Mar 23, 2012

Athletic Heroes... by Natalie Anderson

When I first started writing romance and delved into the 'how to' books and communities, there were a few unwritten 'rules'. I'm not exactly sure where I got the idea from, but it was part of the code that sporting star heroes weren't in fashion - nor were newspapers or journalists. There'd be no real takers readers-wise. That was fine, I could live with it.
Seats in Stadium by Sura Nuralpradid

But I must admit I do like my heroes to be fit - yes 'fit/hot' as well as just fit. Most of the heroes I've written aren't team sports guys. Sure, they'll support a team but they play as an individual in some kind of fiercely competitive sport and often one that's solitary too - be it distance running, swimming, sometimes sailing. I tend towards the endurance events! Because they do need to be fit. Really fit. ;)

Then, with a number of books written, I did feature an athlete - Jack in Walk on the Wild Side. He's a pro snowboarder, but also owner of a very flash lodge and for most of the book he was recovering from an injury so lazing on the beach in summer. And snowboarding is more of a 'cool' sport (pun intended!) - not a traditional one.
FIT snowboarding hero on the sand ;)

After that I decided, given I come from the rugby champion nation, I wanted to write about a rugby club. This was largely because I'd heard about a PR assistant for one of the clubs getting to be wardrobe assistant at the annual calendar shoot - what a job!!! That idea turned into the opening scene for Nice Girls Finish Last. I continued with the rugby club for my next book - First Time Lucky? - featuring the team doctor. But neither of the heroes in the book were actually rugby stars themselves. But pro sportspeople fascinate me - their drive, their dedication, the sacrifices they make...

I'm currently working on a story where the hero is the brother of an elite rower - he was a rower too, but stopped for various reasons. So still, not a pro athlete hero - I can't quite seem to get past that old 'rule'. But I wonder whether that rule is still valid (or if, indeed, it ever was). There are several hot racing driver stories out, some gorgeous surfer guys... but what about the hurdles or sprints? Anyone?! Are some sports 'sexier' than others do you think? And would you like to read about a professional athlete at the height of his game?!

PS. If you're on Goodreads, there's a giveaway running at the moment for the rugby team's Doctor Gabe's story - just click to enter!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

First Time Lucky? by Natalie Anderson

First Time Lucky?

by Natalie Anderson

Giveaway ends April 18, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win


  1. I think there is something very appealing in a hunky, larger than life athlete who seems to be very tough during the game, but underneath that he is just a big sweetheart who is tender and caring towards the heroine, especially if she is a petite woman.

  2. Of course I'd like to read about a sports hero. I gravitate to books with that type of background. Most of the books have retired sports heroes but the NASCAR ones that Harlequin puts out feature current drivers. My husband watches a lot of golf and there are lots of good looking young men making a fair bit of money on the circuit. Some are married and their wives are sometimes on the sidelines watching. I vote for a golfer as a hero sometime in the future.

  3. Interesting questions, Natalie. I read a great racing car hero by India Grey not so long ago. And Anne McAllister did a great ex footballer who'd retired due to injury. Interestingly, reading your questions, I didn't immediately warm to the idea of a track and field star. I wonder why. And I'd also steer away from a professional cyclist. Call me old fashioned but a man who shaves his legs doesn't immediately scream hero to me. I have written a ms about an ex tennis player (a ms that's under the bed) and there are a lot of athletes that do seem to have an aura of toughness about them that's so appealing.

    By the way, I love the cover for your 'Wild Side'!

  4. I can see the Kiwi in you Natalie :D While it's not really any of the sports you've mentioned I think the annual Dakar Race is romantically mysteriously exciting :)

  5. Great topic Natalie. I too have always steered clear of writing about sports heroes for the same reason. Not sure who started that 'rule', though. But your post has me now thinking. As a rugby league tragic (go Bronces) I've often watched the games and wondered if I could wrangle a story about a man in a footballers jersey. I'd certainly do it for an elite equestrian - or a proffessional sailor - but I might give clay shooting and ping pong a miss :)
    Great post.

  6. Great blog, Natalie... I got that "no-sports-heroes" thing stuck in my head too. And I think it's reinforced by the unattractive, unheroic behaviour of the occasional big sports star. There is something fascinating about the drive and dedication required to be a top athlete - but would that mean a high degree of selfishness and unavailability for other things like relationships? Mmm, I guess it depends on how grounded the character is and whether they get caught up in the hype around themselves.

  7. Great question, Nat! But, sorry, I don't want to read about sport in a romance. Believe me, my dh is a sport's tragic and I get enough of that on the TV. And tbh, I don't mind watching sport, but when I pick up a romance I want to read a romance -- I want the hero totally focused on the heroine, not tomorrow's big match. ;-)

    But, yes please, I want my cake and to eat it too -- could that hero please be seriously fit/hot. :-)

  8. Me, too, Michelle! Yep, fit, hot heroes are a must!

  9. Interesting post Nat :)

    I also steer away from professional sports people, I think because of the reported negative and antisocial behaviour (esp to woman) and I can't see my hero being like that.

    But in saying that, I think all rules can be broken. One of my "how-to" books said never have a Russian hero and voila, a number of writers have done so successfully (look at Carol Marinelli!!).

    I think a skilled writer can get away with almost anything :)

    BTW - I did enjoy "Walk on the Wild Side" :)

  10. I've heard that, 'rule' too, Natalie and I've always thought it was dumb. As Deb Dixon says, you can do whatever you like, as long as you do it brilliantly!

  11. I loooovvveeee the idea of a professional athlete hero - one of my proposals to my editor had a retired AFL-player hero, but it was knocked back :( I'd love to write one, one day.

    There's just something about the charisma/arrogance/talent thing that real super star athletes have going on that I love.

  12. I'm in two minds about sports heroes. I totally get the reasons they're not popular with editors and readers, but people like Susan Elizabeth Phillips writes great sporting heroes - Ted from Call Me Irresistible was one of my fave heroes ever.

    Now, snowboarders, that sounds fabulous. I'll have to hunt down a copy of Walk on the Wild Side!

  13. You all raise such great points -- like Natajia says, there is something VERY nice about a very physically powerful man treasuring a woman, and Kaylee, you're so right about the Nascar books--some of those are so hot!

    LOL re the cyclist's legs Annie ;)

    Yep Tash - can see some of the more exotic events being more appealing.

    Helen - no ping pong?! those guys can be so fit and fast!!!!

    Oh Sharon - yes, some real life mega sports stars can be very unheroic can't they - how to ruin a good fantasy!!!!!

    Michelle--yeah, I can see that -- question of priorities, and we do want our heroine to be number one...

    Joanne and Imelda - yes, rules are meant to be broken--but its a matter of breaking them the right way I guess - not easy at all!

    Leah - I agree, the talent/charisma thing is very appealing i think

    Rachel--I think I'm like you--in two minds. And as they ALWAYS tell us--it's all in the execution! ;)

  14. Hey Natalie- Not sure I would pick up a book about a sports hero and I have never liked watching sports but now my son plays rugby so guess who is now a sports mum and who wasn't glued to the screen when we won the World cup. Now would I want to read about our sexy Richie- you bet I would. But you're right- it's all about the execution;-)