Trivia Tuesday!

I’ve mentioned in a couple of previous posts about how certain characters got their names, and I freely admit that I’ll choose names entirely for my own amusement.

Readers of this blog already know that Luke Reynolds from Heart of Stone is named for Mal Reynolds from Firefly and a minor character in “Bay Leaves and Bachelors” — Peyton Wilkes — was named after Payton Place and Ashley Wilkes. Since names have been an inadvertent trend in my trivia posts, I thought I’d talk about names and how we come up with them.

Not all character names are references — just some of them. 😉 Another example of a reference name is Will Trask from our novel coming out next week, Blood Bathory: Like the Night. When we originally created the characters of Evan and Will (and that backstory is a whole ‘nother trivia post), it was because we were trying to create a fake television show for a fake fandom. The show was intended to be cheesy, over the top camp, and I had the original Dark Shadows in the back of my mind in terms of tone and feel.

In our novel, Will isn’t my character; I wrote Evan. But I’m the one who came up with Will’s name, and I took it from the original Dark Shadows, based on a “love to hate” character called Reverend Trask, who was played to melodramatic, glorious perfection by Jerry Lacy. (Have I mentioned I love Dark Shadows? Because I love it to little minty balls.)

In One the Rocks, Aidan Grimm got his last name because Ari and I are both fans of the TV show, Grimm (and of the delectable David Giuntoli, whom Aidan is physically based on).

In Fennel and Forgiveness, Darius Cooper got his last name (and his appearance) from Karl Urban’s character in Red. Ari LOVES this movie; I haven’t seen it yet, but considering the cast, it’s pretty high on my “to watch” list. Right after I get to all the movies and shows on my iTunes and DVR. >.>

There are probably other characters who have reference-based names, but I can’t pull them up off the top of my head, and some I just don’t remember. I’m not sure that we named Agnes from Heart of Stone after Agnes Gooch, for example, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

In short, we frequently include things in our writing because we’re geeks and it amuses us, so I’m sure I’ll have more easter eggs to share down the road. 😀


Ari McKay’s Trivia Tuesday

Ari and I are huge geeks. HUGE. Ari is more into hard sci fi than I am, and I’m more into horror than she is, but we have a lot of overlap in what we like. Probably the biggest area of overlap is our mutual adoration of Firefly, a show we’ve both watched countless times. So no, keen eyed readers, it’s definitely not a coincidence that in Heart of Stone, the town is named Serenity or that Luke’s last name is Reynolds.

In fact, if you read the description of Luke closely, you might see he looks a lot like this:


I think of Luke as having Mal Reynolds’ wardrobe and Richard Castle’s personality.

Heart of Stone is now available in ebook or trade paperback format at Dreamspinner Press.


Writing a Western

Heart of Stone isn’t technically our first novel. We wrote Blood Bathory: Like the Night first, but it got rejected when we submitted it the first time, so we shelved it and started working on stories based on specific calls for submissions. Heart of Stone is the first novel we wrote that was accepted for publication, and it came about because we saw Dreamspinner Press has an on-going call for historicals. Westerns were mentioned specifically in the submissions blurb, we started brainstorming, and it wasn’t long before Luke and Stone moseyed up to have their story told.

Ari and I share an interest in history, so it wasn’t difficult for us to dive into this genre. In fact, we’ve got multiple historical plot bunnies on our ever-growing list, so chances are, we’ll write more! But Heart of Stone is the first historical and our first novel to be published, so it’ll always be special to us.

For me, writing this novel was a bit different. As part of our collaboration process, we choose which of the lead characters we’re going to write (I talked about that in more detail here). I wrote Luke Reynolds, who is a laid-back, easy-going cowboy with a penchant for teasing — very different from the type of character I usually write!

Normally, I gravitate toward characters who are a little darker, a little more angsty, a little more broody, have more of an edge, especially in longer works. Writing issue-free characters in shorter works is easier because the action isn’t sustained over hundreds of pages, although I can still develop a broody boy in short works, Aidan Grimm from On the Rocks and Jon Lawson from Caribbean Blues being two notable examples.

Writing a character who is issue-free in a novel-length work was a huge switch for me, but I enjoyed the experience because it did take me outside of my usual comfort zone. When we meet Luke, he’s comfortable with his life and in his own skin. Falling for Stone shakes up his comfortable world, however, and he does get pushed through the angst wringer like most of our other characters (no escape from the angst wringer!), but he’s still significantly different from my usual leading men in his lightness of spirit, optimism, and good-natured personality. Luke is an extrovert, which is not a characteristic most of my characters possess. 😉

It was a refreshing break for me, not only because he’s different but also because it let me know I can write issue/angst/broodiness-free characters in a longer work. Plus he was just fun. His playfulness was enjoyable to write, and I liked seeing how he was able to draw Stone out of his shell bit by bit.

I hope the readers enjoy watching Luke and Stone’s relationship unfold as much as we enjoyed writing it! If anyone has any questions about our characters, our writing process, our books, or whatever, just drop us a comment here or tweet us at AriMcKay1.

Heart of Stone is now available in ebook or trade paperback format at Dreamspinner Press.