Why do I think Gabrielle Zevin is a rockstar? Well, it's obvious... isn't it? I absolutely adored her book, All These Things I've Done and seriously cannot wait for Because It Is My Blood. The main character, Anya, is an incredibly real character. She is completely flawed, but that is what makes her so amazing. I truly appreciate when an author is able to create a flawed character that ends up being really likable... and Gabrielle Zevin does just that!
Also, whoever is able to imagine a world where chocolate and coffee are illegal is completely amazing to me. I would not even want to think about a world like that, let alone spend so much time crafting the world and writing about it. Seriously.. if you can get me to love a book where coffee (which may as well be my lifeline) is illegal, you're a rockstar!
Now you can read Gabrielle's awesome guest post. :) (And Gabrielle was super rockstar-like in that she is including a giveaway too (which is international)!
It annoys me in movies or books when the nerdy girl gets “pretty” and the way we know that she’s “pretty” is that her once curly hair has become super straight. Exhibit A: Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries. Exhibit B: When Hermione goes to the ball in Harry Potter. (Don’t even get me started on the evolution of Hermione’s hair in the movies…) You know what I’m talking about. The subtext of these moments is that a girl cannot have naturally curly hair and be attractive. Is the bravest thing about Brave the fact that Merida is unabashedly curly?
In writing, the selection of a character’s hair is no small matter. (Dare I say it is a hairy matter?) Certainly, there is an extent to which hair determines character. Would Anne Shirley be Anne Shirley without the red hair? Perhaps it’s a cliché, but the red hair symbolizes her outsider-ness, her specialness, her very Anne-ness. The inciting incident for her relationship to Gilbert Blythe is the moment when he insults her hair, calling her “Carrots!” Consider Daisy Buchanan in Gatsby. We think of her as a blond, but her hair actually changes colors throughout Fitzgerald’s descriptions. These shifting descriptions are no accident.
But as a writer, why I really think hair is important is because it’s one of the few things in life that a person can easily change. For the most part, if you want to be a redhead, you will be a redhead. If you want to have pink hair or blue hair, you will. Hair is not destiny in the same way that, say, height is. Hair color and style speak to the place and time one lives in, one’s health, one’s religion, one’s style, the style of one’s mate or parents or friends, I could go on. Hair can have intent in it or discontent, too. This is to say, we learn a lot about a character from the way he or she wears (or is made to wear) their hair.
After name, hair is one of the first decisions I make about a character. Elizabeth Hall in Elsewhere was blond and blue-eyed. It was my first novel, and in retrospect, I think I needed her to look as differently from me as possible so that I could be freer in my writing. With blond hair and blue eyes, there was no chance anyone would mistake her for me, which allowed me to be more emotionally open. In Margarettown, one of my novels for adults, the male narrator thinks Margaret Towne is red-haired but later in the book, it is revealed that she has been dyeing her hair the entire time. The hair becomes a symbol for all the things the male narrator doesn’t know about his beloved. On the various foreign jackets, sometimes Margaret is depicted as a blond, sometimes as a redhead. I find this very appropriate. In Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, Naomi wakes up in an ambulance as a bottle blond whose roots are showing, and this ought to tell you pretty much everything you need to know about her character.
Last year, my publisher decided to re-jacket All These Things I’ve Done. Despite the fact that covers with girls on them are as common as iPhones, I was not all that upset when the new concept included a photographic depiction of the main character. While I had liked the original hardcover concept very much, I had strongly objected to the copy on the front. The copy had spelled out the world (“Chocolate is contraband; caffeine is illegal,” etc.), which I felt emphasized the wrong thing for readers as they approached the book. All These Things I’ve Done is a book about a deeply flawed girl, Anya Balanchine, not a world, and I hoped (hope!) that the new jacket would let readers know that they would be reading a novel that emphasized character. Furthermore, I liked the girl on the jacket. She was strong looking, not too pretty or girly, a little bit Lisbeth Salander. Of course, I did have to point out to my publisher that the cover model’s hair did not match the description of Anya Balanchine’s hair in All These Things… but no one seemed to think it was a problem. And as I thought about it, it wasn’t a problem for me either. The girl they chose captures something of Anya’s spirit. Ultimately, I think this is more important than if the model had the right hair. Although I’ve spent the last thousand words or so telling you how important hair is, I also think book characters are MORE than just hairstyles. Hair is a fine place to start, but if it doesn’t speak to a character’s situation, I won’t write it into a book at all. Not to put to fine a point on it but women are more than just hairstyles, too. Judge me by the content of my character not the quality of my flatiron, you know?
Incidentally, by the end of the series, Anya will have a hairstyle very much like the one on the jacket. Most women don’t have the same hairstyles their whole lives, after all. Anya is a sixteen-year-old high school girl in book one, but she will be in her twenties and in a very different place in her life by the end of the series. Not to mention, she has always been a retrospective narrator, telling the story from some future place and time, after all. In the future, Anya’s hair will look exactly like the girl on the jacket’s, I promise.
-International (thanks to Gabrielle!)
-You must be 13 or older to enter
-Ends at 11:59pm EST on August 31, 2012
-Winner will be chosen through Rafflecopter
-Winner will be announced here and emailed
-Winner will have 48 hours after notification to respond with their details or prize will be forfeit and awarded to someone else
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