Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Favorite Heroes

Who is your favorite hero? What qualities go into the heroes you create?

For me, I like heroes with a solid core of integrity. This strong moral base will win out in the end, pushing him, even if he is reluctant, to face his fear and do the right thing in the end. I also tend to create heroes with a bit of angst and maybe one or two flaws. When I write I tend to gravitate toward Beta heroes. I suppose I like men with that unassuming quality.

My favorite book hero is Sir Percy Blakeney. I loved that ridiculous façade he presented to society in order to protect himself and his men and that he went above and beyond to face danger in order to save people he didn’t even know, because it was the right thing. 

There are so many movie heroes that I love, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’m going to choose Han Solo. At first he seems self-serving, but he is intensely loyal to his friends and though he is reluctant to put himself in danger, he always comes through in the end. He also has that element of boyish charm which makes him so endearing.

And my favorite TV hero right now is Raylan Givens from Justified.  Yay! Season three starts tonight!  He carries his gun and wears that cowboy hat just like a modern day western hero. But when you get to know the character you see that he is subconsciously wearing a sign to the world that he is not his father’s son. Despite his abusive childhood and the shadow of his father’s unlawful behavior, Raylan is smart and shrewd and intuitive. There is a laid-back charm about him that even criminals find likeable. He has all the elements of a quintessential hero with a few personal demons.

Of all the heroes I’ve written so far, one of my favorites was Terrel Lee Parker, from my holiday novella, An Ordinary Angel. Terrel Lee has seen so much sadness in his life he doesn’t know how to be happy anymore. When he meets Julianne, a vibrant, optomistic girl he knows she is the only woman for him. An introvert by nature, Terrel Lee tries to court her as he was taught Southern gentleman should court a lady.  And while she hasn’t spurned his advances she doesn’t seem to care for him the way he cares for her.

Here is a excerpt when he and Julianne have been captured by outlaws and the man behind the façade starts to emerge.
When she finished, she leaned her aching back against the cabinet drawers and pulled Terrel Lee close, his head resting in her lap. Fighting tears, she gently sifted her fingers through his dark brown hair. She’d never touched it before, had never even wondered how it would feel. Now she couldn’t get enough of the silky strands. She combed her fingers through it over and over, the action more soothing to herself than it was for Terrel Lee.
She’d seen curls of hair at the base of his throat when she removed his collar and unbuttoned his shirt. She wondered how much of the dark hair coated his chest. The outlaw in the other room had very little, and she was curious to discover whether the hair on Terrel Lee’s chest was as soft as this hair she slid between her fingers.
He moaned again, then opened his eyes. She expelled a shaky sigh of relief. Pain furrowed his brow, and he closed them again. He struggled for a moment against the rope that secured his wrists behind his back.
She lifted the cloth pad from behind his ear. The bleeding had stopped, but the bump beneath it had swollen. When he opened his eyes again she leaned close to check, as her father had taught her, to make sure his pupils were equally dilated and reacted to the yellow glow of lamp light. Long thick lashes surrounded beautiful eyes the color of cocoa powder. Pain kept them narrowed against the light, but he was awake, staring up at her first in confusion and now surprise.
She blinked, her eyes burning as the quaking terror she’d managed to keep suppressed suddenly rushed to the surface and spilled over in a silent stream of tears.
“Why are you cryin’?” he mumbled.
Unable to adequately express the crazy swell of emotion surging through her in that moment, she said the first inane thing to pop into her head. “Your hat.”
“My hat?”
“The s-scar-faced one found your h-hat outside, and Frank tossed it into the s-stove.” She wiped her face, but only succeeded in smearing the dried blood on her fingers through her tears and across her cheeks.
“You’re cryin’ over my old hat?” He wore an odd expression, caught between disbelief and amusement.
Julianne sniffed. “But you looked so good in that h-hat.”
His eyebrows rose in surprise.
“And I l-like the way you always ran your fingers around the brim. And now it’s g-gone. And if Dalton d-dies, they’re going to k-kill you!” Tears flowed in earnest as her breath caught on a sob.
Terrel Lee shifted out of her lap to wiggle around beside her and lean against the support of the drawers. A grimace of pain crossed his features. “Calm yourself, Miss Julianne, we’ll get through this.”
“B-but how?”
“I don’t know, but I did not survive four years of Yankee aggression to die on Christmas Eve at the hands of this vermin. I’ll think of something.”
Julianne sniffed and wiped her eyes. “You were in the war? You never told me.”
“I did not think war a fit topic for conversation with a young lady durin’ Sunday dinner.”
“That is the most ridiculous th-thing I ever heard.”
“I hardly think so. War is a terrible thing, Miss Julianne. I don’t believe it proper that I should burden you with the horrors that haunt my dreams.”
“Why not? Look at me, Terrel Lee.” She gestured at the new blood stains that smeared the front of her mother’s apron. “I spent an hour tonight digging a bullet out of a man who would just as soon kill me as thank me. And since then, I’ve been holding your bleeding h-head in my lap, praying you wouldn’t d-die in my arms. What do you think, Terrel Lee? Too terrible for a young lady to handle?”
“But you’re cryin’, Miss Julianne.”
“Because of your hat.”
“My hat?”
“I liked that hat.” She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him, daring him to contradict her. His expression was bemused, as though he had never really seen her before.
“And stop calling me Miss Julianne in that condescending way, as though I’m some kind of china doll that will break at any moment.”
“I do apologize for offendin’ you, Mi—Julianne, but I was raised a gentleman and the manners I learned as a boy have been well ingrained into my character.”
“Don’t take this the wrong way, I like your manners and your southern accent gives me the shivers, but considering how long we’ve known each other, and given the situation in which we now find ourselves, I believe we have moved beyond the “Mr. Parker,” “Miss Julianne” stage, don’t you agree?”
“Perhaps you’re right. And now that we have established acceptable forms of address between us, perhaps you could discretely loosen my bonds, so we might escape before the other outlaws return.”
Though they had been whispering quietly, somehow with Frank sitting right there in the kitchen, Julianne hadn’t even thought of trying. Embarrassed by her mistake she glared at Terrel Lee. “I’ve changed my mind. I think I liked you better when you didn’t say anything.”


