Kim Harrison is known for her sexy urban fantasy novels starring witches and demons—but the best-selling writer has a secret life that features “jeans and scuffed boots” that are a far cry from her leather-clad author photos. Today, in honor of the publication of her latest book, Pale Demon (Harper), Harrison gives us the scoop on her double life.
guest post by Kim Harrison
“So, what do you prefer? Kim or Dawn?” It’s almost always the first question I’m asked when I meet professionals in my field. I usually smile, touch my hair, and say, “I’m Dawn, today,” if I’m a blonde wearing jeans and scuffed boots. But if I’m wearing my event wig—a bold reddish auburn that goes past my shoulders—I grin and say, “I’ve got my Kim on. Better stick to that so no one gets confused.”
Split personality? No, though I will freely admit that I frequently have conversations with myself. Secret agent on the run? Not likely, though I’ve been known to take people-watching to the level of an Olympic sport. No, it’s something so banal, so dull that when people find out I’ve got a second persona stuffed in my closet, they scratch there heads and ask me, “Why?”
I’m a writer, who, through contractual obligations and a large shift in writing style, found it easier to create a second, public persona than try to reconcile the old with the new. It didn’t hurt that booksellers will give new talent a bigger push than one with a slow but steady track record. In this case, it has seemed to have worked.
Get-my-Kim-on is more than the wig and black signing clothes, though. It’s almost become a job title, a name tag, if you will, that I wear when I go from the sedate, 8-10 hour day at the keyboard with little human contact to the plane-jumping, speech-giving, always-smiling publicity hound that is what most readers see when they meet their favorite authors.
Author appearances have always been a part of book promotions, and I’m continual reminded of the Westminster Dog Show where it’s obvious that those beautiful animals being paraded before all have never seen a cow or sheep, but they need to look like they can do the things that their working counterparts still do today. I think readers are the same way. They know that the person sitting behind the signing desk isn’t really out there fighting bad guys, making spells, or solving crimes, but if they look like they might be able too, it makes the experience all the more fun—and that’s what a book event should be. Fun. So Kim has long red hair, stylish boots and a penchant for wearing black. I’ll admit that she’s sort of rubbed off on me over the years—in a good way, of course. Kim has class, and I have tatty slippers.
And when I get home, I have the luxury of being able to peel off the layers of show, smiles and graciousness so I can be my old crotchety self again, stumbling about in search of that first cup of coffee.