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Nov. 15, 2022

Louise Penny: Don't Be Afraid

There’s Canadian famous, and then there’s Famous famous. Like author Louise Penny. Luckily, she was Wendy’s best friend in grade 9, so we were able to persuade her to come on the podcast. Maureen, Louise and Wendy talk all about friendship, fame, and facing fear. Too many f’s? Well, that’s her motto: Don’t be Afraid. She’s just published book #18 in her Three Pines Inspector Gamache series. A World of Curiosities. She will be speaking at the Indigo bookstore in Toronto on December 2nd, the same day Prime Video launches the Three Pines series with Alfred Molina as Gamache!

18 books in 18 years! A #1 New York Times Bestseller! Louise Penny’s new book is out, the latest in her Inspector Armand Gamache Three Pines murder mysteries. A World of Curiosities. Often compared to a modern day Agatha Christie, her work is a lot more than cozy, with ill winds blowing in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, the setting for all the murders. We talk about the books, about growing up, and the value of friendship.

We love writing and would love for you to read what we write. Sign Up for our Substack Newsletter.

We also want to thank everyone at Schneider & Pollack Wealth Management for making this podcast possible.

If you would like to support the show, we do have partner opportunities available. Please email Wendy and Maureen at womenofir@gmail.com


Speaker 1 00:00:00
We talk about you like you're not here.

Speaker 2 00:00:03
Yeah, and then we hang up on.

Speaker 1 00:00:06
You when we talk about you again. It's very girly that way. Okay, I just want to check.

Speaker 2 00:00:15
Thank you for doing mute my microphone.

Speaker 3 00:00:17
Then while you're you want.

Speaker 1 00:00:19
You can if you want. That's fine.

Speaker 2 00:00:21
Or not once you unmute it after.

Speaker 3 00:00:24
And remember no, look, I mean, honestly, my hair is, like, way out of control. Despite that wonderful email you wrote about Lisa and whatnot. It's hair, actually.

Speaker 1 00:00:34
It's all about the hair.

Speaker 3 00:00:36
I'm so glad this is just audio and not good luck.

Speaker 1 00:00:40
The thing about the hair, somebody sent me something from the Washington Post yesterday how it's the least historic on international, but it's all in relation to the hair. Okay, another topic for another day. Should we do this thing?

Speaker 2 00:00:57
Yeah, so I guess we're just going to leap in. Louise, so I hope that's okay. And obviously, if something weird happens, we'll just cut it out. So you just tell us afterwards because we're not here to ambush anybody.

Speaker 1 00:01:07
Yeah, once we press record, we figured we're recording. Rolling.

Speaker 2 00:01:14
So, hey, Marine, I've been thinking that you and I were sort of, I don't know, quasifamous, maybe what I like to call Canadian famous. But other people, they're, like, really like famous.

Speaker 1 00:01:26
Wait, we're very famous. I'm on TikTok now. I have three followers. And you're doing really well on Instagram with your 27, so, you know, fame is relative.

Speaker 2 00:01:37
Well, it might be 28 now. More seriously, you rock on Instagram. I got a bunch of followers on Twitter, but we're still not really famous.

Speaker 1 00:01:48
What is famous famous? Is that even a thing?

Speaker 2 00:01:51
Well, I don't know. To me, it's kind of like movie stars and singers and all that stuff. And there's lots of famous people there. But it seems what matters now is almost more how many followers you have on social. Like, Kim Kardashian is the new famous famous. And she's got a million bazillion whatever followers and makes a bazillion dollars. That's famous.

Speaker 1 00:02:12
And we're not even really sure why. That's the thing. Like, Kylie Jenner, one of her sisters, had 300 million followers on Instagram, and for the life of me, I'm not really sure why. I mean, she's beautiful, but that can't be enough. So I don't know. Go ahead.

Speaker 2 00:02:34
Well, I think it's like the famous boyfriend, Kim Kardashian married Kanye, but she.

Speaker 1 00:02:41
Would say it's before that. Yeah.

Speaker 2 00:02:44
So you need a sex tape. I can't remember.

Speaker 1 00:02:51
I have never had any desire to capture an image or in that relationship. No, the answer is no. I'm not wearing Marilyn Monroe's dress, the naked dress or whatever. The one she wore at the Metallic. No, I could not. You could pull it off. Well, until I turn around, but then you don't see yourself. So, anyway, back to face.

Speaker 2 00:03:16
Yes, I have share.

Speaker 3 00:03:20

Speaker 2 00:03:24
No, I mean, at the beginning when I was talking into doing this podcast. I was saying we're going to get shares.

Speaker 1 00:03:28

Speaker 2 00:03:31
And all those people, but actually, they don't just magically show up. So the only famous person that I actually know that I can actually visit or send an email to or phone or whatever, she's one of my oldest.

Speaker 1 00:03:52
Is what happens when you bring in another, like, you triangulating. So she's better than me?

Speaker 2 00:03:59
Well, I've known her since grade okay, fine. It's like, you're one of my best friends, but I have known her since grade nine, okay? And you and I, we only became palace a couple of years ago.

Speaker 1 00:04:10
Okay, fine. I'll accept that. And she's more famous than both of us. So come on. Who is it?

Speaker 2 00:04:16
Yeah, so her name is Louise.

