Feb. 20th, 2017

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 On Wodin's Day evening, after a lovely meal with a good friend, we made our way to the auditorium for the evening with Neil Gaiman, speaking about his new book, Norse Mythologya retelling of some of the Norse Myths.


 

Just before going in we were lucky enough to bump into Chris Riddell, so I got to tell him how much I had enjoyed his event, and he also kindly signed my '100 hugs' book. (And he asked whether we'd seen the Terry Pratchett docu-drama 'Back in Black')

 

Neil's event started with him reading 'Freya's Wedding' from his new book; very funny.

 

Then he was interviewed, about the book and other matters. He explained that he first met the Norse Gods through the original Marvel Comics version of Thor, then read the Roger Lancelyn Green version of the Norse Myths, before reading Kevin Crossley-Holland's versions, and the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda as an adult, and he loves the human-ness of the Norse gods, and the fact that they have stories - they are dodgy gods, much more human than divine!


We then got to see a trailer for the American Gods TV series, and after that, a not-quite-final trailer for How to Talk to Girls at Parties both of which look very interesting (although I am still just a little doubtful about Ian McShane as Mr Wednesday; I find it hard to get past thinking of him as Lovejoy!


Neil spoke a little about the Good Omens TV series,which is about to start casting. He explained that he and Terry Pratchett had always agreed that they would do any sequel or adaptation together, but later Terry asked him, as a last request, to write the TV series, so he has. And that he spent time being angry with life, because he couldn't phone Terry and tell him when he wrote a really good bit, and angry at Terry because he wasn't there to call to ask him for ideas when he got to a tricky bit. 


He explained that the show is being made by the BBC with Amazon. The interviewer (whose name, unfortunately, I didn't make a note of) expressed reservations about Amazon' involvement, so Neil explained that the BBC are making the show and Amazon is simply providing wheelbarrows of money.


He also said that he thinks that it is the best thing he has ever written. Which when you think about it is pretty exciting!


We then moved on to the Q&A section of the evening.


He was asked about current works, and confirmed that he is writing a Neverwhere sequel, and that he feels that when he wrote Neverwhere, he had things to say about how society behaves towards the homeless, and that now, with his work with UNHCR, and seeing  attitudes towards refugees and the dispossessed, he feels he has things he is angry about, and cares about, and is writing Seven Sisters.


Another question was about whether he would write stories about the Norse goddesses, and he explained that it was harder, as while we know the names and attributes of some of the goddesses, no stories have survived. He also explained, which I didn't know, that the stories we do have were written down only after  Christianity took hold, and a large part of why they were written down was out of fear that 'kennings' (metaphors etc.) in the Icelandic sagas and poetry would no longer be understood, not out of a wish to preserve the tales and beliefs themselves. 


He was asked about his favourite lines, or the lines of which he is proudest, in his own work. He said it's not any of the things which get quoted a lot, (such as " you get what anyone gets, you get a lifetime"), it's a line from American Gods - "Chicago happened slowly, like a migraine"


And perhaps the most entertaining answer to a question was in relation to a question about what he reads to Ash. He told us that he reads the Chu books (because his publisher gave him copies!!) and that Ash enjoys the books also he has to read them over and over, and thinks it's a pity there are only 3, but that he has not, despite that, sat down to write any more! He also re-tells the story of the Three Little Pigs, because Ash enjoys the Big Bad Wolf, but he pus lots of variety in so *he* doesn't get bored (he mentioned, for instance, conversations between the Pig and the Hay salesman, extolling the virtues of hay as an ecologically sound building material) and that Ash puts up with it because he knows that the Big ad Wolf is coming. 


Which made me want to ask him to tell us the story of the 3 little pigs, to see what happens this time!


The tickets which we had included a signed copy of the book, so after the evening was over, I got to take the book away and am going to try to ration myself and make it last...



Finally, for anyone who missed it when it was published in the Guardian, or when Neil retweeted it, have  look at the wonderful Tom Gauld's cartoon about the tour.  


Tom Gauld's wonderful cartoon / tweet

(I didn't spot Odin in the Festival Hall, but I wouldn't like to say, with any confidence, that he was not there!)

 


Oh, and check out Chris Riddell's Tumblr. He was sitting a few rows behind us and drawing his way through Neil's event, and the pictures are wonderful!

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