Jul 26 2017 7:00pm

Louise Penny on Her Inspiration for A Brutal Telling

When Michael and I were on tour in Vancouver, we went to the Vancouver Art Gallery. There was a show on of Emily Carr, who was a marvelous Canadian painter, who painted mostly around the turn of the century. She painted in areas of Canada, through British Columbia, that were on the verge of being ruined. She captured that moment when they were still pristine. There was a description next to the art, and a little bio. I was reading the bio, and in it they talk about Emily Carr having had a falling out with her father, whom she was very close with. And at one point she just stopped talking to him, and never spoke to him again, and never spoke of why. Nobody could figure out why. But near the end of her life she wrote a letter to a friend, and in it she referred to this falling out, and all she said was, “It was the brutal telling.” I read that, and I pulled out my notebook—I always travel with a notebook, where I write down story ideas—and I wrote down “The Brutal Telling.” And that became the core of this story.

This essay is adapted from an interview given by Louise Penny as part of the Gamache Series Reread Campaign in June 2014.

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Louise Penny is the #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels. She has won numerous awards, including a CWA Dagger and the Agatha Award (five times) and was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. She lives in a small village south of Montréal.

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