Posts Tagged ‘Y S Lee’

Sniffle, Sob, Sigh

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Hello, friends! I was recently talking to my friend Sarah, who confessed that there is a recurring fictional scenario that never fails to make her cry: it happens (frequently in detective novels) when a character survives an ordeal, only to realize that at last, she feels safe. Another friend, whom I’m not at all sure would like to be named, is consistently moved to tears when characters behave better than they thought themselves capable.

Picasso, Weeping Woman (1937)

Me, I’m a shameless blubber. For example, the scene in George Eliot’s Middlemarch, when Mrs. Bulstrode learns of her husband’s disgraceful past and responds with such humility and devotion? Gets me every time. But I’m not afraid of the obvious, either! The “Doomsday” episode of Dr. Who, when Rose Tyler parts forever from the Doctor? I was soggy with tears. (My husband, who saw it first, warned me. He knows me and he warned me. And yet, the end completely dismantled me).

This is the only way in which I (very slightly) resemble Charles Dickens, who also loved vicarious sentiment. He once said, of going to the theatre, “I invariably begin to cry whenever anybody on the stage forgives an enemy or gives away a pocket book.” If Dickens can weep at trivial incidents and contrived situations in public, that’s good enough for me.

So, this week, please tell me: are you a soft-hearted weeper, or one of the dry-eyed types who look so bemused at my type?

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Crime Scene 2012

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Hello, friends! I had an absolutely splendid time this past weekend at Scene of the Crime, and thought I’d share what I could with you. I had a great “handler” at the festival (basically, a person assigned to make sure the visiting author is supplied with coffee and doesn’t get lost), a Wolfe Islander named Kristina, but I forgot to ask her to take some photos while I was reading & panelling, so mea culpa for the absence of pics.

Scene of the Crime has a perfect setting: Wolfe Island. Wolfe is the largest of the Thousand Islands, it’s a gorgeous ferry-ride from Kingston (excitingly remote!), and it’s the kind of island where everybody knows everybody and everything is connected. All ten authors stayed at the same B&B. YOU GUYS. Could someone please write a cozy, locked-room mystery featuring ten mystery writers in a rural B&B? Thank you.

When I asked organizer Violette Malan how many people she was expecting, she waved her hand and said, “Craploads. Actually, we’re at capacity. We never turn anyone away, but we can only guarantee meals for 100.” This is the genius thing about SotC: it’s small, it’s friendly, and there’s zero room for pretension. I got to chat – really chat – with readers. I learned that some bookclubs do road trips together (hello, Jane and the Stratfordians!). Another reader & writer (hi, Susan!) taught me the finer points of church hall dinners (tip: snag your pie at the beginning of the meal. You get the best selection, plus you can go back for seconds while looking all innocent). And, speaking of church-lady dinners, we were so very well fed. I’m in awe of the SotC Board and volunteers, who worked incredibly hard and made everything look so very easy. Thank you for inviting me!

My fellow authors at SotC were Thomas Rendell Curran, who writes detective fiction set in pre-Confederation Newfoundland – a setting that, as he says, completely justifies description of the weather in a novel’s opening; D. J. McIntosh, author of The Witch of Babylon, who offered the most succinct writing advice I’ve heard in some time: on the first page of your crime novel, “avoid boredom”; and John Moss, who writes the Quin & Morgan series set in Toronto, and who is fascinating on the subjects of old limestone houses, swans, and beekeeping.

Then there were the ladies. Not just any ladies, but the Ladies Killing Circle. They crack jokes. They wonder – very seriously – whether there is enough wine. And they represent, among other things, two decades of crime fiction written by Canadian women. When accepting their Grant Allen Award for contributions to Canadian crime writing, member Vicki Cameron explained that in the early 1990s, it was incredibly difficult for women writers of crime fiction to be taken seriously, let alone get published. So the LKC (which began as a critique group) called for submissions and edited their own anthology, also called The Ladies Killing Circle. This wasn’t vanity publishing: stories from each of their seven anthologies have won mystery-writing awards. And they’ve launched the careers of a number of Canadian writers, as a result.

The Ladies are vicious in name only; you couldn’t find a more welcoming, generous, congenial group of authors. And they’ve inspired me to work at building my own writing community. In fact, that’s one of my goals for this fall.

So that was my Scene of the Crime 2012. What are you up to, in the dwindling weeks of August?

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“Is that really you?”

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Well, hello there. This week I have some new pictures to you show you and in true, immodest writerly fashion, they are of me. Posing.

This fall, Kingston Life magazine profiled eight local authors (including Steven Heighton, Helen Humphreys and Jamie Swift, so I was in awfully distinguished company), had us talk about the writing life, and commissioned photos for all of us. Talk about living the dream! It’s now time for me to update my author photograph, so I asked photographer Scott Adamson for some images from the shoot and he kindly sent me a bunch. My only difficulty here is which to use. Here are my two favourites:

They were both taken at one of my favourite spots in Kingston, and the water I’m standing in is Lake Ontario. And no, the photos don’t lie; it’s glorious here.

Speaking of photos lying, though: with my old author photo, an acquaintance said, “Wow. You look so… good in that picture.” And with the new one, someone else said, “That’s a VERY flattering photo.” (WordPress lacks caps big enough to do justice to her “VERY”.) Both times, I was most amused.

What’s the funniest/most ridiculous thing someone’s said to you about a photo?

