My Type Of Hero

Posted by Helen Scott Taylor | 5:42 AM | , | 18 comments »


I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the type of fictional hero I like. During an on-line pacing class with Mary Buckham, one of the class exercises was to make a note of characters that made an impact on me and stayed in my memory. Immediately, two heroes (and I use that term loosely in the first case) came to mind. Jean Claude the master vampire from Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake vampire hunter novels, and Roark from J.D. Robb’s In Death series. Interesting that neither series is romance per se, although both men are involved in romantic relationships with the story heroines.

The characteristics that attract me to these men and makes them stick vividly in my mind—apart from their physical beauty—is they are both successful, powerful, wounded, and dangerous. Just the sort of man I want my daughter not to marry LOL.

If I met these men in real life, I’d admire them from afar and stay well away. So what is it in my psyche that makes me fascinated with them in fiction? Maybe the vicarious pleasure of getting to know the dark and dangerous, seeing inside their heads and playing with fire along with the heroine.

I’ve also had the realisation that I enjoy writing the wounded, dangerous type of guy as well. My current hero is a lovable rogue, and I’m finding him a lot harder to get to grips with than I expected. But I’m sure I’ll wrestle him into submission soon!

What type of hero do you enjoy reading about? Does he bear any resemblance to your real-life choices?

18 comments

  1. Margay // May 9, 2008 at 6:23 AM  

    I'm with you, Helen. It's definitely more fun - and safer - to read about the wounded hero than to try to tame him in real life. I think that probably accounts for the allure of this type of character - we all naturally want to fix him, to heal his wounds, we all think (or hope) we are the ones who can do so - and we are validated, in books anyway, when the heroine does just what we wish we could do. I think that's what preserves our faith in humanity - the belief that there is inherent good in everyone and even the "bad" boys can be redeemed. With the love of a good woman, of course.

    P.S. This was a great topic. It's cathartic to look inside and question what makes us tick - and what attracts us and why.

  2. Beth Trissel // May 9, 2008 at 10:21 AM  

    So true, Helen. Much safer on paper.
    Interesting post!

  3. C.J. Redwine // May 9, 2008 at 10:36 AM  

    Oooh, Roarke is one of the best! I just shiver a little whenever I read his scenes and sigh in contentment when he masterfully maneuvers his powerhouse wife into submission (of sorts).

    I love those dangerous types too (especially when the danger is lurking just beneath a civilized surface and there's so many other facets to them) but I also love the guy who makes me laugh.

    I married a guy who makes me laugh. I like my danger on the page. :)

  4. Nightingale // May 9, 2008 at 2:15 PM  

    I love the dark hero but like C.J. not the grittier hero of some of today's novels. I like a smooth, deep river running over dangerous rocks. I prefer blondes but that pix, Helen, is gorgeous. Where did you snag that one? Fun topic.

    Most of my heroes are severely damaged in some way but never let anyone, even the heroine know, if at all possible. They, like their creator, consider perfection a must.

  5. Beth Trissel // May 9, 2008 at 9:29 PM  

    I'm enjoying the comments as much as the post!

  6. Leanna // May 10, 2008 at 12:56 AM  

    That's one gorgeous picture. I agree with a lot of what's been said. Great topic. Personally, I like a quirky alpha hero who's man enough to be beta if the situation calls for it. (I tend to write those kinds of heroes, heh)

  7. Helen Scott Taylor // May 10, 2008 at 5:08 AM  

    Margay, you're so right. Part of the satisfaction is seeing the hero healed. I suppose if the guy is wounded and dangerous the task is that much harder for the heroine in a romance.

    It surprised me that both of the guys who I found most memorable are not 'romance' heroes. Set me to wondering if I'm writing the right sort of books!

  8. Helen Scott Taylor // May 10, 2008 at 5:10 AM  

    C.J. the danger lurking beneath a civilized veneer is ultra sexy. I think that is definitely Roarke's appeal. I read a quote somewhere, not sure where that is so true:

    "Gentlemen are just patient wolves."

    Sends a shiver up my spine everytime I read it!

  9. Helen Scott Taylor // May 10, 2008 at 5:16 AM  

    I like blonds as well, Linda. You'll like the hero in one of the books I'm planning as a follow up to Magic Knot. Troy has long fair hair. He's also a high born Tuatha De Danann fairy descended from the Greek gods: very beautiful and dangerous. He's father of Niall, the hero in Magic Knot.

  10. Helen Scott Taylor // May 10, 2008 at 5:19 AM  

    Leanna, I like the quirky type of hero who can be beta when called for. The sort of alpha hero who can change a diaper LOL. Depends on the genre I'm reading I think. In historical and paranormal, I tend to go for the dangerous. In contemporary, I enjoy the more realsitic hero. I suppose that makes sense.

  11. Helen Scott Taylor // May 10, 2008 at 5:21 AM  

    Beth, you're right! The comments are fascinating. Glad I posted this now. I started thinking about this subject when I read Trish Milburn's recent article in the RWA mag. Then I took Mary's course and thought about it again. I hadn't realised my preference before. Not consciously anyway.

