Elizabeth: Louise Penny Made Me Read It

Okay, technically the title of this post is not exactly true, since Louise Penny has no idea who I am and we’ve never actually met.  Still, her Inspector Gamache series is definitely responsible for the variety in my recent reading selections.

The series, which I may have mentioned over the past few months that I’ve read a time or two (or more), features an inspector, with (among other things) a fondness for books.  He can periodically be found perusing the shelves at the local bookstore, selecting a slim volume of something, and settling down for a bit of a read.  Not all of the books mentioned actually exist, but some of them do.

Naturally, curiosity prompted me to check a few of them out.

As I mentioned a while back in my Poetry and Prose post, Penny is a big fan of poetry and has incorporated bits and pieces in her stories.  Margaret Atwood, Mike Freeman, and Ralph Hodgson are among the poets she’s mentioned in her author notes.  During a recent visit to the local bookstore, I picked up Atwood’s, Morning in the Burned House, which is a source for some of the poetry for one of Penny’s characters, the drunk demented old poet Ruth.  I spent an enjoyable afternoon reading through it, especially delighted when I found the bits and pieces that Penny had incorporated in her stories. Continue reading

Nancy: Serious About Series, Part 1: Chief Inspector Gamache

How the Light Gets In, the ninth Chief Inspector Gamache novel, was my introduction to the series.

How the Light Gets In, the ninth Chief Inspector Gamache novel, was my introduction to the series.

For the next few weeks, I’m going to talk about different book series I’ve been reading and what they’ve taught me about planning and writing two upcoming series of my own. As I told you in last week’s prologue to my series on series, first up is Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache cozy mystery series. The books are set in Quebec and star – you guessed it! – Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, head of this fictional world’s Quebec police force homicide division.

There are lots of things to love about Penny’s books, but if you’re a regular reader of the blog, you know she had me at cozy mystery. Oh, how I love a good cozy mystery! While I did binge-read several of the books after finding How the Light Gets In (book 9, and boy howdy! Stuff Happens in this one), I didn’t do it aimlessly or purely for the joy of it. I took some time to parse through what drew me into the series, what has kept me there, and in the spirit of great art, what I can steal or at least borrow for my own series writing pursuits. Looking at this series affords us the opportunity to explore one that is long-running, has the same recurring main character, and includes an overarching story that spans the course of the series thus far.

Give the protagonist a raison d’êtreContinue reading