Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Do You Like Unexpected Visits?

NOT Salem
I recently completed my novel Bayou Blue and after revisions and sweat and tears...sent it off to my agent. I was having breakfast with a friend of mine who just read it and she was excited that a character from my first novel, Purple Knot, showed up in a few chapters of Bayou Blue.  I mean...really excited about it. So much so that she wanted to know if he would be the lead in the next novel.

I was kind of shocked. The character she referred to, Salem Pratt, was not the main character of the first novel. He was a peripheral, side-kick kind of guy. Now, of course, I find him interesting. I find him funny and magnetic and I'm fascinated by his past...but that's me.  I had no idea she would be so delighted.

Salem shows up in Bayou Blue and a little more of his hidden past and a surprising secret is revealed to the main character of that novel, who happens to be a friend.  None of this is ever mentioned in the novel to which he belongs...he's sort of popping into Riley's world for a visit.

Now I'm thinking, though...hmmm. Should I consider making him a main character in his own novel? It would be a departure...but might be fun.

My question to you is this:

Do you get a jolt of happy when a character from another novel shows up in what you're reading?  Would you ever do "spin offs" with characters...as in, give them their own entire book?

I'll be off plotting Salem's possible future. Until next time...Go Write!
Photograph by Kelli Taylor.


Kristie Cook said...

I think it's a fun idea to at least explore. My current series is primarily Alexis's story, although it encompasses much more than just her life, of course. Some of the major secondary characters, however, have been "talking" to me about their own stories. They're really interesting so I just might have to spend some time with them one of these days. I don't know if they have a full book's worth, but perhaps a short story or novella.

I have to write whatever character is screaming loudest in my head at the time and so far, that's mostly been Alexis. But if the others get louder, I won't have a choice but to listen.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I like when characters show up in more than one book. It lets me imagine the characters from the first book are still living HEA

Elena Solodow said...

Bret Easton Ellis is famous for doing this. There's not one book where a character from another book shows up. Personally, I love it. It feels like its own little world.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm only on my second book, so no spinoffs yet. Some authors can pull this off really well. If you like him, give Salem his own story.

Jolene Perry said...

I love it when characters from one author's books, show up in others. I wrote a two-book series (can you call it that if there's only two?) anyway, I wrote a third, totally unrelated book and threw those MCs in just for fun.

Patricia Lynne said...

Even if you don't do a spin off, it would be a good exercise and might open up new info on your main characters. Short stories are another possibility.

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Katie Mills said...

great question! As for me, It's very rare that I get excited about seeing an old character, especially if it was the MC in a different book. I guess this is because, it was great seeing things from their perspective while it lasted but now that I'm in someone else's brain, it's hard to see the ol' MC in a different light. But i guess it depends on the situations. Sometimes it is a jolt of happiness. But most often I feel kind of bittersweet.

Hart Johnson said...

My assessment is possibly the oddball... When I was young I used to like Judith Kranz... I fell in love with Princess Daisy and read a number of hers... A couple years later i read Mistrel's Daughter and there are a couple characters who HAD had whole books and appeared for cameos... it felt like name dropping and annoyed me.

BUT I think it TOTALLY works to take a minor character and develop a story if people (or you) really love the character... at least if there is an ORDER to the books. If he is that compelling, I would go for it.

Sherri said...

I love when characters of all sorts show up in other unconnected novels as well as series! But you do need to love (or love to hate) the character.