Speaker 1 00:04:20
Louise, Honey.

Speaker 2 00:04:22
Follow it.

Speaker 3 00:04:22

Speaker 2 00:04:25
Well, yeah, we were grade nine together, and anyway, it's a long story. I guess we'll get into it. But now she's like, a famous, awful tour, and she has written 18 murder mysteries. The Inspector Ganache series, Twin Pines. It's been turned into a series Netflix series with Alfred Molina. And last year, she wrote another murder mystery with that other famous, famous person, of course, is, like, dying to come on the podcast, not Hillary Clinton. So yeah.

Speaker 1 00:04:56

Speaker 2 00:04:57
All right.

Speaker 1 00:04:57

Speaker 3 00:04:58
Penny. Louise.

Speaker 1 00:04:58
I love her already.

Speaker 3 00:05:00
Bring that.

Speaker 1 00:05:01
Good job.

Speaker 2 00:05:08
She's my best friend. No. Never, never, never.

Speaker 1 00:05:13
Hi, Louise. I know a lot about you I want to start with, and I give Wendy a hard time about this all the time that you guys were synchronized swimmers together.

Speaker 3 00:05:26
Oh, my God. You know what? I had almost forgotten that. Oh, my God. Do you remember sitting in your home, lying on the floor, trying to work out how where our legs would go into the music, and we chose music. I think the theme was Broadway. And we decided to choose something completely.

Speaker 2 00:05:45
Different with Pink Panther. Well, there was two. There was one. Yeah, there was one. The guy that was constipated on the toilet, what's his name?

Speaker 1 00:06:16
Sure, you won't be remembered that way. I also know that this blows my mind. You had all sorts of adventures together, but I think you were 15, and the two of you went on, like, a 500 kilometer bike ride where you slept on the side of the road.

Speaker 3 00:06:37
As you said. Wendy. Wendy came over for dinner. We had dinner together not that long ago. And not only what were we thinking? Who were 15, what the 15 year olds think. How could our mother go who was our mother's thinking? Now? How many children did they start with?

Speaker 2 00:06:56
There's a murder mystery. There were six of them. No, there were five of us. And we had pots and tents and everything on the back of our I think we had, like, three gears. And we rode past Huntsville from Toronto was 60 miles, because that was before kilometers, because that's how old we are, 60 miles. A day, and we slept on the side of the road, and we had, like, bathing suits and running shoes and yeah, like, come molest us. Here we are, 550. I don't know, our parents our mothers were crazy.

Speaker 3 00:07:30
Can you imagine their faces when we actually came back?

Speaker 1 00:07:38
I'm picturing these two girls, these two teenage girls. And I mean, so you've got your synchronized swimming, but that wasn't going to be the thing that lifted you up into fame. Did either of you recognize any singular talent in the other at the time?

Speaker 3 00:07:58
Now, that's an interesting question, because the fact is, and it doesn't take much to, you know, Wendy, you know that she's remarkable, and you were remarkable, Wendy, from the GetGo, a smart and bright bright, luminous young woman and beautiful and clever and popular. So, no, she had sort of every everything going for her, and it always amazed me because I felt like just I was tall and clunky and had braces, and I was just amazed that this woman would even talk to me, never mind take me on a killer trip and hope that I died by those.

Speaker 2 00:08:46
We'll get into how we sort of fell apart later, but I remember sitting by the phone. I used to think you lived in a mansion in this magical world with family and rich people, and I used to sit and wait by the phone for you to call. And then I read something the other day that said that when you were bad, your mother would make you go in place. You like to sit in a room and read. So, I mean, there was stuff going on in your family, and there was stuff between us, but yeah, anyway, I.

Speaker 3 00:09:16
Remember I used love visiting your home and your grandfather, I adored your grandfather.

Speaker 2 00:09:21
He was very charismatic. He was an asshole, though. He was he yeah, but he loved me.

Speaker 3 00:09:27
One of the things I remember, and I'm not sure that if anyone's eating, you might as might want to stop right now, but for some reason, again, what sticks in the mind of a teenager if you describing having to pop the pimples on his back? Not like that, Will.

Speaker 2 00:09:51
He lost me $2,000.

Speaker 3 00:09:53
Worth it.

Speaker 2 00:09:56
It was great when I was 17.

Speaker 1 00:09:58

Speaker 2 00:09:58
Or whatever he was. But you weren't writing then, because I know you were, like, super smart and stuff.

Speaker 3 00:10:05
You know what? Thank you for saying that. I struggled to get fees in school. I was not, and I'm still not. I'm an autodidact. I love to read. I love to learn, but I don't do well in a school setting, and I've become a big believer that the classroom isn't necessarily the best place to judge how smart, how bright, what kind of future a child is going to have. And it might be the only paradigm we have, but it certainly didn't work well for me. So no. My mother never got a report card that said, Louise would do better if she worked hard. It's like, Poor child, she's working flat out.

Speaker 1 00:10:57
The question was, when did you think you might be able to like writers? And anybody writes as a writer, whether they're paid for it or not. I've always had this feeling that it's something you have to do. It's a compulsion as much as anything.

Speaker 3 00:11:15
Yeah, I think writers are readers to begin with. Of course, I was a voracious reader, partly because of what Wendy just said. I just loved I was just such a fearful child. I only felt safe when I was in my bedroom with the door closed, reading, and I hated to leave. And I still is still my favorite place, my feet up on the bed, reading. My husband used to call me a horizontalist trying to get my feet up on something.

