NEIL GAIMAN. Yes, the Neil Gaiman, came to the University of Liverpool to open the new Centre for International Writing. And he was fantastic.
He read a short story from his book, Trigger Warning (signed copies of which were available for sale, of course I got one, and also a signed copy of The Sleeper and the Spindle), he answered questions, including a rather good one (I didn't submit it) about the proposed novel "668, Neighbour of the Beast" which may not ever be written.
On the grounds that he told 1,000 people in a lecture theatre, I don't feel bad blogging about his answer. Now, this is not a direct quote, I don't remember the precise words used, but I got the gist. Obviously, Professor Gaiman explained it better than I possibly could, but I'll give it a whirl.
The concept is based around the second coming of Christ, who comes to Earth on board a silver jet plane, surrounded by secret service Angels in white suits with white ear pieces, and then Christ, goes AWOL... Obviously, this leads to shenanigans involving Aziraphale and Crowley.
I sat, I listened and I thought, I really, really, want to read that book!
He also talked about Writers Block, which is a clever fallacy writers made up rather than saying they are 'stuck'... I couldn't possibly do his explanation justice, but it was brilliant!
Finally, he read us another short story. This one was from A Calendar of Tales which he wrote after asking questions on Twitter, based on the prompts he was provided with. It was about a genie and it was both heartwarming and stunningly beautiful in it's simplicity and theme. A Calendar of Tales was, at one time in about 2013, available free of charge as a pdf download through Blackberry, but I couldn't find it online when I looked, although I found the audio versions on SoundCloud if you would like to listen to them. He read the tale from October at the event if that makes a difference to the order in which you listen to them.
Following the event, there was a visit to the pub for food and drink, before the last train home, and in case you thought this week would be photo-free, here's a snapshot of the friends that I attended the lecture with!