Squawk Radio

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Liz Asks, "Who's that Girl?"

This is my new book, EXPRESS MALE, which went on sale this week. It's book three of the OPUS spy series that started with JUST LIKE A MAN a year and a half ago. You don't have to have read the first two books in order to make sense of this one. I try to keep related books individual enough that you can come into the action anywhere and not feel uncomfortable. This book features as its heroine the twin sister of a spy who showed up briefly in book one as a not-so-dumb-blonde named Tiffannee, and less briefly in book two as a spy-on-the-lam named Lila. But Marnie Lundy, said heroine of EXPRESS MALE, has no idea she has a twin sister out there in the world, as the twins were separated at birth. (Yeah, I know. That's something you hardly ever see in Romance novels.) All Marnie knows is that, in chapter one, she's mistaken not once, not twice, but three times, by three different men, for a woman named Lila, who is also identified as "the most dangerous woman in the world."

This comes as something of a surprise for the mild-mannered piano teacher and part-time lingerie saleswoman, since the greatest danger she's encountered lately has been her Saturday morning lessons with six-year-old Tad "Mad Man" Merriweather. Alas, she has no choice but to accompany the last of these three men, Noah Tennant, OPUS muckety-muck, when he pulls a gun on her and demands she take him for a ride. Ultimately, it winds up being the ride of Noah's--and Marnie's--life.

Mistaken identity is no more unique a device in Romance novels than is twins separated at birth. However, I have more than a nodding acquaintance with mistaken identity since my mom is a twin (though, fortunately, NOT separated at birth), and I grew up watching people constantly mistake her for her sister, my Aunt Dot. Me, I could never get it, since I had no trouble distinguishing the two of them. Hell, our dog had no trouble distinguishing the two of them. But to many of their friends and acquaintances, the two of them were indeed identical.

But then, it doesn't take being a twin for us to be mistaken for someone else. As a teenager, I must have fielded at least once a month the question, "You go to Fern Creek High School, don't you?" No, I went to Seneca High School. But there was obviously a girl at Fern Creek who looked just like me, and I wondered if she often heard the question, "You go to Seneca High School, don't you?" I was also often told I looked just like Bailey on "WKRP in Cincinnati," because that show was popular at a time when I had long hair and big glasses like hers. (Another friend called me "Mr. Peabody" after the Bullwinkle character, but I'd just as soon not go there.)

My husband and I started dating around the time Billy Joel's "The Stranger" was experiencing its peak popularity. Everywhere we went, someone would comment on how much he resembled Billy Joel, thanks to the bedroom eyes the two of them shared. (Thankfully, he bears no resemblance to Billy these days.) When I went to London in college with a group of exchange students, the roommate to whom I was assigned, Adele, looked A LOT like Princess Diana--same height, same hair color and style, same elegance of bearing, very similar features. This happened to be the summer of the royal wedding, so everywhere we went, heads swiveled constantly and people bent those heads in quiet discussion, obviously trying to discern if Adele was, in fact, the young Lady, soon-to-be-Princess, Di. A friend of mine in college was once mistaken for Steve Perry, the lead singer for Journey, by a fan so overwrought that he finally signed Steve Perry's autograph for her, just to make her leave him alone.

It's fun to think there are other people out there in the world who share our features. It makes me wonder if there's some distant DNA link between me and people who look like me. Maybe a thousand years ago, one of the ancestors of that girl at Fern Creek High School had a fling with one of my ancestors, and it took that long for the right combination of genes to come together again to produce two similar-looking girls who happened to live in the same place. Or, who knows? Maybe she and I were twins, separated at birth. (Though this would for sure come as a surprise to my mom.)

So how about you? They say everyone has a twin in the world. Do you or any of your loved ones ever find yourselves mistaken for someone else? Are there any famous people you or yours have been told you resemble? Ever try to pass yourself off as someone else?
Elizabeth Bevarly, 7:53 AM