Killer Chairs

My karma was restored to its correct level this evening when I went to a signing by Neil Gaiman at Borders. I turned up half an hour early, just in time to bag one of the last chairs available (handily situated near some Philip Pullman novels); by the time Neil came out to talk there must have been over a hundred people around.

Neil started off by reading all of his new children’s book, Wolves in the Walls; it’s a short, sweet and funny illustrated book that I think kids will like a lot – it’s aimed at a younger audience than Coraline but I’m sure there’ll be many parents sneaking off to read it on their own. I can’t remember the last time I heard an entire book read aloud, and certainly not by its author, who was amply able to put the comic timing to impeccable effect.

He then answered questions for fifteen minutes which came in the usual range of ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ and ‘Who’s your favourite character.’ Neil gave a great answer to the first one though – he says his come from the confluence of knowledge and information. So, for example:

“We all know that if a werewolf bites you on a full moon, you’ll become a wolf in full moon. But what happens if a wolf bites a chair? Will the chair turn into a wolf in full moon? You can imagine finding dead bodies with chair-shaped depressions in them, and an innocent chair sitting by the side. And you could have a great ending where there’s someone sitting on a chair – the chair – figuring it all out, and then suddenly a beam of moonlight comes through the window… and there you have a story.”

Finally the actual signing came along, and over a hundred people assembled into something almost like a queue. I believe the Borders staff made a tactical error in letting Neil set the terms of the signing (“I’ll sign anything you buy here, and three items you bring along.”) because I was near the front of the queue and it still took me a long while to get my copy of Coraline signed (complete with a sketch of a mouse) and compliment Neil on his weblog.

All in all, a good evening and I’ll be keeping an eye out for Neil’s next novels.

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