Tuesday, December 10, 2013

So Long, Farewell... No, Don't Worry, I Won't Sing

By Laura Spinella
Today is my last Stiletto Gang post. Those who were with the blog a few years back graciously welcomed this then newbie author into the group. But as life and schedules and projects change, the time seems right for me to move on as well.  There are lots of new faces at the Stiletto Gang, and I look forward to popping in and reading your wonderful posts. I decided to stick with a pure "book blog" for my last post. This is about what drives my characters, the male ones in particular. It seems like an appropriate exit piece, as a love story will surely always be at the heart of my novels. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season, and thank you for letting me a part of the Stiletto Gang! 
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Years ago, I took an online romance writing class. The question came up: Within the genre, who makes for the best heroes?  Everyone was quick to agree that the standards were evident:  rich guy, bad boy, military hero, foreign entrepreneur, and various forms of cowboy/rancher. Each had something to bring to the table (read bed) in terms of romance. The one we all took a pass on was the blue-collar worker. For some reason, there seemed to be general agreement that the noble plumber or winsome mechanic would have trouble satisfying the role. Perhaps.  But I also believe a smokin’ hot construction worker, with the right skill set, could turn a head or two.
In my first novel, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, the hero was definitely my take on the bad boy persona.  Flynn is/was enigmatic, unpredictable and, well… smokin’ hot. Smokin’ hot if rough around the
edges and raw works for you.  Interestingly, at one book club gathering, a reader noted that Flynn might have benefited from a bath.  I shrugged. She didn’t get him, and that was okay with me.  To each her own… While I use four fast adjectives to describe BEAUTIFUL DISASTER’S protagonist, there was more to him than that. There was Flynn’s story and the way he felt about Mia.  Add to that his resiliency when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds and his deep-down noble character, which transcended circumstance. It was all these elements together that aided in winning readers for Team Flynn.
When I set out to write my next novel, which turned out to be PERFECT TIMING (newly released by Berkley), I found myself facing a curious challenge.  I needed another hero, but I had no desire to repeat a formula.  I had to think long and hard about who this guy would be and how his story differed.   In dreaming up Aidan Roycroft, I found that my muse insisted on certain opposites. Instead of edgy, I gave him confidence and talent.  Instead of the guy that made you glance twice because his looks were a dare, I gave Aidan golden-boy looks (but naturally I had to marr this by also branding him with a snake on his neck):   She opened the beer and guzzled it. Isabel’s eyes trailed over shaggy blond hair. The shade tended to fluctuate, framing a face that had hit the genetic lottery. There was no getting away from it. All of him was veiled in a satiny complexion, a blemish never the having the audacity to show up on Aidan Roycroft’s face. His eyes were more cornflower in September than sky in winter—Isabel Lang on Aidan Roycroft, Perfect Timing. Okay, so far so good.  Physically, I had a near perfect specimen.  Although, I should mention that in the very next line, Isabel goes on to list Aidan’s equally evident flaws—which, on occasion, included lazy, indulgent, and slightly self-centered—Isabel Lang, Perfect Timing.   
            I began to think about what all this might add up to in the “real world” and who a guy like that might
be.  After a bit of mental sketching and working with my then malleable subject, it occurred to me that I had all the makings of a rock star. I think in every woman’s mind there lives a rock star image that does it for her. Depending on your tastes in music, age, and socioeconomic background, that can range from a cleaner-cut John Mayer to Adam Levine to lead singer of the Muse, Matt Bellamy. And, of course, there are the classic rock star components that never fade—everyone from Mick Jagger to Jon Bon Jovi. Overall, an it factor drives the rock star, a presence that plays off but dominates over physical looks.  With these things in mind, I made it my business to make sure Aidan had all of these qualities and then some. Conversely, Aidan’s flaws, his story, the way he loves Isabel are what fills him in as a character and keeps him from the precipice of a cliché.  
Writing a book with a rock star at its epicenter was not on my to-do list. No one is more surprised than me to find Aidan Roycroft cast as the main character in a novel of mine. And before I go, let me tell you a little more truth. I signed up for that online romance writing class by accident—my love of romantic fiction coming from the click of a wrong key.  But years later, I’m wondering if that’s how it’s all supposed to work, discovering your passion—whether it’s a storyline, character or real romance—when you least expect it. Something to think about as we all continue on writing and living life.  

Laura Spinella is the author of the award-winning novel BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, and the newly released PERFECT TIMING. Visit her at lauraspinella.net

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