Saturday, November 18, 2006

DEFENDING ROMANCE

Over the years I've developed a thick skin when it comes to the remarks people make when they discover I'm a romance writer.  Some remarks are funny, some are lewd, and some are just downright rude! 

But I always take the high road, smile, and let the comments pass. Personally, I don't feel I need to defend romance - constantly coming in at No. 1 for all paper back fiction sold, in my opinion, speaks for itself.

But at a party recently I was approached by a guy who had his own opinion about romance and he was determined I was going to hear it.  According to him, his ex-girlfriend was a romance junkie and her head was so filled with nonsense he could never measure up to the romance heroes in the books she read.  His comment: If you romance writers wrote about regular guys instead of millionaire moguls, princes, and sheiks, maybe women wouldn't be so disappointed in men.

Now this would have been the perfect opportunity for me to point out that maybe if he had romanced his ex-girlfriend on occasion she wouldn't have had time to read romance novels.  But I didn't.

Did I mention he was extremely cute?  And young - sigh - somewhere in his late twenties.  And adorably cocky - just the way I like my heroes!  And I told him that.  I told him I was going to make him the hero in my next book.

Amazing how quickly his attitude changed.

Cutie whipped out his business card (announcing he was a manager a Circuit City) and asked me if I would e-mail him when the book came out.  So he could send it to his ex-girlfriend maybe?  I didn't ask.

But after he sauntered off to chat with someone else, I started thinking back over my own heroes, just to make sure I hadn't been unfairly setting the standards too high for any regular guy to meet.  And I realized that all of my past heroes have more or less been regular guys: a radio talk show host; a pilot; an Air Force captain; a computer entrepreneur; a video game designer; a mounted patrol officer; a bomb detection dog trainer; and last but not least, a baseball player.

And that got me to wondering how readers really feel about heroes.  If the hero is everything a woman could want in looks, personality, and moral character - BUT he empties Port-a-Johns for a living - would he still be a hero in your eyes?  Or would you never be able to get past his profession?

Is the appeal of the heroes in romance having a great guy AND a profession you respect?  Or would a great guy hero with a not-so-flattering job still satisfy you as long as the romance between the hero and the heroine is sizzling and emotionally satisfying?

Help me out here - I'd love to know what you think.

Candy Halliday

8 comments:

Diana Holquist said...

Hi Candy.

I love this post. I struggle with this all the time in my heroes because the jobs I think are cool are not universally admired. In my next book, Sexiest Man Alive, the hero is a movie star. I can't tell you how many people said to me, "No! Readers hate movie stars!"

Huh? Really? How can a person hate an entire profession? Isn't the point to make unique, interesting characters who transcend sterotype? I don't dismiss any hero in any job unless he's a cliche.

That being said, I just finished reading my first vampire romance (Yeah, I'm a little behind the trends...) The hero is--yep--a vampire. Okay, he's not exactly a bum, but the guy is dead and sucks blood. What the heck kind of profession is that?

Heck I'd even go for a manager of a Circuit City before I'd opt for that kind of dude... ; )

(Just kidding!)

--Diana
http://www.dianaholquist.com
Make Me a Match, in stores now
Sexiest Man Alive, fall '07

Elizabeth Hoyt said...

WAHAHAHAHA! Oh, Candy, you are so sly! You got that poor guy with his own ego. I love it!

I like GUY heroes. Ones that seem like real men rather than a superman. But I don't know if I'd go for the portapotty guy. Although that might make a cute plot--the portapotty king trying to romance someone from Old Money. Har!

Diane Perkins said...

Hee hee, Candy, I can just HEAR you telling that guy he'd be the hero in your next book. But I think you may have reassured him in a very real way, by letting him know he could be a hero.

My favorite heroes are a bit hard for your average American guy to live up to: Earls, Marquesses, Viscounts, ex-soldiers who fought Napoleon. Men who wear breeches and boots and coats by Weston.

Candy Halliday said...

Diana:

Wouldn't you love to know who wrote the big book of "Readers Hate This"?

Obviously people/readers don't hate movie stars or I wouldn't be so blasted sick of having the TOM/KAT wedding discussed on every venue on the planet at the moment! :)

I'm with you on trying to offer readers something unique and different.

Can't wait to read SEXIEST MAN ALIVE!

Candy

Candy Halliday said...

Elizabeth!

I LOVE the King of Portapottie idea!

May have to steal that one. :)

Candy

Candy Halliday said...

Diane:

All of your fans (including me) are so thankful that you do pick Earls and Viscounts and the like!

How else could we have ever known what it would have been like to be in love with those incredible men of yesteryear?

Thank you for that!

Candy

Anonymous said...

I think that, as with everything else in romance novels, the motivation is the important thing. Does he clean port-a-johns because his dad owns the business and it would break his father's heart if he had to run it without his only son? If so, then I'm all for a guy who cleans port-a-johns, as long as HE knows why he's cleaning port-a-johns and isn't miserable about it.

Diane Perkins said...

Great point, Sonja! It isn't what a man does that makes him heroic, it is who he is and why he does what he does!

And, Candy, thank you for your kind words. Just think. I get to spend all my days with thoses Viscounts and Earls!
Diane