Saturday, August 30, 2014

Life After Hartford

Now that I’m working on the last book in the Hartford series (so it’s been a few weeks since I’ve actively worked on it, but I promise I’m making progress) I’ve been giving some thought to what I want to work on next.

I’m definitely leaning towards a similar series, one with books linked by the setting and each one having an independent plot. I’ve been trying to figure out some of the details of this new setting. I haven’t made many decisions but the place might have a name.

I was recently working on a side project when my daughter asked if she could help me. It was a rather mushy scene. She’s eight. I was pretty sure she’d want the scene to be something like, “And when she realized he was going to kiss her, she said ‘Eww’ and ran from the room.”

I pulled out a different notebook and offered to let her help me brainstorm for the new series instead. I asked if she could help me come up with some minor characters, some people to populate my imaginary town. My child has none of my inhibitions when it comes to names. She threw out Lucy Haid. I thought that was a promising start. Then she said the school principal could be Dirk Lay, the mayor May Lewis, a guy working at the library should be named Loy Mystery and a really, really old guy who wanders around the cemetery should be called Asma Loss. She had more ideas.

Already impressed, I asked what she might – just out of curiosity – name a pair of horses. Her answer: Molly and Swift. It took her less time to say them than it took me to write them down.

I asked about some places in the town. She told me there would be only one restaurant and it should be called The Sleepy Crab.

I was getting excited about the gold mine of names. Just as I was thinking I might never have to suffer over names again, my little one suggested a name that I recognized from someone else’s book. This of course makes all her other suggestions suspect as well. I believe at least some came from her imagination but now I cannot use any until I’ve done some research to determine if they have obvious sources.

But I asked what she’d name the town anyway. She said, “Thompson City.” This was when my older son noticed that I was getting help. He insisted that Tweedville would be a better name. If you have siblings, you know it stopped being a brainstorming session at that point and became a battle of wills. There was no backing down on either name and no suggesting further names until I declared a winner. I suggested the compromise of Thompsonville. That sounds like a good Anywhere, USA sort of name. I think I successfully disappointed both children with this choice but I think I might go with it anyway.

Don’t be surprised if Loy Mystery shows up somewhere in one or more of these books. There’s something about that name that intrigues me. It sounds like a fun character. And at least you’ll know where I got the name.

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