Friday, December 07, 2007

Gramma, Grampa, and the "S" word

Jana’s post this week about her Grandma Heyes made me think a little about my grandparents. My Gramma (we don’t believe in over annunciating in our family) passed away last year, very suddenly. And not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. Of all the people in my family, I think I’m probably most like her, at least I certainly aspire to be. She was also my biggest fan as an unpublished writer, the only other person in the family who ever read romance. When she heard that my first romance book had been purchased, she was absolutely thrilled, hugged me so tight I could hardly breathe. The last conversation I had with her was about my first book, then soon to be published. It was just after Christmas and she was about to head back home to Las Vegas. Just as she was leaving, she gave me a big hug and asked, “When Spying in High Heels comes out, can I read it?”

“Of course!” I said.

She kind of paused. Then pursed her lips together. “No, I mean, should I read it?”

“Of course!” I said again.

She turned pink, then asked. “I mean, will you be embarrassed if I read it?”

My first reaction was, ‘Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence.’ But then I saw her turn from pink to puce to positively magenta.

“What I mean is… is there anything… would it be inappropriate… I mean if I read some parts…”

And then it dawned on me. Mental forehead smack.

“No, Gramma. There’s no sex in it.”

After turning burgundy, she did a little sigh of relief, hugged me again, and said she couldn’t wait to read it.

One of my biggest regrets was that she passed before she had the chance. But, I did dedicate that book to her, and I swear I could feel her with me at every single signing I did that year.

My Grampa, however, surprised me by being the first to read Spying when it came out.

I was worried.

It was one thing to have Gramma – a seasoned romance reader – read the scenes between my hero and heroine. Okay, so I didn’t lie, there’s no sex on the page. But boy do the characters talk about it. A lot. And Gramps is not the sexy read kind. Like Gramma, I don’t think he can even say the word ‘sex’ out loud. Know Ward Clever? That’s Gramps. Cardigans, twin beds, when he’s really upset about something says ‘Golly darn!’. This man was going to read my book that opened with a possible unplanned pregnancy, dealt with adultery, porn studios, strip clubs, and murders with condom wrapper clues?

I was very worried.

The first thing I did was yell at Mom for giving him a copy. The second was hold my breath. For two long days I waited for the call telling me I was disowned for even knowing language like that, let alone publishing it. I gnawed my manicure to stubs.

Finally, Grampa came over with book in hand. He said, “I read your book.” Deep pause. He stared at me. His face impassive. His eyes unreadable. It was the longest two second of my life. Then, finally he said, “I had no idea you were so funny.”

I’m pretty sure Leslie and Kathy heard my sigh of relief all the way in Iowa.

Since then, Gramps has bought a dozen of each of my books, and read each one in record time. He’s one of my biggest promoters, buying cases of books, distributing them to family, friends, his barber, the dentist. I’m pretty sure there’s not a person left in town who hasn’t heard of ‘Chuck’s granddaughter’s book’. I’m thinking of putting him on the payroll.

So, this Christmas, I am very thankful for my supportive family and for the fact that, despite many nudges, I have not, in fact, let my characters get any hot sex.

~Gemma "Trigger Happy" Halliday


Tori Lennox said...

What a wonderful story!!! :)

Shel said...

Very cute story. I think I would like your Grampa. His comment is priceless.

Happy Friday!

Jana DeLeon said...

That's a great story, Gemma! I think I would have liked your gramma too. :)

Gemma Halliday said...

Thanks! Yeah, Grampa's a keeper. ;)


Shelli Stevens said...

Ah, Gemma, you made me a little teary. That's a sweet story. And your gramps sounds fabulous!

Estella said...

What a great story!

Lucy said...

Sweet story. Sounds like you have a wonderful family.

Leslie Langtry said...

Oh! Is that what that was? I couldn't tell if it was a sigh or a moan - but I did hear it! ;)


Wendy said...

Awww, that's a lovely story! :)

Dru said...

That was such a great story.

catslady said...

What a touching story! And what wonderful grandparents.

Jenyfer Matthews said...

OH- I could feel your anxiety as I read your recounting of the the situation. I feel the same way every time any member of my family reads something that I've written. What a great outcome though.

Even before your grandfather's vote of confidence I ordered your first book from Amazon to be delivered to Cairo - can't wait for it to arrive!

My husband's grandfather was thrilled to hear that I'd been published too. She asked me if the book was about my travels. I told her that it was a romance. She nodded and said "Oh, so it's not about YOUR life." hee hee

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Um...that was supposed to say "grandMother" - it's early here in Cairo....

Kathy Bacus said...

Love this story, Gemma. I, too, had a very special grandma I was very close to, Gemma. And, I like to think, someone I'm a lot like, as well, so we have that in common.

Another commonality? I've also resisted the growing pressure to incorporate hot sex into my CJ books--well, at least so far. Who knows what will happen when Tressa and Ranger Rick set sail on a 'luxury' cruise ship in ANCHORS AWEIGH as I round out the series six-pack.

~Bullet Hole~

Lanie Fuller said...

Awh. Your grandparents sound priceless--in the good way.

Hope everything is going well, Gemma!