Today I've asked a great friend and brilliant novelist, Linda L. Richards, to write the blog. In fact, because I'm off to an event at Casa Loma in Toronto next week and Michael's having a small operation on his eye after that, I'll be keeping her blog up for about a week - to keep you company. As you'll see when you read it, she's remarkable company.
The other reason for this - and the timing - is because her new book DEATH WAS THE OTHER WOMAN is being launched this week by St Martin's Minotaur! We have the same publisher in the States and I've had the amazing pleasure and privilege to read this book. It's fantastic! It'll blow your socks off (and I know some of you have as many socks as I do!) It's noir, and funny, atmospheric and deeply moving. It's a murder mystery you won't soon forget and I urge you to get a copy of DEAD WAS THE OTHER WOMAN as soon as possible.
Now, Ly-dies and Gentlemen, without further ado heere's Linda L. Richard, direct from British Columbia - (with a blog I was sorely tempted to edit - since she's clearly a very poor judge of character. I think she drinks)
Overcast. 8 degrees C. Light rain.
To be very honest, it intimidates me to be here. I’ll tell you why. Whenever I have written about or discussed Louise Penny, whatever I’ve said has been peppered with words like “grace,” and “wit,” and “charm.” Because she is those things. More. If you’ve spent time with her – in person or by reading her books or hanging out here on her blog – you know this to be true. I can think of few people as filled with grace as Louise Penny, so imbued with natural charm. And it is by the goodness of that grace, that charm, that I visit with you now.
I’m sorry. I embarrass her. I can see her over in the corner, hiding a delicate blush. It can’t be helped. I’m sorry my dear: I only calls them as I sees them. You knew that when you asked me here. It was the risk you took.
In terms of our careers as novelists – our new careers as novelists – Louise and I go way back. My first novel, Mad Money, came out in December of 2004. It was nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel and, perhaps because of this, I was asked to moderate the first novel panel at the Bloody Words conference in 2005. Louise’s first novel, Still Life, would not be published until that fall and so no one – aside, I guess, from her agent and her editor and her husband -- could predict the instant stardom that would come her way. Yet there was something about her – I called it grace. And wit. And charm – that was just impossible to miss.
We had a nice connection from the first, Louise and I. And threads of similar backgrounds. We’re both Canadian. Both journalists-now-novelists. Both passionate about wonderful food. Both in love with and loved by talented men named for saints. Other things, probably, but you get the idea. And, as fate would have things, that connection has been deepened by our evolving careers.
So here I sit just a couple of days ahead of the official publication date of my fourth novel, Death Was the Other Woman, a book that -- not so coincidentally – Louise read almost before anyone else. Not long after the book was accepted for publication, I asked her to read the manuscript with an eye to giving me a pre-publication blurb for the book. She graciously did this, taking time from her own writing schedule to immerse herself in early 1930s Los Angeles.
I was gratified when she told me she’d enjoyed reading the book. In fact, she liked it well enough that she did, in fact, give me a blurb. Here is what she said: “Death Was the Other Woman propelled me straight into depression-era Los Angeles, a really stunning and exciting achievement. And the murder kept me guessing right to the page turning end. On top of that, the lively characters have walked off the page and now pursue me long after I’ve closed the book. A really stellar crime caper, a delight.”
There have been other reviews since, of course. Other blurbs, as well. But can any words mean as much as those of your peers? I think not. Especially those among your peers you consider not only talented, but also to embody grace and wit and charm.
Thank you, Louise, for asking me to join you here today. And, now that I am here, like any of the fans who land on your turf, I have another favor to ask of you. I have another request. (I’ll wager you suspect you know where this is going. You’re right.)
You see, there’s a certain bistro? In a lovely B&B? I’d like you to show me the way. We’ll share a sandwich, you and I. Something on a baguette with two kinds of cheese. We’ll eat it by the fire, with perhaps a bowl of soup each – lobster bisque? -- and a cup of tea. All things that warm.
And we’ll talk about mysteries – about loving them, and reading them and, yes, even making them – and then, afterwards? We’ll take a walk in the snow, through the center of town and right past the three pines. And we’ll remember that visit. Always.
PS FROM LOUISE: As you see, Linda and I are great friends. An unexpected gift that came out of the writing. Who wouldn't love this woman. And I swear, you'll love her book too. DEATH WAS THE OTHER WOMAN. And I hear, joy of joys, that she's deep in to the sequel. Yippee.