What’s in a Name? Besides Letters I Mean.

I find it fascinating how some characters influence their names, and even more so, how a name will often influence the character. I thought it might be fun to examine how the nine characters in Titan Magic got their names, and what those names did for them. I’ll divide them by family and dive right in, starting with the heads of the households, as a matter of due respect.

The Lavoie Family

Charlotte‘s first name happened because a voice actor for an animated film (a billion points if you can guess which one) pronounced the name in a way that had me roaring every time. The film was supposed to be romantic and tragic, but I just couldn’t help laughing every time Charlotte’s love interest said her name… and he said it often. So Charlotte Lavoie was born. She never fails to laugh in the face of tragedy, and I still love her name.

I decided on Madeleine‘s name while eating madeleines. They are so good. So, so good. This has little to do with the character herself, but it is a funny way to come by a name.

Oh, Marcus… “The brother” was not terribly complex when he began. He was only there to prevent Maddy from being an only child. I knew he was a responsible kid with a real mean streak, but I had no idea what to name him. I happened to bike right past a building called Marcus Pavilion just as I was mulling it over. He’s been Marcus ever since, and as it turns out, he plays a MUCH more vital role than I originally intended. As soon as he had a name, he just kind of… took over. Then he totally yelled at me for not having realized he was a main character right away (true story).

The Mahler Family

Father Androcles was named for Androcles of “Androcles and the Lion” fame. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you should find out! Seriously! You’ve heard the fable before; you just don’t remember. His I’ll-scratch-your-back-if-you-scratch-mine attitude was part of where he got his name.

Duke Eli Mahler took his name from a Decemberists song called “Eli the Barrow Boy”. I just love that name. As soon as I heard it, I knew it was perfect for the ignoble duke. I even included a scene in which Eli utilizes a wheelbarrow because I just didn’t see him as the type of guy who would forget his own roots.

James got his name from one of the greatest antagonists in all of children’s literature: Captain James (Jas) Hook. Anyone who knows me knows my enormous esteem for J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. It is one of the loveliest, most imaginative pieces ever written. I gave Jas Captain Hook’s name in an attempt to honor them both. And because I like the sound of it. That, too.

The Others

William (Squeezable) Taylor took his name from a friend who jokingly asked me to name a character after him, and then asked me to make that character a pimp. I complied, sort of. Then Will took over and shocked me in much the same way Marcus had. I just love it when they do that.

The Queen of Silence’s given name, Désirée, was inspired by the name of Titan Magic‘s first reader, who gave me the encouragement I needed to finish the story when it was being the trouble-maker it often was.

And finally, Kaspar… I just love the name, and The Other Lamm says I’m not allowed to use it for my future children (you can commence yelling at him, now). As a character, Kaspar has a special place in my heart, and I hope you’re just a little curious about him because you’ll be seeing much more of him in book two!

I’m Being So Sincere Right Now

I am not a gamer. That’s a confession, not a boast. There are a very limited number of games I’ve ever been able to finish. I don’t think I have the knack for them. I blame my attention span. For example, last weekend, The Other Lamm told me about a computer game he thought I would like. “The story’s not great,” he said, “but the puzzles are so much fun.” And that’s all he needed to say to convince me to avoid the game altogether. People have said similar things about films like Transformers and Avatar: not the best storytelling, but fantastic special effects. I never saw either film, and I have no regrets. Likewise, some games may be perfect in every other way, but story and characters are both the frosting and the cake to me. And in Portal, I gotta say, the cake was definitely NOT a lie. Hahaha! What? I had to do it. It was required by the board (don’t ask what board; just accept).

Anyway, Portal‘s story may not be all that different from your usual science-gone-awry computer game, but what Portal has that sets it apart for me is GLaDOS. Is she not the most amazing antagonist you’ve ever had the pleasure to hate? Honestly now, have you not known at least four or five people just like her? She’s beautiful. She’ll say the sweetest things while she tortures you. She’s the Mistress of Backhanded Compliments. I can’t get enough of her. And now I’m playing Portal 2, which is the most giggle-worthy sequel ever.

And just so this isn’t another gush post, I’ll mention that I play for team antagonist when it comes to storytelling. It isn’t that I want the antagonist to win, but I absolutely acknowledge that antagonists drive the story as much as, if not more than, “our hero”. And usually, I find the antagonist to be the more interesting character. So I often judge a story by the calibre of its villain. And GLaDOS is a German chocolate dream come true. I will never tire of solving puzzles while that sweet-voiced, sarcastic, super computer insults my efforts and demeans my character.

