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The National Book Festival and Neil Gaiman - Walking on the Edge
I don't really have a plan...
foresthouse
foresthouse
The National Book Festival and Neil Gaiman
OK, I realize I haven’t yet posted about either the Chopteeth concert at the Black Cat, or the Peter Yarrow concert at Lisner. But...I’m going out of order because I have the Book Festival account already written up.


The National Book Festival!

Saturday was the National Book Festival on the Mall (which I went to last year for the first time), featuring, among others, Neil Gaiman (a.k.a. Wonderful Neil), and Katherine Paterson (yay!). Dave and I went, with plans to meet up with virginia_belle (Amy) and rivian (Marshall). We got there around 10:45 and made our way over to the Teen & Children tent, where Neil would be speaking at 11:45, to meet up with Amy and Marshall. Joseph Bruchac was speaking when we got there, so we edged in, grabbed seats as they became available, and listened. He was very interesting, and also played some lovely Native American music on a native flute. After his talk, Neil appeared, with Michael Dirda introducing him.

Neil, appearing (he does that sometimes), with bonus appearance by Lovely LoC Employee Tim (to be introduced shortly):



Michael Dirda introducing Neil:



Neil talked a bit and then read a selection from The Graveyard Book, which sounds like it is awesome. He then did some Q&As, but honestly I can’t remember much about the questions now. *sigh* I can say that he was, as usual, lovely and charming, and it was very enjoyable.

Neil, talking and answering questions:





After Neil’s talk, Marshall had to go meet Meg for lunch. Amy and I stayed for the next group (a panel with Katharine Paterson and several others) and Dave (ever-patient and kind) went off to Neil’s signing line to save us spots. (YAY, Dave!) The panel talk was about a White House-related book for kids, and I’m glad we stayed for it, because not only was one of the guys particularly funny (John someone?), but also Linda Johnson Robb (Lyndon Johnson’s daughter) was a “surprise guest,” and read her piece from the book, about her bedroom at the White House. It was my favorite selection, although the funny poems were good, too.

The White House book panel, with Katherine Paterson at the podium, Linda Johnson Robb in blue, and the funny poem guy in yellow:



After that, Amy and I headed over to the looooong signing line for Neil. We located Dave, who, despite having left right after Neil’s talk, was in the fourth (I think) of the seven-ish signing lines. So that gives you an idea of how many books Neil was signing. And with a broken finger, too! That’s true dedication to fans, right there.

I wandered up to the front at that point, because I had promised Neil’s Web Goblin, Dan, an origami black orchid to wear, as per his comment on Neil’s journal about how people should wear black orchids to the festival, and I figured he might be up near the front. A lovely Library of Congress employee said he had been there but had wandered away, so I figured I’d try again later and took some pictures of Neil signing instead, and also of Salman Rushdie.

Neil signing; photoshoot #1 (yes, I took many photos. Hey, I had nothing better to do.):







(Not sure what's going on here, but my guess is Neil was lamenting the fact that he had to sign a frillion books with A BROKEN FINGER. Poor guy.)







Fortunately, Neil looked like he was having some fun even with the broken finger:



Look! It's Salman Rushdie:



Then I went back and hung out in line some more.

Me and Dave, in line. Note my black orchid:



A nice photo of the Capitol. I liked the umbrella:



After more time in line, I went up again to see if I could spot Dan, and this time, Lovely LoC Employee (Tim) actually offered to go through the crowd with me to find Dan. So there I was, being escorted through the lines with an LoC guy in a bright turquoise Book Festival shirt. Hee. But I had no idea how else I’d find Dan, so I went with it, and Tim actually did manage to spot Dan in the crowd, for which I thanked him profusely. So then I gave Dan an orchid, and he gave me a Never Wear sticker and some little promotional cards, and we chatted about the Secret Plan to present the Robo-Panda, and other things. And the line, meanwhile, slooooowly crept along. During the time in line, I was pleased to have at least 10 people come up and ask me about my Discworld Con shirt, and happily promoted the hell out of our Discworld Con to anyone who was interested.

