In conversation with Vicky Featherstone
The place was packed with people eagerly awaiting the appearance of Neil Gaiman. It was great to see a wide age range of people at this event. This event was to promote Neil’s children book Fortunately the Milk… which is illustrated by Chris Riddell.
The first book Neil ever wrote was a children’s book but it was never published, according to Neil this was a good thing. It initially took a lot to convince people that Coraline was a book for adults and children. According to Neil, Coraline is the strangest book he has ever written. When writing a book you have to write with an audience in mind and the majority of the time the audience Neil has in mind is himself but smaller. It was easier to convince people that The Graveyard book was a book for children as it featured a kid.
Neil used to think there was two kinds of novelists, foxes who know lots of little things and a hedgehog which knows just one big thing. He used to think of himself as a fox but as he has gotten older he has realised he is more of an hedgehog. Stories are important, stories help us to make sense of our lives. Behind every pair of eyes there is just another version of yourself. When we are reading book, we are ultimately spending time in another person’s mind. Books offer a genuine real way out of a bad place and allows us to experience things in a safe environment. Fairy tales teach kids that bad things can be defeated but this is not always the case. Stories should tell children real things but supply them with the armour to deal with these things.
Talked turned to which book he had written was his favourite. He is extremely proud of The Graveyard Book as it took 20 years to come together. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is also one of his favourite books because it surprised him and it was not the story that he originally set out to write. In a way this was the world giving me a bonus book. Ultimately my favourite book is always the one that I have not written.
With that final thought an interesting hour was brought to an end. Vicky did an excellent job chairing this event and I really liked how she asked all the adults to put there hand down as she only wanted the questions from children. After all this was a children’s event.