One of my favorite stories about dads is the story of big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton. As a little boy with surfing dreams and a single mom, Laird chose Billy Hamilton to be his dad. He introduced Billy to his mom and shortly thereafter, they were married. A romance novel in the making!
I didn’t choose my dad, but if I had, I could not have chosen better. Today, if he were still with us, dad would be 99. And as a writer, I have to thank him for giving me a childhood full of books and adventures that fueled my storytelling dreams and that helped me understand how to write a hero.
What is the “dad factor”? I think it’s in the details. Our dad read us history books on the living room couch and kept history alive in stories he told of his experiences, effortlessly summoning a past not merely his own but that of California and our nation. We’d hold our breath as he told of coming home from war on a ship called the Sacagawea, and how in the stormy waters of the northern Pacific, when the cooks decided to fry donuts for the troops on Christmas Eve, the ship caught fire, burned for nine hours, and almost sank. Or how he and our mother decided one afternoon at his father’s ranch to abandon the plans his parents had made for him and strike out across the country with mom’s dog to finish his interrupted education.
Uncountable times our dad loaded us into station wagons or onto boats and took us to woods, lakes, and shores. He gave us Hawaii and Tuolumne Meadows, Catalina and Tahoe, Mexican beaches, and Sandusky, Ohio. We learned to delight in nature and care for it—to leave the campsite cleaner than we found it! We learned to love hiking, sailing, and singing off-key in the car. We learned that pancakes and bacon are delicious everywhere, and that you can get apple pie almost anywhere in the world.
On Saturdays we learned to put chores first and to enjoy working with tools to the sounds of radio sports broadcasts. He taught us how to do ordinary things with attention and competence, like driving a stick shift or changing a tire, or how not to jibe in a high wind. His left-handed scrawl was utterly undecipherable. He was the frequent flyer of frequent flyers, a traveler of near places and far-flung continents, crossing the Pacific in peace and at war, commuting freeways and airways, and walking countless dogs.
As writers and readers of romance, straight or otherwise, we think a lot about attractiveness. In straight romance we like our dashing heroes with their well-cut abs, but in all Romance we like hero/ines with the inner qualities that make a great dad. The “dad-ness” I admired in my own dad I now see in my husband and son. And I always put some of that good dad mojo into my heroes--strong arms and shoulders, worldly wisdom and integrity, a thirst for adventure and a willingness to take care of what needs doing. My contemporary romance Golden Boy is just such a story of a small boy recognizing and calling forth the latent dad factor in the hero.
And in honor of the first dad I ever knew I always bake an apricot pie on his birthday! Happy Birthday, Dad!
Regency author Kate Moore switches genres with this splendid tale of love, money, and religious faith. When the new Earl of Winterburn has a vision on the battlefields of Portugal and returns home, he is determined to become an Anglican vicar despite the objections of his powerful family and his own extravagance and sensuality. His first post is the village of Rowdene. His new neighbor, Rosalind Merrifield, knows he’s not a parson at all, but a haughty lord, cold as a November frost and hot as a Guy Fawkes bonfire. However, when her fortunes take a turn for the worse, Rosalind turns to Leigh for help. He can’t refuse, and his aid lands them both in the midst of scandal and in the path of a dangerous enemy that threatens their dreams. The style is straight out of Jane Austen, with some Charles Dickens thrown in. (Perhaps Theo James plays the earl in the film version!)
--Highly recommended. Soda Creek Press
--A Romantic Times K.I.S.S. Award for hero, Leigh Nash.
*First digital version, based on paperback historical Winterburn’s Rose
More About Kate
A native Californian, Kate taught English to generations of high school students, who are now her Facebook friends, while she not-so-secretly penned Romances. In Kate’s stories honorable, edgy loners meet warm, practical women who draw them into a circle of love whether in Regency London or contemporary California. A Golden Heart, Golden Crown, and Book Buyers Best winner and three-time RITA finalist, Kate lives north of San Francisco with her surfer husband, their yellow Lab, a Pack ‘n Play for visiting grand babies, and miles of crowded bookshelves.