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December 9th, 2009


Man, I hate going to the doctor. Now that Don is all better, I decided that it would probably be a good idea to get myself checked out, at least basically, since I haven’t even thought of a check-up for myself in the past two years. So, I went on the 7th and had to listen to a big long lecture about preventive tests, and got a scrip for beaucoup blood tests. Went yesterday morning and got pierced, then Don and I did a little Christmas shopping. Or Christmas wandering around trying to decide how to handle the holidays this year. Nothing accomplished on that front. Here it is, December 9, and I haven’t bought a single present for anyone.

The reason for this tirade is that I’m making excuses for why did didn’t post an entry about my trip to Tempe Public Library to see Louise Penny over a week ago. But better late than never, not to mention onward and upward.

I did in fact have the extreme pleasure of seeing the wonderful Louise Penny at TPL on December 2. If you don’t know Louise’s work (and if you are a regular mystery reader, I can’t imagine that you don’t), please go forth and familiarize yourself tout suite. Louise’s series is set in Quebec, Canada, and features one of the most appealing protagonists going, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, head of the Montreal Surete. (Aside : I don’t know how to do diacritical marks on this machine, so please excuse me.) Three of her four Gamache novels take place in the mystical and mythical village of Three Pines, a place so idyllic that I am filled with longing to go there. Her first book, Still Life, won the Anthony and the Berry for Best First Novel, as well as the British Dagger Award, and the Canadian Ellis Award.

I’ve read them all, including her latest, The Brutal Telling, and loved them all, so I went to see her, like I’ve gone to see many many authors. the-brutal-telling_sidepic.jpg

Now, I’ve been very impressed by how a number of authors handle themselves at events, but I must say that Louise blew me away. She is a true human being in the best sense. If I had never read one of her books, after listening to her, I would have given myself whiplash in my rush to buy them all. I’ve done many events myself, and do not consider myself an amateur at the game. However, I learned quite a bit from Ms. Penny on how to make a crowd love you.

Allow me to share :The moment she walked in the door, she went around the room, big smile on her face, shaking hands with and speaking to every attendee.

When she shook my hand, I said, “I’m Donis Casey…” intending to introduce myself since we have mutual acquaintances, but lo and behold, she knew my name! “Oh!” she exclaimed, “Let me give you a hug!” Her pleasure appeared so genuine that I would now take a bullet for her.

When she spoke, her joy in her craft and love of her characters and setting washed over the audience. To tell the truth, when she was finished, I felt a desperate desire to regain that feeling, which is easy to lose in the everyday struggle of life. I vowed to rediscover the pleasure of storytelling, and to remember why I chose to become a writer in the first place.

However appealing and lovable a person Louise is, the bottom line is that she writes great books, full of heart and warmth, and true human frailty as well as strength, ugliness as well as beauty.

If you want to be a successful author, you have to write wonderful books. It’s quite a bonus to be a wonderful person as well.

3 Responses to “How Louise Penny Gave Me a Lesson On How to Work a Crowd”

  1. Vicki Delany

    Louise is a lovely warm person, and I believe she deserves all the success she is is getting. But most importantly, she is also genuine. It just doesn’t work if it isn’t real. Have you ever met a person so swarmy you wanted to go home and wash your hands immediately after? Used car salesmen and real estate agents I have encountered (most certainly not all) spring to mind. Not many authors, but there have been a couple who give the air of “you are so lucky to be meeting me”.

  2. Vicki Delany

    BTW, I should have added that you, Donis, are as warm and personable as Louise. Not of the used car class at all.

  3. Donis Casey

    Why, thank you, Vicki. I could say the same about you. In fact, it seems that most of the Canadian authors I’ve been able to spend time with have particularly warm personalities. Could it be that the Frozen North fosters inner warmth? I do wish I could recapture the joy Louise takes in her writing, though.

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