Neil Gaiman (Photo: Beowulf Sheehan)

Last night, best-selling author Neil Gaiman spoke to a sold-out house at the Aronoff Center for the Arts downtown. Best known for his works Coraline, American Gods, and The Sandman comic book series, as well as countless other works in all facets of media, the two-hour event was presented by the Friends of the Cincinnati Library.

A self-described “feral child who was raised in libraries”, Gaiman opened the evening by reading his lecture to the Reading Agency from 2012. Titled Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading, and Daydreaming“, Gaiman’s gentle yet spellbinding voice rang throughout the Proctor & Gamble Hall as he stressed the importance of libraries not just for reading but as information centers, allowing those who don’t have access to a computer or the Internet the opportunities to search for jobs or apply for benefits. Regarding them as portals to information and imagination, he spoke of the importance of supporting libraries, calling it a responsibility not just to ourselves but the future.

Afterwards, he read several audience questions from note cards passed out before the event. He talked about meeting and becoming friends with Ray Bradbury and learning that, after Bradbury had passed away, how much the late author enjoyed his work. Moving on to Good Omens, the book he co-authored with the late Terry Pratchett and is currently in production as a six-part TV miniseries, he mentioned how they’d often joke that if they ever got Good Omens to the screen, they would write a scene in a sushi restaurant. “We would be there”, he said, “and our function would sitting just behind the characters, eating sushi.” Though the scene will appear the upcoming series, he admitted that he couldn’t go through with shooting it without Pratchett, adding that they both do have cameos elsewhere in the series.

The other questions ranged from what other profession he’d love to pursue (“There are no other professions; I have no other marketable skills”), Douglas Adams (“Douglas was someone who quite liked having written”), to what he was reading at the moment (“A small white card.”) He mentioned that he had written The Ocean At The End of the Lane for the musician Amanda Palmer, who also happens to be his wife and with whom he has a two-and-a-half year-old son.

He then segued into reading the October story from “A Calendar of Tales”, a writing project he did with the now defunct Blackberry company. Following more questions, he ended the evening with a reading from his most recent book, Norse Mythology. Titled “Freya’s Unusual Wedding”, it was his humorous interpretation of the theft of Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, and how he and Loki recovered it.

Ending with the words, “Let’s go home”, Gaiman thanked everyone for coming out despite the wintery weather. The audience responded in kind with a standing ovation.

Afterwards, in the main lobby, hundreds of people waited in line to purchase one of the 2,000 copies of Norse Mythology that Gaiman had autographed before the event. For a goodly price of $16, one got the book plus a bookmark as well as a sturdy print poster of Victor Ngai’s front cover artwork for the newly released paperback edition.

After that, it was time for sushi.