  12. Beth Trissel // May 10, 2008 at 10:23 AM  

    Ooooh, Helen, I love that gentlemen are just patient wolves line. And this does get one to thinking why we like who we like. It's such an instinctive gut thing. I vary my heroes attributes some from story to story so I suppose I must be variable in my tastes. :)

  13. Terry Odell // May 10, 2008 at 11:50 AM  

    Roarke is definitely way up there. I wish it hadn't taken so long for 'his' book to show up.

    I tend to dump angst on my heroes, both physical and mental. But most of them haven't been 'bad boys'. My next book, due out in December starts (I hope) a series about a team of covert ops guys who work for a private company. They've got to have a 'dark side' to be able to do what they do, but it's grounded in a strong desire to make things right.

  14. Beth Trissel // May 10, 2008 at 4:46 PM  

    Your upcoming story sounds good, Terry.

  15. Toni V.S. // May 11, 2008 at 5:37 PM  

    Oh yes--I agree, Helen! I always pictured Roark as a a young Pierce Brosnan, another sexy Irishman, mainly because when I read my first JD Robb "Death..." book, I was also watching "Remington Steele," on TV. I also liked Jean-Claud until that series bogged down into little more than sex with a vague storyline connecting them and he got dumped for werewolves, wereleopards and were-anything else that came along! Has anyone seen the Anita Blake comics? My main complaint is that they make Jean-Claude look effeminate. Lots of muscles and long hair, but the drawing make every male look like like female impersonators!

    My heroes are mostly the same as you've described--good at heart, bad by circumstances, and waiting for that "love of a good woman" to give them the final impetus to make the change. Usually tall, dark and handsome, to go along with it. Mine heroes differ in that respectl they're usually blond or red-haired. (someone's gotta be different!) Only Marek Strigoi, vampire extraordinaire, is dark--a physical anomaly that makes him head of his clan--everyone else in his family is tall, blond, and handsome, but otherwise, they all are the epitome of everything you've written.
    Another hero who'd fit your criteria--the last pureblooded vampire in the word, the King of the Vampires in JR Wards Brotherhood of the Black Dagger. Whoa!

  16. Toni V.S. // May 11, 2008 at 5:38 PM  

    Oh yes--I agree, Helen! I always pictured Roark as a a young Pierce Brosnan, another sexy Irishman, mainly because when I read my first JD Robb "Death..." book, I was also watching "Remington Steele," on TV. I also liked Jean-Claud until that series bogged down into little more than sex with a vague storyline connecting them and he got dumped for werewolves, wereleopards and were-anything else that came along! Has anyone seen the Anita Blake comics? My main complaint is that they make Jean-Claude look effeminate. Lots of muscles and long hair, but the drawing make every male look like like female impersonators!

    My heroes are mostly the same as you've described--good at heart, bad by circumstances, and waiting for that "love of a good woman" to give them the final impetus to make the change. Usually tall, dark and handsome, to go along with it. Mine heroes differ in that respectl they're usually blond or red-haired. (someone's gotta be different!) Only Marek Strigoi, vampire extraordinaire, is dark--a physical anomaly that makes him head of his clan--everyone else in his family is tall, blond, and handsome, but otherwise, they all are the epitome of everything you've written.
    Another hero who'd fit your criteria--the last pureblooded vampire in the word, the King of the Vampires in JR Wards Brotherhood of the Black Dagger. Whoa!

  17. Toni V.S. // May 11, 2008 at 5:38 PM  

    Oh yes--I agree, Helen! I always pictured Roark as a a young Pierce Brosnan, another sexy Irishman, mainly because when I read my first JD Robb "Death..." book, I was also watching "Remington Steele," on TV. I also liked Jean-Claud until that series bogged down into little more than sex with a vague storyline connecting them and he got dumped for werewolves, wereleopards and were-anything else that came along! Has anyone seen the Anita Blake comics? My main complaint is that they make Jean-Claude look effeminate. Lots of muscles and long hair, but the drawing make every male look like like female impersonators!

    My heroes are mostly the same as you've described--good at heart, bad by circumstances, and waiting for that "love of a good woman" to give them the final impetus to make the change. Usually tall, dark and handsome, to go along with it. Mine heroes differ in that respectl they're usually blond or red-haired. (someone's gotta be different!) Only Marek Strigoi, vampire extraordinaire, is dark--a physical anomaly that makes him head of his clan--everyone else in his family is tall, blond, and handsome, but otherwise, they all are the epitome of everything you've written.
    Another hero who'd fit your criteria--the last pureblooded vampire in the word, the King of the Vampires in JR Wards Brotherhood of the Black Dagger. Whoa!

  18. Toni V.S. // May 11, 2008 at 6:40 PM  

    Hey, Helen, apologies for the triple-post but the Blogger kept telling me I was entering invalid posting information so I just kept trying until it said everything was "OK." If you know a way to delete two of them, please feel free!

    In reading back over other posts, I agree with Linda N's assessment except that I don't ask for perfection in MY heroes. Since mine are generally UN-human--their vulneralbilty is what makes them "human". Perhaps one other person, some close friend or relative who was with them when the thing happened that scarred them so, knows about it. It's only when the heroine discovers this secret--either inadvertantly or as a reluctant confession--that the hero finally becomes accessible to her because he can finally share his terrible hurt with someone who will care and not scorn him.
    Ah, Love....
    Linda N--if we ever get to the "Vampire's Debate" we can hash that one into the dirt along with the other points of interest!