The importance of paying attention to coincidences…

I’ve talked about character names on this blog before, and you may recall that I get many of my names from gravestones.

Well, in relation to that, a funny thing happened the other day… or not so much funny, but more such a striking coincidence that I really just had to pick it up and run with it.

So here’s what happened…

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 15.33.07For my second book, I’ve been looking for a character who can team up with my hero, Horatio, and assist him in his quest to save the universe and everyone in it (or something like that).

Being a swashbuckling kind of adventure, I want to loosely base this new character on Jack Sparrow; at least the unhinged side of him anyway, but I additionally want him very well-bred.

Of course, the first thing to do was name him. And, in my usual way, I found a suitable surname carved into a commemorative plaque on the wall of a church near my dad’s house in High Wycombe.

The name I had discovered was Dashwood.

Yes!” I thought. “It has a maritime, slightly pompous and yet mischievous ring to it.” And so, all I needed to find then was an appropriate forename.

Of course ‘Jack’ would have been prefect: Jack Dashwood: the heroic, eccentric, but slightly insane pirate captain. But, yes, this is far too close to Jack Sparrow.

In the end, I went for Lucas Dashwood. But that name never quite rang true with me.

Anyway, a few months later, I was sat with my wife watching The Importance of Being Earnest, and the name Algernon was thrust before me — as in the character Algernon Moncrieff.

“Algernon,” I thought.

“Algernon Dashwood,” I thought further.

“Yes, yes, YES!” I concluded.

This was perfect.

“Stop the film!” I shouted to my wife, as I ran to grab a notepad and pen, with which to quickly scribble the name down — I’m terrible at remembering such things.

I then resumed the film, happy I’d just come up with such a wonderful name.

But the story doesn’t end there.

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 15.28.29

About ten minutes later, and further into the film, a scene came up that is set in a church.

And it was a church that I knew…

“Bloody hell!” I said to the missus, who was now getting a little cross at the continual interruptions, “that’s the bloomin’ church where I saw the name Dashwood carved into the wall.”

And so it was. I mean how weird was that?

The Importance of Being Earnest was filmed at West Wycombe Park and Church, near High Wycombe: the exact same place where I’d first discovered the name Dashwood a few months before. And, by sheer coincidence, the very same film that had just provided me with the illusive forename I needed, was filmed in that very same place. The place where I found the surname. Cool, eh?

Now there’s a coincidence that should not be ignored.

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 15.30.56

To be honest, though, in the cold light of day, the name Algernon Dashwood didn’t quite sit right with me. But, being born of such serendipity, there’s no way I would change it.

And, may I add, it might perhaps be a good omen? The play The Importance of Being Earnest is a classic, Oscar Wilde was hugely successful, and the film did alright too.

Naturally, there’s no way I could go with any other name now, and I shall have to insist that Rupert Everett play the character of Algernon Dashwood when they make my books into a set of seven films. Failing that, I suppose I could insist on Colin Firth instead…

So how about you? Would you stick with the name of this character, even though it wasn’t exactly what you want, but bearing in mind the uncanny process of its creation and such an odd coincidence? Or would you see it as just that: a simple coincidence?

Thanks for reading

P.S. As it turns out, the Dashwood family once owned the estate where they filmed the movie.

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9 comments on “The importance of paying attention to coincidences…

  1. jamesr403 says:

    For the first of the Surf City Mysteries I made up a restaurant called Fred’s Fine Mexican Food, and set it down in a real shopping complex in Huntington Beach, CA. The interior is similar to a Charley Brown’s that used to be on Beach Blvd.
    Years later my wife & I were driving down PCH and Nancy said, “Look, James, there’s Fred’s.” Yes, there was, and still is, Fred’s Mexican Food at the corner of PCH and Main. I heard the music from the Twilight Zone as my made-up place turned real.

    • gpeynon says:

      Wow. Have you eaten there? Dare you eat there? What if you create some kind of weird taco paradox? (Or is a taco not really ‘fine’ Mexican food?)

      Thanks for the comment. (And the story)

  2. Jorge Argibay says:

    No way you can change that name after that alazing story, Garreth. I look forward to reading the magnific adventures of Algernon Dashwood.

    • gpeynon says:

      Thanks, Jorge, for that affirmation. Although, I don’t think that even Algernon Dashwood will get his fortuitous name in the title ;) Unless, of course, he has his own spin-off series instead…

  3. I say keep it. I think a coincidence like that is an omen. I had all these hawk coincidences while I was righting mine. I took at it as a sign to continue down the path I was on :-)

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