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Meeting Neil Gaiman

This may end up being a really, really long blog post. So if you want the short version:
I met Neil Gaiman.
It was the most awesome thing ever.
Before it happened:
The longer version, requires a little bit of background. I grew up with parents who read lots and lots of books, and in turn, read me lots and lots of books. I spent hours in our local Warren Township library, and would check out stacks of books so tall that my arms would be fully extended and my chin would be resting on top of the stack to try and keep everything from falling over. My parents completely encouraged this, and would also take me to library book sales, on the days when you could fill a paper bag full of books for a couple dollars. I would run through grabbing every single book I could (especially if it had a horse on it). My room was floor to ceiling bookshelves!
My Dad used to read me bedtime stories, Edgar Allen Poe (which scared the ever loving shit out of me and made me unable to sleep), Sherlock Holmes ( He and I would try to guess who the bad guy was) and Lois McMaster Bujold (Who was friends with my parents and slightly worried when she realized her books were my bedtime stories).
When I got too old for my Dad to read to me at night, he would still hand me books once in a while that he thought I would enjoy. One day, when I was about 12, he told me to try comic books.
I scoffed at him and rolled my eyes.
So he said, "No, I mean it! Here's the Watchmen. Read it"
I did and loved it.
Then he handed me the Wesley Dodds Sandman, and I liked it and asked him what else I would like.
He handed me a copy of Preludes and Nocturnes, I read it in one night and demanded another one when he woke up in the morning. He didn't have another one, so we went to Bloomington that weekend, went to the comic book store, and tried to figure out what was next in the series. The comic book clerks were slightly alarmed that I wanted to read these, but they still sold us the second book in the series. I read every single thing I could find that had the name, Neil Gaiman on the spine.
Flash forward to the age of 21, and I go on a date with Dill, whom I had known for about 5 years, but hadn't ever really talked to when we decided to go on a date and see whether or not there was something between us. I went out with him, we stopped off at his house, he went to grab something out of his bedroom, and I took a peek at his bookshelf. Absolutely crammed with Sandman books. I decided that he was worth a second date.
How it happened:
Flash forward 6 or 7 years, and a series of interesting events lead to me writing to Neil Gaiman once in a while, and him actually taking the time to write back! Then I start mailing him Octokitties because I am a superstitious nutter and believe they are a key to us winning derby bouts. (Perhaps not too much of a nutter, since as of last night we have a 100% winning home season)
He does not block my emails at this point, but instead, invites myself and some of the derby family to his speech in Indianapolis, as well as the meet and greet beforehand.
My initial reaction was total panic. I could NOT meet Neil Gaiman. It's hard to explain. I like him a lot, and not in a "oh he is so hot" sort of way, or an "oh he's so smart I'll feel stupid" sort of way. It's more that I really admire him, and I enjoy not only his books, but his online presence, and I couldn't imagine that he would be right in front of me. But you know, a 10 minute meet and greet couldn't be too intimidating right?
THEN, the amazing, wonderful, and truly fabulous Lorraine emailed me and said basically, "Neil is yours after the event, take him out for dinner and drinks", to which I replied, "Holy Shit", then realized that might not convey that myself and my friends were receptive to this idea, and send her a more detailed email saying that we would really enjoy that. She also told me that I should be thanking Amanda Palmer, as the whole thing was all her fault.
Meeting Neil
I think I then went into shock for a few days, until it was actually the day of the event. My fellow derby girl Jocelyn Hoes showed up to carpool with us and Tom, and we spent a few minutes squeeing before getting into the car, where we squeed some more. (She also very graciously fixed some of my make-up. The only make-up I wear is for derby, and that just involves smearing as much black eyeliner on as possible)
We got to the hotel, where we were going to MEET NEIL, and saw the back of his head, sitting in a chair, where he was being interviewed. We huddled over by a post, and waited for the rest of our girls to arrive. Once everyone showed up, he had moved into the actual meet and greet room, and we followed. He made his way over to us after a bit, and here, I need to interrupt myself. Every single thing I've ever heard from someone who has met Neil, is, "He's so nice"! I've always wondered about that, because really, how can that be the only impression that you take away from someone that interesting and important? But honestly, holy shit, he is really, really nice. Totally charming, and sweet, and he almost seems a little bit shy! He took a few minutes away from talking with library people to introduce himself to us, and made sure to tell us that it was all Amanda Palmer's fault.

We made sure to mingle with the library people ourselves, and discussed the possibility of Naptown doing some fundraisers for them. One idea that we LOVED involved having some of us read books to the kids!
Listening to Neil
Then we went to the event, where we had some lovely VIP seats and listened to Neil talk, read stories, and answer questions. He was funny, taught us all what a "clap trap" was, (which Dill used the next night at the roller derby) and we had a great time!

