Monday, November 23, 2009

Exclusive with Neil Gaiman!

Neil Gaiman is the award-winning genius behind The Sandman series of graphic novels. He is also the author of numerous bestselling books including Coraline and Stardust which have been made into Hollywood movies.

Scoring an interview with Neil Gaiman felt like winning the lottery! Although I had put in a request months in advance (when I first heard he was coming for the Singapore Writers Festival), I didn't get a confirmation till about a week or so before he was scheduled to arrive.

Apparently, Neil has to give a personal go-ahead for all his interviews. And for some reason, he granted The Living Room an exclusive 30-minute, one-on-one interview with him after a closed-door press conference with journalists from the region. Whatever the reason, I have to say THANK YOU, Lin Kuek from Caelan & Sage!!!

I sat in for the closed-door press conference in the next room @ Arts House, waiting for my exclusive interview with Gaiman.

Finally, Neil breaks through the crowd and walks over to the Writers Room next door, where I was waiting for him. The room was cleared for us and we sat down for a cosy chat.

This is an onsite interview, which means it's just me & my trusty MD player. I was also on 2 weeks MC during this period and blind as a bat after my Epi-LASIK! *chuckle* It was then about 5-6 days after my operation so my vision was blurry, and I could barly read....

I had printed the cue sheet in font-size 18! But after reading the intro, I gave up reading the script. So for the next 28 minutes or so, I was speaking off the cuff. But it was a wonderful interview nonetheless because Mr Gaiman is such a charming, engaging, and interesting man!

In the first segment, we discussed his phenomenally-successful graphic novel The Sandman. When did the whole idea/concept of The Sandman first seep into his consciousness? And how much of the storyline did he see in his head before it was inked? Does he see The Sandman being made into a Hollywood movie in the near future?

Sitting in was Neil's girlfriend, singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer, formally from The Dresden Dolls. She's a doll!

In the 2nd segment, we got acquainted with Neil on a more personal level. How tough was it to cross over from hard-nosed journalism to creative fiction? Has he included any of his friends in his stories? What interesting hobbies does he have? After all that he's accomplished, does he have an unfulfilled dream? Tune in to find out the answers tonight at 10.10pm!

And how can we welcome a celebrated British writer to Singapore without offering him some local delights? And this journalist did just that, by buying Neil Gaiman nonya kueh-kueh from Bangawan Solo!

Neil tells me that since coming to Singapore, everyone's been trying to stuff him with food! He & Amanda have been eating non-stop. He then concocts this brilliant theory about Singaporeans preparing "Stuffed Author" ~ a ritual that's carried out every 100 years so that we "natives" can fatten him up and feast on him. This man is hilarious!

Well, with Neil held captive, I just had to bring along my books for him to autograph. I brought along M is for Magic (gift from my BFF, the magician!), The Graveyard Book (which recently won the Newbury Medal, the top prize for children's literature), and Coraline. I loved the animated movie!

Neil was really patient to sign all the books I brought, even sketching on them to personalise them. That's on top of the books my BFF, Ning, brought along ~ and we're talking about her whole Sandman Absolute collection!!!

I can't include all the autographed books here, suffice to say each one had my name printed on it and each one unique. He is a wonderful artist as well, and I wonder if he will come round to illustrating his own books one day? *grin*

Talking about my BFF, I have to say I am immensely grateful to Ning for coming along with me that Sunday morning, as I was half-blind and had to do the interview solo. She is also the one who took photos & videos throughout so that I could upload them on our Living Room blog. I don't know a more supportive person than her, and I just want to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU, Ning!!!

What a blast! I love this picture with Neil, Amanda & Ning.

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