Saturday, 17 July 2010


mainly sunny, humid, temps 26

Lovely day. thunderstorms in forecast for this afternoon, but seems impossible right now. Except for the gathering humidity.

Edited yesterday for most of the day - wrote a scene that occurred to me in New York. Oddly, and perhaps frighteningly, it appears to be a somewhat pivotal scene. I actually removed one scene that was just complicated, and replaced it with this far simpler one - that really allowed the two characrters to get into stuff.

Had to stop to jump into the shower then Michael and I headed into Knowlton for the 5-7 opening cocktail for WordFest. Met Jim there, then the three of us had dinner on the terrasse of the Cafe Inn - and listened to our young neighbour, Amos, sing. Such a beautiful backdrop, of the mill pond, the church spire, and the mountains.


Woke early to do a 7:15 live radio interview on CBC Radio with my friend Dave Bronstetter - promoting WordFest - and discussing the question of setting. And the wisdom, or folly, of setting a mystery in Canada. There's a huge, and in my mind misguided, school of thought among agents and editors (and therefore some writers) that setting a book in Canada is akin to putting it in a garbage can and setting it on fire.

I don't agree. In fact, I suspect many of you are drawn to my books because they're set in Quebec, not despite it.

Though, of course, it's impossible to say if they'd have been even more successful if they were set just across the border in Vermont. Or in the Cotswolds. I suspect they wouldn't be - mostly because while I like both areas, I love quebec.

Indeed, this will be part of the discussion at the workshop on settings for crime fiction that Jim Napier and I are giving tomorrow here in Knowlton. I suspect we'll be discussing it this afternoon, too, during our conversation on stage at the Theatre Lac Brome.

Oh, went to the first WordFest public event this morning - the marvelous Louise Abbot, a local writer/film maker and historian. She gave a terrific talk on how to bring local history alive. Very exciting for those of us who are interested in history.

By the way - the French word for 'workshop' is atelier. Isn't that great? Sounds so much better than workshop.

So, Jim and I have decided we're actually giving an atelier on crime fiction writing.

After our conversation today I have a 3:45 radio interview on CJAD with Anne Lagace Dowson - then meeting a Canadian filmmaker interested in the series, for an ice tea and talk - then have to scoot home, pick up Michael for a meeting in Sutton tonight. Poor Jim, our houseguest, is on his own. I wrote him an email earlier in the week nominating us as the worst hosts in history - or at least the worst hosts he's met in a while.

Be well - talk to you tomorrow, I hope!

I'll try to blog tomorrow.


Linda said...

Hi Louise,
You're right in your suspicions: the Canadian setting was the first thing that drew me to Still Life. There is a large French-Canadian population here in the Merrimack Valley area of NH, and after reading Still life, I knew our library patrons would love it too. And they do! ...and we can't wait for Bury Your Dead. The reviews are outstanding!

lil Gluckstern said...

I agree, one (but only one) of the draws to your novels is that they are set in and around Montreal. It's like traveling to a place I'll never see. That's why traveling with you is so much fun. You bring Montreal to life, and I have this picture of Three Pines in my mind...Still can't wait for Bury your Dead. I love how inspiration strikes in unusual places, almost like a visit from the Gods. Ahem, I will rein myself in. Have fun, your friends do.

Dana said...

The setting was what made me pick up the first book, but the writing is what brought me back. I love the quotes and poems and ideas which make me think beyond the mystery and the characters. And I love that my mind does not feel like it is reading an audition for a TV series (although I hope to see that happen). Thank you for giving so much of your valuable time to wordfest and to your bloggers.

Nikki B said...

Wish I could make the workshop -- sounds great :)

pamela said...

Did I understand correctly, or did you just skim over the fact that you are meeting with a film maker to discuss filming the series? Deliberately ambivalent or what!!!! Everything crossed for fantastic outcome.

Reen said...

I was browsing our library's online catalogue (Tucson, Arizona) a few weeks ago and saw a notice that read, While you are waiting for 'Still Life' by Louise Penny... then it listed several other mysteries available for checkout. So I mean, really, we all want to go home to Three Pines-- wherever it is.

Anonymous said...

I second you on your setting! New York and Vermont are not the only places people live :). I remember reading Hugh Garner's Cabbagetown and a few of his other books, back in the early 80s. I had just moved to Toronto and I spent such fun times wandering around Cabbagetown and reliving the books. Real settings are so intrigueing. I heard you this morning. Great interview.

Caroline said...

I cannot BELIEVE that editors/publishers think that setting a novel in Canada is anything less than PERFECT!!!! Hallo! What stones do they live under! Not only is Canada one of the most beautiful, enchanting countries; your depiction of imaginary Three Pines is SOOOO evocative! Of all that makes Canada one of the most wonderful lands I've ever visited! My family and I LOVE Quebec, Montreal, Toronto and the lakes and your Three Pines setting is all that it should be!!! I have to say that my memories of Canada are reinforced in EVERY way when I read your books and I thank you for that. It's like reliving some of our best times away from home!!!!

Debbie said...

I grew up in the Eastern Townships, and my husband was the one who read Still Life first. He said after he finished it, " I know you prefer Romance, but you should really read this book. You may recognize some of the places." Boy was he right. Now I can't wait for the latest in the series.

Great writing Louise. Thank you.

connie said...

We vacationed in Quebec two years ago. Before we left, I called my local mystery bookstore to ask if there were any mysteries set in Quebec. She, of couse, referred me to your wonderful books. I have them all, have a crush on Gamache, and maybe even a bigger one on Clara. So does setting matter? It certainly did for me. I might never have found you and your amazing characters if not for your setting.

Louise Penny Author said...

How wonderful you all are! As I read I feel my heart swell with affection for all of you. thank you.
So thrilled (and relieved) you agree Canada is a great place for murder mysteries!