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Posts Tagged ‘characters’

Day 9 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway – We’re talking Justified!

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Congratulations to Kitty Bucholtz, who won yesterday’s drawing! I’ll be emailing Kitty to arrange delivery of her choice of book.

I thought I’d change up the pace. We’ve been talking books, but I want to switch to TV for a minute. Specifically the FX program, Justified.

For those who’ve never seen it, Justified is a show based on a short story by Elmore Leonard called Fire In The Hole. Leonard was directly involved in the creation of the TV series based on his characters, and the world lost a great talent when he died back in August 2013. (Guess we got back to books after all, huh?)

The hero of the show is U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, who is a throwback to the lawmen of the Old West, right down to the hat. He’s played to sexy, swaggering perfection by actor Timothy Olyphant. But Raylan isn’t perfect. The running gag in the first several episodes is that he keeps shooting people. The shootings are justified (wink, wink), but the frequency is still causing the Marshal service a bit of a headache. Raylan is smart and unafraid when dealing with the bad guys. It’s only his personal life where he becomes challenged.

Raylan comes from rural Kentucky, a place called Harlan County. He’s managed to escape to Miami, but at the end of the first episode, the Marshals assign him back to his home state as punishment, which is the worst thing that could happen to Raylan…but the best thing that could happen to the show. Raylan has history with the people in Harlan County. Everyone has known him his entire life, which adds a whole different level to his interactions with them in his role as U.S. Marshal. To add insult to injury, Raylan’s father Arlo is a well-known petty crook, and the two men do not see eye-to-eye on anything.

I have an ongoing debate on Twitter with authors Teresa Medeiros and Kierstan Krum as to which one of us can claim Raylan as her TV husband. <G>

Raylan’s nemesis is Boyd Crowder, a guy from a family of known criminals there in the ‘hollow.’ His family and Raylan’s go way back; in fact Raylan and Boyd even worked the mines together as young men. Performing such a dangerous job, they frequently had to watch each others’ backs in order to stay alive, and that relationship plays into their interactions years later whenever they’re on opposite sides of the law.

Boyd Crowder is a fascinating character, and Walton Goggins, who plays him, manages to finesse every nuance he can. Like Raylan, Boyd knows everyone in the area and is even related to some of them. Boyd Crowder is almost always the smartest man in the room, and you never know what he’s going to do. There are times he’s out to kill Raylan and other times when he teams up with him to defeat a common foe. Boyd never does anything without a darned good reason. And his romance with Ava, his brother’s widow, is touching and relatable. You find yourself cheering for Boyd to succeed, even though he’s supposed to be the bad guy.

That’s what makes Justified so compelling. Fantastic characters, great writing, wonderful actors. If you haven’t seen it, the first four seasons are out there for rental, purchase or streaming, and Season 5 just started on FX on Tuesday.

Whether you’ve seen it or not, feel free to join in the discussion. Those who comment get entered in today’s drawing for a free paperback title from my backlist!

Third Post in the 31 Day Book Giveaway: Hero Names

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Congratulations to  Yati Hadi, who won yesterday’s drawing! I’ll be emailing Yati to arrange delivery of her choice of book.

I thought I’d take a break from the seriousness of goal setting and talk about something completely different. Today’s topic is Hero Names.

When creating a hero, an author needs to name the character correctly in order to get the right image for him. For instance, you’d have different first impressions of a hero named Kade vs. one named Oscar.

Different things have to be considered when naming your hero. In my case, I think about things like ethnicity, religious background and where he is from. These are all things that affect how people name their children. Also time period. Is this a historical hero, a contemporary hero or one from the future or another world entirely?

I once gave a hero the wrong name. The hero of DONOVAN’S BED, my first Western historical, was originally named Donovan Cain. This guy is the son of a saloon girl. He doesn’t know who his father is, and at age 16 he tracked down his mother’s killer and accidentally killed him. This is how he got into bounty hunting. When we meet Donovan, it’s fifteen years later, and he’s retired from bounty hunting to a small town where he’s trying to settle down and leave his past behind.

This is a guy who never had a real home, never learned a lot about manners and never really socialized with people. Yet every time he opened his mouth on the page, he sounded like he’d been raised in high society and gone to some fancy schools. This is when I realized I had the wrong name.

The name of the book is DONOVAN’S BED, and I wanted to keep that. So I changed his name to Jack Donovan.

Immediately I had a different character. I have no trouble believing that the guy with the simple name of Jack is someone who never had fancy schooling. The harsh J and K sounds in his name give you a sense of hardness that make you think this guy is tough, a guy who doesn’t require much in the way of material possessions. And that’s what I wanted. Though his first name is Jack, the other men call him Donovan. This was very common in the Old West.

In my book THREE NIGHTS, the hero Lucien’s mother was French. He was illegitimate, so he took her last name: DuFeron. Later, his father the duke recognized him as his son, but Lucien kept his mother’s name. I picked Lucien because this is a wicked hero, and it sounds like Lucifer. I picked DuFeron because, loosely translated, it means “made of iron” and gives you that fire and brimstone essence. Lucien hangs out with a guy named Dante in the book, and together they are called Hell’s Brethren.

In my recent paranormal, PRODIGAL SON, the hero’s last name is Montana. I decided that it is a variation of montaña, which is Spanish for ‘mountain’ and could be a place name. My hero is part Spanish and part Native American with ancestors from Atlantis. His first name is Rafe, because I wanted something wicked sounding. This brother is the wild child of the three Montana siblings.

One person who succeeds in using names most people wouldn’t consider heroic with remarkable success is Jayne Anne Krentz. Some of her heroes’ names are Baxter, Matthias, Harry, Joel, and Mack. I bet she could even make Oscar work. 🙂

What are your thoughts on hero names? Are some overused? Overlooked? Do some need to be retired? Comment and get your name in a drawing for a paperback book from my backlist!