What Is Your Type?

I love Buzzfeed. They come up with some of the most inane, time-sucking polls and quizzes in existence. I’ve taken many of them. I know where I should live, which 80’s song best describes me, what my romantic style is like, which 80’s action movie hero I am (Indiana Jones), and I even know which Star Wars character I am, (Han Solo.) I know what kind of warrior I am, (Pirate – big surprise there,) and what my personal style is. The one quiz I never needed to take was the one to tell me what kind of man is my “type.”

It started out as a joke with my friend and editor Laurel Kriegler because the question pops up with amazing regularity, “Who is Blade Devon?” I have  addressed the issue here in my blog and in interviews. I’ve fielded questions and taken suggestions on social media. Nobody seems to buy that Blade was originally inspired by Errol Flynn. He must be based on someone else, someone walking around today.

Poppycock.

But I had to look closely at the question. Who is he? Well, I have to say that physically, Blade is my “type.”

I read an article about Francois Brunelle, a photographer who located what he calls “couples” or people who look alike; doppelgangers, if you will. They are strangers with uncanny resemblance to each other and Brunelle photographs them together. Curious about the coincidence, I read a little further on the subject and found a reference to there only being roughly 500 facial “templates” or types. (My apologies, but at the time, I didn’t realize how important that little tidbit would be so I didn’t bother bookmarking the article.) The idea that there are only 500 or so facial types triggered a memory of the “Golden Ratio.”

Malemask_printable - CopyThe Golden Ratio, or Phi, is a mathematical formula for calculating the symmetry of the human face that we link to beauty. Dr. Stephen Marquardt has made quite the study of it and is considered to be the expert on Phi. The idea is that the features of most attractive faces have a higher percentage of alignment with Marquardt’s beauty mask. This made sense to me because when I studied art and drawing many years ago, I studied proportion and the Golden Ratio.

Now where am I going with this?

Well, if there are only 500 or so different facial types, and a certain percentage of those are symmetrical enough to fall into line with the Golden Ratio, then perhaps there is a formula for finding the face of Blade among the faces I consider my “type.” I took several photos of  attractive men and I studied them for similarities to Blade. I divided them into two categories of men generally considered attractive and men who strongly appeal to me personally. I limited my search to men with the basic bone structure I attributed to Blade:  high cheekbones, long, lean jawline, barest hint of a cleft in his chin, devilish smile… Okay the lopsided, devilish smile isn’t exactly bone structure, but it helps to narrow the choices, especially when it comes to choosing between twins, and I also limited my pictures to those taken of men when they were between the ages of 25 and 35, or thereabouts.

I found an interesting collection of men who do fall into that category. Here are a few whose handsome faces have made an impression on me, one way or another –

 

100blade - CopyAnd it was while going through these pictures, looking for some clue about Blade that I found something I wasn’t expecting, and I found it in the person of a young Sean Bean. Yep. That’s a tattoo and it says “100% Blade.” Interestingly enough, he got that tattoo when his favorite football team won a championship. It has nothing to do with me and is a happy coincidence. You believe me, right? The grin on his face tells a different story, but ignore it…if you can.

Many years ago my husband, who is a history teacher, got hooked on a television show starring a young Sean Bean called “Sharpe’s Rifles.”  I must admit, I also enjoyed the show…and once commented that if my characters ever needed to be cast in a movie, “that guy” would make a great Blade.

I suppose it was with that in the back of my head that I went searching through stock photos, looking for a model who could stand in for Blade. I had my criteria. I knew my “type.” I was looking for a “Sean Bean  type.” I was looking for “that guy.”

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Quite by accident, I stumbled across a very talented photographer named Andrey Kiselev who had recreated an image reminiscent of the iconic Game of Thrones poster (the one featuring a pensive and weary Sean Bean.) I dismissed the picture because armored guy with a sword wasn’t exactly the look I was going for. But something about the picture drew me back for another look.

 

Conqueror
© Photographer: Andrey Kiselev | Agency: Dreamstime.com

The model definitely had a Sean Bean look to him, rugged, handsome, a little dangerous with a glint in his eye. I just knew he’d have a lopsided grin. So I took a closer look at the photographer’s work and, sure enough, in other photos of him, he had that crooked smile I can’t resist.

 Brutal style
© Photographer: Andrey Kiselev | Agency: Dreamstime.com

But I didn’t want a smiling Blade on the cover of my book. I wanted a man with a concerned look, a man who looked ready for action. I was looking for a man who was like a tightly wound spring, all potential energy just waiting for his moment to act. That’s when I found “that guy.”

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I have no idea what his name is. I’ve seen him on only one other cover, in the guise of the ancient warrior with a sword and a battle weary look. But he has the bone structure, the lopsided smile, and as I’ve seen in other pictures, a wealth of charm and charisma, and a certain warmth. For my purposes, this guy is the public face of Blade…and definitely my type.

Yes, I have a type. Like I said, I limited my search to pictures of men between the ages of 25 and 35 (though the model I chose appears to be a bit older,) I stumbled across an old picture of Sean Bean that I wasn’t expecting.