Speaker 2 00:11:51
He died a couple of years ago. He was so supportive of you, and he supported you before you were famous. Famous or even famous.

Speaker 3 00:12:02
He was the only one who didn't mock me. When and mocking comes in many forms, as you know, it's often not the it's often just the roll of the eye. It's the sly aside, hearing whispers from third parties. Oh, well, of course he's writing a book, but it'll never be published. But Michael always believed in me, even when I suffered five years of writer's block. And although it did get to the stage where he stopped asking me how the book was going, this is the kin Wendy to my mother when she stopped asking me at the age of 35 whether I'd met any nice young men recently, you know, you're in trouble. When your mother stopped asking that, she's just given up. So Michael stopped asking how the book was going. Not that he didn't believe I could write it. I think he just didn't want you know, it was already painful enough. So I was watching over and eating.

Speaker 1 00:12:57
Bones as you do.

Speaker 2 00:12:58
And then you made him the focus. He's like Inspector Gamash, right?

Speaker 3 00:13:03
Yes. He became the inspiration. It was unintentional. I didn't necessarily do it on purpose. I didn't sit down and say, all right, I'm going to write Michael into the book. It was only later when I'd already written at least the first draft of Still Life, and I came down, and I was feeling pretty proud of myself for having created this Ganache character. And Michael was sitting at the breakfast table, and I was babbling away about hairstyles or Gilligan's Island or something, and he was talking about world peace. I didn't create go match, I transcribed the match he became the inspiration for. Gamache had many of the same qualities. If you met Michael as you did Wendy, and then read the books, you wouldn't necessarily say, oh, physically, she's describing Gamash. But all of the things that matter, the interior, the core beliefs were, Michael cute, and then when he died, he got ill and died, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to write anymore, partly because of sadness. I didn't think I'd be able to breathe anymore. But also my gamach is gone. But as it turned out, it's actually so comforting now to be able to write the books and be with Michael every day. It's like he's immortal now, and there's great comfort in that.

Speaker 1 00:14:40
Louise, he was much older than you. And when you marry, when you enter into a relationship with someone who's much older than you, you have to know there has to be that underlying sadness, I guess a resignation that you will outlive them. Was that the case with you?

Speaker 3 00:14:58
It's interesting, you know, that. Have you had that?

Speaker 1 00:15:03
My husband's younger, not much younger, but no. But I have friends who've married older people and knowing that it will be a shorter relationship.

Speaker 3 00:15:23
I wish I could have changed. Is that anticipatory grief? That was there all the time? All the time. When we blew out when I blew out birthday candles, my only wish was that I go first, knowing that I probably wouldn't. And then when he got ill, I would wish that I wouldn't go first because if I did, it would be a disaster. But, yeah, that was the fear. And I tried to prepare myself, but living there was always this kind of call of fear hanging over me. And I still I was very aware of how lucky I was and how much I loved. I wasn't a perfect relationship. Nothing is. And I tried to be grateful and aware of that, but I was always every time he was out of my sight, I would have made a terrible mother. Oh, my God. I would have changed in the basement and never let them out. But whenever he was out of my sight, I was always worried that he'd never come back. This went on for like 20 years of this.

Speaker 2 00:16:29
That's why it keeps coming up with you. And I think it's really central to you. And like any guests, I researched you and there was a couple of articles, and you were saying that there's always the same theme in your book, the sort of yearning to belong and the shamahini quote that when Salman Rushdie was attacked, you brought out, too, which is don't be afraid. And it's the same thing. That was so funny. What you were saying about that stupid bike trip that you and I and a bunch of girlfriends did up to north of Huntsville was that our mothers were kind of embraced risk. So maybe there's a line between don't be afraid and accept risk. Probably a sensible person could find a line. But I think that's a big part of you is that you might live with fear, but you believe in being brave.

Speaker 3 00:17:22
Well, I did live with fear for years, and it's such a thief. It narrows the life until my day became doing the least fearful thing possible. And then it led me to drink, to numb that, so that I had the courage to do what had to be done the minimum in life. And we can get into that later if you want. What it does allow me to do, though, is own that and write about what it feels like to be afraid. And fear comes out again, like, in so many different ways. It can come out in jealousy. It can come out in low selfesteem. It comes out in physical fear. I realize as I get older, when I was young, I was almost completely physically fearless. Physically fearless. I went parachuting. We did that stupid bike trip and did all sorts of things, but emotionally so bound up. So I was so afraid. I remember going on a date once. This is so embarrassing. And the poor guy, he said, now, like, what's your favorite? Like, by now we're 30 seconds into the date, we're already talking about TV shows. This is not that's a surrender. I haven't even reached the restaurant yet. And I remember saying to him, I'm afraid that's too personal. I don't want to tell you about your TV show, bro. And I remember turning to him it seemed like a reasonable response until I turned to him and saw the look of horror on his face. Woman now for at least another hour.

Speaker 2 00:19:07
So you never told them?

Speaker 3 00:19:09
Never told them. So I was emotionally just so guarded. Unbelievably guarded.

Speaker 2 00:19:18
What is your favorite color?

