Monday, December 26, 2011

Secret Longings

Twas the day after Christmas
We're off in the car.
Returning gifts we travel afar...

RHYS BOWEN: I'm not going to ask how many of us are taking stuff back to the store. Instead I want to know what was the one gift you really really longed for and didn't get. If you'd had the chance to whisper in Santa's ear what would you have wished for? Neiman Marcus catalog kind of stuff. The best gift ever. Money no object.(and it can't be world peace or freedom from hunger, because we all want that and even Neiman Marcus doesn't have the power to grant it)

I started gaily on this topic and now I'm finding it hard to come up with an answer because I don't really lust after material things. I'm happy driving my Camry and don't need a Lexus under the tree. If I had a huge diamond I'd only worry about dropping it down the bathroom sink. (I did that to a sapphire).

A few years ago it might have been a date with Robert Redford. But now he's looking a little worn. One thing I've always wanted was to land a 747. To make that giant bird touch down gently would be so cool.
And I'd like a luxury safari... a house on an island in the Caribbean maybe?
So how about you, dear JRW sisters? Secret longings please.

ROSEMARY HARRIS: Okay, this is a trick question because if we SAY something we're shallow, but if we say we have all we need we're smarmy. So I'll go first and be shallow - then the rest of you will sound more highly evolved.

I went to a fabulous dinner party last week (Ladies only.) Among other things the hostess had a giving tree from which we all plucked watches or bracelets. But it wasn't just the opulence of the home (I would happily live in her kitchen) or the event. There were two dining rooms set up and I chose to dine in her library. A wonderful book-lined room with a giant fireplace. Me like.

HANK PHILLIPI RYAN: Okay, I'll play. And I'm not evolved either, you've seen my closet. Anyway, you're going to be so surprised, because you know me, and you know I hate to drive and and I do not care about cars. At all. But the other day I saw a great looking car. I said to Jonathan: whoa. What kind of a car is that? And he said it was a Porsche Panamera.
FOlks, this is a VERY cool car. SO nice, I started singing a song about it. To the tune of Guantanamera. "Porsche Panamera, I want a Porsche Panamera....Porsche Panameeeeeraaa...we need a porsche panamera..."
We're not getting one. I think--well, how much do they cost?

JAN BROGAN - Oh Hank, please don't tell me there is another Porsche my husband is going to want. We have one, and I hate driving in it. And not because I'm evolved. But because it's too low to the ground and you feel the road. Which I guess is the point, since its a sports car, but I hate going fast. If I were going to long for a car, I'd long for one of those antique Bentley's or even a Model-T Ford. Something you only drive on Sundays and that you usually see parked at ice cream places.

HALLIE EPHRON: Hold the car. Don't need no boats. Can't tell the difference between really good champagne and a 12-dollar bottle. I'd lust after cashmere but it makes me itch. Expensive jewelry makes me nervous.

We're dreaming here, right? The one thing in this world that I would love love love to have is my pick, a print from the original elephant folio edition of Audobon's Birds of America. The Flamingo or the Gyrfalcon or Avocet or Arctic tern or America White Pelican.

LUCY BURDETTE: Rhys, ditto on the Robert Redford! Hallie, cannot believe you didn't say something about decadent here's some mail-order ham and bacon, recommended by my new friend Scott Haas, from whom you'll hear next week: Gatton Farms Bacon, found at You will salivate just reading about it.

But what I really, really, really want is to see AN APPETITE FOR MURDER on the New York Times extended bestseller list. Doesn't have to be the top twenty, that would be over the top.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Lucy, every wish I made on the first star for a year before my last book came out was, "Please let it be on the New York Times list!" And it was! So get star-gazing, and I'm sure AN APPETITE FOR MURDER will do you proud as well.

As for my dream Christmas gift, it's that Ross and I could take an exotic, warm-weather, grown-ups-only getaway. I'd like to be in Barcelona and stay up eating and drinking til midnight, or see Carnival in Rio or go back to southern Africa for another safari. But with two kids still at home, any holiday we take is a family holiday, which can also be lovely except... with one in college, our funds only stretch as far as a weekend up the coast here in Maine.

Of course, I know this is something that can be solved with time. I just worry that by the time we've paid our last tuition bill, the only place we'll want to visit will be the Bide-a-Wee Rest Home!

