Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Friend - Lynette Sofras

Welcome to today's Friday Friend (and my friend), Lynette Sofras.

A former Head of English, Lynette gave up her career in education almost three years ago in order to focus on her writing.  Since then she has published three contemporary romances: The Apple Tree (December 2011), which won the grand prize in Inspired Romance Novels' writing contest; Wishful Thinking (April 2012) and Shopping for Love (June 2012). In Loving Hate (November 2012) is her first romantic suspense and a more speculative psychological drama, Killing Jenna Crane, is due for release next month.

Lynette lives with her family in an early Victorian cottage in a historic village in Surrey. When not writing, she is an avid reader, loves catching with friends, films and the theatre and can occasionally be seen trying to tame her rather wild garden and keeping the family's eccentric cat out of trouble.

Should we like our heroes and heroines?

I reviewed a novel recently which I thoroughly enjoyed reading, but it occurred to me part-way through it that I really couldn't warm to the main character.  This in no way spoiled my enjoyment of the story and nor did it affect my rating, but it did make me wonder whether the writer wanted me to like her or not.  It also got me thinking about whether other readers need to be able to like and empathise with the hero or heroine, especially in romances.

This in turn made me think back over some of the reviews of my stories which criticised the hero or heroine and the readers made their feelings evident in their ratings.  One reader shocked me by accusing one of my heroines - who had been pressured into becoming a doctor and later regretted it and yearned to leave the profession - of being thoroughly selfish for having taken up a place at med school and depriving someone else!  I simply hadn't considered that when I portrayed her unhappiness and dissatisfaction.  My aim was to create sympathy for her situation, not anger.

Another reviewer said one of my heroines "tended to act TSTL for a little", which my son had to translate as meaning "too stupid to live".   I still smile at that.  My heroes too have come in for criticism at times. One was reprimanded for being unintentionally thoughtless in forgetting to mention something to the heroine (which he had dismissed as trivial) and another for going against his own principles after criticising the fault in someone else.  I dread to think what readers will make of the main character of my forthcoming release Killing Jenna Crane - he's a famous and successful author who is decidedly unlikeable - and that's quite deliberate!

Fortunately, however, on the whole, readers seem to connect with my characters and feel they can relate to them and that pleases me enormously.  They hate my villains, which is as it should be, empathise with my heroines and some even develop crushes on my heroes.  One of the sweetest comments I received was from a reader who said: "I want to find my own Nicholas. If I ever find anyone half as decent and loving as that man then I will be a happy woman."

I would love to hear opinions from readers and writers on this subject.  Should we like our heroes and heroines as writers and how important is it for us to like them as readers?

In Loving Hate - released 09 November 2012
MuseItUp bookstore:
How far will the rich and powerful go in order to achieve their goals? That is the question Lyssa must decide when she finds herself caught between two formidable adversaries: powerful business tycoon and shipping magnate, Alex Andrakis and close childhood friend, ‘Dynamic’ Nell Winters, brewery heiress and prolific businesswoman.
Following the failure of her marriage in Greece, Lyssa returns to her family home in London, to discover that her mother, a once-celebrated actress, is now facing crippling debts.  When Lyssa begins to investigate these, she becomes embroiled in the intricate business dealings of Nell and her arch-rival Alex.  Irresistibly drawn towards widower Alex and his unhappy young son, Lyssa begins to uncover some unexpected and disturbing facts.
The more involved she becomes, the more shocking are the discoveries she makes.  The conflicts culminate in a frightening battle for survival as Lyssa finds herself the prime target between the possessive Nell and obsessive Alex.   With her loyalties deeply divided, can Lyssa make the right choice for everyone concerned?
Find out more about Lynette at her blog and website:
Thanks so much for being our Friday Friend today, Lyn - and we wish you every success with your all your books. Shopping for Love is definitely my favourite so far, but I haven't read your latest release yet! 


  1. Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Paula. Lynette

  2. I don't think you have to like the main character to enjoy the story. I loved The Silence of the Lambs, for instance, but I have to admit that Hannibal was not a nice character!
    Just got In Loving Hate. Can't wait to read it!

  3. I think we have to like the characters we create but have to accept that not all readers will see them as we do. One of mine has caused a few readers to swoon, but others detested him because he hurt the heroine. Jenny's right that you don't have to like the MC to enjoy the story - well that's definitely true of thrillers etc but I must admit to struggling with some romances when I don't connect with either the male or female lead - regardless of whether it was the author's intention or not. With a romance, I want to identify with heroine in some way and if she's too pathetic or conniving or whatever, it doesn't leave me with that feel good factor at the end of the book.

