There's one part of the cover art process that always throws me for a loop, and that's when I'm supposed to say how old my hero is.
I truly hate assigning a chronological age to my characters. For one thing, no matter how old I say my hero is, they're going to use a young model for the cover. That's just the way it is. However, my heroes are not boyish, smooth-faced metrosexuals. They're mature men. After all, twenty-five would be middle aged for a lot of medieval guys. So even if I say a hero is twenty-five, I'm personally envisioning somebody more thirty-five, or even forty-five -- much more Mel Gibson than Orlando Bloom, or a New York model. They're men with some mileage, and not a little baggage.
I think that's one reason I enjoyed Richard Armitage so much in North and South; the guy's old enough to have an interesting past. I also think that's why I had such a problem buying Brad Pitt as Achilles in Troy. He looked too young, and too pretty, too, even with the blood and sweat. On the other hand, Russell Crowe in Gladiator? Perfect. Old enough to be both a father and a general. Not pretty, but tough. Strong without being "ripped." Totally worked for me.
So how old did I say the hero of my current work-in-progress is? I honestly don't remember what I said when it comes to the cover art. In the book, I don't think I've gotten specific, and I'd like to keep it that way. Let the reader assign his age, and if they want Orlando Bloom, well, so be it. After all, once the book's published, he's theirs as much as he is mine. But until then? I'm thinking Gerard Butler, who'll be 37 this year.