I remember when I first picked up a copy of Preludes & Nocturnes. It was given to me by one of my cooler lecturers who used to see me walking around with a whole lot of books and graphic novels. He said, you need to read this and entrusted me with all eleven of his Sandman books. I thought to myself, cool another thing to read and I turned the first page, of the first book, on a number 14 bus to get to Orchard Road. And there started my journey to reclaiming my own sanity and embarking on the long road to finding my way back to my own Dreaming.
Exactly a year later in 2005, I had read almost all of his books published to the date along with all the spin-offs. The green stuff was tight so I mostly relied on second-hand books or whatever I could find in the libraries. Luckily, I was able to go through the whole lot. The only book that eluded me was ‘Neverwhere’. Now I know it was for a reason, but that is another tale for another time, one that would take place in the heart of the London underground itself. But yes, strangely a year later I was on the same number 14 bus, with the same driver, and well I’m fairly sure it was the same bus as well. I was on my second attempt to get my book signed. The first, a signing at Kinokuniya, I missed by a mile. I had a feeling that it wasn’t going to be the day I’d get to meet the man in the flesh but I stood in the long winding line, that curled like a multi coloured snake down the stairways of the concrete tower, anyway. And alas, as expected, when I got to the same level, he was done. I however, did get a glimpse of the unmistakable mop of brown hair and presence of the creator of the worlds I had survived in for the last year. Perhaps slightly disappointed I headed on my long journey back to my flat. Today was a new day and today I was going to meet him. It was the last day of his signings and there was no choice but to meet him. So on the that number 14 bus I waited anxiously to get to the Borders at Orchard Road.
I got off the bus clutching on to my cheap, weathered copy of ‘Good Omens‘- I had no doubt that this was the one that was going to bear his signature and hurried off to the bookstore that held my last window of opportunity. The urgency was apparent when I realised I had finished off one of my term finals faster than the guy next to me could turn his first page over. I didn’t care, I just had to get there in time. And in time I did, in fact early but I was not early enough. I squeezed in literally at the tail end of the line before the security sealed off the section.
It took a five hour long wait before I could see Neil himself, just a few people to go and I thought to myself, my word this man is amazing; as he, without any signs of tiredness, enthusiastically drew ‘Morpheus’ on the back of a black sponge laptop cover, with a silver felt pen, that belonged to the girl in front of me, who had insisted that ‘The Wake’ was not cool and that Dream should not have been killed off. (I shall reserve my comments on her opinions.) But yes, all of that became insignificant when I handed him the paper with my name on it. I gave him my second name. The more complicated one. I’m not sure why I did that in all honesty, as there has been no one outside of my home group who have pronounced it the way it was meant to be. And yup… you guessed it, he pronounced it – spot on. He looked at the book and at me and shook his head then signed it. I grabbed a picture with him and exchanged a few words with him- a privilege I suppose for being the last in line. The pictures were all lost along with all my work and writings in the great Hard Drive crash of 2007. But the book remained, withstanding a flood, a fire and an apparently prophesied Mayan apocalypse which was bizarre in itself. It silently sits on my shelf waiting for Pratchett’s signature, if ever.
A Calendar Of Tales
I hadn’t logged into my deviantart account for a while, but something made me visit it on Wednesday the 27th. And immediately a little box popped up with the notice for ‘A Calendar Of Tales’ call for submissions. I clicked and read the stories three times over, and then I rung up one of my closest acquaintances, a Mini Mage (who made a few submissions of her own) and said “I wish you were here! We so need to do this!” She gave me her usual pep talk that actually annoyed me, as the lack of souls who I’d come across that wanted to create for the sake of creating were far and few.
Since my rather difficult move to Melbourne to perhaps create better pathways, I had signed up on Model Mayhem hopefully to find work. I took the chance and put out an unpaid casting call. And to my pleasant surprise I got quite a few responders. Once I went through the lot I noticed a couple of very vibrant souls and in fact a couple of Gaiman fans themselves. Thus started the journey to framing the tales in my own way. I initially thought I would only do one submission but the magic of the ‘Tales‘ and ‘The Dreaming‘ itself pulled me into attempting the mammoth task of doing all 12. By Saturday the 9th I had run into many obstacles, including the lack of people to finish up the remaining months, and I feared I’d make only six by submission end. But well, they say the Universe accords with those who dare chase their dreams and sure enough, come Monday, I had made all 12 before submissions before the deadline.
I suspect that the pictures reflect my own view and own stories. I hope to elaborate on the thoughts that formed in my head and how we went about putting each one of them down on film, eventually.
A Quick Thank You
I must thank Autumn Heart for being the first one to shout my way and say ‘LET’S DO THIS’. Unfortunately the Universe needed her more than I did and I had to tell her to focus on that for the first round. I did go down to the dumps more than once and my very own Light Bringer made sure I found the pathway right to the end of the tunnel. My cousin Vinod, who I now owe more favours than I can count, for driving me around because I refused to drive in the land of kangaroos.
To everyone else who collaborated and put up with my madness- initially Katherine Shawand KaciRay who happily drove us around looking for a set of cliffs that were nowhere close to where I thought it was.
Negin who ended up doing far more than she should have, including getting more excited than I was during submission. The Dutchess – Victoria Devondear, and the lovely Deanna Amatowho went looking for fishtails with me to make the crazy possible.
I turned my mother’s house upside down – her hall turned into a literal igloo of books. She put up with the ‘Hurricane that hit her humble abode’ much more pleasantly than I expected (yes she cannot stand any kind of mess). During the sleepless week she said the funniest line I had heard for a while :
“I don’t care what you do, but after this thing is over you will clean this up and my hall will not look like the inside of Neil Gaiman’s head any more.”
Well to mother I say it’s over and thank you for the patience and support as always. Your hall is now sparkling clean.
And I follow the cliché of leaving the best for the last. Nabeelah the youngest out of the lot. She alone fuelled my drive for the project and for that thank you.
While I did it from the bottom of my heart for the love of Gaiman’s work and I do not expect anything further than just having them up here, but there is a little corner of my heart that hopes that the man himself would see the work I’ve done and send me a word or two of his thoughts. His last few kept me alive and determined not to give up on my dreams. Could this be the Good Omen?
Hope a few souls will stumble on these and enjoy the pictures : http://on.fb.me/Y4stEo
Update 1 : Fell off my bed after checking my email. I guess little corners with enough hope make the stars shine. I received three emails today acknowledging that my images for May, June and November have been shortlisted.
Update 2 : Checked my emails and fell off my bed all over again. May and June were runners up and are on display at www.acalendaroftales.com