More about Eileen Cronin can be found on Amazon’s author page or GoodReads.
Eileen Cronin grew up in Cincinnati during the 1960s and 70s, when television was still new and children used their imaginations to create games, plays, and other entertainment. Her family, with its eleven athletic and engaging kids, lived in a neighborhood packed with other Catholic families. As Eileen was a middle child, she learned quickly that she needed to compete for a place in the crowd. This task was complicated by the fact that she was born, inexplicably, with legs that ended at about the knee. In grade school she enjoyed team sports but she soon abandoned any hopes of becoming an athletic superstar. Instead she invested her dreams in artistic endeavors. After ruling out a career as a ballerina, Eileen found her place among friends in an all-girl Catholic high school with whom she enjoyed parties, dating, and inventing pranks. Her favorite memories include skinny dipping on summer nights with girlfriends and imagining herself an elusive mermaid.
Through poetry and short story writing, Eileen found her voice. At twenty six she published a cover story for the Sunday Outlook section of the Washington Post. The story was sold to papers around the country and Eileen was faced with what might have become instant celebrity as a “thalidomide baby” on talk shows. She found that a patronizing role. Aside from that, she lacked proof of the involvement of thalidomide in her background. Her mother denied having taken such a pill. This was a critical point in Eileen’s life. As a young newlywed, she worried that her differences were caused by a mutation. Thus began a new chapter in her life as the researcher of her own medical history. This role fostered her enthusiasm for a career as a clinical psychologist. After achieving her professional goals, Eileen started a family. She continued to write short stories and draft novels, several of which were published in literary magazines. Her novels-in-progress were finalists in the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society’s competitions. She won the Washington Writing Prize in short fiction. Finally she returned to personal essays, one of which became a notable essay in Best American Essays. In her debut memoir Mermaid, we witness Cronin’s struggles through “the eyes of a mermaid.”
18 thoughts on “About Eileen Cronin”
What a wonderful story! I remember Eileen from grade school and so much of St. Vivian’s rings true!
I am currently reading Mermaid and loving it! I am from Cincinnati so I am very familiar with many places Eileen writes about. I thought at St. Ignatious Elementary School in the 70’s. I remember teaching Jimmy Cronin. I was wondering if he could be a cousin? Just wondering!
Thanks and congratulations on your book. You clearly have a wonderful gift of writing…and surviving!
Just saw this . Thanks so much for reading Diane. You can friend me on Facebook and I’m better at keeping up with people that way.
🙂 your book made me smile. I’d love to hear more of your stories. It’s amazing to hear of women succeeding in similar situations. My best friend has CP and when we were in our twenties, she was trying to figure it all out, since she is unable to walk or drive.
We also ended up in hilarious situations all throughout college.
I’d love to hear from you.
Hi Courtney, sorry, I just found this. You can reach me easiest by friending me on FAcebook or on twitter @croninmermaid.
I’m so glad you wrote. You and your friend must have had interesting college years. Wish more people could see the value in those experiences.
If you want to hear more stories, I’m working on a novel. In the meantime I’m doing a Moth in Santa Barbara on November 5, so look for it on NPRs Moth Radio.
Hi! My name is Lauren and I am a 7th grader. My friend Allison and I are working on a NHD project about Thalidomide (NHD = National History Day). We were wondering if you could answer a few questions for us. Also please understand that because of personal reasons we are unable to read your full book so the only sample on Audible.com is what we’ve heard. So, if there are any questions that could be answered in the book we are unable to see them and we dearly apologize. Also this project is due January 20th of this year so if you could reach to us by then that would be wonderful.
1. Did you ever confirm that it was Thalidomide that caused these deformities?
2. In your book you said that your sisters called you hand “the claw”. Did any of your other family members have names like that for you?
3. Do you still go about your daily life with no legs or did you get prosthetic legs?
Just to confirm to you these are just for a project for school we are not going to use these answers or anything for bad reasons.
Lauren & Allison
Dear Lauren and Allison,
Unfortunately Eileen was unable to respond in time to your message. Thank you for your interest in Eileen’s book.
Dr. Cronin —
Mr. Barnett –
Part of my job here at The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is to put together an annual bibliography of local authors and books about Cincinnati/Hamilton County. This is both for our library and The Ohioana Library Association, a state organization that celebrates and collects literary works about Ohio and by Ohio authors.
In addition, our library sponsors a reception in the spring for the books and authors that are on our list for the previous year. Your book, Mermaid, will be on our 2014 bibliography.
I would appreciate it if you would send me an address where we can mail your invitation. Even if you cannot attend, we will send your certificate and a copy of the bibliography after the reception takes place.
If you or your publisher have not already sent a copy of the book to The Ohioana Library Association for their collection, you can send that to: The Ohioana Library Association, 274 East First Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43201. More information about the organization is available on their website at http://www.ohioana.org.
Thank you in advance for your assistance.
Dear Ms. Kovacs,
Eileen sent you the book directly. Please confirm receipt. Send your reply to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eileen, I was wondering if you were friends w/Nancy Russo now Schladen. I was in their wedding and believe I have met you. Will ask for this book at the library, good luck in all of your venture’s.
Hello….I intend to read your book soon…just read about it online! I too am a thalidomide survivor from the 60’s and live in Columbus Indiana. I think you wrote an article several years ago for an Ohio paper and a friend sent it too me because our story was similar! I am proud of your work and wish you much success!
I’m so glad you got in touch. I’d love to know how you feel about the book after you read it.
Thanks for reaching out!
Hi Eileen, Oh my I loved your book! I could relate to so many of your experiences….everything from going to Hanger to embarrassing moments and life challenges! I have worked in the Rehabilitation field also and have found it very rewarding. Thank you for writing Mermaid and sharing your story! Best wishes!
Thanks for your encouraging comments. I try to keep in touch with other survivors, especially this of us in the US. If you are on Facebook, please friend me. If not, let me know and I’d like to exchange email addresses. I’ve learned so much more about thalidomide since publishing the book because people like you have shared their information with me. I’d love to put all of us in touch with each other so we can share info, etc.
Really nice to meet you at the brewery in Yellow Springs!
I just read your article on Thalidomide. It is a sad, yet interesting topic of discussion. I am currently developing a Biomedical Chemistry class at Glen Este High School in Cincinnati and we have talked about the impact of Thalidomide to human life. We would love to have you speak to my class if you are in Cincinnati, or perhaps know someone of expertise or experience. I am very anxious to get your book. Thank you for the information, candidness of your situation, and your time.
I do not know English because there is a translator, I speak Spanish, but I want to say I was amazed by the book of the girl who believed herself to be a mermaid, I cry, I get excited and angry, thanks to the gift of the book my boyfriend gave me, A very good woman, left me speechless, thank you Eileen Cronin.
Rebecca, Gracias! I am so pleased that you liked the book. I hope you like my next book which I am close to finishing.