Neil Gaiman is a great writer and also a wonderful reader, so it was a joy listening to him. The Q&A afterwards was most charming and he took the time to sign stuff. What more could you ask from such an event?
There was a bit of an organisational mess before the event – they asked people to make reservations for the end, which they didn’t acknowledge in the slightest, not even when I explicitely asked for a confirmation in my second mail. puzzledpeaces was able to get there early and saw that they did have a list of names which they didn’t use because the reservations were just to estimate how many people would come. When puzzledpeaces wanted to save the two of us a seat, she was asked to clear the area again as they didn’t allow seat reservations, so she went outside and when we went back in together ten minutes later almost all the seats were taken and they didn’t ask people to leave anymore.
But we still got seats (many other people had to stand) and once the event started it went mostly fine – if you disregard the moderator who kept switching between German and English, often midsentence, making sure that you’d only understand her properly if you spoke both languages, making her translation completely unnecessary. But at least the signing was organized perfectly – which meant that people probably didn’t have to wait forever until they got their signatures. [I wouldn’t know – I didn’t get any and puzzledpeaces only one and managed to get a spot pretty much at the front of the line, so we only queued for a half hour or so.]
Gaiman did a quick show of hands who had already read the book and most hands went up, suggesting that most people had read it in English since the German version was just released. Which made the tranlation even weirder. But at least we heard a good reading of the prologue in German by a guy whose name I promptly forgot and couldn’t find online anymore.
Then Gaiman read a bit from a little further on in the book before answering some questions about the book itself, how it came to be and his projects in general. I quite like the origin story of The Ocean at the End of the Lane – which started as a letter for Amanda Palmer and then just grew – and how open Gaiman is about the autobiographic bits in it. And of course, it’s exciting to hear about new projects (The Sleeper and the Spindle, Hansel and Gretel, Trigger Warning – and “then it’s time for a novel” which I seriously hope is the much teased about American Gods sequel).
Altogether, it was a pretty great night. I hope he comes back again soon!