There’s a lot to be said for becoming a romance writer…after all, I get paid to make up stories that always have a happy ending, and I get to work in my pajamas. One bit that’s turned out to be a little more frustrating than I thought, though, is researching how I want my characters to look. Sounds like the MOST fun, right? And sifting through pictures of beautiful men doesn’t sound like very taxing work. Well…yes and no. There may be one guy who looks something like your hero out there and well-known enough to be photographed. But try finding him when you need him, and ARGH! It’s man picture overload, and it’s more frustrating than scintillating.So why bother? Well, it’s all well and good to have a rough idea of what your hero and heroine look like. But for a lot of writers, there needs to be a visual reference as well. Not absolutely necessary, of course, and sometimes there’s just no real-life corollary to the imaginary. But I’ll admit, it IS nice to have a picture to look at, both for writing descriptions and for visualization. Sometimes I’ll start with a particular face in mind to start…for instance, Gideon MacInnes in Call of the Highland Moon was always going to look like Gerard Butler in Timeline. I just loved that look (and, okay, I’ll admit to having a slight Gerry Butler thing), and it was perfect for a big Scottish werewolf as well. In my new release, Wild Highland Magic, my heroine was much easier to find than my hero. Of course, Cat is at least from Earth, even if she does have decidedly supernatural parentage. Bastian…not so much.Catriona MacInnes is a half-werewolf, half-witch who has just discovered that not only is her father not an orphan and a freak of nature, as he’d always claimed, but that he’s the estranged brother of the leader of an ancient pack of Scottish Highland werewolves. She and her sisters wind up accompanying their dad to the annual pack gathering, where Cat finds a lot more than she’d bargained for in a certain otherworldly stranger whose power comes with some deadly problems. Cat, in my mind, always looked a lot like Sandra Bullock in Practical Magic, a favorite movie of mine. Long brown hair, soulful tip-tilted eyes, and a lithe figure of the sort I always wished I had…perfect for the first werewolf heroine I’ve written, earthy and stunning.Then there was Bastian an Morgaine, who is the mysterious big brother of my previous heroine Rowan and a powerful, if cursed, hero in his own right. I won’t tell you what he’s been up to out in the secluded cottage on the grounds of the MacInnes estate, but I will say that he’s begun to wonder if the cure for his curse might turn out to be worse than the curse itself! Anyway, I found out pretty quickly that there’s a frustrating dearth of actors and models who have the sort of Nordic look I was going for, pale blonde hair and ice blue eyes. I’ve got a stubborn streak, though (which is, unfortunately, not a very well-kept secret), and I finally stumbled across a picture of a character I really should have remembered, considering my pre-teen obsession with him: Iceman.
Yes, you heard me right. Bastian wound up looking a lot like Val Kilmer as Iceman in Top Gun. Val has sorta lost teh sexy these days, but back then, and in that movie, he was plenty hot and definitely hero material. I mean, look at the picture, seriously! So what catches me the most when I’m looking? I’ve found that most of the time, it’s the eyes. I’ve always been a sucker for an arresting pair of eyes, whether soulful or intense, and I’m afraid that’s an affliction my heroines have picked up! But that’s not all…take Val in the picture up there. Yes, he’s definitely got the icy, yet somehow hungry, gaze. His lips have Excellent Kisser practically stamped on them. Hair? Blonde and spiky, yep. Lastly there’s his expression, which I can only describe as…come hither:-) How could I resist making him the model for my hero? I think I chose well, because Cat certainly couldn’t resist him! And…I may have just a tiny thing for guys in flights suits, considering I’m married to a Top Gun grad. Thanks so much to Romance Junkies for having me here today, and to all of you for stopping by! I’ll be in all day to chat, so please come in and say hi! So my question for you is: which actor or actress would you love to see head into a romance novel to play the lead? And what about his or her looks do you find so compelling and/or appealing?Kendra Leigh Castle is the author of the MacInnes Werewolves trilogy, as well as the upcoming series The Fallen, coming from Harlequin Nocturne. She lives in Maryland with her husband, three kids, and menagerie of pets, and loves to be visited online at www.kendraleighcastle.com