Thursday, June 28, 2012

Favorite Author and Guest Blogger Shirl Henke on HOW I LEARNED TO LOVE THE WEST AND “HALF-BREED” HEROES

“If either Freud or the Navajo speak true, westward we shall find the hole in the earth through which the soul may plunge to peace.” -- Bernard DeVoto, The Year of Decision: 1846


When Regan invited me to blog during her Western Romance month, I was honored and delighted. I love writing the West. But as the quote above might indicate, I was a history teacher before I became an author. The Western frontier has always fascinated me. I believe it is a thing of the imagination, not of boundary lines. To the European, a frontier is simply a diving line bordering a foreign nation. To the American the frontier is as limitless as his own dreams and aspirations.

Why does the West still hold such a deeply rooted place in our imagination? It promised many things to many people. It was freedom to begin again, to reinvent oneself in whatever form a man or a woman required, perhaps to escape the long arm of the law, or the crippling despair of poverty. The West offered the lure of quick wealth, but people came for a great deal more than material success. Trailblazers like Hugh Glass and John Colter thirsted to see what was beyond the far horizon. Lewis and Clark’s journals narrate an epic adventure that surpassed Jason and Odysseus by over a thousand miles.

These frontiersmen were surely hero material, friends. The West of their dreams was as spiritual as it was material. In fact, I believe it is the stuff of primal myth. I don’t think it’s accidental that Star Trek became a classic franchise. The opening line says it all: “Space, the final frontier….” Marshall Dillon and Captain Kirk had a lot more in common than Hollywood ever imagined.

What infinite potential for great stories with fascinating characters to fill them! No other time and place in history ever brought so many people from across the earth to participate in so vast a movement as did the western expansion of the 19th century on the American frontier. Every national, racial, religious and ethnic group lived in the West. Native Americans battled to survive as land-hungry peoples from around the globe challenged them, beginning with the Spanish conquistadors whose legacy reached from Mexico across the arid plains of Texas all the way to sleepy Old California.

Czarist Russians crossed the Bering Straits and staked their claims as far south as California. Then came French fur trappers from distant Quebec and steamy Louisiana, colorful and intrepid adventurers who first dared the treachery of the Missouri, a river to make strong men weep and rich men poor. Anglo riflemen from the hardscrabble hills of Kentucky and Tennessee were next, those of Dan’l Boone and Davy Crockett‘s fame.

Cattle barons were often literally barons, titled gents from England, France and the Germanies. The dispossessed came from everywhere—Scandinavians searching for rich farmland, wily Scots merchants who drove hard bargains, brawling Welsh and Irish to dig canals and lay rails across a continent. Chinese sailed from Canton to do the most skilled and deadly job of all, opening the hard rock mining frontier. Kanakas from Hawaii became scalpers on the Texas/Mexico border. Blacks, newly freed after the bloody carnage of the Civil War, poured across Texas and all the way up into Kansas. The Freedman farmed and punched cattle, became gunfighters, lawmen, and the Buffalo Soldiers of legend. There was not a city of any size in the West that did not have a Jewish community. Can you imagine any venue offering richer raw material for storytelling than this?

The Western and the historical romance compliment each other uniquely. What is more primal and powerful than the male/female relationship, marriage and the recreation of life? What better place for a man and a woman to start a new life than in the West—to reinvent themselves, and in the process of self-discovery, discover love?

Back in the late Pleistocene when I first started to daydream, all my plot ideas were set in the West. Of the thirty-plus books I’ve published to date, most are Western. I’ve set novels in Regency England, Renaissance Italy, the Caribbean and Revolutionary War Georgia, but I can’t resist crossing the Mississippi again and again. Let me back up and give you a little personal history, and yeah, admit as Marsha Canham says, that I’m one of the authors who started working when chisels were the only tools and writing was done on stone tablets.

I grew up in the era of the TV Western: Maverick, Have Gun—Will Travel, Gunsmoke, Cheyenne, Bonanza, and many more. I read Luke Short and Zane Grey, and went every Saturday to the movies to see Joel McCrea and Audie Murphy. As a kid I was hooked on “cowboys and Indians.” Then my parents took a trip from our hometown of St. Louis to Wyoming. As the jagged majesty of the Tetons appeared on the seemingly endless horizon, I grew spellbound. That same summer the movie Shane was released. I thought I knew all about what made the West, well, The West—gunfighters, cowboys, and the cavalry rescuing wagon trains from marauding Indians who were mostly the villains.