Kathy Otten said...

Good morning Divas,
Yay! I don't have to work today, so I will be popping in and out to answer any comments. And at 9:30 tonight I will be watching Justified! :)

Tina Donahue said...

Morning, Kathy - congrats on not having to work today. :)

I like heroes with a hard edge but with loads of integrity. One of my favs is Bohannon in Hell on Wheels. My God, one look from that man makes my knees weak. He's hard. He's dangerous. But he's got tons of integrity. Yum.

Loved your excerpt. May you have many happy sales!

Kathy Otten said...

Hi Tina,
I've tried to watch Hell on Wheels a few times at work, but I get interupted so much I've never been able to get into it. I like heroes with a hard edge in movies and TV, but for some reason I haven't been able to write one and still have him be likeable.

P.L. Parker said...

I have to agree Rylan is pretty cool! Course I like the actor in anything he does :) Great excerpt. Oh, and I love Hell on Wheels Kathy!

Sarah J. McNeal said...

I love Raylan Givens, period. Loved him in Catch and Release. I keep missing Justified but I have seen a few of them and loved them.
I also like Bohanon in Hell on Wheels. I have managed to keep up with that only because I set my DVR for it. He's the kind of guy that doesn't seem like he cares about anyone then turns right around and helps everyone without expecting anything in return...the perfect hero.
I loved Ordinary Angel. It still ranks high on the list of my favorite stories ever--and mostly because of the flawed hero.
Great post, Kathy.

Kathy Otten said...

Hi P.L.
Glad to meet another Timothy Olyphant fan. I didn't really like his character in Hit Man, and though he was the villian in Die Hard With a Vengance, I hated when he got killed.

Kathy Otten said...

Hi Sarah,
I think I am going to have to wait for season one of Hell on Wheels to come out on DVD. I'll be able to get caught up with no commericals and not interuptions.
I also loved Timothy Olyphant in Catch and Release.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

LOL I actually meant Timothy Olyphant in Catch and Release--not Raylan. I have to catch up with Justified some how.

Kathy Otten said...

LOL, I knew what you meant. ;) My son gave me season one for Christmas and I saw season two is out now. I just loaned mine to a friend to catch up.

Adele Dubois said...

Good post, Kathy. I like beta heroes with strong moral character, too.

Right now my favorite is Billy Beane played by Brad Pitt in "Moneyball." Beane is a real life hero whose willingness to fight the establishment and change entrenched negative traditions has me in awe.

Best of luck with your release.


Kathy Otten said...

Hi Adele,
I've seen the trailer for that movie and I'd heard it was based on a true story. I just never got around to seeing it.
I'll have to rent it.

Calisa Rhose said...

Am I late? I wanted to pipe in with my fave kind of hero. I call him a belpha- half beta/half alpha. I like the unassuming man who knows what he wants and isn't afraid to go after it, but doesn't feel he has to force it either. I can't think of a specific example right now.

Kathy Otten said...

Hi Calisa,
No, you're not too late. Love your new definition for an Alpha/Beta hero. Sounds like a winner. A man with a Beta personality who kisses like an Alpha. :)

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Kathy,
Have to say I love the tortured heroes. Loved your excerpt.



Julie Robinson said...

I like the way you put it: moral integrity
Yes, I like heroes like that, and when all the other 15 years loved Luke Skywalker, I loved Han Solo too.
Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns and in Dirty Harry movies are my style.

In real like, though, a man with a sense of humor engages me intellectually. I have a hard time writing a hero that combines the two styles.

Kathy Otten said...

Hi Margaret,
I've always been partial to tortured heroes in my stories, but in real-life, I prefer minimal baggage.

Kathy Otten said...

Hi Julie,
Thanks for stopping by. I had always thought I would marry a man who loved my sense of humor. Well, that didn't happen. He is trust worthy though, and he never lies. Family comes first for him and we have faced the highs and lows of life together. It's hard to write a hero like that in a story without having it be boring, so I guess that's why the angst or the heroes with the hard edge.

Marianne Stephens said...

Favorite hero has to have a soft spot for the heroine, even if they start off at odds with each other. My favorite hero from one of my books is Jeff Ryan in Anything You Can Do. He doesn't know a thing about childcare, but accepts the heroine's challenge to spend a week in daycare with her. He wants to be near her...and thinks he won't have trouble with "rugrats"!

Kathy Otten said...

That sounds like a really cute story. I'll have to add it to my list of books to buy.

Liz said...

Hey kids I'm late for this convo but wanted to second the Raylan vote...and what's even more interesting to me that the show is set in SE. Kentucky where I grew up. and yeah, it's that bad. my parents taught at University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg but "Harlan" where this is supposed to be was a mere 30 minute ride through the mountains each year for a high school football game.

Kathy Otten said...

Hi Liz,
If I recall correctly, they filmed a lot of Justified in PA, outside of the Pittsburgh area, because it looked like eastern KY without actually being Harlan.