Kris Kennedy on Heroes and Heroines
Historical author Kris Kennedy discusses what it is that draws us to a hero and keeps us coming back for more.
Most romance readers read for character, for the romantic conflict between hero and heroine. Yes, we need a plot, some of us more than others. And yes, we love strong world-building, so we can get lost in a new world, be it a fictional U.S. town in 2011 or a medieval castle in 1153. We need tension, tough choices, and sensual energy.
But all those devices should be used to create vivid characters we can totally fall in love with. Characters that can become Keepers.
To get to Keeper status, heroes and heroines have to be remarkable. Not ‘remarkable’ in that they’re performing acrobatic feats of strength, or using their superpowers to turn rock into molten electricity, or flinging lightning spears to fight creatures from the Underworld. They might be doing those things, of course, but they don’t need to be that kind of remarkable to capture our hearts.
They need to be remarkable insofar as their actions are worthy of being remarked upon. Within their own story world, they have to be pushing limits. By design or accident, they need to be upsetting the world in which they live. They need to grab our attention, and keep it, page after romantic page. They need to be fascinating, intriguing, and compelling.
Heroes, I think, often carry the biggest part of that load. A lot of readers can tolerate a less-than-amazing heroine if the hero rocks their world. A story might make it onto the Keeper shelf with a heroine that doesn’t rate an ‘A’. But if the hero is a flop to a reader, the book generally is too.
Clearly, we love our heroes.
But one may ask, why?
I think, in part, it’s because humans are attracted to others who do things really well. That innate attraction comes from our survival instinct, but it also our desire to be close to the talents we don’t possess ourselves. From martial arts to the art of seduction, a masterful man is inherently alluring and potentially dangerous. And we all know how sexy a little bit of danger can be.
When a hero has a skill he’s mastered, we attribute his success to his character, and we as readers assume his ability to succeed doesn’t end with that single skill. It’s something we now know is inherent in that person: the capacity for greatness. The ability to excel. We assume the character is a winner, a master.
I think these kind of heroes light our fires in very primal, very ‘old’ ways, and I think that’s why we love them so much.
In the stories I write, the heroes are what I call ‘good alpha’ heroes. They’re men on a mission. They’re dangerous, determined and confident, so confident they’re not afraid of a woman who is as strong as they are.
In my upcoming self-published novella, Claiming Her, the hero has just taken over the heroine’s castle with cunning and boldness, and now he’s got one very angry woman on his hands. But in her, he sees a fire, and zest for life he himself lacks.
In my July ‘12 release (Pocket Books) Deception the hero is a medieval con man on a mission of revenge when the heroine (who happens to be a former flame) steps, quite literally, into his path. Now he’s got to juggle his vengeance as well as his former lover who insists on being part of his schemes. They’re both after the same thing but unfortunately, they can’t both have it.
With that, let’s do our own little Mad Libs on the remarkable heroes we love so much.
How would you answer this fill-in-the-blank question? Heroes should always _________ and should never _________.
My answer: Heores should always be capable of mayhem, and should never use it on the heroine.
Let’s hear yours! Two commenters will win their choice of one of my upcoming releases, either Claiming Her (in ebook form, available this summer) or Deception, (print) available August!
|Kris Kennedy writes hot, adventure-filled historical romances. She has two stories coming out this summer. Visit her website Kriskennedy.net and sign-up for the eNewsletter, read exclusive excerpts, or just drop Kris a line saying Hi!|