Why I dislike attempts to define the ideal man by Adrienne Clarke
Lately I’ve received a number of surveys, mostly from fellow romance authors attempting to define the qualities of the ideal man. I appreciate the value of good research, but I received these requests with a mixture of amusement and irritation. Amusement because the survey at least had a more interesting goal than to measure my soap buying habits, and irritation because....the whole idea struck me as silly and contrived. I wouldn’t want to read a book whose hero was the composite of an ideal man survey. The creation of any such character strikes me as shallow and manipulative. Truth be told I don’t believe there is an ideal man, at least not one who everyone would agree on, and I think that’s a good thing.
A lover of all things mysterious and intangible, I tend to resist attempts to label and categorize things that are best left undefined. Others may disagree, but I can’t help but feel that the results of this kind of ideal man survey would be cheesy and a little bit dull. The whole process reminds me of an e-harmony advertisement. Answer these questions and find your “ideal match.” Maybe I’m just wary of the word ideal. What does this even mean? I guess it depends on your point of view. For me, some of the most compelling love stories of all time revolved around men and women who were far less than ideal. Could Wuthering Heights’ Heathcliff ever be considered ideal? I’m guessing not many people would tick the right boxes to create the complicated, brooding, and passionate Heathcliff, but maybe that’s because they wouldn’t understand his attraction unless they somehow found themselves in his orbit.
My point is not that people should love Heathcliff because he’s not ideal, only that love and attraction are mysterious forces. It’s the reason why the person who everyone says is “perfect for you” leaves you cold, while someone you would never have considered drives you wild. One of the things that make life beautiful is its ability to surprise us with people and experiences we could never have imagined.
I don’t know what the results of the survey will be and I don’t care. What I do know is that I’d take Heathcliff over the perfect e-harmony advertisement any day. What about you? Do you believe in the ideal man? Let me know. I’d love to hear what you think.
Seventeen-year-old Brigid O'Flynn is an outcast. A chance encounter with the Faerie Queen left her tainted in the eyes of the villagers, who blame the Faerie for the village’s missing women and children. Desperate to win the village’s acceptance, Brigid agrees to marry her childhood friend: Serious, hardworking, Connell Mackenna. But when Connell disappears before their wedding, Brigid's hopes are shattered. Blamed for her fiancé’s death, Brigid fears she will suffer the same fate as the other village outcasts, the mysterious Willow Women. Lured into Faerie by their inhuman lovers, and cast out weak and broken, the Willow Women spend their lives searching for the way back into Faerie. When Connell suddenly reappears, Brigid is overjoyed, but everything is not as it seems. Consumed by his desire for beauty and celebration, Connell abandons his responsibilities, and Brigid soon finds herself drawn into a passionate, dangerous world of two.
When Brigid discovers the truth behind Connell's transformation she’s forced to choose between two men and two worlds. Brigid’s struggle leads her into glittering, ruthless Faerie, where she must rescue her true love from a terrible sacrifice or lose him forever.
The Faerie Queen raised one eyebrow so that it disappeared behind the gold circlet she wore around her head. “Another favour? I’m afraid this one shall cost you.”
Brigid nodded. What good was the flower if she couldn’t find her way back again?
“Close your eyes,” the Faerie Queen commanded. “What do you hear?”
“Still your breath, and let the pictures in your head slide away. Listen to what’s underneath the silence.”
She tried, but it was hard to do. And then she heard it, the gentle trickle of running water.
“Follow the sound. It will bring you back to the path and your father. But hurry, the forest is no place for a child.” And then she began to laugh, the sound surprisingly harsh and deep.
Brigid ran towards the sound until she saw the sky peeking through the trees, and felt the path beneath her feet. When she saw her father, she ran into his open arms, the Faerie Queen’s laughter still ringing in her ears.
“We thought we’d lost you forever,” her father whispered into her hair.
“But I’ve only been gone a short time,” she said.
“Nay, my sweet. The sun has risen and set twice since we came into the forest. Your mother and I have been searching everywhere.”
She showed her father the flower. “The Faerie Queen gave it to me so I could give it to Mother.”
Her father smiled, but fear spread across his face like a stain. Three days later he was dead.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
I think I became a writer because the world inside my head was so real and vivid, sometimes more so than the outside world. In some sense I have lived parallel lives, present in my real and imaginary lives in different ways. Because much of my childhood was spent searching for faeries or reading about them, it is natural that my work encompasses fairy tale themes and other magical elements. In the words of Tennessee Williams, forget reality, give me magic!
Adrienne has previously published short stories in The Storyteller, Beginnings Magazine, New Plains Review, and in the e-zines A Fly in Amber, Grim Graffiti, Les Bonnes Fees, The Altruist, The Devilfish Review, and Rose Red Review. Her short story, Falling was awarded second place in the 2008 Alice Munro short fiction contest. To Dance in Liradon is her first published novel.
An avid reader of fairy tales and other magical stories, a thread of the mysterious or unexpected runs through all of her work. When she’s not writing Adrienne can be found searching for faeries along with her daughters Callista and Juliet.
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-dance-in-liradon-adrienne-clarke/1112975145?ean=2940015710045