No, it really IS a coinicidence

Some questions make you think “Why do people ask that?” This post is in service to all the reviews, blogs, fan mail, and other forms of speculation about where I got or why I chose certain characters names and what Significance they have.

Here they are:

Harper–No, I didn’t “steal” or “borrow” it from Charlaine Harris and it’s not a big conspiracy between us, or an attempt by me to ride her coattails. I didn’t know she had a book in the works with a character named Harper Connelly–or that the character saw ghosts–when I asked her to read my manuscript of Greywalker. (Grave Sight was still six months from distribution at the time.) When I found out, I was embarrassed and offered to change my character’s name. Charlaine, my then-agent, my current agent (who is also Charlaine’s agent), and my editor all said “don’t you dare!” So I didn’t. Why Harper? Well… first I like the name and it suited the character; second a small tip of the hat to Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a very southern name and while my Harper’s family is from the west, the ties are close.

Edward–Nothing to do with the character of the same first name from Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga. Back in 2000 when I was working on Greywalker, I just needed a male name that was timeless and translated well into a lot of languages. (I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that was part of Ms. Meyer’s thinking too.) There have been other vampires named Edward in other books (how come Laurell K Hamilton’s fans never ask me this?) and I didn’t think anyone would care. By the time Greywalker came out, I was too busy to notice what was on the YA shelves and since I wasn’t writing for the same audience, no one at my publishing company said anything. While the Twilight saga was already popular with some readers in 2006, it hadn’t yet exploded into the huge popularity and recognition it has now.

Alice–Once again, nothing to do with Twilight, but a lot to do with Lewis Carroll. My Alice took her name from Alice Liddell, the girl who inspired the Reverend Mr. Dodgson’s heroine of Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass. And when I say she “took her name” that’s what I mean. She stole it.

Bella–Still nothing to do with Twilight. My Bella is a dog. I liked the idea of the scruffy, dirty mutt being “beautiful” to its owner. Really, that’s all.

I don’t know Stephanie Meyer: We’ve never met, corresponded, or even been in the same convention at the same time; and I haven’t read her books. I haven’t been perpetuating a joke or involved in a conspiracy with Ms. Meyer; neither of us is making a tip of the hat to the other. It’s just a coincidence that we have similar thoughts about names. I also mean no disrespect to Ms. Meyer. If I’d known there were so many coincidences, I’d have changed the names, but I didn’t and no one pointed it out until it was a fait accompli.

With respect to Charlaine Harris–and I have nothing but respect for Charlaine–there’s no joke, theft, or conspiracy there either. I like Charlaine very much and I’d never want to do something that injured her or made profit for me off her labor.

Oh yeah, and the pager… umm… I wrote the book in 2000 and it became a plot complication I couldn’t drop when the book came out. Why do people care? No one asks why I don’t call the baseball stadium “Safeco Field” in the first book, but the pager really bugs them. And only one person has ever pointed out that at one point I misattributed the artist of the album Wygan plays during his first meeting with Harper. (This has been fixed in the upcoming mass market paperback, so if you have a trade paperback, you have my infamous error.  First person to email me with both the incorrect and correct band names will get a signed ARC of VANISHED from me when it comes out in May.)

No one ever asks me why I’ve named two different characters Ella, or why I named the forensic pathologist from Poltergeist and Underground “Fish,” or who inspired Denise Francisco, or why Grey is spelled with an E, or what Mara’s maiden name was, or what car Harper replaced the Rover with, or why she has a ferret instead of a dog (and what happened to the dog), or how she ended up in Seattle, or which Michael Connelly novel she was reading in Poltergeist, or how Tom Hanks rowed from east Lake Union to Alki point in less than an hour without going through the locks in Sleepless in Seattle….

Ah… fans…. Gotta love ’em.


About Kat Richardson

Writer, editor, eccentric pain in the tail, bestselling author of the Greywalker novels.
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9 Responses to No, it really IS a coinicidence

  1. Zita says:

    And how about the name Kat? And why haven’t you used a spirit elephant? Well, okay, maybe not an elephant in Seattle, but what about a wooly mammoth? And just what does Chaos do all day while Harper is out running around in the grey? And why did you choose the name Blaine? You gave her two first names!! Hee hee. I think I know why we fans do this to authors…it’s kinda fun!

  2. Jenna says:

    Amazing. None of these questions ever came to mind. I must be a defective fan. You might want to try and return me for your money back or an exchange.

    I’m having a brain fart on who the two Ella characters are. Or does Bella count as an Ella?

  3. MD says:

    I admit, while the pager wasn’t a problem for me, it certainly stuck out – simply because I assumed the book was set in the here and now and it would be very uncommon to use a pager. It was a quirk, but it didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the story.

    As for the names: I noticed Harper, both because I had read “Grave Sight” a few weeks before “Greywalker” and because to a non-American Harper is kind of an unusual name. I didn’t think more of it – hell, you have to name your characters something! And in the end, it’s not about the name but about what you do with a character. Your Harper is totally different from Harper Connelly. There’s really no chance to confuse the two!

  4. DeSeRt RoSe says:

    Sorry to say that I have not read any of the Greywalker series.. but I’m intrigued now and will start soon!
    I don’t mind the same names, as long as you don’t use Sookie 😉

  5. Barb Hendee says:

    Oh, Kat, I don’t see how we can avoid this in a modern “Earth” setting.

    For the Noble Dead books, J.C. and I name our characters things like Magiere, Leesil, Chap, Wynn, Chane . . . etc. Not much danger of repetition there.

    But for my Vampire Memories books, I’m dealing with 200 year old vamps from England and France. So, I have an Edward, a Philip, and a William.

    Oh, and get this, the main villian is a vampire named Julian. Yikes.

    I just don’t think we can avoid this.

  6. I’m amused by it more than anything and now I have a post I can just point people toward instead of writing this down again.

    On the Ella question, Greywalker has an Ella: she’s the assistant to the real estate contracts guy who gives Harper the first clue as to who used the condo Cameron’s sister was kept in. (And of course Grandma Ella in Underground.)

    And I think Chaos runs a 900-number for other shoe-fetishist ferrets during the day. Not so much a help line as a “help yourself” line. 😉

  7. -V- says:

    I let most things like what might be a coink-ee-dink slide on by me for the most part. If the Bella, Edward, etc was anything, it was like a sorbet after the reading I did of TWILIGHT. That series is not for me.
    DH is now back in the car with me for our commute and is enjoying the audio of GREYWALKERas much as I am. He’s happy on the way in and has it to look forward to in the afternoon. = ) 50 miles RT is nothing when you have an excellent story being told to you.

  8. Adele says:

    Y’know, the only one of those i even noticed was the Harper duplication and I put it down to the same mysterious thing that causes ten kids at one school to be called Eden all in the same year.

  9. Adele: Yeah, I suspect the strange synchronicity of writing does that all the time. There will be a spate of books with heroines called “Julia” or “Esme” or some really odd name and then they will all go away and be replace with heroes called “Race” or “Byron” or “Desmond.”

    V: Heh. I’m glad it’s keeping your drive fun. 50 miles takes a lot more than 50 minutes these days, so I guess you’ll be on the next book next week. 😉

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