Wednesday, August 12, 2015

They Meet

In the fall of 2008 I was in the midst of my worst semester ever at school. I was overextended, overstressed, and hadn't really slept in a long long time. Forget about having time to actually read a book, despite trying to carve out time to read the ARC of The Temptation of the Night Jasmine. But there was one thing I wasn't going to miss, and that was the chance to meet Lauren Willig! Since 2008 I have been lucky enough to go to several of Lauren's signings in the Chicago area; in 2010 for The Mischief of the Mistletoe, in 2012 for The Garden Intrigue, later in 2012 for the Romantic Times Convention, and in 2013 for The Ashford Affair, but I will still remember the first time. I remember almost missing the turn off to the library and doing a slightly illegal sharp turn. I remember that the library was having a book sale and I picked up a biography on E.M. Forster. But most of all I remember that despite how awesome the other authors were, and are, my mom is a huge fan of Julie Hyzy because of this event where I was introduced to her, the audience was there for Lauren. While searching my email recently for Lauren related topics, I actually found the note I sent to my friend from the aforementioned "A Subway Interlude" regarding the Cozy Library Event in Gurnee and thought it might be fun to publish it here to get my account without the fog of seven years obscuring odd details. Though I couldn't help myself from adding an addendum or five... and fixing some egregious spelling errors.

"So, now that I'm home and don't have to peck little letters out with my thumbs on my phone I can tell you the whole awesome story. (I had an LG Vx9900 that flipped open to a full keyboard that I thought was the bomb, oh how Apple technology has changed me.)

So, author event in Gurnee for this society called the Cozy Librarians, and Lauren was a guest among 7 other authors (actually 8, because apparently I can't count). They did a little, here are all the authors brief bio, then they let each author talk for about 7 mins. Lauren talked about going to Harvard and how she was so sick of Historians and their little historian world and how she tried to think of a fun mad-cap romp she could write to divert herself that would make her laugh and she thought of spies and masked men like Zorro and the Scarlett Pimpernel, and how the Pink Carnation made it extra girly and therefore extra funny. Also she hated how "accurate" history novels were and by writing as Eloise she could get some things wrong. She said she thought that this would easily go in her writing trunk of abandoned work, which also contained a Nancy Drew spoof from when she was 9 and had wrote a story with 2 girl detectives, because 2 is better than 1, which she sent off and got a nice rejection letter. So then as luck would have it, she got published. And then she was thinking "How else could I make my life harder, I know I'll go to law school too!" So she wrote the next two books and in essence had 3 jobs at once. And then she went to New York (because it is her homeland, she is someone who can't even drive a car) where she was actually spending her billable hours at the law firm that hired her writing book 4 (The Seduction of the Crimson Rose). And when book 4 came out she was pretty sure they figured out what she was really doing, but then she quit, and now she's writing only and she's just loving it.

Then book signing, where we actually got to talk to her for awhile (Huyen went with me). So first off, she thought I was just amazingly organized cause I had post-it noted and wrote who the books were too, and I said that happens from being in a family of publishers. (PS, everyone should do this, it makes spelling mistakes not happen and just helps the authors so much.) Also she mentioned a British comic I should read but now I forgot the name, so I'll have to look it up (it's Annie Tempest's Tottering-by-Gently series, go check it out). So I said, cause she saw I had the new book (aka The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, Pink Carnation Book 5), I wondered if the house in the new book, Girdings was based on Castle Howard, she said totally, that and a mix of Blenheim, and I said I totally got that, what with the mural in the entrance way. We then talked a bit about the original Brideshead mini series. Leading to me saying that my dad always wanted to live in a little shack on the grounds of Castle Howard until recently when he changed his mind and would be happy with the chickens at Chatsworth. And then we talked about how amazing it is that the Duchess of Devonshire is one of the Mitfords, and I went on to ask if she knew about her being one of the greatest art collectors in the world, especially of Lucien Freud, and she had the painting of the Queen that the Queen rejected, and she didn't know that. Then I mentioned that she actually sells her books online signed and I got one for my dad, and she said she'd heard about her online store, and then she asked if I knew if it was still being operated as a farm after the death of her husband and I said that I believe it was (still is even after her death)

Then we went on to talk about her website, and then she actually connected me with my posts, and later said I have to keep posting and must tell her what I think of the new book (I hadn't finished yet, read above, too much school), I mentioned I loved the 4th and she said she thinks that's her favorite and I said it's mine because the characters are less goody goody. So back to website, then I said I only keep up with her and Shannon Hale for authors websites, cause I think it's great how her site is so interactive, and she asked who Shannon Hale was, but then already connected her with Austenland, and I said she should so check out the Bayren books being re-tellings of Grimms, which lead to her mentioning this old Tor book she had, and I said funnily enough my Dad is an agent for a Tor author, Mike Norman, who writes these Haunted non-fiction books who is actually having a book signing today, but I came here, and she said that was great that I came here (which she even wrote in my book) and it turns out that she interned with Tor way back and asked if I had even been to their offices in the flat-iron building and I said sadly I hadn't but my dad had many times, and then she was talking about how slow the elevator is there, like 15 mins for a ride, and then she mentioned how Tom Doherty was pro-casual, and liked walking around in his undershirt, and I said he's a good friend of my Dad's (to this day) and that he just refurbished a gorgeous old Victorian in Brooklyn. Following which it was time to get Huyen's books signed, which I mentioned was my master plan, to get all my friends reading her books (and it still is), and we commented on how we couldn't find Huyen's 2nd book so she'd just have to get the three signed. (We eventually found Huyen's copy of The Masque of the Black Tulip and got it signed at the event we went to for the release of The Mischief of the Mistletoe two years later).

Also around this point a few people behind us started wandering away, cause I mean, she signed 7 books for me then 3 more for Huyen plus we were being really verbose (yes, I still feel bad about co-opting Lauren, but when you're having fun time seems to slip away, and I should note, the true fellow Lauren enthusiasts are always so nice and accommodating and it's wonderful to talk to them before events). Then Huyen asked the question she wanted to ask which was, was Richard Selwick based on Cary Elwes as Westley from The Princess Bride, and I said actually I called her before she read it to watch for it, and we both instantly agreed on it, and Lauren said she totally based it on him, with the blond hair and the little black mask, and that we were the first 2 to get that (though there's a bit of Sean Bean as Lovelace in there as well with Anthony Andrews on the side). And then I said, and how sad about what Cary's become, and she was all, yeah did you SEE him in Ella Enchanted! Which I then said too bad we can't like go back in time and get pretty Carey Elwes for the movie adaption, and I mentioned I'm just always casting in my head (as by now you all know), and she said she rarely does it, except for Sean Bean as Vaughn, even though he's the wrong "coloring" that was her intent. Then we said our good bye's, nice to meets, and write on the website.

Lots of fun, she was very lively, especially considering she had a 5 am flight and stayed up till 2 at a friend's party, and now I have lots of pretty signed books, and I'm glad to learn an author I like is nice. And as Huyen said, she seems like the type of person who we'd hang with and would be our friend. -Liz"

So there you have it! An interesting albeit rambling insight into the first time I got to meet Lauren. Side note, I wrote this as soon as I got home after a three hour drive in each direction and then a shopping extravaganza at the outlet malls on the state line, so hopefully the narrative flow can be forgiven somewhat for the complete and utter lack of polish.


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