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THE ART OF ROMANCE–The All-Important Secondary Characters

Friday, April 22, 2011

It’s probably not fair to call Sassy and Perty, our Matchmakers in The Art of Romance, “secondary” characters, since they do get their own viewpoint scenes in the books, but let’s start this post with Caylor’s and Dylan’s grandparents.

Celeste (Sassy) and Frank (Papa) Evans

Five years ago, when Papa passed away, Caylor Evans moved in with Sassy, since Sassy had lost her driver’s license due to her poor eyesight. Sassy loves to cook—desserts especially—and there’s a reason why she earned the nickname Sassy in college! Papa (Frank) was a bigwig in the Nashville recording industry and therefore a lover of music—all kinds of music, everything from classical to jazz to 1980s “hair” bands.

Helen (Perty) and Gerald (Gramps) Bradley

Gerald is a retired civil court judge, and Helen, after twenty years as an English professor, was the first female and longest-tenured president of James Robertson University. Even though she’s retired, Perty still keeps her finger on the pulse of what’s happening at JRU. . .which might lead to some meddling!

Because the book opens right before Christmas, lots of family members are popping up whom I hadn’t expected, primarily Caylor’s parents and sister—and the sister is sticks around for a while, too, which was also totally unexpected.


Dean Evans (Victor Garber), Dr. Susan Kirkwood Evans (Pamela Reed),
Caylor Evans (stock photo), and Felicity Sage Evans (Bryce Dallas Howard)

Caylor’s father is an international banking computer software specialist who, when he’s not traveling all over Europe, works from home—which happens to be Geneva, Switzerland. Dr. Susan Kirkwood Evans is an oncologist who now works with the World Health Organization in Geneva working toward the cure for cancer. Caylor’s younger sister, Felicity Sage, has been living a somewhat transient lifestyle for the past eight or ten years, most recently in Oregon.

In addition to Caylor’s family, I also have Dylan’s immediate family. First, we get to meet his parents:


Davis Bradley (James Read) and Grace Paxton-Bradley (Dana Delany)

Davis is the head of the large law firm his father, Gerald, founded (before Gerald went on to be a judge). Grace started there as a young lawyer (which is how she and Davis met) and now she’s a judge.

All for one and one for all
My brother and my friend
What fun we have
The time we share
Brothers ’til the end.
~Author Unknown

I had SO much fun writing a couple of scenes with Dylan and his three brothers—y’all are going to absolutely love Paxton, Spencer, and Tyler.



Dylan Bradley (Sam Talbot), Paxton “Pax” Bradley (David Alpay),
Spencer Bradley (Evan Lysacek), and Tyler Bradley (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).

Paxton (26) is a Ph.D. candidate in Medical Physics at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Spencer (23) is about to start his last term as an MBA student at Northwestern in Chicago. And Tyler (21) is a Ph.D. student in math at MIT (yes, he’s one of those boy-genius types).

(Is anyone sensing a future Bradley Brothers series?)

And, of course, we can’t forget the two most important secondary characters:


Zarah and Flannery

Next week—a glimpse at the art in The Art of Romance, and I’ll answer your questions. So in addition to all of your other comments today, please post any questions you’d like for me to answer about The Art of Romance (or The Matchmakers series as a whole) next week.

49 Comments
  1. Friday, April 22, 2011 3:44 am

    wow there is going to be alot of people to remember in the beginning but that is so cool. love Caylor’s parents.
    I may have missed it but how did Caylor get her name or is it a common american name? I haven’t heard it before.

    Like

  2. Kav permalink
    Friday, April 22, 2011 5:33 am

    How long does it take you to match faces to your characters like that? Do you do that first or after you have written some? And here’s a big question: How do you balance secondary characters with the main ones…I mean so they don’t take over but you’ve fleshed them out enought to make them memorable? Does that question make sense?

    Like

    • Friday, April 22, 2011 11:22 am

      Great questions . . . I look forward to answering them next week!

      Like

  3. Sylvia M. permalink
    Friday, April 22, 2011 8:10 am

    CBD has The Art of Romance in stock now and I just ordered it! Yay! I can’t wait to read this book.

