Jennifer here, offering a warm welcome to Denise Swanson! She’s here to share about the fascinating hunt for great names. Thanks, Denise!
The Name Game
I’ve always been fascinated with names. Maybe because I always hated my first name. Granted, Denise is better than the one my parents first considered—Ernestina after my father. But I would have much preferred a more elegant name like Kathryn or Laura, which were my grandmothers’ names.
As a teenager, I used to write down the names of characters from books that I read. I had a system where I would group the names under heroes, heroines, and villains. I still have those index cards and find that my taste has changed a bit, but not too much.
I also collected baby-naming books, which turned out to be quite a shock for my mother when she discovered my cache. She was convinced I was pregnant, and since I was thirteen at the time, she nearly had a heart attack.
Once I started writing, I finally had a legitimate reason to continue to buy baby-naming books. Two of my favorites are Beyond Jennifer and Jason and The Baby Name Personality Survey. But I like the traditional ones, as well.
One of the best parts of starting to write a new book is picking out the characters’ names. Until I find the right name for a character, he or she doesn’t come alive to me. And even though names are important to me, I really goofed in my first book, Murder of a Small-Town Honey. If I’d had any idea that Wally was going to become a love interest for Skye, I would have chosen another name. Like the Johnny Cash song goes—Blake or Caleb or Max—anything but Wally. The worst part about choosing Wally is that I went to kindergarten with a Wally and everyone is now convinced I was secretly in love with him. Geesh!
Another lesson I learned from early books is that like clothes, names go in and out of fashion, and it’s important to give your characters names that are appropriate for their ages. For instance, most Debbies, Nancys, Barbaras, and Denises are from the Baby Boomer generation. I’ve made a few goofs in this area, as well. But luckily, I found an online site that lists what names were popular during a particular year and try to make sure I check it out before I commit to a name.
Still, I love names. And in writing The Right to Bear Charms, the newest book in my Forever Charmed paranormal cozy mystery series, it was a ton of fun to select the character names. They all have a certain significance and give a hint as to that particular character’s secret power.
In the first book of the series, A Call to Charms, my sleuth starts out as Lexie Green, but finds out she’s actually Alexandra Ravenscraft. And if that wasn’t enough to blow her mind, she also learns that she’s the Ravenscraft Shield. An entity that wields magical powers to be used for the benefit of the citizens of Echo Springs, her new hometown.
How would you feel if you discovered that you weren’t who you thought you were?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
New York Times Bestseller author Denise Swanson was a practicing psychologist for twenty-two years. She writes the Scumble River, Devereaux’s Dime Store, Chief-to-Go, and Forever Charmed mysteries, was well as two contemporary romance connected series and apocalyptic novels. Her books all feature small-town heroines with lots of heart.
Denise’s books have been finalists for the Agatha, Mary Higgins Clark, RT Magazine’s Career Achievement, and Daphne du Maurier Awards. She has won the Reviewers Choice Award and was a BookSense 76 Top Pick.
Denise Swanson lives in rural Illinois with her husband, classical composer David Stybr.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Who says murder can’t be stylish?
The whole idea of even owning a business, let alone one that had an out-of-the-ordinary sideline like producing charms for those in need, is still new to Lexie Ravenscraft. A few months ago, out of the blue, she’d received a letter informing her that she had inherited her great-aunt Pandora Ravenscraft’s estate.
Unfortunately, she’d soon discovered that her old life had been one big lie and the picture of herself as a wealthy heiress was about as far from reality as her name.
Turns out, she wasn’t Lexie Green, she was Alexandra Ravenscraft. And if that wasn’t enough to blow her mind, she was the Ravenscraft Shield. An entity that wielded magical powers to be used for the benefit of the citizens of Echo Springs, her new hometown.
Although Lexie is beginning to settle into her new role, there is still a lot she doesn’t understand. While she’s aware that having supernatural skills is apparently the norm in the community, it’s considered impolite, or maybe even dangerous, to ask what type of abilities her fellow Echo Springians possessed.
Which is why rescuing her mother from the Wizard of Washington, figuring out how said Wizard ended up dead, and keeping Echo Springs from the dark magic is so difficult.