Friday, 23 November 2007

I'll take two homes in the Cotswolds, Phil.

Toronto - Extreme Warning - sunny

It's been a few hectic days since last I wrote. I'm in Toronto now - Friday. Arrived yesterday through a storm that saw an accident a minute on the main highways around Toronto. There wasn't a huge accumulation of snow - the culprit was freezing rain, followed by a layer of snow. Horrible.

I'd been in Belleville the nightbefore...that's about an hour and a half east of Toronto. Arrived on Wednesday afternoon and was picked up by Tammy, the lovely owner of Greenley's Books, where I was doing the event Wednesday night. It was cold and rainy, but not quite the disaster it was about to become. Tammy, bless her, had packed a 'picnic' lunch for me to take to the hotel.

"I know how tiring it is being on the road,' she said, handing the comfortingly large blue bag to me. 'And how hard it is to eat healthy meals.'

This was a little more disconcerting. I checked into the very nice hotel in Belleville, flipped on HGTV (Location, Location, Location was on, followed by Relocation, Relocation, Relocation - for addicts like me it was a sign from on high I was in the right place. Kirsty and Phil and British properties. Heaven.) then burrowed into the picnic.

Cucumber, tomatoes, whole wheat buns, fruit salad. I burrowed deeper. Healthy crackers and water. Hmmm. One more layer to go though.

On TV Kirstie had reduced a high strung London business exec to tears and Phil was trying to find them a three bedroom home in Glasgow for only 1.5 million dollars.

I was feeling a little misty myself as I dug down to the last layer.

Freezer packs. But - wait. Two saran wrapped bundles. Cheese. Lovely double cream brie.

God bless Tammy, and long may she sail!!!

Actually, I kidded her about the healthy lunch - but I am SO grateful and touched by her thoughtfulness. And she was absolutely right. As much fun as hotels can be, after three months they do wear a little thin. Though nothing else is thin. And so a meal of fresh fruit and vegetable and multi-grain bread (and cheese) was bliss. I munched and muttered at the moronic couple who kept turning down perfectly beautiful homes in the Highlands and wondered if Michael would be very angry if I emailed Kirstie and Phil and asked them to find us a small home in a Cotswold village.

The cold rain teemed down as I arrived at Greenley's at 7 for the speaking/reading/signing. Now, I've had events (as you know) where no one has shown up - and events in front of hundreds of enthusiastic readers. I believe I've reached the stage where I know it's not a reflection of my, my books, or the book seller. As long as we all did our best to promote the event. It does annoy me when I've made an effort to get to a place and the bookseller/librarian/host says they put a poster in the window that afternoon and are hoping for the best. I smile - but inside I'm seething.

But what makes an event for me isn't necessarily the size of the crowd - but the warmth. And I mean that sincerely.

The event at Greenley's was one of the best I've had. Made that way by Tammy, her husband Ron, her mother, her stepmother, her staff, and the ten or so people who came out in the dark and cold and driving rain. It was a magical night and I felt very lucky indeed to have been so welcomed.

If you're a writer and are ever invited to Greenley's Books - a great independent bookstore in Belleville, Ontario - jump at the chance!

The next morning I awoke to an ominous sound. A small scratching on the hotel room window. I knew what I was. Any Canadian would. Ice pellets. There's no other sound like it. Opening the curtains I saw the cars in the parking lot encased in ice. Icicles dripped from the fenders.

And more was falling. After breakfast Ron and Tammy picked me up. Imagine that. Scraping their little red car. Braving the treacherous roads. They came to the hotel and drove me to the train station.

And I was off to Toronto. Through the VIA Rail window I could see the freezing rain turning to snow as we appraoched Canada's largest city.

Last night I did an event at Ben McNally's new bookstore on Bay street. It was organized by the indominable Janet Sommerville, of St George's School - as a fund raiser for literacy. By then the snow had stopped but the temperature had plummeted and the wind picked up. I had the great good fortune to be seated next to Eric Wright - a Canadian legend in mystery writing circles and a wonderful man. And again it amazed me the number of people who turned out to buy signed books, talk to authors and listen as the school band played Christmas carols. It was sublime. And to add to the magical quality of the night the great Canadian children's author and illustrator Barbara Reid was there. We'd met earlier in the year and liked each other so che came out to be supportive...but what blew me away was that her husband was with her. Ian Chrysler. An old high school friend of mine! We'd both been to Lawrence Park Collegiate. He hadn't changed (damn him) except for what he insisted was snow in his hair. We went out for coffee afterwards and got caught up.

One of the great, unexpected, benefits of having a book published is meeting old friends again. And that was a delight.

Must rush - is anyone still reading this??? Sorry for the length. Am off to St George's school. the grade 11 boys are studying my second book, DEAD I'm a kind of 'show and tell' this morning.

I miss Michael.

Will probably not write again until next week. Be well.


Anonymous said...

I love that you watch location location location, isn't the world a small place really! and Glasgow of all places, brilliant, at least you got to see my home town. I hope you enjoy your travels and take care in such bad weather.

Best wishes

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Linda,

Thanks for keeping up with my travels! What a beautiful (but apparently expensive) city you live in.

Take care -