I can't tell you how happy I am to be addressing the topic of character names this week. In part because it's a topic close to my heart, and in part because I recently wrote a guest-post for a friend's blog series on this very topic, which I can now quote from (and link to) with impunity - no small thing, given my brain is still fried on account of a whirlwind Bouchercon this weekend past.
So, the following is lifted shamelessly from Abhinav Jain's blog, but represents just a portion of my complete post. If you'd like to read the rest, click here. And be sure to check out additional entries in his Names series from the likes of Myke Cole, Kim Curran, and many more.
Name-wise, my Collector series is easier to tackle than anything else I’ve ever written. I think it’s because I’m playing around with both pulp crime and religion – two wildly disparate influences, perhaps, but each with their own rich traditions to draw upon when it comes to dubbing characters.If you'd like to read on, and get some insight into the names that pepper my brand spanking Collector novel The Wrong Goodbye, then click through to read the rest of my post. If, however, you'd rather see photos of bleary-eyed con-goers, then keep reading.
My protagonist, Sam Thornton, takes his name from the pulp side of the fence. It’s derived from two of my literary heroes, who’ve both influenced my Collector series immensely: Samuel Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Thornton Chandler. The handle suits him because although he’s an undead collector of souls, his role in the narrative is essentially that of the hard-bitten detective.
His handler Lilith, on the other hand, is yanked straight from the Apocrypha. These texts, considered by some to be gospel and others heretical, describe her as a voluptuous, redheaded vixen with wicked ways and an insatiable appetite for sex – the first woman in Creation, cast out of the Garden of Eden by God for refusing to be subservient to Adam. Folklore tells us Lilith then engaged her appetites with countless (ahem) members of the demon realm, giving rise to incubi and succubi, who are in turn responsible for our modern (nonsparkly) vampire myth. Though she’s hardly a household name, she’s inspired many a redheaded seductress in fiction, from Brigid O’Shaughnessy to Jessica Rabbit. In short, she’s the archetype on which the modern femme fatale was built – and therefore perfect to play the role of one in my novels.
My first Collector novel, Dead Harvest (out now!), features a young girl named Kate MacNeil, whose surname (in a winking minor spoiler) was lifted directly from The Exorcist. It also features an angel named So’enel, whose name, if I assembled it correctly (which I may well not have, in which case I hope I get points for trying), is Hebrew for “warrior for God.”
***This Bouchercon was an eventful one. I was lucky enough to dine with fellow 'Minder Hilary Davidson, to meet (if all too briefly) a certain Mr. Orloff, to bump into CM alumnus Michael Wiley, and to catch a panel featuring the inimitable Kelli Stanley. Add to that a panel for me, another for the missus, and more wildly interesting folks to talk to than you can shake a martini at, and believe you me, I didn't get much sleep. Here's a couple photographic highlights:
|My Morally Challenged Heroes panel. L to R: Ali Karim, Lou Berney, Liz Hand, Seth Harwood, and yours truly. Air-vent cockroach not pictured.|
|The Murder He/She Solved Panel. L to R: the lovely and talented Katrina Niidas Holm, the captivating Hilary Davidson, Joy Castro, Robert Olen Butler, Bruce DeSilva, Hannah Dennison, and Cathy Wiley|
|Katrina and I enjoying dinner at Lola with good friends Dan, Hilary, and Lauren|
|Some scruffy author signing books|