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.