Guest Post: Secondary Characters Who Steal the Show by Taylor Keating + Giveaway

Fair Game (Guardian #3)

By Taylor Keating
Editions: ebook, paperback
Published August 28th 2012 by Tor Books
Genre: Adult Paranormal / Romance

Video-game designer River Weston has seen her world torn apart. The streets of Earth have filled with looting, sickness, and fighting, but River knows that she is in a unique position to help. Drawing on her Fae magic, she creates a computer-generated program called Hollow Man, designed to protect humans during battle.

Worlds away, Guardian Chase Hawkins has finally returned to his own body after years of astral projection. His mission now that he’s back: retrieve River, who is walking a dark path without even knowing it, and strip her world of the technology that has brought it to ruin.

Hawk and his team arrive on Earth only to discover that River’s new computer program endangers the world all on its own. An old human virus has resurrected and mutated with a computer virus inside of Hollow Man, and it’s spreading uncontrollably. Hawk is convinced it’s too late to save Earth…but River isn’t ready to give up hope yet.

River and Hawk find themselves on opposing sides, yet drawn together stronger than ever before. But a future with both of them in it could mean walking paths darker than either of them could ever have imagined.
~ Goodreads Blurb

Secondary Characters Who Steal the Show
By Taylor Keating

Boyd Crowder in Justified, Han Solo in Star Wars, and Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’m going to throw in Jacob from the Twilight movies because he managed to get an entire team named after him.
Show stealers, every one of them.
I’ve learned a lot about secondary characters over the past few years. As Taylor Keating, secondary characters are usually, although not always, my domain—so when my writing partner came up with the character of Nick Sutton in our first book, Game Over, because our heroine needed a friend, I decided to make him the Expendable Crew Member.
Nick became our first real argument as WPs.
“You’re making him too interesting,” my WP complained. “He’s going to Steal the Show.”
“Nonsense,” I replied. “He’s a total ass and anyway, I’m going to kill him. Heh heh heh.” (Picture me chortling and rubbing my hands with maniacal glee.)
She gave me The Look, but said nothing more.
Until the end.
“You can’t kill him,” she said. “Readers will hate us.”
Again, I disagreed. “I admit he was totally fun to write,” I said, “but he’s such a jerk. There’s not a heroic bone in that guy’s body. Let’s see what our trusted First Reader thinks.”
Let me give you an example of an incident in Game Over that truly defines Nick’s character and explains my confidence that he had to die:

Kaye looked up at him, then lifted the back of his jacket to show the gun holstered at his hip. “You have ten minutes to get me inside. After that, I start blowing off the little gamer’s toes, one by one.”
Nick wondered how throwing up in front of Kaye would be received. Crapping himself probably wouldn’t go over any better. “I can’t get you inside,” he said, thinking fast. “I’m not that good. River is the software engineer. But I can get you audio through the com-link.”
It wasn’t going to be good enough. Nick could see it in those freaky, maniac eyes.
I’m sorry, Babe. Not even for River would Nick risk the chance of those lab experiments being unleashed on him. Losing a few toes to gunfire wouldn’t be half so bad.

“I love Nick,” First Reader announced, unprompted, even after reading that passage.
And yet I persisted. “Forget First Reader. Our editor will agree with me,” I said to WP.
“Go ahead and see for yourself,” WP invited me, a glint of victory already in her eye.
“You’d better bring him back,” the editor advised me. “And stop being so mean to him.”
There’s simply no accounting for taste. I conceded defeat. Nick has survived through all three books in the series, and in the third book, Fair Game, he actually gets a chance to be somewhat more admirable.
“I can’t help it,” our editor admitted after reading the final manuscript. “I know he’s a coward and a jerk, but I love him.”
Even so, he’ll probably never get his own story because, believe me, a little Nick Sutton goes a very long way.
So what is it with me and my fascination with secondary characters? Because that’s what it amounts to. Readers wouldn’t like them so much if I didn’t like them too, and yes, a part of me loves Nick. He’s like the child a mother can never be proud of but will love all the same, and visit in prison.
Secondary characters like Nick are very freeing creatively. They can say what they want. Their thoughts and emotions are rarely politically correct. Secondary characters can throw the kid under the bus as long as they have a plausible reason for it. The hero, on the other hand, has to be…heroic. Flawed okay, but unwavering in his commitment to be a better person, especially for the heroine’s sake. His thoughts and emotions always drift toward Doing the Right Thing.
In short, the hero has to save the kid. The secondary character gets to stand back and cheer from the sidewalk, then take him out for a drink after. He’ll probably stiff the hero for the bill, too.
Series must be my favorite thing to write ever, all thanks to the secondary characters. They open up world building opportunities and interesting new story arcs. In the next books, they quite often show up as heroes who are redeeming themselves.
Have you ever read a book with a secondary character you hoped would one day turn into a hero?

