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How Cool is This?

This time last year we were getting ready for a photo shoot for the Champions alternative history series. The exact date was Sunday, May 6th on location at the Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society venue in St. Jacob’s, Ontario. The number of people involved, including models, photographer and assistant, make-up and hair, props, Iceberg team, and some special guests (you know who you are) was about 15. And we totally lucked out with the weather –– it was beautiful.

This comes to mind today for a couple of reasons. First, Kenneth is increasing Iceberg’s photo bank quite substantially this week by taking lots of pictures while in Halifax for the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic. Second, the Newfoundland Chocolate Company, which I follow on Facebook, has been posting images of chocolate shoes the past couple of days, for people looking for Mother’s Day ideas.

The former has some obvious connections. Photos make me think of other photos, and one sort of Iceberg adventure (albeit one I’m only witnessing from afar) makes me think of another sort of Iceberg adventure. That makes sense, right?

But chocolate shoes? Well, you’re certainly forgiven if you’re totally confused. The connections my brain makes can be a little hard to follow sometimes.

Let me see if I can explain. The key words in this instance are “chocolate” and “shoes”. Chocolate because I made a special trip to the local Lindt outlet before the photo shoot to make sure non-liquid energy boosts were available at any time. (There was coffee too, of course, but it was only allowed in the refreshment area.) And shoes because they remind me of all the fun I had as a member of the wardrobe team getting ready for the photo shoot.

A photo shoot out-take. Lady Alex’s and Stephanie’s boots had to work with their ‘uniforms’ plus all manner of unfriendly terrain.

Knowing the character so well, Kenneth had a very clear image in his mind of the style of coat(s) –– spoiler: there is more than one –– Lady Alex would need. These had been sourced online after quite extensive searches. But she would also need trousers, shirts, and footwear. And Stephanie’s uniform, which was on loan and thankfully came with trousers and a jacket, required shirts, a necktie, scarf and boots as well.

Catching on yet? Yes, as farfetched as this may sound, the chocolate shoes made me think of long chats about the kind of boots that would be needed for a Champion and a Lieutenant, and where best to find them at a reasonable price.

I think everyone on the Iceberg team would agree that I’m the resident expert on footwear. Indeed, people who know me best might say footwear is something of an obsession (I prefer the word passion), and finding the perfect shoes, sandals or boots for a particular outfit and occasion is a favorite activity of mine.

Another out-take, this one giving a clear view of Lady Alex’s signature boots.

So all this led to a Saturday morning trip down the Highway 401 in the Greater Toronto Area to see what could be found at a StyleSense closing sale. Rows and rows of clearance footwear at 70-80% off –– I couldn’t get there fast enough! The only thing that would have made buying boots for fictional characters who exist in an alternative history of the 1940s any better would be if I had found a pair for myself as well. But I digress.

With the boot issue settled, we soon found the perfect shirts from Lands End and Sears, and the perfect trousers –– tight-as-leggings cargo pants in black and olive green –– from Victoria’s Secret (no, I’m not kidding). All on sale too of course, because Iceberg’s marketing budget only goes so far and because another skill of mine is finding the things we need on sale.

The business of publishing, in case I haven’t made the point sufficiently in this and earlier posts, will inevitably send you places and have you doing many things besides working with words. I’ve found myself sitting on a log in the middle of ‘the grasslands’ to review photos to make sure we were getting what we needed… I’ve taken a non-restricted firearms course so I would have some firsthand knowledge of the weapons being used by the b’ys on the new world when I was editing… And I’ve gone boot shopping on a Saturday for fictitious characters born on another planet who needed them for their 1940s adventures.

I wasn’t kidding about the firearms course.

Publishing is a pretty incredible business, and yes, it’s incredibly hard work. But in the midst of the hard work, there are times when you can’t help but stop for a moment in awe… and ask yourself: How cool is this?

Incredibly cool, I’d say. And thank you to Newfoundland’s chocolate shoes and HMCS Sackville in Halifax (where I know Kenneth is asking that question every other minute)… for reminding me.