Our favorite secondary characters


Part 2

Photo by Jed Villejo on Unsplash

Characters are what make readers read stories. If we don’t find characters we can love, hate, despise, fear, identify with and cheer for, the story just won’t hold our attention for long. 

Readers love great characters, and writers love to create memorable characters, too. But it’s not just the hero or protagonist. Every hero needs a villain, every lonely lover needs a love interest. 

Sometimes, readers are more interested in the secondary character than the protagonist. Think of Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings, Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series, Boxer in Animal Farm

And writers love their secondary characters, too. This week, more of your favorite bestselling authors share their favorites among the characters in their own books.

Seb Kirby 

With Matteo Lando in Take No More, I wanted to create a villain who was bad but potentially redeemable.

As the son of crime boss Alfieri, he’s been raised in the expectation of taking over the family business when the time is right. But he’s trapped by the weight of this expectation and never able to justify himself in the eyes of his father or those lower down in the hierarchy who see him as a favoured son. This gives him a vulnerability that underscores the heartlessness of his deeds.

Dawn Torrens

My favourite secondary character is Tristan from Tears of Endurance.

Tristan plays a big role in the novel as he is the brother of the protagonist. He is a good guy with a guilty secret that he must conceal from his brother.

Tristan battles with his feelings a great deal and through loyalty to his brother, he ends up suffering inner pain.

DelSheree Gladden

My favorite secondary character to writer was Oscar Roth from my Someone Wicked This Way Comes series: Wicked Hunger, Wicked Power, Wicked Glory and Wicked Revenge.

I enjoyed writing Oscar because he was out of his mind most of the time and I got to do things with him that I couldn’t with a sane character.

Scott Bury

Two weeks ago, I wrote about my own favorite secondary character, Rowan Fields from Torn Roots.

Then I asked a reader who his favorite secondary character of mine was. After a moment’s thought, he said “The amulet in The Bones of the Earth.”

This both surprised and delighted me. The amulet is an important element of the book, and I revealed is personality gradually over hundreds of pages. To have readers not only recognize that but also love the character just made my day.

Who is your favorite secondary character?

Share with authors and readers: tell us who your favorite secondary character is in any book. What about that person appeals to you? Do you identify with them? Do you love them or hate them? Would you like to read a book where they move from secondary to main character?

Let us know!


Goober: One of My Favorite Secondary Characters


By Gae-Lynn Woods

Roseohioresident (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Secondary characters. Rarely do we talk about them, but they’re an important part of the seasoning that livens up any story. Asking me to choose which character I love most is a bit like asking a parent to pick a favorite child. So I’ll just say that for this moment, a sweet secondary character named Goober is my favorite.

He made his debut in The Devil of Light, the first Cass Elliot Crime Novel, and has appeared in each book since. In The Devil of Light and Avengers of Blood, Goober ended up playing important roles by stumbling across dead bodies (in one case a body so very freshly dead that Goober thought it was still moving, zombie-style). In A Case of Sour Grapes, he’s spared from finding bodies and plays a true secondary role, adding color and texture to the story.

Goober’s character is based very loosely on a real-life character who lived in our neck of the East Texas woods. The little town nearest to my grandparents was home to a woman with mild mental challenges who rode a lawn mower as a means of transportation. Although I vividly remember seeing her scooting around town on her red mower, I never learned her name or anything about her past. But her image, and the freedom she found on that mower, never left me.

A Case of Sour Grapes - mystery by Gae-Lynn Woods

As do all my characters, Goober appeared in a story at the exact moment he was needed. He wasn’t fully formed, but a general sketch of who he was – based on the woman from my childhood – arrived with him. In The Devil of Light, we learned that he was abandoned on Forney County’s courthouse lawn when he was a toddler, and was adopted by an elderly widow. Although Goober was a little slow when it came to formal education, he is a talented gardener and handyman, but the intricacies of maintaining his red riding mower escape him. In Avengers of Blood, we find out he possesses a wisdom about people and their capabilities belied by his gentle nature.

I love Goober because there is absolutely no guile about him. My other characters live life on multiple levels, as we all do, but Goober is one of those rare ‘what you see is what you get’ people. He continues to grow through the stories and we’ll learn more about who Goober is, but I don’t think he’ll lose that simple sweetness that makes him so unique.

