A Moment With…Milly Johnson

Milly JohnsonOn day eleven of National Novel Writing Month, Sunday Times best-selling author, Milly Johnson joins us today as we talk about perfectly imperfect heroes.

When I am thinking up the perfect hero, the first thing I do is make him (ironically) imperfect. A totally perfect hero would be too daunting. George Clooney belongs on a pedestal, not wandering around a car boot sale on a Sunday morning. My heroes have flaws, they have made mistakes in life and become stronger people because of that. They are attainable and interesting. They have a good work ethic and are kind to animals. I could not write convincingly about a hero who kicked cats and preferred life on the dole. Flaws make a hero believable, but you have to find the right balance. A hero with too many flaws would be a pain in the butt and unattractive to readers. A good starting point is writing about someone who would be imperfectly perfect for you. Trawl the internet and find someone you like so you have a visual in your head when you are writing about him.

Lookswise… well, the faces I find most attractive have character. Features might not be flawless, but together they work. My hero’s nose may be slightly large, but on a strong face, a small straight nose would look ridiculous (analyse Liam Neeson’s features – small eyes, crooked nose, thin lips – but dynamite when placed together!). Strong female leads need even stronger men. I would have thought that 99.9% of women find being cared for and protected by someone physically and mentally strong a turn-on.

I choose his name carefully. It will be a name that reflects his strength and reliability and rock-solidity. (Uriah Heep doesn’t conjure up a picture of anyone snoggable) Invest in a baby names book!

Character-wise, they have good values. My heroes are all decent men with kind hearts.   They have learned from the mistakes they have made in life. Readers have to respect their hero. Think of the heroes you adore in books and use them as a guide – Rochester (Jane Eyre) is not particularly handsome in the classical sense, but you can imagine him being very attractive and a tour de force in bed. He is a tease, he is rude and has flown in the face of the law but you know that he adores Jane. I would forgive a man like that everything. Mr Darcy (Pride and Prejudice) is arrogant and misjudges Jane and Bingley’s romance, but you know that he has Bingley’s best interests at heart and any man who cares for his sister as Darcy does, well…you know cannot be all bad. Plus he learns from his mistakes after being brought down a peg or two by Elizabeth. He is more attractive because of his imperfections – he and Elizabeth spark against each other. If he simpered after her declaring undying love and being a doormat – he wouldn’t seem as much of a conquest. We need to be excited by our heroes when we write them. We want to see them soften and change throughout the story. The more ‘real’ you can make your hero, the more a reader will be drawn to him. Fall in love with him yourself as you are writing him!

Milly is the author of The Yorkshire Pudding Club, A Winter Flame and A Summer Fling. Her most recent book is The Teashop on the Corner which is available from most major bookshops. Alternatively, click here to purchase on Amazon. 

To find out more about Milly and her books, click here to go to her website – http://www.millyjohnson.co.uk/

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Novel Kicks
About Novel Kicks/Laura...
Novel Kicks was founded in 2009 and is run by Laura who is currently living in Hampshire, and lives with husband, Chris and her cat, Buddy. She would love to be a writer. She’s trying to write the novel she thinks so much about. She’s loved reading and writing since ‘Creative Writing’ classes in primary school. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything she can get her hands on, she loves reading, dancing like a loon, and watching Project Runway and Ugly Betty (her two TV guilty pleasures.) She also has an obsession with chocolate and Jammie Dodgers.

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