By: Gail Barrett
Congratulations to "Colleen", the winner of Gail's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!
How damaged can a character be and still come across as heroic? That’s the question I grappled with when I wrote A KISS TO DIE FOR, the second installment in my Buried Secrets trilogy. I’ve always been attracted to loner heroes, those wounded, gunslinger-type men who ride into town and save the day, despite their reluctance and flaws. And I’ve written quite a few heroes that fit that mold. But how much is too much? At what point does a damaged hero veer into loser category and become someone we can’t cheer on?
In case you don’t know, the Buried Secrets trilogy follows the fate of three women, three former teen runaways who met on Baltimore’s dangerous streets, banded together for protection, and became close friends. Then one day, they witnessed a murder committed by a dangerous man, putting them on the run again. Fifteen years later, Brynn Elliot, the heroine of FATAL EXPOSURE (June 2013), is a renowned photojournalist who specializes in chronicling the dangers of street life. Haley Barnes, the heroine of my current story, A KISS TO DIE FOR (August 2013), runs a shelter for pregnant teens. Nadine Seymour, the protagonist of SEDUCED BY HIS TARGET (December 2013), is a plastic surgeon who does pro bono work on battered women. They all live under the radar until a chance photo in a newspaper exposes Brynn’s identity, blowing the lid on their secretive past -- and putting the killer hard on their heels again.
A KISS TO DIE FOR begins when a gang (hired by the killer) attacks Haley and a pregnant teen she’s trying to protect. Help comes from an unlikely source -- the homeless man who is camping out in the row house down the street. But Sullivan Turner is nobody’s hero. He is a wounded ex-soldier suffering from PTSD, his life shadowed by the memories of the fallen comrades he put in harm’s way -- fairly standard fare for a hero in romantic suspense. But he has another problem, one that makes him wholly unsuitable to come to Haley’s aid. He’s an alcoholic. He’s not just a heavy drinker, but an addict, suffering from the shakes and other withdrawal symptoms when he tries to stop. Add in the flashbacks caused by PTSD, and you can see that he is a mess.
I know he doesn’t sound precisely heroic. And yet, as I wrote A KISS TO DIE FOR, I found myself caring more and more about this damaged man. His problems became real; his disillusionment and loss of idealism about himself heartrending. In the end, Sully became one of my favorite heroes ever -- and brought me to tears multiple times.
I don’t know what readers will think about him. Writing a man that flawed comes with a risk. Will they see him as the hero that I did, or shrug him off as a loser not worthy of the role?
So what do you think? Is there a line a hero can’t cross before he becomes too damaged for you to care? Would you read a story about an alcoholic man? I’d love to know! Leave a comment to be eligible for a copy of Fatal Exposure, the first book in the Buried Secrets trilogy in a format of your choice.
Find FATAL EXPOSURE in print, audio, and e-book formats at Amazon and
Find A KISS TO DIE FOR in print, audio, and e-book formats at Amazon and
Gail Barrett is the award-winning author of thirteen romantic suspense novels. A former RITA® and Daphne finalist, Gail has received the Book Buyer’s Best Award, the Holt Medallion, the Booksellers Best, and the National Readers’ Choice Award, along with Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart. She currently lives in Western Maryland. When not writing novels, she teaches classes at the community college and blogs about her pathetic attempts to get in shape. She loves hearing from her readers, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Road to Madness Blog: http://gailbarrett.blogspot.com/
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