If you read my last Sarah Mallory novel, LADY BENEATH THE VEIL, you will know that the actress Agnes Bennet came good in the end, helping Gideon and Dominique at some risk to herself before fleeing London to start a new life.
In my latest book, AT THE HIGHWAYMAN'S PLEASURE, we catch up with Agnes four years later. It is 1807, she is a successful actress touring northern England and using her real name, Charity Weston. She is determined to live her life now, no more pretence. She will do what she wants, even if it means confronting her past. Then she meets a dark highwayman and her life takes another dramatic turn!
I do not think I am the only writer who finds that a minor character in one book suddenly "demands" a story of their own. For me, everyone in my story has a history. It may never make it into print, but I like to know each character, to visualise them and their lives, and sometimes they become so real that they stay in my head and won't go away until I have written their story. This is what happened with Charity. She was beautiful, talented and despite being drawn into a web of deceit she had a kind heart and fought hard to escape and make a better life for herself, and I want tot explore what happened to her.
Some readers like linked books, where they can meet again with familiar characters, others prefer stand-alone stories with everything contained between the covers of a single novel. For myself, I like each story to be independent, so that one can read it and reach a satisfying conclusion, but occasionally I have used characters in more than one book, for example the twin Coale brothers in BENEATH THE MAJOR'S SCARS and BEHIND THE RAKE'S WICKED WAGER, and the Wylder brothers Nick (WICKED CAPTAIN, WAYWARD WIFE) and Guy (THE DANGEROUS LORD DARRINGTON).
I'd love to know what you think – do you prefer to keep the stories separate, or do you like to revisit characters and scenes in more than one novel? Is there any character you have met in a book whom you would like to see given their own story? Do let me know.
PS There is a chance to win a copy of AT THE HIGHWAYMAN's PLEASURE at Goodreads, but you will have to hurry, the giveaway closes on 6th March 14.
Look out for my short story in the digital edition of TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY, the second anthologyfrom authors of the Romantic Novelists' Association.
Sarah Mallory / Melinda Hammond
AT THE HIGHWAYMAN's PLEASURE – pub March 2014 by Harlequin
And writing as Melinda Hammond, the award-winning DANCE FOR A DIAMOND is now available as an e-book on Amazon.