“The Green Hills of Home” by Emma Bennet
My Perfect Hero. By Emma Bennet, Author of ‘The Green Hills of Home
One of the absolute non-negotiables for me when I began writing my romance ‘The Green Hills of Home’ was that my hero be totally irresistible – the sort of hero its not just the heroine who falls in love with, the reader should feel an attraction to him too. I hope that’s what I’ve achieved with John Thatcher, the frankly delicious publishing editor male lead in my novel. But what magic formula did I use to create such a fine specimen of manhood?
To begin with, a romantic hero should be strong, both physically and mentally – he needs to be able to literally carry that heroine wherever she needs to go! He also needs to be able to handle difficult situations, and support his woman when she needs it, but definitely without taking over and bossing her around. Boy, it’s a complicated business being a hero isn’t it?
Next up is kindness – John may come across as a little unsympathetic when Gwen first meets him, but he soon proves himself in his acts, both big and small – whether it’s giving the heroine a lift in his car or rescuing a beloved pet, a great hero must be thoughtful and compassionate – in a terribly manly way of course!
Well now, what about looks? Of course, being handsome isn’t everything, but, for me, it was absolutely essential that my heroine, Gwen, be physically attracted to John – she had to really want him! And so John, is deliciously tall, dark and handsome, and definitely manly enough to make Gwen feel like a real woman.
As for finances…. that’s a little bit of a tricky subject isn’t it? Obviously I didn’t want my leading lady falling in love with someone because of his money, but, on the other hand, John couldn’t be a bum! He needed to be hard-working and intelligent, and definitely earn enough to provide well for himself. Interestingly, although John has more money than Gwen, it isn’t anything physical he gives her that means the most to her, it’s the little kindnesses he bestows. And, from John’s side, an inexpensive birthday present Gwen gives him is so thoughtful, that he values it far more than expensive gifts he’s been bought in the past.
Right, where are we? Our hero is strong, both in body and mind; he’s good-looking; he’s kind, and he’s got a bit of cash. The final touch I added was a drop of mystery – my story wouldn’t be much fun if everything was all plain-sailing would it? John has a secret which means a great deal to him, and which is leading towards something very important. In fact, it had completely taken over his life before meeting Gwen. During the novel he has to decide just what he values most: his plans or his woman. But I guess you’ll just have to read the book to discover his choice!
What does being an author mean to you? I love stories and the escapism of a good tale. I read a huge amount – I’m a little renowned in fact for how absorbed I become in a gripping book. In a way, I guess it was almost inevitable that I’d write ‘properly’ at some point! To me, being an author means – hopefully – being able to give something of that joy back – to give others the thrill of a good plot, to weave my own tales and invoke in my readers the happiness of a character you adore finding their true love. Actually having my book out and becoming a ‘real’ author is like a dream come true!
You like Cary Grant, what is your favorite movie he’s in? Oh the choices, the choices! Probably ‘To Catch A Thief’, Cary Grant and Grace Kelly make a great team, and the whole film is gloriously glamorous and beautifully shot. It’s classic, timeless and hopelessly romantic – a story of love that transcends circumstances.
Describe your writing/editing/publishing process: I do try to carefully plan my writing. However, things generally go a bit array when I get carried away and write my favourite scenes all at once and then sort of fill in the blanks! Unfortunately this means that the editing process is long and laborous – a labour of love as it were, but more than worth it when everything all comes together!
As for publishing: emotional and exciting!
Are you (or anyone you know) like your characters? My heroine, Gwen, is kind and loyal, if a little hotheaded at times! In fact, it’s her intense loyalty to her family which could mean her losing John, the man she’s in love with. I like to think I have at least some of Gwen’s good qualities!
On the other hand, Bronwyn and Brian, my tearoom owners, are most definitely, and very lovingly, based on real people – but I’m not revealing who!
How did you come up with the title of your book? The setting of the novel plays a huge part in the story and I wanted something that would encapsulate it. The rugged landscape around the Welsh town I live is truly inspiring, and I think anyone who is lucky enough to be surrounded by such beauty will understand Gwen’s attachment.
Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? As long as its a captivating yarn, the format doesn’t matter.
Where is your favorite place to write? Anywhere quiet and ideally without an internet connection! We have a study at the top of the house which is generally pretty free from mayhem. A cup of tea, a proper fountain pen and some pretty paper and I’m away.
What are five things that people would be surprised to know about you? I’ve performed on stage at the Royal Albert Hall – though only for about 5 minutes. I have video evidence. I’m pretty tiny, 4’10”and a quarter. You can imagine the quarter REALLY matters in my case. I was once shushed by George Lucas. I have an awesome double backhand. After failing miserably with my ginger cake in this year’s WI competition, I’m already planning my preserve comeback!
How did you celebrate when “The Green Hills of Home” was published? Flowers, champagne and a candlelit dinner.
What is your favorite word? Definitely rhubarb – it’s just trips off the tongue in such a delicious way!
Who is your favorite author and what have you learned from them? That’s an impossible question to answer! There are just so many wonderful storytellers with so many marvellous stories, though Jane Austen stands out for me (and not just because it’s her bicentenary). She was a woman both of her time and before it.
There’s such a lot that can be learnt from all our any fantastic authors, both old and new, but perhaps the most important lesson of all is that a good love story is a good love story.
What are you working on now? I’m finishing off my next novel, ‘The Spaniard’s Secret Daughter’, which should be out later this year. Not quite as sweet as ‘The Green Hills of Home’, but just as romantic, and still a ‘traditional’ romance. It’s a tale of passion and jealousy, with a frankly fabulous male lead!
**About author, Emma Bennet: Emma grew up and lived in London, before falling in love and moving to Wales to marry her own hero. Emma now lives with her husband, children, and many animals in a small Welsh market town, fitting in her writing around the many demands of little people and cats.The beautiful landscape around her home gave her the inspiration for ‘The Green Hills of Home’.
Her second novel, ‘The Spaniard’s Secret Daughter’, will be available late 2013.
Emma likes (in no particular order): cake, books, Cary Grant films, prosecco, chocolate, guinea pigs, knitting, quilting and happily ever afters!