Why Going “Fan Girl” (or “Fan Boy”) is a Good Thing

Recently, a high school friend posted on Facebook that, for the second time in his life, he had gone all “Fan Boy” over someone. Being a bit of a tech nerd (sorry Greg), his Fan Boy was drawn out by none other than Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, Inc. That Greg not only met the Woz, but actually apparently befriended him, talking Quantum physics and Hoverboard technology, is every Fan Person’s dream. That it happened in December, well…let’s just say Santa came early to my friend’s party.

The Man in Red came to my party on December 20, and I’m still enjoying the buzz of that particular present. No, it’s not a bottle of Cuervo Gold.  I’m talking about the tickets my husband bought for us to see Hugh Jackman – Back on Broadway.

Let me first say that, when you work in professional theatre and film as I did in a former life, it is absolutely Verboten to go gaga over an actor/director/  choreographer/musician. I will also say that, in that former life, I worked with some pretty famous and gaga-worthy people. However, when it comes down to it, when you work in theatre or film, it is just that…work. Those people who are the subjects of other people’s Fan Girl moments are simply your co-workers.

Well, it’s been awhile since I worked in the entertainment field, so I’ve given myself permission to go Fan Girl if the situation warrants.

It’s no secret to those of you who know me (or follow me on Twitter) that I have a huge crush on Hugh Jackman. In fact, it’s safe to say, I go all Fan Girl at the mention of his name, waxing poetic (ad nauseum, I’m afraid) about his good looks, his body (okay, his hard as adamanteum abs), his charm, his talent, his…oh, you get the picture.

I saw Hugh twice in The Boy From Oz, in A Steady Rain (co-starring Daniel Craig), and now, in his own eponymous show. He made a triumphant return to Broadway, shattering sales records and collecting hearts across Manhattan. You can imagine my delight when the long-speculated new musical, Houdini, starring my favorite Aussie, just got the green light for the 2013-2014 Broadway season.

We all have our crushes, those people who, when we meet them, cause us to lose the ability to string together more than two or three words. Fellow Femme Joanna Shupe goes Fan Girl over actor Joe Manganiello. For Maria Alexander, it’s Hugh Dancy, and for Michele Mannon, the man who sets her heart aglow is Tom Hardy. Scottish Historical writer Terri Brisbin makes no bones about her adoration of Gerard Butler. All of these hunks are worthy of Fan Girl crushes.

Fan Girl (or Fan Boy) crushes are useful to writers, especially romance writers, in a multitude of ways. The objects of our own crushes inform our hero and heroine’s personalities. My heroes will all be some variation of tall, dark, handsome, devoted (at least in the end) and socially aware, just like Hugh. My heroines will be feisty, artistic, interesting envelope pushers, like Charlize Theron. Now there’s someone I can get Fan Girl about! I can’t get excited about my hero and heroine unless I, myself, would go Fan Girl over them if I were to meet them.

Just as our ideals will impact how we draw our hero and heroine, they impact how the hero and heroine react to each other. Have you ever asked, in drawing up a character profile, whom your heroine goes all Fan Girl over? Whom does your hero go Fan Boy over? Is it a tech guru, like my friend Greg? Or is it a gorgeous Hollywood star or starlet? A comedian? A gun-wielding cop in high heels?

Does a brainy foreign correspondent like Christiane Amanpour get your hero’s boxers in a bunch (assuming he wears underwear at all)?

Does a reformed bad boy à la Robert Downey Jr. cause your heroine to swoon?

Whatever the case, your hero and heroine should have some of the characteristics that make the character of the opposite sex go Fan Crazy. This is romance, and although we are going for realism in our characters, we are also talking fantasy match, right? Understanding what a woman is drawn to in the object of her Fan Girl hysteria gives you insight into your heroine. So, let your hero and heroine be just a little bit like what you fantasize about yourself. The measure of a romance writer’s success, in my book, is when I feel that same little tingle of excitement the heroine does, every time the hero enters the scene. The two literary heroes that still get me, every time…Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, and Jamie Frasier from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.

So now it’s your turn to share. If you’re a writer, try this…write up a quick character study of a hero or heroine who would make you go all Fan Crazy, and share it here. Alternately, tell me, who is your Fan Girl or Fan Boy crush, and why? One randomly-picked commenter on the Violet Femmes blog this month will win a box of sea salt caramels. Be sure to come back each week, as the more entries you comment on, the more chances you’ll have to win the prize. Plus…there will be one extra chance this month, as guest blogger Julie Schroeder will join us for the fifth Monday’s installment!

Here’s hoping you have the opportunity to Fan Crush today!


Leave a comment


  1. Okay, the fact that Joe M. didn’t even rate a photo in this post is CRIMINAL! So, for those who want to drool over 6′ 5″ of tall, dark, muscly sexiness, go to http://tinyurl.com/89zxsod and http://tinyurl.com/7rr5fb8. (I’m pretty sure he’s waiting for me in the first shot.)

