M is for Magic… N is for Neil & Ning!

One thing that stands true, Neil Gaiman truly knows how to make his fans happy. With absolutely no celebrity airs about him, the talented award-winning writer was ever so patient with the never-ending lines of people who wanted things autographed by him. This is the guy who has almost 1.3 million people following him on Twitter!

I accompanied the BFF today when she interviewed the dashing Englishman (who’s now based in USA), as this was the very last day of the on-going Singapore Writers Festival 2009. And in all honesty… This, I swear, has got to be my bestest Sunday. Ever. Absolutely.

There was an official press conference but the BFF didn’t want to go for it, since she’d managed to secure an exclusive one-on-one session with Neil Gaiman – which I later discovered, was very rare because of his tight time schedule, so we were extremely lucky!

We popped by anyway, for like 5 minutes, because I wanted a feel of it… well okay, I just couldn’t wait to see my favorite writer in person 😛 Yeah I know, total fan girl huh? Eeps…

The official press conference held behind closed doors at The Arts House was attended by reporters from different ASEAN countries

The very engaging Neil Gaiman with his musician beau, Amanda Palmer

As always, Mr Gaiman was very engaging and charismatic, with very witty answers. He also shared with the press on current projects he’s working on, one being a rehash on the Chinese classic, Journey to the West.

When the press conference was finally over, the celebrity couple walked over to the private room next door (which used to be MM Lee Kuan Yew’s office) for our one-on-one media interview. The BFF had shrugged on her jacket and had snapped into professional journo mode, while I was poking around her camera settings.

So you can imagine how I almost fainted when Mr Gaiman looked over at me, just before I could introduce myself, and actually asked if we’d met before at the British Council 4 years ago, when he was last in Singapore.

OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!!!!!

Okay. (Breathe, Ning, breathe) Right.

You know, I’d been trying SO hard to be a total cool cat since the BFF was ever so professional with her audio recorder and all, but the calm exterior I tried to exude just melted into a puddle of mush… much faster than a dexterous close-up magician can pull off a top change with a  deck of cards. Ack!

Anyway, I managed to retain composure and shake myself out of severe Neil Gaiman’s fan girl mode, and did take some decent pictures for the BFF… which was my responsibility in the first place.

But I swear, the man hasn’t aged a bit since I last saw him personally, and it was a fantastic interview! Here’s some pictures…

This is what I mean about Mr Gaiman’s hair… they look so inviting, for a besotted fan to run her fingers through them, which would be a great folly – because one would  surely incur the wrath of a very angry, jealous girlfriend 😛


Lounging in the arm chair listening to the on-going interview, Amanda Palmer’s a musician with her own cult following here in Singapore too, the spunky 33 year old certainly holds her own… she was vocal about things too, and wasn’t afraid to disagree with her other half on certain things he said

They tried some traditional nonya kueh we bought for them from Bengawan Solo (the BFF’s brilliant idea), when the interview was a wrap. We took photos together, before Neil so graciously signed our books…

I brought along my Absolute Sandman collection, a heavy tome of 4 special edition books which were big and heavy, since they’re essentially the ENTIRE series of works which took them years to complete.

Okay, I know, I know… I look so smitten, even I can’t stand myself 😛 The BFF was so amused with this side of me, which she equated to a happy puppy wagging its tail *wry grin* Great.

We chatted as he signed all my books (the Absolute Sandman series, and then some… well, a lot of others) so I updated him from where we left off 4 years ago. He asked for my latest promo DVD & personally invited us girls down to Amanda’s gig at Stereolab later in the evening. I almost melted 😛

So it was one final hug from Neil, who said it was great meeting again (what a sweetheart!), and they left to prep for his one hour talk at the Victoria Theatre after. The BFF & I collected our things and left The Arts House, taking a cool drink nearby since the event wasn’t too far off.

At the Thai restaurant, the jovial BFF enjoyed her fresh coconut while I savored my favorite lemongrass drink – as we giggled like silly school girls while reviewing pictures snapped during our one-on-one with my modern lit god *grin* I can’t wait for the radio interview to air next week!

We were given media passes for the Neil Gaiman talk which hundreds of people queued up hours for, and the seats we had were very decent. It was a really nice treat and on our way over, a couple of people said “hi” to me 🙂 The turnout was fantastic – full house!

It seemed way too short, and people were visibly disappointed that it came to a close after an hour. There were  many people who had lined up behind the microphones to ask their favorite writer questions, but I’m sure he’d answer them anyway during the signing that happened after.

Driving back to get my DVD for Neil from the office (something I’d only do for Mr Gaiman, it being a Sunday!), the BFF & I later headed to Stereolab at Pan Pacific hotel in the evening, to check out Amanda’s gig in the club.

There was a little mix up at the entrance, so we decided to just pass the DVD package to the bouncer to pass to Neil, and leave. Just after climbing into the car, I received a phone call… and Mr Gaiman was on the other line.

I swear, I’m glad that it was the BFF behind the wheel because I almost had a heart attack 😛

Over the phone, Neil apologized and said that our names were on the guest lists, and invited us back saying that he’d personally get us. He more than did, when he also took us girls over to the VIP section so we could get a much better view of Amanda’s performance on stage, afterwards. It was stellar! Here’s something I pulled off her YouTube channel:

I especially loved her last song, and it was also apparent that Miss Palmer had the captivated crowd eating out of her hand! It was certainly an experience, a night I’d never forget.

With his cell phone in hand, Neil asked me for my Twitter account and subsequently joined me on Twitter, which made me happy and embarrassed at the same time 😛 While I’m glad the writer I adore is following my tweets, I realised with horror that he’d see my fan girl tweets. D’oh!

But he was really cool with it, saying he’d promise not to read anything prior to “now” and we chatted about lots of things… before we called it a night since they had a 3:30am plane to catch. I’m amazed how we became friends, having exchanged contacts. Unbelievable, truly 😛

I’m now looking at a whole bunch of stuff he signed for me… and he’s a gifted artist too, with the stuff he doodles. No way any of these are going on eBay, for sure!

Will post more pictures tomorrow… stay tuned *grin* And yes, I’m still pretty much floating on Cloud 9!

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “M is for Magic… N is for Neil & Ning!

  1. pam

    YOU ARE SUCH A FAN GIRL, BFF!!! *LOL* this puppy dog side of you is rather endearing. you should be glad you’re not a real dog or neil will see you wagging your tail furiously throughout the interview (not to mention salivating)! yah, it’s all rather surreal, isn’t it? looking back? glad you enjoyed the adventure! i did, too!!! *hug*

  2. nat

    Ning!
    Sounds like you had an awesome adventure! And lovely experiences too! Wheet, I’m so happy for you. My heart was just pounding as I read line after line about your lovely Sunday. :))

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