Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Oh. My. God.

I apologize for not posting a teaser yesterday. I know excuses are lame, but I have a very good excuse.


Aside from the fact that Stardust and Good Omens are some of my favorite books ever and Coraline and The Graveyard Book are the cleverest and scariest and most unique and most interesting children's books I've read since I was a kid, this was amazing because I got to sit in an auditorium with 600 other nerds (one of whom was, of course, my best friend Ella) and listen to grown-up (although Neil insists he is not a grown up) authors talk about things I think about every day. Because I am a writer, and I spend most of my time at school and online with other aspiring writers, I do know that writers aren't otherworldly, unapproachable, godlike beings, but still, it is an amazing thing to hear one of your favorite writers talk about things you think about and agree with your opinions.

Ella and I had no idea what to expect from an event like this, never having gone to any author events (something, I think, that this experience has changed. I fully intend to go to EVERY author event I can from now on). Also, it was New York City. And Neil Gaiman. And the event was free, and on a first-come-first-serve basis.

So we arrived at Columbia Teacher's College at NOON. The event did not begin until 7.

Blogsphere, I think I can safely say that we a) were the first ones there, and b) are some of the nerdiest people on the face of the planet.

We actually didn't sit around at the door for seven hours. We got there, talked to a security guard who was not even aware there was an event there that day, and then walked the few blocks back to Morningside Park, where we spend four hours in the company of a lovely picnic lunch, some SPF 100 (because we are pathetically pale), and a Mister Softee ice cream truck that insisted upon driving back and forth in front of the park nonstop for at least two hours. It was a lovely afternoon, and we started up what might turn into a video blog of our adventures this summer.

At four, we went back to the college to wait. There was no one else there, so we sat down on the steps of what we thought was the front of the building. I pulled out Ella's copy of American Gods and started reading it, holding it up so that any passing nerds could see "Neil Gaiman" in big letters on the front and come tell us what to do. It worked - we met a very nice young man who said he was waiting around the other side of the building, so we followed him. This was when we found ourselves first in an actual line. Whoa.

This was also the weird part of the day. Out of all the nice, nerdy people, Ella and I also ran into a rather creepy guy who was blatantly hitting on us from 4 in the afternoon till the show started a little after 7. (Seriously, I think I must have gotten an "I heart creepers" sign tacked to my back without my knowledge, because although that is most definitely not true, I seem to attract only the REALLY weird people at nerdy events.) But the original guy who showed us where to go was very nice (and also an aspiring writer) as was the woman who wound up sitting next to me. Nerds are great people. :)

At about five o'clock, they opened the doors without telling us and we discovered that there was another line forming inside. So we went from being first to being about twentieth in line, but that didn't really matter. We still wound up in the second row. And we got in, which we hadn't been certain of that morning when we set out, so our goal had been achieved!

And then, around seven, all the authors filed in and began to talk. They were promoting an anthology Neil Gaiman had edited with Al Sarrantonio. In attendance were Kurt Andersen, Lawrence Block, Jeffrey Ford, Joe Hill, Kat Howard (whose story in this anthology is her first published work and was written in 19 hours and then sent off. WHOA), and Walter Mosley. Everyone except Walter read an excerpt from their story, and all of them sounded really interesting. I am not a big fan of short stories, but I do like hearing authors read aloud from their work (I'm going to have to work on that, considering that I HATE doing it...).

After that, there were moderator-directed questions and some audience questions, and while Walter Mosley basically stole the show, I was sitting there drinking in every word Neil Gaiman had to say. He said some pretty hilarious things (including telling one audience member what a question was when he had forgotten what to say), but I think one of my favorites was when he was talking about unexpected plot twists. He was saying that it is not so much the character popping up and taking the bit and running away from you, which I hear about a lot and which has always sort of worried me, because that doesn't happen to me. I've always worried that because that's never happened I was writing my characters incorrectly or something - because they weren't directly bossing me around (other than in a "write me write me write me NOW" sense), they weren't as real as I wanted them to be. But Neil Gaiman was saying that for him, it isn't so much a character running away with the plot as the realization that what you have been planning inevitably and logically leads up to something that you had not been planning. And that, to me, makes complete sense.

After that, we joined the crowd of people thronging around Neil and I got Ella's copy of American Gods signed and could not think of anything to say to him (honestly, when the person before you says that he is an inspiration to her every day and thank you for all the beautiful words, and all you can think of is "Stardust is one of my favorite books, I love it," your mouth just sort of stays shut) and then we wrestled our way out of the building and headed back to the subway. Where, of course, the extreme brilliance of the day was capped by a man subway surfing with a guitar.

And then we went to Port Authority, waited around, caught a bus, and went home to have a much needed cup of tea. There really were too many fantastic things yesterday to take in. Considering that I woke up today with a splitting headache, I think I still can't quite process it.

But you know what? It was absolutely, positively worth it.


  1. Sounds like you had a blast! Don't worry. The lack of teasing is totally forgivable considering the circumstances :)

    Also, I gave you a blog award over at my site

  2. Isn't he great?! I met him briefly when he came to speak at my college, because his daughter was in the class ahead of mine :)
    P.S. - I think I may have given you the same blog award <.< But oh well! Double the fun?