Neil Gaiman Book Signing at Ely Cathedral
Last week my wife and I attended the Neil Gaiman event at Ely Cathedral where he read from his new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
I arrive to find my wife already in the queue quite some way back from the cathedral entrance and was surprised, rather stupidly, to see that the queue itself spread back at least twice as far behind her as well.
The event was organised by Toppings bookshop which has two locations — one in Ely which is near where my wife grew up, and the other one in Bath, which coincidentally is the city my wife was living in when we met.
If you’ve ever been to Ely, you may have visited the cathedral. It’s a very grand space full of gothic and baroque ornamentation and decoration and so I took the opportunity to take a few photographs as usually you need to pay to get in, which we had in this case, but to see one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman.
If you’re not familiar with Neil’s work, he wrote the long running Sandman comics series, co-authored Good Omens with Terry Pratchett, has written several novels including Neverwhere and American Gods and also several children’s books as well, including The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish, as well as writing episodes of television shows such as Doctor Who and Babylon 5.
Neil himself, (who uses @neilhimself as his username on Twitter,) is a fascinating man in person. Quietly confident, with an underlying intensity that manifests itself more in his ideas than his speech, he is part quintessential English eccentric, part fun and charming Uncle.
He read an excerpt from the novel with excited vigour, animated and engaging and had us all rapt. Had we not all bought the book for him to sign, I’m sure Toppings would have been inundated over the next few days.
He then answered questions that the audience had written down, with wit and intelligence and talked about his wife and the problems of being married to a rock star, having a daughter who inspires you, (I can relate to that,) and why we should let kids read their own choices.
After that he read again, this time from another pending children’s book, called Forunately, the Milk, which was wonderful and funny.
Then it was time to queue to meet the man himself and have our new book signed, as well as a copy of American Gods and a painting that our 2 year old daughter made, on which he wrote some of the best advice she will ever get:
He also graciously allowed me to take his picture as he signed, (I asked for permission first,) and although the light in the cathedral was very low, meaning I had to shoot wide open and at ISO 2500, was be able to get the exposure close to what I wanted.
If you ever read this Neil – thank you. You are wonderful and graciously appreciated by your fans, (He signed up to two items for almost a thousand people and agree to stay until the last person had been seen,) and if you ever want a portrait, I would love to take it for you!
Neil used one if the above photos in his own journal and linked back to me:
And as a result, I got some wonderful comments on my blog. It seems that not only is Neil a lovely guy, but his fans are too! (I guess that makes me lovely, but I’ll leave that for others to decide …)
Anyway, the offer of a portrait still stands Neil!