Yesterday we celebrated Father's Day, and I had the lovely opportunity to spend time with both my husband and my father to celebrate the event. Now, like some of you, I was dashing out to do a last minute grocery shop for the fatherly feast, and as is my want I'll listen to a podcast or Youtube clip while I'm shopping, and I caught the emotionally powerful speech that Megan McCain gave at the funeral service of her father, U.S. war hero Senator John McCain. You can catch the full speech below, but if you don't have the time to sit through all of it, I suggest using the the counter from 4:25 - 6:01 to see the remarks she makes about the man the rest of the world knew, and his actions as a father.
This got me thinking about my own father, and the example he has set for his four children, and about my husband, and the example he sets for our own kids... it got me thinking about the legacy these men leave behind, and how they affect the lives of those around them, about not only the traits passed down through DNA, but what imprint they impress upon us, and their children, about how we view the world, and how we consciously (and unconsciously) choose to live our lives as a result.
Seeing the tributes and the eulogies, particularly Ms. McCain's words where she powerfully presented the Lion of the Senate as a loving father deeply mourned and dearly missed, and with my own aging father, it really drove home how important these men are in our lives, and how their efforts in rearing their children will form a basis of that child's character, and they shape us children into the adults we become - for better or worse.
I can't speak for all romance writers (but I believe many would agree) when I say that as a writer, I keenly feel the responsibility to portray stories and people that are more than just two-dimensional characters on a page. Yes, I do write to entertain, but I also write to emotionally engage my readers, and in the #MeToo age, how I present male characters in my stories - and how they interact with female characters, is something I take very seriously.
I try to create male characters who are strong and just, fair-minded, noble, and attractive not just on the outside (but let's face it, it doesn't hurt), but more importantly, on the inside, the way their minds work, the way their hearts feel, and what guides them in their actions - their moral compass. It can get tricky. I write, for example, males with a strong leaning toward the alpha personality. That's not to say I don't like a beta male (I love those guys, too!), but both my romantic suspense and my paranormal stories tend to lend themselves toward the stronger, more dominant personality types. The challenge always is, though, to write the alpha hero who is NOT an alpha hole.
And that's where I turn to the men in my life for inspiration. My father is blind, and an albino, and I can remember times when he's exercised the greatest patience... and I can remember times when he hasn't, LOL. He's never seen his vision impairment as a disability (no pun intended), and growing up, we kids learned 'disability' was another way of saying a special ability, where individuals develop clever and amazing strategies to compensate for a perceived flaw. Dad has also taught me those much-needed lessons on hard work, discipline, responsibility, perseverance, and adaptability, to name a few.
I look at my children, and notice they've inherited their mathematical ability from their father (thank goodness, because I suck at math), along with patience (maybe that's from both of us...? - my husband may disagree), curiosity, a sense of playfulness, and a desire for decency and integrity.
My heroes on the page are inspired by my heroes off the page. I have 2 books out this month - Hope Echoes, and Witch Hunter. Both heroes (and stories!) are very, very different, but the one commonality each hero has is his respect for the women in his life, and his desire to deal fairly with those around him, and to protect those he loves. Again, these are all qualities I've been blessed to witness in my own experience.
Tell me, what are the characteristics you've seen that gets you all mushy, and that you love to see in a hero on the page? What is it about a man, be it your father, your partner, your brother, etc. that you want to see more of in the world, that, in your eyes, is truly heroic? Share your stories with us, please!