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September 8, 2017

Meeting Louise Penny at Vroman’s


The ultimate thrill for any reader is the opportunity to meet an author whose work they enjoy. When I saw an announcement that I could meet Louise Penny, I was ecstatic! I was introduced to Louise’s work long after her series was established; although I had certainly heard of her, I not read any of her books. Carol Fitzgerald at (who knows what I like) recommended Louise to me around the time that HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN was being released in 2013.

I searched for the beginning of the series, and I was astounded to see how far behind I was as there were eight previous books in the Chief Inspector Gamache series --- a “binge read” was required before I could read the newest book. I got all the previous books and got down to reading! Three weeks later, I was ready for HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN, by then thoroughly hooked on Louise Penny.

We are fortunate that in Southern California we still have a few Independent bookstores (brick & mortar, yes!) that strive to bring the authors to the fans. Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena is one of them. I’ve attended many a signing in their store and wondered how they would pull of a signing of this magnitude as I suspected a very large number of readers would be in attendance. How were we going to contain a crowd as deserved for Louise Penny for whom a stadium might be needed?

Tickets were secured to a venue where it would be ensured that there would not be a stampede of fans (though I suppose Louise would have been amused by the prospect of that). My daughter, Amber, is my most stalwart supporter in all things “author,” and when I told her we had a chance to meet Louise last Saturday, she was game to go!

Louise loves to tour and was happy to be with her readers. She organized her own tour for her debut release of STILL LIFE when her publisher didn’t. Braving the unseasonable heat for California, fans lined up for a sold-out event.   

And arrive she did; the term “larger than life” truly applied to her in more ways than one. A taller more statuesque woman I’ve not seen. Louise walked out to the crowd with such a look of joy on her face that you couldn’t help but be captivated by her. Her sense of humor was something I had not known about, and she had the crowd tearing up with laughter, something unexpected from author events that I have been to in the past.  

She spoke of how her mind was set at the age of eight that writing is what she wanted to do --- and her early struggles to write. The audience was engaged during her entire talk and her signing of GLASS HOUSES. Pre-ordered books were provided at the beginning of the event “pre-signed,” but we were given the opportunity to have them personalized if we wished, and I used that as an opportunity to pass a few words of my adoration to her. Fans were allowed to bring only three copies of her works from their own personal libraries as time constraints still did apply. I can say that choosing only three was a challenge; if I could have smuggled my entire library in, you can be rest assured I would have tried, and I told her that. She was most amused!

At the end of the evening, I had a sense of “knowing” Louise, and I know everyone she meets along her tour will feel the same way.