Louise Penny: 2018 National Book Festival

Louise Penny: 2018 National Book Festival


[ Applause ] [ Laughter ]>>Maureen Corrigan: Thank you. [ Laughter ] [ Applause ] Maureen Corrigan: And you’ll
all get your checks after. [ Laughter ]>>Maureen Corrigan: I’ve
been asked to remind you to please turn off
your cellphones. Also, to announce that Louise
Penny will be signing books after our conversation. And we — and she will be taking
questions from the audience. So, we’ll try to
squeeze everything in.>>Louise Penny: Sure.>>Maureen Corrigan: My
name is Maureen Corrigan. I’m the book credit
for NPR’s Fresh Air — [ Cheers and applause ]>>Thank you. [ Cheers and applause ] [ Laughter ] [ Cheers and applause ] — as well as a regular
mystery reviewer for the Washington Post.>>Louise Penny: Yes.>>Maureen Corrigan: I have
been attending and participating in the National Book Festival
for the last 18 years. During that time, I’ve had
the pleasure and privilege of interviewing so many
authors whose work I admire. But I have to tell you, Louise
Penny is in a class by herself. [ Cheers and applause ] [ Laughter ] [ Cheers and applause ]>>As soon as I heard that
Louise was going to be here at the National Book
Festival, I emailed Maria Rana who runs this whole
amazing event and I said, “You must let me
interview Louise Penny — ” [ Laughter ] “– or else, right?” [ Laughter ] I think I share with many of you
really almost a sense of awe. I don’t know how to
characterize your mysteries. I read them and — well, when
I reviewed “Glass Houses” — which is the mystery
we’re talking about today which has just come
out in paperback — when I reviewed it a
year ago when it came out in hardcover, I said this. I’m going to quote myself
in The Washington Post. [ Laughter ] This was my first two sentences. “Every August for
the past few years, I’ve read the latest Armand
Gamache detective novel by Louise Penny and every August for the past few
years I’ve been ruined for reading all other books — ” [ Laughter ] “– until the spell of
Gamache dissipates a bit.” [ Laughter ] And I know that many of
you feel that way too.>>Louise Penny: Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Maureen Corrigan: Louise Penny’s mysteries
are like no others. They’re fiercely moral. They’re witty. They’re a bit profane. They — [ Laughter ] — include moments of cruelty,
of poetry, of eccentricity and ultimately I think they
celebrate the saving grace of community. This — “Glass Houses” is what? Your 13th book? Do I have that right?>>Louise Penny: It is.>>Maureen Corrigan: Good. I’ve got two books up here. A word about that in a second,
but it’s your 13th book. Louise’s books debut
reliably as the number one on the bestseller list
as soon as they’re out. Among your many, many, many other awards
you’ve won the Agatha for Best Mystery
Novel five times, the Anthony for Best
Mystery five times. I’ll stop there. Otherwise, we’ll — [ Laughter ]>>Louise Penny: No, go on. Seriously! [ Laughter ]>>Maureen Corrigan:
It’s really — [ Laughter ] It’s my great pleasure
to welcome you.>>Louise Penny: Thank you.>>Maureen Corrigan: We welcomed
you already, but welcome.>>Louise Penny. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Thank you for coming.>>Thank you. [ Applause ] I can’t begin to tell
you what an honor it is. I was just saying
that I’m not sure that the email had
even completely landed in my inbox before
I was saying yes. [ Laughter ]>>I don’t even know
that I was invited. But I said yes — [ Laughter ] — and here I am.>>Maureen Corrigan:
Well, I want to start at the beginning —
beginning of the 13 plus one.>>Louise Penny: Right.>>Maureen Corrigan: I know
that you came to mysteries — to writing books
— a bit belatedly.>>Louise Penny: Right.>>Maureen Corrigan:
You were in your forties at the time you began writing.>>Louise Penny:
Which now from the age of 60 looks not that late. [ Laughter ]>>Maureen Corrigan: I hear you. [ Laughter ] Why the mystery form? Why was that the form you chose?>>Louise Penny: That’s a
really interesting question. I started out — I was going
to write the best book ever. It was going to be a work
of transcendent genius. [ Laughter ] It was going to be historical,
fiction-based on something that actually happened. And it was as I said,
going to be genius, so that my mother
would be amazed, and my former colleagues
would be jealous — [ Laughter ] — so that the professors that thought I was a
dunderhead would have to rethink the whole thing. [ Laughter ] And I just got myself just
so stressed about having to write the perfect book
that I ended up suffering from writer’s block for five
years — five years, you know. Three would’ve been enough — [ Laughter ] — but five! Got to the stage, Maureen
where Michael — my husband — was afraid to ask me
how the book was going. [ Laughter ]>>Maureen Corrigan: Yes.>>Louise Penny: It was like
when I turned 35 and I hadn’t — I was single and my
