By Joanne Rock
|My small town series|
You know the saying that a reader lives a thousand lives? Well, a writer writes a thousand lives, it seems. And there are a lot of fun perks to that. Not the least of which is dressing and housing my characters.
As a long time subscriber to magazines like InStyle and Southern Living, I’ve spent a lot of hours daydreaming over beautiful clothes, homes and landscaping. But no one person could possibly emulate all those styles of fashion or interior decorating. Much as I like Mexican Rustic furnishings, I don’t necessarily have a place to put pieces like that in my home. Lucky for me, every character is a blank slate for my stylist’s eye. Every home an opportunity to either Design on a Dime or pretend I’m decorating a Million Dollar Listing.
|Dress your character!|
One of my first inspirations for my characters’ wardrobes came from this adorable mini book called Fashion Astrology . I might not have any idea about the star sign of my heroine, but in thumbing through this book, I could choose a whole wardrobe aesthetic for her. Did her closet look like that of an uptown sophisticate? Or was she more of an eclectic, vintage store shopper? I dressed plenty of characters using this as a springboard and my most recent issue of InStyle for a specific outfit or two. I might not be able to afford some of those designers, but who’s to say my heroines were on the same budget? Or maybe they were just better shoppers than me. Either way, I let them wear what they liked.
|Bungalow in my Superromance|
Houses were equally fun to dream up. From Central Park West apartments to California coast bungalows, it’s always fun to think about where a character might choose to live. And better still, how they might decorate. Some characters are Spartan, never acquiring too much. Others are collectors, with snippets of their past all around them. I like seeing what the surroundings tell me about their personality. Recently, I underscored my heroine Heather Finley’s backstory (from Dances Under the Harvest Moon) by having her live in a converted bungalow on her parents’ expansive farm property. Sure, she had some space between her and her mother. But she’d never left her hometown and her home reflected that. I did make it charming though, with a small porch for a swing and an airy loft bedroom.
|Marchesa for Desire heroine|
Recently I started writing for Harlequin’s Desire line, and this series allows me to really push the boundaries on wardrobes and decorating. There is no budget in the Desire world of wealth and privilege! Now, I can shop on Net a Porter and find gorgeous designer gowns to send my heroines to elegant charity fundraisers. I find it funny that after I “shop” for a while, my Facebook feed fills up with ads for other clothes I can’t afford, continually asking if I want that Marchesa gown or Louboutin shoes. Well… maybe not today. I already gave them to a lucky secretary swept off her feet by her wealthy boss.
***Are you addicted to HGTV or fashion magazines? Do you have a favorite store to browse through—online or in real life—looking at things you aren’t prepared to buy but just love to look at? Share with me in the comments and I’ll give one random poster a copy of my Harlequin Blaze, MY SECRET FANTASIES.