I love dark, tortured heroes. I love to read them, I love to write them. But why do I create such characters? What appeals to me about these injured men? Inquiring minds want to know. Or at least I do. And since this blog is an awesome opportunity for self-indulgence, I thought I'd corner three gorgeous, dark hero specimens and ask them their opinions about why I like to rake them over hot coals in my stories.
Today I've invited three tortured heroes from the pages of my manuscripts to share the blog stage. I'd like to introduce: Gabriel, a sexy angel/incubus hybrid from Ruling Eden, Lucan, the imprisoned Prince from The Demon's Whip, and Jace Argo, the cowboy diplomat from Bound Odyssey. Michelle Picard, one of my two alternate egos, is responsible for creating Gabriel and Lucan's stories. Michelle Polaris, the naughtier of the Michelle triplets, dreamt up Jace and his post-apocalyptic existence introduced to the world of bondage and submission. (Told you Ms. Polaris is the naughtier triplet--grin.)
MP: Well, why don't we go ahead and begin this discussion. Welcome, Gentlemen.
Gabriel: Honored to be here, Michelle.
Lucan: A pleasure, My Lady.
MP: Okay guys, we're here to talk about my nasty habit of torturing heroes. Any thoughts to jump us off?
Jace: Sure. First, I'd suggest you think about therapy. You've filled our back stories with abusive fathers, murdered or suicided parents, childhoods spent hated by our peers, enemies who want us dead, tendencies toward extreme self-castigation and a lot of other crap that no single man should face in his lifetime. Working out some issues in your books are you, Michelle? Give a guy a break.
Lucan: Argo, stop blaming the Lady. Insult her again and I'll call you out and slit that precious throat of yours.
Jace: Oooh, the sword's scary, Prince, but watch it or I'll shove it someplace too unwholesome to mention on a clean blog like the Quirky Ladies.
Gabriel: Gentlemen, perhaps we can avoid devolving the discussion into a slug fest and focus on the topic at hand.
MP: It's fine, Gabriel. And I appreciate you coming to my defense, Lucan, but I asked for honest opinions. Jace, is it possible that I believe in you guys so much I'm confident you can overcome incredible odds? I mean you're all intelligent, honest, incredibly strong, and carry around that integrity bug. You coped with tough childhoods, sure, but you overcame them and look at the payoffs. You get paired with beautiful, kick-ass women and fall in love.
Lucan: And I appreciate that outcome, My Lady. But perhaps you made us suffer so much because the real world is a dangerous place. If you write heroes strong enough to overcome such hardship, you create men who can come to your defense when you feel threatened.
Gabriel: Prince Lucan, I do not believe females are a weaker gender in need of being saved. In many ways I believe they are the stronger sex. My Rachel has faced the destruction of the world itself and found the courage to do what's necessary to save it, even at her own expense.
Jace: (Grunts and nods) Before the hell that was my storyline in Bound Odyssey I might have agreed with Lucan. But I've seen how scary a woman can become with a whip in her hand, and a little wicked in her eyes, and Rambo has nothing on a Mistress with a mission. Women are definitely the stronger gender.
Lucan: (Begrudgingly) Perhaps you're right. Simone certainly proves your point. She'd sacrifice all for the good of her people, kill to protect those she loves. Even when her power scares her most she does what she believes necessary.
Gabriel: I think my Rachel and your Simone have a lot in common. Though Rachel's tendency for blunt speech is an acquired taste.
Jace: Oh, she'd love Mira, then. Not much need to censor your speech in the Mistress business.
MP: We're getting off point, gentlemen. I love it that you're so supportive of your heroines. Maybe I'll get the gals together for their own group discussion soon. I think this must be an example of characters getting away from an author. But really, we need to get back to tortured heroes.
Jace: Okay, if we throw out my earlier idea that you need a good dozen years of psychoanalysis, then maybe it's this instead. I stole it from one of your earlier Quirky Ladies blogs about strong romance sales and why romance does well during hard times. Maybe, Michelle, you torture us so when we overcome our dark natures or dark pasts we inspire hope. Your readers may have a lot of crap going on in their own lives. Even if its not as dramatic as the trauma you put us through, sometimes it sure feels like it. And if the heroes (and also the heroines) you write about end up kicking the sh*!#*t out of their problems and growing beyond them, doesn't that give your readers that hope that they can overcome theirs, too. I mean, I know there's this fantasy of women fixing the broken male and love overcoming all. But you're not really writing those stories, Michelle. Sure, Mira shoved me in the right direction, but you're still leaving your characters responsible for their change. And they do change and it does get better.
Gabriel: I agree. And you do the readers a favor by allowing us to keep some of our faults, some of our struggle, even in the end. It doesn't all disappear by magic. (Even when characters do possess magic of their own.) Instead we take our difficult pasts, grow beyond the worst of our stumbling blocks to offer our honest selves in relationships, but still remain imperfect, struggling through the day to day even when we've healed some. You give us partners with whom we'll continue to share the struggle while we honor one another. It is a form of hope without the rosy colored glasses of a perfect world that tells readers they can find happiness and overcome even as they continue to struggle day to day.
MP: Boy, you guys are quite the philosophers.
Gabriel: When you live many hundreds of years you find a lot of time to reflect.
Lucan: If I may interject, I would like to thank you, My Lady, for allowing me to expand my world view. It's quite an eye opening for someone who lives an extreme childhood, and so develops a particular vision of life, to have that entire vision called into question by story challenges. It calls to mind the possibilities for readers to open their own eyes and question the assumptions they have about their lives. A hidden benefit of the tortured hero who is forced to do the same in a dramatic way.
MP: Wow, you guys have really thought about this. Maybe you can forgive me for the depressing back stories? I love you guys. I wouldn't have written you if I didn't. And I can't stand to think you're pissed at me for my use of creative license.
Gabriel: There's nothing to forgive, Michelle.
Jace: The winged guy's right. Sorry I implied you're screwed up. You're not. Or at least no more than anyone else I know. And how can I be mad when you gave me Mira and Roman?
Lucan: And me Simone. We owe you our very lives. Literally. And I try not to spit in the face of my creator. Doesn't bode well for much of a future.
MP: (LOL!) Okay, guys. I feel much better now. Unfortunately, time's up. You've given me lots to think about. Next time I invite you over we'll try something more upbeat. Maybe a party? Bring the significant others and the assorted secondary characters and we'll have a rocking time.
Gabriel: Farewell, Michelle.
Jace: Bye, sweetheart.
Lucan: Until later, My Lady.
(The boys walk out the door and I appreciate the view.)
MP: Well, Quirky blog readers, that's all for now. I'm a little overheated having three such intense, gorgeous men around. I think I'll go stick my head in the freezer for a few minutes. Thanks for stopping by, and keep reading and writing those tortured heroes. And if you have any insight onto why I or anyone else loves to write these type of guys, drop a comment.