    I like that you put so much thought into the families in your books and try to get people with similar features. Casting these characters certainly brings people to life. My oldest sister, on the other hand, does not like it when I show her these pictures because she wants to imagine her own faces as she’s reading.

    Please don’t enter my name into the drawing because I just ordered the book.

    Like

    • Friday, April 22, 2011 11:25 am

      I’ve kinda developed a knack for subconsciously recognizing and matching certain features in faces. For example, in the four images of Caylor’s family, I didn’t even notice until hours after I chose those four photos that “Dean” and “Caylor” have almost the exact same smile and “Susan” and “Felicity Sage” have the same smile. One of the main reasons I chose Bryce Dallas Howard for the younger sister is because I found a photo of her with a similar short haircut and that made her look even more like the model in the stock photo for Caylor.

      Like

      • Sylvia M. permalink
        Friday, April 22, 2011 1:00 pm

        That’s neat. I noticed right off that Dylan and Paxton both have their parents’ closed-lipped smiles. By the way I just have to mention that I think the boys’ daddy is the best looking one out of the whole bunch. He kind of reminds me of an older version of Forbes Guidry.

        Like

  4. Jackie S. permalink
    Friday, April 22, 2011 9:06 am

    Love the name Zarah! I will check the post you mentioned to see if that name is explained! Would love to read this!

    Like

  5. Audry permalink
    Friday, April 22, 2011 9:17 am

    I really like seeing the photos you use for all your characters, and I think you did a really good job with the families, especially. The parents and siblings really look like they could be related to the main characters.

    Dylan’s family certainly is a bunch of brainiacs, huh? Where’d his artist genes come from?

    Like

    • Friday, April 22, 2011 11:27 am

      Yep, they are a family of genius-level, good-looking boys. How did they get that lucky? 😉

      I’ll answer the question about art next week . . . but suffice it to say, his parents weren’t very happy with his career choice after he graduated with honors from the academic magnet high school here in Nashville (Hume Fogg) and received scholarship and early admission offers from some of the most prestigious colleges in the country.

      Like

  6. Friday, April 22, 2011 9:49 am

    Fun Kaye. Love all these red heads. I was a red head for a brief stint, when my hair was growing out from chemo. I’m naturally a medium ash blond, with super fine hair that won’t hold a dark color when it’s long, like now, for more than a week. But when it was a messy few inches long, I kept it dark reddish brown and loved it.

    It gave me an odd feeling to look at Dylan’s parents and realize…. they’re my generation. How’d I get so old?

    Like

    • Friday, April 22, 2011 10:38 am

      Believe me, I railed against casting people that young as his parents . . . but he is only twenty-eight and with Grace being the same age as Dana Delaney (who was born in 1956 according to IMDb), she’d have been 26 when Dylan was born. Because to be twenty-eight when the book opens, Dylan would have been born in 1982.

      Like

      • Saturday, April 23, 2011 7:15 pm

        Okay, then she’s a bit older than me. I was born in 68. 🙂 My hubby and most of my friends are nearly 10 years older than me, some more than that, so I must see myself as older than I am. 🙂

        Like

  7. Friday, April 22, 2011 10:55 am

    Dylan’s dad (James Read) is Murphy from “Remington Steele!” I was just watching an episode during breakfast this morning, and when I got to that picture, I smiled! And wow, Dana Delaney is his MOM? I’m with Lori. I now feel old.

    I have to say, this is my favorite part of pre-writing, or in my case, “blockage writing,” because that’s what I did when I was stuck on a spot in my MS. Speaking of which, besides the same characters that are in my book 1, I need to do this with my book 2!

    Great post, Kaye!

    Like

    • Friday, April 22, 2011 11:29 am

      I’m having fun with it for The Art of Romance, in which I’ve discovered that Pax, Dylan’s next older brother, is the “sleeper agent” of the series—he’s at least mentioned in all three books now.

      Like

  8. Kerrie Kaufmann permalink
    Friday, April 22, 2011 10:55 am

    I love the charachters!! Can’t wait for these books to be finished!!! I love Zarah, I saw alot of myself in her charachter. I CAN NOT WAIT to read the Art of Romance. Thanks for all the back info on your charachters.

