Sometimes a secondary character brings some balance to the story, and opens up possibilities.
Today, John Lindermuth will tell us about Flora Vastine, a rookie police officer in his mystery series about retired detective, Daniel "Sticks" Hetrick.
Camille: Why did you create Flora?
John: Flora warranted no more than a few paragraphs in Something In Common, the first of my Sticks Hetrick mysteries. Of course she wasn’t a police officer then and had only a minority role in that novel. In fact, I didn’t even see her as a recurring character at the time. In Cruel Cuts I had need of both another protégé for Hetrick and a love interest for Corporal Harry Minnich. Flora, who had expressed interest in a police career in the first novel, fit the requirements for both needs.
Camille: What makes her so special to you?
John: Flora is young and energetic. She has enthusiasm and genuinely cares about other people. Occasionally she makes mistakes and gets in trouble. All of which make her very human. Even in the darkest of crime novels characters need to have interest in a little more than just catching the villain in order to be fully developed. In the earlier novels Hetrick was still mourning the loss of his wife, Sarah. Flora and Harry were the obvious choices for adding another element to the stories.
Camille: So would you say, then, that the positive element Flora provides allows you to go darker with Hetrick himself?
John: I don't know about darker, but Flora's example might be the impetus for some changes in Hetrick's life. At the end of Being Someone Else he's embarking on a new relationship with Anita Bailey and accepting a job as county detective. We'll have to see where that may lead.
Camille: Do you have more planned for Flora?
John: Since then Flora has become a major player. In fact, she warrants nearly as much space in Corruption’s Child and Being Someone Else as does Hetrick. She’s demanding equal presence in Practice To Deceive (which will be the fifth in the series).
For more on the "Sticks" Hetrick series, check out John Lindermuth's author page at Whiskey Creek Press.