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Heroines

Watching the red carpet show before the Oscars and seeing some of the actresses reminded me that we’ve done a lot of discussion on models and inspiration for our heroes, but not much about heroines.

Like many writers, I use pictures of actors, not only to send to the art department in the valiant hope of an accurate cover, but also to help me visualize my characters. I choose people who look right but also–at least in some fleeting cinematic moment I happened to catch despite my chronic tired mommy state–capture some aspect of my characters.

Right now, I’m using a slightly younger version of Laura Linney as inspiration for the heroine of my current mess-in-progress. She has a way of looking stressed out and lovely at the same time which is good for this particular heroine.

Also on the red carpet was Keri Russell, who happened to be the inspiration for my very first heroine: Nell, from LORD LANGDON’S KISS. Keri looked gorgeous on the red carpet and didn’t appear much older than in the photo I sent in eight years ago! I find it amusing that the hairstyles look similar, at least from the front.


This is Liv Tyler, who has the moody sort of beauty I wanted for THE INCORRIGIBLE LADY CATHERINE. They gave her the Obligatory Regency Cover Smile but it was all right for the scene depicted and the artist captured the eyebrows. I was less happy with the hero–in my mind I saw him as looking like a sexy blacksmith (though in gentleman’s clothes). I’ll spare you the result…


I sent in a picture of Gwyneth Paltrow for Juliana in THE REDWYCK CHARM. In the cover, her hair is red because she had dyed it at that point in the story. In any case, it’s not a bad likeness. I think the hero looked pretty handsome though that flip of his hair is a bit odd.


Sorry about the graininess of this picture; I can’t find the original one of Jo Anderson I sent in as a likeness for Penelope in SAVING LORD VERWOOD. It was hard to find a red-haired actress who fit the part. As it turns out, I need not have bothered because they somehow transformed her into a blonde. I’ve heard of authors changing their manuscripts to fit the cover but as Pen had already appeared in the two previous books as a redhead I wasn’t going to do it! Anyway, this cover was actually one of my nicest with a dishy looking hero, so I won’t complain any more.


For LADY DEARING’S MASQUERADE, I chose Michelle Pfeiffer. Like Michelle Pfeiffer’s character in THE AGE OF INNOCENCE, Lady Dearing is the Wrong Woman–or more correctly, thinks she is, because of course she does get her happy ending. The cover image for this book was absolutely tiny but the heroine looks more or less right. The hero is absolutely wrong–not only does he NOT look anything like Colin Firth but he’s also got a pretty awful mullet. I’m glad the image was tiny!


So how well do you think these covers depicted my heroines? Which actresses do you use or would you like to see as inspiration for heroines?

Elena
www.elenagreene.com

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Keira Soleore
14 years ago

ELena, the art department did a great job with what you gave them. I like people’s faces. I collect initial headshort of poeple I like (not necessarily, of famous folks). THen I collect random shots of peple in various poses and moods to help inspire me, when I’m stuck.

Elena Greene
14 years ago

I knew I wasn’t the only one.

Sometimes I also watch movies and videos to help me come up with body language that’s appropriate to my characters.

doglady
14 years ago

I think they did a pretty good job and you did a great job of providing them with appropriate images.

I do collect images of people I see as my heroes and heroines. Many of mine are actors, some a singers (baritones are always hot!) and some are models.

I think it helps to have an image to go with the one in my head when I am writing.

Georgie Lee
14 years ago

I think the covers did a really good job of resembling your actresses.

Elena, I also watch movies to help me write. I use it more for atmosphere, such as how a party and guests might look.

Janet Mullany
14 years ago

Regarding the train wreck that was the cover of Forbidden Shores, I picked out a couple of Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun characters, not that it helped. You can see them here.

My main complaint about Signet Regency characters is that they always looked so clean (not to mention the polyester dresses).

Elena Greene
14 years ago

Sympathies on that cover, Janet!

I was generally pretty lucky in my Signet Regency covers but thought some of them tried too hard to make every Regency look like a comedy of manners. There were some ansty books with hero and heroine simpering at one another on a garden bench, that sort of thing.

Elena Greene
14 years ago

Um, that was “angsty” books. Bad typing day…

Susan Wilbanks
14 years ago

My main complaint about Signet Regency characters is that they always looked so clean (not to mention the polyester dresses).

Clean, smoothly coiffed, and wearing whatever cosmetics were trendiest at publication date. Whenever I stumble across Regencies from circa 1980 with heroines in thick blue eyeshadow, I laugh and laugh.

Elena, I like how your heroines look like the actresses without exactly being them. Without the side-by-side comparison, I wouldn’t be thinking, “Oh, that’s Liv Tyler” or whoever.

I’ve got a heroine who I think of as a cross between Anna Popplewell, who plays Susan in the Narnia movies, and Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind. I know that sounds like a weird combination, but their coloring is similar. My character is more sophisticated and mature than Susan, but nowhere near as scheming and devious as Scarlett. But if you average this image with this one, you get something like how I picture her.

