Susan Elizabeth Phillips, the Dark Side

When I was in Reno in July, I had lunch with Susan Elizabeth Phillips, the Queen of Romantic Comedy because I have lunch with Susan Elizabeth Phillips whenever I can, but this time I did it mainly because she wanted to scope out the guy I’m a writing a book with.

“This is Bob,” I say as we sit down.
“Wonderful to meet you, Bob,” Susan says.
Bob nods. Bob is not verbal. In fact, he will not be heard from again in this blog entry.
“So how’s Charles?” I ask her.
“Who’s Charles?” she says.
“Your husband.”
“That’s Bill,” she says, with that Crusie-you’re-hopeless look.
Okay, I know this guy, he’s darling, and he looks like a Charles. I wonder briefly how many times I’ve called him Charles over the ten years I’ve known Susan.
“Then who’s Charles?”
“I have no idea who Charles is,” she says and turns to smile at Bob. “So, Bill.”
“That’s Bob,” I say. “Bill’s your husband. Although I still want to know what the hell happened to Charles.”

And it goes downhill from there.

I’m thinking that’s why she turned on me later that afternoon at the Bravo documentary filming.

They’d asked Susan, Jayne Ann Krentz, and me to talk about romance so Jayne Ann and I show up at an empty restaurant in the hotel right on time. Jayne Ann, who never has a bad hair day or a bad outfit, looks wonderful in black jersey. I’m holding my own in a navy blazer (we won’t talk about the hair, I’m hair challenged).

Then SEP walks in.

She’s wearing this top that, as God is my witness, is made out of multi-colored neon bubble wrap. I think it came with a battery. While Jayne Ann and I are shielding our eyes, she looks us over and says, “I knew it. Look at you, you’re going to be on TV and you’re wearing dark colors. What were you thinking?”
I say, “Well, we weren’t thinking you were going to show up as the Rainbow Connection. And now you’re going to be sitting in the center getting all the attention because you’re wearing an electric nipple shirt.”
She says, “I’m going to tell Charles you said that,” and then she leans closer. “Are you wearing make-up?”
“Yes.” I flutter my lashes. “See? Mascara.”
“That’s not enough,” she says, “I knew you wouldn’t be ready for this.” And she whips out a make-up bag and paints my face right there in the restaurant, right after she pins Jayne Ann to a booth and paints hers. Then she plunks herself down in the middle of the banquette with Jayne Ann and me flanking her and proceeds to dominate the interview, flaunting her bubble wrap, until Jayne Ann and I begin to talk over her, just to annoy her.

Plus I have this insane urge to start popping the bubbles. The fabric is made of silk or something so it won’t pop, but I’m just dying to poke my finger in the bumps. I try it once and she bats my hand away, but the temptation is something awful. If they ever show this documentary, she’ll be sitting in the middle looking professional and I’ll be frowning at her, stabbing my finger into her arm.

I should probably mention here that she looks great in this shirt. Odd, but great. And her hair is perfect.

By the end of the interview, SEP has won hands down. We never had a chance.

But then, I never have a chance with Susan. She looks like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, but I always end up holding the metaphorical baby as she sails off, triumphant, into the sunset.

There was the time we were doing a bookseller’s panel and I said, “I’m so happy that St. Martin’s is using the same cover for the Welcome To Temptation paperback as the hardcover because it means I get to keep my cherry,” and she said, right there in front of God and everybody, “Crusie, you lost your cherry so long ago you can’t even remember it,” and everybody looked at me like I was the slut who’d said “cherry” in that connotation. Not to mention that this joke later became the name for my online community, perpetuating her slander. (I do so remember it.)

Or there was the time we were in that fancy restaurant in New Orleans, and I was in a completely different ROOM, and Rod Stewart walked in, and a roll hit her on the back of the head, and she turned around and said, “CRUSIE!” only the waiter had dropped it on her and I was innocent, but still, my name gets yelled across the room, and forget me ever bonding with Rod Stewart now, he thinks I throw rolls.

I have more stories, but you get the idea.

All I can say is, I know why Charles left.

