Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Today's Special - - Syrie James

Syrie James is the bestselling author of four critically acclaimed novels. Hailed by Los Angeles Magazine as "the queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings," Syrie's books have been translated into 15 languages. Syrie is also a screenwriter, a member of the Writers Guild of America, RWA, and the Jane Austen Society of North America. After a successful career in Hollywood, Syrie followed her passion and wrote The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, which sold at auction to HarperCollins, became a bestseller, and was named Best First Novel of 2008 by the Library Journal. Her next book, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë, was honored as a Great Group Read 2009 by the Women's National Book Association. Syrie's name (rhymes with Dearie) was inspired by a character in a radio show her mother listened to as a little girl. Having no idea how to spell it, her mom made it up!  Please join us in welcoming Syrie to The Romance Dish!




Syrie James Dishes About Heroes: The Men She Loves To Write About

Hi, Romance Dish Ladies, and thanks for having me! I’m here to talk about HEROES … the men I love to write about in my novels, the kind of men I find sexy and romantic, and why ... and to give away a hardcover copy of my new release, Nocturne.

But let's start from the beginning. And let's get one thing out there, right off the bat: physically, all the heroes in my books share one common trait: they are very, very good-looking. Stunningly handsome, in fact, with perfect physiques, and they're all great kissers. Would we want it any other way? 


In The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, my debut historical fiction novel, the hero is Mr. Frederick Ashford. The book reveals the untold story of Jane Austen's life-changing, star-crossed love affair, a romance that is interwoven with the true facts of Austen's life. Inspired in part by the best of the heroes in Jane Austen's novels, I like to think Mr. Ashford stands on his own as the man with whom Jane Austen would have truly fallen in love. He is dashing, charismatic, highly intelligent, passionate, sensitive, and well-read. He is also rich. (Rich is good, but not a requirement.) He has an excellent sense of humor—a necessity for a great hero in my eyes (and certainly in Jane Austen's.) He and Jane initially connect via stimulating conversation about books, and later, when he discovers Jane's talent for storytelling, Mr. Ashford rekindles her faith in herself and encourages her to follow her passion. He believes in Jane's genius, respects and supports her dreams, and is willing to sacrifice everything to put her happiness and well being first—which to me is a sign of true love, and one reason I find Mr. Ashford so sympathetic and sexy.


My next book, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë, is the true story of the incredible life of the author of Jane Eyre (one of my favorite books), and Charlotte's little-known, fiery romance with a young Irish clergyman, Mr. Arthur Bell Nicholls. After intensive research, I strove to stay true to history in bringing the Brontës and Mr. Nicholls to life. At first meeting, Mr. Nicholls seems stiff and narrow-minded, and he says just the wrong thing to Charlotte, making her despise him (think: Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.) But still waters run deep. Mr. Nicholls is an honest, good-hearted, hard-working, excellent man who loves children and animals and can charm a dog with a look or a word (all fine qualities in a hero.) He is devoted to Charlotte, her family, and their community, and he grows and changes throughout the novel. He is secretly in love with Charlotte for years without even knowing she's a famous author, before he finally reveals the depth of his feelings—an impassioned marriage proposal that sets Charlotte's life and the entire village into turmoil. I find Mr. Nicholls to be the very essence of a romantic hero—especially when his true nature is revealed on their wedding night, and in the action that follows in the last volume of the novel.


I get goose bumps every time I think about the hero in Dracula, My Love. In truth, there are two heroes in this story of Mina Harker's secret, passionate romance with the most powerful vampire of them all. But although Mina's husband, Jonathan Harker, is worthy and true, I'll restrict my focus here to the vampire of my dreams: Dracula. Bram Stoker left many gaps in his Victorian novel, which gave me plenty of room to invent twists and turns in the story, add romance, and fully flesh out the characters. Unlike Stoker's monster, my Dracula is a sophisticated, extremely well-educated, chivalrous, progressive-minded man with a heart and a conscience, who's taken advantage of his gift of immortality to improve his mind and talents. (At 400+ years he should be good at everything, don't you think? And I do mean everything.) He can move at the speed of light, appear out of dust or mist, morph into a wolf, control the weather, and influence people's minds… all of which can be a bit scary… but when he sees Mina across a crowded dance floor, it's as if she's the only woman in the room (another true hero requirement for me.) He's a dangerous man, but he'll do anything for the woman he loves, and that blood drinking thing is incredibly sexy. Although Mina has no idea Dracula's a vampire when they first meet, she swoons and falls madly in love … and admittedly, so did I.