Then I majored in history in college where I learned that the West was a great deal more complex—and fascinating. The concept of “West” is linked to our nation’s expansion. The first settlers pouring across the Cumberland Gap defined it as Kentucky. Men pursued by the law crossing the Sabine called it Texas. Dirt farmers saw the promise in what scoffers labeled “the Great American desert.” They called it Kansas. To gold seekers, it glittered in California, then rode on Nevada’s zephyr winds and beckoned under Montana’s Big Sky. Later it called from the lofty grandeur of the Colorado Rockies and finally, the ice palaces of Alaska.

Remember, I never started out to become a writer. I was just a dreamer who drifted into college teaching. My years in academe fed my fascination with the American frontier. Then I discovered historical romance! I read voraciously in my spare time, and over summer breaks, devouring mostly Westerns by such pioneers as Lisa Gregory, LaVyrle Spencer, Francine Rivers and Rosemary Rogers. Around this point I gathered up my courage and admitted I wanted to write a book. Finally, I dared to scribble down eleven pages of plot outline for a story set in Old California. Disclosure: one of my favorite TV Westerns was Zorro. Then I called my best friend and read those pages to her. She loved ‘em! Considering that I used more “white-out” than paper, she offered to type for me. Yep, this was before computers were available. I sharpened a dozen pencils, opened a ream of loose-leaf notebook paper and wrote my first novel, GOLDEN LADY.

At the time I began reading historicals, romance authors had written about Native American heroes and Anglo heroines for many years. Although the books were bestsellers, I had a problem believing that an Indian man from a tribal society, no matter how noble, could build a relationship with a woman educated in the white world. How much more credible would it be if that hero was a man caught between those two worlds, a half-breed who was educated yet still rejected by white society? Ironically, because of his white blood, he seldom could gain full acceptance in his tribe either.

To most white women in the 19th century West, all Indians were “savages.” But how exotic and forbidden for a heroine to be attracted to a man of mixed blood, a man outside the pale of “civilization.” His education might intrigue her, but it would only make him aware of the boundaries between them. But with such a bold and unconventional woman, he could trade quips and even quote Shakespeare. In spite of everything against them, the half-breed and the heroine could bond intellectually, not just physically. It would be them against the prejudices on both sides of the racial divide.

For my third novel I had a story concept that didn’t fit anywhere I wanted to go. It was about a disinherited son. His father wanted to replace him with a new heir for a vast estate. Unfortunately, the idea sounded like a Medieval and I wanted to write Westerns. But if my hero was a half-breed and his father was a white cattle baron, I could use the plot, and try my hand at creating my first hero caught between red and white worlds. The result was Hawk Sinclair. His father sent him East to school to be “civilized.” But he quickly learned that he had no greater acceptance there than he’d had from the cold, ruthless Noah Sinclair. When Hawk grew up, he became a gunman, drifting aimlessly, belonging nowhere—until he met his father’s new wife. Younger than him, Carrie was also a victim of his father’s cruelty, forced into a loveless marriage that left her desolate.

Before I was halfway finished writing CAPTURE THE SUN, I loved Hawk, especially when he and Carrie started to spar. It really worked having him shock her with his erudition and charm her with his wit. Yeah, I was on to something with my twist on Indian heroes. I could explore racial prejudice while I built sexual tension. Part of the “code of the West” was that white women did not marry “breeds.” This prejudice caused irreparable splits in families.
In A FIRE IN THE BLOOD, it was the heroine’s father who disowned his only child. In NIGHT WIND'S WOMAN, I created the Irish mercenary Conal Quinn, the most purely evil villain I’ve ever written--although the uncle in Endless Sky comes a close second. All these men hated those they considered “their inferiors.” The intelligence, education, honor and decency of my mixed blood heroes only served to underscore the virulence of society’s bigotry.

After I wrote about Hawk, the Cheyenne, I created Lipan Apache, Sioux and Muskogee protagonists. These were all proud, lonely men who stood outside looking in at two societies, neither of which accepted them. To hide their pain, oh, and I do love to torture my heroes, they became hard-edged and mistrustful…until they met the right women, whose unconditional love made them whole. Only then could they belong for the first time in their lives.

