Thursday, September 16, 2010
By Deborah Sharp
I knew I’d crossed a line when I spent two hours in the wedding aisle of a fabric store, examining tulle.
Formerly known to me as ''that floaty stuff ballerinas wear,'' the fabric has assumed an unnatural importance of late. My latest mystery novel is set around a wedding. So, I have immersed myself in all things nuptial.
''Which color do you think Mama would like for her bouquet?'' I asked my husband.
He looked at several spools of orange ribbon I’d bought, from sherbet-shaded to Halloween pumpkin. And then he looked at me. He spoke carefully.
''You do know ‘Mama’ is a fictional character, right?''
''What’s your point?'' I asked.
I think he’s beginning to resent the fact that this pretend wedding for a woman who doesn’t exist is getting more of my attention than our own wedding did, 21 years ago.
My own wedding was simple, a backyard affair. But the Mama character defines over-the-top, complete with a Pomeranian as ring-bearer, Scarlett O'Hara bridesmaid gowns, and a ''Gone With the Wind'' themed wedding. A friend made a suitably tacky, Mama-style veil for me to wear at book signings. It looks like a dropping of fake flowers and tulle that some huge, prehistoric wedding bird plopped on the top of my head.
(You can get a glimpse of The Veil in a clip from a book event that ran during my recent interview on the Today Show. Click here to watch. )
I never made favors for OUR wedding. But for MAMA GETS HITCHED, I stuffed more than a hundred teeny-tiny gift bags, tying and curling the ends of each pastel ribbon. The intent of the bags: To build anticipation last spring among mystery fans at the Malice Domestic conference for the summer launch of HITCHED. I’ve combed bridal books for the perfect punch to serve, and laminated JUST MARRIED signs for book-store podiums.
Another friend, a judge, offered to appear at one of my signings, dressed in his official black robes.
''I’ll perform the wedding for Mama,'' he said eagerly.
''Great, we'll have a bride's side and a groom's side. We'll get a soloist to do Mama's favorite song . . . ''
Suddenly, I realized there could be a little problem with my failure to distinguish between reality and my fictional character. Technically, I’m Mama, since she lives inside my head. Legally, I’m already married. If my husband is miffed about the energy I’m devoting to Mama’s wedding, how will he feel when I come home with her groom?
Alas, I had to turn down the judge’s offer.
Now that I’ve saved myself from bigamy, I’ve got to run. I’m headed to the bakery to pick out Mama’s wedding cake.
How about you? Writers, what crazy thing have you done for your fictional character? Readers, what makes you blur the line between fiction and reality?