Jacqueline Britton reveals how she weaved together her debut novel.
In my debut novel Coasters, my central character, Jennifer Marshall is an innovative textile designer. I want to share with my readers why I chose to weave fashion into my novel.
Write what you know.
As the old saying goes, write what you know. I have worked in the fashion business for over 20 years, even though I never set out to be in that field. When I was a kid I wanted to be a veterinarian, and when I was in college (Stanford) my degree was in clinical psychology. But as fate would have it, from working in a retail store part time during the holidays, I ended up designing and manufacturing thousands of garments.
I remember always thinking, “people have no idea all the steps and processes that go into the dress they see hanging in the store.” There is a design, then a pattern and sample, then a presentation in the showroom, then an order, then fittings, fabric ordering, production sewing, packaging and delivering. Of course, all along the way, things can go wrong and adjustments need to be made and it really takes a global village to make a dress.
My favorite part though, has always been the fabric. I feel like the fabric makes the design. Whether it’s a luxurious solid silk, or a crazy print legging, or a beautiful floral pattern, the fabric defines the garment. I remember working with an artist to design our prints for thousands of sun dresses and developing all the various patterns and colorways and print layouts.
I wanted my character, Jennifer Marshall, to be able to inspire and impact already established designers with innovation in textiles. I wanted her creativity and collaboration with them, to elevate their designs to a new place. As designers, we always look to create something new and she was able to take the best of their work and put a fresh spin on it. I gave her an intuitiveness for each design collaboration that would bond her with the designers who would later help to rescue her from the depths of her mind.
Women love fashion.
Let’s face it, we all have more in our closets than we should. There is something about stylish clothing that all women love. We love the thrill of that twirl before the mirror and the pleasing feeling when a look is just right. If I know I’m going to an event that will have a lot of women, I take even more care for perfect style, because I know women notice. I know my fellow ladies will appreciate a spectacular outfit even more than a group of men. The guys appreciate other things about us, but it’s probably not our clothes.
I wanted my debut novel to be in the realm of Contemporary Women’s Fiction. Ok, “ChickLit” for lack of a better term. Yes, it’s definitely a romantic story, but when I looked at books in the “romance” category they mostly all have those “Fabio” covers, or naked male six packs. Don’t get me wrong, I love male six packs, and I love the complete abandon of satisfying intimacy, but the story of Jennifer’s journey has so much more depth than that. It’s a reflection of the complex lives we lead and how different people play a different role in our lives. Weaving in an aspect of daily life, like fashion, just adds that layer of visualization of something new, something creative, from a character you want to know.
So few books about fashion.
One of my favorite all-time movies was The Devil Wears Prada. That glimpse of a high-profile magazine editor setting the trends and a new assistant being absorbed into that frenzy was brilliant. I initially put the fashion aspect in my novel because that is my life, but as I was finishing up, I went on the hunt for other similar books and found so few. Other than Devil Wears Prada, Swans of Fifth Avenue, the Dressmaker, Lipstick Jungle, and a few about famous designers, there are so few novels with fashion having a central role.
How can this be? A detective writer can find thousands of murder mysteries but a fashionista has but a select few? So this bolstered my confidence in bringing fashion creation into Coasters. Some of the best compliments I’ve had on the book are about the fashion imagery and how people can picture the designs in their mind. My favorite chapter (17) is the fashion show where Jennifer’s clients and designer friends fill a dark cathedral setting to showcase her work, and form a collective consciousness to bring her back to reality. My ultimate goal is to see Coasters on the big screen and I can’t wait to see the fashion creations in my mind come to life.
So if you love fashion, like me, you might just love mermaids too. Then you’ll love some of the dreams that Jennifer has in Coasters.
Where love, fashion and tragedy collide in search of true destiny.
Jennifer Marshall is a textile designer transforming the world of high fashion. She soars in her career, collaborating with top designers to create some of the most innovative textiles and modern successes. But her personal life is bittersweet. She is torn between the love of two men, neither of whom, are fully hers. She carefully guards her personal privacy and her secret double life while trying to steer a path toward clarity and who is really her destiny.
Paul Summers captivates Jennifer with a chemistry that makes her skin tingle, but he is emotionally unavailable. Josh Russo touches her soul at its very core, and from the beginning they feel like they are old friends.
A tragic accident rips Jennifer from her normal life, fracturing her body, thrusting her into a coma. In this dream state, one perfect mate resides in her mind, and she lives in an idyllic fantasy world filled with mermaid beauty, freedom, and complete love. Their lives go on, unaware of Jennifer’s struggle for her very life, and a new guardian emerges who is determined to know her and bring her back from the brink.
It takes a full circle of time and healing for Jennifer to realize what she had, what she lost, and what really matters.
Jacqueline Britton is a graduate of Stanford University. She took an unconventional career path from Stanford into the world of Fashion. Her Psychology degree helps her touch on the mystery of special connections between people. Jacqueline now resides in Las Vegas, NV where she works as a fashion buyer and spends her free time, writing, playing semi-professional poker, creating her own fashion, savouring the Vegas life style, and enjoying the company of her husband and pets.