HOURS later, we finally got within shouting distance of the front of the line, so I left Dave and Amy as planned to go up and get some pictures of the Robo Panda presentation. SADLY, it had just started to rain about the same time as we could actually sort of see Neil, and continued all the rest of the time we were there, but I did manage to juggle my umbrella and camera and get some pics. When the panda was presented to Neil, he seriously stared at it with an expression of, “What...?” for a second, before proclaiming it “possibly one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen.” Which, you know, it kind of is disturbing, at that. But he smiled and laughed at it, and the little stuffed panda that came with it as well.

The Ingenious Wrapping of the Robo-Panda, which caused Dan to worry about whether the security folks might think he was Up To Something. Something other than giving Neil a panda, that is:



The Robo-Panda unveiled (with bonus bit of Dan's arm as he switched it on):



Neil examines Stuffed Panda:



The Robo-Panda in all its slightly creepy glory:



Soon after that it was our turn, so Amy handed over Coraline and I handed over my Terry-signed Good Omens. I could tell Neil was really trying to go quickly because so many fans were stuck standing out in the POURING RAIN, so I juggled the umbrella and my bag and somehow managed to quickly extract the little gifts I’d brought along from the plastic bag (well, ok, I dropped one of them on the table. Oops. At least I didn’t accidentally hit him in the nose with it or something). Neil asked which of us was Amy because he had her book but I was standing more in front, so I waited until he’d signed her book and then presented the gifts - a blank journal with the North American Discworld Convention seal on it (part of the CafePress order from before the UK Discworld Convention Trip last month), and a watercolor-painted origami black orchid. He remembered the first time we’d met (during which apparently he gave me a cookie) which was in 2005, soon after I’d met Terry and started brainstorming with Anna for the then-nascent Discworld Convention, and recalled that I had told him I was planning the convention then, to which I happily replied, “And now it’s a reality!” He seemed pleased with the journal, (I mean, hey, what writer doesn’t need a blank journal, right?). He didn’t open the orchid because of the line, but hopefully he will enjoy that as well when he gets to it. :) And then he signed my copy of Good Omens, and I told him it was nice to see him again, and then Dave and Amy and I scooted along, doing our level best not to get completely drenched.

Neil signing Good Omens:



Origami orchid (a little crushed after its festival adventures):



And that? Was the Book Festival. What fun! (We would have stayed longer, but...THE RAIN.)


P.S. Dave is now interested in reading Coraline, after hearing more about it.

P.P.S. Apropos of nothing, Rogue is carrying one of her chew toys around like a St. Bernard again. I love my chinchilla.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Trixie feels: exhausted exhausted
playing in the clubhouse: Matthew Good Band - She's Got a New Disguise

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Comments
arhyalon From: arhyalon Date: September 30th, 2008 12:59 pm (UTC) (current file)
Nice write up! I love your pictures!

Here's a link to a picture of the rainbow on the Neverwear Blog site:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_-zowOMElfyo/SN-dWjmOpyI/AAAAAAAAAN0/xTNg1qVSudI/s1600-h/rainbow.jpg

Jagi
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: October 1st, 2008 02:42 pm (UTC) (current file)
Oh, lovely! I like rainbows.
virginia_belle From: virginia_belle Date: September 30th, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC) (current file)
Oooh! Awesome pictures. I still need to download mine, but it was such a fun day!

And yes, a big yay for Dave for saving spots for us in line. I don't even want to think about where we would have been in that mob scene otherwise.

B.
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: October 1st, 2008 02:43 pm (UTC) (current file)
I know, right? At the end of the line, is my guess!!

