My Publishing Journey: What’s in a Name (Part 2)

calamity-jane-movie-poster-1953-1020203311In Part 1 of this “What’s in a  Name” series, I shared the inspiration behind the names of four of the major characters in The Hanged Man’s Noose. Part 2 is dedicated to Skeletons in the Attic. Here goes:

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable (protagonist)

In my day job, I’m the Senior Editor of New England Antiques Journal, and over the years I’ve learned a lot about antiques. I found myself fascinated by some auction lots of Calamity Jane that came on the block and started researching her life. martha-calamity-jane-canary-a-very-rare-cabinet-photo-with-letter-of-transmittal-from-the-wyoming-photographer

It amused me that this manly-looking woman from the Wild West would have been portrayed by Doris Day in a 1950s musical. When it came time to name my protagonist in Skeletons, I decided to go with Calamity Doris Barnstable, Callie for short (it seemed important that she have a name that could be shortened).

What about the Barnstable you ask? I googled Callie Barnes, and there seemed to be at least a couple of women with that name. I wanted something unique. Barnstable was born!

And yes, for those of you who haven’t read the book, that movie poster is part of the story!

craigleithLeith Hampton (lawyer)

Leith Hampton started off life as Craig Leith, which is actually the name (although all one word) of a town in Ontario on Georgian Bay. But somehow, Craig Leith didn’t sound like a lawyer to me. Leith, however, sounded like the kind of first name someone educated at the best schools might have. And Hampton…for The Hamptons, of course! Money and power…the name Leith Hampton captured both.

mistyMisty Rivers (psychic)

Years ago, I saw a Clint Eastwood suspense movie called Play Misty for Me. I don’t remember much about the movie, but the name Misty always stuck with me. When I was looking for the name of my scheming psychic, Misty seemed perfect. Originally she was Misty Riverside, but at some point I decided I liked Rivers better. Sometimes it’s just about the name that works in your head.

photo-jpgRoyce Ashford (neighbor/love interest)

Royce is a contractor, but I wanted him to come from a wealthy background. His father is a stockbroker who has done well in the market. I thought about Rolls Royce and decided Royce would make a great first name (Royce’s sister is named Porsche). I’m not sure how I came up with Ashford…but the moment I thought of it, I knew it was a fit.

If there’s a character name in either of my books — or any of my short stories — you’d like more information on, leave a comment or send your question on my contact form. I may just do a Part 3!

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Skeltons in the Attic is available on Kindle and trade paperback.

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2 responses to “My Publishing Journey: What’s in a Name (Part 2)

  1. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Newspaper is a great idea, I will try that too. Thanks for stopping by Michael.

  2. Interesting approach, Judy. And the names seem to fit your characters perfectly. I usually look in the local newspaper and find an interesting last name, and then make up a first name I think fits. You way seems much more fun! 🙂
    –Michael

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