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Neil Gaiman shares impactful Cleveland story ahead of Playhouse Square reading

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Bestselling author Neil Gaiman has hit the road for a storytelling tour, set to reach Playhouse Square’s Keybank State Theater on Tuesday, May 17.

Tickets, ranging from $25 to $85, are available at the reading on Playhouse Square’s website.

Expect to hear a range of his stories, essays, poetry and more at the show, all read by Gaiman. Audience members will have the opportunity to write questions on cards, which Gaiman will pull out to answer throughout the event, he said.

“The most important thing, really, is reading to people, most of whom haven’t been read to since they were in school. They haven’t had a live human read them a story,” Gaiman said in a phone interview. “There’s normally a few moments of awkwardness and then you watch people start to relax. They’re enjoying it. That, I think for me, is the best of all – watching a room full of people get comfortable and give themselves up to the stories.”

Gaiman’s no stranger to Cleveland stages. He’s read at the Cleveland Public Library, Playhouse Square, and The Plain Dealer’s past Book & Author series.

But it’s been a while since he’s hit the stage, due to the coronavirus pandemic. For the past few years, Gaiman has largely stayed away from speaking engagements.

Of course, Gaiman has stayed busy during that time. His book by him “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” was adapted into an award-winning stage production. Filming recently wrapped on the second season of the TV adaptation of his and Terry Pratchett’s book “Good Omens,” and filming has recently kicked off on a TV adaptation of his book “Anansi Boys.”

“’Anansi Boys’ is huge. It’s this enormous project, kind of like a six-hour movie,” Gaiman said. “I know it will finish one day, but in the meantime, we’re in the biggest film studio in the UK We’ve been shooting in Florida, Brixton and South London. We’re shooting in the Caribbean, we’ve shot in mythical Africa. It’s all kind of amazing.”

Gaiman, the author of “American Gods,” “Coraline,” “Stardust,” and dozens of other books, children’s books, comic books, essays, poetry and more, is one of the most prolific and well-known fiction authors in the world. He’s racked up plenty of honors, including Hugos, Nebulas, a British National Book Award, a Newbery and Carnegie medal and more.

Before many of those awards rolled in, and before any of his books became New York Times bestsellers, Gaiman remembers his status as a “cult author.” Specifically, I have recounted a memory that stuck out to him, during a 1999 Plain Dealer Book & Author dinner event, in a phone interview with

“The Cleveland Plain Dealer hosted an event in 1999. There were three authors, one of whom was me. I was not a New York Times bestselling author at that time, and two of them were New York Times bestselling authors. We had an incredibly enjoyable thing where everybody got up and gave a little speech, and once the little speeches had been given, there were signing lines.

“Suddenly things got very weird because although I wasn’t a New York Times bestselling author, I was at that point a cult author, and my lines were a lot longer than the other authors. There was a completely different audience for mine, in that in mine, there were the goths, there were the weirdos, there were the people who looked like they didn’t normally turn up to Cleveland Plain Dealer literary lunches. And there were also very nice ladies in pearls and things, waiting in line for the other gentlemen.

“It’s a moment I remember because I learned so much about audiences and about readers and about an author’s responsibility, and about not caring about sales. The seriously top best-selling author next to me had a lady in his line with one of his books by Ella that she had bought from a library sale. It was an ex-library copy. The author loudly refused to sign it, because he said that she hadn’t bought it new, he wasn’t getting a royalty from it, he wasn’t going to sign it. But he did this really loud, like a piece of performance.

“I watched this reader who, undoubtedly, if she could have afforded his book, knew she would have bought it new and after he’d signed her book, I was convinced of only one thing, which is that she would have stuck around. She would have really saved up to buy his books de ella new de ella. Instead, you watched her being humiliated and going, ‘I am never going to buy one of your books from her again, even at gunpoint.’ Then something very odd happened, which was some of the other ladies, further back in his line, left his line very ostentatiously, and walked over to the bookselling table and bought copies of ‘Stardust’ and got into my line.

“I thought, I think I’ve just learned something enormously enormous about people. I think what I’ve learned most of all is that an individual sale never matters to an author, but treating your readers with respect and treating them with kindness and love, that is something that is always going to be important.”

Find more information about Gaiman’s upcoming Cleveland event at

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