Stealing it All by Avery Flynn
What do they have in common? These characters steal the scene. They walk into this fictional world for only a short time, but when you put down the book or walk out of the movie theater you are still laughing (or crying) because of them. Sure the hero and heroine are the stars, but the scene stealing characters, well, I can’t help but have a soft spot for them.
As a writer I don’t set out to write a scene stealing character, but in every story of mine you’ll find them. In Up a Dry Creek, the Layton family matriarch, Glenda, almost walked away with the readers’ hearts even though she was only in a few scenes. In my latest, A Dry Creek Bed, she does it again interacting with her eldest son, Hank.
The kiss curled Beth’s toes. Suddenly, January turned unseasonably warm and balmy under the tight confines of her wool coat.
“What is it with my children? Where did I go wrong?” Glenda Layton’s indignant questions cut through the lust fogging Beth’s brain.
Hank ended the kiss. “Hi, Mom.”
“You are in public you know.” Never one for the cold, the only part of Glenda visible was her brown eyes above the neon green scarf wrapped around her neck and face. Her matching green down coat reached her knees. The entire outfit was topped off with a white ski cap that she’d managed to bedazzle with neon green stones. “If it wasn’t for this God forsaken cold, Bob and I would sell the RV just so we could keep an eye on you kids. First Claire and now you getting frisky at inappropriate times. It’s like I raised free-love hippies or something.”
“Yep, we’re planning on turning Dry Creek into a nude commune. I’m going to ditch the whole sheriff gig to grow pot.”
Glenda harrumphed and rolled her eyes. “Nobody likes a smart mouth.”
Hank dropped a quick peck on his mother’s wool cap. “Only you, Mom.”
A shy wall flower Glenda is not. She’s not always the most subtle of characters, but she loves her children and really wants to see them happy – even if she has to push and shove them in the right direction.
So why do readers (and I’m counting myself as a reader too) love scene stealing characters? Because they often are our voice in the story, prodding the main characters to realize something they may not be ready to acknowledge yet or they may be the much-needed laugh in a tense situation. In addition, the scene stealers help to show off the main characters’ personalities without the author having to resort to tons of internal dialogue or description.
A prime example of this is from the Lion King and the evil trio of hyenas who steal the show. You already know Scar is a good for nothing villain before you see him interact with the hyenas, but after that first meeting in the elephant graveyard you see the true depth of Scar’s villainy. The way the hyenas suck up to Scar shows how he needs to have yes-men (or yes-animals in this case) around him to feed his massive ego. Their interactions tell far more about Scar as a character than the scenes ever do about the hyenas.
That’s how it works with Glenda. She has a different type of relationship with each of her four children, but she works hard to help them see the light and make their way to happiness. Glenda has her work cut out for her in with Hank in A Dry Creek Bed, but I wouldn’t bet against her.
Avery Flynn, the author of Up a Dry Creek and A Dry Creek Bed, books one and two in the Dry Creek series set in Nebraska, grew up in a small town in the western part of that state, a far cry from her present day home just outside of Washington, D.C. It was no accident that she went back to her roots for the small town setting for her romantic suspense.
“When I graduated high school,” she says, “I couldn’t cross the state line fast enough. The older I got and the farther I moved away, the more I realized what a wonderful place Nebraska had been to live. I swore I’d set a novel there as a way to give people a look into the amazing folks that live in my home state.”
The name Avery Flynn is a pseudonym for the author who, at least for now, prefers to remain behind the scenes. She believes having Avery as her alter ego is a very good thing because, as she says, “Pen name Avery is way cooler than me. Her favorite color is hot pink. She drinks single malt scotch on the rocks. She loves the Argentinean tango and stays at Iceland’s Ice Hotel.”
Author Avery has been writing since she was a child and her father gave her a baby blue Brother typewriter. She couldn’t read but nonetheless wrote numerous stories about her stuffed animals in gibberish. She hasn’t stopped since, though she maintains that her spelling has gotten much better and she now prefers to write in English.
Today she’s enjoying her own happily ever after with her dashing husband, three crazy kids and two arthritic dogs. She dreams of one day having a floor-to-ceiling library à la Beauty and the Beast and is working to perfect the coffee IV drip.
Avery can be found online at http://www.averyflynn.com, http://www.evernightpublishing.com, @averyflynn, and www.facebook.com/pages/Avery-Flynn/177161972329973.