Guest & Contest: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

Heroes And Heroines

The question I’m most often asked is where I find my ideas, as if I look under a cabbage leaf (whoops, I believe that’s where you’re supposed to find babies) or order from an wholesale idea catalog or discover them while taking a stroll around my neighborhood (look – I just tripped over something, wait, it’s an idea). I’ve learned to joke about it but I tend to cringe when someone asks it again because there’s no simple answer. My ideas all start with a thought, an image, a scrap of overheard dialogue or a scene. Like a seed planted in fertile soil, my ideas grow into full blown novels or the occasional story. Some never made it to the seedling stage, others I prune because they’re choking out a better, stronger idea.

These days, however, an increasing number of readers, fans, and the curious ask a different question – are my heroes and heroines based on actual people. Some even hazard a guess at the “real” identity of one of my romance heroes. With a delighted grin and crazed glee sparkling in their eyes, they proclaim, “Well, I know who Connor Donavan really is! It’s (blank)” and name someone from my past. I’ve had people guess my heroes to be my husband, current or otherwise, old boyfriends ranging from my middle school years right up to the present, family friends, cousins, neighbors, the high school football champion, movie stars, and even local retail folks including the guy who runs a little family restaurant I like.

Same goes for my heroines. People assume my ladies are me. Then when they happen across me in the produce aisle at the local supermarket debating between Gala apples or Red Delicious, wearing my oldest blue jeans, my tackiest sweater, and worn out cowboy boots, not a hint of lipstick, hair tumbling down my back, they gasp. Where are the designer gowns some of my characters (namely Cara Brennan from my Love Covenant series from Evernight Publishing) or the nice department store slacks and blouse. They can’t believe I didn’t have my hair swept up into a classic chignon or bother to put on full make-up.

Let’s just get one small fact across – I create my characters. Yes, they may share some similarities with me. On occasion, their memories or background might be based on my own but none of my ladies, not even Catherine, from the just released A Patient Heart, is me.

My heroes are fantasy men, guys I’ve dreamed up and made up. Connor Donovan (my hero from A Patient Heart) is a quintessential bad boy with a good heart tucked way beneath his handsome, sexy exterior. I’d love to know him. Same goes for Timothy Campbell, my federal agent from Witness Protection Program or my sensual, near perfect Irish vampire Will Brennan from my paranormal romance series mentioned above. I make ‘em like I’d love to have them, served up on a silver platter but none of them and I repeat, none of them are real men in my life.

All of my characters are fictional characters.

Now we’ve got that out of the way and debunked the whole idea myth, let me share a little taste from my just released contemporary romance, with a Valentine’s Day tie, A Patient Heart from Rebel Ink Press.

His eyes met hers in a silent plea so poignant she wavered and then he whispered the words she couldn’t refuse, “Please, Cat. No one but you ever sang to me.”

His plea won her and Catherine sighed, “I’ll try. What would you like me to sing?”

“I don’t know, just anything.”

Catherine thought. She knew a few old nursery songs from childhood but those wouldn’t do; he wasn’t a baby. She remembered quite a few hymns from years of church but he’d never gone. Most of the pop songs she’d learned were love songs and those might be just too potent at this moment, for her if not for him. Titles popped into her thoughts and she rejected them until she realized if she didn’t make a choice her lunch break would end without a single song. Annette might search for her again and she doubted singing to a patient would be approved or tolerated. She latched onto the next song that came to mind, singing soft and low in a voice not bad at all if she just had confidence enough to believe it.

“Busted flat in Baton Rouge,” she sang, the words of the old song Janis Joplin made popular long before her time filling her mouth and soul. “…waitin’ for a train. I was feelin’ near as faded as my jeans…”

If anyone’s music might soothe his troubled soul and banish his memories back to hell, Catherine thought the words the Texas singer crooned might. Janis Joplin struggled with her own demons and maybe the lyrics she made famous could defeat Connor’s just for tonight.

Although she sang softly, Connor listened as if she tossed him a life line in a raging river and she watched as his breathing shifted back to easy. His muscles unclenched as he relaxed and she kept an eye on the monitor as his vitals stabilized to normal. By the time she sang the refrain for the last time, without the wild energy Joplin gave the tune, Connor slept again. She unwound her hand from his, kissed his forehead again, and touched his cheek with light fingers, a brief caress.

Then Catherine slipped from the room in the last minutes of her meal break with just enough time to stop in the restroom to stifle the sob caught halfway up her throat. She couldn’t have explained to anyone why she wept but the tears were for Connor, and she resolved if she could, she’d heal him, not just body but heart and soul.

* * * * *

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is a full-time romance author. A native of the old historic city of St. Joseph, Missouri she now lives and writes in the beautiful Missouri Ozark region. She is a member of RWA, the Missouri Writers Guild, and the Ozark Writers League. Her romance novels include Love Never Fails, Witness Protection Program, Sing We Now of Christmas, and A Patient Heart from Rebel Ink Press, additional titles including In Love’s Own Time, Miss Good Samaritan, In The Shadow of War, and Guy’s Angel coming in 2012 from Rebel as well as two novels from Champagne Books and the paranormal Love Covenant series from Evernight Publishing. Lee Ann’s work also appears in more than twenty anthologies as well as multiple websites and print publications.

Contest details:

  • The prize is an ebook copy of A Patient Heart.
  • The contest is open to everyone over the age of 18.
  • You must leave a meaningful comment for entry.  This means your comment needs to be more than “please enter me in the contest”.
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  • While following the blog isn’t required, it is appreciated.
  • The contest ends on Sunday, February 12.

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