Thursday, 20 March 2008

Happy Spring!

Light snow, cold, highs minus 3

"... only he is an emancipated thinker who is not afraid to write foolish things."
Anton Chekhov

It's snowing here - never know it was spring! Still, the days are getting longer, and the snow lighter as well.

Well, I had the best time yesterday at the South Burlington Library. No trouble finding the place. The dreadful snow and sleet up here in Quebec turned into just good ‘ole spring rain in Vermont. Stopped for gas at the Pinnacle Peddler in Richford, the scene of my humiliating attempt a few months ago to smuggle two Restoration Hardware lamps into Canada. Won’t tell you where I tried to hide them. Then it was off to Burlington.

Had an easy drive, thinking about the book I’m writing. Gamache is walking down rue du Moulin with Myrna and they’re discussing a shocking scene both of them were involved in at the old Hadley House. I could see them, and hear them. Very helpful when writing actually becomes transcribing. Feels a bit like cheating. Will write that scene today in front of the fireplace with my coffee.
Arrived at the Burlington event a little early and met Louise Murphy, the librarian, who’s also a cook. She’d baked a marvellous spice cake for us.
A good number of people arrived, and because the weather was so awful there was a kind of life-boat feel to it. I yakked on for half an hour or so. Fortunately for everyone there it was riveting. Then answered some very good questions:

Do I think of it as the Three Pines Mysteries or the Armand Gamache Mysteries?

(Armand Gamache was my answer since he’s the centre that holds them all together)

The Arnot case becomes more and more important as the books progress, reaching a climax in The Cruelest Month – did I have that in mind when I wrote Still Life, the first book?

(no, actually. I wanted Gamache to have a past, and a mystery back there to explain why his career had stalled, but I wasn’t totally clear what it was. Only in writing A Fatal Grace did the Arnot Case become clear)

After suffering writer’s block for 5 years before finally writing Still Life, how is it you’re now writing so many books?

(alcohol and gummi bears. Really, just gummi bears. I signed a 3 book contract to begin with, then another one – taking the series to 6 books minimum. It would be a book a year. But after taking 45 years to write the first the idea of writing the next in 12 months terrified me. It’s not unusual. In fact, it’s called the Sophomore Curse. Nice. But after deciding to stop messing around with the dramatics, and just write the book I really want to – not worry what others thought – out came A Fatal Grace. And we’ve just found out it has been nominated for the prestigious Agatha Award for Best Novel. )

There were lots of other questions too. Very thoughtful and considered.

A week ago today I’d risen at 3:30 in the morning in Detroit to catch a 6am flight to Phoenix. 4 hour flight – very relaxing. Listened to my iPod and made notes. Was met at the Phoenix airport by brilliant sun and 85 degree heat. The man next to me on the plane was wearing what looked like a thong. I, of course, was in my jeans, cashmere turtleneck and jacket. Not because I didn’t realize Phoenix would be hot, but because I only had a carry-on and needed to wear the bulkiest clothing. This is where my clever system failed me.

The media escort picked me up and took me to an interview for Arizona Today. Very fun show. Ernest Borgnine was on right after me! Relieved they didn’t get us confused.

Had an event that night at the Poisoned Pen bookstore. Do you know it? Fabulous place. Run by Barbara and Rob Peters. To say it’s a mystery bookstore is like saying the Golden Gate is a bridge. Barbara has been rightly honoured all over the US and Canada for her contribution to the field of mystery and crime writing – both as a bookseller and publisher. She has her own imprint. She’s a real hero in the field, and it as so wonderful to have been invited there. Also met Lesa Holstein there. She lives nearby, is a librarian and has a wonderful, literate blog.

Then back to the hotel to sleep for another 3:30am wake up and another flight. Book tours really are a shortcut to dementia.

I’ll talk to you tomorrow...Good Friday. My latest book, The Cruelest Month, is set at Easter – where the villagers decide they’d try their hand a raising the dead. Not their best idea.

Be well.


Lesa said...

Thank you, Louise! And, I was wrong when I said I thought you had already linked to my blog. Yes, please. I'd love to be included in your favorite web sites.


Thank you.

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi Lesa,

It shall be done! With pleasure - especially since it's true.