Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Style for Characters

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.


bn100 said...

like both- fun to look

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

dstoutholcomb said...

love browsing the pottery barn catalog--rarely buy anything there... always fun to walk through IKEA

jcp said...

watch those decorating shows sometimes

alysap at yahoo dot com

Laney4 said...

Alas, and are my two vices in life. I can always find something I MUST have, LOL!

Laurie G said...

My daughter just built and moved into a new house. I've been reading her HGTV magazine and watching HGTV design shows when I visit her.

She moved mid- Sept. Everything turned out nicely. She did order a few of her front entrance light fixtures from The Pottery Barn.

Joanne Rock said...

Denise Holcumb, we could be best shopping friends :-). From the Pottery Barn catalog straight to IKEA, you just described my favorite Sundays!!

Joanne Rock said...

Laurie, the nice thing about staying in one place for awhile is knowing that you have time to really think about what you'd like and how you live. I lived with NO steps out the front door of my house for a few years (!) while I contemplated how I wanted the new porch addition to look. I was sure if I let my husband build me some temporary steps-- the porch would never happen!! So I dreamed, planned, and saved my pennies and I love the wrap around porch.

Have never built a home, however, and imagine that must be SO exciting to have everything the way you'd like it!! Happy Housewarming to your daughter!

Joanne Rock said...

jcp, congratulations!! You're the winner of the thread prize! I've sent you a private message, but winners can always get in touch with me at

Thank you so much for visiting with me and I hope you are all enjoying a restful, happy Sunday! I just released new cover art for my holiday book, BTW... to take a peek at LAST CHANCE CHRISTMAS, be sure to visit