She’s done it again! Four years, four books, FOUR Agatha awards in a row. Nobody has ever done this…ever…nobody.
Though Louise would probably not even know my name, I feel especially good about her success as an author. Sure, she’s a very good writer, as her award winning Gamache mysteries attest. And yes, she lives in Quebec, like I do. But what endears me to her comes other things.
The most important is how great she has been towards my daughter, Jodie. You see, I’ve been a writer and editor most of Jodie’s life, but I wrote columns and articles for magazines – non-fiction. Jodie was more interested in the magic of fiction and those who created it. She was interested in become a writer herself. She was 11 years old when Louise Penny released her second book, Dead Cold and she came to Quebec City for a signing session so I suggested to Jodie that we go so she could meet a “real author.”
Jodie was so excited and I’m sure she thought she was going to get to sit around with this ‘famous’ author telling tales and getting advice. I remember hoping that she wouldn’t be disappointed by the brief time she would likely have with Louise as she had her sign a book.
But Louise was, well, Louise. She was so gracious, somehow making every single person feel as though they were important to her. And she started asking Jodie questions about her writing. Louise gave Jodie a big hug. By the time Jodie left she felt she had a new friend and, frankly, I think she did. Louise insisted on a photo with Jodie. It’s one of Jodie’s prized possessions and I present it here.
Jodie’s now sixteen and she has become a superb writer, in both French and English. She’s less sure about being a writer as a profession but, as I said, she’s only sixteen. We’ll see.
As we’ve attended all of Louise’s annual signings here in Quebec I’ve learned from her. She doesn’t know that, of course. Her books have taught me much about writing, telling a story that doesn’t draw on violence and chase scenes for its appeal. Rather, Penny novels draw on underlying themes and characters that involve you in their lives. Though she writes murder mysteries, she’s also writing ‘feel good’ books. But Louise has taught me much more than that – much more important things. She’s taught me kindness, humility, and how to value readers.
Thank you, Louise, and congratulations on your Agatha. Here’s hoping that Trick of the Light garners a fifth.
Cheers — Larry