Sunday, October 27, 2013

Redheads and Inspiration for Heroes

As a writer, one of the most common questions I get asked, is:  Where do you get your ideas? For me, it begins with the characters. They usually come to me even before the plot idea does. Sometimes they show up in my mind. Other times I encounter them in real life.

I’ve worked a public library for over twenty years and one of the perks of my job is people-watching. I see people from all walks of life, all ages and socio-economic backgrounds. In the old days, before we got self-check machines, I also checked out all their materials while they stood at the check-out counter. During that process I got to observe people fairly closely and every once in a while, I’d wait on someone who gave me an idea for a hero or heroine.

One of the most vivid experiences was with a young man (late teens or early 20’s) who came in with his mother or father and often younger siblings. They were kind of a “white trash” family. Not well-dressed and pretty sloppy. None of them were attractive except this young guy, who had dark red hair, striking green eyes and strong masculine features. He also had this swagger and edge to him, possibly because he was irritated with having to go to the library with his family!

This was a good fifteen years ago, so the young man might resemble his parents by now, who were overweight, weathered and had bad teeth. But in that snapshot of time, he struck me as a great hero, and he became Jobert de Brevrienne, the Norman French knight in The Conqueror.

I know. Red hair. It’s great for a heroine, but not so popular for heroes. I’m married to a “ginger”, so I obviously have a fondness for them. And I think they can be as hot as any dark-haired or fair-haired man. They just have to have strong, masculine features, an athletic build and their red hair needs to be fairly long. (I love long hair on men. That’s why I write historicals. Alas, my husband hasn’t worn his long in years.)

But when I was searching for cover images for Jobert, I discovered that there are very few red-haired models featured in stock art. I was either going to have to settle for someone not so hot, or change my requirements. I finally found an image of a man with dark blond hair that had a bit of a reddish tint. The model has great shoulders and is shown wielding a sword, so while his hair isn’t as red as Jobert’s, he did fit the image of a conquering knight. I had my fabulous cover artist build a cover around his image and I’m pretty happy with it.

I’m not the only romance writer with a red-haired hero. One of the main draws of Diane Gabaldon’s Outlander series is the hero, Jamie Frazer, who has reddish hair. There’s a TV series being made from the books and while they had to dye the actor’s (Sam Heughan’s) hair, he certainly fits the part of a hot hero in other respects!

1 comment:

  1. I love reddish-gold hair on a man! My hero in my WIP has it, and is Scottish. We can't discriminate against them, and I agree, they can be just as hot.