This is a convoluted path to a blog about heroes, but I promise if you stay with me, we’ll wind up in a place that mostly makes sense. The other day on the Bettyverse, Blonde Betty talked about e-reader versus print books, which naturally led to the Betties responding not only with their favorite way to read (digital vs. paper), but also their favorite books, which brought me to my favorite books. (We’re almost there, I promise.)
I came down on the side of e-readers, so thinking of my favorite books made me recall that one of the first books I downloaded on my Kindle was Gene Stratton Porter’s The Harvester, a book that I already own in paperback (purchased at the museum that was once this wonderful romance writer’s home) and a first-edition bound copy of the book circa 1911 that I found in an antiques store several years ago. Mom used to read to us when we went on family camping vacations to the Lake Michigan shore and Gene Stratton Porter’s novels were among our favorites. (Practically there, honest!)
Remembering how thrilled I was to find The Harvester available as a free classic in the Kindle store reminded me of David Langston, the hero of the novel. David is The Harvester, and a more delicious man is nowhere to be found. He is the ultimate romantic hero. (And, we’ve arrived!)
David is handsome and smart and sensitive. He’s well-read, although mostly self-educated, charming, and strong with a wonderful sense of humor. He’s a naturalist, a farmer who raises herbs and plants to make medicines to cure sick folks at a time when doctoring was mostly done by the seat of the pants. He doesn’t have a college degree and never attended medical school, but he’s wise in the ways of nature and concocts wonderful healing potions that make miracles happen. When he has a vision one night of a beautiful woman and then a few days later sees her on the street, he sets out to find her, woo her, and make her his wife.
His pursuit of her love is one of the most romantic and touching stories I’ve ever read, and it colored my vision of true love and what I wanted in a man forever. David Langston is the reason I fell in love with a tender, yet passionate, intelligent man. David Langston is the reason I tried so hard to raise my own son to be a gracious man who respects women and treats them with loving kindness. David Langston is the reason I write sensitive, artistic, gentle heroes instead of dark, brooding, oversexed brutes with flaring tempers and rough manners.
My heroes are artists, writers, musicians—handsome and often-bespectacled men who are highly intelligent, sympathetic, and creative—both in real life and in my novels. These are the men I’ve always been attracted to, so these are the men I write.
Sometimes I imagine that other women might say, “There’s no man on earth who would say or do something like…[fill in the appropriate "unmanly" dialogue or action].” Frequently they’d be right and I’ll reconsider my scene. But every once in a while, I leave what I’ve written and think, “Oh how wrong you are, my world-weary modern-day sisters! Men like that exist and thank God, they do!” My tender, funny, passionate, probably kinda geeky heroes…Gene Stratton Porter knew how to write a hero, and she is my mentor for writing delicious men. Find The Harvester, read it, and let’s talk…