The Heroes We Fall in Love With

I get a lot of emails and comments about Dan Hullog who is Lena’s love interest in “The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots.” One of the most commons remarks is, “I really enjoyed your book, but I think I’m in love with Dan.”
One of the most hilarious notes I received was from a very love struck but determined friend of mine, who happened to know that some of the moments in “The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots” was based upon my own actual experiences. For some reason this led her to believe that Dan was a real person who was still waiting for Ms Right. She asked where he lived so that she could maybe just happen to run into him sometime. She was devastated when I revealed that like everyone else in the novel, Dan is a figment of my imagination.
All the same, it’s so wonderful to hear when a character really comes “alive” for readers. Likable characters, I think, are very important. But not too likable. In my opinion characters that are too perfect often seem fake or are difficult to relate to. As a writer, I’m very conscious of giving my puppets flaws, failings and even vices to make them more real.
The hero in my next book, “The Girl in a Hard Hat” was someone I had to work very hard on. The dilemma was he had too many flaws, failings and vices. I had to figure out a way to make him more likable. I ended up writing this list of attractive qualities in men to find the tweak to make him melt your bones fantastic. But it seemed like he had all the Mr Right criteria too. Good looking, great sense of humour, smart, athletic, honest, reliable, brave, giving, protective… the list goes on.
It took me ages to figure out the one thing that he didn’t have which somehow is more important than all the rest put together. It’s the ‘rescue’ element. The problem was my heroine was so self sufficient that she didn’t need anyone to help her achieve her goals. So when Mr Tall, Dark and Dashing stepped on the scene he always came off looking slightly redundant. So then I loaded my heroine up with a few more flaws and sent her back in the ring.
Turns out, it’s not just about character, it’s also about balance. In any case, I am now very happy with both my hero and heroine and with the story in general. I am definitely looking forward to sharing it with you all next year!

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