Friday, 25 October 2019

The importance of secondary characters in a long series

It’s that time of year again! No, I don’t mean Halloweenalthough that’s around the corner too. The next instalment of P.I. Tracy Hayes series comes out on November 3, and you should all preorder it.

Tracy Hayes, Tenacious P.I. is the sixth book in the series about a Brooklyn waitress turned an apprentice P.I. This time round, an old friend asks Tracy to locate his missing sister. It’s easier said than done, especially after her only lead goes missing too. But Tracy is definitely tenacious, so you can be sure she’ll do everything she can to find the missing girl.

Tracy Hayes, Tenacious P.I. by Susanna Shore

My favourite thing about writing Tracy Hayes books is everything that happens in the background. Tracy has a large family, two older brothers and a sister, who are all much more successful than her, and whose lives she has to sort out while she is solving crimeswhen they’re not trying to butt into hers. Having a large cast of characters with their own lives brings depth to the series and continuity between the books that I find important.

There’s Travis, the eldest brother, eight years older than Tracy. He’s a public defender and a father to energetic twin boys. Because of the age difference, he’s sort of an older statesman in Tracy’s life, there when she needs legal help, like in this book, and always worrying for her safety. He hasn’t had a chance to shine yet, but I already have plans for him.

Then there’s Theresa, Tessa, the second eldest. She’s an ER doctor who comes out in the first book when it turns out she’s having an affair with Angela, a paediatriciana bit of a shock to their Catholic families. Tessa is a fun character to write. She’s not very good at reading people and with social situationsI think she has some Asperger characteristicsbut she is a brilliant doctor who never fails to patch Tracy up after her escapades.

The closest sibling to Tracy is Trevor, who is four years her senior. He’s a homicide detective and therefore shows up every time there’s a murder to be investigated. He has his private drama going on in the background in form of a son he didn’t know he had. I like him perhaps the most, and I have to watch out so that I don’t let him dominate every scene.

Regular characters that are not family include Tracy’s roommate Jarod, a computer genius ex-hacker, who occasionally creates drama of his own, and Jonny Moreira, a mafia enforcer turned hotel manager, who shows up regularly in Tracy’s life. He’s a reader favourite and I think some of them would like to see him redeemed, but that might take a longer series than what I have planned. Characters with lesser roles and no major story-lines of their own include Tracy’s ex-husband Scott, and Cheryl, the agency secretary.

And then there’s Jackson, Tracy’s boss. He starts out as an enigmatic figure she can’t quite get the hang of; a childhood friend of Travis, who has gone through a great transformation already before the series starts. He was a delinquent, a Marine, and a homicide detective before becoming a private investigator. He’s the most important person in Tracy’s life throughout the series and I like exploring where their relationship takes them.

Not every family member and friend has a major role in every book. There’s no room for it, as solving the mysteries have to come first. But every book has more going on than the mystery, whether it’s relationship drama or a family issue. I like the cosy atmosphere it creates. Every book is like returning home to me. I hope it feels like that to readers as well.

***

Who knew art could be so deadly? 

I don’t know why I lifted my camera and began to record, but I managed to capture the moment she punched Joel in the gut with everything she got. 

Brooklyn art circles are buzzing about the latest sensation, painter Joel James. But all is not as it seems with him, as Tracy discovers to her surprise. And then he vanishes.

Tracy has another case giving her trouble too. An old friend asks her to locate his missing sister, and the only lead Tracy has is the vanished artist. Is Russian mafia involved? Have they taken the missing girl too?

When a body is found, Tracy’s missing person becomes a murder suspect. Can Tracy find her before the police? Or worse, before the girl becomes the next victim of the actual killer.

On top of everything, Tracy’s going on a date—with her boss Jackson. But does it mean something, or is he just doing her a favor? And what does it say about her that she still can’t keep away from Jonny Moreira, the sexy, no-good mafia enforcer?


Tracy Hayes, Tenacious P.I. comes out November 3. You can read the first two chapters here. Preorder links are here.

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