What's in a name? For most authors, naming a character goes far beyond what sounds nice. Today, author Jadie Jones, author of the Moonlit Trilogy, shares her thoughts on the process she used to discover the perfect name for her main character.
Naming a Heroine: How Tanzy Hightower came to be
by Jadie Jones
Erinnere came from the German phrase: Ich erinnere mich, which translates to: I remember. “Erin” regaining her memory of her first life will change the future of two worlds, so it seemed very fitting. But I couldn’t picture “Erin.” The name sat on her like a khaki colored t-shirt. For a name pointing to “memory,” it was completely forgettable.
As I studied the first draft, trying to figure out what to call my heroine, I realized it wasn’t just her name that was falling flat. I had way more holes in Erin than I did substance. Who was not-Erin? I turned my mind away from the manuscript – a fantasy/time-traveling/adventure/romance hot mess, and focused on the character who was to carry the story across two worlds.
To get to know not-Erin better, I mentally put my would-be heroine into everyday situations and imagined what should would do. What would she do if someone was rude at the grocery store? If someone tried to steal her purse? Did she even carry a purse? What kind of driver was she? What is her favorite color? What kind of music does she listen to? Does she play an instrument? Where would she shop for clothes? Would she give money to a beggar? What is her worst memory? Her best? Would she help an old woman cross the street? Where does she feel safest? Where does she feel most stressed?
As not-Erin became more 3D, I knew more of who she was, but I still needed a name. Something unusual, edgy, feminine, and with a touch of culture. Instead of searching for sounds, however, I searched for meaning. I searched for names with “eternal” in their origins, and landed on Tansy, a Greek name meaning “eternal life.” I loved the sound of it, but the spelling seemed too soft, so I switched the “s” for a “z” and had “Tanzy.” And it fit like a pair of perfectly broken-in jeans.
For her last name, I knew I wanted a hint of alliteration, and I wanted it to be at least three syllables for flow. Also, since Tanzy is unusual, I wanted her last name to point to her simple side, something straightforward, but also with nobility in the meaning, as Tanzy would become the most important human in history, and would be presented with an opportunity to sit on an eternal throne. Thus, Tanzy Hightower was born.
Once I knew what to call her, she became fully alive on the page. Her parents’ names quickly followed – Hope and Travis Hightower, and once they gained permanent names, their characters became easier to identify as well. As these three became more defined, the plot development finally took off.
As for Tanzy, she feels as real and solid as you and me. She’s been a voice in my head for six years now. I am sad to part ways with her, as she has seen me through the beginning of my career and taught me so much. I will take these lessons with me as I meet new not-Erins.
I will always remember her.
Thank you to WOW - WOMEN ON WRITING for providing this stop on Jadie Jones blog tour. For more information on this tour, click here.
About Moonlit Triology by Jadie Jones:Moonlit is the story of eighteen-year-old Tanzy Hightower knows horses, has grown up with them on Wildwood Farm. She also knows not to venture beyond the trees that line the pasture. Things happen out there that can't be explained. Or undone. Worse, no one but she and the horses can see what lurks in the shadows of the woods.
When a moonlit ride turns into a terrifying chase, Tanzy is left to question everything, from the freak accident that killed her father to the very blood in her veins. Broken and confused, she turns to Lucas, a scarred, beautiful stranger, and to Vanessa, a charming new friend who has everything Tanzy doesn't. But why do they seem to know more about her than she knows herself?
Windswept, the second installment of the Moonlit Trilogy when Tanzy is the key in an ancient prophecy pivotal to the existence of all beings, both Seen and Unseen. Unseen who have waited a millennium for her birth are relentless in their efforts to see the prophecy fulfilled--whether for good or evil, depending on which side of the conflict one stands. Others have sworn an oath to end Tanzy's existence, permanently.
Already, Tanzy's body has been compromised by her enemies, her veins now home to the blood of a wild horse whose instincts are becoming impossible to control. While Tanzy's Unseen enemies work to draw her out of a remote safe house, her friends beg her to stay in hiding. Tanzy is torn, wanting to reunite with Lucas, who has loved her since her first incarnation, yet unsure whether fulfilling the ancient prophecy will protect those she loves or destroy them.
Wildwood, the third book of the Moonlit Trilogy, Tanzy's journey races toward a final battle within the Unseen.
Tanzy Hightower has crossed the veil and entered the Unseen world to fulfill the destiny she has at last embraced, to either seal or destroy the veil between the Seen and Unseen worlds. She is the only mortal in a land teeming with creatures who want her dead. To stay alive long enough to stop Asher, the most powerful of the Unseen, Tanzy accepts his marriage proposal and seeks refuge inside his palace.
On the Seen side of the veil, Tanzy's allies are fragmented and lost, without leadership. They must gather forces and train an army of candidates to defend their world against unfathomable predators poised to strike should the veil holding them at bay dissolve.
While Tanzy has accepted her own inevitable death in fulfilling her destiny, her closest friends refuse to stop searching for the impossible: a way to save Tanzy's life.
Genre: YA fantasy
Publisher: WiDo Publishing
Publication Date: April 16, 2013/July 8, 2014/September 22, 2015
Paperback: 310 pages/289 pages/312 Pages (also available as ebook)
About the Author:
The dream of publishing a novel has hitch-hiked with Jadie down every other path she‘s taken (and there have been many). Waitress, farm manager, road manager, bank teller, speech writer, retail, and more. But that need to bring pen to paper refused to quiet. Finally, in 2009, she sat down, pulled out a brand new notebook, and once again let the pictures in my head become words on paper.
Confession time: Jadie Jones is a pen name created to honor two fantastic women who didn't get the chance to live out their professional dreams. First, Jadie’s grandmother - a mother of four during post World War II America, who wanted to be a journalist so bad that even now when she talks about it, her blue eyes mist and she lifts her chin in silent speculation. And second, a dear friend's mother who left this world entirely too soon. To Judy Dawn and Shirley Jones, Jadie Jones is for you. It's been a pleasure getting to know her.
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For more information about blog hostess, Audry Fryer, please visit www.audryfryer.com