Friday, February 26, 2010

Good Hair Is the Best Revenge

When I heard that the theme this week at Pens Fatales was “revenge,” I immediately ducked my head, hunched my shoulders, and let out a low roll of evil laughter. Finally, a topic I could sink my teeth into! One of the things I love about writing – and in particular, about writing mysteries – is that I can let my characters do all the crazy things that I would never dare to do in real life. Oh no. In real life, I’m all tight smiles when someone does me wrong.

But in fiction, oh boy. No holds barred!

There’s a fabulous scene in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes that captures perfectly what I mean. Some young bimbo steals Kathy Bates’s parking spot. In real life, we’d continue circling the parking lot, muttering under our breath. But in the movie, Kathy did what we all want to do – she deliberately crashed her car into that bimbo’s car. And then she did it again. What a moment!

Writers get to live that joy every day, by having our characters behave in ways that make us gasp and giggle and cheer. So I started thinking, who in my real life deserves revenge? Not my husband. He’s a doll. (An anatomically correct doll, too, thank goodness!) Not my editor. She’s fabulous. She helped me shape If Books Could Kill into a book that I’m proud to present to the world. It’s been pure pleasure working with her.

No, if I were to seek revenge against anyone in my life, it would have to be my hairdresser. Actually, every hairdresser who ever promised me she could turn my mop into something presentable but instead forced me to face the public looking like… well, like this, for example.


Okay, so revenge against Bitsy, a composite of every hairdresser who has failed me. And believe me, there have been major fails!

So who is Bitsy? She’s in her early 20s, and she chews gum so much that her jaw muscles rival Clint Eastwood’s. She asks me questions and then talks loudly to her colleague at the next mirror while I answer. Her fingernails are approaching Guinness Book of World Records length, and when she runs them through my hair, strands get caught and yank painfully at my scalp. Worst of all, when she’s done, she tells me I look fabulous and convinces me that it’s true. When I step outside the salon, people point and laugh. A four-year-old shrieks and hides behind her mother.

Do you recognize Bitsy?

Do you want to help me kill her?

How does Bitsy die? What does her in? Not a gun. That’s too mundane. Revenge is personal, especially in good fiction. Maybe her own shears buried between her shoulder blades? But no. She wouldn’t have seen what was coming, and Bitsy needs to admit her sins before her big death scene. Help me out here. Let’s brainstorm together. How should Bitsy die? What should her last words be? And while we’re at it, share your own hair horror stories!

Bestselling author Kate Carlisle spent over twenty years working in television production as an Associate Director for game and variety shows, including The Midnight Special, Solid Gold and The Gong Show. She traveled the world as a Dating Game chaperone and performed strange acts of silliness on The Gong Show. She also studied acting and singing, toiled in vineyards, collected books, joined a commune, sold fried chicken, modeled spring fashions and worked for a cruise ship line, but it was the year she spent in law school that finally drove her to begin writing fiction. It seemed the safest way to kill off her professors. Those professors are breathing easier now that Kate spends most of her time writing near the beach in Southern California where she lives with her perfect husband.

Visit Kate online at http://www.katecarlisle.com/ or www.Facebook.com/KateCarlisleBooks

19 comments:

Kate Carlisle said...

Good morning, everyone! I'm thrilled to be with the Pens Fatales today. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Rachael Herron said...

Hi Kate, thanks for being here!

My worst hair story: A cut SO BAD, so short that I thought I looked like a boy. I cried all the way home. I finally put on lots of eyeliner and lipstick and went to work. When I got there, the first cop I saw (a good friend) told me, "Wow, that haircut kinda makes you look like a man." That sent me into a crying jag that last for three days. That was nine years ago and I HAVE CUT AND DYED MY OWN HAIR EVER SINCE. This is true.

Juliet Blackwell said...

Hi Kate! So good to see you here! I just wrote a looooong comment which Yahoo decided to delete, so if they both show up for some reason, please don't think I'm nuts ;-)
I'm with you on the hair stories and the loathing of a certain type of hair dresser...I was born with an unruly mop of curly hair, which sounds cute in romance stories but in real life often makes me look like I wander the city street with all my belongings in a stolen baby stroller, muttering to myself about life on Mars. The only hairdresser who was able to coax it into behaving was Rocco, who wore black leather pants and was closed down for dealing coke out of his back room. One thing, though: on my wedding day, my hair behaved perfectly, all by itself! The marriage didn't last, but I still love the photos;-)

Sophie Littlefield said...

Oh Kate, that was hilarious!! First of all, you are a beautiful woman with great hair. I don't know if that involves a lot of work or not, but whatever you're doing, it's working.

I wish I could share my hair gal with you. Her name is Sandee and I have been going to her for over a decade. She used to work in the little salon tucked in my health club and it was a convenience thing because my kids were little. But she "got" me- she understood right away that I DON'T GET HAIR - seriously - I'm completely hair challenged. I don't know what would look nice on me and I don't know how to fix hair and I don't know what color to get and and and...so I told her back then and continue to tell her to this day to do what she thinks is best, and she's done it! I just sit there and ready gossip magazines and Sandee and I talk about whatever's happened since the last time we saw each other, and after a while my hair looks great, and I always wonder if Sandee heaves a little sigh when I leave because she knows I won't be able to keep it up or style it the way she did. When I bring Junior in for her cuts, I've usually got a sloppy ponytail, and even *then* Sandee doesn't bat an eye. I think she's happy that Junior is much much more interested in her hair, so the two of them can talk styles and so forth.

