When Secondary Heroes Take Over
In every series I’ve read, in the very first book a secondary hero steps up and grabs my attention. Sometimes this secondary hero is even more interesting than the primary one. Often this secondary character had a troubled past, and he’s an outsider to the group at the beginning of the series—like with Z in The Black Dagger Brotherhood, or Teegan in the Midnight Breed series—and part of this character’s growth arc is how he finds love and through that love reaches out to the group at large.
Z is a perfect example of this. In the beginning of The Black Dagger series he avoids his fellow warriors, he fights alone, he doesn’t take part in any of the strategy meetings, or any of the training sessions, nor does he teach the recruits at the compound. And then he hooks up with Bella and finds love. At the end of the book, when he offers to teach a class at the compound, we know he is going find his way into the heart of the brotherhood too, so the satisfaction is doubled when that last page is turned.
When I started writing the first book in my Forged series, I expected a secondary hero to step up like this too. In fact, I thought I knew who this character was going to be. He wasn’t an outsider, he didn’t have any serious issues, (or so I thought at the time, although to my surprise I have since discovered that this character hides 99% of himself behind a mask of Southern charm) but he was so vibrant in the scenes I envisioned, I was sure he was going to capture my readers’ imaginations too. When I sent the first scene he appeared in to my critique partners, I sat back and waiting for them to rave about how much they loved him. Only they didn’t. Oh, they liked him well enough, but he didn’t grab their attention. He wasn’t a Zadist or a Teegan.
By chapter four of Forged in Fire, I’d give up on the possibility of having a Zadist or Teegan in the series. And then Commander Jace (Mac) Mackenzie showed up.
From the start Mac was a handful. For one thing, he wasn’t supposed to have a reoccurring point of view (POV) or even play a major role in the book. He was there for one reason only. I needed to foreshadow something, something that Zane and Beth weren’t in a position to witness. The only person in the position to witness this event was the Commander of ST7. But that meant giving him a short scene with his own POV. I don’t like giving a character a POV scene if he/she isn’t going to be a reoccurring character. But I needed that scene, so I decided to make an exception, and that’s when Mac took over, and there was no way he was letting himself get boxed. It was immediately apparent he intended to play a major role through the entire series.
He burst onto the scene so full of life, so full of vitality, and so full of prejudices he stunned me. I hesitated to send his first scene to my critique partners because I was afraid they were going to hate him. Which most of them did. All four of my critique partners told me they hoped I didn’t plan on turning this asshole into a hero later in the series, because there was no way any woman, in her right mind, would want to hook up with a guy like him. Yeah—Mac pushed buttons from the get go. He didn’t hold back, and he was the most politically incorrect character I’ve ever written. I’d get comments back from my critique partners on his scenes that said things like; “What is this asshole’s problem?” or “Someone needs to whack this jackass upside the head!” Oh yeah, Mac had grabbed my readers’ attentions, only not quite in the way I’d envisioned, or wanted.
And then about midway through the book, he does something that’s truly horrific. Something I thought was going to rain the OH MY GOD, WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKINGs???? down on my head. Instead, not only did my critique partners accept what he did, they saluted him for doing it. All the sudden their view of Mac did a complete 180. He became heroic. They might not have always liked what came out of his mouth, but they still liked him, and they wanted him to get his happy ever after. (but only after some woman brought him to his knees, walked all over him and made him grovel first!)
After I published Forged in Fire, I waited for the reviews to roll it with bated breath, certain that Mac was going to get hammered. Instead, 98% of the reviews and the emails I’ve received mention Mac and ask when I’ll be publishing his book. Everyone wants Mac’s story.
Somehow, (and I’m still not sure how this happened) this brusque asshole with a distrust of women and a king-sized chip on his shoulder, became the secondary character that everyone wants to know more about. He became the character, the one who grabs everyone’s imagination and almost takes over the book.
Something I had never expected all those months ago, when he first barged onto the scene and got my critique partners all riled up.
About the Author:
Trish McCallan has been writing for as long as she can remember.
In grade school she wrote children’s stories, illustrating them with crayons and binding the sheets together with pencil-punched holes and red yarn. She used to sell these masterpieces at her lemonade stand for a nickel a book. Surprisingly, people actually bought them. Like, all of them. Every night she would have to write a new batch for her basket.
As she got older her interest changed to boys and horses. The focus of her literary masterpieces followed this shift. Her first full length novel was written in seventh grade by pencil in a notebook and featured a girl, a horse and a boy. At the end of the book the teenage heroine rode off into the sunset . . . with the horse.
These days she sticks to romantic suspense with hot alpha heroes and roller-coaster plots. Since she is a fan of all things bizarre, paranormal elements always seem to find a way into her fiction. Her current release, Forged in Fire, was the result of a Black Dagger Brotherhood reading binge, a cold, a bottle of NyQuil and a vivid dream.
Find Trish Online:
Forged in Fire
By Trish McCallanGenre: paranormal romantic suspense
Beth Brown doesn’t believe in premonitions until she dreams a sexy stranger is gunned down during the brutal hijacking of a commercial airliner. When events in her dream start coming true, she heads to the flight’s departure gate. To her shock, she recognizes the man she’d watched die the night before.
Lieutenant Commander Zane Winters comes from a bloodline of elite warriors with psychic abilities. When Zane and two of his platoon buddies arrive at Sea-Tac Airport, he has a vision of his teammates’ corpses. Then she arrives—a leggy blonde who sets off a different kind of alarm.
As Beth teams up with Zane, they discover the hijacking is the first step in a secret cartel’s deadly global agenda and that key personnel within the FBI are compromised. To survive the forces mobilizing against them, Beth will need to open herself to a psychic connection with the sexy SEAL who claims to be her soul mate.
"Forged In Fire is a smoking hot adventure with an irresistible alpha hero. Danger, action, suspense, and a steamy romance make a story that's impossible to put down!" ~Patti O'Shea, National Bestselling Author of Through a Crimson Veil
Thanks to Trish, I have one ebook copy of Forged in Fire to giveaway. Please leave a comment with your email to be entered. The giveaway will end on 10/29.