Recently I’ve taken a step back from the cycle of writing, editing and marketing to get some perspective. And I realized all my books have two protagonists. While this is a necessity in a romance, mysteries usually have a single main character. But I created two detectives.
So Why Two Detectives?
You might have heard me say this before but when I started writing the manuscript that became A Matter of Blood, the first NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli Mystery, I had never written a word of fiction and I had no idea what I was doing. I knew I wanted to write a mystery. I knew I needed a protagonist. I knew I wanted a detective rather than a hard drinking, loner, private investigator. My favorite mystery writer, Elizabeth George has two detectives. Inspired by her Detective Inspector Thomas Linley and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers of Scotland Yard, I created NYPD Detectives Chiara Corelli and P.J. Parker. The circumstances of our characters are very different, but the emotional underpinnings are similar. Linley is a peer and Havers a commoner, he is controlled and even tempered while Havers is brash and volatile. Parker is highly educated, controlled and even tempered while Corelli is brash and volatile. In both pairs the differences in background and temperament lead to conflict between them. And that’s how I ended up with two protagonists. Or did I?
Two Detectives, One Point of View.
No. Dual protagonists each require their own stories told from their own point of view and those stories intersect with a third, shared story. What I was writing was Corelli’s story, told from her point of view. Corelli drives the story. Parker is significant but she is still a supporting character, not a protagonist. Her story isn’t driving the narrative. For her to be a protagonist, she would have to have equal time on the page telling her story in her point of view.
Wait. Isn’t Detective Parker the POV Character in the Latest Mystery?
Yes. Parker is the point of view character in Legacy in the Blood. She drives the story and Corelli takes the role of significant supporting character. Over the course of the first three books in the series, A Matter of Blood, The Blood Runs Cold, and A Message in Blood, the arc of Corelli’s story was almost complete, and it seemed like it was time to give Parker her time in the spotlight. I think she handled it like the professional she is.
Switching the POV character in the middle of a series is tricky. I worried readers would be upset. But many fans had asked for more of Parker and for the most part readers seem to like the change. Now what? Who will be the lead in the next mystery in the series?
What do you think readers? Feature Corelli? Or Parker? Or figure out how to have them share billing?
Comment on this post or on tomorrow’s post and have your name put in the drawing for a signed paperback of Legacy in the Blood.
In addition to publishing multiple mystery and romance short stories in various anthologies, Catherine has authored four romances novels. Her latest book, The Disappearance of Lindy James, was awarded a GOLDIE for Best General Fiction.