Charlotte “Charlee” Boyett~Compo
Every woman who picks up a romance novel—either virtually or on paper—will picture the hero in her mind’s eye. Depending upon just how imaginative she is, the face of that hero will either be ephemerally indistinct or as sharp as the shards of a broken mirror. She will picture him as she would like him to be. The vast majority of the time, the face of someone she knows—perhaps admires or after whom she lusts—will settle into place. After all, there aren’t many of us—if any at all—who don’t enjoy a good hunk of eye candy.
For writers, describing the hero is cathartic. It is liberating, energizing, and therapeutic. We exorcise the demons of lust that poke at us with their wicked little suggestions and we put in print the delicious visions we see as we write. We can’t help it. We’re built that way.
Conversely, I doubt many of us really care what the heroine looks like. She’s there peripherally for most of us. We’ll give her hair and eye color, tell the reader she’s slim and curvaceous and has lush lips like Angelina but her looks are only there to entice and enflame the hero. If she looked like a dog, would he be quite so eager to risk life and limb to have her?
As much as we really don’t care about the heroine’s visual appeal, we are that much invested in how our hero looks. We create an image in our mind using references to which we can relate. We make him come alive beneath our fingers. The way we do that is we write what we want to see. We picture in our minds—in my case it is Antony Starr of Outrageous Fortune and Banshee—the man we wished would take us along with him on dangerous adventures and kiss us until our toes curl. Just picturing Ant’s mischievous smile, his intense blue eyes, and nice, hairy chest is enough to write an entire book.
And I have written six Ellora’s Cave books for him. Ask me; I’ll give you the titles. 😉
A few years ago, I did a question and answer session at a writer’s conference. I handed out a sheet with six questions on it. The questions were all about the heroes they write.
Chest hair or manscaped.
I wasn’t the least bit surprised to find most women writers—there were a few guys in on that session but they don’t count—prefer men with dark brown or black wavy hair, worn moderately long. They like men with blue eyes. They want a man with a good physique and no shorter than six foot. Chest hair—and lots of it—won out over manscaped bare chests. Nationality? That one didn’t surprise me in the least, either. They preferred their men from one of two places: Scotland or Down Under. The best age: 35-40. (It was scientifically proven by two women trapped in an elevator cage for three hours with nothing more than a box of Sweet-Tarts that 35 is the absolute perfect age for a man to be).
(By the way, all traits with which my beloved Ant Starr was graced by the goddess of love.) Them Kiwi’s are superduper and their accents? Be still my writer’s imagination.
No matter who the hero looks like, chances are exceedingly good he’s an actor. The flavors at the moment are arguably Matt Bomer and Ian Somerhalder (both of whom have rabid fans praying he will be chosen for Christian Grey in the 50 Shades of Grey movie), Gerard Butler (This is Sparta!), Henry Cavill (another Mr. Grey favorite and whose popularity is really going to sore once the remake of Superman comes out), and Channing Tatum (the Sexiest Man of the Year according to People Magazine). Wes Bentley (Didn’t you just love his beard in The Hunger Games? Didn’t he break your heart in American Beauty?), NBC-TV Grimm’s David Guintoli, Clive Standen of Vikings, the Brits Tom Hardy and Tom Riley (check him out in the new Da Vinci’s Demons series. Don’t wear anything constrictive)…they are all in contention to be future heroes in my books. Of course there are my backups, too: Anson Mount (Hell on Wheels), Alex O’Loughlin (Hawaii Five-0), Timothy Olyphant (Justified), and Colin O’Donahue (Capt. Hook on Once Upon A Time).
So much eye candy and so little insulin available. <sigh>
What about you? Who does your favorite romance hero look like? E-mail me. I’m curious. You can find my addy on my webpage at www.windlegends.org
If my questionnaire was any indication, chances are he might well be tall, dark, and handsome with wavy brown hair, blue eyes, a nice hairy chest, and muscles up the whing-whang.
And I’d have it no other way. Are you listening, Ant? Call me. I’m all yours.