Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Debra here!

I'd like to welcome Dara Edmondson who's a new face in publishing. She gave up a career in marketing three years ago to follow a dream of writing fiction. She's currently with a small press--Wild Rose-- and has both print and ebooks. Her first print book was The Kitten Club which was out in May and snagged some good reviews.

She writes about "women in their forties, aged to perfection and ready for whatever life throws at them, from cheating husbands to problems with adult children to starting a new relationship or career." Don't you love that "aged to perfection" part??

Dara's a hoot and I thought the riders would enjoy her as much as I did the first time I met her at a workshop. So here she is to knock some salon sense into us!

First, a big thank you to Deb Dixon for inviting me to guest blog today. It's a pleasure to be in the convertible with such amazing ladies. I write contemporary romance for The Wild Rose Press but what I'd like to dish about today is the salon experience. We're all familiar with it – we confide all sorts of stuff in the person who does our hair or nails.

I got an up close look at the Salon Phenomenon (yes – I've named it!) when I owned a tanning and nail salon in the eighties and nineties in Orlando. I was a nail tech for many years and worked on clients so diverse it boggles my mind. Everyone from heiresses to prostitutes to housewives. I even rubbed elbows with a Saudi princess once, but that's a post for another day.

The Salon Phenomenon occurs when a beauty worker has very close contact with a patron (i.e. – touching hand or head). Something amazing happens. The patron reveals deep, sometimes dark secrets to the worker. And it's not the usual we're-friends-and-have-similar-disclosure-levels thing. No. The hairdresser/nail tech might reveal only her name, but the client, nonetheless often tells all.

Countless women revealed details of clandestine affairs, shady business practices or family secrets. They told me of long-ago sexual abuse and ongoing physical abuse, of friend and family betrayals. But why did they trust me when most knew very little about me? Not only was I touching them – a barrier most people don’t allow others to cross – but I faced them, one-on-one, on a weekly or biweekly basis. I listened and remembered details of the continuing sagas of their lives. They had an hour of my undivided attention and an assumption of confidentiality.

All the stories I heard, misery and joy I was privy to, turned out to be excellent fodder for my ideas file years later when I took up fiction writing. I changed names and details, but some of the situations I come up with are based in fact. Some were way too strange to become believable fiction. I got to play amateur psychologist to so many women – many who even told me I was their shrink with the benefits of having gorgeous nails when the session ended. But when I write their stories, they come out the way I wish they'd turned out for the clients. Some did, of course, have happy endings, but not all.

These days I often find myself missing that salon experience, hearing the inner workings of relationships and the adventures of women with exciting lives. When I do, I think about the worlds I can create on paper, the ones with Happily-Ever-Afters and loose ends neatly tied. There's a lot of job satisfaction in that. Where I couldn't fix things in real life for the women, I can in a book. I owe so much to those ladies, I dedicated my last book, The Kitten Club to them. Many were so touched, they actually cried when they read the dedication.

What about you? Do you value the salon relationship as sacred? Have you confided in your hair dresser or manicurist lately?


Debra Dixon said...

Welcome, Dara!

My hair stylist also does the hair of three close friends and my mother! Keeping a secret around there is tough. Sometimes she tells *me* what my mother's schedule is. LOL!

I think that breaking that "touch" barrier brings the stylist far too close on Desmond Morris' steps of intimacy. Once you let someone close enough to club you in the head from behind, you just naturally have to trust them. Your brain tells you to and then your mouth starts working independently of your brain.

flchen1 said...

I don't get out to a salon much, but I can see the value of having some sit-down time with someone who's caring for your person, and it seems natural to open up to that person emotionally as well. How lovely that you've had a chance to touch so many people when you did salon work and now are able to transform some of those experiences to touch your readers today! Congrats on all your accomplishments!

Dara Edmondson said...

Thanks, Ladies. The funny thing is, clients become a part of your life. I did nails for some of mine for better than 15 years. After that long, they knew all sorts of things about my life as well. Many became close friends I still cherish.

Helen Brenna said...

Welcome, Dara and congrats on your successes!

I've been seeing the same therap ... er, hair stylist, lol, for twenty years. OMG, hadn't realized it's been that long. I do seem to tell her things I wouldn't tell some friends, even.

There are some days when I've left my hair appt with a sore jaw from running at the mouth, so it's nice to know I'm not the only one!

