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  • Jen Harper 5:00 pm on 2019/10/30 Permalink
    Tags: , , B&N, , , , , , katherine arden, king of scars, , , mr. penumbra's 24-hour bookstore, , , robin sloan, , , the bear and the nightingale, , , , the ninth house, ,   

    9 Books to Read if You Loved The Ninth House, October’s B&N Book Club Selection 

    The Barnes & Noble Book Club selection for October, The Ninth House, found readers tearing into a richly dark fantasy novel—author Leigh Bardugo’s adult debut. In it, Alex Stern is a high school dropout who finds herself getting a free ride to Yale University thanks to some mysterious benefactors who have a particular mission for the 20-year-old: monitoring the school’s eight secret societies, whose activities are far more sinister than anyone could have ever imagined.

    But what is a reader to do after finishing this incredible book and discussing it at your local B&N Book Club meeting on November 5 at 7 p.m.? Well, Bardugo’s young adult fantasy books would be a fantastic place to start—King of Scars, Six of Crows, and Shadow and Bone, among them.

    Additionally, we’ve rounded up 9 more reads to keep you busy until next month. Check out our readalike picks for The Ninth House.

    The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy #1), by Katherine Arden
    Searching for another dark fantasy with a strong female protagonist? Look no further than Katherine Arden’s debut novel. In this deep-winter story set in medieval Russia, young Vasilisa Petrovna loves listening to her nurse’s fairy tales about Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon who spares the life of a maiden who does not fear him. Wild and fearless herself, Vasilisa cannot even be contained by her new stepmother whom her father brings home from Moscow. The God-fearing, harsh stepmother refuses to honor the helpful spirits in their home, though Vasilisa knows that this means the spirits will grow weak and become unable to defend the village from evil, which comes knocking soon enough in this stellar read.

    The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
    Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel is infused with darkness and magic—perfect for fans of The Ninth House. The mysterious circus in black-and-white tents appears from out of the blue—called Le Cirque des Rêves, it is only open at night. It serves as the setting for Hector Bowen, better known as Le Cirque des Reves’ Prospero the Entertainer—to pit his daughter Celia, with her untrained telekinetic powers, against gifted magician Marco. Little do either Celia or Marco realize that only one of them will survive the epic battle they’ve both unwittingly been trained for since childhood. But Hector could have never imagined the two would fall in love along the way behind the canvas walls of the circus tent in this captivating page-turner.

    Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman’s bewitching tale of love and magic would make for an excellent next read following The Ninth House. The Owens sisters—Gillian and Sally—have had the legacy of their family name following them since they were kids. Raised by their aunts, Gillian and Sally endure whispers, taunting, and gossip about being witches—a rumor their aunts almost encourage with their eccentric old house, mysterious concoctions, and crew of black cats. Sally left behind the witch rumor by marrying and having children, and Gillian, the wild child, escaped by running as far away as she could from their small town. But one day when Gillian shows up at Sally’s door needing her help, the pair realize they can’t escape who they are and the bond that ties them together.

    The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman continues to enchant her readers and fans of magical realism with this prequel to her beloved novel Practical Magic, which covers the backstory of the eccentric aunts to Gillian and Sally. The Owens family comes from a long line of witches,  so Susanna Owens knows that her three children—Franny, Jet, and Vincent—possess powers that make them both uniquely powerful and dangerous. As a result, Susanna sets firm rules for her children to protect them from themselves, their family legacy, and the truth. But when the children visit their aunt in the small town in Massachusetts from which the Owens family hails, they soon uncover family secrets and the truth about their powers.

    The Magicians (Magicians Series #1), by Lev Grossman
    In Lev Grossman’s book for fans of both the Harry Potter series and The Ninth House, high school math genius Quentin Coldwater is fascinated by the Fillory and Further books, a series of children’s magical fantasy tales set in a mystical land. So when Quentin is admitted into Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy, a secret school for magic, it seems that his dreams may well have become reality. But, as Quentin soon learns, there’s a dark and dangerous side to magic, his new school, and even the enchanting Fillory and Further children’s books. This prequel to Grossman’s bestselling The Magician King would make an excellent next book after finishing The Ninth House.

