by Mary Jo
Today's Ask A Wench blog comes from a question by Jeannette Halpin in Virginia, who asks:
"I have always thought it interesting that in almost all of the books I have read (about 200? maybe?) almost all of the heroes/protagonists are BIG men, over 6 feet, massive shoulders, huge biceps. etc etc. And I wonder why. Have you all done your own research as to what the readers of your stories prefer? "
The only "normal" sized guy I can think of without too much effort is in Mary Jo Putney: Richard Dalton who first appears in The Bargain, then comes into his own in The Diabolical Baron and makes an appearance in The Rake. I find Richard Dalton/Davenport very attractive, and he is much more like my imaginary "friend" in the ongoing novel I will never write!
MJP: Thanks, Jeannette! Since who doesn't like talking about heroes, here are some Wenchly responses:
I've sometimes wondered if the inspiration for the big, brawny hero (especially of a Scottish persuasion) comes from this advertising for Scotts Porage Oats. He certainly has massive shoulders and bulging biceps! I have the impression that the muscle-bound hero with the six pack is pretty popular, but I can't say that I have researched whether this is actually true. I guess everyone has their own idea of what a perfect hero looks like.
My heroes tend to be tall, but not excessively so, and not necessarily brawny. I do confess to liking a corded muscular forearm - or preferably two, but other than that I prefer men who are solid and strong rather than very beefy. Lean and rangy works for me too. In The Lady and the Laird the heroine, Lucy, comments that the hero, Robert, is too big and muscular but then she is tiny. It's all relative. I think I write the type of hero that I find attractive, but a hero is very much the sum of all his qualities, including physical appearance, a confident demeanour, and a strong personality. For me a man could be very good looking but if he doesn't have a great sense of humour and other appealing qualities then the looks alone are not enough. That said, if he brings a bowl of porage oats with him I might be persuaded to change my mind!