DEBORAH CROMBIE: You will guess, from the quote on the
cover of Cloche and Dagger, that I really loved Jenn McKinlay's new book. London? A hat shop? In Portobello Road, no less? A heroine named Scarlett? And a murder???? What's NOT to love!
So I asked Jenn to tell us a bit about how she came to write this very English story, and what is the deal with the hats?
(And remember I said to pay close attention to the hat in the photo from the film The Women in Monday's post? See anything familiar in the photos here today? What goes around, comes around, it seems...) Here's Jenn!
What was your worst fashion faux pas?
I remember mine. In my defense, it was the eighties. At the tender (read dopey) age of seventeen, I decided it would be fabulous to shave the sides of my head and bleach my brown hair a brassy shade of blonde only found on clown wigs or troll dolls. Obviously, that wasn’t enough, so I decided to wear a Pea Coat and combat boots bought at the Army Navy Surplus shop because high school guys love asking out a girl who looks like a dude, right? Yeah, this is one of many reasons why I am so grateful that the Internet was still in its blessedly innocent infancy during my teen years. The only evidence of my bad choices is a sleeve of negatives in a musty box in my mother’s basement. Praise be to the stone age!
Now what if your fashion faux pas was photographed, went viral and inspired a traditional mystery series? Yes, Princess Beatrice, I’m talking to you.
Like many of the fabulous authors here at Jungle Red, readers frequently ask me where I get my ideas. They come from a variety of places but for Cloche and Dagger, the first of the London hat shop mysteries, the idea came to fruition in a matter of hours. On April 29th, 2011, I roused myself (like 22.8 million other American viewers) to watch the royal wedding. I loved it all – the pomp -- the circumstance – the crazy hats! And then, there she was, Princess Beatrice with that beige thing on her head. I simply could not look away.
It became a worm burrowing into my skull. I couldn’t stop thinking about Philip Treacy, the milliner who designed the hat, which then led my brain to wonder about the British custom of wearing hats. Milliner is just not an occupation you see much in the States, although I’ve been told since researching this series that the popularity of hats is on the rise. As I watched the Internet light up over Princess Beatrice’s chapeau, I wondered how she felt and hoped she was blithely unaware of the criticism. I don’t like to watch people being bullied, I mean, it’s not like she designed the squid replica herself. Then I wondered if she was miffed at Philip Treacy, and then BAM! I knew I had to write a mystery series set in a hat shop in London, so I did.
Writing Cloche and Dagger was one of the best experiences of my writing life. It challenged me in so many ways with a foreign setting, a business I knew nothing about, and it came out in first person in the voice of my American heroine Scarlett Parker. For this adventure alone, I will be forever grateful to Princess Beatrice and Philip Treacy and that wonderfully inspiring hat. As a thank you, because Princess Beatrice is too often associated with fashion faux pas, I’m including a picture of her where I think she is quite lovely (not sure who the dude is, but he’s cute – go, girl)!
Now, confess, what was your worst fashion faux pas? And what would you have done if it went viral (besides cry)?
And now I must take a moment to give a tip of the brim to two of the Reds who were wonderful enough to slog through Cloche and Dagger while I was still whipping it into shape – Deborah Crombie and Rhys Bowen! You both represent what is so terrific about the writing community – the camaraderie and support. Smooches to you both!
Jenn McKinlay is the New York Times bestselling author of the Library Lover’s mysteries and the Cupcake Bakery mysteries. She also writes under the names Lucy Lawrence and Josie Belle. She lives in Scottsdale, AZ in a house overrun with kids, pets, and her husband’s guitars.
DEBS: So, readers, confess your worst fashion faux pas and you could win a copy of Cloche and Dagger! (I would love this book for its utterly charming cover even if the story weren't so much fun!)
(And Jenn's right--Bea's BF is quite dishy...)