I recently attended a wonderful talk – and signing – featuring Louise Penny, the author of the Chief Inspector Gamache mysteries set both in Montreal and the fictional small town of Three Pines just outside of Montreal. The event was part of the Kerrytown Book Fest in Ann Arbor, and Ms. Penny was interviewed by Robin Agnew, the owner of the local mystery bookstore Aunt Agatha’s.

This was the largest book event I’ve attended. Every seat in the open-air tent was filled, and many people (including myself) had to stand just outside the tent. While the crowd was enormous, everyone was quiet, completely enthralled by the conversation between Ms. Penny and Ms. Agnew.

As I recently wrote a post here about romance in mysteries, I’ll have to state right from the first that there’s technically no romance in the series. Chief Inspector Gamache has been married for years to his beloved Reine Marie. Several of the people in Three Pines are part of an existing couple, but I’ve seen no new romances develop, nor do I expect to.

Despite the lack of romance, the series has held my attention starting with Still Life through the next five books, and I expect to begin the latest, A Trick of the Light, soon. I think I enjoy them because the series focuses on emotions and people, rather than on the details of murders. While there isn’t romance, the relationships between friends and colleagues are an integral part of the books.

Ms. Penny commented that as the series has progressed, the murders have become less complex. She said that she wants to focus on “the why,” not on “the how.” She also noted that her books feature only one murder each time, rather than on serial killers. She quoted Mary Stewart as saying that “it’s the emotional truth” that matters.

Ms. Penny went on to say that her books, “aren’t about murder, they’re about life.” The murder that occurs is merely the catalyst for what happens.

I found her writing process to be interesting. When she first starts a book, she’ll set the bar low for herself, requiring only about 200 words a day. She gradually increases the amount until she gets to 1,000 words a day, and then never allows herself to write less than that until the first draft is done.

Poetry (and sometimes horrible poetry) appears throughout her books. She commented that she writes surrounded by poetry books and cookbooks. She said that she’s not a great cook  but loves to eat and tries to give a sensuous feel to her books by engaging all of the senses.

So how about you? Have you attended any booksignings recently? Are you looking forward to any? I’ve found a number of romance author booksignings in the coming months. 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-October, please post them in the comments section. If you know of any events occurring after mid-October, please send them to us at aarbooksign  AT gmail.com and we’ll add them to our mid-October post.

Disclaimer: I found these signings by extensive 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: September and Beyond

Maryland Romance Writers, September 23-25, Baltimore Book Festival, East Park, Baltimore, MD. (There are panels and events all day for each of the three days).

Sherrilyn Kenyon, September 27, Barnes & Noble, 7:00 p.m., 8625 Northwest Prairie View Rd, Kansas City, MO (other events at B&N Web site including Chandler, AZ, and Houston, TX).

Lauren Kate, September 27, WHSmith, 4:00 p.m., 56 High Street, Guildford, UK.

Wendy Staub, September 30, The Book Nook, TBA, Dunkirk-Fredonia Plaza, Dunkirk, NY.

Kady Cross, October 1, Barnes and Noble, 2:00 p.m., Ulster Plaza, 1177 Ulster Avenue, Kingston, NY.

Shelley Shepard Gray, October 2, Westlake Porter Library, 2:00 p.m., 27333 Center Ridge Road, Westlake, OH.

Rhys Bowen and Penny Warner, October 5, Bay Books, 7:00 p.m.,    2415 San Ramon Valley Blvd,  Ste. 3, San Ramon, CA.

Sara Humphreys, October 6, Barnes & Noble, 6:00 p.m., Post Plaza Shopping Center, 1076 Post Road East, Westport, CT.

Shayla Black, October 8, Barnes & Noble, 2:00 p.m., 2325 Stemmons, Lewisville, TX.

Sylvia Day and Meljean Brook, October 14, Mysterious Galaxy, 7:00 p.m., 7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. Suite #302, San Diego, CA.

Janet Mullany, Carrie Bebris, and Laurel Ann Nattress, October 14, Barnes & Noble, 6:30 p.m., Sundance Square, 401 Commerce Street, Fort Worth, TX.

Sharon Kay Penman, October 15, Barnes & Noble, 3:00 p.m., Princeton Marketfair, 3535 US Route 1,Princeton, NJ.

Linda Poitevin, October 15,  7:00 p.m., Collected Works Bookstore, 1242 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario

Rachael Herron, October 20, BookShop West Portal, 7:00 p.m., 80 West Portal Avenue , San Francisco, CA.

Deeanne Gist, October 22, Humble LifeWay Christian Store, 11:00 a.m., 20426 US Highway 59 North, Humble, TX.

Toni Blake, October 25, Katy Budget Books, 7:00 p.m., 2450 Fry Road, Houston, TX (other events at the author’s Web site including Parma, OH and Lansing, MI).

Gwyn Cready, October 25, Eljay’s Books, 5:30 p.m., 3233 West Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA.

Toni Blake, Beverly Jenkins, Kerrelyn Sparks, October 27, Barnes & Noble, 7:00 p.m., The Streets of Westchester, 9455 Civic Centre Blvd., West Chester, OH.

Emerald City Writers’ Conference Book Fair, (features a large number of romance authors), October, 29, Westin Hotel, 4:30 p.m., 600 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, WA.

Lauren Willig, Tasha Alexander, and Deanna Raybourn, November 1, Mysterious Bookshop, 6:30 p.m., 58 Warren St., New York, NY.

Dianna Gabaldon, November 29, The Poisoned Pen, 7:00 p.m., 4014 N Goldwater Blvd # 101, Scottsdale, AZ.

– LinnieGayl AAR