I live outside a small village south
of Montreal, quite close to the American border. My husband Michael and I have a golden
retriever named Trudy. Until recently we also had
Maggie - who limped around the pond on three legs,
and Seamus, who we found wandering sick on the road.
He was in terrible condition and had apparently
spent most of his life tied up in a barn. But despite
this a moment didn't go by when he wasn't gentle
and kind and grateful. And for two years we poured
love into him, and food and medicine. He loved stuffed
toys and Trudy, who looks a little like a stuffed
toy. Actually, so does Michael. Seamus loved him
eventually his body gave out. He was still bright-eyed,
still kissed us, still managed a thump with his
tail. But he couldn't go on. And so the old wanderer
made his last trip to the vet, and after the injection
his heart stopped. But as Gamache describes in
A FATAL GRACE/DEAD COLD about putting his own
dog, Sonny down. He had the impression his heart
didn't so much stop as that Sonny had finally
given it all away. So too with Seamus.
of abuse, of neglect, of sorrow. And still Seamus
had love to give. Michael and I have become dedicated
supporters of the SPCA and the no-kill shelter
near us. We encourage you too as well, though
we suspect most of you already support the SPCA,
or your local equivalent. Click here if you wish to visit the SPCA Monteregie website.
like to tell you a little bit about myself. I
was born in Toronto in 1958 and became a journalist
and radio host with the Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation, specializing in hard news and current
affairs. My first job was in Toronto and then
moved to Thunder Bay at the far tip of Lake Superior,
in Ontario. It was a great place to learn the
art and craft of radio and interviewing, and listening.
That was the key. A good interviewer rarely speaks,
she listens. Closely and carefully. I think the
same is true of writers.
Thunder Bay I moved to Winnipeg to produce documentaries
and host the CBC afternoon show. It was a hugely
creative time with amazingly creative people.
But I decided I needed to host a morning show,
and so accepted a job in Quebec City. The advantage
of a morning show is that it has the largest audience,
the disadvantage is having to rise at 4am.
Quebec City offered other advantages that far
outweighed the ungodly hour. It's staggeringly
beautiful and almost totally French and I wanted
to learn. Within weeks I'd called Quebecers 'good
pumpkins', ordered flaming mice in a restaurant,
for dessert naturally, and asked a taxi driver
to 'take me to the war, please.' He turned around
and asked 'Which war exactly, Madame?' Fortunately
elegant and venerable Quebec City has a very tolerant
and gentle nature and simply smiled at me.
there the job took me to Montreal, where I ended
my career on CBC Radio's noon programme.
my mid-thirties the most remarkable thing happened.
I fell in love with Michael, the head of hematology
at the Montreal Children's Hospital. He'd go on
to hold the first named chair in pediatric hematology
in Canada, something I take full credit for, out
of his hearing.
It's an amazing and blessed thing to find love
later in life. It was my first marriage and his
second. He'd lost his first wife to cancer a few
years earlier and that had just about killed him.
Sad and grieving we met and began a gentle and
tentative courtship, both of us slightly fearful,
but overcome with the rightness of it. And overcome
with gratitude that this should happen to us and
deeply grateful to the family and friends who
years later we live in an old United Empire Loyalist
brick home in the country, surrounded by maple
woods and mountains and smelly dogs.
Since I was a child I've dreamed of writing and
now I am. Beyond my wildest dreams (and I can
dream pretty wild) the Chief Inspector Gamache
books have found a world-wide audience, won awards
and ended up on bestseller lists including the
New York Times. Even more satisfying, I have found
a group of friends in the writing community. Other
authors, booksellers, readers - who have become
important parts of our lives. I thought writing
might provide me with an income - I had no idea
the real riches were more precious but less substantial.
are times when I'm in tears writing. Not because
I'm so moved by my own writing, but out of gratitude
that I get to do this. In my life as a journalist
I covered deaths and accidents and horrible events,
as well as the quieter disasters of despair and
poverty. Now, every morning I go to my office,
put the coffee on, fire up the computer and visit
my imaginary friends, Gamache and Beauvoir and
Clara and Peter. What a privilege it is to write.
I hope you enjoy reading the books as much as
I enjoy writing them.
Chief Inspector Gamache was inspired by a number
of people, and one main inspiration was this man
holding a copy of En plein coeur. Jean Gamache,
a tailor in Granby. He looks slightly as I picture
Gamache, but mostly it was his courtesy and dignity
and kind eyes that really caught my imagination.
What a pleasure to be able to give him a copy
of En plein coeur!
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fun piece of news is that Im on Facebook.
Feel free to friend me . . .
A photographer friend, Ian Crysler and his wife
Barb Reid visited us recently and Ian took photos
of their time staying in our guest house. We thought
you might be interested (the slide show is running
near the middle of this page). The two skiers
are Ian and Barb, the two people sitting are Michael
and me. If you'd like to visit Ian's website
just go to: www.iancrysler.com