  4. Hi--I was told early on that my hero and especially the heroine should be likable--as in, the reader must like the heroine or the reader won't find her a sympathetic character. This seemed odd for a long time--"like" the heroine? As though she were a real person? Well, yes, as it turns out, that is true.
    My first contemporary has a NY business woman who find herself in charge of her five year old nephew. It had been rejected three times--with no real explanation.
    I gave the first chapter to another author, one I admired for her education in the writiing field. She read it, and told me that Kate--my heroine did not act like a warm, nice person. Why? everything had to do with the little boy--he tugged on her jeans leg to get her attention, and she said, "Not now, Nicky," as she pushed his hand away.(I had written in numerous such scenes.) The author friend said--instead, have Kate to reach for Nicky's hand, rub her thumb over the top of his hand, and say, "Just a minute, sweetie--let me finish this first." I went throught the mas and changed many places, re-submitted it, and immediately got a contrat. Now, isn't that something?
    Good topic, one that is very important. And...I love your sophisticated cover.

  5. Jenny, now my problem with Hannibal was that I had difficulty disassociating him from Anthony Hopkins - whom I had a bit of a crush on at the time! (I've since grown out of it, by the way).
    Hope you enjoy the new story - I always get terribly nervous when I know someone is reading one of my books...

  6. Barbara, yes,I have to agree, there is a bit of a difference when it comes to romance. I suppose because it plays on different emotions to the thriller genre. I love the idea of swooning over a romantic hero. I can't remember the last one I swooned over - possibly Captain Wentworth in Persuasion.
    Thanks for your insight.

  7. Celia,
    That's really fascinating. Thank you for sharing that.
    It's so interesting how readers pick up on things we never intended. It will certainly make me super-careful about body language in future.

  8. From Miz Love Review of 'Self's Blossom'

    First off, I’d like to make it clear to readers that Selene, for me, didn’t come across as the usual romance heroine. If you expect to like her a lot, you may be disappointed. I, however, loved her because she isn’t your usual romance heroine. I saw her as conceited, vain, totally self-absorbed, and a pure delight for being this way.

    She knows she looks good, knows her workouts have given her a body most women would envy, and the kind of woman she is was portrayed perfectly with this line: Selene had a far better body than the mousy little model in the photograph. While this isn’t something you might expect a romance heroine to think of herself, I loved it because she was made real by Mr Russell creating her this way. We have all thought things like this, perhaps not about our bodies, but about other things—I have a nicer hairstyle than her…I have a better car than her…I have prettier eyes than her—and Selene’s inner thoughts, of which there are many, gave me a glimpse into one of the realest women I’ve ever read. She was human, with, in my opinion, many flaws that might make her distasteful to some, but by God, she riveted me with her self-absorption and brutal honesty.

  9. If you can't be likeable, at least be interesting?

  10. I think there is a difference between being likable and being loveable. Mr. Rochester in Wuthering Heights isn't likable, but he is lovable. I think that is the difference. If your characters have something that draws the reader into wanting to understand them better, then it's a success. For me, no matter how sweet and likable that character is, if they're no deeper, then I don't want to fall in love with them. In fact, in Christian romance, I often don't connect with the heroine because she's TOO sweet!

  11. People in real life are complex. I think characters should be, too.
    My WIP hero is a bit haughty. He has strong principles and believes he is right--and doesn't care if someone thinks otherwise. He is devoted in his love for the heroine. He is imperfectly perfect--and this drives my heroine batty. I enjoy tormenting her, because she will get to keep him in the end. And I wish I could have him.

  12. Your release sounds great, Lyn. A best friend villain piques my interest!. Best wishes for soaring sales.

  13. Thanks everyone for these really interesting responses - lots of food for thought here for me.

    A hero who is imperfectly perfect! I love it. I'd probably fall in love with him too, Ana.

    Thanks Cynthia, Patty and also Miz Love for sharing that excellent review of 'Self's Blossom' - surely that's what we all aspire to in the way we draw our characters?

  14. Very interesting interview and all the comments. I relate best to hero or heroine with at least one flaw to "humanize" them. And I try to write characters I like but I don't love them all.