Writing a story is like baking a cake. There are so many layers, each one more yummy than the next.
Interior design was also like that for me. For almost half my life, I helped to make peoples’ homes both beautiful and functional. Just like cakes are beautiful on the outside and oh, so good, on the inside. Someday, I’ll write that memoir, but right now I’m busy crafting the first book in my new, five-book series about a prominent family living in New York City in the late 1800s. And lucky me, I get to spend some time designing and decorating my heroine’s bedroom, and even luckier me, I get to spend some time with my heroine’s mother who is, of course, my exceptional client.
I prefer to be on a first name basis with all of my clients, and have never been refused. They seem to enjoy the familiarity.
So, with a bright smile, I begin. “May I ask you, Mrs. Baldwin, if I may call you by your first name?”
Mrs. Baldwin replies, “Certainly. Please call me Clara. And may I call you Gail?”
“Of course,” I reply with a bright smile back.
“It is a pleasure to meet you Gail.”
“Clara, the pleasure is all mine. Thank you for this privilege.”
“I am so looking forward to working with you, Gail.”
“As am I,” I reply. “I have other questions to ask. Your answers will be the secret to our success. Will we be working on Allie’s room?”
“How old is Allie?”
“She is twenty-five,” Clara reveals.
“Does she have a collection of sorts? Dolls perhaps?”
“Oh, my no,” Clara chuckles. “Allie is the last person who would have dolls in her room. No, my second daughter Mia adores dolls and has a very lovely collection. Allie, on the other hand, loves books. Her room is full of them. We have no idea where to put them all.
“She sounds like a very bright young woman.”
“She is absolutely brilliant,” Clara says, her eyes reflecting a mother’s pride and love.
“Who is her favorite author?” I inquire.
“Her favorite author is Charles Dickens. Allie loved his Bleak House. She thought it was a special book.”
“I read a Tale of Two Cities in school. It was heart wrenching.”
“Did you know Dickens’ pen name was Buz?
“No, I did not.
“Don’t you think it an odd name?”
“I do,” I reply. “But writers are very singular people are they not?”
“Indeed,” Clara says. “Allie is also a writer. She writes for my husband’s newspaper and she is probably the most singular person I have ever known.”
“Well then, we shall have to create some very singular shelving!”
“Shelving, where would you put that?”
I walk over to the beautiful bay window and say, “Right here on either side, with a lovely comfy cushioned seat beneath the window. Under the seat can be storage for more books if she desires, or anything else that she wants out of the way. Allie can tuck in and enjoy her books here. What do you think Clara?”
Clara clapped her hands. “Absolutely marvelous. I’ll share all of this with Allie. I’m sure she will love to know her books will be so beautifully displayed.”
“And what is that big cushion on the floor beside the bed?” I ask.
“Oh, that’s for Allie’s Great Dane, Captyn.” Clara arches one brow, but her eyes are twinkling, as though she is holding back a giggle. “It’s where he sleeps.”
“Well, I am certain that we can create a very singular bed for Captyn that will suit his size and stature.”
“That would be wonderful, since he usually ends up sleeping on Allie’s bed and then her bedding smells like dog the next day.”
We both burst out laughing.
“Can you tell me a little about the clothes she chooses?” I ask.
Clara tilts her head. “Nothing too fussy, why do you ask?”
“Her taste in clothes tells me a great deal about what she likes to live with.”
“Ah,” Clara nods. “Well, she often expresses how ridiculous corsets are and refuses to wear one. She is contemporary, if that has a meaning to you.
“Why yes, of course. I take it she prefers the new style with no crinoline, simple lines.”
“She certainly does.”
“I’ll put together three floor plans, with wallpaper and fabric choices. Then we can pick one or a combination. The plans will offer Allie’s singular pick within her taste.
“That sounds wonderful Gail, I can’t wait to see your suggestions.”
“Clara, we have run out of time, but I will come back soon with the plans, if that’s suitable.”
The choices that Allie makes, with her mother’s approval, of course, will be revealed in, The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin.