Earlier this month I attended a booksigning by one of my favorite historical mystery authors, Jacqueline Winspear, the author of the popular Maisie Dobbs series. If you haven’t heard about the series and like mysteries set in post-World War I England, you can check out Ellen’s DIK review of the first in the series here at AAR.

The booksigning was held at one of the larger independent bookstores in town. I arrived nearly 30 minutes early and planned to browse before the event. My plans changed when I discovered that nearly every seat in the place (over 100) was already filled with people. I quickly snagged a copy of her book and sat down. By the time Ms. Winspear arrived, people were sitting on the floor and standing wherever possible.

Although I’ve read the entire series, I really knew nothing about Ms. Winspear until this event. I was pleased when she announced that rather than doing a reading from the new book, she would tell us a little about how she came to write the series. Originally from England, Ms. Winspear’s grandfather was shell-shocked in World War I. Even as a little girl she was fascinated by English history from 1913-1950, and in particular, with the history of women during that period.

The idea for the series came to her in what she describes as a “moment of artistic grace.” Stuck in traffic in the pouring rain on her way to work, Maisie Dobbs appeared to her in full 1920s dress in what would eventually become the opening scene of the first book.

Ms. Winspear talked a lot about the lives of the women who were teenagers and young adults from 1914-1918. So many of their fiancés, husbands, and brothers were killed or seriously injured in the war that their prospects were never the same. Plans for marriage and children were forever ended for a large number of these women. Ms. Winspear said that she “wanted to do right by that generation of women.”

Ms. Winspear reads extensively about the time period, including both fiction and nonfiction. She obtained a syllabus from the college Maisie attended so that she could give her the right background. She told us about how women of all ages were used in the war effort and noted that the government found Girl Guides to be more reliable couriers than Boy Scouts, as the boys would get too distracted.  Ms. Winspear commented that reading fiction written during that time helps her “get the voice” for the period. However, she noted that she is a story writer first and foremost, and that the research must support the story but never overwhelm it.

Listening to Ms. Winspear talk sharpened my interest in the time period. I finished her latest Maisie Dobbs – A Lesson in Secrets – within days of attending the signing and am now searching for other post-World War I mysteries or romances. I go to a lot of booksignings, but this was truly one of the most memorable I’ve attended. And I hope that in the list below there’s a similar gem close by where one of you lives.

I’ve found a number of romance author booksignings in the coming months, but as always, I could use your help. Do you know of any authors who are coming to your home town? If so, please let us know about it. If you know of any events that we missed between now and mid-May, please post them in the comments section. If you know of any events occurring after mid-May, please send them to us at aarbooksign  AT gmail.com and we’ll add them to our mid-May post.

Disclaimer: I found these signings by extensive web searches of both author and bookseller Web sites. They all appear to be free, but please contact the bookstore before you attend an event for additional information. And please let us know if you do attend a booksigning, and how you liked it. A few of the authors on the list aren’t strictly romance authors, but have either been reviewed at AAR in the past, or have appeared in AAR forum discussions.

Upcoming Booksignings: April and beyond:

Kelly Armstrong, April 23, Coles, 1:30 p.m., Argyle Mall, London, ON (other events on the author’s Web site including Alpharetta, GA, and Toronto).

Meg Cabot, April 27, Barnes & Noble, 7:00 p.m., 1430 Plaza Place, Southlake, TX (other signing at the B&N site in Alpharetta, GA).

Molly Jong-Fast, April 27, Barnes & Noble, 7:00 p.m., 150 East 86th St., New York, NY.

Nora Roberts, Kristan Higgins, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Sophia Nash, and many more authors, April 29, Turn the Page Bookstore, 11:30 p.m.,  18 N. Main St., Boonsboro, MD.

Carola Dunn, April 30, Seattle Mystery Bookshop, 12:00 p.m., 117 Cherry St., Seattle, WA.

Debbie Macomber, May 2, Barnes & Noble, 7:00 p.m., 2900 Peachtree Rd., N.E., Atlanta, GA (other signing at the B&N site in The Villages, FL).

Sherrilyn Kenyon, May 3, Barnes & Noble, 7:00 p.m., 567 North Stephanie, Henderson, NV (other signings at the B&N site including Oakbrook, IL, Arlington, VA, and Glendale, CO).

Diane Chamberlain, May 3, Quail Ridge Books, 7:30 p.m., Raleigh, NC.  (other signings on the author’s Web site including Wilmington and Charlotte, NC).

Jen Lancaster, May 3, Barnes & Noble, 6:30 p.m., 555 12th St. NW, Washington, DC (other signings at the author’s Web site including Richmond, VA, Dallas, TX, and Philadelphia, PA).

Wendy Wax and Karen White, May 4, FoxTale Book Shop, 7:00 p.m., 105 East Main St., Woodstock, GA (other events on the author’s Web site including Marietta and Roswell, GA and St. Pete Beach, FL).

Kate Carlisle, Avery Aames, Jenn McKinlay, and Beth Kendrick, May 4, The Poisoned Pen, 7:00 p.m., 4014 N Goldwater Blvd. Suite 101, Scottsdale, AZ.

Jane Porter, May 5, Kenosha Public Library, TBA, 7979 38th Ave., Kenosha, WI.

Colleen Gleason, May 5, Barnes & Noble, 7:00 p.m., Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI (other events on the author’s Web site including New York and Grand Rapids, MI).

Leanna Renee Hieber, May 5, Barnes & Noble, 7:00 p.m., 9455 Civic Center Blvd, West Chester, OH.

Anne Easter Smith, May 6, Jabberwocky Bookshop, 7:00 p.m., 50 Water Street, Newburyport, MA (other events at the author’s Web site including Burlington and Ipswich, MA and Glen Falls, NY).

Therese Fowler, May 7, McIntyre’s Books, 2:00 p.m., Pittsboro, NC (other events on the author’s Web site including Denver, CO and Raleigh, NC).

Carolyn Hart, May 8, The Poisoned Pen, 1:00 p.m.,  4014 N Goldwater Blvd. Suite 101, Scottsdale, AZ

Jennifer Weiner, May 10, Barnes & Noble, 7:00 p.m., 301 Main St., Exton, PA.

Jennifer Haigh, May 13, Next Chapter Bookshop, 7:00 p.m., 10976 N. Port Washington Road, Mequon, WI (other events on the author’s Web site including Bethesda, MD, Naperville, IL, and Denver, CO).

Megan Kelly and Eileen Dryer, May 14, Rose’s Bookhouse, 12:00 p.m., 8935 Veteran’s Memorial Parkway, O’Fallon, MO.

Molly Harper, May 14, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 2:00 p.m., 161 Lexington Green Cir # B, Lexington, KY .

Barbara Ashford, May 14, Barnes & Noble, 2:00 p.m., Town Square Mall, 2443 Vestal Parkway, East Vestal, NY (other signings on the author’s Web site including Colonie and New Rochelle, NY).

Charlaine Harris, May 15, Barnes & Noble, 3:00 p.m., 14709 U.S. Highway 31, North Carmel, IN (other signing at the B&N site in New York, NY).

Sandra Dallas, May 17, Bookworm, 6:00 p.m., 8702 Pacific St., Omaha, NB (other signings at the author’s Web site including Denver and Fort Collins, CO and Oak Brook, IL).

Laura Dave and Emily Giffin, May 19, Barnes & Noble, 7:00 p.m., 2900 Peachtree Road, Atlanta, GA (other events on Laura Dave’s Web site including Greenwich, CT and New York, NY).

Lynn Sheene, May 22, May 22, Bookworks, 3:00 p.m., Albuquerque, NM (other signings on the author’s Web site including Pasadena and Santa Barbara, CA and Houston, TX).

Julia Quinn, Elizabeth Boyle, and Stefanie Sloane, May 31, Third Place Books, 7:00 p.m., 17171 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park, WA (other events on Julia Quinn’s Web site in Beaverton, OR and Silverdale, WA).

Mary Kay Andrews, June 7, Barnes & Noble, 7:00 p.m., 2900 Peachtree Road NE Suite 310, Atlanta, GA (other event in Mt. Pleasant, SC at the Barnes & Noble Web site).

Rachel Gibson and Julia Quinn, June 12, Borders, 3:00 p.m., 965 West Bethany Drive, Allen, TX.

Joshilyn Jackson, June 14, Bookmiser, 7:00 p.m., 3822 Roswell Rd., Marietta, Georgia.Nancy Thayer, June 23, Odyssey Bookshop, 7:00 p.m., South Hadley, MA.

– LinnieGayl AAR