Over to you, Nancy:~
Our first hint about Allison’s appearance comes through her fashionista friend and polar opposite, India Morehead, as she surveys Allison’s new haircut in the first chapter:
“Shoulder length is a good start,” she said. “If you go a little shorter, some highlights would be good, just to accentuate your natural blonde.” She dipped into sotto voce. “And cover any gray. Not that you have much.”
India continues the critique with Allison’s wardrobe:
India’s gaze swept my uniform. “I hate that they dress you in beige. It washes you out. Something in a nice teal would bring out your eyes.”
Allison herself doesn’t tell us much. That’s so her. As the author, I see her as sort of a blonde, blue-eyed Angie Harmon, only not that skinny (Angie, honey, eat a muffin or something). I was actually inspired by a photograph in a Harley Davidson brochure – an attractive forty-ish woman with straight shoulder length hair, a tanned face that has seen tough times and has gone the classy patina route, rather than for the rode-hard-and-put-away-wet look. She has an intense gaze and a slightly hard mouth that can be coaxed into a soft smile. She isn’t a beauty, but in her authentic, no-nonsense way, she brings the word “hot” to some men’s minds. Especially those who aren’t afraid of a strong-willed woman.
Strengths and Weaknesses
How much time and space do you have?
Seriously, this is exactly what I wrote in the character sketch of Allison which I did as I was preparing to write her story:
Personality: sarcastic, straight-forward (when she finally figures out what it is she actually thinks), witty, assertive, not given to tact, rarely diplomatic, sometimes blunt; in her youth she was a trouble-maker, an agitator; eventually develops the power and skill to present the reality of God, at times even subtly, but before that, at various points in the story, she yells, weeps, rebukes, soothes, challenges and comforts – just like a prophet. She’s not easy-going – and hasn’t been terribly popular since her conversion from good-timer (that accounts for her only friends being those in the church, not a bad thing, certainly, but in her case somewhat limiting). While attractive in a roughly feminine way, she is far from glamorous. She’s not good at compromise. It’s hard for her to hide what she’s thinking. She’s not bitter, though. In her lopsided way, she sees the good in people. She is stubborn, committed to God, and selfless – a surprise even to her.
I think Allison is one BIG quirk! The fact that she’s a prophet pretty much covers it. Her reluctance to be a prophet takes her beyond quirky into nutbar, at least, in some people’s opinions. Her side-quirks include a penchant for eating Oreos when she’s feeling guilty and her love for a certain red chair-and-a-half – trumped only by her growing attachment to her Heritage Classic Softail Harley.
Your inspiration for the character
Like all my main characters she is a bundle of different influences. I found a little of her in the Rev. Becca Stevens, founder of Magdalene (the Nashville ministry that inspired the book’s Sacrament House) – and a pieces of her in the women I’ve come to know through HOG (Harley Owners Group, for the uninitiated) – and no small part of her in a Canadian constable who was very dear to me when she lived for a few years in the U.S. Once Allison started telling me about herself in her journal, she became her own unique person. I would love to meet her in the flesh, you know? I hope we’d be friends, although I might squirm under her honesty.
Background to the story
At age 47, cut out of the considerable family fortune early on because of her ‘wild child’ status, Allison is still making a half-hearted attempt to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up as the book opens. Although she has been a pew-sitting member of her congregation since her commitment to Christ seven years ago and has read the Bible four times and memorized huge chunks of it because ‘this stuff is so freakin’ good,’ ‘prophet’ has never been on the short list of possible careers. But one Sunday she receives a divine Nudge to buy a Harley . . .
Where, pray tell, did I come up with that? Partly from riding on the back of my husband’s Harley (note: my attempt to learn to ride one of my own did not end as successfully as Allison’s). Somewhat from a conversation with CBA editor Mary McNeil, who, after reading Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous admonition that a woman should do one thing a day that she’s afraid to do, bought a Harley and changed her life. Largely from the work of Jim Wallis and Sojourners. And almost entirely from a nudge that said DO something to help Christians really do the Jesus-thing.
Now I figure, if Allison can do it, so can I.
Thank you Nancy ~ it sounds like Allison’s story is both challenging and encouraging