This leg - the UK leg, and the last - of the mammoth signing tour that started on June 13th, has just finished. About 50,000 people, probably about 150,000 things signed. (Said things including body parts, dolls, and a hairbrush. But mostly books and books and more books.)
It had many remarkable bits, of great joy. For example, they named a lane in Portsmouth THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE. And not just any lane: it's beside the Canoe Lake, where I was walked in my pram, where I went with my grandparents (it was round the corner from their house at 36, Parkstone Avenue). There were a few hundred people assembled in the sun: the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth made a speech in which she put me on the list of Portsmouth Writers (Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Kipling were the other people on the list), the poet laureate of Portsmouth read two lovely poems, and then I pulled the cloth off the road sign and hugged lots of members of my family, and talked to people, and even met a 90 year old gentleman who told me how, when he was sleeping rough after being demobbed from the army in World War 2, my grandmother took him in for Friday Night dinner and my Uncle Ronnie gave him his spare suit...
It made me smile. Then again, everything that day made me smile.
It made me smile. Then again, everything that day made me smile.
(These photos are from Elliott Franks's website at http://elliottfranks.photoshelter.com/gallery/Neil-Gaiman-event-18th-August-2013/G0000BGlc8FWrkSA/. Elliott was there as a photographer -- and also as my cousin.)
That night there was a really fun event at the Portsmouth Guildhall (preceded by tea for my family, who were all a bit baffled and delighted by this. Best bit was hearing several elderly aunts explain to another why she should watch Amanda's Dear Daily Mail video.) There was also a Dalek.
The next event of magic was held in Ely Cathedral.
The queue looked like this:
...only there were over a thousand people in it, and it wound up going all the way through the town. (photo from here.) The place was magical, and I signed for people until the small hours of the morning, while, as the perfect summer evening became twilight and then night, the cathedral bats flittered overhead.
(Photo, along with some of the best signing photos I've seen is from http://narshada.co.uk/neil-gaiman-book-signing-ely-cathedral).
From there, to Oxford, and the Oxford Playhouse, and my favourite ever conversation-on-a-stage. Possible one of my favourite ever conversations. It was with Philip Pullman, who is smart and honest and has everything that you'd every want in a favourite English teacher...
Fortunately a lot of it was recorded and put up on the web. (Not, alas, the audience questions...) You can hear it here. It's Philip Pullman and me talking about books and authors we love, children's fiction, and whether we ever get to bring back stories from dreams.
And from there to the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
I talked about Memory and The Ocean at the End of the Lane with Charles Fernyhough, talked about my children's fiction with Vicky Featherstone (who brought along a surprise wolf head and the pig puppet from the National Theatre of Scotland's The Wolves in the Walls), talked comics and Sandman in particular with Hannah Berry, and talked to Margaret Atwood about, well, everything really. (Did you know she does an astoundingly scary impression of the Wicked Witch of the West? Oh, she does...)
Also, I CO-JUDGED A LITERARY DEATH MATCH. Amy Mason won. I'm reading her book, and I'm reading Briony Hatch by the Skinner sistren, and Craig Silvey's book, and Craig Collins's comics... frankly, I made out like a bandit.
And I was interviewed (and semi-heckled hilariously by Phill Jupitus and Mitch Benn) as part of the Ad Lib Comedy thingummy at the Fringe, and it was marvellous.
Here's a great audio interview by the Scottish Book Trust towards the latter, even more brain dead, part of the festival:
From Edinburgh to Dundee, for a lunchtime signing and on to Inverness for the end of it all. A wonderful conversation with my new friend Stuart Kelly, one last last last signing (event photos here) and I was done.
This is a photo of me being done.
(Photo from here.)
There's now a video up of the US leg of the tour... it gives you an idea of what it was like -- 20 cities in 80 seconds...
I'm now recovering and going back to being a writer again. It's a bit odd. Currently I have the kind of headache you get from from caffeine withdrawal, having survived the tour on massive amounts of tea. I'm going for walks and just getting everything back together. I look a bit less battered, which is good.
So, I have gone cold turkey from things like Tea, Twitter, Tumblr and, er, probably other things too.
I'll put up the occasional photograph of a hill here, I expect.
This interview with Amanda makes me happy. It's the only interview I can remember that was about the two of us: http://blogs.citypages.com/gimmenoise/2013/08/amanda_palmer_on_neil_gaiman_he_desperately_loves_to_be_surprised.php
Right. Nearly done. Some housekeeping before I vanish: First things first. PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO. Then spread it around. Share it. It will make you smile, and you get a great sense of Skottie Young's wonderful artwork...
That's the US trailer.
The UK trailer... well, that doesn't exist yet. They want YOU (yes, you) to help, by recording part of the trailer:
http://www.gaimanbooks.com/ftmtrailer is the link that explains all the voiceover competition...
and they've put an extract up at http://issuu.com/bloomsburypublishing/docs/fortunately_the_milk_extract.
While, not to be outdone, Harper Collins are themselves giving away copies of Fortunately The Milk at at http://harpercollinschildrens.tumblr.com/post/59489655003/giveaway-fortunately-the-milk-by-neil-gaiman
I'm afraid the UK Fortunately The Milk event (the one Bloomsbury are doing in association with Time Out and Foyles) is now sold out.
I'm off to be a writer for a bit, as I said. I'll blog if there's anything important: unplugging from the twin delights of Twitter & Tumblr.
I will next surface on the 14th of September at the Hackney Empire, where I will be the Voice of the Book on the opening night of the stage version of the radio version of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. (Tickets at http://www.hackneyempire.co.uk/hitchhikers)
In New York, the tickets for the Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer we are doing at the Town Hall to celebrate the release of the CD of the original tour is ALMOST SOLD OUT. There are still tickets, though, at the back of the balcony. http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/03004B0CE260F20A
And finally, BlackBerry have made a very limited, not for sale, number of books of A Calendar of Tales, which are going out as gifts to the contributors and to those who helped make it all happen behind the scenes. You can see what the book looks like at http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2013/august/neil-gaiman-book (and read the tales and look at the pictures at http://acalendaroftales.com/)
And now I am going to sleep. Last night, my dreams were of signing books for people. Everybody I had ever known was in the signing line, and I signed, and I signed, and I signed...