And just because it never gets old…

It’s Sylvia Cassedy All Over the Place

This week, I was able to participate in a special event over at Esther’s Ever After. Digitally speaking, I’m the first booth on your right. I got to write a nostalgic post about my favorite childhood book, and Brenna was kind enough to host a giveaway for one paperback copy of Titan Magic. It’s free! And international! I’m not entirely sure how long the contest will last, so if you’re interested, head on over, read about my childhood eccentricities, laugh at my inability to spell the author’s name, and enter to win!

Ester's Ever After

Happy Day of Sloth!

You probably won’t believe me (okay, maybe you will), but I’ve been looking for an excuse to publish a post about the best lil’ beast in the world: the sloth. Maybe you’ve never heard of these creatures. Maybe you think they’re a deadly sin (for shame!) or a unproductive way of life. Not so! Sloths are so efficient, your boss wishes her whole company was a sloth. You wish your house’s heating or cooling system was a sloth. Hell, you wish your KIDS were sloths. It’s true. They use practically no energy to go about their day-to-day lives. And what do they produce? Must you even ask? They produce ADORABLE!

You may wonder, do they never speak? Of course they do! They speak the language of LOVE ME.

So I nominate tomorrow as the official Day of Sloth. Because yesterday was Gluttony (Thanksgiving), and today is Greed (Black Friday). Really, there ought to be Seven Deadly Sins to come before the Twelve Days of Christmas. And they should all be adorable—the sins I mean. We’ll use bonobos for Lust and kittens for Wrath.

And just in case you needed one more reason to respect the sloth…

It SWIMS! Good Lord, it swims like a champion. And while it’s casually outperforming your best Labrador Retriever, it turns to you and says, “Hey, just in case you didn’t know, slothfulness is not laziness; slothfulness is being awesome without effort.”

A Story About a Girl and a Book

Once upon a time, there was a girl who worked in a public library. She loved her job, and with every book she put back on the shelves, she felt as though she had been briefly introduced to a new person. Occasionally, a book would catch her eye, and she would greet it every time she passed it, until she finally got around to reading it. One such book was The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff.

The Monsters of Templeton was so sophisticated, polite, and reliable that the girl always ended up reading more demanding books first—those that threatened absence, obscurity, or even that the girl might forget about them if she didn’t read them immediately. But The Monsters of Templeton was always there, quietly waiting in the exact same spot on the shelves.

One sad day, the girl moved away from her favorite library. She missed all those wonderful books—there were so many she had meant to read—but she knew the unlikelihood of running into any of her old favorites when she saw the public library in her new city. It was tiny, with only one short aisle for fiction. Just one? She had to check many times to make sure she wasn’t seeing things. But as she sorrowfully assessed her inadequate new browsing grounds, she ran into an old friend: The Monsters of Templeton. Oh small, wonderful, itty-bitty world! She checked the book out along with two others and took them home to read.

First, she tried a science fiction story that was interesting but ultimately felt like a video game. Next, she tried a period piece that reminded her why doctors once suspected her of having ADD. Then, finally, she picked up the book with the charming black and white cover.

The Monsters of Templeton seemed, at first, very straightforward. It was every bit as polite and smooth-talking as she suspected it would be. It was so smooth, in fact, that strangely gruesome descriptions and uncouth jokes would slip by without the girl having really noticed them. She would just chuckle or blush and keep turning the pages as she sipped her Jamaican hot chocolate.

Then the book began to spin other tales with other voices in other periods of time, and the girl would lean in, rapt, though these tales had only the barest connection to each other. The book was slow-moving but so full of mystery that, even though this was not the kind of story the girl would usually read, she just couldn’t stop.

When the book finally revealed its mystery in a predictable but satisfying way, it leaned back and puffed on its pipe, which the girl was sure it was smoking.

“Thanks so much for that story,” said the girl.

“But wait,” said the book, before the girl could close it. “There’s one more thing.”

So the girl settled back in her rocking chair, as the book told her one last story in one last voice. And that last story will haunt nightmares inside the girl’s nightmares until the day she dies. Because it was that… freaking… weird. It was adorable kittens disemboweling baby mice. It was teddy-bear suicide. It was fields of pretty daisies murdering bunny rabbits with poisonous aphids. It was beautiful, saccharine horror.

And the girl said, “Holy shit,” as the book took another puff off its pipe and grinned like a madman in a musical.

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