Saturday, 7 June 2008

A circle of friends

SUNNY, mild, temps 18

On hold with British Airways, hoping desperately the batteries on our cell phone don't give out before we confirm our new flight back to Montreal tomorrow evening...on hold...on hold...

OK - a couple of hours has now gone by. Not - thankfully - on hold the whole time. BA actually answered quite quickly and explained we can't check in on line because we'd switched flights. Were supposed to go to London tomorrow, but our housing arrangements fell through. So decided to return to Montreal tomorrow night...then on to Elora, Ont to visit Cousin Marjorie, then onto Book Expo Canada in toronto next weekend.

Clear as mud, as my Grandmother used to say.

Anyway - we had to switch flights and that didn't go down well with BA...so we need to do all that confirming at Heathrow tomorrow.

Once off the phone Michael and I went down for dinner. We've opted out of the CrimeFest Gala. Frankly I hate gala's. Not big on crowds to begin with, Michael doesn't hear well in loud places, and I find it exhausting...and we're already a little tired. So we just came back from a wonderful, peaceful dinner in the spectacular dining room of this hotel.

Apparently Cary Grant was from Bristol - though he was known by his birth name here (have just forgotten it) - and when he'd come back to visit he'd stay here. I can see why. It's lovely - and we have by now quite an aquaintence with hotels. And I have more than a nodding aquaintence with luxury. Michael could curl up in a sack and he'd be happy. I need (well, want anyway) Frette sheets and Molton Brown bath stuff.

For a conference hotel this is surprisingly luxurious. You'll be surprised to hear though I didn't pull my usual stunt and ask for an upgrade, or simply pay for an upgrade. I decided to just go with whatever the hotel gave us (convention blocked rooms)...and have been totally happy. Who'd have thought it.

Really, a marvelous hotel.

And have had a wonderful time at this convention. Have met the most fun people - starting with the 10 people we spent Wednesday with on tour, then a bunch of authors...Lesley Horton, Stephen Booth, Aline Templeton and Dolores Gordon-Smith. We all took Ayo out for dinner last night then spent much of today together in one form or another - panels together, had lunch with agent Teresa by the water together. Drinks after our last panel in the splendid bar.

Just a really comfortable, fun, warm group. And what a relief to be able to talk to them about first drafts, and word count, and titles and cover art and all the things I stress about. And find out they do too. And somehow we all muddle through.

The main theme of my fifth book (which emerged as I wrote) is belonging - and loneliness. And how devestating one is, and how blessed the other is. I can sometimes feel quite lonely at these conventions - even with Michael...and surrounded by other writers. I can get intimidated, and shy, and feel on the outside (placed there by myself, not deliberately excluded) so I know the difference between being 'in' and being 'out'. And how lovely and warm it feels to be in the circle. And one that happened so naturally - and wasn't formed out of desperation but we just felt right together.

I wonder if this is a kind of 'fox-hole' friendship...or the sort formed on cruise ships, then once at home port we never connect again. I don't think so, but we'll see, I guess. No matter the length, it was a great gift while here.

Had a very nice breakfast with Richard Reynolds, who is in charge of the mystery section at Heffers in Cambridge - and is very prominent in the British mystery/crime writing community. He's someone we met in april when I did an event at Heffers...so it was like meeting an old friend...and even more so after the breakfast.

On paper it made no sense coming here - the expense versus the book sales. But what an investment in so many other less tangible ways. But ways that are even more meaningful and real.

As you can tell, Michael and I have had a great time at CrimeFest in Bristol. Off to London by 11am train - then on to Heathrow. Fingers crossed the plane works out. I'll blog probably Monday from Montreal.

Thanks for coming to CrimeFest with us.

4 comments:

Hilary said...

Cary Grant -- Archie Leach? Something like that.

Louise Penny Author said...

DEar Hilary,

That's it - Archie Leach. I love all things Cary Grant, from Bringing Up Baby to North by Northwest etc. Such fun to think we might be sleeping in his room...though I doubt his overlooked the wall opposite. But Archie Leach's might have.

Kay said...

I love Cary Grant. Think his full name was Archibald, shortened to Archie no doubt. He was quite the comedian in my book, as well as being very handsome.

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi Kay,

Wasn't he great? Unusual, I think, for a man so handsome to also be such a terrific comedian. Did you see him in Arsenic and Old Lace? But he could also play very strong roles too.