Monday, 30 July 2012

Librarians? Surely not...

sunny, hot, humid - temps 30 C

A beautiful day! Sunny and not. Spoke to my UK editor on the phone, took Trudy for all sorts of walks, got the place ready (or partly ready) for the family reunion later this week. pennys tumbling in from all over. VERY fun. Some arriving from Edmonton and Regina on Thursday afternoon - the rest driving from Toronto. Brian gets back from Spain just in time. We expect (and hope) that he'll be insufferable. Salads, barbeques, swims, concerts, trips to Burlington, VT, golf all planned and discussed. But mostly we end up by the pool, eating and getting caught up.

After our mother died we realized there was a danger we'd drift apart. She tended to be the gravitational centre of the family....we'd all meet at Mom's, for special occasions. But without her?

So we made a solemn pact that we'd make sure we got together once a year, at least. The three central siblings (Rob in Regina, Doug in Toronto, and me in Quebec) - and whatever spouses and children could make it. The numbers go up and down - especially when the kids were younger and going to camp...but the siblings all moved heaven and earth to make it. I once had to interrupt a booktour to get to Regina. But we all know what's most important.

This year we'll be 11! Almost all the kids can come. Just Sarah and Roslyn left behind with other commitments - but next year!

I'm also really looking forward to the launch of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY! Almost there - less than a month now. Hard to believe - I've waited so long, and I know many of you are anxious too (so happy to hear that!).

In anticipation, and celebration, I'm picking quotes from previous Gamache it's A RULE AGAINST MURDER/THE MURDER STONE. In fact, today I'm cheating and choosing two very short quotes from book 5 in the series:

“She was about to be devoured by Ruth Zardo, who ground up good people and turned them into poetry.”

And -

“But you want murderous feelings? Hang around librarians,” confided Gamache. “All that silence. Gives them ideas.”

I'm having so much fun going back over the previous Gamache books - with the help of Jeanne-Marie at St Martins Press. Hope you're enjoying it too! 25 days and counting to the launch of book 8 - THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Great Kirkus Review!

Mainly sunny, warm, temps 27

Woke up to cool morning - very refreshing. Kirkus Review in the US - a notoriously picky and critical publication - has a fabulous review of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY! Here's an excerpt:

...remarkably penetrating and humane. The most illuminating analogies are not to other contemporary detective fiction but to The Name of the Rose and Murder in the Cathedral.

Just over a month before the book is launched. Feels like Christmas (though a little scarier than Christmas....always nervous when a new book comes out - perhaps a marriage of christmas and halloween. Christeen.)

Am interviewing Shelagh Rogers, of CBC's The Last Chapter, at the Knowlton literary festival this afternoon. Turning the tables on her. Having lunch together first.

Had my hair done a couple days ago in Montreal - always a relief. I tried a new hairdresser - quite odd guy....kept whipping me in the face with my own wet hair. Had to close my eyes, so am presuming (hoping) it was my own hair. But the cut was fabulous - so will happily go back. Hope you're having a good weekend.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Literary playlist

partly cloudy, humid, temps 28

Lots of thunderstorms and heavy rain in last couple of days - we needed the rain!

I can't overstate how important music is to me when I'm writing, or planning, a book. Now, when I'm actually sitting at the laptop writing, I don't listen to music. I don't listen to anything, including, as Michael will tell you, him. Bu...t one of my favorite things to do when away from the computer, but still immersed in the story, is go for a drive and put my playlist into the CD player. Or, when I'm on a flight, I plug into my iPod, stare out the window, and clear my mind. I'm convinced the best ideas come in those moments. Music seems to open a channel, help make connections I wouldn't normally see. Music makes me a better writer than I actually am, and creates a better book than I could possibly write without it.

Each of the Gamache books has its own playlist, though some songs repeat from book to book.

When I was writing and thinking about THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY music became even more important, since the power of music is one of the themes, and indeed, one of the central mysteries. How music can inspire creativity, courage, can trigger memories, emotions. And music works on the brain - its remarkable resemblance to narcotics.

Well, music is definitely my drug of choice.

THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY is set in a remote and forgotten monastery in Quebec. A place of quite contemplation and plain chant, singing the words of God in the voice of God. And what happens when that harmony is shattered by murder.

Of course, while writing and considering the book, I listened to Gregorian Chants. The classic chants, but also some remarkable re-imagining of them. But I also listened to a lot of modern music.

If you have Spotify, click through the link ( If not, have a look at the playlist here:

*Requiem for a Tower - performed by the London Symphony - written by Clint Mansell
*The Pretender - Foo Fighters
*Fallin' - Alicia Keys
*An American Trilogy - Elvis Presley
*Ali in the Jungle - The Hours
*À distance Andrée Watters
*Crime of the Century - Supertramp
*Iam Christus - Dom Minier & La Schola - Splendour (monks of St-Benoit-du-Lac, Quebec - an updating of traditional Gregorian Chants)
*An American Theme - Irish Film Orchestra - Long Journey Home
*Love the Way You Lie - Eminem
*Not Afraid - Eminem
*PAX - Gregorian Chants on the Theme of Peace - Monks of St-Benoit-du-Lac
*Chant - The Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos
*Someone Like You – Adele

since Spotify is not available all over the world, the wonderful Lauren at Minotaur Books in the US (with St Martin's Press) has made a playlist on YouTube - you can try that. Here's that link...

