The Guildhall has a handy, and surprisingly affordable 'VIP' option which lets you sit inside eating cheese and biscuits and drinking wine, rather than queueing outside, which made for a relaxed start to the evening, with my new friend Kelly. (I do like meeting new people, especially at Neil's events when all the people are so interesting!).
Once inside the auditorium, however, the relaxed atmosphere was slightly marred by an unexpected extra guest on stage...
Neil was interviewed by Dom Kippin, and talked a little about his roots in Portsmouth, and about the road naming, Doctor Who and Dalek mythology as the earliest mythology he learned about, and about the the books (Make Good Art, Chu's Day) which have come out this year. He told us that Chu's Day was written out of a determination to get a picture book published in China, after being told his previous picture books were not acceptable as they showed children knowing better than their elders, being disrespectful, and at times being naughty but not being punished. He also mentioned that there is a sequel!
Neil also answered questions from the audience, giving his recommendations for reading aloud to children (Diana Wynne Jones, The Mary Poppins books, Narnia, but not E.Nesbit because of the long, Edwardian sentences..), talked about his appearances in Arthur and The Simpsons and of course about The Ocean at the End of the Lane and how although the family is not his family, and the events not true events, the viewpoint of the protagonist is very much the viewpoint of 7-year-old-Neil.
Neil finished by reading part of Fortunately, The Milk which sounds as though it will be lots of fun, and then we were all threatened with the Wrath of the Dalek if we didn't queue properly for the signing...
I was lucky enough to be seated in one of the first 2 rows to be called forward, which meant I was able to get Vol. 1 of my Absolute Sandman signed (given the 2 hour drive home, I had already decided I wouldn't be able to stay and queue for very long) and to hand over a small box of flapjacks and muffins, as the ones I made last time seemed to be appreciated (and although didn't know it when baking the ones i took to Bath, flapjacks made from porridge oats and blackberries are particularly appropriate for The Ocean at the End of The Lane)
I got home just after midnight, which so far as I could tell when I checked twitter this morning, was probably about an hour before Neil finished signing..