When supporting characters want their own show

A little about how my spin off Red Dragon book, The Champion’s Secret came to be, and the fun of spinning off characters who have ideas above their station and want their chance to be the lead.

And you can still win a copy of The Champion’s Secret in the contest running until release day on the 28th of April. Go to the giveaway post and leave a comment for a chance to win!

Art by Scott Carpenter

Back when I wrote Too Good A Man I needed to include a pretty major supporting character – Alyn’s lawyer. So in the cause of sticking it to Jarvez as much as possible (I do love to torture my characters) I came up with Will Garrett, ex JAG officer and ex lover of Alyn’s. Someone who maybe considered Alyn to be the one who got away, and was now here to save his ass. So yes, Jarvez was suitably alarmed by him.

Too Good A Man cover by Scott CarpenterOf course in the end Jarvez and Alyn are still together and now he knows Alyn is happy with someone else Will backs off from any ideas about reviving their relationship. But he’s still hung up a bit on Alyn by the end of that book and that bothered me. I liked Will. He was fun to write – especially when he was winding up Jarvez. So long after he should have left he was hanging around in my head. And I have a principle these days – if characters are going to live in my brain they are going to have to pay rent. That is, get to work in a book and earn royalties.

I decided to give Will his chance to finally get over Alyn and find a new man who would make him so happy he’d be all “Alyn who?” And who better to pair with a smart-mouthed lawyer than someone totally wrong for him? On the surface anyway. James is smart, if now as book smart as Will. He’s an ex-special forces soldier who right now is making money as a “gladiator”. Picture mixed martial arts, the Roman arena, a pinch of cage fighting and a generous helping of the campy glitz of the WWE and you’ve got it. Jarvez is a big fan. If they ever met he’d fanboy James so hard. But Will thinks it’s all a bit silly. Luckily James thinks it’s kind of silly too. He’s in it for the money.

It’s not the first time a character of mine has demanded their own show. Sometimes I’m just not done with them, even when their part in another story has ended. That’s the key I think. I’m not done with a character. If they’re lead characters then they demand a series. If they are supporting characters they demand their turn in the spotlight. And then maybe a series…

Sometimes a character spins off so hard they have more momentum than the original. If you’re a Discworld fan it’s sometimes hard to remember that Granny Weatherwax is a supporting character in her first appearance in Equal Rites. Later she becomes the lead of one of the main sub-series of the Discworld universe.

JackdawEven villains can leave fans wanting more. Lots of Marvel movie fans long for a Loki focused movie. One of my favourite book series – K.J. Charles’ A Charm of Magpies – spins of one of the villains making him the protagonist and yes, hero, of his own book, Jackdaw. It gives us more time with a fun character, and provides him with a chance of redemption.

It’s lots of fun to spin off a character like this, but it has risks too. Readers may wants the main characters and get very miffed that they aren’t there. Really the author just has to hope the readers aren’t any more done with that character than the author was.

Red Dragon #4: The Champion’s Secret

Cover by Scott CarpenterLawyer Will Garrett took a job with the Outer Spiral Trading Company for one reason only—to keep his ex out of jail. Now his ex is free, but with someone else. This leaves Will seeing out the final months of his contract on assignment as the legal counsel for a sports team of Modern Gladiators on a Company sponsored tour.

Jimmy Campbell, mighty Highland warrior, is the champion and captain of Team Spartacus. But really he’s James De Villiers, half-Scottish, half-South-African, ex-soldier. He’s only in this for the money. One more season then he’s gone. He’s already older than most of the team, with a nagging shoulder injury.

Will and James get together thinking only of killing time in bed during the trips between tour stops. But as they grow closer and Will makes friends with the team, trouble starts with team manager Lenny Sheridan. Lenny doesn’t want anyone to know James is gay. A hostage crisis focuses all the media in the sector on the team and forces James to decide if keeping his secret and his career is more important to him than acknowledging his relationship with Will, whatever that costs him.

A m/m science fiction romance available from 28th April from Loose Id

7 thoughts on “When supporting characters want their own show

    1. The concePt if they’re living in your brain they have to pay rent. After writing Best Friends Perfect, Kev was still talking to me. And it turned out his story is in some ways more fun than Kieran’s from BFP (he’s much more wreck less & naughtier). So I ended up writing a whole Kev trilogy covering the same time scale as BFP. And I’m not done yet w Kev’s story he’s still not quite got his happy ending! Looks like Kev trilogy will be in 4 parts! Liam 🙂
      Sorry about random comments, no idea what my phone is found!

      1. LOL, having a bit of commenting trouble there, Liam?

        Yeah, those characters can’t just laze around. They’ve gotta earn their keep. 😀 Hey, if Douglas Adams can do “a trilogy in four parts” so can you.

  1. I like the way you think! I may try something like this with shorts first and see how that works. I’d be sort of worried to jump in on something like this for a novel or novella. Better safe than sorry, you know?

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