Which brings me to my new book, Nocturne. Vanguard Press so loved Dracula, My Love, they asked me to write a steamy, contemporary romantic novel for them featuring a vampire. I was thrilled to comply. Nocturne is a passionate love story about two wounded souls who, for four magical days, find shelter together from a raging storm, both literally and figuratively. I knew at once that my hero, Michael Tyler, had to be British. He was thrilling to conceive because even though the story takes place today at Michael's retreat in the Colorado mountains, he could be young and gorgeous yet centuries old—and thus be the kind of cultured, highly accomplished, dashing gentleman with a luscious accent of whom I'm so fond of writing. I believe that a vampire retains his humanity, so adding the paranormal element to this decent, charismatic hero just made him that much more compelling to write about. There's a reason Michael lives alone in this secluded spot; he wages a constant struggle against his darkest desires not to harm anyone. Both Nicole and Michael are running from their past, and Michael has a great deal to atone for, but through his character and actions, he shows us the power of redemption. He is brilliant, tender, and extremely romantic; a master pianist, among other artistic skills, who has taught himself to communicate with horses—which I find sexy, even if his very touch didn't make Nicole tremble with desire… And about the sex: it's guaranteed to curl your toes. I think vampire sex should be the best sex a woman's ever had. After all, they've had centuries to practice!

After thinking about it, all the heroes in my books share at least four defining traits: they are highly intelligent, well-read, devoted, and passionate—clearly the hallmarks of a great hero for me. And every one of them, for good reason, is obliged to withhold their deep feelings for the woman they love until a passionate, defining moment … (Did I mention that they're passionate?) When a man allows himself to be vulnerable, expresses his true emotions, and reveals his heart, I find it thrilling.

So which of my heroes do I like best? Okay, I admit it. I love them all! To learn more about me and my books, please visit my website, www.syriejames.com, where I invite you to read reviews and an excerpt from Nocturne, and sign up for my newsletter. You can also follow me on Facebook and on Twitter @Syriejames, and at Nocturnebook.com.

What kind of heroes do you love to read about? What do you think makes a man romantic, sexy, and desirable? Who are some of your favorite heroes in novels and films (and real life)? I look forward to your thoughts, and one lucky commenter will win a free copy of Nocturne!

42 comments:

  1. My favorite heros tend to be the bad-boy turned good guy. They do not allow anything to happen to the ones they love. They may have their faults (like we all do) but they end up being great characters.

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  2. I can't wait to read this book. It looks so good.
    I love reading about alpha males that fall hard for their heroine. I also like when they are guarded and standoffish and the heroine has to break thru to them. I love tortured heroes.

    iqb99@yahoo.com

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  3. Ilove flawed heros ones who have demons and a past dont gimme aperfect hero with nothing wrong in his life because thats just bs id have to say


    in books there are so many Jame Rutherford in sinful surrender by beverly kendall awesomeness


    Gray rillard in after the night by Linda howard

    Movies Blade aweosme hero for that the ya hev to be flawes


    and my fav of all time hero my better half hes ex military a loving father friend husband uncle brother with those demons as well and it make sme love him more hed do anything for his family and friends and thats all that matters to me


    mortalsinn@yahoo.com

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  4. I love the alpha males that also show a sensitive side. And good guys with a touch of bad in them. Or when you cant quite tell if they are good or bad since they live in a constant state of grey.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

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  5. Good Morning, Syrie! Thanks for visiting with us today at TRD!