One truism in history is that it’s always written by the victors. What really happened at the Little Big Horn? Crazy Horse might have won the battle but the U.S. Army won the war. Ultimately, all the Sioux, Cheyenne and their allies paid a bitter price. Telling their side of the story compelled me to write THE ENDLESS SKY. My half-breed hero was the heir to the Remington fortune in Boston, yet gave it all up to return to his father’s people. He and his white wife lived with the Indians whom Custer attacked. I recreated that epic battle with them as eyewitnesses. They survived but Chase Remington's beloved Cheyenne family did not fare so well after the story ended.

To that point, my heroes had always longed for acceptance in red society. They tried to return to the simple and honorable traditions of tribal loyalty. What if my educated half-breed hero rejected his Indian blood and wanted to be white instead? Wow, where did that one come from? I mulled the idea over and wrote the outline for SUNDANCER. Cain turned his back on his mother’s people in a vain attempt to win recognition from his cold and ruthless railroad baron father. Roxanna forced him to realize he needed to accept both red and white sides of his heritage before he could find peace and their love could flourish.

As I said, I’m always trying a different twist. What if the heroine had mixed blood? PALE MOON STALKER actually came about because of a young girl I introduced in THE RIVER NYMPH. Sky Eyes, raised in both white and Sioux worlds, was the foster sister of the white hero. I had to pair a mixed blood woman with a white man to set up a good cross-cultural conflict. I decided on an English lord turned bounty hunter. Max was the perfect guy for a formidable gal like Sky—an embittered remittance man who earned his living in a dangerous profession. It just so happened that he needed a wife to regain his title, and she needed a fast gun to bring her dead husband’s murderer to justice. Marriage of convenience works in a Western just as well as in a Regency.

As you can see from the above examples, most of the characters in my books appear in my other books. Sometimes they are descendants of protagonists from earlier stories. When Sky and Max rescued a little Cheyenne girl named Fawn, she wrote the epilogue to that book for me. I knew she would be my first full-blooded Indian protagonist, the CHOSEN WOMAN. Educated in St. Louis society, she was destined to guide her Cheyenne people during the turbulent era of the Oklahoma land rush. And, like Sky, she would meet her match in an unlikely white man.

As yet, I have not created a full-blooded Native American hero, but since the Indians have at last received recognition in fiction, if sadly not in fact, I’m sure I’ll come up with a worthy hero to make some heroine’s heartbeat speed up. But he’ll have to be able to exchange quips with her and quote poets. Some things don’t change…at least for me.

I’d love to have a discussion with Regan’s readers on this blog. Please give me your opinions. I’ll be happy to reply to anyone who comments. Also, I'll be giving away my book, CHOSEN WOMAN to a random person (in the US) who comments!

Why do you like or dislike Western and/or Indian romances? What are your personal keepers? (Regan has posted her Best Western Romances list and I’m pleased to be on it!)

Do you think characters from various ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds enrich Western/Indian romance? Before Capture the Sun was published in 1988, do you know any other Indian romances with mixed-blood protagonists who have been educated in the white world?

47 comments:

  1. Hey, Shirl, great post! I, too, come from the era of great TV westerns. Maverick was my favorite, though, not the real strong, silent types. "G" And I started out writing what I know--which was American history and geography, so I have my fair share of westerns under my belt. I'm not entirely certain why they fell out of favor and Regencies became the style. Outhouses are outhouses in both places. Apparently being a real duke is easier than being a John Wayne kind of duke?

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    1. Yep, Pat, outhouses are indeed outhouses in both places, but Western and Regency settings, like other trends, come and go...and then come back. Here's hoping we both get to write a lot more Westerns in the future!

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  2. Great post. I've always loved western historicals - especially yours. Congrats on the re-releases!

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    1. Angie, so pleased that you enjoy my Westerns. The epub business has really given lots of authors the chance to begin again and introduce a whole new audience to their backlist.

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  3. Jennie PascarellJune 28, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    I started reading Shirley Henke books shortly after a major loss happened at the brink of my young adult life. If I had to choose just one book I love the most it would have to be about the lady who was taken in as an young lady herself and ran then owned a bordello and then took in a lady from an abusive relationship helped her overcome fear of men. The book was awesome. I have all the books and for the life of me, I can't recall the name of it. I am at work right now or I would pull my tote out that they are stored in for safe keeping and find the name of it. I look forward to more books soon.