{ Livia says: Are you kidding me? That happens to me all the time, secondary ends up being favorite a lot. Just because they’re more tortured then the mains, usually, and I’m evil like that, loving tortured characters – insert manic cackle -. }

» Click for the excerpt from Fair Game :.. «


River stubbed her toe on cardboard boxes stacked in one corner of the dark attic and tried not to swear. With a pencil-thin flashlight tucked between her teeth she stood still for a moment, listening, hoping no one had heard her, but the house below remained silent.

She didn’t want her stepmother to know she was here. More importantly, she didn’t want Jake to know either. Her half-brother was too young for the problems life had thrust on him and it was better if he didn’t know about the shit going on in hers.
As River sifted carefully through the contents of the boxes, not sure what she was hoping to find but certain that whatever it was, it had to be here at her childhood home, she tried hard to swallow her worry for Hawk. She would have known if he were dead. She would have felt the hole. But he’d been gone for nearly two weeks, cutting himself off from her so that she could no longer sense his presence or feel his soul next to hers.
He’d said he would return for her, and the feminine part of her had wanted him to keep the promises he’d made to her no matter what.
Which just went to show that a woman could only rely on herself — exactly as she’d been taught by the father who’d raised her.
She had come here tonight, to her childhood home, in search of answers because of her father. Constable Jim Peters insisted he had been involved in top secret government experiments. River refused to believe it.
“Trust me,” Jim had said to her a few days before he, too, had disappeared. “Your father was no simple farmer.” His blue eyes looked tired as he rubbed a freckled hand through his graying red hair and complained about needing a haircut. “Was he overprotective?” he asked. “Did he ever go off without explanation for extended periods of time?”
She’d started to say no to the last because the disappearances had been so rare she’d almost forgotten them, but looking back, there had been at least three. She had no idea if there had been any in more recent years, when she had been less a part of his life. She couldn’t deny other oddities either. She had no idea how he’d earned a living. He could fix anything with an engine and four wheels. He’d taught her to shoot a gun, a rifle, and a crossbow, skills he’d later taught Jake. She and her mother had signed up for self-defense lessons and practiced with him. He’d taught them a few moves of his own. These had all been necessary skills in the world she’d grown up in after the war, and they proved nothing other than that her father liked to be prepared.
But neither did they disprove what Jim had tried to tell her, and River wanted Jim to be wrong. She wanted at least one part of her life to be true. If she couldn’t believe in her own father, what was the point of believing in anything?
River carefully replaced the last box. She’d found nothing other than the photos she’d already seen, the ones of the poor creature that had died in a mountain cave not too far from the house. She didn’t know where her father had gotten these photographs and that was what made her uneasy, although she refused to believe they meant anything bad. The man who had raised her had been honest and caring. Without a doubt he had loved her. He had not, however, always been open. She had to admit that.
As she slid the box farther back on the shelf, she met with resistance. Curious, she reached her hand in behind to see what was blocking it. Her fingers brushed cold, smooth metal. A familiar jolt of energy made her smile and she drew a long cylinder off the shelf.
This was the first toy she and her father had built together. Similar to a kaleidoscope, it could be held to the eye and the tube spun to create images. He’d been far more fascinated by it than she. Any time she’d played with it, he’d impatiently waited for his turn.
A branch scratched against the windowpane and River started, spooked by the sudden noise disturbing the stillness. She put the toy back on the shelf.
It wasn’t the noise that had unsettled her, she realized, the skin on her arms beginning to crawl. The house was too silent. No matter how quiet she’d tried to be, and she could be very quiet, Jake would have heard her. He had a sixth sense for things out of the ordinary, something he’d inherited from their dad.
She didn’t walk to the door. Instead, she used her magic and transported herself across the room so as not to make the floor joists creak. She did not, however, dare jump to the main level because she had no idea what she might find if she did. She opened the door and started down the stairs, carefully stepping where the wood had been nailed to the frame. On the second level she passed the open door to Melinda’s bedroom. The room was empty.
She wished Hawk were with her. She might have been taught to look after herself, but there was something to be said for backup. Seriously panicked, and even more cautious, she peered in the other two bedrooms. They were also empty.
A scraping noise came from directly below her, in the vicinity of the kitchen. It sounded like a chair being moved.
She didn’t like the thought of having to take that second flight of stairs to the main level because she’d be exposed, but she had no choice. It was either the stairs or go out a window. If she went out a window, she’d have to get back into the house again.
At the foot of the stairs she paused in the darkness to let her eyesight adjust and to orientate herself. She turned to the kitchen door and placed her hand on the wood, listening hard but hearing nothing now. A funky smell seeped through the cracks, coppery and rank. Hope died. She pushed the door open.
And jerked her head to the side, her lightning-fast Fae instincts reacting to danger a split second before her brain caught up. The bolt from a crossbow quivered in the doorframe a few inches from where her face had been.
“Jake!” she cried out, knowing immediately where that bolt had originated. “It’s me. River.”
Her words met with silence and she waited, debating what to do next and not daring to move. He was scared. She could taste his fear, as thick in the air as the unbearable stench. His next bolt might not miss. He was good, and now he had a better sight on his target.
The overhead light clicked on, flooding the room. River blinked a few times, not wanting to accept what she saw. The walls, the floor, even the ceiling were coated in blood. The television had smashed on the tiles. One overturned chair sat on its side. Two mangled human remains lay near the kitchen table. And Jake, her beautiful, blond-headed brother, not yet fourteen, stood near the exterior door with one hand on the light switch, the other gripping the shaft of the crossbow that rested against his shoulder. He’d jammed a chair under the knob of the door. That was the scraping noise she’d heard.
River didn’t ask him what had happened because she already knew. Rage unfurled inside her, sliding through her veins like floes of ice on a swift stream. Bright red dots of fury obscured her vision. Weres had come looking for her, finding her stepmother and youngest brother instead. Only Jake remained.
A stern voice in the back of her head ordered her to focus on him. Her vision cleared, the rage subsiding but not disappearing. She stored it away, ready to withdraw it at a later time. Right now, Jake needed her.
So did Melinda and Sam. Her throat hurt with the effort of keeping her emotions in check.
“We have to bury them,” Jake said, so matter of factly he sounded exactly like their dad. River nodded, unable to speak.
They worked through the night. By the time they finished, she had already decided where she would take him. What was important was getting Jake to safety. She had no idea when, or if, the ones who had done this might possibly return.
The psychological damage done to him would have to be dealt with too, but at a later date. She didn’t want him to spend his life planning revenge against creatures that had been following orders.
Neither did she want Weres following her and Jake. She had an excellent method of travel that would not leave a scent.

