Although my novel is essentially about Iris’s journey, I need to understand as much as possible about perfume. I find this sort of research really fascinating and for my previous novel ‘The Olive Sisters’ learned an amazing amount about olives and olive oil. Perfume is much more complex so it’s like trying to do a crash-course in the art of wine-making.
I had booked a session to create a perfume that would give me a hands-on (although superficial) idea of the process. This was nearly a disaster as the place wasn’t located where I thought but three (hilly!) kilometres away and by the time I realised my mistake I had five minutes to get there. I managed to find a taxi but no driver. Eventually managed to locate the driver in a nearby bar and he, somewhat reluctantly, got me there only a few minutes late.
Next problem was that as soon as I was asked to smell the first fragrances I realised my nose is very stuffed up from all the interior heating which I’m not used to. So it was a bit like trying to do an exam without reading glasses – a major struggle!
Anyway, the session was really interesting. The perfumer initially gave me base notes to choose from, which are the foundation of the fragrance, then heart notes and finally the top notes – each of which is smelled individually and together and then added and mixed in a layering process.
The full perfume won’t be ready to use for two weeks – at which point my nose should be back in action and I’ll probably discover I’ve created something with all the ambiance of fly spray. Although the perfumer described my creation as very floral and romantic.