    Unfortunately, Buffie and I have to work today but Gannon and Andrea will be around to play. I'll be back this evening!

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  6. June, I do love a bad boy turned good guy. I'm a firm believer in "reformed rakes make the best husbands." ;-)

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  7. I love reading about alpha males that fall hard for their heroine.

    ::Sigh:: My favorite kind, Danielle.

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  8. SiNn, those perfect heroes are a bit boring for my tastes. Love sifting through all those flaws! :)

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  9. I love the alpha males that also show a sensitive side.

    My late husband was one of those types, Donna. Very good hero material!

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  10. Don't enter me in the contest. I just finished reading Nocturne last night. All I can say is I Love Michael. :) I really rally enjoyed the research done for this book.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750@aol.com

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  11. Good morning, Syrie! We're so happy to have you dishing with us at TRD. Congrats on your new release!

    Ahhh, heroes. *g* My favorite type of hero is the bad boy. There's just something super sexy about a man who is confident and broody (is that a word?) that is brought down to his knees by the right woman. Sigh.

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  12. Hi, Carol! I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed the book. It sounds delicious!

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  13. Good morning, Syrie! We're so happy to have you with us today.

    First of all, I just want to say how much I love your name! And of course, the gorgeous pictures of some of my favorite men you shared. *sigh*

    Give me an alpha hero who is brought to his knees by the love of his heroine....love it!

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  14. Hy, Syrie! I haven't read your vampire books, but I loved The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte. Both have places on my keeper shelves.

    Your description: highly intelligent, well-read, devoted, and passionate.

    Add that sense of humor you mentioned and a strong sense of honor and he sounds like the perfect hero to me. I think these qualities are not exclusive to alphas but can also be found in the best betas and gammas. I'm part of a minority in the romance community. While I adore some alpha heroes, most of my top heroes are betas such as Murphy Muldoon in Nora Roberts's Born in Shame, Quinn Hunter in Kathleen Gilles Seidel's Till the Stars Fall, and Harry Braxton in Connie Brockway's As You Desire.

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  15. I tend to like heroes who are loyal and are maybe a bit wounded but not miserable.

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  16. I love the strong, tortured Hero. The loner, who's got hidden depths. The man with great passions and deep feelings for his woman.

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  17. Hi everyone! Thanks so much for your comments. I love the alpha male with flaws and a sensitive side, too, in case you couldn't tell. It's such fun to watch them become redeemed.

    Donnas, if you like "when you can't quite tell if they are good or bad"... you should really enjoy "Dracula, My Love". :)

    Many of you said you "love the strong, tortured hero. The loner, who's got hidden depths. The man with great passions and deep feelings for his woman." Well, this exactly describes the heroes in all my books... I hope you will love these four men as much as I do!

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  18. Hi everyone! Thanks so much for your comments. I love the alpha male with flaws and a sensitive side, too, in case you couldn't tell. It's such fun to watch them become redeemed.

    Donnas, if you like "when you can't quite tell if they are good or bad"... you should really enjoy "Dracula, My Love". :)

    Many of you said you "love the strong, tortured hero. The loner, who's got hidden depths. The man with great passions and deep feelings for his woman." Well, this exactly describes the heroes in all my books... I hope you will love these four men as much as I do!

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  19. Janga, I have that Connie Brockway book in my massive TBR pile, but haven't gotten a chance to read it yet. I hope to rectify that soon. In fact, I should make that one of my goals for 2011!

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  20. Maureen, I totally agree with you about a loyal hero. Heck, that's pretty darn important in everyone!!

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  21. Kirsten said: I love the strong, tortured Hero. The loner, who's got hidden depths. The man with great passions and deep feelings for his woman.

    Ah, Kirsten, this describes some of my very favorite fictional heroes.... *g*

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  22. Janga, I totally agree with you on Murphy and Harry. Love them both.

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  23. Maureen, loyalty is a must in a hero.

