Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Signing Event with Deborah Harkness

I had the BEST TIME last night! As much as I love books and the authors who write them, I have never been to a book signing event and last night I was able to rectify that. Deborah Harkness, the author of the All Souls Trilogy came to the Barnes and Noble in the town where I live. I have been so excited for months waiting for today, but I had begun to worry that it might not live up to my expectations. Luckily for me, it did. Last week, I stopped in at B&N to get a wristband for the event so when I showed up tonight I had a reserved seat in the third row. I arrived about forty-five minutes early anyway and it was wonderful chatting with the people around me. I met a few members of a very active All Souls Discussion Group from Facebook and the woman sitting next to me was just lovely. We had a great time getting to know one another. Her name is Kristen and she is about to launch her own book blog which I cannot wait to read. She also told me about an amazing-sounding day camp in Austin called Camp Half-Blood run by Book People, the largest independent bookstore in Texas. We talked about how much we love books and how, when we meet new people, we always try to pick out the "book nerds" like us. Needless to say, this was a book nerd- infested event and we loved it!

While we waited for Ms. Harkness to arrive, the B&N employees kept us well entertained and even gave away a few prizes. The young woman who appeared to be in charge of the event even hand-crafted these fun little necklaces, one of which I was so excited to win. How cool is that?!

When Ms. Harkness joined us, a whisper immediately swept over the crowd to alert us all that "She's here!" and "Look! It's her!" After a little trouble with the microphone, of which she very amiably joked, she launched right in by asking if any one of us had not yet completed reading The Book of Life, the book she was currently promoting. A few people raised their hands and Ms. Harkness was considerate enough of them to ask the rest of us to carefully meter our questions during the Q&A portion of the evening to avoid the lion's share of the spoilers. I was a little worried about how this might hamper the discussion, but she handled it seamlessly. She then read two sections from the early part of the book and gave us further information about them. One of my favorite things I learned tonight was that Ashmole 782 is an actual manuscript that belongs to the Bodleian Library in Oxford and that it is, in fact, missing. She told us of how, in 1982 while there on a research trip she had attempted to call Ashmole 782 for her historical research at the time, but the slip returned to her informing her that the manuscript was missing. She even joked about how greatly the calls for it have increased over the last few years.

I was also lucky enough to be one of the six people chosen to ask a question. I asked about how difficult it is to allow a character in a book to die and if she had made that decision or if she had always know it must happen that way. She told of how she had been watching so much of the news at the time about all the service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan who were being killed and how she knew that not everyone can survive a war. She said she knew it had to be one of two characters that would die, but each time she attempted to write it one way, that character would not be killed. I love the way she discussed each of her characters as if they each have their own will. I was also rather pleased that she ended her answer by saying it was a good question - and then I realized she said that to everyone and that it was very nice of her and I'll hold on to my tiny bit of praise anyway.

She ended with telling us about how she is in the development stage of bringing the All Souls Trilogy to BBC in a miniseries and we were all very happy to hear that those plans are still moving forward. She also said that she has much yet to write and compared the stories in her head to wriggling puppies- she gets hold of one and it gets away from her- but she assured us that she would begin her next project soon. I cannot wait to read what she writes next. I envy all her students at USC and I can't help but imagine myself in one of her lecture halls.

It was a fantastic evening and I'm so glad I was able to attend. I loved meeting other book nerds like myself and hearing them speak as passionately about books as I do. Thank you to Barnes & Noble for hosting and a very special thank you to Ms. Harkness for putting us on her tour schedule. It was wonderful.

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