Speaker 1 00:19:20
Don't ask. Don't ask. What's your favorite color? Really? Don't go there.

Speaker 3 00:19:27
Great. As I got older and then got sober and worked on myself, I've become more physically, not necessarily fearful, but certainly cautious, but much more emotionally brave. And I realized it's not so much for me, less fear, although I hope there's less of that. Less fear. Fear is about more courage. And that's what I've tried to work on, is just be brave. Be brave. Yeah, you're afraid, but do it anyway. Do it anyway. Do it anyway. What's the worst that can happen? Even sometimes when I was a ferret afraid of flying, the worst in my mind was crashing. I was thinking, but the worst that can happen is never getting on a plane and never seeing these other places, never going to weddings and funerals and visiting other countries. That's the worst that can happen, is leading a tiny, tiny life.

Speaker 1 00:20:32
Yeah, fear is the worst. It really is. We call it anxiety now, but it's the same thing, isn't it? Just this terror of doing something that may not work out unless you put what's the worst that can happen? It's probably nothing near as bad as you think it would be. Whatever. It's going to be. Bringing the conversation back to the two of you, because I'm a little fascinated, a little jelly. Why did you break up? Can we talk about that?

Speaker 3 00:21:08
Yeah. Do you want to go, Wendy, or do you want me to?

Speaker 1 00:21:12
I'm happy to, but I'm curious.

Speaker 2 00:21:16
I've confessed my regrets. You're probably one of my biggest regrets in life, so I've confessed that to you. But I've never heard your side of the story, so I would love to hear that.

Speaker 3 00:21:26
Well, when Wendy and I again, we're 15, 1614, whatever, and we have crushes on guys. And I always had crushes on my brother's friends. My brother was 18 months older than me, Rob, so I thought that they were just the best in the world. And one was a guy named Kim Forge. Who did you have a crush on at the time? Can you remember?

Speaker 2 00:21:51
I just had crushes on everybody who was older. But I do remember I knew that you like Kimforge, and I shouldn't have liked him because of that, but I did. I remember staring at photos. I don't know whether it was a Late Weightlifting Club or anywhere. It was a shot in the yearbook, and all their tops were all exposed. It was before six packs, but I was just like, oh, my God, they're so fit and so muscled. So I had crushes on a bunch of people, but mostly, like, when you're 16, it's like anybody who's two years older, 18 months older, like, they're like walking gods. Yeah. I didn't have an older brother, but everybody's older brother was God.

Speaker 3 00:22:33
Well, in fact, he went to one of the problems with my brother. We found a photograph of that recently. I should send it to you, Maureen. It's actually quite flattering until you look at Wendy's shoes.

Speaker 1 00:22:45
No, we have to get this. Please send it to me. We will definitely post this along with the I'm wearing a velvet dress and.

Speaker 2 00:22:53
What looks to be running.

Speaker 1 00:22:55
Oh, God. Well, it was a difficult time. But back to Kim Ford.

Speaker 3 00:23:01
Well, what happened was when he came up to our country place for a couple of weeks or so, and we had the regatta and we had the regatta dance, and you get all dressed up, and Kim Forge happened to be there. Yeah, this is right. Right. And he must have been visiting with Rob and Wendy and Kim hooked up. And I'm standing there at the dance looking at my best friend thinking, what the fuck? And just being devastated because there goes my fantasy with Kim, and my best friend is just betrayed. And then it was very awkward because not only was she staying with me, we were staying in the same bedroom.

Speaker 1 00:23:49
Oh, wow.

Speaker 3 00:23:50
So I went we got back home, and I'm in tears. And then I tell my parents, and then we arrange for you to go home. Didn't we think we put you on the side of the road and on the bicycle or something?

Speaker 1 00:24:03
You were taken out on a rail or whatever. They were banished. Wow.

Speaker 2 00:24:11
I mean, it's inexcusable I say that I have two regrets in my life. And one of them I forgive myself for because it was so stupid and everybody did it. And that was smoking and I smoked, which was really stupid. But the Kimfoky thing, it was a betrayal. Like, I've done other stupid things in my life, but to betray your best friend even now, people are like, no, you were 15 or whatever. Like yeah. Forgive you. No, just listening to this I've never done anything like that since ever.

Speaker 1 00:24:43
Just listening to this. I'm so sympathetic to the two reactions. One would be, that it. That's it. And then the other side is, oh, my God, I know exactly when you're that age and that happens. That is the worst thing that could ever happen.

Speaker 3 00:25:01
When you did try to make it up, I remember a number of times in class where you'd come up to me and try and I just wasn't interested in reengaging with you. But I do remember that you tried. And then we reconnected. We obviously didn't speak for a long time. Interestingly enough, of course, Wendy went into journalism and had this fantastic career.

Speaker 2 00:25:25
You went into journalism?

Speaker 3 00:25:27
I went into journalism and had a moderate I did the 01:00 time signal.

Speaker 2 00:25:57
And we both ended up working for CBC. We both ended up working in Quebec City. Not at the same time, but it was weird. And we can move on to that in a second. But I just have a very funny Kim Forge story to tell because we're all over that, even though we're not.

Speaker 1 00:26:11
I hope he subscribes to this podcast because he's getting more airtime than anybody.

