One More for the Life List

Last night I crossed off a big something on my Life List.  Not only did I meet one of the superstars of the literary world – I met my hero.

I first found out Neil Gaiman was coming to Winnipeg about a month ago.  On Halloween, numerous independent bookshops all over North America entered a contest.  The entry: host a graveyard-themed party in celebration of Neil’s latest release, The Graveyard Book.  The prize: a visit, reading and book signing from the man himself.  My best friend and I braved the cold and headed down to our local branch of McNally Robinson to find a wondrous emporium of the macabre, decked out in a breathtaking array of ghoulish displays; costumed staff, a Wheel of Misfortune, tombstones of the “late” Dave McKean and even personalised death certificates, authorized by Misters Croup and Vandemar of the Kingdom of Stormhold.  It was incredible, and it’s safe to say I was pretty much in heaven.

Yesterday morning, I received an email from the shop explaining how the day was going to go.  They’d received such huge feedback and HUNDREDS of confirmations, so they were going to have to issue admission tickets prior to going in.  Luckily it was our work Christmas party (a lovely, fancy lunch) and we were dismissed at 3:00, so I headed straight down to see if there were any left.  Already piles of people were accumulating, but luckily I snatched two tickets before they closed for half an hour to set up for his arrival.  It was the craziest thirty minutes of my life.  Literally hundreds of people piled into centre court, while security guards tried to herd us into some sort of order, endeavouring in vain to maintain some semblance of stability in the middle of a busy mall.  Right before Christmas.  Somehow, I ended up near the front of the queue, and as mentioned in today’s Free Press, nigh on six hundred people piled behind me, ready to cram in to a little shop with dreams of meeting a legend.  Sweet arrived from work, out of breath from dashing madly through the shops, with seconds to spare before the doors were reopened.  We piled in like a raging monsoon, pouring rapidly down the stairs and flooding the floor, drowning the shop in a sea of impassioned anticipation.

We stood, packed in like sardines for almost an hour; any sense of claustrophobia was stifled by the imminent dream.  A few minutes after six, he arrived, as dishevelled, becloaked and eloquently spoken as I’d ever imagined.  An (unnecessary) introduction by the staff passed, and he began to speak.  I’d always imagined how he’d sound; the voice behind the tales of immeasurable imagination by which I’d been swept away.  He sounded just like Alan Rickman, which only fuelled my adoration.  He stood in the centre of the throng of literary fanatics, charismatic, charming and effortlessly brilliant.  He answered questions, read us a passage, and told us he was happy to stay ‘til 1:00 in the morning if he had to, to make sure everybody’s books got signed.

Unfortunately, our section had received the number which would be last up, and all children were going to be seen first; it was already nearly eight and I had a mass of Christmas baking to do before morning – so I grabbed a couple of pre-signed books, took countless photos and a few videos of the master in action, and headed home, thoroughly exhilarated.  (I later heard from a rather annoyingly less busy friend, who gave up at about 10:00, when they were only on number three!)

It’s okay if it doesn’t say “To Emily” inside – I now have a copy of my favourite book signed by the legend himself.  I got to be a part of a huge following of people who’ve been moved by his sheer brilliance of imagination as much as I have.  I have him on film, so he can read me a bedtime story whenever I like, and I have photos from mere feet away.  This was one of those moments I’ll remember for the rest of my life, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

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32 comments

  1. This. Is. Awesome!

    I’m so glad you got to see him, take pictures AND video.

    I’ve never read his books, but lately I’ve been seeing his name, and hearing about him everywhere. I feel like the universe is telling me to read them.

    Where should I start?

    1. Awww thank you!!

      If you want to start easy – rent Stardust! He wrote the book and they made an AMAZING film out of it, great cast and wonderful story – it’s not the same as the book, but I didn’t mind the adaptation at all!

      Book-wise – start with Neverwhere! I think it was his first novel (but you’d have NO idea) – it’s like a contemporary, dark sort of Alice in Wonderland type story about a guy who stumbles into this alternate London… it’s pretty amazing. 🙂

  2. Simply Amazing! My lil heart felt so excited for you as you recounted experiencing something that meant so very much to you!!

