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.
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.”
“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:
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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