I’ve written before about my “double” writing life. I write the Jeff Resnick psychological suspense novels as L.L. Bartlett and the Booktown Mysteries (cozy series) as Lorna Barrett.
In some ways they’re as different as night and day. The Jeff books are written from a first person, male point of view. The Booktown series is written from a third person, female (Tricia Miles) point of view. The common denominator: both protagonists have strong relationships with a sibling. For Jeff it’s his brother Richard. For Tricia, it’s her sister, Angelica.
There’s nothing “girly” about these characters. (Especially not Jeff.) And while Tricia is a woman, she’s not overly feminine. She doesn’t care much about clothes. Like me, she’d rather sit back and read a good book. (Preferably a classic mystery.)
But something weird has been happening to me, in the past couple of years. I’ve been developing girly tendencies. Like wearing nail polish. And reading shabby chic decorating books.
Mind you, I was the middle child between two brothers–and was pretty much a tomboy. We played “cars,” Man From Uncle (I fell through a glass door once because I didn’t want to drop the “Lugar” my brother had made out of a couple of pieces of wood), and I even beat up a couple of the neighborhood boys.
My parents didn’t want to rob me of my childhood, so when I got to junior high, and all the girls were shaving their legs and wearing make-up, they said I couldn’t. (BIG POUT.) So, I wore knee socks, and after I discovered Star Trek, I didn’t care about blush, eye shadow, and getting an eyelash curler anyway.
I think they came to regret that edict. During my high school years, I was labeled GEEK in screaming big letters. I’d carry my Star Trek books and write weird stories to give to my friends. Oh, and I didn’t wear a dress for like six years (until I was in college and went to a wedding). I had hair down to my backside, usually worn in braids, and lived in jeans and T-shirts.
My first job was as a secretary in a three-person print shop, and there was no reason to dress up. I worked next as a production worker in a machine shop. For that I wore work boots, a blue work shirt, overalls and a bandana (which kept most of the metal chips out of my hair). I held that job for 18 months, and boy did I learn to swear like a sailor. (Which came in handy for writing working class heroes.)
Eventually, I started wearing more “womanly” clothes (including dresses) when I got my first decent-paying job. And when I met the man I’d eventually marry, I lost weight and wore cute little sun dresses (although still not much make-up–I never really figured out how to apply it.) On more than one occasion hubby has told me: “You really don’t know how to be a girl, do you?” Well, gee. I was always writing action/adventure stories usually featuring male protagonists. Not much room in those for lace and perfume, is there?
Since I became a full-time writer (okay, maybe not full-time–I do goof off a lot) almost three years ago, I’ve started getting interested in more girly stuff. See, I had to go out and promote my first book (Murder on The Mind.) I have very fair skin, so in order not to look … well, dead … I had to wear blush. Then I noticed that all my women friends wore nail polish. I started with my toes, and the next thing you know, I started wearing it on my fingernails. And while I’ve had my ears pierced since I was 23, I never really cared much about earrings. But suddenly–I started buying them. A lot of them. And bracelets, too.
And while I’ve been an admirer of Country decorating for over a decade, I really started incorporating it into my home (much to my husband’s chagrin). I got a candle warmer (so I could work with lovely scents in the air), and started reading Romantic Homes magazine. And in the last few months have discovered the wonderful world of shabby chic blogging. As if I didn’t read enough blogs (by my favorite authors), now I’m reading “Icing on the Cake” and devouring the pictures of her pretty pink-and-white kitchen.
Maybe it’s just a phase. Maybe it’s not. Maybe I need to start writing a new series about a woman who goes from tomboy to interior decorator — and finds bodies while she’s putting up lace curtains and painting everything in sight off-white or pale pink.
That sounds like a good plan, right?
L.L. Bartlett’s latest book is DEAD IN RED, 2nd in the Jeff Resnick mystery series, which should be available any day now at online book sites. Lorna Barrett’s first book is MURDER IS BINDING, which is available everywhere.