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Researching stories is one of the most exciting parts of being a romance author. Since 95 percent of a writer’s work time is spent sitting in front of a computer, typing and deleting and deleting and typing, the opportunities to get out and actually interact with real-world character archetypes can be few and far between. That’s why I have a tendency to jump on any chance I get to see real-world heroes in action.
In fact, as I write this, I’m preparing to visit a local roller derby team for the heroine in a book I’m working on. I know lots of authors who do similar things…like going for ride-alongs with cops, shooting guns at a firing range (this is totally on my bucket list), visiting key locations, and doing job shadows.
Of course, writing a superhero story complicates things. Sure, I can spend countless hours watching superhero movies (and believe me, I did), reading comic books, and otherwise exploring the high-adrenaline worlds created by writers who have gone before me, but it’s not quite the same thing as experiencing it for yourself. What I really wanted to do was don a cape and jump from my roof to see what it’s like to fly. I wanted to shoot balls of fire from my hands to see what kind of range of motion I could manage. I wanted to thwart authority and kick some supervillain ass.
Naturally, I didn’t. I had an uncle who jumped from his roof once as a kid, and he doesn’t recommend it. He spent an entire summer in traction.
This summer, my family went swimming at a local river spot, where shallow waters and a lazy current make for a fun spot to play. One little boy in a life vest got caught in the current and was pushed out of the safe area, and we could all hear his cries for help as the river started to sweep him away. Cue the cute, twenty-something older brother who jumped to his feet, threw off his shirt to reveal a six pack of determined strength, and dove in to save him. There was quite a bit of applause as the pair of them came straggling safely out of the water.
Another time, my daughter was the child in trouble. We took her for a bike ride and hit the top of an incredibly steep hill. Unable to use her brakes very well, she took the hill at a fast pace—a pace that only picked up as she kept moving. About a third of the way down, she lifted her feet from the pedals and started screaming for help, which is when my husband ran after her. Fast. Really fast. Never-to-be-repeated fast. I still sometimes think about the superhuman way he caught up to her and fall into a swoon.
That’s the great thing about playing with superhero characters—you never have to look very far to find inspiration. Sure, I might never know exactly what it’s like to freeze time. And maybe I won’t ever take to the skies in tights. But I know what it means for the good guy to win, for everyday men and women to react in the moment in a way that rivals the best superhero story.
And that’s good enough for me.
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Playing with Fire
by Tamara Morgan
Fiona Nelson has always been one hot ticket—even before she took the conversion serum that gave her superhuman abilities. Fiona’s powers come at a price: lack of human contact, or she won’t be the only thing burning. When she loses control of her emotions, her fire powers run rampant…and she’s hurt enough people already.
But when the man behind her conversion returns to blackmail her into helping him gain power, the only person she can turn to is Ian Jones, the man who broke her teenage heart. The man determined to expose the criminal known as Fireball, whose explosive escapades are just a little too close to Fiona’s M.O.
Ian is convinced Fiona’s dangerous, convinced she’s Fireball, and convinced he’ll damn himself if he doesn’t resist a heat that’s always drawn him to Fiona like a moth to a flame—but Ian has his own secrets.
And he’ll learn far too soon what happens when you play with fire.