The Name Game…once again.


Now I’ve written about names before and the thought we put into choosing appellations for our main characters. The topic has crept up on me once again yet with a slightly different dilemma of sorts this time.

Some of the most memorable literary main characters we know are usually the ones with the most unusual names: Heathcliff, Sherlock, D’artagnon, Atticus, Lestat or any Dickens’ character for that matter. Many will argue that the peculiarity of these names has contributed to these fictional creations becoming legends of literature.

But as a writer have you ever been tempted to christen a character (main or not) after another literary character, especially one with an unusual name that many would recognize?

Many famous authors have done it. Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye mentions three sisters named Miranda, Perdita and Cordelia; many of JK Rowling’s characters have famous literary namesakes-Mrs. Norris(Filch’s cat) was named after a character in Mansfield Park by Jane Austen whereas ‘Hermione’ was also taken from Shakespeare. In Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, there’s a modern character called ‘Clarrissa’. Since the story was about Virginia Woolf and her writing of Mrs. Dalloway, the name ‘Clarrissa’ was clearly referential but I actually thought it was a bit too obvious. Bringing me to another point:  is it lame to make reference to the original namesake in any form or way?

I was looking at a story I had started writing years ago but which I haven’t completed. Reading through it, I had a good laugh when I came upon the introduction of a particular character. He was a policeman and I had dubbed him …’Ichabod.’

(Yes, I’ll give you a second to laugh/muse about this)

(You’re done? May I proceed? Thank you)

Unfortunately my Ichabod looks nothing like this…

Now if you’re one of those who have heard this name before, I’m willing to bet my life that on reading that, your immediate thoughts turned to a certain skull-deficient horseman of popular Dutch-American myth.

It is very difficult to hear the name ‘Ichabod’ and NOT think of Sleepy Hollow. Knowing this, I envisioned a potential reader screaming, “Hey! She stole that from Washington Irving!!!!”

 So I decided to give myself a leg up and point out the obvious by stating in the narrative that (my) Ichabod’s father was a big Irving fan! Is it lame? Should I just give up on this whole malarkey and call my policeman ‘John’ instead?

…but thankfully, not like this dude either.

I would like to state in my defence that the name actually suits my character although I can’t explain why. He looks nothing like Johnny Depp and he certainly doesn’t resemble a skinny, hook-nosed bird!

Of course my opinion alone doesn’t matter, what do you think? Would you get excited if you were reading a modern book and came across the namesake of a famous fictional figure?

And I know I’ve asked this question before in a previous post but how do you writers go about choosing names for your MC? Do you go for the unusual or do you opt for something more ‘common’?

NM 🙂

Images

1. Still from Sleepy Hollow(Tim Burton) taken from www.killermovies.com

2. Still from Legend of Sleepy Hollow(Disney) taken from http://www.chroniquedisney.fr

DAY 24 – Book that contained your favourite scene


Yes, I know I’ve been incommunicado for this entire week, and therefore ruined my perfect track record for the 30-day Book challenge. I’m nearly towards the end though so I’ll just get cracking with No. 24- book that contains my favourite scene…

Oh dear. I already spoke about this on DAY 8. I don’t really want to talk about Dracula again so instead I’m changing today’s topic a bit. I decided to compile a Top 5 list of bombshell scenes. Scenes were I slapped myself on the forehead and thought, “Shit! I didn’t see that coming!”

I have to admit that sometimes I marvel at how slow my brain actually is. I’m a sucker for revelations. Whereas many people yawn and claim that a particular movie or book was predictable and they knew or had a feeling all along that so-and-so was the killer, I nearly am always surprised at the twists in the end. This probably explains why I love the mystery genre so much. Even a bad mystery will not disappoint me. Well I never claim to be the sharpest tool in the shed. So here goes…

    NM’s Top 5 Most Surprising Bombshell Book Scenes

*NB. GIVEN THE NATURE OF THIS LIST, THE FOLLOWING DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS!

1. Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling – Harry’s trip into Snape’s past reveals the Potion master’s love for Lily Potter. I was left dumbstruck for a few minutes after reading that scene.

2. Hound of the Baskervilles by AC Doyle – I mentioned my favourite scene from this book on DAY 1. The Man on the Tor was none other than the genius himself.

Why on earth would you put a picture of the killer with the murder weapon on the cover of a mystery novel?

3. Company of Liars by Karen Maitland – I nearly fell of my chair towards the end. I never would have guessed that the narrator was in fact, a woman.

4. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – Is that nice British man Lea Teabing the villainous mastermind behind all the chaos? No way dude!

5. Murders on the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe – This was one of those disappointing revelations but still the degree of surprise (or shock) was still very high. I mean, come on, even a genius would not have suspected a big, orange monkey as the killer!

NM 🙂

DAY 20 – Book you have read the most number of times


I sort of have an idea but it’s not like I keep a tally or something. If I really like a book, I do have a tendency to read it again after some time has passed. Therefore there are quite a few books out there that I’ve read at least twice.

Except for the Deathly Hallows, I read all of the Harry Potter books at least twice (I’ve read Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets and Azkaban 3 times).
Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian only got boring for me after my third go.
Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sign of the Four and Study in Scarlet were both read twice although I think I also attempted Sign of the Four for the third time but eventually got bored with it half-way through.
Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers was also read twice though I’m not sure why I read it again-it’s not one of my favourites.

The book I have borrowed the most times from the library is the Complete Jack The Ripper by Donald Rumbelow, which is a non-fiction book. This might be due partly to the fact that at one time I was writing a Victorian murder story (I thought it was crap, so it lies unfinished) and was using this book as a reference. It’s still a great book anyway and I wouldn’t mind reading it again.

