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December 23, 2006

Eileen Dreyer Guestblogs

Eileen Dreyer may write heart-pounding suspense novels, but in real life, she's one of the funniest women around--and a friend of the Book Tarts.

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My father wants everyone to know that I'm not writing about my family. He worries about this, but I guess it's fair if you read my suspsenses. You see, my heroines tend to come from dysfunctional families. My heroine in SINNERS AND SAINTS, my newest from St. Martin's, comes from the Dysfunctional Hall of Fame. You can guess that when I tell you that the book opens when Chastity Byrnes is asked to look for her missing sister (in New Orleans as a Level 5 hurricane approaches---which I wrote two years ago. But that's another story.) She hasn't seen her sister in ten years, because when Chastity was sixteen, her mother and sister disappeared in the middle of the night, leaving her homeless and alone.

Which, as my father would like me to reiterate, is nothing like my family. My family does not make good drama. We're just not that interesting. There are seven siblings, now thirty-six of us in the extended family, and not one of us is in the twelve-step, rehab or parole. We have a couple of divorces, but that was the other spouse's fault (one we simply refer to as The Bitch. I'm not sure I could tell you her name if pressed).

In fact, we all still spend every holiday together (if somebody doesn't show up, the rest of us have license to talk about them for the rest of the year), and even vacation together in the same beach house my uncle has lent us in Michigan since we've been kids. Now every one of us crams in with about six bedrooms and two bathrooms. It's like Leave It to Beaver meets EST. We stay for one week until we reach critical mass of closeness and have to leave before we kill each other (and then talk about it for the rest of the year). It was up there a drunk woman on the beach labeled us "The Last Functional Family in America." It's on our family crest--along with a Guinness, a dead parrot, and a St. Louis Cardinal (preferably Scotty Rolen. Your crests should always look good)

So we are not anything resembling one of the families in my books. Now, if I wrote about tradition, we might come closer. We revere holiday tradition. Every St. Patrick's Day, my mother used to call the INS on the neighborhood English war bride to declare she was an illegal alien (to be fair, the bride had just called the police about the John McCormick records my mother played over a massive sound system in the front lawn).

Another tradition began one Christmas when we were serving dessert. My brother made some cutting remark about the relationship between a woman's place and the kitchen, and there I was, a big slice of lemon cream pie in my hand and a fierce urge for rebuttal in my heart.  I don't think I'll ever forget the look in his eyes with that cream pie dripping off his face.

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Pie throwing has become an accepted editorial statement and evening coda. We never go near good carpeting, and we always give a warning (if you are at any Helm function and somebody says to you, "Does this smell okay to you?"--usually with some kind of food product in hand--just run). And I haven't even begun to delve into the rotating presents or the ritual greeting of first boyfriends with shotguns and baseball bats. But we are not like any family in my books. My family is much more fun.  I had to say that, because if I don't, they'll talk about me at Christmas.

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Comments

We're uptight WASPs in our family, but if there's a weekend fraught with potential food-throwing, this might be it.

Welcome, Eileen! Hope our regulars play nice with you.

The mind boggles at a family of 36 with no 12-step, parole, or rehab -- especially given all those annual get-togethers! Are you sure you and yours are from this planet, Eileen? :)

I encourage everyone to check out Eileen's website, especially if you're planning a vacation any time soon. I've already garnered some great tips for the (let's keep our fingers crossed) Big Trip to Ireland summer after next. And darn, now I have to head to B&N again today to buy some of her books! Chastity sounds like a real treat.

Wait, I didn't mean that the way it sounds . . .

Eileen's books are great! What a nice surprise to see her here today!

Last night, we all sat down for the traditional viewing of the Best of Saturday Night Live Christmas DVD. One of my favorites is the 'ad' for the "Dysfunctional Family Chirstmas" CD with the great Phil Hartman and the rest of the cast singing hilarious songs.

Tonight, after Festivus, it'll be Scrooged. "Scrape 'em off!"

Happy Festivus!

Festivus! Who knew? I guess everyone needs a celebration of some sort to get through the winter solstice, religion or no religion....
Welcome, Eileen. Personally, I'd kill for an extended family like that. And, yes, you are so right about if you're not there, you subject yourself to gossip.
Kathy - last night we watched A Christmas Carol, Alistair Sims, which always puts me in the mood, also a Feast of Lessons and Carols at church on Thursday. Now, I'm raring to go. After the first of three dinners with the extended family tonight - (It's takeout, but by Xmas I fear we'll have nothing left to discuss)- I'm thinking Elf while wrapping presents ....

Merry Almost Christmas everyone!

Sarah - For me. it's White Christmas while wrapping.

Can't do Elf or Scrooged while doing anything that requires scissors.

One of our neighborhood bars has its windows decorated with those Leg Lamps from A Christmas Story. Another classic.

Lessons and Carols tomorrow night at our friends' Church. I still do the Midnight Mass at ours. There is something about the darkness.

Welcome Eileen.......here's my review from www.mysterylovers.com

Honestly stayed up all night on this one. Happy family Holiday!

Mary Alice

Eileen Dreyer writes books that keep me up all night. Her latest suspenser is a menacing tale of a forensic nurse called to New Orleans to help find her missing sister who gets caught up in the menace and provocative atmosphere of the Big Easy. Family damages, fertility deceptions and murder foul the languid landscape of this chilling novel. Add a hurricane for a crackling finish.

Hi Eileen.

What a lovely blog. You sound both sane and sober, just days before Christmas--I'm very impressed. Two things in particular shout out at me.

1. If, someday, you don't write a memoir called "The Last Functional Family in America" you have missed a great title opportunity.

2. Any book that includes a hurricane and the incredibly intriguing phrase "fertility deceptions" is a book I absolutely must own. Now.

Off to shop, y'all.

Hey, Eileen! I'm the youngest of 8. We too have "the Bitch" among our ex-in-laws, and I will supply her name upon request. We do have other ex's that still get invited for Christmas.

Hi back, everybody. Thanks for the warm welcome. I just want to clear something up. I am neither sane nor sober(I see images of Jonathan Edwards comparing our souls to spiders when I see that word). If I were either, I never would have been a trauma nurse--or come to think of it, an author.

Which brings me to my favorite Chrismtas movies. (festivus? Excellent! A toast!) Of course It's a Wonderful Life, but my newest is The Ref, and, for some odd reason, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I have the extended editions, and it takes about that long to wrap all the presents.
happy holidays!! Eileen
p.s. Kerry, see me for more Ireland ideas. I am the queen of internet travel.

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