Hank Phillippi Ryan | A Mother-Daughter Love Story--EVENTUALLY.
July 28, 2009
Do you get along with your mothers? Do you get along with your daughters? I
know you’re speaking the same language—but how well do you understand each
I know I’m all grown up—I’m a veteran TV reporter with 26 Emmys--but there’s
still part of me that turns into a little girl when I’m around Mom. And I want
to please her. But it’s not always easy.
When she first started reading FACE TIME, the
newest Charlotte McNally Mystery? She was not pleased. At all.
She called me—I’m in Boston and she’s home in the Midwest. I could tell,
instantly, it was not going to be a fun conversation. You have to imagine the
"Mom" tone. Perhaps, you've heard it. Maybe you've used it a time or
Turns out, Mom was unhappy with FACE TIME. Very,
To be sure: Mom is terrific. She’s just over 80, and is absolutely beautiful. An
artist, a reader, a wonderful intellect. (She doesn’t have a computer, so she’s
not reading this.) I’m her oldest daughter, and any psychologist will tell you
that can cause some friction.
So anyway. Why was Mom mad? She thinks I’ve “used her for art.”
It’s true: Charlie McNally’s mother in FACE TIME is a
bit—persnickety. She’s opinionated. She thinks, for instance, that Charlotte
might want to give up her very successful 20-year TV career to marry some tycoon
and become a trophy wife. No matter that Charlie is happy with the personal life
(pretty happy, at least, for a 46-year-old single woman who is married to her
job) and happy with her professional life (pretty happy, at least, even though
she’s fearful she’s going to be replaced by someone younger).
Mom also thinks Charlotte (she refuses to call her Charlie, saying, “nicknames
are for stuffed animals and men who play sports”) might want to visit the
plastic surgeon for some face time of her own.
Now Mrs. McNally is not, I repeat, not, my mother. But in these days of
controversy over whether books that are purported to be memoirs are actually
true—I find myself fighting to convince her that my book is truly fiction.
It’s ALL MADE UP, I tell her. Yes, Charlie has a Mom, and I have a Mom. But I’m
not Charlie and she’s not you.
Silence on the other end of the phone.
“Of course it’s me, dear,” she finally says. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
And as it turns out—as Mom will find out if she’ll just persevere and get to the
end of the book—FACE
TIME is not only a mystery, and a tantalizing romance, but kind of a
love story between mothers and daughters. My editor said she had tears in her
eyes when she read it. One reviewer told me she downright cried at the final
scene. (Which is odd, you have to admit, in a murder mystery.)
Yes, as authors we take elements of reality. Then we polish, and tweak, and
exaggerate, and accessorize. But the fun is making up something completely new.
Creating a new world. New characters and new relationships. And it’s ALL MADE
Do you have a contentious relationship with your mother? (or daughter?) Do you
understand each other? I'd love to hear from you. Let's chat. Maybe we can give
each other some advice.
With love to all mothers and daughters. (And maybe reading FACE TIME
together—will give you something to talk about.)
(okay, it's Harriet but you must never reveal that...and of course, it was Mom's
PS: And oh--being a reporter myself, www.HankPhillippiryan.com
I do have big news! PRIME TIME, the
first Charlotte McNally Mystery, won the AGATHA for Best First Mystery!
And there's more: AIR TIME, the
Charlotte McNally Mystery, will be out on August 25. Suzanne Brockmann says:
“Loved it! Smart, funny, fresh, intriguing and thoroughly entertaining—I highly
recommend this series.”
21 comments posted.
Re: Hank Phillippi Ryan | A Mother-Daughter Love Story--EVENTUALLY.
Loved the interview! When I was younger my mom and I didn't see eye to eye, but as I grew older(wiser..LOL) we got along great until she passed. Wouldn't have traded our time together for anything!
(JoAnn White 10:15am July 28, 2009)
I just ordered Prime Time. Can't wait to read it.
My mom and I have always gotten along. In fact, we just got back from a vacation together. That's not to say that we always see eye to eye on things! The debates are always interesting and entertaining though!
(Kara Conrad 12:08pm July 28, 2009)
My mother and I always got along - it's my daughter that doesn't speak the same language! She got a lot easier to talk with when she got a job and was out on her own. Before that, one of our memorable conversations went something like this:
D "I would like to speak to Dr. M the advisor" (I was an advisor to many students at a local college so I put on my Dr. M the advisor hat and gave her several options).
D "But Mum which one should I pick?"
Dr. M. "I'm sorry. You asked to speak with Dr. M not The Mother. I can't help you there!"
(Karin Tillotson 12:21pm July 28, 2009)
Thanks! Yes, it's lovely when daughters and mothers realize they have more common ground than just being related. I'm so touched that you wound up being pals--she must have been so thrilled.
(HAnk Phillippi Ryan 1:18pm July 28, 2009)
Terrific! Please let me know how you like Prime Time, okay? (And what you think should happen about...well, you'll see.)
