by Robin Spano
Question of the Week: What’s in a name? Do you give careful thought to the names of your characters or do you draw them out of a hat?
My Answer: Usually they come from left field, popping onto the page along with the character. Clare Vengel, the chain-smoking, motorcycle-riding heroine of my detective series, arrived with her name and her trailer park backstory fully formed.
Sometimes a name is inspired by a song. Martha Westlake, a US Senator in Death's Last Run, was inspired by the Tom Waits song “Martha.” (I picture the heroine of the song as a relatively closed person with a richer inner life than she lets on.)
T-Bone Jones in Death Plays Poker is an abbreviated version of the nickname my husband gives to any poker player he sees in a cowboy hat on TV. (The full name he gives them is T-Bone Double-down Dogday Jones.)
While I don't always put a ton of thought into the creation of a name, a character would not be the same person if you called them something else.