Friday, October 1, 2010

Blond-ism: The Biased Against Fair-Haired Heroes

First, I want to thank Heather for inviting me over to hang out with you guys. *looks around* Ah, it's so nice and pretty over here. *tamps down blog template envy* :)

Alright, so Heather didn't give me any guidelines on what to talk about--which is always a dangerous thing to do with someone who writes erotic romance. So I thought, how about a post that requires pictures of hot men? You with me? Okay, good. :)

I read a lot--mostly romance (all subgenres) and some YA--and I've started noticing a pattern. We always hear the cliche "tall, dark, and handsome" which of course is a good combination of adjectives (and I'm not giving up the tall and handsome), but I wonder if we may have taken the "dark" too much to heart. It seems like at least nine out of ten romance novels I read have the dark-haired hero. And apparently, I'm not immune as a writer either. Here are the inspirations for the heroes in my last two manuscripts:

Lex, my hero in my novel Wanderlust (romance about a rockstar), was a combo of Jared Leto (actor/lead singer 30 Seconds to Mars) and Tyson Ritter (singer All-American Rejects):

and then Reid my hero in my latest novel Exposure Therapy is a combo of these beautiful guys: (Rob Lowe and Ian Somerhalder)

So clearly, dark works. BUT here's my worry--what of the good-looking blondies out there? If I'm lucky enough to sell either of these books to publishers, the second in each of these separate series would feature a blond hero. And I love those characters too, and in my mind, they are just a sexy as the dark-haired heroes. I mean, consider the blond hotness below:

Alexander Skarsgard  and Ryan Kwanten (True Blood)

Josh Holloway (Lost)

Yum, right? Clearly, blond can be hot. So why aren't there more blond heroes out there? Do we have certain characteristics we assign to blonds that don't work as heroes? Will readers not be as into my characters simply because of their fair locks?  And God forbid someone write a red-headed hero.  (The only time I've seen it done--and boy it worked that time--was Jamie in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.)

I don't know the answers or the reasons, though I have my theories. That's why I'm putting the questions out to you guys.

As readers, do you have a preference for what color hair the hero has? Do you think differently of a character based on their hair (i.e. dark hair means brooding, mysterious - blond means light-hearted, fun-loving?) Do you think there is a bias out there? And are any of your fave book heroes blondies (mine is Eric in the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood books)?

Thanks for letting me stop by!

Roni Loren is a romance writer whose goal is to write sexy (okay, sometimes downright naughty) stories that make readers laugh out loud, hold their breath, and fall in love--all before reading "happily ever after." She blogs on writing at Fiction Groupie and tweets like mad woman. Hopefully, you'll see her books on the shelves soon!

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  1. to add to your hot blond list - the best looking guy from the twit movies (only including vamps here)- kellan lutz.

    i would say it is odd to see a male blond in the lead - dont know why...give me a sawyer or Alex (yum) and i would be just as happy.

  2. Hmmm, I don't really pay much attention to haircolor when reading, though I have to say now that I think back I think you're quite right, although with regencies I think there are more blonds.

    So far, in my own writing, the hero of my first book was blond (dark brown eyes though). The second hero is black-haired, but the secondary man in the heroine's life AND the semi-villain (he's a sociopath who likes killing, but he's working on the side of good, sort of, at the moment) are both blonds.

    For hunky-blondness in the movie/TV world, I would have to throw Eric Johnson (currently of Rookie Blue, formerly Flash Gordon and a host of other stuff) into the hopper.

  3. Hi Roni,

    Good question! Yep, most of the heroes I've read about (and written about) are of dark variety. But some of my secondary characters are lighter-haired, and I have definite plans to write the story of at least one of them (imagine the Logan Echols actor from Veronica Mars and the Green Arrow actor from Smallville *la sigh* ).

    So both of those actors encompass an "edge" to their characters despite their lighter hair. Maybe that's why they work. They have the "dark" and brooding attitude going for them anyway.

  4. Give me Sawyer or Mick (Alex Oloughlin from Moonlight) any day. really like the dark hair and green eyes on Gerard Butler!

    Yep, we readers are fickle!

    I think if the author's done a good job, I forget stuff like that and root for him because of who he is.

  5. Blonde or dark, I'm an equal opportunity hero lover. Give me a reason to love him and his good looks are like the cherry on top. Lots of hunky pictures here. At the moment, I'm kind of partial to any of those three guys on Hawaii Five-O.

  6. I don't read a lot of romance novels, so I can't really comment on the trend there. But in general, dark hair is kind of in style right now, on both men AND women ... When I was a kid, I remember everyone wanted to be blonde and either got highlights or bleached. Now my teenaged sister, who has beautiful, natural ash-blonde hair, bemoans her coloring and wishes she was dark-haired like "everybody else." Times change, huh?

