I met Susan at Albacon last year, where we had a lot of laughs. She has a wide variety of skills and an enviable head of hair, too!
Why I Must Have Great Heroines in My Romances!
Susan Hanniford Crowley
I remember when I was a child, my teacher asking the class to write about a hero. In participating in the class discussion, everyone talked about great men — past presidents, athletes, and soldiers. Something was missing for me. Where were the great women? When I brought this up, my teacher challenged me to find them.
It was difficult, as my resources at the time were limited, but I managed. I found Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross. I found Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. It would be years before I added to my list Lucretia Mott, Mary Ann M’Clintock and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who hosted the women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, NY in 1848. I also added Mae West because I liked a woman who was in charge of her career, her life, and her sexuality.
All of them influence me every day as a writer when I dream up characters. Laura Cordelais, my heroine from The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais, starts out with her life in shambles. She takes drastic action, not necessarily a good action. When she meets vampire David Hilliard, everything changes. Love changes all of us. Let me give you a taste of that first meeting:
[Excerpt from The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais]
Laura struggled through the dark and burst through a great light. She gasped for breath and it filled her. Warmth spread through her every part, then a surge of energy she didn’t understand. Her heart beat. Differently. Odd. Different from any feeling she’d ever had. Her eyelashes fluttered and then in the dim light of a strange windowless room, she saw a man’s face.
His dark, curly hair framed his chiseled features. What struck her most were his dark, fathomless eyes. I can get lost in those eyes and never want to leave.
She flushed. I hope he can’t hear what I’m thinking.
She sat up, smiling with embarrassment. “You pulled me out of the river?”
“Thank you.” Laura trembled. “I don’t understand. I was dying.”
“You were very badly injured in the fall. I was going to take you to the hospital, but you said, ‘No hospital.’ That you’d keep trying to kill yourself.” His jaw tightened. “I couldn’t bear the idea of your death. Please, forgive me, but I couldn’t let you die.” He gazed deeply into her eyes.
Laura moved her tongue inside her mouth and came across the fangs.
“Oh, my God!” She tried to sit up, but he pushed her gently down.
“Don’t get up just yet. You’re still healing.”
“You made me a vampire?” Every tale she’d heard as a child in New Orleans rushed back to her. Vampires were monsters. “Now I’m a monster!” Anger flushed through her. How dare he make her this! He had no right. She seethed.
“No. You are not a monster. Neither am I. I gave you a life. It’s your choice how you live it.”
Then another emotion unexpectedly filled her, when she gazed up into his eyes. I couldn’t bear the idea of your death. His tender words echoed in her entire being and soothed her broken heart, as if he’d kissed her lips without touching her. She looked at him with wonder, reached up and caressed the young beard on his chin. He smiled and she could see his fangs now. Strangely, she wasn’t frightened.
“We must do the last part.” He bit into his arm just inside the elbow and put it against her mouth.
“No.” She pushed his arm away.
“You need it to stop the hunger from possessing you. Just close your eyes and drink.”
The blood oozed into her mouth, as he pressed his arm against her lips. At first, she choked and sputtered but then finally accepted it. Laura tried not to think about what it really was. The warmth reminded her of ginger tea with a citrus tang.
“Since I am your sire, my blood will give you a balanced mind. You will not need to feed again until tonight.”
After a few more minutes, she pushed him away. The wound on his arm healed before her eyes. Wide-eyed, she smiled. “I feel so strong and well. I don’t ache or hurt anywhere.” Then his reference to being her sire struck her. “So you own me now!”
Her anger flared again along with her strength. She slapped him.
“What was that for?” He held his hand to his cheek.
“Oh, I don’t know. You made me a vampire and now you own me. Take your pick.”
David gazed upward. “This isn’t going well.”
“Who are you talking to?”
Laura scoffed. “A vampire talks to God? Does God answer you?”
David frowned at her and sighed. ”God apparently has one hell of a sense of humor.”
“What does that mean?”
“Never mind. Let’s get back to the subject at hand. No, I do not own you. I have no claim on you whatsoever. You are free to decide where you want to be and with whom. I’ll help you get started, that’s all.” With every word, he seemed more uncomfortable. “We do have a blood tie though, so if you ever need my help, just think of me and I’ll come. I’ll find you.”
Her anger dissipated. Laura enjoyed seeing him vulnerable. And he didn’t hit her back. She smiled. “I don’t know your name.”
“I’m David Hilliard.”
This time she gently touched his face. “I’m Laura Cordelais.”
He held her hand to his cheek and closed his eyes.
Laura gasped as she realized her surroundings. “Do you live here?”
“No.” He chuckled. “I just needed to get you out of the sun. I have an apartment.”
“Well, that’s a relief. I thought I’d have to live in a cemetery.”
They both laughed.
Laura looked around at the grim tomb. A spider crawled up the stone wall nearest her, and she trembled. “I’m afraid of small, closed spaces. And bugs.”
He enclosed her in his arms. “Don’t be afraid. As soon as it’s dark, we’ll leave.”
Her mouth was so close to his, she could almost taste him. Then he pressed his firm lips against hers.
Hmm. He tastes of honey. I love honey.
Their fangs knocked together. Laura giggled nervously.
“Shall we try that again?” he suggested.
David gently took her chin and tilted her head slightly. Then his lips possessed hers again. Laura tingled from head to toe and wondered if a vampire was capable of love. She hoped David was.
When their lips parted, Laura frowned.
“I’m still angry with you.”
“Really? You don’t sound that angry.”
“I’m furious with you. I mean you made me a vampire.”
“Are you furious?” He carefully pushed a hair off her face and kissed her forehead.
“Now that’s not fair. Are you using your hypnotic powers on me?”
“No. I want everything between us to be real.” He kissed her left temple and moved down her jaw line. His mouth caressed her lips. His tongue rubbed her fangs…
The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais is available as an ebook and will be coming out in print in next month from Tease Publishing LLC. I love the unexpected, and enjoy giving those challenges to my heroines. In When Love Survives, Regina O’Malley discovers she’s half leprechaun and half elf on the darkest day in New York City. Learning you’re magic while helping others and finding love staring you in the face is more than a full plate.
In A Vampire for Christmas, Georgia Blake has a rare gift. When the same man is staring at her in the storefront window day after day, she thinks he’s a stalker and if that isn’t enough to deal with, she’s unemployed and soon-to-be homeless. But hardship doesn’t slow our heroine down, and love finds her in a very surprising way. Both When Love Survives and A Vampire for Christmas are published by Tease Publishing LLC and are available at All Romance E-Books.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, I will continue to write and to research. One can never have too many heroines.