I have a deathly fear of fire. Really. I have a fireplace in my house and I use it. I frequently burn leaves in my yard. Doesn't matter. I still have an incredible fear of being trapped in a building that is on fire. Not just your average "That makes sense. Fire can kill you." sort of way. If Mrs. O'Leary had had the number of fire extinguishers in her barn that I have in my 14 x 80 foot trailer Chicago would NEVER have burned. Trust me.
I'm trying to decide if that's a phobia or just a quirk. When does a quirk become a phobia and at what point does it become downright eccentric. I take that back. I don't fit the criteria to be eccentric. If you're odd and you're poor, you're just plain crazy. If you're odd and you're rich, you're eccentric. Hey, I don't make the rules. So, am I crazy? I would LIKE to be eccentric one day.
What does this have to do with writing? I just wondered if any of you have or have thought about creating characters with phobias, quirks or eccentricities. And I'm speaking in terms of heroes for the most part. Women expect other women to have phobias, quirks and eccentricities. We women are accepting like that. We realize that with all of the intellectual gifts and talents we have we're just too accomplished and grounded NOT to have a few oddities about us.
Now in our heroes, on the other hand, I think we often expect perfection - physical perfection and intellectual perfection. And we want all of their emotional imperfections to be all about how they relate to women. That way we can show off some of those female talents and fix all of those emotional imperfections which will result in our getting the hero, or rather in our heroines getting the hero. You get the picture.
I just wondered if any of you have ever written a hero with a phobia or quirk that you didn't necessarily WANT to cure. Sometimes they can be quite endearing. Sometimes they can humanize these male gods we make of our heroes. I just happen to believe that it is the odd little flaws and quirks that make a man human (or a woman for that matter.)
I'm not afraid of snakes, having owned some rather large ones in my lifetime. In fact I'm not afraid of any reptiles, and yes, I've owned some pretty big lizards too. BUT, the hero of one of my books is DEATHLY afraid of snakes. Which makes it all the more fun when he falls for a young woman who is doing research on the possible uses for cobra venom. (Did you know research was being done on this very thing as early as 1802 with regard to the ability of the venom to cause blood to clot? Cool stuff for a Regency historical author to know.) Does my hero's phobia make him less macho? I don't think so.
But it doesn't just have to be phobias. How about a little OCD thing the hero does that most of his friends find funny, but our heroine finds it fascinating? Have you ever used something like this. Do you think it works or does it make the hero less heroic? (My late husband could not stand for his food to touch on the plate. For our everyday china I picked the pattern with the biggest plates I could find. I still have the dishes and when I use them it makes me smile because for a minute he's there with me saying "Did I tell you how much I love these dishes?" Yes, Roger. You told me.)
So, how about it writers? What do you think? And what about you personally? Any phobias out there? Any quirks? Any eccentricities? We Southern gals know all about eccentrics! In the South you don't ask if there is insanity in the family. You just ask which side its on!!