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Sean Bean and his daughter

When I saw it, it drove home to me just how ingrained “my type” is. I had to do a double take because at first, I mistook him for someone else. Someone who is most definitely more my type than anyone else.

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My husband Dale and our daughter

I showed these pictures to my husband and after being taken aback, Dale threw back his head and busted out laughing.

Yes, he agrees. I have a type.

That Voice

WhoopiDaltonDuring a television interview while she was involved with Timothy Dalton, Whoopi Goldberg said something that resonated with me about her attraction to him. She leaned forward and canted her head as she is wont to do and lifted her finger to her ear explaining that Dalton had the kind of voice that a woman wants to wake up to, “right here.”

Oh yeah, I nodded with complete understanding. Dalton definitely has THAT VOICE.

There is something about THAT VOICE. It isn’t a particular accent that curls my toes. It’s a tone, a deep-chested timbre to the low, male voice that is foreplay for my ears. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way about certain tones of voice. My husband has a thing for throaty female torch singers. He’ll say of his favorites that they “make my eardrums hard.” He says my voice is never sexier than when I’m so sick that my voice sounds like I have a three pack a day habit.

Oh, I’ve heard scientific reports on human attraction and sexuality talking about tone of voice and why it appeals. Yeah, yeah. The bottom line for me is that certain men just have a voice with depth and resonance that for lack of a better term “makes my eardrums hard.”

Matt LeBlanc turned it into high camp on the TV show Friends when his character Joey would affect a smoldering look, a rakish smile and intone, “How you doin’?” My husband is possessed of THAT VOICE which he rolls out for his own amusement and quotes the Joey line. Having THAT VOICE is like having a super power. One must never use it indiscriminately. With great power comes great responsibility.

sean-bean-biography-228x300I can think of a handful of actors and singers with THAT VOICE. Dalton, of course is one, as are Sam Elliott, Sean Bean, and Russell Crowe. In my mother’s day, it was Sir Richard Burton, Lee Marvin, and Telly Savalas. I will admit that I adore hearing their voices. As far as singers go, I’m partial to crooners. Dean Martin still makes me swoon. Simon LeBon’s performance of New Moon on Monday has been quite accurately referred to as “panty dropping.”  Jim Morrison had it, too. For a real treat, I love to listen to Duran Duran cover of The Doors’ Crystal Ship. I can’t decide who did it better, Morrison or LeBon. They both make my eardrums hard.

Whose voice does it for you? I’d love to know.

 

Who Is The Real Blade Devon?

From the first moment he stepped out onto a sheet of wide-ruled, three-hole notebook paper on November 4, 1984, Blade Devon commanded center stage. Until that moment, Bo Barron had a love triangle going with two other men: Lee Trager, a tall, dark, and handsome casino owner (and a bit of a pretty boy,) and Alec Barclay, a sandy-haired, hot-shot pilot with an inability to commit. When Blade Devon swaggered across the page, Bo (and I) sat up and took notice.

Blade Devon AvatarWhere Lee was cultured and refined, and Alec was clean-cut military to the core, Blade was scruffy, rumpled, unshaven, his blond hair a little too shaggy and his manners less than gentlemanly. Bo and I quickly learned that his appearance and demeanor weren’t because of a lack of upbringing or not knowing better, rather were borne of fierce independence and a desire to face life on his own terms. In other words, he really couldn’t care less. He was a Bad Boy.

Only intended as a peripheral character, Blade had been introduced as a joke. (With a name like “Blade” who could take him seriously? His “real” name at the time was Wilbur Homer Wartwhistle, but no one would surrender to the dangerous mercenary Wilbur Homer Wartwhistle, so he adopted the name Blade, in homage to his predilection for bladed weaponry.)

The joke was on me.

Bo spent less and less time with her two love interests and more in the company of the hard-drinking, two-fisted mercenary. All the more intriguing, Bo and I learned that the man had secrets upon secrets. Like peeling an onion, we’d pull back one layer after another, only to discover that there was so very much more to this character than either of us anticipated. Before we realized, Bo and I were smitten and the other men were relegated to the dusty old files for dredging up later. Bo had found her soul mate.

(Lee Trager returns as Blade’s antagonist in ARCANA DOUBLE CROSS. Time on the back burner and losing Bo have twisted him and turned him into a bit of a sadistic villain. Alec has mutated and split, finding his way into the characters of Royce, Jaden, and Edge.)

The question keeps coming up, “Who is Blade based on?”

That’s a tough question to answer. Blade’s earliest inspiration can be found in Errol Flynn’s autobiography MY WICKED, WICKED WAYS which had been re-released the year before Blade’s birth…and yes, I read it. I was smitten with Flynn from an early age. The swashbuckler with the lopsided smile, the easy charm, and wisecrack for every dangerous situation – how could I not fall for him? And then, with the other book, the one claiming Flynn had been a Nazi spy…well, who doesn’t love a good swashbuckling actor-adventurer-spy?

