Louise Penny in 2009
July 1, 1958|
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Education||Bachelor of Applied Arts|
|Alma mater||Ryerson University|
|Notable works||Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series|
Louise Penny CM (born 1958) is a Canadian author of mystery novels set in the Canadian province of Quebec centred on the work of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec. Penny's first career was as a radio broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. After she turned to writing, she won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha Award for best mystery novel of the year five times, including four consecutive years (2007–2010), and the Anthony Award for best novel of the year five times, including four consecutive years (2010–2013). Her novels have been published in 23 languages.
Early life and career with CBC
Penny was born in Toronto in 1958. Her mother was an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction, with a particular liking for crime fiction, and Louise grew up reading mystery writers such as Agatha Christie, Georges Simenon, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Michael Innes.
Penny earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts (Radio and Television) from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now Ryerson University) in 1979. After graduation, at age 21, she embarked on an 18-year career as a radio host and journalist with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. At the start of her broadcasting career, Penny took postings at locations far from friends and family, and to help deal with feelings of loneliness and isolation, she increasingly turned to alcohol. At age 35, she admitted to an alcohol problem, and has been sober since. Shortly afterward, she met her future husband, Michael Whitehead, head of hematology at Montreal Children's Hospital, on a blind date.
After her marriage, Penny left the CBC to take up writing. She started a historical novel but had difficulty finishing it, and eventually switched to mystery writing. She entered her first novel, Still Life, in the "Debut Dagger" competition in the United Kingdom, placing second out of 800 entries. The novel won other awards, including the "New Blood" Dagger award in the United Kingdom, the Arthur Ellis Award in Canada for best first crime novel, the Dilys Award, the Anthony Award and the Barry Award for Best First Novel in the United States.
Penny continues to write, garnering major crime novel award nominations for almost every one of her novels and subsequently winning several of those awards.
Her work features Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, head of the homicide department of the Sûreté du Québec. The novels are set in the province of Quebec but feature many hallmarks of the British whodunit genre, including murders by unconventional means, bucolic villages, large casts of suspects, red herrings, and a dramatic disclosure of the murderer in the last few pages of the book.
In 2009, Penny helped to launch a new award for aspiring Canadian mystery writers, the Unhanged Arthur for Best Unpublished First Novel.
Penny currently lives in Knowlton, a small village in Quebec's Eastern Townships about 100 km from Montreal, Quebec. Her husband Michael died on September 18, 2016.. McGill University's obituary of Dr. Whitehead described him as "a superb clinician, clinician-scientist and administrator," who "was loved by children, their families and his colleagues. His warmth, kindness and generosity of spirit will be greatly missed by all who respected and loved him".
For several years, Penny resisted selling the TV or movie rights to her books, afraid of losing creative control of her characters. However, when approached by PDM Entertainment and Attraction Images and offered a position as executive producer during film production, she changed her mind and agreed to sell them the rights to her first two novels. Still Life went into production in the fall of 2012, with British actor Nathaniel Parker cast as Chief Inspector Gamache. The movie aired on CBC TV in 2013.
- Still Life (2005) – Winner of the New Blood Dagger award, the Arthur Ellis Award, the Dilys Award, the 2007 Anthony Award, and the Barry Award
- A Fatal Grace (Alternate title: Dead Cold) (2007) – Winner of the 2007 Agatha Award
- The Cruelest Month (2008) – Winner of the 2008 Agatha Award; nominated for the 2009 Anthony, the 2008 Macavity Award, and the 2008 Barry Award
- The Murder Stone (A Rule Against Murder in U.S.) (2009) – Nominated for an Arthur Ellis Award
- The Brutal Telling (2009) – Winner of the 2009 Agatha Award, and the 2010 Anthony Award
- Bury Your Dead (2010) – Winner of the 2010 Agatha Award, the 2011 Anthony Award, the 2011 Macavity Award, the 2011 Arthur Ellis Award, and the 2011 Nero Award
- A Trick of the Light (2011) – Nominated for a Macavity, an Anthony Award, and an Agatha Award
- The Hangman (2011) – novella
- The Beautiful Mystery (2012) – Winner of the 2013 Macavity Award for Best Mystery
- How the Light Gets In (2013) – Nominated for an Edgar Award and an Agatha Award
- The Long Way Home (2014)
- The Nature of the Beast (2015) - Quebec ballistics scientist and international artillery expert Gerald Bull's assassination and his supergun are central plot elements.
- A Great Reckoning (2016)
- Glass Houses (2017)
- Kingdom of the Blind (2018)
- "About Louise Penny". LouisePenny.com. 2008.
- "Louise Penny". Fantastic Fiction. 2008.
- Wagner, Vit (2010-10-15). "What led them to a life of crime". Toronto Star. Toronto ON Canada =: Torstar Inc. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- The Agony and the Ecstacy: 1979 RTA Yearbook. Toronto. 1979.
- "Louise Penny up for best crime novel award". CBC News. 2008-04-30.
- Yanofsky, Joel (November 2007). "Louise Penny's second chance: How a troubled past gives her mystery novels an edge". Quill & Quire. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
- Kay, Linda. "This Trick is a Treat". Costco Connection. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Costco Wholesale (July/August 2012): 21.
- "Louise Penny Books". LouisePenny.com. 2008.
- "Quebec's Louise Penny shortlisted for Agatha mystery award". CBC News. 2010-02-20. Retrieved 2010-08-11.
- "Whodunit". Knowledge Rush. 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
- "In Memoriam: V. Michael Whitehead (1934-2016)". McGill Med e-news. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
- "Governor General Announces 90 New Appointments to the Order of Canada". December 30, 2013.
- Kelly, Brendan (2 November 2012). "Louise Penny's detective novels get small-screen treatment from CBC-TV". Montreal Gazette. Montreal. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
- "Agatha Awards". Malice Domestic. 2008. Archived from the original on 2017-01-21.
- "Linwood Barclay, Louise Penny touted for best Canadian crime novel". CBC News. 2009-04-24. Retrieved 2009-04-24.
- "Louise Penny wins Agatha for best mystery". CBC News: Books. 2010-05-03. Retrieved 2010-05-18.
- "Quebec's Louise Penny 'thrilled' by 4th Agatha Award". CBC News. 2011-05-02. Retrieved 2011-05-02.
- "Louise Penny nabs crime-writing prize". CBC News. 2011-06-03. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
-  Book Reporter.com
- Anthony Awards Winners and Nominees Archived 2012-02-07 at the Wayback Machine., Bouchercon info
- Agatha Award ominees Archived 2017-01-21 at the Wayback Machine., Malice Domestic.com
- Macavity Awards 2013 Book Reporter.com
- "Louise Penny, Quebec crime writer, shortlisted for the Edgars". CBC News. 2014-01-17. Retrieved 2014-01-17.
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