    Like

    • Friday, April 22, 2011 11:31 am

      More than the characters in my other two series, there’s been a lot of me that’s gone into the heroines of this series so far. Like Zarah, I’m the one who’s likely to be found in the kitchen at an event I’ve helped plan. And Caylor is a romance novelist in addition to being a professor, so there are a lot of my own quirks or experiences I pulled in to that part of her personality.

      Like

  9. Friday, April 22, 2011 11:12 am

    Love your photos! You are a real pro at writing secondary characters we love to read about. Can’t wait to read your latest and hope to see you in Atlanta!

    Like

    • Friday, April 22, 2011 11:16 am

      Alas, I learned at dinner Tuesday night with the gals from Barbour that I’m not going to ICRS this year. Which actually has me relieved with the other traveling I already have scheduled for late June and a lot of July.

      Like

  10. Sarah T. permalink
    Friday, April 22, 2011 11:57 am

    I just finished “Love Remains”, and I’m hooked! 🙂 (I’ve read the Brides of Bonneterre series, too, and loved it.) I came online to find out if there were others after “Love Remains”…..so glad I won’t have to wait too terribly long for the next one!

    Like

    • Friday, April 22, 2011 10:59 pm

      Apparently not too terribly long at all . . . it’s showing up as “in stock” at CBD which means it may start shipping next week . . . and then showing up in stores!

      Like

  11. Friday, April 22, 2011 11:58 am

    Kaye, you’ve done a great job with the casting–everyone really does look related. I’m looking forward to reading the book and I’m sure I’ll have my laptop handy to make sure I “see” everyone. 🙂

    Like

    • Friday, April 22, 2011 11:01 pm

      I’ve spent so much time doing this—making sure that my templates share “family traits” when it comes to looks that it bothers me when I watch something in which actors are cast as siblings who look absolutely nothing alike aside from maybe their hair color. Maybe I should put together some kind of portfolio and start applying for casting director jobs at all the TV and movie studios!

      Like

  12. Friday, April 22, 2011 1:26 pm

    Hi, Kaye! You’ve succeeded in making me more curious about your book. 😀 I do have to keep reminding myself it’s a romance novel and not a book about writing romance novels. It’s definitely on my tbr list. 😀

    Like

    • Friday, April 22, 2011 11:04 pm

      Linnette, when I want a how-to book on writing romance, the first place I turn is my favorite romance authors’ novels. Learning how to write is kind of like learning how to fall in love. You can read all the how-to books in the world, but until you actually do it, you’ll never know what it means.

      Like

  13. Lady DragonKeeper permalink
    Friday, April 22, 2011 6:11 pm

    Ms. Kaye, having read many of your blog posts on the process you go through when writing your books, we all know you do a lot of research to add more detail to your work. I know you were probably able to draw a lot of your own experience as a writer (and from other authors) for Caylor. Though I’m not sure how much Dylan’s job plays into the story, what sort of research did you do for the fine arts side of this novel?

    Oh, and (if it’s okay to ask another question) how much is it suggested to read “Love Remains” before “The Art of Romance”? Would there be a lot of spoilers if you haven’t read the first book?

    Thanks!

    Like

    • Friday, April 22, 2011 11:09 pm

      I’ll answer the art part of the question in next week’s post. As far as whether or not to read LR before reading TAoR . . . because you know LR is a romance novel and if you’ve read the back cover, you know who the characters are, then I would imagine you can guess how the book ends, generally. There are a few hints in TAoR of what happens in LR, as Zarah is one of Caylor’s best friends and Caylor was involved in stuff that happened in LR. TAoR doesn’t give everything away, but enough that you might find out things that would spoil a couple of the surprises in LR.

      Like

      • Lady DragonKeeper permalink
        Sunday, April 24, 2011 2:41 am

        That is true … I’ve read trilogies out of order in the past, and you do miss some things or learn things that you maybe shouldn’t have yet! Thank you again for answering my question. =)

        Like

  14. Pam Kellogg permalink
    Friday, April 22, 2011 7:05 pm

    I find it interesting that you say you have characters popping up in the story that were unexpected. I’ve heard other writers speak about how characters seem to take on a life of their own and the writing goes in different directions than the writer anticipated. Does it bother you when that happens or is it fine with you to just “go with the flow?”

