Each day this week, I will feature a new Q&A with Ellen Meister (author of SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA), along with a link to one of her stories.
THIS JUST IN: Lisa Kudrow discussed making the audiobook for SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA on The Tonight Show last night!
Q & A:
MC: I find it torturous, at times, to choose names for my characters. I might choose a name and be really happy with it and then realize that someone I’m related to or a friend’s husband has the same name and then I worry that if so-and-so ever reads this will he/she worry that I chose that name on purpose and am sending some sort of message (which is not the case!). So what about you? How do you go about choosing names for your characters?
EM: Names are a bitch, aren’t they? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but you can’t smell a novel, so we’re stuck with words.
Names come to me from all different angles. Sometimes my subconscious kicks in when I need it most and gives me the right name at the exact moment I’m inventing the character. Other times it’s torture.
I tend to have more problems with last names than first names. When I wrote SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA, I agonized over finding the right last name for the character I call Lisa. I wanted something a little ridiculous, though I can’t remember why that was so important. (Was it just to set up joke? Ruth: We have a new committee member named Lisa Slotnick. Beryl: What was it before she changed it? ) I don’t remember how I came up with the name, but there might be a Woody Allen influence at play. (In Annie Hall, the character played by Carol Kane was named Allison Portchnik.)
Another character in my novel sent me to the phone book to search for the perfect name. Since he was Catholic and a love interest for one of my characters, I wanted to give him a sexy Italian last name. I picked Capobianco right out of the white pages. Admittedly, I have a weakness for Italian men, but c’mon. Paul Capobianco? That name is hot!
The characters in this story are perfectly named but that’s not the only reason why I love it. One of the many reasons is this line: “Roselle has tiny, silent feet.”–so simple, but says so much. I also love reading Ellen’s bio on this story. Not so long ago and look at what has changed! From completion to publication. Amazing! Read it: