MORE to BROWSE - Pages that might be of Interest

16 December 2016

... And the Best Supporting Role is: Matilda Tyler

Join a selection of fabulous authors and their
Supporting Role Characters
Twitter #SupportingRole

We all know the protagonist is the hero (or anti-hero!) of a novel. He or she usually has a companion main character, often the ‘love interest’ or maybe the stalwart side-kick, but what about that next rank down: the supporting role guy or gal? You know, the one who doesn’t get Best Actor, but Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars. I thought it time that some of these supporting cast characters had a chance to step from the shadows of novels and have a turn in the limelight.

So, a rousing round of applause please for…Matilda Tyler.
a Supporting Role Character from Fortune's Wheel
by Carolyn Hughes

Helen: Hello, I believe you appear in Carolyn Hughes’s novel Fortune’s Wheel? Would you like to introduce yourself?
Matilda: Yes, Mistress Hollick, I do. My name is Matilda. I am eighteen, and the younger daughter of Robert Tyler, an important man here in Meonbridge, for he is Sir Richard’s bailiff. I loved my Pa when I was little, but in truth I hate him now. He has changed so much from how he used to be. Maybe it is just because we lost my Ma and little brothers in the mortality? It hit him very hard, but he left me and my sister Marjory to grieve alone, which was cruel. But crueller still was when, soon afterwards, he insisted that I marry Gilbert Fletcher.

Helen: What role do you play in the novel/s?
Matilda: As I say, I am the bailiff’s daughter and so, like many daughters of powerful men, I am just a pawn in my father’s game of social and financial advancement. I am beautiful and spirited, but he is strong-willed and determined - indeed, a hard man. So, spirited or not, I have no choice but to do as I am bid, to be used to seal an alliance between my father and an odious man who cares nothing for me and will probably not be kind. I pleaded with my father to find me another husband, but he refused. It had to be Gilbert Fletcher. I hate them both… 

Helen: No spoilers. But are you a ‘goody’ or a ‘baddie’? (Or maybe you are both!)
Matilda: I am not a very sinful person, but neither am I very good. I suppose I do flout the laws of sumptuary by wearing the sort of fashionable clothes meant only for the gentry. [giggles.] And it irks my father greatly that my only interests are my clothes and how I look. My older sister Marjory is very plain, and pays no attention to her appearance. She spends all her time managing Father’s household, and I doubt she will ever find a husband. Of course, I had rather hoped that my stylishness and beauty might attract a gentle, handsome and high born suitor, but Father decided differently. Can you blame me if I hate him for it?

Helen: So you support the lead character? Who is he or she and tell us a little bit about him or her?
Matilda: There are three lead characters. Mistress Alice atte Wode is a villein and quite prosperous, the widow of the reeve, who died in the mortality. She acts as a sort of village mother, and is rather interfering, but I think she is kind enough. Eleanor Titherige was my best friend when we were girls but, for some reason, recently my father has tried to keep me from my friends, so I do not see her often. Elly’s a freewoman, and she lost all her family in the mortality, so now has to manage all her property by herself. And then there’s Lady Margaret de Bohun, Sir Richard’s wife. She seems a bit haughty but, since Father has been taking me and Marjory up to the manor for dinner, she has been quite kind to me. I think that she can see how very miserable I am.

Helen: Now be honest – what do you really think of this lead character!
Matilda: Well, of course I love Elly, because she refused to accept my father’s ban. She insisted on us remaining friends, and occasionally finds a way for us to meet. She is the only person in whom I can truly confide my misery and pain.      

Helen: Do you like being the ‘supporting role’ or do you wish you could have a lead part in a book of your own?
Matilda: To be honest, I do think I deserve a bigger part. I do love Elly, truly, but she really is no beauty, whereas I… Anyway, I am sure that Mistress Hughes is going to make me the leading character, or one of them anyway, in a later Meonbridge chronicle. That will be when you find out more about me and what I am really like! 

Helen: What is one of your least favourite scenes?
Matilda: Mmm, let me think - there are so many I could choose from! But when I married Gilbert was truly horrible. For, as we stood in the church porch, before the priest, Gilbert held me fast by my elbow, and my father stood close behind me, so I could not escape even if I had had a mind to. Which I did… When Master Hugo asked me to announce my dowry to Gilbert, I kept quiet, but Father said it for me despite the priest’s attempt to stop him. Then, when we had to say our marriage vows, at first I did not speak, hoping that, if I did not say them, then I could not be married. But, in the end, I had no choice. Then Gilbert shoved his ring onto my finger, and I had to take his vile bony hand in mine and put my ring onto his finger. It was so disagreeable, even the memory of it still makes me feel ill. [Tears well] I did not want to marry Gilbert, but what choice did I have?

