Saturday, 5 May 2012


As I was driving into town yesterday evening, I noticed a young couple, 16 or 17 years of age, walking along the pavement.  The girl made no impression on me.  But the boy, leaning in towards her, chin out, eyes wide with laughter as he chatted eagerly – he caught my eye.  And I thought yes, I can use him!  Which sounds bad, but we have to admit it, as writers we do ‘use’ people.

I don’t know who the boy was and am not sure I would even recognise him if I saw him again, but he is captured in my mind’s eye as a possible character, even a hero, for the future.  There was something about his mannerisms, his clear young feature, his enthusiasm that caught my imagination.  That’s all it takes, that one little spark, and the writer in me is away – at this stage he doesn’t have a name or any of the other details that will become so important but I have the essence of him, and that’s what I need to carry the spark of the story.

This reminded me of what Linda wrote last month in her musings on heroes -
They are vital to any romance and therefore also crucial for us as the story tellers - they carry our enthusiasm, engage us in a way that makes it possible to engage our readers – or so we hope. And we can find them anywhere - while watching television, flicking through a magazine, or driving down a street.

I don’t have a ‘visual’ I can share, a picture of this young boy who may feature in a future Young Adult novel.  Half of me wishes I could have stopped the car, leapt out and taken a picture with my phone.  But we can’t do that.  Can we?  At least, I didn’t, so I’ll leave you with a few photos of people who may also put in an appearance in a future book.  I doubt anyone will recognise them if they do, but their ‘essence’ will be there for me.  They might not work for you, but that doesn’t matter.  As long as I can use them, as long as they work when they are down on the written page – that’s what matters about a hero.


Mmm, wonder if I’m seeing a theme here.  They all seem to be footballers.  Maybe my next novel can involve professional football and I can indulge in the total immersion type of research as discussed by my friend Janice Horton in her current blog 

I would be interested to know how other people 'find' there heroes.


  1. A thought provoking post, Gill, and thank you for the mention!

    Interesting that your hero pics are all footballers. I think that would make for a highly topical YA novel. In fact, any sport related story reaching readers around the UK Olympic Games is sure to be popular. Gosh, you best get into your football boots and then write it up quickly!

    Janice xx

  2. Hmm! You like your men sporty, I see.

  3. Yes, they seem to be sporty - and focussed and driven. Where am I going to find the time to write this football-based YA?

  4. Love the image of you leaping out of your car to take snaps of likely hero material!
    It was an interesting post, Gill but footballers don't do it for me, though. They might look good but I'm not sure if they would make good heroes. I can think of one or two tennis players who might!

  5. Talking of heroes, I've just been told by my publisher that the hero of my debut novel - TO TURN FULL CIRCLE, out on Kindle today, paperback in June - is going to be asked to blog soon. What a way to really get into your hero's head - to imagine him blogging!

  6. Mary - yes tennis players have potential, too. Don't know why I'm so interested in the sporty types when I'm not exactly sporty myself. or maybe that explains it?

    Linda - will look forward to reading your hero's blog! Downloaded To Turn Full Circle to my Kindle yesterday, great news that it is now 'out'.

    1. Thank you so much for doing that, Gill.....hope you like it...:)

    2. Thank you so much for doing that, Gill.....hope you like it...:)

  7. My problem with heroes from the world of sport, Gill, is that they always seem to have feet of clay when they're interviewed on radio or TV. Now the young man you describe seeing walking along the pavement - yes, he would appeal. Maybe I prefer not to have the visual, to let my imagination paint in the details?


  8. Hmm. I preferred Alan Davies I think. He's got more personality. I like the sound of your young man, though, Gill. I wonder what he would have thought if you HAD taken a picture and told him he was going to star in your next novel?

  9. Joan - but in my imagination they don't have feet of clay! But I don know what you mean.

    Jenny, and others, for me this has been a very useful experience as so many people have expressed different views on what works for them as a hero. Definitely food for thought.