Let me just start out by saying, Neil Gaiman owns his very own copy of Shadow Spinner.
Well, give me a moment, and I'll get there.
Gaiman has, perhaps, been more influential on me as a writer than anyone else, but it's not his writing that did it. Which is not to say that it wasn't something he wrote; it just wasn't any of his stories. As I mentioned waaay back in my post 400 Words, it was something Gaiman said about Terry Pratchett that finally convinced me to put my pen to paper and stick with it. If not for that one thing, that thing that gave me my "ah-ha!" moment, I'm not sure The House on the Corner would ever have been written. For that reason alone, Gaiman is important to me.
More specifically, though, and I talk about this more extensively in the author's note for "Part Five: The Police Car," Gaiman's character, Corinthian, was one of the primary sources of inspiration for The Man with No Eyes. When I got to the point that I needed a villain for Tib, I sat down (figuratively speaking, since I'm sure I was already sitting) and went mentally through the images that have most freaked me out in my life. The Corinthian is one of those images. So Shadow Spinner was directly influenced by Gaiman and his work.
All of that to say, when I found out that Neil was actually coming to my little town on his Ocean tour (the last signing tour he says he's ever going to do), I was very excited. In my normally subdued way. Meaning, you'd never be able to tell. Sometimes, that particular attribute of mine frustrates my wife. I'm sure it's related to why caffeine doesn't affect me. Or alcohol, apparently. The fact that I don't ever even get tipsy also frustrates my wife. Anyway...
I went to see Neil Gaiman. He read a bit from The Ocean at The End of the Lane, he answered questions, he read a bit from Fortunately, the Milk (which is not yet out), and, then, he spent the next four hours or so signing autographs. I know, because I was in the last batch of people.
By the way, Shirley MacLaine once pulled his hair. That was a funny story. And Gaiman thinks that everyone should have a hobby that could kill them. His is keeping bees. I'm not sure I quite agree with that, the killing potential of your hobby, but I think it's cool that he keeps bees. I like having bees around, especially when there are enough of them that you can hear their buzz in the trees. Or rosebushes. Or whatever. But I'm not thinking I'm going to take up skydiving or bungee jumping or, even, bee keeping, at the moment.
Yes, Mr. Gaiman was as entertaining as you might imagine. His stories were funny as were his answers, including the one to the question of whether he wears a hair piece, to which he responded with something along the lines of, "If I wore a hair piece, it wouldn't look like this." He was also polite and gracious, even at 12:30am, after he'd been signing for all of those many hours.
Other than The Ocean at The End of the Lane, I got my (1st Edition) copy of The Graveyard Book signed for my son. Neil drew a cute, little picture for him:
The other thing I did was hand a copy, signed to Neil, of Shadow Spinner to him, which may be presumptuous, but I did lead off with, "...this is not a request for you to read this." Which it wasn't. Not that I would be upset if he reads it, but who knows if he will ever pick the book up again. What I did want to do is give him something back that would not exist if not for him. The House on the Corner might also not exist, but, maybe, it would; I don't know. Spinner, at least as it is, would not. So I thanked him for his stories and the stories they inspire and gave him the book.
He looked a bit surprised and, then, genuinely thankful. He began to look at it, but someone came and took it away from him and put it in a box with all of the other things he'd been given during the evening, none of which were books. Then, he shook my hand very firmly while looking me in the eyes and told me "Thank you." It was... nice. But, yes, I have washed my hands since then.
So there you go. Neil Gaiman owns his very own copy of Shadow Spinner with his name in it and everything. Not that he couldn't just write his name in it if he wanted to, but... well, I'm sure you get it. At any rate, it's nice to get the chance to say "thank you" and show your appreciation to someone that has meant a lot to you, so, even if it was presumptuous, I took my opportunity to show my appreciation.
And, well, at the least, I hope he loves Rusty's cover, because it's awesome.