I was lucky enough last night to pop along to Neil Gaiman’s talk at the Royal Society of Literature – lucky enough, in fact, to be randomly sitting down in the front row. As you might expect, Gaiman gave a lively, thoughtful and funny talk to an extremely enthusiastic crowd (indeed, it is always deeply pleasing to be in an audience of likeminded people) and I came away enthused, inspired, and tremendously excited about books and writing. What a top bloke. And I can’t wait to read The Ocean at the End of the Lane, it sounds fantastic.
I’ve seen him talk before, back when he was promoting Wolves in the Walls. He was brilliant then too of course, doodling a little wolf in my copy and generally being charming, but it strikes me that these days Gaiman is an even more accomplished speaker. He knows who he’s talking to, is unhurried, and has excellent comic timing – I particularly enjoyed the anecdote about his wife (the marvellous Amanda Palmer, of course) who apparently “doesn’t like fantasy”, followed by a beat of silence before mildly horrified laughter from the audience. Personally, I was a tiny bit moved (I’ll admit it) when he spoke about wanting to be a writer as a child but how that somehow seemed “mythical”, and that he’d probably end up being an English teacher. It is quite a thing to listen to your favourite author describe how you yourself felt growing up, when you are sitting in the audience next to your editor. It is possible, after all, and the mythical is sometimes reachable.
It was also quite lovely to come out of the talk to hear that the British Fantasy Award nominations had been announced and to realise I recognised so many names. Huge meaty congrats to everyone involved!