Cara King
14 years ago

What an interesting post, Elena!

I never thought of sending photos along with the cover art info… If I had, I’d have sent a pic of a grim, clean-shaven Russell Crowe with short dark hair — and maybe I wouldn’t have ended up with a smirking guy with blond streaks in his long wavy hair… (And I’m sure it’s polyester hair, too!) 🙂

Cara

seton
14 years ago

the art dept did a great job except for THE INCORRIGIBLE LADY CATHERINE. That is not Liv Tyler as much as Shalom Harlow. Shalom is a classic beauty so you still win out.

Amanda McCabe
14 years ago

“Um, that was “angsty” books”

They were sorta antsy, too. 🙂 I always did wonder why every single couple on Regency covers looked so inordinately happy! But I also think the characters on the covers invoked the actresses quite well (unlike the pics I sent for my cover, ack!).

I love coming up with people who resemble the characters in my head. It’s a great way to waste time looking at celebrity gossip sites online. 🙂

Santa
14 years ago

When writing of women the pen should be dipped in a rainbow. – D. Dederot.

Ah, the wisdom garnered from a Baci chocolate!

A bold statement to say the least but I find I am also guilty of not painting a clear picture in my own mind of my heroine. The hero I have down pat in terms of what he looks like. His idiocincrecies do come to me later on.

You could say my heroine is modeled after Valarie Bertonelli, pre-Jenny because I really didn’t see what was wrong with the way she looked. But that’s a discussion for another day.

Bully for you, Elena to have worked with an art department that actually paid attention to what you told them. So unlike the experiences of some of our other Riskies here!

Elena Greene
14 years ago

Seton, I just checked out images of Shalom Harlow and you’re right–she’s lovely and very like.

Bully for you, Elena to have worked with an art department that actually paid attention to what you told them. So unlike the experiences of some of our other Riskies here!

Well, I’ve been happy with my cover heroines but the heroes didn’t always turn out as well. I don’t know why–maybe that’s another post?

Elena Greene
14 years ago

Susan, I was struck by how similar those two actresses really look. At a glance, I think Anna Popplewell could have played a young Scarlett O’Hara were there such a part in the film.

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

I’m amazed at how accurate your heroines were, Elena.
I’ve sent in photos, too, I always start with photos upon who to model both my hero and heroine and other characters. Now I’m using model agency sites as well as actors and actresses.

I modeled Tanner after Gerard Butler before I knew who Gerard Butler was and before I began my obsession. Nathan Kamp isn’t exactly how I pictured Tanner, but I’m not complaining!

Todd
14 years ago

Rather than modeling a hero or heroine on actors, I instead model myself on them. At the moment I look like a cross between Russell Crowe and James MacAvoy, with a bit of Gerard Butler around the triceps. Except for the ears. Perhaps Christopher Eccleston wasn’t the best example to choose from, there…

Todd-whose-fantasy-life-is-very-rich-and-detailed

Susan Wilbanks
14 years ago

Susan, I was struck by how similar those two actresses really look. At a glance, I think Anna Popplewell could have played a young Scarlett O’Hara were there such a part in the film.

When I first saw The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Popplewell looked naggingly familiar from the first scene. Finally, I realized she reminded me of my character, whom I’d been describing to everyone as a warmer Scarlett O’Hara.

Rather than modeling a hero or heroine on actors, I instead model myself on them.

Snerk, Todd! I like that system. I think I’ll be Tina Fey with maybe a touch of Jenna Fischer.

Amanda McCabe
14 years ago

“Snerk, Todd! I like that system. I think I’ll be Tina Fey with maybe a touch of Jenna Fischer.”

Can I be Penelope Cruz (must work on accent!) :))

Melinda
Melinda
14 years ago

Elena, this is such a good idea, and so simple too – as all the best ideas are….

Melinda Hammond

janegeorge
14 years ago

You can send photos to the art department? Cool!

I used Rosamunde Pike as a jumping off point for my last heroine.

http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1808657001/photo/594078

Nice to see Todd well and in fine feather! Hmmm, today I feel like modeling myself on Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element.

http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/images/AndyHall/fifth06.jpg

Todd
14 years ago

Janegeorge wrote:

Nice to see Todd well and in fine feather! Hmmm, today I feel like modeling myself on Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element.

Oooh, nice! After seeing that movie, I kept going around saying “Multi-Pass!” at odd intervals. (Much to the bewilderment of most people, I admit, but it amused me, anyway.)

Todd-who-appreciates-a-woman-with-bright-orange-hair-and-suspenders

Elena Greene
14 years ago

LOL on that picture, Jane George. I have never seen The Fifth Element but well, a kickass Raggedy Anne! Very cool.

Glad to see you back in the land of the living, Todd!

Also re the cover art, I’ve always sent not only the character pics but also anything that might help the art department with the setting: pictures of stately homes, landscapes if the story has a rural setting, antique prints of places like the King’s Theatre, etc…

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