Book Talk with Jeannette de Beauvoir

Author Jeannette de Beauvoir shares her process of naming her main character her newest novel, The Deadliest Blessing.

Jeannette de Beauvoir blog tourOne of the joys of writing fiction is being able to populate your own world. Seriously, how cool is that? You can choose who lives next to whom, what they do for a living, explore quirks and personalities that are as familiar or as foreign as you like. And that process includes selecting names.

Okay, so it’s maybe not such a joy, after all. The truth is, I hate selecting names.

My characters come to life as I write, not before. They shift and morph and often change the entire narrative arc of my stories. They become who they are in chapter five, or eight, or ten. So, the name I started with generally just doesn’t fit the character as they emerge, as they talk with other characters, as they make choices, as they tell me where the book needs to go. Ah, but word processing makes that easy, doesn’t it? Just do a global search-and-replace, and voilà! Kate Stewart is now Miranda Weatherby.

The exception is the name of the protagonist in my current mystery series. I found a name for her and it… just worked. The third book in the series, The Deadliest Blessing, just came out, I’m writing the fourth book, and Sydney is still perfectly, marvelously, appropriately Sydney.

I have to wonder if her name works because I didn’t make it up. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it ahead of time. It was a gift from the gods of travel.

I’d gone up to Québec to do a talk about a prior character and series, Martine LeDuc, the protagonist of my novels Asylum and Deadly Jewels. I live on the tip of Cape Cod, so this is a long drive! But I was prepared: I had a set of CDs from The Great Courses, and I was good to go. I’d already taken their class on the Vikings, the history of London, women in medieval literature, and a few I’m probably forgetting, and I was looking forward to the new set on the history of espionage. Continue reading

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