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Do nice guys finish last?

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I just subbed a manuscript to an editor and I’m nervous. No surprise there, authors are always nervous when they submit work to a publishing house, or a critique partner or reviewer or whomever. But this time there’s another element to my anxiety, all because I’ve written the type of hero we don’t often see in romance novels, especially erotic ones.

everyone says Ryan’s really just a nice guy

He’s a nice guy.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. All romance heroes are nice guys aren’t they? That’s why we fall in love with them. But no, it’s not so. Romance novel heroes are sexy, they’re strong and at their core usually honorable and they certainly have appealing qualities. But they are rarely in my experience just plain nice blokes. They are alpha males, bossy doms, bad boys, cops on the edge, cutthroat businessmen with a grudge, arrogant cowboys, space warriors who hold the heroine hostage, old world pirates who hold the heroine hostage. I’ve written a bad boy myself, as well as an ex crim and a guy who’s kind of a loudmouth bastard. We love characters with flaws and we love to see really arrogant men get taken down a peg or two by love.

This time my guy wouldn’t be arrogant. He wouldn’t do anything truly jerky although I tried to make him several times. I kept worrying he wasn’t hitting the right notes, that he wasn’t larger than life. I was right, he’s not larger than life, he’s an average guy with an average life who wants to make the heroine happy. After a while I stopped trying to get him to be more of an alpha male because I finally realised he was exactly the kind of man my heroine needed, someone who grounded her and would support her no matter what.

cute, nerdy and nice

So my nice guy is cute, humble, reasonable, patient, affectionate, charming, occasionally shy, as well as very giving and inventive in bed. Oh he also has great shoulders and can fuck like a jackhammer. I haven’t completely lost my mind.

So what are the nice guy qualities you like in your man—whether he be real or in a romance novel? Do you want to see more regular blokes in your books or are we better leaving the seduction of our heroines to the billionaires and playboys?

Cheers,

Sami

Thursday Thought

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I’m passionate about music—almost as passionate as I am about writing and reading. I’m a rock chic from way back, but I appreciate all types of tunes. I listen to everything from Pink, to Harry Connick Jnr (because he’s soooo cute in that Sandra Bullock movie Hope Floats. Oh Harry, you can build me a house any time), to Aretha Franklin, Powderfinger, and I’ve even been known to dance around the house to The Bee Gees. Yes, it’s attractive that.

As a result I have quite an extensive music collection, which comes in handy when I’m trying to get in touch with my characters. One of the most integral pieces of information I need to know about them is what kind of music they listen to. My hero from Born Again Virgin liked the Eagles and CCR—she liked jazz and soul. Nick from Fijian Fling played guitar himself, and in one scene I have him strumming a cheesy old Roger Miller tune because it suited the vibe of the location and his character. In Sunset Knight, my heroine gets caught by the hero in the opening scene dancing around to Christina Aguliera’s Dirty. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xztA9WtC8xQ&feature=related. You can just imagine those moves. How embarrassing. As for Brody Nash, he was into a mix of Nirvana and old songs. One scene is played out on a sunny day beside his yacht and I always pictured Otis Redding’s Dock of the Bay playing from a tinny radio in the background.

When I need to create a mood for a book I put together a soundtrack, something I can play when I need to switch from mummy/wife/worker mode into writer mode. At the moment I’m putting together a bunch of music that reminds me of heat and isolation, because my book’s set largely in the Australian Outback. Country Rock makes up the bulk of the list, artists like Steve Earl, Sheryl Crow, John Mellencamp and some Bruce Springsteen, because who doesn’t love a little Bruce now and then? He sings a lot of great songs about small home towns, and I’m on Fire has one of the best song lyrics ever written about a man pining for the woman he can never have:

 Sometimes it’s like someone took a knife baby edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley through the middle of my soul.

 I love a good pine.

I take most of the musical allusions I make in my initial book drafts out of the final product. I figure not everyone’s as into music as I am and I don’t want to bore people or pull them out of the story with a pop culture reference that brings them into reality, and out of the romantic fantasy I’m trying to weave around them. But then, when I find them in other authors’ books I love it. In that moment it’s like the book’s creator and I are on the same wavelength, which adds to the experience for me.

So what do you think about it? Do musical/movie/other pop culture references in books add or subtract from your enjoyment as a reader?

Sami