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  24. I love the strong, tortured Hero. The loner, who's got hidden depths. The man with great passions and deep feelings for his woman.

    Kirsten, that is a pretty perfect description of my ideal hero. :-)

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  25. Strong and passionate. One who does not show his feelings immediately but slowly to only his one true love.

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  26. Thanks again for having me here, ladies! Some of my favorite heroes in fiction and film: Noah Calhoun (The Notebook), Rhett Butler (Gone With the Wind), Mr. Darcy (Pride & Prejudice), Captain Wentworth (Persuasions), Colin Firth's character in Love Actually, and Jamie Fraser in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.

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  27. I love the tortured alpha male hero who gets completely sidelined by the female. Kesley Cole's Caden is a good example. He even cuts off his horns for his woman :).

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  28. Syrie

    I love the sound of your books I will be looking for them.

    A hero for me has to be tall honourable passionate and have a sense of humour. There are so many great heros to choose from the list is endless one of my favourites is a tortured hero Gideon from Anna Campbell's Captive Of Sin.

    Have Fun
    Helen

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  29. I love a hero who thinks he is so tough and immune to the charms of a woman only to find that he, too, can fall in love and be tender.

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  30. Hello, Syrie, and welcome to The Romance Dish. Thanks for joining us today!

    Wow, each of your books sound very intriguing!! And the pictures of the heroes aren't bad either ;-)

    I have to say that my favorite kind of hero is the tortured or wounded kind. There's just something about the softness of a woman who can ease the hurt away without stomping all over an alpha's ego.

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  31. I love a hero who thinks he is so tough and immune to the charms of a woman only to find that he, too, can fall in love and be tender.

    Oooh, me too, Connie! All cocky until he is down on his knees pleading his case of love. Definitely sigh worthy!

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  32. Hey Helen!! Hope you are surviving that cyclone!!

    I'm in agreement with you. I love it when the hero has a sense of humor.

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  33. I love the tortured alpha male hero who gets completely sidelined by the female

    Exactly, Victoria! My all time favorite kind of hero. Glad I'm not the only one who loves the tortured guys :-)

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  34. I love the strong, tortured Hero. The loner, who's got hidden depths. The man with great passions and deep feelings for his woman.

    Kirsten, all I can say is mmmm hmmmm. You got it right! :-)

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  35. Jamie Fraser in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.

    Syrie, Jamie is one of my absolute favorite heroes.

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  36. Strong and passionate. One who does not show his feelings immediately but slowly to only his one true love.

    DDCKnitt, sounds like a great hero to me.

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  37. Oooo, I do love the tall dark and tortured hero. Maybe throw in a scar or two, either inside or out.

    All the best for your release!

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  38. I got these news a bit late, so I hope I'm not too late in commenting. I do admit my heart is torn between Heathcliff and Mr. Darcy. There is something about the Byronic hero that sets my blood on fire. Perhaps is his endless search for the perfect soulmate and the way he torments himself. Or, maybe it's because sometimes I tend to see myself as a female Heathcliff, looking for her loving Mr. Darcy.

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  39. I agree. Mr. Darcy and Heathcliff are the epitome of the tall, dark, and tortured hero. Their love is deep, profound, and eternal. And that's the way I like it.

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  40. Intelligent, honorable, and kind are requirements. My favorite hero would be Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) in THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS movie. You know he will go anywhere and do anything for those he cares for.

    librarypat AT comcast DOT net

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  41. Oh good one LibraryPat! I loved that movie! Especially when he yells,"I will find you".
    But in books my favorite heroes tend to be dark boys with some redemption in their plot.I think vampires in paranormal fiction fit this really well lately and I love it. But also fey characters like Niall and Iriall from Melissa Marr's books captured my heart with all their flaws and yet passionate natures. Ian Somerhalder's portrayal of Damon definitely comes to mind, as does Trueblood's Eric.
    bells DOT franco AT gmail DOT com

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  42. I like the tough alpha male that has a hidden secret. He has to be handsome but flawed!

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