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Monday, March 23, 2009

Crowning glory

I admit it. I have a 'thing' about hair in my writing.

Not in real life. My hair is brown going grey and tough. It goes its own way and if it's cut 'wrong' then it will spike. I have it cut short and leave it alone. We get along fine. But in my romance novels, I love hair.

What colour will the herone's hair be? How long? Wavy? Curly? I always like to imagine my main female character's hair.

Many romance novels have blond or auburn haired heroines. To celebrate brown hair, my bull-leaping heroine Sarmatia has long, brown hair.

"Still sprinting, Sarmatia shook her long brown hair out of its plait, laughing when a colt started back from her. She mopped her sweating face and pointed to the stream. The stallion wheeled round and headed for the water, Sarmatia keeping pace with his easy canter. One by one, they lost the other members of the herd to the lush grazing of the stream meadows, but they themselves drew closer, the horse's long mane and Sarmatia's hair mingling on the breeze in a weave of shades and textures. As they ran the sun poured golden from them both, like spray from sporting dolphins."

Her hair is different from the people of the Northern tribe where she settles with Fearn, the hero of Bronze Lightning. Fearn is a red-head, and many of his tribe are auburn or blond. Fearn has red hair to mirror his quick temper and to hint at his paranormal powers. I wanted him to 'show up' and he does!

"Kutatos had not told her that Ramose was Nubian, dark as a rare pearl. And the man beside him, fully as tall, white as Ramose was black— her breath hissed in her throat when she looked on Fearn for the first time. The healer had red hair, a red-gold beard. He glittered in that fierce Kretan sunlight. A bright stare mirrored hers then Fearn bowed his head."

Sarmatia clearly likes red-heads because she has a chestnut horse, too.

I like to use hair to confound stereotypes. One of my heroines, Ahhotpe, is blond - but she would never have a "blond" moment. She is a dangerous, calculating, kindly, devious princess. She makes the most of her unusual colouring in the court of her father, the Pharaoh Sekenenre, and uses her blond hair to her advantage.

So I have fun with hair. I've had curly haired heroes and heroines, long haired heroes and heroines, shorn heroes. I've had heroines caught by their hair - Joanna, the heroine in my third Kensington novel, is trapped by her long hair while trying to escape.

Next time I will have to celebrate the naked scalp. That, for me, will be a challenge. Here’s Ahhotpe again:

"He applauded her invention in emerging not from the riverbank but from the Nile itself. No other woman would have had the courage to make a path for herself through the tall papyrus, risking the malice of snakes and other riverside creatures. When she first appeared, rising from the river with a beating of birds’ wings, sun flashing on her pale hair, even Sekenenre had trembled. The waterfowl fluttered around her outstretched hands as though waiting to receive a blessing, then passed in a rush of color straight over Sekenenre’s head."

Sunniva, my heroine from A Knight's Captive is a spectacular blond:

"Uncle Marc! Is she not as beautiful as the sun? That is what her name means. She is Sunniva, Sun-Gift. Do you not think she is like the sun?"

"Steady, little one. You will wake your sisters. But yes, you are right. She is most comely."


I kept in mind the meaning of her name all the time I wrote her - and her hair.

It's a sweet vice but I have to be careful. Sometimes I have have my characters spending too much time 'fiddling' with their own or others' hair - stroking, patting, tweaking, adding flowers. My heroes are usually as hair-fixated as I am and sometimes I need to remove some of their petting.

Why a dark-haired hero? I've never quite understood that romance 'guide'. Guillelm in A Knight's Vow is blond, a golden dragon. (Again, I use the colouring as my own reminder and key to character) Marc in A Knight's Captive has darker hair and a beard which he shaves off - to "reveal" himself. I've written dark-haired heroes but to me it's not an essential.

One of my heroes - as yet unpublished - is grey-haired. He is young but his hair is grey. The contrast to me is delicious and it also hints at deeper trouble. His hair has turned grey as the result of the shock of what he has been forced to be, in order to survive - a gladiator.

[Painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the ancient Egyptian dancer by courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.]

10 comments:

Francesca Prescott said...

What a good subject, Lindsay. We'd make a good pair, you and me. I've always had a fixation with hair. I am obsessed with my own hair, and feel horrible if it's not always shiny and clean. My daughter is just the same. About ten years ago, I had extensions.Wow! It was the ultimate princess hair! My hair came down to my waist, it was thick and wavy and I loved it, but it was such high maintenance,not to mention mega expensive... But I'm happy I did it once, just for the experience of having fairytale tresses!

Lindsay Townsend said...

I love the idea of your princess hair, Francesca!

Have your characters ever had that experience, too? Or different 'hair' moments?

Linda Banche said...

Hi Lindsay,

I'm glad I'm not the only one going against type as far as hair color goes. The typical hero has black hair and blue eyes, which is a very unusual combination. I've read so many books whose heroes have that coloring that I rebelled. My heroes are usually blue-eyed blonds, or have brown hair and eyes. I will have a black-haired hero with gray eyes coming up, but he has that coloring for a very specific reason important to the story.

I've been told that books whose covers have dark-haired heroes sell better than books with light-haired heroes on the cover. Even when the book has a light-haired hero, the cover model is usually dark-haired.

And I like that hair color can be camoflage--just becasue a hero/heroine is blond, doesn't authomatically make them idiots.

Adelle Laudan said...

This a a great perspective. I too spend time considering the hair of my characters lol Glad I stopped by!

Francesca Prescott said...

I've noticed that the female characters in my stories tend to have long hair, but I've never really thought about the impact of the colour of their hair on their character. In "Mucho Caliente!", Latino superstar Emilio Caliente has dark brown hair and dark brown eyes, but not black hair and blue eyes (which my husband has - or had when he was a bit younger! - , as did my father). Gemma (the main female character in Mucho) is also a brunette...maybe because, when I was younger, I wanted to have darker hair. But I don't think I'd be more inclined to read a book because of the hero's hair colour!

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Linda - I don't know where the dark-haired/blue-eyed boy came from, either. I read somewhere that the least common hair colour for a hero was red.

Hi Adelle - thanks. Glad you found it fun!

Hi Francesca - interesting, isn't it, how we all choose?

Savanna Kougar said...

Lindsay, fabulous hair bloggie. I have a thing with hair, too! My heroes generally adore the heroines hair... and I am obsessed with red, from bright outrageous red hair to glints of red... I just love red hair of every shade and hue.
My heroes, no matter how dark their hair, always have red as highlights, and the blonde heroes too, always have a burnish of red.

Francesca, fairytale tresses, that is so adorable!!!

Perhaps, my passion for red tresses comes from all the planets I have in Aries, including Mars, in my astrological birth chart.

One of my first novellas, Savage Gameswoman, an otherworld story, the heroine couldn't resist the heroe's multi-colored swashbuckling hair... a ploy by her mother to find her a husband, because she wanted grandchildren.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Wow - swashbuckling hair sounds marvellous, Savanna! That's a story I have to read!

I agree with you about the glamour of red-hair - quite stunning. Artists seem to love red-hair, too.

Bekki Lynn said...

Fantastic blog, Lindsay.

I've always had a fixation for men with dark hair and usually blue eyes. Go figure, I married a guy with light brown hair.

I tend to let the characters develop their own hair and eye color. I don't give it much thought. Sometimes I wonder if maybe their names have something to do with it.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Bekki - I always think character names are vital, too. Characters seem to 'grow' into their names as much as their hair!