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    1. Jennie, that book was LOVE LESSONS AT MIDNIGHT, the first in my upcoming "House of Dream" Trilogy. In some ways it harks back to my first book, GOLDEN LADY, in which the heroine was forced to work in a bordello and then escaped to assume a "respectable" identity and marry the hero...who later found out her tragic past. But that book won't be up an an ebook until I can edit it sometime in the future.

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  4. This article is so intelligent, so well written, so interesting. History is my passion, and although my novel was set in Post Conquest England, any historical written well is an exciting adventure into another world, and well worth the trip. I am so glad I stopped by, and am looking forward to discovering a new author!

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    1. Naomi,
      In the fall, I'll be featuring my Best Medieval Romances list and would love to read yours for that (I'm also writing one that takes place in 1067 just after William and his knights took over England.

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    2. Naomi, thank you so much for the kind words about my article. As a former history teacher, I really appreciate that, especially from a fellow author!

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  5. The Western and the historical romance compliment each other uniquely. What is more primal and powerful than the male/female relationship, marriage and the recreation of life? What better place for a man and a woman to start a new life than in the West—to reinvent themselves, and in the process of self-discovery, discover love?

    I really congratulate you for being a guest and visitor of Regan's Romance reviews.. you surely are a great person to be invited for such esteems.. every word was great.. the way you blended well west and history together with so many beautiful references is really captivating.. a long blog to be read.. but i was so captivated that couldn't miss a single line to read. i dont know much about all those heroes you mentioned and dont have good idea about your novel heroes.. but surely i would now buy them all and would read them all to find more about them.. but seriously your review was great.. totally fascinating and appealing for readers of all choices.. i bet westerns would now start love you more than they ever did.. ♥

    P.S: I would be waiting for Shirl's autographed book... :)

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    1. Arooba, Thanks for visiting my site! I've reviewed several of Shirl's books on my blog and will be reviewing another next month (LOVE A REBEL, LOVE A ROGUE). I'm sure you'll find some to read you'll love!

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    2. Arooba, best of luck winning the signed book!

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  6. What a splendid article, and oh my goodness, look at those gorgeous covers! Shirl, you are amazing!!! I enjoyed this immensely!

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    1. Danelle, thank you so much. Compliments on my article from another author always thrill me! Regan did a wonderful job of putting together all my covers, old print and new ebook ones.

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  7. What a wonderful piece, Shirl! I've known you and loved your books for a long time but I didn't know your story until now. Fascinating - and eloquently written (of course!) Thanks, too, for helping to blaze the indie trail for the rest of us. You are a class act!

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    1. Cindy, as a fellow "troglodyte" from the golden era of romance, your compliments make me smile. As to blazing a trail in epubbing, don't think I would ever have gotten started if Pat Rice had not kicked me in the butt to do it! And then all my friends on the eloops were so wonderfully helpful. Romance writers are the best.

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  8. I love reading/writing western romance, but truly love the travel to research on site. Shirl, this is great into about the ethnic mixes, and I love to think of cowboys on the range, discussing the Russian Rominoffs as if they were in a soap opera. Great piece, Shirl.

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    1. Cait, the Rominoffs WERE a soap opera ! I know you are a lover of research travel and have visited so many wonderful sites, which makes me envious, although I, too, try to visit every place where I set a book, especially the Westerns.

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  9. I'm very curious to see if any readers know about other authors who have written about educated half-breed heroes in their Western romances. So far, I know of none, but would love to find others who are doing this. Surely there are some??

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  10. I can recommend Catherine Anderson and Ellen O'Connell--both have wonderful romances featuring such heroes and I've reviewed those novels on my blog.

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  11. Shirl,
    you asked if readers think characters from various ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds enrich Western/Indian romance. Personally, I do. It puts me in the head of another culture. And the "half-breed" heroes exposes me to the issues facing a hero who comes from more than one culture. Such an understanding has relevance in all times. I'm not sure about a romance that predates CAPTURE THE SUN that does what you did. There's a list at http://historicalromancewriters.com/timeperiods.cfm?genreID=21 which shockingly omits yours (they must be listed elsewhere on their site) but some of those may have similar elements.

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  12. Regan, I will check out that site and see what's there. Have read some of Catherine Anderson, but did not know about Ellen O'Connell. What I've read of Anderson were not books with "my kind" of heroes, but I'll check further. Thanks for the tips!