41 thoughts on “Susan Elizabeth Phillips, the Dark Side

  1. Crusie you ROCK! I have this grin that seems to only happen when I am reading something you’ve written. Thanks!

  2. Rainbow bubble wrap? I hope they show the interview if only so I can see this with my own eyes.

  3. Jenny, I just found your blog. (Well, better late than never, right?) I loved your books before I ever saw you in person, but as soon as I heard you speak at RWA in NYC, I was hooked. You are as funny in person as you are in print, but you also don’t hold back on what you really think. I love that.

    SEP sounds like a riot, too, and I love her books as well (though I have to admit I’ve read every single one of yours, and only “most” of hers).

    I’m totally expecting to see you at the next RWA national wearing neon-colored bubble wrap.


  4. Yes, your blog is fabulous, but here’s a heartfelt piece of advice. Turn off the comments. You’re a famous writer. Various nutjobs are going to find your blog and post to it. Eventually, you will cease to read comments because of the occasional printed stink bomb. But the people who do read coments on your blog will get all unhappy and whiny about wackos who post things like, “You all *@!$$ squerrels! Go *$&% in your bedds, you squerel $&@##ers!” And then, when you eventually get rid of the comment feature because nice people don’t want to see the bad stuff and you don’t have time to delete offensive posts, earnest people will come up to you at conferences and whimper that you turned off comments because you are remote and snooty, which you are certainly not.

  5. I haven’t laughed that much in… too long. Thanks for the entertainment. :-)Everyone was posting, saying, “Go look, go look!” I’m very glad I did.

  6. Not that any of the people who are CURRENTLY posting would ever get whiny. I’m not saying that. This is just a generic scenario from a concerned citizen with a very good imagination. The blog is new and you’re all in the know about these things. But eventually, there will be a gajillion comments for each Crusie post, much like Dave Barry’s blog. Dave has his assistant, Judy, vet his comments and get rid of the bad stuff. Jenny, maybe you should call him and find out what she charges.

  7. This story was a hoot!!!

    I hope SEP finds Charles and you track down Bill….lol

    Thanks for the laughs on this otherwise dreary day.

  8. Thanks!! Just visiting your site after it was recommended and you made me laugh out loud. No wonder I love your books….

    I will be back to visit.

    Lori M.

  9. Hi,

    I recommend Russel Stover Pecan Delights for those times when you simply cannot do bodily harm.

    I have someone to recommend (if you are interested) for your hair. She has a shop in Northside.

    Terri (in Cincinnati)

  10. OMG. Thanks so much for the belly laugh. I’m sitting here on the couch next to my husband. He’s watching TV, I’m wasting time on the internet. I start to read your post, and the next thing I know I’m trying to hold my breath to stop from laughing out loud so my husband won’t think I’m a lunatic for just laughing out of the blue. Then I think, “What am I worried about? He already thinks I’m a lunatic,” and give up the fight. Then I decide to make his night and read the post to him. You know, share and share alike.

    He went to bed.


    I still say this post is the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time.

  11. I went to a Borders in Riverside CA on a fluke this past Sunday only to find out I had missed SEP’s visit earlier in the day!!! I got an earful from the staff at the fun they all had. They can’t wait to have her back.

    Love your posts!

  12. Oh, trust me, the comments get read. If Jenny doesn’t get through them and something weird gets in here, someone will tell her and all will be well. One of the many benefits of having a tribe.

  13. very funny stuff Jenny

    I’ve seen you and SEP together It was when she made you go to Naperville for that signing…… She darn near clobbered you there too. I could actually see her doing that too.

    Thanks for the grins 🙂

    Mary f

  14. Holy crap, I’m rolling over here.

    Lynn, don’t bother holding it in – it could cause an neurysm or something equally fatal.

  15. Jenny – are you feeling the love yet? The blog is wonderful, I’m so glad you’re doing this!

    Hee hee, Iowa! Most snarky – hope you got the t-shirt.

  16. Vaishali, this is Heidi. I’d say I was handing out the t-shirts, but that would be Jill. I did hire the caterer for the cherry party, though, and made damn sure we had chocolate dipping sauce for the strawberries.

    And yeah, I’ve got snark. 🙂

  17. lol

    You know, I think Bob was the first author I ever wrote fan mail to. Or fan email anyways.

  18. I think you, Krentz, and Phillips need a reality TV show where all three of you live in an RV and have all sorts of madcap adventures all over the country. That would be awesome.

  19. If SEP is the Queen of Romantic Comedy, the Jenny is surely an Empress (at least!) I want to go out and buy all of your books AGAIN! Damn, woman, you make me laugh.


