Some internal dialogue regarding a meeting with Neil Gaiman

20130420-133736.jpgSo. You’re going to interview Neil Gaiman.
I know.
You must be so excited! Neil Gaiman!
Well, you know. It’s just a job. Should be interesting.
Ooh, get you, Cool Hand Luke. “Interesting”? You’re a huge Gaiman fan.
Well, I wouldn’t say “fan”, as such. I’m too old to be a “fan” of anyone.
Get out of it! You’ve been reading his stuff since way back. Remember when you first bought Sandman? What was that? Late 1988? You’d have been 18…
Yeah. I was on the journalism course at Preston Polytechnic. There was a comic shop at the bottom of Friargate. Thunderbooks. I can remember picking that first issue up. But I knew Gaiman’s work before that. I loved Violent Cases… The Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia charity comic… And I used to be cool, remember. Or I thought I was. I read The Face every month.
So you are a fan…
I am an admirer of his work. Not a fan of the person. I don’t know him. It would be weird to say I was a fan of Neil Gaiman the person when I haven’t even met him.
But you are going to meet him…
Hmm.
What’s the matter with you? Why are you so frightened?
I’m not frightened! Don’t be ridiculous. I’ve been a journalist for nearly 24 years. Nobody frightens me any more. There are just good interviews and bad interviews, that’s all.
But you’re still… Anxious, let’s say. Do you want to know why I think that is?
Not really.
One, you’re worried he’ll think you’re an arsehole.
Why would he think that?
Because you can be, sometimes, especially around people you admire. You always try to say something clever or unusual, try to be a bit different, hope they’ll remember the interview.
You make it sound a bit desperate.
It is. Remember when you said to Nick Clegg “Do you ever wake up sweating in the night and think, ‘Oh, God, I’m in a coalition with the Conservatives’.”? Or when you tried to get Derren Brown to admit he really did have psychic powers and the stage magic stuff was a double bluff? Or when you asked Gordon Brown, when he was Prime Minister, what his favourite biscuit was?
That did have some context, though. But yeah, perhaps you’re right, maybe I’m worried about appearing an idiot.
Two, you’re worried that you’ll think he’s an arsehole.
Everyone’s says he’s really nice.
But what if you just don’t like him? What if your hero has feet of clay? What if you think he’s full of himself, up his own backside?
I’m professional enough not to let that affect the interview.
But it’s Neil Gaiman. Isn’t it better not to meet him and avoid the risk of not liking him?
No. Because that won’t affect my admiration for his work. Like I said, I’m 43, not some squeeing fanboy. Is that it?
No. You’re also wracked with guilt because it’s you’re wife Claire’s birthday and you’re going to London to meet Neil Gaiman. I mean to say…
Claire doesn’t mind.
Really?
Well, maybe she does. But she knows how important this is to me…
A-ha!
Okay, okay. Maybe you’re right about all those things. Happy now?
I’ll be happy when you’re happy. I am you, remember.

LATER…

So, how did it go?
Oh my God it was amazing. He’s such a genuinely nice bloke, I can’t believe it. He really is lovely. We had a great chat. I’m so glad I went.
Did you ask him anything embarrassing?
We-ee-ll… You’ll have to wait until the piece comes out.
Did you tell him you cried at the end of The Ocean At The End Of The Lane?
I did not cry! I had something in my eye.
Ah we’ll, so long as… Hang on, you didn’t, did you?
Didn’t what?
You didn’t force a copy of your own book on him, did you?
No, it wasn’t like that! I just mentioned it and he was like “Yes! Give it to me!” And he asked me to sign it.
You signed your own book. And gave it to Neil Gaiman. Your. Own. Book. Neil. Gaiman.
Um, yes.
Christ, you really never change, do you?

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9 Comments

  1. lol, Neil Gaiman himself leads me here. I feel your excitement. Must be awesome to be in his presence.

  2. One of the most beautiful things about @neilhimself is his humanity. He’s not an ivory tower writer. He’s a real person, and he shows us that all the time, every day, with good manners and kindness and sincerity.
    I’m so very glad for you, sir.

  3. I’m 55 & I’m still a squeezing fanboy sometimes. I give you points for actually *meeting* him (even tho it was your job) b/c I get so violently shy around the subjects of my squee that I usually just run away. I DID manage to say something coherent to Neil Gaiman once at a book-signing tho. Still don’t know how I did that…

  4. I’m not ashamed to say I’m a fan of Neil, or Mick, or Keith, or Pete either. They’re British and if they momentarily forget who they really are on the scale of things, they will pick it up later. American Celebrities are never, ever self-reflective after they hit the national consciousness. American Celebrity ruins people or perhaps just elevates the worst sorts.

  5. Excellent piece… I’m sure anyone meeting Neil Gaiman or their heroes would feel the same….
    What’s your favourite biscuit?? Really??hehe
    That’s like the person who asked Henry Rollins ‘If you were a crayon what colour would you be?’ ha ha ha he was not impressed. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing David 🙂

  6. Lovely, lovely piece!

    When my mate interviewed him I was all “Ooo! Tell him my best man read ‘the day the saucers came’ at my wedding!”

    And he did…

    Sometimes you can embarrass yourself on front of your heroes and not even have to be there…

    Thanks for posting!

  7. Gorgeous – and so is the interview piece. And that photo is beautiful – very happy it went so well for you and thank you for sharing. We humans r crackers, in a lovely way.

  8. I know the feeling…and it’s a good thing I wasn’t interviewing Gaiman because I probably would have licked his face or done something equally unnerving. When I met David Sedaris I was foaming at the mouth after standing in line for three hours to get him to sign my copy of “Squirrel Meets Chipmunk.” In the end, I fumbled through the conversation (Sedaris likes to chat with everyone!) and he ended up drawing a picture of my vagina in my book. Before you ask, no, I didn’t pose for the portrait. In fact, he wrapped up our meeting by saying, “Well, I assume that’s what it looks like.” And then I asked to SHAKE HIS HAND. He agreed, but the look on his face said, “If this chick scrapes my palm in an attempt to gather my DNA, I’m gonna have take her down, seersucker suit or not.” It was pathetic. I’m pretty sure I’m gonna have to wear a disguise the next time I meet Mr. Sedaris. Looking forward to reading your book. Yeah, like you want me for a fan. 😉

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