    And now, you have me intrigued about this author and his books. Hmm…I might just have to read…what do you recommend?

    Thanks for sharing…this really is awesome!!

    1. Thank you so much! 🙂 Neverwhere is def. the best to start with – or he did a really good one with Terry Pratchett called Good Omens which is just wonderful and absolutely hilarious!

  3. Haha, you’re just a geek at heart, aren’t you? 😛
    But I’m happy for you. It’s rare for people to meet their heroes, and rarer still for them to not leave their presence disappointed!

  4. hey hey. i love people who stop by and comment. doesn’t matter how well i know or don’t know them. i can’t stand lurkers to be honest, so i do appreciate the comment.

    and that is SO. COOL!!! i can’t say that i’ve ever been so fortunate to meet someone that i REALLY want to meet, much less my hero. i came close once and that was it. oh well. life has so much more going on right now for me that i couldn’t even imagine throwing something else in there that awesome.

  5. That rocks! I wish I had someone living that I would die to meet.. hrm. Jeff Corwin! But I think to me, it would be like meeting Dian Fossey (who I know isn’t an author and just points out how nerdy I really truly am). But SQUEE!! for you!!!

      1. She was one of three of Louis Leakey’s primatologists. She was the first to actually be accepted and live within a wild gorilla family in the Congo in the 1960’s and 1970’s. During that time she began campaigning for their welfare and conservation. Her beloved gorilla, Digit, was murdered by poachers in 1977 and decapitated for $20.. She raised hell and in 1985 she was hacked to death in her sleep by them. They started the Gorilla Fund, which raises money for anti-poaching patrols, in her honor. WOOT! You’re like OMG BRITTNEY, NOBODY REALLY WANTED TO KNOW ALL THAT. But that has never stopped me from babbling nerdism before? LOL. And for bonus dork points, you can rent “Gorillas in the Mist” with Sigourney Weaver and buy a box of tissues!

    1. Oh gosh I’ve heard about that one and I’m the worst for sad movies. SERIOUS leakage. That’s an amazing story – I’m all for people who step up and do amazing things for animal welfare!

  6. Do you have a thing for Alan Rickman too?? Okay, we are meant for each other, it’s sealed lol

    It looks like it was such an amazing time, I’m so happy that he came to Winnipeg- if only so he could meet you!

  7. Mmmm.. Alan Rickman. Love the way he speaks. I wish he could read me a bedtime story each evening.

    Glad you were able to go and had such a great time! I’ll remember all of this when I read Good Omens =)

    1. I can’t WAIT to hear your verdict! When the bloke from the shop was introducing him he mentioned something about this being the “dream of anyone who’s laughed in an inappropriate public place while reading Good Omens” lol… it definitely happened to me 🙂

  8. I love the sound of Alan Rickman’s voice. How fun that you were able to have such a great experience. I wish literary hero’s would come around my small town, but alas, I have to go to Pittsburgh. I once heard Angelou, it was pretty phenomenal.

  9. It was so bizarre – I was literally Googling if he was going to be anywhere in the states doing a signing the week before I heard the news he was coming here, fully prepared to take a trip somewhere to go see him because nobody ever comes to Winnipeg!! And the very next week I heard the best news in the world. Magic!!

  10. Okay, I’m supposed to be in bed but I saw that you did post about NG so I have to comment now!!!!! So happy for you! It’s amazing, isn’t it? To really stand in the same room as someone who has created such brilliant pieces of work? I haven’t read that much of his work, but I love what I have read. I don’t usually ask for personalizations when I get autographs anyway. Chad, as an autograph collector says it’s not a good idea to get personalizations because then it’s not worth as much…although if it’s something you would never part with then it doesn’t matter really. Anyway, so happy for you! (Still can’t believe I missed Audrey Niffinegger…)

  11. It was the best thing in the world standing in such close proximity to someone I have SO much admiration for, such a creative genius… it was totally amazing 🙂 I’m never going to part with my signed book lol but good to know! I’m not going to let Chad let you ever think of selling American Gods 🙂

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