Archive for 06/16/2007


Posted in writing on 06/16/2007 by Susan Shay

What makes a good father? When you’re writing, at least, it all depends. In the first place you have to decide, do you really want a good one? Often a heroine or hero doesn’t have a great set of parents. Why? If you have great parents, it makes for a good support system. And most often, a happy life. Who wants to read about that? <G>

Of course, good dads who have kids make for wonderful heroes. A man who genuinely loves his children is sexy. Writing about them has its drawbacks, though. Kind of like in real life, what do you do with the progeny when . . .  well, you know.

In To School a Cowboy, my hero is one of those sexy dads. He’s raising his daughter, Annie, and is devastated when the courts decide to allow the mother (who abandoned Annie in California the last time she had her) to take her on a vacation.

I gave my own dad a copy of To School a Cowboy. “You might not want to read it. My kids aren’t going to until I die. They promised.”

 Dad is very supportive. “Of course, I’m going to read it. I know it’ll be great.”

He came to work one day after he’d read the first few chapters. “It’s a little racy, isn’t it?”

I have a feeling my grin was a great big one. “I told you, Dad. You don’t have to read it.”

“No. I want to. They’re in the cellar right now, with the tornado coming.” (And he could stop reading and go to sleep? *sigh*) 

Then my uncle, who bought one of the first books from me, said, “I finished your book, Susan. It was good. I really liked chapter 13.”

Dad’s eyes got big. “I’m going to stop reading, right where I am. I don’t think a father should know too much about what goes on in his daughter’s head.”

Good idea, Dad. 

Right now I’m working on a novella I call Knitted Together. My hero is a doctor who has five kids, which makes him totally sexy. <g> Of course, only three are his, but the fact that kept all of them them while his ex-wives “look for life” makes him a strong hero. I gave him a sleep-in nanny to help out with those time when . . . well, you know.

To create a heroine with a rocky background, writers often have to make fathers go away. Just not having a father because of death or some unavoidable situation is bad, but to have a father who’s out of a daughter’s life because he doesn’t care is horrible. It makes for lots of angst. Why doesn’t he love me? Is it my fault? Is there something inherently wrong with me? Will anyone ever be able to love me?  

For wonderful reading, though, good dads go completely out the window. I recently started reading a series of medical thrillers. In the first one I picked up, which I’m told is the middle of the series, there’s one of the worst fathers ever. The man doesn’t kill his daughter, but he murders her soul. He’s molested her for her entire life. She becomes a nun to escape, but for some reason, goes home for a short time. He molested her again. This time, he made her pregnant.

Talk about spiking my creep-out factor; it was off the scale. Fathers just don’t do that. Ever. He should have been punished. Torture is too good for him.

I couldn’t stop reading. <g>

The dads in my books are either great, or off the scene through no fault of their own. Maybe someday I’ll have the ability to write a really bad dad. We’ll just have to see.

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