A Judith McNaught Book Signing

By Blythe Barnhill

(March 2002)

I attended a Judith McNaught book signing yesterday with Jennifer Schendel and found it very interesting. If Ms McNaught is coming to your city and you are a fan, consider checking it out.

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1. I was surprised to see how few people were there. For an author whose book is number 3 on the NYT list for two weeks in a row, it was not what I would call a huge turn out. Nowhere near the number that came to the Gabaldon signing or Roberts', either.

2. Judith looked like a million bucks, in a leather suit and very large diamond ring. What was funny was how down to earth she was. She mentioned that she had gained six pounds while on tour, and her big problem was hotel minibars! Funniest tidbit: her hotel in NY had gummy bears in a jar. She suspected that the jar was constantly refilled and had been used by many - but she ate the gummy bears anyway. To me there was something charming about a women in a glamorous outfit talking about her losing battle with the hotel gummy bears of dubious origin.

3. She was asked if she had any plans to write another historical, and said that she wouldn't rule it out but she had to get a special idea that was somehow different from the millions of other Regency historicals out there right now.

4. Internet websites came up (can't remember how) and she mused aloud whether she should give us her opinion about them. Since it was a rather informal group I called out that she should go ahead - we could take it (and "outed" Jen and myself as AAR reviewers)! Her words were not what I would call harsh; she merely said that she thought that if someone was bashing a book you liked on the Internet, you ought to get on the message board with your opposing (positive view). She did make a few comments about an atmosphere of "women tearing other women down" that she thought you would not see among male writers. I think she's wrong about that, actually, but that was her pov.

5. I asked her if she was ever going to expand the Nicky/Juliana short story into a full length book. She said that she felt there was definitely a book in there, but... was put off because of what she felt was a negative reaction to her expansion of Whitney, My Love. This was one of the most interesting insights I got all evening. She actually mentioned AAR specifically, and the call on the message boards to boycott the book in its expanded version. This interested me for several reasons. It seemed like she was confusing the MB with the site itself, which we've seen before. How many people really remember the thread to boycott that book? It was there and gone in a matter of a week, like most threads. My B review of the book will be there forever. Yet her impression was that those readers spoke for AAR and perhaps for most readers. What was also interesting about that is that rather than write whatever the hell she wanted, I think she was ready (probably still is ready) to take readers at their word. Having been chastened for expanding a book once, she's leery of doing it again. I don't know that I have ever seen that reaction from an author before.

6. Last time Judith was on tour was fifteen years ago.

7. While she was signing books she called for "the All About Romance women" to come stand by her and talk to her. I don't know that we said much ( we didn't want to monopolize her while she was signing books for other people) but we did try to explain the difference between the message boards and the editorial content of the site.

Anyway, it was a fun book signing. I'm glad I went, especially if she's only going to tour every fifteen years. <g>

Judith McNaught at AAR

 




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