    P.S. I found a great cherry scarf and purse today. Does that count towards membership? 🙂

  20. Bam, that’s a hell of an idea. They would drive each other crazy in an RV. I can see it now…

    (In the back, Krentz and Phillips are playing Scrabble at the drop-down table.)

    Jenny (from the front): Okay guys, I’ve been driving long enough. Really, you need to give me a break.

    (Krentz starts to scoot out from behind the table, but Phillips puts a restraining hand on her arm.)

    Phillips, calling toward the front: “You’ll be fine! It’ll improve your concentration.”

    Jenny: “I mean it, I’m starting to get sleepy. You should have let me have some freakin’ chocolate at lunch!”

    Phlliips, laying down a tile on the triple word score: “Just slap your cheeks.”

    Jenny: (unintelligible string of obscenities, followed by “cheeks.”

    (The RV drifts into the left lane and then swerves violently back.)

    Krentz to Phillips: “I’ll drive for a while. You’re beating me anyway.”

    Phillips: Stay where you are. She’s bluffing.

  21. Love the blog, Jenny! I’m adding it to my fave places. Thanks for the good laugh, too. After spending an hour out in the drizzle looking for an escaped cat, I needed it:)

  22. I’m so glad you have a blog! I just love your stuff…SEP the queen of romantic comedy? Maybe, but woman, you are a goddess in the romantic comedy part. I actually found plastic mules with cherries on the toes about two months ago…sadly, they didn’t have any my size.

    I’m so tempted to make this my home page….


  23. You and SEP are both queens of romantic comedy. Goddesses even. I have shrines to your mutual greatness on my keeper shelf.

  24. They had better show the documentary because now I MUST see you poking at the electric bubble nipple rainbow connection neon shirt.

    While I agree SEP always looks great, you looked pretty damned good yourself at the Rita awards!

  25. JC – You are too modest, but that’s the coolest part. I laughed and I think my Black Lab did too, he snorted and snuffled when I said to him, “Bob, how’s it going?”

  26. Jeez, Crusie, I don’t care what you say or do as long as you keep on writing. If I had my way, you would be chained up somewhere so you would have to churn out new books all the time. I’ve re-read your latest books so many times the covers are falling off and it’s getting embarrassing–like some kind of addiction. I hunger for more like your heroines lust for Dove Bars or a vampire hungers for new blood. Please, are you going to do another Dempsey or Goodnight book–Dillie and Nadine are surely edging into usable age range, and I’m sure many of your other readers are as loath to lose track of those famfilies as I am.

  27. I recently read my first SEP book and immediately thought she had a very similar humor to yours. Now I know why, and it’s great to hear you guys are good friends. I have been a fan of yours forever, and am now a new fan of SEP. This story had me crying (in a good way). Thanks for the laughs.

  28. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE SEP and have told her so. I have everything by her in all forms (hardback, paperback, audiocassette and CD) and love your writing also, and am starting my collection of your books. This blog is wonderful. Thanks for your wonderful humor. Phyllis

  29. Oh, I’m glad you blog!

    Not that you’re slow about getting books on the shelves, just, well, I can read one every day, so why can’t you write one every day? Don’t you have a typist?

    That’s what friends are for–although this is the first time I’ve ever heard of anyone “winning” an interview.

  30. I don’t remember the last time I laughed so hard, but it was probably at something you wrote.

    SEP was here for a book signing in Feb and I bought two copies of NBC, one for myself and one for my mom. After she signed them I thanked her for talking to our chapter that day and she said you’re welcome and, “It was nice to meet you, Shirley.”

    I said, “It’s Bonnie.”

    She said, “What?”

    I laughed and said, “My mom is Shirley. I’m Bonnie.”

    She looked chagrinned but laughed too and said something about that being the last name she had signed and she was sorry and then, ever gracious, “It was very nice to meet you, Bonnie.”

    I said, “So nice to meet you too, June.”

    She laughed even harder and said something about it being “just like Jenny and my husband.” I had no idea what she was talking about and, honestly, I was afraid to ask.

    Now I know.

    And I’m still laughing.

    Please tell June I said hello next time you see her.

  31. Love this voyeuristic glimpse of my two favorite writers! Thank you for your generosity!

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