Saturday, March 12, 2016

The League Of Gingers

In a strange little critique a reader mentioned that all my female lead characters are redheads. Yes, the majority of them are, but Evangeline is a blonde in My Magical Life (although I believe in some of her past lives she was redhead but she's blonde throughout the novel), Jennifer Shelton (Lockout Rescue) has raven hair. But, in the whole scheme of creativity, why exactly would hair color matter?

I have a beautiful goddaughter who happens to have gorgeous red hair. One of my good friends also is a ginger. I'm blonde. My daughter has dark blonde hair. My sister is a brunette. I was a redhead when I was a little girl but then my hair turned pale blonde. I just like red hair. It's a personal preference and doesn't mean anything.

I have a story somewhere in the archives called The League of Gingers in which nearly every main character with red hair is a part of this league. The league gets together a couple of times of year in one fictional location from a novel or another- and they just talk about their lives, their husbands/boyfriends and their kids if they have them and what's going on in their lives in general- and they have fun, going out to eat, watching a movie, having a big sleepover and gabfest. They all have differing shades of red hair, and they all have distinctly different personalities.

I guess I write about redheads because I find them more interesting, vibrant and dynamic then blondes and brunettes who are more ordinary in real life, although there are a lot more people with red hair these days than when I was growing up and the most fascinating family was a family in Northampton we'd see when going shopping there- a whole family of ginger-aired kids parading down the sidewalk. Maybe that memory is part of why I have a lot of female leads who have red hair. I don't know and I'm not interested in being psychoanalyzed to find out why I don't really like blondes and brunettes (although all the rest of my friends in real life are exactly that- blondes and brunettes and I love them dearly.)

When I write, it's not about hair color, although my male characters seem drawn to redheads because their hair is bright as a bonfire, flames like a torch in the darkness, etc. A lot of my male characters have black hair or dark brown hair, although some have dirty blonde hair (but I don't think any of my male characters is a carrot top, except one in a new novel I'm writing, and the Riley boys in the three Christmas stories featuring their family- Rusty, Pepper and Carmine.) When I write it's more the story that concerns me than a character's hair color. When I read a novel I'm not all that concerned about what the character looks like, I'm more into how that character acts and his or her motivation throughout the story.

Every writer has their quirks. I guess mine is that I like most of my female characters to be redheads- a private wink at Emily (my goddaughter) and Amanda (my friend) with their red hair-- something like Carol Burnett tugging her ear at the end of each of her shows to tell her family that she loved them. It's just a quirk, not a psychological issue and it shouldn't be an issue or stumbling block with readers. It's the story that involves these characters that should matter most, and whether or not it's well written. If a reader is so shallow as to be overly concerned about hair color then that says more about the reader than it says about the writer because the writer is writing the story and the story is what matters most.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall at a League of Gingers get together because Scarlett, Bryce, Amanda, Lissa, Eveleen, Pepper, Tessie, Jessamyn, Lucie, Abigail, Ellisan...etc.- they're all unique, vibrant, vivid, vivacious characters with their own strengths and weaknesses. The only thing in common that they share is they all have red hair, in different hues. (Point being I am not writing the same character over and over again- they are each a separate entity.)

Therefore, my response to that odd little critique is this- ignore the color of the character's hair and just enjoy the story that character is a part of. It's the story that matters, not the color of a character's hair. The writing is the art you should be focusing on when reading, and if you can't get past it then there are plenty of authors out there littering their writing with blondes and brunettes that you might not be so put out about.

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