castingcall A friend and I who both love Kristen Ashley’s books have recently made a game of casting her romance heroes with actors from television and movies. That made me wonder about whom our reviewers have cast in their minds while reading their favorite romance novels. We’ve chatted about this a little bit before in the context of the AAR Top 100 Poll, but when I polled my fellow reviewers I still received some answers that surprised me. The general concensus was that we prefer not to cast romance heroes with known actors, and further that too much description was undesirable.

When I asked everyone to give me a book name and the actor they’d cast, some of the responses were:

Jane – I don’t often cast actors. I’m not a very visual reader, so having a clear mental image of a character isn’t that important to me.

Lee – I don’t cast actors either. When movies/tv miniseries are made of books, it’s usually never how I pictured the characters.

Jenna – It’s funny because when I write, I always need to have an idea of what my characters look like and choose an actor that fits my imagination. But when it comes to reading, I usually don’t cast the characters.

Caz – Me too – I just usually like a general description, but I know some readers like to visualise their characters more than that – I’m not very good at fantasy casting.

Lea was one stand-out. She said, “I’m a very visual reader. In fact, I don’t enjoy a book all that much unless I DO visualize at least the main characters. And there are many more out there like me – it’s a common topic when we discuss audiobooks. And I usually cast actors as both the hero and heroine.”

What if Authors Cast Their Characters?

The AAR staffers I polled stated without exception that the worst thing an author can do is compare a romantic hero to a known actor. Leigh stated that,”I don’t pay that much attention to their looks. In fact, I hate it when authors go on and on about their appearance especially when they say they look like Brad Pitt or someone else – except when looks are important to the story, like Phoebe in It Had to Be You.”

And LinnieGayl reported, “I have run into a couple older books that described a hero as looking like an actor who’s now in his 50s or older, which gave me pause. So, if authors hope to have their books stand the test of time, I’d suggest they NOT describe them as looking like anyone famous.”

Anne had a great example of why this is a problem. She told us that “William X. Kienzle used to do that in Father Koesler mysteries. He used to say that Father Koesler looked like Ken Howard in The White Shadow. That was fine when the first book came out, but the series lasted for years, so I’m sure people were asking “Who’s Ken Howard?”

However, I think Heather said it best – “I tend to visualize when reading also, so descriptions can be helpful or they can be something I need to overcome. It’s not necessarily that I want to put myself into the heroine’s place while I’m reading, but I need to feel some sort of attraction to the hero to get the most from the romance. If he’s described in a way that I find really unappealing, that is going to be one less way for me to connect with the heroine. Because then I will spend a good chunk of the story wondering why she wants to get in his pants.”

Too true Heather!

So anyway, this “casting call” was a bust. But doesn’t Richard Rawlings from Fast and Loud on The Discovery Channel make a perfect Tack from Kristen Ashley’s Motorcycle Man? untitled

How about you? Do you cast known people in your mind as you read? Or do you prefer vague imagery that lets you imagine your own heroes?

– Wendy Clyde