Wednesday, May 19, 2010

19. On Bindy Mackenzie

Bindy was a character who turned up near the end of Finding Cassie Crazy/Year of Secret Assignments. Nobody at Ashbury liked her but my sister, Liane, loved her. She said to me: ‘I can’t wait to read the next Ashbury book. I want to find out more about Bindy.’

I hadn’t been planning to write another Ashbury book. Nor anything else about Bindy, actually. But it was one of those situations where somebody kind, but misinformed, arrives at your place for dinner and says, ‘I’m really looking forward to your sticky date pudding,’ and after a moment of confused dismay, you run into the kitchen and make one.


I was walking along St Catherine, in Montreal, Canada, trying to decide how to write a book about the least popular girl in the school. At the intersection with St Laurent it was suddenly clear: it would have to be a murder mystery.

I wrote my murder mystery in an apartment in Old Montreal. It had stone walls, blue-framed windows, terracotta floor tiles, and a fireplace. The apartment I mean, not the book. From my window, I could look down on the pianist who played in the doorway of the Polish restaurant on the corner. I went to Olive & Gourmando, a nearby café, to drink café au lait, eat apple-cinnamon brioche, and read about poisonous animals for research. And I planned the story in my head while I skated on the pond down the road.

About Montreal: I never stopped loving the snow and ice. People are often critical of snow. Their hearts sink when they see it coming. I understand their point, but I feel the same defensive love for snow as I do for Bindy Mackenzie. Poor Bindy! Poor snow! It’s not their fault they can be so annoying. They are both so exuberant! And they mean well.