We all played that game as kids: “Mom likes me best.” In my case, growing up with an older brother, I always suspected that Mom liked him best but felt I had Dad in my pocket so it evened out.
As the “parent” of two furkids, I adore my dogs but have to admit that Tanker holds a softer spot in my heart than Shane. He has a sadder backstory of growing up on the streets. He has one of those “I love you and only you and will treat everyone else like pond scum” personalities, whereas she loves everybody indiscriminately. He’s stoic; she’s hyper, too smart for her own , and always into something (like chewing up a leather sofa). I definitely don’t love him more; I adore them both. But I do find him easier to love.
And so it is with authors and their characters. During the writing of each book, there’s a point at which I absolutely fall in love with one of my characters. If I’m lucky, it’s the hero or heroine of the book. But it isn’t always, and that makes things interesting.
The Penton Legacy series is an interesting case in point. As I wrote Redemption, the first book, I was cooking along and loving on Aidan, the 400-year-old Irish vampire who’s the hero of that book, when a secondary character caught my eye. And held it. Suddenly my love for Aidan dimmed—although eventually I fell in love with him again, before the book was finished—but about a third of the way in, a 400-year-old Scottish vampire with a shotgun attitude and a foul mouth almost waylaid me.
Mirren Kincaid. Sigh. He almost stole book one, so I turned to him as my hero for book two, Absolution. Mirren’s one of those easy-to-love heroes. He has a tortured and ugly past, but inside he’s honorable and secretly funny. I paired him with a chatterbox who pushed his Every. Single. Button. That book wrote itself. I got to know Will, whose book would be coming along next, and basked in the character-loving that was Mirren.
Then I came to Will. When I started to write the new book, Omega, I didn’t love Will. I thought he was funny. I thought he was clever. I knew what he needed to do in order to get his people out of the absolute mess they’d gotten into with the first two books. But I didn’t love him, and I couldn’t figure out why…until I had a chat with Mirren.
Yes, this is the point at which authors start sounding as if they need to be carted away in white coats to be locked in padded cells, but I admit it. I talk to my characters, and they talk back to me. Except for Will. He wouldn’t talk to me, except to spout off an endless array of smartass remarks.
So instead, I went to my easy-to-love hero, Mirren.
Mirren explained Will to me—after all, he’d known him a lot longer than I had. (See earlier note about padded cells.) He told me bad things had happened to Will in both his human and early vampire life. Really bad things. Horrible things. Things that he’d stuffed deep down inside himself and covered up with a steel coating and a smart mouth. He keeps everyone at a distance so he can’t be hurt again, Mirren told me. He can be a jerk, but he has a reason for it.
And a funny thing happened. I started to fall in love with Will. Once I could love him, my heroine, Randa, could love him too. We learned his secrets, and his ways of coping, and the rich depth of his loyalty.
I won’t say I forgot about Aidan or Mirren, but Will finally stole my heart. He wasn’t the easiest to love, but he’s this author’s favorite vampire…at least for now.
But an unresolved family feud and the paranoia of the Vampire Tribunal descend on Penton in the form of Aidan’s brother, Owen Murphy. Owen has been issued a death warrant that can only be commuted if he destroys Penton—and Aidan, against whom he’s held a grudge since both were turned vampire in 17th-century Ireland. Owen begins a systematic attack on the town, first killing its doctor, then attacking one of Aidan’s own human familiars
To protect his people, Aidan is forced to go against his principles and kidnap an unvaccinated human doctor—and finds himself falling in love for the first time since the death of his wife in Ireland centuries ago.