Monday, October 5, 2009

Clare London Day Two - Heroes

Clare’s Dilemma: So many Heroes, So Little Time?

Everyone talks about their heroes, don’t they? We read about them, we write stories about them, we admire them and cherish them and sigh for need of them.

Can we help it if we’re entranced by the image? Our hearts are excited by adventure and strong passion, while our heads admire loyalty and integrity. To find the combination in one man – well, what more could we ask. And there’s such a range to choose from: the artists, singers, doctors, firemen, cowboys, bad-guys-turned-good, good-guys-tempted-by-bad, old and young, indoors and outdoors-men, saints and sinners, tall, blond, short and lean, rough and tough and strong and mean… well, you get the picture. Heroic behaviour can burst from any one of them.

And one of the most likely scenarios is when love comes into the equation. Then we are treated to those who love from afar, and those who fight for their love. The big, strong guys who face up to each other in a crisis but want to snuggle up in a snowstorm. Those who struggle with expression, while others charm with soft words. And we probably do have our favourites – whether we like the shy, sensitive, intellectual type, or the buff, muscled, strong and silent type.

But hey! Whoever said I had to make a choice?

I answered a question online recently about what was my favourite genre in which to write my stories of men and their loves. I found that more difficult to answer than the infamous interview question – where do you see yourself in five years’ time J. Because I don’t really have a favourite, I like plenty! I’ve written fantasy, contemporary romance and paranormal settings. I’ve written happy-ever-after, happy-for-now, don’t-know-about-happy-but-you-look-good-in-my-shower, and – to one reader’s annoyance recently – character death. My heroes are flawed and their heroism erratic. Sometimes they’re selfish, they make mistakes, they miss the damned point.

But they all have the potential to be Hero. And the fun of writing them is to see whether I can bring that out.

I don’t think it’s fickle, to find heroes in all situations – through time and space, with lovers, with enemies, with women and men. Our hearts want to seek the best of human nature, to admire kind and loyal and brave behaviour. It doesn’t have to be on a battlefield. He doesn’t have to be alarmingly handsome – which, after all, is a matter of taste. It’s the spirit that we seek. And here is my shopping-for-a-hero list.

Charmed Chap

This hero is not of this world. He may not even be human. Is that so bad, so long as his ambitions and aims are still recognisable? And there’s such glamour in the vampire bite or the magic of a man truly in love…

My first published book was Masquerade, a collection of fantasy stories that featured vampires, psychics, wizards and a beautiful young man who had more in common with a silkworm than the oppressed workers around him. And recently I revisited the fantasy theme with my vampires Edward and Ambrus, in my short story Out of Time.

Fantasy Fellow

This guy lives in an alternate universe. He may not know how to work a washing machine but he’ll wield a sword and is free from so many of the chains of modern society’s expectations.

I wrote two novels set in a fantasy world, Aza City, where women ruled as Mistresses but were supported and served by their male warriors – who then satisfied their true desires and need for companionship with fellow soldiers. That was The Gold Warrior and Twisted Brand. The Gold Warrior Maen was everything a true hero should be in his devotion to duty and his sense of place in the hierarchy – until he fell from grace because of his love for his apprentice, the Bronzeman Dax.

Modern Man

Now this one is more familiar in many ways, in that he wears recognisable clothes and has no more special power than being able to open that jar of peaches you’ve been struggling with for half an hour. But in fictional hands, his heroism is still just as valid, and with all the vivacity and empowerment of modern life.

This year, I published the contemporary romances Sparks Fly and True Colors, full of glamour, melodrama, mystery and high-powered city business. Both were based on the attraction of opposites. In Sparks Fly, playboy Nic battled with geek Aidan to the very end of the book, despite their desperate attraction to each other. And in True Colors, cool businessman Miles tried to ground the mercurial artist Zeke, even as Zeke was bringing excitement and spontaneity to Miles’ life.

And I also published Freeman, set in my home city London, in a world of crime and mystery, and with a fair dose of angst before dawn. Freeman is a very modern man who lives alone in the city, successful and rich, but who thinks he’s lost the art of connecting emotionally with people – at least until he meets Kit, a young man who disturbs everything and demands Freeman’s attention in return.

So I’ve covered all these categories *sez Clare, buffing her nails*. What about you? Do you have favourites? Or do you think – as I do – that variety is the spice of life?

And now, back to struggling with the lid of that jar of peaches until My Hero comes home from work…

You can visit Clare London here
or at her blog .


Tam said...


This is an extremely valid genre and works for me on occassion. :-)

they miss the damned point

I thought this described all boys? No? Am I wrong? Oh, I don't have a hero to come home and open my freaking peaches, I have to do it myself. Giiiirrrrrl Power!

Okay, now that I'm done feeling sorry for myself, I agree, heroes come in all shapes and sizes and gentic mixes. It's almost impossible to say what type will strike my fancy or sometimes even why. Something will just work on an internal level. I know if I say I love "high powered single minded businessmen types" sure as hell the next one I read will make me so annoyed I'll have to stop reading the book. Variety is the spice of life. :-)

Jenre said...

I'm with Tam in that I don't have a favourite type of hero. I have some that I naturally gravitate towards (cowboys, anyone?) but on the whole I can be adaptable. I can be convinced by any character as long as they are well rounded and the story is written well.

In fact some of my favourite books have heroes who I would find incredibly objectionable were I to meet them in real life. :)

Clare London said...

Tam, you said it. I live with 3 boys, remember?! Ok, so they're still from Mars, but I have learned a *few* things about the warped way they tick, over the years :).

I think that's very true, though, that the guy who appeals to our hero instinct on a Tues won't be the same as the one we love on Wed. That's the joy of human nature, I guess, and the delicious complexity of readers like us, who love a challenge. I can see Hubby rolling his eyes at this very moment and my Sons mouthing 'PMS' at me. Or maybe I'm *too* jaded LOL.

Jen, didn't you do a fabulous post about cowboys a while ago? I just don't connect with them the way you do, I'm afraid, though there are some cowboy books I've loved. I think you made the point that it's difficult when your cultural background is so different. Some pathetic excuse like that, that *I'm* clinging to.

And OMG yes. How often do we roll our eyes at heroines - and other heroes - when their man behaves like a lout??? Like, we wouldn't respond to behaviour like that? *coughcough* Fiction allows us to suspend disbelief, I think. Thank God. Because if I met some of these in Tescos, I'd think I was ever so slightly loony. Or I'd won the lottery.

Kris said...


I'm with Tam. This is a genre which I read with great interest on occasion. ;)

I know that I have a fondness for certain heroes, especially the flawed hero. *sigh* I ADORE the flawed hero and will take him in whatever genre form the author chooses to dream up. *g*

Would I like to read about time all the time though?? Errr, no. Toy poodle flu, variety and spice, so many men, etc, etc.

Mary G said...

I seem to have a thing for alpha males but the female has to be strong too. I love navy seals, special ops, firemen & athlete stories.

Tracy said...

I like variety in my's the spice of life, ya know. :)

Clare London said...

Gosh sorry, ladies, I'm only getting to my comments now.

Kris: I loves me a flawed hero, too. Makes me feel I - or my other hero - can be the saving of him :).

And yes, I'm thinking of setting up that DKAHBYLGIMS genre...

Marg G: I think strength is important in a hero/heroine, isn't it? And not necessarily physical strength. It's the spirit that a reader can associate with.

Tracey: Oh yes indeed LOL. The variety keeps us challenged and makes us turn those pages!!

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