My mother always wore her hair short. Really short. It looked fantastic on her with her high cheekbones and high-bridged nose.

Then I was scrolling online and saw one of those clickbait galleries that show you what a famous person would look like today. Love those!

My big takeaway is how much a hairstyle can change a person’s appearance.

And then I became obsessed. What would my mother look like with long hair? What if my mother wore her hair in braids, like the main character in my urban fantasy novella, The Monsters of Chavez Ravine, set in 1952.

Twenty-two-year-old Trini Duran usually wears her wavy dark hair loose, but when it’s clear she’ll need to devote a lot of time to chasing monsters, she opts for a style that will survive a night of creature stalking.

I sent one of my favorite pictures of my mother taken when she was about the same age as Trini to an illustrator and made two requests: thicken my mom’s eyebrows because she overplucked them and add some lovely, loose braids.

Here’s the photo. It was taken at a nightclub in Los Angeles. My mother, Dora, is on the far right. My aunt Lily sits next to her.

When the illustration came back, it took my breath away.

I didn’t have my mother in mind when I dreamed up Trini Duran. She’s about as far from the slightly cranky, independent gunslinger that is Trini. They share only two things in common:  both grew up in the Palo Verde neighborhood of Chavez Ravine and both are tall.

But damn if my mother, in braids, makes a pretty good Trini.

I’m on the fence about sharing illustrations of characters. I hate the idea of ruining it for a reader if they imagined something entirely different. But in this case, I’ll take the chance because while she’s not what I had in mind for Trini, she just might be yours.