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Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Blog Guest – Nancy Jardine – Secondary Characters

Today’s blog guest is Nancy Jardine, who has some interesting points to make with regard to writing about secondary characters in fiction. She is visiting again as her new book, Take Me Now, has only recently been published (June). The previous blog is here

Nancy is becoming a prolific writer with a varied stable of books:
The Taexali Game - time travel historical adventure set in Severan Roman Britain AD 210 (Aberdeenshire) for Middle Grade/ YA readers.

Take Me Now - fun contemporary romantic mystery featuring fabulous worldwide cities.
Monogamy Twist- contemporary romantic mystery set in Yorkshire, England; quirky Dickensian plot.

Topaz Eyes- finalist for The People’s Book Prize Fiction 2014 – romantic mystery thriller.
Celtic Fervour Series of Historical Romantic Adventures - AD 71-84. Book 1 (The Beltane Choice), Book 2 (After Whorl: Bran Reborn) & Book 3 (After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks); Book 3 ends in Aberdeenshire.


Secondary Characters

Hello, Nik. Thank you for inviting me to your blog today! [You're welcome!]

I was once asked how I used secondary characters in my novels and I didn’t have a ready made answer. Since I’m mostly a ‘pantser’ author, my secondary characters appear as I write the story, some having larger roles than others depending on why I’m using them in the plot.

I also know some quite astute authors who are ‘plotters’. Those authors always ensure they plan the ‘arrival’ of a new secondary character with the view that that person might just be the one to feature in a sequel or subsequent novel in a series.

One reviewer for Take Me Now writes that she really adored Ruaridh, Nairn Malcolm’s father. Review comments like that are always great to read because I loved writing Ruaridh into the novel. He’s an incredibly likable ‘older’ man and at fifty-nine, he’s still very attractive to the local ladies. Ruaridh is so personable that he is, in fact, the creator of some jealousy between Nairn—the main male character—and Ruaridh. Nairn knows just how popular his father is with Aela Cameron—the leading female role— and is gutted that she could possibly favour his father more than him. A read of the story shows just how possible that scenario can be.

So far, I’ve not featured an older man as the main protagonist of any of my novels but Ruaridh would be a good character to feature if I ever wanted to make him a central character— romantic novel or not.
I’ve tried to make him a realistic old Scot, a man of the isles who loves his life at the boatyard on Lanera, a fictitious island off the west coast of Scotland. The weather there isn’t kind for much of the year but it makes for a pragmatic and tough older guy. When I wrote him into the story, I thought carefully about his age and the divorced situation between Ruaridh and Nairn’s mother. I know plenty of women who’d want to swap a windy and rainy Scottish west coast island for the much sunnier and milder climate of Barcelona, though Caitlinn stuck with the marriage till Nairn was of university age. That situation of sticking with trials and tribulations for a long time, I think, goes along with the almost Calvinistic attitude that still prevails in many parts of western Scotland.

Would a reviewer write that Caitlinn is a pleasant secondary character? I don’t believe so but it’s not because she’s a downright nasty bitch. The reader only learns about Caitlinn in the passing as she’s a very minor character, yet she does play an important function in eventually straightening out the jealous tension that exists between Nairn and Ruaridh.
Though this blog post is about the characters in Take Me Now, there’s also very likeable old man in Tully, the chief of the Garrigill Celtic Hillfort in my historical romantic adventure The Beltane Choice.
Hmm. Maybe I do need to give the ‘older’ man a role in a future novel?
Do you have any favourite strong secondary characters in a novel you’ve read…or in one that you’ve written?


Thanks, Nancy. I wonder if your question will get any responses! Indeed, I’ll blog about this aspect myself, I reckon.


Find Nancy at the following places

Facebook  LinkedIN   About Me    Goodreads   Twitter @nansjar  Google+ (Nancy Jardine)   YouTube book trailer videos   Amazon UK author page   Rubidium Time Travel Series on Facebook





Nancy Jardine said...

It's great to visit you, Nik. I'm wondering what your 'older man' blog might be like. :-)

Nik Morton said...

Thanks for visiting, Nancy! I think there will be more than one blog about the subject - one on supporting characters, one on those who insist on grabbing extra time and dialogue and one on 'older characters' in my fiction!

Richard Sutton said...

Thanks for the post, Nik and Nancy! As a pantser myself, I'm glad my process isn't that odd at all. My characters seem to grow organically as well, without much direct forethought. I once had a reader grow to enjoy one of my antagonists. She suffered emotional injury when he bought the farm. She had so hoped for his redemption. I told her I appreciated her being able to relate to him and gave her my condolences, adding that it wasn't really my fault, it was just the way fate (and the other characters...) wrote the story. ;)

Nik Morton said...

That's a great anecdote, Richard! Maybe this could be used in real life... oh, then they'll take me away in a white coat, hearing voices, my characters made me do it, it wasn't me! :)

Nancy Jardine said...

Hi, Richard. Sometimes it does seem like other characters 'drive' some of the action. That was pretty close to how my Ruaridh, the father of the main male character, was with me as I wrote the scenes he's in. It was a sort of 'take over'.

Nik- I could say- "Oh, by the way, it was Ruaridh and not me who wrote the next part of the plot". :-)