Wednesday 2 December 2015

Scent of a heroine

The stuff I'm sampling comes in a bottle
At this time of the year the shops are full of enthusiastic sales persons eager to spritz you (or a small strip
of card/ribbon) with their brand's latest fragrance, in the hope that you will like it enough to buy it, as an Xmas gift for someone else - or that you will persuade someone else  to buy it for you. I frequently succumb to these offers of a whiff of a nice new scent. The pockets of my coats often smell very exotic if I've stashed one of the card strips and forgotten about it. I'm not doing this on my own behalf though - I have two fragrances that I am faithful to - Origins' Ginger and Channel's Chance.  (The original, not the later versions, if you're buying.) No - I'm doing it on behalf of my heroine. It is a new idea for me, something to help build a character. I gather the actress Penelope Cruz uses the same technique, choosing and wearing a different fragrance for every part she plays. I got that information from the Boots' magazine, along with the discovery that, when surveyed, men considered women wearing spicy floral perfumes to be up to 12 lbs lighter than they really were and those wearing grapefruit scents were thought to be up to 5 years younger. Just on the power of a smell! Strong stuff, this perfume lark.

Scent is very evocative for fixing memories, which is why writers like to use it. And it's not just heroines, of course. Describing how the hero smells is practically obligatory. (We won't mention that this also provides an opportunity to study the publicity for fragrances promoted by the likes of Jonny Depp, Simon Baker, Gerard Butler ... Just for research purposes, of course.)

The heroine I have been working with most recently (although not lately) started me on the idea. While the book is rooted in the tragic events of one night, the main action takes place 15 years later. I was thinking how much the heroine would have changed in that time and the idea of what perfume she might now wear was something that occurred to me.

And, of course, the effect this might have on the hero, and the implications of change and the passage of time. It's helping with plotting the layers of the story and the emotions that the hero in particular is feeling.

All from a small, if expensive, bottle ...


  1. Interesting - I need a spicy floral perfume with lots and lots of grapefruit! Angela Britnell

    1. Yeah, me too. Yesterday I discovered an interesting add on - scented gloves - from keeping them in my pockets.

  2. That's it, my Bvlagari Blv is going in the bin, I'm going to wipe a grapefruit round my face from now on! (I also have to know what sort of perfume my heroine wears!)

    1. You'll have to let us know if it works :) Research is such fun.