Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Hand of Neil

Let me just start out by saying, Neil Gaiman owns his very own copy of Shadow Spinner.
"What?!" you may be asking, "How is that possible? And, if it was, how would you even know?"
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:
And I got the first two issues of The Sandman signed.
No, I did not go out and buy them special for this event, as I was asked by more than one person; I've owned those copies since they were the price on the cover. [I wanted to get my platinum edition of Death: The High Cost of Living #1 signed, but I'm not really sure what box it's in, and, once I had my Sandman issues, I figured that was good enough.]

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.


  1. Cool he has your book - and you have signed Sandman issues. Can't say I agree with the deadly hobby either. If I thought my guitar might try to kill me, I probably wouldn't play it. (Although it's a lot more than a hobby now.)

  2. D'you know, I have never read anything by Neil Gaiman although I have heard of him many times. Maybe I should try and do so. What should I start with?

    You waited all that time for signatures, phew. I wonder if he will read your book. Re the cover, I feel proud I had a hand in designing it.

  3. I find Mr. Gaiman to be an inspiring and interesting guy, yet I've never read a book of his that I've *loved*. It's great that you got to meet him; maybe he'll become a fan!

  4. It's a much nicer thing to hand him than ladies undergarments or the things crackpots might give. I mailed John Irving a copy of my book Where You Belong since it was his books that inspired it. I got a nice letter back from him. I doubt he ever read it though since his last book featured similar themes, maybe he did.

  5. Sounds like a great experience. We went to one of his signings before, and he gave a great speech. I hope he reads it. Also, I know it's their "job", but I hate that famous people always have their 'wranglers' that take stuff away from them and put it in boxes/hold it like he's a child.

    I truly hope he reads it, even just the first chapter.

  6. More importantly, I hope he knows how he influenced you. Cool story. Glad you got to go see him speak. I've heard he's quite entertaining. :)

  7. SERIOUSLY?! That's incredible. He's been a real influence on me as well. That really is amazing - I'm so glad you got to meet him and tell him what he's meant to you.

  8. Never read Gaiman--don't hurt me!--but after this, I'd be willing to give it a go.

    By the way, this totally made me LOL: I was very excited. In my normally subdued way. Meaning, you'd never be able to tell.

  9. I read this story over and over on author blogs. I'm not saying that your gift of a book to Neil hasn't been read. But I can think of at least ten blogs now that feature an author at some point saying in a blog that they gave a copy of their book to Neil Gaiman. And he's gracious, etc. and even responds on twitter with an affirmative "yes" if you ask him if he got it.

    And I'm flat out jealous of your signed copy of Sandman number one. I used to have those comic books. I traded my mint condition Sandman number 1 for a Mox Pearl.

    Now I have neither.

    But I don't collect things anymore. I don't buy physical books. I move a lot (and am moving in the near future). I hate carrying all that weight when I can carry a thousand books in my kindle.

    Oh and I gave away all my comics. Waste of money, but I enjoyed all four boxes of them when I was younger. I thought they were gold.

  10. Very nice of you to give him a copy of your book. I hope he reads it, likes it, mentions it, and then collaborates on a book with you. And I hope you'll still occasionally link to my blog when that happens, and leave comments once in a while. Don't forget me when you're gone, as Glass Tiger might have (but didn't) sing.

    If anyone deserves all that, it's a true fan of his, like you.

  11. Cool, Andrew! He was out here last month at the Tattered Cover in Denver. A friend tried to get me to go, but my husband was out of town on business and I had gotten most of my acquaintances to babysit for meetings and business stuff, so I gave up on the idea. I'm sad I missed him. Joe Hill, too.

    For me, Stephen King would be that person. I'd love to be able to meet him face-to-face someday. Not sure I'd have the guts to hand him my book, but good for you!

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  12. Alex: Yeah, when I was younger I used to wonder what it would really like if all of my Star Wars toys came to life and started fighting and destroying my bedroom. I'm not quite into hobbies that could be the death of me.

    Jo: I wasn't keeping the comics in hopes of getting them signed. I just have them.
    As far as what to start with, though, I'm not sure what to tell you. In general, I'd say The Graveyard Book, because I thought that was brilliant, but it really depends upon what kinds of things you like. Most people would probably say American Gods.

    JeffO: I haven't loved all of his books. In fact, I think the movie versions of Coraline and Stardust are better than the books. However, I've loved enough of it to make a difference, and it's so much better than most books.

    PT: That's cool that he wrote you back; I didn't realize that. Was it hand-written or typed?

    ABftS: Yeah, I agree, but I also understand. I mean, if I'd been earlier in the signing lineup with hundreds of people after me, I get that they want to keep things moving. However, there were probably only about a dozen people after me by the time I got to see him, so, at that point, if he wanted to look, it wasn't that big a deal. It's only his own sleep he's affecting at that point.

    L.G.: Yeah, I hope he at least looks at the inscription. I spent as much time figuring out how to say what I wanted to say there as I spend on anything, and I think it's something he would appreciate.

    S.L.: Yeah, it was pretty cool.

    Alyssia: You should start with Stardust, I think. Do it!

    Michael: Well, that was a good trade if you still had the Mox. Sandman's prices aren't want they were when the series was still ongoing. However, with the new series starting up, they may get a surge. Not that I would ever sell it.

    There is a lot of the stuff I have that I would like to get rid of, but I'm not willing to just toss it (I'm actually sorting through old Magic cards right now to auction on eBay). Much of it, I want to be able to pass to my kids.

    Briane: Glass Tiger? I guess I have to go look that up, now.
    I'm quite certain I'll still be linking to you as I plan to keep reading your books. Well, as long as you keep writing them, anyway.

  13. Shannon: You should have gone!

    For me, it wasn't really about handing him my book. Not as such. It was more like: Look at what your influence has created. I remember the very first time (when I was in high school) that someone told me that something I'd said during a presentation had really impacted her and helped her, so I think it's important for people to keep seeing that.

  14. how cool is that?? well...very cool!

  15. It sounds like he was genuinely touched. Good on you!

  16. Wow! What a great story. It makes me love Neil Gaiman even more, if that's possible.

  17. Tammy: I thought so!

    TAS: He did seem that way. I hope he was.

    Holly: Just don't pull his hair.

  18. This sounds like a really neat experience!

  19. Great story. Count me as one of those folks that hopes he reads it too... I take it the cover turned out okay once printed. I'd hate to think you ended up giving him a copy where the cover was printed poorly. if you did, I hope you also told him that it was on purpose, and if you had to explain it, then he probably would never understand, so forget it.

    Anyhow... I'm off to continue my internet silence for a bit... shhhh... I was never here,

  20. Whether he reads it or not, he seemed genuinely grateful, and you got to meet him, which is really cool. I'd love to meet some of the writers that have inspired me. But some of them are dead...
    Tina @ Life is Good

  21. Rusty: Oh, yeah, the cover looks great! And I didn't have much time to say anything. There were "minions" there moving us all along and stuff.
    Wait, who am I talking to?

    Tina: I haven't had a lot of writer inspirators. [Yes, I made that up.] The other main ones, whose inspiration can be seen in House, are dead.

  22. What a cool experience! I'm sure he hasn't had that happen to him too many times.