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Posted by on Apr 10, 2012 in Contests, Guest Post | 56 comments

Guest Post and Giveaway from author Dakota Banks

I’d like to thank Stephanie for the opportunity to visit Paranormal Haven. I love showing up on a blog I’ve been following and enjoying!

With the release of Deliverance, I’ve been talking quite a bit about the main character, Maliha Crayne, and her dual quests to redeem her soul from an ancient Sumerian demon and to eliminate those demons from Earth. She’s not in the book alone, though, carrying the burdens all by herself. She has an inner circle of friends who know about her evil past and love and support her anyway. To be honest, part of the reason these characters exist is to show the reader that Maliha can be loved by others even though she has previously been a stone-cold assassin. The main reasons these secondary characters are there are:

· Provide backup for Maliha since she can’t be everywhere at once

· Add unique skills that Maliha doesn’t have, such as remote viewing

· Someone for Maliha to bounce ideas around with

· Light moments in an otherwise dark story

· Show the deepening of Maliha’s human emotions over time

Her team of active helpers consists of Yanmeng, Hound, and Amaro. A look at how each of them interacts with her makes a good sample of how authors use secondary characters in paranormal novels. (I’m leaving out love interests here.)

Yanmeng is the oldest of the trio. Maliha rescued him and his wife Eliu when they were in a prison awaiting execution during the Chinese Cultural Revolution that was started in 1966 by Mao Zedong and lasted in one form or another for a decade. Yanmeng and Eliu had been turned into the government for illegal activities by their own son, who was a member of Mao’s Red Guard, a contingent of young revolutionaries. Maliha worked throughout this period as a key part in a kind of Underground Railroad, helping professionals and dissidents escape from China. Yanmeng is a remote viewer and can “see” Maliha at a distance because of their emotional bond. He’s also her martial arts sparring partner. Here’s an excerpt that shows the casual, close relationship between Maliha and Yanmeng.

Maliha picked up a croissant and began to eat it in her favorite fashion: by pulling off one tip and then gently unraveling it. No butter or jam. Watson’s Bakery made their croissants from scratch rather than using frozen ones, and the only thing wrong with these was that they were already an hour or two out of the oven.

“I’m sorry about the loss of your friend,” Yanmeng said.

Maliha nodded. She didn’t want to talk about it now.

“Yanmeng,” she said between mouthfuls, “do you believe in unconditional love?”

Yanmeng’s method of eating croissants was to bite them straight through, one end to the other, no mercy. He had a few flakes of pastry caught in his white moustache. The corners of Maliha’s lips turned up until she remembered that this was a solemn conversation.

“No.”

There was an awkward silence. She’d hoped for more from him.

“You told me once that you loved me,” Maliha said. She’d been riding a camel at the time and had nearly fallen off, until Yanmeng made it clear he wasn’t talking about romantic love. “What did you mean by that?”

“I meant that you have earned my love, my respect, and my loyalty. I have given myself over to your cause. I would die for you.”

Maliha lowered her head. She couldn’t take the intensity of the look that Yanmeng was giving her, a look like an x-ray reading her inner truth. “Wouldn’t you consider that unconditional love, then?”

“No, because if you return to the service of the demon Rabishu and assassinate at his will, I would be betrayed.”

“You have my word I will never do that,” Maliha said.

“You are a worthy person, regardless of your past,” he said.

A few minutes passed during which Maliha unraveled another croissant. All of sudden it struck her that this was Yanmeng she was sitting with, Yanmeng who could already walk different planes of existence, Yanmeng who was on his way to joining the god Anu in the highest plane. She viewed his aura and was stunned at the beautiful white and gold light radiating from him. He’d progressed far since the last time she’d looked.

With a gasp, she bowed her head. “You honor me.”

He waved his hand. “We’re just two friends talking. And cut out that aura viewing. My wife Eliu says I already have a big head.”

Hound, the second of the trio, is a private investigator with mysterious government connections. He is a Vietnam veteran, a former medic rescued from a killing field by Maliha, but not before he sustained major shrapnel wounds. He has scars on his face and elsewhere, walks with a limp, and one of his shoulders is higher than the other. Nevertheless, he is a strong man, well trained in combat techniques, and a frequent partner for Maliha on missions. He is also a person who takes no guff from Maliha, brings her down to Earth, and provides his own brand of humor. Hound is now engaged to his long-time girlfriend Glass, but once had a love, er, lust relationship with Maliha. I had to censor Hound’s language! Amaro, mentioned in this conversation, is a computer hacker, hence the motherboard reference. I’ll talk about him next. Here’s an excerpt:

“Hound, do you … do you think maybe we should all go our separate ways? Make this scattering of the team permanent?”

