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September 2018: Favorite Heroine
~ Kathy Otten ~

CTR asked:
QUESTION: Of your published titles to date, which heroine is your favorite and why?

Kathy Otten said:
Asking which heroine is my favorite is a bit like asking which of my kids is my favorite. I love them all. However, when you write a novel and spend so much time with the characters, they begin to evolve into their own person and grow into a character much different than the original rough draft created.

For me the character who strayed the most from my original conception was Johnny Bodine, the heroine in Lost Hearts.

Johnny had the most difficult life prior to meeting the hero, than any of my heroines. Raised in the Ozark Mountains by outlaws, she was constantly dragged from place to place. Her mother (though it never fully came out in the book), was the unmarried ‘woman’ of the outlaw leader. She had her own hard existence and knew first hand what would happen to her daughter as she grew older. So she began the lie from the day of Johnny’s birth that Johnny was a boy.

Old before her time, Johnny’s mother passed away, after which her father brought home an Indian woman. Morning Song taught Johnny how to use herbs for healing. After she too, passed away Johnny’s father dragged her around with him even more. Though her father resented having such a weakling son, he kept her around for her skill with healing.

Johnny longs to escape her life, and creates a different life in her imagination, with a family who loves her. She would have run off years ago except that she has no sense of direction and is terrified of wandering around Indian Territory lost and alone. She’s had no education and though her mother tried to teach her to read and write, she couldn’t seem to learn.

So by the time she meets the hero, Deputy U.S. Marshal Richard Bennick, Johnny has developed a pragmatic outlook on life. Simply accept what can’t be changed. Knocked around by life she picks herself up and keeps going. She is blunt and straight forward. She says what’s on her mind with her unique Ozark Mountain phraseology, which the hero finds refreshing and funny.

And even though the hero has captured these outlaws (Johnny included) and is bringing them back to Fort Smith to stand trial for their crimes, Johnny still clings to the hope that her life can be different, be better.

I came to admire that core of inner strength and in some ways, she gave up the most to be with her deputy marshal.

I recently reread the book and was somewhat amazed that she came out of my head. Then again, maybe she didn’t. Maybe she, like all my characters exist like spirits on another plane, and for a time take over my mind until my fingers on the keyboard are able to give them life.

“I reckon I don’t know what re-plus-es is, but iffen yer a tryin’ to say yer arm ain’t the purttiest part of yer body, yer right. But we all got somethin’, Rab. If it ain’t chickens it’s feathers.” –Johnny Bodine, Lost Hearts


Lost Hearts by Kathy Otten cover

Lost Hearts

[Historical Western Romance]

The Lawman–Haunted by flashbacks he can’t remember, from a war he wants desperately to forget, Deputy U.S. Marshal Richard Bennick arrives in Indian Territory carrying warrants for the notorious outlaw, Peirpont Bodine and his feisty, irreverent son, Johnny

The Outlaw–Trapped in a life of violence and abuse, Johnny Bodine lives in fear of men. Disguising her femininity, she retreats into her imagination and dreams of a family who loves her.

Together–Forced to trust each other as they journey through the Choctaw Nation, a unique bond of love forms between outlaw and lawman which can only be broken by Richard’s oath to uphold the law and the justice of the hangman’s noose.

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