Today’s guest blog on YA heroes is from award-winning author Pia Fenton (Christina Courtenay)
Heroes, Villains . . . What’s Not To Love?
There’s been a lot of talk about heroes on the Libertà blog. Also delicious villains.
Yes, I too am a fan of Mr Rickman and others like him, notably Lucius Malfoy (actor Jason Isaacs) in the Harry Potter movies — how could you forget him?! — and Loki in the Thor movies (actor Tom Hiddleston).
Finding MY kind of hero
This made me think about the kind of heroes I personally like. Following on from Sophie’s blog post on Heyer Heroes and Falling in Love With One, I think Ms Heyer may have had a lot to do with my choice. She possibly spoiled me for any kind of hero except hers — ruthless and supercilious, but oh so attractive!
I can’t remember which Heyer book I read first, but it was definitely one of the ones with a Mark II hero — dangerous, suave and arrogant. And handsome, rich and sexy as hell. I became hooked on that type of hero from then on — the Alpha male, with a dry, slightly sarcastic sense of humour, Recently I’ve realised that I like more or less the same type of hero when I read Young Adult (YA) novels.
Finding my YA Heroes
You might think that YA is a whole different kettle of fish, but some of the YA heroes are definitely Heyer types. No Regency bucks here, but plenty of other Alpha males —
- powerful vampires like Edward in Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (although not a favourite of mine, actually)
- wild werewolves like Jacob, also from Twilight
- fallen angels like Patch in Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
- demi-gods and/or children of gods like Lucas in Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
- mythological creatures like Torin in Runes by Ednah Walters
- and even possibly the devil/Hades himself — John in Underworld by Meg Cabot
- just ordinary teenagers.
But they’re all the bad boy type that every girls wants.
Well, me anyway. (See above re: villains!)
The appeal of bad boy YA heroes
So why do these heroes appeal to me? I think it’s partly the element of forbidden fruit and danger. It’s the boy you know you shouldn’t like because you could get very badly burned. (If it was real life, you probably would.) The one your parents would hate you to bring home.
But just like with Heyer’s rakes (and as demonstrated by Sophie), you sense there is so much more to them. They are hiding their true selves. They operate by a moral code all their own, but one the reader can empathise with, once we understand where they’re coming from.
And if you can reform one of these bad boys and make him all yours, the satisfaction is immense.
There’s no challenge in hooking a boy who is all good, who always plays by the rules and never does anything dangerous or exciting. Girls want adventures too, and it’s good to have someone at your back who can cope with anything that’s thrown at them, and defend you if necessary with their bare fists. It’s a primeval, stone-age left-over, probably, but it makes you feel cherished and protected. (Guess I’m not much of a feminist, although I do believe in being able to defend myself too on occasion!)
The great thing about YA is that there is such an immense freedom — the freedom to let your imagination soar. I am constantly amazed at the sheer variety of stories within this sub-genre and I so wish these books had existed when I was a teenager. I would have been in seventh heaven!
But thank goodness they exist now so that I can get my fix of such heroes in whatever guise they choose to appear.
Many Thanks to Pia Fenton for her take on YA Heroes
It does seem that many authors relate to the darker side of heroes, doesn’t it? The Hive can attest that Pia writes scrumptious historical heroes, some darker than others. If you want to be swept into a world of romantic adventure in Japan, or Sweden or Scotland, her Christina Courtenay historicals will do it. Guaranteed.
As for her page-turning time slip stories . . . Well, read on.
Her fourth time slip is out early in October and is available for preorder here.
The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight During a visit to Raglan, newly widowed Tess has an extraordinary hallucination that transports her to 17th century Wales and a castle under siege. Her life becomes increasingly intertwined with her dreams and visions and when she meets the new owner of her late husband’s estate, the parallels become even more obvious.
But the voices from the past aren’t just trying to tell their own story, they’re also giving a warning . . .
Pia’s latest YA story is already available here.
New England Dreams – Sienna is having time out from family problems in the UK and ends up kissing a guy she meets on a flight to the US. Kyle is her complete opposite, clean-cut to her grungy self, and she doesn’t think they’ll ever meet again. Fate has other ideas, but when they end up attending the same school, neither admits to having met before. The chemistry between them is still there though — should they let it have free rein or should the attraction stay in their dreams?
Pia’s international background gives added depth to her varied writing. She is half-Swedish and was brought up there, but moved to Japan as a teenager and has travelled extensively in the Far East. As Christina Courtenay, she writes historicals and time slip; she publishes Young Adult stories as Pia Fenton. Somehow, along with writing and winning awards, she also found time to spend two busy years as Chairman of the Romantic Novelists’ Association in the UK.
You can find out more about Pia/Christina and her wide variety of books on her website. She also tweets as @PiaCCountenary and is on FaceBook too
Pia, I think many novelists – particularly those of us who enjoy historical fiction drooled over Heyer’s heros, who would probably be hell to live with after they married. I shall read New England Dreams and the young adult novels featured in your article. All the best, Rosemary Rach writing as Rosemary Morris
Thank you very much Rosemary! And yes, it’s amazing to think how many of us must have fallen in love with Heyer’s heroes – she was unique!
I’m more of a sucker for the beta hero. I don’t mind the Heyer alphas who also have that softer side and can get gentle. The ones that bashing about the place annoy the hell out of me. Probably because I always was a feminist! I insisted on carrying my own suitcase until I found out that men can lift three times the weight a woman can just because of their muscular strength. After that, I’d even let them open the door for me!
LOL Elizabeth! Yes, much better to make use of all that muscle I’d say 🙂 Thank you for your comment – I think it’s great that we all love different types of heroes.
I’m with you as far as Loki and Jacob are concerned, Pia (was never an Edward fan either). As long as the modern Alpha hero still requires the heroine’s help from time to time or shows he’s vulnerable in some way, then I quite like the idea of having someone strong tagging along on the adventure. In the YA novels I’ve read, most female protagonists are also depicted as knowing their minds, not afraid to go after their hearts desire and if they get a little help along the way from a swoon worthy hero, then that makes it both a romantic and feminist read. I’ve never been a believer that the two need be opposite – but perhaps that’s just me? Great post. : )
Thanks Rae – yes, you’re right, a partnership is always good and I like strong heroines too. Like I said, the alpha heroes often have a different side to them, which perhaps only a certain heroine can bring out 🙂