Loving those men of mine

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I have fallen in love.

My husband knows about it, and fortunately doesn’t mind. I do this on an alarmingly regular basis. I meet someone, get to know him and then fall so hard that for a while I can’t think of anything else. The feeling tends to ease off after a few days, but the love flares again the instant I’m in the presence of my beloved. Last night, the object of my current affection marched into a room to face down those who’d wronged him. Even in the face of greater numbers, with no apparent way to succeed against them, he didn’t hesitate or hide, his anger with the way the world had turned against him too great to be contained. The sorrow and rage he was struggling over turned my fondness into flame.

I’m talking about fictional characters, of course. *grin* Have you ever watched a movie or TV show, or read a book in which one particular character resonated with you so magnificently that it felt like love at first sight? Happens to me quite a lot. Don’t misunderstand, either, since I mentioned movies and TV – I am not talking about the actors. For one thing, I don’t want to bother with all that star nonsense. Actors do a fine job interpreting what a writer has written, but when it all comes down, I’m talking about the characters themselves.

Writers, when they are creating characters who’ll have staying power with readers, learn pretty quickly that perfect heroes are boring. Dull, tedious, boring. If Mick McHandsomeGuy can do everything, why bother reading any further? The fun of a great novel is in not knowing what will happen next. The best books are the ones that keep you reading long after you should have turned off the light and gone to sleep, all because you have to know what happens to the character you’ve become emotionally involved with. Some of them feel like friends. Others are so much more.

The first time I remember it happening was when I was very young. I fell madly, deeply, ridiculously in love with James West. It wasn’t just those tight pants (although they didn’t hurt!) but what made me fall so hard was his snarkiness. It’s a character trait I’ve appreciated ever since, as anyone who knows my husband can attest. I loved West so much I began writing stories about his adventures (I was never a character myself, but they call what I was doing “fanfic” nowadays.)

When I was in college, being relatively cash poor, I spent a lot of time in the used bookstore. I discovered a battered paperback book called Harpy’s Flight, by Megan Lindholm, and I was utterly enthralled by Vandien, a thief with heartache and shadows in his past. His growing love for Ki wasn’t the idealized love of old movies. It was the unintentional, confusing and wild flowering that happens to real people. Instead of taking the easy way out, Lindholm imbued serious depth to what could easily have been a cardboard character. So what if she was writing a plain old sword and sorcery novel? Vandien suffered and fought, and might have been killed at any time by the harpies who hunted them, yet had feelings blooming within him that he’d never expected. When I finished the fourth and final book in the Quartet, I wept. There would be no new stories of my love. It was almost as if he had died.

Another memorable love affair I had was with Phil Davies, pirate captain from the excellent novel On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers. Davies was a man who’d been forced by circumstance to go on the account, but he was not at all common. His sense of humor was dry and brilliant. He didn’t trust a one of his men, but he’d do whatever it took to keep all of them alive. His skin had that sun-bitten darkness that only men who work outdoors ever get, and when Davies was on the deck of his ship, I could feel the wind tossing my hair and the heat of the sun, smell the ocean that had become his home. Again, a secondary character that could have served as window dressing came alive so vividly I lost my heart to him.

Falling for a fictional character is both heartbreaking and thrilling. Heartbreaking because I can never touch him, never have a conversation that isn’t already written. He doesn’t exist except in my imagination, and there he must remain. But that’s the exciting part – he is there, in my mind, to be called forth whenever I need to think of him. When I’m writing my own work, I can pull from my memory all the characters I’ve fallen for, blend their attributes and figure out how their creators did it, then write my own favorite people. None of my fictional loves are perfect – they have flaws, flaws which make them real and accessible and loveable.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go sigh over my new man. Nope, I’m not telling you who he is yet. My love is still new, so I’m not ready to share. While I’m busy, feel free to comment and tell us what fictional character you’ve fallen for, and what made it happen for you.

Don’t forget, the contest ends tomorrow at midnight. If you haven’t already posted your entry, don’t wait!

Misty Massey
www.mistymassey.com
www.magicalwords.net

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22 comments to Loving those men of mine

  • Misty,
    I totally feel that! My current favorite beau is House. He is so flawed as a human being that he is intriguing. And the actor has captured the snarky M.Diety-ness of some doctors to perfection.
    Rod calls him my boyfriend.

  • I actually have a few boyfriends right now. Beatriz keeps telling me I must share.

    Heh.

  • Boy, do I know that feeling. I’ve fallen in love with book characters more than once: Athos, Andrej Bolkonsky, Faramir, Alaric Morgan, Hornblower, Daniel Deronda ….

