It’s Wicked Wednesday, when we all weigh in on a topic. Today, we’re still chatting about characters – namely, the cast of supporting characters who are often equally as important to our stories as our main character. So Wickeds, tell us about some of the inhabitants in your towns.
Barb: Readers often ask if the inhabitants of Busman’s Harbor are based on real people. The one people always ask about is Gus, the cranky restaurateur who doesn’t want anyone he doesn’t know personally in his restaurant. There really was a Gus and he really had that rule. Here’s what I’ve written about the real restaurant.
“Gus’s had old round-topped gas pumps out front like something out of an Edward Hopper painting and two candle pin bowling lanes inside across from the lunch counter. His dining room had fabulous views of the aptly named Cozy Harbor. He prepared the food like he was cooking in his own kitchen (and with the same approximate speed) and you had to order a slice of his wife’s delicious pie when you placed your meal order, or there might not be any left when you were ready for dessert. Maine food writer Karyl Bannister reposted her original writing about the place–a restaurant review distinguished by the fact that she wasn’t allowed to disclose the restaurant’s name or location.
Both Gus and his wife have sadly passed on. There’s a new restaurant in the spot Oliver’s at Cozy Harbor. The food is wonderful and the new building takes much better advantage of the views. I recommend it to anyone traveling in the area. But I missed Gus’s so much that I created a highly fictionalized version of it in the Maine Clambake Series.”
Jessie: I adore the secondary characters because they present the opportunity to provide humor or quirkiness that might be hard to take from the protagonist. For me they are all vivid and interesting. In a way I find them easier to write because they carry less of the story on their shoulders so I sometimes feel more relaxed and in flow when I am working with them. Some of my very favorites are Augusta, the protagonist’s older sister in my first book, Live Free or Die and Dani’s mother, Kelly, in my Sugar Grove series. Both of those women walked full blown onto the page and spoke their minds. I was enchanted and enjoyed every scene in which they insisted on appearing.
Barb: Jessie, I heard Tess Gerritsen say the same thing, that secondary characters are more vivid because they flow more directly from our subconscious. She said both Rizzoli and Isles were “accidental characters.”
Liz: I love having a cast of regulars who not only help tell the stories, but who often have stories of their own. For me it’s Char Mackey, who is a New Orleans transplant to New England but has never left her traditions behind (like having parties). She presents a lot of opportunities for humor. Also, Frog Ledge’s resident state trooper, who also happens to be the handsome Jake’s sister. She and Stan don’t get along from day one, when Stan is the suspect in her first murder. The conflict between the two of them is so much fun to write!
Edith: On Cam Flaherty’s farm, a group of avid local foods enthusiasts – members of the
Locavore Club – belong to her CSA, her farm share program. The club president is Lucinda, a colorful transplanted Brazilian whom I love, and who is so real to me I feel like I should be able to post her picture. 14-year old Girl Scout Ellie is a continuing character, who volunteers on the farm and provides a breath of fresh air. Probably my favorite is Cam’s great-uncle Albert, who gave her the farm. He’s the wise kindly voice she can go to when she needs a hit of family, of common sense, and of surprise now and then. There’s a handsome Jake in my series too – but will his volatile, jealous nature prove too difficult for Cam to deal with?
Readers: Who are your favorite secondary characters? In our series, who had we better not kill off?