An Afternoon Tea with Anne Perry, by Laura Courtney Headley


It’s a daunting thing to meet our heroes. We library fans tend to be book lovers. We tend to feel a deep connection to our favorite books. For mystery fans, especially fans of mystery series novels, there’s a connection to the characters that spans the years; we know these people. And while we feel we have a right to develop certain expectations of our favorite characters, we have no such right to expectations about the authors. The artist, after all, is presenting his or her art, not his or her self.

So, as a long time Anne Perry fan, one of four very lucky library supporters who won the fantasy opportunity of a tea with one of mystery’s most beloved authors, I worked hard to keep the situation in perspective. She’s only a person. I can like her books whether or not I find her a likeable person.

Well, it turns out I’m a fan of Anne Perry the person, too. She was humble, kind, and patient —and one of the loveliest tea companions I’ve had the pleasure to spend time with.

The tea was held at Crema on Lighthouse Avenue in Pacific Grove, a lovely little café/wine bar that proved to be the perfect venue for a fantasy tea. In addition to Anne Perry and her friend Victoria Zackheim, the tea party was attended by library supporters Linda and Robert Felice, Laurie Sheehan, and myself.

The tea and treats were delicious and the conversation was warm, lively and companionable. Anne Perry was gracious, funny, and wise. The guests came away with writing tips (Don’t spend too much time drafting and re-drafting as you compile your manuscript; keep your focus and get that first draft down on paper before you start fiddling with details.), juicy plot hints for upcoming novels (Watch for some good news for Oliver Rathbone in a future novel from her Inspector Monk series!), and words of wisdom (“Courage is a virtue without which all others are at risk.”).

As a relatively new member of the Friends of the Pacific Grove Public Library, I sing the praises of the Friends’ “Meet the Authors” committee. They have arranged some truly wonderful events over the years. With a sense of amazement last week, I realized that (thanks to them) I had now met—in person—my two favorite living mystery writers (Anne Perry and Laurie King). I didn’t have to leave my hometown to do it, either. They came to me—to one of my favorite places in the world: the Pacific Grove Public Library.

So thank you, Friends!

As I wrote to a friend the next day, I felt like a child whose storybook had just opened up and a favorite character stepped out into the room with her. I’m still smiling!