Speaker 2 00:26:16
All right, let's ottawa. He was on the front cover of the Ottawa Citizen because I should look this up, but it was either Quinn tuplets or Times.

Speaker 1 00:26:28
He fathered multiple babies.

Speaker 2 00:26:31
Oh, my God. This guy probably 100 now.

Speaker 3 00:26:35
Kim, if you're listening, get in touch.

Speaker 1 00:26:36

Speaker 3 00:26:37
No, don't wait, you were I honestly feel nothing at all. And I, you know, and it was it really was a long time ago. I feel nothing at all. But for him, and I feel a lot for you. Positive, not negative.

Speaker 1 00:26:54
It's funny. This guy gets two women, two incredibly amazing young women crushing on him and then father six couples. If he walked into the room to the flowers bloom, I would no, maybe.

Speaker 2 00:27:10
In the photo and the yearbook, like.

Speaker 3 00:27:13
50 years ago, but love to see them now. Let's imagine. Never mind.

Speaker 1 00:27:20
Tell me about that, why you did it. Why what made you decide to put all that 35 years later, if I'm not mistaken.

Speaker 3 00:27:32
About leaving CDC?

Speaker 1 00:27:34
No, getting in touch with Wendy.

Speaker 3 00:27:38
Well, Wendy, you've just been diagnosed. I think you were in treatment. Were you in chemo for the breast cancer? And I remember sitting the at computer thinking I want to get in touch, but I don't know. And should I or shouldn't I? And I can't even remember what I wrote just dear Wendy's, thinking of you. Hope everything's okay. I hope you remember me, louise and sent it into the ether. Wendy at contact CBC. I mean, just some anonymous thing. And I swear, within five minutes, maybe even less, you responded.

Speaker 2 00:28:19
I was so happy to see you. Yeah. And you had just published your first book. There had been so much, I don't know, water under the bridge, as they say over the years, and that's sort of going in similar situations. And you almost drank yourself to death. You went through horrible, horrible, horrible things. And then by the time you reached out to me, you were with Michael, and you were loved. And your book, finally, your first mystery, murder mystery, the first of the gamach series, had won an award in the UK after being turned down by all the Canadian publishers.

Speaker 3 00:29:00
That's right. And then we visited. You came with Liam and Kate and daughter to our place here in Quebec, and they were outside playing or doing whatever they were doing, and you came into the kitchen where I was, I don't know, getting the dream whip on this. Yeah. Crackers. And you apologized. And I've never forgotten that, because I just think that is such an act of character that speaks so much to your character for apologizing 40 years later for this transgression. And you didn't have to, because it was clear at that stage that we had both moved on and we were becoming reconnecting. So you didn't have to do do that, and you did it. And I've never forgotten the courage that takes. I mean, we talked about noly to Mary be not afraid. That took a lot of courage.

Speaker 2 00:30:09
Well, I was stupid to have lost all those years and to have not been there when you were in trouble. And anyway, you just mean a lot to me. I love you, and I wish that I had gotten in touch with you instead of vice versa. You're just a bigger person.

Speaker 3 00:30:31
That is true.

Speaker 2 00:30:35
Anyway, and now you're famous. Famous. How many bazillion million followers do you have?

Speaker 3 00:30:42
Oh, not that many, because I'm not really on social media.

Speaker 2 00:30:46
Yeah. You're more like Margaret Atwood. I mean, you might sell more books, but you're like, she looks like there on everything.

Speaker 3 00:30:57
She actually reads the books. I did an event with her, and I said, you know, because they were just beginning it's actually going to be on prime, the three prime series, and they were casting it at the time. And I said to Margaret, how would you feel about being Ruth in a TV show?

Speaker 1 00:31:16

Speaker 3 00:31:17
Because I said, you act you do a little bit of acting. She said, I would love to. So I got in touch with can you imagine if Margaret atwood got in touch with the producers? And they said, yeah, well, whatever. I don't know, whatever happens. And for me, it's like my head's on fire. How can you not pursue that.

Speaker 1 00:31:35
Let me ask you about the Three Pine series, and you live in the Eastern Townships where the series is set. Do people stop you or call you up or just your neighbor say, hey, is that me? Do you ever get people saying, I can tell that's me, or that's my daughter, or anything like that?

Speaker 3 00:31:54
Well, the funny thing is nobody ever thinks their roots. Everybody thinks they're gamash. And the fact is, I actually do. I don't know of a single artist who doesn't pull from their life experience. So yes, whether it's taking characteristics or some physical characteristics or events. So, yeah, it's almost like Dr. Frankenstein taking bits and pieces from everything around and fashioning together these characters. But, yeah, they are definitely inspired by we talk about that yearning to belong. They're really inspired by what's invisible, what can't be seen, and that's that sense of belonging, the genuine belief that goodness exists and that kindness will always trump cruelty. Maybe not in the short term, but in the long term, if you can hold on to kindness and decency and integrity, it will win.

Speaker 2 00:33:00
So I remember when I saw you recently, you said, sure, I'll come on your podcast, whatever. I don't want to answer. I'll just not answer. I'm a big girl. And then you said, but am I really a woman of illegal repute? So Maureen and I talked about that, and it just keeps changing. What is a woman of ille repute? Because I think most women that we've reached out to have gone, yeah, I'm a woman of illegal refuge. Just don't call me that. Don't call me that. To me, I don't know whether you see yourself as that because you are a very good, decent person who writes about mostly good, decent people, except for the people that kill people.

