The Romance Reviews

Tuesday 21 July 2009

The Inspiration Behind Hostage Heart

In 2005 my hubby spent six weeks in Louisiana as part of a Federal medical team giving aid to thousands of injured and displaced victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. When he came back home, he spoke of all the wonderful folks he had met and related some of the horror stories of what they had endured. And after six weeks down there, he picked up, and brought home with him, many of the colloquialisms of the area.

Listening to his stories I envisioned more than what the TV news had been reporting. I heard about people who had lost homes, possessions and in some cases loved ones. And I learned what it meant to have an indomitable spirit to “pick yourself up” and rebuild. Despite all of the suffering and loss, there were amazing stories of generosity and kindness; people who had lost their homes cooked kettles over campfires as a thank you to the rescue workers and so much more.

To this day the TV news images of the flood waters and people on rooftops seem unreal. I certainly don’t mean to trivialize what had happened, but those scenes seemed more appropriate in some horrifying disaster movie than one of our American cities. Tragedies happened all over and not just from the failed levees in New Orleans. Tornadoes, high winds and torrential downpours wreaked havoc on property and the economy throughout the region.

Then again in 2008 Hurricanes Gustav and Ike struck the Gulf Coast. And hubby spent another five weeks down there; this time he was based in Texas. And again the folks down there were examples of humanity. This time hubby came home with tales of people who had been rebuilding their lives only to have waves, wind and rain tear apart their efforts. Some of the Texas victims had been relocated Louisiana survivors. Still, they were determined to rebuild.

The hurricanes of 2005 and 2008 were the inspiration for Deanna Blair and her family. In Hostage Heart Deanna’s “mamere”, the matriarch of her family, was lost when the levees overflowed. Her parents’ business was destroyed along with the home she grew up in. With her parents living in a FEMA trailer outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and no money to rebuild their once flourishing business, Deanna takes off for the call of New York City and the possibility of a salary to send back home. There wasn’t much, but she did what she could.

As for the inspiration for Ryan Hunter, well… suffice to say I used to date a guy (obviously long before hubby) who did undercover work in law enforcement. There was the evening I was visiting friends in an area of the city I normally didn’t frequent and I saw him. I was so surprised and excited – I had no idea he was working until that stranger ran out of the shadows…

It’s electric when Deanna and Ryan first get together. I hope that you enjoy their journey.

Hostage Heart by Chelle Cordero

Life was hard after the hurricanes swept through, destroying her parents' home and livelihood...Deanna did the only thing she could do. She moved to New York City, found a job, worked hard, scrimped and saved to send what little she could manage back home to Louisiana to her parents.

An errand for her boss - a chance encounter with a crew of bank robbers - a kind man who tried to help her and deserved her courageous help in return...

But he wasn't the man she thought he, he was so very much more!

Hi all - there has been a time change on the Blog Talk Radio Show on Sunday - it's at 8PM EST (NY time)

I hope everyone will join Kimberlee Williams and me this Sunday 7/26, at 8PM EST at


Kimberlee, Vanilla Heart Publishing said...

Fabulous discussion, Chelle! I love learning about the inspiration behind all your great novels! Let's talk about this Sunday on Books with Heart Radio, ok?


Chelle Cordero said...

Looking forward to it! & I hope everyone will join us this Sunday 7/26, at 2PM EST at

Jane Richardson said...

This sounds like a terrific book, Chelle. It must have been an incredible experience for your hubbie to go to those places and help out (a real hero :) and it sounds like you've translated those experiences into a great story. Yes, I'll try my very best to get to your radio slot on Sunday, hope you have fun!

Jane x

Chelle Cordero said...

Thanks Jane- hope you can make it on Sunday. BTR has a chat window so please do say HI.

Kaye Manro said...

What a great idea, Chelle! Wonderful discussion here. It sounds like such an intriguing book!

Chelle Cordero said...

Thanks Kaye,

One day in the not to distant future, hubby and I would like to take a trip back down to Louisiana & Texas and visit some of the areas he helped out in - G-d willing we will see vast signs of recovery.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Sounds a powerful, gritty, inspiring novel, Chelle. I love the clarity and power of your writing. I love the title, too! Hope the discussion goes really well. And your husband - a true-life hero.

Chelle Cordero said...

Thanks Lindsay.

Although my book is a fictional romantic suspense story, I hope I was able to accurately portray the characters and what they had gone through to get them where they were.

As for hubby, he's already quite egotistical (LOL), I try not to encourage him too much... (but yeah, the book is dedicated to him)

Sarah Simas said...

Great post, Chelle!

Hostage Heart sounds wonderful. Kudos to your hubby for being such an awesome hero, too!


Chelle Cordero said...

Thanks for coming by Sarah.

Hostage Heart was fun to write as I researched more of the culture.

My husband doesn't consider himself a hero, "just one of many who tried to do something to help"

Thank you for your words.

DanielleThorne said...

Great cover and wonderful inside information on your research. That is wonderful food for thought--we can write beautiful stories out of the greatest tragedies of our lives. Actually living what we write has so much more meaning than simple research. I always find those types of stories more poignant. The heroes and heroines have richer dimensions you can just feel.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Chelle,
Wow, your husband's experiences must have really brought the horror home to you. People are so reslient and brave in times of trauma and danger, makes you wonder whether it is more than just the adrenalin kicking in or whether it is something deep inside them, that comes to the fore when danger strikes.

Chelle Cordero said...

Thank you so much for stopping by Danielle & Margaret,

One of the things hubby spoke about was how humbling such an event was - to meet people who had lost so much and still found a way to appreciate life and let others know they were valued.

He came home feeling quite a kinship with the residents of the gulf area and it is a place that he, and through him - me, will always feel a connection to.

I am excited that I will have the chance to talk more about this book on Vanilla Heart's Blog Talk Radio - I hope everyone will join us this Sunday 7/26, at 2PM EST at

Unknown said...

Chelle--your novel sounds wonderful. And who else has thought of using the hurricane disasters for the backdrop of a fantastic story about the resilience of humans. Very interesting information--I enjoyed reading it. Now--what happens to that girl in New York? Celia

Chelle Cordero said...

Hi Celia,

Thanks for stopping by.

The only hint I will give (insert evil laugh here) is that eventually Deanna goes back to Louisiana. But the events before and after... well, you gotta read the book.

btw, you can read the prologue here

Savanna Kougar said...

What a beautiful inspiration for a love story. Indeed, the human spirit and the resilience of the human heart is amazing.

Chelle Cordero said...

Thanks for coming by and commenting Savanna,

Deanna was, in effect, one of those displaced by the storms and forced to move out of her comfort zone.

Put both her southern gentility and her resiliency into NYC and into the middle of a bank robbery, add a sexy hunk to the mix and we have Hostage Heart. (As you can see, I had fun with this story...)

Chelle Cordero said...

Hi all - there has been a time change on the Blog Talk Radio Show on Sunday - it's at 8PM EST (NY time)

I hope everyone will join Kimberlee Williams and me this Sunday 7/26, at 8PM EST at