All writers have words or phrases they like to use a little too much. It’s human nature and I’m probably guilty of it too. As a reader, once you pick up on it, I think it almost becomes a little game to see how many times you count it in one book.
Jeff Lindsay, the author of the Dexter books, loves to talk about lizard brains. It happens so often that the Showtime TV series finally started using the phrase in its seventh season of the show, which aired in 2012. It became a running joke and you could almost see the actors trying to hold back their laughter when they had to say it.
Armistead Maupin, author of the Tales of the City books, tends to say that his characters “smile ruefully.” Mrs. Madrigal smiles ruefully, Michael Tolliver smiles ruefully. There sure is a lot of ruefulness in San Francisco.
My favorite repeat offender is Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse series. (The books that inspired the hit HBO TV series, True Blood.) Harris has many phrases that stand out in her novels.
One of them is heel spinning. Women are always spinning on their heels to walk away in those books. It comes right after they’ve served up some catty insult. I imagine that’s just how women walk there in Bon Temps. Constantly spinning on their heels. I just hope they don’t break a heel. After all, Sookie mentions in the narrative that she buys all her clothes at Walmart Supercenter. I don’t know how sturdy those Walmart heels are.
But silk shirts are the real favorite in these books. A friend first pointed this out to me, and once I noticed it, I couldn’t un-see it. Sometimes it felt like every other chapter mentioned someone wearing a silk shirt.
Who the hell wears silk shirts? These books were written in the 2000s, mind you. Silk shirts were all the rage in the early 1990s.
Seriously, remember when you had a shirt like this. You loved it, right? There’s no shame. I loved putting on a fresh, wrinkle-free silk shirt and I was so proud of it with its brightly colored square patches.
Or maybe Charlaine Harris listens to the R&B group Silk when she’s writing and they get her in the mood. Maybe the entire series is a secret homage to them.
Who knows? In any case, the Sookie Stackhouse books are my new favorite thing. I’ve been reading them back-to-back since last summer and I’m going to be sad when the series ends. The last novel is slated to be released this May. I will sincerely miss Sookie with her heel spinning and undying devotion to all things silk.