Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fandemonium: Sharon Kay Penman

Technically, I'm not participating in Armchair BEA, but I was inspired by Marg's ABEA post about meeting author Paullina Simons, so I decided to share my experience meeting Sharon Kay Penman, who in my opinion, has few equals in the world of historical fiction.

I'm a regular reader of Sharon's blog and facebook page and when she posted her Summer 2009 book tour dates I was thrilled to see that she was coming to a nearby mega Borders. I am fortunate to have a fellow stylish, savvy, bookloving girlfriend, Lyn Rae, who also adores SKP, and we made plans to attend. On Sharon's blog I told her we were coming and asked a few questions since neither of us had been to a book signing before.

Lyn Rae found a gorgeous first edition of Here Be Dragons at our library's book sale. I was actually really jealous that she found it before I did. I mean, just look at Llewyln and Joanna on that cover!

After drooling over her little gem I decided I couldn't possibly ask Sharon to sign one of my worn-out paperbacks, so I treated myself to a first edition of Sunne in Splendour from Amazon Marketplace.

Sharon arrived a few minutes late and a little frazzled, (DC traffic will do that to you). But she jumped right in, and since she was there to promote the release of Devil's Brood in paperback, she began by reading two selections from that book. One featured Eleanor and Henry and the other featured Henry's three oldest sons.

Then she talked for a bit about writing and researching historical fiction. She had just come from the Historical Novel Society convention where she had been asked to speak at the last minute, so we got a recap of the convention and the hot topics authors were discussing. She took questions and we discovered that her favorite book is Here Be Dragons and that she originally intended the book to be more about King John, but after two weeks of research, Llewelyn stole the book out from under him. And we learned that she doesn't think highly of historical fiction authors who play fast and loose with the facts to suit their idea of a better story. Sharon has a passion for history and honors it by being true to it. (She has a history degree, like me :)

After her talk we lined up to have our books signed and we were fortunate to be near the front of the line. When it was my turn I said, "Hi Sharon, I'm Jenny from your blog," and she said, "Oh Jenny! I looked at your pictures on facebook so I would recognize you." Eek! How cool is that? Then she turned to her assistant and said, "This is Jenny, she's a regular commentor on my blog." She told me how important word-of-mouth was for an author and thanked me and signed my book:

She wrote some Welsh in Lyn Rae's book, which I was also jealous of, although I really had no cause since, alack, my book didn't take place in Wales. When we left the store we were floating on cloud nine. Ms. Penman was just as charming and gracious as she could be and it was a wonderful evening I'll not soon forget.

If you're a fan of Sharon's, be sure to check out her blog and facebook page. She is currently working on her next book, Lionheart, which picks up right where Devil's Brood left off, and she shares all kinds of stuff: research tidbits, thoughts on her characters, a timeline of what scenes she's working on, reading recommendations and personal reflections. I think it's very cool of her to spend so much time with her fans.

So guess what happened after I met Sharon? I got to meet my other favorite author, Diana Gabaldon, not two months later at that same Borders! I know, I know, I'm a lucky girl! And yep, Lyn Rae came, too. I wrote about that earlier this year. Check it out if you'd like!


  1. I am so glad to have inspired you to write this post. Sharon Kay Penman is one of those authors who I would get tongue tied in front of! I would LOVE to meet her one day and I am jealous that not only you do so but that you have signed books as well!

  2. I have an award for you. You can pick it up here.


I love comments! Getting feedback on my posts makes my day! Thanks for being here!