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Wendy Sparrow | Where Heroes Come From

November 20, 2014

Wendy SparrowPAST MY DEFENSESOne of the most common questions asked of writers is where our ideas come from, but far less frequently asked is where our characters come from. I remember reading that J.K. Rowling said that Harry Potter walked fully-formed into her head. Other writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle acknowledge that their characters, like Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, are based on acquaintances at least in part.

With most romance writers, I’d imagine the path to how we develop our heroes isn’t quite as clear because few of us take some guy we knew in college and plop him unchanged in our romance. Why? We didn’t date millionaire tycoons in college. Believe it or not. Or, in my case, I have never, to my knowledge, dated a werewolf. But we might borrow characteristics and mannerisms and even events from the men we’ve been in contact with. Sometimes from a guy we had a crush on. Maybe we’re borrowing from the guy that held the elevator for us.

Okay, I’ll admit it…it’s not always guys we know. It might be someone we see on TV. We’ll swipe a character trait from this man, and the smile from this other guy and the sum total is a conglomeration of many sources. Strangely enough, this works out. Our hero can have Jensen Ackles’ smile and the voice of the BBC’s Sherlock and the eyes of GQ model we saw once, and we can picture him clear as day.

Now the way a hero behaves and his actions, in my experience, often evolve from characteristics of relationships we’ve seen or been in. Perhaps we’ve been with someone who was romantic and into big gestures; it’s easy to ascribe those little things to our hero and envision what he might do because, to some degree, we know our hero.

The hero in THIS WEAKNESS FOR YOU first appeared in PAST MY DEFENSES and he was a true Alpha with this attitude that he had nothing to lose because he’d never faced a serious loss. He’d also never been out of control. By the end of Past My Defenses, he’d been through both. Jordan is a very different man in This Weakness for You. A little more broken. Less cocky—though not by a lot. And he wants vengeance now. I’ve seen men change like that. I’ve also seen what love of a matched soul can do for a broken hero.

I’ve actually never had a character quite like Jordan. When I finished PAST MY DEFENSES, I started writing This Weakness for You immediately. In fact, there was an overlap where I was finishing one and starting the next at the same time. I couldn’t stand to see him so angry and tortured. Plus, there was a whole lot of irony in who he was going to pair up with and I wanted to see that happen.

The fact that heroes are born from those around us is a romantic thought in itself. It says that many people are living a love story. It says that on the days when some creep in a parking lot is giving you a hard time that there are decent men out there because they make it into the pages of books. And no they’re not perfect, but a good romance hero isn’t perfect either. In fact, I think that’s part of their charm.

Thank you for letting me post on your site today.

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