Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Real Women

Mary Sullivan

At the moment, I'm working on revisions for my October release, BECAUSE OF AUDREY. I don't usually post about a book so far in advance, but am heavily involved in the story at the moment and I adore the heroine.

Audrey is big and bold and beautiful. She has a firm acceptance of the size of her body and of her quirky character. She is also compassionate and loving, with a heart as large as her...lungs.

I've had fun with her, including dressing her as though she were a doll, LOL. She sews her own retro clothing, like halter dresses with wide crinolined skirts from the fifties and sixties, or she wears vintage pieces like the classic Chanel suit that was popular back then, and she wears it with a red pillbox hat. Her lipstick and fingernail polish match the hat.

When the hero first sees her, he thinks she's an odd mix of Jackie Kennedy and Betty Boop.

Because she makes her clothing, I was free to create exactly what I wanted to have her wear, even though the style couldn't be found in stores these days.

I had so much fun with this woman that I began to worry that I was writing her too over-the-top. Would readers ever believe that she could possibly exist?

Then I went shopping with a friend and we ended up in a boutique in a quirky, trendy part of town and later in a tiny restaurant where we ate vegetarian grain bowls full of lentils and tofu and avocado, all the super-duper healthy stuff I love. Don't get me started on how that set off a run of making these things at home every day for weeks on end afterward!

Anyway, back to the boutique. It was started by a local woman who graduated from design school and couldn't get a job anywhere. So...she pulled together all of the local clothing designers she knew who were struggling but had amazing ideas and opened a shop featuring their clothing, plenty of fabulous fun, original pieces. Everything is made and designed locally, including great accessories and jewellery AND the prices are reasonable for original items. It's become such a success, there are now three shops in the city.

Now, back to my point. We walked into the boutique and THERE WAS MY HEROINE. She ran the store. While my friend tried on clothing, this young woman and I chatted. She was bright and funny and self-confident. She had a very generous figure. Her clothing style was original. Her black eyeliner tipped up at the ends and made her eyes look big and exotic. She wore bright red lipstick. This was Audrey!

I thought, no, I haven't gone over-the-top at all in creating this heroine. There are Audreys out there in the world, women who accept their uniqueness wholeheartedly.

When you are reading a novel, how 'real' does your heroine have to be? I know her emotions and reactions and motivations have to be believable. We need to be able to relate to her, but how close to an average woman does she have to be? How far out of the box can the author write the heroine and have you, the reader, still be able to relate?


Pamela Hearon said...

I LOVE quirk! I live in a small town that houses a state mental hospital. As state funds have dwindled, clients get released into the community, so maybe we have more than our share of quirkiness. But over-the-top is very normal around here, and I think nothing of writing it into my stories. Several editors have noted that to me, and I take it as a compliment!

mary sullivan said...

Pamela, I'm so glad to hear that you and your editors appreciate quirkiness!!! It's so much fun to write!

Rogenna Brewer said...

Audrey sounds like my kind of gal :) I love reading quirky over-the-top heroines. I don't think you can go too far.

mary sullivan said...

Good, Rogenna. I had a blast writing her :-)

Jeannie Watt said...

Mary--put me down as another quirk fan and a huge fan of vintage clothes. I wore the dress I made from a circa 1935 pattern to school a couple weeks ago. I admit that I was a bit nervous, but people liked it. Your heroine sounds wonderful to me--I bet she'd wear a 30s dress to school, lol.

mary sullivan said...

1935! That's so awesome, Jeannie.

You're so right. Audrey would wear a '30s dress.

Kudos to you for following your own unique style and wearing exactly what you wanted to wear to school. I always enjoying seeing people in original, interesting pieces!

linda s said...

wasLife is quirky, over the top. At least my life is. So, I doubt I would find any heroine unbelievable. I look forward to your new book.

Snookie said...

I like quirky heroines :) I love it when people are not slaves to fashion fads and dress their own way!

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