Author Louise Penny knew she wanted to be a writer when she was eight years old. By her mid-thirties, she had wrapped up her successful career in broadcasting (including a handful of years at CBC Manitoba) and took a stab at writing full-time.
After five years of writers' block, she realized she needed to stop writing what she thought would please others, and instead wrote what SHE would enjoy reading. It worked.
Louise Penny is now an award winning novelist. Some of her books have been translated into french. Movie rights are in negotiations for her first two books. Her latest novel A Trick of the Light landed on both the Globe and Mail and the New York Times Bestseller list recently.
SCENE brings you an excerpt from A Trick of the Light:
Jean Guy Beauvoir rubbed Henri's ears and stared at the young woman across from him. He'd known her for fifteen years, since he was a rookie on homicide and she was a teenager. Awkward, gawky, bossy.
He didn't like kids. Certainly didn't like smart-ass teenagers. But he'd tried to like Annie Gamache, if only because she was the boss's daughter.He'd tried and he'd tried and he'd tried. And finally--He'd succeeded.
And now he was nearing forty and she was nearing thirty. A lawyer. Married. Still awkward and gawky and bossy. But he'd tried so hard to like her he'd finally seen beyond that.
He'd seen her laugh with real gaiety, seen her listen to very boring people as though they were riveting. She looked as though she was genuinely glad to see them. As though they were important. He'd seen her dance, arms flailing and head tilted back. Eyes shining.
And he'd felt her hand in his. Only once.
In the hospital. He'd come back up from very far away. Fought through the pain and the dark to that foreign but gentle touch. He knew it didn't belong to his wife, Enid. That bird-like grip he would not have come back for.
But this hand was large, and certain, and warm. And it invited him back.
He'd opened his eyes to see Annie Gamache staring at him with such concern. Why would she be there, he'd wondered. And then he knew why.
Because she had nowhere else to be. No other hospital bed to sit beside.
Because her father was dead. Killed by a gunman in the abandoned factory. Beauvoir had seen it happen. Seen Gamache hit. Seen him lifted off his feet and fall to the concrete floor.
And lie still.
And now Annie Gamache was holding his hand in the hospital, because the hand she really wanted to be holding was gone.
Jean Guy Beauvoir had pried his eyes open and seen Annie Gamache looking so sad. And his heart broke. Then he saw something else.
No one had ever looked at him that way. With unconcealed and unbound joy. Annie had looked at him like that, when he'd opened his eyes. He'd tried to speak but couldn't. But she'd rightly guessed what he was trying to say.
She'd leaned in and whispered into his ear, and he could smell her fragrance. It was slightly citrony. Clean and fresh. Not Enid's clinging, full-bodied perfume. Annie smelled like a lemon grove in summer.
He'd embarrassed himself then. There were many humiliations waiting for him in the hospital. From bedpans and diapers to sponge baths. But none was more personal, more intimate, more of a betrayal than what his broken body did then.
And Annie saw. And Annie never mentioned it from that day to this.
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Listen to Louise Penny with host Keran Sanders on the Weekend Morning show from Sunday September 18.