Thursday, January 24, 2013

When Secondary Characters Take Over

CrowFlies2Sm

As I get very close to releasing book 1 in the Maggie Gallagher series, I have decided to stop tearing myself up while the final manuscript of Cry Uncle is in other hands.  So I’m working on As The Crow Flies, book 2.  A few things have struck me:

1. Books are not even close to “done” just because I’ve finished writing them.

2. Secondary characters, in this case Joe Gallagher Jr, take over a big part of the plot when we aren’t looking, and can offer vital elements that a main character simply can’t.

Maggie’s oldest brother, Joe, who is the chief of police in her home-town, has become the moral compass of the series. He is a character I have loved writing because he is a good man, but appears deceptively normal on the surface. He has an amazing marriage, is admired by the men who work for him, and quietly goes about the business of being incredibly smart, honorable, and tough with none of the flash and fireworks a hero might need.  Joe is someone I knew would be important, but never dreamed how much. I’ve learned a lot about myself writing him. He makes Maggie a better person, and drives her to better ends. So in honor of Joe, and to keep myself from calling Maria AGAIN to see how editing and formatting are going on Cry Uncle, I offer you this scene from As The Crow Flies.

Joe’s wife, Hannah, has been kidnapped accidentally by a stalker who intended to grab Maggie. He has her bound and gagged in a chair with several weapons at hand. Joe, Maggie, and one of his officers are in the cat-walk rafters above Hannah and her captor when he makes one, last request before making a very dangerous rescue attempt:

FROM AS THE CROW FLIES by Chrissy Olinger

   Ed Loftis glanced at my brother. No matter how often I saw that look of naked hero-worship and loyalty from his men, it never failed to shake me. Joe flicked his gaze from Ed's face to mine, and placed his fingers to his lips before making a lowering motion with his hand. We both understood the request: silence, or as close to it as we could manage. He glanced down to the warehouse floor at Hannah: bound to the chair, gagged, her glossy curls dulled with grime.

   Bringing us both in, he whispered so softly I suppose I will always question whether I heard it correctly. His big hand cupped the back of Ed's neck, drew his face close.

   "Are you sure you can get a clean head shot from here?"

   Ed nodded. Joe took a final look at his wife before whispering one more time.

   "If things go wrong, and something happens to Hannah--" lips pressed together, he leaned in tighter still. My own torso tipped of it's own accord. "She dies, Ed, you put that bullet through my brain. Before I know she's gone, if you can."

   Loftis' face went parchment-white. He locked gazes with his boss while I stood, feeling the blood rush from my own face, and nodded once. Joe squeezed his shoulder, glanced at me, mouthed "I love you, Mags," and disappeared into the shadows.

   It might have been a trick of the light, but if the glistening trail on Ed Loftis' cheek was a tear, he wasn't weeping alone. It felt like a fist was squeezing my heart and throat, a bruising ache as I fought to remain silent. Sobs wanted out. There was no time for emotion, now. But if we survived this night I knew one thing for absolute certain: I was going to tell Leo I loved him.

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