Blogs by Flo Fitzpatrick
I Got a Name - Part Two
4/16/2011 11:54:35 AM
A how-to or how-did for finding character names
A few years ago some friends introduced me to a cute little way to determine one’s “stripper” name. I won’t go into why folks wanted to have a moniker suitable for jobs requiring nudity but it was a great game to play even if you weren’t planning on putting ‘pole dancer’ on your resume.
Ready? Take the name of your first pet and the name of the first street you lived on. You might end up with Lady Magnolia. Sassy Sweetbottom. Maxie Broadstreet. Trixie Tanner. And so on. Works better for women somehow. I imagine male strippers might be less-than-thrilled with oh - something like Pepe Smallwood.
I have no idea what the street name was for the first home my parents brought me to after birth, but it was in Mt. Vernon, Virginia. My first pet was a cocker spaniel named Bootsie (who never was housebroken and had a bad tendency to jump on my bed after she rolled in mud.) Anyway, using the tools of the game, I figured my “stripper” name would be Bootsie Mt. Vernon. I loved it but had no plans to take up exotic dancing ( although the pay is doubtless better than theatrical dancing and singing.)
When I decided I needed a heroine for a new mystery, I loved the idea of Bootsie but felt the ‘Mt. Vernon’ was pushing it, so I went roaming for a fun last name which sounded a bit upscale and very French. DeMontreville popped up on an ancestry site. Bootsie’s “partner-in-crime” in this novel is a young man named Sebastian Laramie. Upon hearing his name, Bootsie states, “Sounds like a country and western heavy metal rock star.” Sebastian counters that Bootsie DeMontreville smacks of “an aristocratic porn star.” He may be right.
I also have a mystery which is one ‘self-edit’ away from being sent out to publishers. It’s gone through about six title changes but the heroine stays Bebe, a nickname for Blanche Beatrice - with nods to Tennessee William’s "A Streetcar Named Desire" (Blanche) and Shakespeare’s "Much Ado About Nothing" (Beatrice.) According to family legend, Bebe’s first spoken words as a tot were, “Call me Bebe or die.”
Bebe’s best friend is Marigold Blume, who vanishes before the book even begins, but crops up in flashbacks. Remember I said I’d been changing titles? My favorite for this book is Gold Dust Woman, after the song sung by the wonderful Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac. Since Marigold has much in common with the ‘woman’ in Gold Dust Woman, it seemed fitting. Blume is my paternal grandmother’s maiden name but in this mystery, everyone associated with the Blume family has a name that’s either flora or fauna-oriente. Marigold’s mom is Juniper and her younger brother is Basil, who prefers to be called Stone. (Got all that?)
Finally, there’s Serenade to a Cuckoo, which is the mystery newly contracted to Five Star/Tekno. The origin of that title is the great song by classic rock band Jethro Tull. My heroine, an actress portraying a crime scene investigator on a tv forensics drama called Crime Unit New Jersey (aka C.U. New Jersey) is Ms. Princess Louise McGinnis, who goes by “P.L.” Believe it or not, Princess Whatever is a good old Texas name. Louise seems to be the most popular Whatever and it just was too perfect not to use, along with sidekick Bambi Bohacek who owns independent film company, Headlights Productions. Yes, that’s Bambi and Headlights.
I’ve added a little name trivia to my P.L. McGinnis mysteries. Each book will feature surnames from the world of music. In Serenade to a Cuckoo, I’m going with classical Italian composers. So there’s a Paganini and a Donizetti, a Roti and a Rossi. (Anyone getting hungry for cannolis reading those names?)
I have plans in subsequent P.L. mysteries to use last names of jazz greats like (Louis)Armstrong and (Duke) Ellington, and (Cab) Calloway, then switch in the next book to British singer/songwriters of the Sixties (Paul) McCartney, (Justin Moody Blues) Hayward or (Gerry - Gerry and the Pacemakers) Marsden.
I can’t wait to call an F.B.I. agent Lucas Lietch (after Donovan - “Mellow Yellow”) or a hero Horatio Jagger ( need I even say Mick?)
I’m still musing about the type of character I want for Fenton Fabian Fury (after singer/songwriter Billy Fury) or Myron Milton Meek - surname provided by Joe Meek of the Tornadoes - who recorded Telstar in 1962. There's trivia for you.
Yes,I research. A lot.
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More Blogs by Flo Fitzpatrick
Writers Who Care - Tuesday, December 20, 2011
A WRiters Work - Monday, December 05, 2011
Tell Me a Story! - Tuesday, October 25, 2011
A Gentle Ghost Story - Sunday, October 09, 2011
I Got a Name - Part Two - Saturday, April 16, 2011
Self- E and POD versus Trad - Wednesday, March 23, 2011
More Dialogue Tips for Writers - Friday, March 18, 2011
How I Spent Spring Break (A Cautionary Tale) - Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I got a Name - Friday, March 11, 2011
Want to help name a book? - Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Spring Break - Break! - Saturday, March 05, 2011
Dialogue Tips for Writers - Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Writing Tip - Singing -Keep it OFF the Page - Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Respect - A Writing Nudge - Friday, February 11, 2011
To Stupid to Live? Ouch - Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Writer's Tip - Know Thyself - Tuesday, February 08, 2011
"Risky" Business - Sunday, February 06, 2011