Sunday, April 7, 2013

Did you know that the main character in the trilogy series was not always named Jessie? It was Jenna. And in fact, several of the characters names were changed to reflect their personalities since the original one didn't fit, it felt wrong.  It was midway through writing the debut novel Sway that I realized Jenna was completely inappropriate.  I spent some time going through lists of names without any luck.  I had pages of names scribbled down along with their unique characteristics. Some were close but still didn't match her personality.  She was a sweet yet spunky teen, she had inner strength and passion who was also shy.

Until one day I was out doing errands.  I was standing in a shopping store when suddenly Rick Springfield's song come on the radio playing "Jessie's Girl".  I was fortunate enough to have been able to hear it and recognize the lyrics which is not easy due to my hearing loss.  It was quiet in that particular store and I had heard that song before from I was a teen.  It made me stop and wonder about that name.  I started thinking about it while I wandered around.  Later on, in another store, that same song came on again.  I came to a complete stop and had a sudden epiphany.  It was as if I was meant to hear it.  I wanted to smack my forehead with my palm, it made perfect sense - her name should be Jessie! It sent chills down my spine once I realized that.  It was absolutely perfect and a nice tie in to my own teen years.  Thanks Rick. 

As for Jessie's boyfriend, Ethan, I had to do some research for names that reflected nobility and strength. I knew his family came from old money, particularly Europe.  It was a long list of potential choices, I kept going back and forth between Robert, Robin, Wyatt, and Joshua.  None of them worked.  One of Jessie's classmates was named Ethan who was originally a jock, an athlete at her school.  The more I looked at Ethan, the more I realized that it was a better fit. 

Once I set up their lives in terms of where they went to school, Jessie went to a public school while Ethan went to a private school elsewhere.  They also had distinctly different backgrounds and lifestyles.  I needed them to have separate lives so that they would eventually discover each other from a fresh perspective.

Since this series was based on my life, I used actual buildings for Jessie's school and Ethan's home.  They are based on places I have been to, even though their names and locations have been modified,  I used the descriptions to help form a realistic setting.   It created an intimate connection which is what I wanted, my goal was to make it feel like you are walking down those particular hallways at school or in the backyard by the pond. 

Some of the teachers in the series are real, their personalities are from people I had met, particularly those that had a big impact on me when I was in school.  There are lots of hints of my life throughout all three books.  Ethan's father, Jonas, is a great example of my love for sci-fi which includes the tv series Stargate. Jessie's last name is a hint to my family's heritage, a nod to some of my relatives.

Some of my close friends and relatives will recognize the significance of the names, locations and even some of the experiences used in the trilogy.  There's a reason for that: I wanted the story to have a tangible link to my life that featured true aspects of my personality.  I wanted it to feel genuine and in fact, over 65% of the story is real. 


1 comment:

Debby said...

Names must be very hard to determine. They must be perfect.
debby236 at gmail dot com