Last month when I was here, I talked about research.
Research, last month, was about interviewing bull riders and baseball umpires and finding castles in Ireland or perfect Caribbean islands or leaning how to build an 11 ton sandcastle. All the things, in other words, that make books authentic, that give me details to hang my story on.
But there is another kind of research that's equally important -- and no less enjoyable.
It's finding heroes.
Those of you who have been on my blog or Kate Walker's or the Pink Heart Society blog are aware of the Hugh-in-a-towel motivational technique. If you aren't familiar with it, it goes like this: whenever you get stuck or, in a lecture, whenever you want to bring your audience back to what you are saying, you flash a picture of Hugh-in-a-towel in front of them.
Works every time.
But when you've written as many books as I have, you sometimes need other inspiration (not to mention the fact that when I wrote my first book, Hugh was in high school).
Anyway, this requires research. Finding appropriate heroes who embody visual aspects of the man I'm writing about. Sometimes this means clipping pictures out of catalogs or magazines. More recently, it's meant trawling the internet in search of buttoned
down intense dark-haired men who could be my current architect hero.
When I first began my book I had what I thought was the perfect hero. But as I've written, he's changed. He no longer looks like this guy on the left. Well, if he ever smiled, he might.
But presently, he doesn't. He looks more . . . intense. And he has a neater haircut. My Sebastian is controlled, focused. This guy above is too easy-going.
So I think I'm going to borrow Kate Walker's inspiration (below) for my current guy as well. Or maybe this other guy to the right. I'll have to see which one feels the most, um, Sebastian.
Whichever, he'll be entirely different as a McAllister hero than as a Walker hero in any case, trust me.
Sometimes I get the right guy right off. But sometimes, like Sebastian, he shapeshifts on me.
Flynn, in my ONE-NIGHT LOVE CHILD started out looking a lot like James Purefoy. But by the time I finished the book he didn't at all. Weird. I had to go and find another hero. This is definitely more Flynn.
If you write, do you need to visualize your hero? And if you're a reader, do you visualize a particular guy when you're reading?
Most important of all, who can you suggest as great hero material? I'd love to hear from you!
Anne McAllister's ONE-NIGHT LOVE CHILD is a March 2008 Harlequin Presents. It is the story of Flynn Murray and Sara McMaster who first appeared 6 years ago in her Silhouette Code of the West book, THE GREAT MONTANA COWBOY AUCTION.
If you remember them, you can find out what happened next in ONE-NIGHT LOVE CHILD. And if you don't remember them or didn't read the earlier book, that's all right, too. Anne can barely remember what she wrote yesterday let alone what she wrote six years ago. So this book stands on its own!