Loree Lough

With nearly three million books sold, best-selling author Loree Lough’s titles have earned 4- and 5-star reviews and dozens of awards. Reviewers and readers alike call her “a gifted writer whose stories touch hearts and change lives.” Her 9/11 novel From Ashes to Honor (#1 in First Responders series, Abingdon) hits bookshelves to coordinate with the 10th anniversary of the tragedy. Loree lives near Baltimore and loves spending time at her teeny tiny cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where she loves to show off her talent for correctly identifying critter tracks. Visit Loree at http://wwwloreelough.com.

Loree's Lough Down

(and Other Leading Men I’ve Known and Loved)

When I sit down to plot out a novel, I usually start with the male protagonist. Don’t ask me why (because my husband reads this column, too!), but more than a few of my heroes resemble Tom Selleck, Sean Connery, and George Cloony. Whether tall or not-so, blue-eyed or Scottish-accented, they have one thing in common: Men and women like these fellas.

Tom SelleckThat, I believe, is part of their appeal . . . and explains their continued success in a wildly competitive industry. Readers seem to agree, as evidenced by what they share in letters:

“Loree, the whole time I was reading about Bryce in Love Finds You in North Pole, Alaska, I was picturing Tom Selleck in a black eye patch. I can’t tell you how many times my husband said, ‘What’s with that dreamy-weird look on your face?’ when I had that novel in my hands. If there’s a sequel to this one, I intend to buy it, if for no other reason than to spend a few days holding Tom Selleck in my hands!” (Martine Anderson, Paducah, Kentucky)

“Every time I reached a line of dialogue [spoken by J.J. O’Keefe in Kate Ties the Knot], I heard Sean Connery in my head. Yes, I know that J.J. was Irish and that Sean is from Scotland, but that fact didn’t stop me from picturing that one-of-a-kind smirk and look that Sean branded his Bond Girls with as the story unfolded!” (Kristina Gelichi, Eau Claire, Wisconsin)

“Because I’m an FBI agent, my wife made me read Suddenly Daddy to see if I agreed that Mitch looked like George Clooney. I did. And now she’s nagging me to behave more like Mitch/George. Thanks a lot, Loree.” (Chuck Gustafson, Phoenix, Arizona)

Chuck, Martine, Kristina, and dozens more just like them agreed that character descriptions—of heroes, in particular—add an important dimension to novels that draws them deeper into the story. And while I’m grateful that they “got” what I was going for in describing the men who held the starring roles in these novels, I can’t take full credit for the idea.

I learned that little trick, decades ago when my “I wanna be a published author” dream was shiny and new, as I sat front-row-center in a community college classroom and instructor Carolyn Males said, “You’re not just a writer, you’re an artist. But instead of crafting pictures with pencils or oils, you’re using words.” The image of me, paint-smeared palette in one hand, fan-brush in the other, standing at the easel as I dab life-sparks into the eyes of “my” Tom or Sean,or George? Whoa. That was downright appealing, in more ways than one!

I’ve read more than a few books in which authors have chosen not to describe any of the characters. And a few in which writers provided only vague and hazy descriptions. In both cases, I’m forced to glance at the cover in the hope I can picture how the hero might look saying this, doing that, reacting to something

that has happened to him . . . or to the heroine. Too often, the artist’s rendition doesn’t resemble the hero who lives in my head. And sometimes, the cover depicts a landscape instead of people.

Disappointing? You betcha! Why? Because I’m the type of reader who needs to “see” the characters who act out the roles in the stories I read!

As evidenced by the big fat stack of reader mail I’ve received on this topic, I’m not alone. That’s why, when it’s time to fill out my next trusty timeline, I’ll pencil “Tom” or “Sean” or “George” into the box titled HERO.

I’m sure for every author who has valid reasons for not describing characters, there’s a reader who prefers that style. All I can say to my readers is never fear, dear ones, I promise always to paint you a picture (of Tom or Sean or George) that you can carry in your mind as you drift off to sleep. (My big strong guy-readers can pretend they’re the cowboys who tame spirited stallions; gal-pal readers might prefer to slip into the heroine’s boots . . . and act as if you really need his help getting into the saddle!)

If you haven’t yet written to share your dreamy “moments with a star,” what are you waiting for! I’d like nothing better than to feature you in a novel where the hero or heroine has your name...

...and looks like you!


Honor Redeemed