Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It all started with a potato

I'm so happy to be blogging here at Drunk Writer Talk. I've really enjoyed reading the posts here and commenting on occasion. I think it's going to be great fun. And to think, it all began with a potato . . . (cue dreamy music and soft focus here)

I first met Molly O'Keefe at the Emerald City Writers Conference in Seattle. I can't remember the exact sequence of events. We might have met earlier in the day. Or not. All I know is that at dinner (which was one of those buffet style things), this very charming and pretty and pregnant woman sat down next to me. She had a tiny little plate with maybe a carrot on it. As we sat there, I couldn't help noticing that she was eyeing my potatoes.

By eyeing, I mean she couldn't focus on anything else and could barely speak because of the drool dripping out of the side of her mouth.

I asked if she'd like them. To make a long story short, after demurring quite a bit, she fell on them like a woman possessed. I have seriously never seen a woman attack a potato in quite the same way. As a woman of appetite myself, I could totally appreciate it. I was charmed.

Of such things are friendships born. We kept in touch a little. I read one of her books and loved her humor and handling of emotion and conflict.

Because I knew Molly (and the adorable and talented Eileen Cook), I met clever and charming Maureen McGowan at the NEC RWA Conference a year or two later. It was there that I may have cemented my eventual inclusion in this group by actually falling off my seat in a restaurant after drinking a beer or two. I seriously thought that bench seat went all the way across. It seriously did not, as I found out when I realized I was sitting on the floor with my feet sticking up in the air.

But my point is, and there is a point believe it or not, that it is of the little things that happen that big things begin. I offer some potato to a starving pregnant woman and a few years later, I get to join a cool group blog. I think about those little decisions as my writing, too. It's not just the big decisions, the life and death choices that my heroes and heroines make, that make a book work. It's all those little choices that bring characters to life. The kind of car she drives, what she wears, the relish with which she eats a potato. You know, those telling details that mean so much like when a cook with a drinking problem hands a potato peeler to a troubled teen and ends up saving them both.

So thanks for having me here. I'm thrilled to participate. Let's all take a moment of silence to appreciate that starchy tuber then tell me what one of your favorite telling details in a book has been.


Anonymous said...

Welcome Eileen!

Very amusing story. I can tell you're going to fit right in.


Kristen Painter said...

I love potatoes. Fried, au gratin, whipped, mashed, scalloped, baked... I wish they were diet food. Why aren't they diet food? Maybe because they go best with other non-diet foods, like butter, cheese, bacon, sour cream, chili, gravy...wait, what was the question?

Eileen said...

Kristen, you're making me hungry!

Allison Brennan said...

Love the banner. I want a Guinness now. It's 5 o'clock somewhere, right?

Eileen said...

And even tastier when consumed with the writers here, Allison!

Molly O'Keefe said...

Eileen I love the way you remember that story!! Here's how I remember it: I was late to the buffet and by the time I got there all the potatoes were gone and so were most of the seats. I tried to comfort myself with lesser food - and lots of it - a lone carrot! Please! And there you were not only one of my favorite writers but you had a plate of potatoes! A whole plate! Falling on it like a mad woman is how I remember it too.

I love that the small things lead to big things. As for your question about books and the small details - remember those Judith Ivory Historicals? All of her characters had such brilliant details - the guy that had the collection of pocket watches?
Awesome detail. Awesome post - so good to have you here!!

Maureen McGowan said...

Fabulous inaugural post, Eileen! We're so glad to have you here.

And Molly steals my beer like that all the time -- but not when she's pregnant. ;-)

And you're so right about the small things leading to the big things... in writing, in life, in everything. I remember Sinead and I being so excited when Molly told me she'd met you. We all loved DO ME, DO MY ROOTS and I'm sure had discussed it over beers -- well, cider for Sinead. She's more sophisticated than Molly and I.

I hereby raise my glass (okay, it's coffee...) to toast our newest member of Drunk Writer Talk. Welcome, Eileen.

Eileen said...

Molly, I'm sure it was just a few carrots on a tiny little plate. Okay. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but it was an entirely insufficient amount of food. I'm sure of that.

A tip of my latte back at you, Maureen!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Eileen, my rock to lean on, you have such a gifted way with words. How many people can write a blog on a potato and make so much good sense? I can't bring to mind a thought in a book that stands out, but can agree that we find our friends in the most unusual and mind-boggling ways. Enjoy writing your posts as I am sure we will love reading them.

Eileen said...

Paisley, my sweet, potatoes are pretty inspiring. We do find our friends in interesting ways, though. Who would know our lives would intersect the way they have, for instance? It's good to have each other to lean on, in good times and bad.

Sinead M said...

Eileen, so great to read your first post at Drunk Writer Talk, and how you and Molly met.
Surprised at the potato, was thinking it would be more likely to be bacon.
Molly loves Bacon.
And she coined the term Meat Doughnut to describe Yorkshire puddings, over what had been by then several bottles of wine.

Eileen said...

Who doesn't love bacon? What was more horrifying is that Molly then proceeded to describe some of the foods she'd been craving during her pregnancy. I actually used some of it in a book (UN-VEILED). Steak burritos dipped in caramel sauce. Eek!

I had to go look up Yorkshire Puddings. Meat doughnuts seem like a fairly apt description! I would make fun of British food, but I was raised in a Jewish household. Let she who has never sinned throw the first Gefilte fish.

Molly O'Keefe said...

When I read the steak burrito and carmal sauce in Un-veiled I snorted coffee out my nose.

It hurt.

Paisley Kirkpatrick I really hope that that is your real name. I want to rename my children now, because other names pale in comparison to that one.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Thank you Molly. It is my pen name but I have found that most everyone likes it, even the man when I domained it. Kirkpatrick is my Mom's family name and Paisley is one of my favorite places in Scotland - and I might add where Gerard Butler grew up. ;)

Kimber Chin said...

What a wonderful post!
And someone generous with her potatoes, well, who wouldn't love a gal like that?

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