From the Booking Desk:
I’ve been a fan of the cover designs for the Dandy Gilver books for a long time, so when Catriona McPherson asked to stop by BOLO Books for the release of the next in the series, I said yes – and asked for something about the cover design. Little did I know it would be something that many…most…all! of us can relate to. And as always, it put a smile upon my face.
Catriona: First thing to say is that I love this jacket. The new US Dandy Gilver – out this week! – has yet another sumptuous, soothing, sugared-almond cover image that is so gorgeous I would wear it as a dress and wear it again, smaller, as a hat.
But when I first caught sight of it I pulled my breath in over my teeth hard enough to feel a cold draught. In California.
Dandy’s got grey hair! And why not? It’s 1935 and she was born in 1886. She’s pushing fifty. (Interesting sidebar. When we started, Dandy and I, we were the same age and now she’s four years younger than me.)
For all I know I’ve got grey hair too. Except I don’t because I’ve got platinum blonde hair, courtesy of Salon Blonde in Davis, CA, where every eight weeks Aubrey Suleiman and I conspire to get my barnet as icy and bright as it’ll go. We high-five sometimes when it turns out blinding.
Even though I dye my hair I’m not trying to cover any grey that might be in there. When I started, it wasn’t about grey at all. Although it was a mid-life crisis. I turned forty, you see, and I had a party. Afterwards I was looking at the pictures of the crowd, trying to find myself, looking for my blonde head. When I realised I was one of the brown blobs, I had a moment of . . . well, existential panic would be far too strong a way to describe it. But I remember thinking “I’m blonde, though. I was born blonde. I’m a blonde.”
Add the fact that my then hairdresser, Elaine, was on maternity leave (always a dangerous period), and my husband went to New Zealand (well out of wise counsel range). Plus that turning forty thing I mentioned. I went to the shops and bought a box of stuff with a picture of a woman whose hair was the hair I’d been looking for in those party pics.
But I didn’t read the small-print. And we lived in a farmhouse on a hill with peaty water that ran down the hill, was very lightly filtered, and came out our taps sometimes with tadpoles in it. Turns out you can’t use peaty hill water when you dye your hair. The fair bits came out white and the brown bits came out orange. I looked like a highland toffee.
The only way to fix the mess was to bleach the whole lot. I thought it would be short-term, but when I first saw myself with that dazzling platinum mop on top, something inside felt right again. Now I call my hair colour “born blonde but a lot has happened since”.
Mind you, now that I’m in my fifties, I have had a couple of people, in low light, assume that my hair is white to match my aging face. Which is fine. But that would be free. And this is incredibly not. So, carefully avoiding orange, Aubrey and I might dial up the gold a notch and head for Helen Mirren.
As to Dandy Gilver: I’ve already written the scene when she, her maid, her memories and a bottle of black dye all meet in the bathroom for a showdown. What happens? You’ll have to wait and see.
BUY LINKS: A Step So Grave by Catriona McPherson
Catriona McPherson is the national best-selling and multi-award-winning author of the Dandy Gilver series of preposterous detective stories, set in her native Scotland in the 1930s. She also writes darker contemporary suspense novels, of which STRANGERS AT THE GATE is the latest. Also, eight years after immigrating to the US and settling in California, Catriona began the Last Ditch series, written about a completely fictional Scottish woman who moves to a completely fictional west-coast college town.
Catriona is a member of MWA, CWA and SoA, and a proud lifetime member and former national president of Sisters in Crime, committed to advancing equity and inclusion for women, writers of colour, LGBTQ+ writers and writers with disability in the mystery community.
I love this post, and the cover. As someone who has decided to go gray “unnaturally,” as in letting the gray come in on top while dying the ends light blonde to match, I appreciated the candor.
…”going gray unnaturally “ …
I didn’t know that was what it was calledI did the same thing! Just wish the yellow from bleaching the color out would hurry and grow out!
I love you. Fun fact. I was also born a blonde.
Also, I love this book to pieces.
I bet you can tell I don’t dye my hair. But I do use a “blueing” shampoo to keep it from turning yellow (channeling my dear grandmother here, whose silver hair always had a touch of blue in it).
Love this cover and so excited about the new book, my dear!
What do you use? Love the blue! My conditioner turns mine a dark purple. Not sure I’m a fan.
I had no idea! (Seriously.) But then, I’m a bit clueless. Curious: did you not realize your hair had turned brown by the time you were forty?
The only hair dye I use in my silver is a stripe of turquoise, and even then it’s a vegan dye that washes out with every shampoo. To each her own!