H is for Hero

hIn this context, I’m not talking about heroes who have done something really noble and great and are really worthy of the title – people like firefighters and the lifeboat crews who put their own lives at risk to save others; people who stand up for things they really believe in, at great personal danger; people who go against the crowd to defend what is right. Those are the real heroes, of course, and the world is lucky to have such people. What I’m talking about in this blog post is much more light-hearted and shallow. I’m talking about lovely men with the phwoar factor. The fictional hero.

I love writing heroes, and I have to confess I’ve fallen in love with all three of the ones I’ve already written. I’m in the process of learning about hero number four, and I’m trying to chip away at his defences to find out the kind of man he is, because I just know that the minute I get inside his mind I will well and truly fall for him. That may sound completely insane, but it’s actually essential. If I don’t fall in love with my hero, why would my heroine? And it’s very important that readers fall in love with him, too.

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Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch
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James Stewart as George Bailey

The first hero I wrote was Gabriel in There Must Be An Angel. He is aloof, mysterious, and quite cutting at first. There’s a hidden wound in there somewhere, and that affects the way he is with other people – particularly Eliza. I loved him because I knew what his problem was, and I knew what he’d been through and what a gentle, kind person he was; but of course, Eliza didn’t know all that at first and neither did the reader, so, to demonstrate that he was a good man, I had to show the other side of him, and his relationship with his daughter was the best way to do that. There’s nothing more attractive than a good, loving father. Think of Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird and George Bailey in It’s A wonderful Life. Real hero material! Strong, community-minded and fair men who adored their families more than anything. Lovely.

In my short story, The Other Side of Christmas, Luke was the hero, and he was the quiet, reliable type. Flynn in A Kiss From A Rose is quiet, too. In fact, he’s very quiet! He appears to be the least sociable person in town, but there’s hidden depths to Flynn. I can honestly say that, after a rocky start, I absolutely adore him now.

When I write my heroes, I do have in mind what they look like. In fact, I like to “cast” all my characters. It helps me to visualise their actions and voices, and it’s quite nice to be able to make your favourite hunk say and do all the things you want him to in a completely legal and harmless way!

I don’t like to make public who I have visualised in the parts, though. I’ve discovered that one man’s meat is another man’s poison, and one woman’s prime beef steak is another woman’s value burger. At work, we have endless conversations about various television “heroes” – in our own time, of course. Honest, boss!

People’s taste vary so widely it’s extraordinary. For instance, I love Benedict Cumberbatch but I’m in a minority at work. Most of the women I work with cannot see the attraction at all. Some of us are totally enamoured by the gorgeous Musketeers, but some don’t understand that, with one of my colleagues, in particular, wrinkling her nose in disgust and pronouncing that they all need a good wash! Aidan Turner is currently making hearts pound in Poldark, but even he doesn’t float everyone’s boat. Some insist he’s too skinny! Others say he needs a haircut. What? Are they all mad?

A popular hero seems to be Richard Armitage, and having seen him in his black leather as Sir Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood, or as the delightful Harry who won the heart of our dear vicar, Geraldine Grainger, in The vicar of Dibley, I can quite see why. I keep meaning to watch North and South. I understand he’s exceptionally sexy in that part!

Of course, it’s not just looks that attract. I remember when Matt Smith was first cast as The Doctor in BBC’s Doctor Who, my daughter and I looked at each other and said what an odd looking bloke he was. By the end of the first episode, I’d totally fallen for him. His warmth, his kindness, his expressive eyes just melted my heart. Now I absolutely adore him and can only see that he is beautiful – something that escapes my mother entirely as she is completely smitten by David Tennant and has never forgiven Matt Smith for not being him.

One of my work colleagues has a soft spot for Bradley Walsh. Another – and I kid you not – has a crush on “The Beast”, who is one of the Chasers on Bradley’s quiz show, The Chase. No, I don’t understand that at all. Simon Baker is very popular with some of my fellow Write Romantics, but does nothing for me. Loads of women seem to lust after Simon Cowell, which baffles me – although it seems David Walliams shares their passion! 🙂 I actually prefer David Walliams. One particular lady novelist, who shall remain nameless, lusts after Tony Robinson, aka Baldrick, though I think, to be fair, she prefers him when he’s not playing that character. Although, I could be wrong.

It just goes to show you how different we all are, and that’s why I choose not to share pictures on my Pinterest board of my characters, because I’ve realised it’s far more satisfying for the reader if they can insert their own idea of a hero into the leading man.

I’ve really enjoyed writing about this subject – and I’ve enjoyed browsing through pictures of all these gorgeous men even more. What a fabulous excuse this has been! Ah, well. “Enough now. Enough” – as Andrew Lincoln says in Love, Actually. Ooh, Andrew Lincoln…now there’s another one. Oh, and gorgeous Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Martin Freeman and Alan Rickman were in that film, weren’t they! One last picture, or maybe two, then…

Have a great day xx

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