Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Writer's Wednesday: Ethan Hawke as Inspiration

Sharon Kendrick explains about how Ethan Hawke is inspiring her writing and how she creates her heroes

I’ve never really “got” Ethan Hawke. Always thought of him as one of those moderately good-looking but uncharismatic individuals - more famous for their off-screen antics (in that phrase beloved of the tabloids!) than for his acting ability.
But that was last week. Before I saw him in The Winter’s Tale. Before he swaggered across the stage, eyes dancing with mischief, every sinew sizzling with subliminal promise. And proceeded to charm and to captivate every member of the audience. I was wrong. Very wrong. Whatever “it” is – then Ethan has it in spades. Call it attitude or Alpha-ness – he seemed to possess the essential quality which is at the heart of every Harlequin hero I write.
And then I tried to download a picture of him (because I’ve noticed that all you Pink Heart bloggers pepper your script with sharp, sexy photos of beefcake which you claim is all in the name of research!). And….well… Unfortunately, this is the only shot I could find of him looking straight to camera. Ethan seems to have trouble maintaining eye-contact. Or maybe his agent told him that he looks more hunky if he appears to be focussing on some object in the far distance. Like the all-protective male who has heard the thunder of threat on the horizon.
It made me realise why I rarely use still photos to inspire me when I’m writing. Because I find myself concentrating on the entire photographic process involved instead of being enthused by the subject. I can picture the stylist rifling through a wardrobe of clothes, narrowing her eyes as she decides what kind of image she wants to present of her client. And can imagine the photographer firing instructions in that murmured yet slightly frantic way they do: “Come on, Ethan - brood! Brood!”
And then I start remembering all the things I’ve read about Mr. Hawke’s life which have made their way into the international press. Most of them are probably untrue, or exaggerated – but they are still faintly distracting. How can I create my own kind of fantasy man if Uma Thurman’s indignant face keeps hoving into view?
My hero exists solely in the land of my imagination. He is mean and lean and dangerous to know. He’s a mixture of men I’ve met, men I’ve seen and men I’ve wished existed.
My latest hero is a Sheikh – and he is….well, he’s simply irresistible. At least, I think he is, and I hope you agree. Discover him in THE SHEIKH’S VIRGIN STABLE-GIRL.Happy reading – and please write to me on or visit my website
Sharon Kendrick is the author of over 65 Harlequin Presents and teaches the art of writing at various seminars and workshops.


  1. Sharon --
    Yes, I know how hard it can be when you find a picture of a potential hero and then you learn about his private life. It is why I like to use McKee's idea of thinking about how such and such would play the part. It means then I can look for a look or a voice without worrying.
    Interesting post.

  2. Sharon, great post! I'm with you on the research, I find that I identify too much with an actor's persona to really be able to imagine him as my hero, and that goes for the girls too, so I try to find generic pictures of people I don't know. Also, having worked with a lot of actors, I'm just too biased in thinking that most of them are, er, lets just say a bit brattish (!).
    When you saw Ethan Hawke on stage it must have been amazing - can imagine how he suddenly 'popped' out at you in a way that a picture never can. I like to check out model websites and look for pictures that convey something of the mood or personality of the characters I'm thinking of...
    But all in all, any excuse to have to look up delicious pictures of gorgeous people has to be a plus!
    x Abby Green
    p.s. By the way, totally agree with you about your Sheikh, he was larger than life and utterly gorgeous.

  3. Oooh Sharon-- great post! I found this really interesting because the only book I've written without having a specific face in mind for the hero was my first one. The hero of that came directly from my imagination and was a complete amalgamation of all that I found attractive and heroic in a man, so when I came to write the second one I was a bit stuck, and had to cast the net a bit wider!

    Now the search for the right face has become an integral part of my writing process. For me, still photos aren't great, because the thing I find most useful is details of the thousand unique ways in which people smile, or the way they move their hands. I'm sure that the fact that I started writing at about the same time as the youtube phenomenon was bursting forth might have something to do with this! (It certainly has a lot to do with my little time management issues...)

    Really looking forward to your sheikh. When is he out?

  4. As someone trying to write my first ever Mills and Boon, this post is very useful. But as for Mr Hawke, it was while watching Before Sunset (sequel to Before Sunrise) that Ethan's striking appeal jumped out at me and so I'll definitely try to catch him at the Old Vic. Will be looking our for your new book next time I'm in Fulham, the only place near me that I can find M&Bs.

  5. Hi Sharon, I was just about to suggest that you rent Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. His performance was subtle, but very sexy.

  6. I love Ethan Hawke' movies. I love his interviews and I think he is romantic, fun, and intelligent. Im sorry the mistakes, I'm brasilian and I don't know English very well.

  7. Great post Sharon. Really interesting to hear how you get your inspiration.