WHERE DO WE FIND OUR HEROES?
With Valentine’s Day on the horizon I thought it would be a good time to talk about what makes a romantic hero. The heroes in my romances are inspired by real people. Gerard Fitzpatrick, know by all as Fitz, the hero in “Conflict of Interest”, was based on a rotary member in my town. I’d heard through the grapevine that he was a single father raising his two young sons by himself. I met him when I bought a Christmas tree. He was dressed as Santa Claus and posed for a picture with my son and daughters, then true believers. It was the combination Santa Claus/contractor that made him intriguing. I didn’t know him but I imagined his life to be one where he was devoted to his boys, made a living and still managed to volunteer at Christmas time–a perfect hero for my heroine, a single mom with a demanding career.
I modeled the hero in “Suddenly Lily”, sheriff Michael Fascato, on the court officers I dealt with in family court. Like Lily I am a family court attorney. Michael became a composite of some of the sheriffs and bailiffs I worked with: tough and street smart, engaging and funny. Like the people I knew, Michael was always ready to voice his opinion if he thought the lawyers had got it wrong and saw defending the people as part of his job. Of course, I also made Michael tall, dark and handsome and sexy.
In my book, “Second Act for Carrie Armstrong”, Ian Gordon is from the pages of the New York Times. When I first started writing “Carrie”, an attorney named Patrick Fitzgerald was special council for the U.S. Department of Justice. He prosecuted Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. Later as the U.S. Attorney in Illinois he went after the sitting governor for corruption. As a lawyer and a trial watcher I was intrigued by Fitzgerald’s monastic reputation. He was nearing forty and still single. Born in Brooklyn, with degrees from Amherst and Harvard Law I imagined he came from a working class background and was driven. Like Fitzgerald, Ian is an ambitious loner who keeps his eye on the ball letting nothing get in the way of his career until Carrie and her four kids come crashing into his life.
I like to think that romance is the unexpected colliding of forces that, in spite of both parties’ best efforts to resist, are so drawn to each other that falling in love is inevitable. It’s what happened to Ian and Carrie.
What is it about these men that win my heroines’ hearts? They are smart and tough and honorable. They are also protectors and defenders of those they see in need. But what about the romance? What happens when they meet my heroines, spunky modern women who think they can go it alone? I think it’s that sudden vulnerability he shows when the hero realizes he’s met his match that wins her. When my hero lets down his guard and admits his need my heroine can’t resist and the feelings are ignited.
Before retiring to write full time, Deborah Nolan practiced family law. She was a Deputy Attorney General in New Jersey representing that state’s child protection agency. Subsequently, she represented children in New York’s Family Court. When not writing or travelling and visiting her children and grandchildren, she enjoys painting landscapes and people. She divides her time between New York City and a farm in the Hudson Valley where she lives with her husband.
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