When I wrote Out of Time, I hadn’t realised it was going to be just the first book in a series. I was on a tight budget at the time, but wanted to celebrate the completion of the book by having a small party to launch it. And, of course, I wanted to dress the part. I’ve always loved dressing up, but never had much opportunity, and finally, I had a good excuse.
Because I had no idea I would ever write more than one novel, I didn’t go to great expense. I found myself a sort of pseudo medieval gown which made me feel wonderful, and my husband, very obligingly dressed up as Richard the Lionheart, again, in something inexpensive and not very authentic.
This is how we looked.
However, I have now published a second book in the series, A Promise to Keep, and am working on book three, Blossom on the Thorn, with several more books planned. Having done a few book signings and book talks, including a couple at local libraries, I realised it was now time to get serious, so I ordered some wool and found a tailor who felt able to complete something a lot more authentic for me. I had tried online, but they were expensive, so doing it this way wasn’t going to cost any more, and it would give me something that was original.
My tailor, Ross Heeley, found a pattern which would suit, and we got to work. Here I am at the trying on stage.
At this point, I began to realise I had a problem. The wool is extremely heavy. I suffer from M.E. and scoliosis, and I wouldn’t realistically be able to wear such a garment for very long. So, we made it a little lighter by removing the middle of each of the three gores inserted in sides and back, but left the front one in. Result! Even just losing that amount of material has made a huge difference. It’s still heavy – you should feel the weight of those sleeves! But it is wearable.
And, it’s warm. You’d be surprised just how warm it is. Which will be great if I’m doing an appearance in a cold hall. However, if I wear this to a book signing in a warm library, it is just possible that the heat will render me down to a very small spot of grease on the carpet. I imagine woollen gowns were wonderful inside draughty, cold castles, but with today’s central heating, I’m now beginning to wish I could have afforded silk. Unfortunately, I will have to sell an awful lot more books if that particular dream is to come true. It looks as though, when I’m appearing anywhere warm, I may just have to dig out that old fantasy gown after all. Unless anyone has a second-hand silk bliaut to sell me?