22 August 2014

Day 3 of the Freaky Name Coincidences

Last one, I swear...until something like this happens again...My brain doesn't seem to want to work today, so I'll try to make this short, and then go make a second cup of coffee.

What's in a Middle Name?

I've always given my characters middle names. It's one of those fun little facts that probably won't even show up in any book, but makes the character feel like a real person. So when I started writing Uneven Lines, I wanted to come up with middle names for my characters.

I actually came up with the middle name for the second most important character, Tom, first. Apart from also liking sexually ambiguous names, I also like names that can be shortened in different ways (I had a character named Drew in the fantasy book I used to work on, his first name actually being Andrew). I like to have the character's whole name--first, middle, and last--flow nicely together. I pulled "James" out of thin air for this character and I liked it. Not with Tom, obviously--too short--but with Thomas. Thomas James Callahan. I liked it. So I moved on.

It took me forever to come up with Jordan's middle name (you'd think he would just tell me, but nooooooo). I didn't want to settle for anything that didn't feel perfect. At some point I knew I wanted it to start with an M (it just felt right). I went through lists of boys' M names over and over and over again, trying to find the right one. Eventually I stumbled upon "Mason." I liked it--it seemed different, unique. I came up with an entire back story for why that would be his middle name--it was actually his grandfather's first name and would have been his first name if his mom didn't throw a fit (she was only 15 when he was born). She hates her family, so she hates her son's middle name. Will any of this be in the book? Of course not, but it's fun to come up with these little details. So now my main character had a full name: Jordan Mason Palmer.

You'd think that would be the end of it, but no, of course not. For a brief moment, I thought about their middle names at the same time. Wait a second, I thought...why does that sound so familiar?

I pulled up the IMDb app on my phone, and then literally facepalmed. Of course! James Mason. The actor! And what role do I know him best in...? Humbert Humbert in the film adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, one of my favorite novels of all time. And one giant source of inspiration for this particular novel I'm working on. My heart skipped a beat when I work-shopped the original short story and one of my classmates described it as a "gay, backwards Lolita." Plot-wise, of course--not meaning it was anywhere near as good as Lolita. At all. But anyway...

It happened again! Something weird about my character's names. As with the other freaky occurrences, I left the names the way they were. No one was ever going to know my character's middle names, anyway, and if they did, maybe they would notice and think I did it on purpose.

Yeah, right! I find the universe is usually more in control of things than I am.


  1. Interesting. My characters often don't even have last names at first. The names come to me in pieces. I don't think I've given a one of them a middle name. May have to try that.

  2. you crack me up!
    i sometimes do middle names and i think most of us like to have names with cool nicknames - like Tris from Divergent. My MC is J.L. Cooper - Jameson Layton Cooper and his nickname is Cooper
    (the J&L and Cooper are for my sons, Jace, Logan & Cooper =) I love making up names and they definitely have to flow!
    btw, i love your new profile pic!

  3. I didn't think of giving my characters middle names, but that's a good idea. Choosing characters' names is definitely important; sometimes I'll hear a person's name and think that it would be good in a story. I've noticed that chick lit authors (I love chick lit) often pick unusual names for their protagonists, but I prefer regular names.