When I heard Neil was spotlighting supporting characters on his blog, I knew I had to be a part of it. I’ve always found creating secondary characters to be one of the great joys of writing—when your genre is romance, you don’t have total freedom with your MCs. They have to be, as a rule, the sort of guy the average reader can imagine falling in love with.
The best friends, the colleagues, the family—that’s where a writer can really have some fun!
I was tempted to write today about Dr Nadia Pawlaczek, the strong-willed lesbian Cambridge don in my first novel, Camwolf:
“How could I forget? I’ll be there, Nads.”
She winced. “Nick, darling, please don’t call me that. It makes it sound like you’re talking to your testicles.”
But instead, I’m going to take a look at Gary from Pressure Head:
Gary was currently ruffling Julian’s neck fur as we waited for the food to arrive. “Who’s Daddy’s sweetie, then?” he cooed.
“That’s a good question,” I said, leaning back in my chair. “What happened to that bloke you met in London?”
Gary made a face. He’s one of those blokes who are not exactly fat but still soft all over, like an overstuffed teddy bear, although in his case it conceals a quite respectably muscled upper body. “Turned out to be a total cow. We shall not speak of him. No we won’t.”
The last bit was to the dog.
“And how’s your love life, darling?”
That was to me, Julian’s love life having long been consigned to the vet’s dustbin.
(Julian, in case you were worried, is a St Bernard.)
Gary’s character was introduced very deliberately. As I’m sure readers have noticed, main characters in m/m romance tend to be rather butch and straight-acting, and I wanted to experiment with writing a guy who was a bit more obviously camp. We have a great tradition of camp men in Britain—men like Quentin Crisp, Kenneth Williams, Frankie Howerd, or Graham Norton. So much so, in fact, that for some it’s more a media-savvy persona than their real character.
But there had to be more to Gary than just a few effeminate mannerisms and a flair for drama. He’s got his own IT firm, he’s a bell-ringer (as the title to this post attests, I just couldn’t resist the gags) and because I can rarely restrain myself from giving my secondary characters their own love interest, he’s got a boyfriend…but Darren, bless his little porn star heart, is a whole other blog post! ;)
Gary is also a good friend to my narrator, Tom. Working from home, Gary’s always ready and willing to meet up for a pint or a pub lunch and a natter whenever Tom’s struggling to work out what’s going on in his fledgling relationship with our other hero, Phil. This is important, because the average British male needs a pint or two (or three or four) before he’s ready to talk about his feelings. (Gary, it should be noted, is not the average British male).
Gary looks at things from a different perspective to Tom—and is just self-obsessed enough to be relied on for a spot of comic relief when things are getting a bit dark.
And after all, isn’t that what side-kicks have always been for?
Oh, and if you’re wondering where Julian (the dog) got his name? Totally named after famously camp comedian Julian Clary. The fact that Julian is also the name of one of my werewolf main characters in Camwolf is entirely coincidental. Honest. ;)
To most of the world, Tom Paretski is just a plumber with a cheeky attitude and a dodgy hip, souvenir of a schoolboy accident. The local police keep his number on file for a different reason—his sixth sense for finding hidden things.
When he’s called in to help locate the body of a missing woman up on Nomansland Common, he unexpectedly encounters someone who resurrects a host of complicated emotions. Phil Morrison, Tom’s old school crush, now a private investigator working the same case. And the former bully partly responsible for Tom’s injury.
The shocks keep coming. Phil is now openly gay, and shows unmistakable signs of interest. Tom’s attraction to the big, blond investigator hasn’t changed—in fact, he’s even more desirable all grown up. But is Phil’s interest genuine, or does he only want to use Tom’s talent?
As the pile of complicated evidence surrounding the woman’s murder grows higher, so does the heat between Tom and Phil. But opening himself to this degree exposes Tom’s heart in a way he’s not sure he’s ready for…while the murderer’s trigger finger is getting increasingly twitchy.
Contains a flirtatious plumber with hidden talents, a cashmere-clad private investigator with hidden depths, and an English village chock full of colourful characters with plenty to hide.
JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea. She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novella Muscling Through was a 2013 EPIC ebook Award finalist.
She is a member of the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.
Find JL Merrow online at: www.jlmerrow.com