“Hang on, Jake,” she said, taking his hand. “We’re going for a little ride.”

2 paperback copies of Fair Game by Taylor Keating – U.S. / Canada only!

– Giveaway open to U.S. / Canada residents only – 2 winners will each get a copy of Fair Game by Taylor Keating – Open September 5 – 12 – All you have to do to enter is fill this form with your name and email address – Winner will be announced on this post on September 13 and contacted via email by me

And the winners are: Proserpine  Na and Jasmyn !

Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Book Depository

About the Author:

Taylor Keating is the pseudonym of writing team Catherine Verge and Paula Altenburg.
Catherine Verge
A multi published author in the romance genre under another pen name, Catherine is a wife, mom, sister, daughter, and friend. She loves dogs, sunny weather, anything chocolate (she never says no to a brownie) pizza and red wine. She has two teenagers who keep her busy with their never ending activities, and a husband who is convinced he can turn her into a mixed martial arts fan. Catherine can never find balance in her life, is always trying to find time to go to the gym, can never keep up with emails, Facebook or Twitter and tries to write page-turning books that her readers will love.
A maritime native and former financial officer, Catherine has lived all over Canada but has finally settled down in her childhood hometown with her family. Catherine also writes spicy romance under Cathryn Fox and Young Adult novels under Cat Kalen.
Paula Altenburg
The other half of Taylor Keating, Paula grew up in rural Nova Scotia knowing that at some point in her life she was going to be a fiction writer. Swapping Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey books with her father guaranteed she wasn’t going to be the next Jane Austen, much to the dismay of her English teacher mother. A degree in Social Anthropology from the University of King’s College and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, again meant writing was the logical (meaning only) career path for her, although it did confirm her belief that learning is a life-long experience.
She now works in the Aerospace industry, which surprises everyone who knows her. Happily married, with two terrific sons, she continues to live in rural Nova Scotia but makes a point of traveling as much as she can. New York and Brussels are tied for her favorite cities of all time.

2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Secondary Characters Who Steal the Show by Taylor Keating + Giveaway

  1. Livia ~ BoM Books

    It’s really cool, original too, it has a special spin going on and I love it. I’m reading book #1 of the series right now, hopefully sometime during my life I’ll get to book #3 too, lol.

    Do you ever feel like you’re constantly reading a #1 in all series? Lol. New series, new temptations. I like starting to read a series when there are like 2 or 3 of them out already, waiting for them to come out one at a time generally sux, lol.

    Anyways, hope you’ll enjoy it of you win! 🙂


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