Becoming Liz Everly
From the moment I placed the pink wig on my head, I became Liz Everly. This was a good thing because there were many things that could have gone very wrong that day. It was the first Love Fest at the Virginia Festival of the Book. I mean, think about that. Just sit with that awhile. So the pink wig really helped. If I bombed it was HER, the lady in the pink wig, not ME, right?
I was on a panel on Saturday with four other writers. Not just any writers, All of them “bestsellers,” except, of course, for me. Did I worry about that? Honestly, I fretted about it for awhile. But then I thought about it from the perspective of audience members and felt better. Because here is the thing: we all need to start somewhere. This is my start as Liz start, right? I think it gave the audience members another perspective.
I’ve written here before about how I write traditional mysteries. I love writing them and don’t ever want to give that up. But I also love to write my spicy culinary romances. So I do both and am grateful that my publisher allows, encourages, and embraces that.
The panel went very well. It was a romantic suspense panel called Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang. Each of us write books with way different layers and levels of suspense. I learned a lot by listening to Mary Burton, Joshilyn Jackson, and Joyce Lamb, and Lydia Netzer’s questions were leading us through the discussion. Since this is a new-to-me genre as a writer, my editor helps me with the romance and suspense balance. In CRAVINGS, the second book in my series, the big editorial comment was “more sex and food, less suspense.” I have to admit that the suspense of this book really pulled me in and I probably went overboard with it. My editor was right. I’m writing a culinary romance with a dash of suspense, not the other way around.
Everybody on the panel brought a different level of suspense and romance to the table, so it was a fascinating discussion. With such an eclectic mix of writers, it could have gone very badly. But instead, I think we rose to the challenge and gave the audience what they wanted. A big part of the reason this panel worked so well was the generosity of the other writers on the panel. I’ve been on panels before where egos and sniping take over. It must be noted that this kind of thing did not happen AT ALL during the Love Fest.
So this was my first public appearance as Liz. Among other reasons, I wore the pink wig to help place a definite line in the sand between my other public self and Liz. This was important to me because I was appearing elsewhere at the festival as my other personae. I didn’t really do it as a disguise, but it seemed to work as such because many people (who knew me) were asking Madeline Iva who Liz was.
And later Madeline asked me if the wig helped me in some way feel more comfortable. And I think it did. It helped me shed some of the trappings of my other personae and feel a bit more free to be myself. Isn’t that odd? Wearing a pink wig and feeling more authentic?