Name game

Posted by jennifer gibson on Saturday, December 29, 2012
Growing up is never easy.  Going through school with a disability makes it much more difficult to get through the day without being tormented by people you trusted and expected to be your friend. In my case, it was already humiliating enough to wear hearing aids that were visible to everyone, the last thing I needed was to be teased mercilessly and called nicknames like "Gibby" which was a deliberate slur based on my last name.  It may sound innocent enough and I know a number of people with that same name, but when it was aimed at me with malicious intent, it hurt.  Kids are cruel, there's no question about that.  But names like that tend to stick with you for the rest of your life.  All it takes is to hear it again and all of the pain and shame associated with it comes rushing back.  It never goes away.  The irony of it is, my brother was given that same nickname by his classmates at his school.  It never bothered him because it was created with good intentions.  Both of us grew up with the same sobriquet and yet they held very different meanings to each of us. 

Which leads to the question of why it's important to come up with suitable names when writing a book.  The main character in Sway, whose life is based on mine growing up was not originally named Jessie.  It was Jenna which in hindsight was not the right fit.  The only reason I came up with Jessie was that one day I was out shopping and began to wonder if I should change her name.  As I wandered from store to store, a song came on the radio, one that I hadn't heard since high school; "Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield.  Then later on, as I walked into another store, that same song came on again and it suddenly dawned on me that I was meant to use "Jessie" for my novel.  I don't know if this was fate, perfect timing such as being in the right place and right time but it turned into a very cool moment for me.  So, thanks Rick for giving me that clue. 

For the other characters like Ethan and his father, both of their names were changed to suit their personalities.  I was fussy with Ethan's name since he was special, a genuinely kind person with good spirit and nobility.  To me, Ethan is a strong, classical name which transcends the generation gap.  His father, Jonas, is a hint to my love of Sci-Fi.  Anyone who has watched the tv series Stargate will instantly recognize it.  Eagle eyed readers will also find subtle hints throughout Sway that refers to Stargate as well ;)

For the other characters, some names are tied in to my family tree which is a nod towards them. Jessie's mom is Paige which is actually the name of my mother's beloved dog.  There are lots of neat clues throughout all three novels in terms of where the origin of their names came from.  Some are more personal which is my way of tipping a hat to people I know in the community, some who are no longer with us which makes it even more special.  For those of you that know me, you'll get a kick of the names in the third book.  I had oodles of fun adding them to story and hopefully it will keep you guessing as to where it came from. 

Tags: names  gibby  cruel  torment  brother  sister  mother  family  personality  stargate  tv  series  scifi  ethan  jessie  paige  jonas 
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