JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Today's the day our friend Craig Johnson's latest Walt Longmire mystery, ANY OTHER NAME, hits the stores. Since the A&E series LONGMIRE is coming back for a second season, I assume there are a lot of people out there who've been introduced the Walt Longmire, but I (puts her hipster glasses on) have been crushing on Walt Longmire since Craig's first book, THE COLD DISH, came out ten years ago.
Walt Longmire is an example of the kind of hero I can't resist: fifty-something, laconic, tough-but-sensitive, knows his way around a gun but gets thrown by the women in his life. (People who read me may recognize certain similarities to my own male protagonist.) There are a lot of sigh-worthy heros in crime fiction, but what is it that makes them so?
I got into an interesting discussion at Murder in Muskego a few years back on this point. I said it was competence - the sense that the hero could Do What Needed To Be Done with a minimum of fuss and bother. Tess Gerritsen opined it was being an alpha male that made the hero irresistable - women want to read about the man all other men defer to. Libby Hellman (IIRC) argued for sensitivity - a man whose emotions the reader can experience.
All of these? Something else? To reach the pinnacle of "Women want him, men want to be him," what qualities does the crime fiction hero need, Reds?
HALLIE EPHRON: Doesn't Take Himself Too Seriously and Has a Sense of Humor... those are my two. And Longmire, boy howdy! Does he qualify on both counts, especially in the novels. Ah, Likes Women... he's that, too.
And NEWS BULLETIN, Craig Johnson is going to be Guest of Honor at this fall's New England Crime Bake -- a wonderful conference for mystery writers and readers (set not in Wyoming but near Boston) which sells out fast... and registration is about to open! He'll on a bunch of panels, get the GOH interview treatment, as well as be on a panel of plot conjurers and we'll get to see how he does it. Registration should be opening later this week.
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: I love the kind of hero Craig Johnson and Julia write, but I'm also up for the deeply flawed protagonist who might not fit those criteria. The male protagonist I'm currently obsessed with is Buck Schatz, introduced in Daniel Friedman's, DON'T EVER GET OLD and now in DON'T EVER LOOK BACK. Buck's 88, moves with the aid of a walker, and has increasing issues with dementia. He's a curmudgeon, but I absolutely adore him.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: And Breaking News number two: the fabulous Craig Johnson is offering--just for today's Jungle Red commenters--THREE COPIES of his new book ANY OTHER NAME! So--just tell us about your heroes..and you're entered!
Here's me with the fab Craig Johnson last time he came to Boston..he's hilarious and tells wonderful stories. (He has a very cool wife, too.)
And Susan, I, too, am in love with Buck Schatz--he's so terrific. And right now I am delighted with Henry Swann, the poetry-reading skip tracer in Charles Salzberg's about to be released SWANN'S LAKE OF DESPAIR. Those familiar with this blog will remember my love of Inspector Morse. So I guess the thread for me in all of my favorite heroes is that they're smart. And wry.
RHYS BOWEN: My kind of hero has to be someone I can identify with. He or she has to have an innate goodness and desire to make things right. I'm a fan of the unlikely hero--Frodo in the Lord of the Rings--a little, insignificant person thrust into a role far beyond him but taking it on anyway. And retaining the self deprecating humor and basic humanity throughout. I think Louise Penny's Gamache is that sort of person. I hope that my heroines have just a tinge of it.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: All of the above! Competent. Not necessarily outwardly tough, although I adore Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden. Likes women, yes, AND respects them. Sense of humor, check. Not taking themselves too seriously, check. And I love a bit of the eccentric--I haven't read the Buck Schatz books, or Henry Swann (putting on never-ending list) but I love Christopher Fowler's Arthur Bryant and John May.
Oh, and Walt Longmire is okay, too:-)
How about you, dear reader? What attributes do you like to see in your fictional hero-and-heartthrob? Don't forget, we have three copies of Craig Johnson's ANY OTHER NAME to give away!