1. Who are the NPCs / supporting cast members in your character’s life? (if you don’t have any, feel free to invent some now!)
There is Lizette, Dr. Srinder Chaudry, Angus McLeod, who started out as an NPC and was taken over by a friend. the Khatib brothers, who are just horrible jerks. The most notable one as of late was Fanny’s daughter, Jocelyn. We had not really intended for her to be a full-blown character on her own, but she sort of piped up and made everyone take note of her.
2. How much detail do you put into them?
Usually there is quite a bit of detail. However, sometimes it’s just the rudimentary information where I need someone else in the room or in the scene. I find it amazing that people don’t use NPCs more. No character is an island, and not having NPC’s, or other characters to flesh out your fiction just seems rather counterproductive.
3. Do you choose PBs for your NPCs?
Yes, sometimes. For Angus and for Jocelyn they sort of chose their own PB’S. I knew what I had for the description, and then all of a sudden, Pb’s of that description just sort of popped up. Rachel Castro as a young Jocelyn and then later in her life, she is supposedly the spit and image of her mother, so we got some very, VERY early Monica Bellucci pictures. Ibrahim I used a Bollywood actor whom I had not seen before. Aisha’s father, Moustafa, I chose Egyptian actor, Omar Sharif.
4. Do they ever have their own stories / speaking roles?
Oh, most definitely! Jocelyn started out as a baby in a crib. She became the absolute rose in her Papa’s eyes. Then there was this Demon…and he picked up the baby and she just started cooing and gurgling at him and her father and then it all just sort of started exploding on the page! *g*
5. What roles do the NPCs play in storylines involving your character?
They are usually servants or just again, people I need in a scene. I tend to be picky about my characters, and the NPC’s just sort of serve as my “expendable crewmembers” which I can do terrible things to and drop kick them in and out of scenes on an as needed basis.
6. Has an NPC or supporting cast member ever stolen the show and become one of your main characters?
Angus, as I mentioned, was picked up by a friend of mine that I worked with. He later put him back down again and I took him over.
7. Have you ever killed off an NPC to support a plot or storyline? How did it work out?
Yes. I killed off Ibrahim Khatib, who was the brother of Aisha, one of my characters. I knew I was going to kill him off from the beginning. He was just far too nasty an individual to let run around for too long. It was even Aisha who blew Ibrahim’s brains out in a firefight in the streets of Amsterdam. Never mind that she did it in order to save the man who kidnapped her in the first place, it really ended up being a rather good plot device because it left at least a couple of people in the storyline, including Aisha herself, wondering why the hell she had done it. That bit on its own was what got the screenplay that is based on that story some interest. We shall see what happens. In my opinion, you have to be willing to strew some bodies of minor or even major characters here and there in your fiction in order for it to be effective. Don’t be afraid to stab a few of them to death, shoot them, throw them under a train or poison them with your pen. It’s kind of fun really.
Write a ficlet about one of your characters as told from the POV of one of their NPCs/supporting cast members.
From the aforementioned story / screenplay:
Ibrahim sipped his Turkish coffee and glanced half heartedly at the issue of the Times before him. He was far more interested in keeping a watchful glance at the fellow Lebanese, Algerians and even Egyptians that sat in the dimly lit Amsterdam khawi that was frequented by Arab men, and students that wanted to appear trendy if not sympathetic to Arab culture. By the time he was drinking his second cup of coffee, he caught sight of a man who matched the description that his father, Mustafa had given him. He was not an Arab, at least not fully, not with eyes like those. They were green, and lacked something in their depths. Still, the Stranger spoke flawless Arabic, and by his accent, he had spent time in the Alexandrian region of Egypt. The lilting drawl of the higher class dialect of the language was indicative of the region. Such markers, Ibrahim noted, were unmistakable.
“Naharak Said, ya ustez Khatib!“, he said in Arabic indicating the chair across from Ibrahim, “I was told that I might find you here. I heard you are looking for something. May I sit?”