Helen: and your most favourite?
Matilda: In truth, Mistress Hollick, I cannot tell you without spoiling Mistress Hughes’s story. But I will tell you that one of the men in my life plays a very central part.

Helen: Thank you – that was really interesting – I look forward to meeting you again in ‘your’ novel!

Helen: Now something for the intrepid author to answer. You can invite six fictional characters (not your own!) to Christmas Dinner – who will they be?

Carolyn: Firstly, I’d invite Bathsheba Everdene and Gabriel Oak, from Far From the Madding Crowd. For, without really meaning to, I’ve had them in my mind when writing my characters Eleanor Titherige and her shepherd Walter Nash. I’d love to meet the “real” Eleanor and Walter, and talk to them about rearing sheep.

Then, I’d like the chance to talk to Matthew Bartholomew and his older sister Edith, from Susanna Gregory’s series of 14th century crime novels. Matthew is a physician and university teacher in Cambridge. I like him so much for his matter-of-factness in the face of so much medieval superstition and, at times, sheer potty thinking. Edith too is no fool: she brought her brother up and they remain close, despite her being married. I think they’d be so interesting to talk to.

Another physician, but a more controversial one, is 12th century pathologist Adelia Aguilar, from Ariana Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Death. Some people think a female pathologist impossible in 12th century England, but there was certainly a medical school in Sicily at the time, which did admit women, so the idea is not impossible, just a bit unusual. Anyway, how wonderful it would be to hear from Adelia’s own lips what medieval physicians really knew. And, with two centuries between them, perhaps she and Matthew would also enjoy some professional debate on methods and diagnoses? Adelia went everywhere with “Doctor” Mansur, her Moorish minder and her cover when female doctors were, indeed, unusual and possibly witches, so he’s obviously invited too. 

Twitter: @writingcalliope
Fortune’s Wheel is available on Amazon

Come back tomorrow to meet the next Supporting Role Character 

Here's the full list of authors and their characters  - links will be added as each character makes his or her entrance

6th     Inge H Borg and Vergil
7th    Matthew Harffy and Coenred
8th     Alison Morton and Lurio
10th   Anna Belfrage and Luke Graham
12th   Pauline Barclay  and Zilda Gilespie 
13th   Antoine Vanner and Fred Kung
15th   Derek Birks and Hal
16th   Carolyn Hughes and Matilda Tyler 


  1. How terrible to be forced to marry. What's more terrible is that this fun blog hop will only have one post left. What a strong and interesting book character Matilda is. Very interested in learning more. I also am curious to learn more of your friendship with Elly.

    1. I agree Ginger - but then, this is still happening today in some countries, where young gitls are forced into marriage with much older men and then, often, treated as nothing more than slaves.

    2. I'm so glad, Ginger, that you were drawn to Matilda. She was "just" a supporting character but I became so drawn to her myself, because of both her strength AND her emotional frailty, that I do plan to continue her story in a sequel.

    3. I really look forward to reading. Book purchased so best start that sequel. Smile!

      Very true Helen. Hopefully those women will learn to use their voice and gain the strength to escape. Grateful that I live in a place of freedom, choice, and empowerment. You do too!

    4. I really look forward to reading. Book purchased so best start that sequel. Smile!

      Very true Helen. Hopefully those women will learn to use their voice and gain the strength to escape. Grateful that I live in a place of freedom, choice, and empowerment. You do too!

  2. I appeal to Mistress Hughes:
    Please, grant Matilda her due happiness in a sequel; to be forced into a miserable existence with such a detested man is truly horrible. To have no choices in life can break anyone's spirit. But I read hope into her last sentence and it sounds like Matilda is strong enough not only to survive but will meet a man who loves her.

    1. As authors we certainly do put our characters through the wringer at times don't we?

    2. Thank you so much, Inge, for your concern about Matilda. In Fortune's Wheel, she both wins and loses, in ways that of course I cannot possibly divulge. I can also promise that her story will continue in a sequel, though I'm afraid that her chance of happiness may be not be easily won. Poor, put-upon Matilda!


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