Monday Hunk Who Reads – Joe Manganiello

By Joe_Manganiello_5.jpg: Srakirei derivative work: RanZag (This file was derived from:  Joe_Manganiello_5.jpg) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Joe_Manganiello_5.jpg: Srakirei derivative work: RanZag (This file was derived from: Joe_Manganiello_5.jpg) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Joe Manganiello

Can I get a growl? Kicking off the first Monday Hunk Who Reads for the year with Joe Manganiello, best known for his role as the hot werewolf in True Blood. And clutch your pearls, girls, he reads!

This little nugget was in a DaMan article on Manganiello:

I grew up a misfit. I never fit in. I had all of these parts that were in direct conflict with each other. I was an athlete, but I was extremely artistic. I was a big strong kid who was also very sensitive and empathetic. I was a jock who was good at math and chess and loved to read … I didn’t know what group to hang out with in school until I started acting. When I did, I realized everyone was as weird and out of place as I was, and that I could combine all of those weird opposing characteristics together and create characters that made sense to me in my weird way. Acting was the only place that I ever felt like I belonged so went for it with everything I had. [emphasis mine]

In this HBO Connect interview we learn that of course he’s read Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series for his role, though he had this to say:

I think toward the end of season 5 Alcide toughens up quite a bit more than he does in the books and I couldn’t be happier about that. I am also thrilled about working with Robert Patrick. I think our relationship is so much more developed and nuanced [than] the books and that has been awesome to play

In the same interview, it’s revealed that his favorite book to re-read is The Hobbit, which was his fave growing up.

Flaunt.com did an article on him about the role of mythological beasts in the social climate, and learned tht Manganiello takes his acting very seriously, and not just in defining his abs–he reads lots of historical and mythological literature on wolves to prepare for his role as Alcide. As the article shares:

At mention of the social climate that invites an insurgence of supernatural media stars, Joe Manganiello sits discernibly taller in his seat. As a resident werewolf on the popular vampire series, True Blood, his credentials for our discussion to follow are promising, and within just moments of conversing, every bit deserving of the hype. Immediately, he confides how pleasant it is to discuss something other than his ab routine. “It’s really nice when you get to sit down and talk about what goes into the show and books about culture,” he says, “or why [True Blood] is popular and how it fits into the grand scheme of things.”
In just moments of speaking, his dedication and enthusiasm for his profession are admiringly evident, and, upon dissection of his upbringing, it is quickly apparent why this is. Manganiello was raised in Western Pennsylvania by a working-class father, who bestowed a blue-collar work ethic upon his children. Today, this robust conditioning translates to caring for his role with the same force by which his grandfather proudly shoveled coal. Though the most superficial and identifiable fruits of his labors are shown in his physique, in regards to his workouts Manganiello insists that he “approach[es] everything with this same level of intensity” and goes on to cite the comprehensive list of books and films he has added to his gamut in an effort to prepare for this role. His words are validated with a book on hand—gifted by a fan—on the history of English werewolves circa 1865.

Mythology lovers will like what he has to say here, from the same article:

As Manganiello points out, this human method of coping is “a classic formula from the dawn of mythology.” He describes how, in order to explain the unexplainable, the Ancient Greek and Egyptian gods were given very human qualities, “creating these mythological creatures who make very human mistakes” in order to understand mortality. This really is no different from True Blood, he explains, “because really the show is not about vampires and werewolves, but instead is about being human, and how these people with massive handicaps try to feel love, give love, have sex, be normal, fit into society, and deal with loss.” Manganiello draws another connection to mythology, this time in reference to his True Blood character Alcide, explaining, “The name Alcide is actually a derivative of the name Hercules, who was cursed in Greek mythology.” It is no secret to the storyline that Alcide feels cursed in being a werewolf, and Manganiello empathizes in remembrance of a lonely adolescence.

In this interview, he states that his favorite book is Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead.

Here’s a pic of him reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula…

Want more? You can follow him on Twitter!

