On Monday afternoon I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and read a post that caused me to do a double take. A post from a local bookstore announced that author Louise Penny was appearing in Tallahassee on Tuesday evening to launch her newest book in the Inspector Gamache series.
Quickly I read the details and called the bookstore to purchase a ticket. I freaked out a little when my call went to the store’s voicemail, but I left a message and then immediately dialed the number again. Bingo!! I was so excited! I just knew that I was going to meet Ms. Penny and she’d be smitten by my wit and intelligence and we’d become best friends forever (BFFs, don’t you know) while she composed a thoughtful note to write in my book.
The event didn’t start until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, so I was sure to arrive 45 minutes early, feeling certain I’d get a front row seat. Ha! When I arrived, the parking lot of Faith Presbyterian Church where the event was being held was completely full. I drove around for ten minutes just trying to locate a parking spot.
Then, when I walked in the door my hopes of getting anywhere near the front were dashed. The place was almost completely full already. That was okay, I reasoned, the ticket price included a copy of Ms. Penny’s newest book, so I didn’t really need to be up front, since surely she’d be signing copies.
Well, when I checked in to get my book I learned that only the first 150 folks to purchase tickets would get to meet the author. Apparently that information had been included in the FB post, but in my extreme excitement to see Louise Penny I hadn’t read all of the details. I was bummed out. Seriously bummed out. But I found a seat near the back of the sanctuary and settled in for an ordinary evening in which Louse Penny and I do not become BFFs.
The crowd was huge and excited. I began visiting with folks near me and reveled in their stories of connecting with the characters in Ms. Penny’s books. My own story included my daughter insisting that I read Still Life, the first offering in the Inspector Gamache series. I complied even though murder mysteries aren’t really my cup of tea, unless they’re set in the future and/or include zombies, elves, and/or aliens. But once I’d read the first novel I was hooked, and quickly read the rest of the books in the series. These books are so well crafted that they almost transcend genre.
When Louise Penny stepped up to the pulpit (we were in a church after all) she instantly charmed everyone present. She spoke of her life and early writing influences, how she’d overcome alcoholism and how she’s handling the loss of her husband to dementia in 2016. She spoke of writing to satisfy her own needs, not those of an audience, and of needing to write characters she personally cares for. She was entrancing. Maybe I didn’t get to meet her up close and personal, but I feel like I know her now, at least that bit of her she shared with all of us.
And I have her brand new book that she launched right here in Tallahassee, Florida!
If you haven’t read her books, I urge you to do so. Start from the beginning with “Still Life,” though. They’re better when read in sequence.
I’m still floating from Tuesday night’s experience. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t actually get to meet her. I’d have been comatose with joy, if that’s possible.
Peace, and good reading, people.