mother stopped asking me — [ Laughter ] — you know, “Have you
met any nice men lately?”>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah. [ Laughter ]>>Louise Penny: “Have you
met any women you like?” [ Laughter ] Any farm animals you’re
finding attractive? [ Laughter ] She stopped asking every day
and Michael got to that stage where he stopped asking,
“How’s the book going, dear?”>>Maureen Corrigan: Yes.>>Louise Penny: So, then I — a
couple of things had to happen. As a journalist, I discovered
that in covering stories — often tragedies, of course —
that while they might appear to happen out of the
blue in fact, they don’t. It is a cascade of smaller
events often overlooked that culminate in the
one catastrophic event. But if you remove any
single small event — if you turn left
instead of right, if you put on pink instead of
red, any often-trivial thing — the major thing wouldn’t
have happened and the same with great things in my life. And I look back on how did I
get to be sitting here today. And still, life came
because of a series of really quite apparently
small things. But one of them was I
had one of the “aha!” moments sitting on the
sort of side of my bed. Michael used to call
me a horizontalist — [ Laughter ] — because I would spend
most of my life trying to get horizontal somewhere — [ Laughter ] — the sofa, in a bathtub,
and my favorite place is lying on the bed reading
— and still is. And I was preparing to do that when I looked
on the bedside table. And there piled high
with all sorts of books, but very well represented
was crime fiction. And I had one of those moments
of just complete clarity. I thought, “I need to finally
write a book just for myself — a book I would read, a book
that is written with joy, with gratitude, just for me.” And it would be crime fiction because I love reading
crime fiction. And so, that’s where
that came from.>>Maureen Corrigan: I
think it’s interesting. In your list of people who
you say, you wanted to impress with the first novel — those professors who didn’t
think you were good enough.>>Louise Penny: No.>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah. And the Academy does
still turn its nose down a bit at crime fiction.>>Louise Penny: Oh.>>Maureen Corrigan:
I can tell you because I teach a
course at Georgetown — [ Laughter ] — on detective fiction. And every once in a while,
my colleagues will say, “Oh, that must be fun”, you know. [ Laughter ]>>Louise Penny: Right, yeah. “One day you’ll be good
enough to teach real — “>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.>>Louise Penny: “– books.” [ Laughter ]>>Maureen Corrigan: But –>>Louise Penny: Yeah.>>Maureen Corrigan: But –>>Louise Penny: Yeah.>>Maureen Corrigan: But no,
honestly it drives me crazy. But you, like Raymond
Chandler started late. Raymond Chandler was
in his fifties –>>Louise Penny: Was he?>>Maureen Corrigan: — when
he published “The Big Sleep”.>>Louise Penny: I
didn’t know that.>>Maureen Corrigan:
And I think of you and Raymond Chandler
together because of that and because also, Chandler said
he wanted to do something more with the mystery form. I think of you as
doing something more with the mystery form.>>Louise Penny: Thank you.>>Maureen Corrigan: And I — one of the things I think
you do, is you make mysteries into spiritual investigations. You’re thinking about
the problem of evil and why it exists in the world,
why it exists in people’s souls. Am I reading too much into you? I mean, I don’t — [ Laughter ] I don’t think I am, but.>>Louise Penny:
No, that’s — and — but it’s a very difficult
issue for me to talk about or question to answer. And I — thank you for saying that I’m doing something
new with the genre.>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: I — and I’m
very proud to be a crime writer. But I also — when I
started writing “Still Life”, I didn’t know that
there were rules at all. So, I just — as I
said, I just wrote — [ Coughing ] — you know, without intending
to break any of the rules. And one of the things I kind
of like about “Still Life” — and in fact, I think I like
about the whole series — is that they adhere
to the rules while at the same time I’m helping
sort of transcend the rules. But they are like
neocrime fiction — new –>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: —
moving it forward. Making it both crime
fiction in the classic sense, but also blurring the
lines with other — with literary fiction,
and poetry, and –>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny:
— other things. [ Coughing ] So, that’s sort of
how I came to it. Now I’ve forgotten
what the question was. [ Laughter ]>>Maureen Corrigan:
Well, I was posing –>>Louise Penny:
It’s a spirituality.>>Maureen Corrigan: — this big, academic
reading of your books.>>Louise Penny: No,
just spiritually, yes. That’s — [ Laughter ] — so true.>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: Thank you. [ Laughter ] [ Coughing ] There’s — I read a lot of poetry as you
