So I met Neil Gaiman earlier this week. He stopped by Dallas, Texas on his book tour for The Ocean at the End of the Lane. There was a reading, a massive stack of questions, some answers, another reading, and then the part where he signs books until his hand falls off and the rest of us wait patiently for the chance to make eye contact. I got to do that and share a few words with him, so that was pretty fantastic.
I haven’t had the time to read Ocean yet, so don’t expect a review of that at the moment. No, what I’m here to talk about is The Majestic, the theatre in which all of us spent most of Monday night. This beautiful building inspired Mr. Gaiman to give us a surprise reading of a book which hasn’t even been published yet. He just couldn’t resist, and I don’t blame him one bit…especially considering that The Majestic is a partial model for The Masque–the dreaded theatre in The Company of Souls.
Accidental inspiration is something that seems to happen to authors an awful lot. I once wrote a scene (for a different book) that had a house with chandeliers made of antlers, only to find those exact fixtures in the Oklahoma information center on one of our many trips to visit relatives. Whoops. Likewise, my high school theatre seems to have stuck in my brain during the construction of TCOS. Its trapdoors and passages tend to turn up when I least expect them. It has somehow melded with the dark, ornate atmosphere of The Majestic to create dreams and impossibilities and morph into something entirely new. If you wander through either place, you can see what I have stolen.
We’re rather vulnerable that way. When we write, our minds are so open that things fall in. Which is better than falling out, I suppose. While we go about living, we’re drinking up images from corners of memory and experience. We let things move us, but we’re also a little dangerous. You never know what we’ll do with what we’re given. I accidentally turned two wonderful theatres into something grim, Neil Gaiman gave us spoilers, and someone ended up impaled on that chandelier from Oklahoma.
(photo found here: http://www.sheratondallashotel.com/things-to-do-in-dallas)
(more information about The Majestic: http://www.dallasculture.org/majestictheater/ )