Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lauren Willig Book Talk and Signing

See, no one reminds me, I go into a land of Turkey coma and emerge a week later to finally tell the thrilling tale of Lauren and her signing in Chicago. Thrilling if you like parking spots right in front of libraries and men in knee breeches. It was a mild and windless day... ok, perhaps that's further back than you'd like. After a book buying frenzy at the Michigan Avenue Borders (20% store wide!) and slaking our thirst at Ghirardelli's, my friend and I meandered back towards the gorgeous edifice of the Newbury Library on the quaint Washington Square Park, the less famous of those similarly monikered. We entered the lovely lobby to discover similar Turnip enamoured bookworms, in fact so many Turnip lovers that we had to be moved into a bigger room! One my way towards the facilities I spotted Lauren waiting in line at the information desk and was greeted with a hug and got to act as her unofficial escort while discussing, what else, books, in particular what the longevity of steampunk might be. I reclaimed my seat in the front row and Lauren claimed her seat of honour, which would rarely be used as her years of debate had taught her to ramble around while rambling, though we weren't to worry if she looked like she was making a break for the door, she wasn't leaving. Lauren is a rare species of authors, one who is also a fabulous speaker. Most authors live in their little world of words and have a hard time talking in front of large groups of people. Lauren is the opposite of this. She's just as alive and bubbly as her books. There's an enthusiasm that is infectious about her and the world she has created. It's easy to see Lauren as the creator of such memorable characters as the Pink Carnation, the Purple Gentian and of course, Turnip Fitzhugh. You can almost picture Lauren in Regency garb in the background of the Tullieries watching as Miss Gwen takes on Bonaparte and laughing while swigging pink champagne.

Starting with a reading of the Austen apocrypha, The Mischief of the Mistletoe's lost introduction, Lauren went on to describe all the ways she tried to avoid having Jane Austen in her book. Austen's world is a polar opposite to the one Lauren has created. Austen absolutely did not have young ladies hiding under tables and spies sneaking in through sashed windows. Lauren wanted to stay away from Austen with a ten foot pole and all those who had such firm views on this icon of literature, Regency Mafia anyone? But Turnip, her Regency Bertie Wooster, his story had to be told in Bath, and it had to be 1803, and that just had to be a time when Austen was in Bath and suffering from her dry spell. It just seemed as if Austen was now everywhere, even a vampire if you look in the right places, so Austen would be a part of Turnip's story.

The questions and answers section of the talk then took off with me asking about something I know we're all interested in. Who does Jane Wooliston, not Austen, end up with? Lauren says she knows, but only if her cunning plans agree to stay on track, which they never seem to want to do. After the first question was asked, more started pouring in. She described her research method as a period of immersion where she doesn't take notes, so that when she sits to write the story the history and the plot mesh together and she does spot research to fill in those details she needs more information on. Pink IX is already finished and it has our first American Heroine... one who might have appeared briefly in The Orchid Affiar is my newest theory, as well as Augutus Wittelby and Miss Gwen as a pirate Queen with the sage advice to plunder before burning. As for The Orchid Affair, we have a French hero for once! And as for a certain parasol wielding matron, it looks like she will get her own book and despite the recent Pink Comic illustrations, she is younger that she was portrayed, so my casting might work better than I thought! The reason for no Colin and Eloise in the newest book was made clear as a concession to the publishers to have a smaller, more giftable book for the holidays where Lauren could do justice to her characters. Also Waterloo was brought up, and no, not the ABBA song. Lauren said at the rate she's going, having barely made it out of 1803, she might have to do a time jump eventually, because otherwise it would take 83 books to get there, not that I'd mind, though my bookshelf might. After all there are so many places to take these characters, Russia, South Africa, Egypt (which I'm keeping my fingers crossed for!) While us readers tend to have our favorite books, Lauren always thinks the newest, the unstarted phantom will be the best, and is the least favorite after she's written it. Though she still has a soft spot for Mary and Vaughn, her bitch prom queen and jaded rogue. Now she's a full time writer she's realized her pace is such that soon her publisher will be surround by Pink manuscripts of which they can quite conceivably make a fort and that she might want to tackle that mystery set at Yale or that 17th century epic one of these days. But she vows to stop writing the Pink books before she gets bored because you see in some of these series you can tell when the author has lost interest and then disappoints the fans. Finally she said that in practicality she didn't get her History degree because it's a bad sign when it's taken you 7 years to cover a timeline of 3. The we got another little reading of Turnip arriving with the Christmas hamper for his little sister.

The signing then commenced! I was ecstatic to get my copy of Mistletoe signed, as well as my ARC of The Orchid Affair and my Pink expurgated 1st, which I forgot to mention to Lauren. So Lauren, if you're reading this, that was my Pink with all the missing sexy sexy bits that someone artfully removed. But more importantly I was excited because I had brought a present for Lauren, seen above on the table surrounded by books, ie, it's rightful home. For awhile now I have done artwork based on the old drawings by the Brothers Brock in my grandmother's turn of the century editions of Jane Austen. My favorite was always the one I did from Mansfield Park entitled: "Not of Facts, Perhaps, But of Feelings." Ironically this was a piece that was very close to being trashed cause it was not cooperating with me. I am so glad I never did that, because I would have always regretted it. Anyway, last year, while sick and revelling in the restorative powers of The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, in the last chapter Lauren used that quote! I was so excited I knew that if I was to ever go to a Lauren signing I just had to give her a print of that piece. Because, let's face it, writers do so much for use. They fill our lives with stories and dreams and what do they get back? Yes, they get the good reviews and the fans, but they also get the bad reviews and the detractors. What physical, tactile proof do they get that they are appreciated? Plus, I love giving presents! See the Lauren themed Pretty in Pink Giveaway! Lauren has given me so much joy and entertainment over the years I felt I needed to thank her for everything. Plus, I got an even better gift in return, she hung my art above her desk, and that just gave me warm fuzzies.


Newer Post Older Post Home