“I fell in love with James.”
Sue me if I failed to pay more attention to these words when I first listened to them but I’ve already lost count.
I’ve lost count of how many times women readers of my first novel “Fobolous” came up to me and gushed about the novel’s main male character (James Ren), the young Japanese American who not only turned the entire world of the novel’s main character (Janelle) upside down but apparently, these women’s worlds as well.
I can relate.
I understand their sentiment.
After all, as bad as it may sound, I was the one who created James Ren. And as weird as it may sound, even, I was officially the fabulous character’s first groupie. Before anyone else could even declare their “fictional feelings” for him, I’ve already experienced what they were about to talk about after reading the novel. I’d been there, done that, right in front of my computer as I wrote and revised and wrote and revised with my patient keyboard James’ physical appearance, demeanor, character, thoughts, feelings, ways of affecting anyone around him with his endearing personality.
In Tagalog, there’s a phrase that goes “maginoo pero medyo bastos” to describe a gentleman who’s as naughty and as playful as a gigolo when no one’s looking.
That’s not James Ren.
The Japanese American embodied the traits of a perfect gentleman who did not need to do anything spectacular to attract attention but got loads of it anyway just for being who and what he was.
Especially from women.
"Fobolous" readers included.
Interestingly. my gushing women readers attracted to James are generally happily married - loving wives and responsible mothers - and only a handful of them are single, in a relationship, or looking for one. According to these women, they don’t really want to leave their current partners but they're collectively gushing about having their very own version of James whom they either wished they'd met a long time ago or wish to meet sometime in their future lives after the world has ended on their ninth lives or something or wish to have NOW in their current relationships.
Which brings me to a cool breakthrough.
Maybe “Fobolous” should not only target women as readers.
Maybe men should read it too.
Not for the romantic angle of the story (because they’re seemingly implying they're too tough or too dense or too uninterested or feeling too “icky” for anything that sounds Harlequin or happily-ever-after or breakups or something) but to at least, learn a few things about James and how the fictional superstar had affected Janelle and swept her off her feet without doing much traditional, stereotypical wooing.
Being simply reserved, responsible, chivalrous, kind, constantly contributing interesting insights during conversations, and eagerly determined to prove his love to the woman of his life are enough to stir Janelle's and every other gushing reader of the novel's interest ... and keep them glued to him, efforlessly, like a magnet.
You see guys, the Louis Vuitton and Hermes of this world and expensive dinners and gifts may work wonders sometimes but their magic doesn’t last.
Sometimes, an enticing subdued personality does more magic.
In the novel, James only had to say one word, “This”, and women from all over the "Fobolous" fiction planet melted. Discreetly and unintentionally. In that tiny make-believe tea house of their imagination over a fairy dust riddled cup of tempting Boba.
2016. All Rights Reserved.