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I'm with Lucy on the wishing for the New York Times Bestseller list!!! Hallie, cashmere makes me itch, too. Don't especially want a fancy car--I'm perfectly happy with my three-year-old Honda. And Rhys, I agree, Robert Redford is looking a bit worn.

But if we are going for real fantasy here, I'd like to have a Christmas in an English country cottage. With snow. And fairy lights. And a fire. And carols in the village church. Christmas pudding and long, cold walks across the fields with the dogs. With a nice cuppa or a wee dram waiting. (And no murders!)

RHYS: So who would like to share his or her secret longings? And who got exactly what they wanted for Christmas?


  1. Jeez, I'd just like for my husband to take an hour just to shop for me. Just one lousy hour out of his life. I don't even care what he gets me, as long as it's something.

    This year my middle daughter sent us two books to share (one of which we already had). My oldest daughter gave us a joint gift: the entire Beatles collection, all 219 songs. A great gift, although now I have to put them into iTunes so we can load them onto the iPod. And my mother gave me a pretty scarf. That's it for the Christmas gifts here.

    On the one hand, that's fine; I have too much stuff already, and just finished clearing closets. On the other hand ....

  2. Easy: a 1968 red Mustang convertible. I've been coveting that car since, well, 1968. (I might need a mechanic to go with it.)

  3. careful what you wish for. My husband did spend an hour shopping for me - but I will have to spend two returning everything. On one hand, it's endearing that he still sees me as a young girl,a size zero. OTOH, who wants to feel fat and old on Christmas morning? And what do I even say about the knit hat with the bow and the Carmelo Anthony jersey? Words failed me.

  4. Rosemary, I concede the point. That is hilarious!

  5. I did not receive a hand-held blow torch to make creme brulee. Waaah!

  6. I'm with Sheila, except I want a perfectly restored red convertible 1960s Karmann Ghia, because I bought an old VW bug in the early 70s instead of the old Ghia I really wanted.

    The perfectest part of this Christmas? Listening to my two adult sons talk about their beards (one has his first, and we were video-Skyping him in from Puerto Rico). It brought me to tears.

  7. Ro, you ARE a young girl, size zero!

    Oh, Karen, I feel for you.

    My husband stunned me this year by giving me the most beautiful necklace, one that I'd lusted after at an open studio. This is the artist.

    I got the other thing I truly wanted - my daughters and son-in-law were here for Xmas. And all's right with the world...

    What is it about 1968 Mustangs? I'm writing one -- silver blue with a cream colored roof -- in my current work in progress.

  8. Oh, the NT list. That trumps ALL other gifts. (Except for family of course, but they're wishing for it, too...)

    Today is mad to do my words for the day.

    we did see Tinker Tailor yesterday..and liked it. Anyone see Sherlock Holmes?

  9. The thing I most wanted was to be with family,and with NO wintery weather conditions making it difficult to travel. (I always have to travel out of town,since my "hovel" is too small for hosting anything.) Since we all live in different cities, I never know until the last minute what will happen. But it all worked out! I didn't see everyone, but at least I wasn't alone.

    My dream "never gonna happen" gift is a gift certificate to have my closets and cabinets completely redone, and I'd also like built-in bookshelves.But I don't have any rich friends or relatives!! I guess I'll just have to settle for having this in my dreams!

  10. I have a full MS at Harlequin. I was REALLY hoping Santa would phone in an offer. Oh, well. Maybe for the New Year. I have the big diamonds (inheritid. It's platinum so it's going to be a looooong time saving up the money to pay for it. I also love my Toyota Highlander. My one gift under the tree this year was a "gift selection of tea and old biscotti" a friend sent via Amazon. But the kids were here, the house didn't burn down, and the food was excellent.

    Me? I'd take a roof over my head. Ours is leaking a bit at the moment. And I'd love to put a metal roof on. I love the sound of rain on a metal roof.

    Ro, I broke mine of buying me clothes. Gift certificates only! Only this year, everybody got busy and it was one of those "Didn't, I thought you did...but...Oh, uhm...gee Mom/honey, we uhm....sort of...forgot." *looks shifty eyed* Maybe I'll forget next year....

    Until then, I hope the holidays were happy for everyone and may 2011 die it's ignoble death so we can see what 2012 brings! *puts on boxing gloves* Come on, New Year, so me what you've got! *wink*

  11. Man, I should never attempt to be coherent until I've at least finished my first cup of copy. I have to have the diamond ring resized. That's why I have to save up my pennies. *headdesk* Why no, I can't complete a coherent thought, why do you ask? *rolls eyes* Now....where did I put my coffee cup?

