by Cathy Pegau
My current books—Rulebreaker, Caught in Amber and Deep Deception—have several reoccurring characters who change from minor to main players, depending on the story. Nathan Sterling and Natalia Hallowell have been in all three books. Sasha James and Genevieve Caine switch roles from primary to secondary characters, respectively. None are mere cardboard cutouts, no matter when or where they appear. Even though they’re only given a few lines or brief scenes, secondary characters deserve proper treatment and development.
Before I get any further, let me help you sort out who was in which book and what status they held. (Thanks for the suggestion, Sharron!)
Caught in Amber revealed things about Sterling I hadn’t consciously known during the development of Rulebreaker. Like where he got his scar, and the fact he’s the only boy in a blended family. Those details were waiting for me to discover. They’d pop onto the page as I typed, sometimes surprising me yet sounding so natural. He’d been there all along as I wrote Rulebreaker, just waiting for his moment to step into the limelight.
Perhaps one of the most complex characters I’ve written to date, Sasha James shines as the heroine in CiA. A recovering drug addict, she displays an inner strength and vulnerability that impresses Sterling and serves her well. In Deep Deception, she’s part of the supporting cast but no less for it. Sasha doesn’t lose a gram of personality or strength after moving past her own story. Like the A-list celebrity who makes a cameo in an indie film, her appearance enhances that of the main characters yet doesn’t detract from them.
Rulebreaker. A few lines, a small role in plot development, and her job was over. Her function in CiA wasn’t much more than that either, but I knew I wasn’t done with her. Or she wasn’t done with me. The few scenes she has in CiA highlight her intelligence and humor. I liked this woman. I wanted to see who she was beyond the masks of her undercover work and professional activities. Mulling between bouts of active writing on CiA produced the glimmer of a plot for a third book.
The introduction of Genevieve Caine in CiA sealed the idea. She took on a life of her own off the page, her history such a contrast to Natalia’s. Also smart and quick-witted, Gennie plays things close to her chest. She would make a determined, get-the-job-done person like Natalia nuts. But at the same time, I knew they would be perfect for each other. They required a great conflict combined with the need to join forces, something that could hold these two strong women together. Gennie and Natalia have their turn in Deep Deception.
In Rulebreaker and Caught in Amber, there are glimmers and hints of who the characters will eventually become, particularly Sterling and Natalia. Once I learned their personal stories, it was relatively easy to see why they did the things they did even back a book or two. What motivated them. Why they love the people they love.
I say relatively easy because even characters you make up yourself can surprise you. Ask them the right questions or put them in the right situations and you’ll be amazed by their answers and reactions. You’ll start seeing them take on bigger challenges. That’s half the fun of character development right there. The discovery that your secondary or minor characters have what it takes to lead.
Who are some of your favorite secondary characters? Which ones were given their own stories? Which would you like to see get their own stories?
Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau
Colonial Mining Authority agent Natalia Hallowell doesn’t always play by the rules, but she wouldn’t compromise a case either. Put on administrative leave under a cloud of accusation, with no support from her boss, Natalia seeks a little anonymous companionship at her favorite bar. But she’s surprised when the woman who catches her fancy starts buying her drinks.
Desperate, Genevieve “Gennie” Caine had no choice but to seduce, drug and tie Natalia to the bed to get her attention. With the Reyes Corporation after something she has, Gennie needs Natalia to open an investigation and distract them long enough for her to get off Nevarro.
Natalia doesn’t trust Gennie—despite the growing attraction between them—but the corporation’s suspiciously high profits convince her that they must be hiding something. But she has no idea just how deep the deceptions run….
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Cathy has very generously offered an ebook copy of Deep Deception to a lucky commenter!
All you need to do is leave a comment and answer Cathy's question: Who are some of your favorite secondary characters? Which ones were given their own stories? Which would you like to see get their own stories?