    Knowing what turns your character on, what they consider attractive about potential mates, is paramount to your understanding of the hero/heroine. And getting our own inspiration, through magazines, movies, and TV shows–heck, even people on the street–helps to shape our understanding of what is sexy. The inspiration also changes depending on your life experience. What was sexy to me in my early twenties is very different (okay, slightly different) than what is sexy now.

    And for the record, last year, I went a little fan girl over Brad Paisley. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

  2. RoseAnn DeFranco

     /  January 9, 2012

    Love this post. I have done the fan girl / fan boy thing in my character sketches. As Joanna mentioned knowing what they find attractive will help us shape their view of the world. You hit some of my highlights here in your post like Robert Downey, Jr. and others. Joe M. was mentally cast as one of my heroes about a year ago. I kept his photo in front of me whenever possible while writing that manuscript. Love the mention of him here.

    I have found myself going fan girl over less likely suspects as well. In those instances, I’m drawn to the inner beauty or the beauty of the soul of a person as opposed to what I might think of as sexy. I fell in the love with the purity of soul and voice of David Archuleta when he was on American Idol. I won backstage passes and met him before a concert. Stupidly, all I could think of to say was, “Thank you for being you.” My friends still laugh at me for that, but I knew exactly what I meant, and hopefully he did too!

  3. jmpwriter

     /  January 9, 2012

    Joanna…sorry no pic of JM. Since I was later posting than I wanted (at the dr. all morning with my daughter), I just wanted to get the blog up. So only a few photos made it! Thanks for sharing the links, tho!

    And so true about tastes changing…sort of. In my 20’s, it was Mel Gibson. Then it was Colin Firth (still is). Then, Hugh. There’s a through-line here, though…sexy accents. So maybe my tastes haven’t changed all that much after all, lol!


    • jmpwriter

       /  January 9, 2012

      Oh, and Joanna, I TOTALLY get the Brad Paisley thing…but you know that already! 😉

  4. jmpwriter

     /  January 9, 2012

    RoseAnn, nice to see you! Having photos around my work space definitely keeps me focused on my characters, as well. I have a French bulletin board (one of those ribbon boards) over my desk, so I can just stick photos up whenever.

    As for less likely subjects…well, if you mean, less handsome…you’re right, it’s not only the looks that make a man sexy. Personality, sense of humor (like Brad Paisley, as Joanna mentions above), integrity, devotion to their wives/husbands…even to the extent of forgiving infidelities sometimes…these are all things to potentially admire about people, and to use them in our craft. Fortunately, the attention paid to celebrities by the media gives us plenty of fodder for our writing. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Zhang Zi Yi…look that up…Beautiful and talented(who cares about the later?)

    You know her face…she started in the movie(age 18) The Road Home…watch it with kleenex…

    All my firends in China call her Nide Nu pengyou…(Your girlfriend)
    I agree…

    Hugh who?

    • Janet Pepsin

       /  January 10, 2012

      Wow, Joe, she is gorgeous! I can see why you’d go Fan Boy over her. Thanks for stopping in!

  6. Great post, Janet! And here I was calling this a mid-life crush!!! I give a thumbs up to Joe M. and Hugh J. But my ultimate Fan Girl crush is Tom Hardy. Check him out here, growling @



    • Janet Pepsin

       /  January 10, 2012

      Hi is definitely a hunk in my book, too, Michele. He’s got the most beautiful lips and soulful eyes. Not sure I get the “Rawr” video, though, lol!

      So many people to go Fan Girl over…how will we ever choose just one?

  7. Great post! * Fans self * For me, visualization is an important part of writing. It helps bring clarity when I describe a place or a person. Some authors do photo collages for their books. Jenny Crusie is big into that. I think that’s a great idea and way to make (and keep) your characters real.

    While Hugh Dancy is definitely a hottie in my book (as are the others posted), Jamie Dornan (hot sheriff from the TV series ‘Once Upon a Time’) has recently stepped into the queue.

    Here’s a link to some pics of both of my Fan Guys! Yeah, there’s just something about those darn accents I LOVE!



  8. Janet Pepsin

     /  January 10, 2012

    Maria, I can see why you like Jamie Dornan, lol! Especially in those Calvin Klein ads. The fact that he is a musician makes him that much more appealing to me.

    Photo collages are a great tool for visualizing your characters…although I might have to keep some of the photos in a drawer, hidden from little eyes. 🙂

  9. Nicole Doran

     /  January 10, 2012

    Great post Janet! I’ve had a fan girl crush on Gerry Butler since 2006 when I saw Phantom. But, my all time fav literary character is Jamie Fraser. In books I like to think the less “perfect” males are the most interesting. BTW – Hugh Jackman is the bomb…great actor, husband and father.
    Nicole Doran

  10. Janet Pepsin

     /  January 10, 2012

    Thanks for visiting, Nicole! Yeah, I think all the guys named here are worthy. And Jamie…yup…be still my heart.

    Perfection is in the eye of the beholder…but yes, I agree. Like the line from Anne of Green Gables (the tv series)…”I think I’d like if he could be wicked…but wouldn’t.”



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