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Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Different Perspective


“So why can’t your heroes be more like me?” Spoken like a too-full-of-himself, macho dude, right?


Could have been, but in this case, the question in one form or another has been posed to me a lot recently, by men who are close friends. They’ve either read my work, or talked about it enough amongst themselves to feel able to offer an opinion. Of course any time the subject of my books comes up, there first must be a great deal of good-natured teasing, but to the best of my knowledge, none of them had ever read a romance book before. They have honest questions and insights that I find very helpful.

Wait, I don’t want to paint an unrealistic picture of my buddies. These are guys talking sex; it’s not like they go all Socrates or anything! They inquired as to why the heroines can have physical flaws and insecurities and the heroes have to be all wash-board abby, male yummy goodness (my words, definitely not theirs!). Amid the jocularity of them pointing out each other’s flaws and bragging about their individual assets, I quickly realized this was a real issue with them and I think a very valid one.

I understand the rules of the genre, but their comments really got me thinking. I purposely create heroines who have certain body issues and insecurities because I can relate to that character. I don’t want to read or write about a woman who is the epitome of our gender; she makes me feel inadequate! If we’re going to entice men to read our genre, maybe we need to lighten up a bit on the studly perfection.

There’s this guy, Rick. He’s probably in his late fifties but I’m a terrible judge of age. His hair is more grey than brown and a touch too long to be considered fashionable, but I like to think it’s the perfect length to hold onto. His eyes aren’t ‘the deepest cobalt blue’, or ‘the color of the sands sweeping across the desert’ but they light up with emotion when he laughs. (The little crinkly lines at the corners are so cute!) He’s only an inch or so taller than me, but I don’t ever wear heals so who cares? Rick’s definitely not ripped, muscular guy, he’s just…regular! He has ‘curves’. The words ‘chiseled’, ‘god-like’ and ‘massive’ don’t spring to mind when he walks into the room, but to me, he still looks damn fine in a t-shirt and jeans. And his hands – long fingers, roughened by years of hard work, you have no idea how I’ve fantasized about what he could do to me with those!

His back aches after a long day. He has bills to pay, a house to take care of, grown children, an ex, emotional baggage, and a genuine love of lounging around on the weekend doing nothing. He talks about retirement – hey, it’s allowed, nobody’s getting any younger, you know? I’m pretty sure he’s never gone on a covert government mission, headed a multi-trillion dollar corporation, lived in a castle, or shifted into another species, but there is something about him that pushes all of my buttons.

He is my next hero, a wink and nod to my male friends. Will a publisher accept him? Only time will tell.

Tessie
http://www.tessiebradford.com/

12 comments:

  1. I hope a publisher will accept him. He sounds marvelous! Go for it! :)

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  2. I personally don't like the buffed, perfectly proportioned male. I find them creepy. I like the more normal, physically flawed, fun to be around types...but that's just me.

    K

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  3. It's sad the heros in women's fiction have to be physical perfection. Haven't we all had the experience at some time in our lives of going crazy for a man who wasn't physically perfect and absolutely loving the imperfect things about him? I'm attracted to a dominant, talented, intelligent man- to my eyes those characteristics trump "chiseled abs" any day.... I can't wait to hear what happens in your office and circle of friends when the guys discover the erotic-writer is on the lookout for regular-guy Muses, stand back, let the male feather preening begin!
    (Are there Male Muses?) Perhaps Museo?? lol
    XXOO Kat

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  4. Thanks, Amber, K and Kat. I bet there are a lot of us around who would welcome reading about a man who is more regular on the outside and extra special on the inside!

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  5. I think he sounds MARVELOUS, darling!
    Hit it!
    I agree that men can be just themselves and be wonderful. The men in our books are super-sized for reasons of drama...but real life doesn't need any extra drama. WE have enuf! Too much sometimes. And a warm hearted man does not have be 007 or Robin Hood, in fact, we might run from him.
    AND oh, BTW, my next heroine is 50, fit and fab! It can be done!
    Ciao!

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  6. Wait a minute... Nobody mentioned 007 or Robin Hood in the first round-I take it all back, maybe I do want my fantasy men super-sized!!! lol
    XXOO Kat

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  7. Cerise- my newest heroine is "forty nine years young"! As I get older, so do my characters!

    Kat- I'll arm wrestle you for 007!!!

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  8. Being the epitome of our gender that I am, I'm gutted that you've decided not to write about me Tessie! lol I wish...
    I'm sure the demographic for reading erotica in the form of a novel is heavily weighted toward the female of the species. I may have said this to you before(?) but I think women need to set a scene for sex, whereas men only need a place. Flash fiction would suit them just as well. lol Obviously I'm talking about choices in fiction here and not those men who are in loving committed relationships.
    Looks are of absolutely no importance to me. Intelligence and humour are the things that attract me to a man. Throw in a little creativity...
    I have a friend who always chooses a man with something wrong with him. So much so that when she tells me she's met someone new, I just say, "Which is it? A hump or a limp?" She's always attracted to those who'll bring out the 'inner carer' in her! Other women liked to be cared for.
    I suppose fiction is generic because it has to be in a way. If something is well written then we'll fill in the blanks for ourselves. However, I do believe that publishers have taken this a little too far and the heroes in books are in danger of falling foul of the Stepford Wives syndrome. I think your hero sounds wonderful. Go for it!!

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  9. Pamela - "A hump or a limp?", I burst out laughing!!!! Thanks so much for the encouragement!

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  10. He sounds like a great hero! Go for it!

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  11. Julia - Thanks for naming Rick the "hero" I hope to make him!

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  12. The reason most publishers want hot men with normal females is to sell books. The unspoken requirement for at least one of my publishers is to create stories that appeal to women who want to see someone like themselves being carried off and loved by someone hot and sexy.

    One thing I want to state right now...my heroes have flaws, They are real men. They are not "gods". And oddly enough, many women find imperfect heroes adorable. However, having been married to a good looking but supremely un-heroic man for twenty years before regaining my sanity and running like hell in the other direction, I definitely prefer the heroes in my novels to have a sense of ethics and honor. They don't have to be drop dead gorgeous. But my heroines find them so. Because even the homeliest male on the planet can be drop dead gorgeous to the woman he is meant to find.

    I figured I would never find the ideal male, so I "settled". In my books, my heroines never have to "settle". I create heroes who care about what their women think and feel. They can act like a cave man at times, but they can also be tender and sweet, even if that runs against the alpha grain. LOL!

    My recent hero in Nothing But Sex has calloused hands from hard work. He worries that the woman he wants will think him an unpolished jerk. He has insecurities and he doesn't want her laugh at him if he makes a move. But I find that hot. I find that endearing. And the object of his desire sure as hell finds him sexy in spite of his own worries.

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