can probably tell from the books and I use quite a
lot of poetry in it. But one of my favorites
is Oden and Oden’s eulogy to Yates clearly
after Yates died. And one of the first lines
is, “Mad Ireland hurt him in the poetry” which is just
a brilliant line and it’s — in that line, you understand
everything you need to know about Ireland, about
poetry, and about Yates.>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: And I think
I connected with that line because I had to be hurt
into writing as well. And I think out of that pain,
I tried to write all my life. But I was raised with a lot of
— quite a bit of affluence. I was very, very
fortunate in my upbringing. I was never particularly hurt and I was fairly
self-absorbed and callous. [ Coughing ] And so, a lot of what I
was writing was out of ego. I wanted to have accolades. I wanted to sit in front
of a room like this. This would’ve absolutely
blown my 12-year-old mind. [ Laughter ] But it was right in from that
ego place and I really had to be hurt into writing. I had to be really humbled. I had to know a lot of grief, and a lot of sorrow,
and a lot of loss. I had to come — I’m a recovering alcoholic
and I had to bottom. And I had to come to
and through despair. I had to know what it felt
like to stand in the middle of my living room
and want to die. And the only reason
I didn’t die — and I’m a huge advocate
of gun control which isn’t that difficult being
a Canadian frankly. [ Laughter ] It’s hard to find
a gun in Canada. Because I know had there
been a gun in the house, I wouldn’t be here today. So, that sort of thing you
reach a fork in the road where you either die,
or become embittered, or you find something
bigger than yourself. And I think that’s
what the books are about — that you find hope. You understand what it
is to find a community, and a sense of belonging,
and a sense of purpose. And that’s what the
books are about and I — from my point of view, they
are spiritual journeys. But I’m hoping for those
people who don’t want a God, or need a God, or have a God
— which is just fine with me. I have no need to
prosthetize [assumed spelling] that they are also
humanist journeys as well. [ Coughing ]>>Maureen Corrigan: Let me just
say that the way you just spoke about your books is the reason
why so many of us love them — the genuineness,
the openness that — the way you share the
pain as well as so much about being human that
comes through in the books. And I was always
struck by that letter. I forget which mystery it was that you wrote a letter
prefacing the mystery talking about your books
as your children. And I think so many of us
feel how much they matter to you and to us.>>Louise Penny: They do. I have no children. And so, this is — if I
have a legacy, it’s this.>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: And
so, I poor everything. I create one thing in a year. One thing. One thing. [ Laughter ] It better be worth my time. And it sure as hell
better be worth your time, and your money, and your effort.>>Maureen Corrigan: Well,
the person in the novels who leads us through these
journeys is Armand Gamache and I know — when I read
him, I — well, first of all, I think many of us in the room
are half in love with him. [ Laughter ] And I know that you modeled him
on your late husband, Michael.>>Louise Penny: Yes.>>Maureen Corrigan: You’ve
said that in many interviews. But I also always think he
must’ve been difficult to create because he’s not eccentric. I think it’s so much easier to
create that kind of detective who has all of those oddities –>>Louise Penny:
The expectations.>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah,
and doesn’t, you know –>>Louise Penny: Yeah.>>Maureen Corrigan: —
interact with the world well. He’s in the center
of a community.>>Louise Penny: Right.>>Maureen Corrigan:
And I’d like you to talk a little bit
about creating him.>>Louise Penny: Well, that
was — every decision I made, Maureen was because I didn’t
actually think that the book — I wanted it to be published
and I wanted it to be a series. But I really — I knew the
chances were very small that it actually
would be published — “Still Life” and grow to –>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny:
— into a series. So, every decision I made
was selfish because I thought that was going to be the
only reward I would get. So, when it came to
creating Gamache, I had heard that
Agatha Christie — who I love and I still read — but that she grew
weary of Poirot. I think one of the reasons
she grew weary of Poirot — [ Laughter ] — was that he didn’t change. He didn’t evolve. He was essentially the
same person in 1919 when she started the first
book as he was when she died and when he died in the 1960’s. So, I really wanted someone
who would grow and evolve. But mostly, I just
wanted someone who I wouldn’t grow tired of. And I thought, “Now
