Thursday, 5 February 2009


sunny, breezy, temps minus 8

Feels a little colder today thanks to the wind - but still pleasant. What a mess in Britain - all that snow. And, on the other extreme, I've heard from some readers in Melbourne, Australia that it was 44 degrres celcius which is roughly a million degrees fahrenheit. You could roast a marshmallow in that temperature.

We're not in danger of that here.

Had a great time scheming some more. Michael and I did breakfast yesterday and plotted how the murder happened - why - the clues, the red herrings...the place of history. Then we came home and I made notes all afternoon on our conversation. I have a 'master' notebook, divided in to sections - Characters, Plot, Descriptions and atmosphere, Quotes and Poetry. And, uniquely for this book, History.

As the research progresses I keep notes. Crucial not to forget any details. This is proving both complex and huge fun! I need to sprinkle enough clues that you can figure it out...enough red herrings so it isn't clear which clues are important. Enough mis-direction to make it a fun read, but not so much that it becomes confusing. That's it really. I need it to be rich in purpose and character - complex in plot - but not confusing.

So I need to figure out what and in the past. And how if effects what people do today. And how Gamache unravels the clues. Or maybe this will be the one he doesn't solve. Maybe this will be the one no one solves. That rare beast in detective fiction - an unresolved case. Hmmm.

Spent a few peaceful minutes (about an hour) in the Literary and Historical society today, making notes. I had a couple of ideas and needed to check some research. Turns out my ideas won't work - but fortunately I found something that will work even better, and tie up another loose end. Such fun. And people are unbelievably helpful and accomodating.

I was slightly concerned before coming to Quebec City that the English community wouldn't take kindly to my ideas - or to my thoughts about Quebec history. My theories, really. But they've proven unbelievably flexible and helpful. Even suggesting each other as the murderers!

Such a beautiful library, the Lit and His. If and when you come to Quebec City I'd encourage you to visit. I'm presuming you're reading this because you, like me, love books. And probably love libraries. This is one not to be missed. Not because it's big - it isn't, quite the opposite. Not because it has a unique collection - it doesn't. But it is simply peaceful and old and light and feels both thoughtful and welcoming.

Writing this I got to thinking of the wonderful library on Mackinac Island we visited for an event this past summer. It too is tiny. But perfect. With views out into the great lake, and a huge stone fireplace. And books, too.

And I also think of the lovely old community library in Staatsburg I visited when STILL LIFE first came out and no one knew about it, or cared. Except Anne Jordan - the head of the library in Staatsburg.

I didn't realize until this moment that one of the biggest gifts my writing has given me is a chance to enter so many beautiful libraries. And meet people who work for pittance - often for nothing - because they love books.


Lesa said...

Don't do it, Louise! I hate those unsolved mysteries. I've never forgiven Ellery Queen for departing from the pattern in some of his books, and letting the books go unresolved. Arrghh!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't wait to tell you how fabulous it is to find another great writer such as yourself. I love Three Pines with it's wonderful people and love Mr. Gamache. I can't wait to get your latest book. Your writings remind me a little of M.C. Beaton's books and I have so enjoyed her. Thank you for coming into my life at this stage.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Lesa,

What passion! I love that. But who knows what will happen with Gamache - I know he doesn't have a perfect record...the question is, do we get to see one of the cases where, struggle as he might, he can't actually solve it?

I didn't realize Ellery Queen had done that...and I've read a lot of his stuff - maybe I just didn't read those ones, or maybe it didn't make as much of an impact. I know for instance I can't read a book with cruelty to animals, and I don't read books written in the first person (unless I have to - but if I pick one up in the store and read the first page and it's in the first person I probably won't buy it) So we all have different triggers.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Anon,

To be compared in any way with MC Beaton is a great compliment. Thank you! And I'm so glad you've discovered the series! hope you enjoy the latest.

humble.pie said...

what is all this about libraries & quietude. as soon as louise hits québec, this ancient dreaming city awakens from its sleep faster than you can say clic.clac.carnival and starts wildly dancing a gigue of international intrigue.

french president nicholas sarkozy enrages the souvereinistes with frivolous remarks about a federal canada. mesdames marois & beaudoin deliver a letter of objection to the quai d'orsay, puzzlingly choosing the canadian ambassador as their messenger instead of the québec délégué in paris, although maybe the journalist named the wrong diplomat through une petite fautette, no, une ti-faute.

next, the canadian national battlefields commission says it will re-enact the battle of the plains of abraham this coming summer to "celebrate" its 250th anniversary. ooh, là! now the feathers fly more furiously than snow in one of louise's blizzards.

québec premier jean charest says he won't attend. there are outcries of objection from the anglo historians. i haven't got the french historians yet but you can bet they'll be through the roof.

aaiiieeee. and it all started when they flew off that toboggan run together.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Hum,

You make me laugh every time - and wonder at your lightning mind and wit and ability to make connections unseen this side of the asylum. But I do love your mind. And your heart. And your humour. Yes - that battle over the re-enactment is something. But at least Quebec is never, ever boring.

I blame Michael.