Speaker 1 00:33:39

Speaker 2 00:33:41
Well, one per book anyway. But to me, a woman of ill repute is somebody who says, I don't care what the rules are, I'm going to be brave, and if the rules fit, great, and if they don't fit, I'm going to do that anyway. So to me, you're a woman of ill repute, but you're also a goddess in an angel.

Speaker 3 00:34:01
The nice thing is it's like witches, right? I mean, how we're reclaiming the idea of a witch. Yes, I'm a witch. I am witch. I am happy to say I am a witch. I mean, I have done those ceremonies or whatever, smudging and doing all of that, but a witch is only a wise woman and a brave woman and someone who knows things that others may not and who claims her power. And so, yes, I'm a witch, and I guess that also makes me a woman of illegal acute you got it.

Speaker 1 00:34:35
Yes, absolutely. That's well expressed. That's better than we've been able to come up with in the last six months. That analogy is absolutely right. It's a compliment. At the end of the. Day when Wendy and I were talking about who to have on this podcast. I mean, apart from Sharon, sharon Stone and Jane Fonda, who Wendy told us we're going to be banging on the door. We really struggled with trying to figure out how to explain this. And we worried that we would actually, by asking people to be on this podcast called Women toville repute, that they would be insulted. And then we came to the conclusion that if they were insulted by that, then we didn't want to have them on.

Speaker 3 00:35:20
What you say, because you both have done it too. And I think I have too, as a woman saying standing up and saying, attention must be paid. I can see you, I am not afraid of you, and I'm going to do what I need to do within the realm of not trying not to hurt other people. But there's wide margin there. I am just trainers leaving. Get on it if you want, get out of the way.

Speaker 2 00:35:53
Yeah. And I think some people deserve to be hurt. Like when I was on Marketplace, we would spend six weeks investigating people who would hurt other people and then we'd go and be mean to them. So that's fine because they deserved it, but I don't think most people do deserve it. I don't think you do want to hurt people, but you also want to be true. And I just find that the whole idea is we're not going to debate truth here, but I think the struggle for truth is really important and your books read true. So how much can you tell us about how much?

Speaker 1 00:36:25
I was just going to say that Segue right there.

Speaker 2 00:36:33
I'm like, you wrote a book with her.

Speaker 3 00:36:42
The fact is I'm there because I'm a writer, obviously, and she's there because of her geopolitical insider knowledge. So we each brought something different to the project. And yeah, for the most part I wrote it, sent the pages off to her, she would send them back longhand. It was so annoying. She would like, change, any change, and then we'd talk about probably, what do you think of this character? And I'm worried about this or whatnot? So she had to read it. The book could not have been written without Hillary. But to think that she was sitting there for 6 hours a day writing just isn't the truth. But neither could I have written that book alone. It was actually, in many ways, a perfect partnership.

Speaker 2 00:37:36
And then you were not speaking to her, you were like on we did all like the TV shows in English around the world.

Speaker 3 00:37:42
Like, you were like, Was it fun? And the thing is, when we were in London, we were doing all the big shows in London. For some reason, I only brought one pair of shoes, black things. And the first show I get off the elevator, I think it was at the BBC and the sole of my shoe hits the elevator shaft thing and rips off. So now it's like a clown shoe, right? Every time I take a step, it's opening and slapping. Are you kidding me? So then, of course, the first one, they introduced us, we have to walk across the stage, oh, no laughing at you. Or I get to drag it like Quasimoda. So make a choice. Everybody is, of course, focused on Hillary, and I am the skin tag. So it was quite an experience. And Hillary was very aware of the imbalance and was very gracious and generous to always make sure that I was included, to turn to me and say, well, Louise, why don't you answer that question? And I was very grateful for that because it really would have been easy for me to have been just swallowed up by the machine that goes with being former Secretary of State.

Speaker 1 00:39:16

Speaker 2 00:39:18
And now you're doing this. Well, not you're doing, but your books have been turned into a Netflix series with Alfred Molina.

Speaker 1 00:39:26
Are you happy about that casting, Louise? I guess you wouldn't say that word.

Speaker 3 00:39:30
Yes, and it's actually going to be prime. It's Amazon Prime, not Netflix. So often my ego agrees to something that the rest of me have to follow through on. I think this is one of those. I had an adaptation done of the first book, which was done by CDC, and I was not pleased with it, so I decided I would never do this again. So I turned down every offer until the people who made the crown approached me, left bank and said, British. And I felt very strongly initially that a Canadian had to make it. So that's why I agreed to this other production. And clearly that wasn't a fit, but it took us two years of negotiating about who would be doing what and my role and what the contract would look like. They have to shoot it here in Quebec. They have to use certain number of Quebec actors and production people. All of that is understood anyway, because, as you know, there are grants given by the government, but you have to hire so many Canadians to do it. So I thought I had written in enough power for myself to have significant influence. It turns out I did not. Oh, my goodness.

Speaker 2 00:41:04
They came here.

