Answer: a sold out Neil Gaiman event at the beautiful Rialto theatre in Montreal's Mile End!
Look at this line-up...it stretched around the block. almost reaching our shop a block & a half away! Rain clouds began to gather and were threatening to burst but the held until everyone was safely inside.
Here we have Librairie D&Q events coordinator, Aleshia (with her trusty clipboard), with D&Q creative director, Tom Devlin (without clipboard - he has a photographic memory), and FOS (friend of the store) Lisa Bee, marveling at the good-natured camraderie and excitement that Neil's fans in the line-up were exhibiting.
And here's an example! Seriously, people were so sweet!
Inside, as predicted, people hit the book tables en masse, keeping staffers Helen, Kira, Saelan, and Julie hard at work selling tons of Gaiman's newest best-seller The Ocean at the End of the Lane, as well a bunch of copies of his past masters like Coraline, Anansi Boys, American Gods, Stardust, and the Sandman series, to name only a few.
Ooh boy! Check out our brand new and super-cool banner, featuring a Tom Gauld illustration and unveiled that night for the very first time. Just as I thought: it looks great in photos!
Part of my job as Librairie D+Q's retail and events director is to welcome everyone and explain how everything's going to go down that evening, while the audience finds their seats/buys drinks and books. It's a little nerve-wracking but one of the pay-offs is an amazing photo like this one which I will blow up and place in the centre of my living room wall.
Next up was D+Q's associate publisher, the wonderful Peggy Burns. Peg's intro was perfect and detailed a little of her history with Neil (she worked with him at DC). She was my first choice for introduction duties and, as always, she pulled if off with considerable panache.
But look, both Peggy & I know you all weren't there for us (someday, Peg, someday) so we were more than happy to cede the stage to the evening's raison-d'etre...
NEIL GAIMAN! And, man, were people happy to see him. There was fierce applause, a standing ovation and then rapt silence punctuated by hearty laughs as the audience hung on his every word! Cue more applause when Neil announced that that he would be deviating slightly from the evening planned itinerary by reading from something brand new...
...it was a segment from an upcoming kids' book to be titled Fortunately, the Milk, and the story is of a good dad (he had just written about a bad one) which, we're told, will feature time travel, dinosaurs, a hot air balloon and pirates. What a treat to be given such an impromptu sneak-preview!
Then it was on to The Ocean at the End of the Lane, his newest best-seller, a supernatural adventure that began as a short story but blossomed to novel-length (he apologized to his editor who was expecting the former but was probably delighted at the development, dead-panning: "I've written a novel, I'm sorry").
Before the event's start-time, audience members wrote questions on cards provided upon entry. Neil selected a smattering of the most interesting, touching on such subjects as varied as his creative process to his hair (mentioning the time that Shirley MacLaine once grabbed ahold of his curly top thinking it was a wig!)
And then, after a short rest and arm-icing in the back, Neil sat down at the signing table and spent the next couple of hours signing and happily talking to all his fans...
...and did I mention: these were some of the sweetest and most friendly fans I've ever seen! Big thank you to the last people left in the venue, you were so patient and good-natured. 800 amazing people in one place...what a night!
So,-short recap of a long one -one of our best nights EVER. Thank you, one more time, dear Librairie D+Q customers. Your good taste and support is integral to our survival and we appreciate you dearly.
Thank you, Neil Gaiman, for making the trip to Montreal! I think it's safe to say you are welcome back anytime. We look forward to your next visit and your upcoming books!
Other important thank yous to Ezio, Karina (a Gaiman super-fan, btw!), Valerie, Garou and the rest of the staff at the Rialto for the beautiful venue and help making sure the evening ran smoothly.To Emma Ingram, Mike Mason, and Colleen Simpson at Harper Collins for their invaluable assistance in making the whole thing possible. To Neil's editor, Jennifer Brehl, who was beyond lovely to work with. To David Smith for the gorgeous photos you've just seen....and rest of my staff at the store and the D+Q office staff for working together so seamlessly on this hugely successful night! So proud of everybody... go team!!!