Two Days With Neil Gaiman @ Singapore Writers Festival 2009
Reknowned author Neil Gaiman was in town over the weekend for the Singapore Writers Festival [tagged] together with Amanda Palmer (Neil's partner-in-literary crime for "Who Killed Amanda Palmer?") ~ for a series of public appearances including talk/dialogue and autograph sessions on both October 31st and November 1st 2009.
I'd managed to attend Day One's session at 3pm (Oct 31) and queued under the sizzling sunday sun for 4 and a half hours to have my Coraline Box signed by the man himself! CLICK THRU for a chronicle of my humble "adventures", or click unto my Facebook and/or Flickr albums for a summarized version :)
DAY ONE: October 31st 2009
Neil Gaiman at the 3pm session of "Little Lit" at the Arts House (Chambers). The rows of seats lined alongside were reserved for "Media" ~ so I had to make do with the far back rows facing the stage (Don't know if they'd count "blogs" as "Media", so didn't flash my namecard lol). Attended the session with Priscilla ~ who had to bear with the constant unglam act of mine when I went down on my knees to snap pics ~ heh.
Neil was utterly witty, personable and relaxed (a marked difference from his appearance 4 years ago at Cineleisure, if memory serves me). The session included discussions about the origins of Coraline the book/story (it all started with stories his kids had conjured up), German horror-fairytales (an insightful interpretation of Brothers Grimm's "Hansel & Gretel"), the process of writing "Good Omens" with Terry Pratchett, and of Neil's journey to China for his new book about "Journey To The East".
There were a couple of readings from The Graveyard Book (excellent reading, btw ~ nothing like the author himself narrating the lines and dialog) and within less than an hour, the session was over! *seriously-man-sob* ~ and so my first day's encounter with Mr Gaiman ended there and then.
[My humble apologies for the torrid-audio, and shortness of video tho...]
Above was the set-up for (presumably) Amanda Palmer's open-grounds performance later at night (9:30pm) ~ scheduled after another Neil Gaiman session at 4:30pm ~ which I did not manage to secure tickets for (*double-sob*) ~ afterwhich there was an official signing session which saw 500 peeps queuing in the raging rain [Tweet], and lasted to 9-ish pm? Didn't make it either to Ms Palmer's show due to heavy rain and personal commitments ~ which I found out laters was shifted under the Arts House's sheltered area [Tweet] ... and let's not go into how Neil's brains were nearly devoured by zombies, yeh? [Tweet]
DAY TWO: November 1st 2009
Made the journey alone on this sunny sunday out to the Arts House for the "Public Signing Session" with Neil Gaiman. Arrived 15 minutes pass the scheduled 3pm (after his 2pm Talk/Session at Victoria Theatre ~ for which I again missed out on free tix!) and found myself at the tail-end of a queue that stretched all the way to the Sir Stamford Raffles statue!
Above pic was snapped at far end of queue near the Clarke Quay river, while having a quick puff and contemplating the possibilities and consequences of joining the queue ...
The sun was merciless and the queue moved ever so slowly. Eventually I was joined up by two ladies (*waves* to Audrey and Heather) and then I wasn't the last in line no more! (small comfort tho). I had resolved not to look at my watch too often by then actually...
And in the midst of the sweltering heat, the organizers had then passed out sponsored packet drinks to us in queue (Kudos, folks!) ~ a welcomed happenstance, indeed! (No, the packs weren't chilled, and yes we are thankful and grateful for the drinks!).
And the final three (Audrey, Heather and me) became four, with the arrival (and literal tagging) of "The Last Person In The Queue"! Most def photo-op time! If we could have kept the tag, I would have made a grab for it (as would the others lol) ~ and suddenly I'm reminded of "The Final Four" Cylons in Battlestar Galactica (Season 3) ~ and the 5th-Cylon would "logically" be Neil Gaiman, but I did not share my thoughts with others for fear of being ostracized hurhur :p
Thankfully it did not rained as it did the day before ~ although I hadn't imagined that we would be seeing a sunday sunset ... as the queue snaked closer to the "inner sanctum" of the Arts House, it felt as if we had been running a marathon, and the finishing line was so so close! (a mirage no doubt helped by the sun's heat-rays).
And into the mouth of the "inner sanctum" we go! (by this time it was dinner time *tummy-grumble*). We were also had by then been joined in the queue by another couple.
Another swell thing that came from being at the back, were the folks and volunteers which popped by and had long chats with us (the lil behind-the-scenes titbits were awesome tho muahahaha) ~ which frankly made the queuing all the more pleasant an experience (for me anyways, being the introvert that I truly am :p). Identify yourselves in the comments section if you happen to read this post ~ thanks!
I'm not going to rag on about the One-Item-Only "request" ~ because otherwise (1) Poor Neil's possibly going to have his wrist/hands in traction (or some such unfortunate malady), and (2) we would have been waiting in queue til monday morning, innit? heh.
Jostling to see Neil Gaiman behind the crowd of folks (Audrey saw Neil's elbow, while I spotted his pen hurhur) as we edged ever so closer that we could smell him! ... But alas t'was the sour-tang of B.O. and smoker's breath from me instead ~ apologies everyone!!!
[Images courtesy of XiaoBei ~ thaaaaanks!]
Neil peering at the corner of his eye as I put the Coraline Box on the table-top in front of him; waiting to be signed ~ and Neil asked: "Are you a blogger?"
I answered: "Yes, I am Toysrevil ..."
Neil: "TOYSREVIL??!!" ~ and promptly shook my sweaty+trembling hands with both of his, and thanked me for the support of Coraline. Made my day, nay ~ my year, that! (Thanks for remembering/recognizing my blog, kind sir!)
I was so agog i didn't snap as much pics as I could and should have when Neil was signing the letter, key-tag and envelope of the box (thanks to Audrey for the above snap tho!)...
Disclaimer: Please do ignore the melted talcum-powder & sweat stained shirt ~ so unglam, right? haiyoooooh (-.-")
[Updated additional images above courtesy of Leonard Shoh ~ thanks dude!]
A last lingering snap of Neil's side ~ but alas, part we must... *cough* ~ after my own photo-session with my box and folks around. (FYI: This was also the "public debut" of the Coraline box in Singapore ~ beyond my family and blog ~ and sharing with like-minded folks! T'was a good day indeed)
Beyond my own personal pride and joy of owning a box, I loved that Neil took some time to look within the box, to poke at the items ~ I had hoped that the box would be a surprise, and to find one in Singapore, no less!
Neil had signed on the letter contained within (from LAIKA ~ thanks again guys!) ~ am lurving the calligraphy styled strokes tho! (no doubt from his journeys to China).
The "cycle" is now complete ~ from receiving one of the 50 boxes given out for Coraline the animated movie, to having it signed by the author ~ I am a happy man now, I am :)
[CLICK for a closer-look at the Coraline Box 23/50 in my previous blog-post, if you so please]