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    1. Shirl,
      Ellen is a wonderful new Indie self-published author who, in my opinion would be clearly RITA material if not for RWA's silly rules against the self-published. Ellen's two books, EYES OF SILVER, EYES OF GOLD and DANCING ON COALS, are reviewed below on my blog. EYES features a part Indian hero and COALS features a full blood Apache hero. Both are 5 star novels. I will review her third novel, SING MY NAME, next month as a part of my Patriotic Historical Romances as it's a post Civil War novel with an amazing hero.

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    2. Shirl,
      forgot the other part of your comment. Catherine Anderson's COMANCHE MOON features a wonderful half-blood Comanche hero, Hunter of the Wolf. Here's the link on my blog to my 5 star review: http://reganromancereview.blogspot.com/2012/06/new-review-catherine-andersons.html

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    3. Will look for those titles, Regan. Thanks for the tip. Still waiting for some comments on my questions. Maybe I'll troll with another FB post.

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  13. Thank you for the excellent blog, Shirl. My grandmother's grandmother was a Cherokee who married a white man. The tribe erased her name from their rolls as though she had never existed. We all remember her fondly, however.

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    1. Hi Phoebe! How neat that you have a Cherokee great (however many)grandmother. I always wanted to have some Native American blood, but I am, alas, purely European, which I always told my parents was just boring . As an author of the West yourself, so happy you enjoyed the blog.

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  14. What a wonderful article! Though I write mostly contemporaries, I cut my teeth on historical romances, and I devoured the TV westerns that were popular during my childhood. As for heroes and heroines with different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds, I've always thought those differences enrich books. Nowhere do these differences show up more strongly than in western historicals with characters straddling two very different worlds.

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    1. Could not agree more, Ann. I couldn't build my plots without "help" from all those diverse and fascinating supporting characters--and leading men and women. Isn't it amazing how many of us devoured TV Westerns during their prime. Wish they would come back. Sigh.

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  15. Great article. You must have worn through a few chisels getting it all down LOL. I grew up watching those black and white Westerns too. In fact, my dad was such a buff, we bought one of those new fangled color TV's just because he heard that Bonanza was going to be broadcast in color. I had a thing for Randolph Scott and Alan Ladd and even the Cisco Kid. The Lone Ranger never really grabbed me, but Tonto...yumm. And then there was the Virginian, and Bat Masterson, and Palladin...and my all time drool-dripper: Steve McQueen in Wanted Dead or Alive. augh. just augh.

    Marsha Canham (in case I have to post this as anonymous lol)

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    1. Hey, fellow "Trog", I got past the chisels and into ball-point pens by the time I finished the first series of Westerns. Had not thought about the B&W vs. color TV's in ages. Yep, I watched all those shows without color, long past the time when they were all in color. Loved Cisco (Duncan Renaldo) and Randy Scott. Had not thought of him in years either! Gene Evans is my all time drool-dripper from those days. Ah, Bat...or Burke. They don't make leading men like that anymore--unless WE create them in our books!

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    2. AArgh!! I just had to come back and correct my mistake! Must be all those tough years in the Pleistocene dulling my wits. It was Gene Barry who was my heartbhrob. Gene Evans was a very good character actor, who unfortunatley had a face like a potato. Ah well, we all get older...and older...but we keep on writing!

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  16. Wonderful guest blog, Shirl--and you've written such an amazing collection of books! Thanks for sharing so much with us about the inspiration for your stories.

    Miriam Minger

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    1. Thank you, Miriam, for the wonderful compliments on my books. I have striven to put together a wide variety of settings and kinds of romances and adventures. We all get inspiration from so many places. Wouldn't it be interesting to have all us authors get together and compare lists of what has inspired our books?

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    2. Miriam,
      I am reading your book THE PAGAN'S PRIZE for my Best Medieval List that I will post in the fall!

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  17. Jennie PascarellJune 29, 2012 at 7:51 AM

    To read how you bring characters to life in the books takes me right there as if I am that heroine. I would ask that you not change your style. It works. I have read other authors and they just don't have the same flavor as your books. In my opinion I am so captivated by the books that when I begin reading about the half blood types in westerns I have a hard time putting it down. And sad when the book ends. But happy with the ending.

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    1. Thank you, Jennie, for your wonderful praise. I'm delighted that you find my writing style and half-breed protagonists to your liking. I hope to bring you and other readers many more happy endings as I continue to write!

