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Love and time travel: Historical fiction novelist Christine Trent will meet fans during booksigning

April 17, 2013|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • Historical romance writer Christine Trent will sign books at Turn The Page Bookstore on Friday, April 19.
Submitted photo

BOONSBORO — Christine Trent is a bit of a travel guide — but not in the traditional sense.

She might take you to far-off places and breathtaking locales.

You’ll meet interesting and influential people and get a glimpse of their lives and careers.

But in addition to taking you to another land, Trent transports you to another time. And it’s all within the pages of her books.

Trent is a historical fiction writer, weaving the past with stories of emotional intensity, mystery, tragedy and love. And along the way, she’ll do a little historical name dropping.

She has introduced readers to a dollmaker to Marie Antoinette, an apprentice to the great waxworker Madame Tussaud and a female cloth merchant serving the social elite of London’s Regency era.

In her latest book, “Lady of Ashes,” readers meet yet another heroine — a Victorian undertaker who struggles with treachery and betrayal within her own family.

Fans of Trent’s will have an opportunity to share their thoughts about her books when she meets the public Friday, April 19, at the Washington Romance Writers pre-retreat mega book signing event at Turn the Page Bookstore in Boonsboro. The event, which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., will feature about 16 authors, including Nora Roberts.

In the world of book publishing, Trent is a rarity. She doesn’t have stacks of rejected manuscripts tucked away in desk drawers and she didn’t spend years pounding the pavement in hopes of finding an editor who liked her work.

“I am blessed that my first manuscript, ‘The Queen’s Dollmaker,’ was picked up by my publisher,” the Southern Maryland author said. “It is a surreal moment when an editor calls you to say, ‘I like your book. I want to buy it.’ I suppose I spent the first few weeks giggling at wildly inappropriate times. I’m lucky my friends and family didn’t decide I was deranged.”

Those who truly know Trent, however, aren’t surprised at her career choice or her success.

In fact, a love of books and reading runs in the family.

“My mother taught me to read before I ever went off to school and, today, she edits my books for grammar,” Trent said. “One of my early dates with my husband was a trip to a bookstore and he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with books coming into the house every week. My mother-in-law is a retired librarian, who gave me an old card catalog and taught me how to catalog my books. My father-in-law is an old-fashioned bookbinder and has taught me the fundamentals of book repair and binding. My brother and two of my brothers-in-law help me come up with book plots. Where would I be without my family?”

Trent said because she was an early reader, “I still have many of my childhood books. I admire authors who say they knew they were born to be a writer when they were 5 years old. It didn’t occur to me to make up a story — after reading hundreds of them — until I was in my mid-30s. I never even dreamed I would be published. I just thought it would be fun to write about a woman who was a dollmaker to Marie Antoinette. I collect dolls, so researching 18th-century doll making wasn’t really book research. It was more like a hobby.”

Trent has always loved and enjoyed reading historical fiction, so when she began writing, this was the genre she chose.

“To escape into the past, leaving all of the world’s present troubles behind — and maybe even learn a little something about history — is my idea of time well-spent,” she said. And, yes, she added, “my books always have a romance tucked into them. We all like a happily-ever-after, don’t we?”

Research for her books is a given, she said. She has traveled to England at least a half-dozen times for inspiration.

And her favorite period in time?

“That’s a difficult one,” Trent said. “I’ve written in several; but, in general, I would say I can get lost anywhere in the 19th century.”

Trent said her new book, “Lady of Ashes,” is the story of a Victorian undertaker who, in addition to establishing a good reputation for her business in London, is struggling with personal betrayal within her family.

“It is when a killer sets eyes on her, though, that she risks becoming her own customer,” the author noted.

Trent has appeared several times at Turn the Page book signings and calls them “my hands-down favorite promotional event. There is just something about the energy and enthusiasm of both the book-store staff and the fans that I just love. It makes my day when a fan comes up and says, ‘I came here just to see you.’”

She also enjoys sharing the same venues with other authors, particularly Nora Roberts.

“It’s almost as fun and surreal as getting published for the first time,” she said. “I’ve had friends say to me, ‘You mean, you’ve actually met Nora Roberts?’ Sure, I respond. She’s very nice, normal and quiet and spends a lot of time with her fans — as anyone who attends one of her signings well knows.”



If you go ...       

WHAT: Washington Romance Writers pre-retreat book signing event, featuring 16 authors, including Nora Roberts

WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, April 19

WHERE: Turn the Page Bookstore, 18 N. Main St., Boonsboro

COST: Free; staggered admission by ticket. Tickets available beginning at 10 a.m.

CONTACT: Go to www.ttpbooks.com

MORE: Event rules and etiquette are available on the bookstore’s website. A complete list of authors also is listed.


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