Winter Wednesday: The inspiration behind The Barbarian…

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Tyler Lepley

Originally Mr. Ashleigh Thyne was supposed to be no more than two tons of comedic fun meant to hover in the background and tease Noel Haddon relentlessly about his obsession with Alana’s legs. It’s become abundantly clear that I should have known that wouldn’t work out as planned because it never works out as planned when I have a set character persona in mind. Two tons of comedic fun? Check. Quiet and storyless? Negative. The moment he opened his mouth I knew I was–for lack of a better term–screwed. Following the moniker I gifted him with, The Barbarian brutally raided my mind and wouldn’t leave me in peace. I spent time gas-lighting Janet about how he would have no tale but Jesus did he argue that point to no end. And so “Beauty & The Barbarian” was born. Generally when I create characters, I start from the name and build around it.

I immediately thought, would it not be the height of comedy to not only give one of Noel’s best friend’s a woman’s name–don’t argue the unisex thing with me because in this instance, I will not be moved–but a height and weight that consistently caught others off guard? I mean honestly, when a man says, “My friend Ashleigh will be here soon,” the last thing you’re expecting is six feet and seven inches of human tank and tattoos to show up. Small, pert and possibly blond? Sure. So wide that he has to turn sideways to fit through the average door? Mebbe not so much. And then I decided that now would be as good of time as any to submerge into the world of AA. Believe me when I say, I’ve been waiting to jump that rope for months now but when your first pool of water is IR, it can sometimes be a huge adjustment to drift elsewhere. Particularly because the swagger of your characters changes. The language. The style. The ebb and flow of personalities. Things that you wouldn’t touch in IR you have to learn to incorporate in AA and vice/versa. But, I couldn’t envision Ashleigh as anything else other than well…the picture you see just to the left of your screen. Bronzed caramel skin, an insanely beautiful smile, a bevy of ink and built. Because…yes. I make it a point to always, always, inspire myself with men I’m personally attracted to. Otherwise what can happen is an unfortunate disconnect between myself and the hero. If don’t get just a bit of a shiver skating along my spine from imagining the male occupying space in my head, how can I expect my heroine to? Better yet, how can I expect my readers to? With that being said, please enjoy the next several photos I’m placing below. Allow yourself to feel no shame at any moisture that may or may not find its way out of your mouth. I didn’t. I regret nothing! 

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Have you looked your fill yet? No? Well, by all means, continue until you are satisfied and be comforted in the knowledge that The Barbarian will be invading your electronic devices, your imaginations and…well whatever else that you’re thinking of–that’s not exactly any of my business and I don’t need to know the sordid details of your tawdry love affair with my hero! “Beauty & The Barbarian” coming soon!

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