Sunday, July 28, 2013

VIDEO: Neil Gaiman on "Why Fiction is Dangerous"

One of the unquestionable highlights of BookExpo America this year was the opportunity to hear Neil Gaiman speak.  I've been a fan of his work for years, and I've even met him a couple of times, but it didn't occur to me until I was in the room that I'd never actually heard the man speak before.

And what a speaker he is!  He's the sort of charismatic individual who makes what he does look easy--though I'm sure it's not.  This speech to an audience of librarians and booksellers and geeks on the morning of June 1, 2013 both held me rapt and entertained me.  I've found myself thinking about his comments many times in the weeks since.

Before I go on, I must apologize.  It was early on a Saturday morning, the last day of BEA.  I was beyond exhausted; I was barely coherent.  I'm not sure what I was thinking when I whipped out my iPhone moments after he started speaking.  Possibly this was merely for my own reference?  Because I'd never before succeeded in moving lengthy video from my phone to... anywhere.  (And in fact, this marginal success is owed to a trip to the Apple Store, and--I kid you not--about 72 hours of uninterrupted upload time to get this footage onto YouTube!)  Anyway, I don't appear to have been making much effort with the shooting.  I was listening to the man talk.  Consequently, the footage is beyond my normal standard of awful.  You won't see my finger most of the time, but it certainly makes appearances. There are periods where those who are prone to sea sickness should look away.  Honestly, it may be best if you just kick back and listen.  Oh, and sorry about my laughing.  I sound like Fran Drescher.  It's horrifying.

The above are all good reasons to bury this footage and never let it see the light of day.  But it was a really fantastic speech!  And Neil is such a natural story-teller!  This was such a pleasure to hear that, despite my embarrassment at the poor quality, I choose to share.  Part 1 of this video opens with Neil flinging promotional items at his audience.  He discusses the two "accidental" books he is publishing this year.  The Ocean at the End of the Lane (reviewed above) is his novel for adults and Fortunately the Milk is his middle grades novel.  As it happens, I read the signed galley of the latter (gifted to audience members) on the flight home from NY.  It must surely be one of the funniest, most delightful books I've read in years. Neil eventually gets around to the subject of why both non-fiction and fiction are dangerous.

Part 2, below, is the question and answer session Neil does with the assistance of his editor, Jen Brehl, who I've met on several occasions over the years.  (In addition to Neil Gaiman, this impressive woman also edits Joe Hill, Christopher Moore, and countless others.  Is that a list, or is that a list?!)  Questions cover accomplishments, fear of failure, education, worst sentences written, and of course, "hot librarians," among other vital topics of interest.

Sometimes I wonder if it's worth the time and expense to travel 3,000 miles to BEA almost every year.  And then an event like this reminds me that it is.

No comments:

Post a Comment