Let's take care of the business stuff first. Here's what RED is about:
Felicity St. John has it all—loyal best friends, a hot guy, and artistic talent. And she’s right on track to win the Miss Scarlet pageant. Her perfect life is possible because of just one thing: her long, wavy, coppery red hair.
Having red hair is all that matters in Scarletville. Redheads hold all the power—and everybody knows it. That’s why Felicity is scared down to her roots when she receives an anonymous note:
I know your secret.
Because Felicity is a big fake. Her hair color comes straight out of a bottle. And if anyone discovered the truth, she’d be a social outcast faster than she could say "strawberry blond." Her mother would disown her, her friends would shun her, and her boyfriend would dump her. And forget about winning that pageant crown and the prize money that comes with it—money that would allow her to fulfill her dream of going to art school.
Felicity isn’t about to let someone blackmail her life away. But just how far is she willing to go to protect her red cred?
And here's where you can buy it!
When I learned I was going to be doing a blog tour for RED, I assumed everyone would ask about my experiences growing up with red hair. (I mean, come on, you've all seen my author photo—it seems like a really obvious question.) I had all these answers prepared, and then, bizarrely, NOBODY ASKED. So I'm going to take this opportunity to tell you the top five worst and best parts of growing up with red hair.
THE WORST PARTS:
5) Old ladies are always touching you in the supermarket. You know how everyone touches pregnant ladies' bellies like they've suddenly turned into communal property? Red hair has the same effect on people, especially when it's curly. I cannot explain this phenomenon, but every redhead I know was constantly petted by old ladies growing up, as if we were adorable puppies. Many of them like to supplement the unwanted pats with stories about how their hair used to be exactly that color. Children of the future—I promise I will never do this to you.
4) It's possible to get sunburned in less than ten minutes. My skin is basically the color of typing paper, and I can feel it start to sizzle the moment I step into the sun. Sometimes it doesn't even matter if I'm wearing sunblock. In the summer, I slink along in the shadows of buildings like a vampire while my friends frolic on the beach. Relatedly, it's extremely difficult to find a concealer that actually matches my skin tone. I might as well just use Wite-Out.
3) It is absolutely impossible to hide in a crowd. This was great for my parents when I was little—they never lost me on the playground, and I glowed like a beacon during my school assemblies and dance recitals. But it's significantly less awesome when I end up standing on a subway platform with some guy I went on a bad date with three years ago or some girl I hated at an old job. It's always just a matter of seconds before they spot me.
2) Sometimes people can't see past the hair. When I was in college, I once went to a Halloween party wearing a waist-length black wig. The first person I saw was a girl who lived on my hall, so I went over to talk to her. She stared right at me and had absolutely no idea who I was—apparently, the hair was so distracting that she'd never bothered to look at my face.
1) Men shout lewd things at you on the street. Every woman has this problem to a certain extent, but there's something about red hair that screams, "Hello, every creepy man in a two-mile radius! I would love for you to come over here and talk to me!" I cannot tell you how many strangers have told me about their "thing for redheads" or speculated out loud about whether the hot-and-spicy-redhead stereotype is true. One guy in his sixties took my hand on the subway and refused to let go because I reminded him of some redhead he had a relationship with in Atlanta. Another man started asking a guy I was dating extremely personal questions about me right in front of me. I do not have a stereotypical redhead temper, but that is one sure-fire way to get it to flare.
THE BEST PARTS:
5) You're incredibly unique. In the United States, only 2-4% of the population has red hair. I also have blue eyes, the rarest color for redheads, which means I look like less than one percent of the population. The only time I've ever been told, "You look so much like someone I know," the person in question turned out to be my second cousin.
4) You never leave home without a flashy accessory, whether you're trying or not. A couple years ago, a friend and I were getting ready for a party, and as I watched her apply her colorful eyeshadow, I said, "Do you think I should start wearing more makeup?" She looked at me like I was insane and said, "What? No! Why would you do that? You have your accent color all taken care of!"
3) Tons of celebrities want to look like you. Apparently red hair is very "in" right now. I like the idea of amazing people like Christina Hendricks paying a bunch of money to be part of a club I'm already in.
2) You're part of the Redhead Sisterhood. I live in New York City, Land of No Eye Contact, but when I pass another redhead on the street, I'll often give her a little nod. Moms with redheaded kids always smile at me. Meeting other redheads is kind of like meeting someone else who grew up in your hometown—even if you don't know each other, you probably inherently understand a lot of things about each other's backgrounds. My agent is always saying she's pretty sure there's a Ginger Mafia out there. (I'm not saying there is, but I'm not saying there isn't.)
1) Red hair is an instant cure for shyness. I love making new friends, but I'm incredibly introverted, and it's hard for me to approach people I don't know and start talking, even at an event full of friendly book nerds. But because I'm so easily recognizable, people are always coming up to me and saying, "Hey! I know you from Twitter!" It totally eliminates that scary first-contact step, and I've made a surprising number of friends that way.
Thanks for the good times, coppery curls. My life (and Felicity's!) would've been very different without you.