In her post last Saturday, Michaeline talked about subplots and secondary characters. We chatted in the comments about the movie version of William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, and Michaeline said she wished the whole story could have been about the master swordsman sidekick, Inigo Montoya.
Which got me wondering: which secondary character(s) would you like to see in a starring role?
In this era of series, especially in romance, many (most?) significant secondary characters are written and signaled as sequel bait. Usually I’m excited about that. I love the promise of more stories in a world I’m enjoying, and if I’m already invested in the characters, there’s a delicious frisson of anticipation whenever they do something that could come back to bite them later.
Sometimes the author dangles the treat but keeps the reader waiting through multiple books. Maybe even through an entire series, like Julie Anne Long’s Pennyroyal Green books, where it was always clear that the resolution of Lyon and Olivia’s romance arc would wrap up the series. That’s OK. I’m comfortable with deferred gratification. I know the story will come, eventually. If I care enough, all I have to do is stick with the author and series until it arrives.
Here, I’m thinking more about the cast of supporting players who people a fictional world but who are not set up to step into the limelight in due course. Take Christopher and Barabas, two characters from Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels urban fantasy series. Ilona put up a blog post a few days ago in response to a reader’s question about whether she would ever write their romance. Click here to read the post in full. In short, Ilona said the decision would not be a question of popularity, but one of inspiration.
If I had my way, I’d beg the story gods to inspire Loretta Chase to write Dominick Ballister’s story. Dominick is the illegitimate son of the Marquess of Dain, hero of Lord of Scoundrels. Dominick’s mother is a calculating professional trollop who used her pregnancy to extort money from Dain. In LoS, Dominick is the final step in Dain’s redemption. The boy is an eight year-old bundle of trouble, aptly described as the spawn of Satan. He’s dark-haired, dark-skinned, big-boned and ungainly. He’s filthy, foul-mouthed and neglected by his mother, who fritters away his maintenance money and is interested in him only for his blackmail potential. In short, the unhappy child is Dain Mark II, which is why Dain cannot bear the sight of the boy, until he is forced by the heroine, Jessica, to overcome his revulsion. Together, Dain and Jessica rescue and adopt Dominick, giving him the prospect of the secure and loving childhood Dain himself never had.
I would love, love, love to read the adult Dominick’s story. Dain is one of my favorite fictional heroes—he’s physically hot, smart, funny and politically incorrect—and it’s clear that Dominick is cut from the same cloth. Unlike Dain, Dominick will grow up loved and wealthy, but the circumstances of his birth will make him socially inferior. He’s Dain’s oldest child, but he’s not legitimate, so he won’t inherit the estate or titles, which will go to his younger half-brother. He’ll be large, dark, and powerful, like Dain, but his younger half-siblings will probably be of more refined appearance, thanks to Jessica, who is petite and blonde. I see him riding wild horses across Dartmoor, and interacting with polite society only at the behest of his adopted mother. I’d love to know how he gets on with his half-sibs. I can’t imagine where he’d find true love, but I’m sure it would take a redoubtable woman to tame him.
Lord of Scoundrels is more than 20 years old now, so I doubt I’ll get my wish, but you never know. Susan Elizabeth Phillips published It Had To Be You, her first Chicago Stars novel, in 1994, and she surprised her many fans by releasing a new book in that world, First Star I See Tonight, last year.
Okay, it’s the longest of long shots, but a girl can dream 😉 .
How about you? Is there a fictional character you’d love to see as the hero or heroine of his or her own book?