Welcome back, peeps! Welcome to Week Eight of the Tasha Turner Coaching/MasterKoda VBT!
This week’s scheduled guest is the illustrious Jennifer Don! *wild applause* She’s here to expound on this week’s theme and talk about how she names her books and her characters. Its a topic that confounds me regularly, but all the other writers on the VBT are sharing some excellent tips and ideas as well. So after you read Jennifer’s post (and comment!) click on the TTC button to the right and check out some other posts as well! Onto the interview!
Grey Wolves, the Ruling Factor of Contemplation
an Interview with Jennifer Don
How did you arrive at your chosen title for your current book?
This has to be one of the hardest questions I’ve had to answer and I’m sure I’m not alone on this one. The reason being for that is the way in which they (being titles) arise. Unlike my other current projects, “Timber Varden” was without a title for all of two days, which was during the short planning time before I began writing it. The others have so far been what I would call instant, they have always been there and why or where they come from isn’t a question I can answer easily. However, I will with “Timber Varden”.
For this book, I started doing some research into Grey Wolf. While doing this, their other breed name caught my attention. Not only are they known as Grey Wolves, but they are also known as Timber Wolves. This as you will have guessed is where the Timber part of my title came into being. But that wasn’t enough on its own. It needed something else, something different to run alongside it.
It was here that I began playing around with it and partnered it with other words, but nothing was pulling at me, nothing screamed YES! This is what I want. I wanted something different, something that would be unique, which I’m hoping I’ve managed to do just that. I then started thinking of where the main portion of the book would take place. It came to me that it was a place of solitude, of peace akin to those we often find in private or public gardens and a place where answers can be found without distraction. The whole thought on Gardens and what the presented had caught my attention, but Timber Garden’s would never have worked for what I wanted. I knew it wasn’t right but I also knew that I was moving in the right direction. Out of the blue, I had the instinctive urge to change the G to a V and from there on out, I’ve never looked back. I felt a deep connection, a knowing if you will that I now had the right title to work with.
It wasn’t until later that I realised the title was more fitting than I first thought. In a discussion, a question was asked on the Timber part, made in reference to sound. This whole question is more relevant when we look at this word a little further. Apart from the whole wood aspect it also represents Music; I’ll show you what I mean. Timber (music) the distinctive property of a complex sound (a voice or noise or musical sound). EG: The timbre of her soprano was rich and lovely. The muffled tune of the broken bell summoned them to meet.
I know it has gone from being Timber to Timbre here but there is relevance in the matter. It relates to the novel because Christian hears voices, whispers if you will, in the wind. Some of these come about when the Wolves of Timber Varden are howling, which in short is meant to represent what it is that they howl about.
Now that we’ve had a look at how the Title came to be, could you tell us about your characters?
My characters… hmm, what can I say? They were just there when the planning came into place. I already knew who would be the main Character of Timber Varden; there was no question on that matter. Nor could I change his name if I tried. It wouldn’t work any other way. For some writers, they go through what we would consider as being an audition period where we try out other characters and put them through their paces with certain scenes… I didn’t. Not with Timber Varden, nor did I encounter that with my other books that I am working on. Christian was the one for me, and there was nothing I could do that would alter that. He’s what you would call… a cantankerous fool. He is very set in his ways which makes him perfect for the role; perhaps not argumentative in general, he does obtain these attributes.
Sati on the other hand, he was always ever going to be there. Sati is representative of a white wolf that I see constantly in my mind’s eye and in meditation. I had his name long before I knew he would feature heavily in the story. Everything that Sati represents is the wolf I see constantly. Christian and Sati, have this unspoken bond where they know what is needed of the other in order to proceed. It’s this level of trust and understanding that is shared between me and that of the unknown. Alvar and Tranquilina however are a little more complex in that their names hold the meaning of their attributes and personalities. The only way to explain this is to show you the meaning of the names.
Alvar \a-lvar, al-var\ as a boy’s name (also used as girl’s name Alvar), is pronounced AL-vah. It is of Old English origin, and the meaning of Alvar is “elf or magical army, warrior”. From Aelfhere. Also possibly an anglicized form of Spanish Alvaro, meaning “all guard” in Old German. Architect Alvar Aalto. Alvar himself is more the guardian of Timber Varden, an elemental force of protection and support.
Tranquilina \t-ranquili-na, tr(a)-nqui-lina\ as a girl’s name is of Spanish and Latin origin, and the meaning of Tranquilina is “calm, peaceful”. I chose this name due to the calming effect she holds with those around her, no matter how disciplined a situation is, she is able to uphold the peace and keep everyone calm. As you can imagine, neither of these names are in common us and from that it felt more right to run with them. The other characters within the book arrived like Christian did. They just were.
While we’re on the topic of Characters currently, I feel I hold a different connection with them or rather the muse that forms the character when compared to other writers. I know I shouldn’t compare myself to another as we are all individuals, but when I see people showing how their character dictates the flow and changes aspects on their own, I am often left wondering why mine aren’t doing something similar. However, that is for me to understand and I should know by now that each writer will work differently.
What I want to ask is how to you arrive at your titles?
How do you choose your characters?
Do they arrive like mine, when they choose and when they please?
Jennifer spent many years without daring to lift a pen, without writing a word that wasn’t forced. But 2008 arrived and with it, her love of writing. She began with poetry which quenched her thirst to begin with but soon that wasn’t enough to satisfy her. 2011 arrived with a dream to write her first novel – Awakening, which is on-going. November saw her attempt her first NaNoWriMo, and so Timber Varden was born, with the bulk of it being written within that month. Now she finds herself aiming to re-write that draft and turn it into her first published novel.
You can find her on Facebook, her awesome blog, on Twitter, at Goodreads or via email.
Big thanks to Jennifer for sharing her inspiration and process. I echo her questions to you, reader – how do you name your characters & books? Tell us in the comments below!
Love & Rainbows,
[Editor’s Note: My guest post at the lovely Debra Jayne East’s blog here.]