I could go as one of my victims. (I write mystery novels.) Somehow I don’t think I’d be comfortable sporting a bullet hole or a knife wound and pretending to be dead all evening. It’s a little hard to answer insightful questions about my writing while I’m a corpse.
My decision, of course, will depend on my current mood. Usually I tend to be reserved, which can make it difficult to promote my books. But at other times I feel gutsy and comfortable in some outlandish getup.
Once I went to an author event where we would all man (or woman?) our tables with stacks of books. Before I left for the event, I stopped by at a local neighborhood fair where they were offering free face painting. Face painting? Now there’s an idea. My series of mystery novels is called Flowers of the Field. Perfect. I pulled out a copy of my first book, Fireweed Glow, which had a picture of the fireweed plant on the cover. The artist painted it on my cheek.
It was perfect. It served as a conversation starter and helped me overcome my natural shyness in talking one-on-one to people. I was able to open up and actually enjoy my role as booth babe.
But back to my party-going dilemma. My decision is also complicated by the fact that I’m caregiver for my now 101-year-old mother, Fay Chaplin. She’s even less excited about dressing for a Halloween party than I am. One year I came up with the perfect author solution: I’d go for name recognition. I gathered up an old bowler hat, a cane, and some baggy clothes, painted on a mustache, and went as Charlie Chaplin! (Chaplin was shy offstage as well. Must be a “family” trait—although, unfortunately, I haven’t established any connection to those Chaplins, except for the fact that our ancestors are also from England.)
At the party, people were asking my mother, who obviously wasn’t in costume, who she was supposed to be. Ever snappy with her comebacks, she explained, “I’m Mrs. Chaplin.”