Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Neil Gaiman book signing

There aren't many writers I would go to a book signing for. There are even fewer for whom I'd be willing to wait for five hours to get to the front of the line. I can probably count them on one hand. Neil Gaiman is one of them. Tonight I joined 1,000 other fans at the Tattered Cover in downtown Denver to see Gaiman on what is being billed as his last book tour, for "The Ocean at the End of the Lane."

I finished reading the book last night. It's wonderful -- a dark and fantastic tale of childhood -- and refreshingly short. In these days in which it seems every major fantasy release must double as a doorstop, Gaiman's newest is less than 200 pages. He said at his signing that the difference in writing fiction for adults vs. fiction for young adults is that in YA, you leave out the boring bits. He did that here, too, except this isn't a book for kids.

So, the signing. As I said, about a thousand people showed up. And everyone had at least a couple of books. Do the math, and you understand why Mr. Gaiman needed a hand massage halfway through the line. I was No. 477, and he had been signing for more than two hours before he got to me, and he was gracious and friendly. He shook my hand after I told him that his work inspires me to write. As I'm writing this three hours later, at 12:45 a.m., he might be signing still.

Some tidbits from his talk that I found to be interesting:
  •  He writes his first drafts longhand.
  •  His metaphor for beginning writers: Writing is like making pancakes. You have to burn the first few to get to the good ones later.
  •  It took him about three months to write the first draft of "The Ocean at the End of the Lane," while "American Gods" took about two years, and "Coraline" took eight years.

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