I spent last weekend pretty much hiding out from reality. Added to my usual issues, I had convinced myself one of my dogs was in dire straits though the symptoms were mild at worst. In a time honored tradition of avoiding what I can’t face, I did nothing all weekend but read, my lap filled with snuggling Salukis. I caught up on some of my long time favorite authors, and indulged in new ones. And I came to realize one of the more popular characteristics for a hero (or heroine) is to be misunderstood.
Think of Clint Eastwood’s wandering cowboy, kicking off a long series of taciturn heroes with mysteries just waiting to be solved by the right partner. Rhett Butler certainly comes to mind, as well as Rick Blaine (Casablanca) In Romance books, Laura Kinsale has given us a multitude of maligned, misunderstood leading men and women. More recently Eileen Dreyer’s “Drake’s Rakes” as well as Jennifer Ashley’s wild and mysterious Mackenzie brothers portray the heroes of a thousand mysterious layers.
Sometimes we as readers know more about the hero than the other characters…do you find yourself wanting to shake the heroine for not understanding what’s really happening? Or do you want to Gibbs slap the hero for keeping such secrets when he knows how much she’s hurting?
Ah, emotional overload, the true reason I read and write Romance. Think about it, how many of us would devour book after book if everyone got along and no one hid secrets (other than presents or surprise parties) for more than a few days? Lady Macbeth would have been a sweet granny in the corner if she hadn’t let such deep dark secrets fester in her soul. Would we even remember the play without her secrets?
Thinking about this made me realize I was being far too nice to my people. Much better to have them nobly misunderstood for 90% of the book until all is revealed to cap off the Happily Ever After. Back to the drawing board for more emotional torture. This is going to call for serious nutritional support. Might even need to break out the dark chocolate with almonds. Oh, the sacrifices we make for our muse.
On a lighter note I visited with Terry Odell earlier this week, talking about, of all things, misunderstandings in song lyrics. It gave me a great walk down memory lane, you might have fun yourself.
Who’s your favorite misunderstood character?
My dog? She’s not at all misunderstood. X-rays showed soft tissue injury. But she’s definitely enjoying the extra attention.