It'll be fun to see your pics, too. I have a good pic of you but I didn't put it up b/c I didn't know when I posted this if you'd want me to or not. It came out nicely - I can send it to you. :)
From: virginia_belle Date: October 1st, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC) (current file)
Oh yes, please do!

B.
darksong From: darksong Date: September 30th, 2008 09:48 pm (UTC) (current file)
Nice photos & nice write up. I liked your flowers too.

Everyone's already seen my photos, it seems.
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: October 1st, 2008 02:44 pm (UTC) (current file)
Thanks!

Did you post yours in the community? I saw one set from there...
gestalt1 From: gestalt1 Date: September 30th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC) (current file)
Sounds totally awesome! :D :D
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: October 1st, 2008 02:44 pm (UTC) (current file)
IT WAS. :)
theniwokesoftly From: theniwokesoftly Date: October 1st, 2008 12:25 am (UTC) (current file)
Very cool! My group had black silk flowers that were not actually orchids, but we tried! And he smiled when we showed him that we had them :D
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: October 1st, 2008 02:45 pm (UTC) (current file)
Well, it's probably rather hard to find real live black orchids on short notice. :)

I think he saw the one I was wearing, though everything happened fairly quickly so I'm not really sure. :)
addygryff From: addygryff Date: October 1st, 2008 12:26 am (UTC) (current file)
Y' know, when I looked at robo!panda at first I was all like 'Wait, this isn't creepy at all! It's adorable!' ...but even as I thought this, I realised that he's looking like he's gonna zombie-walk right out of the scrren and EAT MY SOUL. D;
..I still think it's cute, though, despite the creepiness.

Ohh, Neil! ♥
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: October 1st, 2008 02:47 pm (UTC) (current file)
HEE. It's the reaching arms that do it. It's like those images that are a young woman and an old lady at the same time - from one angle, it could be, "Aw, Robo-Panda wants to hug me!" and from another, it's "AIEEEE, EATER OF SOULS IS APPROACHING!!!"

Hee.
innoittaa From: innoittaa Date: October 1st, 2008 02:39 am (UTC) (current file)
Kind of random, but I remember seeing you there! I was gone by the time the Robo-panda made its debut.
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: October 1st, 2008 02:47 pm (UTC) (current file)
Oh, cool!

You must have been ahead in line, then. :)
innoittaa From: innoittaa Date: October 1st, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC) (current file)
Yea, I was in line 2, and when it wasn't moving I was right beside the robo-panda. :) I still can't (well, part of me can) believe he had seven!
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: October 1st, 2008 08:06 pm (UTC) (current file)
I know, right? Neil fans are crazy (includes self in this).
innoittaa From: innoittaa Date: October 2nd, 2008 03:03 am (UTC) (current file)
Did you see the man signing in the tent beside his? There were ten people at most when I looked at the moving up to get their books signed...
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: October 2nd, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC) (current file)
Aw. I did notice that, actually. Poor guy, it can't be easy having to sign next to NEIL GAIMAN. Heh.

Well, you know, last year I got a book signed by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and he's on CNN and all and only had a handful (when I was there - he may have had more earlier).
chrryblssmninja From: chrryblssmninja Date: October 2nd, 2008 02:39 am (UTC) (current file)
Neil! black orchid on your cool shirt! robo-pandas! crazy chinchillas! yay
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: October 2nd, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC) (current file)
YAY! :)
immer_am_lesen From: immer_am_lesen Date: October 23rd, 2008 10:35 am (UTC) (current file)
Ooh, thanks for posting the story and manymany pictures...I can imagine nicely what it was like to be there! :-)
Being in Oz, we don't get to see him anywhere near enough...although I hear he did get a few hundred people turn up to his gig at the State Library here in Melbourne a few months ago (still kicking myself I didn't just play hookey from work and spend the day queueing, argh...next time...)
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: October 26th, 2008 12:12 am (UTC) (current file)
No problem, glad you enjoyed it. :)

I've only gotten to his events twice - both times were fun.
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