Friday, December 4, 2009

hero worship

I know I've gotten my hero just right if I've fallen in love with him by novel's end. Chances are if the author is smitten with their hero the reader will be, too. One hopes, anyway. Before Lael took Ian Justus away from me in TFD I was quite besotted. Scotsmen have always been my weakness. And then there's Morrow's paramour in Courting Morrow Little, who shall remain nameless as his very identity is a huge spoiler. It took me a good hundred pages to fall for my Irishman, Colonel McLinn, in The Locket, and then THUD... I'm not advocating hero worship. Well, almost:)

hero worship n (1774) 1: veneration of a hero 2: foolish or excessive adulation for an individual

Silly me but I was so happy to find this word comes to us straight from the 18th-century. And I thought again how blessed I am to have an editor and publisher who encourage me to write in the century I love. If I had to make the leap and write in other time periods I think I'd lose a lot of heart/passion. The 18th-century has always been my first love and I have lots of story ideas simmering.

But back to my Colonel McLinn who won't make his debut until summer of 2011... Someone asked me how writers come up with characters. Are they based on people we know? Actually, Colonel McLinn is based on someone I wish I'd known. When I was in Kentucky last fall doing research for The Locket, I visited a two hundred year old house whose owner was glaring at me from an oil painting over a bedroom mantle. I was struck by how embittered and sad he looked and I wanted to give him a happy ending instead of the tragedy he lived.

So my Irishman is actually made up of my two favorite 18th-century heroes. Can you guess who these men might be? One clue is that they're both named George. First names, not last. Each was unusually tall for that time period. And both had red hair. Enough said:)

Not the glittering weapon fights the fight, but rather the hero's heart. -Proverb

Who is a hero? He who conquers his urges. -The Talmud

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. The two 18th century George's that first come to my mind are George Washington (of and George Rogers Clark...IF I'm not mistaken, Washington had dark hair before the famous white in all the paintings, right??? I looked up Rogers Clark on google real quick and came up with some paintings that could be considered auburn....Am I even anywhere near? LOL!!!! =D

    Good trivia! =)

  2. You have me doing reference work when I'm not at the library! I'm guessing George Washington is one of your heroes. I had no idea that he had red hair or that he was six feet tall. The things one learns as she accepts challenges from hero-worshiping authors! LOL.

    I'm still stumped on the second hero. I'd have said Daniel Boone, but well, his name isn't George. Obviously my American history is rusty, but I'll keep trying to figure it out. After all, how many strapping red headed Georges could there have been back then in least I'm assuming they were in Kentucky.

  3. Can't tell if I'm the first to post or not, but I'll say it's George Washington and George Rogers Clark.

    Lots of tall red-heads back then. Thomas Jefferson was another, wasn't he?

    I love your blog posts, Laura. You come up with the best ideas, and I admire your restraint in not sharing spoilers from Morrow. If you are anything like me, that must be hard. :)

  4. Hero worship....almost a favorite of mine (not advocating that sort of thing, of course!) My imagination and my heart are filled with heroes waiting around to be put into stories. I tend to like Englishmen, myself. ;-)

    Well, George Washington is a given in your guessing game but I have no idea who your other George is. Do tell!

    Hope your weekend is very relaxing or very productive---whatever you wish it to be!

  5. First one: George WAshingon!
    Second: King George III?

    Am I right?
    I did a little bit of research on 18th century George's important in history.

    In TFD, I was more drawn to Capt. Jack. Maybe because he was so illusive. I could never get a complete understanding of him and who he was, he was a mystery. Which, obviously, I like!
    The tall, dark, handsome stranger syndrome!! ha ha

  6. Go, Ashli! Correct on both counts! But I'm not surprised, history lover that you are:) Recently I came across some first person accounts that say George W's hair was red when he was younger. Hard to reconcile that with the grumpy-looking white-haired guy on the dollar bill. And my other here, GRC, was definitely a redhead.
    Bless you today!

  7. Kav, I love having a librarian chime in! I must admit my Canadian history is a bit rusty though I bet you have a treasure trove of stories therein.

    Yes, both George's were in Ky though only George Rogers Clark lived there. He's the one in the painting that led such a tragic life. He financed and led a very risky western frontier campaign US and was never reimbursed by the government, became an alcholic, never married, etc. But he had such wonderful qualities in so many respects. Sigh. A tragic hero, if there ever was one.

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  8. Yes, Englishmen make quite nice heroes, Mary! George Rogers Clark is my other George as you probably know from the other comments by now. Sadly, there doesn't seem to be any painting done of him when he was younger and the accounts I've read say he was a very striking man. But then, so was Geo. W. Maybe the red hair? But more likely the height and commanding presence. Oh, those military men!

    Glad you have some stories and appealing heroes simmering of your own. I don't doubt it:)

  9. Lori,
    I knew you'd know straight away, my 18th-c. loving friend! And yes, Tom J. seems to have had red hair also. I've never known quite what to make of him. All that controversial business about his love life and such! But he was a very intelligent man. Would love to visit Monticello.

    I really appreciate you as a blog reader, Lori. So glad you appreciate my jumbled thoughts. I often write these posts with you in mind:)

  10. Lisa,
    You are so right about King George! I'd nearly forgotten him! He was certainly a huge part of the 18th-c. and American history, for sure.

