A Heinz 57 Evening

Heinz 57, mutt, writing, book clubThis past week I was invited to talk to a Book Club of 15 women whom I’d never met in a town 30 minutes away.

The 10-year-old group, which discusses a new book monthly with dinner and drinks, focused this night on my romantic suspense: The Right Wrong Man.

author, writer, writing, The Right Wrong Man

A real author.

 After I met the hostess of a large and lovely New England home and stood by the kitchen counter (where the appetizers, wine and soft drinks were served), I was introduced to all the club members. Each woman oohed and ahhed about meeting a “real author.”

I must admit, it was thrilling.

monster behind the closet, book club, writing

But my ego was diverted once in a while by a mysterious door located near the kitchen. Someone, or something, seemed to be kicking at the door from the inside, making a sad, lonesome, and frequent banging sound. Sometimes the eerie and alien-like noise emitting forth from the other side of the door gave  me a chilling sense that the door might explode open at any time.

This continued for an hour, even during my presentation in the family room in front of a crackling fire. Every once in a while the hostess would exclaim, “Mo, settle down!”

A bit disconcerted, I continued with my explanation that my book was character-driven.

“But how did you know what would happen in the Caribbean?” one woman asked.

“I didn’t. Meredith showed me,” I answered.The Right Wrong Man, cigars, Caribbean

“The cigars…how ever did you discover about the cigars?” another asked, obviously impressed as well as bewildered.

“My pen,” I explained. Thankfully, the women, all voracious readers, seemed to accept my humble and honest explanation that I had no idea where the book was going until my characters took me there.

“Bang. BANG!” But the presence on the other side of the door was not impressed.

I passed out a hand-out that included a quotation that inspires me.

writing, Mark Twain, truth stranger than fiction

As we munched on just-ordered pizza, the women began to discuss my characters and argued over which man Meredith should end up with: Parker or Gregory.

romantic suspense, The Right Wrong Man

Carlos? Parker? or Gregory?

Carlos!” one of the women sighed deeply and lustily. She’s a grandmother and enjoys a successful business career, yet she goes for the “bad boy” in my literature. Who knew? We all laughed and munched and talked about men and sex and travel and books and ….

“BANG! B A N G !!!”

“Okay, okay,” the hostess exclaimed. “Everyone, hold on.”

I gently put down my glass of wine and waited with anticipation and perhaps a touch of dread.

Heinz 57, muttA HUGE rumbling goofy, short-haired, dog-like creature came barreling out from that door (which led to the basement, turned out), licking me happily and greedily.

“What breed is Mo?” I asked while trying to find some paper towels for the saliva now slathered on my skin, wondering why he came to me, the one with no food but only taut, tingling nerves from a night centered around my book.

Heinz 57,” she answered.

At first I was puzzled. I’d never heard of that breed.

Mo licked the puzzle off my face and romped toward the door to the back yard and freedom as I briefly spied some Labrador in him, and Beagle and maybe a touch of German Shepherd.

I realized then that Heinz 57 was a great description of so much: of my evening that night, of my family and friends, of the characters in my books, and really, of L I F E .

And I understood immediately that my character, Gregory, in my sequel to The Right Wrong Man, is going to have a Heinz 57 in his life.

Do you?

50 thoughts on “A Heinz 57 Evening

    • I agree! During my early to late teenaged years, my family found “Suzie” alone and shivering in a snow bank. She was definitely a Heinz, and she was the sweetest, most loving dog (who secretly was allowed to sleep with me on the bed during my teenage-angst years).

  1. I can see you laughing and talking about men and sex and travel, what fun!
    Heinz 57? My father’s name was Heinz . He was a sweet and kind man. I never knew it was a name for a certain breed of dogs. He wouldn’t liked being named after a dog.

  2. Heinz 57 is a common name we in Canada call dogs of mixed (or unknown) breeds. It has been around as long as I can remember. All of our dogs growing up were of the Heinz 57 variety. What a great evening. Isn´t it amazing how ideas come to us!!

    • Little did I know while speaking during this book club that I’d write a blog post about it a few days later. But that “Heinz 57” saying kept nagging at me, since I’d never heard it. Turns out that Canadians, and the Brits, and many Americans, use the phrase often. Who knew?

  3. Pam, I am picturing lovely, intelligent you reveling in author mode speaking to a room of lovely, intelligent women and what a wonderful night it must have been! How fun! We have always called dogs of mixed parentage Heinz 57…

    • Even though the women were unknown to me, they were so welcoming that it was like being with a group of friends. They told me they felt they already knew me because of my book. Interesting, huh?

  4. Being a guest at a book club discussion of a book you’ve written is both unsettling and exciting. Sounds like you sailed through yours, even with your canine participant. And I agree, a ‘Heinz 57’ would make for a great character in a book (human or otherwise). 🙂

    • I love being inspired during difficult or unusual situations. Unsettling is a great term you use here. Public speaking is not easy for most, but I think if we’re talking about a passion (like our books!) the words flow forth.

  5. I loved the mystery of the banging door! I think I can trump the Heinz 57 title though, although that is a wonderfully universal term. “What kind of dog is she?” I asked a cute beige puppy’s family once. “We think of her as Puerto Rican Gold… they answered, smiling:) (She was a stray rescued from PR.)

  6. I always thought that Heinz 57 referred to the fact that the Heinz company made 57 different varieties of pickles, relishes, ketchup, etc. And the term came to mean anything that was made up of such conglomerations of ingredients, whether dog pedigrees or ancestors or a person’s interests.

  7. Hi Pam. Enjoyed your story as I do every Friday. Thought I would share that my childhood neighbors named their mixed mutt (Heinz 57 variety) “H.J.” He was a great family dog, as most mutts are, and the name was carried on by many of the friends who knew & loved H.J.

    • Confession – I’ve never belonged to a book group! I’ve always wanted to decide which books to read, and not ‘have’ to read a book because the group tells me to. But I’m rethinking my obstinacy. 🙂

  8. Great dogs are Heinz 57 variety. I’ve called a mutt a Heinz for years. Have no idea where that term originated but its been around for as long as I can remember.

    I believe that was one interesting evening. The ladies appeared delightful. I like character driven books That approach for me, always makes for better reading.

    • First, isn’t it true that a happy home is a ‘dog-driven’ one, whether a pure-breed or the Heinz variety? And second, I agree, I prefer to read books (as well as write them) when they’re character-driven, as opposed to plot-driven.

  9. I love Michael’s comment.. We ARE all Heinz 57! 😀
    That is a common “breed” here in the south… lol! There are a lot of people who will tell you it is the absolute bestest one too! Then you have the “pure” breed lovers who would never, ever dare have a dog they didn’t know the pedigree on *sigh*… their loss. Mo sounds like a perfectly delightful puppy.
    What an incredible inspiration for your next book! I can’t wait! 🙂

    • It’s so much fun, living an ‘every day’ life and finding something kind of normal (although I’m not positive Mo is ‘normal’) and being inspired by it, moving your writing along. Fascinating to me how many people are familiar with the Heinz 57 term, yet I’d never heard it.

  10. I’d never heard of Heinz 57 but it’s a great description. What a great experience being able to discuss your book with the book group – despite the distractions of what was behind the door!

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