So, after I released No Hero, I gave the back story behind each name. For fun, I’m doing it again. With Desperate Times, there are a lot more names and I found more and more interesting (to me) ways of including people I knew into my story. So, the short version, if you want to be immortalized in one of my books, try hanging out with me. Buying me beer also helps. Just a suggestion. Some of the below I copied from the previous post (cutting and pasting is so much easier than restating. And yes, I’m drawing out this first paragraph so that the picture on the right there doesn’t hang off the bottom of the text. Because I’m that anal. So, without further ado, the history of the names in Desperate Times. A book. That I wrote.
(There, that should be enough)
I wanted Bob to be plain. Bland. I didn’t want him to be too tall or too strong or too good looking. Just regular. So I went to one of those naming websites and looked for the most popular names in the US, both first and last. I rejected anything that sounded like it would make a good PI name (Jack, John, Mike, etc.). I ended up with Bob Moore. I found out later that there are a few famous people with that name but nothing so famous that anyone has complained. I certainly didn’t know about them. As an aside, I’ve written a number of things with characters named Bob. They usually die at the end.
Alan Wagner (Dirk Dirtwater)
Believe it or not, I got to the end of that fight scene at Inhumanitas and thought, “Shit, how is Bob going to get both of them out?” If you remember, that’s exactly what I wrote for Bob. Thus Alan was born. Alan is Bob if Bob hadn’t had the tragedy of his daughter in his past. Alan is what Bob could be. This was also a good way to show how much more respect Bob has for tippys than supers. I didn’t name him after any of the Alans I know though Wagner came from Matt Wagner, the creator of the comic Grendel. Grendel remains one of the comics that had the most influence on me. I love that comic and Wagner’s writing and art are amazing. He did a Grendel/Batman crossover once that was awesome. The Dirk Dirtwater name was just to showcase how stupid the naming thing has become in Bob’s world.
One of the priests at my church when I was young was named Mahoney. I think he ended up becoming a bishop or something. Nothing about this other than he sounds like a detective to me.
Flamer (Shawn O’Malley)
I was just going for the most ridiculous name I could for Shawn. His real name, Shawn O’Malley, was just the first Irish sounding name I could think up. As I mentioned before, I actually wish I had taken more time with this one. I thought that Flamer would be a throwaway character but when I got to the part where Bob needed a super to take to the police, he seemed perfect. I could justify why he wasn’t at the games (sort of a D-list super) and he was a good choice for comic relief. So I was stuck with this character with a name I sort of hated. That’s why I spent so much time trying to change it. I’m not sure what name he’ll have if he shows up in the next book.
One of my best friends is named Jimmy Flanagan. So I named a bar and bartender after him. I had to tell him about it because he only reads books about climbing disasters (you know, where someone gets trapped on the top of a mountain and has to cut their arm off to survive). He was flattered but I’m reasonably sure he’ll still never read the book. Jimmy is one of the guys that got me into rock climbing and, oddly enough, doesn’t drink. But I needed a bar name and Flanagan’s sounds like a bar that Shawn O’Malley would work at.
I actually had Force invented and written up before No Hero but he never ended up showing up in the first book. Force is the opposite of Bob – brawny, super powered, and simple-minded. He’s not stupid, just doesn’t think quick on his feet. Spending his whole life beating his problems into a bloody pulp means that he hasn’t often had to. Bob hates him but, really, he’s not such a bad guy. He doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, and would probably be a great role model for the kids.
Wendi has a bit of a funny history. I initially named another character, Whisper (Samanatha Soft), Wendi for the alliteration. But by the time I got to the chapter where Gale’s name was revealed, I’d forgotten that and given her the same name. My wife complained that it was confusing to have two characters with the same name. I had to go back and check. It works because Wendi and Windy are so similar. I used the “i” at the end because I hate it when people do that and I wanted to have a reason not to like her. Her maiden name is Angin (not revealed in either of the books so it isn’t canon until it shows up in a book) which is “wind” in Indonesian. Of course, I liked the name Gale because it isn’t immediately clear that Bob isn’t using her real name.
Iain (Guy at the bar)
Iain is a real guy. He lives across the street from me here in Australia. And his accent is so think, most people can’t understand him. It does, as the bartender says, help if you’ve been drinking. He does break into song occasionally, he talks non-stop, and he’s a great guy. I basically put him in the book because it amused me.
Do I really have to explain this one?
My youngest son’s middle name is Kaan (pronounced Khan). My wife picked it as it is Turkish and she’s half Turk. She wanted to name him Kaan but I vetoed it. No one that knows me would believe that I hadn’t used my wife’s ethnicity as a thinly veiled excuse to name my son after the best Star Trek movie ever. My wife and quite a few other readers have expressed extreme disappointment that I killed him off. But I needed a way of making The Raven’s appearance personal for Bob and the reader. The fact that people have complained means it worked.
