Happy New Year, Everyone!
This is my first post of 2014, with the new format, and (gasp, can it be so?) I have a book release today. Yes. Today. I’ve a case of the jitters worthy of a bee keeper who is allergic to bees, because I quit my job at the lab in the hopes that I’ll hit high enough in the lists and sales numbers to actually pay my bills. Yes. You heard right. I am solely and completely a full time writer now, instead of being a full time writer and full time lab rat (for the benefits). Instead of the 80 hour work weeks I have pulled for the last 20 years, I’ll be working only 50 hours each week. I will be resting. Paddling white water. Resting. Yoga-ing. Resting. Baking bread again. I have a loaf cooling now. And I had massage this morning. I have no idea what to do with myself, except that I will adore being *just a writer*. So go out and get your copy of BLACK ARTS. Please! (Picture me wringing my hands in woe and fear and excitement.)
As most of you know, this is my fourth release in the last two months, and it probably is getting tiresome reading about Jane Yellowrock all the time, so I thought I’d talk today about another character and share some author cruelty … uh … I meant to say creativity. Right. Creativity. We all love to be evil to our characters, and there are none so easy to torture as the secondary characters. I speak now of Ricky Bo LaFleur.
Some secondary characters are going to be important enough in a standalone or series, to require backstories and lives that move forward with the story-lines, along with the Main Character. When I started the series, Rick appeared on the first few pages, and I knew he’d be important. His backstory was quick and dirty, lean and mean, and only in the back of my head. I came up with it when I wrote the first lines of the chapter. He was Frenchy, a pretty boy, a musician (saxophone in a R&B band), and an undercover cop with a history of trouble with witches and vamps, when he first ran into Jane.
In a short story written from his POV, which took place in the series timeline pre-Jane, but was written somewhere around book 3, readers and fans learned his backstory:
1. He was kidnapped by an insane vampire.
2. The vamp had a witch-tattoo-artist under her control.
3. The tattoos on his arms and shoulder were inked under duress, filled with a spell of binding.
4. He was saved at the last minute, before the binding could take place, but the tattoos were still there, waiting to be activated. At that point in his life, he met Jane in SKINWALKER. That is when his torture really began. He made the mistake of falling in love with Jane.
Rick’s story has been woven tightly with Jane’s. He’s been:
5. Bitten by a were-black-leopard.
6. Kidnapped (again) this time by werewolves.
7. Who recognized the binding of the tattoo and tried to chew it off.
8. Tortured by the werewolves.
9. Given the were-taint which was supposed to turn him into a were-creature himself.
8. But those dang tattoos… They stopped the transition.
10. Now Rick is stuck in the human form. The pain of the full moon, when his body wants to shape shift requires him to have music to keep the pain at bay and keep him sane. All this by the end of BLOOD TRADE.
11. And the we come to the two novellas (one in the Jane Yellowrock World Companion e-book and the Audible Cat O’Nine Tales audio book) when he seems to be getting his life back in shape and growing closer to Jane. And then …
12. BLACK ARTS. And bad stuff happens to him. NO spoilers. I promise. But let me just say, Rick is really a strong character, because I’d have run screaming into the hills to have lived his life.
It sounds horrible to say, but there is no torture too bad to give a secondary character. Their lives can and should impact the Main Character’s life and the storyline. What they do should matter. What they want and fear and love and hate should matter. Who they are should matter, should affect the Main Character. Secondary characters can be important. They can be vital to the Main Character. And if so, they need to be more than cut outs pasted on the page.
What secondary characters from novels or TV or film have been more than two dimensional paper-dolls? Who are your favorites, and what did the writers do to them?
Faith Hunter has written the Jane Yellowrock series and the Rogue Mage series, as well as the RPG Rogue Mage. Several of her novels have appeared on the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller lists, and she has two new books under contract. Under the pen name Gwen Hunter, she has written action adventure, mysteries, and thrillers. Under all her pen names, she has 30 books in print in 29 countries.
Faith is a workaholic and playaholic who makes jewelry, collects orchids and bones, travels in her RV with her hubby and two dogs, and white-water kayaks. She also tries to keep house and cook, but since she started writing two books a year, she may have forgotten how to turn on the appliances.