The fabulous Bookreporter.com asked me for a special holiday memory...check their website for many more from your favorite authors! And here's mine..
THE YEAR SANTA CAME TO HANK'S HOUSE Hank Phillippi
Ryan, most recently the author of THE OTHER
WOMAN, was attending a bookstore signing during the holiday season when she
was reminded of a certain Christmas. She had just turned 16 and found out from
her mom that there would be no Christmas tree in their house that year. Hank
refused to accept this sudden break from tradition and decided to do something
about it. Spoiler alert! And you’ll read why in a moment. It’s about Santa. I was signing in a bookstore a few weeks before Christmas, and also having
fun watching people select books and overhearing snippets of conversation. A mom and a preteen daughter were heading out the door. The girl --- cute,
hip, mismatched gloves --- was looking at her mother with a strange expression.
She stopped and held on to her mother’s arm. Wait, she said. You mean --- YOU’RE
Santa? I almost burst into tears. What a once-in-a-lifetime moment. And it reminded
me… ’Twas the night before Christmas --- no, it really was. And at my home in
rural Indiana, back in --- 1960-something? I had just turned 16. ’Twas the night before Christmas --- and my younger sister and I were very
unhappy. My mother had laid down the law. This year, there would be no Christmas
tree. We were too old, Mom said. It was difficult. And even though we’d always had
a Christmas tree, and all that goes with Christmas morning, and unwrapping
presents and candy canes and chocolate apples and Handel on the record player
and oranges in the toes of our stockings --- this year, it was not going to
happen. The Santa thing was long over (being careful here), and there was no
reason for a tree. My sister Nina, age 13, and I were devastated. We had three younger siblings,
and even though they were no longer waiting for Santa, we knew they would be
devastated, too. We pleaded. Nope, Mom said. We would have presents, and brunch, and all the trimmings.
But a tree was a pain (she probably didn’t use those words) and just not
Eve day came, and our living room was looking right out of Dickens. I mean,
BLEAK HOUSE, not A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Sure, there were stockings hanging right
where they should be. But where there should have been a tree, there was…living
room. It was about 4:00. And I had an idea. Mom? I said, all innocence. Nina and I
need to go to the store. To get one last present. I remember trying to look
guiltily sly, as if I were hiding that I was going to buy HER present. Could I,
I continued, take the car? With my brand new drivers’ license in my wallet, Nina and I headed out in the
family station wagon. But not to the store. We went to the Christmas tree place
by the shopping center. All that was left, as you can imagine, were
Charlie-Brown-scraggly leftovers. No matter. We put one of them in the wayback of the station wagon. Then we realized we
had more to do. How were we going to decorate the tree? We couldn’t get the
boxes of ornaments out of the basement; we’d get caught. So we went to the
movies. But not to see a film.
We hit the lobby and bought several boxes of
popcorn. We got home and hid the tree behind the garage. By that time it was
dark, and we totally got away with it. Then we ran upstairs. Mom thought we were
hiding her gifts, probably, and actively ignored us. We got out our sewing boxes (no comment) and madly started stringing popcorn
with a needle and heavy thread. We worked and worked. I think we had to stop for
dinner, then we went back upstairs. “Wrapping!” we said. At one point, one of us had a brilliant idea. We headed down to the basement
and got a bag of whole cranberries out of the freezer. “Being frozen will make
it easier to string,” one of us said. And so we made frozen cranberry garlands
too. That night, we could barely sleep. What else is new on Christmas Eve? But we
got up early early early, dragged the little tree from behind the garage, and
set it up in its rightful place in the living room. (I don’t really remember how
we did that, but somehow it worked.) We festooned it with our popcorn garlands, and then our cranberry garlands
(not terribly successful, however, as the cranberries began to defrost, drip and
get mushy). We made a star-like thing out of aluminum foil. Then we high-tailed it back upstairs. We had been instructed to come
downstairs no earlier than 7 AM. We came down earlier anyway. So we were there
when my mom and stepdad saw the tree. And, in their pajamas and robes and
slippers, they stopped in their tracks. Mom’s face was a mixture of shock, surprise and joy. And love. “Santa!” she said. Her voice was a whisper. “He came!”
So pleased to reveal-- the cover of Forge Books' Fall catalogue!
And more wonderful photos....here's dinner in Dallas after the American Librarians Association convention...that's Denise Hamilton, Deborah Crombie,then Harry Husicker and his wife, and Dan Hale, Rosemary Harris at the head of the table, Lucy Burdette, me and Caroline Todd.
And yes, our pictures are tiny--but this is an interview I
did (on stage of a huge auditorium, as you can tell) with the amazing Diana Henriques, author of THE WIZARD OF LIES, a brilliant non-fiction look at the Madoff scandal. It reads exactly like a
Here's my latest Emmy! That's number 28--for reporting on mortgage fraud.
And look--my first ARC signing--at the fabulous BEA! People lined up to get THE OTHER WOMAN...all those ARCS were snapped right up. It was incredibly exciting.
So excited about THE OTHER WOMAN...and there' ll be lots more info here very soon..
The amazing and generous Lisa Scottoline...she was the very first to offer a blurb for THE OTHER WOMAN. And of course, it's on the cover! She says: Riveting! Non-stop suspense. Can't do better than that.
With Jason Pinter at the Festival of Mystery--the gala annual event from Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, PA. That's Deb Sharp to my left, and Joanna Slan next to her!
Shane Gericke and James Grady...two fantastic thriller writers. James wrote the iconic Six Days of the Condor--one of the books that made me think about becoming a writer! Isn't it funny that the movies changed it to "Three days"?
With Laura Lippman and Mary Higgins Clark--see how Mary gets the good lighting? I'll be attending the Boston Public Library's Literary Lights black tie event coming soon--Mary is one of the honorees.
Trying to convince Dennis Lehane of something at Crimebake. Dennis and I appeared together at the Perkins School for the Blind annual event--he blew that audience away with his stories.
Reed Farrel Coleman and I win Macavity Awards at Bouchercon! Thank you so much, Mystery Readers International and Janet Rudolph! Reed and I teach together at Mystery Writers of America University..coming soon to your home town! This June in Waukesha/Milwaukee, then in August in Denver, and October in Charlotte. Get all the details and sign up at http://www.mwa.org.
With NYT bestselling Michael Palmer (at the mic) and NYT bestselling Bill Martin at Michael's winterfest fundraiser...It does look like Michael is singing..and maybe he was! He alleges he'll be singing with his son Daniel Palmer at this summers Thrillerfest...that's going to be hilarious.
The 3-H girls from Lipstick Chronicles: Heather Graham (left) and Harley Jane Kozak!