Sunday, 28 December 2008

Rachel and Sarah

partly sunny, unseasonably, freakishly warm, temps 12

It feels like spring. Easter, rather than Christmas. Of course, with the amount of sleep I can do maybe it is Easter. What did I miss?

There's a great review of A RULE AGAINST MURDER in this weekend's Charlotte Observor. The lead review, and four out of four stars. Wonderful.

Had a wonderful day yesterday. Breakfast with Joan was fun, as ever. And Michael joined us this time. Then worked more on book 5. One of the major issues with writing these sorts of puzzle mysteries is - not surprisingly - when to give readers the answers. Obviously who committed the murder is only one (albeit a large one) mystery. But that one is answered because of a series of small puzzles. they build on each other until finally the answer is clear.

But when and how to feed out the smaller solutions? It's about pace, and the pleasure of the reader. That exquisite tension when you long to know something... but once you do, that energy, that excitement can disappear...unless it leads to another mystery.

Right now with THE BRUTAL TELLING I'm struggling with one issue in particular. When to give the readers the answer. It's quite a big one, though not the ultimate answer. Do I tell you sooner or later. What leads to a richer reading experience? What's more fun? Knowing, or not knowing?

the danger in not telling until later is a) building up expectations, that the answer had better be worth all this wait. b) having people lose interest...milking it dry.

So I've actually written (or am in the process of writing) two versions.

I was inspired to do this partly after our visit earlier this month to the Rodin Museum...and seeing that clearly The Burghurs of Calais didn't just appear...he did any number of different versions, different studies...all of them there too. Fascinating to compare. Frankly, they all looked like masterpieces to me. But he was aiming for something specific. And the final one is better than all the rest...though all are brilliant.

So I thought I'd try that with the book...two different versions and see which one I like the best. So I'll have to rush off soon and get more work done on that. But it'll be worth it, I'm sure. Anything for a better book.

Yesterday afternoon we went across to our neighbors place - Guy and Nicole. Their two granddaughters were giving a Christmas concert for the neighborhood. Rachel is 13 and a gifted singer. Sarah is 11 and plays classical guitar. Incredible family. Paule - their mother, who was also there, was a ballet was her husband Martin (Guy and Nicole's son). You might remember my mentioing in a blog in April that Martin had died. He was in his mid-thirties and Guy and Nicole's only child. He had a virulent form of MS - so it was a long, slow departure. Torture for everyone.

But the children (perhaps as a result of this suffering, his and theirs) are amazing. Compassionate, dedicated, fun and funny. They speak French only, but learned a few songs in English just for us. Imagine that? Aren't people amazing? If anyone doubted the existence of Grace they just need to visit this family.

They did the concert, and Rachel even danced for us all...then had tea and Christmas cookies. Then left. Wrote a bit at home, went to Sutton to meet friends...then dropped by the guest cottage where Doug (my brother), Brian, his son and his great friend Theo had just arrived.

Such fun sitting there, fire on, tree lit, kids eating chicken wings Pat had made for them...and being with people we love so much.

Life is good. And, as though we had any right to it getting better, with it being so mild all the snow left and Maggie made it around the pond again! Hopping all the way, of course. But tail going the whole time.

This is bliss. This is contentment. This is good fortune.

I hope this finds you content, and surrounded by light. God knows, I have my off-days. When I'm filled with anger, jealousy, pettiness. When the world is bleak and unfair. When I not only want to cry, but do. I've written about those days as well.

Balance. I'm coming to appreciate how important that is. Things even out. My job is to be grateful for the good and accept the bad. And move forward.


hilary said...

Your mind is obviously very much on Book 5 as you blog, producing perhaps what may be more Freudian slip than typo -- a ballet danger? -- pirouetting onto the crime scene?

Cheers and all the best in the New Year. Go, Maggie, go!


Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Hilary,

Oh, God...did I say that? What a riot. Those dancers, very dangerous. And thanks for the Maggie salute!