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Diane Whiteside | What Does He Look Like?

Readers always ask me what my book’s hero looks like.  I’m lucky enough to almost always have an answer for them, even if I don’t know how I got it.  Sometimes I “see” the hero’s face and sometimes I know how he moves.  But sometimes he reveals himself piecemeal – and only after I’ve started working on his story.  (The rat!)

That’s the way Jake Hammond, the hero of THE SHADOW GUARD, told me about himself.  Astrid and his story rumbled around in my head for years before I could write it.  I knew all sorts of personal stuff about him – his blind dedication to being a cop, his love for his family and hometown, his fumbling inability to form a long-term relationship with women, you name it. 

But could I have recognized him on the street?  Not a chance. 

That’s very painful for a romance author who has to write scenes from her heroine’s point of view.  What kind of guy makes her swoon?  Tall and dark, with six-pack abs the envy of everybody else in the gym?  Blond and handsome, chased by women of all ages?  I had no idea because neither of them would tell me. 

I grumbled and kept their story percolating in the back of my head.

One day, I saw Greco-Roman wrestlers doing their thing during the Olympics.  Those dudes are big, deadly, graceful – and don’t always look like athletes.  Some of the strongest ones have their muscles hidden under a regular guy’s body, which makes them very dangerous.  I took one look at them – and said, “Jake!”

Whew, what a relief to know what he looked like!  Or did I?  After all, a homicide detective could hardly do his job attired in a wrestling singlet, especially during a Virginia winter.  I obviously needed to do more muttering and grumbling, while Jake and Astrid’s story percolated some more.

That’s where matters stood when I finally got to write their story.  Jake needed some clothing.  He’s the head homicide cop so he’s the lucky guy who gets to talk to the chief of police and the FBI when they come calling.  His wardrobe must be good enough to impress these guys – and yet casual enough so he can investigate crimes in the field on a moment’s notice.  Not to mention warm enough for Virginia just before the Cherry Blossom Festival, when temperatures are optimistically described as changeable.  (Otherwise known as usually darn cold and windy!)

Where could I find some ideas?  TV shows?  Alas, CSI is set in Las Vegas and Miami which are too warm and Bones features an FBI agent, who wears far too many suits to give Jake pointers. 

Where else?  Perhaps a store?  Someplace with style – whose clothes didn’t look too fancy?  One night, I tripped while leaving a parking garage and ended up staring at a SALE sign in Banana Republic’s window.  Jeans, oxford shirt, boots – nice.  Durable, not too fancy, but could definitely seem stylish.  Yes! 

Okay, Jake, I got the point: you can stop beating me over the head.  I can help Astrid describe what you look like now.

What character in a book would you like to meet, just to find out what he or she looks like?

Please leave a comment to win a copy of THE SHADOW GUARD.

Diane Whiteside





58 comments posted.

Re: Diane Whiteside | What Does He Look Like?

I absolutely love your books!! Keep em coming!
(Trasina McGahey 12:23pm April 5, 2011)

Cord McKay from Cowgirl Up And Ride would be one of many.
(Leni Kaye 2:07am April 5, 2011)

Bastian from Lynsay Sands' TALL DARK AND HUNGRY
(June A, Manning 2:40am April 5, 2011)

I actually don't think I would like to. I would prefer my imagination. Reality may not be what I would expect. I may be disappointed
(Mary Preston 3:16am April 5, 2011)

I would like to meet Mr Darcy to see if he is similar to how I envision him.
(Pam Howell 6:38am April 5, 2011)

Ha! Ranger from Evanovitch's Stephanie Plum books. Yow, he sounds hot!!
(Karen Gervasi 6:41am April 5, 2011)

I have to agree with Mary P. I like to make my own image up. Course now Law and Order. SVU's Elliot Stabler is one I can imagine reading about. I think I watch the show just to see him. ha susan Leech
(Susan Leech 7:55am April 5, 2011)

Not sure if there is one that I would want to meet. I think I like to keep the mystery and just keep imagining.
(Jean Patton 9:08am April 5, 2011)

I don't think that there is just one I would like to meet...any of them...and if they are 1/2 naked...its all good. :)
(Hollie Rieth 9:16am April 5, 2011)

