By Catherine Lanigan
Many of you know that Rula was called away from RWA conference in NYC last week due to a death in the family. She is the angel over my shoulder as I write this, but we bounced around some ideas for this blog last month. I speak for all of us, Rula, our sympathies are with you and all your family.
As romance writers we are constantly looking for that next set of characteristics, attributes and abs that will evolve into our leading man. Each time a new story starts percolating for me, I’m on the hunt. Action heroes, those soldiers and military men hold a huge hunk of my heart because my father was just such a man. As an Army Captain in WWII, he escaped capture by the Japanese and on two broken ankles from his parachute jump into New Guinea, he met up with his company after 23 days on a hill, holding off the enemy to save his men; no food, little water, and marched (on crutches) with them to victory. Believe me, my leading men have a lot to live up to.This is my dad’s graduation picture from Wabash College. I think he was very handsome.
Heroes can also be the men who change our lives. Here’s mine.
This, obviously, is Michael Douglas from Romancing the Stone. I was honored to meet him and spend nearly a week on the set of the movie during the re-shoots. He was just about everything a hero should be. Killer gorgeous, funny, very intelligent and easy to be around. He’s still my #1 star pick. Since I live in Los Angeles from time to time and my husband has had our “world’s tiniest houseboat” there for over 15 years, Michael qualifies for a hometown hero in my book.
Anyway, you can see my dilemma in finding guys who “go the distance”: beat the odds, save the day, and sweep the heroine off her feet.
Our small town of La Porte, Indiana has a pretty big 4th of July parade every year. In fact, many decades ago the Governor of Indiana declared us the “State Capital for a Day.” We still carry that distinction as we draw over 30,000 people for the event. The Parade starts with a fly over of military jets, and this year were a couple antique planes performing barrel rolls and antics in the sky. Amazing. The parade is complete with marching bands, floats, clowns, antique cars, and fire engines. Lots of fire engines from every township, county and surrounding city and hamlet.
This year as I looked at the young fire fighters riding on top of the huge trucks, I felt that zing of pride when I see individuals standing up, taking charge and risking their very lives to come to the aid of others.
In our every day “busyness” we go to work, sometimes in heavy drive-time traffic, run errands, car pool the kids, take elderly parents to their doctors’ appointments and somehow manage to hit the grocery store, fix supper for the family and get the laundry done so that there are clean clothes for everyone in the morning. We do all these things because every day, of every waking and sleeping minute, there are people watching out for us. They are our local police, firefighters, EMP’s, Forest Rangers, prison guards, neighborhood security watchmen and on a larger scale, our armed forces.
For most of us we think of police as the pain in the neck watchdogs who are trying to trap us if we drive too fast. I almost cringe writing this because in my neighborhood we have several policemen who live here. In the middle of the night, I hear them speed out and race to help other policemen (and women) at the scene of accidents. Lately, there has been a large concerted effort to break up the gangs and drug rings here. The “stings” are as dangerous as any film script writer could make them. Yet, my neighbors are on the job so that in the future, the kids in this town won’t get pulled into that underworld of drugs and the horrors that go with it.
When I was sixteen my closet caught on fire. My quick-thinking father got the garden hose and started putting out the fire before the firemen arrived. Thankfully, the house didn’t burn down because my parents were home. But what if they hadn’t been? Years later, my father left a fire burning in the living room fireplace. This time, my father was overcome with smoke inhalation. My mother managed to call the fire department. THAT time, the firemen saved my father’s life and put out the fire before the house burned down.
I can think of a dozen times when the police and the fire fighters have come to my personal rescue. When I read our stories, it is amazing how close to the truth they really are. What about you? Do you have hometown heroes that need an accolade? Do you have any stories of rescue in your life?
Just in case you want to reach me: www.catherinelanigan.com; Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn. firstname.lastname@example.org