    A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1), by Deborah Harkness
    Witches and vampires and demons, oh my! This is the crew readers will encounter in the first book in Deborah Harkness’s All Souls trilogy. In the historical-fantasy novel, Diana Bishop is a university professor and a reluctant witch who rejects the magical part of her life—she hasn’t learned to master her witchcraft and avoids being around other witches. But she’s forced into the witchy world when she uncovers a lost enchanted manuscript deep in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. The manuscript’s reappearance summons a fantastical underworld and attracts the attention of others who have been searching for it, forcing Diana to come to terms with her connection to a magical community she has previously avoided.

    The Poppy War, by R.F. Kuang
    Inspired by the recent history and culture of China, R.F. Kuang’s debut historical military fantasy finds orphaned peasant girl Rin living a life of misery in Nikan, but when she sits for the Keju, the empire-wide examination designed to find talented youth, she scores in the highest percentile, which comes as a shock to the test officials, her guardians, and even Rin herself. She is even more shocked to be assigned to the prestigious Sinegard military school, home to the children of the Empire’s elite. Rin is a target at school for the color of her skin, her poverty, and gender, but she soon discovers that she has something incredibly powerful: an aptitude for shamanism, which could well save her people from a third major war in this compelling and mythical tale.

    Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan
    Print certainly isn’t dead in Robin Sloan’s whimsical part-mystery, part–fairy tale, part–epic quest at the center of which lies a mystical all-night bookstore. In it, Clay Jannon loses his web design job in San Francisco to the Great Recession, and he finds himself working the night shift in Mr. Penumbra’s peculiar bookstore, where the few customers never seem to buy anything but instead check out super-obscure books. Clay begins to track the customers’ bizarre behaviors and crack various codes using media new and old, but when he brings his findings to his employer, he discovers that the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its many shelves of books, making for a perfectly mysterious and fanciful next read for fans of The Ninth House.

    The Book of Speculation, by Erika Swyler
    Erika Swyler’s debut novel is a bewitching story that makes for an excellent next read for those who enjoyed the magic and mystery (and architecture!) in The Ninth House. In it, young librarian Simon Watson lives in a crumbling-down house of mournful memories. With both of his parents dead and his little sister having run away, Simon struggles with whether he can free himself of the obligation he feels to the home his family left behind. One day, the arrival of a mysterious book—a log from the owner of a traveling carnival in the 1700s—on Simon’s doorstep coincides with a visit from his volatile sister, leading him to believe that much more sinister forces could be at work. And with July 24—the date upon which all the women in his family have died—looming, he has to get to the bottom of the mystery to save his sister.

    What are you reading after The Ninth House?

    The post 9 Books to Read if You Loved <i>The Ninth House</i>, October’s B&N Book Club Selection appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Joel Cunningham 4:01 am on 2019/09/25 Permalink
    Tags: B&N   

    #BNCountryMusic Sweepstakes Official Rules 

    NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. MAKING A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. The #BNCountryMusic Sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”) is sponsored by Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Inc. (“Sponsor”), 122 Fifth Ave, New York, New York 10011.

    1. ELIGIBILITY: Open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 years of age or older at time of entry. Eligible Entrants who are under the legal age of majority in their state of primary residence (a “Minor”) must get their parent or legal guardian’s permission to participate in the Sweepstakes. A Minor Entrant will be required to provide parental consent in a form satisfactory to the Sponsor before he or she can be declared a winner and any prize can be awarded under the terms of these Official Rules. Employees of Sponsor, and its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and promotion agencies involved in this Sweepstakes, and their immediate family members (parent, child, spouse, sibling and their respective spouses, regardless of where they reside) and/or those living in the same household of each, whether or not related, are not eligible to participate in or win the Sweepstakes. Void where prohibited by law. All applicable federal, state and local laws apply.

