Last night I was very fortunate enough to attend Neil Gaiman‘s sole SoCal stop on his new book tour for his latest work The Graveyard Book. As I mentioned before, Gaiman is touring the country reading chapters from his new book in lieu of his traditional book signing tours — the readings are then posted online HERE so that everyone can enjoy them. It turns out that Neil suffered a broken finger and cannot endure his usual 5-hour booksigning regimen but this book reading tour is, IMHO, vastly more entertaining. There was a nice crowd of folks already in line when I showed up at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica, CA (where last night’s reading took place). In addition to hearing Neil read from his new book, we were also treated to preview video footage from the animated version of his book Coraline, that will be released in theaters next February. It was directed by Henry Selick, the same man who directed Tim Burton‘s The Nightmare Before Christmas and features the voices of Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher. We were also treated to a Q&A and a special reading of his soon-to-be released picturebook Blueberry Girl (illustrated by Charles Vess), which features the prayer/poem that Neil wrote for Tori Amos‘s unborn daughter back in 2000. Here are a few pics from last night’s reading and a bunch of great info from the event:
Before the reading, Neil‘s book publicist Elise brought me backstage to say hello to Neil before he was to take the stage. Randomly Emmy Rossum was with him backstage helping him sort thru audience questions for the Q&A portion of the night. I got to hang out with them both for about 15 minutes … it was then that Neil allowed me to see, hold and read (for the first time) the Blueberry Girl picturebook which hasn’t been published yet — he had with him the unbound galley version of the book. Neil read half of Chapter 7 of The Graveyard Book (because it is the longest chapter in the book it had to be spilt between two readings) and it can already be seen online HERE. After the jump, read about some of the questions he answered from the audience, check out the cover artwork for Blueberry Girl (which Neil allowed me to photograph for sharing) and watch video of Neil reading the Blueberry Girl poem himself …
When asked where Neil likes to write in the winter he revealed that he likes to do so in borrowed homes of friends in Florida and Ireland (saying that it was in cold Ireland where he was forced to once type while wearing many coats and gloves). He disclosed that The Graveyard Book is 22 years in the making and was inspired by his 2-year old son (who is now 24 and works for Google). His youngest daughter Maddy got him to finally finish the story. He revealed that naming characters is either easy or agonizing, he doesn’t fear that books are falling out of favor and believes that the danger for writers is not piracy but obscurity. He said he would prolly never do another comic book series like Sandman but would potentially write book sequels to some of his most beloved novels. The whole Q&A was recorded by Neil‘s videographer Brady and may be released in some form, at some time.
Then it was time for his reading of Blueberry Girl … here is the cover of the as-yet unpublished picturebook:
And here, for your viewing pleasure, is Neil Gaiman reading Blueberry Girl (there is a 3 minute intro and then the poem):
Last night’s reading was the first time I ever read or heard read this poem … I’ve been waiting 8 years to hear it read live by Neil Gaiman — so last night was a big treat for me. Much, much love goes to Neil for the kind friendship he showed me last night and a whole lotta love goes out to Elise for helping me connect with Neil. You are deffo my hero!!! I have to give a shout out to Pink reader Abby who I got to meet last night. I cannot stress enough how much I love Gaiman‘s work … he is truly one of my fave contemporary authors of all time and I urge you all to seek out his work. He is a genius storyteller, incredibly smart and witty and genuinely a master writer.
Tonight I’m hanging out with Mike for a nice dinner together … it’s been ages since we got to hang out so I’m really looking forward to seeing him.