Two posts in one day, how lucky you are, haha! I just couldn’t pass on the opportunity to take part in the blog tour for Helen Fields’ Perfect Death!
I’d like to thank Harper Collins and the wonderful team for inviting me to be part of this tour!
Your new addiction starts here: get hooked on the #1 bestselling series. Perfect for fans of Karin Slaughter and M.J. Arlidge.
There’s no easy way to die…
Unknown to DI Luc Callanach and the newly promoted DCI Ava Turner, a serial killer has Edinburgh firmly in his grip. The killer is taking his victims in the coldest, most calculating way possible – engineering slow and painful deaths by poison, with his victims entirely unaware of the drugs flooding their bloodstream until it’s too late.
But how do you catch a killer who hides in the shadows? A killer whose pleasure comes from watching pain from afar? Faced with their most difficult case yet, Callanach and Turner soon realise they face a seemingly impossible task…
On Supporting Casts – Making or Breaking a Book
It never ceases to amaze me how many people send messages about my books commenting on the secondary characters rather than the leads. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately as I put a plan together for book 5. So many readers love DS Lively, the rude, gruff detective sergeant who never cuts Luc Callanach a break. Also, people often contact me to find out what happened to DC Christie Salter who has a dreadful time in Perfect Prey. I worried about that too, so much so that I had to bring her back in book 4 to get a little resolution and peace of mind. The list goes on. The truth is that when you get that first zing of an idea for a book, you have the main characters quite well established in your head from the get-go. The supporting cast, though, evolves slowly. They have to fill in, deliver information, make up the timeline, get things wrong and provide a sounding board for crucial dialogue. These characters develop organically. I believe that’s what allows them to grow within the books in a more genuine, human manner. With the supporting cast, the reader makes friends (or enemies, or meets that horrible boss) the same way they would in the real world. It’s a gradual process. We think we like them, then we realise they are gossiping behind our back. They seem fun, but then there’s that dark side. The lead characters are all up front. True, a good story arc pivots and twists, but you pretty much know where you are with your leads. They are presented fully fleshed out, with backstory and goals. They’re easy for readers.
I’ve fallen in love with the supporting cast in the DI Callanach series. I like bringing them back, even for cameos, because it means we see that their lives are ongoing. We catch up with them, exactly as we do with old friends who might only visit once in a blue moon. They’re no less important to us for the months of absence. I have my personal favourites, of course. Lance Proudfoot, the older journalist, who is something of a father figure to Luc plays a key role in Perfect Death. He has many attributes of a very good friend I lost some years ago. In my head, when I write Lance’s dialogue, I hear that man. He comes alive for me once more every time Lance walks into a scene. Then there’s the eternally enthusiastic, deceptively sharp Max Tripp who is destined for greatness, I think. That tells you all you need to know. Your lead characters, as a writer, may take up most of the space in our heads, but when the chips are down, you need those peripheral others who step in and back you up. They give you the best one-liners. They are there in the nick of time. They take the mickey when the situation is getting a little too dark. So think about it, next time you pick up a book. Give the supporting cast an extra round of applause and think where we’d be without them.
Thank you so much Helen for this very interesting post about supporting casts. They are sometimes overlooked in stories when they should be as human and as well-crafted as every main character. A world can’t feel real without real secondary characters! It is an important point I always pay attention to when I’m reading a book. I am glad authors take the time to create a life full of personalities.
What do you think? Are secondary characters as important as the main ones? Should they be?
Helen Fields studied law at the University of East Anglia, then went on to the Inns of Court School of Law in London. After completing her pupillage, she joined chambers in Middle Temple where she practised criminal and family law for thirteen years.
After her second child was born, Helen left the Bar. Together with her husband David, she runs a film production company, acting as script writer and producer. Perfect Remains is set in Scotland, where Helen feels most at one with the world. Helen and her husband now live in Hampshire with their three children and two dogs.