Friday, July 1, 2011

Writing the Love Interest: The Jake Ryan Complex

I hadn't planned on re-posting anything just yet (this blog still has new car smell) but in reviewing my "stats" it appears this post gets a lot of attention. I couldn't figure out why...so I reread it. Now I know. It's awesome! So, because I am a lazy girl, eagerly awaiting a spring break trip to Disneyland, I am go to re-post for the first time ever. Hope you enjoy. (Again)

They say that inspiration comes from the most unlikely of places. In the case of today's post that sentiment couldn't be more true.

Let me set the scene: It's about 6 am Thursday morning. I'm blowing my hair dry in preparation for a day of work, praying for an epiphany as to what my next blog post will be. My husband stumbles into the bathroom, eyes narrowed to pinch out the morning light, and that mysterious nighttime crust is wedged in the corners of his mouth like he'd been making out with a glue stick. (Hands off, ladies, he's taken!) He drops down onto the toilet seat and begins lacing up his running shoes, grumbling about the stupid dog not caring whether he gets walked or not, and that's when it happens...INSPIRATION STRIKES!

With as much maturity as a four-year-old boy who licks mailboxes and chews on his own toenails, my husband discovers he has a little booger dangling from his nose. Rather than depositing said snot rocket into a tissue or square of toilet paper like a civilized person, he determines that an appropriate relocation would be to smear the little sucker on the leg of my pajama pants. Under different circumstances I would have thrown a royal fit, going all blond-afro-girl on his disgusting arse, but I opted not to because he'd just given me my next blog topic, and therefore I was extremely grateful.

It's what I refer to as: THE JAKE RYAN COMPLEX


For those of you who don't know who Jake Ryan is, (Cherie!) please pull your head from beneath the rock you're buried under and rent SIXTEEN CANDLES. It's this movie that absolutely ruined the realistic love interest for any teenage girl.

You see, Jake Ryan was really a thirty-year-old man trapped in an eighteen-year-old boy's body. He didn't care that he drove a zippy red Porsche when all the other kids drove hand-me-down Honda's. He was the most popular guy on campus, dating a gorgeous cheerleader with big dairy pillows, but it was of absolutely no consequence to him. Jake wanted more than a good time. He wanted depth. He wanted sincerity. He wanted Samantha Baker, the flat-chested sophomore who took a sex quiz in Independent Study and, stupidly, answered honestly!

"I don't know, Rook," you say skeptically. "This guy sounds too good to be true."

Brilliant deduction my underpaid fan club. He is! HE'S TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE! Which is why we love him so much!

As YA authors it's our job to create a desirable 17-20 year old boy that any girl would be thrilled to tongue tangle with. He shall be good looking, mature for his age, loyal, funny, smart and be willing to walk through fire, slay dragons, stake vampires, publicly humiliate snobby cheerleaders, or put an abusive father in his place on his girl's behalf, all within forty-eight hours of meeting her.

Is he realistic? HECK NO! But who wants to read about a pimple-faced kid who lights his own farts for entertainment? Our job is to create the ideal boyfriend who says all the right things and makes our tummy quiver with just a glance. Is it misleading to our young readers? Yep. But if we had our Jake Ryan moment it only seems fair that they should have theirs, too. After all, in fifteen short years they'll look down and find a booger stuck to their cotton jammies.