"Gaiman was talking about how his book Coraline is read by children as an exciting adventure story whereas adults tend to read it more as a horror story. It was most amusing to hear the extremely well educated and well spoken rather elderly lady that A.S. Byatt is now tell Gaiman something along the lines of "It scared the hell out of me".
Which made me look at it, and go 'buhhhhhhhh'.
Because when I worked at Waterstone's in Canterbury, one of the many fun jobs I had was running events. Twice a week I'd take some minions,
It was a brilliant job, and because Canterbury's only an hour and a half or so from London, you could get some pretty big name authors (Bernard Cornwell, writer of the Sharpe books, is perhaps the nicest man in the world - Michael Dibdin , creator of the Aurelio Zen crime series, was quite possibly the grumpiest, although he's dead now, which just goes to show). Neil Gaiman was quite easy to convince to come to Canterbury, because his long-time collaborator Dave McKean lives just a few miles away, so I got to do two events with him: one for American Gods, and one for Coraline. I'm a gert big Gaiman fan, and I'm pleased to report he's absolutely lovely in person, and didn't mind me telling him that both books were really, really good, as though I was some lone voice of sanity at a point where all he had encountered up until that point in his career had been apathy and neglect, and that my encouragement persuaded him not to jack it all in.
AS Byatt also has Canterbury connections, as her editor Jenny Uglow also lives in Canterbury. AS Byatt, you may, or may not, be surprised to hear, is a huge Terry Pratchett fan, but had never read Neil Gaiman. And as we had had a lovely chat about kid's books before she did her talk, it frankly felt wrong to let her go without running downstairs, buying a copy of Coraline (on staff discount, I'm not insane) and pushing it into her hands. because I'd just read her astonishingly creepy Little Black Book Of Stories, and something told me it might be her cup of tea.
That was at least six years ago now, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit to wondering every now and then if she'd ever got round to reading it, or had even got it all the way home without leaving it in a taxi or something. And I now I know she did read it.
Of course, there's always a chance she did lose it, or read some other copy somewhere, but this is a nice story about books, so I think I'm allowed to just write myself a tiny tiny footnote in literary connections.
I also once, out of sheer desperation, asked Will Self if he was a fan of The Good Life. I don't think that one went anywhere.