What music transports you? I'd love to hear about your favorite pieces of music.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Answered Prayers

sunny, warm, temps 26 C

Beautiful day yesterday.  Exercised.  Cut flowers for the home - phlox, roses, lilies, lavender.  Played with Trudy.

Read the Agatha Christie I can't remember reading.  'Crooked House'.  Christie is still my 'comfort' read.  I thought I'd read them all, then I realized I'd read all the poirots and Marples....but not the others.  So now am going back.  Very easy, very fun.  Very relaxing.

Am trying to disengage from the characters, but have to say, the home is still crowded as Armand, Jean-Guy, Clara, Myrna at al follow me around.  Still, good company.

In fact, as I finish each book, I look back on where the characters, and I, came from. Nine years ago! So I thought, to celebrate writing, THE END, for book 9 - and the paperback publication of A TRICK OF THE LIGHT, and the launch of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY on August 28th - it would be fun to look back at the previous books....I've been thinking about STILL LIFE - where it all began. And I wanted to share with you an excerpt from early in the book:

“Every day for Lucy’s entire dog life Jane had sliced a banana for breakfast and had miraculously dropped one of the perfect disks on to the floor where it sat for an instant before being gobbled up. Every morning Lucy’s prayers were answered, confirming her belief that God was old and clumsy and smelt like roses and lived in the kitchen.”

Actually, as we approach the publication of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY, I'll pull a quote, each week from the previous books. Next week - A FATAL GRACE/DEAD COLD. Enjoy!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The End

mainly sunny, warm (but not hot) - 25

Perfect summer day - almost no humidity, and lovely temp...25 is about 75, I think.  Warm, but, as I said, not hot.  And sure not the heat many have suffered the last few days!

And now - my big news -

I finished the first draft of book 9!!!!  God, it feels like I just barely staggered across the finish line - and I think the last couple of chapters are a little ragged....but there and done.  And there will be many more drafts.....but the main work is done.  The characters, the plot, the main structure.

I feel when I've finished the first draft the work on the book is about 75 percent done.  Now I'll take a few weeks off - and start in on the second draft.  That should take a few weeks.  Scary, because of the changes and decisions...and the fear that the first draft really is a pile of piping merde.  But, as always, once I get over the fear everything is easier.  When the second draft is done, then I'm 90 percent there.  Then, with luck, it's a matter of tuning, fine tuning, polishing.

I started this book at the beginning of March - when the snow was flying and the temperature was down to minus 15 C at times.  And I finish in a heatwave - temps above 30 C.

I'm so glad it's finished, and I can ask Monsieur Gamache et al to go about their lives without me for a while.  I need, now, to reconnect with my family and friends - and myself.  I think I'll spend the next day or so staring into space - and sleeping.  Feel like a damp cloth...and I think I look like one too.  A dishrag, with bit of food attached.  Exactly like Jane Austen, when she finished a book.

And on that lovely image, I leave you, to take a bath.  And do some laundry.  And become human again.

thank you for your company through it all.  You really are the best!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Sacred place (frozen)

Sunny, calm - lovely summer day - 25

Well, I don't think I'l finish the manuscript today...but sooo close.

the problem is - I know the last pages of the book. I know the scene that comes just before that. But I don't quite know, yet, how to get there. I feel like I'm standing on the other side of a stream, looking at where I need to be. Not a raging rapids - just a stream. to do it? I can see a few long walks in my day!


Which brings me to the Sacred Places photo contest. In celebration of the August 28th release of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY, we're holding a contest, and asking you to post a picture of a place that inspires you, calms you, brings you peace.

One of my sacred places is our home in winter. I thought, with all the terrible heat, this might also be refreshing. Here's a photo.

And, here's the link, for you to post a picture of your sacred place. I just love the ones already there! And - don't forget to vote. You can do that by clicking on your favorite picture. The winner gets a signed, framed, cover for THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Progress, not perfection...

sunny, warm, temps 28

Another picture perfect day - though huge rains and thunder storm rolled through yesterday afternoon. Walking Trudy and we got caught in one. But it was just rain, quite refreshing.

Getting closer to finishing the first draft...I find I need to just write something (preferably something good) and then I go back and work on it. Shift, edit, polish. But I need a starting point. Also takes some of the fear away - that ever-present whisper that I need to get it right the first time. I just repeat, It's a process, a process. Progress.

And then I sit in this chair, with a coffee or ginger ale, and breathe. Everything smells so sweet.

I'm so enjoying looking at the photos of your sarcred places. Thank you for those!!! And please, keep them coming - and don't forget to vote!

Have been watching the terrible heat and power outages and fires in the States. What misery. While I sit in the chair, and consider my great good fortune, I also spend time thinking of you - and sending thoughts. Be well.