Holding out for Hero: Guest Post with Zoë Mullins

Posted by Heidi Blakey on 28th August 2017

My eighth book will be published this fall, in terms of being an author… I’m still a ‘newbie’. So when I pitched a blog about ‘what makes a good hero’, I may have been in a post-editing fugue state.

Think about what you look for in a man, and what your best friend looks for. Are they the same? Even if there are similar traits – kind, good with animals and children, sense of humor – the result isn’t going to look the same. They could have those three positive characteristics but you like whiskers and long hair. Your friend may prefer a buzz-cut and shaved jaw. You may melt into dark eyes, but find something off-putting about baby-blue eyes against dark hair and lashes (or maybe that’s just me.)

You will likely not be surprised when I say a good hero isn’t all about the looks. In fact, polls conducted by the Romance Writers of America indicate that readers want their heroes to have intelligence and humor.

That goes whether the hero is a bad boy or the boy next door. A captain of industry or the captain of a pirate ship. Despite your personal preferences (I vote pirate/bad boy please), there are some very common elements to heroes that you may not have thought of but should next time you sit down to read.

Good Traits – as we discussed above, these could be almost anything and are subjective. What should not be subjective his devotion to the heroine. How they show that may be different depending on the type of hero (Prince or peasant? Firefighter or financial advisor?) Even when the bad-boy is putting up a tough front, a spark of his goodness – the quality that will redeem him – will show through. 

The Transformation – I daresay that it is universally accepted that the hero must undergo some ‘transformation’. There must be some conflict that drives not only the story but that allows the hero to demonstrate his heroism – that lets his goodness shine brighter than his flaws.

In Bound to Happen, (part of the anthology Sensory Limits by Totally Bound Publishing) the heroine sees her tough and demanding Dom’s gentle side in the way he supports his siblings and cares for his four-legged patients (he’s a veterinarian). If he’s stand-offish it’s because he’s been through a bad relationship and he’s scared to be in that position again, until he meets her.

The Flaws – a perfect hero is a boring hero. His flaws help to push the story along. But you don’t want to push it too hard. The hero needs to be able to overcome these flaws in the end or we won’t get our happily-ever-after moment. When we talk about transformation (above) it has to be believable. A philanderer who cheats on the heroine the night before the wedding is going to be hard to redeem regardless of how much he loves puppies and can make her laugh. Not that it can’t be done, but I know I’d have my work cut out for me. 

Often the hero’s background will dictate his flaws. In Eighty-One Days (available now!) we are lucky enough to have two heroes. One a cockeyed optimist who believes, however naively, that it will all work out in the end, and the realist who learned the hard way that bad things happen to good people and is always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Neither flaw overwhelms the story and indeed the heroes’ flaws play off each other and help one another to move past the conflicts that arise. They are, like all romance heroes, good men who while they don’t always do the right thing, are able to make up for it/overcome it in the end.

Happy reading, Zoë Mullins

Buy Eighty-One Days

Eric didn’t know Luke would be heartbroken when he left town to join a hotshot forest fire crew in Western Canada. They’d been best friends since kindergarten, had gone to school together, had bought their first car and a home together, and had shared their lovers. At some point, friendship had turned to love.

Luke didn’t expect that when he’d brought his crazy cat in for stitches that his heart that would be mended by the sassy new veterinarian. Jenna may have been new in town but she’d heard the rumors and she liked the carnal fantasies he spun for her in bed of he and his best friend sharing her.

Of course, that was before Eric’s job brought him home and back into their lives.

Jenna isn’t sure she can be what they need, but she’s not going give up without a fight. Even if that means inviting the sexy firefighter to share their bed. Surely there is enough love to go around.

Learn more about Zoë here


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