I’ll admit, I can be distracted fairly easily by a handsome face. (Not to mention thighs of steel. Or muscular, manly shoulders. Or hair I’d love to run my fingers through…) Although my husband rolls his eyes when I say this, I call this heightened state of distraction “Writing Inspiration & Research” or, alternately, “The Endless Quest for an Unquestioningly Compelling Hero.” (I don’t care what anyone says, I’m working when I’m looking up these photos, LOL. 🙂 )
Given the global frenzy this month because of the premiere of “Outlander“ on the STARZ cable network, I know I’m not alone in casting an admiring gaze on the Scottish male lead of the runaway hit, Sam Heughan. But, as hot as that man is — kilt or no kilt — there’s more about his character than his looks that I find fascinating. I think one of the things that makes Diana Gabaldon’s famous hero, Jamie Fraser, so beloved is that he’s a combination of many traits: both powerful and vulnerable, full of decisive action and childlike wonder, possessing witty playfulness and unflinching seriousness, and also extremely stubborn, smart and loyal. And that’s intriguing. As a reader or viewer, we wonder what someone who is strong, intelligent, principled, funny, etc., will do next…
I was also recently watching the 2007 adaptation of Northanger Abbey starring JJ Feild as Henry Tilney. He’s an Austen hero who continues to grow on me over time. He’s well educated but goofy, willing to stand up for his beliefs but also not take himself too seriously, sophisticated in many ways but not afraid to learn something new or see the world through a different perspective. While he’s not nearly as intense as some of JA’s heroes (i.e., Mr. Darcylicioius Himself and Oh, Captain Wentworth, My Captain), Henry is, in a word, charming, and I’m drawn to that.
This line of thought, of course, got me thinking about my next two writing projects — one that’s Austen-inspired and one that’s not — and the kinds of heroes I want to populate them. But I’m still deep in the information-gathering stage, and sometimes it really helps to pause and take a look back before racing forward…
So, I wanted to ask your help. I’d sincerely like to know what are a handful of qualities (physical, intellectual, emotional, you name it) that make you LOVE a hero. Please feel free to use any novel or film by any writer you want as a reference. If, however, you happen to have read any of my novels and you have a favorite hero from one of them, I would especially love to know which of these guys you liked best!! Bingley McNamara from Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Bet is pretty different from his cousin Dr. Will Darcy in Perfect Match. And, of course, Sam Blaine in According to Jane is different still from both of those men, as well as from my other heroes, like Donovan McCafferty in The Road to You, and so on.
What type of man is the fictional hero who speaks most to YOU?? Are there just a couple of distinguishing traits or a range of them? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts — and thank you!!
Marilyn Brant is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction, romantic comedy & mystery. She was named the Author of the Year (2013) by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. She loves all things Jane Austen, has a passion for Sherlock Holmes, is a travel addict and a music junkie, and lives on chocolate and gelato. Her website is: www.marilynbrant.com