The letter J is brought to you on this awesome Thursday by Jake McAllister. What was that? You don't know who he is? That's perfectly okay! Here's what you need to know - he's an absent character.
You know the type - the ex-girlfriend of the MC's love interest who moved away and is never actually in the story but tortures the MC through her own insecurities and silly thoughts... or the legendary captain who went down with his ship many years ago and is rumored to haunt the eastern island that the MC and her friends were just shipwrecked on... or a deceased character who is vital to current events. One very awesome example would be Matt Perino's character in Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer.
The point is, this character isn't there. Still, the reader needs to feel like they *know* this character. They need to be connected to him, his history, his importance to the storyline. Obviously this character is important if he/she is mentioned throughout the book but is entirely absent.
I handled getting to know Jake McAllister through a few outlets. 1) He's locally famous for his photography. 2) He is connected to other characters (present characters) in the novel and is talked about by them. 3) Haley's own introspection explores a lot of Jake's personality, dreams, and accomplishments - since she isn't given the chance to meet him.
Absent characters are a tricky thing to pull off, but many times, these characters are some of my favorites in books. Who are some of your favorite "absent" characters in novels you've read?