Friday, November 02, 2007

Not Your Normal Hair Cut

I'm in Idaho this week and next, slaving away to get a bunch of pages written for Vain Empires, my stand-alone novel that will release in the fall of '08. Yesterday I went for a hair cut. A very well-timed hair cut.

Not only because my bangs were in my eyes and driving me crazy. But because my female protagonist happens to be a hair stylist. And coming up next week I have to write a scene of her at work.

Up until now she hasn't been at work. Because she's been ... a little busy. You know, a dead body and all that. Well, don't feel sorry for her. After all, she did try out for my suspense novel and got the part, so what should she expect?

So yesterday I asked my unsuspecting stylist if I could interview her while she worked. I needed to understand hair cutting. What do you do first, second? That funny way you cut with the scissors angled--is there a name for that? How much do your shears cost? Yada, yada. She said sure.

She had no idea what she was getting into.

As luck would have it (if you believe in such a thing), she was training someone. So as she cut she was explaining to him what she was doing. Perfect. I listened and took copious notes. All while trying to hold my head just where she placed it. ("Control the head--that's your responsibility," she told the trainee. Fascinating stuff.)

As she lectured, I kept playing the annoying novelist and interrupting. "Wait, what did you say?" "Point cut, what's that?" "Whadya mean a blow line versus a weight line?"

Plus all my added questions: How many hours did you train? What did it cost? Can I hold your shears? What do different people's hair textures feel like? Do you always look at hair when you see people on the street? (Answer--yes. On TV too. Everywhere.) When you mix color for a highlight, how does that work? What does it smell like? What kind of shoes do you wear? What's the best thing about your job? (I didn't dare ask her the worst thing. She'd probably say annoying novelists.) How do your hands feel after being in water so much? (Surprising answer--not dry, not wrinkly, due to all the conditioners they massage into the hair.) "When do you pump the chair higher? When do you pump it lower?"

I learned how to find the natural part when the hair's wet. How to section. How to shape. Why stylists turn away from you often and check you in the mirror. I could have asked questions all day.

She took it all in stride. Didn't even ask me about my book. I found this comforting. She's a new stylist to me, see, and I didn't really want to explain that I kill people for a living. I mean, what if she wouldn't want to do my hair anymore?

I did have one very disconcerting moment. My stylist's colleague came in, looking bored. I told her as much. "Yeah," she said, "I am."

Uh-oh. I knew it then. I just knew. "You get stood up?"


Oh. My. That's how it all starts in my book. Protagonist stylist gets stood up. Goes home early. And the trouble begins.

I couldn't help thinking of my S-Man story.

When we were done I thanked my stylist profusely. Got her last name's spelling right so I can put her in the acknowledgments. She still didn't ask about the book.

Smart girl.

Paying the checkout girl behind the spa counter, I opened my wallet--and found a fat black spider. She gasped. I flicked it out and killed it. Then sighed. "Five or six books ago I wrote about spiders. They're still trying to get me back."

She gave me a slow, round-eyed nod.

Amazingly, I left with another appointment on the books for December.

Bet they can't wait.


This week's CFBA blour: Surrender Bay, by Denise Hunter.

Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped.

Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

In addition to
Surrender Bay, the second Nantucket book releases in April 2008. The title is The Convenient Groom and features Kate Lawrence, a relationship advice columnist, whose groom dumps her on her wedding day. Denise is currently at work on the third Nantucket book (Oct 2008) which is untitled so far.

About the book:

When Sam's estranged step-father dies, she inherits his ocean-front cottage in Nantucket--not because he kindly bequeathed it to her, but because he neglected to ever create a will. Sam returns to the island she left 11 years ago with her daughter Caden to fix up the house and sell it, but she isn't counting on is the fact that Landon Reed still lives two doors down from her childhood home.

As their long-dormant romance begins to bud again, Sam must face the fact that Landon still doesn't know why she really left the island. Will the secrets she's hidden all these years tear them apart? Or is Landon's love really as unconditional as he claims?

"I've always thought Denise Hunter was an amazing writer but this wonderful story sets her firmly at the forefront of compelling love stories. How Landon breaks down Samantha's determination that she is unworthy of love kept me glued to the pages. An amazing story!"

--Colleen Coble, author of Fire Dancer (Smoke Jumper Series)


Eileen said...

Great, great! But I have a hunch *someone* planted a plastic spider in her wallet just special for...Halloween. Too funny. Enjoyed reading about the researching you conducted while...caped. =) EE (

Pam Halter said...

Another thing you might want to do is visit a college or technical school that teaches cosmetology. I took it in 1977-78 at our community college and found out there's waaaay more to styling hair than cut, comb and blow dry.

Which is part of the reason I'm not doing it now except for family and friends.

Tina Helmuth said...

I love your stories, BC. Thanks for the laughs.

~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Nope, Eileen, no plastic spider. Never even thought of such a thing. I don't need to pull that kinda tricks on people--my real life is strange enough.

Kristy Dykes said...

Great post. Enjoyed it.

Heard the one about the guy in the barbershop? "Cut it high over my right ear, and leave it hanging over the left ear, and take a hunk off the top, right in the middle--" "Sir!" the barber shrieks. "I could never cut it like that!" "I don't know why," the guy says. "That's how you cut it the last time I was here!"

Spiders! Yikes! We were in Boone and Blowing Rock, NC last week, staying in a mountain cottage, and the first night, I pulled down the covers, and there, on the pillow, was a fast-moving black spider. 'Bout gave me a heart attack. My b-i-l killed him for me, but I still had the heemy jeemies (a Southern saying). As I lay in bed each night, I envisioned black spiders crawling on me. Lord, help us!

Kristy Dykes said...

I meant, "I don't know why not," the guy says.

Rachelle G. said...

Fun story, Brandilyn. Careful or you're going to make everyone think a novelist's life is nothin' but wall-to-wall fun. (Face it, the haircut/research expedition didn't sound like all that much work.)

But I gotta say, I'm waiting for you to post a PICTURE of you with the new haircut!

Susanne said...

LOL to your casual explanation of killing the spider. I can just see the girl's face. Too funny.

William G. said...

Uh huh, the spider was "accidentally" in your wallet. Right.

See, I absolutely KNEW you liked to play with spiders. You probably had that one trained for reconnaissance when it went rogue, no doubt to go get the low down on that life-sized stuffed gorilla you stumbled upon months ago.

Rich said...

Wow. Haircuts for guys sure are easier. #3 comb on the sides; #4 on the top. Buzz, buzz. I'm done in about 10 minutes. I don't think I have a "wet line." ;-)