I'm a few pages into Carla Negger's book Cold River, and the Cameron brothers sound like real gentlemen so far. They've also gone through a bit of hardship, and need someone to comfort them. lol j/k Since you asked, though, that's the only one that comes to mind, since I haven't had much time to read lately due to time restraints. I'm a caretaker where I live and do volunteer work one day a week, so I'm doing my best to try and fit in time to read this year. I want to read your new book very badly. I love the storyline, and it's right up my alley!
(Peggy Roberson 9:16am April 5, 2011)

wow the book y ou have are great and there are going to
be many more to come your way would like to blog on the book and the contents
(Desiree Reilly 9:24am April 5, 2011)

I don't think that I want to meet anyone actually. They always look better in my imagination... :)
(May Pau 9:46am April 5, 2011)

I always like to think of someone in real life to compare with the characters in a book I'm reading. I'm glad to hear that authors do that too as they're writing.
(Renee Pajda 9:46am April 5, 2011)

Jake! But then again-all of them! Thanks for sharing today
(Dawn Staniszeski 9:51am April 5, 2011)

I love your inspiration for Jake. I always wonder how authors develop their characters. Now when I read "The Shadow Guard" I will think about Greco-Roman wrestling and Banana Republic. I am looking forward to reading the book. Thanks for the visual :).
(Robin McKay 10:06am April 5, 2011)

I would prefer to draw my own conclusions on what both the hero and heroine look like. That way, I'm not disappointed. I know you just asked about the hero, but that also applies to the heroine in my mind. Sorry to hear that Jake was such a rat. I would love to read about him. Lol!
(Cathy Phillips 10:20am April 5, 2011)

I followed "The Cat Who..." cozy mystery series for years and had a definite picture in my mind of Quilleran---would like to see if I was right according to the author.
(Sue Farrell 10:21am April 5, 2011)

Emerson from Elizabeth Peter's Crocodile on the Sandbank.
(G. Bisbjerg 10:40am April 5, 2011)

I totally agree with Sue Farrell (above) regarding James Qwuilleran, but instead of Emerson, I want to see Ramses, from Elizabeth Peter's Peabody series. He really sounds like he fits the TDH requirements!! (TDH: Tall, Dark, Handsome!)

Jake is also on the wish list, as are the four men who marry the heroines in Nora Roberts' Bride Quartet (actually, ANY of her heroes!), Stephanie Lauren's heros, whether from the Cynster, Bastion, or Black Cobra series, or, or, or.....

It's a really, really looonnggg list I've got going, in case you didn't notice!!


(Lynn Rettig 11:00am April 5, 2011)

I'd like to meet Roarke and Eve Dallas from J.D. Robb's In Death series. They seem like such opposites who just complete each other. I enjoyed your column.
(G S Moch 11:15am April 5, 2011)

Difficult to pick just one! I think I would like to meet every character as I read the books so that I had a definite visual of the author's vision. Good luck and happy writing!
(Tracie Travis 11:23am April 5, 2011)

Trasina- thanks! Definitely keep my books coming for readers like you!

Leni- thanks for the recommendation! You just bumped that book even
higher on my tar pile. LOL

Oh JuneAnn - Bastian sounds utterly scrumptious!
(Diane Whiteside 11:26am April 5, 2011)

Mary - nothing beats your imagination!

Hey, I want to meet Mr Darcy, too, Pam.

Karen - we can meet Ranger together. Deal?
(Diane Whiteside 11:29am April 5, 2011)

I think it might be fun to meet one of the McKettricks from Linda Lael Miller's books. The kind of character who is tempered and honed by working hard on the land. But I also agree that the men from Stephanie Lauren's series would be very interesting, too!
(Marguerite Guinn 11:31am April 5, 2011)

Susan - so glad to meet somebody else who watches Law and Order for
the men!

Jean - I'll just keep imagining with you, okay?

Hollie - I like the images your imagination brings to mind!
(Diane Whiteside 11:32am April 5, 2011)

Peggy - the Cameron brothers sound like awesome heroes and just the
type I'd adore. Hope you enjoy The Shadow Guard, too!

Thanks, Desiree, for cheering me on! Hope you do blog about The
Shadow Guard.