      2. HOW TO ENTER: Beginning 12:00:01 pm Eastern Time (“ET”) on Thursday, September 26 through 11:59:59pm ET on Sunday, September 29, 2019 (the “Entry Period”), log in to your account at www.twitter.com/bnbuzz and follow the entry instructions to “retweet” the #BNCountryMusic Sweepstakes tweet pinned to the top of the @BNBuzz Twitter page. In order to enter the Sweepstakes, you must have a valid Twitter account. If you do not have a valid account, please follow the prompts to create an account for free. By submitting your information and creating an account, you agree to the terms of use and privacy policy of Twitter. If you do not agree to such terms of use and privacy policy, you cannot create an account or participate in this Sweepstakes. Sponsor may not receive Entries from Twitter users with “protected” updates (i.e., Entrant has set his or her account so that only people the Entrant has approved can view his or her updates). Entries must be received by 11:59:59pm ET on Sunday, September 29, 2019. Limit one (1) entry per unique twitter account and per person during the Entry Period.   Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means are void, as are entries that are illegible, garbled, incomplete or that contain errors. Normal time, toll, connection and usage rates, if any, charged by your Internet service provider will apply. All entries become the property of the Sponsor. No other entry method will be accepted. If Entrant is using his or her mobile device to enter, charges, including message and data rates, may apply. Entrants should consult their wireless service provider regarding its pricing plans.

      3. RANDOM DRAWING/WINNER NOTIFICATION/VALIDATION: One (1) Winner will be selected at random on or about 12:00:01pm ET on Monday, September 30, 2019 from among all eligible entries received during the Entry Period, by Sponsor, whose decision is final and binding with respect to all matters related to the Sweepstakes. Winner will be notified via Direct Message on Twitter. Winner (or, if the Winner is a minor, the Winner’s parent or guardian) may be required to execute and return an Affidavit of Eligibility/Release of Liability/Publicity form (where legal) within seven (7) days after winner notification is sent. Noncompliance within this time period, with these Official Rules or the return of any prize/prize notification may result in disqualification and, at Sponsor’s discretion, an alternate potential winner may be selected by random drawing from among all remaining eligible entrants. Prize will be fulfilled approximately 2-3 weeks after winner validation. Any winner later determined to be ineligible may be required to return his/her prize. Winner is responsible for all taxes applicable to the prizes awarded.

    2. PRIZE AND ODDS: One (1) winner will receive a Country Music Prize Package (ARV: $725.00) comprised of the following items:
    • Josh Turner Autographed Guitar: (ARV: $350.00)
    • George Strait Cold Beer Conversation CD (ARV: $20.00)
    • Jordan Davis Slow Dance In a Parking Lot 7” vinyl (ARV: $20.00)
    • Vince Gill Okie CD (ARV: $20.00)
    • Vince Gill Guitar Slinger CD (ARV: $20.00)
    • Vince Gill Down to My Last Bad Habit poster (ARV: $75.00)
    • Dierks Bentley The Mountain vinyl (ARV: $40.00)
    • Brothers Osborne Port Saint Joe vinyl (ARV: $40.00)
    • Various Artists Restoration CD) (ARV: $20.00)
    • Little Big Town The Breaker CD (ARV: $20.00)
    • Kacey Musgraves A Very Kacey Christmas CD (ARV: $40.00)
    • Keith Urban Graffiti U CD (ARV: $20.00)
    • Carrie Underwood Cry Pretty CD (ARV: $40.00)


    All prize details are at the sole discretion of the Sponsor. No substitution or transfer of prize except in Sponsor’s sole discretion; if any advertised prize becomes unavailable, Sponsor may award a substitute of comparable value. Odds of winning will depend upon the number of eligible entries received. Sweepstakes is open to over 100,000,000 Internet users in the United States.


