Writing is my life. Life is my hobby. ~Emma Lai

Friday, July 8, 2011

Alison Henderson, author of A Man Like That and Harvest of Dreams

Secondary Characters – Love them or Hate Them

Thanks so much, Emma and friends, for inviting me to talk about secondary characters.  I love writing secondary characters!  They can be so much fun; sometimes it’s hard to prevent them from hijacking the story.  I try to keep my heroes and heroines grounded and believable so readers can empathize and relate to them, but secondary characters can be a bit more “over the top”.  They are often staunch supporters of the main characters, but they can also be outrageously funny or intriguingly quirky.  In smaller doses, secondary characters add the spice.

My western historical romances, Harvest of Dreams and A Man Like That are family dramas, so many of the secondary characters are family members.  In Harvest of Dreams, I particularly enjoyed writing the heroine’s mother.  Martha is practical, wise, and knowing—all characteristics I could relate to as a mother.  (Isn’t it a shame how seldom our children appreciate our wisdom when they need it most?)  I also loved writing Eliza, the heroine’s nasty nemesis.  Her catty dialogue was a sheer delight and gave the heroine the opportunity to show her wit.

My latest book, A Man Like That, is the sequel and follows one of the secondary characters from Harvest of Dreams on her own journey deep into the Ozark Mountains.  I hadn’t originally intended to write a sequel, but the characters took over and left me no choice.  Jessamine Randall was the heroine’s feisty best friend in the first story, but she had such an engaging personality that I had to let her have her own book.

The most significant secondary characters in A Man Like That are the hero’s family—his mother, younger sister, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew.  They are all serious characters struggling with their own challenges and tragedies.  For fun, I added Zeke—a mountain of a man with a soft spot for the heroine.  I firmly believe that a little dialect goes a long way in dialogue, but I let Zeke add enough Ozark flavor to connect the story to its time and place in the reader’s mind.

Here’s a blurb about the story:

Jessamine Randall, fearless crusader and champion of the downtrodden, is not a woman to be left waiting at the altar.  When her fiancĂ© disappears hours before their wedding, the ever-resourceful Jessy hatches a plan to track him down and bring him back where he belongs.

Morgan Bingham knows he’s no good.  Never has been.  Never will be.  A former outlaw is no fit husband for the only daughter of the town judge, despite her misguided notions.  Besides, after ten long years away from home, it’s time to return to the hills and face his demons.

Ill-prepared, but armed with unshakeable certainty, Jessy follows Morgan to his family’s cabin deep in the Ozark Mountains where she’s sucked into a whirlpool of deep secrets and old hatreds.  While she struggles to bring light and hope into their dark lives, her greatest challenge is Morgan himself.   Can she ever convince him he’s worthy of love?

What do you like to see in secondary characters? 

I’d be delighted to send one lucky commenter a pdf of the book so you can meet Zeke and all the other colorful characters in A Man Like That.  For more info and buy links, I invite everyone to visit me on the web at www.alisonhenderson.com.


Emma Lai said...

Welcome to my blog, Alison! I love a good secondary character, and I love it even more when he/she gets his/her own story.

To me, it's important that a secondary character has a developed personality.

wlynnchantale said...

I love secondary characters. And sometimes they can steal the story. One of my favorites is Sam from Lord of the RIngs. I think without him Frodo would have failed and another that stands out for me is Peabody from the Eve Dallas series.

Lilly Gayle said...

Secondary characters can make or break the book, esp. if the secondary character tries to take over. But I love to see good secondary characters get their own story. This one sounds great, Alison. And the cover is gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alison,
Congratulations on the launch of your second book! How exciting.

I love secondary characters so much I write connected stories so I can find out their stories.

One of my favorite secondary characters was the brother Stephen in To Whitney, My Love. I was so glad when he finally got his story.

Nan Dixon

Emma Lai said...

Thanks for dropping by Telly, Lilly and Nan!

Calisa Rhose said...

Mountain men- gotta luv 'em! Hi Allison. I have one secondary character in particular who took a ST story and single handedly turned it into a series in the works. He's a loner of sorts, who is stuck firmly in his beliefs and heritage. Almost to the point that he will never successfully find a mate. Or will he?
Congrats on your books!


Emma Lai said...

Hi Calisa! Sounds like your secondary character needs the right kind of woman. Can't wait to see if she comes along. :)