Friday, March 8, 2019

Louise Penny in Hickory, NC

It feels just right to be writing this today, March 8, International Women's Day.

Many years back I happened to read about a new book by a new author.

The book was "Still Life."

The author was Louise Penny.

With so many people at DorothyL whose opinions I valued, and who I knew enjoyed many of the same books and authors I did, raving about this particular book I decided to give it a try.

I was blown away.

I don't have words for how deeply this book touched me.

And I fell in love with Louise Penny's voice.  Her sly, quick wit.  Her powers of observance and grasp of human circumstances and conditions.  Her empathy for our frailties and imperfections.

And so the process of tapping my toe while waiting for the second book to appear began.

And the third . . . 

And that impatience and enthusiasm is as high today as it was back then.

In 2008 I attended my first Bouchercon in Baltimore.

And walking through the book room there was Louise Penny.  Sitting at a table signing books.

And so it began.

Suffice to say I adore this woman.

She's been gracious enough to contribute several times to my Meanderings and Muses, and has graced my life in many ways.

She's everything you might imagine by reading her books.

She is, to me, a rock star.

Bouchercon 2008 - Baltimore

Bouchercon 2009 - Indianapolis

Malice Domestic

I've only been able to catch up with her over the years at mystery conventions.

Although she's included North Carolina on her book tours a few times, something always seemed to get in the way of my attending.

When I found out she was going to be in Hickory as part of the Lenoir-Rhyne Visiting Writers Series I was ecstatic.  And called for tickets immediately,

Donald went with me and it was a perfect evening.  

The signing took place at the Hickory, NC Public Library.  I'm not going to try to make a guess at how many people were in attendance, but I can say it was easily over a hundred.  

When Louise came into the room she was smiling that big wonderful Louise Penny smile.  She greeted and hugged and shook hands and there's no one immune to the graciousness of this lovely, lovely woman.

I was tickled pink when she spotted me and wrapped me in a hug.  Then asked "where's your handsome husband?"  I assured her, he was on his way.  He wanted a hug too.

And he did get his hug.

But did I get a picture?


I am so angry with myself.

So on our way out and on our way to the Lenoir Rhyne College P. E. Monroe Auditorium I got a shot of him reading over someone's shoulder.

The auditorium holds, I think, 2,000 people.  

It was full.

Dr. Rand Brandes, Director of the Visiting Writer Series, stepped on stage and was his usual delightful self.  Took a poll by asking people to stand if they had come over 1,000 miles to see tonight's speaker.  An unbelievable number of people stood.  Then he asked how many had come from over 500 miles and, again, a huge number of people stood.  

There were two ladies there who had come from New Mexico.  And they planned on being at Louise's next signing in Denver.

She walked onto the stage to applause, wowed everyone, took questions, and left about an hour and a half later to a very, very long standing ovation.

She is a kind and generous woman.  





Surprisingly forthcoming.



I adore her.

And now we had a drive back up the mountain to Boone, about an hour and a half from Lenoir-Rhyne to Meat Camp.

So it only made sense to stop for coffee and donuts for the ride.

Date night with my guy.

A book event with Louise Penny (including hugs).

Krispy Kreme.

It doesn't get any better than that.

And this is for all of you - from me.

Honoring women we admire. It has become, finally, more of a thing than it once was, and that makes me happy. Besides those women who made history, as they all deserved, with their great accomplishments, we're now honoring women for what might be seen as smaller achievements in the big picture of the world as a whole, and in history going as far back as far as the beginning of time. Their successes may not be well known outside a family, or outside a particular community and may seem small outside those parameters, but in fact, they're still huge. The women I admire are many, and I admire each of them for vastly different reasons. Mostly though, they're women who do what they do because they have beliefs they're willing to fight for, to speak out in defense of. To live. They're creative in their own special ways, not in order to become well known, but because they have talents they enjoy utilizing, be it motherhood or anthropologist - or a combination of the two. Here's to each of you.