[DWJ] DWJ article

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sat Dec 22 13:30:17 EST 2007

I wrote:

>> If I hadn't met the mother, I might have >thought that DWJ's writings
>> of her were exaggerated, but having met her I strongly suspect that
>> DWJ didn't tell us the half of it because if she'd told the whole
>> truth nobody would have credited it.

and Kait wondered

>So how it is that you know DWJ personally? (Just curious.)

It's actually quite fun as a story, now I come to look at it!

I got to know Neil Gaiman when he started comics-writing, and we were both
going to a convention in Exeter called 'Microcon'.  I got there a while
before he did, and got talking with people in the bar whilst I waited for
everyone to arrive.

One of the people I was talking with was a lovely lady who knew all about
university life, and Oxford, and we were chatting away when Neil arrived.
Whereupon he said that he had been wanting to introduce us to each other,
and did, even though by then we were on first-name terms anyway...

Then it turned out she came from Bristol and so did I, so she invited me to
come round and see her and I did once I was sure that she meant it, and it
went on from there.  She sort-of adopted my two children a bit, and stood
godmother to the third when she arrived, and generally became
friends-of-the-family because her husband had nothing but sons and rather
enjoyed being a semi-uncle to small girls for a change -- still does,
though these days he plays piano duets with them rather than silly
board-games!  Mostly.  Silly board-games do still happen occasionally, and
so do deep philosophy discussions and Terrible Arguments on the same

To this day Neil will claim that he introduced us, but Diana and I both say
he didn't because he wasn't there when we met.

>I wrote fan letters to her in the late 80s, and she was kind enough to
>reply. That's when she told me that about her mother.

I take credit for one thing, some time around then.  DWJ was really worried
and even went to see a professional about the relationship with her mother,
and felt dreadful because, well, one ought to Love one's mother and she
really didn't.  After my son aged about nine had been Polite to the woman
one day, and I remarked ruefully that he obviously didn't like her much or
he wouldn't have been so formally well-mannered at her, this all came out,
and I spontaneously exclaimed 'Of course you don't love her!  I don't think
anyone could!  I mean, oh dear, that was very rude...' and DWJ was very
taken aback and then incredibly relieved, because apparently she really had
thought that it was All Her Fault and she was an Unnatural Child.  Absolute
rubbish, of course: her mother simply was horrid.  And after I put my foot
in it so very thoroughly, DWJ was more able to see that for herself.  Thank

(Authors are just people too.  People who happen to write wonderful books,
but people.  And they do like getting letters that tell them their books
are good, because they wonder about it sometimes -- unless they have
inflated egoes and think they can do no wrong, of course, but those ones
mostly don't write wonderful books.)


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