Thursday, October 4, 2012

Behind the Mask

RHYS BOWEN: This week I am celebrating a new e-novella featuring Lady Georgie. This is the second time I've been asked by my publisher to write a prequel to hook new readers on an upcoming book. This story is called MASKED BALL AT BROXLEY MANOR and it was a lot of fun to write. I've set it before Her Royal Spyness, so before Georgie starts her detecting career, but it has all the elements of her later life--a repulsive prince, a mysterious stranger, a plot to assassinate and a very naive young woman at the center of it all.

I've set the story at a masked ball on Halloween. Of course the Brits didn't really celebrate Halloween in those days, in fact I had no idea about it when we first moved to California and one evening a black cat and a princess showed up on my doorstep. I had no candy in the house and had no clue what they were doing when they said "Trick or treat."

But in my story the hostess is an American, married to an English lord, very much like Downton Abbey and she is known for her lavish parties. So this is a costume party to end all costume parties and of course the fact that participants can't recognize each other plays a large part in the story.

I've often wondered why Halloween is so popular not just with children but with adults. Why do we love dressing up? I suppose our ordinary lives are often boring and it's rather fun to scare, to shock, to impress. I remember driving through West Virginia one fall. We went into a coffee shop in a small community and the wait staff really looked awful--like the original cast of Deliverance--missing teeth, torn clothing, spots on their faces. Well, we'd heard that West Virginia was backward but... then it turned out to be Halloween. We had a good laugh.

I remember one party in which John (who had a black beard at the time) went as the devil with small red horns sprouting from his black curly hair and his eyebrows slanted up in an evil way.  We got lost and pulled over to ask for directions from a group of teens. They started to tell us then their eyes grew wider as they saw John's horns. One of them stuttered "You're the devil."  "Yes, I am," John said in a sinister voice and we drove off.

So do you have a favorite costume you've worn? A clever one you've seen? I think the cleverest one recently goes to my friend's son. He had his head through a small table on which were a pair of flimsy panties and a wine glass, a lamp shade on his head. He was a ONE NIGHT STAND. At the same party I went as Lady Georgie and John was an evil seducer from the era.

We won't be going to a Halloween party this year as we'll be away. How about you? Any party plans? Do you like dressing up? And the cleverest costume you've ever worn?


  1. Rhys, these costumes are adorable! Too bad we're not wearing costumes at Bouchercon. Oh wait, we are! Friday afternoon at the Jungle Red panel: Family Feud!

    I sewed a Kermit the frog costume one year--it was gorgeous, green felt head and body. But you could only see out the mouth so no one knew who I was. A very lonely party...

  2. The most fun costume: Flo the Truckstop Diner Waitress, with a Pepto Bismol pink dress, blue eyeshadow, and hair up to there. The one I got the most compliments on: A slip with the words id, ego, super ego and "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" written on it. Freudian slip.

    I cut a bunch of little yellow chicks from felt, stuck googly eyes on them, and put them all over my brother's sweatshirt and hat so he could go as a Chick Magnet.

  3. Such a sad image, Lucy-as-Kermit sitting in the corner.

    It's not not easy being green, indeed.

    My best costume every was a party where you were instructed to come as a singer or a song. I went as Patsy Cline.

  4. Congrats on the Georgie prequel, Rhys. Looking forward to reading it.

    I love Halloween and dressed up every year as a kid. My mom made all of my costumes. This year, my girls and a friends' girls are all dressing up as the new My Little Ponies. As the adults walking with them, my friend and I will will wear hoodies and wigs as ponies too. The kids love it when we dress up with them. I actually found an Air Force pegasus pony named Spitfire.

  5. I think I enjoy dressing up for Halloween more now than I did as a child! Some of us at work wear some sort of costume each year. Some departments pick a theme (each employee dressing up as a different character from a specific movie, for example), and some people even rent costumes! I am usually the only person iin my department who puts together an actual costume (one person will sometimes wear a wig),and I try to do something different each. I spend little or NO money for my outfits. Mostly, I just put something together from what I have at home. One year I was Static Cling,which was an idea from a website that suggested easy costumes to put together...I wore jeans,an inside out sweatshirt,and attached socks, washcloths,dryer sheets and other small items to my clothing with hidden safety pins. I also wore a dryer sheet in my hair. Another time I was a Walking Spider Web. I bought the spider webbing that is sold for Halloween decorations and wrapped myself in it. I also bought lots of cheap plastic spiders (at a dollar store)and attached them to my clothing and perched some on top of my desk,my computer,my bookcase,etc. I wore black clohing underneath the webbing and wore dangly black spider earrings.

    I could spend another hour describing other costumes that I've put together!