    And I think I’m a bit in love with two of my own characters, Roderic de Sinclaire from KINGS AND REBELS, and Arminius from A LAND UNCONQUERED (though in case of the latter you can argue that he is a historical character, albeit we know little about him). At first I was worried it would impact my writing them – make them too nice, you know – but I don’t think I do that, after all, I love them because of their flaws as much as because of their heroism. 🙂

  • Wendy

    Faith! You’ve stolen my crush! House is IT for me right now. (And really for the last few years. The man endures. I just can’t get him out of my system.)

    Misty: this is a topic that is near and dear to me. It made me smile to see it written about here.
    I started young. When I was about seven, I informed my parents that I was going to marry Han Solo when I grew up.

    Then, ’round about early high school, there was the character Brooklyn from Gargoyles. Fictional AND hand-drawn. eek. My friends gave me so much crap for this one. He makes mistakes trying to find himself, holds grudges, struggles with being thrown into a leadership role, argues with his brothers but cares about them deeply. He also seemed like someone with whom I could have a very good time. Just thinking about it now, I smile. I wrote a lot because of this love too. I credit Gargoyles with a lot of progress I made as a young writer.

    I feel like this sort of thing happens to me less with books. Casts of characters stay with me, but I find that I identify with book characters more than fall madly for them. There’s more mystery about a TV/movie character ’cause you don’t get as much motivation as you do in a book.
    This said, I did kind of squeal with glee when I found that Neil Gaiman’s book of short stories Fragile Things had an American Gods novella in it. Shadow is dear to me. He is, like many of Neil’s heroes I guess, a genuinely nice guy who life has just put through the ringer in so many ways. The way he uncovers his strengths in these unusual situations endears me to me immensely.

    Also, Lynn Flewelling’s Thero from the Nightrunner books. Awkward, scholarly Thero, getting pulled into things he really would rather not be involved in…growing into a real human being after being such an ass. I’ve got a real soft spot for redemption, and seeing a character redeem himself and manage to NOT die doing it: Hurrah.
    Part of this is also a matter of identification again, having gone through a “scholarly snot” phase before somewhat uncontrollable events forced me to change. (Fortunately for me, there were no undead involved in my change.)

    I’m sure there’s more, but those are the ones that come to me readily.

  • Don’t know if I’ve ever fallen in love with any of them, but I can definitely say there’s been quite a few, including some I’m writing now myself, who i definitely feel for.

    On Stranger Tides was an awesome book. I read it as part of my research push when I was writing a pirate supplement that should finally be out this quarter from Eden Studios.

  • Beatriz

    Yes, Misty, you are required to share with me. I’ve made up a schedule and everything. I find it the height of amusement that we tend to fall for the same fictional guys.

    And snarky? Your husband??????? Naaaaaaaaa! Not possible.

    I wonder if your new love is the same as mine. If so, I’m calling a 2 rounds out of 3 arm wrasslin’ for him.

  • Oh, my true love is Conan the Cimmerian – could take or leave him as a film character, but when I read Robert E Howard, I just swooned. He’s just… the perfect manly man. I’m certain this is part of why I am still single. How could any real man compare?

    I fell in love with one of my male characters of what I’m working on at the moment, and he took the opportunity to commandeer the entire story 🙁

  • I can’t relate to loving the MEN of fiction, but as to the women, I can relate.

    First off in my stories so far, I would say my first love was Serin Ta’au’doloran. She actually begins the story as evil but goes through an awsome transformation and turns into a force for good by the final scenes. I can’t really say that I love Araceli in my current WIP. I would say that we are just dating right now. We’ll see if it develops into something more. *wink*

    As far as fiction in general, I would say Verin in the Wheel of Time. She is so intelligent and oddly mysterious. You never quite can grasp if she is good or evil. I think she is good but she does things in evil ways to achieve it. She is awsome.

    I’ve had a torrid affair with Lici in David’s book THE SORCERER’S PLAGUE. His use of the journal really brought to life the mind and emotions of Lici. I couldn’t help but fall for her. I think it is a passing romance though as she is about to really wacko on me I fear.

    Brigid O’Shaunessey (spelling?) in the MALTESE FALCON was an early love. She broke me in on the ways of love and how a smokey, sultry lady, with an evill bent is supposed to carry herself. It broke my heart when he had to turn her in to the cops at the end.

