By Catherine Greenfeder
My father had been strict and very conservative, but he had a lot of admirable qualities. He had been a boy scout, an altar boy, served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, and worked for awhile as a New York City police officer. From him I learned the practical skill of riding a bicycle, how to take care of my first car, to work hard for what I want, and to think about the less fortunate. My father retired at sixty five from his business career in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but he kept working as a volunteer with the senior center by helping teach computers and tax preparation, and by delivering meals to homebound seniors in the community. We both enjoyed bowling, walks, and bird watching. Since my paternal grandparents came from Gibraltar where Spanish is the second language, my father grew up bilingual.
So, Miguel Stephens, the handsome, dark-skinned Mexican hero in SACRED FIRES, my paranormal romance has a basis in my background, my father’s paternalistic attitude of protection, family, and a bit of the Latin temperament I found on my paternal side.
My maternal grandfather, Papa Ned, carried the Irish love of storytelling. The love of malarkey carried over with him and my mother who also loves to tell stories. Had they written them down, they’d fill a library. My maternal grandfather’s love of stories about the bog, the ghosts, and the banshee inspired my wanting to tell paranormal stories. In my work in progress, a YA paranormal, KISS OUT OF TIME, my young heroine’s widowed grandmother dates a man who much like my grandfather loves to spin tales about ghosts. The book’s adolescent hero is loosely based on my own husband who I met in high school. Jake and my husband are smart, pragmatic, sensitive, and skeptical redheads. Yet their protective nature and curiosity win out. Friends of ours did astrology charts for me and my husband one time, and I couldn’t believe it when my skeptical husband who mocked such things showed an interest in their astrological forecasts.
I also drew upon my experiences of having raised a teenage son. Much like Jake, the hero in KISS OUT OF TIME, my son Jon is scientifically oriented. He also has a chivalrous and good natured side which wins him a lot of friends. Like Jake he classifies himself as a geek with a social following.
One uncle had been like a father to me. He, too, embodied a lot of heroic qualities – that of being a good father, a loving husband to my mother’s sister, and a hard worker. He served in the army during World War 2, and he had been a kind and generous soul. Joe, the romantic interest in THE GIRL HE LEFT BEHIND, my women’s fiction work in progress, is based on my uncle.
Heroes come in many forms, and I know that the men in my life inspired mine in some form or another. Sometimes consciously, other times subconsciously, but they do. Of course, it’s fiction, so I mix qualities up and imbue other qualities. Ryan Majors, the hero of WILDFLOWERS, my western historical, captures a lot of the men I’ve known. Tough, courageous, fun loving, good with children, and hard working, Ryan goes through a lot to protect and to keep the woman, Johanna Wade, he loves.
So, in writing the hero, look around you at the men in your life and see if you can find their heroic side.♥
Cathy Greenfeder is a published author, whose books include SACRED FIRES, WILDFLOWERS, and ANGELS AMONG US. She is currently working on KISS OUT OF TIME, a YA paranormal romance, and two other books.