We’re down to the last 24 hours of my latest poll, and I have no trouble predicting that Marc Hunter will be the big winner.
I am really surprised. I’ve been saying that all week. No matter how many votes came in, the spread remained basically the same. I really expected Julian or Zach to lead, followed by Marc, then Gabe, then Reece.
I knew that Reece, lacking the über-alpha law enforcement personality, would come in behind the others. That's okay. He’s very secure in his manhood and understands. But I truly thought that Darcangelo — aka Dark Angel, aka Dorkangelo, aka Dickangelo — would come in first. He seems to get so much attention.
I talked with some of you about this on Marie Force’s blog — the inner war of an author over which of her characters she hopes is most popular. Here’s how it goes.
A Writer’s Internal Monologue
“I hope they vote for Zach! If they do, it means they loved his story and that I wrote him well. Yes, I hope they vote for Zach! The book has been really popular, so they must all love him. Maybe my agent is right that my writing is getting better.
“Except that... if they vote for Zach, does that mean all the other heroes are crap and that those books stunk? Maybe the book were awful and no one could really bring herself to tell me that. Oh, God, they can’t all vote for Zach! Did they love none of the others? Did Marc’s sacrifice and Gabe’s great loss mean nothing to them? What about the sucky-swirly thing?
“But what if they don’t vote for Zach? OMG! That will mean Breaking Point was meh and he was the Navy SEAL girly-man of romance novels. It means I’ll have written the only un-sexy Navy SEAL in U.S. history!”
And so it goes.
I’ve actually talked about this with people at work. Yes, they know the poll is going on. Most of them haven’t read the books — no reason they should — and don’t know Dickangelo from a hole in the ground. But they sure know what I think...
So here’s one theory for Marc’s success:
The poignancy of Unlawful Contact was built strongly upon the very real concept that Sophie and Marc had no future. Their time together was limited. The story could only end in one of two ways — either Marc dies in a hail of bullets or he’s locked away in prison. That heightened both the suspense and the sexual tension and gave each and every scene a sense of desperation. The fact that Marc is willing to hold a gun to Sophie’s head and the swagger with which he goes on the run makes him a bad boy — not a pretend bad boy who seems menacing but is just a fuzzy kitty cat. He actually does some bad stuff. But he does it for reasons we understand.
That’s my theory.
Julian is... well, he’s Julian, and it doesn’t surprise me at all that he comes in No. 2. Perhaps the gap between him and Marc is wider than I imagined, but he is indisputably No. 2.
And Zach... Well, he’s No. 3 with Gabe not far behind him at No. 4.
And Reece is exactly where I knew he’d be.
So the silly part of this poll is that very few of you wanted to vote for one hero. I got lots of messages about the unfairness of having to choose one. Sorry, but that’s how this one went. And it was revealing.
Someone asked me if this will influence my future I-Team stories. Knowing what I know, will this impact the kind of heroes I write?
Yes, and then again no.
I can’t write a series of novels about guys who break out of prison or who are convicts on the run. That would get old fast, and I don’t like repeating myself. Plus, after five or so escapes, our entire prison system would be overhauled.
BUT I do know you love the I-Team heroes. Even if Marc is in the lead, every one of them got some love and some campaign support. No one took off his pants to find himself alone.
I wrote Marc when I was pining for Julian. I had such a hard time putting Julian behind me. All I could think was, “I'll never be able to top Julian. Ever.” So I decided I would have to forget the idea of writing a hero who was somehow BETTER than Julian and instead focus on telling a story that was special in its own way. Its hero and heroine would be unique, too. And that way, maybe, I could write a hero equal to Julian.
So that’s what I try to do, and that’s what I’ll keep doing — trying to write characters, both heroes and heroines, you can love for who they are. And I’ll try to stop the monologue in my head.
In the meantime, please enjoy your long weekend. Memorial Day is about real heroes, men and women who gave their lives in service to their country. I hope we all take time amid bike rides and barbecues to remember them — and the loved ones they left behind.