I do kind of hope he’ll stop finding bodies because it’s a tad traumatic for a soul as gentle as Goober, but on the other hand, he is prone to stumble into the most unusual situations…

Gae-Lynn Woods

is a Texan who has traveled the world, lived overseas, and come back home. She and her husband, British jazz guitarist Martyn Popey, share a ranch in East Texas with a herd of Black Angus cattle, one very cranky donkey, and The Dude, a rescue kitty with attitude.

Gae-Lynn writes the Cass Elliot Crime Series. When she’s not playing the roadie, tending to cows, fixing fences, or digging post holes, Gae-Lynn is working on the next Cass Elliot novel and the next Companion Novel featuring Maxine Leverman, Cass’ best friend, who makes her debut in Avengers of Blood.

Gae-Lynn can be found:

Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Google+   |   Goodreads   |   LinkedIn   |    Website   |    Blog


Win-a-Book Wednesday: Little Nani’s audiobook


The Funny Adventures of Little Nani on audiobook

NaniAudioCoverThe beloved, interactive children’s book The Funny Adventures of Little Nani, by Cinta Garcia de la Rosa, is now available in audiobook format, and you could win one of five free copies—if you can follow directions.

  1. Follow Cinta Garcia de la Rosa on Twitter as CintaNani78.
  2. Send her a tweet saying why you should win the audiobook.
  3. Retweet the pinned post on Cinta’s Twitter profile.
  4. Leav a comment below (on the Bestsellingreads.com site) telling us you’ve done all those things.

Cinta will choose five winners from the commenters.

Good luck!

About the book

Little Nani is a little girl who likes helping people. However, when she helps people the results can be a bit unexpected. Why is that? Little Nani is a witch! Or at least she wants to be a witch. With her magic wand, she will try to cast different spells to help her friends, but she won’t be successful all the time.

Follow Little Nani in her funny adventures and meet her extraordinary friends. Funny ostriches, horses that love reading, super-fast turtles, grumpy zombies… Little Nani has lots of friends! You can also draw your own characters!

Little Nani is willing to become a good witch. Will she manage to do it? Who knows? Listen to the stories and discover what happens next!

About the author

CintaBlogCinta Garcia de la Rosa has loved the written word since she was five years old and reads at least one hundred books every year. She has a B.A. in English with minors in Literature, Art, and Creative Writing from Oxford. She is an award-winning author who spends her time in the United States and Spain with her amazing husband. Along with writing, her career encompasses beta-reading, editing, proofreading, and translating Spanish/English. Cinta has published children’s books and contemporary amazonshort stories under her real name, and she also publishes horror stories under the pen name Rosa Storm.

In 2014, the Funny Adventures of Little Nani was a gold medal winner in the Children’s category of the International Readers’ Favorite Book Awards.

Cinta can be found:

Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Tsu   |   Blog   |   Blog   |    Blog

Website   |   Pinterest   |   Tumblr   |   LinkedIn




Wordless Wednesday: The Bridge Club by Patricia Sands


TBC Kindle cover

How far would you go to help a close friend? Is there a place where you might draw the line and simply have to say no?

Eight women. Four decades of friendship. One unimaginable request.

Where can you find a story about friendship, laughter and the good things in life that also touches on alcoholism, infidelity, porn addiction, illness and grief? For many women, it’s often within their own circle of friends. Whether your BFFs are in their twenties or are seniors, everyone has a story.

The Bridge Club reminds us of the complexities of women’s friendships through an entertaining and often moving tale of eight women whose lives intersect once a month initially to play the game of bridge. What began as one night turns into four decades that span the segments of a woman’s journey from youthful optimism to embracing the challenges and opportunities presented in life’s later years.

Based loosely on the author’s own bridge club, the story weaves the reader through a maze of life’s inevitable scenarios.

About the author

Patricia SandsPatricia Sands lives in Toronto Canada most of the time, Florida some of the time, and the south of France whenever possible. With a happily blended family of seven adult children and, at last count, six grandchildren, life is full and time is short. Beginning with her first Kodak Brownie camera at the age of six, she has told stories all of her life through photography. She is the author of the award-winning novel, The Bridge Club and her most recent release, The Promise of Provence. The latter is an Amazon best-seller that was also featured on the Movers & Shakers Digital list.  Thanks to reader demand, a sequel to The Promise of Provence in in the works!

