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.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”