“Aiwa“, Ibrahim nodded, eyeing the Alexandrian suspiciously,”That depends upon what you have found.”
The Alexandrian took the chair and sat down, nodding to the waiter to bring him a cup of coffee. He was older than Ibrahim, confident. His hands could have been those of a doctor, or executive, and judging by the cut of his silk shirt and jacket, he was no stranger to comfort.
“True, true, “The Alexandrian said calmly as he took a cigarette from a silver case in his vest pocket. After offering one to Ibrahim, who refused it with a shake of his head, he continued, “I am told that something quite valuable was taken from your family,” he shook his head, “that is terrible. What is the world coming to?”
“You tell me,” Ibrahim grumbled before taking another sip of his coffee “Since you are sympathetic, maybe you can tell me where to begin looking in order to get back what rightfully belongs to my family.”
“It was quite difficult to procure the information for your father, but since our people owe him much, we were able to procure a fairly promising lead for him….and I am sure that will help you.”
Ibrahim had already decided he did not trust the Alexandrian, but there was little choice. He resisted the urge to grind his jaw impatiently and nodded. Ibrahim prided himself on his inner discipline not to give his intentions away by showing outward anger. Volatility was a constant companion, but he had learned as a child that those who telegraph their intentions very often get hurt. It was that anger with in the Beqaa Valley that had been his constant companion that taught him that the discipline he needed was a survival skill that he could not ignore. When you are a Christian in a predominantly Muslim country, you have to learn, he thought bitterly. Even the Christians could not escape the social pressures of having a sister stolen, taken away. Already the angry voices in the village demanded honor to be restored. His uncle had already gotten rocks thrown through the window of his shop, things had already started getting out of hand when Ibrahim left the village for Amsterdam. His father had given him the name of the khawi where he would meet his contact in a few days. Diligently Ibrahim had waited for three days until the Alexandrian appeared.
“You have achieved what our people haven’t then? I commend you on achieving what some have called ‘impossible.”
“Lah,” the Alexandrian shook his head, “Not impossible if what has been taken is as unique as we know it to be.” He waited until he was certain that Ibrahim’s interest had been captured and watched it grow before continuing, “I know you want me to reveal how we found out, but suffice it to say that since we know your father will need us again, we must decline our sources.”
“I haven’t asked you for them,” Ibrahim raised his eyebrow, “If you have something to tell me, then tell me, otherwise we can stop wasting each other’s time.”he let the last dregs in his cup sit in his mouth a moment before swallowing, savoring the bitterness as being almost symbolic of his current displeasure in the whole affair concerning Aisha’s disappearance. It was still not as bitter as dishonor that he would have to set to rights.
“Such impatience.” the Alexandrian clicked his tongue, “But since you are the son of Mustafa Khatib, we of course will let you know what we do know. It seems that our Eastern European brothers have been setting up a new network in America. One of them got wind from a second cousin about a man they regularly do business with who we think was seen with your sister. The woman, if it was her, seemed, shall we say, somewhat…..subdued.”
“She seemed as if she was captive….subservient, maybe.” the Alexandrian shrugged non-challantly, took a long drag on his cigarette and then blew it toward the tin ceiling, ” She was not properly attired for a respectable woman. We know that is a problem for you, as it should be. Our guess is that this man, whoever he is – is perhaps trying to muscle in on your father’s routes – undercut the profit margins and maybe get your attention. What better way?”
The Alexandrian reached into the breast pocket of his jacket and pulled out a slip of paper. When he was certain that no one was watching he slid the paper to Ibrahim across the painted surface.
“We know he will be coming back our way – Amsterdam most likely. We can get you itinerary information, maybe..” the Alexandrian shrugged elaborately, “But this is the drop point for some other business, and the date. Be there and you can retrieve what is yours.”
khawi’ – Coffee house
Naharak Said, ya ustez Khatib! – Good afternoon Mr. Khatib
Aiwa – yes
Lah – no