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Entries in heros (1)



Last night, after hastily unpacking and loving the dogs and grabbing a quick dinner in town, we high tailed it to the Michigan for yet another fantastic event. Strangely, after years of not setting foot inside the historic theater we've been there three times already this year, each time for a truly unique and unforgettable experience. In May it was Fitzgerald meets Luhrmann for The Great Gatsby—favorite book by a favorite author made into a movie by a respected director culminating in a grand experience. Two weeks ago it was Shakespeare meets Whedon for Much Ado About Nothing—an enjoyable story by a respected author made into a movie by a favorite director culminating in a brilliant movie (think stunning black and white with surprisingly skillful acting for a modern take with the traditional language).

Then last night's event went something like this: star struck literary fans meet extremely talented author for a delightful signing event. Neil Gaiman came to town. We're old fans of his. Jon and I were introduced to his work many years ago through Neverwhere, then moved through all the rest of his existing adult stuff and pounced on new titles as they arrived. Later, when Calvin was reading chapter books, we introduced him to Odd and the Frost Giants, and, my personal favorite of them all, The Graveyard Book. He has a new book out that reads like a dream, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and he planned just four U.S. stops for a signing tour; Ann Arbor happened to be one of them.

But, after rushing to the theater and taking our seats with just minutes to spare, the announcement was made that due to major airport delays Mr. Gaiman was, in fact, not yet landed in Detroit. Remarkably, and I think this says a lot about his fandom in general, the two hours that we ended up waiting for his arrival passed smoothly, and the theater was still packed when he finally arrived. I think it also helps that he is active on twitter and posted constantly for waiting fans during much of that time. Social media is fun that way. We knew the moment he landed, and that he was very, very sorry, and that he was hurrying as fast as he could, and that, regardless of what the directors said about cutting things short at the event, he would honor the original signing agreement because we were such great fans to wait (a concession that kept him at the theater wielding a pen until 3am, but which makes him that much more awesome in our eyes).

We passed the time reading the books we'd brought for signing and munching on popcorn with beer and lemonade. Then Calvin decided at last to fill out a question card and drop it in the jar just before we were finally summoned to our seats. Fortuitous, because during the short question answering portion of the event, Mr. Gaiman selected and answered that very question.

"Are you going to write a sequel to Stardust? P.S. I love your books. -Calvin, age 7," he read on stage, "Really? Age 7? Or is that a 1? No, it must be a 7."

Calvin, Jon, and I looked on with a giddy delight and a sense of incredulity that actually matched Mr. Gaiman's own surprise later when he recognized Calvin in the signing line due to the name (for personalization) and his obvious youthfulness. I got the impression that he thought the age on the notecard had either been a joke or a sloppy misprint. Calvin was the youngest fan there, by at least a few years, and I don't think he actually expected him to be 7. He signed his copy of Graveyard with a little extra—a sketch of a tombstone personalized just for Calvin. As the usher standing there said to me, "from anyone else that would be creepy, but from him that's really awesome."

And that 3am finishing time? Well, when they started the call for the signing line, being in a balcony section we were slated to be one of the last. But they called for the usual exceptions first—people with mobility issues, pregnant women, and people with young children. So we took advantage of their offer, which got us out of there slightly after nine.

In Chicago time that's only slightly after eight, and well within bedtime limits.