Starting off today with a guest post from author Kerena Swan.
With one eye on the rear view mirror and the other on the road ahead, Sarah is desperate to get as far away from the remote Scottish cabin as she can without attracting attention. But being inconspicuous isn’t easy with a black eye and clothes soaked in blood…
… and now the fuel tank is empty.
When a body is discovered in a remote cabin in Scotland, DI Paton feels a pang of guilt as he wonders if this is the career break he has been waiting for. But the victim is unidentifiable and the killer has left few clues.
With the death of her father and her mother’s failing health, Jenna accepts her future plans must change but nothing can prepare her for the trauma yet to come.
Fleeing south to rebuild her life Sarah uncovers long-hidden family secrets. Determined to get back what she believes is rightfully hers, Sarah thinks her future looks brighter. But Paton is still pursuing her…
… and he’s getting closer.
What’s in a name?
A question I’m often asked is ‘how do you choose names for your characters?’ This is a great question and is one of my greatest writing challenges because I think names are so important. I’ll give you an example…
I’m embarking on a new story and the laptop keys are rattling at great speed, the plot is rolling forward and my main characters are about to react when I suddenly need to introduce a new character. Bam! I can’t move forward until I have a name for this character. Maybe I should use the first one to pop into my head but no. That causes problems because I’ll need to change it further on and then I’ll probably forget and use both at different times. In Blood Loss I called DI Paton’s young neighbour Kirsten then in Here She Lies began calling the main character Kirstie. Oops! Far too similar and there was a chance they would be in the same book. A near to final draft even slipped through with the wrong name in.
I try to avoid even a first letter being the same (which can be tricky when there are only twenty-six to choose from) and I avoid names with the same sounds such as Laura and Pauline. I dislike reading names I can’t pronounce and those that conjure up the wrong image or personality.
A name tells the reader so much about a character before you even meet them properly. Let’s look at some examples and see what images these conjure for you…
If my surname were Long I’m sure I wouldn’t have opted for a double-barrelled name with my husband Eric Wiwi and if my surname were McDonald I wouldn’t tie it to my husband’s Berger. And yes, these are real couples.
Even the animals’ names in my novels deserve great consideration to bring out their characters. Welly, the black cat, Morse the Bengal who’s covered in dots and dashes and likes investigating new places, Nutmeg, the golden retriever, and Merlin the black horse. Whimsical names like Harry Trotter, Usain Colt, and Liam Neighson are pretty common in racehorses and my daughter recently discovered a horse for sale called Clipperty Clop.
I once spent a whole week thinking up a name for a chain of upmarket cafes for my novel Blood Loss and eventually decided upon Bramwells because, for me, it created an upmarket café selling tasty, healthy food. I like to play around with names for businesses so I have the Scene of the Crime cleaning company, The One and Only care company and Check Mate – a background checking agency for people who use dating websites.
A name can immediately place us in an age group – think Stan, Doris, Cuthbert, and June compared to Peter, Michael, Susan and Karen, or Noah, Aimee, Poppy and Alfie. It can also give the reader an idea of a person’s ethnic and cultural background – think Mahmood, Angelika, José and Barbara.
When I wrote assignments for my social work degree I used silly names but didn’t put them together to see if my tutor spotted them. She did after the first couple then looked for them so I put far too much effort into thinking up new ones instead of focusing on the content of the essays. Examples were – Dwayne Pipe, Robin Banks, Chris P Bacon, I P Knightly and so forth. Childish really!
My mum chose Kerena from a romantic novel years before I was born but was too ill to make it to the registry office. Unfortunately, she hadn’t told my dad how to spell it so my birth certificate says Cerina. I consider Kerena my real name – in fact, I somehow managed to get that onto my passport from the age of 10 – but my dad thereafter called me Kerry. I’m known as Kerry to friends and family and I save Kerena for my writing and formal uses. I’m pleased to be the only Kerena Swan in the UK although both Kerry and Kerena aren’t great when it comes to defining my Star Wars name. According to a radio chat show I heard, you take the last three letters of your surname then the first three letters of your first name. Work it out. I almost rang in!
We are thrilled to be introducing DI Dave Paton and his son Tommy, the stars of the first novel in Kerena Swan’s new series, to the world. Before coming to Hobeck, Kerena had published three novels, Dying To See You, Scared to Breathe and Who’s There? and has built a solid fan base around her writing career thus far. She is a juggler extraordinaire: driving forward a successful care business she runs with her husband yet finding time to write. She loves to write, here and there and everywhere when she’s not working. We don’t know how she does it but we are glad that she does! Kerena talks about her writing, her influences and how she came to Hobeck in this video.