Monday, October 30, 2006

Eye of the Beholder

First of all, I know that's somewhat the title of a really great Julie E Czerneda book, but that's not what I'm going to blog about today. Rather, I'm going to yammer on about the perception (misperception?) that romance novels are peopled with flawlessly beautiful and handsome characters.

I can tell you that mine aren't but there may be several of you who then squirm in your seats, thrusting impatient hands in the air like a bad imitation of Arnold Horshack from Welcome Back Kotter (am I showing my age here?), anxious to point out to me that Captain Trilby Elliot made no bones about the fact that she found Rhis attractive. Or that Admiral Branden Kel-Paten was so smitten by Tasha Sebastian that he wrote her love letters for nigh on ten years or more.

And my answer to you would be: So?

The fact that two characters in my books might find each other irresistible does not unequivocally mean either is a candidate for a fashion model career. It just means that two characters in my books found each other irresistible. Period. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Don't assume (and you all do know what they say about ASSUME, don't you?) that irresistibility means perfection. I happen to know more than one long time married couple who still gaze longingly into each other's eyes...and none of them would qualify to grace the cover of Cosmo. Or GQ.

Because beauty is, you see, in the eye of the beholder.

What I strive to do in the romance parts of my books is also bring the reader to understand all the other factors that make one character appealing to another: belief systems, personality, bravery, loyalty, sense of humor... it's all part of the package. In fact, I've even had my characters comment on occasion that yes, they know of others who are physically more attractive than the hero/heroine. But it's all of the elements of that person that make him or her beautiful to the other.

So just as we're often cautioned to not judge a book by its cover, don't (pre)judge my characters by whatever stereotypical misinformation you've heard about the romance, or science fiction romance, genre. Open the book and get to know the characters for yourselves--with all their faults and foibles that make them, yes, very beautiful.


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