    Acceptance of prize constitutes permission for the Sponsor and its designees to use Winner’s name, city, state, likeness, voice, biographical information and statements for purposes of advertising, promotion and publicity in any and all media, now or hereafter known, throughout the world in perpetuity without additional compensation, notification or permission, unless prohibited by law. By participating, entrant (i) agrees to release and hold Sponsor, its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and promotion agencies, and each of their respective directors, officers, employees and assigns (collectively, the “Released Parties”), harmless against any and all claims and liability arising in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, out of participation in the Sweepstakes or misuse, nonuse or use of any prize; (ii) waives all rights to claim punitive, incidental and consequential damages, attorneys’ fees or any damages other than actual out-of-pocket costs incurred to enter; and (iii) agrees to be bound by these Official Rules. Released Parties are not responsible for incomplete, lost, late, damaged, inaccurate, illegible, misdirected, garbled, delayed or undelivered Entries; or for technical hardware or software malfunctions or failures of any kind, lost, unavailable network connections, or failed, incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmission, which may limit an individual’s ability to participate. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion, to cancel, suspend or modify the Sweeps or to disqualify any implicated entrant(s), (and their Entries) if any fraud, virus, actions by entrants, technical or other error or problem, or any other occurrence corrupts or affects the administration, integrity, security, or proper play of the Sweepstakes, as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion. In the event of cancellation, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to award the prize in a random drawing from among all eligible, non-suspect Entries received up to the time of the event or action warranting such cancellation. In the event this Sweepstakes is cancelled prior to the stated end date, a notice will be posted at www.twitter.com/BNBuzz.  CAUTION: Any attempt by an entrant to deliberately damage any web site or undermine the legitimate operation of the Sweepstakes is a violation of criminal and civil laws, and should such an attempt be made, Sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such entrant to the fullest extent permitted by law, including criminal prosecution. Released Parties are not responsible for any technical, mechanical, printing, typographical, human or other error relating to or in connection with the Sweepstakes, including, without limitation, errors which may occur in the administration of the Sweepstakes, the processing of Entries, the announcement of the prize or in any Sweepstakes-related materials; or for any liability for damage to any computer system resulting from participating in, or accessing or downloading information in connection with this Sweepstakes.


    Name of winner (first name/city) will be posted on Sponsor’s Twitter page when available.

    1. NO WARRANTIES: Sponsor make no warranties covering any of the prizes furnished as part of this Sweepstakes. Any prize, and all materials furnished as part of or in connection with this Sweepstakes are provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including without limitation the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose

      8. GOVERNING LAW: This Sweepstakes and the rights and obligations of the Sponsor and participants will be governed by and controlled by the laws of the State of New York, applicable to contracts made and performed therein without reference to the applicable choice of law provisions. All actions, proceedings, or litigation relating hereto will be instituted and prosecuted solely within the State of New York, County of New York. The parties consent to the jurisdiction of the state courts of New York and federal court located with such state and county with respect to any action, dispute, or other matter pertaining to or arising out of this Sweepstakes.

    2. PRIVACY: Any information submitted to Sponsor, including all Entries will be governed by the terms of Barnes & Noble’s User Agreementand Privacy Policy.
    3. 10. NO IMPLIED ENDORSEMENT: The names of individuals, groups, companies, products and services mentioned herein, and any corresponding likenesses, logos and images thereof reproduced herein, have been used for identification purposes only and may be the copyrighted properties and trademarks of their respective owners. The mention of any individual, group or company including Twitter, Inc, or the inclusion of a product or service as the prize, does not imply any association with or endorsement by such individual, group or company or the manufacturer or distributor of such product or service and, except as otherwise indicated, no association or endorsement is intended or should be inferred.

    The post #BNCountryMusic Sweepstakes Official Rules appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Joel Cunningham 7:00 am on 2019/09/20 Permalink
    Tags: B&N   

    Celebrate British TV at Barnes & Noble 

    With the Downton Abbey movie arriving in theaters, Barnes & Noble is throwing a weekend long celebration of our favorite British TV series!

    This weekend,  September 20-22, you can get 50% off all British TV Shows DVDs & Blu-rays (both in stores & online)! Browse the complete selection here.

    If you’re looking to catch up on Downton Abbey, this is also your chance to get an amazing deal Barnes & Noble exclusive boxset featuring the first three seasons for only $19.99—$70 off the regular price!

    We’re also hosting a special sweepstakes: You can enter for a chance to win a free Trip to London (1 winner for a pair of tickets) A 7 Day Tour of England. Enter both in stores and online).

    And there are more special offers in stores only!

    Enter for a chance to win Downton Abbey Complete Collection gift set (one per store) a $199.99 value. Visit a store for the official rules and to learn how to enter.

    You’ll also receive a free Harney & Sons Tall Hot Tea with a the purchase of any British TV DVD or Blu-Ray. If you’re one of the first 25 customers to purchase, you’ll also receive a f
    ree button with the purchase of any Brit TV DVD or Blu-ray!

    British TV Weekend takes place at Barnes & Noble from September 20-22.

    The post Celebrate British TV at Barnes & Noble appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Joel Cunningham 7:00 am on 2019/09/20 Permalink
    Tags: B&N   

    Celebrate British TV at Barnes & Noble 

    With the Downton Abbey movie arriving in theaters, Barnes & Noble is throwing a weekend long celebration of our favorite British TV series!

