Heather Graham, author of the The Hidden (a Krewe of Hunters novel), reflects on her well-known love of costumes.
I love costumes! Anyone who knows me knows this. It may come from the fact that I started my adult life in dinner theater and that a great deal of what we worked on was historical. I’m still not sure exactly why—but to this day, I love everything that goes with theater and costuming and makeup… Maybe it’s because, for just a few minutes or a few hours, we become someone (or even something!) else. Every year at the RT Booklovers Convention and at the Writers for New Orleans conference, some of my colleagues and friends and I put together a short stage play (always a musical of sorts) and don costumes for the fun of it.
Not only that, my husband, Dennis, and I once wore costumes and modeled for two book covers—Ondine and Tomorrow the Glory. For the first one, we recreated people living in the 1600s, and for the second, the Deep South. Tremendous fun!
My favorite costumes tend to be elaborate—and homemade. I don’t like to purchase costumes that everyone else might have, and if I do buy one, it’s as a base to be accessorized. Of course, I’m very lucky—one of my best friends, Connie Perry of Lafayette, Louisiana, is a costume designer. She makes truly wild and beautiful costumes for Mardi Gras, and we like to tease her that “Have Glitter, Will Travel” should be her motto. When we’re working on something historical, I have to restrain Connie’s love of all things shimmering and shining!
This is not to say that all kinds of costumes aren’t fun, including those that are ready-made. One of my sons has a wonderful Captain America costume and one of his best friends (a Miami-Dade detective by day!) has a wonderful Batman costume. They dress up as favors to relatives and friends when kids have birthday and Halloween parties and thrill the little ones—who get to believe, for a few minutes, that they’re meeting real superheroes.
Some of my friends and I recently filmed a little short, Revenge of the Ghouls. A total spoof—and tons of fun. We had excellent zombies and innocents, and I got to play the wronged one, who needed to find someone to help her put the mayhem to rest.
This Halloween I’ll be heading to New Orleans for the annual UndeadCon and the Anne Rice fan club’s Gathering of the Ancients Ball, put on by Sue Quiroz. I’m still in the planning stages, but I believe it’ll be either Victorian or Steampunk for me this year. Not surprisingly New Orleans is great when it comes to costumes; to accessorize, you can run down to Fifi Mahony’s on Royal Street and find a fantastic wig. At Fifi’s, Brooklyn and Marci and the others design some of the wildest and most impressive wigs you’ll ever see. They might include a model ship in a high bouffant or, for Halloween, scarecrows, bats, skeletons, pumpkins and so on. Whatever I finally decide on as a costume this year, a trip to Fifi’s will be in order.
And for a little while, I’ll get to be someone else. Just as a writer does when he or she is in the throes of creating a character. And readers, when they’re living that character’s life through the medium (so to speak!) of a book… The only difference is that, at Halloween, I get to wear the clothes!