Eating Dinner With Neil

We went back to the hotel, where we waited for Neil. Jocelyn and I were trying to talk some of the girls into jumping into the pool while we were waiting, when, probably luckily for us, Neil showed up to go out to eat. There was a brief discussion on how to get him to the restaurant, (he looked slightly alarmed when I mentioned that he could ride bitch between Jocelyn and I) when it was decided that the family of Debauchery would take him. This was probably the best thing ever, as Yeats, the child of Debauchery, is a HUGE Neil Gaiman fan, and according to Mr. Debauchery, Neil paid tons of attention to him in the car, answered questions, etc. They were all thrilled.
At the restaurant, we were joined by Kerri and Valerie, who had apparently been at the bar having drinks bought for them by a man who thought they were hookers. Lovely.
During dinner, Neil was again, super freaking nice. He talked about bees, writing, travel, and... Amanda Palmer.
Neil on Amanda
For a second, I thought that I had stuck my foot in my mouth by asking Neil how he had met Amanda. As soon as I said it, I panicked and was like, "ahhh! That's really personal"! I tried to apologize, but he actually waved me off and told us all the whole story. Which was so sweet, and lovely, and had every girl at the table sighing at the way his face lit up talking about her. This seems really, really wrong to say about a distinguished, British, IMPORTANT WRITER PERSON, but holy hell, he was so freaking CUTE when he talked about her. Adorable even.
Neil on everything else
We spent hours talking, drinking and eating. He talked with everyone about bee keeping, music, Dr. Who, Big Bang, his library, and our insidious plot to kidnap the Fabulous Lorraine and take her to the roller derby. (It is so going to happen)
As we were leaving, I had to go up to him and geek out. I thanked him, told him that him meeting up with us was beyond nice and amazing, and I was extremely grateful. He said that if my emails hadn't been nice, funny, or had they been the slightest bit insane, this wouldn't have happened. Which took me a little by surprise, since my emails involved telling him that I was sending him stuffed Octokitties to ensure that we win derby bouts, so what does an insane email look like???
But all in all, it was the most wonderful evening! All weekend I've just been like, "that didn't REALLY happen did it"? but I've been assured by others that it did.
To cap off the perfect weekend, we won our last home bout of the season. I took my jaw slightly out of socket doing it, and all the photographers managed to catch a happy sobbing emotionally drained me at the end of it, but that is all for the next blog post.
Perfect weekend all in all.

Pictures to prove to myself that it did happen.


This was at the meet and greet. I think the look on my face is totally perfect!



Dill gets people to wear his hat in pictures. It has it's own fan page on facebook. My husband is slightly insane... (the next night he got the mayor to wear it at the derby) I love that Neil was such a good sport about it!


Sigh. I promised myself that I would not look like an idiot in a picture with Neil. Big ol' cheeseball grin here though. Oh well...

17 Responses to “Meeting Neil Gaiman”

  1. That is so VERY AWESOME!!! Roxane and I were wondering if we were going to read it here first or after the best bout ever!!

    Sorry we missed you last night. The team was incredible. Congrats to such a wonderful season! Can't wait for Philly!

    I'm not sure we can admire/gush/or congratulate you enough on meeting Neil Gaiman.

    Hats off to Dill!!

  2. It sounds very awesome and yay to Neil for acknowledging as well as receiving your level of insanity and enthusiasm.

  3. That is amazing :) I'm so excited for you (and very jealous) :D

  4. This is SO cool, Joan! I'm thrilled for ya that you got to meet him.

  5. I've wandered on to your blog once or twice and I knew you were a fan, and hoped you attended. And now I see you had dinner with him! I was sorely tempted to stop by Strange Brew and order a Neil Gaiman on Friday, but time didn't allow me. XD

    It was so cool to see that he was just as kind and thoughtful as I thought he was.
    :)

  6. I'm a friend of a friend (someone you know from one of the knitting blogs) and a volunteer for the Minnesota RollerGirls. I was able to see Neil at an event here in Minnesota on Sunday and it was amazing. I had called Misha (our mutual friend) while I was waiting in line to get in and she relayed your experience with Neil. I told her I was wearing my RollerGirls t-shirt, and he did actually comment about it after the event. He was proud to say he had spent some time with the Naptown Roller Girls, so I told him he'd have to come spend time with the local league.
    You're right, he is amazing. And so nice. My daughter was thrilled to meet him and get her picture taken with him. Enjoyed your blog! Keep on rolling!

  7. Hey, I think I walked with you in last year's indyFringe parade - good to find your space online from a reference on Neil Gaiman's Blog.. :) I had to be out of town friday so missed NG's event, and am so very sad. I'm grateful for your wonderful write-up and that you got to have such a great time.

  8. lucky! :)

    Seriously though, that is completely awesome for you and I'm completely jealous. I have no idea who you are but I'm a fellow NG fan and just wanted to say congrats.

    Also, I read the same kind of stories to my daughter (Poe and Gaiman) so your story about your Dad touched a nerve as well. Can't wait till mine's older and ripe for introducing Sandman.

  9. Hi from Germany and a real HUGE Neil Gaiman fan! *siiiigh*
    Thanks for sharing this amazing and awesome event, Joan!

  10. OMGYAY!!! If I wasn't jealous of your knitting and rollerderbing already, this has completely pushed you over the edge into Awesomeland!

  11. I almost drove up to Indy from Evansville to see Neil. Now I wish I had. After hearing the roller derby girls met up with him, it seemed appropriate. My daughter, being a roller derby girl from Bloomington, gave me a glimpse of the "new derby". Today's girls are well read and eclectic vs. the vacant and angry girls from the 60s and 70s. Neil is the "rock star" author for the new millenium.

  12. Where'd you guys go to eat? Did I miss that somewhere?

  13. I know you were super-excited to meet the man himself. I'm glad the meeting met and exceeded your expectations. Congrats on a great roller derby season as well. On top of all your wins, you gained a couple of fans too.

  14. Wow, what a terrific evening with Neil! Sheer envy here. Thanks for posting - I loved how you described Neil saying that your emails were not insane!

    Cheers!

  15. Did you hear about the House on the Rock/American Gods event over Halloween weekend? Seriously.
    If you want to go and need a place to stay, let me know. I live in Middleton, west side of Madison, WI. I'm a huge Neil Gaiman fan and I'd love to go!
    -Allie Gator

  16. Allie I bought tickets to that event as soon as I heard about it! There will be at least 2 roller girls and one announcer there!

  17. Interesting article, added his blog to Favorites

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