Anyway, I wish everyone had a Sandee. Hair is such a personal and compelling issue for most women. Seriously I think it's hard for even the most evolved of us to have a great day if our hair is messed up. Rachael, I sooo got what you were saying. After a bad perm (80s!) I put my hair in a t-shirt twisted turban style for 3 days.

Anyway Kate I think I get to see you real soon, right? - so you know I'll be checking out the 'do :)

Sophie Littlefield said...

P.S. I think your "big hair" picture is adorable! We should all post our big hair pictures...although my big hair barely fit into the photo....

Kate Carlisle said...

Rachael, Oh, ouch! Major sympathy! I can't imagine cutting my own hair! And your hair looks adorable, too! How do you do it? I'm very impressed.

Kate Carlisle said...

Juliet, Argh! Computers! I hate when everything gets deleted mid-post. Or worse, when you're just about to click the button. SOOO frustrating! Let's add computer engineers to our list of murder victims for the day. After all, they impact our hairdos, too - they make us pull our hair out by the roots!

I love that your hair behaved perfectly on your wedding day. So sorry the marriage didn't last, but after all, a picture is forever!

Kate Carlisle said...

Sophie, I would love to see your big hair pics! And you need to immediately send this blog link to Sandee. She will be SOOO flattered at your compliments! I bet she'll even forward it to all her friends. She should be very proud to have such a hearty testimonial. Guess we won't kill her today. :)

Rachael Herron said...

I just thought I'd mention that at this very minute as I'm looking at comments, I'm putting streaks of hot pink in my hair for fun.
:)

Martha Flynn said...

Kate that is one of my FAVORITE movie scenes, and as a kid I watched it and breathlessly waited for the day that I, too, could have MORE INSURANCE!!!!

Kate Carlisle said...

Speaking of bad hair... I've been responding to comments today from airports, which are never good for my hairstyle. Rushing around, leaning against my seat, and no easy access to a comb. I'm heading out on book tour which, I have to say, is so much fun! If anyone is in the Scottsdale area, I hope you'll come see me tonight at 7 at the Poisoned Pen bookstore. And if we have any Texans in the crowd... I'll be at Murder by the Book at 4:30 pm tomorrow (Saturday). I'd love to see you there!

And if you're not in either of those areas, then please come say hi to me on my Facebook page! Facebook.com/KateCarlisleBooks

Kate Carlisle said...

Rachael, how fun! Please post a picture!!!

Martha, LOL!!! And? Now that you have more insurance, have you followed your impulses? Please dish!

Gigi Pandian said...

Hi Kate! So nice to have you here today. Like Julie and Rachael, I hear ya on the hair dresser revenge -- with my untamable curly hair, you'd think they would just admit defeat. But no, they try to give me hope! I got my hopes up last year when one of them cut short tendrils cut along the sides of my face -- but as soon as I got home, the locks of hair attached themselves right back to their regular position in my mess of hair!

Anna Campbell said...

Hi Kate! Hi Fatales! For some reason, I've got the suspicion, Miss Carlyle, that your next book will be called IF BOBS COULD KILL or HOMICIDE IN HAIRDRYER. I had to laugh at your description of Bitsy - the version of that in my life would be a couple of very gay men over the years who clearly thought I needed jazzing up. Which is probably true but there's jazzing and there's frightening the horses and you can guess which one they chose for me. You can be my whinny...um, I mean WITNESS! Congratulations on your New York Times showing for IF BOOKS COULD KILL! I'm so excited for you - that must be like a dream come true! Unlike the nightmare of a bad haircut...

Kate Carlisle said...

Hi, Gigi! I've had a great time with the Pens Fatales today. I appreciate the warm welcome!

You nailed the problem - the hairdressers give you hope. They make you believe that this time, things will be different. Sigh....

Kate Carlisle said...

Gigi, I swear I just answered you, but my post hasn't appeared yet. I'm going to wait a moment to see if it shows up...

Miss Anna, As always you make me laugh! I love those new book titles! Maybe Brooklyn Wainwright will turn her back on historic books and become a hairstylist... and yet murder will follow her, wherever she goes!

Yes, it truly is a dream come true to see my name on the New York Times list. And then for my name to be up there three weeks in a row! You just can't imagine how wonderful (and surreal) that feels. I'm delighted that readers seem to love the Bibliophile Mysteries.

Tawny said...

LOL Kate, as usual, your clever wit has me giggling and imagining all sorts of fun things. I once had a hairdresser decide my hair was too thick, so she took the thinning shears in hand. You could see scalp when she was finished.

So as much as I feel for you in the horrors of Bitsy, I'm going to have to substitute my own hairdresser for any and all torture ;-)

But I will scream and dance and whoop it up for your awesome and so well deserved success!!! I'm over the moon happy for your SECOND visit to the New York Times, baby!!!!

Daisy said...

Ooh, this really hits home for me. I am actually dealing with the fallout (grow-out?) of a disastrous haircut right now (see here for overly extensive details), and getting my fictional hands on the guy who charged me an obscene amount of money for it has a definite appeal.

To make things worse, as it grows out I am terribly afraid that it inexorably making its way towards being a mullet.

Gary Corby said...

Can I just say, I *love* that cover!