It’s April Fool’s Day and I’m fessing up … I did play a little joke on my readers and now, finally, the truth will come out.
This is about character names. Names are always tough for a writer. My old creative writing professor at the University of Houston, Mr. Karchmer, always chastised us for worrying too much about names. Everybody did it, and looking around at a lot of the current deluge of writers, everybody still does it.
His point: they are just names, concentrate on the story. I know writers who get baby books for ideas, and there are online guides for “most popular names” for given years. All good stuff. I have an unpublished completed draft where the main character is Tucker Bailey … those are the names of two of my cats.
For my novel, The Fever, I decided to have a little fun. I spent way too much time on this too because it was a lot harder than I imagined it would be. When I started planning the novel, although I had already worked out most of the major plot elements in my head, I needed a number of good character names. I got an idea. What about … anagrams? So I experimented with a few choice phrases that had some bearing on the plot. A few of them were zero … I don’t remember exactly what I tried at first … but then I tried lostgoldmine. I used an online anagram generator for this and got a wide range of what looked like usable words. I had to ignore the words lost, mine and gold along with combinations that included those words because they was too obvious (for example, golden and mein).
I poured over the lengthy list pulling out what I hoped were suitable names worthy of the characters I imagined. Sometimes I found I could combine items on the list into viable names that didn’t appear directly in the list.
Through quite a number of revisions, all the names remained intact but down the line, as I solicited input from test readers, about ¾ of them hated my main character’s name … his first name was Milt. It was too bad, too, because I kinda liked old Milt. Another character had a name that was really just too similar to another character … that was Midge.
So in later revisions I changed them both to more accessible names. But a majority of the other character names survived intact: Smidgeon Toll, Loot Meldings, Godson Millet, Ted “Slim” Longo, Gillet Osmond .. even a place name made the cut, Dolings Motel. All should be anagrams of lost gold mine (barring a typo in this hasty blog entry).
I also added another small similar touch … Loot Meldings lived at 4653 Tesoro Rd … using a phone numberpad anagram, 4653=GOLD and of course Tesoro is Spanish for treasure.
I also have a confession … on two stray pages, I messed up and called Milt Mitch. Of course when I did a global search and replace to change Milt to Sam, those references to “Mitch” were missed. Although I corrected it in the publisher galleys, somehow that change did not make it into the Amazon kindle edition … and after MONTHS, I am still trying to get them to upload the fix. Nook, iBook, print editions are all good but the Amazon problem persists. The question, “Who the hell is Mitch” has been directed to me a number of times.
Anyway, please forgive me my bit of fun. I think it worked out okay.
Interested? get more info and links to buy the book at