Pat here, dropping in momentarily to introduce Honorary Word Wench, Eileen Dreyer, on her latest project--or is that projects?
Eileen: I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Funny how often I say that about a writing project. I think I have a perfectly good idea for a book. One book. One story about a hero and heroine and maybe a nefarious plot against the British throne or a hospital CEO. I actually believe I have a beginning, middle and end. That last part is important. An end. As in, that’s all she wrote.
And then, before you know it, I’ve created extra characters. A supporting cast, if you will, of people who will confound, confuse, contest and contrast my protagonists. Still going well. There are few books with only two characters. Well, few books I’d read, anyway. It's always much more fun to have our intrepid protagonists play off someone not like them.
It all starts out so innocently. I’ll say something on the character profile like, “best friend to hero” or “female spy in guise of abigail.” Again, perfectly innocuous.
But that's when I make the mistake. Because I actually allow those characters onto the page. And that’s where I run into trouble. You see, I can’t leave a secondary character alone. I can’t just paint them in enough strokes that they fulfill their function of, say, carrying out the heroes varied and secret orders, or protecting heroine from evildoers. Suddenly, rather than being a two-dimensional convenience, they’re a full-blooded character I want to know better. They might even begin to make demands of me. Demands like, God help me, a book of their own.
That’s what happened in my Drake’s Rakes series. I knew that Jack Gracechurch was a spy. I knew he had brother spies, because I needed enough heroes for the trilogy I’d planned. That’s right. A trilogy. It was meant to be titled the Three Graces after the heroines. But then, when I wasn’t looking, three heroes morphed into ten. That’s ten. More than the number of innings in baseball. The number of months a woman is pregnant. The number of books that will now be in my series, retitled Drake’s Rakes, after my heroes(actually, there will only be nine books. One of my heroes, Chuffy, adamantly refuses a book of his own).
I didn’t mean to do it. I only meant to show that the Rakes were a clever and committed bunch of heroic aristocrats. But once I wrote that first scene with them all slumped over the chairs in Jack’s flat at the Albany, I knew I couldn’t take them back. There was Ian Ferguson, a huge, mad Scot who admits that the only Englishman worth the powder to blow him to hell is Wellington. Chuffy Wilde, that pudgy boy-man who loses his spectacles and blurts out the most amazing statements. Alex Knight, who seems too honorable to be true, and Nate Adams, who seems just as dissolute. All with secrets, all with dreams and devils to plague them. Wounded, noble Kit Braxton and grieving Beau Drummond. And most mysterious of all, the leader of the group, Marcus Drake.
Well, here's the problem. I'm one of those people who hates to read books til the series is finished. And this is nine books. Oh no, I thought, no one would ever read the first ones at all. And then it occurred to me. I did write the first three books as a trilogy, self-contained enough that you don't need to wait for the rest of the books to read it. And unofficially, I still called it the Three Graces.
So I'm doing it with the whole series. I'm dividing the books up by heroines. And it's time for my second trilogy, which I'm unofficially titling The Last Chance Academy, which is the school my three heroines attended together, a place that should have been safe, but wasn't.
To introduce the new series, I've written a short e-novellita entitled IT BEGINS WITH A KISS, which is a prequel that introduces the girls, and offers Fiona Ferguson(Ian's sister) the chance to meet Alex Knight. They'll meet again a few years later in their own book. Sarah Clarke will meet Ian, and Pippin Knight will continue her pursuit of Beau Drummond. All while working to prevent the Lions from taking over the throne.
I love this new set of characters, too. I can't wait to introduce them. I just hope I don't discover too many secondary characters, or we could be at this forever.