Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Guest - Diane Burton

Good morning! We've had a busy two weeks at the Scott household. A roof leak caused plaster damage that had to be repaired and that necessitated a paint job for the living room, stairwell and upper hallway. Then my washer died! So in between cleaning the house for the big Thanksgiving dinner, then moving things out of the living room, confining my very upset alien kitten to my office for three days, then moving things back into the living room and now re-organizing the basement laundry room so a new washer can be brought in...I think I need a vacation! But then I read the excerpt from The Pilot by our guest, Diane Burton. Loved it! Enjoy!


Sidekicks, Buddies and BFFs

Do you have a best friend? Someone who knows you better than anyone—maybe even better than your spouse. Someone you’d want on your side in a fight. Someone who will try to talk you out of doing something foolish, dangerous or both and when they can’t will cover your back, like Trevarr’s buddy in my new sci-fi romance, The Pilot.

The heroes in many novels have sidekicks, buddies and/or best friends. I love sidekicks in stories, especially adventure stories. Forget the lone hero. Give me a guy (or gal) with a buddy any day. Show me the hero and her BFF and I can tell you a lot about her. Their interaction can be fun and also very interesting.

According to Joseph Campbell, the tales people have enjoyed for centuries follow a basic pattern. The hero sets out on a quest, a journey. Science fiction movies and books easily use this structure with Star Wars as a great example. The hero (Luke) sets off on a quest to find Leia, the owner of the droids. In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo’s quest is to destroy the ring. In The Pilot, Celara must find her brother to save him from a gangster’s clutches while Trevarr is obsessed with finding his wife’s murderer. Though Trevarr starts out as Celara’s nemesis, their quests merge and they join forces.

Along the way, or even before the start, the hero generally acquires a sidekick, a buddy or a best friend. Think Han Solo, R2D2 and C3PO or Samwise Gamgee. In science fiction romance, that BFF could be the hero or heroine—depending on who the “hero” is. (To keep from writing his/her or s/he, I’m going to make the sidekick in this article a male. Sexist, I know, but it’s easier.)

Just what is the role of the sidekick? Sometimes he’s a sounding board. Other times he reveals backstory. Not in an info dump that bores the reader. (I am so guilty of this in my first drafts.) The friend’s subtle references give the reader insight into the hero’s life. The hero can tell her secrets to her BFF, knowing he will never reveal them.

Another role of the sidekick is to help the hero accomplish his task. One of my favorite moments in the Return of the King is when Frodo refuses to let Sam carry the ring (because of the darkness the ring brings to the soul). So Sam says maybe he can’t carry the ring but he can carry Frodo . . . and he does right up to the fires of Mount Doom. Now that’s friendship.

Sidekicks can also be a source of comic relief. They can say or do outrageous things. In my Switched series, my favorite is Drakus, an alien who is enamored of Terran television. His sometimes mangled expressions often bring needed relief to a dramatic moment. In my newest release The Pilot, my hero’s sidekick, Arjay, is her AI—extremely intelligent but somewhat naive.

Sometimes, the buddy has such strength and appeal, he will get his own story—either because readers demand it or because the writer has fallen in a little in love with him.

Villains can have sidekicks, too—only they’re called henchmen. An interesting henchman (henchwoman?) is May Day (Grace Jones) in the James Bond film A View to a Kill. A satisfying twist is when the henchman “sees the light” and joins the hero. Examples would be May Day and Captain Renault (played by Claude Rains) in Casablanca. “. . . this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Who is your favorite sidekick, buddy or BFF (movies or books)?

The Pilot:

There's no place like home and he just stole hers. Cargo hauler, risk taker Celera d'Enfaden must work with rule-bound Administrator Trevarr Jovano to save her brother from a galactic gangster.