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  18. Shirl,
    I agree with Jennie. Why change a winning formula? I wanted to ask if you'd ever read Brenda Joyce's INNOCENT FIRE, or one of the later ones in her Bragg Saga, DARK FIRES? INNOCENT FIRE, published in 1988, the same year as CAPTURE THE SUN, features an half-breed hero (a Texas Ranger) and DARK FIRES features a half Comanchero hero who was the product of a rape in INNOCENT FIRE. The interesting thing about the mixed breed hero in DARK FIRES is that he becomes the Lord of Dragmore, inheriting a great estate in London, and his story is a wonderful Victorian. Which proves you can take your half-breed heroes anywhere!

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  19. Shirl,
    What a terrific article! I have a little Indian blood, compliments of my halfbreed great grandmother, and I love romances that feature a mixed-breed hero or heroine. They carry emotional baggage of a special sort, often giving them a "wounded hero" appeal. My Texas Druids series includes such characters. The heroine of Dashing Druid is a quarter Cherokee, and the hero of my next book, Dearest Druid, is half French/Choctaw and half Kiowa. He's a hunky mess! ;)

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    1. Lyn, don't mixed-blood characters make wonderful "wounded heroes"? They sure do carry emotional baggage, especially considering the racial prejudices that were so prevelant in that era. I'll have to check out your Texas series. I love "hunky messes"!

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  20. I'm honored to be on Regan's lists and have her saying such nice things about my books. Thanks, Regan.

    I’ll answer your questions, Shirl. Westerns are first in my heart because I was a horse-crazy girl who grew into a woman who spent much of her adult life in the horse world. Historicals have an appeal that contemporaries never have because my ideas about appealing male looks, courage, and heroes were all formed by the same t.v. shows you’ve mentioned and movies like The Outlaw Josey Wales. To this day has a male human ever looked sexier than the young John Wayne standing in the road in Stagecoach?

    NA or Indian romances never had the same effect on me because the ones I tried were so unrealistic I never got far. Part of the reason I wrote my own stories was an attempt to write a native hero with a background and in a situation where the story seemed realistic enough I could believe it. That’s like what you said in your post, Shirl, about using half-breed heroes because you can give a background that makes the story possible. I know many romance readers don’t want realistic. They want fantasy and escape, but I’m on the other end of the spectrum. If the story isn’t realistic enough for me to accept, I never get far. Your post here showed me I've missed out on yours, and I'm going to remedy that.

    As to personal keepers, Regan has several of them on her lists, but one of my favorites is a western at heart but not technically - Whispers of Heaven by Candice Proctor. It’s set in Australia, but like the movie Quigley Down Under, it’s a western in spite of that. Penelope Williamson’s The Outsider is on my list, and so are several of Maggie Osborne’s and Lorraine Heath’s.

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    1. Ellen,
      I am so glad you stopped by! You and Shirl have much in common and I've encouraged her to read your books. I know she'll love them as I do. Your stories ARE realistic and so enthralling. I wish I had half the talent you and Shirl do. Keep writing those great stories!

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    2. Hi Ellen,
      I'm so glad you stopped by to comment. I never had the privilege of living around horses until I was an older adult when I took my first horseback ride. But I always loved Western TV and films and traveling through the magnificent country. I completely agree with you that what I write must be realistic, the hero must be able to build a relationship with the heroine that will work--shared educational values, not just a hunky Indian and a simpering white female. Ironic that you should mention books set in Australia, since they can be Westerns in the true sense of the word. I loved Quigley and Penny's Outsider, too! Big fan of Maggie and Lorraine. Will try to find the Proctor book and give it a try--as well as yours. You get very good recommendations!

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  21. Shirl,
    Thanks for being such a wonderful guest author and blogger! Everyone enjoyed your fascinating article and many readers (and other authors) have discovered your great Western romances. Don't be a stranger--you'll be on my July Patriotic Romances list with LOVE A REBEL, LOVE A ROGUE!

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  22. Congratulations to you, Naomi Baltuck, for winning the drawing for my Western Indian romance CHOSEN WOMAN! I hope you enjoy Fawn and Jack's story as much as I loved writing it. She was my first full-blooded Native American heroine, a complex young woman educated by her adoptive parents in the white world but destined to return to her Cheyenne heritage to guide her people with her mystic gifts. She was also spoiled, willful and had a great deal to learn when the story began...Jack Dillon, a tough Irish lawman, was the perfect one to teach her. I also want to thank every reader who commented and gave me such wonderful responses on Regan's blog. Happy reading to each and every one of you!

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