Visit Patricia’s

And follow her on Twitter @patricia_sands


Building Character(s)


Handsome-Man-ReadingReaders tell me all the time how much they like many of my characters. They say that they feel like people they could know and have as friends. I’m a firm believer in Ray Bradbury’s sage advice to give readers someone to root for—I think that is what makes reading exciting. As Sol Stein always said about reading manuscripts submitted to him for possible publication, “I want to fall in love.” To me that is all you need to remember when setting out on a writing, and thus reading, adventure. I want to fall in love with my characters so much that I want to follow them to see where they are going and to cheer them on along the way.

Lately I’ve read, or started to read, an awful lot of books that feature characters I have a hard time getting interested in. Either they are one dimensional and boring or they are just not the sort of people I want to spend the hours it takes to read a book with. I’m trying to figure out why that is. Are there more authors writing about boring people? Or am I just getting pickier. Last night I started thinking about great characters from books I loved; characters that linger long after the book is over.

Probably the first was Jo March. I don’t remember how old I was when I first read Little Women and it is still one of my favorite books but, more than the actual story, it was Jo that I loved maybe because I identified with her in so many ways. Well, she wanted to be a writer. And sh came from a big family that she loved very much. But more than anything, it was her vulnerability and willingness to go that extra step. I still remember vividly the scene in which she cut off her hair and sold it rather than ask mean old Aunt March for the money so her mother could go take care of her father who had been wounded in the Civil War.

Shortly after that I read Jane Eyre for the first of many times and, again, I loved the story but I also loved Jane. Unlike Jo March she had no family except her horrid aunt and cousins. But Jane was persistent and she had a sense of self-worth that, young as I was, I recognized.

In high school I fell madly in love with Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. He was everything I thought a man should be: mature, dignified, intelligent, good, plus he was also a crack shot with a rifle. I loved the scene where the town sheriff (Heck Tate, I swear, I didn’t know I remembered that until now) asked Atticus to take the shot needed to kill a rabid dog and the utter astonishment of Atticus’s children when he did it.

Some years back, when I read A.S. Byatt’s Possession, I became quite enthralled by Maud Bailey, the beautiful but quirky professor of feminist literature. Maude fascinated me because she was brilliant but also somewhat wounded by a relationship that she could not quite put behind her. In Kiana Davenport’s Shark Dialogues I loved both Pono, the magnificent matriarch of a large Polynesian family. I loved her fearlessness and her endless love for Duke Kaloha, who was quite memorable as well.

It’s hard to say what it is that makes one character more captivating than another. I have read all of Alice Hoffman’s books and loved them but, of all her characters (and they are wonderful characters) the one that lingers in memory is Julian Cash from Turtle Moon. Why? I’m not sure—he is an interesting mix of strength and emotion, a homely man with a scarred face, who loves his dogs but does not think himself lovable.

A few years back when Donna Tartt’s The Secret History was published it seemed like every woman I know was in love with Henry Winter, myself included. I found this quite fascinating because Henry was such an odd character. He was an intellectual snob, aloof and removed from most company and yet generous and kind with his friends. He saved Richard’s life yet had no compunctions about taking the life of someone else.

I think about these characters—and more—when I am writing because they have qualities that I want to develop in the characters I create. I think the most interesting thing about creating characters is understanding their motivation, they need a personal psychology. That is always at the core of great characters. From Jean-Benoit Aubéry to Harry Potter and from Lady Brett Ashley to Scout Finch, these are people I can think about, love and root for, and keep as friends for a lifetime.

Thanks for reading.


How do Authors Come Up With Character Names, by Frederick Lee Brooke–Part1


Do the names of characters have any meaning? With some authors like David Foster Wallace, character names like Rick Vigorous often seem to hint at an inside joke. I spoke to some of the authors at BestsellingReads to find out how they come up with their characters’ names.


9-DistrictsDouglas Dorow writes, “In The Ninth District, Jack Miller came from the name of my friend’s son. I liked the way it sounded. The second character was named by the winner of an auction at my kids’ school. The winner won a kindle preloaded with lots of books and got to name a character in my book. He wanted me to use his best friend’s name for his birthday–he’s a thriller reader, so, Ross Fruen was born.”



