Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Shop 'Til You Drop by Dorothy Howell

Shopping anyone?

Haley Randolph, my main character in HANDBAGS AND HOMICIDE, loves to shop. And who can blame her? It’s one of America’s favorite pastimes.

In the book, Haley shops for anything and everything. It’s her way of dealing with stress and avoiding problems. It’s also her recreation. And Haley, like the rest of us, occasionally needs a little retail therapy.

I, too, love to shop, and that got me to thinking about all the different types of shopping there are. For me, pressure shopping is the worst. You know, when you’re invited somewhere last minute and don’t have a thing to wear, and you end up racing through the mall, twenty minutes before closing, desperate to find something – anything – to wear.

Why is it that when your wallet is filled with money, you can’t find a thing that fits? You try on absolutely everything and can’t find one single article of clothing to buy. You can’t even find socks in the right color!

The opposite is just as bad. Haven’t we all had those times when the fashions in every store we enter look great – and look great on us? But it’s one of those days when your clothing budget is non-existent, moths are flying out of our bank account, and every credit card is maxed out.

Revenge shopping is always fun. We’re upset with that “certain someone” in our lives so we go on an all-out spending spree. I admit I’ve been guilty of that myself from time to time.

Did you ever spot a dress, skirt or pair of shoes in the store that you couldn’t get out of your head? If you don’t buy it on the spot it, it haunts you for days, sometimes weeks, until you absolutely have to go back and buy it.

I’m an impulse shopper, occasionally, which is how I ended up with a purple and gold caftan in the back of my closet and a jeweled T-shirt – don’t ask – hidden in my bottom drawer.

I’m compulsive about buying certain things. Christmas decorations, for one. I still have the ornaments from the very first tree my husband and I put up together. I even have a ceramic, lighted Santa Claus giving the peace sign, to give you some idea of how long I’ve been collecting. I’ve amassed quite a collection. Some ornaments are purchased during our travels, some from special shopping trips with my family. Some are gifts. All are cherished.

As you might imagine, I’m also a nut about buying books. I adore the bargain section of any book store. I order online, I visit library sales, and I buy, buy, buy. If a title looks even remotely interesting, I pick it up. Really, you never know when you’re going to want to learn more about the Mayan method of grain harvesting, or the quickest way to make candles, soap, or your own brown sugar.

Haley does a lot of shopping, under a variety of circumstances, and she finds different ways to deal with her obsessions. They make for great fun in a novel, but I can’t recommend them for real life. But that doesn’t mean I intent to stop shopping!

Learn more about Dorothy and her books right here