  12. I'd like to move back home, Salem or Marblehead, to a wheelchair-accessible house or apartment with a little shop up front where I could read, write, and sell books and things related. I don't care about making money doing it. I just want to do it.

    This dream gift comes with a wheelchair-accessible van with adaptive driving controls, so I can be more independent. My mind is independent, but my body sucks at it.

  13. I wish I were the Christmas fairy, then I'd wave my magic wand and grant all your wishes. Christmas fairy... I sense a new holiday special for next year. A fairy, blown off course to the North Pole who can use her magic to bring Christmas to kids that Santa can't reach?
    See how writers can never take a day off?

  14. I watched so many Jacqui Lawson cards, and my Jacquie Lawson advent calender, and then The Holiday, that I feel like I almost got my perfect-Christmas-in-an-English-cottage Christmas wish...

    The English parts of The Holiday were filmed in Shere and Godalming in Surrey, villages and an area I know well and love. But I was so disappointed when I found out a couple of years ago that Iris's cottage is only a facade!

    My captcha was "rengs", which fits in rather well today, don'tyou think?

  15. Reine,
    I hope you get your wish!!

    Ramona, Humorous aside, after Christmas, my daughter confessed that she's absolutely LOVE a creme brulee blowtorch.

  16. The gift exchanging was sometimes hilarious yesterday.
    I gave my daughter an Itune card and she said that she was happy because she had just downloaded the last Sue Grafton novel and she was opening the hardcover version from me as she was relating this. We all laughed.
    At one point gifts were being given to the pets in the family. I got a little confused when I suddenly realized that the pets were not exchanging gifts but the humans. MMM...gotta get the mental health checkup soon. LOL!

  17. Sheila, you take the red 68 Mustang convertible, and I'll take the blue one! (Dream deferred, however, as neither Mr. Right nor I are engine-heads.)

    Mr. Right quite stunned me with a fabulous Montana sapphire necklace, a perfect color match to my sapphire earings, the only other jewels he's ever bought me -- twelve years ago.

    Hank, we quite enjoyed the new Sherlock. Keep in mind as you watch that Moriarty--very well-played by Jared Harris--is bent on world domination ... .

  18. Jan, tell your daughter the only thing better than a blowtorch under the Christmas tree is one you buy yourself, on sale, after the holidays, using a gift card.

  19. O boy, magic Santa wishes! First I'll agree a book-lined library with giant fireplace sounds wonderful. And the mansion and estate grounds to go with it.

    I'm happy to have a conversation with Robert Redford, who doesn't appear worn to me (any more than I am) but rich in life experiences.

    I'll be delighted to give up my car for a limo and driver. I once spent a year in India riding on rickshaws -- I won't miss dealing with traffic at all.

    My very best secret wish is for a successful book series. So please, Santa, some financial support will give me freedom of unrestricted time and lots of energy to see it happen. Thank you.

  20. Yes I second our Jungle Red gift fairy! wouldn't it be fun to grant all those wishes? You girls will look so good in the red cars...and Silver, wishing for you the contract, and Deb the closets, and Reine the little shop--that sounds like a fine dream!

    We just came in from seeing the Descendents with George Clooney. His teenage daughter in the movie was truly pitch perfect.

  21. I'm the person who has every single thing--had the Porsche, got tired of it, had a vintage Austin Healey, have the jewelry and all material goods I ever wanted. But, despite having had four (count them, FOUR) top agents have yet to see one of my books snapped up by a publisher. My current agent swears it will happen, my dreams? Where is the Christmas fairy???

  22. Chiming in late, as I am finally home from Christmas travel. I didn't get the "stop the world for a week so I can sleep and stop freaking-the-heck-out" gift under the tree, so that's my wish. But a wonderful time was had by all, and honestly, there was nothing I really longed for. My year was nothing short of magical, with a debut novel on shelves and positive response from both the mystery and racing worlds. Couldn't ask for anything more (well, OK, I wouldn't turn down any bestseller list). But I'm happy with 2011.

    Hank, about that Panamera? I know guys who race and teach Porsche driving, and they LOVE that car. Smooth, powerful, racy, and yet a four-door sedan. They think it's amazing. Maybe I'm sorry I did that to you....