Just as I began writing my urban fantasy novel, How the Vortex Changed My Life, I had the challenge of writing a character who doesn’t speak. At least, not in English, nor any human speech. He uses sounds like a cat’s meow or a horn blasting to communicate. I named him “Larry.” I was worried that I wouldn’t do a good job on him. I told myself not to worry, he was just a secondary character. This novel was my heroine, Cat’s, story. The novel grew into more than a story about Cat growing strong while facing the apocalypse. She learned that having good friends to stop it proved invaluable. Of course, one of them happened to be Larry. Larry who decided he would not be cannon fodder, or forgettable.
Larry found his voice, or should I say, his sounds, in this novel. My critique groups and beta readers liked Larry. The little demon, shaped like an eyeball that was the size of a standard poodle, had dug his way into readers’ hearts, and in mine. He proved to be a hero, too, demon or not. Secondary character or not, I knew he had to be on the cover, at Cat’s side, as he deserved it. It makes me think of other books I’ve written over the years, where a secondary character develops a personality that people remember as much as the main character’s. I write paranormal romance under a pseudonym, Sapphire Phelan, and have a sequel, A Familiar Tangle With Hell, to an erotic urban fantasy, Being Familiar With a Witch. There is a demonic being in it, who looks like a white bunny with a fluffy tail, named “Fluffy.” He developed his own personality in the storyline. He possessed me to write him, the same as Larry did later. Demons with a heart of gold.
There are many books over the years we’ve all read where a secondary character has grabbed the reader’s heart. Sometimes this character isn’t always a good person, like Gollum in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Sometimes, he/she is the comedy relief. Other times, he/she is brave and loyal. This person/animal/creature can be anything. Like Batman’s Robin, Sherlock Holmes’ Dr. Watson, and William Crawley’s Mr. Carson who are the assistant or companion. Other secondary characters are the foil, the roadblock, and of course, the antagonist. A secondary character must have an individual purpose for being in your story. All of them have a common purpose, to help move the story forward in interest-grabbing ways. A secondary character cannot become so prominent that he or she competes with the main character for the reader’s attention and concern. A secondary character who doesn’t flow naturally in the story should always be avoided.
Still, a secondary character, who is interesting, can eventually, in future books, become a major character. It just works out that way.
Pamela K. Kinney
Journey to worlds of fantasy, beyond the stars, and into the vortex of terror with the written word of Pamela K. Kinney.
How the Vortex Changed My Life
Cat Viggolone just can’t get a break. She’d gotten married, but that ended when the husband left her for his younger secretary. She’d wanted children. That flew out the window along with the cheating husband. There’s the career, but working a window at the Virginia DMV can’t really be classified as a great career choice. At thirty-three, her life had become positively dull.
Then the vortex opened. Sucked up into a corridor just outside of Hell, she meets Connor, a werewolf, and Larry, a demon that looks like a blue-eyed eyeball. They escape back to earth, only to find that the vortex has opened up in downtown Richmond. The town is going to hell, literally. Besides a grayness seeping out and turning all living things into zombies, monsters and demons are invading Cat’s world. Will Cat and her new friends (including an angel named George) be able to stop the vortex before it claims the entire planet?
Cat’s life is definitely no longer humdrum and ordinary.
Excerpt from How the Vortex Changed My Life:
Connor and I arrived at some stone steps. We clattered up them and into the Richmond Public Library. After we stepped into the foyer and passed the circulation desk we looked around, unsure of where to go. I saw a room to the left of us, pointed at it, and we slipped inside. Rows and rows of books in shelves lined the area like soldiers marching behind each other. A portly man in khaki pants, white shirt, and a blue, flowered tie sat behind a desk. He looked up and smiled.
“Can I be of assistance?” His smile faltered as he stared past me.
He’s seen Larry. This won’t be good.
He stood, his forehead wrinkling. “That’s pretty life like. What is it? A balloon? I can’t see any string attached to it.”
Deciding not to beat around the bush, I blurted, “He’s not a balloon. He’s an eyeball—actually, he’s a demon.”
The man said, “Are you trying to say that whatever it is, is alive?”
“Kinda. I guess demons are sort of alive.”
The librarian walked over to us and poked at Larry. Larry didn’t like it and started that weird bleating noise he could make and bumped against the man. He bumped him so hard, he almost knocked the librarian over. The man managed to stay on his feet, and took a couple of steps back as he wiped the finger on his pants as if Larry had given him cooties.
Connor grabbed the librarian by the same finger and squeezed hard. The man cried out.
Connor let go. “Larry doesn’t like people poking at him.” He glared. “It’s rude. Besides, how would you like it if I poked at you?” Connor proceeded to do just that.
The librarian stumbled back. “Okay, okay. But what is that thing? The lady called it a demon, but demons aren’t real. Right?”
Connor snorted. “That thing is a demon like the lady said and if it wasn’t for him, I’d been dead within hours after I got trapped in Hell.” Larry bumped against Connor and made another noise I never heard before, like a cat’s purr. “I find Larry is a lot more ‘human’ than you humans are.”
“Well, you look as human as the rest of us,” said the librarian with a snotty attitude, “and that eye beastie definitely doesn’t.” He narrowed his eyes. “This library is for humans only. I mean, non-human things can’t get a library card issued to them.” He saw Connor give him a glowering look and inched away. “Well, I’m pretty sure that’s the rules.”
I spoke up. “We’re not here to borrow a book.” I snuck a look at the front entrance. “We needed a place to hide in. You see, a monster is after us. A very big monster. And there are others outside like it and Larry here. A vortex opened not far from here and downtown Richmond is turning gray and I don’t mean Confederate gray either. Richmond’s new address is now a part of the Hell dimension. The whole world is doomed. And I don’t think it really matters whether Larry can be issued a library card, or what species can use this library.”
The librarian’s mouth opened and shut in shock, his eyes bulging and looking like tennis balls. He sputtered, “You’re nuts.” He cut a glance at Larry who hovered closer to him. “I think you guys are pulling something on me. That thing has got to be fake.”
I grabbed him by his ugly tie. “Look, Hell is taking over Richmond, and soon, Virginia, not long after, the U.S., and from there, maybe the world. So, get over it. Larry is not fake. He’s a demon, plain and simple, but maybe you can’t comprehend it. I know I couldn’t at first. That means no more people checking out books, no more Christmas, cute fluffy kittens, no more anything good and right for humankind. Just demons, Hell, and the end of life as we know it.”
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About the Author
Pamela K. Kinney gave up long ago trying not to listen to the voices in her head and has written bestselling horror, fantasy, science fiction, poetry, and nonfiction ghost books ever since. Three of her nonfiction ghost books garnered Library of Virginia nominations. Her horror short story, “Bottled Spirits,” was runner up for the 2013 WSFA Small Press Award and is considered one of the seven best genre short fiction for that year. She also writes under the pseudonym, Sapphire Phelan, for erotic and regular paranormal romance. Her erotic urban fantasy, ‘Being Familiar with a Witch’ won the 2013 Prism awarded by the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter of Romance Writers of America. Discover more about Sapphire at SapphirePhelan.com. Pamela and her husband live with one crazy black cat. Along with writing, Pamela has acted onstage and film, does paranormal investigations for Paranormal World Seekers for AVA Productions, and is a member of Horror Writers Association and Virginia Writers Club.