Ben may be the easiest character to give you background on because he hits closest to home. I live in the house of geek, myself included. How do you know if you have a geek house?
If your 8 year old asks for a periodic table poster for his birthday – you live in a geek house.
If you watch The Big Bang Theory because it’s so much like your family – you live in a geek house.
If they know you by name at the local library and all local museums – you live in a geek house.
In another post on another day I want to write more about geek life. Today, I want to take a closer look at Ben Gorman, geek hero.
Burnouts, Geeks and Jesus Freaks: a love story really started with Ben. While I love a good bad-boy hero in a romance novel, I want some variety too. After “Beautiful Disaster” and “50 Shades” I was ready for a different kind of hero and had a really hard time finding him (in a book). So I created him. I’ve seriously got a thing for smart men, so it wasn’t much of a stretch for me to create Ben and wrap a story around him.
I used some of the great characteristics of smart men and some of the seriously annoying ones because I wanted him to be real. In the first chapter his strong personality comes through in his actions. Geeks love consistency and pattern, so Ben has to bounce a basketball exactly three times before he will shoot it. He follows rules, including manners (because they bring order), and wants others to follow them too. He tries to train the neighbor kid in manners and gets irritated with Carrie uses bad table manners. He also has a tendency to say things that are true, but might not be socially acceptable. A trait he knows he has, but can’t seem to stop.
His geeky traits are also what make him a great romance hero (at least in my eyes). He is aware of his status as a social outsider and generally fine with it. He never does or says things to increase his social standing and he is honest to a fault. These traits allow the heroine, Carrie, to trust him in a way she won’t trust other guys. As I say in the blurb, their love begins with trust.
Physically, I made him a late bloomer. By not getting his growth spurt till high school he experiences some of the big social years in junior high school and early high school as the little geeky kid. When he does grow up (literally) he’s mature enough to not want to use his new-found stature for revenge on those who bullied him in the past. His focus, like most of my character’s, is not on the social buzz of high school. His goals go way beyond winning a football game, so he isn’t concerned with winning popularity once it’s in his grasp.
The question I get asked most often is if Ben is based on a real person. Yes and no. He is actually a combination of four men. I found a pic online of a young, blonde soldier. He was the perfect combination of innocence and steely focus. That’s who I pictured in my mind as I wrote. I didn’t have to look farther than my living room for geek traits, both good and bad. And I was allowed to borrow high school memories from someone else for his romantic words and gestures.
He’s different; imperfect, not wealthy, a little socially off key, but that’s why I created him. I (and hopefully you) want some variety in my romance heroes.