Lauren WilligThis has been a banner month for me for book signings. In late October I attended a signing for a debut mystery author, Gary Corby, at my local mystery book store. He was charming, and ended up talking and answering our questions for almost 90 minutes. I walked away with his book – The Pericles Commission – as well as a handful of free bookmarks.

But as fun as that event was, the real literary highlight for me of the past month was attending a book signing by Lauren Willig, on tour for The Mischief of the Mistletoe (yes, Turnip’s story). I arrived at the event about 30 minutes early, and a lot of the chairs were already full. As I settled into my chair, more and more readers arrived, and the bookstore staff kept busy bringing out extra chairs.

Ms. Willig actually arrived a bit early, and chatted informally with the audience as people continued to arrive, assuring the bookstore owner that “start time is just a prompt.” While we waited , we were treated to a number of “embarrassing personal stories” including a tale from an early book tour that included changing hose in the backseat of a cab, while the cab driver carried on a conversation with her, as if nothing unusual was happening.

Once the event officially began, it was quickly apparent that Lauren Willig is just as entertaining in person as she is in print. She began by reading a hysterical passage about the fictional Dempsey Collection of letters between Jane Austen and Arabella Dempsey (the heroine of Mistletoe). This was originally intended as the introduction to Mistletoe, but was apparently cut over fears (not Ms. Willig’s) that some readers might believe it was true.  Ms. Willig also read a passage from Mistletoe to give us more of a feel for Turnip as hero.

In addition to the readings, and talking about her books, Ms. Willig took questions from the audience, until we literally ran out of questions. And during the official “signing” period, when we all lined up to have her autograph our books, Ms. Willig actually talked with each person, and had her photo taken with anyone who asked.

I tried to take lots of notes, and walked away with so many interesting tidbits, including the following:

  • Ms. Willig is an Elizabeth Peters fan! (the author of the Amelia Peabody mysteries).
  • The Pink Carnation books are set from 1803-1804 (pre-Regency). Until Mistletoe, Ms. Willig avoided Jane Austen’s world (or Austenland in the words of the author) completely; afraid that Austen fans might come after her. However, she wanted to set Turnip’s story in Bath, and discovered that Jane Austen was in Bath from 1803-1804.
  • Turnip is the anti-Mary. As unlikely a hero as Mary Alsworthy was a heroine (Mary Allsworthy is  the unlikely heroine of Seduction of the Crimson Rose).
  • She stole Turnip straight from P.G. Wodehouse. To quote Ms. Willig, Turnip, “is Bertie Wooster.”
  • Eloise (the heroine in the chick lit portion of previous books) was originally intended only as an introduction to the series. However, she loved writing about her so much, and having a voice for some of the absurdities that occur in academia, that she’s continued with Eloise and Collin’s story.
  • The original Pink Carnation was rejected when she entered it in an unpublished author’s contest.
  • She knows who Miss Gwen will end up with, and it may occur in Pink XI. In Ms. Willig’s view, Miss Gwen pretends to be older than she actually is. Ms. Willig thinks Miss Gwen is actually in her 40s.
  • Turnip’s sister and her friends from the women’s school will figure prominently in future books.

There was so much more. This truly was a wonderful event. If you ever get the chance to attend a book signing or reading by Lauren Willig, I’d highly recommend that you go. It’ll definitely be a fun evening, with a warm, engaging author.

How about you? Are any authors 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-December, please post them in the comments section. If you know of any events occurring after mid-December, please send them to us at aarbooksign  AT and we’ll add them to our mid-December post.

Slowly, but surely, I’m building a list of bookstores that seem to have book signings by romance authors. Each month, I check the “events” page at these bookstores to locate possibilities to include in this column. If you know of a bookstore that I seem to be missing, please let me know, and I’ll add it to my list.

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 book signing, 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 Book Signings through late January, 2011:

Tasha Alexander: November 17: Newberry Library, 5:00 p.m., 60 West Walton St., Chicago, IL.

Claudia Gray: November 18: Garden District Book Shop, 5:30 p.m., 2727 Prytania Street,  New Orleans, LA.

Kentucky Romance Writers including Anya Bast, Cat Shaffer, Crystal-Rain Love, Jan Scarbrough, Jules Bennett, Maddie James, Magdalena Scott, Renee Vincent, Shiloh Walker, Teresa Reasor, Toni Blake, Jennifer Johnson, and Terri Grimes: November 20, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 2:00 p.m., Lexington Green Mall, Lexington, KY

Linnea Sinclair: November 20, Costco, 12:00 p.m., 7171 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers , FL, (another signing later that day at a second Costco, and also one in Brandon , FL).

Beth Hoffman: November 20, Costco, 1:00 p.m., 2900 Cumberland Mall, S.E., Atlanta, GA.

Lydia Dare: November 20, Barnes and Noble, 2:00 p.m., Alamance Crossing Shopping Center, 3125 Waltham Blvd., Burlington, NC 27215

Tara Taylor Quinn: November 21, The Poisoned Pen Bookstore, 2:00 p.m., 4014 N Goldwater Blvd. Suite 101, Scottsdale, AZ.

Jilly Cooper at Hatchards Christmas Customer Evening, November 25, Hatchards,  6:30 p.m., 187 Piccadilly, London, England.

Karen White: November 30, Joseph Beth Booksellers, 7:00 p.m., 4345 Barclay Downs Drive, Charlotte, NC (other signings in North and South Carolina on the author’s Web site).

Kate Morton: December 3, Powell’s Books , 7:00 p.m., at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd, Beaverton, OR.

Romancing the Holidays Book Signing with multiple authors including Lori Foster, Jules Bennett, Cathy Liggett, Heather Webber, Janice Maynard, Jayne Rylon, Shiloh Walker, Dianne Castell, Shelley Shepard Gray and Toni Blake, December 4, Barnes & Noble, 1:00 p.m., The Streets of Westchester, 9455 Civic Centre Blvd , West Chester, OH.

Sheila Roberts: December 4, A Book For All Seasons, 1:00 p.m., 703 Hwy 2, Leavenworth, WA

Colleen Gleason: December 4, Barnes & Noble, 2:00 p.m., 3120 Fairlane Drive, Allen Park, MI.

Jane Porter: December 8, A Book For All Seasons, 7:00 p.m., 703 Hwy 2, Leavenworth, WA.

Tami Hoag: December 28, Barnes & Noble, 6:00 p.m., Apache Mall, 1201 12th Street SW Suite 425, Rochester, MN

Jayne Ann Krentz, December 28, Seattle Mystery Bookshop, 12:00 noon, 117 Cherry Street in Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA.

Lora Leigh, January 7, Borders, 7:00 p.m., 17636 Garland Groh Blvd., Hagerstown, MD. (another January signing in West Virginia on the author’s website).

Susan Elizabeth Phillips, January 18, St. Louis Library, 7:00 p.m., 1640 South Lindbergh Blvd
St. Louis MO (other January events on the author’s Web site including Tulsa, OK, Rancho Mirage and Mission Viejo, CA,  and Merritt Island, FL).

– LinnieGayl Kimmel

AAR Admin
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