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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Maggie: Getting the Name Right

For a couple of weeks I've been looking at the process of naming characters. Yesterday I used Maggie's name as an example. From near the opening of MAGGIE RISING, here's Maggie's own take on how she was named:

[Mr. Haskins] lifted an eyebrow in a speculative look. “If you didn’t file a fictitious business name –“

“I was told I didn’t have to if I used my own legal name for my business.”

He looked up at my business sign. “Your legal name is Eastern Star Rising?”

“Since birth,” I assured him. “Would you care to see my driver’s license?”

“I don’t believe it. Nobody names their kid Eastern Star Rising.”

“Apparently you don’t know my parents,” I answered sweetly. “In the late eighties, my mother changed her own name to Sunflower.”

“Sunflower Rising?” Haskins asked, sneering. “Not likely.”

“Sunflower Holben,” I said. “Rising is her married name, my father’s name.”

“Nobody’s name is Rising.”

I took a deep breath, licked my lips, and tried to smile again, but I could hear the tension in my voice. “Mr. Haskins, my family name is Rising. It has been Rising for at least the past century. According to family lore, it comes from a Teutonic root, perhaps Reisen. We think it was changed at Ellis Island, but that isn’t your concern, is it? The fact is, my family name is Rising and my parents stuck me with the given names Eastern Star. I did not have to file a Fictitious Business Name because my name is not fictitious.” I paused for breath. “Now, if we’re done, I have work to do.” I opened the door.

I'm enjoying working with Maggie -- whatever her name is.

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