Once inside, I got a seat just off-center in the fourth row and had another hour to wait until Neil was on. Luckily I brought a book to pass the time (thanks, Connie Willis).
Then Neil came out (hooray!). I didn't get any good photos while he was on stage but I didn't try very hard either. Instead I sat back and listened while he read from The Ocean at the End of the Lane, answered a wide variety of audience questions and read once more from Fortunately, the Milk (an all-ages book out in September and really, truly hilarious). This part of the night flew by even though it lasted for about 90 minutes. He was funny and thoughtful and did his best to boost the confidence of the Canadian audience (that's a Canadian joke).
Then, the signing. Luckily, my wait was only about two hours long, as our row was called at about 9:55pm. (I say luckily because there was still easily half of the theatre that were still waiting patiently when I left.)
I was surprisingly not too nervous as my time came to get my books in front of Neil and there was a very kind volunteer there to take our phones and cameras so I got some fantastic photos of myself with himself.
At first I just stood there awkwardly while he signed my copy of Ocean (drawing a nice moon inside) and then I told him I came up from Seattle and he thanked me for doing so and I felt a bit calmer.
And then he got to the other book I brought for him to sign, Diana Wynne Jones' Reflections: On the Magic of Writing, which he wrote the foreword to and he just paused and sighed. Then he started telling me how he wished Diana had gotten the chance to read Ocean and that she probably would have loved it (I said I thought so too). I might also have mentioned #dwjmarch ...
We talked about missing her dreadfully and a bit about her new book (the one that her sister Ursula has written the ending to -- Neil was considered for the project but decided to say no to it) ...
And that was it ... time for one last smile and then he had to sign that book for the nice boy with the awesome hair that was behind me.
It was one of the most amazing nights of my life and it took me hours to fall asleep that night. I am so happy that the Vancouver Writers Fest was able to bring Neil to BC and that my kind husband and son drove with me all the way to another country "just" to see an author.
Still reliving a night to remember,