Sunday Snippet – Dark Heart (& the surprise of secondary characters)
It’s been a little while since I revealed a snippet from my current work in progress Dark Heart, set in 3rd Century AD Rome.
One of the funny things about being a writer, or at least this is how it works for me, is that one knows the hero and heroine quite well before putting the first words down, we know their nature almost completely from the get go because it is their experiences and attitudes which form the heart and soul of the story.
It is the secondary characters who come as a surprise. These are the ones who initially start out as two dimensional beings — they are initially there to move the action along and to establish time and place.
Then something wonderful happens.
They start to tell you their story and their motivations, their words and actions then have more meaning than being ambulatory sign posts along the road to Happily Ever After. Their laughter brings you warmth, their trials bring you tears so by the end of the story we love these secondary characters almost as much as we love the hero and heroine.
This is very much the case for me. I want to introduce you to Albus, a slave, a former gladiator. He’s not a handsome man, a wealthy man, an articulate man, nor is he an especially intelligent man.
What he does have is courage and heart — and an unrequited love for our heroine.
He will never capture the heart of the heroine, but I hope he’ll capture yours.
Here’s raw, unedited excerpt:
“Why did you not stay with the others after your manumission?”
Albus blinked. His already ruddy features seemed even more florid.
“I made the Magistrate a promise.”
Kyna frowned her confusion and counted to five, her tiredness adding to her irritability. Albus generally said little. And the little he told her now didn’t clear up matters at all.
The man lowered his head his bushy grey hair obscuring his face.
At the sound of warning in her voice, Albus looked up and she witnessed emotion, raw and unrefined. In a heartbeat she was ashamed of her impatience.
“I begged him to search for you. If he found you I would renounce my freedom and become his slave.”
His frame by the door blurred. Kyna blinked rapidly and felt hot tears roll down her cheeks.
“Why? Why would you do that?”
Albus rocked back and forth on his feet nervously and opened his mouth two or three times before words eventually emerged.
“Your life is worth more than mine.”
This time the tears were accompanied by sobs which seemed to anguish the ex-gladiator more.
“You’re my friend Albus! We’re equal. You’re life is every drop as precious as mine. I owe you my life,” she choked out before her throat swelled and no more words were possible.
“I fought in battles, I fought to enrich other men, I fought to save my own life. You… save lives as a healer. To save your life, I save my own.”