I went to a book signing this evening, directly after work. Neil Gaiman’s new book, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” came out just last week (and is at the top of the NY Times best seller list already). Mr. Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and it was lovely to hear him speak. He read one of the chapters of his newest book and did some Q&A and then read some of the children’s book he has coming out in September. I think my general impression of him is that he is just the same as he is online, that is to say, his podcasts and his blog all seem to reflect the same person I saw on the stage in the high school auditorium in front of many thousands of people. He has a knack of talking to the whole group and making each person feel included. He strikes me as incredibly kind (he did a signing for what he called the “VIPs,” the individuals in wheelchairs, before anyone else). I did get to meet him for about 30 seconds. LOL He looks extraordinarily exhausted and gobsmacked by all the people. I can see why the staff was necessary, to stand between him and the masses. Even people who like people might not enjoy the endless line of them. I was in group B. The groups each held about 40 people, but the handicapped people and those with small children got to go first and I was at the very end of group B, so he’d already signed several hundred books by the time I got to him because he was signing at least two books per person. I cannot imagine the stress of meeting every one of these readers of his who came out to meet him…It seems kind of overwhelming, yet Mr. Gaiman tried very hard to say or write at least one personal thing for each person. Amazing. And kind. And it seems to me, very “him.” But I’m not surprised that he’s said this will be his last signing. If you’ve never read any of his work, you may have seen one of his movies. He wrote “Stardust” and two episodes of Dr. Who. Also, Coraline and MirrorMask and dozens of others. If you’re interested in reading something by him, my favorite is American Gods, which will be a television series soon!