Rescuing the Too Stupid to Live Heroine: an Interview with Candice Gilmer

Candice Gilmer leads a dangerous double life as a mommy and a writer. In between diaper changes and boo-boo healing, she writes stories — usually to the tune of children’s television shows.

Living in the Midwest, Candice stays close to her family, especially the ones with basements when the tornadoes come around. The author of seven romance novels, she’s worked as a hairdresser for over fifteen years, and brings her laptop to work so she can write between clients.

All in all, she stays very busy, but really, she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Well,” she says, “maybe a little less children’s television.”

Please help me welcome, Candice Gilmer!

Diana:  I love Rescuing Rapunzel!  What prompted you to write it? 

Candice: Rescuing Rapunzel started out, of all things, as a challenge by my daughter. After reading the original Grimm’s fairy tales, she informed me I could write a much better “Rapunzel.” So I decided to give it a shot.

I immediately lost myself in the world of Rapunzel–of why she would be in the tower, what that would do to a person, and more importantly, how she would see the world, once she got down. Just because she was out of the tower doesn’t mean the story is over. Would she marry the man who rescued her? Would she want to? Or would she feel more imprisoned in the expectations of a society she doesn’t know than in her tower.

Diana:  You always develop your male POV’s really well, whether they are an FBI agent, a modern day prince, a Knight Templar, or a space pirate.  In fact, you base Rapunzel’s story around the “Charming Nobels,” and really bring these men to life.  What do you think makes a great hero?

Candice: A great hero for me is strong, physically as well as mentally. Strong enough to do whatever needs to be done–rescue a girl in a tower, chase down a serial killer (my book Fantasy Girl), or walk away when he has to. (Mission of Christmas).

For me, it’s about “mental toughness.” I grew up in a family of athletes, and I learned about being “mentally tough.” A man who’s the most attractive, the most desirable, is the guy who doesn’t let the little bumps in the road get him down, and do what needs to be done (even if he doesn’t like it).

Diana:  Well, if that is the definition of a hero (for a great example of writing heroes click here), then what makes a great heroine?  (Rapunzel is wonderful by the way!)

Candice:  I think, in many ways, a great heroine is the same as a great hero — one who’s “mentally tough.” However, I do believe that heroines can be “too tough,” which leads to “Too Stupid To Live” heroines.

“TSTL” heroines are so stubborn that they refuse to consider another course of action in their life. They don’t trust, they micromanage, and they dwell on things, always assuming the worst in everyone. Oh, and because of these traits, they tend to make the dumbest decisions regarding their life. I personally have thrown a book across the room due to TSTL heroines.

Granted, these “TSTL” characters can evolve into very lovable characters by the end, but it takes a very talented writer to pull it off. These kinds of characters have to learn to trust, to let go of their anger or frustration, and remember to run out of the house when the killer’s chasing them, instead of running into the basement.

Oh, and asking… because a lot of a TSTL character’s problem is that they choose to assume, and never ask why the hero does “such and such,” and thereby drawing the completely wrong conclusion.

TSTL heroine:  “He didn’t call.” I bet he’s out with that Amanda girl. How dare he? He and I had a great time and suddenly, I’m not worthy? The next time I see him…

Bring Bring

Hero: “Hey there, sweetie, how are–”

“How dare you call me when you were out with that snot Amanda last night!”

“What? When?”

“Don’t lie to me, I know you went out with her. I don’t want to talk to you ever again!”

Call ended.

Hero, extremely confused: “What the hell? I was at work!”

I try to avoid writing my own “TSTL” heroines, but I can’t say that I’m perfect, I’m sure my own characters have had their moments. And brief, wrong conclusions are necessary sometimes in stories, but at least normal characters would just ask, instead of spending two hundred pages assuming the worst.

Thanks for stopping by, Candice!  To read a blurb or excerpt from Rescuing Rapuzel please visit the author’s website by visting:

Readers, what do you think contributes to or is a good example of a Too Stupid to Live Heroine (TSTL)?  (To comment, please click on the “comment” link in the upper left margin just under the date.)