So my post today is about how a secondary character in my first book almost took over the series from its “official” hero Mark Julian. First some background: I grew up reading pulp fiction especially those books about hard-nosed detectives. In movies I never get tired of seeing “The Maltese Falcon” or “The Big Sleep”. When I began writing my first book I had the main character pretty much set out in my mind. Mark Julian, the tough as nails private dick who works in the city that never sleeps. Naturally my private eye needed a wise talking secretary and thus was born:
Jaime Tremaine: Mark’s wisecracking, shape shifting sex demon secretary.
She has two passions: clothes from the nineteen forties and her werewolf fiancé.
Now you might wonder what is up with her clothing choice? The simple answer is that, when I visualized my secretary the images about secretaries came from the pulp novels I’d devoured as a child. I just did not see her in any other attire. One day, probably in another book, I will delve further into explaining her fashion choice. For now lets leave it with that explanation.
In book one’s first draft my initial thoughts never strayed beyond making her a minor character at best. As I wrote however, that concept soon changed or rather she changed my mind. I found that I liked her. In my follow-up book revisions, she took on a greater role in this first story. Later reader mail indicated she was someone they enjoyed too.
By book two, Jaime unexpectedly became an unintended major player in the series. She was out solving crimes with her boss in this one. Unlike the traditional pulp secretary she did not stay at her desk taking notes and answering phones. I found I enjoyed her hijinks in this story. Soon half the fan mail for book two was complimenting me on her increased involvement. By then I realized that I had a problem. This series was not supposed to be about her. In fact I knew that if I shifted the emphasis to her any future books would be less interesting. Don’t get me wrong. I still loved her but I knew she really could not carry the mystery plotline. My solution was to pull back on her and bring Mark into dead center. Once I did that, the stories quickly flowed. Jaime stayed in the picture but took her rightful place as “second banana”.
Writing a book is fun. You populate it with interesting characters, or hope too, but in the end I found that there is a danger when you forget “who is who” in your literary zoo. J