Do you ever wonder how authors come up with their character names? I suspect the answer is different for every author. For this author, the answer is “it depends.” So without further ado, here are a few of my characters’ names from my debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose, and the inspiration behind them:
Emily Garland (protagonist)
When I was about eight-years-old, a family friend bought me a hardcover copy of Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery (best known for her Anne of Green Gables series). The story goes that Montgomery, tired of writing the Anne series, created a new heroine, copying her journal from her early years, and heavily influencing the Emily trilogy.
I loved everything about Emily’s quest to become a writer. From the moment I read that story, I knew that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up. It took a few decades (some of us grow up at a slower pace than others), but it seemed only fitting that my protagonist would be named Emily. As for the Garland, I was named after Judy Garland. Mystery solved!
Arabella Carpenter (sidekick)
This one honestly came out of nowhere. I was taking a creative writing course and the assignment was to write a mystery with the words “blue” and “dolphin.” I started writing a story about an antiques shop called the Blue Dolphin, and for no reason I can remember, the name Arabella popped into my head. I don’t think I’d ever heard the name before (although I have since…it’s sort of like when you drive a white Honda Civic..all of a sudden, all the cars you see are white Honda Civics). The Carpenter? I was listening to the radio and Close to You, an old song by The Carpenters, came on. Arabella Carpenter, I thought. That has a nice ring to it. [Sidebar: I changed the name of the shop to the Glass Dolphin after I found out there was a real life Blue Dolphin antiques shop in Maine.]
Levon Larroquette (Arabella’s ex-husband)
Another name inspired by a song, in this case the Elton John classic, Levon. Originally on the album, Madman Across the Water, it’s one of my favorite songs by Elton John (and favorite albums). Notice the cover looks like denim. Whenever I’m describing Levon, he’s wearing head-to-toe denim, to match his indigo eyes. As for the Larroquette, I was watching an old episode of Boston Legal and thought…Levon Larroquette. That would work.
Garrett Stonehaven (antagonist/greedy real estate developer)
Stonehaven is actually the name of a upscale subdivision in Newmarket, Ontario, the town that neighbors Holland Landing, where I lived while writing The Hanged Man’s Noose. I thought it would make a great last name for a real estate developer. As for the Garrett, there was this guy in high school…
All ebook versions of Hanged Man’s Noose are currently on sale for 50% off ($2.99US) at all the usual suspects (Amazon, B&N, Kobo, GooglePlay, iBooks). The trade paperback version is on for 50% off directly from the publisher, Barking Rain Press ($7.99). Sales ends September 30, 2016. Click on the image for the link!