Martha Bourke, who wrote the Jaguar Sun series, writes, “The name Maya comes from the Mexican tradition of naming girls Maya to honor their heritage. The villain of the series, Victrixa Mata, has an interesting meaning to her name as well. In Spanish, ‘Mata’ means ‘s/he kills.’ So, directly translated, her name in English is ‘Victrixa Kills.’”


Finding Emma-Final 2013

Finding Emma is the bestselling thriller by Steena Holmes – “My daughters all helped me name the girls in the book. They each got to pick the name and help me while I wrote the story. My other main character – Jack – is based upon my father and grandfather. Their last name is Jack. One of Jack’s friends in the book is named Dougie (after my father).”



Have you ever read Arcadia’s Gift, by Jesi Lea Ryan? Jesi Lea explained the character’s name in this way: “I met a woman through work several years ago named Arcadia, Cady for short. I thought that was the most beautiful name. I always thought if I had a daughter I could use it. Once I decided not to have children, I figured I’d use the name for the main character in my YA novel, Arcadia’s Gift. It fits her very well because she is a normal girl (Cady) but she has a secret, powerful side to her (Arcadia).”


BrokenFernsLow“Leilani Rosario Matsumoto Texeira, my main character, has each name for a purpose,” writes Toby Neal, bestselling author of Hawaiian mysteries such as Blood Orchids. “Each name represents one of her ethnicities: Leilani is for her Hawaiian heritage and shortens to easy-to-remember Lei; Rosario is her aunt’s name and reflects her Portuguese heritage; Matsumoto is her mother’s Japanese family name and Texeira, while a tad problematic to pronounce and spell, is a name you see a lot in Hawaii and not many other places. It’s Portuguese in origin. Names are very important in Hawaii and many of them tell a story in themselves.”


Diane Capri is the bestselling author of Due Justice, and writes, “Wilhelmina Carson is named in tribute to my first woman-DueJustice_DianeCapri_smalllawyer mentor, Wilhelmina Boersma. The real Wilhelmina was a remarkable woman and quite a pioneer. She went to law school after WWII and worked for 20 years as a secretary in a large Detroit law firm where I first began practicing. Later, she became a partner in the firm and was always, always behaving as she believed a lady would–even as she represented many members of the teamsters union! Wilhelmina was in her late 60s by the time I became a lawyer, and she was a quiet force to be reckoned with. She didn’t seek the limelight, but neither did she shrink from being noticed. She wore a mink hat to lunch at a club where she was a member, even though she was not allowed to enter through the front door because she was a woman. Amazing role model for a rather timid young lawyer like me! So I gave my Wilhelmina Carson some of the real Wilhelmina’s courage, coupled with her grace under pressure, and hoped to be like her myself when I grew up.”


ThePromise-of-ProvenceShaded“The name of the main character in The Promise of Provence, Katherine Price, is a combination of the names of two strong women in my life,” explains bestselling author Patricia Sands. “However, Katherine’s mother in the story, Elisabeth, is named after and modeled upon my late mother-in-law (to whom the book is dedicated). The first part of the story Elisabeth relates to Katherine is a true accounting of what happened to my mother-in-law and her family during WW2 in her village in Hungary, and the carpet they speak of hangs in my son’s home today. She was an important influence in our lives.”



Christine Nolfi, bestselling author of Treasure Me, writes, “There’s no set pattern for naming characters. Some, like Birdie in Treasure Me, arrive fully formed. Others start with an archetype employed to aid in fleshing out the character’s traits. For Blossom in Second Chance Grill, I wanted a name that conveyed “life” despite the struggle against death she must face. Wish, from Treasure Me, is another play on opposites. I think of her as a nefarious criminal who destroys the wishes held dear by others, a sort of death wish in human form.”


Thinking of all your favorite books, do you have a favorite character name? Do you think the author attached any special meaning to the name?

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fredbrookeThe third book in Frederick Lee Brooke’s Annie Ogden mystery series is due out in Summer 2013. The series began with Doing Max Vinyl, currently #1 on the Goodreads list Best Mystery/Thriller/Suspense Novel of 2011” then followed up with another hit, Zombie Candy. He lives in Switzerland, where the chocolate is good, but the glaciers are melting. Like Frederick Lee Brooke on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.