Archive for the ‘Araw Awards’ Category

Meeting Neil.

I think it is a good measure of the man that people who had never read his work lined up to hear him read, and speak. I heard from Donna (who was handling the event) that there were people who tried to queue at half past midnight. Not all of them were old fans. Many had been drawn to the Saturday event by Neil’s talk on Thursday, where he spoke of elephant chains, fish caught in shadows and why writers always become facetious when asked, “Where do you get your ideas?”

When I met him, he was having breakfast with his son. He signed two books for Lucien. I had brought a pen for him, a Waterman 5 red ripple with a pink (flexible) nib, and we had a brief, lovely conversation about fountain pens before heading to the waiting area beside the stage.

I allowed myself 15 seconds of fangirl squeal-and-jump before taking the podium to introduce Neil. I referred to his Thursday talk (which is a very creative-director-tying-everything-together thing to do), told the audience the general flow of the morning’s talk and signing, and managed to squeeze in why Lucien’s name is Lucien (a factoid that elicited awwws from the audience, much to my surprise).

Neil read the entire first chapter of what he entitled The Graveyard Book, in the spirit of The Jungle Book, because instead of a boy raised by jungle animals, we have a boy raised by ghosts. “It takes a graveyard to raise a child.” We met a toddler who had difficulty with stairs that go up but had no fear of stairs that go down; Jack, an assassin; and Mr. and Mrs. Owens, dead 300 years and still with a yen for childrearing.

There were many questions from the audience, ranging from the serious (on the heartbreak of feeling unoriginal) to the urgent (who does your hair?). I combined the similar ones and worked in follow-up questions. On the elements of various myths and folklore he included in the Sandman, he mentioned that it did feel like the Myth of the Month Club at some point – this after he spoke of cultural tourism, and manananggals. The Q&A took about 30 minutes.

When we got down from the stage, he hugged me and said, “Good job!”

It was better than winning an Araw.

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Neil Gaiman talks of myth, reads an excerpt from The Graveyard and signs one hundred books tomorrow at El Centro in Subic. Fully Booked’s stall has been besieged by new fans, and the salesclerks are harassed but cheerful.

I am introducing him, and moderating the discussion after his talk. The gods grant I do not melt into a simpering fool, or stumble in my wedges. His stories have been such a lodestone for me, all these years; the idea of meeting him in person seems way too unreal.

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I was quite happy when my question got an answer on stage. Neil said he thinks advertising is very useful when done well, and very irritatimg when not. He also compared American advertising to English, and did a hilarious ‘oh no, you have smelly feet!’ ad riff with a surprisingly passable middle American twang.

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Choices, choices.

Good location or wifi?
Comfortable bed or wifi?
Hot shower or wifi?
Minibar or wifi?
Tv or wifi?

Wifi, dammit. I am in a hotel with no wifi, broadband, not even a 2 baud modem.

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Everything is black. Except for a top and a pair of not-so-short shorts, which verge on khaki and are just as invisible as black if needed. I spent more time choosing which pens to bring than which clothes to pack; this is normal. I didn’t bring anything for Neil Gaiman to sign. I am still very happy with what he signed for Lucien the last time he came to visit.

I am moderating the Saturday morning session with Neil. I promise not to blather on about why my son’s name is Lucien Constantine. There will be many hangovers from the Friday night parties and that means pish-posh, moderation, we don’t need you at all. So I will be relaxed. (Inside I will be shrieking in pure fangirl form. But you don’t really need to see that, do you?)

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We listened to 350 entries in radio, and scrutinized over 50 entries in the multimedia category. We took breaks to clear our ears and nibble on art-directed pastries. In the end, we had several golds, and a best of medium.

The auditors wore identical black-rimmed glasses, a sight that creeped me out just a little bit. The members of the jury were all familiar faces, and it was a comfortable discussion, never heated or stressful. The only part that stretched the judges’ patience was judging multimedia entries with a medium or two missing – usually the interactive component. I do think they should make summary boards mandatory by the next Araw Awards. It would be helpful for the jury to be able to review the campaign at a glance.

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