Thursday, January 24, 2008

Book Club Questions -- 1

As promised, I'm (finally!) getting around to addressing some of the questions the book club in West Jordan posed. Several of their questions were really great, and since I've heard some of them a few times now, I thought I'd answer them here as well, because I'm pretending other readers will care!

Today we'll address two questions:

1) How do you pick your characters' names?
I keep a running file with potential character names, with a column each for female, male, and family names. I add names to those lists (or sometimes into a notebook first that I carry with me) whenever I come across common names from the 1800s that I like or might want to use sometime.

The places I find those names are generally while doing research, such as in books, theses, or cemeteries. As I use a name from one of the lists, I take it off so I don't inadvertently use it again later.

As a result of all that, my character names often reflect people from real life, although to my knowledge I've never used both a first and last name of a real person.

However, the answer to this question is a little different for Spires of Stone, seeing as it's s retelling of Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing. I tried to keep similar names to those in the original play.

So for that book we got the following (Much Ado names are on the left, Spires on the right):

Benedick = Ben
Beatrice = Bethany
Hero = Hannah
Claudio = Claude
Don Pedro = Phillip
Leonato = Leo
Margaret = Marie

One note on that, which I know I've mentioned before: Phillip actually play two roles in the book, that of both Don Pedro and that of Don Jon. But since Phillip is a good guy and ends up causing trouble accidentally (instead of deliberately, like the evil Don Jon), I named him after Don Pedro.

2) Why did it take 25 years pass before what happens in the epilogue?
Okay, so they didn't ask it quite that way, but I don't want to post a spoiler.

The lady who asked this question thought that maybe 25 years was meaningful to me or to the one of the characters in some way, that one person in particular needed a quarter century to heal and reflect before that final section.

That sounds really good, so we can pretend that's the reason I set the epilogue then.

The real reason, however, is far less noble: I wanted to include more information about the temple than I had already, and the capstone celebration was a perfect day to show more of the history. It also provided a great backdrop for the final (what I hope are emotional) moments of the story.

Next time I'll answer a few more questions:
1) How did Hannah change over the course of the story? (A great discussion followed this one.)
2) What kept Ben and Bethany at odds for so long, when their fight began from single argument?
3) Why did Claude have to go away?

I'll do my best to answer them without any big spoilers. :)

If you have a question for me, drop it into the comments section and I'll answer it.


Josi said...

I knew nothing about 'much ado about nothing' until reading your book, almost makes me want to read more Shakespeare, but I'm not convinced he'd do as good a job as you would. Congrats on your whitney nomination.

Autumn Ables said...

'Much ado about nothing' is one of my all time I am so pleased to know you've done a spin off.

I ordered "Spires of Stone' last week and can not wait until I get my hands on it and ignore my family, curl up in a ball on my bed and read and read to my hearts content!

I would have orderd it sooner {I've been anxiously waiting to read it} but had SO many things to do and finish before I allowed myself to read this book. Yippeee, now I can! :)

Luisa Perkins said...

It sounds like it was a great group! How fun! I wish we were discussing your book tonight at my book group instead of the one we read.

Rebecca Talley said...

Claude had to leave to find a brain because he's brainless--hope I didn't spoil anything.

Big, huge congrats!

Annette Lyon said...

Josi, No one can beat the Bard, but it was sure fun playing with his story.

Autumn, I think readers who already know the basic story enjoy the book differently than readers who see it cold. Hope you like it.

Luisa, I can't help but wonder what book you guys DID read. :)

And Rebecca, I can't say he was brainless . . . just really immature. He needed to be knocked upside the head, didn't he?

Anonymous said...

cool. so, has anybody ever approached you with the same first and last name of one of your characters? that would be fun :)

Rebecca Talley said...

Yes, immature is a much better way to describe Claude. I don't want to give anything away, but he does need to be slapped upside the head to realize what he's doing and how ridiculous it is.


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