tam’s guest post: familiarity breeds contempt?

We all have our favourite types of heroes, whether they be fire fighters, doctors, pirates, space aliens or college students. I’ve often wondered if people are attracted to characters in careers which are unfamiliar to us, thus “exotic”. If you are a doctor or a fire fighter, do books about those characters make you go “meh” because you know real fire fighters aren’t like that? They are the normal annoying guys you work with everyday, not romantic heroes?

I work for the government. Okay, right off the bat not very romantic or exotic but I did read a blurb for a book about a US diplomat in Europe who was married and way deep in the closet because being gay would never be accepted in his career. Huh? Not in my government. We have lots of same sex partners in my Department and some of them are working at our embassies in fairly high positions.

When I was posted in Warsaw 10+ years ago one of my colleagues had his full-time partner (and two basset hounds) living with him. So the book turned me off in the sense that I felt the premise right off the bat was kind of off. Although perhaps it’s very different in the US, I’m not sure on that. Their Foreign Service is quite different than Canada’s – which is in turn similar to the UK and Australia. But I also thought, “Ewww. I work with those “diplomats” every day. That is sooooo not a romantic sexy job, how could you write an m/m “romance” about government workers?” Also for me it’s artists. My ex is an artist and the whole portrayal of the sensitive temperamental artist annoys me, maybe because it’s TOO accurate. He is my ex after all. 😛

So I just wondered if others have found themselves in that position. Do you find yourself avoiding certain career types in your romance reading because you know it too intimately? Do you find that character type unsexy or do you find yourself caught up in the technicalities of it when authors fudge a bit to make it more sexy or exciting?

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About Kris

Reads, rants, randoms & R+s. You've been warned. BTW, don't follow me if you're a GLBTQQphobic wanker. It won't end well. For you.
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18 Responses to tam’s guest post: familiarity breeds contempt?

  1. K. Z. Snow says:

    Hiya, Tam!

    As long as a hero isn't an abusive fucktard from Florida or a deceitful blond narcissist from Minnesota, I'm willing to give him a chance. (Sorry, that little word ex just trips certain triggers!)

    Anyway, I don't pay much attention to protagonists' jobs. Sexy is what a writer makes it, and that (for me, at least) has nothing to do with what the heroes do for a living.

    Generally, though, I'm more put off by than drawn to “glamor jobs” (rock star, cop/detective, cowboy, Marine/Navy Seal, entrepeneur, firefighter), because they've been DONE TO DEATH and strike me as a shortcut to heat factor.

  2. Ingrid says:

    Funny that you mention that book Tam because in my eyes the US is still that homophobic that it rung true.
    Not that NL and Belgium are homo paradises but imo much better then the US.

    I am not too fond of men working in finance because I work there myself. A lot of those are so money focused it is not fun any more.

  3. Jenre says:

    What an interesting post, Tam!

    Well I've had two jobs – a teacher and a administrator/secretary/PA. I can think of a few books where the heroes have had those jobs and I've loved them. One reason for that may be because they don't crop up that often (you sometimes get teachers, but not PAs) so when they do appear, I think 'yay, a hero who has my job!'. Mind you, I can understand it in a way, paper pushers aren't really sexy in RL and there's a certain lack of dynamism in that type of job. PAs make good beta heroes though.

  4. Lily says:

    LOL, I have yet to read a M/M book about the oh so very interesting field of customer service, from the people on the phones to management, it's not a very interesting or exciting profession.

    Also, while it's neat to read about a doctor, cowboy, military man, big businessman etc. it's the character and not his profession which is important. I've never been put off by what they do for a living only by what kind of person they're portrayed as.

  5. everyone *knows* I can't read medical books, because they're always flippin wrong. grrrrr

  6. Kassa says:

    I try to ignore it for the most part. When scientists come on its annoying because they're always portrayed to be super geeky or some other exaggerated stereotype. But then again, I'd rather read a “wrong scientist” then a throw away profession such as “romance author” lol. However right that may be, it's a little to easy and ignorable for me.

  7. Tam says:

    KZ: I don't want to read about those two either. LOL

    Ingrid: I think I forget sometimes that the US is not quite as accepting as Canada because we are so close geographically and culturally in many ways.

    Jen: Are you saying I'm not sexy in real life? Waaaaahhhh. 😉 I haven't read too many with teachers that I can think of.

    Ingrid: Someone needs to write a story about a guy who works at a customer service call centre, maybe for a computer company or complaints for something. It could be really funny with all kinds of wacky calls, but he finds his one true love in the only serious call of the day. Someone want to run with that for me?

  8. Tam says:

    Emmy: Yes dear, we know you have issues. 😀 One of the dangers of being too close to the subject matter. The rest of us gloss over that which makes you crazy.

    Kassa: So you're saying all scientists aren't uber-geeky? Scientist is another rare occupation, we need more scientists in m/m, hot non-geeky ones. 🙂

  9. K. Z. Snow says:

    I think scientists are damned sexy. I used to have a big crush on Carl Sagan, which I've since transferred to Mishio Kaku. Guess it's the astrophysicists who usually plunk my magic twanger, although I've seen some hot guys in other branches of science, as well.

    I suspect the reason you rarely see them in romance fiction is because of the “profession police” — like Emmy. 😉

  10. Tam says:

    KZ: I was thinking that as well. Unless you are going to have someone whose career is really not an issue, you'd have to know your stuff science-wise or do a shitload of research. And with faking it you get people up in arms over the inaccuracy.

    I've known some sexy scientists in my day, some nerdy ones too. 🙂

  11. Jenre says:

    I'm married to a sexy scientist so I don't need to read about them :).

  12. Tam says:

    Brag brag brag Jen. 😛

  13. Kris says:

    @Emmy – Really, hun?? It's the first I've heard of it. *snort*

    @Tam – My FBC thing really depends on how exaggerated the stereotype is of the professions whit which I'm most associated with. For eg, the Alpha/dom builder and the the nerdy academic either make me giggle or wince depending on how well written they are.

    Something which always makes me O_o is the beta architect. In my experience the majority of architects are arrogant, chauvinistic wankers and definitely NOT betas.

    *ahem*

  14. Tam says:

    Hmmm. Someone has architect issues. LOL I have to say I don't know any architects. How weird is that? Extremes in any career I think is common. Of course we all know there are beta builders and dom school teachers, but generally people accept certain stereotypes without much questioning.

  15. K. Z. Snow says:

    Did that architect happen to be from Minnesota, Kris?

    Oh no, wait. He ended up in social work — a travesty in and of itself.

  16. Kris says:

    An architect as a social worker, KZ?? Dear God.

  17. Tracy says:

    I don't tend to mind the the jobs that the characters have. If they're a waiter or waitress I just feel sorry for them as I did that job for YEARS and I think my feet still hurt! lol Sorry, I think the term they use now is “server”. Whatever. 🙂

  18. Tam says:

    But think of all the tips Tracy? 🙂 I was never a server (although I worked in a fast food place) because the idea of touching plates that had food other people had eaten grossed me out. It doesn't now but at the age I would have been a server it did. I want my daughter to get a job as a waitress at The Keg. Dinner for 2 is about $80 so her tip should be nearly $20 if she's friendly. LOL

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