    This weekend,  September 20-22, you can get 50% off all British TV Shows DVDs & Blu-rays (both in stores & online)! Browse the complete selection here.

    If you’re looking to catch up on Downton Abbey, this is also your chance to get an amazing deal Barnes & Noble exclusive boxset featuring the first three seasons for only $19.99—$70 off the regular price!

    We’re also hosting a special sweepstakes: You can enter for a chance to win a free Trip to London (1 winner for a pair of tickets) A 7 Day Tour of England. Enter both in stores and online).

    And there are more special offers in stores only!

    Enter for a chance to win Downton Abbey Complete Collection gift set (one per store) a $199.99 value. Visit a store for the official rules and to learn how to enter.

    You’ll also receive a free Harney & Sons Tall Hot Tea with a the purchase of any British TV DVD or Blu-Ray. If you’re one of the first 25 customers to purchase, you’ll also receive a f
    ree button with the purchase of any Brit TV DVD or Blu-ray!

    British TV Weekend takes place at Barnes & Noble from September 20-22.

    The post Celebrate British TV at Barnes & Noble appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • BN Editors 3:00 pm on 2019/09/09 Permalink
    Tags: , B&N, exclusive, exclusive interview, , inspector gamache series, Interview,   

    An Exclusive Interview with Author Louise Penny, Plus a Behind-the-Scenes Look at A Better Man 

    Deftly plotted, witty, and atmospheric, filled with memorable characters, and unafraid to confront uncomfortable truths about humanity, Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series is a true gift to mystery lovers. Penny was kind enough to answer a few of our burning questions, and to give us a fascinating glimpse of her thoughts during the writing of her latest novel, A Better Man

    The 15th novel in the series finds Gamache taking up the reins in his new position as head of homicide, after his recent demotion from head of the whole force. To make matters even touchier, he’s now working alongside his former subordinate, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, on a new case, that of a woman who has gone missing. Gamache finds himself sympathizing with her agonized father, asking himself what he would do, were he in the man’s shoes; when a body turns up, the question becomes even more urgent, and the answer more unsettling.

    Louise Penny, on A Better Man

    I wanted to give you all a little behind-the-scenes look at what I was thinking when I was writing A Better Man, by showing you a few lines and exactly what was going through my mind. Here are five of my favorite lines from the book, along with my personal annotations.  

    Ruth made a noise that could have been a laugh.  Or indigestion.  

    ‘I’ll tell you what is funny.  You crash and burn trying to do something different, while Armand destroys his career by agreeing to go back and do the same old thing.’ 

    I so enjoy writing Ruth, though it takes a, perversely, delicate touch. She needs to be honest and cranky, often insulting, while not descending into caricature or outright nastiness. Here that ambivalence is illustrated, I hoped, through their inability to know if the noise is amusement or indigestion. Though, once again, she uncomfortably states what most are thinking. 

    ‘Consequences,’ said Gamache. ‘We must always consider the consequences of our actions. Or inaction.” 

    This is an ongoing theme within the books, and with Gamache. Considering the consequences, knowing the consequences, weighing the outcomes….and still deciding to act. It’s one thing to act on instinct, and there’s often rare courage in that—but Armand tries to impress on his people that there’s even more courage in looking without blinking at what their actions might mean. Good and bad. Intended and unintended. He goes on to say that, in his opinion, that’s part of their contract with the Quebec population. That those with a badge and a gun, will have the maturity to think before they act.  

    He left the woods late that afternoon, shattered.  

    And now he was back.  

    A better man?  A bitter man?  

    They were about to find out.   

    The homicide team is about to see Armand Gamache, back at work as their Chief Inspector, for the first time since his suspension and demotion from Chief Superintendent. I loved writing this scene…of his return, and their reaction.  And my reaction, to having him back as head of homicide. Where the whole Three Pines series began. Older. More bruised. Both him, and me. And you too, I suspect. Have the years, the events, the vicissitudes made him, us, bitter or better?   

    ‘I see.’  Gamache lowered his voice, though all could still hear the words.  ‘When I was Chief Superintendent I had a poster framed in my office.  On it were the last words of a favorite poet, Seamus Heaney. Noli Timere.  It’s Latin.  Do you know what it means?’ 

