Hanna's Hero
Hanna's Hero was one of the possible titles for the novel I just completed for Ellora's Cave. We're talking heroes this week, so I thought since it didn't make it as the title for the book, I could use it as the title for today's blog post.

The final title is Chains of Desire, a futuristic erotic romance with a capture/bondage theme. Hanna, of course, is the heroine. I had her character down pretty well from the beginning, but the hero...well, he took me a little longer. I thought he was going to be a cocky scoundrel, like Han Solo in the original Star Wars movie. I LOVE that character and I was looking forward to basing a hero on him. But the story really wasn't working for me.

Then one day, while I was researching hero images (yes, I consider surfing the net drooling over the pictures of hunky guys research...don't you?) I came across this picture of Duane "The Rock" Johnson. And there was my hero. Hanna's Hero. Jarrod. And all the pieces fell into place.

Jarrod was a jaded escapee from the mines, a man of few words, who won't apologize for what he's had to do to survive. He's also a Master, a sexual dominant, but he's been trying to keep that beast chained inside him...until Hanna brings it out again.

Here's how Hanna, chained to the wall in the spaceship, first describes him:

As he stood before her, she had a good chance to study him as she chewed the food he slid past her lips. She could tell he was strong and well-trained. His well-sculpted muscles bulged beneath his tight black shirt as he moved. His skin was as dark and shiny as the hortnuts on Vanya. His eyes were nearly black and while she studied them for warmth, she never saw any signs.

His hand were wide, his fingers long and strong. Rough and calloused. He wore a wide leather cuff on his left wrist. She knew he could strangle her if he wanted, but he was almost gentle as he fed her. His musky scent grew stronger than that of the food remaining on the plate.

And later:

Hanna had never felt anything like Jarrod’s rough hands caressing her skin. She knew she shouldn’t like what he was doing. Shouldn’t be aching for more of this incredible friction that was sending waves of sensations over her skin. She shouldn’t be wanting more.

But as soon as she awoke and saw him standing there in the doorway, staring at her, she’d wanted him to touch her again. He wasn’t wearing a shirt and she couldn’t help but admire his sculpted muscles.

The tattoo surprised her. It was all black and covered the entire left side of his chest. It followed the curves of his chest, from his broad shoulder down past his tight nipple. Thick black lines radiated out from a center sunburst design to a circular border, with intricate designs between.

Some people on Vanya decorated their bodies in this way, but Hanna had never seen a tattoo that actually enhanced someone’s body as this one did. It made him look even stronger and sexier. If she ever got out of these cuffs and chains, she hoped she’d get a chance to touch it.

The tattoo ended up adding another layer to Jarrod's story. And I never would have known that part of his history if I hadn't come across this picture. Jarrod has ended up being one of my favorite heroes and I think it's because he became his own character, not a second-hand version of someone else.

We were talking about inspiration last week and I should have mentioned pictures. I use them alot. Do you use pictures to get a better handle on your characters? Are you like me, posting a picture up where you can see it as you write? Or do you really get into it, as some writers do, and make up a huge collage of images for your story? Or are your characters all in your head until you get them down on the page?

I can't wait to share cover and release date for Chains of Desire. You can be sure I'll let you all know when I get them.

Romance with more...sizzle
12 Responses
  1. Carly Carson Says:

    Good morning, Natasha,

    I never use a picture. I'm not a visual person. Also, I feel that would make my hero a copy of the guy in the picture. Though I can see that a picture is not a fully-fleshed out person like a character in a movie would be. This is the same reason why I don't want to watch a movie showing a favorite hero (like Aragorn) because then the picture in my head is replaced by the one on the screen.

    But maybe I should try this method. At least it would provide me with a good excuse for browsing the internet to look at potential heros. heehee


  2. Kristin Says:

    Natasha, I use pictures depicting my heroes with every one of my stories. I don't print them out (pretty sure my hubby or kids wouldn't like to see them hung up on the wall, LOL), but I do keep them on my computer and 'reference' them from time to time (or a lot!).

  3. I'm with Carly on this one that I'd be afraid a character would turn out to be a carbon copy. Also, it bothers me when an author will say that a character looks like someone famous. To me, it's a lazy way of describing.

    However, I am very visual and do like to look at the pics for inspiration. NOt that I look at them with hubby or son around. THEY would be embarrassed.

    Chains of Desire sounds great!

  4. Nicole North Says:

    Great post!! Sounds like an awesome story, Natasha! To answer your question, yes sometimes I use pictures to inspire me. Much like you said, I have found on a few stories in the past that the hero wouldn't fully reveal himself to me until I found a photo of him. And then it's like magic happens and I know him fully. But that doesn't happen every time. Sometimes I have no external photos of my characters, just what's in my head. :)

  5. Natasha, I don't use specific pictures for my heroes. I don't want the picture to determine the character. Love this picture of The Rock!

  6. Natasha Says:

    Carly, I don't think my characters ever end up as carbon copies of any of the pictures I print out. They are inspiration - a jumping off point.

    Kristin - I'm glad I'm not the only one. And my hubby doesn't seem to mind the pix up in my office. Now if I framed it and put it in the bedroom...

  7. Natasha Says:

    Julie, I would never describe a character as looking like the Rock, etc. I agree, that would be lazy writing. He may look like that in my imagination, but it's what he does and how he acts on the page that makes him his own character.

  8. Natasha Says:

    Nicole, it doesn't happen to me every time either, but it's cool when it does.

    Carol, that pic is yummy, isn't it :)

  9. Exactly, Natasha! Your description creates the picture, not just blatantly saying who he looks like. And I have read stories like that. Ouch.

  10. ShawnaMoore Says:

    Hi, Natasha!

    I'm a very visual woman, and I love finding pictures to serve as inspirations for future heroes :) It's also amazing how a photo can send my mind in an opposite direction, and I'll imagine the same man with a different hair or eye color, longer or shorter hairstyle, etc. Same holds true for pictures of potential heroines and secondary characters. I enjoy finding and saving those as reference and mulling points :) In a few stories, I've kept a mental collage. I'll close my eyes when writing and simply let those images and scenes play as would a movie :)

    And speaking of visuals, I've an image of my hero at the train station burnished on my brain :)

    Thanks for sharing the great excerpt with us :)

    Happy week wishes,


  11. Hey Natasha,
    I had never used a picture for my hero. Then came along my idea for the manuscript I just completed. I had a muse for this one. And he was just that--a muse. My hero actually looks nothing like him. But all I had to do was look at my desktop-yes he is background on my computer--and I was ready to jump into Dante. Even with the story completed, he is still my background, lol.

  12. Natasha Says:

    I agree, Julie. Ouch!

    Shawna, yeah, I love those visuals too :)

    Esme, I never thought of putting my hero on my desktop! Hmmm, I'll have to remember that!

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