May - a little imagination always dresses a man very nicely...
(Diane Whiteside 11:35am April 5, 2011)

Renee - some characters demand to look like real-life, which makes
research much easier. It's when they're very clear about they look like and
I can't find an example that I want to tear my hair out.

Dawn - Jake says thank you!

Robin - glad I could help your inner eye a little. Hope you enjoy Jake'/
(Diane Whiteside 11:39am April 5, 2011)

Cathy - yup, Jake was more cantankerous than most heroes in letting me
know what he looks like. Hope you enjoy The Shadow Guard!

Oh Sue - I too would love to meet Qwilkeran in the flesh too.

G - can we meet Emerson together? Yum!
(Diane Whiteside 11:43am April 5, 2011)

Sounds really good and looking forward to sharing with other readers!!!
(Renee Howell 11:44am April 5, 2011)

Lynn - you may have a long list but I like all of the entries.

GS - I too would love to meet Roarke! And Eve too, of course. (I don't
think my thoughts would be entirely proper if we met unchaperoned.).
Glad you enjoyed my column!

Tracie - sounds like you want to get right into the middle of each book and
savor it. Yeehaw!

Marguerite - oh, now there's a heck of a choice - the McKettricks or the
Cynsters? Who to choose? They're all awesome.
(Diane Whiteside 11:50am April 5, 2011)

Renee H - glad Jake piques your interest. Hope you enjoy The Shadow
(Diane Whiteside 11:52am April 5, 2011)

Sam Starret of Suzanne Brockmann's TS series. I know exactly what he looks like in my mind. I seriously know that my version differs from everyone else and isn't that what a writer wants. Words that bring a character to life.
(Maude Allen 12:07pm April 5, 2011)

I'd love to meet the character Carlo, an Italian duke from an oldie but a goodie, Love Play.
(Debbie Burdeen 12:28pm April 5, 2011)

Roarke would be a fantastic character to meet in real life. I would love a tour of his house, too.
(Susan Morrison 12:35pm April 5, 2011)

Kissten from Kim Harrison's series - I've looooooooove to check him out!
(Jessica Brainerd 12:35pm April 5, 2011)

I have always loved the vision that was invoked into my head by the writer, but in all truth to see Rhett from Gone With The Wind would certainly take the cake, Scarlett would have a battle on her hands.
(Carla Carlson 12:45pm April 5, 2011)

I love a good book, and this one sounds like one I could read in just a couple of days....Because I would be so into the story.
(Sandy Fielder 1:10pm April 5, 2011)

Maude - Good to know somebody else wants to meet Sam Starrett!

Debbie - Lovely to know that Carlo has lived in your head for so long. He
must be incredible!

Susan - Oh, now there's a hard choice to make: Roarke or his mansion?
Well I might be able to get the house away from Eve but never The Man...
Thanks for bringing up some great scenes!
(Diane Whiteside 1:30pm April 5, 2011)

Jessica - now that you mention it, I'd like to meet Kissten too. Hmm..

Ooh, Carla, wasn't Rhett something else? (fanning myself)

Sandy - Thanks! Hope you enjoy The Shadow Guard!
(Diane Whiteside 1:33pm April 5, 2011)

Oh wow so many choices on who to meet! Would I want to meet a character from a historical, a military hero, a shapeshifter or vamp,... gee I can not decide!
(Colleen Conklin 1:50pm April 5, 2011)

This is an interesting question and a very hard one to answer......if the character (hero) is not described and even if he is, I still imagine a tall, dark and very well strong built........yum yum
(Joanne Bozik 2:33pm April 5, 2011)

can't think of just one; any that are nice to kids & animals would be great! enjoyed the read, made me chuckle.
(Diane Sallans 6:47pm April 5, 2011)

Acheron from Sherrilyn Kenyon. But only if he takes off the glasses. I always feel like his goth clothing is a uniform he uses to hide. Thanks for the contest.
(Jennifer Beyer 6:48pm April 5, 2011)

