Maggie Summer is the protagonist in my eight book Shadows Antique Print Mystery series. (Shadows at the Fair, Shadows on the Coast of Maine, Shadows on the Ivy, Shadows at the Spring Show, Shadows of a Down East Summer, Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding, Shadows on a Maine Christmas, and Shadows on a Morning in Maine.)
Recently I was on a writing panel and one of the pieces of advice I shared was that every character in a book — yes, even the minor characters – should have a secret. Maybe many secrets. And, no, they don’t have to be revealed in the book. (Or books, if it’s a series.) But the author should know what those secrets are, because their secrets can influence a character to do one thing . . . or another.
After all — we all have secrets, big or small. And, no, I’m not going to tell you mine. (Maybe another time. Or maybe I’ll give one of mine to one of my characters . . . ) If you’re in doubt, think for a moment. Have you (or your character) every shoplifted? Lied to a parent, a spouse . . . or a policeman? Had too much to drink and told someone off? Used illegal drugs? Used prescribed drugs when they weren’t prescribed? Cheated on a test? Slept with someone who was “off-limits”? Pretended to be someone you weren’t? Exaggerated (or totally invented) an accomplishment? Been arrested? Lied to protect someone else? Lied about your age? Called in sick when you were feeling fine? Turned down an opportunity because you were afraid of something?
OK – some of those things are clearly more serious than others. Often the seriousness would depend on the circumstances . . . and consequences.
But none of us are perfect.
So . . . although I won’t tell you my secrets . . . here are ten of Maggie’s.
1. She knew her husband was cheating on her long before she found the evidence.
2. She drinks Diet Pepsi, but she keeps a secret supply of chocolate in that red canvas bag she carries, and sometimes she eats it all.
3. She hasn’t heard from her brother in over ten years – and she’s glad. She’s afraid of him.
4. She wants to be a mother because she’s sure she can be a better mother than HER mother was.
5. She’s afraid to be dependent on any man, because she doesn’t trust men not to leave.
6. One reason she wants to adopt is that a high school friend of hers was forced (by her parents) to give her baby up for adoption. And Maggie was jealous of her friend’s pregnancy.
7. She doesn’t drink much wine because she’s afraid of losing control.
8. She’s an intellectual snob. She judges people by the books they read.
9. She’s allergic to perfume.
10. She thinks her legs are ugly, so she wears slacks instead of dresses.
Will any of these secrets influence her life? Read the Shadows Antique Print Mystery series . . . and you may find out!