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Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Authors who Charmed the Pants off a Virgin

It's official: no longer am I a book-signing virgin (and note that this achievement was free of any of the awkwardness or fumbling so typical with--ehem--that other type of virginity). Yes, it's true: having attended my very first signing, I'm now quite the experienced woman. (Note that I do NOT plan to start putting notches to commemorate future signings in my lipstick cases, however; they are far too expensive for me to risk ruining them.) 

Really, though, I was the proverbial "sure thing", here. (And yes, cue the '80s theme music if you must.)
1). The author I specifically went to see (technically, authors, since it was husband-and-wife team Ilona Andrews) is one of my absolute favorites. Really-truly.
2). The signing was held on the release day for Magic Bleeds (book #4 in the fabulous Kate Daniels series), which I'd already read. And ADORED. (What, you don't think it's possible to be in love with a book? Bah. If you think that, then you clearly haven't read it yet.)
3). The signing was in Portland, at one of the many locations of Powell's books. (So, one of my all-time favorite cities, and an awesome bookstore. Win-win.)
4). I was with a group of girlfriends--some old, some new. (Honestly, does it get much better than doing something fun with your friends?)

Everything about this experience was pretty terrific, actually. (Sheesh, if only we could say that about that other first time, eh?) The crowd was uniformly polite and good-natured; there weren't any trolls in the bunch. The people at Powell's did a fantastic job getting everything set up and keeping it running smoothly. (Plus, they seemed like nice--and patient--folks.) Another cool thing was that we actually got to watch--and later interact with--a whole panel of authors; besides Ilona Andrews, Lilith Saintcrow and Devon Monk were also there to speak and sign.

Rather than having the usual reading, each author instead stood and briefly listed her/their ongoing projects, as well as providing approximate dates for upcoming releases. Then, it was on to a Q-and-A session, which was the meat-and-potatoes of the evening.

Now, I've read a lot of transcripts from other signings, and I've watched several videotaped ones, so I had a pretty good idea what to expect. Frankly? What I was expecting made me shudder a little (on the inside); the majority of questions at most signings always seem to skew into serious "spoiler" territory--readers wanting to know what's going to happen next, who is going to end up with whom, etc. (About which I've always thought, "Hello? Why dontcha leave the author something to actually write about?!" and "Seriously? You won't even read the book if the author answers that question!".)


This signing did NOT go that way, though. Whether the crowd that night was just more mature and reasonable (um... maybe?), or because this signing involved a panel of a few different authors with multiple characters under their command (the more likely reason), there really weren't any of those cringeworthy questions. Instead, people queried the writers on topics such as technique, attitude and mindset, motivation, habits, etc.--and the result was a fascinating and very, very funny discussion. The four people representing the three authors (tricky, no?) came across as intelligent, witty, and personable without exception. These were people you could sit down and have a cup of coffee or a drink at a bar with, chatting about anything at all. They were unpretentious and charming, to a man (or woman).


That feeling was even more in evidence during the signing session, afterward. I've read all the Ilona Andrews books and short stories, but hadn't read any Lili Saintcrow and had only partially-read one book by Devon Monk. Lack of familiarity didn't matter a whit, though; each author seemed just as pleased to hear that she (or he) had been a delightful and entertaining speaker as that I'd read all (or none) of her/his books. It was more about being a nice human being and engaging in a genuine and friendly interaction with someone than it was about showing off or being a diva. It was about recognizing kindred spirits--people who really love to read books. 


And that's pretty good for a first (or a fiftieth) time, yeah? :)


1 comment:

  1. It was so much fun and a blast because of the great company of friends! The authors were all so thoughtful in their responses to the questions, too. It was really a delight.

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