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Lauren Willig Reading and Book Signing

January 28, 2010

On Tuesday night, I attended Lauren Willig’s reading and book signing at Border’s on 57th Street. I was very excited and feeling like a bouncing fangirl at the thought. I spent most of Tuesday afternoon in a state of profound giddiness, in fact.

Not only was I going to meet Lauren Willig, but I had already exchanged emails with her, in order to get my hands on a review copy of The Betrayal of the Blood Lily. (Big, giant thanks, by the way to Lauren, Jamie McDonald the publicist, and Christina, for getting me in touch with Lauren.) I’ve enjoyed all the Pink Carnation books so far- this one’s particularly excellent fun, because Penelope, outspoken and daring but still vulnerable, is such a great central character.

I got to the reading late- argh, subway. But I was in time to hear one of my favorite parts of the story. Penelope catches her husband in a compromising position, and— rips him a new one. Or whatever the Regency equivalent is of that particular phrase. High dudgeon? I further amused myself by giggling sooner than most of the audience, because I’d read it already. Being a book reviewer is an excellent thing.

Lauren read other excerpts, which I won’t spoil in case you haven’t read the book yet. (If you haven’t started reading Lauren Willig yet, what are you waiting for? It’s funny, adventurous historical romance, and helps to start reading from earlier in the series.)

And then she took questions and talked about the writing process. During which she proved that “she writes exactly like she thinks and talks,” as one of her friends who attended the reading observed. She talked about beginning the series while rethinking her PhD. studies, and having her first novels published while she was still in law school. About her decision to switch from an English PhD program to law school, she said. “Law school runs in my family. And I realized that English PhD’s wind up having to go to the middle of America and learn to drive, instead of instantly being able to go teach at Columbia.” Combining law school and her writing career led to some odd moments. “You really haven’t lived til your Corporations professor lectures about corporations and romance novels.”

Some of the audience questions got terrific answers. Asked whether she had a crush on any of her characters, she grinned and said “Familiarity breeds contempt. I’ve spent way too much time in their heads.”

Her answer to writer’s block: “When I get stuck in a manuscript, I go have an affair with another manuscript, in another genre.” Side projects include a mystery novel set at Yale, called Death by Shakespeare (in which a bust of the Bard is used as a murder weapon.)

She had all kinds of tantalizing tidbits about upcoming projects. There’s a holiday novella in the works which will include a cameo by Jane Austen.  And she sometimes wonders about the ongoing lives of some of the characters she’s already paired in her romances.  “I wonder about Richard and Amy, sometimes, how their actual day to day marriage will work.” Will there be a second generation of flowery spies? “There might be children, but not all at once, that would be like Pink Carnation 90210, the Reunion special,” she quipped.

The very good news is that she’s going to keep writing the series. Familiar side characters may get books of their own. “I keep getting attached to my minor characters,” she says. And with the Black Tulip and other French mischief to lead them on adventures, and the possibility of India opened up by the latest book, Lauren Willig will no sooner run out of plot ideas than the Botanical Garden will run out of flowers.

I tend not to read romance as such, very often… but my interest’s been piqued by several of the book signing attendees, romance writers and members of Lady Jane’s salon. Like Lauren Willig, friendly, funny smart women, with interesting perspectives on the genre. Stay tuned, I’ll be investigating further.

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