how do I do that? How do I mitigate against that?” And I thought, “Really,
the only way to do it is to create a character
I would marry.” [ Laughter ] And so, that’s what I did
and I sure didn’t want to marry an alcoholic. I didn’t want to marry
someone who’s embittered. I didn’t want to
marry an adulterer. I wanted to marry someone whose
company I would always enjoy, and who I would find
fascinating, and a decent human being,
and a good human being. And also, as I said, who’s — [ Sneezing ] — because probably the only
enjoyment I would get would be the writing of the books.>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: So,
every day I go down. I — and I’m in this company. And I loved writing
“Still Life”. And then, thank God, you know,
13 books later oddly enough — I don’t know if you’ve
noticed it, but he does not seem
to be aging — [ Laughter ] — quite as fast as I am. [ Laughter ] It’s a miracle.>>Maureen Corrigan: It’s — [ Laughter ] It’s great and you’ve just
reassured us that he’s not going to be thrown over the
Reichenbach Falls or gotten –>>Louise Penny: No. No. No. No.>>Maureen Corrigan: Great.>>Louise Penny: No. No, I don’t know. I don’t know why — why do –>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: Why
do writers do that? I mean, I can see growing tired. I mean, I would — I’ve
not grown tired yet of any of my characters, but I
could see maybe it happening. But why do you have
to make it –>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: — so final?>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah. [ Laughter ]>>Louise Penny: And then,
write a sequel where — then the whole [inaudible]
doing thing comes — [ Laughter ] — the match comes
out of the shower.>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny:
It was just a — [ Laughter ] Well, only someone with gray
hair would know that reference. [ Laughter ]>>Maureen Corrigan: Let’s talk
for a bit about “Glass Houses” which has just come
out in paperback. If you haven’t read it, of
course you’re in for a treat. The opening situation is that
it’s Halloween in Three Pines and we have this mysterious
figure cloaked head to toe in black masked comes
into the village and everyone begins
talking about, “Why is this very unsettling
figure that looks like something out of Edgar Allan Poe — why
is this figure standing there?” It turns out that the figure
is something called a Cobrador.>>Louise Penny: Yes.>>Maureen Corrigan: A
centuries old figure from Spain.>>Louise Penny: Yes.>>Maureen Corrigan: Would
you talk a bit about that?>>Louise Penny: I — do you want me to talk about how
I found out about the Cobrador?>>Maureen Corrigan: Yes, because how on earth did
you stumble across it?>>Louise Penny:
That’s a good question. [ Laughter ]>>Maureen Corrigan: Okay. [ Laughter ] Yeah.>>Louise Penny:
Michael’s best friend — Michael went to Cambridge and his best friend
there became the editor of the Financial
Times in Madrid. And he came to visit us once and
we were sitting around chatting. And he said, “You know, you’ve probably never
heard of this thing. But every now and then I’m
walking through Barcelona and I’ll run into this figure.” He’s not actually the way
I describe him, but — [ Laughter ] — a Cobrador is
a debt collector. And what he is, he’s all dressed
very formally with a top hat, and tails, and carrying
a briefcase. And he stands out in
front of someone’s home. And when they come
out, he follows them at a respectful distance — never speaks, never
engages them. Follows them to work, stands
outside of the office building. When the guy goes for lunch,
follows him for lunch, stands outside the
restaurant just silent staring. And everybody knows
what a Cobrador is. It’s a debt collector.>>Maureen Corrigan: Oh.>>Louise Penny: And clearly,
this person has not paid — [ Coughing ] — a debt. [ Sigh ] And the idea is the
power of shame. They are humiliating this
person into paying a debt. [ Coughing ] The Cobrador that shows up in
Three Pines, once they figure out who this figure
is who’s standing on the village green just
staring is a much older version of the modern Cobrador.>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: And this
version is a conscience and the debt that he’s come to collect is a moral
debt, not a financial one. And it’s — what I found
fascinating is that every person in Three Pines is suddenly
afraid that he’s there for them because we all have a moral
debt that has been unpaid.>>Maureen Corrigan:
It’s terrifying. [ Laughter ]>>Louise Penny: I actually
found it kind of terrifying too.>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: There’s
a scene in the book — and I know many of you
have probably read it. There’s a scene in the book
where they’re all sitting around and they confess what
that moral debt is –>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: —
that they all have.>>Maureen Corrigan:
Yeah, it’s terrifying. You’re bringing back a
