Susan Hanniford Crowley: Great Heroines

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.

He smiled.

She flushed. I hope he can’t hear what I’m thinking.

I can.

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.

She nodded.

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.

For more information about Susan, you can visit:
Romance Blog:
And she is onlyladyknight on Twitter.


  1. K. A. Laity says:

    Merci — I know so many fabulous women!

  2. How about Marie Curie, Leontyn Price,Grace Murray Hopper (inventor of COBOL and coiner of the term "bug"?) And these are only the tip of the iceberg.

  3. Isabel Roman says:

    The first really great woman I read about was Abigail Adams, wife to 2nd president John Adams. Her 'remember the ladies' is classic and it continually surprises me that John, who believed all people deserved representation (he representated the British who fired in the so-called Boston Masaccre), did not include women in anything.But she was tireless and one of the strongest women of her age. There are several women who fought in the Revolution I admire, Um, Mary Dix and Molly Pitcher to name the only other 2 I can think of at the moment.

  4. K. A. Laity says:

    Hey, Jack! Thanks for stopping by — yes, yes, so many wonderful women. I'm already planning my post for Ada Lovelace Day: women are more a part of tech and science than people seem to recall.Isabel — it is rather mystifying. I guess we expect that men married to extraordinary women will NOTICE that fact and that there are so many others, but I guess maybe they take their partners for granted and have imbibed too much the cultural norms. More's the pity.

  5. Sadly, I believe you're right Kate. I'm sure John appreciqated the support Abigail gave him (he certainly enjoyed matching wits with her) but i guess he was trapped into the eighteenth century mindset. At least he wasn't like his colleague, Mr. Franklin, who seems to have regarded women as "ornamental decoration" (and perhaps a bit more) but did not take them seriously.

  6. K. A. Laity says:

    Yeah, it makes you wonder. Someone with a mind so capacious, yet unable to get beyond such fundamental — and easily disproved fallacies. Then again, how long did it take to eradicate the institution of slavery (argh, still going on in many places, so…)?

  7. Dana Fredsti says:

    I'm hoping that the young gals of today will have a LOT more influential women to write about…

  8. Todd Mason says:

    Well, there have always been so many women to admire…we can hope that the girls and women of the future will no longer find it difficult to find information about those women. Certainly, when I was young, biographies of Earhart and Keller and her teacher vied for my attention with biographies of Thomas Edison and Cristofero Colombo, but not too many others were widely available…happily for me, my reading tastes were catholic and I would read any number of novels by and about women and girls as much as those about and by men and boys, and even a few married couples with one each (such as the Gordons, and UNDERCOVER CAT/THAT DARNED CAT, or Catherine Moore and Henry Kuttner with such impressive stories as "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" and "Vintage Season"). INVINCIBLE LOUISA was among those that came my way via the Newbery list…I shall have to delve into romance fiction a bit more heavily, I think, having found a number of folks over the years do good work under the label and in the form under other labels (such folks as Jack Finney and Maggie Gee, for two).

  9. Todd Mason says:

    Recently, discussion on other blogs has reminded me of Terry Carr's editorial efforts in the '60s, helping to launch the insurgence of a Gothic "category" in that decade…he published, notably among many others, a number of Joan Aiken's novels in the form, often beautifully packaged (some before the standard cover format…woman in foreground, house in background, one lit window on house…developed at Carr's house, Ace Books, became the industry standard).

  10. K. A. Laity says:

    Paranormal romance is the real burgeoning field now — and a whole lot of female scribes there.I think you're right that it's a lot easier to find those role models now — but it's also a challenge to get past the media depictions of what Arrested Development called "Girls with Low Self-Esteem" and the whole puzzling pink princess phenomenon (a wholly commercial enterprise, training the shoppers of tomorrow), but groups like The F Word and Pinkstinks are working to change that.

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