Thursday, June 25, 2009

Heroes

I've been thinking about heroes lately. Not the kind of heroes who rescue puppies, but the heroes who populate our books (not that they can't also rescue puppies!). Romance heroes. All of us who write have a type of hero we like. I don't know why, but I *love* a wounded hero. I write wounded heroes. And I know they won't resonate with all readers.

Some readers really don't like the hard alpha who hides his hurt beneath a veneer of prickliness. Some readers think this hero is just mean. I try to understand that, but the truth is that I really don't. When the hero is well motivated, I just want to hug him and tell him it's okay. I want to tell him that I know he's not really bad, and that the heroine knows it too, and that he'll find it out soon enough.

If you've read J.R. Ward, for example, you probably either loved or hated Zsadist. He appeared on scene in the first book as the baddest, evilest vampire of all the Brothers. None of the Brothers understood or trusted him. And yet my heart melted. He excited me and intrigued me. When he got his book (Lover Awakened), I couldn't sleep or eat or do anything but read it to the end. I absolutely bawled at his happy ending. OMG, that was a hero I could love.

And now I write for Harlequin Presents, that line known around the world for having the unapproachable alpha male. The tycoon. The self-made man who is in control and in command. I love him. Obviously, or I wouldn't be writing these books.

I don't think he's mean or evil. I think he's closed off emotionally, and the heroine is the only person in the world who can get through. This man is going to fight her because he doesn't want to feel. He's tried feeling before, and he got hurt in some way. His answer is not to feel.

This makes me all gooey inside. I don't know why. My husband is the nicest, sweetest man imaginable. He's not unapproachable. He would never dream of forcing me to marry him (if we weren't already) or blackmailing me or getting revenge on me.

And yet I write hardened alphas who do all these things. Before I was published, when I was still writing suspense, I wrote hardened alpha military guys. These are the men I love, whether they wear BDUs or Armani suits. I won't apologize for it, and I won't water them down when writing. They are who they are.

What kind of heroes do you like to read? What kind do you write? Have you ever been tempted to change your hero (or even your heroine) to be what you thought people wanted?

9 comments:

Christine said...

I love your kind of heroes all the way! Tough guys, wounded guys, and guys the heroine reaches with her heart. I also love guys who overcame some defect (physical or emotional) and build the outer core of toughness to hide their fear of being exposed or weak.

ELVIS is another example: whenever I watch his concert remix, there is this element in me that says, "you just want to help him." He's tender, hurting and oh so sexy with that snarling lip.

Can't wait to read about your hero!

Debra Glass said...

I tend to write wounded heroes as well but I've fallen in love with Vickie Lewis Thompson's geek heroes.

Nice article!!

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Hi Lynn,
I can't wait to get your book. I have been haunting Borders, but it isn't there yet.

Love the article. I have a soft spot for military alpha males (maybe because I actually met a few). ;-)

Yours, Cyn

Stephanie said...

I LOVE to read just the type of hero you write...Alpha, males with a capital A, if he is a military man all the better. This is probably one reason that I love Harelquin Presents so much, Heros who will do/say anything to accomplish their goal!

Since I write with a partner it is often very interesting to me that the heros we write are extremely different from the ones that appeal to me as a reader. My writing partner prefers a kinder, gentler hero who is usually also very funny, so for the most part that is what we write.

Oh, and I am with you on the Zsadist love! I read it straight through-I didn't even want to talk to anyone until I was finished.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Hi, Christine! Hey, good thought about Elvis! He was a bad boy, though maybe not quite as dark as a Presents hero. Can you just imagine Priscilla being swept off her feet by all that brooding sensuality?

Debra, I'm with you on those different kinds of heroes! I can't write them, but I love reading them.

Cyn, so good to see you here! You probably won't see my book for another month. It will probably show up in the last week of June. :)

Stephanie, squee!!!! A fellow Zsadist lover!!!! You will be right at home with Harlequin Presents then. I didn't realize you were such a fan! Probably because I really do picture your partner writing a gentler hero and lumped you in there with her. :) I should have known you were a bad girl. ;-)

Kathy said...

These be the heroes I love! Men with brawn. Men who get the job done no matter what the cost to themselves. Men who underneath it all only want to find that one woman who can reach their souls. Then again... or men who sweep women off their feet with swashbuckling verve.

Thanks for adding some more Alpha love to the genre, Lynn! ;)

M.V.Freeman said...

Lynn,
I am also a fan of Zsadist! The badder the better. I confess, I adore the super alpha heroes, I don't mind wounded, but I cannot abide broken. I want them strong--who only open up to the heroine.

I also enjoy the funnier, kinder ones Stephanie mentioned..but they better have a trick up their sleeve...:)

I could write pages on this! *sigh*
But I won't, I'll spare everyone my dissertation..LOL

LOVE this post Lynn!

Louisa Cornell said...

I'm with you all the way, Lynn. I love the emotionally closed off hero who has gone through the big hurt and just won't risk it again. I love that swaggering, cocky arrogant type (so long as he has something legit to be arrogant about), but I also love the strong silent type - the brooding SERIOUS guy who only shoes his true self in the heroine's arms.

But many of secondary male characters are the funny self-deprecating type. I would love to launch a series to be able to tell their stories because behind each of these men is that same big hurt. They just deal with it differently!

M.V.Freeman said...

Louisa, I forgot about those brooding silent ones, they are so compelling! (I just had to jump in and comment)
And you know, I think a series about those secondary characters is an EXCELLENT idea! :-)