Last Friday evening (1 July 2011), I attended another book signing. This time it was at Waterstones in Worcester and was for Elizabeth Chadwick’s ‘Lady of the English’. Ellie Swoop accompanied me and it felt very strange walking through the deserted streets of Worcester after hours with all the shops shut and dark. We even had to ring the doorbell of the book store to get in.
We were early and it was amazing being inside a bookshop for almost an exclusive viewing of all the books. We started designing plot lines about characters locked in overnight. The audience for this event was larger than the Victoria Connelly event, but still not huge. Sarah Broadhurst, book reviewer and blogger, was there too. The ticket price of £3 could be redeemed against other book purchases and most people were buying books.
Elizabeth Chadwick turned up a little flustered about car parking and I immediately warmed to her. It is always a relief when published authors are human (although I don’t know why I would think they would be anything else!)
She told us about her early writing, her path to publication and how her writing has changed. Several things she spoke about struck a chord with me.
• When she was very small she used to make up stories about the fairies on her handkerchief.
• There was a dressing up box at school which inspired her and made history more real. I too remember my history teacher bringing in a big box of Victorian clothes – it was one of the best lessons ever.
• She talked about early inspiring television programmes, in particular Desert Crusader and The Flashing Blade. I haven’t been able to get the theme tune of this last one out of my head ever since. It must have lodged there in my teens.
• Elizabeth bought with her a selection of the research books she uses, including one about leprosy in medieval England and another about sexuality in medieval Europe. She buys lots of books and she said that the main problem is being able to find the one she wants on her bookshelves.
• I loved the fact that she writes her historical novels to contemporary music. She matches the mood of the music to the scene she wants to write. For example when writing a light love scene she was listening to Kiki Dee’s Amoureuse. She particularly likes writing to hard rock, punk and grunge. You can never tell by looking at someone can you?
• Her books have become more successful since she has centred them on women from history.
• The main ways that her writing has changed include, writing fictionally around real life characters and using the services of a psychic to gain deeper insights into her characters’ lives.
I found the talk thought provoking and fascinating. The fact that I am still processing the content nearly a week later tells you the sort of impact it had on me. I have read some of Elizabeth’s early work and bought a more recent title on the night. I don’t cope well with reading hardbacks due to the weight of them so will look forward to reading ‘Lady of the English’ when it comes out in paperback.
Meanwhile check out Elizabeth Chadwick’s website and blog. She is also one of the authors on Twitter who you can have a great conversation with.
Have you learned anything about a published author that has surprised you?