Friday, October 26, 2018

Meeting Tasha: The First Time

2012 was a very hard year. This was my last year taking classes toward my Associate Degree in Applied Arts, Graphic Design and Illustration, and my winter semester literally started with my mom breaking her hip. I had to call 911 before leaving for my first class. I needed something, anything, to look forward to and thankfully by the end of that first hard week I had something to look forward to. On Wednesday, February 22nd, at 1:30 PM at the Barrington Public Library in Barrington, Illinois, Lauren Willig was doing an event to promote her ninth Pink Carnation book, The Garden Intrigue. Even better, the event being on a Wednesday it didn't interfere with my classes because I had a Tuesday/Thursday schedule. Though I fully admit I would've skipped for Lauren, even more so because as Lauren stated in her Valentine's Day newsletter, she was going to "be joined by the lovely Tasha Alexander." At this time Tasha already had six Lady Emily books in print but I had yet to meet her! Despite the fact she lived in Chicago, a mere three hours away from me, in good traffic! The event was billed as Talk and Tea and I just couldn't wait.

The day arrived, I was thankful it wasn't snowing, being February in Wisconsin you just can not guess what the weather will be like, a tornado is even possible! So off I headed to the flatland. I'd never been to the Barrington Public Library, all I knew from a map search was that there was a Half Price Books nearby, and yes, of course I visited it. The library was lovely. The space was large and open, it felt like a cathedral of high wood beams and lovely bookish silence. While the day was overcast it was easy to see that on a sunny day it would be magnificent, the library version of the Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The event was in a large room to the left of the soaring space and I eagerly entered. Along the back wall was copious teapots and cups with a choice of Lipton teas, not exactly the "tea" I had imagined, but then again after going to high tea at The Pierre in New York City my idea of what a tea should be is not really in line with what a Midwestern library is probably going to do. But more importantly, tea should not be balanced with stacks of books! And they had stacks of books to buy! I have never seen so many books, and I felt bad I owned all but two, because I love to support local bookstores.

See, the problem was, though it's not really a problem until you go to a signing, but I had already gotten all my books by Tasha signed through Murder by the Book. Luckily I found out Tasha had written the movie tie-in edition for Elizabeth: The Golden Age, a movie I have criminally not seen especially as it has Laurence Fox in it, but my "History of Costume" class for my BA in Theater had me a little Elizabeth-ed out. We watched that first movie a lot. Well, in fairness the costumes are amazing. Even more amazing in person as I learned a few years later. But this meant there was a Tasha book I could have signed at the event! In case Lake Forest Book Store didn't have a copy I was ready with one I had gotten off Amazon. But thankfully they did so I had two copies for Tasha to sign, one was for me and one was for my blog and oh, how I wish I had saved it for Alexander Autumn, but sadly it was not to be. With my new copy of The Garden Intrigue and my two copies of Elizabeth: The Golden Age, I sat down and waited, talking to a few of my fellow book enthusiasts. One of them was very interested in my copy of Fall of Poppies, an anthology about the Great War that Lauren had participated in and which they hadn't heard of. I was happy to talk to them about it but really I couldn't wait for the event to begin.

The event was spectacular. Sometimes I really wish I had the wherewithal to remember to write down everything that happens at memorable events, but I've found taking notes makes me not really present and I tend to forget to do it afterwards when I'm still basking in the afterglow, or in this case buying a whole set of Kerry Greenwood's Miss Fisher Mysteries IN HARDCOVER from the nearby Half Price Books. There's also something about writing it out that takes some of the glamor away, it's far better to talk about it with friends as you drive home. So what do I remember about Tasha and Lauren's event? I remember thinking that they should always tour together. They are both great speakers on their own, but together they are a great double act, discussing champagne and dancing on tables, and you can just see their friendship as they're able to finish each others sentences and simultaneously recite their favorite lines from Dorothy L. Sayers. As for what Tasha talked about? Well Death in the Floating City, Lady Emily's seventh adventure, would be coming out later in the year, and she talked a bit about her process for writing the Venetian adventure. Mainly that she was glad she had a family who supported her when she said she had to write the book in Venice.           

As I'm currently a third of the way through Death in the Floating City (review up next Wednesday!) I can say that going to Venice really did pay off. In fact Tasha is unique among a lot of writers in that she loves to travel and walk the streets of where she is going to set her books. This adds such a level of realism that you feel you are walking the streets beside her and Lady Emily. Also, I really wouldn't say no to writing a book in Venice... After the talk there was a signing, I talked to Lauren about what I was doing in school (personal branding) and I remember she complimented my shorter hair and I know I made a face, to which she insisted she liked the short hair, and the thing was, I wasn't making the face about my short hair, I was making the face because I really needed to get it trimmed up and a little shorter, it was a bit raggedy. I agree with Lauren, I like my hair short! Then I finally got to meet Tasha, and she was just lovely and so nice and so happy I had a book I was signing to give away on my blog (again people I'm sorry I gave it away prematurely!) Then I went back out into the lovely atrium and went on my way. Book signings always seem to end abruptly. There's all this build up, a lovely talk, a little chat with the author, and you're out the door and on your way home. It's a harsh return to reality. But at least I can look back on two of my favorite authors sharing favorite quotes and quips from Gaudy Night whenever I want. 


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