A long day yesterday and a hot and humid one at that!
New York City was sunny – always good – but traipsing around in the stickiness made for a tired, tired girl at the end of the day.
I went to the Strand Bookstore and had a lovely time among the stacks. I wanted so many books but limited myself to two. Interestingly, I didn’t find the editions of Hamlet that I wanted, which was a surprise. I stopped by Anthropologie. Gorgeous and inventive displays, as always. But I didn’t buy anything.
Then I walked over to Chelsea Market, which is in an old building that has been renovated and now includes all sorts of smallish restaurants and shops. Several companies have office space there, including The Food Network and MLB.com and Oxygen (Oprah’s network.) But boy, was it crowded with tourists! I grabbed an expensive grilled cheese sandwich (everything is pricey in NYC) and did some people watching.
Look at what’s right across the street from Chelsea Market. (Even here in the city, they’re watching me!)
After that, I headed on up to the Upper West Side. I happened upon a used bookstore where I found two editions of Hamlet at a great price. Victory!
I sat for a while in this little park that is right next to the American Museum of Natural History. I’ll have more photos of the city for you tomorrow. I didn’t take a whole lot, however, because it was so darned humid!
Eventually, I headed over to Barnes & Noble, where I figured I’d grab a bite to eat in the café. When I checked out the area where Louise Penny would be speaking, I noticed there were people already there. (It was around 5:00 pm.) So I got my food to go and plopped down in a seat. Eventually, two other early arrivers sat nearby and I had a wonderful conversation with these women about how much we love Louise Penny’s books. It was great fun, like being in a Louise Penny Fan Club, which I suppose we are. The husband of one of the women also came along. He’s apparently a voracious reader and he loves her books, as well. Lots of stimulating conversation as we sat waiting for the start of the presentation.
Goodness, was it fun! Ms. Penny came out and spoke to us for about 20 minutes; she spoke of her childhood and of discovering at a young age that she wanted to be a writer. But a career at the CBC won out for a number of years until one day, at the age of 45, her husband said that if she really wanted to write a book, he would support her financially while she was doing it. She spoke about the very early days when she thought about the town she was creating – drawing a map of the town of Three Pines, a map she still has. And she spoke of deciding that she wanted to write about characters that she would like to have as friends; her idea being that if you’re going to spend as much time as a writer must spend with characters, she wanted them to be interesting and complex people she would like to hang around with. She spoke of doubts, of taking that first step and putting words on the page, of trying to find a publisher. (Her publisher and editor were sitting in the row in front of me.)
She is funny, charming and very honest. (I want to be her friend.) She also opened the floor to questions from the audience.
Then it was time for the book signing and we all got in a long line and awaited our turn.
There she is!
When it came time for me, one of the employees saw my iPhone and said he’d be happy to take a photo of Louise and me.
Then we chatted a bit and I told her about the blog (this one) and that I’d raved about her books here, which resulted in quite a few new readers and fans. She was so effusive about that, thanking me and saying how powerful social media could be for an author. I thanked her for sharing her talents with us and for writing all about Three Pines and Inspector Gamache. (By the way, she pronounces it with a short a (as in cat) in the second syllable, not with an ‘ah’ as I had been doing!) She grabbed my hand and thanked me for reading the books and spreading the word.
And the inscription: For Claudia – Thank you for telling so many others!
Sigh. I want to live in Three Pines and dine at The Bistro and chat with Louise Penny.
Here’s the book:
Gosh, she’s terrific.
I’m so glad I went, though I didn’t get home until almost 11:00. Tired today, but very happy indeed that I decided to go for it and attend the event. If you can ever see her, I urge you to. She’s a wonderful speaker – warm and charming and everything you thought she would be.