As I write for Harlequin Presents, I often have to decide on the nationality of my hero. And part of the fantasy of Mills & Boon Modern/Harlequin Presents is the fact that the heroes are more often than not Mediterranean men – Italians, Spaniards, and those so very-very popular Greek Tycoons. The Greek Tycoon books just fly off the shelf but I can’t always be writing a Greek hero – that would bore me, and my readers – and besides sometimes it seems that everyone else in the world is writing Greek hero story.
There are characteristics that fit some nationalities, and some that are more suited to others, and so I need to take these into consideration when I’m choosing my hero. And that’s what I’m doing at the moment – starting work on a brand new story. My latest titles (my 54th) has just been accepted and my editor is ringing me this week to discuss future plans so I have to have some ideas to talk over with her. So right now I have just the seed of an idea.
My hero won’t be a Greek though. I wrote a Greek hero the books before last and he was such a strong character that I’ll need to wait for a while before I can think of writing another of his fellow countrymen. And the new man won’t be Spanish either. I love writing Spanish heroes, they have a power and an passion that creates a wonderful hero, one who strikes sparks of his heroine and turns the book into an emotional tango – all fire and burn. But at the moment I have rather too many Spaniards to deal with – as the title of this blog says, I’m swamped by them.
My newest book is out in June. Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife is the title – so that gives away the hero’s nationality. And the book I just had accepted (Cordero’s Forced Bride) also has a sexy sensual Spaniard as its hero. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, I have Spaniard from the past coming back to join me all over again. Back in 2004, I wrote The Alcolar Family Trilogy – and this year those three books are being reprinted in a 3 in 1 By Request edition in July in the UK and an ebooks ‘Bundle’ on eHarlequin next month. Even the special short story I have in the Mills & Boon Centenary Celebration Collection has a Spanish hero!
One of the reasons why the Mediterranean hero is so popular is that he comes from a warm country – in the past they would have seemed much more ‘exotic’ before easy and frequent travel abroad brought Spain, Italy, Greece etc into our holiday plans so frequently. Warm countries, so the belief is , create hot-blooded men, men who are passionate, sensual, more ‘alpha’, less inhibited, less ‘stiff upper lip’ than the average British male. They are also it is believed more likely to woo the heroine, to indulge in romantic gestures. I don’t necessarily think this is true – I think it maligns the poor British male (I married one after all!) – but it is in a way a sort of shorthand for the exotic passionate stranger who sweeps the heroine off her feet.
So a romance novelist isn’t trying to create an absolutely perfectly realistic Spaniard or Greek or whatever. But neither do you want to create someone who is so much a stereotype that he appears almost a caricatures.
The thing I always remember above and beyond anything else is that my hero, whatever nationality he is, is a man. This sounds so obvious but it’s important that he’s a man first and then his nationality affects him second. There are certain characteristics that fit more strongly with certain nationalities than others – think of Italy and you think of style, sophistication, families. But Sicily has more of an edge, a sense of danger – you think of vendettas etc. Greece always bring with it the idea, for me, of that Greek word ‘hubris’ – that overweening excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance. And the many Greek islands all have a character of their own, some busy, sophisticated, some rural, even wild in atmosphere. And that can give the hero a raw edge, a primitive streak that underlies his sophisticated veneer.
So what hero will I choose this time round? Most times it’s the plot that helps me choose in ways I’ve described already. But this time it was a chance ‘serendipity’ moment when I came on an article in a magazine. It showed a wonderful, beautiful house set on a tiny private island on the Italian lakes . It was actually a small hotel but it would work perfectly for my hero’s private house. And I haven’t written an Italian hero in a while.
Now all I need is a name – and a heroine for him – and a plot . . .
Thanks so much for inviting me over to blog on Fresh Fiction! I’ll keep coming back to see what’s new here. If you want to know more about me and my books, please visit my web site at http://www.kate-walker.com/ or my blog – http://kate-walker.blogspot.com/