Rogue Secondary Characters

So I’m in the midst of Book II of my first paranormal romance series. I’ve plotted out all five books already—plotlines, romantic couplings, story arcs over the course of the individual books and the story as a whole. I’m set. And what happens…?

Well, Jeremiah, to be exact. You see, Jeremiah is the brother of the heroine of Book II. And like most other characters in this series, he has a dark past. Jeremiah plays as much of a role in this story as all the other secondary characters. He doesn’t get extra page time. He has the same amount of snappy dialogue as everyone else. But while planning Jeremiah’s back story, I got a little…engrossed.

Soon, I’d written pages of notes on not only his whole sordid past and how it related to Book II, but I’d actually gone and written scenes…scenes that Book II had no room to support. My secondary character’s notes became very distracting—and expansive (25 pages so far!). I realized this particular secondary character was calling to me. No, not just calling. DEMANDING! If all the other secondary characters were getting their own books, why couldn’t he?

I found myself setting Book II on the side to figure out how and IF I could do what Jeremiah wanted—and, admittedly, deserved. I knew if the series got published, readers would want to know more about him. They would want him to have an HEA just like all the others. In fact, they would probably demand it as much as Jeremiah did. And after going through a hellish past and an even more hellish ordeal in Book II’s black moment, I realized Jeremiah deserved an HEA of his own.

Thankfully, it didn’t take long to hit me. The series is paranormal so I created a way to bring his supposedly-deceased wife back from “the dead.” Only, of course, there would be a price. Jeremiah was going to have to go through hell all over again to get his HEA, deserving already or not. Readers would probably hate me for making his life miserable all over again, but—hey—he got his way and now had his very own book all to himself! And we love it when our romance heroes redeem themselves. Am I right, ladies?

My five-part series is now a six-part series with Jeremiah’s currently set for Book III. The more time I spend with him, the more I believe that I made the right choice. Just as I made the right choice to take my western novella, Blackest Heart, and expand on it! Not only did it win

1st Place

in the 2009 More Than Magic’s Novella category. It was chosen for a paperback anthology, July’s The Way Back Home, AND its two sequels, Bluest Heart and Bet It On My Heart, are slated for publication in 2010. I’ve learned to go with my instinct…or rogue characters, in this case. Usually, it pays off and I’m all the happier with the work as a whole!

So writers – it’s your turn to sound off! Do you have any rogue secondary characters knocking down your muse’s door? Are (and how are) you indulging them?

Readers – what secondary characters have you read that you thought deserved their own story? Did an author ever make you deliriously happy by giving one of your favorite secondary characters a chance to redeem themselves in their own book?


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Amber Leigh Williams

Historical, contemporary, western, suspense…

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8 Responses to Rogue Secondary Characters

  1. Lindy

    You know, I can’t think of any specific examples, but I can usually “feel” it when an exceptionally good secondary character is going to speak to the author enough to get his/her own book. Thank goodness authors know how to listen!


  2. Cheryl McInnis

    I also love it when a “rogue” character gets a second chance in their own book. One that comes to mind is Hardy Cates from Lisa Kleypas’s Blue-Eyed Devil. Hardy was a real jerk in the book Sugar Daddy, but completely won me over in Blue-Eyed Devil.

  3. Amber Leigh Williams

    Pam, I know exactly what you mean! I love a trilogy or series in which it shwos what the characters of the previous book have been up to. Part of the reason I love continuations is because I get to see all the same characters again, only now they’re in the secondary characters roll and egging the hero or heroine on or teasing them. Particularly in series about families like Nora Roberts’ Quinns, in particular.

    Thanks for stopping by, Pam!

  4. Pam Keener

    I am a reader & I love to read a series where secondary characters get their time to shine. I love it when I am so hooked that I cannot wait for the next book to come out. I also wish there was more news on the characters that came before. Does that make sense? It seems like they drop off the face of the story or are ignored. I wish there was a way to include the old characters in the new story.
    Love & Hugs,

  5. Amber Leigh Williams

    Aw, thanks, Sandy! And you’re absolutely right – those secondary characters DO have a way!

  6. Sandy

    Yes, Amber, The Catalyst was supposed to be a stand alone book, but I ended up writing two more, so it turned into a trilogy. lol Those secondary characters have a way with them.

    Congrats, Amber, on your first place finish.

  7. Amber Leigh Williams

    Thank you, Kimber! I experienced the same thing with both sequels to Blackest Heart. They were so fun to write and I’m happy I decided to give both the heroes their own story.

  8. Kimber Chin

    Congrats on the first place finish! Woo hoo!

    I hear you about rogue secondary characters.
    Flawless, my February 2010 release,
    is the story of a secondary character from Invisible.
    Tavos demanded his own book.

    It was a lot of fun to write.
    I knew his personality fairly well
    and simply had to introduce him to the right (for him) woman.

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