Call me sentimental but I get attached to my characters. Having seen them through their adventures I like to know what happens to them afterwards – especially since a happy ending always the start of something else. And I also like taking people who had a small role in one book and giving them a starring role in the next …
So, when I wrote IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME, I let Alice, the heroine of my first book, pop up in a cameo role so we could see what had happened to her after her story ended. (All good things! Poor Alice, she suffered enough.) Then I decided my next heroine would be Poppy, who we met as Alice’s friend in THE OUT OF OFFICE GIRL. Then I realised that Alice had a cousin, Lily, who would obviously be attending Alice’s wedding in LA. And Lily had a best friend, Maggie … who ended up going skiing with some of the people from IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME (namely David, Jenny, Rachel and Oliver. If you are interested in the David-Jenny story, it gets resolved for good in MAGGIE DOES MERIBEL).
I’m not sure how this has all happened. It’s partly inspired by my own life where the people I know often turn out to know each other through six degrees of separation. And it’s thrifty: prevents waste and discarded character wrappings. But mostly I like the way it lets the characters switch roles – sometimes the hero/heroine, sometimes a supporting character. One of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve heard is to remember that every character you write, no matter how small, is at the centre of their own life. We step in and out of all those roles all the time in our own lives – sometimes we’re the best friend, who’s hearing about someone else’s drama; sometimes we’re experiencing the drama ourselves.
Anyway, my publishers have brilliantly created the above map to show the people in my character universe. Link to an embiggened version here. We left out Kevin Bacon but Alice knows him through Luther.