crime from the past that has to be solved which
so many mysteries do. It’s part of the
form that, you know, something from the past
doesn’t let go and comes back.>>Louise Penny: Yes.>>Maureen Corrigan: But I — what you also do so
beautifully is you open — you seem to use your
mysteries as social criticism as well — social commentary. And there’s usually a plot
that comments on society today. In this book, it’s something
about the opioid crisis.>>Louise Penny: Right.>>Maureen Corrigan: And I
think that that’s, you know, that’s a particular
strength of mysteries — yours and so many
other mysteries — that they can do that. They can act as our modern
form of social fiction.>>Louise Penny: I think the
mystery form in any form — even cozies — is
just such an — it’s such a malleable
and powerful form. What batter way to investigate
the human condition –>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: — than
when some crime has happened or about to happen? And yes, in this case it’s
the opioid epidemic –>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: — and
Gamache having to face, and spar with his
own conscience. And one of the themes of
my books is inspired often by a bit of poetry or a quote. And in this particular book,
the quote is from Gandhi. And I’m just trying to — I probably won’t get
it absolutely right, but Gandhi said that, “There is
a higher Court than the Court of Law and that’s the
court of the conscience which supersedes
all other courts.” Which sounds good — [ Coughing ] — because Gandhi
said it after all and who’s going to
fight with Gandhi? [ Laughter ] Until you start thinking like, “In Gandhi’s hands,
that’s not too bad. But how many vile acts
have been committed in the name of the conscience?”>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: And in this
case, Gamache is struggling with his own conscience
of having to do — when you’re faced with such a
monster like the opioid epidemic and those who traffic in it. Do you have to do something
monstrous to fight it? And Gamache is struggling
with that. And among the things he thinks
about was Churchill having to turn a blind eye knowing the
Coventry was going to be bombed, and having to allow it to be
bombed, and all those deaths, and all that destruction because
he knew that if he didn’t, the Germans would know they’d
broken the code and he needed that to be kept secret. So, he sat there that night and
allowed Coventry to be bombed. And the others — the
Conquistadors landing and burning the ships, so that
you can’t go back and that — that becomes elite
motif [assumed spelling] through the book of
burning your ships. Burning your ships
you can’t go back. Do something for which
there is no return. And that’s what Gamache who
was a good man and a moral man. And he — people he
trusts and believes in him both are begging
him not to do it. And he just — he’s
struggling with himself.>>Maureen Corrigan: You’re
talking about these larger than life incidents
and decisions. And I want to carry that
forward to ask you a question about the structure of this book and so many others
of your mysteries. By my count, you’ve had at least
four apocalyptic endings — [ Laughter ] — in your novels. [ Laughter ]>>Louise Penny: You’re welcome. [ Laughter ]>>Maureen Corrigan:
And I’m going to ask — [ Laughter ] I’m going to ask you, you know,
the most useless question. [ Laughter ] But how do you do it?>>Louise Penny: Oh
no, a Maureen question. Maureen Corrigan’s
ever curiousness.>>Maureen Corrigan: How do you? I can’t imagine how you work
yourself up just technically as a writer to the plot
exploding the way it does at the end here. The tension is such
that as a reader, I’m not just saying this. I know that I’m not breathing. I’m not doing my yoga
breathing as I’m reading — [ Laughter ] — as I’m reading it. Do you have a sense of
the ending when you start or does the story
lead you along?>>Louise Penny: I sometimes do. Sometimes it’s something and I’m
being completely honest with you because it — this is — it sounds so be known
[assumed spelling]. Sometimes early on even before, I started writing
I’ll see something. And in this case, I mean,
it’s so embarrassing. I know you won’t tell anyone. [ Laughter ] But I had a vision of
Gamache running through — I guess I was walking the dog
or something through the forest and running through
the forest — [ Coughing ] — you know, between the
trees and in the sunshine. Just running like hell-bent. Hell-bent, you know. He’s not a young man running. I thought, “Now what, you
know, what’s that about? What would he — what
would make him do that? What’s he running toward and
who’s he running after with such determination that
he would, you know, he’s going to — you
could see that he’s going to catch up with whatever. It’s going to kill
him to try to do it.” So, that — and that’s one of
the things that spurs me on. So, I don’t know the