    Like

    • Friday, April 22, 2011 11:09 pm

      Great question…and I’m glad I have a week to think about it!

      Like

  15. Friday, April 22, 2011 7:11 pm

    I would totally read a Bradley Brothers series! I love boy geniuses.

    Like

    • Friday, April 22, 2011 11:10 pm

      It may be a good thing that there’s a possibility of two series between this an a potential spinoff for the brothers . . . it’ll give them time to get old enough for me to want to write their stories!

      Like

  16. Barbara permalink
    Friday, April 22, 2011 8:32 pm

    What great pictures to represent your characters!

    Do you write your chapters in order–or write scenes as you think of them and come back later and fill in the missing scenes?

    Thank you.

    Like

  17. Friday, April 22, 2011 9:44 pm

    I love seeing your characters and how you picture them. I was wondering wondering about something. Dylan has had some difficulty in his life. How did you decide on his backstory? And what made you decide to have the big age difference? So often we see the man quite a bit older, but not the woman. I love the originality. It’s different…it’s fresh. 🙂

    Like

    • Friday, April 22, 2011 11:11 pm

      Wow, you’re going to make me dig deep, aren’t you? 😀

      Like

      • Saturday, April 23, 2011 7:45 am

        hee, hee…yep! I think this book is deep and I absolutely love Dylan’s journey. It is so real and my heart just ached for him. I really, really loved this book!

        Like

  18. Saturday, April 23, 2011 12:27 am

    Thanks for the intro to your secondary characters and a chance to win your book. 🙂

    Like

  19. Saturday, April 23, 2011 12:28 am

    Dang! It’s only 10:27 p.m. Friday in Arizona!

    Like

  20. Saturday, April 23, 2011 12:38 am

    i’m enjoying reading about your process kaye. thanks for sharing!

    Like

  21. Chris Edison permalink
    Saturday, April 23, 2011 1:32 pm

    Hi Kaye! It’s great to be able to envision what your characters look like. How far into the process do you start looking for images of them?

    Like

  22. Saturday, April 23, 2011 5:06 pm

    I always enjoy seeing everything you put into the development of your books, especially your characters, the heart of the novel.

    Like

  23. Kate H. permalink
    Saturday, April 23, 2011 9:08 pm

    What a fascinating way to flesh out your characters! I’m just beginning to write fiction, after having done primarily magazine & academic writing (and mostly editing for others) for many years. However, casting characters in this way needs to marinate in my brain for awhile; I know when I see someone in a particular movie/TV role, and then see him/her in another role, it’s sometimes hard to switch gears in my mind. I’d also be concerned that the personal life & values of the people I’d chosen to “be” my characters would be so out of whack with my characters’ own moral/spiritual values, that it would bother me. (I’m not really OCD–honest! :>) But it definitely bears thinking about as I work on my first inspirational romance.

    Like

  24. Sunday, April 24, 2011 6:27 am

    Love how you’ve woven the lives of the characters lives with their strengths and their personalities. Looks like a great read. Love the name Caylor. This will be a great seller!

    Like

  25. Tuesday, April 26, 2011 4:03 pm

    One more thing! This is NOT book review related.
    I just want to compliment you on the cover of your books! I have seen them before and I think they are some of the MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOKS!!! You have a talent with writing, AND choosing BEAUTIFUL Book Covers!!! The covers are enticing alone!! They are Gorgeous! I don’t think enough attention today is paid towards the cover of the book. Everyone knows the saying, “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover”, but, today, with the availability of such beautiful artwork, graphics and computer programs, book covers have the ability top be ‘smashing’! Yours are! I will be honest and say that sometimes a book cover ‘does’ sway me at times into possibly purchasing a book, as long as the book sounds good, to! But today, so many author’s are using this ‘ultra-modern’ graphics that I don’t think are even pretty. It seems a lot of chick-lit is like that. You may have a leg with a high-heeled shoe sticking out. I guess if it fits the story, then fine. But, when there is a drop-dead gorgeous cover, I ‘do’ think it makes the book much more appealing!
    Again, your are absolutely GORGEOUS!!!
    Thanks again,
    Laurie Carlson

    Like

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