I’ve been going to the same hairdresser for thirty years. It’s one of those relationships that has stood the test of time, in its way, through many ups and downs. She has always been a constant and although there were times when I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue with her, I stayed. Now I am glad I did.
You would think you knew a person after all that time, even if you only see them six times a year. There are many things I know about Carmen, or thought I did. But recently I’ve learned quite a bit more about her and all of it is surprising.
I won’t reveal her secrets here, those are not for me to tell. But it started me thinking. If I can know someone for thirty years and yet not know that much about them it goes to show how many layers there are to people’s lives that we simply are not aware of. The only person who knows our entire backstory is us. Others only know what we choose to tell them, and what we trust them with.
So it is with a writer’s stories. All of our secondary characters, that is to say anyone who is not our main POV people, by necessity become secondary. But they have their own lives and their own issues that linger long after they leave our lives – or the page. Writing books talk a lot about imbuing all characters with a backstory that makes them leap off the page even if they only have a few lines. I am reminded of the shopkeeper character in A Touch of Evil. She is only on the screen for a few minutes but to me she is the most memorable of all the characters in what is a brilliant movie. She has a rich inner life that you just know goes on far beyond her moments on the screen.
That’s how it should be with any good story. That’s what I’m going to make an effort to be conscious of in 2017 as I start working on the second draft of the third Elementals story. Air Attack is coming out in March and I hope that I have given the characters beyond Griffin and his goddess mate Clea their own rich history. I will try to ensure that Water Fall, Ondine’s story (along with her shark shifter mate Sullivan) has characters that leap off the page as well, characters like my hairdresser Carmen who has a life I was unaware of even in thirty years of knowing her.
Wish me luck.