“What the hell for? Cause I tried to get into your pants again?”

“Oh, please. There are bigger issues here,” Maliha said.

“I don’t know. You didn’t see what you turned down.”

“Smart ass. I’m serious.”

“I’ve yet to hear a reason.”

“You know the reason. Danger. It’s my job to deal with whatever I stir up, but I’ve involved you guys too long. You and Glass are getting married, starting a life together.”

“Yeah? Where’d you hear that?”

Maliha bit her lip before responding. “It might have something to do with the engagement ring she’s wearing. The ring you gave her.”

“Technically you gave me the diamond, so I wasn’t acting of my own free will.”

“Would you please just shut up, you exasperating man! You’re getting married, Yanmeng is getting older, and Amaro will get married … eventually.”

“Amaro is already married—to the Holy Motherboard. And if Yanmeng heard you call him old, he’d wipe the floor with you.”

“Not a chance!” Maliha paused. She was falling into Hound’s verbal trap, allowing him to lead her away from the main point.

“Okay, seriously,” Hound said. “I have no intention of cutting off my work with you. I believe in what you’re doing. You’ll have to do a better vanishing act than you did in the alley to leave me behind, and then I’d spend the rest of my life looking for you. Besides, I couldn’t live like this if I wasn’t in your condo.”

“You’re where?”

“I hid out in a dump of a motel out in the suburbs. They had a sign that said “No Bedbugs, No Crabs,” and they were halfway right. I slept in my rental car. Have you ever considered that with the prevalence of nasty critters in even respectable hotels lately that rental cars …”

“You’re in my condo.”

“I figured if there were going to be any repercussions it would happen fast, at the speed of YouTube. I stayed at the bedbug paradise a whole four days before crawling back. Don’t take that too literally.”

Amaro, team member number three, is a world-class computer hacker. Maliha rescued him and his sister Rosie when they were teenagers, living in a Rio de Janeiro slum. At the time, the two teens were surrounded by a gang planning to rape Rosie and kill Amaro. Gang violence is high in the slums, but Maliha can handle an armed gang. After Maliha brought the two to the U.S. and got them settled, Rosie married and now has several children. Amaro is a young bachelor and international playboy type who earns his money breaking into corporations’ security systems—at their request, to see where the weaknesses are. He helps Maliha with things like wiping out computer records of her mistakes. In this scene, Maliha is at a resort in Greece; Amaro had been on a cruise, but she needed his help to retrieve one of the shards of the diamond lens needed to eliminate the Sumerian demons from Earth. Here’s the excerpt:

The maître d’ approached. She requested a table for two. Heads turned as she made her way to the table. Fifteen minutes later, a waiter led Amaro to her table.

“About time,” she said, after the waiter left.

“Do you have any idea how much a tuxedo costs in this place? You better have a damn good reason for pulling me off that cruise.”

“You’re the only one who could do this with me.”

“Is that like I’m the only ship in the quadrant or something?” His voice was starting to get loud.

“Shush. Yanmeng’s off somewhere meditating, and Hound can’t dance. Not on this dance floor, anyway, because he only dances naked.”

Amaro rolled his eyes. “Too much information. So Yanmeng’s daydreams are more important than my cruise?”

“Some cruise. It was a sex romp.”

“We had ports of call with archaeological interest. It was educational.”

“I’ll bet it was. Did you have the dancing pole installed in your cabin for Trixy?”

He crossed his arms and looked petulant. “No. And Hound shouldn’t have said that. That was guy talk.”

“We shouldn’t be looking like we’re having an argument. We’re supposed to be a romantic couple.”

Amaro forced a smile on his handsome face, leaned forward, and took her hand in his.

“Is this better? What’s the mission?”

“We’re retrieving a shard. It’s in the hotel’s safe.”

Amaro’s eyes lit up. “Robbery?”

Maliha shook her head, and then blew him a kiss.

“Mayhem at least?” he said.

“I hope not. I’m planning to use good old deception. But if things go wrong, you may get your mayhem.”

“I’ve never been on a field op before. I’m always at home base working on a computer.”

“That’s another reason you’re here. In case of mayhem, I’ll need you to destroy some computer records.”

She explained her plan and the two made a show of flirting while eating a fine dinner. They danced a few slow dances under the dome that showed a velvety black sky with stars scattered by an otherworldly hand. They left, his arm around her waist, and headed for the hotel’s front desk. Everything she had planned led up to this moment.

In the Mortal Path books, I think these secondary characters enhance the story. What do you think of secondary characters (not the love interest) in the books you read? Gotta have ’em, they’re okay, or you could do without them?