exact ending necessarily or that it would be –>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: —
necessarily apocalyptic. I have to say that one
of the challenges — I mean, there were
many challenges in this book structurally. But one of the challenges when
there is an ending like that — like there was in “How
the Light Gets In” for instance was another one –>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: — is
to make it believable because it’s so important to me. These aren’t, you know,
Mission Impossible type things where they’re always blowing
up things, and running around, and falling on the ground, and
having fistfights, and stuff. These are — I hope —
characters that we can believe in and that we identify with. And so, to have Gamache,
and [inaudible], and the others be doing
this even though the sort of payoff is it’s not
completely unbelievable –>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny:
— that they would. But you have to not be reading
it and go, “Oh, for God’s sake!” [ Laughter ] You have to be with
them, and understand where this is coming from,
and that they themselves — I mean, there’s a scene
in this where Gamache is in the bistro — without
going into too much detail. This is before the
alien invasion. [ Laughter ] Gamache is just sitting
in the bistro with — Ann Marie is there, and Ruth is
there, and so are the bad guys. They’re at another table. And Gamache knows they’re
there, but nobody else knows who they are and
what’s about to happen. And so, that’s — those are the
quiet moments that for me are in many ways more apocalyptic than the running
through of the woods. This is that, “Oh my God!”>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny:
“What’s going to happen?”>>Maureen Corrigan:
Yeah, it’s wonderful. I’ve been told we just have
15 minutes left and I –>>Louise Penny: No!>>Maureen Corrigan: Yes,
and I want to leave time for audience questions.>>Louise Penny: Yes.>>Maureen Corrigan: So,
I want to ask you this. I read your New York Times
interview a few weeks ago –>>Louise Penny: Yes.>>Maureen Corrigan: — the
“Buy the Book” interview –>>Louise Penny: Yes.>>Maureen Corrigan:
— where you said — and I wanted to try to
quote you correctly, but — because you say it better than
I would if I just summarized it. You said that you realize
that all your books circle around the same thing — our yearning to belong,
our quest for home. Would you talk about that?>>Louise Penny: I’ve — I
— my friend, I guess not. [ Laughter ]>>Maureen Corrigan:
It’s a big one. It’s — [ Laughter ] It’s Homeric [assumed spelling].>>Louise Penny: I’ve
searched — I’ve — growing up I was very
lonely and I was never — I was always self-excluded. And so, the only idea of belonging was a
yearning that I always had. I always felt like I was
just outside the ring of the campfire, you know,
in the darkness, in the cold, and seeing everyone
there, and wanting to go and join the circle, but
afraid they wouldn’t let me in.>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: And
so, for me, that — and then, later in
life to find it — to find it in my little
village in the eastern townships where Michael and I moved,
to find love with Michael, to find belonging
in a 12-step group, to be given a second chance. And then, to find home, and
to know how precious that is, and how it changes your life,
and how it gives you courage to do things that you
may not normally do because you can always go
home, and lick your wounds, and people will put
their arms around you, and say, “You know what? It’s okay. It’s okay. And you’ll be okay
and it’ll get better.” And mean it and not
run away from you. And so, that’s what
“Three Pines” is about. “Three Pines” is
about belonging. It’s about people who
accept you no matter what. I mean, they accept Ruth. They accept — [ Laughter ] [ Applause ] Well, I have something
here that is going to get me mobbed
as I try to exit.>>Crowd: Wow.>>Louise Penny: Wow.>>Maureen Corrigan:
This is the next one. This is — [ Cheers and applause ] — “The Kingdom of the Blind” which is coming out
November 27th.>>Louise Penny: Thank you.>>Maureen Corrigan: And
I’m about halfway through. It’s another — I don’t
know how you do it.>>Louise Penny: Oh, thank you.>>Maureen Corrigan: It
really is just magnificent. It opens with a house that
is no longer a home –>>Louise Penny: Yes.>>Maureen Corrigan: —
this kind of skeletal –>>Louise Penny: Good for you! Yes.>>Maureen Corrigan: — vision
of a house that’s terrifying because it’s been drained of
what makes a house a home. So, you’ll love it. [ Laughter ] I’m not giving my copy away. [ Laughter ] Thank you, Louise Penny. It has been –>>Louise Penny: Oh, thank
you, Maureen Corrigan.>>Maureen Corrigan:
— such a pleasure. Yes.>>Louise Penny: Just the best,
most intelligent reviewer.>>Maureen Corrigan: Thank you. [ Applause ] Thank you so much. Thank you. [ Applause ] Thank you. And we’ve got time for some
questions — 10 minutes.>>Louise Penny: Good.>>Maureen Corrigan:
So, if you would come up to the microphones. [ Laughter ] Oh, and can I just suggest
too because I know that all of the books are so interrelated
now and I know that some of you haven’t read
all of the books. And we’re going to
lock the doors and not let you out
till you have. [ Laughter ] But if you could try not
to have any spoilers, that would be good. And I don’t simply
mean who murdered whom, but character development
as well is — so, I think if you just praise
me that would probably — [ Laughter ] I think that would
be the safest. [ Laughter ]>>Audience: Well, I’ll start
by saying I love all your books. They’re fabulous. As somebody who was born
and raised in Montreal, but have lived — I’ve lived
here for a number of years too. I was just wondering. This is probably an easy
question — no spoilers. Is there any town in Eastern
Townships like Three Pines? [ Laughter ] Are other places
I’ve come across — for example — are they real? For example, the Gilbertine
[assumed spelling] Monastery in [inaudible] Something
— is that real?>>Louise Penny:
Oh, [inaudible].>>Audience: [Inaudible]?>>Louise Penny: Yes.>>Audience: I couldn’t
remember. Are these real places?>>Louise Penny: No. [ Laughter ] But, you know, one regret — one thing I think I did wrong
was I’m glad I created Three Pines as an almost
mythical place. It certainly doesn’t
exist except I talk about this a little bit at
the end of one of the books –>>Audience: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: — that Three
Pines — and I genuine — I mean this sincerely. I think of Three Pines
as a state of mind — that when I choose
to be kind instead of making the cutting remark,
when I search out goodness and when I’m decent, then
I live in Three Pines which means I can — I carry it with me wherever I
go and so do you. And I know when I’m
beyond the pale — when I’ve done something
unpleasant. But there are — what I hope
I’ve captured is the sense of these villages that
I live in and around. Like Nolton, Quebec is
where I actually live and it’s quite like Three Pines. Much bigger, but it is like
— but like Three Pines, so.>>Audience: Thank you.>>Louise Penny: Thank you.>>Audience: Louise,
thank you so much for creating a place
I just want to revisit over and over again –>>Louise Penny: Thank you.>>Audience: — and
the inspiration that I feel particularly
from Gamache. And my question is I’ve noticed in I think almost all the
books I’ve read so far, Gamache repeats something that
he says his mentor taught him — four things that you need
if you want to be wise. The four things are,
“I’m sorry.” “I was wrong.” “I don’t know.” “I need help.”>>Louise Penny: Yes.>>Audience: Thank
you so much for that and where did it come from?>>Louise Penny: Where
did it come from?>>Audience: Yeah? [ Laughter ]>>Louise Penny: And than
you for remembering all four. I always — almost always
remember three and then I — [ Laughter ]>>Audience: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: So, thank
you for saying it yourself. I thought, “Oh my gosh! I can’t remember what they are.” [ Laughter ] Oddly enough, the first time I
met Michael he was chairing a meeting and he as — and you
normally open a meeting with –>>Audience: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: — reading
of the minutes, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And he was — he said, you know, “I’m going to start off
this meeting by talking about the four statements
that lead to wisdom.” Audience: Ah!>>Louise Penny: And he paused
and he looked at everybody. I said, “Oh, for God’s sake!” And he just — he said
those four things, paused, and then went on with
the rest of the meeting. And I thought, “Now there
is an extraordinary man.” [ Laughter ] Audience: Ah, wonderful story. Thank you. Thank you so much. I started your books
last October. I finished them about
six weeks ago. [ Laughter ] I’ve brought a ton of friends
to Three Pines with me. We’re having a Three
Pines party in December.>>Louise Penny: Oh beautiful! [ Laughter ] Audience: I’m so excited. When you wrote “Still
Life”, how much did you know about these characters? With no spoilers! Louise Penny: Right. How much did I know
about the characters when I started “Still Life”? I certainly didn’t know how
they were going to evolve.>>Audience: Okay.>>Louise Penny: And that
I really — I enjoy that — and trying to leave
that relatively organic, and just in some ways
allowing them to take the path. Some guidance necessary,
but no it’s — I didn’t know where
they would go. I sort of thought of it. I knew it was going
to be a series and I wanted them to evolve. So, I sort of thought
of “Still Life” as the first cocktail
party where you go in and you meet a bunch of people. You think, “I think
they could be friends”. But you don’t know a
great deal about them. You just know that
you like them. And then, the second book
is maybe that first lunch. [ Laughter ] And then, the third book, “Well,
