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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
“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.