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May 21, 2012

Heather Huffman: Minor Characters Get Their Own Story (guest post)

I am so thrilled to be hosting Heather Huffman. I discovered her last summer when I read Throwaway (see review here) and fell in love with the story. I recently read Jailbird (see review here) and I can't get over how her story captivated me. Heather does an excellent job of giving voice to the voiceless through her writing. I can't wait to read more from Heather, in particular her upcoming new book Devil in Disguise. Please help me welcome Heather Huffman to Girl Who Reads!

I’ve been asked on more than one occasion how I decide which characters get their own book. It’s probably more appropriate to ask which characters will get their own book next, because if I had the time they’d all get a book at some point. I love taking a character we only saw superficially and then diving deeper into who they really are in their own novel. My summer release, Devil in Disguise, is a good example of that – Rachel Cooper has been at least mentioned in almost every one of my books, but we know little of her at this point, other than what we’ve seen in Jailbird.

I wish I could take more credit. It would be great to write a blog post about how I masterfully laid out a plan for the shared universe I’ve created with my books. It would be so much more interesting than the truth, which is that I have no idea why certain characters get their own book when they do.

I absolutely love the world I created in Jailbird and the cast of characters who fill it. They’re figments of my imagination, but I still want to know more about them. I’d love to someday have the time to explore Anjelita and Manny’s back story. There were pieces of Jailbird written specifically to open the door for Mary O’Donnell to have her own book. In my opinion, Gabrielle should one day have her story told, too.

I can’t say why it was Conrad and Rachel who got their turn first, only that I always knew that’s the way it would be. Even as I was writing Jailbird, I was mulling over Devil in Disguise. Many things about the book I knew were coming, I knew had to happen - but there’s a lot about the finished product that surprised even me!

Devil in Disguise picks up with Rachel Cooper and Conrad Langston three years after the end of Jailbird. Their love is a memory, but he’s still the first person she turns to when her little sister is taken by human traffickers. Despite the dark premise, there’s a lot that’s funny and warm about the book. How could it not be with Conrad, Rachel, Neena and Charlie in the mix?

Some of those surprises I am not breathing a word of – and the handful of people who know have been sworn to secrecy – but there are a few things I can let you in on. For one, I didn’t expect Rick and Veronica from Suddenly a Spy or Vance and Harmony from Throwaway to all show up in this book. I guess, given the human trafficking tie, I should have. When the book was simmering, though, I only expected Vance to be in it. Then I started writing and everyone showed up to the party. (And for those who haven’t read Suddenly a Spy, it will be free for Kindle on Amazon starting May 22!)

I truly enjoy writing. I love immersing myself in the world of my characters and seeing their stories unfold. Still, by the time I get to the end, I’m usually pretty happy to be there. Writing Devil in Disguise was something I’d really looked forward to because it meant I could revisit Jailbird, one of my favorite books. But the novel spilled out of me so quickly I felt like I blinked and the writing process was over; I was sad to see it end. The editing process was a different story altogether, but I think that’s because I wanted so badly for this book to be right. I wanted to do their story justice, and it just felt like there was never enough time to really get in and work on it as much as I wanted to.

Still, I’m glad for whatever time I was able to spend back in the world I first stumbled into when I dreamt about Neena Allen escaping from prison. It might be a world fraught with danger, but it’s also one filled with love, laughter, grace and hope.

About Heather:
Heather was born and spent her early childhood in Florida, but now calls the beautiful state of Missouri home. Her greatest joy, aside from writing, is to hit the road with her three boys for adventures unknown. Heather is the author of Throwaway, Ties that Bind, Jailbird, Ring of Fire, Suddenly a Spy and Tumbleweed. You can find out more about her writing and charitable work on

Thank you, Heather, for being on my blog. I so look forward to Devil in Disguise and now I have an excuse to move Suddenly a Spy up on my reading list. Jailbird is still only 99 cents at Amazon.

Your turn: Which minor characters would you like to see get their own book? (Can be from any book).

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  1. I love hearing authors say how their characters lead them. It is so interesting to me that even though the author has an idea in mind for the story that just writing it can take it to places the authors didn't really expect it to go.