British fantasy writer Neil Gaiman thrilled hundreds of fans in Santa Rosa on Saturday evening with a reading from his new novel and a book signing at Santa Rosa High School.

The fans at the sold-out event, which was something of a coup for local bookseller Copperfield's Books, erupted in a standing ovation for the No. 1 New York Times best-selling author of graphic novels such as "The Sandman" and children's books like "The Graveyard Book."

Joanna Robinson, a bookseller at Copperfield's who introduced Gaiman, said she could tell from the diversity of the crowd that Gaiman "has this wide genre-busting appeal that we all really, really respond to."

"He has this amazing way of endowing everyday objects with a magical, almost ancient importance," Robinson said.

Christopher Reynaga, 39, of Moss Beach said that as a fiction writer himself, he finds Gaiman's work inspiring.

"His writing has a mystical quality to it that appeals to a lot of people," Reynaga said. "He writes everyman stories."

Before reading from his novel "The Ocean at the End of the Lane," Gaiman joked that 20 percent of the questions he received were not about his books but his work on "Doctor Who," the British science fiction TV series for which he has been a script-writer.

He also made reference to the tenacity of Copperfield's staff in convincing his publisher to include Santa Rosa as a stop on his book tour, rumored to be his last. and only includes other large cities.

Copperfield's staff went to New York and "cornered the people at HarperCollins, locked them in a room, and pretty much refused to leave until they agreed that they would be sending me here," Gaiman said.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or On Twitter @citybeater.