About the Author:

Dakota Banks lives in the St. Louis area and is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Horror Writers Association, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and Mystery Writers of America.

How you can contact Dakota:

Website || Blog || Facebook || Twitter || Goodreads

Dakota is giving away a Mortal Path Swag Bag and inside you’ll find a signed copy of Dark Time, Sacrifice and Deliverance, pens, bookmarks, magnets, and a calculator.  This giveaway is open internationally and will end on April 17th.

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About Stephanie G

Stephanie is a Paranormal Haven co-creator & reviewer. She loves coffee, Supernatural, & most importantly, paranormal romance & urban fantasy books. Connect with her on: Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads

56 Comments

  1. I think that memorable secondary characters make books work for me. You can have the best main characters in the universe, but without the secondary characters around to provide comic relief, support and the like, your book may not work as well. My personal preference is usually for eccentric secondary characters.

  2. secondary characters are absolutely necessary. Sometimes I find them even nicer and lovelier than the protagonists. I love them with a little quirk

  3. Heroes need their sidekicks, be it in movies or books! In fact I really think they are more important than love interests (or, mind you, love triangles) as the chemistry between such trusty friends really gives a story the right momentum to make it great.

  4. Secondary characters is a must. they make the story more alive and colorful

  5. Secondary characters are very important and I wouldn’t enjoy many of the books I read if they didn’t have them.

  6. I love secondary characters. They are just as important as the main. they are also usually going to be the next storyline. I love that they are the best friend or brother/sister of the main character also. I think they totally make the story and then add more to it.
    This is a new author and series for me and would love to win and read these books. Thanks for the giveaway.

    christinebails@yahoo.com

  7. There have been some books that I have liked the secondary characters better than the main character. I really have enjoyed these three characters as back up in your books.

  8. You have to have secondary characters..they help build the story and create the journey!! Thanks Dakota & Paranormal Haven for the giveaway!!!!

  9. I like reading about secondary characters they always spice it up the story, making it more interesting!

  10. Secondary characters are almost as important as the main characters in my viewpoint. They can make a book spectacular or pull it down considerably. The storylines revolve around them as much as the hero and heroine.
    LadyVampire2u AT gmail DOT com

  11. Oh you absolutely need secondary characters in a story. Thank you for this giveaway.

    Kmichellec87(at)yahoo(dot)com

  12. Like i promised i’m still there ^^::

    a good story has good secondary characther sometimes it’s even them that we preefer because they can give more hunmour in teh story

    all the best

    again a big big thanks you

  13. A lot of the time I enjoy the secondary characters so much, I crave their story. So bring on those secondary characters that make a story so much better.

  14. Thanks for a great post and giveaway! I love great secondary characters. No man’s an island and if he/she were, the story wouldn’t be that interesting. Some of my fav books have the sweet or sassy, sarcastic, vital sidekick and sometimes, it’s those characters that save a book for me when I don’t care as much as I should about the heroes.

  15. To make a rich series and keep it fresh, you have to have a lot of secondary characters that actually have a role more than the hero or heroine to talk to. My favorite series all have great secondary casts: The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews and The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs for example.

  16. I love secondary characters. They are almost as important as the main characters. I think that a well-developed secondary character will bring out the best and the worst in the main character.
    Thank you for the giveaway,
    Artemis

  17. It is fun when a secondary character takes the spotlight away from the main one be it in books or movies, when secondary characters provide the backbone of support and help in fleshing out the main characters personna it is even better.

    Thanks for an interesting and informative look into these mostly unsung heroes of a good story!

  18. I like secondary characters because it makes the book seem more realistic with more people being involved and their situations intertwining.

  19. Sometimes the secondary characters make a book. A funny side kick for example.

    Thanks for the AWESOME giveaway! Fingers crossed that I win. LOL

  20. Amaro sounds like the perfect secondary character to have on your side, he would certainly come in handy!
    I love ‘em, gotta have ‘em. The secondary characters can add so much to a storyline, and if well written I will fall in love with them as well as the main characters and be begging for their stories to be told.

  21. Oh, man, you gotta have secondary characters to make a story read smoothly and it takes the reader deeper! I hope the other books are secondary characters with their own story or is it a continuation of the first? Either way, this sounds like a great series. I got lost in the short excerpts…great reading!

  22. You gotta have em! Without secondary characters, a book is not worth reading. You need the story to go somewhere!

  23. I love secondary characters they bring a lot to a book.

  24. I love secondary characters, they add so much more depth and interest to the story. It’s always fun to see them get their own story told as well, either as a side note or in their own book.

