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A poster on the All About Romance group list, commented that she’d recently read a book in which the author likened the heroine to Angelina Jolie. Apparently, this totally put her off the book.

Now lots of people love Angelina Jolie, but there’s a fair amount who think she’s nutty as a fruitcake. Somedays, I’m one of those people, other days I have girl-on-girl lesbian fantasies about her don’t think she’s too bad.

I don’t really get why authors liken their characters to popular culture figures in the first place. As well as possibly dating the book, surely the author takes a huge risk in assuming that the reader, firstly, knows who the hell they’re referring to, and B, actually likes the celebrity in question.

I’m sure no author in their right mind would liken any of their heroines to Britney Spears mother of the year, but I have read books where the author likened her characters to Meg Ryan (who I’m not keen on), and Ben Affleck (who I hate). Needless to say, I couldn’t finish either book.

This is one of the reasons why I’m so glad that J.D Robb’s, In Death books don’t have depictions of Roarke on the front cover. I much prefer to use my imagination, rather than have an image of Antonia Banderas forever imbedded in my skull. In my mind, Roarke is the most beautiful man in the world, and for the sake of my continued enjoyment of this series, I would like him to stay that way.

What do you guys think? Are there any universally admired celebrities out there, who you would hate a lead character to be likened to?


  • Desiree Erotique
    July 9
    5:48 pm

    I’ve created very few characters inspired by celebrities. These have typically been males, but even then, I only took a few characteristics or physical attributes that charmed me. I can’t see creating a whole character just to click with some celebrity.


  • Jane
    July 9
    6:12 pm

    I think those are writer cheats. As a writer, I think you should be able to describe your character without saying that they look like someone famous.


  • Wendy
    July 9
    6:14 pm

    What Jane said. It’s a cop out to just tell the reader that the character looks like Brad Pitt. It saves the author from having to do some actual work and describe her character to the reader!

    Also, like you Karen, I think it really dates the book.


  • Leigh Ellwood
    July 9
    7:43 pm

    I may have a persona in mind, but ultimately any character I create is his/her own person. As a reader, though, I tend to imagine which personality would suit the character as the film version of the book plays in my mind. It’s because of this that I keep picturing Chris Meloni as Joe in the Stephanie Plum books.


  • raine
    July 9
    8:28 pm

    I don’t do this in my writing, don’t like it in my reading.
    First of all, you’ve alienated a certain percentage (however small) of your readership by doing so. Very few celebs are universally liked by everyone.
    Secondly, you’ve limited yourself. You’ve not only deprived your reader of the chance to use their imagination, to make your hero/heroine what THEY wish them to be like, but you’ve locked YOURSELF into the fantasy of someone ELSE’S creation.

    I don’t even like the idea of queries and proposals that try to sell by claiming, “it’s a cross between X-famous and Y-famous book.”
    Then why should I read your book when I can read theirs? Give me at least the ILLUSION that your book is unique and special–I’m more likely to read it.


  • Vicious Trollop
    July 9
    11:22 pm

    In my mind, every hero looks like Raoul Bova LOL So I don’t care who the author is trying to portray, I make up my own fantasies.

    But, truth be told, it’s easier for me to “see” a character in my mind if I can relate it to someone I’ve seen, even if its a celebrity. What I don’t like is to be told by an author who I should imagine. Sometimes they like hiddeous fucks like Orlando Bloom, and then I’m just forced to stop reading or fear turning up my last meal LOL


  • Kristie (J)
    July 10
    5:09 am

    I really dislike it when authors compare characters to celebrities. First off, as already mentioned, I think it’s lazy. Second – just because the author thinks he’s the cat’s meow – doesn’t mean I do. I prefer to fill in the blank with my own imagination.
    And just as much – I dislike those conversations as to who should play such and such a role *shudder* hate them, just hate them!


  • Heather *Rae* Scott
    July 10
    5:52 am

    Sadly, this seems to be a new trend. I’ve read books where the heroine reminded the hero of Charlize Theron, Uma and a young Kate Hepburn.