Love your covers - specially Compromising Positions!

Playground Monitor said...

I received a letter from my hairdresser of 26 years that began "After fifteen years of business ownership, I've decided to close the salon." OH NO! Panic time! Then I read on and realized she was going to set up shop in another salon and just relieve herself of the admin duties (and headaches) that go along with business ownership. I could breathe again. My hair appointments -- already booked into 2008 -- were intact.

I don't confess to mine. I'm such a goody two shoes there's nothing to confess. But she knows all about my kids and she always asks about my granddaughter. And I always ask about her family. Sadly she's going through a nasty divorce now but she never says a word. She's still in listening mode.

Great topic!


Dara Edmondson said...

Thanks, Helen. I love the hot cover for Compromising Positions, too - especially the hot pink panties;-) LOL on the therapist slip.
Playground Monitor - I'd die if my hairdresser threatened to quit! So many of my old nail clients begged me to stay in the biz when I left the salon. In fact, I still see a few for the occasional in-home manicure and therapy session!

Michele Hauf said...

Welcome, Dara!

I don't go to the salon, and I just realized why. I don't like that 'touch' and then the expected chat that comes along with it. I'm very closed. I recently cut off all my hair, and did go to the salon. When the stylist offered a neck massage, I basically freaked. Oh no! That's okay. Just cut the hair.

BUt you know, I used to be a cosmetologist. (Far too long ago to calculate years.) And I recall that intimacy that allows the one in the chair to 'spill'. I also remember there were a lot of times I didn't want to hear what was going on in these peoples' lives. Probably that's why I only lasted a few years in the profession. I'm not a good listener!

Love your covers!

Betina Krahn said...

Dara, welcome! You've been along in the convertible almost since we drove her off the lot! How wonderful to see your covers and hear your story! You must have trouble choosing from among all the possibilities in your head!

And yes, I can certainly vouch for the "salon phenomenon". I've had the same stylist for 6 1/2 years and she's like family. I know her kids and she knows mine-- if only through photos and anecdotes. She's terrific with coloring and styling. . . but she's downright amazing as a counselor! She has such feet-on-the-ground advice and has already given me tips that helped me wade through government bureaucracy. I don't know what I'd do without her.

And I do love your covers. . . especially the Compromising Positions cover. Zinnnng! Good Luck!

lois greiman said...

Dara, hi. Great to have you here. I love your covers and your input was really interesting.

I once read that the closer you get to touching someone's face, the more intimate it is. So...maybe having someone do your hair is the ultimate intimacy. Forget sex, just give me a scalp massage.

Dara Edmondson said...

Michele: How interesting that you used to be a cosmetologist yet are uncomfortable with the touchy thing. I've always been the confidante, even in college and the touching thing never bothered me unless someone gets too in my face.
Thanks, Betina: I love you ladies of the convertible;-) I have loads of ideas swimming in my head at any given moment. Often, former clients become secondary characters rather than POV characters, but the stories I heard over the years do often find their way into my books with some tweaking.
Lois: I'm a sucker for a scalp massage, too. And a pedicure - Lord, that's right up there with sex for me;-) - but don't tell my DH - he might be offended, although he gived great foot massages.

Debra Dixon said...

I love a good scalp massage.

Just close your eyes and wait for the bones to melt. :)

I bought one of those wire things with a handle that fits over your head and it's like 20 little fingers going over your scalp. Feels cool. Looks a little weird.

Dara Edmondson said...

I've seen those - almost as good as a massage!

Helen Brenna said...

My son got so relaxed during a haircut that he actually fell asleep! And I'm not talking a little cat nap. He was OUT!

Dara Edmondson said...

Too funny! I had a man have a completely different reaction during the massage part of a pedicure. Let's just say I might use it in a book someday;-)

Kelley Nyrae said...

I've never gotten close enough to a stylist to share my secrets.

lois greiman said...

OK, Dara, tell us about the guy with the massage you're going to use in a book.

Dara Edmondson said...

Kelley - you're kidding! You must try it.

Oh, Lois - we'd have to close the top on the convertible lest someone hear;-) But I'll say this - he had to wait a few minutes after I was done to stand up. If I were another kind of person, I'd have charged him extra, only it gave me the willies!

Aleka Nakis said...

I want to know about that 'manly' reaction to the pedicure...write, write, write.