Arts & Culture News

What We Learned from Sci-Fi Author Neil Gaiman's Dallas Visit

Neil Gaiman and his familiar unruly locks were greeted with a standing ovation Monday night at the Majestic Theater, which he humbly waved off urging the audience to take their seats. "I love you," he said to his adoring audience.

The event was bittersweet for Gaiman's fans which span multiple genres: graphic novels, adult novels and novellas, children's books and of course, the most recent reboot of everyone's favorite Doctor. This book tour for his latest novel, Ocean at the End of the Lane, will be his last in the U.S., but this final stop in Dallas was special because, in a way, this is where it all began. Here's the highlights.

It Began in Dallas. Or Maybe It Ended Here. The first several pages of Ocean at the End of the Lane were written right here in Dallas last April at Bolsa Mercado where he drank a lot of tea. Tea, he emphasized, not coffee--c'mon guys, he's English. In reality, those first pages of the novel were the last pages he wrote for the book and then he went on to type the entire novel right here in Dallas while his wife and musician Amanda Palmer mixed her latest album at John Congleton's Elmwood Recording studio. "I bet I could get some free coffee from this, huh?" he realized. Probably, but we recommend offering up some of their best black tea.

We Can't Get Enough Doctor Who Of the questions submitted to Gaiman on index cards he took out at least half of them which all asked the same question: What is it like to work on Doctor Who? Don't worry, the contributing writer for the rebooted series left one in as a representative for all us Whovians out there in the crowd. "Are you going to clap every time I say Doctor Who?," Gaiman asked after yet another enthusiastic outburst from the crowd at the mention of the cult BBC show. The answer was a resounding 'yes.'He went on to praise all the cool Doctor Who t-shirts he's seen on this tour, despite his suspicions that they're not BBC licensed. (I have a feeling he'll keep our secret.)

The Majestic Theater is a Treasure and a Gift The Dallas crowd is the only stop on his tour that was graced with not one, but two special readings by Neil Gaiman. The author planned to only perform one reading from Ocean at the End of the Lane as he has done in all of his other tour spots. However, after experiencing the beauty and magnificence of Dallas' Majestic Theater, he knew he had to do something special. When else will I have a chance to read my work in a place like this? he asked. And with that and an oh-so-appropriate segue from 10-year-old audience member Emily, Gaiman read an excerpt from his yet-to-be released children's book titled, Fortunately, the Milk--a charming story about a father whose mission to retrieve milk for his children's breakfast but is interfered by the time-space continuum, pirates and more. It is due for release in September.

We Are Slaves To Our Cell Phones Have we become immune to those pre-movie public courtesy announcements asking us to turn off our cell phones? Apparently. Sure, Arts & Letters Live Program Manager Kate Hutton asked that we turn off all cell phones before the program began. And sure, a lot of people ignored her or simply turned them to silent or vibrate instead. But when Neil Gaiman pleadingly re-emphasized the point before his first reading, you'd think it would be a point well taken. Especially, when he pointed out that we're in Texas--so somebody might shoot you. Not so much. Not one but two cell phones could be heard during the author's reading of Ocean at the End of the Lane. Perhaps they were calling each other.

He Won't Be Trading His Signature Wardrobe For Doctor Who Shirts Anytime Soon Ahh, the Q&A portion of the night. The opportunity we all look forward to--where readers, fans and the like delve into the minds of our favorite literary idols. We can ask any question we want, write it on a card and hope and pray that ours gets chosen. Take for example the lucky fan who asked, "Why do you always wear so much black?" We all held our breath waiting for the answer to that burning question: "I have no ingenuity, and it goes with anything as long it's also black." Genius.

What Would He Offer in His Own Version of an Oprah Give-Away? Easy--Each and every one of us would get an Amber Pilot 832 fountain pen which he pulled out of his breast pocket to show us. He's used it to sign over 27,000 signatures in this book tour alone and it hasn't skipped once. "I am in love with this pen," Gaiman said. Oh, and he would also give us all his favorite ink to go along with it, called Black Swan & English Rose. "It's a stupid name," he said, "But it's great because it looks like dried blood."

The Reason This Is His Last U.S. Book Tour "Look at you," Gaiman exclaimed, "For God's sake, there are 1,500 of you, and there would be even more if we had the room. But there's only one author with one [signing] hand....It's always lovely, and I love meeting all the people. But at the end of the night, I look at my hand and just say, "Why?"

It's true. Gaiman gives each of his 1,500 fans a few personal moments: the last tweet from an excited fan launched at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning. He'd finally made it to the front of the line.