Neil Gaiman at the Royal Society of Literature (by )

Neil Gaiman and Claire Armitstead RSL

After an amazing weekend of being a panda on a fire engine (don't ask but there will eventually be photos!) I was abandoned in London by Alaric and the girls but this was so I could stay an extra day and see Neil Gaiman at the Royal Society of Literature. He was being interviewed by Claire Armistead. As his new book was being launched here in the UK the next day he did a reading.

Neil Gaiman reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane at the RSL London

Neil is really good at captivating an audience when he reads so it was a pleasure to listen too. The crowd was quiet a mix as would be expected from the variety and wealth of works he has produced. I tried to tweet from the theatre but alas my new touch pad couldn't get the wifi!

He spoke about the book and the memories and ideas that had gone into it and abit about being a writer, then they opened the floor to questions. I put my hand up (I always put my hand up1) and some how the microphone found me and I got to ask my question 🙂

I asked (after saying hello and umming), 'Did you set out to become a cross genre author, with novels, comics, kids books etc... or was it a happy accident?'

Asking questions has always been something out of my comfort zone but I am getting better at it and when he responded with that's a good question and that he hadn't been asked that before I was chuffed 🙂 I'd been pondering the question since I read this year Artists and Writers Yearbook which has an article from Neil himself but also sees him mentioned by others in the book. The gist being that you can't aspire to be a gross genre multi-market writer/artist, I got a bit incensed about this at the time and wrote about it here.

And as Alaric has said to me everytime I worry that I am too 'broad' - it is like putting all your eggs in one basket and if you can do more than one thing it is almost gambling which is going to be noticed and be the most popular!

So I listened to Neil's response avidly although I think I ended up with a fixed grin during it (I get very nervous but hey I'm going to be doing journalistic things in the autumn so I'd better get used to it!). He said he started as a journalist and was interviewing writers and they all had stories about the piece they couldn't get published and he thought - no way is that going to be me (I'm paraphrasing as I don't have a photographic memory in case you hadn't guessed!), he didn't have a career plan he had a wish list that he has been ticking off. He didn't want to turn out books that were formulaic and turned down a publishing deal after American Gods as they wanted him to just do more of the same. He wanted the scope to do new things without it being seen as him diverging from his established path.

He had known he'd wanted to be a writer and had assumed he was going to be a fantasy writer - the sort with maps in 😉 This made me laugh - Dad brought down a note book of a story I started when I was thirteen or rather an epic series and there at the beginning of the note book was a map I had drawn. My dad still lives in hope that I will write this particular story - I used to dictate chunks of it too him and we would talk about naming schemes and stuff like that - there were even warrior monks.

He said a lot more inspiring stuff and funny stuff and it was an interesting and fun outing for me. Through it I have discovered the Royal Literature Society which I didn't know existed before to be honest! As we were all leaving I head people talking about how they were going to get back to writing that story that had stagnated on etc....

I bought a copy of the pre-signed book before the event started and started reading it on the way home to my parents house and then the rest on the way home the next morning to Gloucestershire. The book swept me in, being written from a small boys point of view though it is not for children it plunged me into memories of my own childhood (something Neil had mentioned people kept telling him the book did).

I have been in a bit of a reading a writing rut recently but the weekend (which was actually last weekend and not the one just gone!) has shaken me out of this - for a start I was beta reading my friends epic novel and then read Neil's book and then I wanted more - I am in a book club but this is our first month so I am still trying to get hold of the book to read our local library didn't have a copy - I like my book club it has Good Omens on the list 🙂 I still need to decided what book I'm setting in October!

Anyway so I am now ploughing through books again and got two books out of the library one fact and one fic and am enjoying it especially as I ended up writing a couple of short stories as well - I just wish my body could keep up with what the mind wants to do!

I found Art in London too between Holborn Station and the Peacock Theatre were the event was held (3 times the capacity they normally go for but the tickets sold out!).

Art in the walls

The next morning on the way to Paddington I found more fun stuff too by Aldgate Station 🙂

Painted wood Aldgate

Of course I went the wrong way out of Fenchurch Street Station but hey I had plenty of time and found fun things to photograph - it was a wooden skeleton of a house except it looks newish and had stuff painted on it!

Wooden geometry

I'm ending this post with perception and preconceptions. Now I turned up early to find the theatre and wonder around taking photos of the area - but I'm having a mild pain flare up at the mo so was quiet tired and found a pub to sit in.

The Shakespeares Head

There are two completely true ways of writing about my waiting time but they paint completely different pictures and this interests me as it is generally assumed that the truth is a corner stone but a truth isn't always the whole truth the way information is presented can be misleading but in this case it isn't even that it is peoples preconceptions of what it cultured and what is not.

I could say 'I was in the Shakespeares Head working on my friends epic novel whilst waiting for an event at the Royal Literature Society' - which sounds very high brow and you can imagine the cut glass and what not or...

I could say 'I was chilling in a Weatherspoons pub (this is the chain of pubs I could be found in as a teen) reading about my friends space vampires whilst waiting to see the king of comic books' - I know people who would stare at me were I to say either of these to them but would find the other acceptable due to their own ideas of what is acceptable/fun.

Anyway I will stop wibblying now - basically I had a fantastic time.


  • By Clare, Tue 25th Jun 2013 @ 12:44 pm

    You should have said you were in Aldgate, I work right there now!

  • By sarah, Wed 26th Jun 2013 @ 7:24 am

    hee I was in Holborn for the actual event and just ended up at Aldgate trying to find the underground on route to paddington from Fenchurchstreet! Coolio about the new job - I considered trying to meet up with people but the timings of the talk ment it wouldn't have worked that well.

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