    Somone that you know, Misty, has been flirting with me as well. I think you know Kestral. She seems so down to earth. She is vulnerable yet has an inner strength. I haven’t seen an evil streak yet, but maybe that would be nice? *grin* I’ve read about parts of her adventure and she is enticing me fully into running off on a ship somewhere to be alone. Hopefully, I can take her up on her offer soon.

    I think I see a streak here. I fall for evil women (including the one I married). *wink*

  • Gabriele, I was crazy for D’Artagnan myself!

    Wendy, I’ve fallen for an animated character a couple of times. The first time that comes to mind was Ioz, from “The Pirates of Darkwater.” He was a pirate (duh!) and he kinda hated having to be a good guy so much, which meant he got into the kind of trouble that’s so much fun to talk about later. And then of course I still adore Spike Spiegel from “Cowboy Bebop.” *sigh*

    Daniel, is the pirate supplement for a game system? I’m interested.

    Beatriz, I think we’re safe this time. But we do fall for a lot of the same ones, don’t we? I’ll definitely be shooting glances at your guy. 😀

    Anna, I often fall in love with my own characters, and that’s when I know I’m doing something right. 😀

    Mark, thanks for letting me know about that naughty pirate woman. Alas, it’s too late for me to do anything but watch as she flirts her way into your heart. *grin*

  • My current love affair is with Chicago’s resident wizard, Harry Dresden. Sarcasm! Squee! I love snarkiness as well, but House has gotten a wee bitter for my taste lately. I also adore Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo from NCIS for the same reasons. (Snark + Funny = LOVE)

  • Fox Molder and Captain Jean-Luc Picard. I fall for others every now and then, but my heart has been split between those two for longer than I can remember. I used to daydream about Molder, and hate on Scully of course! I mean, why is she so lucky?

  • Misty

    Yeah, it’s for All Flesh Must Be Eaten, the Zombie Horror Survival RPG from Eden Studios. It’s called Argh! Thar Be Zombies! It was a larger undertaking than I thought it would be, but fun, harrowing, annoying, exhilarating, enlightening. Great fun, but freelance RPG writers get paid even less than first time novelists do.

  • The lady I’m most intrigued by right now is Rhian from Karen Miller’s The Riven Kingdom. You just know she’s going to be greatly disappointed by her only hope. And that she and Zandakar are going to be an item down the road.

    Another intriguing lady is Hekat, who starts off the whole story cycle in Empress. Psychopathic, abused as a child, and empress of an emerging fanatic power. What’s not to be afraid of?

  • Okay, fessing up here: Jennifer from Guy Kay’s Fionivar Tapestry. Catriana from Kay’s Tigana. And probably every woman I’ve ever written myself: Alayna from LonTobyn, Cresenne and Keziah from the Forelands, Tirnya from the Southlands, and a couple of women none of you has met yet…

  • Denise

    I have many ‘lovers’. Glad to know I’m not alone. Married 37 years he isn’t jealous. He’s alive and can touch!

  • David, so you don’t think it’s dangerous for a writer to fall in love with his/her characters? I’ve always tried – often unsuccessfully – not to do that because I was afraid I would make them too nice then.

  • Gabriele, you’re assuming I like nice women…. 😉

    There is the danger of not doing to the characters you love what you need to do to them. But I’ve been able to stick to my narrative intentions while still caring about the characters. So far….

  • Oh, I have fun with my bad guys, too, though I don’t fall in love with them.

    Btw, that newest layout of the blog looks cool, but I have problems with black backgrounds, and the font is tiny.

    Yeah, my eyes start showing my age. 🙁

  • I don’t worry in case of Roderic, he’s one of my characters who suffer most, but I’m not sure Arminius won’t get a too good PR from me – after all, he WAS responsible for the death of some 18.000 Roman soldiers.

    On the other side, falling in love with your own characters may enable you to add more depth to them, and since all the writers here seem to fall in love, I should perhaps not be so careful about my feelings. 😉

  • Gabriele said, “Btw, that newest layout of the blog looks cool, but I have problems with black backgrounds, and the font is tiny.”

    We’re having some site issues – the themes keep breaking down. Keep checking, and I’m sure we’ll be back to an easier theme soon!

  • I guessed that the black one wasn’t written in stone yet, that’s the reason I said it was a bit difficult to read. The one you have right now works fine, imho.

    (One of the reasons I got a Blogger account is that I can overwrite their templates. No fiddling with funny themes; I use my own. 🙂 )

  • I’m a fan of the new look, too. I was wondering, though, why C E Murphy’s book covers (now on the left) always look grainy and low-res. Is that only my computer?