    I personally prefer dark or red hair, so I'm happy with the trend. (Again, I don't know about romance novels, but YA has a number of redhead guys). But ultimately I'd say it doesn't matter. Hair color is secondary to other characteristics in determining attractiveness for a lot of people, and if you're reading a book you can always picture it the way you want in your head anyway. :-)

    Also ... Ian Somerhalder ... yum :-D

  7. I have to admit that I have always been most attractive to men with dark hair. Dark eyes are smoldering, but a dark hair/pale eyes combo is also striking and exotic.

    When I started this post, I did think of Jamie in the Outlander series right away, though! Diana Gabaldon really made the ginger red hot, didn't she?

    I think it's easy to write a sexy male character who is tall, dark, and handsome, but it's also truly memorable when an author can pull off a steamy hero with less traditional good looks. In my WIP, there are an equal number of fair and swarthy male love interests. I may have a favorite type, but I also enjoy variety.

    Exceptions can be easily made, but I tend to associate dark coloring with masculinity and light coloring with nobility. I've tried to mix that up a little in my WIP by including a dark-haired king and a golden peasant.

  8. I meant "attracted" to men with dark hair. Haha. Freudian slip...

  9. I think you're right with the trend although in my own experience the trend for dark haired heroes almost seems as if it has roots in the struggle avoid the 'perfect blond haired, blue eyed all American guy'. Not that there's anything wrong with all American guys. I don't have huge experience with the romance market, but in other areas like YA that's the vibe I get.

    I've noticed a trend in women MCs as well. Not the tall dark and beautiful so much as the anything besides blond and super model perfect. That's a good trend, but part of me WOULD like to see a really great blond girl lead the way. Buffy's getting some years on her.

    As for men heroes... I do have a thing for dark hair and bronze skin, but that's my eye for American Indians.... My own male heroes tend to be 'different'. One has very pale skin, blood red hair, and freckles out the wazoo. Another is an albino. I'm obsessed with red hair and freckles... too much Irish in me...

  10. People are really drawn to the dark hero thing...And that tends to come out in spades. Looks, mode of dress, actions.

    I actually rather enjoy a bit of a story where they pull off the hero/dark hero/tragic hero, with someone who you couldn't outwardly tell WAS troubled.

  11. I gravitate towards thinking dark is attractive, because my brothers are blond, so blond guys remind me of them.

    Great and interesting post!

  12. I'm not usually attracted to blondes in real life, so I think that's why I usually stick to dark-haired romantic leads in my books. I did write about one in my first YA story, and I always thought of him as something like Chris Egan. (Umm...SUPER hot!) I think it's awful that we can't have ginger heroes, but I think that's because most women don't find them attractive in real life. Of course, "Grey's Anatomy" proved that wrong, I suppose. The only blond hottie that comes to mind in books is Jace from Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments.

  13. Anon, I agree, I'd be totally happy with any of those blondies above.

    Tory, I don't know of Eric Johnson, will have to Google for pic. :)

    Jami, yeah and you write paranormal, so my guess is dark and brooding is even more prominent in paranormal stories.

    Jerrie, I think that's a great point--anything well written will work. And I wouldn't kick Gerard Butler out the bed either, lol.

    Liz, I agree--equal opportunity! :)

    Katherine, great point. I'm naturally dirty blonde and get my hair highlighted on top of that, but I totally did the dark hair thing about a year ago, which used to be unheard of--to go blond to dark brown.

    Genie, definitely, Diana Gabaldon totally sold me on the redhead. (btw, for those of you who haven't read Outlander, it's FREE on Kindle right now!)

    A. Grey, Ooh, I like that you're going with non-traditional looks for your heroes. That's awesome!

    Drackar, That's a great point. The character I have planned is blond and is the happy-go-lucky jokester to everyone, but actually has a very dark past and lots going on underneath that.

    Aubrie, that's a good reason to go for dark, lol.

    KM, mmm, Jace from Mortal Instruments. :)

  14. Wow, I'd never noticed this before. That's kind of incredible. The last time I saw a blond hero, he was the light-hearted, fun-loving guy. The girls are blondes a lot, but they're usually the sweet girls with hearts of gold who save the dark, dangerous guys from themselves. And I don't think I've ever read a red-headed hero. Wow. I don't think I'm ever going to be able to read a romance without thinking about this. Cool post.

  15. I'm not attracted to blondes. Like, at all. *shrug* And I don't like blue eyes much either. I mix it up in my stories in regards to hair color (as my characters are multicultural) but personally, I just don't go for blondes. Male or female. Blondes just aren't my thing.

  16. It's funny but I do prefer dark-haired men, so I think I do write more of my heroes as dark-haired.
    BUT I did become aware of it and my last book I did "force" myself to write my hero as blonde. LOL

  17. Dark guys are generally my type but golden brown (almost blonde) is nice. It has a rich warm feel, like on my hero in Lethal Inheritance, but the dark brown eyes are there.

    It's all in the eyes. My daughter has a blonde boyfriend with intense blue eyes and that's pretty special. So I guess for me it doesn't matter so much.

    My work in progress has one of each.