Vacation with your Mom! You're so lucky--how many of us could manage that?
WIth our moms--or with our daughters? Anyone else--are you vacation buddies?
(HAnk Phillippi Ryan 1:20pm July 28, 2009)
Karin--that's truly a funny story. And exactly what Face Time is about. I'm really hoping mothers and daughters read it together--I think it could open a lot of doors!
(HAnk Phillippi Ryan 1:21pm July 28, 2009)
I borrow from all relationships to make up characters,so everythings an amalgamation. Nothing is off limits. I received Prime Time yesterday and the bold bookmarks are now placed halfway through. Hooked on the first 4 lines sometimes it's like thinking out loud.
(Alyson Widen 1:27pm July 28, 2009)
My mother and I were always close. I still pick up the phone now and then to call her - and she's been gone for 10 years.
(Karen Barnett 2:16pm July 28, 2009)
I ordered signed copies from Mystery Lovers Bookshop of all three books! Can't wait to read them! My mom & I basically grew up together - so most of the time, we get along great!!
(Kelli Jo Calvert 2:26pm July 28, 2009)
I'm lucky to be very close to my mom now, especially since I was such a brat of a teenager. The harder part is that I find myself doing more and more to care for my parents as they get older, and while I would always to anything I can for them, it is so bittersweet. I can't imagine the day I don't have my parents.
(Michelle St. James 3:03pm July 28, 2009)
I get along with my mom now, but that wasn't always the case. Our relationship definitely changed for the better after the death of my father.
(LuAnn Morgan 3:13pm July 28, 2009)
When I was a teenager my mum and fought and fought - it wasn't until I came home from uni that we started getting on again.
My daughter is 5 and we adopted her when she was 4. She's soooo tall for her age and acts at least 10 years older! Scary!!! I love her to bits and she has begun copying my phrases and mannerisms. She looks nothing like me but is mine - all mine - well, daddy can get a cuddle every now and again too.
(Sarah Keery 3:14pm July 28, 2009)
Oh--you're all so wonderful--and it's heart-warmenig to hear your stories.
In fact: I'll give a free FACE TIME to three commenters..in honor of all of our moms.
And that's in addition to the contest!
(HAnk Phillippi Ryan 3:29pm July 28, 2009)
Alyson: Thank you so muuh!When you're finished, do let me know how you like PRIME TIME!
Karen: That's very sweet. And I bet--she knows when you pick up the phone.
(HAnk Phillippi Ryan 3:36pm July 28, 2009)
Kelli Jo--Thank you so much! Isn't it great--Mystery Lovers Bookshop offers free first class shipping on all the Charlie McNally books--and they're all signed!
Michelle: Does your mother remember you as a brat? I bet she has some fond memories, too..
LuAnn--yes, life can be bittersweet.
(HAnk Phillippi Ryan 3:41pm July 28, 2009)
I always got along with my mother and I still miss her every day of my life she has been gone 6 years now; I also get along well with my daughter though we have had differences over the years, I try to make sure we work through it and so does she
(Diane Sadler 6:47pm July 28, 2009)
I know it is a bit off topic but, I wanted to thank you for being so nice to me at RWA. You took time out of signing your book to give me some reassuring words about getting author's signatures. Had I known who I was talking to, I might have been a bit more nervous. You gave me a lip balm and I didn't look at the name on it until I got home. I read more mysteries than romances so I didn't expect you to be at the conference.
Thank you for taking the time to tell me it's okay to be a bit of a fanboy when meeting authors.
Oh, you were the featured author on the stopyourekillingme.com newsletter.
(V Scott 10:41pm July 28, 2009)
V Scott! You absolutely made my day. What a lovely thing to say..and I am delighted.
Keep in touch, okay?
Diane..your daughter must be so grateful to have such a good mom. Wonder where you learned it?
(HAnk Phillippi Ryan 10:53pm July 28, 2009)
It is hard not to be a mother to your
kids, and even harder to keep a good
balance. I've learned to keep my
opinions to myself, most of the time. I
try to be there for them when they
need me, but to wait until they want
my advice or help.
I remember the rough years when I
was a teen - I was much too
outspoken for my parents. However,
by the time I finished college, my
mom and I were friends. I went
overseas in the Peace Corps for 3
years right after graduation. I was so
looking forward to the adult
mother/daughter relationship. On my
trip home, I got word my mom was
dying. She died of cancer barely 3
weeks after I got home. That was 38
years ago and everyday I miss not
being able to share things with her.
(Patricia Barraclough 11:09pm July 28, 2009)
I've always had a hard relationship with my mother. She has always tried to compete with me. I thought after all of these years, that things would change. They just haven't. All I can do now is try to remain on a decent level with her.
(Cheryl English 11:55pm July 28, 2009)
I was my mother's care-giver the last few years of her life, so we became very close. She died a few years ago and I still miss talking with her, just watching TV with her, quilting with her. I just miss her.
(Patsy Hagen 6:31pm August 2, 2009)
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