Sometimes the name of a character comes through an ‘aha’ moment.
The name for my main female character evolved over several years time as my plot line for my first solo adult novel kept changing. Then one day I saw a picture of the country singer Reba McEntire and I knew her name was Reba and she was a redhead. From then on, her story began to form and she became a 25-year-old cowgirl who worked a ranch with her grandmother on the Camas Prairie in north-central Idaho with the full name of Reba Mae Cahill. That sounded right too with the tendency to say it aloud with a country twang. With her name chosen, her personality and what she did for a living easily developed. And it certainly fit the times of the series setting: summer of 1991.
In one case in Down Squash Blossom Road, I wanted to change a character’s name but decided I couldn’t.
The funny thing about Reba’s stalker in Book 2 … in Book 1, Wind in the Wires, he was just a hitchhiker who got picked up on a road trip and had only one name: Quigley. Though he turned out to be a bad dude who had to be carted off by the police, I had no idea at the time he would turn up again in Book 2. When he so rudely intruded in the follow-up story, I kept with the single name and didn’t add to it. No middle name. Nor last name. Just Quigley.
I then realized the association could be made with one of my favorite western movies, Quigley Down Under. The Quigley in that story is a good guy. However, the die was cast. I was stuck with the name originally given, though there was an unexpected turn of the events. If I had known ahead, I would have chosen something more ominous or exotic … like Quylon, which means Sword; or Quirin, which means Magic Spell. The reason I would stay with the Q letter is because I try to divvy out the alphabet when choosing character names in a story to keep them as distinct as possible. Q had not been used yet.
One reader mention I received several different times for Book 1, Wind in the Wires, was that I had so many characters, it could be overwhelming to keep up. So, in Book 2, I tried to cut back. Plus, I added a Character & Place Names List at the back of the book. Hope that will help!
Here’s the link to the Character Names Cheat Sheet for Book 1.
What to win a paperback (U.S. only) or electronic copy of Down Squash Blossom Road? Leave a comment with your answer to the following question. A winner will be selected at random on October 3, 2016.
What’s the most memorable name for a good or bad character in a novel you’ve read?
WHAT SECRET LIES DOWN SQUASH BLOSSOM ROAD?
Cowgirl Reba Cahill’s schedule is full. Save the family ranch. Free her mom from a mental institute. Solve a murder and kidnapping. Evade a stalker. Can she also squeeze in romance?
Reba Cahill focused on the duties of the ranch, along with her widowed grandmother. But a crippled Champ Runcie returns to Road’s End in a wheelchair and seeks revenge for the accident that put him there. He blames Reba’s horse. Meanwhile, a letter from her estranged mom forces her and Grandma Pearl back on the road: I can leave now. Come get me. Love, Mom
When they arrive in Reno, her mother issues a demand and refuses to return to Idaho. They head west instead. In California, Reba’s friend Ginny’s marriage is on the rocks. The family business is threatened. And squabbles turn deadly.
Reba digs deep to find the courage to forge a relationship with her mom and escape a crazed man’s obsession. She also hopes for a future with a horse trainer who offers her a new horse to replace the one she lost in the accident. But why does he have a photo of a pretty woman on his wall?
About the Author
Janet Chester Bly is the widow of Christy Award winning western author Stephen Bly. Together they published 120 fiction and nonfiction books for adults and kids. Janet and their three sons finished Stephen’s last novel, Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot, a Selah Award Finalist. Down Squash Blossom Road is Book 2 in the Reba Cahill contemporary western mystery series. Book 1 is Wind in the Wires. Find out more at www.BlyBooks.com