I was lucky enough to have been squeezed into a slot for a one-on-one — two-on-one, if you want to be specific about it — interview with Neil Gaiman. And yes, I am grateful, so thankful. So glad, I’ve been incapable of putting into words. My vocabulary’s been reduced to hyperactive gibbering and some profanities.
As soon as I got home, I opened a Word document to write down a few guide questions for when I interview him.
I started out by researching what the event was actually about. Copy-paste. Copy-paste. Done. Insert Page Break. At the top of the second page, I typed “QUESTIONS:”
The cursor blinked. I felt it was mocking me. Neil Gaiman was and is my favorite author. He has inspired me, his words kept me company on so many what-would-have-been-boring nights and I’ve loved his stories for the longest time. In that “famous people you would like to have dinner/coffee/conversation with” situation question, Gaiman was always my answer. I had so many things I wanted to ask him, so many things I wanted to tell him.
With the cursor blinking, and the prospect of meeting him in person becoming reality just hours away, the questions, the statements, evaporated into thin air.
I decided to relax and start with what I would say to him at the beginning of the interview. I started typing:
First of all, can I just say, I am a huge fan.
Since the first time I got my hands on a cheap, xeroxed copy of Snow Glass Apples in the form of a handout our lit professor assigned us to read, I was hooked. From there I went on to reading more of your short stories.
In the beginning, I had the internet to thank. I was a student with no money so I found whatever I could via clever phrasing and Google. When I found a job, I finally loaded up on actual books.
The first novel I read was American Gods. I lent it to a friend after I read it just once, and was never returned. I have yet to buy a second copy so I can read it again. Coraline was the kids’ book that scared me so much I had to make sure I’d read it during the day, when the sun was still shining. Good Omens, half yours, half Terry Pratchett’s was genius. The Anansi Boys opened my eyes to mythology somewhat, as before then, that was the type of literature I never really appreciated. Neverwhere saved me from the monotonous life I was living at the time. I wanted some fantasy, and I found it. Stardust, I was hesitant to read because at the time, the movie was out. In my head, that was a discouraging factor. I read it eventually and I was not disappointed. Why I even thought it would be, I can’t remember now. Fragile Things, another short story compilation book, I love it the more times I read it. And I can’t forget Smoke & Mirrors. It was the last book I bought, strangely enough. I knew the story that introduced me to your writing was in there, but it was the last book I bought, having just borrowed a copy when I read the entire thing the first time. It is the newest one in my collection, but at this time, my copy of Smoke & Mirrors is officially the one I’ve read the most – the less-than-one year old book, already dog-eared.
Each book, each short story, even the poems – and I should tell you I wasn’t even a big fan of poems – are life-changing. You achieve what I want to as a writer. It’s not the fame or the money or the engagement to a gorgeous & talented musician. It’s the way you pull words together so smoothly. It’s the way you tell stories that make me feel better or worse, involved or affected. I’m transported, in my comprehension, to a world I would never have imagined without your coming up with it and sharing it with all of us. And you share it in a way that’s so well-versed, well-written that we surrender ourselves to any and all of the fictional worlds you’ve created.
Sometimes I need that surrender. I get that from reading, or from writing, having been inspired by you. And for that, I thank you.
A heartfelt thank you, from me to you. That is all I can say to encompass all that I’ve experienced in your words: Thank you. Really.
I started and could not stop, ’til paragraphs later. I could proofread. (I didn’t, in case you couldn’t tell.) I could add more! This only skims the surface of how much his work has changed things for me, how much it’s changed me… but I fear I’d end up having to open up a second chapter. I don’t want that.
I don’t think I’ll be able to tell him all of this anyway, but I hope, having put it down in concrete form, I at least remember the important bits. Like the Thank Yous, Heartfelt Thank Yous.
Wish me luck? I do not want to come across as a babbling idiot bouncing with nerves. It’s 4AM and I’m supposed to be asleep, but I can’t sleep yet. I’m too nervous excited anxious ecstatic.