Jaye Goetz, who plays a pivotal role in Mahogany Slade, is physically based on a friend of mine. It’s a bit of 90210 casting because Jaye is 20 during the book, and my descriptions of her are based on my friend when she was in her mid-to-late 20s.
Some people who have read the book tell me that they either instantly fall for Jaye or are at least inclined to root for her. That was my intent, and it’s so rare when one’s intentions succeed. However, I credit that achievement entirely to my friend’s own allure, which I shamelessly borrowed.
She wandered over to me in red Chuck Taylors. I think she liked the color because her hair was a collection of different shades; scarlet, magenta, auburn — they all struggled for dominance like competing wildflowers. Her face — clear and white — had a bubbly quality, and her thick, round-framed black glasses seemed to constantly ride the wave of her smile.
Oh, and here’s one more:
Jaye’s hair was pulled back from her oval face, and her glasses had been swapped out for oversized shades from the ‘80s. “Classic 67” was stenciled across the front of her purple sweatshirt, which she’d unzipped, so the statement was divided. The blue letters were faded and beat-up. The “A” and the “6” fared especially poorly, and the “7” was now almost more of a slanted “I.”
Every character in Mahogany Slade has a song that helped me define them. I’d call it their “leitmotif” if I had permission to use the term slightly incorrectly. Jaye’s is “Red Shoes” by Throwing Muses, which, if the Internets are behaving, is embedded below.