Why Do we Love Tortured Heroes?
by Marie-Claude Bourque
A few people have asked me whether I got upset by one of the judge comment in the latest round of American Title (read it here if you haven’t had a chance yet: http://www.romantictimes.com/news_amtitle3.php).
The truth is, no. In fact, I thought she was quite funny and I was quite happy that she found my hero gripping. I love tortured heroes. In fact the whole world I built for ANCIENT WHISPERS is based on tragic lovers of old, on heroes with tragic past. They are tortured, hence tough, mysterious, with nothing to lose. Their misery just begs for the right heroine to give them back happiness.
Why do we love tortured heroes? Why am I swept by Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters, most of them with background of slavery or betrayal? Why do I find J.R. Ward brothers so compelling? In real life, her vampires would be extremely scary, but what is it that makes me want their happiness, is it their tortured side? The glimpse that they may be redeemed with the love of one brave heroine? Even Julia Quinn has her share of tortured heroes. One with a stutter so bad his father wouldn’t acknowledge him and one tortured by the memory of an unfaithful first wife. In paranormal romance, they are the vampire, the werewolf, or even the demon. In regency, they are the devilish rake and rogue who hide his tragic past by creating scandals among the ton and charming the young misses.
The tortured hero is the highlander who lost his family to the English empire (I say BraveHeart and my heart beat faster!). He is the pirate who was captured as boy to be sold in slavery and is now taking his revenge.
Christopher’s Vogler in the Writer’s Journey even has a name for this hero, he is not new. He is the “Wounded Anti-Hero”… a hero played often by Bogart or James Dean on the screen. To quote Vogler: “We love these characters because they are rebels, thumbing their noses at society as we would all like to do.”
They belong to the edge of society, they are dangerous and we just loved them. Edward Cullen in Twilight, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (isn’t the upcoming X-Men movie all about his tortured past) and another of my favorite, Jason Staham as the Transporter. Don’t we all die to be the woman who will make them happy? Isn’t it so much more of a challenge for us when they are already so far lost?
Now tell me? Who is your favorite tortured hero?
American Title Finalist
Why Do we Love Tortured Heroes?
USA Today Bestseller and Award-winning author of urban fantasy and medieval historical romantic suspense, Terry Spear also writes true stories for adult and young adult audiences. She’s a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and has an MBA from Monmouth University. She also creates award-winning teddy bears, Wilde & Woolly Bears, to include personalized bears designed to commemorate authors’ books. When she’s not writing or making bears, she’s teaching online writing courses. Originally from California, she’s lived in eight states and now resides in the heart of Texas. She is the author of Heart of the Wolf (Publishers Weekly's BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR), Destiny of the Wolf, To Tempt the Wolf, Legend of the White Wolf, Seduced by the Wolf, Wolf Fever, Heart of the Highland Wolf, Dreaming of the Wolf, The Highland Wolf in Paradise, Deadly Liaisons (vampire romantic suspense), Winning the Highlander’s Heart, The Accidental Highland Hero, A Ghost of a Chance at Love (Time Travel Western Romance), The Vampire…In My Dreams (young adult), Deidre’s Secret (young adult) and numerous articles and short stories for magazines.