     Arjay extracted needle and thread from his uniform pocket and went to work on the back of the dress. Finally, he stood back.
     “This will have to do. I dare not make permanent alterations to the garment which Merchant Namil appears to value. If you do not make any sudden moves when you meet with Administrator Jovano, the stitching will hold. Now, please walk over to the window so I can see how you look.”
     “I look ridiculous.” Even though she groused, Celara did what he asked since the window was only three strides away.
     When he reached for the door handle, she had to stop him.
     “No. No borrowing anything else from Namil. From the length of this dress, his partner had to be a lot taller.” Most fems were taller. “She would have had bigger feet. My boots will have to do.”
     To prove her point, she began to pull on her boots.
     “Uh, I must admonish you not to bend over in the presence of the Administrator. Unless, of course, you wish to entice him with your mammary organs. I understand human males are easily aroused by—”
     She glanced down. Sure enough, she could see straight down her undertunic, her puny little breasts in plain sight. Quickly, she straightened. “Okay, no bending over, no quick moves. Anything else?” Putting her hands on her hips, she tapped her foot.
     “You must adjust your attitude if you wish him to release your ship. I have noted that human males respond more readily to a pleasant demeanor, a soft voice and gentle words. Also, an apology.”
     She walked to the end of the narrow bed and plopped down on it. “I am not groveling.”
     “No, no, no. You must not clomp around like that. You need to walk lightly. Glide.” He demonstrated from the door to the window.
     “That does it,” she proclaimed, flopping back on the bed. “I am not swishing my way into his office.”
     Undeterred, Arjay continued, “I believe you should swish as you walk away from him. Human males are also attracted to the sway of a female’s—”
     With a groan, she threw her arm over her eyes. Then, she bolted upright, ignoring the sound of popping stitches. “Maybe you’ve got the right idea after all, Arjay. Why don’t I just strip off my clothes and jump his bones? Then he’ll be sure to give me back my ship. In fact, I should go and see him right now and get this over with.”
     The thought of mating with the very proper Admin Man made her shiver.
     “Awk.” Giving her a panicked look, Arjay ran to the door and blocked it much the same way she had tried to block Jovano from entering her ship. “It would be best to wait until morning. We still need to work on your speech. And your hair. And . . . and cosmetics to enhance your eyes and mouth.”
     “Isn’t it time you shut down for the night?”

The Pilot is available at Amazon
See Diane’s website for other retailers for The Pilot and Diane’s other books.

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction, and romance into writing romantic fiction. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America as well as the Mid-Michigan, Young Adult and Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal RWA chapters. She is the author of the Switched series, about twins exchanging places—from Earth to a starship and the reverse. With The Pilot, she begins a new series about strong women on the frontier of space. She is also a contributor to the anthology How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in Michigan. They have two children and two grandchildren.

Diane can be found around the Internet at:
Goodreads: DianeBurton Author


Diane Burton said...

Lynda, thanks for having me here today. What a couple of weeks you've had! What a story that would make.

Lynda K. Scott said...

Hi Diane! It has been a very interesting few weeks, that's for sure. I think I need your book, The Pilot, to recuperate (once I get that new washer so I don't have to wear stinky clothes, lol -- though my hubby says I wouldn't actually need a washer until June 2013!)

Lynda K. Scott said...

And I've just bought The Pilot for my to find time to read it, lol

Pauline B Jones said...

Wow, you have had a week, Lynda!

Side kicks, I'd have to say that Sam Gamgee rocks as a side kick. Fun post!

Jessica Subject said...

Hey Diane! I've never really thought about sidekicks for my heroes or heroines. It just seems they either have them or don't. My favorite would have to be Hans Solo and Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies.

All the best with your new release! :)

Diane Burton said...

Lynda, thanks for buying The Pilot. Wow. I hope it makes you forget all the grief you've had.

Diane Burton said...

Pauline & Jessica, thanks for commenting. Han Solo can be my sidekick anytime. :)

Margo Hoornstra said...


I've missed a few on this tour of yours, I'll have to back track. Great essay about side kicks. As you know, sassy side kicks are the best.

Have a great time on your tour and much success with The Pilot.

Diane Burton said...

Margo, thanks so much.