Today I’m getting ready for an in person library visit that will launch OCEANS OF LOVE. I am very excited to be able to share my latest book with a group of kids (socially distanced and masked) in a large community room.
What will I wear for this important event??! I think most folks, consciously or unconsciously, “dress the part” for going to work or meeting someone socially. Truth be told, I am not much of a dresser, part or no part. My sister would tell you that I had no sense of style and wore clothes that clashed when I was in high school. Looking back, I grudgingly admit she was right. But over the years, I have given some thought to what a children’s author should wear.
I always dress for comfort! This is a good rule for anyone, playing any part, don’t you think? Also, I strive to be neat and clean, so I can set a good example for kids who hear me speak. But beyond these basics, I have a couple of rules that may be unique to my career as a picture book author.
First, it’s important to not clash with the cover of your book! I realized this long ago, when If Kisses Were Colors released. My first appearance was a story time and signing at indie bookstore RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, CT. I wore a favorite quilted jacket with big pockets and oversized cuffs. Its patchwork of many different colors and patterns was trimmed at all edges with brightly varied piping. It was the sort of fun, colorful jacket that I thought a creative children’s author would and should wear! I had bought it at an artsy store in the Berkshires. It was such a joyful far cry from the tailored “men’s suits” I had worn in the professional legal life I’d left behind when I began writing books for children.
It wasn’t until after the event, when looking at photos taken of me proudly holding If Kisses Were Colors, that I noticed that illustrator Alison Jay’s stunning and delicate art was lost and muted against the startling palette of that crazy jacket. So, lesson learned. I always dress as a foil for my book. I usually wear a solid color that complements (not clashes with) the cover.
My other rule is to dress thematically, if possible. For Mirabel’s Missing Valentines events I wear a pink fleece sweater with a huge white heart on the front. For Fright School, I sometimes dress as a professor, to bring my audience into an academic setting. And I wear cat ears for Winter Cats (a children’s author never worries about making a fool of herself!).
For my upcoming OCEANS OF LOVE event, I’ll likely wear my favorite blue sweater that will blend with the undersea background of the cover. Or maybe an off-white one to make the cover stand out more?
And to go with the ocean theme, my earrings are tiny fish! They were given to me years ago by my mother, as a fond reminder of fishing trips I took with my dad as a child. These fish earrings have shiny scales that jiggle and wiggle as I move my head! They are special to me for so many reasons, including that my mom gave them to me. She was always one of my biggest fans. I hope to get a few giggles from the audience when I show them my earrings.
So there you have it. A few musings about how I dress the part. If you have a chance, leave a comment. I’d love to hear about how you dress the part for whatever you do, personally or professionally. Now excuse me while I dive into my meager wardrobe! I’m still not sure which pants will go with the sweater. Maybe I should ask my sister…