Okay so this blog post may be just me…. and you will all think I am a little crazy. We’ll see. So here’s the thing, I think that the eyes are the most important part in a fictional character. I always describe a character’s eyes fairly early on. Why?
When I talk to people I always look them in the eyes. I had a religious upbringing, which you will probably notice from all the biblical quotes that end up in my books, I love using biblical analogy, although I am not that religious anymore, but I did a course a few years back that taught all the reading between the lines stuff about understanding what words and phrases meant years ago when they were written, so I love using that sort of knowledge… 😀 But anyway. The Bible says, ‘the eyes are a window to the soul’ that I do believe. I do judge people by looking in their eyes.
My husband and daughter have fabulous brown eyes, so I am usually thinking of their eyes when I write characters with brown eyes. They also have naturally black really long eyelashes, and dark eyebrows. When they look at you it is quite mesmerizing, and my daughter is also always really smiley and happy, so that usually hovers as a light that shines in the texture of the deep browns, like light through brandy, or sunshine through amber, or newly opened horse-chestnuts.
See what I mean, if you are a visual thinking person, you are now quite likely to be engaging with her personality through her eyes, and I think you need to do that with characters too. That’s why I need to describe their eyes. So you can look through the eyes of the character looking into their eyes, and try to understand what is going on in their soul.
Ellen Harding’s eyes, the lead character in the The Illicit Love of a Courtesan, my historical novel which rocketed to the top of the US Kindle chart this week, has very pale blue eyes. The inspiration for her eyes, came when we visited Egypt six years ago. There was an airline assistant booking everyone in on a flight, and she had really unusually very pale blue eyes, I mean her eye colour was so striking that you noticed how beautiful her eyes were from ten meters away. Then I knew I had to have that eye colour for Ellen, and right from the first scene in the book, the whole exchange between her and Edward is focused on eye contact.
Looking in to people’s eyes is so powerful, that my friend and I worked out in our late teens, you could pull any guy you wanted by just looking at them across a bar, if you kept surreptitiously looking at them, eventually they would be too intrigued. They’d have to come over. The eyes can communicate so much.
Okay so my other two females, have green eyes. I have green eyes. That is a lie really, like blue eyes are never really blue they are greys, my eyes are hazel, and a clutter of colours like sun dried grass in the summer, but the overall effect is green. The colour is so unusual, though, that people do occasionally stare into my eyes, men and women, and say, what colour are they? The last time somebody said it, was when I started writing I Found You, so that became Rachel’s eye colour, and Jason looks at her trying to work her eye colour out when they first meet. 😀
Jane’s emerald eyes, in The Passionate Love of a Rake, stem from the fact that a boyfriend I had in my early twenties had spent a couple of years out in Afghanistan, where women do have very deep green, emerald, eyes, so he was always laughing at my eyes, and saying, “They aren’t green”. To explain the fact that Jane had managed to have that colour eyes, I gave her a background that descended from Spanish nobility.
What I love is that the Harper Collins cover artist loves my stories, and has, without me even telling her, picked up on my focus on eyes, so she makes a big thing of them on every cover. Although the model on The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’s cover has much brighter blue eyes than Ellen does in the book, and Jane’s are far less emerald, but even so, your gaze is drawn to the cover model’s eyes. I love that, because it so reflects the importance of the eyes that I try to capture in my books. And my fabulous cover artist has done it again with John’s blue eyes on the cover of my next historical, A Duke’s Scandalous Love, which is coming soon, I can’t show it to you yet, but it is worth the wait…