Thinking outside the lines doesn't even begin to describe writer Neil Gaiman. He likes to scare the bejesus out of kids — and not with your typical Harry Potter-type namby-pamby fare. What if your mother were replaced by an ugly, glass-eyed demon? What if you were raised by a ghost? His ideas are seductive in ways that make you feel a bit naughty — and excited — to go where he's taking you. Then, like a fist, he rams the implications of what will happen to you through your esophagus down to your guts, where your stomach churns with delightfully roiling, ulcerative explosions. Tonight, probably clad in rock & roll black, Gaiman will be at the podium to tell his story about writing stories, such as Newbury Medal winner The Graveyard Book, Coraline, Odd and the Frost Giants, Wolves in the Walls, as well as Sandman, the first comic to earn a major literary award. Adults dig him, too, as a screenwriter (Beowulf, Coraline, Stardust), poet, journalist and lyricist. Perhaps fiancee Dresden Dolls' Amanda Palmer will be there to do a reprise of her recent Golden Globes stunt, where she feigned death on the red carpet wearing a see-through slip. One can only hope.

Thu., Feb. 4, 8 p.m., 2010

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