    Granted, Kate is timeless…but still, as a reader, I want to use my imagination. Give me descriptions and let me see the hero or heroine in my mind’s eye.

    You always have such great topics, Karen. How do you do it?

    When I sit down to blog all this nonsense comes to mind…LOL


  • Dance Chica
    July 10
    8:09 am

    I dislike those conversations as to who should play such and such a role *shudder* hate them, just hate them!

    Kristie, I’m right there with you. I avoid those kinds of discussions because I don’t want someone else’s image of a character to get stuck in my mind and ruin the image I’ve already created. That’s why I can totally understand your point about Roarke from the In Death series, Karen. He’s described as being so beautiful that I prefer to form my own image of him. Everyone’s standard of beauty is different so I prefer not to have a character shaped into the image of a celebrity. Now if an author says her character is akin to a celebrity figure I’m not keen on then I can usually conveniently “forget” about that detail and make the character into what I him/her to be. Like Trollop, I find that sometimes having an image of someone—like a model or a celebrity figure—can help me to visualize a character better but I prefer to choose whose image I want to visualize instead of having the author tell me.


  • Dawn
    July 10
    9:24 am

    Nope! If an author described the hero as Leonardo diCaprio, I’d barf and throw the book away.

    I like a lot of description of the leads so that I can create their images in my head.

    I also don’t like vague descriptions of the leads – blech!


  • Tara Marie
    July 10
    10:17 am

    How often do we see “waifs” described as Audrey Hepburn “ish”? Like everyone else has said it’s annoying and lazy.

    I also dislike when authors of contemporaries go into to much description about the clothing, I’m not interested and it dates a book.

    And I soooooo agree with Kristie:

    I dislike those conversations as to who should play such and such a role *shudder* hate them, just hate them!


  • Tilly Greene
    July 10
    2:19 pm

    Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder and a good author will be paint a rough image for the reader to take further for themselves. For me, and I know I’m in the minority, the author looses me if I read a book with a long haired hero…it says to me the hero will spend more time fixing his hair and keeping it tidy than me!


  • Jade James Truth or Dare
    July 10
    3:32 pm

    I too have created characters inspired by one or two celebrities and agree that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    In my opinon, Angelina Jolie in her younger years was a huge turnoff but as she’s grown older, she’s shown more maturity in her life. I commend the work she’s done in poor countries and the fact that she’s adopted two children, from those countries giving them a better life is fantastic.

    But getting back to the topic at hand, as a reader I don’t mind the celebrity visuals. It sometimes gives me a better idea as to what the male/female character looks like.


  • Lyn Cash
    July 10
    8:21 pm

    If it’s an off-hand comment, I don’t mind at all. If it’s a blatant “I can’t think of anything else to do”, then it bugs me.


  • Rosie
    July 10
    8:33 pm

    Sometimes telling a reader that a character is like or looks like a well known person really can put me off because I have created a completely different visage in my head while reading. However, I’ve also had those same comments made in a book where it didn’t faze me at all.

    For me this is another one of those “it depends” situations.


  • Barbara B.
    July 10
    9:21 pm

    I really can’t stand celebrity comparisons when reading a romance. I’d prefer not to see the entire faces of the cover models either-just the lower half or none. I’d rather use the writer’s description, it’s enough for me.

    I’m in that same minority with Tilly Greene, I hate long hair on a man, too. It just seems like they’re trying too hard.


  • Sam
    July 10
    10:16 pm

    you can run but you can’t hide!
    Hmph. I go on vacation and everyone moves and doesn’t tell me…
    The kid’s nightmare


  • Jenn
    July 11
    2:14 pm

    Being trendy in books is not a good thing. Fads and “who’s in” changes all the time. It is distracting and annoying.

    Oh and your statement Karen “other days I have girl-on-girl lesbian fantasies about her don’t think she’s too bad” is gross

    You and eve are sick puppies


  • Eve Vaughn
    July 12
    4:20 am

    Jenn, you so know you want me. Stop pretending.


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