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Heroines & Beauty

The response to a recent issue of Laurie’s News & Views on beauty has brought forth many responses from authors and readers alike. Author Rebecca Sinclair, whose most recent release, Perfect Strangers, featured an overweight heroine, had this to say:

Gabrielle Carelton did not spring to life, fully developed, the way many of my previous heroines have. Instead, I came up with the plot for Perfect Strangers first, then started searching my imagination for characters to “people” it.

Meanwhile, I was active in the newsgroup bit.listserv.rra-l (Romance Readers Anonymous). While I was searching for a hero and heroine, members of the newsgroup were commenting on how difficult it was to find a romance with a “realistic” heroine. That caught my interest. What kind of woman were they referring to? Normal, they said. Maybe overweight and plain, which, oddly enough, many of these lovely ladies considered themselves to be. They didn’t want a heroine who started out heavy, then lost weight by the end of the book and, quite frankly, I wasn’t interested in writing about one. Now that my interest was captured, I wanted Gabrielle (I knew her name by then) to be physically the same on the last page of the book as she was on the first.

There was only one problem. The only times I’ve been heavy was when I was pregnant. I asked the newsgroup for help … and couldn’t believe how many touching emails I received! Some were stories that threatened to break my heart; all of them gave me valuable insight to Gabrielle that I would never have had otherwise. Any time I started to loose my grip on the character, I reread those letters — and felt inspired again by the very personal experiences these wonderful ladies willingly shared to make Gabrielle Carelton come alive. As for Gabrielle’s hero . . . Connor fell in love at first sight; she was never anything but beautiful in his eyes. “As is” was never a consideration for him, he thought she was perfect.

Would I ever write an overweight heroine again? Now that you mention it . . . the heroine of my next book (Golden Dreams – tentative title) is plain by “normal” standards, heavy, and beautiful in every way. Her hero must be an descendant of Connor, because he also loves his heroine exactly the way she is. Yes, I definitely plan to have more heavy heroines in the future . . . and I’ve saved every one of those emails for when I do. :)

Rebecca Sinclair

E-mail RebeccaRead Rebecca’s Historical Cheat Sheet piece on Mary, Queen of Scots