    He looked around the room. 

    ‘Neither did I,’ he admitted, when no one spoke.  ‘I had to look it up. It means, Be Not Afraid.’   

    Not completely coincidentally, I have the same poster in my living room, where I see it every day as I write. I’m looking at it now. Fear is such a thief. If I only did what I was comfortable with, there’d be no books, no marriage, fewer close relationships. Less travel, far fewer, or no, risks. And my life would shrink to nothing. Armand knows that the bravest person in any room is the one who can admit he’s scared sh**less. But does it anyway. Here he’s encouraging a young agent to speak his mind, even though he’s afraid.  

    She also happened to be the chief of the volunteer fire department.  Not because she was a natural leader, but because most villagers would rather run into a burning building or a river in full flood than face Ruth Zardo’s sharp tongue.   

    Ha—I’ve used similar descriptions of Ruth, and once again I hoped to illustrate the contradiction that is Ruth…indeed, that is most of us. The elderly poet could stay home, ignoring whatever natural disaster has cropped up. Instead, she takes on a leadership role, whether her neighbors like it or not. Yet she’s strangely effective, partly because the very thing that makes her almost as terrifying as the catastrophe, makes her uniquely effective. Ruth Zardo never shies away from the truth. From a fight. In this book we see her doing just that, with some great success, and with some terrible result. 

    For more behind-the-scenes insight into some of my favorite lines from all of the books and the stories behind them, check out gamacheseries.com 

    Further conversation with author Louise Penny:

    What was the beginning of your fascination with mysteries?  

    Agatha Christie, of course. It was the first ‘adult’ book my mother and I shared. I will always remember her standing on the landing upstairs, a book in her hand. She looked at it, then at me, and gave it to me saying she’d just finished it, and thought I’d like it too. It was a Christie. A Miss Marple, I think, but can’t remember the exact title. It was thrilling, to share a book with my mother. To have that in common. Something that we shared the rest of her life. When things went bad between us, as they sometimes do between mothers and daughters, our truce sign was asking, “What are you reading?” 

    I went on to discover the Simenon books about Maigret. And the fabulous Josephine Tey, which are more crime novels than murder mysteries.  My favorite is The Franchise Affair.  Her books are gems, crystalline, every word, every phrase has a purpose. 

    How do you sit down and start a new novel? What’s the spark? 

    In The Long Way Home, I quote Robert Frost and a letter he wrote to a friend where he describes his creative process as a poet. And he says that for him, a poem begins as a lump in the throat. For me, each book of mine begins as a lump in the throat. Some emotion that I need to explore. My books are about many things, including, but far from exclusively, a crime. Murder is an act, and a dreadful one.  But I spend a year on each book and it must be about more than a crime. And so each book is inspired by an emotion, a theme, a piece of human nature that puzzles and fascinates.  A question that I do not really know the answer to. Most of my books are inspired by a poem, or even a few lines from a poem. I find a bit of poetry, I write it out on a Post-it, and I stick it on my laptop. So when I inevitably get all lost and confused, I can go back to it and say, ‘That’s what the book’s about.’ 

    What kind of entertainment interests you aside from reading? 

    I love music, and listen to it a lot, when not actually writing.  All sorts of music.  In fact, each book has its own playlist, made up of current favorites.  The one I’m listening to right now has Rag ‘n Bone Man, Bizet, Bach, X Ambassadors, some Gregorian Chants, Crash Test DummiesFlatt&Scruggs, Dire Straits, Leonard Cohen, Cosmo Sheldrake. And more. I also relax in front of the TV.  Mostly HGTV.  Trying to work out which home I’d buy.   

    How much of what you write is influenced by current events, by real people, by real places? And how much is completely invented? 

    People might read the books and think I’m creative, and the fact is I’m not. I just write what I see. And I write what I feel every day.  

    The books are definitely drawn from a whole bunch of things. Absolutely from the Eastern Townships of Quebec. The books are many things, probably least among them crime novels. They are definitely crime fiction, but they are love letters to the place I choose to live. I have never been made to feel a stranger in Knowlton. Michael and I were welcomed and embraced. It feels like there was always a place at the table just waiting for us. Much of my life I wandered, geographically and emotionally. Searching for home. I found it in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. I found it with Michael. I found it buried deep inside myself. And that’s what I write about. The yearning to belong.  The search for home.   

