I love to sew, and fashion creeps into my books pretty often. Clothing design is a major part of the Salarian Chronicles (and the Fairy Tale Adventures as well). In Rook and Shadow, fashion plays a major part in the story line as Princess Salara deals with the way people view her fairy-enchanted beauty. In Lady Alma, Alma's love of fashion and desire to design clothing drives most of the story. As my cousin Matt commented, "They talk about their clothes a lot." (To be fair, he works as a lumberjack in the Canadian wilderness. It is to be expected that he has different taste in books than I do!)
I don't actually dress up that much in my day-to-day life. My preferred clothes are pajamas most of the time. But I do love to dress up for special occasions, and I also love to design formal wear.
I used to work as a theater costumer, and I loved using clothes to express character. My goal as a costumer was to have the audience understand each character before they spoke a word. It is a visual communication that works well in that medium. My most challenging show to costume was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Every female cast member needed a formal gown!
A Few Pictures from My Costumer Days
My costuming partner now runs Whitney Sews, a YouTube channel with sewing tutorials and more. Check out her channel if you like to craft!
I don't sew as much anymore, but I recently got a chance to design a project for my sister. She was invited to a formal wedding rather last minute and asked for help with her dress. She found a gorgeous dress at a thrift store, but it was too short to be appropriate for the wedding. So she bought a skirt made of complementary fabric and asked me to combine the two.
This was a fun challenge. We looked at pictures of various mermaid skirts to decide how long to make the new section and what shape to make it. I also was finally able to make use of my new mannequin, Hazel, who was a birthday gift from my sister.
Here are some pictures of the process and the finished product. In addition to adding the skirt, I also created a petticoat to give the bottom half some volume. This was a very quick project! Start to finish, it took a few hours.
(This was also reminiscent of my costuming days, when everything was done on a tight deadline. I also had to be ready to repair damage and prep gowns for understudies on a moment’s notice.)
Overall, I'm very pleased with the results. I plan to use Hazel to tailor some of my own clothes and maybe even make a formal gown for myself sometime in the near future. I just need an event to go to first.
If you want to see how sewing sneaks into my novels, check out Rook and Shadow and Lady Alma. Princess Carina also uses fashion to her advantage in The Frog Prince.
Read the first chapter of Rook and Shadow for free here.
Since using my real name in publishing has made it increasingly difficult to pursue my true passion of being a spy, I have decided to use a pen name for future books.
This deleted scene comes from Chapter 2 of Rook and Shadow. In the original draft, the king pulls Princess Salara out of the opera rehearsal to have a conversation with her before the delegation arrives. I took it out to make the pacing faster, but I enjoy a chance to see the king's character.
I am coming to you today from the back of my very own Dragon. That's right, I bought a Dragon.
A. G. Marshall
Bonus scenes, glimpses into my writing process, and more!