What's in a Name?

Today, I received the paperback copy of my book in the mail. My book! MINE! It looks as professional as any of the hundreds of books on my shelves, and I wrote it.  Feels good, yes it does.  My seven and nine year old daughters were pretty excited too, and the first question they asked was how I came up with the name of the book, and the names of the characters.  

Good question girls!

The title, What if I Fly? came to me before the first chapter was complete. I had it in my head that this book would be about people who learned to take chances and overcome the obstacles in their way (self imposed, as well as those caused by others). I was reminded of a poem that's quite popular on the web. I won't share the whole thing (copyright laws and all), but the lines that came to mind went like this: What if I fall? Oh, my darling, what if you fly? That kind of summed it up for me. Take a chance.  FLY! What would happen if my characters broke their shackles and took off? What if I fly? 

                    Romeo and Juliet

                    Romeo and Juliet

The main characters names are Julia and Will.  Those came to me pretty quickly as well.  Romeo and Juliet is one of the first established themes in my story (another one is the Red Sox...completely unrelated, but it works!).  Will is named after the Bard himself, William Shakespeare, and Julia is...well, Juliet Capulet from Romeo and Juliet. Not very original, I know. With their surnames, I paid homage to JFK when I selected Will's, and Julia's last name is just plain Italian, and that's what I wanted.

After the two main characters, it was much harder to come up with names that could stand on their own two feet, and are unique enough not to be confused with other characters. On top of that, I didn't want to use the names of the significant people in my life, and I'm fortunate to have many. So, no Joes, Jasons, Jennifers, Johns, Jessicas, and tons of other names that don't begin with J! I did end up with a Tommy, so my apologies Tom.  The character isn't you, promise!

For the rest of the characters I had to dig deep into the history and entertainment name banks. Here is the inspiration behind some of the secondary characters names.

My mother on the right, and Aunt Eleanor back in the day!

My mother on the right, and Aunt Eleanor back in the day!

Ellie is named after two of my favorite Eleanors, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Mrs. Roosevelt (not to mention my mom's favorite aunt). All very strong women. Then there's Gabby...well, that character just likes to gab. And Avery, oh, evil Avery. She is the anti-hero of the story and she's named after a death eater from the Harry Potter series.  Seemed fitting.

I also took this opportunity to pay tribute to some people close to me who have passed.  My Aunt Linda, who left us last year gets a mention, as do both of my grandmothers, Mary and Grace. My dear friend Maria, who was taken far too soon, has a role (though the character is absolutely nothing like the real Maria!)

I have a Brad (Pitt), Ted (Williams), Frank (Sinatra), Sandra (Dee), Carol (Burnett), Mitchell (Joni), Ruth (Babe), Charles (deGaulle), Debra (Harry), Claire (Molly RIngwald's character in the Breakfast Club), Sloane (Ferris Buellers Day Off), and a Mr. Peterson (also FBDO).

There are more, but it's time to put the girls to bed.  Goodnight moon.