I’m continuing my series of character interviews today with one of my most beloved characters. Toby Dunkirke is a supporting character in my very first books: The Noble Hearts series (The Loyal Heart, The Faithful Heart, and The Courageous Heart). I stopped writing Medieval Historical Romance years ago, but Toby and his friends have always kept a special place in my heart. Let’s find out why…
Merry: Hey Toby, it’s great to see you again!
Toby: And do be seen. I really appreciate you bringing me off the shelf, so to speak. It means so much.
Merry: And you mean so much to me. So tell me, what is it like being a major secondary character in other people’s books.
Toby: It’s a bit of a relief, to tell you the truth. I get to be a part of the stories and play a pivotal role, but it keeps me out of the center of attention. I’m not very good at being the center of attention.
Merry: So you’re sort of a loyal side-kick then?
Toby: Loyal and in some cases long-suffering. I tell you, Ethan…I mean, Lord Ethan…can get into all sorts of trouble. He’s a bit full of himself sometimes, my master. But that’s to be expected when someone is born into the position they’re born into only to lose everything.
Merry: But you stuck with Ethan through thick and thin, right? You were faithful through the whole thing.
Toby: Oh, absolutely! I couldn’t be anything but faithful to Ethan. Well, except for… (blushes) No, at heart, I have always been faithful to Ethan. We practically grew up together, you know. Ethan and my sister, Joanna, and I.
Merry: I understand you accompanied Ethan to the Crusades as well. That was awfully courageous of you.
Toby: (scoffs) I don’t consider myself courageous, not at all. I didn’t fight. Not really. My role in the Crusades was more that of squire.
Merry: And after? When you came home?
Toby: Ah, afterwards, my role was…my role was babysitter, I suppose. Of course, Lady Aubrey was incredibly happy to see Ethan when he returned, but things weren’t the way they used to be. In fact, so much had changed that it’s a wonder we didn’t get into even more trouble.
Merry: Did you enjoy getting into trouble with Ethan?
Toby: Heavens, no! I would have been content to stay at home, eating Joanna’s cooking and maybe tending a small vegetable patch. I never set out to be a hero.
Merry: But you became a hero, right?
Toby: I certainly wouldn’t put it that way. I merely did what I needed to do.
Merry: What do you think about Sir Crispin?
Toby: (frowns) That’s difficult to say. Sir Crispin caused so many problems for Ethan…er, Sir Ethan…right from the beginning. And he was the lackey of Buxton, you know. But I always thought the man could be something more. It was interesting to watch the way he changed along with everything else that was changing.
Merry: How do you feel about playing a central role in one of the most emotional scenes I’ve ever written? One that I still cry over every time I read?
Toby: (blushes) Oh, well, that. I only did what I had to do, that’s all. I’m flattered that you would find it so touching. But by that point I knew what had to be and what could never be, so I did the only thing I could do. I think Joanna would have been proud of me. And Ethan, of course.
Merry: So what do you have to say about the criticism that your story sounds a lot like the Robin Hood legend?
Toby: Well, that was sort of the point, wasn’t it? In a vague way?
Merry: It was, actually.
Toby: I mean, there are certain iconic stories that stay with us through the ages. Different people have played with those stories in different ways throughout the centuries. We actually like to see familiar motifs turned into something else. The familiar keeps us grounded and the new elements, the unfamiliar, expand our minds into new territory. What’s not to like about that?
Merry: My thoughts exactly! But let’s let the readers decide for themselves.
You can read all about Toby, Sir Ethan, Lady Aubrey, and Sir Crispin in The Noble Hearts trilogy. They should be read in order, beginning with The Loyal Heart. Exclusively available on Amazon and for Kindle Unlimited!