So many good ones to choose from. Some of my favorite urban fantasy series have been coming out in graphic book form so sometimes I realise that I have missed some of the description (as in wow, Harry Dresden is really tall). I would agree that I would like to see Emerson from the Amelia Peabody series. I know that Ramses is supposed to be a hunk, but Emerson still has Amelia swooning when they are in their sixties.
(Carol Drummond 7:19pm April 5, 2011)

Just one? Since I have to choose - it would be Jack Cole from Shayla Black's WICKED TIES. The opening sentence from that book....well now!
(Cynthia Netherton 7:55pm April 5, 2011)

I'll have to join the group that wants to meet Roarke. I can see the dark hair & blue eyes. But I want to know what the face of a "fallen angel" looks like.
(r w 8:54pm April 5, 2011)

I don't really have a crystal clear vision of the hero in my mind as I read. More of a hazy around the edges picture so I really don't want to meet anyone. I would hate to be disappointed. I had a fairly clear picture of Sirius Black from Harry Potter in my mind. Someone way more clean cut then the movies. I've never gotten over that dissappointment!
(Lynda Smith 9:10pm April 5, 2011)

Colleen - Wow, a girl after my own heart! So many worlds, so many men, how's a girl to choose?

Joanne - Love your description of the ideal hero!

Diane S - Heck yes, the ideal hero should be nice to kids & animals! (Were you psychic to come up with such a great description for Jake's younger brother, the Delta Force sniper?) Glad you enjoyed my post.
(Diane Whiteside 9:15pm April 5, 2011)

Jennifer - Somehow I suspect hands are shooting up all over the place to second your vote for Acheron - and your description of him.

Carol - You and me both missed that aspect of Harry Dresden. (That tall? Really?) But I absolutely agree that Emerson is a guy to swoon over at any age.

Cynthia - Any hero that can knock you out with an opening sentence is somebody to grab hold of! (BTW, Shayla Black is an autobuy for my mother. )
(Diane Whiteside 9:18pm April 5, 2011)

Robin - Wonder if enough of us wished hard enough, our dream of meeting Roarke would come true, the way dreams get fulfilled for Peter Pan?

Lynda - My sister is also a member of Sirius Black's fan club. I think she shares your opinion about that aspect of his grooming in the movies. LOL
(Diane Whiteside 9:22pm April 5, 2011)

Many of them I would love to meet; but two I'll mention: Roarke from the In Death series and Raphael from Nalin Singh's books.
(Diane Sadler 10:20pm April 5, 2011)

I'm in the middle of the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning
and I would love to see what V'lane looks like! I have Gerard
Butler pictured for Barrons (heck, I have Gerard Butler
pictured for everything!) but I just can't picture V'lane.
Any suggestions?
(Laura Henderson 10:42pm April 5, 2011)

Diane S - Ooh, another admirer of Roarke! Yes!

Laura - How can I think of anything after you mentioned Gerard Butler???
(Diane Whiteside 11:27pm April 5, 2011)

A little off the wall perhaps, but I would like to meet Bishop from Kay Hooper's Special Crimes Unit series and Dillon Savich from Catherine Coulter's FBI series. Great post - thanks for sharing. Really looking forward to reading The Shadow Guard!!
(Karen Cherubino 11:34pm April 5, 2011)

I would love to meet Ash, Prince of the Unseelie Court from the Iron Fey series. Strong, man of a few words, and a hunk.
(Kai Wong 11:42pm April 5, 2011)

Darcy of the tall and smoldering looks would be fine for a hero to walk out in real life.
(Alyson Widen 11:22am April 25, 2011)

I have never read any of Diane's books. It sounds like something I would like to read
(Marie Manolio 11:29am April 29, 2011)

The perfect man is Travis Walker of Lori Wilde's "The First Love Cookie Club". He is tall, has dark, thick hair and built athletically, with tender, warm, and engulfing arms. I love hands, they SAY so much. He holds his little girl, who is seriously and chronically ill with brittle asthma; with so much love and care that he is more than just a father. He is her home. Everything is alright nestled in his arms. Those hands reach for Sarah, the main character in this book, in a long, comfortable yet familiar embrace; making her need to catch her breath and keep the tears from falling from her eyes. He shows his love in HIS TOUCH. You know this is the ONLY man for me. You're HOME!
(Mary Epps 3:27pm April 8, 2012)

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