Ok, so the title of this post may sound a little macabre and horror-show, but I’m not trying to scare you simply because Halloween is around the corner. I just want to talk a little about inspiration, that’s all.
Now, I don’t know about anybody else, but for me, coming up with characters’ names is a right pain. The principals aren’t so bad, but it’s the incidental characters that give me brain-ache.
Whilst out on a family walk, however, I happened upon an endless source of names and, from that moment on, I knew my troubles were finally over.
“Wow, where is this place?” I hear you cry. Well, I can tell you, but you may find it a touch morbid.
First, though, I think I should mention that with my book being set in a pseudo-Regency/Victorian era, this bottomless well of inspiration works particularly well for me; but maybe not so much for others.
“Where is this utopia of names; this cornucopia of hidden identities?” I hear you cry, once more.
Alright then, I’ll tell you: The majority of the extras in my book are named after the dead (which is ironic really, considering it’s set in the future). Yes, that’s right: graveyards are the places I find these names and – much like the zombies in Micheal Jackson’s Thriller – the dead can now live again.
Over the last year, I’ve assembled myself a collection of gravestone photographs – most of which belong to those who died pre-1900. So now, instead of scratching a hole in my bald head while I attempt to invent a Victorian-sounding name for a character who appears only once, I simply refer to my ghoulish gaggle of photos and grab a name from days-gone-by. Respectfully, of course.
I have sometimes wondered, however: is this actually legal? And when they make my book into a major motion picture, the credits roll at the end and it reads, “the characters in this motion picture are not based on real people either living or dead,” that wouldn’t be strictly true would it? Has anybody else done anything similar to this, or come up with other novel ways to name their characters?
Thanks for reading.