Aug 15, 2012
If the Shoe Fits - Annie West
Looking at them made me realise how different they are from the black court shoes that figured so prominently in my life when I held down a serious five-day a week office career.
Which led me to thinking about shoes as indicators of character. Hey, I'm an author - I'm allowed to get away with such leaps of thought. It struck me how much I love the tiny peripheral details that indicate character in a story. Rather than being told a heroine is serious or sassy, flirtatious or grounded, I adore finding out through telling little details in the way people respond to her, what her habits are and, yes, what she wears.
Does she wear strappy, high heeled sandals? Does she wear them easily or does she struggle with the heels? Is she unused to wearing them? My current heroine is getting used to wearing high heels for the first time in years and the reason she's not used to them - well, that's part of her backstory and reveals a lot about why she acts the way she does. I've had heroines who wear teetering jewel-studded stilettos without a second thought and that says a lot about their lives and their self confidence too, or perhaps about a role they're determined to play in public.
I had a heroine who met her Prince Charming when he was in Italian hand stitched shoes and she wore gumboots. Even when she became a princess, she didn't always conform with the general expectation of what a royal should wear, because that didn't sit with her personality or preferences. I recall her making public appearances in tailored jackets, jeans and low-heeled boots. Would she wear blue suede boots? Probably, if they were as comfortable as these.
And it's not just my heroines I recall because of their footwear. Michelle Douglas wrote a memorable heroine with a penchant for Doc Martins. Liz Fielding had a marvellous heroine who favoured boots too - not the high heeled fashion variety but the solid, business-like don't-mess-with-me type. In both cases they revealed character and reinforced what we were beginning to discover about the heroine.
And of course, if we want to talk romance heroines, Cinderella is up there with the best of them, with her memorable lost slipper. Given the fact so many women adore shoes, even looking at ones they'd never wear themselves, I think a passing reference to a heroine's (or hero's) footwear preferences interests readers.
What about you? Do your shoes tell something about your character, job or life? What are the most memorable shoes you've owned or seen? What sort would you like to own or perhaps provide for a romance heroine?
Posted by Annie West
Annie writes for Harlequin Mills and Boon - "Modern" in the UK, "Presents" in the US and "Sexy" in Australia/New Zealand. To her delight, and her family's amusement, that means she can call herself a Sexy Author! Annie has devoted her life to an in depth study of tall, dark, charismatic heroes - it's hard but someone has to do it.