Books are full of them aren’t they–characters who play a minor role and yet arouse your interest or get a raw deal in what is someone else’s story. What can be done with them? If they are part of a series, of course, the plan may be to give them stories of their own. But what if they are not? Or what if they are not among the ones chosen for a leading role in that series? Well, one answer is–give them stories of their own anyway!
I have done it a number of times, sometimes at the request of readers–Lady Angeline Dudley from the first two MISTRESS books, for example, and sometimes on my own initiative. The Bedwyns were created as minor characters in A SUMMER TO REMEMBER–a snooty lot of aristocrats to give Lauren a rough time when she entered a fake engagement with Kit Butler to save him from having to marry Lady Freyja Bedwyn. The trouble was, though, that the moment I created them, they wanted to take over the story. I kept having to cut out chunks of writing because this was Kit and Lauren’s love story, not theirs. I had to make the decision to give them a series of their own! And in the Bedwyn series, there were frequent mentions of Miss Claudia Martin, the only governess who ever stood up to Lady Freyja Bedwyn before quitting one day and striding off to set up her own school in Bath (with the help of an unknown benefactor who, unknown to her, was Freyja herself). Miss Martin intrigued me to the extent that after I was finished with the Bedwyns, I wrote the SIMPLY quartet about four of the teachers at her school. Claudia’s story is SIMPLY PERFECT–and her hero is Joseph, Marquess of Attingsborough, another leftover character, a rather gorgeous male who floats around a couple of other books, most notably ONE NIGHT FOR LOVE and A SUMMER TO REMEMBER.
And THE ARRANGEMENT, a Survivors’ Club book due out at the end of August, has a rather sad leftover character, who appears only in the first chapter and is mentioned once more toward the end. She is a perfectly blameless young lady brought to meet the blind Vincent, Viscount Darleigh, as his prospective bride, but he has not been consulted and he takes frights and flees. It didn’t seem quite fair to Miss Philippa Dean. When my editor asked me to write an e-novella to precede THE ARRANGEMENT, I thought immediately of Philippa and was able to write a story giving her a happily-ever-after. And because I knew at that time that the novella was to be part of the Survivors’ series, I gave her a hero who is also linked to those characters. He is the nephew and heir presumptive of the Duke of Stanbrook. I don’t yet have a cover to show for THE SUITOR. This cover of THE ARRANGEMENT is for the British edition. I love it though the heroine’s hair should be auburn!
Do you like reading about leftover characters? Do you have favorites? Do you have some whose stories you would like to have told?
To one person who leaves a comment before the end of next Tuesday, June 11, I will send yet another autographed copy of the advance reading edition of THE ARRANGEMENT. Last week’s randomly-drawn winner was Bill Boyd. I read and enjoyed all your comments, by the way.