Doctor Who?

She has, in her hands, a small metal instrument that looks like a cross between a tattoo machine, a dental tool, and a paint sprayer. “Close your eyes,” she says, and a moment later she’s spraying my face with foundation. It’s like being outdoors in a breezy mist.

She and Mary are chatting as she continues to apply makeup to my closed eyes. My eyebrows. My lips. Ultimately, she glues fake eyelashes on me and I feel hooded and a little like Lucille Ball, certain to peg anyone who gets too close with one of these feelers.

Of all the improbable things to happen this evening, it turns out wearing heels is the oddest. They’re gorgeous heels. Stomping heels. And they raise me up to some wild height of danger. I could be on stilts. I walk as though I am.

I’m handed a cane.

“Don’t upset her,” the photographer’s assistant says, “she has a weapon.”

I have never been photographed like this. And when it was suggested, I told the photographer that I make monkey face when I’m anxious. “That’s my favorite kind of face,” he assured me. And that’s how I knew this would be fine. Now, in the studio, he says, “This is all about awkward, and fun. Whichever parts of you bend will be entirely straight, or entirely bent. Awkward and fun!”

“Oh good, I specialize in awkward.” And before he snaps the camera, he makes a sharp intake of breath in surprise, like when you’re playing peek-a-boo with a toddler, “EEh!” and I mimic him — my face lighting up with the noise. Surprise! Flash! Surprise! Flash!

I’m one of the early doctors from Doctor Who. I have a Panama hat. And a long skirt. I can hear Mary laughing, behind the lights.

But, honestly, this is exactly what he promised, awkward and fun. I’m this weird character in my weird body, made up to catch the light in ways I usually avoid. Performance in person rather than on the page. Later, when I watch Mary, who makes the awkward seem more natural, I realize how much skill it takes to be someone else. To inhabit it. Mostly, I feel like I’m still trying to figure out how to be my self. Awkward and fun. That really does cover it, doesn’t it? Awkward and fun, and chasing joy.

2 thoughts on “Doctor Who?”

  1. Awkward and fun. Huh. I just realized I presumed those things to be mutually exclusive. How liberating!

    I can’t wait to see what this is all about…

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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