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  • Ryanne Harper

Happy Birthday, Neil Gaiman!

It's Neil Gaiman's birthday! I've read quite a few of his books and, honestly, I'm not a huge fan of his writing. He's very hit or miss for me. Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett is my favorite. It's hilarious and I can't wait to see the show. David Tennant should be in everything. Despite not liking his novels much, I'm a fan of Gaiman himself. I've seen two of his lectures and he's charming, hilarious, and he has the kind of voice that should be used to deliver bad or disappointing news. Like, when you get fired or something, Neil Gaiman should tell you. He'll make it sound like a great idea.

The first time I saw Neil was in 2007 in Conway. He did a reading at the college; there were maybe one hundred people in attendance. I went with my Books-A-Million crew, Sarah, Lauren, Shannon, and three other people I don't really know. We met up in the BAM parking lot. Shannon was like, "I'm tired because I stayed up all night making this for Neil." And then she shows us an antique box filled with tiny clay models of his main characters. So, she made him a tiny Neil world inside a beautiful box. I looked down at my paperback copy of Coraline and felt ashamed.

On the way, Sarah almost killed us so we had to stop at a gross rest stop to regain our composure. The bathroom was, without question, the same one they used in Candy Man. It was terrifying. So, by the time we actually made it, we had almost died twice, once in the car and Lauren and I narrowly escaped Tony Todd. If you don't know who Tony Todd is, congratulations. He has the scariest voice ever and it seems like he can look through you rather than at you.

I mean, just look at him:

We finally made it to Conway. And we're like six hours early or something. I remember waiting a long time. The reading was great. Unlike Tony Todd, Neil Gaiman has a soothing voice and doesn't look like he wants to eat you. I guess, in 2007, Neil Gaiman wasn't super famous so he did a book signing. I somehow ended up behind Shannon. So, she hands him this amazing gift she made him. He freaked out. He loved it. He was so impressed. As he should have been. It was an awesome gift. Then it was my turn. Our exchange went something like this:

Neil: Hello.

Me: Hi, Neil. Here's a paperback copy of a book you wrote that I'd like you to sign. I didn't even bother to buy the hardback. And now I want you to make something you made even better. I bring nothing to the table.

Neil: It's fine. Really.

Then we talked about Coraline for a bit and he drew an adorable cartoon rat in my dumb paperback copy.

The second time I saw Neil was this past July. I went with Shannon, Sarah, and Lauren. Unlike the first time, the trip to Dallas was pretty uneventful. We did have to drive through the apocalypse on the way home, though. Neil is far too famous to do signings and there were far more people there. But, he was still charming, hilarious, and lovely. And I still want him to read everything to me. Seriously, download Norse Mythology and listen to the man.

Also, go to Dallas and eat at Tanoshii Ramen. You will not regret it. Those steamed buns. I've been trying to recreate them ever since. I'm close, but they aren't quite right.

My favorite thing about Neil Gaiman has nothing to do with his writing, but the memories he's given me. So, thank you, Neil. I hope you have a wonderful birthday.

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