    I have to tell you that you are certainly not alone in your fascination with Captain Jack:) I've gotten so much reader mail from folks who preferred him to Ian. And I understand why. I only wish I could have spent more time on him in the story as he was one mysterious dude, as you said:) But maybe he'll have his own story someday:)

  11. Curiosity keeps the librarian busy so I googled your second George (Rogers Clark). I can see why you think he is a dashing hero. He was quite handsome in his younger days...and I'm guessing that the picture you saw of him -- the one where he as looking so sad -- was the more senior George...mind you I'd look that way to if I had my leg amputated without the benefit of anesthetia! Somehow two fifers and two drummers playing outside for two hours during the operation just wouldn't do it for me! But that is hero material for sure.

  12. Laura,

    I preferred Ian over Captain Jack, but CJ did intrigue me mightily and I wish you could have had another 10-20K words of room to explore his character more. But as the book stands, there is a wonderful tension in liking both these men equally, or nearly so, that kept me completely in the dark as to who Lael would choose, or who I wanted her to choose. It went back and forth for the longest time before I settled on Ian. It would have been so easy to make one of those men obviously wrong for Lael, but you didn't, and that upped the tension of the story and kept me turning pages. I still feel like Lael could have had a good life with CJ, if they managed to stay away from war (a tall order, that). That's a good thing, because now I'm still thinking of Jack and wondering where his story might lead. If you ever write his story, I'd be thrilled to read it!

  13. Kav,
    I owe you a huge debt of gratitude for all your googling George R Clark!! Or, in my case, "oogling" - lol! Seriously, when I was in Kentucky on that research trip, I came across a painting of him in his younger days at the museum there and it was so well done and so the essence of The Locket that I just about cried when I didn't have my camera. But, thanks to you, I've been googling GRC myself and have found it online!! And I'm so delighted and have been singing all afternoon:) Bless you, Kav. And no, the fifes and drums wouldn't have done it for me either, no matter how many.

    p.s. promise to post that wonderful pic this coming week so please come back by and we'll see if my GRC is your GRC:)

  14. Lori,
    I dearly appreciate your comments on the tension and pull between Lael, CJ, and Ian. You always offer such fascinating insights. Must be that writer's brain of yours:) I'm glad that triangle worked for you. I loved Ian, too, but CJ led me to write another entire novel because of his character alone. And I still don't feel I've done him justice! You'll have to help me decide if I did:)

  15. What a wonderful conversation here . . . and a nice little history lesson. My hero George is the Scottish writer George MacDonald, so I had to get my head back in America. I didn't even know who George Rogers Clark was until now.

    BTW, I was rooting for Ian in TFD, but I would just love to read a story with Captain Jack as the hero. Oh, pretty please!

  16. From this man's perspective---I appreciate the fact that Captain Jack was mysterious and not so obviously "wrong" for Lael. I think that part of life is looking back at untraveled roads and recognizing that they were not necessarily wrong roads--but roads that would have led to other places. We all must live with uncertainty and make decisions based on the present. So many books are so black-and-white that they become to detached from real life. Indeed, a few readers want it that way and want those cookie-cutter formulas--but for me I like heroes who while they aren't evil/bad, they aren't perfect either. Or, as Anne of Green Gables would say, she wants a man who has the potential to be bad and dangerous, but isn't.

  17. I agree wholeheartedly with Lori. How did you manage to make me fall in love with two heroes in one book? And both after the same woman? The only way I could reconcile myself to Captian Jack's disappearance was thinking that he died of smallpox. LOL. I know, isn't that wicked of me wanting him dead? But he belonged to Lael...they were meant for each other. And now my heart is thundering in my ears because I think I've just had a very big aha moment. You didn't...did you?

  18. George MacDonald will certainly do here, Carla:) I have at least one of his Scottish books and I've used his quotes on occasion as he said some pretty profound things. He was one prolific writer!

    I'm so pleased to have introduced you to George R Clark here:) When you see the picture I hope to post of him this week you'll understand my fascination though much of it has to do with his character, not all of it sterling.

    And please stay tuned for CML as Captain Jack was the impetus for this next book:)

  19. I really appreciate the male perspective, Chris. You're one of many male readers, despite the romantic-style cover. So glad that didn't stop you. You've summed up what I tried to do in the book so well - point to paths untraveled that would have led in vastly different directions. Love that Ann quote!!

  20. Loved reading about the inspiration for Colonel McLinn - can't wait to "meet" him. :)

  21. Ruth, I think Colonel McLinn is your sort of man:) He's certainly mine. Wish I could make him spring to life but fear he is stuck upon the page...

    Bless you for your comments. So glad to have you as a reader/writer/fellow southerner/bloggy friend!

  22. I'm still waiting on my copy of TFD...I'm ready to fall in love with your Scotsman too! Your blog is always right on target with me!

    I also have a bit of a crush on Ambrose, my brooding gray-eyed mountain man in TO MOVE MOUNTAINS. He's "dreamy" in a scary kind of way!

  23. Hi Laura, I just love the way you come up with your characters and make them so real as if we know them! I think it's wonderful that you find them hanging out in places, just waiting to be discovered and written about with a much better life and ending! Blessings in the work you do! Kathleen

  24. P.S. Your book just arrived. Oh boy!!! I'll let you know what I think.

  25. Kathleen, I sure appreciate your encouraging words. My characters do feel very real to me as you so succinctly pointed out:) I hope they feel real to my readers, too. Love how you said they are hanging out in places as that is just what happens!
    Bless you bunches.

  26. Britt,
    Ambrose is such a wonderfully old-fashioned name, romantic yet manly:) I think half the fun is naming these characters! Once we do they really spring to life.

    Hoping TFD arrives soon!! Praying it blessed you:)