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“Where do you work?” & bookplates

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

I used to be one of those coffee shop people, hunched over a black coffee and rattling away at the keyboard. But no longer! For I now have a study, and it’s a delicious shade of blue (Benjamin Moore’s Yarmouth Blue, if you care), and all I have to do now is try to keep it as zen as it appears here.

the new study


In other news, I have BOOKPLATES! These are basically large & fancy stickers with a blank space for personalization. If you’d like me to sign or inscribe your copy of The Agency but don’t think you’ll see me in person for a while, feel free to request one. You need to tell me exactly what you want the bookplate to say: just my signature? “For Pinkie, a goddess amongst mortals”? “To the winning eBay bidder”? As you can see from the foregoing examples, I’m rubbish at clever dedications, so it’s up to you. The design looks like this:


I’m a sucker for old botanical drawings. And weeds. So this was pretty much a foregone conclusion. I hope you like it, too!

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Contest winners and the writing life

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

I had an utterly excellent day at RND High School last week, talking to students about Victorian hygiene, inventions, fashion, and radical women (among other things). The students were a terrific audience – courteous, curious, energetic. Thanks for being such exemplars of audience awesomeness! If you heard me speak at Regi and would like to be entered into the draw for one of three Agency t-shirts, remember to email me and either a) ask a question or b) remind me of one you asked last Thursday. I’ll announce the winners next week.

A typically ridiculous lecturing posture. If I could help it, I would.

A typically ridiculous lecturing posture. If I could help it, I would.

Living in Canada, where Spy hasn’t yet been released, I’ve never seen a copy of my book in a real live bookstore. Really, this whole “I’m a writer” business could just be an elaborate hallucination on my part. But recently, Marie-Louise Jensen, a friend and fellow YA novelist, sent me this: ocular proof that Spy is for sale in the shops. And she faced it out, too – now that’s what friends are for! (The book on top is Marie-Louise’s The Lady in the Tower, which I really enjoyed. Do check it out.)

The Lady & the Spy

The Lady & the Spy

And finally, here are the winners of my recent contest, Countdown to the Agency. The winner of the UK edition of The Agency: A Spy in the House is Haley Mathiot. Second- and third-place winners of The Agency sticker are Mariana Sanchez and Andrea Lacerte. Congratulations! Please email me with your postal addresses and I’ll get the goods out to you right away. If you didn’t win this time, fear not – there’ll be More Swag coming in the next few months, right up to the March 9 launch of the US edition of Spy.

I’ve realized that it’s ridiculous to post everything people wrote about books that haunted them. (I guess I was expecting 5 or 6 entries…) So I’ve decided to post a small selection of entries, all on books I haven’t read. One of my ulterior motives in asking the “haunted” question (Hallowe’en aside) is that I always love to hear about what others read. Hopefully, you’re the same way.

Becky chose Dream Spinner by Bonnie Dobkin, “about a man with a pet spider that can talk. Together they take people’s dreams and weave them like a thread into a huge tapestry. 3 friends come across his house, and are eager to enter their dreams… but when nightmares start to take over, will they be able to wake up again?”

Mariana chose Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, “because it really made me think about the things you do that affect people around you, even if you don’t notice.”

Haley chose Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith and reviewed it at her blog.

Andrea chose Les Enfants Indigos by Sylvie Simon, “a non-fiction book about a new type of child who is here to lead us to the next level of consciousness! The idea is that these new children need truth, and will not longer settle for the old answers of “just because” or even try to fit into institutions that are not adapting to their needs. The book gives examples of how they see the world… very old souls indeed!”

Mary chose Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. “The writing is beautiful, the plot intricate and the story manages to be tragic, poignant, inspiring and deeply satisfying all at once. The relationships between the characters are so heartfelt they will linger in my mind forever.  The tragic part of the story [which I won’t give away in case you haven’t read it] is hauntingly sad.”

Emily chose The Ragwitch by Garth Nix. It’s supposed to be a young adult book, I’m ‘slightly’ older than young adult but it scared me silly! At one point, the girl is trapped inside the mind of the Rag Witch, and the thoughts of the witch are made of rags – makes me shiver just thinking about it!”

Jason chose Circus Parade by Jim Tully, “a memoir of life in the violent, criminal, yet sometimes magical circus world in early 20th century America. What haunted me was how cruel the life on the road could be, but how a rogues’ honour emerged from this cruelty for some, and manifested as evil in others.”

Robin chose We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver. “The narrator writes about her son and how she never felt bonded to him, and as a teenager he commits mass murder at his school. It was a very harrowing read!”

Jennifer chose Anybody Out There by Marian Keyes, in which “Anna keeps catching glimpses of her husband everywhere and doesn’t understand why he won’t return her calls and emails… The novel is so heartbreaking.”

Finally, when I was at Regi, students asked me a number of excellent questions about writing and publishing. I’ll try to answer these in an orderly fashion over the next month or so. Next week, the first instalment: on writing.

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Agency photo shoot!

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

I literally did cartwheels when Deb Wayshak, my editor at Candlewick (she’s a novelist, too – prolific and critically acclaimed and thus, y’know, not intimidating AT ALL) told me they’d commissioned a photo shoot for the US edition of SPY. While I love the elegant, glowing UK cover, I was so curious to see how other people imagined Mary Quinn. The final cover is not quite ready for the world but its designer, Caroline Lawrence, took some behind-the-scenes snapshots of the cover shoot so that we could all participate, too.

Have you recovered yet? I haven’t. Remember, you have just under 3 weeks left to enter to win a copy of SPY.

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La Agencia: Una espia en casa

Friday, September 25th, 2009

THE AGENCY: A SPY IN THE HOUSE is on sale now in the UK, with a full North American debut in spring 2010. Canadian availability will be patchy until then, but you can try Amazon or the Book Depository.

It went sale in Australia and New Zealand on June 1! You can link here to my Southern Hemisphere publisher, Walker Books Australia.

La Agencia

La Agencia

The Spanish edition was published on June 2. Isn’t the cover gorgeous? And my publisher, Ediciones Versatil, made a bookmark for you! Click here for the PDF.

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