So that’s this month’s Hunk Who Reads. Reading is sexy people!

For further opportunities to idolize men and books:

Do you have any photos of male celebrities reading?

Come back next month to see the next Hunk Who Reads…

*previous Ovaries Exploding Award winner

Re-run: Eric and Sookie – Why So Steamy? Writing Sexual Tension…

Thought I’d pull a post from the archives that might interest you since True Blood is on air again, and since this is the 4th, it’s kinda relevant because watching this kiss is like firecrackers going off! bah-dum-bum-tcheeh.

————–

I’m going to take an excerpt from True Blood to illustrate/discuss writing sexual tension and the stages of intimacy. Monday I featured Alexander Skarsgård as the Monday Hunk Who Reads, and I’ve had today’s post in mind for a while now, so I thought I would round off the week with True Blood to stick with the Skarsgård theme.

One of the greatest tools I found for anyone writing romance, either as the main plot or as a subplot in a non-romance book, is the 12 Stages to Physical Intimacy developed by Linda Howard from Desmond Morris‘ book Intimate Behavior: A Zoologist’s Classic Study of Human Intimacy. I first heard about this in an online class this past summer, “From Slow Burn to Fast Sizzle: Making Sexual Tension Work For You,” from the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Chapter of RWA given by romance writers Kira Sinclair and Lynn Raye Harris (thank you!)

In a nutshell, in order to make the sexual tension between two people believable, a writer should show the characters progressing through these 12 steps:

  1. Eye to body
  2. Eye to eye
  3. Voice to voice
  4. Hand to hand (or arm)
  5. Arm to shoulder
  6. Arm to waist, or back
  7. Mouth to mouth
  8. Hand to head
  9. Hand to body
  10. Mouth to breast
  11. Hand to genitals
  12. Genitals to genitals

To learn more details about these steps, and how to use them and switch them up, see Jenny Hansen’s post Using The 12 Stages of Physical Intimacy To Build Tension In Your Novel and Terry Odell’s 12 Steps to Intimacy.

Okay, studied up? Let’s see it in action! For non-fans of True Blood, this kiss scene between Viking vampire Eric Northman and Sookie Stackhouse had been a long time coming. They’d kissed before, but never initiated by Sookie and always through some kind of trick or manipulation by Eric. This is the first kiss initiated by Sookie. Up until now, there’d been a lot of stage 1 through 3, especially 1 & 2 by Eric. He can’t get enough of looking at Sookie and I wonder if that’s what makes him so sexy, is the way he looks at her?

Alexander’s Skarsgård’s character Eric has just basically told Anna Paquin‘s character that he doesn’t dare be around her any more since all he does is cause trouble for her and he doesn’t dare risk hurting her or getting her killed. He’s walking away. So here, let’s see how many stages we see (don’t worry if you’re at work, it only goes up to 9):

Okay, confession time for me. When I first saw this I literally had chills running up and down my whole body. Yes, even to my toes! I kid you not! After I had this very physical response (I think I also said “Whoa” out loud), the writer in me had to ask WHY? Certainly I don’t have this reaction anytime I see people kiss on screen. Especially when Alexander Skarsgård’s character here is looking so dorky in gym clothes. (Though he IS certainly adorkable here!) I’ve seen some great actors give me chills and then other times, not a one (for the same actor). And it’s not because “they’re hot” as I’ve seen some dull kisses from actors that I find “hot.”

WHAT about this scene did this for me? I don’t really know the answer, but I wondered if it was because of these stages? Do you know why? I’ve always wondered about chemistry between actors and how and why that translates onto the screen… Watch it again (go ahead, you know you want to). Here’s what I observed on rewatching.

