This Month's Topic: Secondary characters have many functions in stories. Have you ever had a secondary character surprise you in some way? How? How about in other author's books that you've read? Do you have a favorite secondary character in either your own work or in books you have read?
Wow, okay, that's a lot of questions! Um, some of my secondary characters have totally blown me away. I have a series that is going to be e-published within the next year or so I believe, and it has the largest band of character I've ever had to work with (not up to George R. R. Martin standards, but big for me!). One is actually a minor character from an Ancient Greek myth, and I elevate him-or-her to a major villain. Like, terrifying. I freaked my family out a bit when they read the book, and they openly asked me how I came up with her. I'm not going to name drop because that would ruin EVERYTHING. So I was absurdly shocked when I found myself crying over him/her while writing his/her backstory. I wasn't supposed to care about this person! After all they had done to my main characters! But I did. I still get oddly protective whenever anyone mentions them, often referring to them in the negative. It's the only time I would consider saying, "fight me" about Greek myths.
In the same trilogy, there's Jay. He gangly, young, freckled, and supremely unsure of himself. He's actually one of the most powerful demigods in his group of friends, but he's also the youngest and doesn't get paid much attention. He was just sort of a filler character, a helpful kid I wrote more for his powers and he even started out in early drafts as a villain-turned hero. As the books progressed, I actually found myself relating a LOT to him. He reacted how a normal person would to the crazy situations, and his need to be loved, quiet demeanor, politeness and usual meekness were different than my other heroes. Jay interested me so much that I wrote a short story from his point of view where he stars as the main hero.
One of my favorite secondary characters from my own novels is Jonathan Hadrian Emmanuel Hosey, or just Hosey, as he's known in Shubiao's Girls. I love that he is a bit privileged and struggles with budgeting. I love his ridiculous name, and that he spends his nights learning Tolkien Elvish to get into upscale secret parties and acting out Sherlock Holmes mysteries with his Lit club. But when he is faced with real life monsters, he gawks.
A character NOT of my own who surprised me is Carswell Thorne from the Lunar Chronicles series. The series as a whole tripped me up; I'm not big into sci-fi, but I do love fairy tales, and the books are great. First--Carswell? What an off-putting name. But he goes by Thorne, and is this striking, devil-may-care spaceship pilot who turns pirate, basically. But he has this whole redemption arc and ended up being one of my favorites. I've never really liked flirts, in fiction or real life, but Thorne was interesting, admittedly. He provided comic relief.
Want to learn more about other authors' secondary favorites?
Dr. Bob Rich