In my novel Her Lucky Catch, Jazz Shepherd has no home, an unreliable cast-off car, and the bankroll of a Tibetan monk. But she has a treasure in her cousin Harry. He lets her live rent free upstairs, buys her cinnamon rolls and coffee, and does her hair and makeup when she has to look truly special. In exchange, she consoles him over his losses in the drag-queen beauty pageant and entertains him with gossip from her attempts at a lovelife. It’s a great relationship.
Secondary characters are a fun way to develop the main characters without causing too much of a distraction–even if the secondary character is a six-foot drag-queen with size twelve high heels.
I think setting is a great secondary character. A blinding blizzard, a fine rain, a relentless wind, a mountain, a one-way street, a haunted house–any of these settings can develop a character as much as interaction with another human. Like words and actions that linger, setting can make itself known long after its time on stage. In Will Work for Love, my hero and heroine are brought together after a hurricane has swept over the island of St. Thomas and left an estate in shambles. My hero, a carpenter, has to help my heroine get the estate ready for her best friend’s wedding. They work against storm damage, a tight timeline, and chemisry that distracts them from the hammers and paint buckets. When the truth about the hero’s carpentry business is revealed to the heroine, he has to work for her love.
Have you noticed the trend in boxed sets in the past year? If I had a publishing crystal ball, I wouldn’t even need to ask it if this trend will continue throughout 2014. It will! And it’s a great deal for writers and readers. Many of these boxed sets are priced way, way low and include 6-8 books! My novel Will Work for Love was recently included in the boxed set Unforgettable Heroes along with 7 other full-length books for the bargain price of $.99.