I mentioned, in passing, that Ted lived in the suburb of Kingwood. My dad laughed when he got to that part. I grew up in a house on Kingwood Avenue in a town named Manteca in California.
There are a lot of characters on TV with the last name Novac. Now I know why. Novac translates into “money” in a number of eastern European/Russian languages. I now have a podcast partner on AV Rant named Liz but I wrote the book first. Sorry Liz. If you are wondering why I spelled “Novac” with a “k” instead of a “c”, in Desperate Times, I’m wondering that too. I’ve since corrected it in later versions.
If you don’t get an image in your head of Eminem when you read the chapters with Master Tay, I’m doing something seriously wrong. This was another character that I knew I needed, but had no idea what would come out until I got to the chapter and started writing. I just had a blast writing his dialog. So much chaotic fun. Tay means Hand in Vietnamese but I swear I had something else in mind. Surely I wasn’t trying to lampoon Daredevil? I had planned on killing him at the end of the chapter but I had so much fun writing him, that I kept him alive. Plus, don’t you just hate how in movies the hero goes to get help/information from someone and they immediately die? It’s like they have the plague or something. I always wonder how those characters have any friends at all.
Mel Lepel (Spoon)
Ever had a friend who had a name so cool or interesting that it is almost unbelievable? I used to hang with a girl named Honey Spoon. Yes, that was her real name. I considered using it for the book but thought that no reader would believe that anyone would name their kid Honey Spoon even in Bob’s world. So I looked up Honey Spoon and ended up with Mel Lepel (which means Honey Spoon in Dutch).
During the editing process one of my friends mentioned that there was a character on the show House named Nineteen. I had no idea. I considered changing it but left it in just to see if anyone else would mention it. They didn’t so I didn’t change it out of inertia more than anything else. I’m not connected to the number and it doesn’t really mean anything. It was just large to convey that Tay had been doing this for a long time.
Nissa Gignac (Saint)
If my wife and I had ever had a daughter, Nissa (pronounced nee-sah) would have been her middle name. Her last name is from one of my friends. As I mentioned in my behind the scenes podcasts (here and here), I got a few comments that No Hero was a bit misogynistic. I felt like the lampooning of the comic book genre pretty much made that impossible to avoid. So I wanted there to be a really strong female character if, for no other reason, to show that I could do it. Honestly, I sort of love Nissa. I like her less now that she’s a super but she’s still a blast to write.
Doesn’t Kent just sound like a cop? He does to me.
A made-up name. I’m actually quite proud of it for no real reason. The character was originally named The Gothic but, after the problems with The Raven and capitalization (see below), I decided against any more characters with a “The” in their name.
The Raven (Hero)
The stupid “The” in The Raven gave me more headaches than really warranted. Everyone seemed to have a different opinion on whether or not it should be capitalized. I ended up capitalizing it and no one has complained. But you don’t know how many hours of discussion went in to that decision. An obvious reference to the Poe poem, wherever The Raven landed, death followed. Hero, his original name, was supposed to indicate that he was one of the first and had his choice of names. An obvious analogue to Superman.
Fun fact – my notes have Ted’s name listed as Ted Venti, not Vente. I must have misspelled it. Ted Vente was another name I came up with on the spot. Ted doesn’t really mean much other than the alliteration with Tinkerer. With Vente, I think I was going for something that sounded like Verde which means “green” in Spanish. To indicate how young and native in many ways Ted is. I think that’s one thing I really like about Ted – he seems so young and desperate for everyone’s attention. He’s like a child. And children can sometimes be evil and malicious but all they really want is a hug. Too bad Bob’s not the hugging type.
There really are University Club strip joints in the world but that’s not why I named it thus. I just did an Internet search for strip club names and picked one at random. It worked for me because it was somewhat plausible that Nissa might not immediately associate it with a strip club. The genesis behind the matches was a personal experience. I’d never been to a strip club until recently. Went on a guys night out. I felt pretty icky about the whole thing and decided to use that. The matches were a bit of an afterthought and it tied in well with setting Flamer on fire. Plus, it was fun to have Bob find a pack every time he had an impure thought about Nissa. Which was often.
Whisper (Samantha Soft)
Like I said, initially, Whisper was going to be Wendi for the alliteration with Whisper but I ended up using that name for Gale. I decided on Soft as her last name and then adding Samantha for the alliteration. People have inquired if she is really dead. Well, technically, if I don’t discuss someone seeing her body in the text, it isn’t cannon. But, as far as I’m concerned, she’s dead along with all the others. One thing I hate about comic books is how they can’t leave anyone dead. I’m not going to do that. If they die, they’re dead. I promise.