There is something about me which does love a warrior, particularly a battle-scarred warrior. I like exploring a psyche which has gone through a baptism of fire. Battle inevitably dehumanises people. People have to behave in ways that might be honourable in war, but are not necessarily honourable in normal life. When they step outside the bubble which war creates, they have to confront their old life. Or at the very least encounter people who have not been through the hell they have suffered.
Once someone has gone through a battle, they are forever changed. The innocence is gone. They have experienced death. They may have killed. They have seen people be killed. They may have lost a limb or be marked in some way. They may be in constant pain because of their injuries. And they may have learnt that while physical injuries heal, mental anguish can continue unabated.
They have to ask - -why did I survive? Why (perhaps) did my best friend die? Why did someone I thought better than me die? Could I have done more to save him? Could I have done more to save people who depended on me?
For me, my warrior heroes are not coming from an easy place but as they get to know the heroine and fall in love with her, they inevitably find their humanity returns. His growing love for her means that he can long for a life which is different from the one he has known. He can also worry that his growing love makes himself vulnerable in away he wasn’t vulnerable before and to a warrior, being vulnerable can be a fate which leads to death.
I also love the fact that warriors are inevitably self-made men. A warrior can inherit titles, prestige and wealth. His father or grandfather might have been great. But a warrior is only as good as his fighting ability. He has to prove himself. I find these sorts of heroes are more interesting as they have done beyond being born to deserve their good fortune.
Good warriors are also intelligent. They have to be able to understand the intricacies of battlefield strategy, for instance. They also have to know how to work with other people. One warrior cannot stand alone against a hundred but several warriors working together can. History is littered with examples.
A warrior believes in something. He has some reason to fight. He has a code of conduct. It might not be something we would want to adhere to today but it exists for him. With my heroes, before I started writing Viking warriors, I had to be clear in my own mind that my heroes were not into raping women. They had their own code and knew where the lines were drawn. This is not to say that others did not indulge, just simply that I had to be able to write a warrior that I could fall for.
Do why do I love a warrior? Because they are complicated but rewarding. And they stand the test of time.
Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romances for Harlequin Historical. Her latest Return of the Viking Warrior is out now. Her next book Saved by the Viking Warrior will be out in September 2014.You can learn more about Michelle and her books on www.michellestyles.co.uk