Sunday, 18 July 2010


mainly sunny, warm, temps 25

Lovely day, some cloudy periods, breezy but refreshing. So far it's been a spectacular summer. Such a relief, especially for people getting married on the weekends.

The weekend's been taken up with the Knowlton WordFest...the first annual literary festival, organized by the Knowlton Literary Association. (KLA - which they admit sounds like either an airline or a terrorist cell).

It was a blast! Exhausting - but very, very successful. I heard some amazing talks by some fabulous writers. Susan Briscoe, a great poet. Isabelle Lafleche, whose book, J'adore New York is wonderful, and doing brilliantly in terms of buzz and sales. And loads of others...don't want to turn this into a phone book. But it was thrilling - as a reader and a writer.

The conversation at the Theatre Lac Brome yesterday was very fun - but then Jim Napier is a master interviewer. The two of us sat on stage, in comfortable chairs, a table between us, and microphones. And Jim asked me questions. Now, Jim is a long-time friend, so we know each other well. In fact, as you know, he stayed with us, which made it even easier. Gave us a chance to chat a little and get caught up. But he didn't tell me what he was going to ask, and I didn't want to know. So much better if these things are spontaneous. What Jim does that's so brilliant is he makes an interview feel like a conversation.

So we chatted for 50 minutes - opened it up for questions - chatted with the audience for twenty minutes....then did a book signing. In the middle of which my cell phone rang it was Anne Dowson, a host on CJAD the big private radio station in Montreal - we'd arranged to do an interview promoting WordFEst - but it was supposed to be later. Anyway, it was a live interview and I really had no choice, so the poor people in the book line had to wait while I did the interview.

But people seemed relaxed...I hope. Oh, want to say that Jim has a great crime fiction website called Deadly Diversions. It was just named on the 50 top sites for crime fiction. It's well worth visiting...excellent.

Then off to the Cafe Inn for a lemonade and to meet the film-maker. He's interested in the option for the books, to be made into made-for-tv films. I don't want to sound jaded, but lots of producers show interest, but few can come up to the standards we need. So it's always cordial, but there are no expectations.

Then scooted home, picked up Michael and off we wrnt to our regular Saturday night meeting - then got together with friends for ice tea after.

Jim arrived back after a dinner in Knowlton about the same time we did, to find us in the kitchen making peanut butter and jam sandwiches to eat in bed. Jim was exhausted too so he headed up too.

Up early, over breakfast Jim, Michael and I discussed the upcoming workshop on creating a sense of place in crime fiction. Jim and I (mostly Jim) had done quite a bit of emailing and planning...but it was very useful to go over the agenda.

We had no idea how many people would come...three, ten? Twenty? When we showed up at about quarter to ten there were fifty or more people. It was wonderful. Very fun. Talking about choices in terms of setting...of some of the great and memorable locations...Chandler and LA, Christie and St. Mary Mead and a few others - I'm a little tired and even these famous names escape me...Donna Leon and Venice. Wonderful. The fact that setting is a character in books.

then came the fun. After we'd taken questions for a while, the workshop participants were sent out to a crime scene, staged by the amateur theatre company. A man lay on the bench in the mill pond park, under the roof of the bandstand. A pool of blood under the bench, a huge red book with a photograph sticking out of it and blood on it on the ground, along with a flask and a tophat. The man wore tails - but no socks or shoes.

there was crime scene yellow tape, and a cop guarding it (who happened to be Philip Lantier, the head of the festival) Everyone went over, made notes, returned and wrote short descriptions. And a few even had the courage to read them out. What amazed us, genuinely, was the quality of the writing. One wrote brilliantly about the little ant tracks throught the blood. Another described the clouds - one created an inspector and a fictional town. And they were all differnt - in tone, in what the picked up and focussed on.

Well, I've written enough - but it was a great privilege to be part of the first Knowlton WordFest! And to meet a few of you too!! thank you for coming. How wonderful to celebrate the word...written, spoken, sung.

And now I'm home with Michael and Trudy, in pjs, eating chips and watching the British Open. Ahhhh.


Eleanor said...

I want to thank you for the workshop this morning, and especially for the hug. It made my day.

Reen said...

I love the concept, 'The fact that setting is a character in books.' Something like an individual character unable to stand alone out of context-- not in community.

Don't know where you found the energy to blog today. The iced tea? Take a break. We'll be here.

gail said...

I never thought of it before--that the setting, such as the Manoir Bellechasse in the Rule Against Murder, is one of the characters; yet it was dignified and beautiful and mercurial like the people of Three Pines . . . .

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi Eleanor, Reen and Gail,

Thank you for this - it is wonderful, isn't it? Place as a Three Pines, and as you say, the manoir - and in Bury Your DEad, Old Quebec City.