But Flynn bears no resemblance to Blade physically…or does he?

“Her gaze traced the curve of his brow, his high, prominent cheekbones, the line of his jaw – not quite as square as his brother’s, but longer – to the barest hint of a cleft in his chin. He laughed at something the interviewer said, showing a pair of matched dimples that sent Bo’s innards into a barrel roll.” – HERO’S END

“Who is Blade based on?”

Let’s revisit 1984, shall we?

Dystopic, post-apocalyptic sci-fi was all the rage. At the top of the heap was the quintessential anti-hero, struggling to get along in a world gone mad, carrying the loss of his wife and child, battered and bruised, wild-eyed and dangerous, with cold blue eyes that had seen too much and a beautiful face buried under dust, sweat, and blood. That could only be MAD MAX, THE ROAD WARRIOR, Mel Gibson in his earliest, glorious breakout role. Yes, there is an element of Mel Gibson as Mad Max buried deep in the heart of Blade Devon. In fact, Blade owes his blue eyes to Gibson.

Also in 1984 were the Los Angeles Olympic games. The US Men’s gymnastics team was the first US squad to win the Olympic team gold medal. Bart Conner, Tim Daggett, Mitch Gaylord, Jim Hartung, Scott Johnson, and Peter Vidmar were celebrated heroes that summer. Conner, at 26 (Blade’s age in SOVRAN’S PAWN) was the old man of the team and had come back from surgery to repair his torn bicep, to win two gold medals, one with his team, the second with a perfect 10 on the parallel bars. A bit of each of them found their way into characters, ideas and stories.

1984 also saw the television mini-series THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII based loosely on the 1834 novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Canadian actor, Duncan Regehr portrayed the gladiator-slave Lydon. Regehr would go on to play Errol Flynn in the television adaptation of his autobiography. Can you see where I’m going here? Tall, beefy, square-jawed, ripped Regehr provided a good model for the body type of Blade Devon. (Regehr also provided inspiration for another character in a stand-alone novel that is as yet, unfinished.)

It was about this time that BLADE RUNNER hit cable. I can’t talk about the conception of Blade Devon without giving a nod to Rutger Hauer, who also solidified his tall, broad, blond, influence with the 1985 release LADYHAWKE. I like to think Blade’s ruthless edge comes from a combination of Hauer’s portrayals of Etienne Navarre and Roy Batty.

England’s Prince Charles admitted in an interview around then that he’d had aspirations of being an actor. His brother, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, served in the Falklands War and is considered a bit of a daredevil. Sound familiar?

Each of these men, in some way contributed to the original vision of Blade Devon.

“Yes, but WHO is Blade based on?”

Since 1984, Blade has absorbed bits and pieces of other men, other characters and other roles, including the likes of Val Kilmer in WILLOW, Sean Bean in SHARPE’S RIFLES and Nathan Fillion as – well, you know.

“Who did you originally cast as Blade?”

Maybe there is one man I envisioned playing the role of Blade Devon in the imaginary movie I’ve made in my head. Then again, maybe there isn’t. Perhaps he is nothing more than an amalgam of traits and features that fell into place at the right time to create someone completely new. Perhaps that’s why he captures people’s imaginations.

The beautiful thing about creating a character like Blade is letting my readers offer their idea of who is playing the character. I have been surprised and pleased by the suggestions offered up. My favorite came from Amy Kolan, who confided that she saw Blade as Chris Hemsworth.

Who?

I’d never heard of the Aussie actor at that point. Of course, I’d seen him as James Kirk’s father in STAR TREK, and I’d seen the trailers for THOR and THE AVENGERS, and even passed through the room while my kids watched THOR, but I hadn’t paid him any attention. I didn’t get a chance to see THOR for myself until a couple of weeks ago. Out of curiosity, I recorded it. When my husband and I had a quiet minute, we sat down to watch. Partway through, I told my husband that Hemsworth had been suggested as a potential Blade.

“I’m not sure I see it,” I said. “I’m not sure he’s pretty enough.”

Gobsmacked, my husband sputtered. “Not pretty enough? This guy IS Blade!”

I have to admit that the roles he’s played are roles that Blade would have played. He does have a maturity, solidity and swaggering-self-confidence-on-demand that screams Blade Devon. Given my husband’s reaction, (and Hemsworth’s performance in SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN,) I am perfectly comfortable endorsing Hemsworth as a suitable Blade Devon.

“But who is your original inspiration for Blade Devon? Whose face do you see in your mind’s eye when you write him?”

012714_1950_9.jpgThat, my friends, is something I’ll never tell. Only one other person on the planet can say with any certainty whether anyone in particular wears the face I consider Blade Devon’s, and that person has sworn to take the secret to the grave. Other than this list of hunks, heroes and Hemsworth, that’s all you’re going to get.

I promise you, your imagination will serve you far better than sure knowledge of the truth.

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Who did you cast in the role of Blade Devon when you read SOVRAN’S PAWN or HERO’S END?