I had to think about what I do when I create a hero in one of my westerns. He has to be bigger than life. Think, John Wayne in the western movies of a time gone by. Big. Strong.
Think of Tom Selleck in Quigley Down Under or any of the Sackett TV films he did with Sam Elliot (also another portrayer of western heroes to die for) based on Louis L’amour’s series of books.
Who were our real western heroes? How about Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok? Like them, he must have a strict sense of justice and be a generally upstanding citizen. Hickok and Earp were lawmen in several different towns, but Abilene, Kansas and Tombstone, Arizona come to mine. Their reputations were that they didn’t put up with lawlessness and used their guns to bring order out of chaos.
We wouldn’t want that kind of law and order in today’s world. It wouldn’t work, but in those days, when the justice system as we know it was unavailable, these men did what they had to do.
Also, for my books, although, he and my heroine might make love before marriage, the hero knows there will be a marriage. And if the heroine doesn’t want to get married, he will do everything in his power to change her mind.
He’s a wonderful father. Teaching his children, sons or daughters, to ride, rope and shoot with the best of them.
My heroes are also caring and gentle. They know their strength and make sure to rein it in when dealing with the heroine. No matter how obstinate or ornery she gets he never physically harms her. He may intimidate her, he may restrain her, but there is always an innate respect for her.
He is always slow to anger but once riled, look out. And don’t even think about harming someone he cares for, he’ll always make you sorry you did, assuming you live to make it to the hanging. He won’t kill you outright or without reason, but you’d better not give him a reason. He won’t hesitate to use his gun if he needs to.
Creating a western hero is not any easier than creating a Regency or Highland hero, or any other kind. They are as strong and have as great a sense of right and wrong as any of those other heroes. But I tend to think of them as quieter, more reflective. The strong but silent type who never toots his own horn. I think that’s one of the reasons that I love them so much.
Cynthia Woolf is the author of six historical western romance books and one short story with more books on the way. She was born in Denver, Colorado and raised in the mountains west of Golden. She spent her early years running wild around the mountain side with her friends. Their closest neighbor was one quarter of a mile away, so her little brother was her playmate and her best friend. That fierce friendship lasted until his death in 2006. Cynthia was and is an avid reader. Her mother was a librarian and brought new books home each week. This is where young Cynthia first got the storytelling bug. She wrote her first story at the age of ten. A romance about a little boy she liked at the time. Cynthia loves writing and reading romance. Her first western romance Tame A Wild Heart, was inspired by the story her mother told her of meeting Cynthia’s father on a ranch in Creede, Colorado. Although Tame A Wild Heart takes place in Creede that is the only similiarity between the stories. Her father was a cowboy not a bounty hunter and her mother was a nursemaid (called a nanny now) not the ranch owner. Cynthia credits her wonderfully supportive husband Jim and the great friends she's made at CRW for saving her sanity and allowing her to explore her creativity. www.cynthiawoolf.com