  25. I enjoyed writing this post very much, and the comments here on Paranormal Haven are always great and fun to read. Love this visit! ~♥~

  26. I think the more interesting characters in a story the better. Often the secondary characters are so much fun than you come to care about them a lot and want them to get their own HEA.

  27. I think the secondary characters help make the story and make the book more interesting. Tore923@aol.com

  28. I think that the secondary characters round out the book. Without them, we would become overwhelmed by the main characters. Plus, there is always the hope that the secondary characters will eventually get there own books!

  29. i have to admit, i LOVE secondary characters!!! most of my fav series have absolutely rockin secondary characters… i also like when they are the focus of anthologies too..

  30. Secondary characters help make the story work. The heroes can’t do all the heavy lifting.

  31. Secondary characters complete a story, make it well-rounded and give light to different perspective. Any story would be naked without.

  32. I think you have to have the secondary charaters make the story seem real, and give you extra chances to get involved emotionally.

  33. I like secondary characters to help with stories

    dlsmilad at yahoo dot com

  34. I totally agree that secondary characters enhance the book.

    lesly7ch(at)yahoo(dot)com

  35. I love secondary characters. They can add so much to the story and main character development. And then hopefully they get their own story and HEA in a future work.

  36. I love secondary characters because they enrich the story. They give a fuller picture of the whole story world.

  37. I think the secondary characters are very important. I want to know and love or hate them as much as the primary. In fact I was devastated when a secondary character in a longtime series I have been following was killed off and actually felt like lodging a protest LOL Thank you for the fun!

  38. I definitely appreciate secondary characters and find them important. They make me see the main characters from different angles.

  39. I’ve actually liked secondary characters better than the main ones. I think they are very important.

  40. I like read about secondary characters. That make story more rich, complex and interesting. Beside it will bored if we just read about main characters alone

  41. Of course secondary characters are necessary in every book. They add a lot to the story, like exentric characters, or best friends who can tell the truth to the hero or heroine. Friends who help out, give advice. Or even enemies and people who don’t like them. A main character does not live in a vacuum or there is little story to tell. If you know someones friends, that tells you something about the person who has them.

  42. VERY necessary…like supportive roles in a movie. Shoot, I often end up liking them as much as I do the main character…and isn’t that what a ‘series’ is all about? Thx for the VERY generous giveaway! :)

    barbbattaglia @ yahoo.com

  43. secondary characters are absolutely necessary!!!

    Thank you for the giveaway :D

    kyo.chan31@gmail.com

  44. Really I think that the perspective to the story of the secondary characters is essential to stories, especially a series.

  45. Oh I love secondary characters. If they can feel real and fully dimensional people rather than just outline then you know the author has fully developed the world. I love it when the secondary characters are more humourous than the main character – after all they don’t usually have the whole reliant on them! :)

  46. I think that the secondary characters bring more to a story and add elements that would otherwise be harder to see. I do however think that sometimes, too many secondary characters can get quite confusing to follow. I read a series recently where the main characters had their friends and family but then there were like 3 different agencies (factions) after them and multiple characters from each one. My head was spinning, but I enjoyed the main plot so I stuck with it. Thank you for the generous giveaway!

  47. Secondary characters definitely add depth to a story; some can even be animals! The interaction between the H/H & the others adds definition to the characters & makes it more realistic. Love when the secondary characters add comic relief too. Or the matchmaking relative or even the kids. Fun!

  48. I like well developed interesting secondary characters who add depth and layers to the story and the main characters’ personality. Well fleshed out secondary characters are a great tool in shaping the h/h as we can see a side of them through other people.

    Thank you for the generous giveaway Dakota and congratulations on the release!

    stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

  49. I think the secondary characters are essential to a story. I love them. It’s a love relationship for me. I think they bring a lot of depth to the books I read.

    Mary
    mary_reiss @ hotmail.com

  50. I love secondary characters, They add flavor

  51. i think secondary characters always have their fans and me too :)

  52. They’re absolutely essential. They help to shape the protagonists and the plot. Without them the protagonists wouldn’t be able to rise to the occasion and steal the show. I’m very fond of several secondary characters, especially those that are well evolved by the author.

  53. I love a good secondary character. I’m a character-driven reader to begin with, but I also think it helps to define the main characters in the relations they keep and how they treat those people.

  54. I think they can add depth and provide support for the main characters.

  55. If I fall in love with the secondary characters, and it does happen, then I welcome the fact that they go off on their own. I think secondary characters are very important to a story.

  56. I agree that secondary characters are very important, and often just as lovable as a main. adelle