, so we were basically at eye-level height! While we were waiting, people passed us these little pieces of paper to write a message to Mr Gaiman. Then a drawstring back got handed around and we all put our messages inside, so we could give it to him at the signing session after the talk.

Singapore <3s Neil Gaiman!

Singapore <3s Neil Gaiman!

I have giant handwriting, yes. But it was a good idea, so I was very happy to add on my message.

Just after 2pm, Mr Gaiman himself walked onstage to thunderous applause and a lot of cheering, mine included. I am a shameless Neil Gaiman fangirl.

Moderator Lim Cheng Tju and the man himself

Moderator Lim Cheng Tju and the man himself

Neil Gaiman is brilliant, funny, witty and so very interesting. He told us the ‘Scary Trousers’ story, which was hilarious – he even did Alan Moore’s voice, which was fantastic and really funny. I kind of regret missing his reading yesterday, but I was at the Nanowrimo Kick-Off party so I couldn’t go. ):

He told us that he didn’t mind turning 50 next year, and that he was happy with all that he’s been able to do, in his personal and professional life. He mentioned that if the plane went down tomorrow, he wouldn’t be going “Oh no, I didn’t have time to do X”. When he said that, there was a lot of knocking on wood. No sense in tempting fate, after all, though the value of his autographed items would skyrocket if that did happen. (Choy choy choy, touch wood!)

Someone asked about his bees, and that was really interesting. Apparently it was an idea he had 16 years ago, but his assistant Lorraine had a pathological fear of bees (the type where you believe you’ll die from whatever you’re afraid from). It was only about four years ago when he was reading about colony collapse disorder – basically when honey bees suddenly start dying in huge numbers for no apparent reason. Mr Gaiman wanted to do his part, and he met up with a friend who was passionate about wildlife.

By the end of the afternoon, it was decided that his friend Sharon would take a professional beekeeping course and become head beekeeper, and Mr Gaiman would pay for the course and become junior beekeeper. The bees would be on his land. Apparently Lorraine and Sharon’s husband were convinced this was a bizarre suicide pact.

When the bees arrived, Mr Gaiman was away on a signing and so Lorraine had to put the bees in the hives. Poor girl. By the time he came back, though, she seemed to have one of those rare spiritual moments after facing her life fear, and she was at peace with the bees.

And so they have bees. They entered the honey into the county fair as a joke, and they got blue ribbon! They were convinced it was a fluke, so they entered honey and a comb into the county fair last year – and won blue ribbon again. He said that his top few highlights of his career was something like this: 1. Newbery Medal, 2. Hugo Award, 3. Blue ribbons for the bees, and then all the other literary awards. Hee.

He told us the famous Scary Trousers story, and he did Alan Moore’s voice so it was extra funny. The other 899 people and I were laughing away.

I liked what he said about adapting his works from one medium to another. The key is translate, he said, not transliterate. I wholly agree. Some stories work on paper, but won’t make a good movie if you transliterate it directly. But if you translate, like how Henry Selick adapted Coraline for a movie, if you change certain things so that they’re suited for the other medium, then it can work.

Which is basically how I feel about comics-to-movies, or movies-to-books, etc. adaptations. I can get quite catty with people who complain that a movie is really bad compared to the book, or they changed X and they hate it. Things have to change when the medium changes, because not everything works across media.

But yes. There was more, but I can’t really remember all of it. Sarah did take a video though, so I shall post that as soon as she uploads it.

The talk itself lasted about an hour, so after that it was signing. It was limited to one item per person, which is totally understandable because there were 900 people there. Mr was quite funny about it; he announced, before the end, that it was one item per head because his flight was at 3am and he really wanted to make it, haha.

And then cue running across to the Arts House, where the signing was to take place. It was a bit nuts as everyone rushed outside. Nerwen nearly got hit by a car and didn’t even know it, but my heart skipped a beat when I saw the car move. (Good grief, Nerwen, be more careful next time!)

Only ticket-holders could get things signed, and the organisers gave each of us a paper with the rules and a space to write the name that you want Mr Gaiman to dedicate the item to.

In the end we got a place in the first 300 or so people, so that was good. Joelyn got lucky and somehow ended up pushed into the queue at the front, but she still waited with us after she’d gotten her stuff signed.

The line ahead of us...

The line ahead of us...

... and the line behind us, which stretched to the river

... and the line behind us, which stretched to the river

The line ahead of us was about 2.5 hours long, and I think they took a five-minute break so Mr Gaiman could rest his hand. He was really accomodating, which was really awesome of him.

Totally worth it

Totally worth it.

Unfortunately, when we reached him, I turned into a gibbering idiot. *facepalm* I could barely think, and I wanted to ask him a question but I totally forgot.

We gave him a copy of Happiness at the End of the World, our book of genre short stories, with messages from us. And then he shook our hands. Which basically broke my brain and made my day.

The conversation went something like this:

Mr Gaiman: Hullo!
Me: Hi. *giggle*
Mr Gaiman: [takes book, sees the dedication paper] And this is for Viki.
Me: Yes. *giggle*
Mr Gaiman: I’ll draw you a Sandman.
Me: Okay. Thank you. *giggle*
Mr Gaiman: [draws Dream, signs name]
Me: *giggles madly* *hyperventilates slightly*
Nerwen, Sarah, Joelyn: Breathe! Remember to breathe!
Mr Gaiman: Are you okay?
Me: Yes.
Mr Gaiman: Do you want a hug?
Me: [not thinking] No, it’s fine, thankyousomuchMrGaimansir.

I said no to the hug because I’m still sick with a respiratory tract infection and I didn’t want to pass it to him, but also because I thought I might faint on him. Which would be extremely embarrasing, to say the least.

He drew on my Absolute Sandman! He drew on it!

The inside cover of my Absolute Sandman Vol. 1

The inside cover of my Absolute Sandman Vol. 1 - joy!

Am I a huge fangirl? Yes, unabashedly so. I hope he comes back soon! I would love to see him again. Singapore loves Neil Gaiman, and I’m proud to be one of his legion of fans.

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