  1. Notice his eyes when he first hears her calling his name. They snap up and track around to stare at her. (Chills are already starting again. Or maybe I just need to get Central Heat?) Anyway, it’s dang sexy…
  2. Camera switches back to her and more eye to eye contact. Intense eye to eye contact. And then her confession.
  3. His slow walk back maintaining constant eye contact. I think the constant part of this is essential here.
  4. Her arms go out for some hand to arm and hand to shoulder action. Her arms outstretched also symbolize her acceptance of him
  5. Then, oh then, frames 1:30 to 1:35. One hand draws in her hair on the back of her head. The the other hand does the sexy back-of-the-fingers swipe to the nape of her neck. They’ve skipped a couple of stages with him touching her this way (step 8: hand to head). This is a very intimate move and they haven’t even kissed yet. Look closely at these frames and see the emotions play across his face as he does this move. He almost winces and I think even just being this close to her is more than he’d ever hoped for. Also, this is a very vulnerable position for her since he’s a vampire. She’s trusting him. Having his mouth near her neck like that is very intimate/sensual, even if he wasn’t a vampire. I think it’s implied that he’s drawing in her scent here too.
  6. Her eyes open and she brushes by his ear
  7. He holds back, letting her initiate
  8. She looks him in the eye and they maintain eye contact
  9. She kisses him, but frames his face first in her hands, while maintaining eye contact
  10. He responds (le sigh)
  11. And the kiss escalates from there with his hands moving in her hair, etc.

The musical score was perfect for this scene too, but we can’t rely on music in our novel writing…

I’ve been really trying to figure out what makes some scenes in books so intense and others not so much, and I’m becoming more and more convinced that eye contact is the key. Or maybe it’s that the flat ones skipped some steps and it felt forced? I’ll have to study some more (dang)…

All kidding aside, there are reasons why some scenes where all they do is look at each other

(or just touch hands)

are loaded with tons more tension than a full-on sex scene. And I think it’s the same reasons why one sex scene can be sexy as hell and another is a yawner. Stepping your reader through the stages will help, as well as making sure you’ve laid the emotional foundation.

What else did you notice from the clip? Are you a True Blood fan? What did you think when you first saw this scene? What are some elements that help make scenes in books or movies sizzle? Why do some things fall flat?

Weekend Grab Bag – From Writing Tips to Gandalf skateboarding

Song playing right now on my playlist: “I Shall Believe,” by Sheryl Crowe

Writing and the Writing Life:

Ada Lovelace:

Jane Austen:

In Geekdom:

Eric and Sookie – Why So Steamy? Writing Sexual Tension…

Sorry, no Firefly post today!* Instead I’m going to take an excerpt from True Blood to illustrate/discuss writing sexual tension and the stages of intimacy. Monday I featured Alexander Skarsgård as the Monday Hunk Who Reads, and I’ve had today’s post in mind for a while now, so I thought I would round off the week with True Blood to stick with the Skarsgård theme.

One of the greatest tools I found for anyone writing romance, either as the main plot or as a subplot in a non-romance book, is the 12 Stages to Physical Intimacy developed by Linda Howard from Desmond Morris’ book Intimate Behavior: A Zoologist’s Classic Study of Human Intimacy. I first heard about this in an online class this past summer, “From Slow Burn to Fast Sizzle: Making Sexual Tension Work For You,” from the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Chapter of RWA given by romance writers Kira Sinclair and Lynn Raye Harris (thank you!)

In a nutshell, in order to make the sexual tension between two people believable, a writer should show the characters progressing through these 12 steps:

  1. Eye to body
  2. Eye to eye
  3. Voice to voice
  4. Hand to hand (or arm)
  5. Arm to shoulder
  6. Arm to waist, or back
  7. Mouth to mouth
  8. Hand to head
  9. Hand to body
  10. Mouth to breast
  11. Hand to genitals
  12. Genitals to genitals

To learn more details about these steps, and how to use them and switch them up, see Jenny Hansen’s post Using The 12 Stages of Physical Intimacy To Build Tension In Your Novel and Terry Odell’s 12 Steps to Intimacy.

