Saturday 2 September 2017

Meeting Louise

Louise Penny appears at St. Andrew's Wesley Church on Monday, August 28
I have been a big fan of Louise Penny since my friend Dianna recommended her books in 2015. I've read the first nine books and am working on book ten. I've written several reviews for her books including Still LifeBury Your Dead, The Murder Stone, and How The Light Gets In. Penny has the gift of writing intriguing, intelligent, suspenseful and compassionate murder mysteries. They also have some surprisingly funny moments. So, when I got an email from Vancouver Wordfest saying she was coming to town, I had to go.

I invited my friend Sue who is a fellow Penny fan and we arranged to go together to St. Andrew's Wesley United Church on Monday, August 28. It was a sweltering evening, somewhere around 30° Celcius. The church filled up early with hundreds of Penny fans. Everyone looked as excited as I felt to hear from this talented Canadian author. 

The moderator for the evening welcomed us to "The city's largest sauna" and he wasn't far off. Women in every direction fanned themselves with any paper they could find. But it was worth it to hear from this well-spoken former CBC journalist. 

Here are some of the things I will remember about the evening:

Louise thinks of her characters through the lens of Helen Prejean's quote "People are more than the
Some of the incredible stained glass at St. Andrew's Wesley
worst thing they have ever done in their lives." She said this gives her compassion for her characters.

Louise said writers need to write their first draft with their playful, creative selves. Leave the critic for the revisions.

Penny does research to a certain point and then makes the story work for her, even if she doesn't get all of the facts right.

Her husband died about a year ago. Louise said she took 6 weeks to two months off of writing, but when she returned to her book, she found it comforting and healing. Her husband is the inspiration for her main character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and it feels like, through continuing to write his character, her husband remains close.

I am so glad I went and I am thankful I still have more Louise Penny books to read. 

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