Speaker 3 00:41:05
They were wonderful. I met with the writer many times, and they made choices I would never have made. They made some wonderful ones. I think Alfred Melina asgamash and I've seen the first couple of episodes is Curb. It is. But there are other choices that I would never have made, and they know it, and we've gone back and forth on that, but ultimately they win. So I don't know how I feel. I wish at this point I hadn't agreed to it. But it may end up being the right thing. And it may be you know. I have to sit myself down and say. How much of this is just I'm feeling hyper ownership of this and that if I agree to this. I have to allow them to create their version of my stories and to let it go and to be okay with it. I don't know how much of this is just my own insecurities.

Speaker 2 00:42:02
Well, how about control freaks? Like all three of us? It's really hard to hear is my baby, do what you want with it? No.

Speaker 3 00:42:12
Right. And I feel, without trying to sound too precious, but these characters have given me a life that I never thought I would have. I mean, it's just fantastic. And I owe them. What I owe them in return is when I write decent books for them, but also protection. And I don't think I protected them enough twice, so there won't be a third time.

Speaker 1 00:42:41
It's really interesting, I think, about I mean, you're pal Margaret Atwood with The Handmaid's Tale, which was the first season was true, and then it just took off into the sort of vengeance, super Handmade going to save the day kind of situation. And I wonder sometimes she's still listed as a consultant on it, but it's taken on a life of its own, and that's got to be of concern. And I love the way you are so protective of these characters and feel that you owe them, even though, of course, they don't get artist.

Speaker 3 00:43:14
I thought about it because I have friends who've works, have been adapted, and they're very happy, even though they have taken they have to make choices with film and TV people. And I wonder why I'm feeling just so stressed about it. And I think partly is what you were saying, Wendy, that that's just part of my makeup and probably all of ours and perhaps why we are as successful as we have been because we care so much. But I also think it's because I only do one thing. It's not like I write two or three series or I have this and then I have other interests elsewhere. I don't I've spent 20 years creating this world that hasn't been created because it's a marketing tool. It's been created out of something profound in me. All the characters, all the themes, all the things that I explore, things that I care deeply about. And I think that's why it's difficult for me to just hand it over to someone else and allow their life to influence what they do.

Speaker 1 00:44:20
You have other books in you, though. I'm not saying you should abandon these, but I mean, tell with them you can have more children. That's what I'm asking. You did this collaboration with Hillary Clinton, but do you, in fact, have other worlds you want to createexplore?

Speaker 3 00:44:48
I think I have other ideas, to be fair. I really like writing the Gamache books, and I find the characters endlessly fascinating, and they are very proudly crime novels. But that's really the Alpha, it's not the Omega, it's the Trojan horse that allows all sorts of other things to be explored within the books, all these other themes. So it's endless what I can do with these characters and characters whose company I enjoy. And through the pandemic, I was never lonely because I had this rich imaginary life of Three Pines. I could always go to the bistro and hang out with the folks there. My mother always said, getting me out of the bedroom, that reading so much and having such an imaginary friend isn't going to get you anywhere. Well.

Speaker 2 00:45:52
Madness of Crowds, which was written about the pandemic, which I think you said you changed it halfway through. That was the book that came out just before the Hillary book or around the same time. I love that book. And maybe it was because it sort of intersected with a lot of sort of political like, I'm a journalist, so I like facts instead of deep thoughts and feelings. But it was the idea that I think that we're all struggling with right now, which is that there's a lot of stuff floating around that presented as fact, that it's not fact, and that people are spinning people's minds and people aren't. And you told it as fiction, which anyway, I thought it was fantastic thinking.

Speaker 3 00:46:39
What happens when you get a convincing character who is charismatic and what they can say. And the fact is, most of what they say there is, and what makes it so dangerous is a grain of truth in what it is they are saying and then they make it into something grotesque. So, yeah, no, it was really interesting. I wasn't going to write about the pandemic, and in that book, the pandemic is in the past. I didn't want to I think I didn't want to write about something we were still going through because it was bad enough and I didn't think anyone wanted to read about a pandemic. And I didn't know when I was writing it that it would essentially be over, that we would have vaccines. But I did feel that I couldn't just let it go. And that idea, that an idea is a virus. And so there was that parallel between what happened in the pandemic and then this sort of pandemic of a horrific idea.

Speaker 2 00:47:50
Well, there's no vaccine. Do you have a vaccine?

Speaker 3 00:47:55
No. And we're looking at mention her name. But I've been reading about someone who's popped up in Canada who is similar as well, and I thought about The Madness of Crowds. Nobody is immune.

Speaker 2 00:48:13
So, Maureen, did you have any more, you know what? A chance to figure out like, secrets between no.

Speaker 1 00:48:19
It's funny, I love listening to this and taking part in it, but you're very compelling to the point where I'm not thinking of my next question.

Speaker 3 00:48:33

Speaker 1 00:48:36
That is a good sign. But yeah, I think we probably have to wrap this up. Although I feel like we could do a series. There's so many places we could go to. Well, I love you.

Speaker 3 00:48:50
I'm so impressed with the two of you. I remember, Wendy, you came last winter and you were sitting I mean, I'm pointing to the living room where you were sitting in the chair and I was on the sofa and it was snowing outside and you were staying the night, and you told me about Maureen and about this podcast hadn't started, really. We hadn't started yet. No, it was just you two were just trying to figure out what it was. But you had the name Women of Ill Repute. And so it was fascinating to hear you talk about it and then to see the success. In fact, Jamie Broadhurst, who's my Canadian distributor publisher out west at Rain Coast, is a big fan. He tunes in now, too.

