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Inspiration for Heroes

Another question from my FB page. Someone asked where I get inspiration for my heroes. So here’s my attempt to answer:

Firstly, none of my characters are based on real people. I have utilized little quirks from people I’ve known and incorporated them into some of my characters, but that’s the extend of it.

I don’t predetermine a guys personality and it usually takes me a couple of scenes to get to know them. Their character will be based on what the heroine needs, and not necessarily what she thinks she wants. More often than not, I don’t know what it is the heroine will need—or be drawn to—until I’ve been in their head for a while.

I think we all know that a lot of times what we want in a relationship can turn out to be a disaster. And sometimes the line between functional and dysfunctional is a little thinner than we’d like. When my husband and I were dating, I introduced him to some friends of mine that were a couple. After meeting them, he commented, “I’m not sure they’re exactly what each other needs, or exactly what each other don’t need.”

It’s all about finding that line. Does the couple balance each other out or drive each other to the brink of insanity?

My heroes’ personalities depend on the heroine’s personality. For Marilee I knew I needed someone quiet and thoughtful. He needed to be observant, someone who would know when to back off. An alpha male who wanted to walk in a sweep a girl off her feet with his charms and good looks would have made Marilee lock and bar her doors. I needed a hero who would recognize her vulnerability and not take advantage of it.

Fotolia_25517972_Subscription_Monthly_M 2For Ella I needed someone sturdy, someone willing to jump into her adventures with her, but he had to be a protector as well. Her want of adventure and her willingness to go find it was dangerous some of the time. Gavin needed to recognize that and be willing to keep an eye out.


Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 3.18.40 PMRhys ended up being the closest thing to an alpha male hero that I’ve written. He’s a little bit brooding, and has that air of mystery. Lylin is probably the most even-keeled of my heroines. She didn’t feel out of place in her world, and hadn’t been traumatized, so I liked putting her with someone who had that underlying current of intensity. At the same time, he couldn’t be the signature brooding guy, and I loved being able to show his more lighthearted side in scenes like the picnic and laying under the stars.

And of course it’s not all about what the girl needs. The relationships need to be balanced, so I need my heroines to have characteristics that will be helpful to the hero. Gavin had been ignored by the upper class for so long that it was easy for him to think of himself as less-than (I imagine most people in his position would feel the same) and I enjoyed having Ella see him for who he was and not what he was.

Rhys had lived with his deceptive brother for so long that what he really wanted was sincerity and honesty. I loved writing Lylin’s penchant for just saying what she was thinking.

James needed someone who could love him in an overwhelming, hold nothing back kind of way. He’s sensitive by nature and has a huge heart. He’s used to taking care of people and does a great job of taking care of Marilee. But I love that after she’s healed, I know that she won’t hold back from loving him with her whole soul.

Aaaaand this is the part where I awkwardly clear my throat and shuffle my feet because I realize I really am one of those people that talks about her characters like they’re real, like I’m not the one that made it all up in the first place. That’s just the way it goes, I suppose.

Published inCharacterizationJust EllaMissing LilySaving MarileeWriting Process


  1. nora nora

    Just out of curiosity, and as a fellow writer, what kind of male character would you have written for a girl who was independent, stubborn, and bitter? I often find these heroines interesting, the ones who have previously loved, trusted, and lost.

    • It’s hard for me to say without knowing more about the character, but I think I’d go with someone who is an observer, someone who could see that there was history that would need to be overcome. At the same time, I think he’d need to be willing to speak up, to call out the heroine when she’s taking out her bitterness on others and who was willing to push her, to push into her space and not let her scare him off when it freaks her out.

      • Ema Lee Ema Lee

        I love how you plan your characters off each other! Instead of saying, “Well, so-and-so is this person at the beginning of the book, but then they meet their significant other who utterly changers their personality, and so-and-so is now a completely different character.” I mean, your characters do change each other (for the better) but they’re still themselves at the end.

        Your heroes are dreamy and your heroines admirable 🙂

        Also, how do you pick out names for characters? Was there significance behind each or not so much?

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