    What’s your daily routine? Can you describe for us a typical day at home?  

    Well, not to be too boring, but I write every day, except when I’m between books. I used to be a night person, as a teen (I guess most of us were). But my first real job was hosting a morning show for CBC Radio in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I had to get up at 4am. A few years of that, and voila. A morning person was created. I no longer get up at 4am, but I am up sometime around 6am.   

    I make coffee, and get to work right away, while fresh. I re-read what I wrote the day before, noodling with it a bit, then press ahead with the new writing.  I set a goal of 1,000 words a day. I’m very disciplined, mostly because I need to be.  All I really want to do is lie on the sofa eating gummy bears and watching HGTV.   

    Though it’s no secret why no reality show follows a writer around. At least not this writer. I essentially go from the dining room table, where I work, to the coffee machine. And back. And I stare into space. A lot. I often think it’s unfair that the creative process and doing nothing look exactly alike.   

    In the afternoons, after I finish writing, I often walk into the village for lunch with a friend. I am, by nature, a bit of a recluse, so I need to work at getting out. Though I love my friends and enjoy time with them.   

    Then I answer emails and do any other work that needs to be done, like interviews etc. Not, perhaps, a hugely exciting life. But it’s perfect for me. And I know how lucky I am. 

    How did you come up with the idea for the village of Three Pines? Is it based on a real place?  

    Three Pines has long been both a setting and a main character in my books. It’s fictional, for sure, but inspired by all sorts of villages. Some in Quebec, some elsewhere in Canada. Some Vermont towns have inspired the books, as well as English villages. Three Pines is an intentionally hyper-ideal village. Beautiful and peaceful. At least on the outside.  It plays into another theme throughout the series, one of duality.  The difference between perception and reality.  Between what we say and what we’re really thinking.  Between the public face and the inner turmoil.   

    I consider the books allegories and Three Pines a state-of-mind. A place we find only when we’re lost.  When we need it.  And not home to everyone.   

    I’ve been lost in my life, and tired of sarcasm and dark cynicism. I’d had too much of that. It drained me. Left me hollow and callow. I needed belonging, and kindness. I needed friendship. A warm hearth on a cold night. That’s Three Pines. But, like Gamache, while it’s good, it isn’t perfect. There’s always a serpent, even in Paradise. A shadow to the light. And that’s what makes Three Pines what it is, and the people who they are 

    What do you think it is about your books that makes them so successful? 

    I think the setting helps. As I said earlier, the books aren’t about murder, they aren’t even about death, they’re about duality and belonging, community and love. I think people are also fascinated with Quebec. They’re interested in the French/English culture and the history. I wanted to bring alive the life, culture, music and cuisine of Quebec. To make the books sensuous, engaging all the senses, so that anyone reading them doesn’t feel like a voyeur, but walks into the pages. Stands beside Gamache. Sits in the bistro with Clara and Gabri. Hopes Ruth doesn’t turn her rheumy eye on them.   

    Do you have a favorite character in your books? Do you find them easier to write now that they have been in so many books, or is that actually harder?   

    Trick question! Well, of course, Gamache. Ruth is fun to write. I love that she, like all the characters, I guess like all of us, has a saving grace. She genuinely is embittered, she’s drunk most of the time, she has a potty mouth, she says what she thinks and what she thinks is often not very kind, but she’s clever with it. It’s like she keeps all of her kindness deep down inside.  

    To be honest, I’m finding the characters increasingly interesting as the series goes along. As I get to know them. Like intimate friends, who never bore us.   

    There are, of course, challenges to writing a series with essentially the same characters and setting.  Not falling into a formula, becoming predictable, is a major one. But I get around that, I hope, by changing structure, theme, tone, and pace. By exploring new ideas, ones that make me think, and often make me uncomfortable. And so, also make the characters uncomfortable. And perhaps the reader.   

    I’m very aware that readers are spending precious time, and money, on the books, and I need to make it worthwhile.   

    I also have a duty to the characters who have given me a life beyond anything I could have dare dreamed.   

    A Better Man is on B&N bookshelves now.

    The post An Exclusive Interview with Author Louise Penny, Plus a Behind-the-Scenes Look at <i>A Better Man</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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