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!
My father was a very placid man a gentleman, he never swore in front of woman he always opened doors and he bought my Mum and us his four daughters breakfast in bed on Sunday mornings, he loved sport and was a great cricketer and he did not like confrontation of any sort what ever the umpire said goes and I would love to see a little more of the gentlemanly peacefulness here and there :)
OMG, Helen, he sounds like a beautiful man! Thank you so much for sharing, he's definitely a hero!Delete
Lovely post, Shannon. Our fathers are such important figures in our lives, aren't they?ReplyDelete
Like you, it's important to me to depict heroes who are honourable and respectful of women in my books. I think women have put up with bad behaviour and bad attitudes for far too long. I love heroes who are aware of gender issues and injustices, and who, regardless of how angry they may get with a woman, would never treat her badly or deliberately intimidate her. :-)
YES! I think that's a key thing for me - and it can be difficult when you write really physical scenes.... and by physical, I'm not meaning sexy times - we definitely don't want heroines to feel intimidated there!Delete
I love this post so hard, Shannon, as I did Meghan McCain's eulogy. I love to read of heroes -- whether in romance or real life role models -- with integrity and a heightened sense of justice, who stand up for their beliefs in a way that is respectful of others. I have a fondness for gentlemen, with manners that come from a place of respect.ReplyDelete
I think that's a key word here, Bronwyn! R.E.S.P.E.C.T - and so timely when we also mourn a beautiful woman with so much soul, spirit and vocal charisma as Aretha Franklin!Delete
YES!!! So timely.Delete
I love reading about male characters that are supportive to their partners. Two I can think of straight off are Sam in Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer and Colin in She’s Having Her Baby by Lauren Sams. Neither of these are romances but if you haven’t read them yet, read them just for these amazing male role models.ReplyDelete
They sound like my kind of books, Veronica! Am jotting them down to explore further. I love getting recommendations like this -- thanks!Delete
I hadn't heard Meghan's eulogy before; OMG, what a tearjerker! Thanks for sharing....ReplyDelete
I too love to see (in person and on the written page) when a man is a gentleman; my husband is one, and our son is one too. I respect a man who respects a woman (and a man). I respect non-violence.
Some of the stories I read have bullies for heroes. I do not condone bullies in real life and I get frustrated reading about them in my stories - even when they miraculously "see the light" or the "error of their ways" after meeting the heroine of the story. Unfortunately, power can often lead to this. (I'm sure we can see a case in point....)
After 59 years on this planet, I JUST realized why I don't condone bullies. My father was a bully. If he didn't get his way, he used his belt, a fly swatter, a yard stick, or simply his hand to punish his children. He only stopped when I stood up to him at 19 years of age - after graduating high school and college both with honours, never dating, and never requiring a curfew since I didn't go out in the evenings - and told him I would report him to the police, to the Children's Aid Society, and to anybody who would listen. He was upset that I was talking back to my mom (because I had bought my own car, was paying them room and board, was working full-time, and was about to drive my car to visit my boyfriend, and they didn't like my boyfriend because he grew up on the wrong side of town). I moved out the next day - across the street to a house my brother rented from my mom - where they could see my boyfriend's car at all hours. A few months later we broke up, and I moved half an hour to the city where I worked, and my parents helped me move after agreeing that this move would save me money (and keep me away from my ex-boyfriend). Five months later, I met the man who would become my now husband of over 37 years....
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.ReplyDelete
Everything you and the other Cats said, Shannon. It's why I didn't used to like some of the older-style Alpha heroes. Bullying and intimidation has never done it for me on or off the page! Strength and confidence and a sexy arrogance tempered by respect is another thing altogether.ReplyDelete
Well, thanks for clearing out my sinuses, Shannon, they needed it! :-)ReplyDelete
I am honoured to have an amazing father and a husband who is an amazing father. And there's a lot to be said for being a gentleman and for manners and respect - yes please to all of them. But do you know what I think is the measure of a man? Turning up. Being there. Not the once a year dad who claps the loudest at graduation. But being there every day for the little, difficult, grindingly boring, not very sexy, nitty gritty things. I think what kids need are men who they know will be there for them always.
And that's what I love about my dad and my hubby.
Well, AA, now you've cleaned out my sinuses as well. :-)ReplyDelete
So much to love about this comment. Being there/turning up/showing their love in all the little day-today ways are the marks of a true man/husband/father. So. Much. Love.