A Fairy Tale

oceanI love it when authors come to town to do a reading.  I love listening to them talk about their writing processes, enjoy the anecdotes about their lives, discovering a little about their personalities and getting my copies of their books signed — a little interaction that, for me, totally enhances my reading experiences.

So, I was pretty excited when my husband and I had the chance to see Neil Gaiman speak about his new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver on Thursday.

I had read the novel last month and I loved it. (It’s funny — every time I read one of Neil Gaiman’s books, that book becomes my favourite and this one was no exception).

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a gem of a book. A fairytale, sometimes dark and scary, but full of hope and magical acts. The story begins as the narrator returns home for a funeral and wanders off to escape the sombre throng of mourners in the house. He ends up at the end of the lane at the old Hemstock place.  He encounters old Mrs. Hemstock who invites him in for tea. He agrees but asks if he can sit in the back beside the duck pond for a bit first. While he is looking out at the water of the pond he remembers everything — this is the beginning of the story. Told from his memory as a 7-year old, the tale has all the ingredients of a Grimm’s fairytale: evil (or at least seriously misguided) creatures, danger, magic, witches (?), spells, child heroes, scary episodes, death and salvation.  A very good read.

Mr. Gaiman gave a very interesting talk, he read  a passage from the novel, spoke about how the book came to be — he called it his “accidental novel”, he had actually started out to write a short story — he answered some questions from the audience, talked a bit about his wife and children and then read a little from Fortunately, the Milk…, his new book (coming out in September).  I can’t wait to get this book, it seems like it will be a great story — billed as a children’s book for all ages.

The only sad part about the experience was that we could not stay to have our books signed — the theatre was packed full with eager fans all with multiple books in hand. Neil Gaiman is known for staying until the last book is signed, even if  the books keep coming well after midnight. We couldn’t stay that long…

However, the talk was wonderful, I really enjoyed it and  the experience of hearing Neil Gaiman read from his work was an event to remember, as author readings always are.

So, I thank Harper Collins, and the Vancouver Writers’ Festival for the opportunity to attend this event that featured one of my very favourite novelists.

Click here for a review of Neil Gaiman’s talk in Vancouver.

Or listen to him talk about The Ocean at the End of the Lane” at Googletalks:


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