Okay, studied up? Let’s see it in action! For non-fans of True Blood, this kiss scene between Viking vampire Eric Northman and Sookie Stackhouse had been a long time coming. They’d kissed before, but never initiated by Sookie and always through some kind of trick or manipulation by Eric. This is the first kiss initiated by Sookie. Up until now, there’d been a lot of stage 1 through 3, especially 1 & 2 by Eric. He can’t get enough of looking at Sookie and I wonder if that’s what makes him so sexy, is the way he looks at her?

Alexander’s Skarsgård’s character Eric has just basically told Anna Paquin’s character that he doesn’t dare be around her any more since all he does is cause trouble for her and he doesn’t dare risk hurting her or getting her killed. He’s walking away. So here, let’s see how many stages we see (don’t worry if you’re at work, it only goes up to 9):

Okay, confession time for me. When I first saw this I literally had chills running up and down my whole body. Yes, even to my toes! I kid you not! After I had this very physical response (I think I also said “Whoa” out loud), the writer in me had to ask WHY? Certainly I don’t have this reaction anytime I see people kiss on screen. Especially when Alexander Skarsgård’s character here is looking so dorky in gym clothes. (Though he IS certainly adorkable here!) I’ve seen some great actors give me chills and then other times, not a one (for the same actor). And it’s not because “they’re hot” as I’ve seen some dull kisses from actors that I find “hot.”

WHAT about this scene did this for me? I don’t really know the answer, but I wondered if it was because of these stages? Do you know why? I’ve always wondered about chemistry between actors and how and why that translates onto the screen… Watch it again (go ahead, you know you want to). Here’s what I observed on rewatching.

  1. Notice his eyes when he first hears her calling his name. They snap up and track around to stare at her. (Chills are already starting again. Or maybe I just need to get Central Heat?) Anyway, it’s dang sexy…
  2. Camera switches back to her and more eye to eye contact. Intense eye to eye contact. And then her confession.
  3. His slow walk back maintaining constant eye contact. I think the constant part of this is essential here.
  4. Her arms go out for some hand to arm and hand to shoulder action. Her arms outstretched also symbolize her acceptance of him
  5. Then, oh then, frames 1:30 to 1:35. One hand draws in her hair on the back of her head. The the other hand does the sexy back-of-the-fingers swipe to the nape of her neck. They’ve skipped a couple of stages with him touching her this way (step 8: hand to head). This is a very intimate move and they haven’t even kissed yet. Look closely at these frames and see the emotions play across his face as he does this move. He almost winces and I think even just being this close to her is more than he’d ever hoped for. Also, this is a very vulnerable position for her since he’s a vampire. She’s trusting him. Having his mouth near her neck like that is very intimate/sensual, even if he wasn’t a vampire. I think it’s implied that he’s drawing in her scent here too.
  6. Her eyes open and she brushes by his ear
  7. He holds back, letting her initiate
  8. She looks him in the eye and they maintain eye contact
  9. She kisses him, but frames his face first in her hands, while maintaining eye contact
  10. He responds (le sigh)
  11. And the kiss escalates from there with his hands moving in her hair, etc.

The musical score was perfect for this scene too, but we can’t rely on music in our novel writing…

I’ve been really trying to figure out what makes some scenes in books so intense and others not so much, and I’m becoming more and more convinced that eye contact is the key. Or maybe it’s that the flat ones skipped some steps and it felt forced? I’ll have to study some more (dang)…

All kidding aside, there are reasons why some scenes where all they do is look at each other

(or just touch hands)

are loaded with tons more tension than a full-on sex scene. And I think it’s the same reasons why one sex scene can be sexy as hell and another is a yawner. Stepping your reader through the stages will help, as well as making sure you’ve laid the emotional foundation.

What else did you notice from the clip? Are you a True Blood fan? What did you think when you first saw this scene? What are some elements that help make scenes in books or movies sizzle? Why do some things fall flat?

*Normally on Fridays I take a writing lesson and illustrate it with clips from the TV show Firefly. I think I’m going to only do this when I come up with a good example instead of religiously doing one every Friday. If you have an idea for a Firefly Friday and would like to guest post, let me know!