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Louise Penny Help Desk: Part 1

As part of crime month on Canada Writes, we asked you to send along to us some of the questions you had for our Master Class leader Louise Penny. Here, Louise answers two of them—letting us know what kind of personal experience is required to write in the genre and what she did before turning into a crime fiction star.


Jennifer Haney Routledge of Palo Alto, California asks:

What professional and/or life experiences have given you the insight necessary to write crime fiction? What types of exposures do you suggest prospective crime writers open themselves up to? 

I think crime fiction is about emotions, Jennifer: what drives a person to do something so dreadful? What happens to a man that he must make a ghost? Research you can always do—what great crime fiction writing, like any writing, demands is knowledge of yourself. Your inner thoughts and emotions. The lovely, kindly ones, and the rank, rancid, putrid ones. The more in touch with yourself you are, the more courage you have to look into your own dark corners, the better you’ll be able to create them in your characters. "

Debbie James Gillund of Montreal, Quebec asks:

I read in your bio-blurb that you did not begin your writing career until your mid-forties. What did you do before that, and what gave you the courage and/or drive to start when you did? Was it something you had always wanted to do, or did it surprise even you?

quote-cw-thumb-130x130-104373.jpgHi Debbie! I worked at CBC, hosting radio programmes before I took up fiction writing. But my dream since I was a child reading Anne of Green Gables and Charlotte’s Web, was to write. I always felt so safe, so excited by and so comfortable in the fictional worlds I read about. I couldn’t imagine anything more wonderful than creating them myself. "

Thanks Jennifer and Debbie for your questions! You've each won a copy of Louise Penny's latest mystery, A Trick of the Light.

Do you have questions for Louise Penny? If so, leave them on our Facebook wall or Tweet them to us @cbcbooks (#canadawrites). Our favourites will be sent along to her and if she answers your question then you too will win a copy of her latest mystery.

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