Speaker 1 00:49:37
Hi. Jamie loves it. We're having a future.

Speaker 3 00:49:43
Yeah, it sounds like the people you were getting on. How wonderful. What a broad.

Speaker 1 00:49:47
Well, I mean, they are in good company with you. We've been very lucky. We know a few people and they know a few people and, you know, maybe one day Cher can't rob us, but maybe.

Speaker 2 00:50:00
And Hillary you got to hook us up with. Although she's got a podcast now, too. You don't listen to any podcast. You're probably just a reader. Reader. No.

Speaker 3 00:50:10
Well, I work out now and have through the pandemic. Although you wouldn't know because as I work out, the only thing in my head is cake. Cake after this.

Speaker 2 00:50:22
How many cakes do I get after workout?

Speaker 3 00:50:27
I'm looking at the bike thing. Right? This is five calories. Six calories.

Speaker 1 00:50:36
Luis, Penny, such a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for coming on. And I hope we meet in person one day because I can see why Wendy loves you so much.

Speaker 3 00:50:46
Thank you. This has been so much fun, the two of you, but Wendy loved you.

Speaker 1 00:50:54
Thank you, Louise.

Speaker 3 00:50:56
Thank you.

Speaker 2 00:50:57
See you soon. Bye. Love you.

Speaker 1 00:51:00
You have to leave, Louise? Yeah, we just have to do the enroll on it.

Speaker 3 00:51:11
Well, thank you so much. How do I leave?

Speaker 1 00:51:14
You should see leave session on your screen somewhere and have fun in the UK.

Speaker 2 00:51:19
I think you're off there and going to dentist and then off. So we'll be online.

Speaker 1 00:51:24
I think you just leave. You just press leave session. No.

Speaker 3 00:51:27
I see. Leave session. It's not allowing me it's looking pink rather than red.

Speaker 2 00:51:32
Yeah, mine's pink, too. And the new host.

Speaker 1 00:51:41
You know what? I'm going to end the session here. Just like a stop record. Okay. I love her, too. So she wasn't what I thought. I mean, you've talked a lot about Louise and you're so proud of her and you love her so much, but you've also said she's a bit of a lives in the woods and doesn't suffer fools. I was scared and I was really you know how it is when you triangulate friends? Like when you take you have two friends who you love, and then you put them together and you think you're all going to love each other the same, and it doesn't usually happen, but she's just so warm and she adores you and she's so interesting. Thanks for bringing Louise onto the show.

Speaker 2 00:52:29
Yeah, she's a real teddy bear. I mean, like all of us, she's got places that hurt and she's got things that happened in her life. She almost killed herself, and I wasn't there when I said she almost drank herself to death. She almost drank herself to death because that whole fear thing that she has now got reflected in her books and is dealing with and is loving herself to, I hope to some strong degree that wasn't happening 20 years ago. And we were talking, and so I find that really hard that she was there for me when I had cancer anyway. But we're obviously really good friends, and I'm glad you really liked her because she's funny.

Speaker 1 00:53:17
She is. She's funny and she's warm and engaging and brilliant. Now, I didn't want to ask her because we were talking about deeper things, but she's like a perfume bottle. London, Paris, New York. She's got places. In all those places, she's living a fabulous life, as she admits.

Speaker 2 00:53:36
Yeah, she went from basically a crappy apartment curled up in a fetal position to being fetted by on all of the TV networks and living a fabulous life with lots of money. I mean, no one ever has enough money, it seems, but I think Louise does. I'm sure she needs five more homes.

Speaker 1 00:53:54
But I bet she traded all in for another year with Michael.

Speaker 2 00:53:58
Yeah, he was a really cool guy, and he was so supportive of her, and even when his kids were like, what are you doing with her? She's a gold digger. Because he was from a very wealthy family in Montreal, and Louise was not a famous writer. She was somebody who had struggled with alcoholism and fallen in love with him. And his kids were like, what are you doing with her? And he was like, I love her and she loves me, and we're supporting. You need to get your head around this. And so they worked through that, but it was difficult. It's funny, she was writing something about I think she wrote to you yesterday when you confirmed sending the squad, casting the invite. Everybody on saying that I was so popular in high school. But, you know, high school is high school. Yeah, it's just a blip. And the only person other than my boyfriend who has a lot of issues, my high school boyfriend and whatever, other than him, I haven't been in touch with anybody other than Louise. Like, high school, to me, it was something that if you could survive it, if you could do well, great. And then next, because, I don't know, it wasn't my world. Except for Louise.

Speaker 1 00:55:09
Except for Louise. All right, well, that wraps that episode. And yeah, Louise Kennedy. She's just a fabulous person and an amazing author. And I just picked up her books because of this, and I'm glad I did. And by it, I met her. And I'm glad I know you.

Speaker 2 00:55:28
Yeah, I'm glad I know you, too.

Speaker 1 00:55:30
Bye. You know, what's about doing this podcast with you and maybe not so great for the listeners that we just don't.

Speaker 3 00:55:41
Know where to stop?

Speaker 1 00:55:44
Okay, let's stop now.

Speaker 2 00:55:46
Okay, bye.

Speaker 1 00:55:50
All right.