This leaves us with the two books that keep popping up in this Book Challenge.
I read Hound Of the Baskervilles either 3 or 4 times, I can’t remember. My Penguin Classic version of Dracula I read only once but I have read (as I mentioned in another post) a couple of other editions before and my Ladybird Childrens’ version I’ve gone through like a hundred times (although I know that one doesn’t count! ).

So who is the winner here? I’ll let Sherlock and the Count fight it out…

NM 🙂

DAY 05 – Book you wish you could live in


I didn’t have to think much for this one either. I really wish I could live in Harry Potter’s world, even with Death Eaters, Dementors and Dark wizards considered (hey cool, alliteration, right there, look!).
And if I had to be transported to the wizarding world right now, I would save my parallel self a whole lot of trouble for, I have everything all figured out.

At Hogwarts I would probably be a Ravenclaw; I would suck at Transfiguration and Potions but be really good at Runes and History Of Magic. Given my predisposition towards bad balance and co-ordination, and motion-sickness, I definitely would NOT be playing Quidditch; although I might be a Weird Sister groupie and possibly a regular contributor to their monthly fanzine.
My pet of choice would be a cat, or two in fact (I could not stand to be parted from either Deucalion or Sir Garfield for too long. I have no doubt they both would fit in quite nicely in the wizarding world. My only worry is that together they might tear the Ravenclaw common room apart).
I hate to admit this but I would definitely take up Divination and maybe Care of Magical Creatures. That last one is a bit naïve of me- taking care of dogs and cats is a completely different ballgame as suppose to unicorns and Hippogriffs, I know.

Generally speaking, my wand would be made of Willow and Harpy’s hair; my Patronus would either be an owl or one of the big cats (maybe a panther or ocelot or something).

As an adult, it’s where I hit a slump. I’d like to think I’d be an Auror but that would be highly pretentious of me. The mere thought that a Dementor might be in the same vicinity as me would be enough to bring me to tears and have me screaming like a banshee. So no, I don’t think an Auror’s life is for me.
I think a more realistic vocation would be a wizarding historian or the like. Me, the successor to Bathilda Bagshot maybe? Equally pretentious but way more realistic methinks.

And knowing me, I wouldn’t be surprised if I married a Muggle or Death Eater, or half-giant-half vampire, just to piss my parents off. I am strange that way.

Okay I lied. Maybe I did think about this too much…

NM 🙂

Deathly Hallows? Try Deathly Overkill. Would you want your book to be made into a movie?


DISCLAIMER: Please note that this blog post might contain SPOILERS. If you have not read the entire Harry Potter series in its entirety, I suggest you proceed to read with caution. NM will not be held responsible for any displeasure or heartache caused by the revelation of any pertinent information related to the final HP movie: the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Cool. I always wanted my own disclaimer.
Anyways, with the release of Deathly Hallows Part 2 almost at our doorstep, I know one thing is inevitable. I will be dragged to the bloody movie theatre against my will to watch this abomination (once again) by the BF, who loves the Harry Potter movies but has never read the books.
And me? Don’t like the movie versions. Can’t stand them. They don’t do any justice to the books. If you’ve read the books, the movie versions don’t satisfy your expectations at all, leaving you completely unfulfilled (I really want to use a sexual metaphor here, but I won’t). In fact I always wonder how those who never read HP can understand what’s going on in the movies, when almost half the storyline and themes have been taken out. Well, I suppose it’s no different to watching a Steven Segal movie or the likes of.

All this got me thinking though. If I publish a novel and it becomes a hit, will I compromise my moral high ground and allow my precious creation to be butchered just so that I can leave my mark on Hollywood? Well, er, yes I think I would actually.
But my opinion doesn’t count. As a self-admitted nobody, its easy for me to say NOW that I would agree to a movie deal, but what if I were Ms. Rowling, who really didn’t have to agree to anything for she would be a billionaire anyway, even without the movies?
I read an interview with Irish horror writer John Connolly (whose already had 2 novels made into movies) a few years back and speaking about this very point, he admitted that he did not feel the least bit of shame and if more movie deals came his way, he would readily say ‘yes’.
Our favourite lady, like Connolly, doesn’t seem to have a problem with this either.
JK Rowling not only agreed to have the Harry Potter series made into movies, she seemed to have publicly endorsed them by getting actively involved herself.
For example, years back she had a one-on-one with Sir Alan Rickman (what? What do you mean he hasn’t been knighted?!) on the dynamics of Snape’s character. She had obviously divulged the ultimate secret of Snape’s past in order to help him with his performance. So while the whole world pondered about whether the Potions Master’s loyalties lay with Dumbledore or Voldemort, Rickman had already known about his love for Lily. Truth be told, the revelation of Snape’s past is the huge, fat, delicious cherry on the Harry Potter Sundae so I don’t blame Rowling for wanting to get involved. And it helps for Rickman’s performances in the previous movies were outstanding considering what we know already. Lets be honest, he’s the only thing worth watching in the HP movies. In fact, when I do eventually get dragged to the cinema, I will look forward to seeing him, if nothing else.
As much as I would love to sit here and rant about how I hate the HP movies, and as much as all those little HP movie-loving fans will be heartbroken when the ‘era’ is over, we all seem to be forgetting, or rather not realizing that its never really going to end. Because after the movie franchise, things just get worse.
BBC will get the rights to do a Harry Potter television series; Spielberg might just get his wish and do an American version à̀ la Twilight; then off course there’s the animated series. Ben 10 and the Powerpuff Girls will disappear and we will be inflicted with weekly HP episodes on every childrens’ channel. It’s going to be overkill once again. Trust me.

NM 🙂