let’s have dinner together.” And so, there’s — [ Laughter ] — there is an exposition
that happens — an evolution of intimacy.>>Audience: Well,
thank you very much.>>Louise Penny: Thank you.>>Audience: Thank you
so much for your books. I also grew up in Montreal and have been going
back more, and more. And I’ve been translating
a Yiddish poet who comes from [inaudible],
but lived in Montreal for a long time, Rachel Korn. And often, in her poems again
and again, Three Pines come up.>>Louise Penny: Really?>>Audience: They act as
guardians for her childhood home which she sort of mythologizes. So, when I read your books and
I read her poems it’s like, “What is this with the, you
know, these Three Pine image?” But my other question
is I go back again and again to Montreal. And I’m bilingual and
how do you navigate that? You have these characters with
names like Jean Luc and Gamache, but we’re clearly
in English Canada. How does that — how do
you think that through?>>Louise Penny: Well, I want to
give the sense of the bilingual and bicultural nature –>>Maureen Corrigan: Right.>>Louise Penny: — because I
think that’s really rich and –>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: — rich ground. The question is ow much — for me anyway is how much
French to throw in –>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: — so
that I get the sense of it because clearly, I don’t —
I mean, I’m assuming you know that when Gamache,
and Jean [inaudible], and Isabel [assumed spelling]
are together they’re probably talking French –>>Maureen Corrigan: Yeah.>>Louise Penny: — even though
I’m writing it in English because you would not be here if
I was writing the whole thing — [ Laughter ] — in French. But that’s what, you know, I
throw in a “wee”, or [French], or [French], or something. And, you know, every now
and then I’ll get an email from someone saying, “I
don’t understand what these words mean. It’s really annoying. [ Laughter ] Surely, you can figure it out. When — when I was — [ Laughter ] When I was first writing
“Still Life” and there’s a — I talk about a tuque — a tuque. I didn’t realize that
tuques are very Canadian and in fact, Quebec. And I would get — I got an
email from my English editor in Britain — in London
who said, “What’s a tuque?” And I thought again, it’s
like minus a gazillion out. They’re putting something
on their head. [ Laughter ] “It’s a refrigerator.” Of course, what do you think
a tuque could possibly be? [ Laughter ] So –>>Maureen Corrigan:
We have time I’m afraid for one more question.>>Louise Penny:
Oh, I’m so sorry –>>Maureen Corrigan: I’m sorry.>>Louise Penny: —
for answering two.>>Audience: I’ll try to
make it a good one then. [ Laughter ] I’d like to ask you a little
bit about Ruth [inaudible]. [ Cheers and applause ]>>Louise Penny: Yeah. [ Cheers and applause ] Every time I read one of
her poems, I am brought out for a moment thinking how
wonderful an example it is of a different voice than the
— what else I am reading. It stands out as really
being a character to life. It’s not just the author’s
voice — though obviously it is. So much so that I
even wonder sometimes if you got the poem
somewhere else. And I –>>Louise Penny: I did.>>Audience: That’s what
I would like to know — how do you find those poems and to what degree
has your writing — do you make it up right
there or do you have a list of Ruth poems somewhere else — [ Laughter ] — somewhere else that
you come up with and stick in when you need them?>>Louise Penny: Well, I do. When I write I have cookbooks
and poetry books beside me. And most of the Ruth [inaudible]
poems come from Margaret Atwood from her “Morning in
the Burned House”. Terrible! Oh my God! What a title! But it’s a great,
slim volume of poetry. Just it’s fabulous poems. So, when I’m writing — and
I’m writing the next book now actually. And I was writing it this
morning in the hotel room and I’m thinking,
“God, this is — would be a great place for that
particular part of that poetry.” So, that’s — Ruth is someone
who, you know, we all have a — [ Coughing ] — our thankfully a
public face, right? In which we know that we say
polite things to each other and we keep our more — [ Laughter ] [ Coughing ] — hideous thoughts
inside, you know. “Yes, this is gorgeous
on me”, you know. But God knows what
you’re really thinking. [ Laughter ] And so, thank God we
have a public face. But Ruth was born inside out.>>Audience: I know. [ Laughter ] The challenge is not
making her a caricature.>>Audience: Yes.>>Louise Penny: So, I really
appreciate that you all see her as a woman in full
and not as a — just a crotchety
old you know what. So, thank you for that. That means a lot to me.>>Audience: Thank you.>>Maureen Corrigan:
Thank you, Louise Penny. [ Applause ]>>Louise Penny: Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you so much. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *