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Advice for Authors On Writing Uncategorized

On Writing: Supporting Characters with Phaedra Patrick

While some books can hold their own with a solid, unshakeable protagonist (ahem, Jack Reacher), most books need to have an array of interesting, fully-realised supporting characters. Where would Bridget Jones be without her chain-smoking, straight-talking friends and family? Or where would Frodo be without the Fellowship? Probably wouldn’t have made it past his front garden, if we’re being honest.

Phaedra Patrick is an author who knows the value of an eclectic group of supporting characters. Her outstanding debut novel, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, wowed critics with its ‘oodles of charm’. Now she’s back with her highly anticipated follow-up, Wishes Under the Willow Tree, which once again is brimming with a number of unforgettable characters. We want to know how she does it.

Wishes Under the Willow Tree cover

Both of your novels have a fantastic array of supporting characters, how do you create supporting characters who are three-dimensional and with distinctive personalities?

Main characters have space and time throughout a novel to grow and develop, whereas supporting ones enjoy a more fleeting appearance. So it’s important that they are memorable for readers.

I always try to think of a couple of distinguishing attributes for each minor character, a little like a caricaturist might select strong features to exaggerate in a drawing. Or it might be something about the way they walk, or talk. I try to make them a little out of the ordinary – a llama keeper who ties up his long hair with a child’s pink bobble, a lonely lady who cares for others by baking cakes and who wears rhinestones on her fingernails, a lord of the manor who dresses only in cobalt blue and who hand-raises tigers.

It also helps to give minor characters a passion, obsession or duty. It doesn’t have to be anything big, just something that allows them to have a journey or goal of their own. They may love trying out different flavours of crisps, or be hunting for a place to live. They might have a secret unrequited love, or be trying to save a floundering relationship. It’s great if it’s something readers can relate to or recognise.

 

What should good supporting characters contribute to the story?

We all have other people in our everyday lives, even though not all of them are helpful! Some have large parts to play, and others have smaller ones. Main characters need people around them too, whether that’s friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues, strangers…or even enemies and rivals.

Supporting characters are there to encourage and help the hero or heroine on their journey. Or to throw hurdles in their way.  They can add variety to the story, offer solutions, or a bit of humorous relief. They should help the main character to shine, rather than try to hog the limelight themselves.

 

Are the supporting characters initially vehicles for the plot or do they come to you first and you figure out a way to fit them in?

In both my novels the supporting characters often showed up unannounced, as I wrote. It’s a little like a casting call for extras and you never know who is going to turn up on the day.

 

Has a supporting character ever found its way into a more prominent role, if so who/why?

In The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, Arthur’s interfering neighbour, Bernadette, initially had a smaller role. She was there to bother and provoke Arthur. However, the more she turned up on his doorstep with her home-made pies, the more it became apparent that they both needed each other, in order to move on with their lives.

 

Which book/film/play has outstanding supporting characters? What do they have that makes them special and what can writers learn from it?

One of my favourite introductions comes from Tony Stark, the main character in the film Iron Man, when he introduces himself as, ‘Genius, playboy, billionaire, philanthropist.’ These four words give us such a clear picture of his character. I actually think it’s brilliant film too, one of my top three. All the characters are distinctive, their interaction is exciting, the main character has an interesting journey full of highs and lows, plus there’s a great bad guy.

Describing your friends and family in four words can be a great writing exercise to try out. Or, why not ask them to describe you? It’s a useful trick to apply to the cast of your book, to give you a strong framework for their characters.

Once you have four words to describe your main character, you can think of contrasting or complimentary ones for your supporting ones, so you have a real mix. If you have a workaholic protagonist, try giving her a lazy assistant and see what happens. Or if you have an unlucky-in-love bachelor, give him a flat mate who’s an expert on Tinder. The combinations are endless.

 

How do you know when to cut a minor character out? Have you ever had a ‘kill your darlings’ moment?

I’m guilty of committing a few murders when necessary. If a minor character doesn’t contribute to your main character’s journey or quest, then they should leave or change. You can often ‘feel’ when they aren’t quite working. My second book, Wishes Under the Willow Tree (known as Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone in the US), featured a Yorkshire hairdresser who just wasn’t doing her job. It’s only when I turned her into an Italian florist instead, that she came to life.

Wishes Under the Willow Tree is out now on e-book: get it here. Paperback will be published April 2018. Follow Phaedra on Twitter: @phaedrapatrick 

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Newsletter

Agency Newsletter: June

NewsletterJune17.jpg

Martina Cole – in conversation

As part of Queen of Crime Martina Cole’s anniversary year,Headline put on a very special rooftop book club event in partnership with Woman & Home.

Martina was in conversation with Fanny Blake in the rooftop garden of Headline’s stunning offices. They discussed Martina’s most recent release, Betrayal, and her glittering 25 year career. Guests were treated to funny anecdotes and had the chance to ask Martina their own brilliant questions.

From the evening, we learnt that Martina has more number one original bestsellers than any other authors, each novel outsells the last and her books are the most borrowed in prisons and most stolen in bookshops.

Arthur Pepper triumphs in France

We are delighted that The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick has scooped the prestigious Prix des Lectrices Milady 2017!

The Prix des Lectrices Milady is a readers’ choice award, launched by Éditions Milady in 2014, previous winners include Jojo Moyes but Phaedra Patrick was the clear favourite in 2017!

Congratulations Phaedra!

KL Slater’s LIAR

Hot on the heels of the publication of KL Slater’s third chilling psychological suspense, LIAR, it has shot straight in at No.5 on the UK Kindle charts. It is also a No.2 Kobo bestseller.

Her previous psychological thrillers, SAFE WITH ME and BLINK have also been Kindle and Kobo bestsellers which firmly positions Kim as a rising star in this genre.

Congratulations, Kim!

Lee Child dominates worldwide

The unstoppable Lee Child has continued his success on the UK and US bestseller charts with his short story collection, No Middle Name and the 21st Jack Reacher, Night School.

Four weeks after publication in the UK, No Middle Name is No.2 on the Sunday Times Hardback Fiction list. Night School, an incredible 10 weeks after publication, is now No.5 on the Sunday Times paperback list. Sales for Night School are up by 19% on the last Reacher.

Blatt & Rios in Argentina acquired 2 of Lee Child’s short stories meaning he will be published in South America for the first time!

Jack Ford takes on the boys

The Killing Grounds is the first book in the exciting international thriller series by Jack Ford featuring ex-US Navy-turned-investigator and high asset recovery operator, Thomas J Cooper.

For fans of Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series, Clive Cussler and Bernard Cornwell, it has already received some rave reviews Jack Ford studied global political Islam and American politics and went on to take a Master of Science degree in Counter-Terrorism. She has previously published six gritty crime novels under her real name but wanted to turn her hand to writing a thriller that brought her love of Africa and politics together. A huge fan of Lee Child and John Grisham, she also wanted to challenge herself in the male-dominated arena and does a fantastic job!

Congratulations, Jack!

Cathy Cassidy launches

Beloved author Cathy Cassidy’s latest novel, Love from Lexie, was published on 15th June and Cathy has been excitedly meeting all of her young fans up and down the country to discuss her new novel, including a mini-launch with delicious cakes in Balham.

Love from Lexie is the first in a timely and pitch-perfect new series about friendship and loyalty, following six teenagers each with a unique story to tell.

 

 

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Newsletter Uncategorized

Agency Newsletter

Hello everyone,

This month’s agency newsletter is full of numbers – wonderful numbers.

From half and whole millions, to No.4, No.2 and No.1. We have some great news to shout about as our authors have earned and enjoyed some fantastic successes this month.

We hope you like the monthly roundups, presented in such a lovely format*, but for those of you who like up to the minute news, please be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and to check out our news page on the Darley Anderson Agency website.

Have a happy Friday and even happier bank holiday weekend.

Kristina

 

*said me, the designer.

 

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Newsletter

Agency Newsletter

Hello!

It’s time for our monthly newsletter and my word do these seem to come around fast now.

April has been a fantastic month for the agency with new faces, bestsellers and, best of all, the Bologna and London Book Fairs.

The Olympia centre was turned into Book Kingdom for three days and the buzz of excitement was electric…and exhausting!

We’ve got lots of good book news for you to read about this month just in time for the bank holiday weekend. Please do follow our Facebook and Twitter pages if you haven’t already, our authors have some fantastic (many bestselling) novels you need to know about.

Happy Friday!

Kristina

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Darley Anderson Authors Editorial Interviews

Two Minutes with Phaedra Patrick

Mary Darby joined newest Darley Anderson author, Phaedra Patrick, for the next in our fabulous new video series.

Phaedra’s début novel, THE CURIOUS CHARMS OF ARTHUR PEPPER, was snapped up both in the UK and US by Mira Books (Harlequin). The reaction abroad has been brilliant and the following FIVE territories have also been charmed by Arthur: Brazil, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Sweden. You can read more about this here.

THE CURIOUS CHARMS OF ARTHUR PEPPER follows Arthur after he discovers a mysterious charm bracelet previously owned by his wife and sets off on a wonderful, and surprising, journey of self-discovery.

For everything else you’d like to know, including what’s next for Arthur and Phaedra’s inspiration behind writing, please see below…